Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President

By Creature

Let me add my unconditional praise for the president and his outstanding statement in support of the Muslim community center in lower Manhattan1st Amendment. He didn't have to weigh in, and the right is predictably apocalyptic, but it was the right thing to do. It's a shame we've drifted so far from our constitutional moorings that such a statement was even necessary.

Updated above for clarity.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Elizabeth Warren

By Creature

Greg Sargent:

Elizabeth Warren was seen leaving the White House yesterday, and speculation is mounting that Obama may soon decide whether to appoint her as top Wall Street consumer cop. Here's his choice:

If Obama doesn't choose her, he risks infuriating his already-agitated liberal supporters who see Warren as the only logical candidate. If he gives her the nod, Obama risks deepening the financial community's distrust of his administration and sparking a confirmation fight.

Is this really a tough dilemma? After all, sacrificing Warren isn't going to induce Wall Streeters and Republicans to suddenly stop tarring him as anti-business. And: Who's more important to Dem hopes in the midterms, Dem base voters or Wall Street titans and GOP leaders?

Picking Warren is a no-brainer.

My lack of Obama enthusiasm stems from the ease in which he slipped on his DLC-lite, corporatist suit right after the election. Picking Warren would go a long way in turning that impression around. It won't make it disappear, but it will help.

Update: Along the lines of what I said above, here's Lawerence Lessing [via Sully--who's worth reading too on this disappointing subject]:

It's certainly not fair to criticize Obama for not being a Lefty. He wasn't ever a Lefty. He didn't promise to be a Lefty. And there's no reason to expect that he would ever become a Lefty.

But Lefties (like me) who criticize Obama are not criticizing him for failing our Lefty test. Our criticism is that Obama is failing the Obama test: That he is not delivering the Presidency that he promised...

Now I'm not sure whether it is leftist, or rightist, or centerist to govern through special interest deals. It certainly is Clintonist. It's precisely the administration that Hillary "lobbyists are people too" Clinton promised. And were she President, and had she done exactly what Obama has done, then no one, I included, would have any reason to criticize her.

But beefed up Clintonism is not what Obama promised. He promised to "take up the fight." His failure to deliver on that critical promise -- the promised that distinguished him from his main primary rival -- or even to try, is a failure that everyone, Lefties included, should be free to complain about without suffering the rage of Gibbs.

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By Michael J.W. Stickings

I've been meaning to blog for several days now, if only to provide a personal update, but, well, I haven't really spent much time at the computer this week.

You see, I'm on vacation for a couple of weeks in Prince Edward Island. (In? On? Both, I suppose.)

It's my favourite place in the world, a long way from Democratic impotence (understandable, to a point, given the need for 60 Senate votes to get anything done) and the descent into madness of the Republican Party, and of American conservatism generally, and I'm enjoying some time away from it all. Other than watching Stewart and Colbert, I'm just not paying much attention to the news.

Although I did read about Ted Stevens, and I did plan a post with this title: "Ted Stevens is dead. Long live the Intertubes!" Maybe later.

I may get to blogging a bit in the days to come, if I can tear myself away from rest and relaxation, much needed with a busy fall ahead, what with the November midterms and all, but be sure to keep checking back for some great posts from my co-bloggers. (Of course, I've been reading their posts, as always -- and, as always, I come away far better for it, so good do I think my co-bloggers are.)

In the meantime, I'm eating a lot of seafood -- the halibut is simply unbelievable, as are the oysters, as fresh as can be, harvested just minutes from here -- and basking in the beauty of this place, of which I cannot get enough.

-- Michael

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another final solution?

By Capt. Fogg

During WW II the Germans were the bad guys and the French were the good guys, right? Well, some of them certainly were and some of them certainly still are, but if we're looking for another example of the banality -- and universality -- of the hidden but still present nastiness in apparently civilized nations, the examples are everywhere. Examples of the kinds of sentiments that brought us the persecutions, deportations and atrocities my parents' generation went to war over.

No, I'm not talking about the increasingly hostile attitude toward non-aryan immigrants in the American South, but about France and the European Union of which it's part. The Nazis ( and the Inquisition in its time) were less successful in eliminating the Roma, or the Gypsies as it was once more common to call them, then they were in eliminating the Jews or Europe.

