Saturday, September 19, 2009

Irving Kristol (1920-2009)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Irving Kristol, father of Bill and one of the founders of neoconservatism, has died at the age of 89. You can find obituaries, among other places, at the Times and the Post, as well as from Robert Kagan (a close friend of Bill and a leading neocon) and John Podhoretz (son of Norman, another founding neocon, at Commentary, one of the key neocon publications).

I usually find myself in opposition to neoconservatism, and hence I usually found myself in opposition to almost everything Kristol stood for. Indeed, I consider neoconservatism a reckless, insensitive, and at times, as during the Bush II presidency, insane ideology. It was the ideology behind the Iraq War and Occupation (through not just Bill Kristol but, more directly, Paul Wolfowitz), after all, not to mention behind the promotion of American global hegemony (through PNAC, the Bill Kristol- and Kagan-founded think tank). It has also been one of the leading ideologies behind regressive right-wing social policy in reaction to LBJ's Great Society initiatives of the '60s, as well as to the civil rights movement. It is more open, to be sure, than more traditional conservatism -- such as the paleo-conservatism of William Buckley and National Review -- not least with respect to its strong support for Israel, an area where I find some common cause with the neocons (even if I'm hardly as extremist in this regard), but, whatever its initially more radical origins (it grew out of the leftist politics of the City College of New York, for the most part), and however much it offered, early on, a useful critique of liberal public policy, it ultimately devolved into a core plank of the Republican coalition. In this respect, while Irving was a Republican, he was nothing like his son, who has spent his post-academic career as a partisan hack (and not nearly enough as an intellectual), and as an extremist who seems to lack the skepticism and flexibility of the earlier generation (even though, in supporting McCain, he has occasionally found himself in opposition to the Republican establishment).

I have not always been so opposed, however. Back in high school and college, when I was fairly conservative, I came to admire Kristol and the early neocons a great deal. Some of them, of course, didn't veer off to the right and embrace Republican politics, but, regardless, what I admired was their ardent intellectualism, their respect, so much at odds with so much of contemporary conservatism, for ideas. And I respected Kristol, in particular, for his adherence to the political philosophy of Leo Strauss (I studied with Straussians and still consider myself a Straussian, albeit a liberal one -- see here and here) and his admiration for Matthew Arnold, the 19th-century British poet and literary critic who is a hero of mine and on whom I focused my studies in graduate school. I moved away from Kristol -- and from neoconservatism, and from conservatism generally -- many years ago, but I suppose some of that early respect has remained ever since. Even in disagreement, usually strong, I have taken him seriously as a thinker, he and the first generation of neocons. (I've also always admired his wife, the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, who has written extensively on the Victorian period.)

I highly recommend Kristol's Reflections of a Neoconservative: Looking Back, Looking Ahead (1983), which I first read as an undergraduate at Tufts in a research seminar on post-war American political thought. It's not easy to find, but it's worth the effort. I also recommend Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea (1995). If you want to know more about neoconservatism, why not go back to the source?

Irving Kristol was one of the giants of American conservatism, a true man of ideas who contributed a great deal to enlightened political discourse. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family, including to those with whom we disagree, on the other side of the partisan divide.

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Sometimes an opinion is just a lie

By Capt. Fogg

It's going to get harder for Fox News to hide behind the giggles, the puffed up pretense to being offended and accusations of insanity if more of the other networks begin to fight back against Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes's lie machine. Brad Blog covers CNN’s Rick Sanchez's slapdown of Fox. Sanchez, who seems of late to be more willing to speak up against injustice went after Fox's Washington Post ad claiming it was the only network to cover the 9/12 "tea party" in Washington.

It's good to see someone get mad at the ever increasing torrent of lies, distortions, and false claims emanating from Fox. It's going, as I said, to get harder to call the few vocal opponents like Olbermann and even Jon Stewart crazy or inconsequential if CNN is willing to run ads, as they did yesterday evening, accusing Fox of "Distorting Not Reporting."

The people who send me wingnut e-mails about things that are designed to outrage the ignorant often preface them with "why isn't the MSM covering this?" -- although usually they are and have been. Fox's WaPo ad seems to have been the "enough is enough" trigger, and even ABC declared it "demonstrably false." The claim that no other networks were there was deemed by the Post to be an expression of an opinion not a lie, which of course doesn't help their credibility, regardless of what they claim the meaning of the word "is" is. Sanchez, concluding his diatribe, said this:

Let me address the Fox News Network now, perhaps the most current way that I can -- by quoting somebody who recently used a very pithy phrase. Two words, that's all I need. "You lie."

Lets hope it becomes a movement. Let's hope the Glennbeckery, the outrageous liberties taken with the news, have finally pushed the timid competition into speaking out for the truth, they way they're supposed to.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Yeeow! Ayipioeeay! ...You're not doin' fine, Oklahoma!

By J. Thomas Duffy

If they ever get around to doing that sequel for Idiocracy, it could be suggested to the producers to set up a casting call in our 46th state, the Sooner State, Oklahoma.

75 Percent of Oklahoma High School Students Can't Name the First President of the U.S.

Only one in four Oklahoma public high school students can name the first President of the United States, according to a survey released today.

The survey was commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs in observance of Constitution Day on Thursday.


"They're questions taken from the actual exam that you have to take to become a U.S. citizen," Dutcher said.


About 92 percent of the people who take the citizenship test pass on their first try, according to immigration service data. However, Oklahoma students did not fare as well. Only about 3 percent of the students surveyed would have passed the citizenship test.

Holy empty schoolbags, Batman!

How can this be?

It's almost as if they have intentionally, with great purpose, avoided anything -- books, magazines, television, radio, the Internet -- that would remotely, incidentally, educate themselves.

I mean, even the Scottish students, in not doing well in exams, winged it:

WIKIPEDIA and other online research sources were yesterday blamed for Scotland's falling exam pass rates.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said pupils are turning to websites and internet resources that contain inaccurate or deliberately misleading information before passing it off as their own work.

The group singled out online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which allows entries to be logged or updated by anyone and is not verified by researchers, as the main source of information

I might be tempted to suggest that, "Hey, Oklahoma students, get a glove, get in the game!" -- but I fear that may cause distress, as they get stumped on what part of the anatomy to put the glove on.

