Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nancy Pelosi = Pussy Galore?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You just can't make this shit up, not with the RNC (and the Republican Party generally) sinking to yet another new low:

She's the 69-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives, second in the line of succession and the most powerful woman in U.S. history.

But when you see Nancy Pelosi, the Republican National Committee wants you to think "Pussy Galore." At least that's the takeaway from a video released by the committee this week – a video that puts Pelosi side-by-side with the aforementioned villainess from the 1964 James Bond film "Goldfinger."

The RNC video, which begins with the speaker's head in the iconic spy-series gun sight, implies that Pelosi has used her feminine wiles to dodge the truth about whether or not she was briefed by the CIA on the use of waterboarding in 2002. While the P-word is never mentioned directly, in one section the speaker appears in a split screen alongside the Bond nemesis – and the video's tagline is "Democrats Galore."

The video, of course, is deeply sexist, but perhaps most of all it's just plain stupid. Obviously, the intent is to cast Pelosi not just as a villain but as a dangerous woman with her hands on the levers of power -- and yet, also, as a pussy. (I'm sure Republicans prefer the 'c' word, but even they wouldn't go there publicly.) To characterize not just one of the leaders of the Democratic Party but also one of the most powerful women in American history is shameful -- and all-too-typical for the Republican Party. (Steve Benen has more on what else Pelosi is being called on the right.)

And it goes further than that -- although I'm not sure, beyond the obvious, what the makers of the video know of the Pussy Galore character, both in the book and in the movie (Goldfinger, one of the best Bonds). (Check out Wikipedia.) She runs an organized crime ring, but she's also a lesbian -- hence the sexual subtext, not so hidden, bubbling beneath the surface of the RNC video, intentional or not. And, at first, she is indeed a Bond "nemesis," a "villainess." The thing is, she ends up switching sides, turning on Goldfinger and helping Bond thwart his plan to rob Fort Knox. And, of course, she ends up with Bond at the end, a lesbian no more, or at least not in the arms of Sean Connery.

Again, the video is sexist and stupid -- and ridiculously obvious in its vicious intent.

Perhaps the next RNC effort will be a follow-up with Pelosi as Alotta Fagina.


Taylor Marsh notes that the video currently up on the RNC website (see below) is somewhat different than the one that first appeared.

But even this new one is pretty bad:

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Liberated, Bush-style

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Speaking at a high school graduation in New Mexico, ex-President Bush, Obama's predecessor, said that he's quite happy not to be president anymore:

I no longer feel that great sense of responsibility that I had when I was in the Oval Office. And frankly, it's a liberating feeling.

Right back at ya, Dubya. After eight years of your disastrous presidency, most of the rest of us, in America and around the world, feel liberated, too.

And you say that your life is "back to normal"? Well, how lucky you are, scooping up dog poop.

Your successor, don't you know, is busy cleaning up the gargantuan mess you left, and life is hardly "normal" for all those who are still suffering through the aftermath of your presidency, economic crisis and all.


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"Absolutely torture": Waterboarding a right-wing radio host

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Maybe it's easy to say it isn't torture when you haven't actually been subjected to it yourself. That's certainly the case with most of the torture enthusiasts of the right.

Well, one conservative -- Chicago radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller -- decided to try it out, to make a point in support of those who claim it isn't torture. This morning, Mancow was waterboarded on air. And it wasn't really what he had expected:

"The average person can take this for 14 seconds," Marine Sergeant Clay South answered, adding, "He's going to wiggle, he's going to scream, he's going to wish he never did this."

With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand, Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up.

Turns out the stunt wasn't so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back... It was instantaneous... and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face... I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.'"

If you remember, Christopher Hitchens -- that somewhat bellicose non-conservative who is decidedly not a torture enthusiast -- voluntarily subjected himself to waterboarding last year and reached the same immediate conclusion: "Believe me, it's torture."

Like Yglesias, I'm not sure why Mancow didn't just take Hitchens's word for it -- Hitchens's article is chilling -- but, to his credit (I suppose), at least he was willing to go through it himself. And, yes, perhaps more right-wing torture enthusiasts need to be subjected to it, too.

Then, and perhaps only then, would they come to see it for what it really is.

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Quote of the Day: McCain on Cheney and torture

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, here's some of what McCain had to say about Cheney and the torture policies of the Bush Administration:

[Cheney] believes that waterboarding doesn't fall under the Geneva Conventions and that it's not a form of torture. But you know, it goes back to the Spanish Inquisition.

This is what the current torture debate needs to be about. Not what Pelosi knew, and when, and not within the manufactured culture of fear drummed up by the right -- this is the Republican narrative. No, it needs, again, to be about the illegal, immoral torture regime established under Bush-Cheney.

Did the U.S. torture? Yes. The contradiction on the right is that what was done didn't amount to torture, yet at the same time what are euphemistically called enhanced interrogation techniques are necessary weapons in the war on terror. So the right, the defenders of such illegality and immorality, is simultaneously claiming that it isn't torture but that torture, of a kind, is also necessary.

Americans are divided on the issue of enhanced interrogation techniques, but I'm not sure they know the truth. Indeed, I suspect that many Americans have bought into the right-wing spin: The world is like 24, on the brink, apocalypse right around the corner, and the only way to defend America is to act with brutal force, to torture. The world is not like this, however, and Cheney didn't promote torture because it was necessary but because, evidently, he believed in it (and still does), that is, because he wanted the U.S. to torture, because he wanted torture to be a key element of U.S. national security. He may comfort himself with the delusion that torture isn't torture, but those in the know, including John McCain, who himself was tortured, know better.

So let Cheney defend his torture. Let him defend what he did. The debate should be about him, about what he did, about what the U.S. did on his watch.

Is Cheney's America really the America Americans want to call their own?

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What we see

By Mustang Bobby

There are a lot of reactions to the two speeches yesterday. President Obama's speech at the National Archives laid out his vision of our national security, and former Vice President Dick Cheney tried to justify the record of the Bush administration and take down the president in the process.

The reactions to the speeches are predictable depending on who you listen to; the right wing thought Mr. Cheney was just wonderful and President Obama hopelessly naive and "flowery," while the left thought Mr. Cheney was his usual dictatorial self, with the expected wrinkles, especially from those who were both surprised and more than a little curious as to what President Obama meant when he put forth the idea of "preventive detention" for terror suspects. Hilzoy sums it up.
Preventive detention????????

No. Wrong answer.

If we don't have enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we don't have enough evidence to hold them. Period.