Now that travel within the EU has been made so much easier; a basic right of European citizens, France has many Romani camps and that bothers many Frenchmen who are eager to attribute all kinds of mayhem in good old Lou Dobbs fashion. French President Nicolas Sarkozy seems happy to raise his poor ratings by pandering to that good old European Family Value of racism and ethnic prejudice. He plans to break up some 300 camps in the near future and send the Roma back to Romania because of "security problems." As yet, I haven't heard talk about re-establishing them in their ancient homeland in Rajasthan, but maybe that's still too touchy a subject just now.

France isn't the first to expel this wandering group who have appeared as bogey men in a thousand years of European folk lore. Germany Denmark and Italy, for example are instituting similar policies of attributing selected offenses to a group and punishing that group with expulsion rather than individuals actually accused and found guilty. It's doubly disturbing because, of course, Romanian citizens are normally free to reside in EU countries, or so I'm told.

Perhaps enough time has passed that the embarrassment of being caught at the same old Collective Guilt by Ethnicity game isn't enough to make EU member countries circumspect. Certainly that's true in the US where most citizens can't clearly remember as far back as the Bush administration, but equally certain is that looking for ethnic scapegoats in times of economic trouble is not something that died in a Berlin bunker in 1945.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Maybe This Recession Thing Isn't So Bad, After All

By Carl
I don't mean to minimize the difficulties of tens of millions of Americans. Unemployment, debt, foreclosure, bankruptcies, homelessness-- these are all terribly and frightening things, and the small solace that most of those Americans, likely even some of my readers, will get through it and put together some sort of life afterwards is near-meaningless in the torrent of collection notices and dwindling bank statements.
Believe me, I've been unemployed, sometimes for years at a clip, thanks to Reagan and Bush. I've lived off credit cards, slept in my car, begged borrowed and stolen to get by.
Paul Krugman writes today about the darkening of America. In an effort to save money, municipalities and states are starting to reduce street lighting, are tearing up paved roads and returning them to asphalt, and making cuts to education, mostly because Congress refuses to return taxes on the wealthy to Clintonian levels.
Anyone who's read me for more than a week knows I'm all about the class warfare. I'm unafraid of that label, anymore than I am unafraid to be called a liberal. All men (and women) ARE created equal, and it's only the dint of luck via the genetic lottery, the state lottery, or the creativity lottery that some are more equal than others. While that needs to be applauded, it also needs to be taxed. Those who take the most out of society ought to be the ones to put the most back in, and clearly, drawing wealth out of the economy should be duly taxed, especially on businesses that incorporate.
Perhaps, though, some of these dire scenarios Krugman points out are blessings in disguise. For instance, take gravel roads. Those might force people who go out and buy a new SUV every two or three years to stop and reconsider that choice. After all, who wants gravel popping up to scratch your new paint job? Too, it might force people to rethink moving to remote areas, and to create communities out of closer in ex-urban areas. You know, where they might work, in an office park, one they can walk or ride a bike to. 
Surely the foreclosure market has forced people to stop building McMansions on postage stamp sized lots and to learn to live with a little less space, maybe combining the den and the living room into one, or skipping the second guest bedroom. Maybe you don't need that wine chiller. A decent rack in the basement and your refrigerator will suffice. 
In short, maybe the conspicuous consumption of the past forty years will finally crater in on itself. Maybe we'll have fewer commercials for Botox, and people will remember the joys of aging gracefully (says the 53 year old man who has managed to avoid wrinkles and laughlines but who has lost most of his hair and what's left is solidly gray). Maybe people will carve out a corner of that backyard and grow some vegetables and remember the taste of real food, not the salmonella-laced bags-o-salad that they pick up three for five dollars at the Piggly Wiggly. 
And a darker night? Maybe that means more people will be able to stand in a park and look up at the sky and watch nature's beauty unfold tonight and tomorrow morning. Maybe they'll go out and buy a modest telescope or pair of binoculars to watch the skies. Maybe they'll start paying more attention to the beauty around them as the cable gets cut, and the TV goes dark. Maybe people will take the hint and instead of lighting up their homes like Times Square, they'll light a candle or two and have an intimate conversation.
You know, talk? 
And maybe, through all this, we'll gain a deeper appreciation for the people around us in our community, in our schools, in our cities and towns, in our states, and in our countries. It's no accident that, when recessions and depressions hit America, we turn more progressive. We're all in this together and the white collar worker who loses his job stands to suffer as much and maybe a bit more than the laborer. After all, he has a lot higher board to dive from. 
And who knows? Maybe once you and I can break bread in a park together and toss crumbs to the pigeons as we hash out the world, we'll both realize that, white or black, left or right, we have more in common with each other than we disagree on? And then, once we see around us the way Congress has mollycoddled those who have and want to keep while we go without, we'll get angry enough to take our country back?
Or, maybe Fox will come up with another mindless TV show that we turn on and swallow the subliminal messages from.  
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Chinese Water Torture

Even those living under rocks and in Bushvilles (which will be all the rage in a short time) know that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opened the proverbial can of hornets when he characterized the "liberals" or "progressive side" of the Democratic party as the "professional left."

