Saturday, August 27, 2011

Brooks and undone

By Zandar

I didn't think it would take very long, but just a month after ripping into the Tea Party over holding the country hostage on the debt ceiling, it looks like David Brooks has returned to form, chasing the shiny object known as Rick Perry's Inconsequential America:

The events of 2009 and 2010 also concentrated the Republican mind. It used to be that there were many themes in the Republican hymnal. Now there is only one: Government is too big, and it needs to be brought under control. It used to be there were many threats on the horizon. Now there is only one: the interlocking oligarchy of politicians, academics, journalists, consultants and financiers who live along the Acela corridor want to rip America from its traditional moorings.

Well, there's the first point. Brooks doesn't try to hide the fact that the modern GOP cares only about reducing government power to give more to corporations... at least the corporations that seem to think government is the source of all evil. Second, Brooks freely admits the goal of this maneuver is to attack "the oligarchy" (which Brooks of course is not a part of, he swears!) This really means "pissing off liberals." That's it. And Perry's the man for the job:

Perry is benefiting from these shifts. He does best among the most conservative voters. He has a simple and fashionable message: I will bring government under control. His persona is perfectly tuned to offend people along the Acela corridor and to rally those who oppose those people. He does very well with the alternative-reality right — those who don't believe in global warming, evolution or that Obama was born in the U.S. So, yes, it is time to take Perry seriously as a Republican nominee and even as a potential president. Until a few weeks ago, Perry trailed Obama in general election matchups. But as Perry's name recognition has increased, that has changed. He and Obama are neck and neck in a recent Gallup poll.

Boy, where to begin... really, the entire column boils down to David Brooks admitting that Rick Perry may very well end up our next president, and then completely ignoring the role of Villagers like himself in creating the Republican "alternative reality right" monster in the first place. Even worse is that he freely admits the issue and then chooses to do nothing to correct it, he just accepts the fact that Rick Perry could get elected because he pisses liberals off and is from Texas, which is all that matters in the end to Republican voters and by extension, America. It's simply a given in Bobo's world.

If there's such a thing as criminal lack of self-awareness, Brooks wins the title.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Pat Robertson says crack in Washington Monument "a sign from the Lord"

Or, returning to our series from 2006-07: "Pat Robertson is a dangerous idiot -- Part Cinq."

The man has made a killing, so to speak, saying stupid (and often hateful) things, wielding enormous influence over his followers while acting as one of the most important leaders of the religious right.

Stupid things like this:

Ladies and gentlemen I don't want to get weird on this so please take it for what it's worth. But it seems to me the Washington Monument is a symbol of America's power, it has been the symbol of our great nation, we look at that monument and say this is one nation under God. Now there's a crack in it, there's a crack in it and it's closed up. Is that a sign from the Lord? Is that something that has significance or is it just result of an earthquake? You judge, but I just want to bring that to your attention. It seems to me symbolic. When Jesus was crucified and when he died the curtain in the Temple was rent from top to bottom and there was a tear and it was extremely symbolic, is this symbolic? You judge.

Me? Okay. 

Pat Robertson, you theocratic monstrosity, you symbol of ignorance and inanity, you're fucking insane.

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Will Rick Perry pay a political price for his anti-gay bigotry?

I wrote this post last night and, as I was writing, I was drinking a glass of red wine. According to Rick Perry, I suppose this means I was having a gay experience. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.)

Because, as you may have heard, Perry thinks homosexuality is like alcoholism. (Not that I'm an alcoholic, but you get the point.)

At ThinkProgress, Igor Volsky asks if that view will "hinder" his campaign.

Short answer: Not in the primaries, given bigoted Republican views on homosexuality generally, but certainly in the general election, should he make it that far. At least, one would hope that general election voters, those not in the hardcore Republican base, would recoil from such bigotry.

Longer answer:

Perry is not alone. Republican presidential candidates from Michele Bachmann to Mitt Romney continue to make offensive and homophobic remarks in debates and on the campaign trail, despite the public's growing acceptance of gay people. It's unlikely that these positions will resonate with a constituency beyond the party's social conservative base, since, as Paul Thornton notes in [yesterday]'s Los Angeles Times, "the radical ideas espoused by Bachmann, Perry, Santorum and others are [already] held up not for genuine consideration but for scorn." "Perry's and Bachmann's views aren't weighed against President Obama's 'evolving' stance on same-sex marriage; rather, they are simply ridiculed. It says as much about our society as it does the candidates."

I wonder if this isn't a tad optimistic -- America has come a long way in a fairly short time, but such bigotry is still quite common.

