“Dershy” Dumps on the “Ellison Express” (Updates)

February 24, 2017

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I promised myself I wouldn’t wade into the whole business of Keith Ellison running for head of the DNC, but it looks like Alan Dershowitz is still acting like he’s going to leave if Ellison gets the nod (as noted here – in response, I’ll offer to hold the metaphorical door for Dershowitz and give him a nice kick in the ass on the way out).

Dershowitz is entitled to his opinion and to make it public – I’m not arguing that. However, I’m tired of dealing with his metaphorical hand-wringing which, apparently, doesn’t take into consideration the fact that, y’know, politicians can actually evolve on issues and, once they make some kind of an utterance found to be objectionable many years ago (especially concerning Israel), they can NEVER, EVER BE FORGIVEN!

Being a lawyer, I appreciate the fact that Dershowitz is fundamentally basing his case on facts (with at least one exception noted below). However, I would question the interpretation of those facts.

And in response (as noted here)…

“If Keith Ellison, who is a decent and good person, would be named head of the DNC, Hamas would support it and cheer … ” argued Dershowitz.

Yeah, Ellison is so “good and decent” that he’s embraced by terrorists. What cowardly garbage from Dershowitz!

“You can’t always judge a person by supporters (continues Dershowitz). What we are seeing in this country is a very dangerous development on both sides. We are seeing the Republicans move alt right and we’re seeing the Democrats move hard left. I have to tell you, the only thing the hard left and the hard right have in common, they hate Jews, they generally hate Israel, they generally hate America.”

Ellison’s constituents in the Minneapolis Jewish community were appalled by both Dershowitz’s comparison and the avalanche of hate aimed at Ellison. “To try to create an equivalency between Keith Ellison and a vile miscreant like Steve Bannon is an act of immoral desperation. Keith Ellison represents the best of our constitutional democracy and the best of America. Steve Bannon represents its worst,” said Rabbi Michael Latz, who knows the five-term congressman well. Latz said that Ellison had attended his Shabbat services and described him as “an exquisite mensch, brilliant, a terrific community organizer who represents his constituency with great integrity.”

Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Director of National Government Affairs for the Jewish social justice organization Bend the Arc, who has collaborated with Ellison on issues like voting rights and raising the minimum wage, concurred. ”He has been in Congress for a decade and we know who he is. We work very closely with Keith Ellison – he is an extraordinary leader. Anyone who would associate him with any kind of hatred hasn’t met him and certainly hasn’t worked with him.”

Listen, at this point, confirm Ellison. Or Tom Perez. I don’t care at this point. Just pick somebody, for God’s sake!

Update 2/26/17: Congrats to Tom Perez (here) – FINALLY!

Update 2/28/17: Oh yes, Ellison is so “anti-Israel,” isn’t he? (here)


Life In These United States, Donald J. Trump Edition (updates)

January 28, 2017

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So President Big Orange Cheetoh has been in office barely a week, and there are so many horrors and outrages that it’s practically impossible to catalogue them all:

  • Issued an executive order to underfund (and ultimately destroy) “Obamacare”? Check.
  • Issued an executive order to approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines? Check (see above…and by the way, is anyone out there besides me going to be impolite enough to point out that, last I checked, Trump was still an investor in Trans Energy, the company behind DAPL?).
  • Pull back $5 million of already-paid-for advertising encouraging people to sign up for health care through the Affordable Care Law by 1/31? Check (here is an update – good!).
  • Floated Supreme Court nominees who are almost certain to roll back provisions on worker safety, economic justice, minority rights, environmental protection and women’s reproductive health? Check.
  • Supported an alleged plan to rebuild our infrastructure which is nothing but a giveaway to the plutocrats who supported his campaign (here) and now comprise almost his entire gaggle of cabinet position nominees, including this soulless shill? Check.