The power to detain people without filing criminal charges against them is a dictatorial power. It is inherently arbitrary. What is it that they are supposed to have done? If it is not a crime, why on earth not make it one? If it is a crime, and we have evidence that this person committed it, but that evidence was extracted under torture, then perhaps we need to remind ourselves of the fact that torture is unreliable. If we just don't have enough evidence, that's a problem, but it's also a problem with detaining them in the first place.

And then there are those who would strike a middle ground between the snarling and smug arrogance of the past administration and the toxic mess they left for the president who, because of the mistrust now ingrained in the fabric of our consciousness about what our government is capable of doing, has to make the dubious case that we should trust him with the open-termed power he holds as the Commander in Chief.

Frankly, I don't like the idea of "preventive detention" any more than Hilzoy does, and I don't buy it just because I hope that President Obama will be a more able steward of the rule of law than his predecessor. This isn't a liberal or a conservative issue; it's the basic foundation of our system of justice: you are innocent until you're proven guilty, not until we can find enough evidence to make the case. There shouldn't be exceptions to this, and it shouldn't be based on the question of whether or not a suspect is a prisoner of war, an "enemy combatant," a person of interest, or just a bunch of anti-Semitic crack addicts in the Bronx. The United States Constitution wasn't written in the abstract; it was -- and still is -- a clear and practical foundation of both laws and ideas. The men who wrote it knew all too well what the unlimited reach of a monarch could do, and they knew all too well what it was like to live in reactionary times; the American Revolution was still a vivid and recent memory at the time it was crafted. Put in perspective, the times were just as perilous for the nation then as they were on September 12, 2001. Yet the Founding Fathers did not waver from the idea that justice had to be based on the evidence and that defendants were owed a fair trial based on what the prosecution could prove.

In court the guilt or innocence of a defendant comes down to what we see now, not what we think we might see at some future point. The same can be said about trusting our leaders to live up to the realities of the Constitution and the rule of law.


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Bedwetters to the end

By Creature

It would be nice if the GOP had something to offer other than fear.

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POTUS vs EX VEEP -- no contest

By Carol Gee

POTUS spoke, literally backed up to the Constitution. EX VEEP spoke and backed into the past. It was no contest; POTUS WON. Our best times are ahead of us. The ex Veep's dark past is just that -- deeply dark and past its prime. The worst time is behind us. America is turning the corner into the future.

What remains from the past? In the National archives, backing up POTUS, are the Constitution with the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. These original documents established a set of brilliantly conceived checks and balances among three co-equal branches of government. That system is working again, after being down for the past two presidential terms. America is no longer as deeply bound to its recent dark past.

What does the future hold? Solutions to America' biggest problems are out there waiting to be discovered. Does POTUS have all the answers? Absolutely not, but he believes in the system and trusts what will emerge. Did the EX VEEP's speech have any answers? Absolutely not, because he does not believe in the system. He believes his own dark demons. Now that the system is beginning to rebalance itself without him, his impulses keep him fearful and desperate for power.

What does Constitutional re balancing entail? POTUS gave some clues in his speech. He talked about the lack of foresight in the past administration. And he demonstrates foresight as he leads us into the future. For example, he acknowledged that he expects oversight by Congress and the courts as he picks his way through the Constitutional legal minefield of "prolonged detention" and "military tribunals with rules."

Because the courts were active, even during the dark days, balances were kept in certain instances as courts prohibited Bush administration power grabs. Our new POTUS is also willing to live by court decisions on constitutionality. However, the same cannot yet be said about Congress exerting its proper authority, though there are hints. The Senate's demand for a plan before opening the purse to close Guantanamo was a good first step at reestablishing its prerogatives, though the process has been awkward. What lies in the future for the questionable solutions to the detainee problem? POTUS has been preparing a plan that will be completed in January of next year. It is typical of his operating method.

POTUS' governing style is to state the problem and assign members of the administration to work to find solutions. He announces the outlines of a preliminary plan, letting Congress know what its part is and when he would like to have something to sign. He gets feedback and makes changes. Eventually he realizes it is again time to teach the nation about what the problem and solutions will entail. Working with Congress and signing legislation finally leads to publishing the plan's full details.

EX VEEP's governing style, in contrast was to feel there was a problem, state the solution to his minions in secret, omitting the planning and reporting to Congress. He did not need feedback because the rule was "my way or the highway." Eventually he would be found out, but refused to admit any mistakes. Rather than teach, he worked through maintaining a fear posture and bypassed or deceived Congress whenever possible. He did not need a public plan and did not feel bound by the rule of law. Governing behind closed doors in secret, his loss of power has now produced a starkly contrasting new set of behaviors. He is out front and everywhere -- defending, obfuscating, prevaricating, fear mongering, insulting and angry for the most part.

POTUS is also out front and everywhere -- asserting, explaining, being transparent, truth telling, reassuring, and showing respect to adversaries and a positive demeanor, generally speaking. His ideas will be accepted or not. POTUS feel himself bound by what Congress and the courts decide. He feels that the government must be backed by the Constitution. He is quite willing to take on the EX VEEP because the man is mired in the past. The ex Veep's dark past is just that -- deeply dark and disturbing. The worst of him is gone now because he is powerless, though not without influence. He will eventually sputter out of the limelight. America is looking to the future, and honoring its beginnings. It is no contest; POTUS will win. Our best times have already begun.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reactions to Obama vs. Cheney

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It wasn't really Obama vs. Cheney, largely because it was an outright mismatch. While Cheney regurgitated more of the same old nonsense that destroyed America's credibility both at home and abroad, Obama presented, as he is wont to do, a thoughtful, nuanced understanding of American national security.

Overall, I tend to agree with Greenwald, whom Creature quoted here: While there was much to like in Obama's speech ("closing Guantanamo, banning torture tactics, limiting the state secrets privilege"), there was also much to exacerbate concerns that the current president is, to put it mildly, a bit too much like the last one ("indefinite preventive detention schemes, military commissions, denial of habeas rights to Bagram abductees, concealing torture evidence, blocking judicial review on secrecy grounds").

Here are some additional reactions:

Michael Crowley: "In the near-term, Obama is the hands-down winner of this matchup. The public is obviously tired of certitude and missionary zeal. The memory of 9/11 is fading from our culture's puny attention span. As Andrew Sullivan demonstrates, Cheney's speech is guilty of basic dishonesty."

Jonathan Chait: "This is, of course, completely illogical. You can, obviously, torture a terrorist or a murderer, and nobody has suggested otherwise. But it's a form of illogic that tells you a lot about Cheney's style of thought. To object to the methods of torture used against terrorists is to declare them innocent. You're either with them or against them. The notion that terrorists may be evil but nonetheless should not be tortured is an idea too complex for his brain to process. He is a complete moral simpleton." (Cheney claimed in his speech that opposing torture means declaring the terrorists innocent. Yes, he's that stupid.)