It wasn't so much the criticism, but the Gibbs' condescending and overconfident attitude directed towards a [large] chunk of the Democratic party that got the tubes to light up. It also wasn't the first time someone in the Obama Administration looked at the left and basically flipped the bird. Rahm has already been down this road.

Don't think any of these comments are just random lines of frustration from Gibbs or Emmanuel. You can almost feel the political operatives in the Administration are strategically daring the left to "sit out November and then see what happens." Nah Nah Nah.

I never expected Obama to walk on water or turn the US Titanic around as fast as a lot of the country assumed he would. The economic morass was so deep and so complex - no one had the answers or knew what would work or wouldn't.  Plus years of economic abuse could not be cured in months.  My disappointment in the Obama Administration has more to do with what he could control (and has not) - then what he could not control. First there was the watered-down health care bill. The capitulation of the Democrats was so fast and so sharp, I fear the bill we ended up with  (chock full of givebacks and bonuses for the insurance companies, no control of costs etc.) will ultimately make a bad system even worse. Add in some other fun things like Gitmo remaining open, the President expanding an unwinnable (and unaffordable) war in Afghanistan, a financial bill that was passed that doesn't do one solid thing to address the complex and legal avenues of greed and corruption our financial system has mapped out, domestic spying that goes on unchecked and the minor fact the crooks of the Bush Administration are lounging on yachts. It sounds to me like the only change I can believe in is a bunch of shiny Lincoln cents.

Obama was truly an inspirational candidate, but what I have seen in his Presidency has been painful to watch. He lacks clarity, focus and in my mind, the will to fight with the opposition. Everything to him is a negotiation or discussion - even when he challenges the GOP on their stupidity. The words and speeches as always sound great, but all of the follow-through lacks any teeth and toughness.

This is why Senators do not often get elected to the Presidency.  The office is not designed to be a place for smoke filled back-rooms negotiations.  It is an office the demands and requires action, often unpleasant and distasteful action their MO. 

Sure the GOP has obstructed and been loyal (to their opposition of Obama) to a fault. And the media (yes that liberal institution called the fourth estate!) has more interested talking up failures than having constructive discussions on solutions.  Instead of fighting back, Obama seems to cower. The Shirley Sherrod debacle is a perfect example.  When the opposition dug in, the White House seems to have resorted to passivity and believed that time (as opposed to warring words) would be on their side. With health care - they dropped universal care before the bill even started and let Max Baucus appoint a group of 6 that included 3 Republicans! Bush would NEVER have been that accommodating. The public option only received tepid support and was also dropped when Obama had to appease Lieberman, Lincoln and figure a way to bribe Snowe. It was all justified as "compromise, bipartisanship and just the way Washington works."

Guess what Barack, we didn't want the way Washington works, we don't like the way Washington works. That is not what you told your base, that is not what you promised America. But everything seems to fall into this tired old pattern - and your operatives wonder why November looks so bleak.  That is why the teabaggers have grown so far so fast - they also promise a different Washington - except their vision of Washington is one that will ultimately destroy this country.

I tried to ignore the disappointment - and for a time I could. But Gibbs' remark was the straw that broke the donkey's back. He even stood by his comments the next day. I do not believe for one second that you, President Obama, didn't approve or at least have knowledge of what Gibbs had to say - especially the second time. Yes this administration is miles better than the anything the Republicans would have to offer. But the past 18 months have definitely been a huge let down compared with the approach many of us believed you would at least attempt to follow.

And I am so tired of voting Not-Republican.

Here is the deal on Gibbs attitude. The inside-the-White House cabal that sits and counts votes wouldn't be treating the left this way if it didn't believe that the Democrats can gain more from the "center" (whatever that is) than they will lose by pissing on the liberals. Besides, as Gibbs so obviously points out without verbally announcing, where else can the progressives go?

