Saturday, July 25, 2009

The truth? Let's not be extremist.

By Capt. Fogg

Greg Sargent reports at The Plumb Line on his shocking interview with John Klein, President of CNN and it's not heartening news to those who thought Lou Dobbs could at least be censured for reporting something as a controversy that has been conclusively debunked.

Not only does Klein think CNN's duty has been fulfilled by showing that Barack Obama has a valid birth certificate and other evidence of citizenship on other CNN programs, but he complains, in self contradictory fashion that those who have been calling for Dobb's head are taking a "partisan" and "extremist" position:

I understand that people with a partisan point of view from one extreme or another might get annoyed that certain subjects are aired.

I understand that too, but what I don't understand is how demonstrable truth is an extremist position and how, in the name of responsible journalism, one can justify telling an admitted lie by having told the truth elsewhere at a different time. Pairing a lie with every truth is not fair nor balanced coverage and if I were to mention that "people are asking" why Dobbs won't release proof that he isn't a Grand Dragon of the KKK, why he pals around with terrorists and is a charter member of NAMBLA, telling you I know it's not true and that I whispered that to myself yesterday still wouldn't make me anything but a liar.

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A dying screed

By Creature

I haven't weighed in on the Professor Gates, Officer Crowley, and President Obama story yet. I'm slow to react, I think, because, even after all these years, I'm still amazed by the stupid coming out of our media and the Right Wing noise machine that they feed into.

When Lynn Sweet asked the Gates question Wednesday night, my ears certainly pricked up. I was intrigued to see how the president would respond and I was pleased with his answer (and all his answers since, especially Friday's). I think he was right to delve in, despite it being a local matter, despite the potential distraction to healthcare reform. If he, as the first black president, can't answer a question that has race at its core, then who can? Like the man said, it's part of his portfolio.

Meanwhile, the Right in this country are perfectly content to sweep racism under the rug until it serves their own purpose, until they perceive themselves as the victims of it in some perverse reverse fashion. For them, it's all vapors the moment anyone who's actually experienced racism speaks up. And, with a media ready to provide them an uncritical couch, it's hard to see any end. Thankfully, however, there is an end. Not that racism will ever go away, but those on the Right who feel unduly burdened by it (while refusing to see it in themselves) are a dying breed. Their end is about demographics. It's about math and, thankfully, the math is on the side of diversity and, hopefully, tolerance.

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Join the call to oust Lou Dobbs


There was a time not long ago when broadcast news was considered fair and impartial, when news anchors did not abuse their positions of trust to advance a personal or partisan agenda. No longer.

These days, news stories are no longer reported with objectivity but shrink-wrapped inside the bias of reporters and their corporate employers. News is editorialized, politicized, and hyped by talking heads eliciting the phony hysteria of a game show. The news, and our supposed responses to the news, are pre-packaged upon delivery as if citizens can no longer be trusted to make their own judgements.

In recent days, Lou Dobbs has joined the ranks of birth certificate conspiracy theorists, alleging that President Obama is not an American citizen and may even be undocumented. Of course, other CNN reporters have investigated these claims and found the infamous birth certificate exactly where it is supposed to be … on file in the State of Hawaii … along with birth announcements in the local press.

But these are not enough to dissuade die-hard conspiracy theorists, who will not be deprived of any opportunity to undermine Obama’s legitimate claim to the presidency. Like all conspiracy theorists and delusional nutcases hearing voices in their heads, Lou Dobbs dismisses the evidence (even the investigative reports of his own colleagues who have confirmed the existence of a valid birth certificate). Worst of all, Dobbs infers that Obama’s actions as president may be deemed illegal and therefore null and void.

Yesterday, Dobbs called his critics:

"limp-minded, lily-livered lefties"

... who attacked him only because he "had the temerity to inquire as to where the birth certificate was and why the president of the United States would not turn over that birth certificate to the national media and end the noise."

Dobbs’ epithet is an insult to the 69,456,897 Americans, a 53% majority, who voted for the President. This goes beyond crazy. This is a prelude to inciting insurrection, not the province of ethical journalism. And that is why it is time for Lou Dobbs to go.

If you feel as I do, please take a moment to write a letter to CNN calling for Lou Dobbs’ dismissal, names and an address below:

Jon Klein

Richard Davis
Executive Vice President
News Standards and Practices

CNN Worldwide
190 Marietta Street (1 CNN Center)
Atlanta, GA 30303

I sent my letters via registered mail – return receipt requested.


Update: The Southern Poverty Law Center has written to Jon Klein, President of CNN, demanding that Lou Dobbs be removed from the air. Here is the published letter reproduced in full:

Dear Mr. Klein,

As an important and respected news organization, CNN has a special responsibility to ensure the accuracy of its reporting. We have written to you before about our concern that Lou Dobbs repeatedly fails to live up to this standard in his reporting on immigration. Now, Mr. Dobbs is again trading in falsehoods and racist conspiracy theories, questioning President Obama's American citizenship.

On the July 15 edition of "Lou Dobbs Tonight," Mr. Dobbs questioned the official certificate provided by the president and the State of Hawaii and complained that President Obama has not made public the "original document." On his radio program, Mr. Dobbs has repeatedly questioned the president's fitness for office, demanding he "show the documents" and, at one point, jokingly suggesting President Obama may be "undocumented."

The truth about the president's birth is not in dispute. It has been verified by, among many other serious news organizations, and his official birth documents have been made public. CNN itself has repeatedly reported on the falsity of the claims of the "birthers," and the network's esteemed legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, recently called those claims "a joke." As you know, even Mr. Dobbs' frequent fill-in anchor, Kitty Pilgrim, debunked the birthers on the July 17 edition of Mr. Dobbs' own CNN show. The fact that Mr. Dobbs suggests otherwise on CNN -- while real CNN reporters tell the truth -- is both deplorable and an embarrassment to all serious journalists.

As he has in several other instances, Mr. Dobbs, in taking up the birthers' claims, is adopting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that originated on the radical racist right. As has reported, this particular conspiracy theory was first developed by an open anti-Semite and circulated by right-wing extremists who cannot accept the fact that a black man has been elected president of the United States. Among its adherents was neo-Nazi James von Brunn, the alleged murderer of a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., this June. Von Brunn had helped spread the birthers' claims on the Internet and attacked the "dishonest & conspiratorial Media" for not taking them up.