If they did bring Idiocracy to Oklahoma, they would have to import Miss Teen USA from South Carolina to take the lead role, played by Luke Wilson.

On the upside, it could be a windfall for the state in having the most Stella, or Darwin, Award winners, for years to come.

You can go here to read more of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Study.

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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What racism?

By Mustang Bobby

David Brooks just happened to jog through the tea party in Washington last weekend and saw that there wasn't a race riot going on where teabaggers and attendees at the Black Family Reunion Celebration happened to converge:

Because sociology is more important than fitness, I stopped to watch the interaction. These two groups were from opposite ends of the political and cultural spectrum. They’d both been energized by eloquent speakers. Yet I couldn’t discern any tension between them. It was just different groups of people milling about like at any park or sports arena.

And yet we live in a nation in which some people see every conflict through the prism of race. So over the past few days, many people, from Jimmy Carter on down, have argued that the hostility to President Obama is driven by racism. Some have argued that tea party slogans like “I Want My Country Back” are code words for white supremacy. Others say incivility on Capitol Hill is magnified by Obama’s dark skin.

Well, I don’t have a machine for peering into the souls of Obama’s critics, so I can’t measure how much racism is in there. But my impression is that race is largely beside the point. There are other, equally important strains in American history that are far more germane to the current conflicts.

Therefore he's sure that there is no racism involved in any of the anti-Obama demonstrations or outpouring of sentiment on cable TV or talk radio. Well, I'm glad he cleared that up. Now he can jog on with a clear conscience that white entitlement and patriarchy have nothing to do with it.

It is just as foolish for Mr. Brooks to dismiss links to racism behind the demonstrations and anger as it is to see racism behind every sign. But to say that it doesn't exist and hasn't played a role in some of the over-the-top attacks recently is an attempt to prove a negative. What's especially ironic is that Mr. Brooks doesn't help himself by saying that historically, populist protests are by nature "ill-mannered [...] whether they were led by Huey Long, Father Coughlin or anybody else." Yeah, citing a noted anti-Semite like Father Coughlin doesn't really help. And neither does the problematic assumption that all the people at the Black Family Reunion are supporters of President Obama just because they're African-American.

For someone who shows as much an interest in history as he does, hearing Mr. Brooks pronounce that "It's not about race" is to ignore the four hundred years of history of race relations in this country (especially since Mr. Brooks was jogging through a city that was once as segregated as any Alabama bus depot in 1955), and to find an equivalency between these protests and those that we saw during the Bush administration is fatuous. There are extremists on both sides of the aisle, but try as he might, Mr. Brooks cannot cite any case where a Democratic member stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and called into question Mr. Bush's birth certificate, or any governor of a state that raised the prospect of secession because they objected to the implementation of Medicare Part D or the warrantless wiretapping of citizens of their state.

And the knee-jerk reaction against those who suggest that there is a racist element in some of the attacks -- Obama as a witch doctor or "Barack the Magic Negro" come to mind -- tells me that those folks are awfully quick deny it without even examining what was said and who said it. Anybody who took an introductory class in psychology -- or proctored a middle school study hall -- knows a guilty conscience when they see it.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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He lied -- no he didn't

By Capt. Fogg

As though on cue, the South Carolina courts have upheld a $10 million dollar award to Jerome Mitchell, who purchased health insurance from Fortis in 2001 when he was 18. A year later, when trying to donate blood, he was told he had HIV. Fortis decided he had lied on the application where it asked if he'd been diagnosed with immune deficiency and rescinded his policy.

As we know, although some won't admit it, insurance companies pay bonuses to their death panels who reject claims and rescind policies, but I'm sure whatever they paid was a drop in the bucket in comparison. The court didn't mince words in upholding Mitchell's claim and upheld $10 million inpunitive damages.

We find ample support in the record that Fortis' conduct was reprehensible ... Fortis demonstrated an indifference to Mitchell's life and a reckless disregard to his health and safety,

and Mitchell was fortunate enough to be young enough to survive long enough to be vindicated. His life expectancy without very expensive treatment would have been four years, according to his suit. Older patients often die before they can get their day in court or before the inevitable appeals process winds down. The death panels love it when that happens. I think it happens rather frequently.

Do we need a public option to tame this kind of swashbuckling? Not necessarily, but we need something, and we needed it a long time ago.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Dear Leader Rush calls for segregated buses

By Michael J.W. Stickings

For Rush Limbaugh, it probably would be for the best if the whole civil rights movement had never happened, let alone been successful. Then America would still be able enjoy those halcyon days of segregation and lynching.

I kid you not.

As The Raw Story is reporting, Rush went on an especially noxious diatribe on Wednesday, blaming the school bus attack directly on Obama -- and on "Obama's America."

He even added this: "We need segregated buses."

Now, of course, what he means is that segregated buses are needed in Obama's America, not Bush's America, or Reagan's America, or whatever. It is his incredibly distorted view that the very election of Obama has turned America into a racial/racist bloodbath.

Apparently, it would seem, no one should talk about race at all. What's funny, though, is that Obama doesn't -- aside from that brilliant speech last year, he tends to be rather post-racial in his politics. So it's not at all clear to me how Obama has ushered in this new America, an America that requires segregation to keep white kids safe from black kids.

Oh... there is it, isn't it? What concerns Rush, and others like him, is that the attack was black-on-white. Surely he wouldn't have hyperventilated so much had the attack been white-on-black.

Indeed, what so clearly bothers conservatives like Rush is that a black man has been elected president. What he would prefer, I can only presume, is that blacks, and every other Other, should be kept down in their place... on a sugar plantation, for example.

The white-first universe that makes Rush feel so special, and that he so wanted to preserve, has been upended. And all he can do, now, is spew the same old racism, if not quite from the same position of privilege.

The world has changed, America has changed, for the better -- even if an isolated incident that, we now know, may not even have been racially motivated, enrages the right.

Obama is not the cause of change for the worse, he is proof of change for the better. And the last thing we need now is a return to the dark ages of segregation.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Instant Ignorant Dolts: Rick Stengel and Time magazine

By J. Thomas Duffy

I haven't done much on Glenn Beck here.