Gibbs know this. So does Obama. So does Pelosi, and that has to be frustrating the heck out of her. The loss of votes like mine will not be mourned by Rahm and Axelrod, since secretly they will be celebrating it as a sign of the coming victory - the pyrrhic victory that will pull in the indies and center. Obama is probably the smartest politician of his generation, what I don't get is how all the talent he hired can be thinking these Rovian tactics will really work?

Obama entered office with huge majorities in Congress, a deep economic crisis and an utterly discredited opposition. Only 20% of America called themselves Republicans - the lowest EVER!  Once in charge, Obama promptly began compromise with the GOP, quickly changing the status quo. Obama kept telling the country how reasonable that opposition was (just like they were under Bush LOL) and how his people looked forward to working with them. I could have told you that was not a smart move, but what do I know?

Guess what - I told you so.

Now the momentum is completely gone. In two short years the Republicans have risen from the ashes. Most people would have believed in 2008 that the GOP was dead for years. Well 2 qualifies as years I guess. Yes, the are controlled by the Teabaggers - but in reality there isn't much difference between the GOP and a flaccid hanging Teabag. The Democrats are so fractured that they can't get even small, minor or universally needed bills passed without superhuman effort. The Democrats are looking at potentially huge electoral losses to the most thoroughly beatable gang of political assholes in generations. That is pathetic.

And now they are actively antagonizing portions of their 'base.' (unions, gays, and progressives).

Happy talk of how they prevented a total meltdown, and celebrations of victories that should have been a lot bigger are growing tired and will not gain any brownie points. Angry outbursts at those who do not appreciate all their hard work is not exactly a good strategy either. Gibbs, Rahm, Axelrod and a many others have to go - a minor shakeup will do nothing to alter this downward spiral. The problem is that these necessary changes won't happen until after the November 2nd debacle - not before.

The only people with the power to actually prevent ther Teabaggers from sitting in the Congress right now are the Democrats and the White House. They only way that is going to happen is if voters see them taking real action to fight for them. Not compromising for corporations, not watering down bills for Wall Street, not making sure insurance companies are happy, and definitely not by remaining friends with Olympia Snowe.

Maybe it doesn't even matter. When you have the White House and huge majorities in Congress and get so little accomplished - how much can worse it be with a split government? If that is the case who really cares who wins or loses any given office - it won't make a difference. This was the Democrats golden opportunity to prove they stood for more than simply getting elected.  And it is now gone with the wind.

While we are not torturing prisoners any more, the progressives and the left have been subjected to a different method of torture.  The disappointments of the Obama Presidency have proven to be a different kind of waterboarding - the Chinese water kind.

Drip, drip, drip.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Becoming the monster?

By Capt. Fogg

I'm old enough to have learned to delay anger at any reports about or coming from the area formerly known to some as Palestine. Initial reports are so often untrue or exaggerated that caution is always advised. If it is true, of course, that the government of Israel has caused part of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem to be bulldozed, my anger is going to be well into condition red -- the more so if, as has been reported, the demolition is related to the construction of a Museum of Tolerance planned by the US based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

So I'll hold my temper a while longer although I fear that Nietzsche's warning about becoming the monster you set out to fight may be waiting to make a comeback.


It's possible that the "newly renovated" grave sites may have been newly constructed for the purpose of creating a false "atrocity" for propaganda purposes and to claim additional territory.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)


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Fleshing out the Muslim community center story

By Creature

The NYT today has a good piece which fills in the blanks and corrects much of the misinformation regarding the proposed Muslim community center a few blocks away from ground zero. However, there is hole in the story which Adam Serwer and Steve M. rightly fill.


The Times report, however, descends into a kind of "liberal" media known-nothingism when it comes to how this became a controversy, suggesting that " a combination of arguable naïveté, public-relations missteps and a national political climate in which perhaps no preparation could have headed off controversy." This is a remarkable formula that manages to place the blame everywhere except where it belongs -- on a right-wing smear machine that went into overdrive in an effort to portray Rauf and Khan as terrorist sympathizers, an experience no one outside of contemporary partisan politics could have possibly been prepared for. The conservative media lied about the location of the project, they lied about Rauf's background, they lied about the project's funding, they lied about when the project would be built, and they lied about Rauf's political beliefs. And it would have been one thing if it had just been a small group of people lying, but they had an entire cable news station to lie for them, and politicians who were willing to amplify their smears. This controversy isn't about the "political climate." It's the fruit of a conscious, deliberate, and sustained effort.