John Dickerson: "At bottom, Cheney's argument relies on the pernicious idea that if you disagree with him over the tactics used to fight the war on al-Qaida, you are fundamentally ignorant that a war is going on. For that reductive trick to work, Obama must play into the caricature of a weak-kneed liberal who rejects the notion that America is at war. There was nothing in Obama's speech or in his approach that obviously fits this caricature."

Fred Kaplan: "Why does anyone still listen to what Dick Cheney has to say? This morning's back-to-back speeches on torture and terrorism -- first by President Barack Obama, then by the former vice president -- could have been an opportunity to weigh competing arguments, examine their premises, and chart an agenda for a serious debate. Obama's speech did exactly that. He spelled out his logic, backed up his talking points with facts, and put forth a policy grounded -- at least in his view -- not just in lofty ideals but also in hardheaded assessments of national security. Those who disagree with his conclusions could come away at least knowing where their paths diverged -- what claims they'd need to challenge in mounting their opposition. Cheney, on the other hand, built a case on straw men, red herrings, and lies. In short, his speech was classic Dick Cheney, with all the familiar scowls and scorn intact. The Manichean worldview, which Cheney advanced and enforced while in office, was on full display."

I highly recommend that you read all four posts/articles in full.

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A win for Obama!

By Carl

It feels good to write that after hearing about how for eight years, Bush kept us safe from terrorists, and then having it turn out that, was police work that saved the day,
even if the threat was hardly credible to begin with:
Four men were arrested Wednesday night in what the authorities said was a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.

The men, all of whom live in Newburgh, about 60 miles north of New York City, were arrested around 9 p.m. after planting what they believed to be bombs in cars outside the Riverdale Temple and the nearby Riverdale Jewish Center, officials said. But the men did not know the bombs, obtained with the help of an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were fake.

The "informant" in question was a Sunni Muslim who was working with the FBI in exhcange.

I'm betting he was not tortured.

After the
Sears Tower plot of 2006 was exposed, we were told time and time again about how effective the Bush administration had been in foiling terror attacks.

This time?
Around 9 p.m., a law enforcement official said an 18-wheel New York Police Department vehicle blocked the suspects’ black sport utility vehicle at 237th Street and Riverdale Avenue. Another armored vehicle arrived and officers from the department’s Emergency Service Unit took the men out of the truck and handcuffed them.

After the plot was broken up, the team of uniformed officers took the suspects away.

So it was good old fashioned police work...none of this military-industrial-covert espionage crap that Bush tried to ram down our throats. Identify a plot and work to uncover the breadth and depth of it, then shut it down and roll up the cells.

Reminds me of the good old safe days of the Clinton administration with Janet Reno!

And should serve as a reminder of the cynical gloating of the Bushies, who treated the most insignificant terror plot revelation as a two-year child who just took a dump would expose it to his mom.

"Lookit! Lookit what I did!"

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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Greenwald on Obama's speech

By Creature

Pretty much sums it up.

The speech was fairly representative of what Obama typically does: effectively defend some important ideals in a uniquely persuasive way and advocating some policies that promote those ideals (closing Guantanamo, banning torture tactics, limiting the state secrets privilege) while committing to many which plainly violate them (indefinite preventive detention schemes, military commissions, denial of habeas rights to Bagram abductees, concealing torture evidence, blocking judicial review on secrecy grounds). Like all political officials, Obama should be judged based on his actions and decisions, not his words and alleged intentions and motives. Those actions in the civil liberties realm, with some exceptions, have been profoundly at odds with his claimed principles, and this speech hasn't changed that. Only actions will.

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O'Donnell on Cheney's speech

By Creature

Pretty much sums it up.

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Nancy Pelosi and the GOP-fueled media narrative on torture

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(Following up on my earlier post on Specter and Pelosi.)

If top Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Bob Graham had any idea what was going on -- that is, that the Bush Administration had signed off on torture and that detainees in U.S. custody were being tortured -- they should have spoken out forcefully at the time.

But the story here isn't Pelosi, or what may now be her hypocrisy. This is what the Republicans want the story to be, for obvious reasons (anything to distract attention and make the Dems look bad, if only because of right-wing spin and a media establishment that plays right along), but the real story remains this: It was the Republicans who went along enthusiastically with Bush and Cheney et al. on torture.

It was the Republicans who defended torture then and who do so now. There were exceptions, like McCain, but, for the most part, Republicans went along with Bush and Cheney on anything and everything having to do with their so-called war on terror. If Democrats can be criticized for anything, it is for not being vigilant enough, not being aggressive enough, not subjecting the Bush Administration to more effective scrutiny. But, on torture, what could they have done if they were being lied to by the CIA?

The Beltway media, doing the Republicans' bidding and taking unadulterated GOP spin as their narrative, are all over Pelosi at the moment, smearing her and her party at every turn. It is essential that Democrats retake control of this story and, as much as possible, redirect the focus at the real culprits.

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Specter defends Pelosi in feud with CIA

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I've been awfully critical of Arlen Specter since his recent aisle-jump to the Dems (see here, here, and here), but full credit to the former (and still, in a way, quasi-) Republican for coming out in defence of Nancy Pelosi in her ongoing war of words with the CIA.

Pelosi hasn't handled this whole "what did she know about torture and when did she know it" media frenzy all that well -- her various explanations have lacked clarity -- but it is quite possible, and perhaps even probable, that the CIA is lying about what was said at those early briefings of Congressional leaders. Bob Graham, who attended those briefings as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has backed up Pelosi's claim, and now Specter has added his support to her claim:

The CIA has a very bad record when it comes to -- I was about to say 'candid'; that's too mild -- to honesty.

Director [Leon] Panetta says the agency does not make it a habit to misinform Congress. I believe that is true. It is not the policy of the Central Intelligence Agency to misinform Congress. But that doesn't mean that they're all giving out the information.

That's putting it mildly, no doubt. Still, well done for speaking up, Senator. This is a big point in your favour. And I mean that sincerely.

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Same-sex marriage legislation stalls in New Hampshire

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The governor was on board, as was the Senate, but New Hampshire's House of Representatives has narrowly voted down a compromise bill that would legalize same-sex marriage while providing an out for religious groups opposed to same-sex marriage.

And all because a few Democratic same-sex marriage proponents who objected to the concessions voted with Republican opponents to defeat the compromise bill:

The state's House of Representatives objected to language in the bill that would have allowed religious groups to decline to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies or to offer gay couples other services.