But I really hope it's the case. Such views, and those who espouse them, deserve our scorn and, in politics, to be held accountable at the polls.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Tim Grendell

This is pretty much mainstream Republican policy these days:

Ohio state Rep. Tim Grendell (R) said [yesterday] that he will introduce legislation requiring Ohioans in need of unemployment benefits, welfare, or other government aid to take a drug test first. Patterned on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) new law, the bill, Grendell says, will force those seeking state aid "to pay for the drug tests" upfront — a payment that would only be repaid "if they pass." If anyone fails the test two times, they will be banned from receiving aid for three years

I'm strongly against this -- anywhere and everywhere. It's an appalling violation of privacy and quite probably unconstitutional (even if the conservatives on the Roberts Court would applaud it). As well, it's an ideological effort, common on the right, to disadvantage (and punish) the poor. Everyone, after all, receives some form of government support. Why should only those seeking unemployment benefits be subjected to drug testing? No, I wouldn't support this either, but if you're going to test those seeking unemployment benefits, why not test everyone?

Actually, here's an idea: Mandatory drug (and alcohol) testing for all executives of companies receiving some form of government support, including corporate tax breaks. And while we're at it, how about testing for all executives of companies receiving government contracts, including military contracts?

Oh, you don't like that? You think it's mean and unfair to target corporate executives? (They're such wonderful and amazing people, after all, with not a drug or alcohol abuser among them, right?)

Then shut the fuck up and stop your class warfare.

Stop punishing those who need your help, the vast majority of whom are good and decent people who just want to be able to put food on the table (if they have a table at all), pay their bills (and maybe not sink so quickly into the quagmire of debt), and take care of their children (who deserve the opportunity to have a better life).

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High time for American intervention in Libya

By Ali Ezzatyar

The colonel's departure has come to pass. His defiant radio broadcasts are relics of a foregone dictator in denial. As the National Transitional Council marches on Tripoli this week, the Arab Spring turned Arab Summer will establish its third concrete instance of regime change. But after a hard fought and messy victory, what comes next? Whatever the next chapter in this story, Libya through the remainder of 2011 will influence U.S. policy makers on the Middle East for the next quarter century.

Glancing at the opinion pieces in a dozen of America's most read newspapers, there seems to be two ways Libya's Arab Spring foray is being characterized. The first narrative is a rather pessimistic one, and it is becoming more and more widespread. Using Tunisia and Egpyt as comparative case studies, Libya's revolution and the subsequent intervention appears to have backfired. Those other regimes seemed more entrenched than Qaddafi's but had cleaner and more favorable results. Libya is left without any order or institutions, only a revolution-turned-civil war. Reports of mass executions by Qadaffi forces are now dominating the headlines.

Surveying the damage in Libya lends to the idea for some that the second set of dictators is learning from the first by successfully ignoring American and other international calls to step down. Overwhelming suppression of popular will can ultimately overcome what once looked like inevitable change, it would seem. While not overtly stated, there is an undercurrent in this pessimistic strain of ideas that suggests the U.S. was immature in advocating change in Libya. Furthermore, America probably had ulterior motives in all of this, although what those motives were and what interests they actually protected is never articulated.

The increasingly rare perspective is the one that sees events in Libya, culminating with Qaddafi's messy disappearance, as an evolution towards positive change. Proponents of this view maintain the energetic optimism characteristic of the Arab Spring, lauding the rebels' democratic initiative and consistent gains with, ultimately, little direct aid from America. It sees NATO intervention as more humanitarian than military, and assumes that once the person of Qaddafi is gone, things are likely to improve.

What is most interesting about these two perspectives is who espouses them. In the U.S., there is a rolling of the eyes, "I told you so" brand of reaction from many conservatives, who never actually told us so, at least not clearly. In addition, the liberal non-interventionists are having a field-day with the monumental confusion in Tripoli after Qaddafi's fall, with the rebels undoubtedly inspiring little confidence.

To the contrary, though, the news and even Twitter reactions from individuals in the region has been incredibly positive. Not only Libyans, who overwhelmingly seem to support American and NATO intervention, but the larger Muslim world as well are mostly praising the rebel takeover and the end of the Qaddafi era. The view that NATO intervention was responsible for the march on Tripoli and that it was not an authentic product of Libyans is the minority view among this group.

The pulse of Libya and the world is hard to read on this one, but it does suggest a disconnect between those on the ground and those watching abroad. That wasn't the case with Tunisia or Egypt, nor the ostensibly failing projects in Bahrain and Yemen. The next four months will be crucial in determining whether this experience will be viewed as good for Libya and the region, or bad.

And when that view is solidified, the weight of its direction will have crucial influence going forward. American policymakers have already stated on condition of anonymity that the result in Libya will influence how the Obama Administration will move forward on Syria and Yemen. The unique project of intervening on behalf of Arab rebels and revolutionaries has only one case study, and it is playing out before us. Without international involvement in these domestic conflicts, they are likely to fail. Do we want to stand by while the Middle East fights for universal values without our help?