And oh yeah, he threw a hissy fit about the actual size of the crowd at his inauguration, even asking a Park Service official to find a picture of an allegedly larger crowd (here), gave a political speech at a hallowed location at the CIA which was nothing but an insult to the memories of those who have given their lives in service to our country (here), confused visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May with a porn star (here), lied about alleged shooting victims at Former President Obama’s farewell speech (here), squelched reporting by government agencies funded by our tax dollars (here), told U.S. taxpayers that we’re supposed to go along with paying for that stinking, idiotic wall of his on the Mexican border (here), and NOW (as noted here), he signed an executive order banning Muslims from entering this country. And I know this list of all of his ridiculous antics is incomplete.

And here is my question to anyone who supported this tiny brained, hateful egomaniac – why is this surprising to you in any way whatsoever?

Oh, maybe it’s because you’re FINALLY focusing on “Donald Drumpf” since we’re no longer in a political campaign and that supposedly godawful Hillary Clinton isn’t in the news anymore. Maybe it’s because you’re FINALLY realizing that you’ve been played for a sap by our usual corporate media suspects and you’ve fallen for the “fake news” garbage from Breitbart, Infowars and other purveyors of this utter slime.

You’re also apparently shocked, shocked I tell you that Trump is acting like a thoroughly ignorant, narcissistic, misogynistic clown as president. Again, what the hell else can you expect when he acted like nothing but a thoroughly ignorant, narcissistic, misogynistic clown as a presidential candidate?

Gee, welcome back to reality, huh?

Sucks, doesn’t it?

And by the way, don’t think this means that I’m now head over heels with the toadies in the DNC political/media/industrial complex who do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for us except lose elections. While the marches last weekend and recently in Philadelphia were absolutely awesome, that did not take place at the behest of the clueless knuckleheads I just mentioned, not in any way whatsoever. Instead, team “D” seems to be preoccupied with this ABSOLUTELY INTERMINABLE contest between former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Dem U.S. House Rep Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and (I believe he’s still a candidate) former DNC head and presidential candidate Howard Dean (personally I prefer Keith Ellison) to head the Democratic National Committee.

Note to the Democrats: I stopped giving a shit about this weeks ago. Just name Keith Ellison (or, if not, provide a damn good reason why) and be done with it, OK?

Update 2/19/17: And in a related story, as they say, kudos to Laurence Lewis at Daily Kos for this.

Update 2/22/17: Oh, for God’s sake, ENOUGH ALREADY! (here).

Also, speaking only for myself, I’ve been inundated with requests to contact Sens. Bob Casey and “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey (as well as Repug U.S. House Rep Brian “No, I’m Not Really My Brother Mike, But Just Pretend That I Am And It Will Be Fine, Honest” Fitzpatrick) in response to just about every single bilious development concerning the tiny-handed man-child now taking up space in An Oval Office. And I’ll actually act on some of those requests, but don’t expect me to take the bait and spend the majority of my time calling/petitioning/whatever every single time “Fergus Laing” says, does, or tweets anything stupid.

The election is over. And sorry if this sounds self-serving, but it’s not like I didn’t warn you (here).

Update 1 1/28/17: I don’t know about you, but we regularly deal with people who, by all accounts, are good neighbors and friends and people who are really good at their jobs. And oh yeah, they’re Trumpsters too. But when Mrs. Doomsy and I describe these people, we end up having to add the inevitable suffix of “But (he or she) is a good person” or “But (he or she) is a good worker.”

And then I take a look at my phone to see what’s going on, and this is the first thing that pops up (tied to what I linked to above).

You know what? I don’t give a crap about any “P.S.” remarks about these human beings any more, these utterly soulless, craven life forms who, when cornered, retreat to the inevitable fallback of “Oh yeah? Well, liberals this and minorities and welfare cheats that and unwed minority mothers this and Section 8 housing that and Clintons this and Ted Kennedy that, blah blah blah.”

I’m sick of that garbage. The actions of this monstrous fraud in the White House are going to impact this country for generations. And aside from what Sen. Chris Murphy said here (which is entirely correct), it’s also going to hasten the “brain drain” in this country that we can ill afford (and by the way…).

Wingnuts, you “built this.” At least have something like the courage and/or intestinal fortitude to own it yourselves.