This is not the first time Mr. Dobbs has pushed racist conspiracy theories or defamatory falsehoods about immigrants. We wrote you in 2007 to bring to your attention his utterly false claim that 7,000 new cases of leprosy had appeared in the United States in a recent three-year period, due at least in part to immigrants. (The real number, according to official statistics, was about 400. Mr. Dobbs took his spurious information from the late right-wing extremist, Madeleine Cosman.) In addition, Mr. Dobbs has reported as fact the so-called Aztlan conspiracy, which claims that undocumented Mexican immigrants are part of a plot to "reconquer" the American Southwest. He has suggested there is something to a related conspiracy theory that claims the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada are secretly planning to merge into the "North American Union." He has falsely claimed that "illegal aliens" fill one third of American prison and jail cells. And Mr. Dobbs has routinely disparaged, on CNN's air, those who have had the integrity to point out the falsity of these and similar claims.

Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda. It's time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from the airwaves.

J. Richard Cohen

(Cross-posted at The Swash Zone.)

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The Reaction in review (July 24, 2009)

By Carol Gee

A week's Reactions that deserve a second look:

Creature has been filling in ably this week while Michael has been on vacation. There are his patented posts, such as Truth in Comics and Quote of the Day; his timely posts on health care, such as on the GOP here and here, and on Obama here; and also one on campaign finance reform. Good job!


By J. Thomas Duffy: "Top Ten Cloves: Newly discovered facts of the Prof. Gates - Sgt.Crowley debacle" -- Duffy's trademark Top-10-Countdown form is perfect for his humorous post on one of the biggest stories of this week; includes a very useful set of links to what others think.

By Mustang Bobby: "On the battlefield" -- Bobby's very insightful and informative post -- well worth the read -- explores the story of the battle, during last days of the Bush administration, of former Veep Dick Cheney to get his boss to pardon Scooter Libby.


By (O)CT(O)PUS: "The soul murder of Michael Jackson and the culture of victim blame" -- The author presents a very well researched and beautifully written piece, that brings much needed clarity to how Jackson's childhood of serious physical and emotional abuse shaped his tragic adulthood.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "On Gates arrest, Obama says Cambridge police "acted stupidly," conservatives freak out" -- Michael's excellent post brings to bear his own, as well as others' insights, into the actualities of the Professor Gates-Obama story as covered by the MSM.

Michael J.W. Stickings: "Hillary Clinton vs. North Korea" -- The post begins with this writing gem, "I think it's a sign you're doing something right when the totalitarians in Pyongyang, always so busy brutalizing their own people and wallowing in their own pathetic self-aggrandizement, take the time to attack you personally."

By Capt. Fogg: "Ron Paul -- in the tradition." -- Fogg is like many of us who admire Rep. Ron Paul, the one of a kind legislator, whose anti-war wisdom takes us back to the Sixties.


By Carl: "A sign of sanity" -- Carl's thoughtful post on the closing of the F-22 fighter jet program concludes, "We should applaud Secretary Gates as well as the Senate for having the courage to not take us one step closer to annihilation, militarily as well as economically."


By Mustang Bobby: "Summer rerun" -- This post is another example of why it is so worthwhile to read Bobby's great writing; this time it's on columnist David Brooks' shopworn prediction of a dim future for health care reform.

By Capt. Fogg: "Entering while black" -- Read Fogg's post as one of several this week, each with an interesting interpretation of the Henry Louis Gates arrest in Cambidge. It brought 9 comments.


By Carl: "Intertwines" -- Carl writes a very compelling post regarding the uncertain future of the U.S. space program, engendered by the nexus of events and associated memories this week: the death of Walter Cronkite, the death of John Kennedy, the 40th anniversary of the moon walk, and the subsequent decline of support for space exploration.

By Carol Gee: "Five hundred words about the World Wide Web" -- This is a short piece that focuses on the world of bloggers and the Internet, using the reporters' concept of the "Five Ws," and featuring LOTS of good links.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Kristol the Killer: Inside the right-wing agenda to destroy health-care reform" -- Michael examines Bill Kristol's latest strategy for stopping health care reform, concluding that the neocons "are obstructionists . . . it will take all our strength to fight back against them, and to achieve our goal. . . quality health care for all Americans. . . "


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Quote of the Day: Peter Orszag on the health-care reform obstructionists in Congress" -- This great post provides important insight into what could be the most dangerous opposition to health care reform, not Republicans but, to quote, "self-styled centrists in both parties . . . seeking merely to position themselves in the middle no matter what . . . ego-driven opportunists."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Woe is Stanford" -- Following Governor Sanford's op-ed piece at The State, Michael artfully lays out all the ways he is not buying a word of it.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)" -- Michael writes a lovely tribute to Cronkite, who was active before our editor's time, discussing how he came to appreciate his important benchmark contributions to genuine news reporting, not spinning and manipulation.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Top Ten Cloves: Newly discovered facts of the Prof. Gates - Sgt.Crowley debacle

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: The Facts Of The Gates Case

10. Reason Prof. Gates didn't want to step outside was that PBS film crew hadn't set up yet

9. Since the person that made 911 call, and person who took picture of Prof. Gates in handcuffs, didn't know who he was, a "Meet The Neighbors" block party being planned

8. After Obama statement, Prof. Gates kept running up, standing next to Sgt. Crowley, wearing a "I'm With Stupid" T-Shirt

7. Prof. Gates, initially, misunderstood, thought Sgt. Crowley was asking him to "break dance"

6. Polls showing people confused, think Prof. Gates is actually Jazz Trumpeter Lester Bowie

5. Cambridge Police consulted with Leonard Pinth Garnell, for the "Loud and Tumultuous" line in their reports

4. If Prof. Gates wouldn't come out his house, Cambridge Police had plans to get New Haven Firefighters to come, and extract him

3. Sgt. Crowley got agitated, only due to Prof. Gates continually referring to him as "Officer Krupke"

2. Prof. Gates got agitated only due to Sgt. Crowley continually referring to him as "Skippy"

1. Real reason Sgt. Crowley arrested Prof. Gates was to pressure him, to cough up President Obama's Birth Certificate

Bonus Links

ABC News: Obama Called Police Officer Who Arrested Gates, Still Sees 'Overreaction' in Arrest ... President Explains His Remarks About Henry Louis Gates Arrest In Surprise Appearance

Joan Walsh: Obama should have stayed out of Gates case

Jonathan Turley: Report: Sgt. Crowley Considering Defamation Lawsuit in Gates Controversy

Martin Lewis: Eating Jim Crow(ley): What the Cop Forgot to Say to Professor Gates

Zandar vs. The Stupid: Gates At The Barbarians

A Phantom Negro: Skip Gates, please sit down ... You are suffering from what I call the "Ivy League Effect"

bmaz: Henry Louis Gates’ Contempt Of Cop

Bonus Bonus

On Monday, over at Alas, a Blog, nojojojo, in her post, had a commenter place this video, from David Chappelle, with the note to pay attention at the 1:05 mark, for a killer punch line

Dave Chappelle's Funny Ass Shit

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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On the battlefield

By Mustang Bobby

Say what you will about former Vice President Dick Cheney, he takes care of his friends regardless of what they did or the consequences of their actions. I suppose that's an admirable quality, but it makes you wonder what's more important to him; keeping Scooter Libby employed and his legacy intact, or seeing justice done. Time magazine has a look into the final days of the Bush administration and the battle between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney over whether the president should pardon Mr. Libby.