To which Steve M. adds:

The additional point I'd make is that while the unquestionably moderate originators of this project might not have been able to anticipate just how vicious the scorched-earth right-wing campaign against the project would be, there's one institution that could have anticipated this -- the mainstream press, very much including The New York Times.[...]

Didn't the non-right-wing press have a responsibility to help correct the record, as soon as this story began to rage out of control?

Of course they did, but they rarely do. The non-right-wing press has been skirting this responsibility for years. In their left/right, Crossfire world the facts are left to wither and die. All the while, those who push the disinformation are ignored or, worse, imitated in order to win a news cycle. While I don't completely blame the media, there is stubborn 30% of the population who don't give a crap about facts, they do have a huge role to play in leveling the playing field so that those who want the facts can easily get them.

Reporting the facts would be a pretty simple thing to do and, if I'm not mistaken, it's their job.

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Whiny Moonbats

By Carl
There's a lot of truth in what John Nichols says in The Nation:
In what he admitted was an "inartful" diatribe, the press secretary unleashed on lefties who have objected to Obama's many compromises on economic and social issues and, above all, with regard to the expansion of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.
The "professional left," claimed Gibbs, is just a complaint club that will only " be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality." (If we are deferring to reality, it is probably worth noting that very few people on the left propose Pentagon "elimination," although many of them agree with Congressmen Barney Frank and Ron Paul on the need to address the abuses and excesses in defense budgets.)
Gibbs hit with the left with what he apparently thought was his best shot: "They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president."
Of course, what Gibbs failed to note, as Nichols points out, is the strong support the fledgling Obama campaign received from the left at critical moments in the campaign. Or we'd be pretty angry at President Hillary right now.
There's a lot of understandable anger from the left. We outlasted the wingnut right and their eight year Presidency and decades-long Congressional hijacking, and we expected more from an incoming Democratic President. Here's the thing: we did not win the election for Obama. At best, we gave him an early, fighting chance to win the Presidential nomination, and that's an old favor that should have been called in long ago.
As the saying goes, if you want a friend in DC, get a dog. We thought Obama might be our puppy, which conveniently ignored the reality those of us who were Hillbots kept hammering at over and over: Obama is essentially a centrist candidate.
He had to be. The dirty fact of American politics is, radicalism does not win elections. It wins nominations, so if you're going to anticipate some sort of quid pro quo, you better be hoping for great seats at the nominating convention, because after that, you're useless. And if you don't believe me, ask any right winger who is still waiting, thirty years on, for Roe v Wade to be overturned.
Indeed, liberals have been more fortunate than our conservative counterparts in enacting legislation that advances our causes, mostly because they are the right things to do and the majority of this country knows it. They know that unfettered capitalism is cannibalistic to the economy and to the American population. They know that a woman's pregnancy should be her decision alone, with some consideration given to the baby the further along its developed. They know that mass ownership of guns is a dangerous thing, and needs to be overseen and regulated at least as well as a car.
They get it. They get that private health insurance-- while better than no insurance-- is not the best we can do, particularly when we look around us and see nations giving healthcare to their populace no questions asked. They get that war has far fewer advantages to a nation than it has disadvantages, particularly an unnecessary war. 
But those same people have been made afraid of these changes by the very frustrated and frightened right. By putting up obstacles, we liberals have become frustrated and feeling a measure of impotence, as well. Advances that we thought were secure, like the Great Society, have been eroded and then successfully scaled back by a party bent on making us all hang separately. 
And doing it in the name of Christian charity.
My study and experiences with the American political landscape have made me an incrementalist. I confess to that. That makes me a wee bit unpopular in some circles, and I'm OK with that. Radical change happened in the Sixties, and we're paying a toll for that now and have been for thirty years as every "reform" has been laid at the feet of "dirty fucking hippies". 
And yet, there's a part of me that's also anarchistic. I see that companies can patent my genome, and imagine the worst scenario that if I contract cancer, I'll be charged a royalty. I see corporations flat out buy elections for candidates, and wonder how my voice can ever be heard again. I see politicians cynically claim to be for something, then in a miraculous change of heart, come out against the very thing they proposed. 
And I wonder if incrementalism is a viable option anymore. The worst part about that sentiment is, I may never know. Change in America happens in fits and starts, and can be either evolutionary or revolutionary. It may happen in the next ten years that steps to fight global warming will finally be taken as the Midwest and the Farm Belt choke on another Dust Bowl. And who knows, those steps might even work. 
Or it may happen not in my child's lifetime, but in my grandchild's lifetime and be woefully too little, way too late, and evolution will leave us in the dust.   
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Robert Gates: The Bravest Person in Washington?