This all means that our own behavior over the next few months will influence our behavior over the next few decades. It is high time for President Obama to dedicate time and resources to Libya immediately to guarantee its stability so that the U.S. can continue to promote the values he espouses and America was built on. 

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Hurricane Irene, Eric Cantor, and the right-wing hostage-taking politics of emergency relief

Hurricane Irene, currently a Category 3 slamming the Bahamas, is heading directly for the U.S. It is expected to make landfall in North Carolina on Saturday:

Airline flights and events were canceled or postponed in advance of Hurricane Irene, a dangerous storm that is expected to bring widespread damage, power outages and flooding from North Carolina to New England.

A hurricane warning was issued Thursday for coastal North Carolina from Little River Inlet north to the Virginia border, including the Pamlico, Albemarle and Currituck sounds, the National Hurricane Center said. 

At a time like this, of course, it is essential that government emergency services, particularly federal, be ready to help those areas that need relief. Think of the people who will need food and shelter, the infrastructure that will need to be repaired and possibly rebuilt, the devastation that may soon come.

Think back to Katrina. We learned a lot from that catastrophe, did we not?

Well, not all of us.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor didn't -- or at least doesn't care.

Just as Republicans held the country hostage over the debt ceiling ("give us what we want, or else"), Cantor is now doing the same over disaster relief (some of which may be needed in his home state of Virginia, which is in Irene's path). As his spokesperson explained, "Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts."

It's one thing to demand offsets in theory, or even at the negotiating table, quite another to do so with a major hurricane bearing down, with a natural disaster possibly at hand. It would be like if a dying man desperately needed a blood transfusion but you refused to give him any unless he gave you his house and car. (Which is actually how health care works in the U.S., but let's not go there.)

This was Cantor's response to the earthquake that caused significant damage along the east coast, including in Virginia, it's his response to Irene, and it's his response to disaster relief generally. No money unless money is cut elsewhere. In other words: Give us what we want, or else. And you can be sure he won't agree to cuts to military spending. He just wants to cut programs he's ideologically opposed to -- relatively insignificant funding for, say, public broadcasting, or more significant funding for the poor and those who otherwise are vulnerable and need government help, like Social Security and Medicare.

Consider the message he's sending to the people along the east coast, in Irene's path. We'll help you but only if we can also weaken programs that help you. You get some disaster relief, but, otherwise, fuck you. That's what this comes down to. (Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has pre-emptively declared a state of emergency. Cantor apparently doesn't give a shit.)

This is cruel and unusual. As Steve Benen provides perspective:

A while back, during a different debate, John Cole noted, "If these guys were comic book villains, no one would buy it because it’s just too over the top." It's a sentiment that comes to mind all the time.

Tom DeLay never went this far. No one has ever gone this far. U.S. officials have always put everything else aside when families and communities are hit and need a hand, but now, thanks to the new House Republican majority, those principles have been cast aside.


We can obviously hope for the best when it comes to Hurricane Irene, but at this point, Republicans are apparently intent on literally adding insult to injury.

"Adding insult" is a nice way to put it. This is ugly ideological extremism operating as insensitivity to suffering, political hostage-taking with lives and livelihoods in the balance.

In 2011, it's the Republican way.

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Yes, the Boy Scouts are a detestable organization

Andy Towle reminds us of the homophobia still prevalent among the Boy Scouts of America, pointing to this report about how the organization removed a lesbian mother, Denise Steele, as a scout master of her son's troop after becoming aware of her sexual orientation.


The Boy Scouts prohibit atheists, agnostics, and "avowed" homosexual people from leadership roles, and its right to discriminate has been repeatedly upheld by state and federal courts. In 2004, the organization adopted the following policy statement: "Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting's values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position."

May I be blunt? Fuck the Boy Scouts.


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rick Perry is the complete package

Walter Shapiro at The New Republic:

[W]hat sets Perry apart and earns him his niche in the far right corner of Mount Rushmore has nothing to do with the gyrations of the 2012 campaign. Indeed, Perry is not only a presidential candidate, but also a cowboy-booted sociological experiment. It is almost as if Perry's political persona was constructed by bundling together all the fears and phantoms in the left-wing anxiety closet. Since the hysteria of the 1950s Red Scare, no Republican figure has matched Perry in his God-given ability to give liberals the heebie-jeebies. Others can rival the governor's disdain for academic achievement (Palin), his cross-on-the-sleeve religiosity (Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee), and his antipathy to Social Security and Medicare (Paul Ryan and Barry Goldwater). But never before has a top-tier presidential candidate embodied the whole lethal package -- and more.

Give the piece a read. Like this post by Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, and like we've been doing in post after post here at The Reaction, it exposes Perry as the crazy extremist he really is.

Crazy and extreme even by today's Republican standards. And not just because of "fears and phantoms" but because what he stands for, and what he represents, and what he is, is very much a threat to liberalism, and to the very idea of America as something other than a fundamentalist theocracy dedicated to the pursuit of a vicious right-wing political agenda.