Hours before they were to leave office after eight troubled years, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney had one final and painful piece of business to conclude. For over a month Cheney had been pleading, cajoling, even pestering Bush to pardon the Vice President's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. Libby had been convicted nearly two years earlier of obstructing an investigation into the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity by senior White House officials. The Libby pardon, aides reported, had become something of a crusade for Cheney, who seemed prepared to push his nine-year-old relationship with Bush to the breaking point — and perhaps past it — over the fate of his former aide. "We don't want to leave anyone on the battlefield," Cheney argued.

The battlefield metaphor is interesting, seeing as how Mr. Cheney managed five deferments during the Vietnam war, citing "other priorities," and it's also an insight as to how he views the way things work in Washington; as a war rather than the give and take of politics and policy.

What comes through in this article is Mr. Cheney's obsession with shaping the legacy of the administration he steered, either overtly or behind the scenes, into the war in Iraq and making sure that anyone who dared to challenge him was dealt with swiftly and ruthlessly. It also shows that he and his supporters have a rather flexible definition of what is pardonable and what isn't. Ten years ago the Republicans and the right wingers drove the Congress and Senate to impeach and put on trial President Bill Clinton for doing exactly the same thing that Mr. Libby was convicted of: lying to a grand jury. The nation could not stand it if someone in the White House lied about getting a blow job. But after the Libby conviction, the righties' meme was that it was a "technicality" and that lying under oath was no big deal. (In a perverse way, some commentators blamed Mr. Clinton for Mr. Libby's plight; it a president could get away with it, why couldn't he?) The irony is so thick you can stand a spoon up in it.

The facts of the Libby case are pretty well known: someone in the White House leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to Robert Novack as part of the retaliation for her husband writing an op-ed piece in the New York Times that called into question the veracity of one of President Bush's reasons for going to war in Iraq. The trail led to the White House; specifically to the office of the vice president and Karl Rove. When Mr. Libby was questioned by a grand jury about his role in the leak, he lied to them. He was put on trial for perjury and convicted in March 2007. Several months later when he was sentenced, the president commuted his sentence, but did not grant him a pardon. This demand for exoneration became a cause celebre among the conservatives: Scooter was being punished for doing his job of keeping the evil lefties from ruining their war. But, to his credit, President Bush did not feel that Mr. Libby had met the criterion of earning a pardon; he didn't admit to his guilt, he didn't show remorse, and he hadn't served time -- something the president took care of with his commutation. Having ridden into office on the coattails of the Marc Rich pardon kerfuffle by President Clinton, even Mr. Bush saw the double standard staring him in the face. On the last weekend in the White House, Mr. Bush decided that Mr. Libby didn't deserve a pardon.

He called Jim Sharp, his personal attorney in the Plame case, who had been present when he was interviewed by Fitzgerald in 2004. Sharp was known in Washington as one of the best lawyers nobody knew. A savvy raconteur from Oklahoma who had represented a long list of colorful clients — from Nixon pal Charles G. (Bebe) Rebozo to Sammy Sosa — Sharp had worked quietly for the President for a while before anyone even knew about it. In the meantime, the two men had become friends, spending hours chatting over cigars and near beer. On the Sunday before he left office, Bush invited Sharp to the executive mansion for a farewell cigar.

While packing boxes in the upstairs residence, according to his associates, Bush noted that he was again under pressure from Cheney to pardon Libby. He characterized Cheney as a friend and a good Vice President but said his pardon request had little internal support. If the presidential staff were polled, the result would be 100 to 1 against a pardon, Bush joked. Then he turned to Sharp. "What's the bottom line here? Did this guy lie or not?"

The lawyer, who had followed the case very closely, replied affirmatively.

Bush indicated that he had already come to that conclusion too.

"O.K., that's it," Bush said.

To this day Mr. Cheney still carries his torch for Mr. Libby; in response to the Time article, he released a statement:

Scooter Libby is an innocent man who was the victim of a severe miscarriage of justice. He was not the source of the leak of Valerie Plame's name. Former Deputy Secretary of State, Rich Armitage, leaked the name and hid that fact from most of his colleagues, including the President. Mr. Libby is an honorable man and a faithful public servant who served the President, the Vice President and the nation with distinction for many years. He deserved a presidential pardon.

This would all be rather ordinary were it not for the fact that it points out that Mr. Cheney's priority in the matter wasn't whether or not an agent of the CIA was compromised, whether or not the country knew the truth about the lies being told to get us into a war that has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians and decimated our honor and fortune, or whether or not Mr. Libby received a fair trial and justice was done. All that mattered was that his friend was able to work as a lawyer again and that his reputation was somehow restored by the stroke of the president's pen. Even President Bush, who had the most to gain or lose by the outcome of the Libby/Plame case, felt that justice had been done, that Mr. Libby was guilty and without remorse, and that he was doing the right thing -- finally -- by standing up to Mr. Cheney. (It also makes you wonder why Mr. Cheney is so determined to clear Mr. Libby. It's almost as if there was some really compelling reason to keep him happy... and silent.) It's also a little tragic that the one time when Mr. Bush went against the advice and strong persuasion of Mr. Cheney, its outcome was less than consequential; what if he had said no to the war in Iraq? There are a lot of people still left out on that battlefield.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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And another. . .

By Capt. Fogg

Tennessee state senator Paul Stanley, that is. A Republican, abstinence only, anti-gay marriage, Faith and Church, Sunday School teaching, pro-family reptile who was bonking a 22 year old intern on video tape all the while he was telling us about God and how God doesn't like this kind of shit -- when we do it.

"Stanley recently sponsored a bill designed to prevent gay couples from adopting children." Says TPM. And when a Planned Parenthood official recently sought his support for family planning services for Memphis teens, Stanley told her, according to the official, that he 'didn't believe young people should have sex before marriage anyway, that his faith and church are important to him, and he wants to promote abstinence.'"

How long before the Republicans remind us of Clinton and that maybe 2% of such people are Democrats, so all's fair? What would be fair would be to say theirs is a party of hypocritical fornicators with an entirely different set of morals for themselves -- and to say it loud.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The soul murder of Michael Jackson and the culture of victim blame


If ye endure chastening,
God dealeth with you as with sons;
for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement,
whereof all are partakers,
then are ye bastards and not sons.