By Peter Henne

Like many inside the Beltway, I gasped this morning as I read the front page of The Washington Post. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced plans to cut "thousands" of positions in the DoD, including numerous contractor jobs and the entire Joint Forces Command. One of the few constants in this region is the defense industry; the expanding federal government resulted in numerous firms specializing in government contracts, especially in defense and intelligence. I suspect that many people in this area--including those who loudly denounce US military spending--secretly assure themselves that, if all else failed, there would still be a contractor's job waiting for them.

I am of mixed feelings about this. As someone who has worked with this industry, I know that government contractors perform valuable services for the government, and make up for shortcomings in the federal hiring process. Also, the Joint Forces Command plays an integral role in ensuring the military services work well together. At the same time, the government has become dependent on private contractors to an extent likely unintended by anyone, and a great amount of money can be saved by stream-lining DoD offices.

I do hope, though, that Gates' brave move--doing what he thinks is right for the country--means Congress will no longer be able to play politics with our defense budget. Previous attempts to focus defense spending on critical items have been stymied by Congressional opposition, as seen in the fight over the F-22 fighter. And Republican Senators have placed holds on crucial Presidential appointees in order to ensure defense contracts are steered towards their states, holds which were withdrawn when the public realized what was happening. With the Senate apparently mired in dysfunction, letting the bureaucrats make decisions like this may ironically be more democratic than letting Senators use our national security to enhance their electoral prospects.

That is not to say politicians will--or should--leave Gates alone.
Unfortunately, VA Governor Bob McDonnell and Representative J. Randy Forbes--both Republicans--somehow found a way to blame Obama's domestic policies. But people do get worried when their jobs are threatened; communities have a right to question whether the economic impact of these cuts are worth the savings in federal spending. I can only hope that Gates' initiative will lead to a real debate in this country about defense spending, not more cynical political posturing.

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Terrorists win! Terrorist's win!

By Capt. Fogg

It's hard to say they didn't and their victory has nothing to do with the incompetence that let Osama bin Laden escape from Afghanistan. What can you call it but a victory when we've borrowed and wasted trillions on wars that we simply can't afford and we've been torn apart politically and culturally to the point where we will defend the indefensible, accept the unacceptable and every passing cloud seems like a piece of the sky falling.

Nearly nine years after the attacks on New York and Washington, the World Trade Center towers have become like the relics of some saint to be preserved in myth if not in a jar while the contrived phrase "they hate us for our freedoms" echoes in mockery. One by one, the freedoms we pretend are a reason for their resentment are put against a wall and shot -- by us.

Any war, just or unjust, aggressive or defensive, necessary or the result of lies, is a test of the freedoms of speech and of the press. This alleged war has been a test of freedom from unreasonable searches as well, but now even freedom of religion is being tested both in the legislature and by the propaganda organizations with seemingly unlimited money, power and influence over the rage addled minds of the public. The millions of riders on the New York Transit system will soon be reading ads showing yet another picture of the twin towers and an airliner along with a crescent. Why There? it asks. Because we have freedom of religion, I answer. Because the government may not legislate against the free exercise of a religion or determine that one religion is to be preferred over another, I say to the ignorant, uncaring mob and the sinister forces that play them like pawns.

Does anything support the myth, popular in Islamic countries, that the US is out to destroy them and to kill Muslims better than this ad, this attitude, this anger? Of course we're eager to engineer Armageddon and so are they. Of course the Terrorists have won, since to bankrupt and confuse us and weaken us and set us against our principles and best interests was exactly what they set out to do. A popular uprising against justice and the rule of law has been the goal of many but none has been so successful in my lifetime as what has been accomplished by bin Laden and the Neocon Republicans with the aid of various radical supremacist groups foreign and domestic.

Why there? Well to be truthful it isn't there, only near there, but the answer is the same as it is to the question of why we didn't forbid radical Christian churches in Oklahoma City or the political anti-government speech that brought about the Federal Building attack and continues to fester. Because we all have the right to worship without interference from anti religious groups and from the government. That would be the government that's supposed to stay out of our lives, but only if we're of an approved religion.