Which, yes, is pretty fucking scary.

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Marco Rubio slams Medicare and Social Security, claims they "weakened us as a people"

Give Republican wunderkind (if not quite as much of one as, say, Paul Ryan) Marco Rubio credit. He certainly knows how to go thick on the right-wing ideology and appeal to the red-meaters who want to roll back all that has been accomplished in terms of social and economic justice since the Great Depression.

I'm not sure he's all that bright, but he says the right things, including yesterday at the Reagan Library, talking about Medicare and Social Security:

These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government's job.

Republicans eat up this sort of nostalgia -- once upon a time, in some idyllic conservative paradise, people were virtuous and there was no need for government.

Of course, such a time never existed.

Sure, way back when, before the New Deal and Great Society, some people saved for their retirement and some people took care of others in need, and there were charitable institutions just as there are now but it's not like it was all roses. There was massive suffering as well, a huge underclass that could barely survive, not just the poor but vast swaths of what constituted the "middle" class.

Not that any of that appears in conservative history books or anything. If you were poor, you deserved it. It was as simple as that.

But here's what Rubio and his ilk (i.e., Republicans, conservatives) miss: Programs like Medicare and Social Security weren't established to create dependency (or a state leviathan) but because people -- millions and millions of them -- needed help, and because only the government, a government of the people, was in a position to provide that help. It isn't like the private sector cared, and individual charity only goes so far even in the best of times.

Not that Republicans give a shit.

They have their delusional mythology and cruel and unusual ideology to uphold, after all, and they apparently wouldn't mind it if seniors were wallowing in their own feces in hovels without heat, children were begging in the streets and scouring garbage dumps for food, and the rest of the America that falls outside their right-wing "paradise" were sliding deeper and deeper into an abyss of abject hopelessness.

Good times.

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What does Bob Turner have against 9/11 volunteers?

I'm not sure this is the best position to take when you're running for a New York City congressional seat:

The GOP hopeful running for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner's seat says the $4.3 billion Zadroga 9/11 health law is too broad - and shouldn't cover volunteers sickened at Ground Zero.

Republican Bob Turner told the Daily News Editorial Board the measure President Obama signed into law last year "had a lot of things that could have been a lot better."

"I probably couldn't go home if I didn't support the Zadroga bill. I have firemen in my family, but is that bill beyond criticism? No," he said.

Some $1.5 billion of the Zadroga package is set aside to monitor the health of rescue and cleanup crews.

It also bankrolls the treatment for Ground Zero workers, volunteers and residents who became ill from breathing in twin tower toxins.

The remaining $2.78 billion is set aside to compensate the families of those killed and the injured, including responders and volunteers - and nearby residents and office workers in an area south of Chambers St.

"I think it is a little too broad," Turner said.

"My call would be to protect police, fire, emergency workers, construction workers, etc.

"If someone said, 'I volunteered' or walked through there, it's just not the type," added Turner, who faces Democrat David Weprin in the Sept. 13 special election.

Yeah, damn volunteers! Who do they think they are? Good-fer-nothin' layabouts trying to make a quick buck.

But hey, at least Turner departs from many in his own party who didn't see the need to cover even those 9/11 workers (as opposed to volunteers) desperately in need of help.

Still, maybe he should pay a visit to Jon Stewart, who I'm sure wouldn't be terribly amused.

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Not A Shock, But Definitely News

By Carl
The temptation for an Apple fanboi like me is to write a paean devoted to the wonders that Jobs brought to the masses.
He did, from the first usable personal computers...if you used the IBM-PC in the early 80s, you ended up kludged in terminal coding, DOS (then MS-DOS), and function calls out the the iPad and now into the next generation of Jobs-inspired products.
All this with a side-trip to create an animation studio that revolutionized what you see in the movies and on TV, but I digress.
He is a visionary's visionary, a man who truly lived up to the RFK bromide (via Shaw) "Some people see things as they are and ask 'why?' I dream things that never were and ask 'why not?' "
Or to write an obituary, putting his life into perspective and writing off Apple stock (which dropped twenty points last night in off-market trading on the news) as worthless now.
The truth is, what else could the man accomplish? He walked away from the single most valuable business in the history of the world (he will remain chairman of Apple's Board of Directors, and I suspect will still pop up at product announcements for new products he's shepherded.) A micromanager, by all accounts caustic and driven to inspect the smallest detail of projects that he would risk the company on, winning more often than losing, Jobs really has done it all.
He's transformed, twice now, how we compute, turning the PC market on it's side and letting the juices run out while creating single-handedly the smart phone market, the tablet market, and remaking the entire laptop market with the Macbook Air.
With all he's accomplished, and his continuing battle with pancreatic cancer (which he claims is "cured"), Jobs has every right and every reason to walk away from his baby. Apple has grown up now, from cranky toddler to mopey adolescent to unruly and rebelious teenager to a young adult poised to take on the world and carve out its place in history.
So I just wanted to go on record as saying "Thank you, Mr. Jobs."
Thank you for making the world a little more productive and a lot more fun. Thank you for showing us the possibilities of achievement, how naysayers may stand in front of us and shout "FAILURE!" at us, but if we perservere and believe in what we have, we can make it, sometimes beyond our wildest dreams.
Um, anyone want to buy three black mock turtlenecks, slightly worn?
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tea Party racism, example #8,334