(Hebrews 12:6-8)

Celebrity gossip and tabloid news have never interested me. After weeks of nonstop Michael Jackson media noise, I made myself a promise to avoid the subject … until this caught my attention:

"How often would he beat you?" Martin asked.
"Too much," Michael revealed.
"Would he only use a belt?" Martin asked.
Covering his face, Michael replied, "Why would you do this to me? No, more than a belt."
"I was scared, so scared that I would regurgitate," he added.
"What would produce that sort of reaction in you?" Martin asked.
"His presence, just seeing him," Michael said.

This dialogue is from a 2003 interview conducted by Martin Bashir. Here is Michael Jackson revealing a stolen childhood when he was the youngest member of the Jackson Five … beatings by strap and metal cord, rehearsals run like military drills, memories of being locked in closets, of being told by his father that his nose is “fat and ugly.” In short, his was a childhood marked by physical and emotional abuse, fear and humiliation, and ultimately trauma.

For years, media focused on Wacko Jacko, the Freak. A leering public witnessed his Dorian Gray transformation from child star to grotesque. Tabloid gossip condemned him with rumors and innuendos, maligned him for his flamboyant self-indulgences, and vilified him long after a jury acquitted him of child molestation charges. The real story of Michael Jackson is not about these sensationalized tabloid accounts but about the long-term consequences of child abuse and our celebrity culture that engages in victim blame. Why should we care about the tragedy of Michael Jackson’s life and his inner struggle?

The eminent child psychologist, Alice Miller, has waged a lifelong crusade against “poisonous pedagogy,” an outmoded parenting style aimed at breaking the will of children and turning them into obedient subjects by means of coercion, manipulation, and cruelty.

“Spare the rod and spoil the child” is an example of what Miller calls the burden of inherited wisdom that inflicts strict upbringing upon diabolical offspring for the purpose of forcing submission. Unlike adult survivors of abuse and torture, children do not always recount what has been done to them. Often, they feel shame. Sometimes, their memories contrive to forget their torments or deny or repress them outright. Nevertheless, those memories are preserved inside the victim in excruciating detail … only to emerge later in bizarre, seemingly irrational, or even violent behaviors.

When a cruel upbringing is represented to children as righteous and proper, they will grow into adults who will avenge themselves without qualms by inflicting the same cruel practices on their own children or charges. Society will revere and commend these newly minted authoritarians as upstanding, God-fearing enforcers of the community standard. Thus, sadism is allowed to originate, flourish, and pass from generation to generation under the cover of piety and patriotism and always accomplished with an injunction:

This is for your own good.

In her crusade against cruel childrearing practices, Miller reminds us that it takes time for scientific and social knowledge to gain acceptance, more time to reach those with less schooling or less access to information, and even more time to reach those whose own repressed experiences prevent them from accepting an uncomfortable truth [1].

Seemingly irrational behaviors headlined in tabloids are not irrational when understood as signs and symptoms of abuse and trauma. Why should it surprise us when a “lost child” casts himself as Peter Pan reincarnate, surrounds himself with a Neverland construct of perpetual childhood, and chooses children, no matter how specious and suspect, as peers and playmates … all in an effort to reclaim a stolen childhood?

Why should we be shocked by an addiction to plastic surgery to correct an imagined defect in appearance … and remake the “fat and ugly nose” ridiculed by his father at an age when adolescents are extra sensitive about their physical appearance?

Why should we be surprised by Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse of prescription drugs - craved and consumed in prodigious quantities ostensibly to numb feelings of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem?

Let us avoid the temptation to characterize Michael Jackson in diagnostic terms, which are best left to qualified and licensed mental health practitioners. The inherent dangers of popularizing psycho-speak is simply this: Diagnostic terms are very often misunderstood by laypersons and misused by others whose purpose may be to engage in character assassination.

Abused children are never victimized once. They are victimized repeatedly when the guardians of conformity and public morality dismiss their signs and symptoms as character flaws and target them for ridicule and scorn, thus reducing them to silence. Chris Hedges offers this perspective:

Those who created Jackson’s public persona and turned him into a piece of property … are the agents, publicists, marketing people, promoters, script writers, television and movie producers, advertisers, video technicians, photographers, bodyguards, recording executives, wardrobe consultants, fitness trainers, pollsters, public announcers and television news personalities who create the vast stage of celebrity for profit (...) The moral nihilism of our culture licenses a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness and betrayal … which is pretty much the story of Jackson’s life …

As Chris Hedges reminds us, a successful celebrity raking in millions of dollars is a money tree to the legions of media vultures in the food chain. Media is a shallow, fast-moving stream intolerant of our need to pause, analyze, and understand the accelerated grimace of a culture turned monstrous.

The issues raised by Alice Miller have social and historical implications. Violence is learned in the home. Obedience is a condition of beatitude. Sometimes abused and traumatized children reenact their childhoods on the political stage and turn themselves into tyrants or become the adherents, adulators, and henchman of tyrants and lunatic ideologues. Systemic child abuse is the wellspring of injustice, ignorance, and evil in the world. When we finally treat our children with the dignity, love, and nurturing they deserve, only then can we dream of a world free of violence and tyranny.


[1] Alice Miller (2001). The truth will set you free. NY: Basic Books.

Online Resources:

Child abuse and mistreatment - The Alice Miller Official Website.

For your own good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence - This book is available legally online - highly recommended.

The Andrew Vachss Official Website - A lawyer and novelist who writes about child abuse as the root of violence … its cost to individuals and society.

(Cross-posted at The Swash Zone.)

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Why don't we just ban marriage?

By Carl

This is a bit of a woolgathering post, so if it comes off disjointed and rambling, please forgive me.

I mean, more than usual, of course.

It all started in Florida...

Fort Myers Beach town council voted 5-0 to fire Scott Janke “without cause” after Mayor Larry Kiker called an emergency meeting Tuesday night.

Kiker said he learned that afternoon that Janke's wife is an adult film star, and word quickly spread. The elected officials took the action a few hours later.

“At no time did we make a judgment call on the activities of Mr. Janke or his wife,” Kiker told The Associated Press. “It's a matter of how effective he becomes after this situation. How much disruption there is.”

Janke's wife is an actress in adult films who goes under the nym Jazella Moore, and who has starred in the MILF Hunter videos.

Not my cup of tea, but not hideous or even that obvious a porn actress.

So first it was gay marriage that would scare the living crap out of the community, and now it's marrying a porn actor(tress)? Here you have a town manager who was hired to fix problems in the town itself, being fired...for what? His choice of companionship?

By the mayor's own admission, Janke "violated no rules or laws and added that he had done a good job for the island town."


A man who was brought in to reunite a town that had been divided over some issues related to its beach...its finds himself being assumed to be an object of division himself.

Look, if he had somehow leaked a videotape of he and his wife (or other person) in the act, and you want to fire him for that, at least that's a construct I can understand. He'd be humiliated and the butt (sorry) of jokes for the rest of his tenure, making his job a little harder to perform to his standards.