We don't forbid KKK meetings even in neighborhoods full of people the Klan hates. We allow Tea Party extremists to wave guns at political rallies and threaten the lives of the president's family and to overthrow the government by force. We allow Christian churches to preach about the coming destruction of the Jews, the infidels and the end of the world anywhere they damn well please. But they're not Muslims, as a rule.

Our founding fathers offered praise for Islam, told Muslim leaders this was not a Christian country. There have been Muslim citizens in this country for centuries. There are millions of born in the USA Muslims in civilian and military life. When you take away the rights of one citizen for illegal reasons, you take away the rights of all and indeed if "they" hate us for being free, they're effective in making us less so and with our eager cooperation.

There's a bell tolling for us, for our freedom, for our souls and that thing up there in the steeple, wrapped in the flag and ringing it doesn't look anything like Osama.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Gibbs blasts "professional" left

By Creature

“They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.” -- Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

To the White House the left is as much as an annoyance as the right (which is silly--if not a bit disrespectful). I get the whole pragmatism thing. I get that the Senate is a mess. I'm thrilled that they have gotten things done in the face of a dishonest opposition (really, I am). But do they need to be so dismissive? Do they need to express their frustration out loud?

In the end, I assume this is just hippie-punching politics. Robert Gibbs still holds out hope that the serious people in Washington won't call Obama a socialist-leftist blah, blah, blah, but that ship sailed long ago. Robert Gibbs is punching air at this point and it's unnecessary.

Update: Gibbs walks back, a bit.

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The Unusual Suspects

By Carl
The Federal Reserve is in a quandry. They've pretty much adjusted interest rates as low as possible (at the last meeting, nine banks requested an extension of the current near-zero percent rate, while three wanted it increased to one percent). They've loosened reserve requirements a little, but looser reserves are part of what got us into this mess in the first place.
And yet, the economy is stagnant. Sure, companies are showing stellar earnings growth, but revenues are lagging, sales are below expectations and most of the earnings gains have come from increased productivity, as firms have made more out of less, but that horse is being beaten to death.
Normally, we'd go declare war on someone, but the dirty little secret is this economic collapse happened despite two majors incursions in South Asia, in large part because of a bonehead President who lowered taxes during a period of war, thus soaking up any available surplus that could have been invested in economic stimulus now.
Indeed, part of why President Obama has been recalcitrant in bringing troops home is what he'd do with them. He'd be adding tens of thousands of people to the already bloated unemployed population. At least in Asia, they're doing some busy work under the political cover of two wars that Congress authorized, so therefore can't easily criticize.
The possible solution?
Normally, this is considered a way to kick off inflation, if not hyperinflation. The supply and demand of money works not a whole lot differently than the supply and demand for any commodity: the bigger the supply, the less "value" it has on the demand side. That means it will cost more to buy stuff. 
Here's the thing: right now, the economy is in dire danger of falling into deflation. You'd think that would be a good thing, and if there was full employment it might be. Deflation will lower earnings further, which will discourage companies from hiring more people. 
Probably. See, no one knows for certain because it's been such a long time since we've faced a truly deflationary economy. In an era where tax increases boosted the economy (see the Clinton tax increases of 1993), who's to say deflation is a negative for employment. 
This is what makes the Republican anti-tax mantra so ludicrous. Sure, no one likes paying more taxes but right now, lowering taxes on the wealthiest would be a little like adding sugar frosting to the glaze on a honey-dipped donut. It doesn't add anything but empty calories to the snack. The rich won't do much with this cash except stuff it in a mattress. 
Or worse, in China and other emerging markets. 
The Fed will gamble, and issue more money in the hopes that a little forced inflation now will mean a little more "real" inflation later. But not too much.   
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Worst governor ever

By Creature

Shannyn Moore:

In what has become typical tragic irony, Sarah [Palin] initially claimed to support Kathleen's First Amendment Rights. But as soon as Billy Sullivan walked toward the dock, one of Palin's entourage tore down the sign to great applause from her group.

If this is how she protects our rights, I'd hate to see what her idea of trampling on them would be.


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But There's No Global Warming, Comrade!

