Thursday Mashup (9/2/10)

  • 1) Want more information on why our discourse is stupid?
  • The Discovery Channel hostage gunman, James Jay Lee, is killed in a standoff (fortunately, no one else was killed or injured – good work by law enforcement), but is not universally condemned as a terrorist (here).
  • Holocaust Museum gunman James von Brunn, who killed a museum guard, isn’t universally condemned as a terrorist either; indeed, he is equated with Thomas Jefferson by the nutball who just had that D.C. rally claiming that we have to return to God, or something (here).
  • Joseph Andrew Stack flies a plane into an IRS government building in downtown Austin, TX, killing one person beside himself and injuring 13, but the White House (!) doesn’t consider that to be an act of terrorism either (here).
  • Do you want to know what is universally considered to be an act of terrorism in this country? The Times Square would-be bomber who (thank God) killed or injured absolutely no one (here).
  • Just food for thought, that’s all…

  • 2) Next, with the for-real, crossing-our-fingers-this-time proclamation that combat operations in Iraq have ended, we have the following from Daniel Henninger of the Murdoch Street Journal (here, on the matter of whether Saddam Hussein was the threat he was purported to be when we invaded – yes, they’re still rehashing this)…

    Mr. Obama and others believe that Saddam and his nuclear ambitions could have been contained. I think exactly the opposite was likely.

    At the time of Mr. Obama’s 2002 antiwar speech, three other significant, non-Iraqi events were occurring: Iran and North Korea were commencing toward a nuclear break-out, and A.Q. Khan was on the move.

    In March 2002, Mr. Khan, the notorious Pakistani nuclear materials dealer, moved his production facilities from Pakistan to Malaysia.

    In August, an Iranian exile group revealed the existence of a centrifuge factory in Natanz, Iran.

    A month later, U.S. intelligence concluded that North Korea had almost completed a “production-scale” centrifuge facility.

    It was also believed in 2002 that al Qaeda was shopping for nuclear materials. In The Wall Street Journal this week, Jay Solomon described how two North Korean operatives through this period developed a network to acquire nuclear technologies.

    In short, the nuclear bad boys club was on the move in 2002. Can anyone seriously believe that amidst all this Saddam Hussein would have contented himself with administering his torture chambers? This is fanciful.

    No it isn’t. I’ll tell you what is, though.

    I book a flight to the Luxor Las Vegas. Two days before I’m due to depart, I order Chinese take out and get a fortune cookie telling me that I’ll be rich beyond my wildest dreams. The next day, I win a game of Monopoly by buying both Boardwalk and Park Place and bankrupting my opponents through exorbitant rent payments. For this reason, I believe that I’m on the proverbial “roll” and drain my savings account, then depart, looking to get rich by spending all my dough on games of roulette and craps.

    Hey, if Henninger can take all kinds of unconnected stuff and try forcing connections wherever he wants, I should be able to do that also, right?


    The definitive account of Saddam’s WMD ambitions is the Duelfer Report, issued by the Iraq Survey Group in 2005. Yes, the Duelfer Report concluded that Saddam didn’t have active WMD. But at numerous points in the 1,000-page document, it asserted (with quotes from Iraqi politicians and scientists) that Saddam’s goal was to free himself of U.N. sanctions and restart his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and other WMD.

    Which, based on the actual Duelfer report, was as likely as me winning at the Luxor (here).

    And this from a column aptly named “Wonder Land”…

  • 3) Finally, I came across this item in the New York Times…

    WASHINGTON — Christina D. Romer, chairwoman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in a farewell speech on Wednesday that the administration’s stimulus policies averted “a second Great Depression.”

    But she also gave her most detailed explanation yet for why her original forecast that unemployment would peak at 8 percent “was so far off.”

    Ms. Romer’s last day as one of the four principals on Mr. Obama’s economic team is Friday, which means one of her last acts will be to provide the administration’s reaction to the latest unemployment report.

    For the last year those reports have been a monthly refutation of her early projection. The report for August, expected to show the jobless rate remaining near 9.5 percent, will be no different.

    With Republicans continually reminding voters of the erroneous forecast, it undercut Ms. Romer’s effectiveness as a public spokeswoman for administration policies.

    Really? Funny, but I thought she did a good job here.

    And when it comes to the economy, let’s not forget what Romer and the economic advisors inherited (here, talking about what transpired between 2001 and 2008)…

    –The number of Americans living in poverty has jumped from 31.6 million to 36.5 million.
    –The uninsured population has grown from 38 million to 47 million.
    –The annual total premium cost has nearly doubled from $6,230 per family to $12,106 per family.
    (Bush’s heartless health care policy: Let the markets sort it out. Business first, human beings later.)
    –The trade deficit has more than doubled from $380 billion to $759 billion.
    –Our dependency on foreign oil has shot up from 52.75% of fuel consumption to 60.38%. (Sweetheart trade deals benefit mega-corporations and oil companies, but not people.)