A handful of gay-rights proponents sided with Republicans in the Democratic-controlled House to vote down the bill 188-186 Wednesday, hours after the Senate approved the gay-marriage legislation by 14-10 along party lines.

A version of the bill with more limited religious protections passed the state's House of Representatives on March 26.


To strike a compromise, both chambers had been asked to approve language that would give clergy and others affiliated with religious organizations a number of legal protections, including the right to decline to marry same-sex couples or to provide gay couples with services such as counseling.

The wording was added by Governor John Lynch, a centrist Democrat who said previously that marriage should be exclusively between a man and a woman but agreed last week to sign the bill if his changes were made.

So what now? Clearly, a majority of state legislators is in favour of same-sex marriage legalization. The question is how extensive the protections for religious groups ought to be -- as if these bigots need to be protected from some marriage-crazy homosexual menace! The two houses should be able to hammer out another compromise, but what about Governor Lynch, a Democrat, who "has said he would veto gay marriage if his wording was not adopted." He "bullied" legislators, according to Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a gay Republican who was "a leading voice against the amendment securing religious liberties," but perhaps he, too, will agree to a new compromise, assuming he can set aside his centrist dogmatism.

As I have written before, America has changed for the better, and is changing still, and now, at long last, the state-approved bigotry that has kept gays and lesbians apart from their fellow citizens, and that has denied them their civil rights, is being rolled back and, one hopes, obliterated. There is still such bigotry out there, of course, in the hearts and minds of many, as well as in the laws of states from coast to coast, but at least, at the very least, states like Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, New York, and, yes, even Iowa are leading the way into a more just future.

New Hampshire should be the next to join that progressive group.

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I hate American Idol

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Kris Allen? Seriously? I watched pretty much the entire season, a terribly mediocre season even by AI's lowly standards, for this?

I grew to like Adam Lambert more and more, or at least to respect him more and more, but, regardless, it was clear all along that he was far and away the most talented of the bunch, and certainly much more than Kris.

There have been embarrassingly unworthy winners before -- Taylor Hicks, anyone? -- and, while I don't have anything against Kris (he seems like a genuinely nice guy, and he does have some talent, and I much prefer him to Taylor), this was a pretty pathetic ending to a pretty pathetic season.


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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Colin Powell, still a Republican after all these years

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Many of us on the liberal-progressive left, as well as many in and around the center, have been watching the civil war in the GOP with a certain gleeful Schadenfreude -- it just couldn't be happening to a better party. As well, I would add, many of us have taken Colin Powell's side, if we have taken a side at all, against Dear Leader Rush. (See my post on the Great Republican Purge of 2009.)

As you may remember, Powell recently said that the GOP, currently in the hands of Rush, Palin, and their rightist ilk, is in "deep trouble," a party of extremism and polarization. In response, Head Purger Rush called Powell "just another liberal" and told him to "close the loop and become a Democrat."

Here's the thing:

-- Powell isn't a liberal; and

-- Powell isn't a Democrat.

It would behoove gleeful us -- those of us who support the other side and who wish the GOP to fail (and hence who want the GOP to be in the hands of the extremists, not the far more electable moderates) -- to remember, once and for all, that Powell is not one of us (despite his late-in-the-game endorsement of Obama last year). He is, as he always has been, at least throughout his professional career, a loyal Republican. And he proved it again yesterday in Boston, in speech if not in deed, in response to Rush:

Rush Limbaugh says, 'Get out of the Republican Party.' Dick Cheney says, 'He's already out.' I may be out of their version of the Republican Party, but there's another version of the Republican Party waiting to emerge once again.

Translation: Rush says I'm not a Republican, but I am, just not one of his Republicans, and I and my side of the party will be back, just wait.

Sure, Powell's Republican Party wouldn't be as viciously and vindictively anti-Obama and anti-Democrat as the current party is, nor would it be as ideologically extremist. It would, presumably, be a big tent, at least according to Republican standards of openness, toleration, and diversity. But, also presumably, it would not just be a party of Powells. To be viable, it would need to retain its right-wing base, its conservative core, the very elements that Powell apparently so loathes.

Powell's assessment of the GOP's current problems is, for the most part, right on target. Just don't think he wants the Democrats to prevail in the long run.

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Fuel me once, shame on you

By Carl

This was the best they could do?

The Obama administration's sweeping fuel-economy and emissions initiative announced Tuesday reopens a fierce debate over tradeoffs between fuel economy and auto safety.

[...]The plan requires automakers to sell cars that average 35.5 miles-per-gallon by 2016, a little more and a lot sooner than current law. It has been heralded as a brilliant solution to the nettlesome mix of problems related to fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions.

Oh brother!

So many problems in this nation could be solved if we actually broke our addiction to oil (perhaps the one truth Bush spoke in eight years). Right now, we are spending more in military aid and supporting troops in the Middle East than the net value of all the crude we are getting from there.

And the best step we could take at this time is to, you know, tweak things a little?

Here's what should have been done:

1) Raise the CAFE standards to 40 mpg. The 2016 time table is fine, for what it is, but at 35.5 mpg Detroit can meet that with minimal disruption. Since Detroit has been relying on the US government for twenty years as a bailout plan, perhaps a little discomfort for them will go a long way.

2) Remove the exemption for light trucks and SUVs. Factor them in as a fleet on their own right. In fact, I'd go one step further and insist these be reclassified as trucks, subject to the rules of the road and insurance and licensing requirements that truckers have to meet (including bonding).

We can, of course, offer some form of assistance to people whom this might impact adversely, like small farmers or poor people with large families who absolutely must have an SUV, minivan, or pickup truck, but lets face facts:
any asshole who drives a Hummer to Starbucks because of that three degree incline on the entrance ramp at the mall parking lot will likely grasp with both hands the right to be called a "trucker". We can even throw in a hat.

This is a legtimate beef, by the way. SUVs and pickups use more gas, cause more wear and tear on the nation's infrastructure and are responsible for more fatalities and injuries than cars.

Yes, I'm aware of the apparent rise in fatalities when automakers increase their car fleet, but look at those accidents more closely.

First, automakers in an attempt to cut corners make vital safety components out of cheaper material, rather than re-engineer a car for safety. Second, many of those fatalities occured in accidents with an SUV or pick up!

Substantially reduce the number of those on the road, and auto fatalities will decline permanently. It's a simple matter of physics. When two masses collide, the smaller mass usually bears the brunt of the damage.