But to say that his wife is going to somehow affect his ability to negotiate with people or to enforce codes or whatever it is the manager does seems ludicrous. To say that marrying a porn star somehow tarnishes the image of a bikini-clad beach community runs close to the line of silliness.

If that's the case, then why not go house by house and look at the folks who live there. Got any porn stars living on the beach? Get rid of them. And the drug dealers. And the guy who's cat meows too loudly when it's in heat.

If, as Councilman Tom Babcock of the town states, you are held to a higher standard as a public official, can we assume then there is absolutely zero corruption in the town? Or is Mr Babcock receiving a few bucks under the table because he's looking the other way about underage drinking or perhaps a zoning variance? Maybe he needs to be vetted again, along with every other member of the Ft Myers Beach government.

Why is it that marriage to anyone is anyone else's business? If a marriage makes a man or woman happy and helps them to perform their jobs more effectively and makes them better citizens in the community, then by God, why not let the man (or woman) marry whomever the hell they want to and just shut up about it!

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)


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On Gates arrest, Obama says Cambridge police "acted stupidly," conservatives freak out

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Bill "Krazy" Kristol -- as krazy, and as shamelessly partisan and neoconish, at the WaPo as he was at the NYT -- may think, spinning recklessly, that Obama was irresponsibly attacking the police when he asserted in his press conference last night that the Cambridge cops who arrested Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his own house "acted stupidly," but the truth is that, even in 2009, it takes a black man in the Oval Office to point out the obvious.

Alas, the obvious is no longer obvious when filtered through the ideological prism -- see no evil, hear no evil, at least when it comes to race (unless it's the alleged reverse racism of minorities like Sotomayor, which white men across the land are oh-so-sensitive about, any threat to the privilege of their little establishment) -- of the likes of Bill Kristol.


Obama has since defended his comments, and rightly so, saying that "everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed."

For more, including all the Kristol-like right-wing reaction, see Memeorandum.


Most stupid of all, perhaps, Kristol claims in his post that Gates was likely to blame for the incident. And why? Simply because he's a Harvard professor -- who are all, it seems, stupid and arrogant.

This is why Kristol sides instinctually with the Cambridge cops.

Really? This sort of inane, instinctual commentary is what got Kristol a post at the WaPo after his dismissal from the NYT?


The Boston Herald is reporting that the cop who stupidly arrested Gates tried valiantly to keep Celtics star Reggie Lewis alive.

And the point is what? That a good and noble act excuses all else? Forever?



The NYT article linked above stupidly claims that "Obama has sought to transcend, if not avoid, the issue of race."

Really? Yes, I would agree that much of his rhetoric has been post-racial, but he has never avoided the issue.

What he has sought to do throughout his political career -- think back to his 2004 DNC keynote address -- is build bridges across America's deepest divides. In his brilliant speech on race during the primary campaign last year, partly a response to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright conflagration, he emphasized that America's still-abundant racial divides pose an obstacle to the realization of the more perfect union that the Founders envisioned.

Just because he talks about overcoming these racial divides -- that is, about "transcendence" -- it doesn't mean he is oblivious to the realities of the present, nor that he wants to avoid race altogether.

Apparently, though, talking maturely about race and racism flies over the heads not just of conservatives but of reporters at the NYT.

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Mark Buehrle spins a perfect gem

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Buehrle... Buehrle... Buehrle...

Yup, Mark Buehrle. There's a reason the ChiSox ace was on my fantasy team year after year...

Just not this year, when I passed him over for... oh, I can't remember. Ricky Nolasco or Javier Vazquez, both of whom have been solid -- just not as perfect as Buehrle was today against the Rays (with an assist from defensive replacement Dewayne Wise, who stole a home run from Gabe Kapler in the ninth).

Only the 17th regular-season perfect game in MLB history. Not bad.

(Congrats to my friend Robert, who was smart enough to draft him -- and hold on to him.)

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Hillary Clinton vs. North Korea

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I think it's a sign you're doing something right when the totalitarians in Pyongyang, always so busy brutalizing their own people and wallowing in their own pathetic self-aggrandizement, take the time to attack you personally.

And, clearly, Hillary Clinton is doing something right.

In response to Mrs. Clinton's suggestion that North Korea's leadership is like "small children and unruly teenagers and people who are demanding attention," a government spokesman called her (and one wonders what was lost in the translation of such inanity) a "funny lady" and "by no means intelligent": "Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping."

Actually, no, she looks like what she is, a strong, principled woman who is taking on, if still rather tamely, North Korea's thugocracy -- and you have to be seriously lacking in the intelligence department to call her unintelligent. There are many worse things, and more accurate things, that can be said about North Korea's leadership, but it isn't exactly off the mark to compare it to petulant children, although that rather insults children, the bloodthirsty bullies among them excepted.

No, I'm not advocating war with North Korea, but we'll all be better off, not least the people of that backwards land, when Kim Jong-il's brutal regime, including whatever post-Kim variations follow it, is wiped off the face of the earth.

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Ron Paul -- in the tradition.

By Capt.Fogg

Why does Ron Paul have to sound so damned reasonable? Why does he sound so much like I did in the late 60's? The party he somehow belongs to has been telling us we can't afford anything but wars for as long as I can remember and most of them, including the metaphorical war on drugs have produced no discernible benefit to our security or prosperity. Since much of the equipment we bought at irrational prices isn't suitable for any threat facing us, why the hell don't we stop doing that and spend the money on health care?

“Even though I have my ideal system I would like to see, with the government out completely — because that would be a much better system — that’s not going to happen. I’m realistic.”

Pragmatic, realistic, flexible and non-dogmatic? Stop it Ron -- you're killing me!

"I would cut from these trillions and trillions of dollars that we have spent over the years and bring our troops home so that we can finance it [health care].” Said Paul on CNN

Is that Dylan I hear in the background? No, not really, but it's about time that someone from the GOP, even if he's not really one of them, mentioned those trillions and trillions when complaining about the Democrats' big spending, and it's stunning to hear approval for Obama's curtailment of the F-22 fighter program at least as a first step. Of course he believes we can eventually wean ourselves away from such government health care programs and says "freedom" will produce better coverage than a bureaucracy.

Having worked for many years for insurance companies I see their bureaucracies as more expensive, less honest, more reckless and sometimes quite malignant, so I'm not so sure I agree. Still Dr. Paul is certainly not a war lover, has the courage to say it out loud and that's novel. All in all, when he described (”We put the ‘love’ in revolution”) the dating website for Paulistas on American Morning yesterday:

“It sort of fits a famous slogan that I sort of liked, which says ‘Make love not war,’"

I was inspired to dig out the John Brown gladiator sandals I used to wear back in the day. The times they are a'changin' you know.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Jon Stewart on Birthers and Lou

By Creature

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Obama and healthcare in prime time

By Creature

I think Obama did a fine job last night.  He put the status-quo in perspective and he explained what's in the plan for the average American (which was the point of the night). It's a shame that pundits, like Howard Fineman, can't seem to grasp that Obama was not talking to them, or to Congress, for that matter.  Obama was talking to the American people.  I had heard it all before, but my girlfriend, who is not attached to the Interwebs every minute of the day, hadn't, and she was impressed. For me, just the fact that he used the term "ginned-up" makes the night a winner for the president (but I'm easy like that).