Democrat Ben Luján represents New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District, basically the northern half of the state. He was in Farmington on Tuesday, a conservative enclave up in the northwest, visiting non-profit groups, when he was accosted by Teabaggers. Most it was the usual right-wing bullshit, but some of it was viciously racist:

Darrel Clark of Farmington said he came for "a chance to see the elusive representative."

"He needs to get out of politics and make room for an American," Clark said.

Luján is a lifelong New Mexican. Clark later explained that he meant an "American patriot."

Uh-huh. Sure. And by "American patriot" he meant a white Teabagger. Certainly not someone the name Luján, a person of color.

Now, okay, this was just one guy. But do you really think he was alone in thinking that? Do you really think he was the lone exception? Please.

As for Luján, as ThinkProgress notes, he "was born in Santa Fe, has lived in the U.S. all his life, and is the son of a public school administrator and the speaker of New Mexico's state House of Representatives.

Sounds awfully American to me. Not that that matters to the racists who make up a lot more of the Tea Party "movement" than its members and apologists would like us to think.

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The Case For Cutting Off Federal Aid To Israel

By Carl
Made by an Israeli, albeit unwittingly, since Joel Braunold discusses private charitable contributions from foreign Jews to Israel.
Braunold has a point, of course. In a day and age of austerity, America can ill-afford to let Israel drink as deeply from the foreign and military aid trough as it used to, if at all. This is a very good time to reassess our commitment to a nation who's people, with some reluctant ignorance by the government, continual intrude on areas we've consistently deemed to be non-Israeli.
Israel saw an increase in millionaires of 20% between 2009 and 2010. Re-read that. If there were 100, there are now 120. But there are 10,000, 16 of whom count as billionaires with a collective net worth of $45 billion dollars.
Individual tax rates in Israel top out at 44%, I should point out (at an income level equivalent to $96,000), but corporate tax rates are only 25% or so (compared to a nominal 35% in America, even tho no one pays either rate). Israel also has a VAT of 16% imposed at every level of the goods finishing process.
And yet, the rich are still getting richer. And unemployment stands at 7% or so, significantly lower than the US. Higher taxes, more jobs. Funny how that works!
In 2007, the US ended economic aid to Israel, based in large part on the precursors to these developments: an economic boom that seems unaffected by world events.
President Obama has increased Israeli military assistance in his 2011 budget proposal to $3 billion, with an additional $3 billion in loan guarantees. But he's frozen arms sales until progress is made in the peace process, which explains Israel's sudden interest in making nice with the Palestinians. Events between Egypt and Israel will likely unfreeze some of that aid, which brings the question "Did Israel provoke the conflict?" into sharp contrast.
And of course, there's always something brewing in the Gaza.
Now, I understand the strategic advantage having a foothold, particularly a coastal foothold, in the Middle East and would not propose cutting off all aid to Israel.
But really...people here are suffering. Let the billionaires take care of some of this stuff.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top Ten Cloves: Possible places Muammar Gaddafi is hiding

By J. Thomas Duffy 

News Item: Qaddafi’s Complex Falls to Revolutionaries 

10. Near the epicenter of the big East Coast Earthquake 

9. Detroit -- grab one of those $1,000 houses and toss an idea or two to Mayor Dave Bing 

8. At Hewlett Packard (forced them to spin off PC unit) 

7. Sneakily, behind Hurricane Irene 

6. As Rick Perry's campaign manager 

5. The Kardashian wedding 

4.  Some place the Navy Seals can't find him

3.  The London riots (he may have thrown a rock or two) 

2.  As an anonymous, wage-less writer for The Huffington Post 

1.  With LeGone James ,one non-finisher with another

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Perry contra Perry; or, "What, me? A Tenther? Heavens no! What would ever give you that idea?"

Texas governor, fundamentalist fave, and high-flying Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has long been an advocate of what is known as "Tentherism," the far-right view that most federal programs (specifically those generally of the left -- that is, social programs as opposed to say, elements of the national security state, as well as laws designed for social progress) violate the right's beloved principle of states' rights über alles, as supposedly enshrined in the Tenth Amendment (as if the Founders despised the very federal government they were creating and objected to it ever doing anything meaningful), and are therefore unconstitutional.