By Carl
Still, the clown car brigade refuses to face up to reality. Seven hundred people dying of heat daily. An iceberg four times the size of Manhattan island breaks off from Greenland's main glacier after sliding down a few hundred yards of meltwater, but hey, global warming is just a myth. Or it can't be responsible for this destruction.
There's your new meme from the asshats of Alaska et al. "Nobody could have forseen..." will now become extended from Condi Rice's mumbled excuse for the 9/11 attacks to encapsulate the single most reported upon, most documented, environmental disaster ever.
No one could have foreseen only if no one took their heads out of their asses.
Oh, the Moscow thing? Well, first off, Muscovites have never really needed air conditioning. Average summer highs are around 75. Temperatures this summer have regularly hit 100. This, coupled with weeks without the usual rainfall, has triggered massive wildfires in dry brush. Those have created a thick blanket of smog, and no wind to carry it off.
But no one could have foreseen this. Fourteen thousand Frenchmen can't be right.
The shortsightedness of the right wing has reached crippling lows. They're wrong about global warming, they're wrong about drilling for oil, they're wrong about budget deficits and healthcare and any number of issues that confront us and that must be tended to now.
They're just plain wrong.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

An Olson/Boies one-two punch for marriage equality

By Creature

They make it seem easy.

Olson:"This is what judges are expected to do. It's not judicial activism. It's judicial responsibility in the classic sense."

Boies: "We put fear and prejudice on trial, and fear and prejudice lost."


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And so it ends

By Capt. Fogg

The United States of America is doomed; at least in any form that can honestly be called a Democracy. Of course it may remain for a while as a pseudo Democracy where government and business are intertwined to the extent that no likely coalition of individual citizens has enough power to elect representatives who are not owned by some powerful entity, as any coalition that emerges is likely to be organized around fictitious causes and motivated by delusion provided by powerful, corporate interests.

Yes, the Citizens United decision was another step in the destruction of Democracy and the reduction of the power of the private citizen, but the real leash around our neck is Rupert Murdoch's lie machine.

I got an irate e-mail today with a link to a hysterical Fox news diatribe. To the casual viewer, it would seem that a town in New York State had decided to give Hispanic voters 6 votes as opposed to the one vote everyone else has. That would, they say, allow non-citizens, the unregistered voters and the otherwise ineligible Hispanics to outvote that traditionally disadvantaged bloc: White Christians.

There must be a better word than lie for this deceitful passion play, but lie will have to suffice and lie it is because what has been portrayed as a breach of constitutional law, the creation of an activist Obama court ( even though the decision was made under the Bush administration) and an affront to democracy, is simply the time honored practice of cumulative voting. Port Chester New York, has a voter base that is about 46% Hispanic. That being less than a majority, it's unlikely that the Village Board of Trustees would include a single member of Hispanic origin. That's the sort of exclusive majority rule Righties like and to allow a voter to give one vote to each of the candidates or to give more than one to a lesser number of candidates makes it possible to have a representational board of representatives. That's the kind of Democracy Righties hate, because it allows representation to those who are by virtue of race: inferior and dangerous.

Enter the Fox. The hysterical minstrel show leads the viewer to believe that any Hispanic, whether eligible to vote or not will be given 6 votes and everyone else will have only one. Branching out from that bald faced lie, are all sorts of accusations and misrepresentations and characterizations all designed to show how under the Democrats and Liberals and Elitists, the country is going to hell and the constitution ignored.

As I said, there should be a better word than 'lie' and perhaps there is: Libel, subversion, treason and if I had a thesaurus, I could come up with a dozen, but what matters is that we have an internal enemy who has already conquered and infected the minds and souls of America and is progressing further toward supporting insurrection day by day. I'm only illustrating one of countless assaults on truth, reason, decency, democracy and the dignity of mankind, but it's enough.

Is there any hope? Not on my part and my vision of the future is the jaws of the Fox around the throat of America, forever.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Austerity now

By Creature

"I wouldn't do a major second stimulus because I think...we run a risk that it could be counterproductive in creating a lot of additional uncertainty and undermining confidence." Bob Rubin, former Clinton Treasury Secretary and god to current one.

Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't Wall Street be much more "confident" if they knew further stimulus spending was a possibility. More spending means more people can buy their crap. That should be a good thing, no? Only in a world where the haves already got their bailout does this make sense.

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Outrage to the Muslim community center has nothing to do with a building a Muslim community center or Ground Zero

By Creature

No shit.

Maybe one day Sharia law will will overcome our Constitution, but that's the risk we take we take by having a Constitution in the first place. If this does happen it will not be because the Constitution failed, it will be because we failed our Constitution.

It continually amazes me that those who love to quote the Constitution have so little faith in it.

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Truth in Comics

By Creature

If it's Sunday, it's Truth in Comics.

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