Of course, looking at how people who use four wheel drive vehicles behave, apparently, they believe the laws of physics no longer apply to them.

This is much like the steroids argument: if you want to make it a fair game, then take the supercharged ubersized vehicles off the road.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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A $1,300 car tax, oh my

By Creature

Improved CAFE standards should be a no-brainer. Even leaving aside the global warming argument, anything that limits our dependence on foreign oil is a good thing. Right? Wrong. For conservatives raising the standards is just another excuse to whip the base into an anti-tax frenzy. Please, it's not a tax, you'll get a savings in the long run, and, jeez, eventually it may put a terrorist supporting state like Saudi Arabia out of business. You'd figure the right would get this, but no.

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Harry Reid's new low

By Creature

It's hard to imagine being more disappointed in Harry Reid than I am today. It's one thing for Democrats to block funding for the closing of Guantanamo until a more complete plan on how the funds will be used is laid out. There's some logic there and, after all, it is the Senate's job to watch the purse strings (though you wouldn't have known it during the Bush years). It's a whole other thing for Harry Reid to come out and defend the blocking of funds by buying into the GOP fear mongering that closing Guantanamo will lead to a terrorist moving into your spare bedroom. Come on, Harry, not only are not leading, you are crawling behind an opposition party who's ideas have been completely discredited in the last two elections.

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The truth about torture? Americans want none of it.

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I have written before that, in my view, the as-yet-unreleased photos of detainee torture/abuse ought to be, well, released. Here's part of my argument:

The photos are no doubt extremely disturbing -- and for that reason they ought to be released with as little sensationalism as possible, as an effort to inform and educate, not to titillate, and hence it should be incumbent upon Obama himself to explain their value and the need for them to be released -- but it seems to me that some disturbing is just what is needed in the wake of such appalling abuse. Aside from contributing to public awareness, releasing the photos would show the world, including the Muslim world, that the U.S. is now serious about confronting the ugliness of its recent past in a serious and meaningful way.

This view places me with many of my liberal-progressive friends. Unfortunately, it also places me in the minority, according to a new CNN poll, with shows that large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans support not releasing the photos:

The poll suggests that 87 percent of Republicans are against the public release of the photos, as are 62 percent of Democrats. Three out of four independent voters would also prefer for the photos to stay under wraps.

I suppose that many in the majority have bought the various lame excuses that opponents of releasing the photos, including President Obama, have hidden behind: notably, U.S. troops would be put "in danger," as Obama put it, kowtowing before the generals, as if they aren't already (and as if a few more photos providing yet more proof of what everyone knows the U.S. did would push America's enemies over the edge). And I suppose that some also approve of torture and/or are partisan Republicans who want what happened to remain behind barbed wire -- if only to spare Bush and Cheney and rest of the torture enablers in the GOP further embarrassment.

But I suspect that some object to the release of the photos because they just don't want to know the truth, which would, if exposed, tear apart the fragile fabric of their lives. They just don't want to believe, they just can't, that their beloved country, the country to which they daily pledge allegiance, is a country that tortures, or that used to in the very recent past. They want to believe, they must believe, that America is truly the last, best hope, the ideal of their imaginings, that the myth they were taught as children is undeniable historic fact, that the America of civic propaganda is the real America. They don't want to know, for it would destroy them, that America has been yet another abuser of humanity, that what it did in prosecuting its so-called war on terror -- at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, the CIA black sites, and elsewhere -- is what the Nazis did, and what the North Vietnamese did, and what other abusive regimes have done throughout history. Since what happened there was un-American, America could not have done it. Or if it did, it was just a few bad seeds, an exception to the rule. Many, many Americans want that to be the truth, and they certainly don't want to see any more myth-shattering photos.

And so, yes, it is ignorance, much of it willful, that is partly behind the numbers here, with the majority made up mostly of an alliance of ignorance, partisanship, and support for torture.

The only way to triumph over that ugly alliance is to open up to, and own up to, the truth, and for Americans to be honest with themselves, and with the world. And that means releasing the photos, admitting what happened, and promising that what happened won't happen again.

Given his massive popularity and credibility both at home and abroad, President Obama is in a position to lead that effort. It is time for him to do just that.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009


By Michael J.W. Stickings

That's the total number of posts that have been published at The Reaction. (This is #7,002.)

Yes, we hit the 7k milestone earlier today with my post on the Politico Palin-Hillary "alliance" non-story -- hardly one of our more important ones, but whatever.

I look back with a certain awe at what we've accomplished here. It's been well over four years now, and we've covered a lot of ground in that time. It was just me at first, then Creature and the Liberal Girl Next Door joined, and Grace, too, and the blog just blossomed from there. My name's up there -- "a stickings blog" -- but it's a group effort, and I couldn't be prouder. As I've said before, and as I keep repeating (because it's true), I just couldn't do this, or at least nearly as well, without my great team of editors and co-bloggers and contributors, and they have done a lot of the 7,000+, and a lot of the best that has appeared here.

Thank you to them, and to all of you. Now let's keep this going.

-- Michael

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Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels

By Carl

I feel pretty good today.

I look to the future, and while things could easily slip back into darkness, things are looking brighter.

The economy seems to have bottomed out, altho we'll still see disturbing numbers of lay-offs through the summer. Housing starts are trending down, but that's more because people are sitting tight and refinancing their existing homes. Remember, housing starts have been artificially inflated for almost a decade now. We're at levels we should have been historically.

Even the stock markets seem to have incorporated and digested the shitty news and are primed to tick upwards regularly.

On the political front, I see an evolution in America. Obama's election was supposed to herald change, and indeed, it will. Maybe not as fast as many of us would like, but here's the thing: we have to trust that he meant what he said when he said he would be an agent of change.

Sometimes, to make a change, you have to fix what's broken first, stabilize that, and then you can build.

But it's culturally I see the greatest and most positive changes to come. Incrementally, to be sure, but change has a funny way of evolving in fits and starts. If you plant a hundred seeds, maybe eighty of them germinate and maybe fifty of those outlast the birds and worms. You can't predict where you'll have flowers, only that they'll grow out of some of the dirt.

If a future me was to come back in time and report that we needed to endure the Bush administration in order to truly advance the cause of humanity, that the past eight years were the dying gasps of a failed philosophy and mind-set, it would hardly surprise me.

Life is like that: change happens over the entrenched ideologies and agendas of the powered few. They'll try to clamp it down, then when the top blows off the boiling pot, get more aggressive in effecting the status quo.

And then they end up fighting a rear guard action, trying to maintain scraps and scrapes of what their power structure was. I don't expect conservativism to go away, not even quietly, but I do expect the noise level to decrease significantly as the changes we make turn up the signal, wipe out the noise.