He even wrote (or "wrote") a book about it: Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.

(Along these lines, he has been linked to neo-Confederate nationalism and has suggested secession for Texas.)

Well, Perry is still very much a Tentherist, but, now in the GOP race and with an eye on the nomination, he doesn't seem to know what exactly he stands for... publicly.

As ThinkProgress reports, his own campaign is disavowing his book, suggesting that, with respect to Social Security for example, it "is not meant to reflect the governor's current views on how to fix the program." Oh, then what? Was he just musing idly about dismantling the federal government and turning the clock back to America's dark ages?

In an interview, [Perry's communications director Ray] Sullivan acknowledged that many passages in Mr. Perry's "Fed Up!" could dog his presidential campaign. The book, Mr. Sullivan said, "is a look back, not a path forward." It was written "as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto," Mr. Sullivan said.

The campaign's disavowal of "Fed Up!" is itself very new. On Sunday evening, at Mr. Perry's first campaign stop in Iowa, a questioner asked the governor to talk about how he would fix the country's rickety entitlement programs. Mr. Perry shot back: "Have you read my book, 'Fed Up!' Get a copy and read it."

(Whoops... seems like they've got to get their story straight.)

Not a path forward? Not a blueprint? Not a manifesto? Has Sullivan ever read even just the title of the book? Seems pretty clear to me.

Maybe the next talking point on this subject should be along the lines of how it's simply not possible that Perry could have written a book on his own and so whatever's in there can't possibly be his.

But who knows where this ridiculous, extremist candidacy will go...

Rick Perry, according to Paul Begala, is "the perfect candidate for those Republicans who viewed George W. Bush as just a little too cerebral." Seems like his campaign ain't too smart neither.

Is it any wonder so many Republicans have taken to him so warmly?


(photo - with some fine analysis of Perry as "the radical alternative to Bachmann" by LG&M's Scott Lemieux)

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Huntsman criticizes GOP, cozies up to Bachmann, abandons last shred of dignity


If a Republican presidential candidate who's way too rational and sane for his own party and who's way back in the polls to the point where most people don't even know who he is criticizes his party and its extremist mainstream even on national television, does it matter?

Poor Jon Huntsman. So formidable in so many ways -- and yet... so lost.

So much so, in fact, that he now says he'd actually consider running as Bachmann's veep? Has he lost his mind? Or, rather, has he lost all his dignity?


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Bachmann: Cheap gas for everyone!

"Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 per gallon again.

"The price of gasoline the day that Barack Obama took office was $1.79 a gallon," she said in the Times account. "If the price of gasoline was $1.79 a gallon just two and three years ago, certainly we can get it back down to that level again. Why wouldn't we be able to do that? We're a 'can-do' America."

As in, we can convert every single homosexual to Christian fundamentalist heterosexuality (while shoving the rest into the deepest recesses of the closet). You know, that sort of thing.

Because, of course, it's all Obama's fault. Everything. Is it raining where you are today? Obama's fault. Duh.

Not that Obama isn't a "can-do" sort of guy. I mean, he used his "can-do" moxie to save American capitalism from itself, didn't he? You know, the plutocrats getting rich fucking America.

It's just that Obama doesn't necessarily want to rape the environment into oblivion or deplete the country's long-term energy reserves for the sake of short-term savings.

And if Bachmann wants cheap gas, why not promote high fuel-efficiency standards? Or electric cars? Or some other alternative? And why not renewable energy to get America off its addition to oil?

Oh no, she prefers to try to suck people in with her cheap right-wing demagoguery.

In related news, if I'm ever elected president, I'll give a magic unicorn to every man, woman, and child across the land!


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Gee...Think This Might Work Here?