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A sign of sanity

By Carl

If you're in the middle of an economic crisis and your own people are hurting and there's no one on the horizon who has anything close to the military hardware you have,
then you can afford to let upgrades die:

The Senate voted Tuesday to kill the nation's premier fighter jet program, embracing by a 58-40 margin the argument of President Obama and his top military advisers that the F-22 is no longer needed for the nation's defense and a costly drag on the Pentagon's budget in an era of small wars and growing counterinsurgency efforts.

[...] (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates had depicted the F-22, which was conceived in the 1980s, as a "silver bullet solution" to a high-technology aerial warfare threat that has not materialized. He said other warplanes will adequately defend the country for decades to come, and won support from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Air Force's two senior leaders. But his view was strongly opposed by others in the Air Force and by military contractors and unions that have benefited from the $65 billion program.

A hearty "Amen" to this!

Defense spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product is roughly 20% of the United States budgets in a typical year. I say "typical," because of the outlying domestic stimulus spending this year, which will dwarf defense spending (and watch the right-wing whackjobs now claim "it's such a small number!").

We nearly spend more each year on defense than every other nation on the planet. Combined. Re-read that and think about the implications.

Military power is closely aligned with spending, so that means that if we had to defend our soil against every other country on the planet, right down to Lichtenstein, San Marino and Palau, it would be a fair fight!

The war of the future as it stands right now will be fought using mobile and surgical tactics, smaller forces deployed in smaller areas targeting smaller objectives. That may change, but right now, there is no one on the horizon who can create such a widespread war as to justify the waste of money on a fighter of this caliber.

Except maybe, um, us. And we nearly did cause a war of that magnitude. The lessons of history will probably be written that America came closer to the brink of starting World War III in this generation than any nation ever did. if the start of World War I is any indication, it would not take much of a spark to light the powder keg that Bush in concert with Al Qaeda compiled.

And if history's course is any determinant, aggressors get theirs in the end, usually in swift and painful fashion. It would not have been pretty.

We should applaud Secretary Gates as well as the Senate for having the courage to not take us one step closer to annihilation, militarily as well as economically.

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)


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Quote of the Day

By Creature

"Actually, I’ve been leaked details of the plan, and Doug has missed something. The plan is to only euthanize the white folks. Merry Kwanzaa, bitches." - John Cole, responding to wingnut Doug Ross.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Not Blue Dogs

By Creature

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Summer rerun

By Mustang Bobby

David Brooks hauls out his semi-regular argument that "the liberals" are over-reaching.

It’s not that interesting to watch the Democrats lose touch with America. That’s because the plotline is exactly the same. The party is led by insular liberals from big cities and the coasts, who neither understand nor sympathize with moderates. They have their own cherry-picking pollsters, their own media and activist cocoon, their own plans to lavishly spend borrowed money to buy votes.

I guess since he thought this line worked in 1993 and 2007, he'd use it again. This time he uses a recent Washington Post/ABC poll to support his claim that "Most Americans love Barack Obama personally, but support for Democratic policies is already sliding fast. Approval of Obama’s handling of health care, for example, has slid from 57 percent to 49 percent since April." But as Steve Benen points out, perhaps that's because "some" Americans (to use one of Mr. Brooks' more common adjectives) aren't happy that the president's health care reforms don't go far enough or that he's still making noises about being bipartisan on the formulation of the policy. Some of us are saying, "Hey, you won the election and the Republicans are at their lowest point since Barry Goldwater corkscrewed into the desert in 1964. Act like it."

Mr. Brooks then hauls out his tut-tutting over the deficit and budget-busting. "Instead of allaying moderate anxieties about the deficits, the budget is expected to increase the government debt by $11 trillion between 2009 and 2019." I'm not sure where he gets his numbers -- he doesn't cite any facts to back up this claim -- and yet all of a sudden he's joining the amen chorus of Republicans who have suddenly discovered that, contrary to what Dick Cheney once said, deficits do matter. There's no sinner like a reformed saint.

Finally, he gets around to Obama's real problem: he's not feared by the Democrats on the Hill and therefor they think they can roll him. He cites Machiavelli; "a leader should be feared as well as loved." I guess it must be a mystery to Mr. Brooks and the rest of the Republicans how a president can get his agenda through Congress and make his case to the American people without scaring the crap out of them. Mr. Brooks seems to have forgotten that the most worshiped president the Republicans ever had in modern memory, Ronald Reagan, didn't get his agenda passed by instilling fear in people, and neither did the icon of the Democrats, Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, the legacies of the presidents who did get their way on the Hill by using fear -- Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon -- speak for themselves. Fear turns to defiance when those who are being cowed perceive that their tormentor has been weakened, and both LBJ and Nixon lost support among their own party when they needed it the most.

Actually, the fear factor has been chugging right along, but not in the way that Mr. Brooks envisions. The right wing nutsery has tried to stoke opposition to President Obama by screaming about socialism and imminent dictatorship; cultivating the culture of whiny white male Christianist victimhood to a high art; creating a cottage industry of bug-eyed paranoids like Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck; and conversely accusing him of being weak-willed and cowardly. Perhaps it's a gauge of right-wing discombobulation that they can't even get their invective messages straight. All that has done is provide us with a rich trove of oddball entertainment ranging from Sarah Palin's dithery dead-fish metaphors to the beetle-browed death threats of G. Gordon Liddy and the blatant racism of Pat Buchanan. In a way, that's helped the president; it's easy to pass legislation when your opposition does nothing more than foam at the mouth.

Mr. Brooks closes with one of his patented aphorisms: "Every new majority overinterprets its mandate. We’ve been here before. We’ll be here again." Look, I realize we're in the middle of the lazy hazy crazy days of summer, but could he at least try to come up with something both a little more original and is at least within the ballpark of reality?

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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The two faces of Snowe

By Creature

It's pretty clear here that Republican Senator Olympia Snowe is telling her constituents she's all for the public option (as Steven Benen says, "she sounds downright Schumer-like"), while at the same time trying to kill it in Washington by buying into the "centrist" plea for delay.  How very passive aggressive of her.  Hopefully her constituents are paying attention and will call her out to both of her faces.

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Entering while black

By Capt. Fogg

When I read the headline of the story, I was all ready to get angry. Well known Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested for trying to enter his own house because the color of his skin alarmed a Cambridge, Massachusetts witness who called the police.