We'll hear echoes of them down the corridors of time. Hell, one day a conservative will be elected President yet again, but like Reagan and Bush before him, he or she will have to deal with a changed world. Reagan had to unlearn to hate Social Security. Bush had to unlearn to hate equality.

The next conservative President will have to unlearn his(her) hatred of national healthcare and gay rights.

Time moves forward, not backward, and it is in this vein that we see the triumph of progress.

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)


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A Palin-Clinton alliance? (or, the stupidest non-story of the day)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Credit Politico for this incredible headline:

Really? Serious? When? During the primaries? During the general election campaign? Was Palin trying to turn Hillary against Obama? This is huge news... huge!

Well, not so much. Actually, the headline is incredibly misleading. Here's the story:

In an unusual attempt to forge an alliance between two of the most prominent families in American politics, John Coale, a Washington-area Democratic donor and onetime adviser to Sarah Palin, urged the conservative Alaska governor to use her political action committee to help retire the presidential campaign debt of Hillary Clinton.

Coale, a wealthy trial attorney and the husband of Fox News talk show host Greta Van Susteren, approached Palin with the improbable plan in February while in Alaska with his wife, who was taping an interview with the former Republican vice presidential nominee.

This is stupid in so many ways. Coale's plan is stupid, as is Politico's reporting.

First, how would this have been an "alliance"?

Second, how is Coale the "Palin camp"?

Third, Hillary never would have accepted any such offer.

Fourth, Palin never would have made any such offer -- indeed, "Palin was amenable to getting acquainted with the Clintons but was skeptical of using her PAC to help the former first lady."

Fifth, Politico was clearly trying to lure in readers with a provocative headline. But, of course, the story, such as there is one, has nothing to do with last year's campaign, let alone with any sort of pre-election alliance.

This was basically a crazy idea that came from a crazy quasi-Democrat (how could a real Democrat ever be an advisor to Palin?) -- so crazy that even Palin turned it down. (The whole Coale-Van Susteren (a crazy, full-of-it insider married to a crazy Fox News host) relationship with Palin is so sickeningly sycophantic.)

And yet, here's Politico making a big deal about it. (And here I am blogging about it. Alas... But only because it further exposes the inanity of this relatively major (right-wing) media outlet.)

Typical, of course.

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James Harrison, don't be an idiot

By Michael J.W. Stickings

How can I not like James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers OLB who ran back that INT 99 yards for a TD to close out the first half of Super Bowl XLIII in January, a game my beloved Steelers came from behind to win, with Roethlisberger and Holmes hooking up for perhaps the greatest catch in Super Bowl history?

It isn't just that play. Last year, Harrison was, with Polamalu (my favourite player on the team), one of the two most dominant players on one of the most dominant Ds ever. He's one of the top defensive players in the game today, and one of the greatest Steelers ever.

But, come on, what's with turning down the trip to the White House to meet the president this week? "I don't feel the need to go, actually," Harrison explained. "I don't feel like it's that big a deal to me." Well, fine -- and I realize it's not all that special: all winning teams get the WH invite (the Cardinals would have gone if they'd won). But it's a big deal to your fans, to Steelers fans, and, even just meeting the president, the team just isn't same without you. And surely it's a big deal to Dan Rooney, team chairman, who was one of Obama's most prominent supporters in Pennsylvania during the campaign and whom Obama tapped to be ambassador to Ireland.

Are you not a Democrat, not an Obama fan? Then just suck it up. (And think of all those SB winners who had to meet Bush.)

Or is it that you're just a bit of an eccentric -- a loner, a maverick? Is it that you just like to go your own way and do your own thing? Then, again, just suck it up. Deal with it. Be a team player, as they say.

You're a fantastic player and a Super Bowl champion. Even if you're not making some grand political point, don't be an idiot.

Put the Black 'n' Gold before yourself. It's the Steelers way.

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More Jesse

By Creature

I do hope, in light of the fact that discussions like this are being had on a national, more mainstream level, that the public's perception of waterboarding and prosecuting those who ordered it will change.

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Headed for a blowout

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman -- that rather sensible, rather independent Republican (and there aren't many who are either these days) -- is off to China, or soon will be, as Obama's ambassador, and so likely won't be running for president (and against Obama, against whom he might have been a formidable opponent) in 2012, but one of his chief advisors, long-time McCainiac John Weaver, with whom one would expect him to be in agreement, has put in perspective, post-Huntsman (or without Huntsman), just what could become of the GOP:

If it's 2012 and our party is defined by Palin and Limbaugh and Cheney, then we're headed for a blowout. That's just the truth.

Well, yes, that is the truth, and the truth is also that the Republican Party is defined by Palin, Limbaugh, Cheney, and their hardcore rightist ilk.

However appealing are the likes of Huntsman (and, again, there aren't many of them, not with Dear Leader Rush and his various minions calling the ideological shots), the Republican Party, today's Republican Party, isn't a party that would choose Huntsman to be its presidential nominee. Yes, it chose McCain, but that was an accident -- he was the least bad of a poor crop of candidates, and the most viable right-wing alternative, Mitt Romney, lacked credibility on the right -- and, post-2008, the far right has learned its lesson.

Which is fine for those of us who support the other side -- I'd rather not go up against a rejuvenated party under the leadership of Huntsman and those like him (that is, those who aren't extremist ideologues, even if they aren't, alternatively, moderates -- remember, McCain wasn't a moderate, though he played one from time to time, as it suited his political aspirations) -- but which should not be fine to Republicans who care about winning, as well as about the future of their party and what it can contribute to American public life.

So Huntsman can head to Beijing -- and Weaver can say whatever he wants. It's not like those now purging the party of difference and dissent are about to back down.

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The GOP in decline

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Gallup: "The decline in Republican Party affiliation among Americans in recent years is well documented, but a Gallup analysis now shows that this movement away from the GOP has occurred among nearly every major demographic subgroup. Since the first year of George W. Bush's presidency in 2001, the Republican Party has maintained its support only among frequent churchgoers, with conservatives and senior citizens showing minimal decline.

What was that Karl Rove once said about a "permanent Republican majority"? That dream has been dead for a long time.

It was dead when Rove left the White House, and it died much earlier than that, not that there was ever much to it beyond the wilds of Rove's imagination.

And now, with the Republican Party in sharp decline -- across the board, it seems, demographically -- the prospects of a Republican resurgence, let alone of seemingly "permanent" majority status, are growing ever dimmer.