By Carl
The French uberwealthy want more taxes.
See, there's something about a true revolution...not that America's was a slouch, but stick with this for a moment...where a people rise up against (here it comes) its own government to demand change.
The French Revolution was, in essence, the sea-change the American was not. The American Revolution was the landed gentry being tired of their responsibilities to a king 3,500 miles away who really paid them no mind. The French Revolution was the people's revolution, where a nation stood up against its own resident king and said "Enough!"
People were starving. "Let them eat cake." Rising food prices, higher energy costs and poor infrastructure to even ship food to rural areas, as well as a growing disparity in income equality and a monumental national debt all contributed to a circumstance that finally snapped.
Add to this the resentment of the working and middle classes to the elites, nobles, and wealthy, and the rejection of doctrinaire religion (Catholicism) holding sway over public policy, and you have your basic powderkeg.
Why does this sound so much like present day America? A government out of touch with its people, a people divided into economic strata that are growing apart, and the injection of fundamentalism into public policy.
Twain (apocryphally, via Colombo) said it best, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
Given French history, it's no surprise that the wealthy in France want to do something to help out. Another Revolution, in a day and age when entire fortunes can be stolen with the click of a mouse, is probably pretty scary. Thomas Jefferson once said that when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Our government does not fear us. Sarkozy, Bettencourt, and de Margerie do fear the French.
You know, you'd think the Teabaggers would be a pioneering group but when you're organized and motivated by the very people whom you serve, you're a sham, a fraud, a complete and utter tool of those who would keep you in servitude. Former government officials, leaders of the largest corporations on the planet, lobbyists and advisors all make up the hierarchy that is the Tea Party.
The people underneath them don't have a Teapot to piss in, but that's not the problem of the Armeys and Kochs of the world, so long as they can keep them mad at the boogeymen: Muslims, Mexicans, 'Mericans.
That's not to say that there aren't Americans who have money who get it. Warren Buffett, arguably the richest man in the world, does, along with Bill Gates, Sr and several others. They understand what the French people have been born with: a tradition that a nation cannot stand on its own unless each of its citizens can stand on their own. History is replete with examples of nations that tried to hoard, to exploit their people for the benefit of insiders. 
Nations are not Amway. They are not a pyramid scheme. The very fact that you work in your job about as hard as the guy you work for should entitle you to a bit more than the crumbs off his table, because your work makes his life that much easier. A healthy society would recognize this. Europe certainly does.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack Layton (1950-2011)

By Michael J.W. Stickings 

To my friend Richard, and to Marilyn, and to everyone who was touched so deeply by this great man.

I am a Canadian. I live and work in Canada. I love this country.

But for a variety of reasons both personal and professional I do not blog about Canada, or specifically about Canadian politics. It's just the way it has to be.

But I cannot let this day go by without recognizing the passing of a great Canadian politician, a great Canadian, period.

Jack Layton, the leader of our federal New Democratic Party (NDP), our left-wing social democratic party and since May the official opposition in Ottawa, died today at the age of 61. We are in mourning.

It is a great loss -- no matter your politics.

I will only say, without revealing too much, that I greatly admired the man and his policies, what he and his party stood for -- for community and social justice, for the downtrodden and disadvantaged, for a greater Canada, more fair and more just for all -- even if my political loyalties have often been elsewhere.

As the Globe editorialized, speaking for so many of us:

Jack Layton was a politician in the best sense, but that was not the only reason there was palpable sadness all across this country when he died on Monday. Why did he touch Canadians so deeply? Because the spirit that animated him throughout his three decades in politics was suddenly manifest, humbly, without egotism, yet in a way that was clear to all, as he fought cancer and a fractured hip while leading his political party to the most stunning success in its history.


[T]ake his last news conference, not quite a month ago. Gaunt and seeming, with shocking suddenness, to be near his end, he spoke optimistically of returning in the fall to continue leading his party. That optimism was Jack. The personal was political. His optimism was the foundation of the New Democratic Party's success in Quebec, where it was never given a chance until Mr. Layton, who had grown up in Quebec, insisted it had one, even though it had never won more than a single seat there.

Or take his letter to Canadians, dated two days before his death, in which he reached out to others who are fighting cancer: "Please don't be discouraged that my own journey hasn't gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope." Even when his own hope was gone, he pleaded for the necessity of hope in others. "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair." Few politicians anywhere have left public life on such a note of grace.

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair.

How do you not read that and be filled not just with sadness, the sadness of loss, but also with joy, the joy, so uncommon in our public life, of being lifted to a better place, the joy that comes from the awareness that such noble sentiments are not so much the stuff of impossible idealism but can actually be the driving force behind a successful political life, can actually make an impact in our public life, can actually be made real in the work of a man like Jack Layton?

He wrote -- to Canadians -- and to the world -- and I hope you all read his wonderful letter:

Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world...

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

In many ways, Layton embodied what is great about this country -- and what is yet possible, of what may yet come if only we set our minds to loftier goals.

Not everyone liked what he stood for, of course, but if nothing else what he stood for, and what remains now, even after his passing, deserves our respect, across the spectrum.

There will continue to be serious disagreements about means, of course, but the ends, the goals, should be for us all.

Canada is a better place for Jack Layton. But we have lost something special with his death. Let us move forward with his memory in mind.

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Tea and Reason

By Capt. Fogg

Rick Santorum: the whole line-up of Tea Party candidates -- can't stand to listen to them, not allowed to drown them in a cesspit. What's a patriot to do?

We have all the 'important' Teabagger candidates now segueing smoothly from condemning the president for action to laughing at his inaction after he acted contrary to their threats and demands and tantrums. Santorum, in case you haven't heard, was quick on the draw in assuring us that President Obama was an "indecisive" man who can't take any credit for the fall of the Libyan despot, Moamar Gaddafi and his sons. Obviously, an Obama success; a mission actually accomplished, must not be allowed to interfere with the program of sabotaging our country, its economy, its prestige and anything good we ever pretended to stand for.