Anger is just what Professor Gates wanted, it would seem to me after reading the whole article. Instead of telling the police his name and that he lived there, which would have ended the matter with him remaining on the moral high ground, he refused to say anything but

"This is what happens to black men in America" in a loud voice.

Yes it is of course, but also no it isn't and I'm guessing that most black people haven't been arrested for unlocking their front door; but that suspicion follows them like a shadow, I know for a fact. A great many African Americans have been stopped and questioned when others would not have been.

Gates' loud and continuous protests along with refusing to identify himself had the expected results. He was not given an apology and left to go about his business: he was arrested. No doubt academic papers, lectures, articles and perhaps movie rights will follow and that doesn't hurt the career of a professor of African American studies at all.

I'd like to think I would have handled it differently and of course it always pleases me to say that to professors. The insidious kind of racism that leads people to conclude that a black man in a "nice" neighborhood is up to no good is what needs addressing; needs illustration -- and a choreographed arrest like this one detracts from the clarity of the situation. The police were required to respond, were given a legitimate reason to arrest him and he may well not get off without consequence from the disorderly conduct charges. The clarity? Yes, I think it's clear that nice, ordinary, well meaning people can fall prey to their prejudices when they see a black face in Cambridge or a bearded man in an airport. It's not about the police, it's about us and Gates gave away the opportunity to teach us that by displaying his temper. Too bad.

(Cross posted from The Swash Zone)


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Campaign finance reform

By Creature

It's the only way we can stop our elected representatives from taking bribes. Yes, bribes.  And, yes, Senator Baucus, I'm talking to you.  Someone needs to take the healthcare-reform keys from this man before he sells us a lemon and buys himself a Lamborghini.

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Monday, July 20, 2009


By Carl

A curious nexus of events is occuring right now, coincidences abound.

Today marks, as you undoubtedly know, the 40th anniversary of the
first moonwalk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

It's hard to believe that it's been forty years. It's harder still to believe that the promise of those early space explorations has been strangled in the cradle by bureaucrats and people without dreams, pragmatists.

Less hard to believe is that
Walter Cronkite, one of the voices of the American space program, has been stilled on the very threshold of this anniversary.

Cronkite reported on many tragic events in a turbulent American landscape at a time when change was something real, not a campaign slogan. Through it all, from assassinations to war to student unrest to politics, Cronkite kept his composure, at times when a lesser man would have broken down (and indeed, many did).

If you look closely at the time he reported on the
death of John F. Kennedy, you can see him fight his tears back, because he knew his job was to tell us what happened, not to feel it.

In fact, the only time I can recall Cronkite being so overwhelmed by the news was on this date, 40 years ago, as man stepped out onto the surface of another celestial body for the first time.

Part of that, no doubt, was the monumental task involved and the effort America dedicated to it. Three astronauts died testing Apollo 1. Millions and millions of dollars were spent honing and refining technology. A nation that had come of age with the death of its youngest President, his brother and a man of peace, all at the hands of gun violence, was in desperate need of a spark and the shiny metal boxes of the space program provided welcome relief.

A nation cheered Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins, less for their achievement than for the relief from our losses.

But I think a larger part is unspoken often when discussing what the moon landing meant to us. We were set upon the task by that youngest President, who saw the competition that the Soviet Union had laid down upon his table and rose to the challenge. We were scared not only of the world around us, but of ourselves. America revealed an uglier side with the use of the atomic bomb, no matter whether such use was justified or not and continuing right into a war of aggression that was probably pointless.

Cronkite's brain cramp, his "wow" moment, was undoubtedly largely influenced by all this: the tears he had been unwilling to shed that November day were exhaled on this July day.

There was a sense of completion that day, to be sure. The entire nation had been ramped up for the exploration of space for so long and as 1968 closed and we saw images of our earth from Apollo 8, at the end of a year of violence and unrest, it was almost as if the entire country stood still and clasped hands. We really were all in this together on this little blue marble.

That image marked the pursuit of the moon in earnest. Hell, even
SNOOPY was an astronaut!

The decade closed much as it had opened: with promise and hope and new beginnings. Sadly, that promise was broken, the hope quashed and the new beginnings became "nothing in the street looks any different to me." History didn't change, at least not for the better. We ended up in the morass of self-righteousness and moral lecturing that we've seen these past forty years grown and morph this country from one that looked forward to one yearning to move backwards, past the moonwalk, past the assassinations, back to a time when men were men, women were silent, and minorities were at best ignored.

The promise of space is a promise of progressivism. The promise of space is liberalism writ large, on a cosmic scale. What we learned going to the moon, indeed the benefits we've always makes me laugh to read a criticism about space exploration written on a computer using the very microchips that grew out of Apollo...have been massive, and I think we've only just begun to understand technology's promise from space.

We really have no choice, we humans. We must move forward. We must move outward. We must seek space.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Five hundred words about the World Wide Web

By Carol Gee

Intro - Haiku by "betmo" --

family circles
grow forming communities-
sharing mother earth.


Why is it that so many of us reading and writing online stay "plugged in" to the news, to our blog friends and to current events? And why do others get discouraged and drop out? We know there must be payoffs or else the behavior would not continue. Only masochists continue to do things that produce merely negative reinforcement. Therefore I am assuming that I have too much of an apparently optimistic style to attract any masochists. So what are the payoffs for those of us who do this on a regular basis for a long time, despite frustration?

What is it we want? Nancy Perry Graham, in AARP The Magazine piece summed it up well: "Good health, financial security, family and community, giving back, having fun." Because we are self-interested we use the Internet as a resource by which we find out vital information about our well-being. And we are willing to take advice from those whose opinions we respect. Over time we learn who is trustworthy and who is not -- who will tell the truth and who will shade it, or outright lie. This applies to the regular obscure bloggers we read as well as the authorities with larger audiences. In the process we also learn who is "up" and who is "down, politically" or as celebrities, depending on our interests.

With whom do we associate? We like to know about, or to actually be where the action is; we are activists. Being associated with a bunch of like-minded people adds to our sense of belonging. I suspect that we also enjoy "associating" with powerful or famous people. And many of us want to try to make a difference in a troubled larger world. Whether we are faith-based or nonbelievers with a strong sense of morality, it is human nature to want to make things better.

Where we hang out depends on individual preferences. Over time we develop a list of favorites we read, the most trustworthy news sites, people in whom we are interested, communities to whom we belong and references upon which we regularly call. And of course we are habituated to routines and tools that help us stay ahead of information overload. Tasks such as catching up on the news, deleting outdated saved material, answering e-mails, editing our web pages, sorting favorites and providing regular posts keep us busy at best, and overwhelmed at worst.