Not that those of us on the other side ought to back down in apparent victory. On the contrary, Democrats must continue to work hard to support, and accelerate, the GOP's decline. (And, of course, Democrats have many of their own problems, not the least of which, right now, is Pelosi and the torture briefings.)

Still, it's hard not to look upon the GOP's decline without a certain glee.

As long as we keep all this in perspective, surely we can be excused our fully justifiable Schadenfreude.

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Monday, May 18, 2009


By Carl

The Twitterpated rabble on the right wing of this nation have suddenly decided that liberals are
falling out of love with Barack Obama:

Barely four months into his presidency, Obama is confronting growing dissatisfaction among members of his liberal base, who feel spurned by a series of his early decisions on issues ranging from guns to torture to immigration to gay rights.

The list got longer last week as Obama reversed his earlier decision to release photos of detainees abused in U.S. military custody and announced plans to try some terror suspects before military commissions – though on the campaign trail he railed against earlier versions of the tribunals.

A few, like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, have even hurled the left’s ultimate epithet – suggesting that Obama’s turning into George W. Bush.

Unlike, of course, conservatives who marched lockstep with Bush like lemmings until suddenly last November 5, they uncovered evidence that Bush was not really conservative and was in fact the pre-Obama Barack Obama.

We on the left are a cantankerous bunch, to be sure, which means, to periphrase Barnum, you can't fool all of the peoples all of the time. For the right, apparently you can not only fool all the of the peoples all of the time, but you can make them smile and ask for more.

After making a case that liberals will demand a "liberal Scalia" as payback for his backpedalling on issues like torture and troop withdrawal, Politico goes on to dump this load of shit on the blogosphere:

Brittain said such a [centrist] nominee would be confirmed – but liberal groups would probably be slow to respond to future calls for help from Obama. “When he went to press the button next time to rally up people, I think there would still be a lingering issue,” Brittain said.

Right. Because as we all know, liberal groups will shoot themselves to spite themselves.

If the past eight years have taught liberals, at least thinking liberals anything, it's that lockstep ideologues are unlikely to be satisfied with very much for very long and the Bush administration policy of appeasement might have won him a second term, but it did not win him a successful administration.

Obama himself
said it best at Notre Dame, albeit it on a different topic:

Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

Politico, please... stop characterizing us on the left. You think you know us, but you know nothing.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Victoria Day 2009

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Happy Victoria Day to all of you Canadians out there. It's a beautiful day here in Toronto, the first (unofficial) day of summer, and I've actually been out tending to the lawn, gardening, and washing my car all afternoon -- and watching, from time to time, the Jays pull off the sweep over the White Sox.

Enjoy the rest of the May Two-Four. (Which this year falls early on the One-Eight.)

Oh, and if you'd like to look back on this national holiday of ours -- Quebec takes the day off but doesn't, of course, celebrate anything Victorian (or British) -- think about the Germanization of the British Monarchy, for Victoria was pretty much entirely German, and about the British Empire, for better and for worse, and about everything that is now understood to be "Victorian," for better and for worse, and about how crazy it is that a country like Canada, so British and yet so not, not now, still celebrates Victoria's birthday, and still has, as its head of state, a monarch who is not our own. (Am I an anti-monarchist? Do I think Canada should become a republic? Well, sort of, but no, perhaps not. Canada's not so bad the way it is now, even it means retaining as ours the soap opera that is the current British Royal Family, Victoria's descendants.)

Now excuse me, please, for I must go make dinner.

I'll have some new posts this evening.

-- Michael

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They have no idea

By Mustang Bobby

It's interesting how President Obama's coolness, in both his actions and his words, is really getting under the skin of the right wingers. The more he chills, the more hysterical they get. At some point they're going to go completely off the rails and lie there in a puddle of their own excretions. It's not pretty, but, like a train wreck, you can't help but marvel at the crumpled wreckage.

This was pointed out to me in a response to one of my posts here last week. An anonymous commenter went into full froth mode against me and another commenter, labeling me and him as "haters," all the while calling me schoolyard names in relation to my sexual orientation and accusing the other commenter of having an unnatural attraction to children. About all you can do in a situation like that is get some popcorn and watch.

This isn't just limited to blogging, which, after all, lends itself to anonymity and over-the-top rhetoric from both sides; I remember some pretty classic volcanic activity from the left during the Bush administration. But to give credit where credit is due, the progressives have got nothing on the right wing for working themselves up into a fit of righteous outrage. Newt Gingrich seems to have cornered the market -- at least in the last week -- with his fulminations against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling her charge that the CIA mislead her "the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I've seen in my lifetime." (Apparently he wasn't around for the impeachment of a president for committing adultery; it must have escaped his attention because he was doing the same thing at the same time.)

The attack on Speaker Pelosi took on a life of its own this weekend on the chat shows because it was a very nice diversion from the fact that what Ms. Pelosi was talking about -- the Bush administration authorized torture and did it to some of their captives in order for them to confess to a link between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda where none existed. It's a hell of a lot easier for the Republicans to thunder about what Nancy Pelosi knew, when she knew it, and what she could do about it than it is to own up to the fact that they supported a president, a vice president, and a Department of Justice that committed torture in violation of the law and several treaties and lied about it. This is the classic diversion -- "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" -- and the pliant media like David Gregory on Meet The Press and George Stephanopoulos are buying it. For instance, when Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president and now a Republican strategist warned darkly on ABC's This Week that the Obama administration was trying to consolidate one-party rule and that it would set a dangerous precedent, nobody on the panel, including James Carville and Katrina van den Heuvel, reminded her of Karl Rove's goal of a permanent Republican majority, or noticed the steaming hypocrisy lying on the table like a pool of cat vomit.

The larger point is that the conservatives, and specifically the Republicans, have been cast aside by the electorate and they have no idea what to do. Time after time they've been out-maneuvered by the president -- and very deftly so -- or been caught flat-footed in their hypocrisy. So far their response has been impotent outrage, a complete capitulation of the leadership of their party to the ravings of a radio talk-show host who demands absolute fealty -- and gets it, and these diversions over everything from the president's use of a teleprompter to what present he gave to the Queen of England. It takes up the time on the 24/7 cable TV shows, but when you're in the middle of the worst economic crisis in eighty years, that's not what people are looking for from a political movement; they want ideas and deeds, not blaming and alibis.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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By Creature

That's the percentage of American people who believe it is “somewhat likely” or "very likely" that the CIA lied to Nancy Pelosi about the use of waterboarding when interrogating detainees. On the other end, 41% say it’s “not very likely” or “not at all likely.” Now, keeping in mind this is a right-leaning Rasmussen poll and the media's embrace of the Republican frame on this, I'm very surprised that so many people were willing to give Pelosi the benefit of the doubt.