Update 2 1/28/17: Uh, yep…

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Friday Mashup (6/13/14)

June 13, 2014
  • This story tells us the following (about the recent idiocy in North Carolina Virginia where Phillip Puckett, a thoroughly compromised Dem in the state senate, agreed to resign for a plumb patronage job that he since has chosen not to accept, and let the Repugs take over that body, denying Medicaid expansion in that state)…

    Puckett’s resignation leads the way for him to get a job as deputy director of the state tobacco commission and for his daughter to be confirmed for a state judgeship. Depending on how you look at it, it’s politics at its worst — or best.

    “Republicans I’ve talked to are chortling,” Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Business Insider. “They think it’s one of the cleverest things they’ve done.”

    “And yet,” he added, “one of them asked me, ‘Do you think Democrats would not have done the same thing if they had the opportunity?’ And of course they would have. It’s yet another reason people hate politicians.”

    Perhaps, but is there a recent example of such an occurrence? You know, engaging in political nonsense that could prevent nearly 400,00 people in the state of North Carolina from receiving health care (here)? And let’s see how many Repugs are “chortling” in light of this.

    And Sabato follows up with the following…

    “This is really about Obamacare,” Sabato said of the dispute. “Forget about Medicaid.”

    I realize that it’s Sabato’s job to comment on the “horse race” political stuff and not necessarily the wonky material about, you know, actual policy and legislation that makes a difference in people’s lives, but if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about on this issue (and he obviously doesn’t), then he should shut up.

    You see, the people affected by the treachery orchestrated by Puckett and the North Carolina Repugs are (again) primarily the poor in his state who are due to receive the benefits of “Obamacare” through Medicaid expansion. Arguing that the two are separate in this case is disingenuous at best and outright lying at worst.

    This is par for the ridiculous course when it comes to Sabato, though; as noted here, he once said that the Swift Boat liars who impugned John Kerry ten years ago (remember that one?) were telling the truth; he also said that it would be “a national disgrace” to continue “the Clinton/Bush dynasty” (another idiotic construct as far as I’m concerned; things were a hell of a lot better for me and everyone I know under Bill than under either of the Bushes); and he also said (in the post I linked to previously) that the Democrats are the “mommy” party while the Repugs are the “daddy” party.

  • Next, I give you some truly ripe stuff from Larry Kudlow (here)…

    The Democrats want a minimum-wage hike. That may sound great on the surface, but it’s actually a big job loser for the lowest-skilled and poorest among us. President Obama and his EPA have launched a war on coal, which will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs if implemented. And then there’s Obamacare, which the CBO estimates will cost at least 2.5 million jobs.

    I don’t know how Kudlow can make that claim about the minimum wage with any degree of seriousness whatsoever (much more on that is available from here).

    And as far as coal goes, I also don’t know how Kudlow can seriously make the claim that Obama has “launched a war on coal,” considering that his administration encourages coal burning by aggressively issuing permits to mine coal on federal land, especially the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, as noted here.

    But wait, there’s more…

    With coal demand at home expected to fall by 20 per cent due to new regulations, and competitive pressure from low-priced natural gas, coal companies are now pushing to increase exports to Asia. … Three new coal-export ports are being proposed for the Pacific coast: two in Washington state and one in Oregon. They could eventually ship up to 100 million tons of coal per year—an amountequivalent to the total volume of coal the U.S. will export this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). …

    Environmentalists warn that emissions from that volume of coal would dwarf the savings from Obama’s new power plant rule.

    Since 2009, the Obama administration has sold leases for more than two billion tons of coal in the Powder River Basin for rates as low as $1 per ton, drawing the wrath of critics, including some in Congress, who say too much coal is being leased too cheaply. (Coal from the Powder River Basin is worth about $13 per ton.)

    As it reviews its long-term plans for the leases, which could eventually put another 10 billion tons of coal up for auction, the administration has so far resisted calls to include carbon emissions abroad in its decision-making.