It's already satire, as soon as he opens his mouth, and we don't want to get into the daily "Look what Beck Said Now" circus.

His prodigious lunacy long ago granted him being grandfather in The Garlic's "Ignorant Dolt" roster.

It would be one thing if a major news periodical, like, say, Time, decided to look into the smegma that is Glen Beck, the lies, the racism, the fomenting of anarchy, and report on that, even acknowledging that the Flying Monkeys of the Right Wing Freak Show eat it up like happy soup.

But no.

Editor Rick Stengel has decided to do a puff, cheerleading piece that gives credibility to Beck's ranting lunacy by using the "straw man" argument that the liberal left is just as bad.

Funny, I don't remember the liberal left foaming at the mouth that The Commander Guy wasn't a U.S. Citizen, or continually depicting him in offensive racial caricatures.

If someone has a tape of "The Cheeseburger That Sweats" (aka Rush Limbaugh - (H/T Barry Crimmins)), singing "Bush, The Hapless Honkie", get it posted asap.

Time's cover story this week, written by David Von Drehle, is "Mad Man: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America?"

You can go read it, and it take some time, as you will have to gather yourself up off the floor, having fallen down laughing so many times, you may end up with some bruises.

Or, you can read Greg Mitchell's deconstruction of it:

New TIME Cover on Glenn Beck Ignores Facts, and Worse

I have no quarrel with TIME magazine devoting a cover to Glenn Beck -- so long as the accompanying story sticks to hard facts and harsh truths. The issue coming tomorrow, online today, sadly fails to do so in an apparent effort to woo the rightwing with a ludicrously "balanced" treatment of equally dangerous and wacko "ranting" coming from left and right.

It starts right away with a first paragraph that claims that only "liberal sources" estimated the protest crowd in D.C. last weekend as about 70,000, while conservatives say up to a million or more. Actually, virtually all mainstream media sources, along with nonpartisan factchecking organizations such as PolitiFact, cite the lower number.


There's a scattering of extreme Beck quotes lost in many paragraphs on the money deals. And groups like Media Matters are accused of "cherry picking" the bad ones. But then, they are just part of the "rant industry" on the left. There's a long, long graf quoting Beck on 9/11 and the Freedom Towers but no mention of his attack on the 9/11 widows. It notes his assault on the Obama "czars" and "he has some radical-sounding sound bites to back it up."

Ignorance and possible racism are never raised, despite polls showing that frightening numbers of conservatives believe that Obama was born in Kenya or may, in fact, be the "anti-Christ."

There's more that Mitchell has, and also Glen Greenwald, taking Stengel and Time to task in his "Time Magazine: the liberal bias of facts".

It is also rather odd that Stengel would opt to puff up Beck in this week's Time, considering, just yesterday, Salon ran an excellent expose on Beck -- "Meet the man who changed Glenn Beck's life: Cleon Skousen was a right-wing crank whom even conservatives despised. Then Beck discovered him".

Beck is idolizing, and preaching the word of, a man whom both the Republican Conservatives AND the Mormons booted out, not wanting any part of him.

If you can't cut it with either of those two, man, you gotta be so far off-the-planet, the Hubbell Telescope couldn't find you.

Mitchell offers an update in his post:

Just got the print edition. In editor's note, Richard Stengel actually writes, "One of our jobs as journalists is to be the referee, the honest broker who sorts through the accusations and says, This is fact, and this is fantasy." Then explains that's why they put Von Drehle on Beck.

I guess Stengel hasn't gotten around to reading the Salon piece, or anything much else on Beck, and just ran with the "fantasy" stuff.

Rick, how about being that "honest broker" next week, and place on your cover The Garlic awarding you the Ignorant Dolt Crown and Sceptre.

You, Rick Stengel, are today's Instant Ignorant Dolt.

Bonus Links

Jamison Foser: How Time magazine enables Glenn Beck's lies

John Cook: Leftist 'Terrorizer' of Children Is Now Glenn Beck's Official Portraitist

David Weigel: Time Magazine Disputes Time Magazine’s Reporting

Steve Krakauer: MSNBC Forced To Talk About Glenn Beck

Will Bunch: UPDATED: Where Glenn Beck gets his ideas

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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A short lesson in finance

By Carl

Stocks are priced based on a gamble that future earnings will rise. The more likely that is to occur, the higher a stock price generally goes.

The actual price itself is an estimate of the value now of those future income flows.

OK, so with that said, explain how this
new insurance "plan" from Max Baucus makes sense for the average American?

In an important victory for the insurance industry, Senator Max Baucus’s legislative proposal does not call for a government-run health plan that would directly compete with private insurers. Insurance stocks rose on that news Wednesday.

Although that exclusion had been expected, its confirmation Wednesday meant that the insurance companies “ducked a bullet,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor and industry analyst at the University of Michigan.

The Baucus proposal is “a lower dose of poison than the other proposals,” he said in an e-mail message. Other bills circulating in Congress call for a government-run public insurance option.

Ironically, this is the bill closest to the vision of one Barack Obama, President of these here Yoonited States, even without a public option.

Many have written,
far more eloquently and knowledgably than I, reminding Obama and Congress about the need for a public option to compete with private plans, thus reining in healthcare costs, or at least mitigating their startling inflation.

So when a key senator, one of the Group of Six bipartisan panel trying to write a bill that everyone can be happy with, presents this, without any Republican support whatsoever, one has to question the commitment of the Democratic party to truly reforming healthcare.

Not health insurance: health care. Yes, I have in the past advocated baby steps, and this bill is a small step towards the ultimate goal of universal coverage under a single payer plan, like every other intelligent, civilized nation on this planet has.

But there are baby steps and there are baby steps, and this is less a step than a crawl. And all the evidence you need for this is the fact that the stock prices of insurance companies, the gauge of how much profit they will earn in the future, spiked higher on this announcement.

If Wall Street, which does many things badly but does price stocks on earnings with remarkable efficiency, buys into the notion that Baucus' bill is good for the insurance industry, already burning holes in its pockets with all the money it's earning, then how goddamned good can it be for you and me, huh?