For me, for the record, on the narrow lie that waterboarding had already been used when Pelosi was briefed that it could legally be used, I'm fully in the pluralities camp. Everything the Bush administration did to CYA on torture, including briefings, was after the fact and no amount of muddying can change that.

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Show me the money

By Capt. Fogg

Sometimes I think Ron Paul's ideas may be too simplistic. This isn't one of them. In a Forbes editorial last week, Congressman Paul called for an audit of the Federal Reserve Bank. Paul of course, doesn't buy the idea that the Fed is necessary to keep inflation low and to promote growth. Truth be told, I've been of the opinion that it has played a part in all but eliminating the 10-15 year cycle of boom, panic and collapse that has plagued our economy since the Washington administration. Maybe it has, but maybe, as the Congressman claims, it's been the cause of inflation and a drag on growth. Maybe there's a better way, and I'm the first to admit I don't know.

The idea of an independent Fed is a fallacy, says the man from Texas. The allegedly independent Fed has:

far too much authority to make agreements with foreign governments and central banks, or create temporary liquidity facilities,

and, of course, the chairman and governors are appointed by the president and will reflect his politics, but the question of whether it is a good solution, a bad solution and more importantly whether we should have a Federal Reserve Bank at all isn't easy to answer and it isn't easy to discuss because of the political passions and partisanship involved. Everyone thinks he's an economist these days. Of course, supporter or detractor, we really don't know exactly what the Fed is doing anyway, not even today with the huge amounts of money being moved around in the dark.

"Let's have an audit" is Ron Paul's simple suggestion, and one would think that at a time when the government has the power to audit anyone; to investigate, spy on, wire tap, seize assets and records, imprison without charges, and even pour water up your nose, the answer would be "why the hell not?"

What possible arguments exist against this bill? Who opposes an audit of the Fed's activities and why?

asks Glenn Greenwald at "It would interfere with the Fed's independence," says Forbes in rebuttal, stressing that monetary policy is too complex for simple minded congressmen. Maybe it is, but maybe it's too complex for the Fed, too, and more than maybe; the lingering appearance of impropriety, if not incompetence, can finally be confirmed or dispelled by a little bit of transparency.

I wouldn't dare pass myself off as an economist and I'm not going to see this along party lines because I don't trust either side, particularly in this atmosphere of secrecy, but if an "independent" Fed means a Fed that operates in the dark, according to its own rules and politics, I'm with Congressman Paul. I want to see the books and you're going to have a lot of 'splainin' to do to talk me out of it.

Perhaps I can use the words of surveillance supporters against the government for once: if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Reaction in Review (May 17, 2009)

A weekend's Reactions that deserve a second look:


By Capt. Fogg: "Whoever it is, we're against him" -- Fogg reminds us that Republicans need money with this, "That they don't have the votes to actually block an Obama appointment seems obvious, but they do hope to have the opportunity for sufficient demonization and hysteria to loosen the purse strings of newly parsimonious traditional supporters."

By Mustang Bobby: "Told you so" -- Citing a useful archival article that gives insight into the GM/Chrysler dealership problem, Bobby insightfully explores the question of whether they "could have staved off their current situation."


By Capt. Fogg: "No presidents need apply" -- This post skilfully takes on the controversy surrounding President Obama's decision to accept Notre Dame's invitation to give the commencement address, concluding: "
The American People, particularly the younger ones, aren't the ones trying to tear the country apart for fun and profit, it's the same, cranky, closed minded and anti-democratic institutions and leaders who have been with us since the beginning.

By LindaBeth: "Do not all judges only have a perspective?" -- This great post explains the mistaken notion of purely objective judicial decision-making, noting, "What is more accurate is that identity and experiences of oppression and privilege will necessarily come to bear on any judicial decision-making."

Great Quickies: Michael J.W. Stickings on the great music of Priscilla Ahn and Creature's great Truth in Comics.

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Whoever it is, we're against him

By Capt. Fogg

Do we know who's on president Obama's short list for the Supreme Court? Short list or long shot, the swift boats are taking on fuel and ammunition in preparation to oppose whomever might be nominated. It's more than an attempt to obfuscate and embarrass and delay and sabotage however; while Democrats may see another and hopefully last gasp of the medievalists, Republicans are hoping for some yet unsullied flag they can rally around; something of overriding importance. No, not war or peace or prosperity or freedom, but ancient religious taboos: the neo-Christian American religion and its obsession with reproductive rights and sexual freedom.

That they don't have the votes to actually block an Obama appointment seems obvious, but they do hope to have the opportunity for sufficient demonization and hysteria to loosen the purse strings of newly parsimonious traditional supporters. Needless to say, the Christian Right is demoralized, as financially strapped as the rest of us and most importantly, no longer in the driver's seat. Focus on the Family has had to cut at least 200 jobs of late.

As usual, the
sturm und drang is about "Christian values," but it's really about power and money and how to get it back:

It's an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there. It's a massive teaching moment for America. We've got the packages written. We're waiting right now to put a name in,

said conservative fund-raiser Richard A. Viguerie in the Times today. Whoever it is, if Obama likes her, it's slime time, and they can't afford to be "gentlemanly":

By doing that, they will not only lose an educational moment with the public, but they will risk driving the base of the Republican Party to once again be frustrated,

said social conservative advocate Barry Bauer. Indeed, any kind of cooperation might be construed as weakness, a common obsession of the coward. Whomever, whatever -- they're going to raise hell. They're going to make vague and oversimplified accusations that will anger but not inspire the public to look at the particulars. "Willing to expand constitutional rights beyond the text of the Constitution" is a typical description of a judge deciding that a foreigner has the right to contact his embassy -- something every American hopes to do if arrested abroad.

Of course, some judges seem to be more palatable to the Party of God than others. Potential nominee Judge Wardlaw, for instance, denied an appeal in a death penalty case, allowed a Ten Commandments monument on public property, and allowed a police officer to be fired in wanton disregard of his freedom of speech: all good stuff to the party whose decay conservative Judge Richard Posner so eloquently and clearly outlined a week ago.

There is no longer an intellectual Right. There are idiots with bloody dolls in baby carriages in the streets, there are Palin and the Plumber, Pastor Muthee and his witches, professional media ravers, and a host of uneducated schoolyard bullies that the shabby remains of the movement are trying to herd into the party corral. It doesn't take a lot of people to make a big stink, it only takes a few very stinky people and that, I'm afraid, is what remains of the GOP.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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