    In addition, it looks like Kudlow is trying to propagandize once more about how the Affordable Care Law is a supposed job killer, when in reality (here)…

    The reduction in work hours that equates to 2.5 million jobs “stems almost entirely” from Americans deciding to work less or not at all in order to retain their eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s expanded Medicaid coverage or government health insurance subsidies, the CBO analysis concludes.

    More on that is here; basically, we’re talking about a reduction in work hours that equates to 2.5 million jobs. Or, to give you an example close to home, maybe Mrs. Doomsy could continue to work on-call for about 20 hours or so a week if she qualified for “Obamacare” instead of having to work a minimum of 32 hours a week for her employer to get health insurance by that way instead (that’s partly a hypothetical and partly reality too, for the record).

    (Oh, and by the way, as you go to the polls later this year, please remember which political party was responsible for a near-catastrophic government shut down last year, and also remember who was one of the shut down’s biggest cheerleaders.)

  • Further, James Jay Carafano waxes hysterical as follows (here)…

    Iraq is a shambles. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Al Qaeda off-shoot that now controls nearly a third of the nation, continues to run amok.

    It’s way past time for the White House to get its head in the game. The disaster unfolding in Iraq and Syria could very quickly spiral into a much, much bigger problem. And some problems are so big that even our president can’t spin his way out.

    At the top of the list of what the administration should be worrying about—and preparing to deal with—is the potential for an endless three-way civil war in Iraq. With Sunni, Shia and Kurds fighting one another, it would look something like the civil war in Syria—on steroids.

    Of course, back during the supposedly glorious days of Iraq War II, no one could have predicted that the quagmire in Mesopotamia would turn out to be favorable to Iran. Right?

    In response, I give you James Jay Carafano in 2010 (here)…

    Here is what we know for sure. 1) Given the state of Iraq in 2006, the country is in a much better place today that any reasonable observer then dared hope. 2) Iraq is better off than it was in the age of Saddam. Now the country has a future, and it rests in the hands of its people. Bonus: The world is rid one of its most dangerous and bloodthirsty thugs. Yes, it was a heavy price. Freedom rarely comes cheap. 3) The surge worked. The surge never promised a land of “milk and honey.” It just promised to break the cycle of continuous, unrelenting violence, to give the new Iraqi political process a chance, and to allow the Iraqis time to build the capacity for their own security. It did that. 4) Things didn’t turn out the way Bush planned. But the vision — a free Iraq without Saddam — was achieved. Remember, things didn’t turn out the way FDR planned either. He said all the troops would be out of Europe in two years.

    By the way, Carafano wrote the above column on August 19th, the day that Obama announced that all combat operations would end by August 31st, with the full withdrawal scheduled for December 2011 (here). And after that, the attacks started to ramp up again.

    Here is my point – if Carafano said that “this is the way history works” in 2010, acting like he was OK with what Obama was doing, then wasn’t Carafano just as wrong then as he thinks Obama is now (and personally, I think Obama was correct, as opposed to Carafano)?

  • Continuing, I came across this real whopper from Dr. Ben Carson (here – page 2)…

    Over the past year, I have learned a great deal about the press in America. It is not uniformly unfair with nefarious agendas, but a significant portion is. One of the best ways to determine which news organizations are objective and which have an agenda is to keep a scorecard that lists both electronic and print media. When evaluating a story, check off whether it is concentrating on factual reporting or demonization. If there is controversy, determine whether both points of view are considered. If major stories of a political nature are ignored or barely mentioned, that should raise suspicions about objectivity.

    You know what? I think Carson is actually onto something here. So, following up on his idea of a “score card,” I came up with the following…

    Story Demonization Factual Reporting
    Here Carson compares gay men and women to bestiality supporters. Bestiality is abhorrent to the gay community and just about every other life form that I know of (duuuh!).
    Here The VA scandal is “A gift from God” according to Carson. The VA scandal is a national bipartisan tragedy, owing primarily to the huge burden of treating our military personnel fighting two wars begun under the prior administration (not a criticism of our military in any way, of course – not their problem that Bushco was a gang of thugs who were asleep on 9/11).
    Here Carson compared the Affordable Care Law to “slavery.” Over 8 million (and counting) citizens of this country now have access to health care, many of whom had no access before.
    Here Carson once said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was right to call America “godless.” Why should we take seriously supposed lessons in morality from a thug who annexed Crimea away from Ukraine (you can go in many other directions here, I’ll admit).
    Here Carson invokes Lenin (no, not the Beatle) in attacking the Affordable Care Law. Sigh – is this really necessary anymore?