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Expect minor quake (no tsunami) from Japan's elections

Guest post by Devin Stewart

Devin Stewart is Director of the Global Policy Innovations program at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. In this capacity, he edits Policy Innovations and directs several projects on business ethics, trade, and media. He is also a Truman National Security Project fellow. Previously, he was Assistant Director of Studies and Japan Studies Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.


The recent lower house national elections in Japan gave the inexperienced Democrats (Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ) a majority, putting an opposition party in power for only the second time since 1955. Does the DPJ victory really spell a "tsunami" for the U.S.-Japan relationship, as some have suggested? My view is that this concern is probably overblown.

Earthquakes are a fact of life in Japan. Some generate tsunami, some don't. During my recent trip there, I experienced three significant quakes, one of which was quite dangerous. Despite a lot of anxiety about what the expected DPJ's victory in the lower house elections on Aug. 30 will mean for U.S.-Japan relations, I expect only a minor quake in Japan's foreign relations. The tastelessness of using the cliche "tsunami" to describe the upcoming elections aside, I would argue that there are too many factors weighing against a Japanese foreign policy moving away from the U.S. alliance in any meaningful sense.

First, political opposition in Japan, just like in most places, likes to create rhetoric in all spheres that distinguish it from the ruling party. That doesn't mean a party will follow through on its campaign or opposition rhetoric. In the United States, one only needs to recall George W. Bush's 2000 campaign promise to carry out a "humble" foreign policy if elected. Once in power, parties have to come to grips with the realities of governing -- or as my colleague David Speedie calls it, the limitations on options and thinking strategically.

In other words, national interest will trump political rhetoric and most Japanese see close ties with the United States as a critical national interest. The DPJ's secretary-general, Katsuya Okada, recently said in an interview that U.S.-Japan relations are "extremely important for Japan's national interests. We should consider how we can make US-Japan relations, the US-Japan alliance, more fruitful."

In fact, as it looked more probable that the Democrats would win in Japan, the DPJ moderated its critiques of the U.S.-Japan relationship. As Dan Okimoto said in an interview, "What I've noticed over the past several weeks [before the election] is that the DPJ statements have stepped back from commitments to make immediate and far-reaching changes. They've been backtracking from the positions of ending the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean and of moving quickly out of Futenma. What the DPJ leaders appear to be seeking is a smooth, seamless transition, where bilateral issues don't get entangled with domestic reform priorities."

Which brings me to another point: The DPJ (and Japan itself) already has a full plate. At the top of the DPJ's agenda is reviewing budget priorities and eliminating waste, as well as reducing the amount of nepotism in politics and increasing the power of local governments. The DPJ also wants to give more power to politicians in making policy at the expense of the elite bureaucracy. Then there are the long term policy issues, including the aging society and pension burdens on taxpayers. These priorities alone will keep the DPJ busy. It doesn't need another battle.

Some of what we are hearing from the DPJ is a matter of emphasis and being honest about Japan's capabilities. People have long advocated for tighter U.S.-Japan economic ties and collaboration in non-military areas such as energy and the environment. "Japan's relations with the U.S. have been heavily biased toward defense," DPJ head Yukio Hatoyama recently said. "Now it's time to shift our focus to economic ties. We will strengthen our economic ties and promote free trade while protecting our national interests." And above all, the Japanese, like most people, want to feel safe in a region that still looks like a dangerous neighborhood.

The refrain I kept hearing from everyday people in Japan was this: "The DPJ will become the LDP."

What does this mean? The most obvious interpretation is that it will be business as usual; the DPJ (which in fact has former LDP members in its ranks) will adopt the same policies as the LDP, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party that had governed Japan almost continually since 1955. Somewhat darkly, perhaps there is a success strategy in this thinking: For the DPJ to survive as the ruling party, it may be forced to adopt some of the policies and practices of the LDP. The expectations are so low for the DPJ, meanwhile, that if it can govern without being corrupt, it will have a shot at staying in power. Conversely, the phrase may mean that that LDP as the opposition will have to move closer to the DPJ's anti-corruption and pro-social safety net rhetoric.

But if the DPJ seems to be failing, I doubt the Japanese population will have much patience. Japanese voters love Schadenfreude, and if the party gives them something to complain about, they will. The DPJ must therefore remember that their support from the population comes as a rejection of the LDP, not an explicit endorsement of the DPJ. The DPJ would be unwise to over-interpret their mandate.

But when it comes to the foreign policy differences between the LDP and DPJ, what are we really talking about? A stronger emphasis on the non-military elements of the U.S.-Japan relationship; better relations with Japan's Asian neighbors; more active involvement with multilateral initiatives through international organizations, like the United Nations. These are precisely the types of foreign policies the Obama administration would welcome. The concern among Japanese about U.S. foreign policy stemmed from Bush's unilateral action in Iraq, trashing of international treaties, and contempt for international organizations -- the very things that concerned the Obama team, too. When you look at it, the Democrats in Japan and the Democratic Party in the United States are quite aligned.

Instead of sounding the tsunami alarm, Americans should be welcoming political change in Japan as a manifestation of a real, healthy democracy. Japan, which has been held up as the shining example of democracy in Asia, can now walk the walk. Small quakes are a fact of life in Japan; a political tsunami in U.S.-Japan relations would be out of character and would probably require a much more dramatic shock to spark it.

(Cross-posted from Fairer Globalization.)

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One grey day it happened ... RIP Mary Travers

By J. Thomas Duffy

Somewhere, maybe in Honah Lee, or down Cherry Lane, perhaps, in grief, hiding out in the sea, Puff the Magic Dragon is shedding a torrent of green scales.

I had been working on a another post when a NYT News Alert dropped in:

Mary Travers, a Member of Peter, Paul and Mary, Has Died at 72

An otherwise good mood turned to sadness.

Rather than continue finishing writing, I spent the next hour+ on YouTube, listening to Mary Travers and Peter, Paul and Mary, marveling at how iconic they were, how timeless their music is.

Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary Dies at 72

Mary Travers, whose ringing, earnest vocals with the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary made songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” enduring anthems of the 1960s protest movement, died on Wednesday at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut. She was 72 and lived in Redding, Conn.