When we surf the Internet is also a very individual choice, often dictated by circumstance. I am lucky because I am retired. Work and family requirements must be worked out. Writing at the times when we are most alert serves our readers well. Doing a variety of things serves our moods well, and taking regular breaks serves our minds and bodies well. I read bloggers who post while on vacation, when they are sick, after surgery, when they are sad or when they want to celebrate.

Celebrating us!

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Kristol the Killer: Inside the right-wing agenda to destroy health-care reform

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Back in the early '90s, Bill "Krazy" Kristol helped coordinate the Republican effort to kill what the right-wing smear machine called "Hillarycare." He's back at it in 2009, leading the crusade against "Obamacare," and, in The Weekly Standard today, he lays out his strategy bluntly:

With Obamacare on the ropes, there will be a temptation for opponents to let up on their criticism, and to try to appear constructive, or at least responsible. There will be a tendency to want to let the Democrats' plans sink of their own weight, to emphasize that the critics have been pushing sound reform ideas all along and suggest it's not too late for a bipartisan compromise over the next couple of weeks or months.

My advice, for what it's worth: Resist the temptation. This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill.

The Obama White House and the Democratic congressional leadership shouldn't be underestimated. They're tough. They'll cut deals and twist arms to try to keep their priority legislation alive. They'll certainly attack their opponents, whether their opponents' tone is conciliatory or confrontational.

So this is not the time to let them off the ropes. This is the week to highlight every problem, every terrible provision, in the Democratic bills: from taxes and spending to government control and rationing to federal funding for abortion and government-required death-with-dignity counseling sessions for the elderly. Throw the kitchen sink at the legislation now on the table, drive a stake through its heart (I apologize for the mixed metaphors), and kill it.

Then opponents can say, of course we do want to pass sensible health reform. But to do so, we need to start over.

So the constructive part of the message would be: Start Over. We're not giving up on health reform...

And so on. The title of his post says it all: "Kill It, and Start Over."

Kristol doesn't pull any punches here. Writing at his neocon homebase, he's free to let it all hang out -- and it does. And it's helpful for us, who oppose Kristol and his ilk, to be able to see right into the dark core of their moral and ideological extremism.

The key message is "Kill It," not "Start Over." Do we honestly believe that Kristol wants to start over, that he genuinely wants to see meaningful health-care reform passed? The only reform he wants is more of the same, reform that further supports the private interests -- HMOs, Big Pharma, etc. -- that control America's sinking health-care system, profiting grossly while millions and millions remain uninsured or otherwise unable to access the care they need, including for their children.

And do we honestly believe that Kristol wants to work on "sensible and targeted health reform in a bipartisan way"? Sure, if "sensible and targeted" means keeping the status quo (making it even more difficult for low- and middle-income Americans to access quality care, making the system even more profitable for private interests), and only if "bipartisan" means "Republican."

What this post reveals is just now partisan, in both political and ideological terms, the right is. And this ought to be a warning to those in the pro-reform camp, including moderate Democrats, who think that bipartisanship is a possibility. However desirable it may be to secure Republican support for a meaningful reform bill, after all, one that includes a robust public option, the fact is, Republicans, led by the likes of Bill Kristol, aren't serious about, and aren't soon about to get serious about, working constructively with Democrats. They are obstructionists, it's that simple, and their delay tactics aren't about pushing some viable alternative to "Obamacare" but about killing reform altogether.

That is their goal, and they are adamant about it. It will take all of our strength to fight back against them, and to achieve our goal, a genuinely American goal, of quality health care for all Americans, not just for the lucky few -- like Kristol himself -- who can afford it.

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The GOP's ER based healthcare plan

By Creature

If you want to boil down the position of Republicans on healthcare reform, this from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in response to a question about the uninsured, says it all: "Well, they don't go without health care, because they can just go to the emergency room."

And what about prevention, Mitch? What about follow-up? What about medicine? And, Mitch, who in the end is paying for that ER visit? That's right, all of us (dearly). The GOP's lack of seriousness and their inability to offer any practical solution is appalling. For the GOP to act we have to be off the cliff, in a ditch, and gasping for our last breath. Then, maybe, they'd reach out a hand, but only a gloved hand (just in case poor and middle-class are contagious).

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quote of the Day: Peter Orszag on the health-care reform obstructionists in Congress

By Michael J.W. Stickings

On CNN earlier today, Peter Orszag, Obama's budget director, said this:

We have to remember: there are some who are advocating delay simply because they don't have anything to put on the table. The typical Washington bureaucratic game of — "if you don't have a better alternative, just delay in the hope that that kills something" is partly what's playing out here.

He added: "[T]there are those who are advocating delay just as a desperation move to try to kill this."

He claimed that he wasn't referring specifically to Blue Dog Democrats or otherwise to "members of Congress and Senators who are actually actively participating in the debate," but it's pretty clear that he was targeting not anti-reform Republicans, those who are ideologically opposed to reform and who will never support any effort that includes a public option (and that challenges the supremacy of the market, or of the various private interests, such as the HMOs and Big Pharma, that dominate the market at the expense of adequate care for millions upon millions of Americans), but rather self-styled centrists in both parties, and even more directly those in his own -- the various centrist and conservative Democrats who in some cases are pandering to ignorance and in others are seeking merely to position themselves in the middle no matter what. These aren't the ideologues, they're the ego-driven opportunists. And they're the problem, not the right-wing extremists who are decidedly in the minority in Congress.

However, I would add that it's not just that they don't have a "better alternative," as Orszag suggested, but that they are, like their extremist right-wing colleagues in the GOP, fundamentally opposed to genuine reform, that is, to the wholesale reform of the system that even the cautious Obama seems to support, reform that would ensure universal, or at last near-universal coverage, of all Americans while/by taking the power away from profit-driven private interets and controlling the escalating costs that are sinking health care in America. They may want some compromise to be worked out, with themselves as the ultimate deciders of what passes and what doesn't -- and of what the new system will look like -- but any such compromise would be inadequate.

Furthermore, what they are doing is not so much laying the groundwork for a compromise but enabling the anti-reform elements that have lined up, within Congress and without, to try to defeat any reform initiative that comes forward, bipartisan or not. In other words, if they get what they want, the reform bill won't nearly be enough. And if they don't, their current opposition to Democratic reform efforts will only help the Republicans in their ongoing efforts to defeat whatever bill does end up coming forward.

And therein lies the key question: Would the Democrats among these centrists prefer a Democratic bill with elements they oppose, such as a robust public option, or Republican opposition to reform altogether?

I suspect it's the latter. Whatever the motivation, they'll delay and delay and delay, until reform is finally killed, perhaps, or until Obama and the Democrats are able to pass a robust bill in spite of their opposition. Perhaps some of them will come around, perhaps some of them will ultimately do what is right, and what their country needs, but, given their appalling me-first opportunism, I'm hardly optimistic.

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