    Of course, if you want to do any research about Carson on your own, dear reader (trying to determine “factual reporting” vs. “demonization” without a visual aid, even the one as primitive as I provided), you can always just click here.

  • Update 6/14/14: Turning to Philadelphia-area stuff, it looks like a SEPTA transit strike is underway. I’m not totally familiar with all of the issues, though it apparently involves pension contributions and cost-of-living increases for transit workers (have to read more about it, as they say). It also looks like our illustrious governor, Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett, is going to ask Obama to appoint an executive-level commission, or something, to look into the matter, meaning that the striking workers will have to return to their jobs for a minimum of 240 days.

    I’m noting this particularly because of the following (here)…

    Bucks County Commissioner Charles H. Martin, who serves on SEPTA’s board of directors, said he was not aware of any plans by Bucks officials to handle potential traffic headaches.

    “Frankly, I don’t know what we could do,” he said.

    He said most people employed by the county and working in the county seat of Doylestown already drive to work, and would be unaffected by a Regional Rail strike.

    I know this may be hard for Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” to comprehend, but not all of the residents of Bucks County work in Doylestown (facepalm).

    Here’s a thought – why not try to encourage businesses to arrange staggered shifts for their employees or set up/encourage telecommuting or flex time options? Do anything you can to try and alleviate further traffic problems that may result from the strike!

    God, what a maroon (Update 6/16/14 – Hopefully, though, the strike won’t be an issue based in part on this)…

  • Finally (and returning to Fix Noise), I give you the following here

    This week, the president is speaking and acting on the issue of student loans for higher education. He appears to truly believe that a college education is important and is taking executive action to help students pay for their education. This seems like a straightforward feel-good issue…except there is a painful irony hiding behind the president’s words and actions.

    A closer look at the president’s Department of Education, sadly, reveals an elitist streak when it comes to higher education. At the same time that the president is speaking grandly about helping students pay for college, his education department is moving forward on a regulation that would severely limit the opportunity for college for a certain type of student — those attending non-traditional, private-sector colleges.

    There’s a hell of a lot of “red meat” and “dog whistle” language in what I suppose is a column that’s primarily an editorial as opposed to actual news (Number 44 is “elitist” and “classist,” etc., whatever the hell that means).

    I suppose this Jean Card person from Fox is responding to this news story (including the following)…

    The Obama administration is proposing to tighten oversight of for-profit colleges through new rules that seek to limit how much debt students can amass in career-training programs.

    The proposal, announced Friday, is the administration’s second try at regulations setting standards for what colleges must do to ensure that graduates of career programs get “gainful employment.”

    The first gainful employment initiative, debated from 2009 to 2011, spawned a huge campaign by for-profit colleges to block new regulation. The colleges, supported by many congressional Republicans and some Democrats, said then that they had been unfairly targeted and that the initiative would hurt low-income students.

    Obama administration officials said they were trying to protect those students from low-quality programs that would saddle them with too much debt.

    The Education Department issued a rule in 2011 that set standards for loan-repayment rates and the ratio of graduates’ debt to income. Programs that failed the tests could be disqualified from participation in the federal student aid, which would essentially shut them down. But in 2012, a federal judge blocked major provisions of that rule, forcing the department to start over.

    The new proposal jettisons the repayment-rate metric. Instead, it would require that the estimated loan payments of typical graduates not exceed 20 percent of discretionary income or 8 percent of total annual income.

    If someone has a principled disagreement with what Obama is trying to do here, then I honestly get that. I do support the president on this, I wish to emphasize, because I don’t see anyone else out there lifting a finger to try in rein in student debt.