    And now that I’ve made that point, I need to vent about something else (and I’m probably just an impudent upstart for calling out my “A” list “betters” again, but here goes).

    I watched “Countdown” last night and saw Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, talk about how he’s doing his best to get labor motivated on behalf of the Democrats in the upcoming elections.

    And I swear to God, I wish I saw a fraction of that enthusiasm from my blogging brethren out there.

    If I read one more “Obama hasn’t done this like he said he would, and for that reason, I or people I know just don’t have any enthusiasm for the Democrats” post, I’m going to vomit (including this one, and I know the author knows better…in response, try imagining a national “papers, please” law based on the Arizona atrocity, and don’t think that can’t happen if the Repugs win Congress).

    Update: As long as I was critical earlier, I should be fair and point out that this is something that should be on every blog even remotely related to Democratic Party activism.

    Now that doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to support, say, Blanche Lincoln (or John Adler, or most any other “Bush Dog” who really does deserve to get retired). But there are plenty of other worthy Democratic candidates whose “tossup” electoral prospects are an utter mystery to me (Russ Feingold for one).

    Yes, by all means, call Obama and the Democrats to account for not working harder for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for illegals who do the right thing (I always thought “pay a fine and get in line” was the sort of nice, catchy little slogan the Repugs seem to churn out like crazy but the Dems never seem to be able to master). Get Gibbs, Emanuel, Axelrod and the rest into a room and try to identify the drug they’re consuming that makes them actually believe that the “catfood commission” is doing something constructive (and I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed also).

    But let’s do this after the election, OK?

    I’ll repeat myself some more from an earlier post, but I don’t care; take a guess as to what we have to look forward to under a Repug U.S. Congress, with Majority Leader Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell (Paul Krugman spelled it out in this column):

    Endless investigations. A new “revelation” every day about the First Family (get ready for the return of Bill Ayres, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and hearings into the alleged “New Black Panther Party” Philadelphia polling scandal on Election Day 2008, for starters). And no legislation (none of any good to us, anyway).

    Privatizing Social Security. Defunding Health Care Reform. The return of Tax Cuts for the Rich which will “pay for themselves.” Bye Bye Cap And Trade. Endless investigations. Testimony of Cabinet members before Congress as to why they’re actually doing their jobs instead of rolling over for the institutions they’re supposed to regulate, as they did under Dubya.

    So long Lilly Ledbetter Law. New restrictions on stem cell research. Legislation to enshrine the worst excesses of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. Reopening “K” Street for business. A bill to abolish Net Neutrality forever.

    Oh, and did I mention Endless investigations? And don’t think the “I” word is out of the question either, people.

    Basically, we can sit around and mope and let the corporate media narratives define themselves, or we can become involved again as we once were to build the majorities we should be working to defend with all the energy and talent we can muster (I don’t know how many of you were paying attention to the Congressional politics of the ‘90s, but I definitely was, and I never want to see those days again).

    If we choose the former path, destruction is imminent, and it will be irrevocable. And despite the ways those we’ve supported have fallen short, we really will only have ourselves to blame if they get turned out. Imagine how silly we will feel while the “Tea Party” Repugs rule the roost and we’re still licking our wounds over the fact that the stimulus was only $787 billion instead of $1.2 trillion.

    If we choose the latter path, we can stand the people working for news organizations with initials for names on their heads, as it were, as they search for their next narrative (and wouldn’t it be nice if it were “A Dem Resurgence Confounds The Republican Revival,” or something like it?).

    The Republican Party as we know it today, full of doctrinaire, “movement” conservatives, was in utter ruins after Barry Goldwater lost when he ran for president in 1964. But they rebuilt themselves, recruiting conservatives as lawyers, journalists, politicians and other professions to further their cause. And by the time 1980 came, they saw the perfect opportunity to enshrine one of their own to the highest office in the land.

    It took them 16 years to get what they wanted, but they got it (to our almost eternal ruin). And we’re complaining that we haven’t turned things around in a fraction of that amount of time?

    And by the way (speaking of the enthusiasm gap), I thought this was an interesting post on the latest Gallup findings (namely, that crowing over the 10-point Repug lead on the generic ballot – I heard nothing but crickets when the Dems were up in that poll a couple of months ago).

  • Update 9/7/10: OMG!!!! Lookie, lookie here – why, the Dems and Repugs ARE TIED! in the latest Gallup generic ballot. Hey, what does our corporate media have to say NOW??!!



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