The cause was complications from chemotherapy associated with a bone-marrow transplant she had several years ago after developing leukemia, said Heather Lylis, a spokeswoman.


The group’s interpretations of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” translated his raw vocal style into a smooth, more commercially acceptable sound. The singers also scored big hits with pleasing songs like the whimsical “Puff the Magic Dragon” and John Denver’s plaintive “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Their sound may have been commercial and safe, but early on their politics were somewhat risky for a group courting a mass audience. Like Mr. Yarrow and Mr. Stookey, Ms. Travers was outspoken in her support for the civil-rights and antiwar movements, in sharp contrast to clean-cut folk groups like the Kingston Trio, which avoided making political statements.

Peter, Paul and Mary went on to perform at the 1963 March on Washington and joined the voting-rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965.

Peter, Paul and Mary Website

Mary Travers on Wikipedia

Peter, Paul and Mary: Leaving on a Jet Plane

Peter, Paul and Mary: Puff the Magic Dragon

Peter, Paul and Mary: Blowin' in the Wind

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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What's Obama's take on the Baucus debacle?

By Creature

I've been doing my best to ignore the crap that is the Baucus Bill, but, for as much I have that luxury, President Obama does not. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about it. If history is any measure he will continue on his maddening high road. He will praise Baucus and his efforts, but will he praise a bill that is nothing but a gift to the Health Insurance industry? I sure hope not, but I'm ready to be disappointed.

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Millions, billions, trillions...

By Capt. Fogg

I'm pretty new to Twitter, but the place sounds like an aviary today with all the giggling about Sean Hannity's statement that Acorn, the subject of much hilarity this week, is slated to receive eight and a half TRILLION dollars from the government. I'm not sure that Sean is aware that the Census Bureau dropped ACORN a week ago, as Fox reported. Even so -- $8,500,000,000,000.00? Sean, thousands, millions, billions, trillions -- there's a difference!

So I'm wondering if maybe the next time I call him Insanity Hannity y'all won't say I'm over the top. I mean, I'm just sayin'.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Fountainhead of failure: Ayn Rand, her cult, and the moral absolutism of American conservatism

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Other than the obvious tyrants and totalitarians, there are few people in the history of the world I loathe more than Ayn Rand. Sure, I read her propaganda when I was in high school, and found much of it appealing. (It is, after all, pop philosophy for self-absorbed adolescent males.) But then I grew up, and out of it, and I quickly came to see her for what she was, and remains: a despicable egotist, a cult of personality at the head of a cult loyally attended by intellectually retarded submissives who fashioned themselves, like their mistress, members, subject to her whims, of an extra-special elite that, as they saw it, set them apart from, and above, the rest of society. (Although they, like her, were more like precocious college freshmen who read Nietzsche and think they're so cool. Eventually, of course, reality usually destroys such illusions and delusions.) All quite amusing, really, if only Rand had drifted off into oblivion. Instead, she became, and remains, much to its discredit, a heroine of the American right, a driving intellectual force behind conservative economic and social policy.

I highly recommend Jon Chait's review of two new books on Ayn Rand at The New Republic, "Wealthcare." Yes, it's fairly long, but do take the time to read it. What's clear is that Rand was a pretty awful human being -- and that she, like most of the American right, was wrong about pretty much everything.


Here's a particularly amusing, if not also disturbing, passage:

Objectivism was premised on the absolute centrality of logic to all human endeavors. Emotion and taste had no place. When Rand condemned a piece of literature, art, or music (she favored Romantic Russian melodies from her youth and detested Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms), her followers adopted the judgment. Since Rand disliked facial hair, her admirers went clean-shaven. When she bought a new dining room table, several of them rushed to find the same model for themselves.

Chait is right that Rand's philosophy essentially amounted to inverted Marxism -- the elite supposedly kept down by the masses. As for her cult, it closely resembled the totalitarian Bolshevism she so loathed. (It got a lot worse, and a lot more sinister, than just admirers buying the same furniture. Read the review for some sordid details.)

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It's about policy

By Capt. Fogg

About one out of three New Jersey "conservatives" seem to think that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, says TPM. About half of those think he has the number 666 on his scalp. To me, the idea that that many people can assert that the concept itself is rational is shocking enough, but of course, as Michael Steele assures us, it's certainly not a racial thing. That the same third believes he wasn't born in the US couldn't be other than a valid suspicion independent of his complexion either. Oh no, it's not about his color, it's about his policies and one certainly notices a lot of policy discussion amongst the pistol packing, Kalashnikov carrying crowd carrying signs calling for the murder of his children. It was about his policies quite a bit before anyone know what those policies might be.

I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American,

said former President Jimmy Carter yesterday. That's a massive understatement in my opinion.

When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds.

Indeed, they were out of bounds some time ago, and the early defensiveness of his attackers about "the race card" long before accusations of racism began to emerge suggests an awareness. At this point, I don't think any doubt remains as I don't think there has been such an irrational series of accusations and threats of violence since the Salem witch trials. Posters of Obama as an African warlord or as a Nazi in "teaparty" posters reek of racism.

It's inevitable that someone will comment that there are deranged Democrats and racist Democrats and stupid Democrats, fallacious defense though it may be. I'd like to ask just how many people showed up in protest of Bush's illegal actions carrying weapons and carrying signs demanding the death of the president, his wife, and his "stupid children."

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If it quacks like a bigot....

By Carl can call it a duck, but
it's bigotry:

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was among the first to assert that Congressman Joe Wilson's heckle revealed an underlying racism:

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys... Joe Wilson yelled 'You lie!' at a president who didn't. Fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!... But Wilson's shocking disrespect for the office of the president - no Democrat ever shouted 'liar' at W when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq - convinced me: Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

Her belief racism was at play was echoed by Democrat Representative for Georgia, Henry Johnson, who told media: "I guess we'll probably have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside intimidating people. That's the logical conclusion if this kind of attitude is not rebuked."

Now, I'm posting some of this tongue-in-cheek. I don't think the color of Obama's skin matters as much to Wilson and the other bigo-- I mean, Republicans as his policies and, more important, the position he holds. After all, Bill Clinton was about as white as they get, despite being called "America's First Black President", and look what these jackals did to him.