    More information on this is available from here, including the following…

    A year ago, President Obama set a national goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. But because of the high costs of college, about two-thirds of graduates take out loans with an average student debt of over $23,000. This debt is particularly burdensome for graduates who choose to enter lower-paying public service careers, suffer setbacks such as unemployment or serious illness, or fail to complete their degree.

    To ensure that Americans can afford their student loan payments, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act gives student borrowers new choices in how they repay their loans. The initiative was developed by the Middle Class Task Force chaired by Vice President Biden, and it will expand the income-based repayment plan for federal student loans that was put in place last summer. More than 1.2 million borrowers are projected to qualify and take part in the expanded IBR program.

    Under this new law, students enrolling in 2014 or later can choose to:

    Limit Payments to 10 Percent of Income: Borrowers choosing the income-based repayment plan will pay no more than 10 percent of their income above a basic living allowance, reduced from 15 percent under current law. The basic living allowance varies with family size and is set at 150 percent of the poverty line, currently equaling about $16,500 for a single individual and $33,000 for a family of four.

    ◦More than 1 million borrowers would be eligible to reduce their monthly payments.

    ◦The payment will be reduced by more than $110 per month for a single borrower who earns $30,000 a year and owes $20,000 in college loans, based on 2009 figures.

    Forgive Any Remaining Debt after 20 Years, or after 10 Years for Those in Public Service: Borrowers who take responsibility for their loans and make their monthly payments will see their remaining balance forgiven after 20 years of payments, reduced from 25 years in current law.

    ◦Public service workers – such as teachers, nurses, and those in military service – will see any remaining debt forgiven after 10 years.

    Fully Funded by Student Loan Reforms: These new initiatives are funded by ending the current subsidies given to financial institutions that make guaranteed federal student loans. Starting July 1, all new loans will be direct loans delivered and collected by private companies under performance-based contracts with the Department of Education. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, ending these wasteful subsidies will free up nearly $68 billion for college affordability and deficit reduction over the next 11 years.

    And by the way, let’s not forget that the ridiculous practice of paying subsidies to financial institutions for basically nothing as part of the student loan process was ended by congressional Democrats in March 2010, with nary a single Republican voting in support (here).

    Oh, and speaking of the “respectful opposition,” this tells us that Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao did what he does best, and that was to launch yet another filibuster, this time of the student loan legislation sponsored by Dem Senator Elizabeth Warren (“come back louder” indeed).

    And things are no better in the House, of course; I give you the following…

    Congressman Fitzpatrick votes to protect the ultra-wealthy and votes against making college more affordable for America’s students and families

    Today, Congressman Fitzpatrick voted with Republicans to block H.R. 4582 “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act,” the House version of Senator Warren’s companion bill that would allow students to refinance their loans at much lower rates than they are currently paying today.

    Congressman Fitzpatrick’s Republican budget charges students $40 billion more in loan interest, in order to pay for more tax breaks for those who need help the least, like special interests and the wealthiest Americans. Today’s vote was the latest in a record that clearly places the interests of banks above those of students.

    “Once again, Congressman Fitzpatrick gave us a clear view of his priorities when he voted with the Republicans against a bill that would lower the cost of education for students. Congressman Fitzpatrick has no problem standing up for tax breaks for the bankers and special interests he is supposed to regulate as a member of the House Financial Services Committee–but when it comes to helping Bucks County students and their families pay for college, Fitzpatrick turns his back on them” Strouse said.

    Strouse added, “Congressman Fitzpatrick continues to vote to protect the interests of wealthy bankers, while ignoring the needs of the middle-class. If America is going to succeed in a 21st century economy, we need to have the best-educated, best-trained workforce possible, and Congressman Fitzpatrick voting against making college more affordable for students in Pennsylvania’s 8th District is exactly the kind of representation we do not need in Washington.”

    ###

    Kevin Strouse is a former Army Ranger, CIA counterterrorism analyst, and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who lives in Middletown, Pa., with his wife, Amy, and two young children, Walter and Charlotte. He is currently Program Director of Teach2Serve, a non-profit that teaches social entrepreneurship to local high school students. He earned his BA from Columbia University and a Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, graduating with honors.