Of course, people who admire vermin like Santorum; Tea people who call their jive talking, hate stinking, subversive jihad a political party, aren't biologically capable of asking themselves why Obama was to be impeached just a short time ago for being too decisive by assisting NATO in helping Libyan rebels to overthrow the government -- but by having done so is "indecisive." Like other satanic saviors who come to mind, the lie's the thing. Keep saying it, shouting it repeating it, blogging it, blasting it from the Foxhole relentlessly around the clock and it becomes true. The steadfast become indecisive, the brave cowardly, and anyone who isn't an outright thief becomes a Communist.

One doesn't need to walk on water to be seen as a savior to these atavistic genetic accidents desperate for self esteem. One needs only to be a bigot, a fool a scoundrel and a bastard. (No offense intended to people whose parents never married.) Frankly any person who tolerates and supports such anti-American Tea Party idiocy is doing more than trying to make the president fail so they can put a moron and a crook in his place, they're assuring, promoting and cheering the failure of our country. Remember, the only difference between reason and treason is a T.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Surrender, Moamar! (So We Can Get On Fixing America)

By Carl
It looks like it's all over but the shouting in Libya.
It's a weird world we live in, all of a sudden. It seems like, for so long, we've been battling one extremist dictatorship after another. Now all we seem to have left as adversaries are Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-Il, and Kim looks like he's pretty much neutralized by his own megalomania. Who's left? Chavez, who's barely a blip of a threat to US interests-- and in fact, extends a hand to the poor of this nation thru Citgo oil? Castro? Some tin-pot African terror?
It's a weird world when the biggest threat to world stability is the United States.
I say that rather hyperbolic statement to look at a domestic conflict inherent in this age.
For some reasons, America requires boogeymen. If it's not minorities and immigrants, it's "them." We seem to be unique in this regard. No other nation has waged war quite as frequently in the past 50 years as the US. When we are united in conflict, it seems, it is the only time when we are truly united. When we are not, we fall apart. When it was "the Japs and Hun," well, we rose to the occasion. Or the "Russkies."
We invent political theories designed to create conflict: Brinksmanship, the Domino Theory, Manifest Destiny...these are not the slogans of a healthy, peaceful nation-- like, say, the New Deal or the Fair Deal or New Frontier-- but one of a savage and brutal regime. It's not healthy for us to be picking on fourth rate tyrannies by putting lipstick on them and calling them the second coming of Hitler.
That's not to say we do not have a role as a military power in ousting repressive and brutal regimes, but here's the thing: in doing so, we skew our own sensibilities and attitudes to more brutality and repression.
And if you don't believe me, just take a look at The PATRIOT Act.
We ought to exercise this power judiciously.
So now that we've pretty much run the table, note what's happening internally: we're finding boogeymen in our borders. And aspects of our society are waging wars against "them."
Liberals, minorities, women, homosexuals, the poor, all have come under the gun from select conservatives sectors of society. All while our corporate overlords...the ones who made money on all those military drubbings overseas...laugh and count the money they're squirreling away after screwing you and me, liberal and conservative, straight and gay, white, black, Latino, poor, rich...OK, not that last, but you get the point.
And yes, while the right has a lion's share of the blame to accept here, we ought to take a minute and realize the left has to stop demonizing the low-normals who populate many of the slimier regions of right wing philosophy: they are there not out of a sense of duty, but out of a manipulated sense of "moral" outrage, brought on by the corporatocracy and enhanced by useful idiots like the Blogosphere and FOX News.
It's no surprise to me how many of these right-wing asshat pundits claim to have been "former liberals." They thought they could get laid then, and when it turned out it wasn't a free pass to sex (or money or what have you) they turned coats and became conservatives, figuring those folks were stupider.
Leeches, the bunch of them. We ought to find a way to isolate them from the general population then get to work fixing the damage they've created and bringing people to the truth of their nation.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

No lesbians allowed at New Jersey bridal boutique

Here comes the boycott -- and rightly so:

Last weekend, Alix Genter found the perfect wedding dress. But on Tuesday, the store's owner called and refused to sell it to her.

"She said she wouldn't work with me because I'm gay," Genter told The Philadelphia Daily News. "She also said that I came from a nice Jewish family, and that it was a shame I was gay. She said, 'There's right, and there's wrong. And this is wrong.'"

Apparently, after Genter left Here Comes the Bride, a Somers Point, New Jersey, wedding boutique, the store's owner, Donna Saber, took a moment to look over Genter's customer-information sheet. That's when she noticed that Genter had crossed out "groom" and written in "partner" and her fiancee's name -- and decided that she wasn't going to do business with her.

In related news, Ms. Saber has splurged on a huge neon sign for the front of her store. It reads:

We're bigots. Please boycott us.

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