No, I think Obama is being clever as all get-out here. He's got his surrogates playing the race card for him, because he knows the one thing Republicans are terrified of right now is being portrayed as racists. After all, Obama won in a veritable landslide over the second whitest politician in America, John McCain, so to be racist at this point would be shown to be woefully out of touch.

What I think the Republicans are doing is playing dirty pool, a game they've excelled at since at least Lee Atwater helped Bush the Elder win the Presidency in 1988. Yes, there are clear insinuations in Wilson's outburst of disrespect, but my suspicion is that's more about a rookie President being put on the ropes by a "loyal" opposition (who really had the floor in August to try to derail national healthcare reform) and finally going that one last obvious step over the line.

But note what occured in August: the astroturf movement that saw town hall meetings across this nation interrupted by organized yahoos executing instructions from their puppet-masters like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, the paranoid inflation of numbers of people opposing Obama's policies, even mocking his decision to take a vacation "at a critical juncture in American history".

All of these pushed an envelope of paranoia and desperation that even a moment's reflection reveals. Wilson's "lie" chant merely sealed the deal for Americans who may or may not have put out that moment's reflection. It coalesced and concretized the perception that not only are the Republicans out of power and losing their grip on the electorate after spending twenty years demonizing liberalism and Democrats, but that the Republicans know theirs is a sinking ship and that it's not about helping people live better lives, it's about holding onto power to reward their cronies and conspirators in plutocracy.

That's not to say there is not an element of racism in this opposition. For one thing, it's easier to oppose someone whom you have dehumanized and pointing out differences dehumanizes people. "They" can do what "they" want because "they" are (insert trait here).

It makes it easier to portray yourself as a savior, saving "ordinary folks" from the clutches of "they," but it's also a lazy way out of honestly engaging in policy discussions.

By dehumanizing someone, you make their opinion and views irrelevant to the discussion. "They" are not as good as "we" are, so "we" don't have to take their arguments seriously.

But, of course, you miss out on the many opportunities to test your views, to strengthen and bolster those views, and to improve policy for everyone.

Obama's playing this correctly: he's taken the high road (note the very high-minded section of his speech the other night pertaining to realistic solutions being considered), while allowing his surrogates to dip into the same mud his opponents have smeared.

The Republicans' real problem is, they don't have a responsible and prestigious enough spokesman who can meet Obama's tactic head-on. All their spokespeople are either wallowing in the same mud that Jimmy Carter and others are flinging back at the GOP or the spokespeople who could conceivably wrest this debate back to a temperate level have been isolated and quarantined as irrelevant by the GOP.

Like Michael Steele, who could easily have met Obama on his playing field but for some bizarre reason decided to genuflect to the nattering nabobs of negativism in his own party.

Or John McCain, who has had to fight a rear-guard action in his own party to protect his reputation from Sarah Palin and the other neaderthals.

Instead, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, two men who have absolutely nothing at stake in politics, who can shift positions on any issue at any time if their ratings appear to warrant it, have taken the helm of the Republican party.

This is much like allowing Bozo The Clown to run a bank. It's entertaining, but ultimately unprofitable.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Here comes the judge!

By Capt. Fogg

Orly Taitz -- the name seems designed for mockery, but anyone so inclined hardly needs such a prop. Yes, she's the one who is still filing lawsuits, using our clogged-up courts as a soapbox to give the voices in her head an audience: the voices that say Barack Obama was born in Kenya on a variety of dates both before and after it became a republic and is ineligible to be president. So far, it hasn't been working out well. That may change.

She's been serving as council for U.S. Army Captain Connie Rhodes, who volunteered for service in Afghanistan so he and Taitz could file suit for the right to refuse the orders he requested to be given. Other than the fake birth certificate Judge Clay Land of the U.S. District Court in Columbus, Georgia says is inadmissible since she paid to have it made up (the fact that it's dated incorrectly and got the name of the country wrong doesn't help its credibility), she has presented nothing but a series of diatribes and no evidence whatever that could refute the State of Hawaii's certification that Obama was born in Honolulu.

It's not good to try fooling the judge. Clay threw it, and her apparently, out of court, saying she:

has presented no credible evidence and has made no reliable factual allegations to support her unsubstantiated, conclusory allegations and conjecture that President Obama is ineligible to serve as president of the United States. Instead, she uses her complaint as a platform for spouting political rhetoric, such as her claims that the president is ‘an illegal usurper, an unlawful pretender, an unqualified impostor.

WTVM-TV in Columbus reported that the judge also stated that Orly Taitz:

will be subject to counsel sanctions for bringing any future actions in his court which are similarly frivolous.

Think you can slow down a wingnut that easily? Sorry, the Taitz has inflicted another suit in the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California using another, differently dated, bogus certificate she also claims to have obtained by bribery in Kenya and other servicemen who claim they won't go because Obama isn't really president.

Will Judge David O. Carter give her case the same heave-ho? Don't be too sure. Judge Carter, a former U.S. Marine, repeated several times that this case is very serious and must be resolved quickly so that the troops know their Commander-in-Chief is eligible to hold that position and issue lawful orders to our military "in this time of war." He's already refused the Obama team's request for dismissal. The plan, according to Jeff Schwilk, the founder of the San Diego Minutemen who somehow seems to have a voice in this, is to force Obama to reveal his true birth certificate -- right, the one he revealed a long time ago and which was attested to by the governor of Hawaii and their director of vital records.

Taitz did a great job, winning some huge victories today, she was fearless!

said Schwilk to the I'm sure she was. A sane person would have been terrified.

Am I mocking the innocent here? I'll leave it to you, but we can be sure that we will be hearing from people who condemn this disrespect for fraudulent, seditious cases and believe every word of these charges. Oh, those liberals! All they have is mockery!

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Rush's tale

By Capt. Fogg

A Tale of Two Cities, The Miller's Tale, a tale told by an idiot -- it doesn't matter in the great game of Pin the Tale on Obama. Any tale will do. Your host today is Rush Limbaugh, and he's here to tell us that a tale of someone getting beat up on a school bus can be pinned on U.S. President Barack Obama. What? You want a reason? Well, two black kids beat up on a white kid for some undetermined reason, and because nature abhors a reason vacuum, the bell rings and we pin the tale on Obama!