    To support Kevin Strouse in his campaign against Mikey the Beloved (and stand up on this among many other important issues), please click here.


  • Tuesday Mashup (7/17/12)

    July 18, 2012
  • To begin, here’s former Bushie Doug Feith in the pages of the Murdoch Street Journal yesterday (here)…

    In the 16 months since the revolt began (in Syria), the Obama administration has neither promoted humanitarian “safe zones” on Syria’s Turkish border, nor provided arms to the rebels. It has not helped establish a no-fly zone, nor has it supported NATO military strikes against Assad’s forces.

    In response, I would tend to side with foreign policy expert Joshua Landis, who said here that Obama was “smart” to stay out of Syria for the following reason…

    “America is not good at nation-building in the Arab World. We’ve seen this in Iraq. We’ve seen this in Afghanistan. Syria is not an easier country. It has the same divisions.”

    Uh, yep. And besides, as noted here, Obama promised to provide “non-lethal” aid to the rebels and stepped up sanctions against both Iran and Syria here (not a panacea I know, but something).

    And besides, as noted here

    For Obama, military engagement with Syria may not be feasible from either a policy and political perspective. Syria, unlike Libya, has greater defense capabilities, and administration officials doubt a bombing campaign could be accomplished quickly and relatively bloodlessly. Engaging U.S. forces in Syria would also run counter to Obama’s foreign policy campaign narrative, which is built on being the president who ends wars, with the Iraq conflict coming to a close under his watch and the Afghanistan campaign winding down.

    In addition, as noted here

    U.S. President George W. Bush had a falling out with the Assad regime over Iraq and vigorously contested its domination of Lebanon, but his hardball tactics weren’t really designed to undermine its grip on power. American officials denounced the lack of democracy in Syria and held high profile meetings with secular opposition leaders, but gave the cold shoulder to the Muslim Brotherhood. Washington wanted Syrian cooperation in Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza, and for that it needed a stable government capable of honoring its commitments.

    Though outraged by the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (in Western capitals, arguably the most personally well-liked Mideast leader of his day), European governments steadily reconciled with Damascus as its allies subsequently battled for supremacy over Lebanon’s pro-Western March 14 coalition. When EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana visited Assad in March 2007, the subject of reform and human rights in Syria didn’t even come up.[3]

    I don’t know if it would have mattered if Former Commander Codpiece had bothered to broker the subject with Assad, but there’s no percentage at all in ignoring the subject altogether.

    Continuing with Feith, I give you the following…

    By refusing to act on Syria, the president is missing an opportunity to advance U.S. security interests in the Middle East, while benefiting Iran, the principal sponsor of the Assad regime. And by suggesting that America lacks international legal authority to act, he is undermining U.S. sovereignty. Presidents have traditionally striven to bolster America’s sovereignty and freedom of action, but Mr. Obama evidently sides with the global legalists who see national sovereignty as a problem to be overcome, not a principle to be cherished.

    Oh brother…

    I’ll tell you what – when it comes to overseas matters such as this, particularly in the Middle East, I inevitably turn to Juan Cole, who provides more typically cogent analysis here as to why we should stay out of arming the Syrian rebels.

    And let’s not forget Feith’s awful track record on Middle East foreign policy management overall, noted in horrendous detail by yours truly here (as well as the ludicrous charge that Obama is “anti-Israel” here).

  • Next, I give you the following from The Daily Tucker (here)…

    In 2010, Florida Democrats mercilessly attacked then-candidate Rick Scott over his record at Columbia/HCA, a company Scott founded that eventually became the largest private, for-profit health care company in the U.S. Democratic candidate Alex Sink spent much of the campaign alleging impropriety and scandal because Columbia/HCA paid $1.7 billion in fines to the U.S. government, never mind that Gov. Scott was never charged or even questioned in the matter.

    For the record, it should be pointed out that Lex Luthor Scott was investigated for the following, as noted here

    …federal investigators found that Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found to be illegal — specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001.