That means, of course, that this incident, because there doesn't seem to be evidence of it being race-related, instantly goes on to round two where it becomes the model for the future Where Barack Obama individually directs the actions of all high school students (remember the speech?):

In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering,

said Rush yesterday. In other words, the fact of a biracial president guarantees that the "darkies" will no longer frolic gaily about the plantation as God and the GOP intend and, as Rush proves, have already formed an American Mau Mau movement to invade the inner sanctum of the white race, rape our women, and drive the streets of Palm Beach in Escalades with that terrible racist music blaring while Rush is trying to sleep.

That's right -- the white kids get beat up -- all of them, and all of the black kids will cheer, and because this has never, ever happened before when the White House was really white, it's Obama's fault, QED.

Tune in tomorrow, when Rush will explain to us that all the mockery he gets from those miserable liberals proves that everything he says is correct.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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"I redefined the Republican Party"

By Mustang Bobby

The conservatives are just now figuring out that George W. Bush was a self-absorbed, smug and arrogant jerk.

Former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer has a new book coming out that promises to disclose what administration officials were saying behind the scenes. Not surprisingly, there’s a “growing nervousness” about the book amongst many prominent conservatives. GQ has some new excerpts of Latimer’s book, which reveal that President Bush liked to mock other politicians:

On Sarah Palin: “‘I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.’ His eyes twinkled, then he asked, ‘What is she, the governor of Guam?‘ … ‘This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,’ he said. ‘She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let’s wait and see how she looks five days out.’”

On Barack Obama: “He came in one day to rehearse a speech, fuming. ‘This is a dangerous world,’ he said for no apparent reason, ‘and this cat [Obama] isn’t remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you.’”

On Hillary Clinton: “Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk.

On Joe Biden:If bull– was currency, Joe Biden would be a billionaire.”

In 2008, Bush also told Latimer to take out a reference to the “conservative movement” in a speech. “Let me tell you something,” the President said. “I whupped Gary Bauer’s ass in 2000. So take out all this movement stuff. There is no movement.” When Latimer was “perplexed,” Bush explained, “Look, I know this probably sounds arrogant to say,” the president said, “but I redefined the Republican Party.

A couple of interesting notes. His comments about Sarah Palin -- "She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family" -- reveal that Mr. Bush is both unacquainted with the concept of irony and he believes that family connections -- like his own -- make up for experience on the national level. If you have been searching for a definition of white upper class privilege and patriarchy, you can stop looking.

Second, while it's no surprise that Mr. Bush comes up with this kind of boorish frat boy locker-room talk -- we know that presidents from Warren Harding to Bill Clinton did -- the way he treats the Republican party as his own little sandbox lends a lot of light to the way he ran the country: it's his world; we just get to live in it.

Naturally, the conservatives who backed everything that Mr. Bush did, from invading Iraq to warrantless wiretapping, are suddenly distancing themselves from him. They are shocked, shocked to find out he was not really a conservative after all.
How many times during the last eight years did you hear that George W. Bush was a dangerous right-wing extremist? Probably too many to count.

What you heard less often were expressions of the deep reservations some conservatives felt about Bush's governing philosophy.

Oh, woe is me... if only we'd known!

Nope, sorry; you bought him, you paid for him, and he's all yours.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)


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The Bush Economic Legacy


(Double-click on the image to enlarge for readability)

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

- Shelley -

The U.S. Census Bureau just released this report on income, poverty, and access to health care. The report is a damning indictment of the Bush/Cheney years. Not just one Bush presidency, but the unholy trinity of the father, the son, and the ghost of Reagan... a veritable one-two-three-punch right in the economic gut of Middle America. On every major measurement, the report shows the country losing ground: Median household income declined, poverty increased, and the number of Americans without health insurance skyrocketed.

Compare the economic performance of the Bush years with those of Clinton: The condition of the country improved on all indices during the Clinton years, often considerably. In fact, the Bush economic record wipes out 20 years of economic progress. Indeed, I look upon these mighty Bush works with deep, deep despair.

This article by Dylan Ratigan, "
Americans Have Been Taken Hostage," deserves mention within the context of this post:

The American people have been taken hostage to a broken system. It is a system that remains in place to this day. A system where bank lobbyists have been spending in record numbers to make sure it stays that way.

A system that corrupts the most basic principles of competition and fair play, principles upon which this country was built.


Ask yourself how long you are willing to be held hostage? How long will you let o ur elected officials be the agents of those whose business it is to exploit our government and the American people at any cost

For another perspective, we should consider this definition of victimology:
[It] is the scientific study of victimization, including the relationships between victims and offenders, the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system — that is, the police and courts, and corrections officials — and the connections between victims and other social groups and institutions, such as the media, businesses, and social movements. Victimology is … not restricted to the study of victims of crime alone but may cater to other forms of human rights violations that are not necessarily crime.

Perhaps we should bring this definition to bear in our di scussions on economics because, assuredly, there are victims and offenders. I see Middle America as victims on multiple levels:

  1. Wall Street institutions betrayed the trust of Middle America with reckless speculation that devalued assets and investments;

  2. The political process has been hijacked by corporatists and their lobbyists leaving Middle America disenfranchised;

  3. The offenders enjoy unbridled freedom to plunder the wealth of Middle America with impunity.

One can understand the misplaced outrage of tea baggers with justification. All of us, liberal and conservative alike, are rightfully angry about the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street and the outrageous bonuses paid to crooks and scoundrels at taxpayer expense. Tea baggers see themselves as victims, and undoubtedly they are! Yet, they are blaming the wrong offenders, defending their own persecutors, selling out their own economic self-interest, and, yet, it seems doubtful whether anyone can set them straight.

All I can do right now is frame an argument and see where this takes us.

(Cross-posted at
The Swash Zone.)

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Hey, Max Baucus, what's the point?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

That's right, what's the point of Sen. Max Baucus's health-care reform proposal? Is it to win bipartisan support? Yes, probably, given that Baucus all along has been trying to work with the few Republicans who have shown a slight (if hollow) interest in reform -- namely, the GOP members of the Gang of Six. Not surprisingly, though, the Republicans in question, notably Sens. Charles Grassley and Mike Enzi, have already come out against Baucus's proposal. And it's not like Baucus's compromise appeals to pro-reform Democrats either. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, for example, has decisively, and admirably, said "no way": if there is no public option, and there isn't in Baucus's proposal, it's a non-starter. This is the position all Democrats ought to be taking.

(Baucus's proposal is actually pretty atrocious. As one former Big Insurance executive has put it, it's "an absolute gift" to the insurance industry. Though, it would seem, even an absolute gift isn't good enough for Republicans.)

Meanwhile, even moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has stated that she won't be supporting the Senate Finance Committee's bill. Which is to say, no Republican senator will be supporting it -- or any other reform bill that includes a public option, or, for that matter, any reform bill at all.

As I've said before, it's time, long past time, for the Democrats to go it alone on health-care reform. Republicans have been obstructionist to the point where even genuine compromise is impossible -- if it was ever possible, and I suspect it wasn't. What they want is not just concessions that would render reform meaningless but no reform at all.

Republicans have shown their cards. Democrats must now pull together and do what is right for America.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One can hope

By Carl

I, for one, hope the Obama administration is not taking lessons from Dick Cheney and the Bushies on
how to keep us safe:

Federal and city counterterrorism agents raided homes in New York City early Monday after a man under surveillance for suspected ties to al-Qaeda met with people in Queens, federal officials said.

Rep. Peter T. King (N.Y.), the senior Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, said after receiving a briefing from federal authorities Monday afternoon that the suspect's visit this weekend triggered the raids.

"He was being watched, and concern grew as he met with a group of individuals in Queens over the weekend," King told ABC News on Monday in a report forwarded by his office. "The FBI went to court late last night for an emergency warrant to conduct the raids this morning."

OK, that's not too bad, right? I mean, the FBI is keeping mum about the nature of the investigation and that it's ongoing and all that, but... well, as my post last Tuesday suggests, the U.S. government might have a bit of a hair trigger on inicidents like this.

Here's the bit that worries me, a little, that perhaps the Obama administration might be taking a tougher stance than it has to, in order to deflect right wing criticism:

Authorities said there were no arrests.

Bingo. You execute search warrants when you have probable cause to believe a crime has been or is about to be committed. Suspicion, paranoid delusion, or rumour should not ever be considered "probable cause", and yet the lack of arrests tells me that the FBI feels it might have gotten lucky, but didn't.

And if anything, this ought to have the fright-wing of the nation in turmoil. Wasn't it just a few months ago they were up in arms over a Bush DoJ document outlining the right wing hate groups in this country and how improved surveillance was essential in order to keep us safe from that form of domestic terror?

But, of course, in that warped, counterintuitive bizarro logic of the right-wing political landscape, where consistency is measured in nanoseconds while crowds are inflated beyond comprehension, this is a quieting moment, where it would be hard to criticize a president for being strong on terrorism, especially in light of Osama bin Laden's... remember him? because Bush sure didn't!...
recent taunting of Obama.

But it worries me.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Why the military is worried about climate change

Guest post by Jonathan Powers

Jon Powers is the Chief Operating Officer of the Truman National Security Project. He is a veteran of the Gulf War and the founder of War Kids Relief. He was previously Veterans Program Director at the Eleison Group, where he worked on outreach efforts by the progressive community to veterans and military families.

This post, co-written with Jon Soltz, was originally published at The Huffington Post.


Months ago, when veterans got into the fight over Clean Energy, we did so because of the firm link between Middle East oil profits and terrorism. Late last month, Richard Holbrooke even stated that the Taliban is being funded by Persian Oil. In short, we're unintentionally funding both sides of the wars we're in.

What we did not realize then, but that bolsters the seriousness of the case for investment in a Green Energy Economy, is that the Pentagon has been running simulations on climate change to see how its effects would stretch our military and put American lives on the line.

The idea that climate change might have a direct affect on American security isn't a new notion. In 2008, a National Intelligence Assessment observed that "global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years."

Military leaders are now identifying climate change and energy security as a growing threat to our national security.

What is new is that the Pentagon is now taking the threat so seriously that it has been war-gaming scenarios. The results?

In one scenario, a flood in Bangladesh "sent hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into neighboring India, touching off religious conflict, the spread of contagious diseases and vast damage to infrastructure," according to a story in The New York Times. Other models put key military installations in severe danger, while melting polar ice opens up new shipping channels that must be defended.

"The demands of these potential humanitarian responses may significantly tax U.S. military transportation and support force structures, resulting in a strained readiness posture and decreased strategic depth for combat operations," the report concludes.

The risk lies in the challenges we face when these climate induced crises happen in fragile or failing states. Extremist groups move to take advantage of these situations to create a foothold for themselves... a foothold we cannot let them gain. And, conversely, if they're dealing with disasters, we might not have the forces needed to keep the Bangladesh scenario from becoming a regional conflagration in a nuclear region of the world.

Simply put, not passing a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill doesn't just mean continuing sending oil profits to terrorists. It means our men and uniform operating in a world where they are constantly deployed, overstretched, and putting their lives on the line, all to deal with scenarios that we could have prevented but didn't.

That's why a new coalition of veterans and national security groups is taking to D.C. and to the airwaves this week, making a strong push for legislation to pass the Senate to join the bill already passed by the House and to move on to the president.

A number of groups, including the groups we head, have come together under the umbrella of Operation FREE, a coalition of those concerned with our troops and national security. This week, hundreds of veterans with Operation FREE are descending on the Capitol to make the case that this is as much a security issue as anything. Operation FREE is just starting, though, and will be doing much more in the weeks and months ahead. is also starting to air an ad nationally -- and in the states of North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, and Michigan -- this week. The ad strongly and bluntly makes the case stated above, closing with: "It's not just a question of American energy, it's a question of American Power."

We do not have a moment to spare. Yes, there are a lot of important issues being debated in Washington today. But, to us, very few are as important as this. When it comes to our troops, our security, and our future, veterans like us won't back down.

(Cross-posted from Operation FREE.)

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