    The doctor payments were among 10 different kinds of fraud identified by the Justice Department in its 10-year probe of the company, records show. Three years after Scott left Columbia/HCA, the company admitted wrongdoing, pleading guilty to 14 felonies — most committed during Scott’s tenure — in addition to paying two sets of fines totaling $1.7 billion…

    Whether or not Scott was aware of his company’s questionable conduct, the breadth of the problems raises questions about Scott’s leadership, management experts say.

    Oh, and by the way, this isn’t technically illegal either (not as far as we know), but it still stinks to high heaven (take a bow, all you voters in the Mickey Mouse state who elected this fraud over Alex Sink two years ago).

  • Finally, I give you the following hilarity from BoBo (here)…

    Let’s say you are president in a time of a sustained economic slowdown. You initiated a series of big policies that you thought were going to turn the economy around, but they didn’t work — either because they were insufficient or ineffective. How do you run for re-election under these circumstances?

    Do you spend the entire campaign saying that things would have been even worse if you hadn’t acted the way you did? No. That would be pathetic.

    OK, to begin with, this tells us that the stimulus was successful (should be conventional wisdom by now…oh well), as was the bailout of the auto industry (sorry, BoBo).

    And on the subject of “things would have been even worse” had Obama not won election, I think we should consider the following from this March 2008 article in Salon…

    On domestic policy, (Repug presidential candidate John) McCain’s nostrums for the bad economy are job training and “tax cuts.” As Paul Krugman once pointed out, “tax cuts” were Bush’s response to each and every economic problem that arose, however unrealistic they were. Half of all the benefits of Bush’s 2003 tax cut went to millionaires, and the sad impact on ordinary Americans of consequent lack of services and the diversion of wealth to the wealthy, has now become amply apparent. The more economically literate Republicans have caught on to Bush’s “tax cut” shell game. Ironically, John McCain used to be one of them, declining to sign on to some of Bush’s tax cuts. No more.

    By “tax cuts,” Republicans such as McCain mean lowering specific federal taxes on income and capital gains. This step would harm federal income, which will fall anyway if there is an extended recession, and would mainly benefit Americans in the top income brackets. A federal government with less income will be less able to pay for the services and job training ordinary workers and middle-class people need, especially in bad times. Moreover, in a recession, you want the government to spend more money, not less, which cannot be accomplished by reducing its income. McCain, like Bush, seems firmly stuck in 1929.

    This isn’t surprising I suppose, when you consider that John W. McBush said repeatedly that he didn’t know much about the economy, or words to that sorry effect, as noted here. Also, on the subject of Obama’s alleged “socialism” (please – some interesting food for thought on that here), I should point out that McBush’s VP nominee, Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin Dontcha Know, set up something in Alaska, with everyone in the state getting about $3 grand each from oil company fees, that looks more like socialism than anything concocted by Number 44, as noted here.

    Oh, and did you know that BoBo once said that President Obama wouldn’t fit in at an Applebee’s salad bar, or something (particularly funny since Applebee’s doesn’t have salad bars, as noted here), and told our chief executive to “Go visit a factory for once” a matter of days after he had already done so (here)?

    But of course, we can’t expect BoBo to admit that he, along with Mr. “Chunky Reese Witherspoon” himself, are nothing but conservative quota hires for The Old Grey Lady, installed to merely propagate right-wing talking points as opposed to undergoing the frequently arduous work of crafting enlightening commentary whose stated purpose is to educate and inform, providing the vital information upon which we citizens can make informed decisions.

    That would be pathetic.


  • Looks Like Pancake Joe “Don’t Know Much About History”

    May 16, 2012


    Some more tongue-in-cheek foreign policy recommendations for Repug U.S. House Rep Joe Pitts (MISTAKE-PA16), based on this:

  • Encourage that foreign-country-apologizing-to President Obama to immediately begin negotiation with Emperor Napoleon of France so the U.S. can get moving on that whole “Louisiana Purchase” deal (I mean, who wants a bunch of frogs chowing down on their “Freedom Toast” right in our backyard, and I don’t mean the “ribbit at midnight on the bayou” kind).
  • Tell Congress to order our president to send U.S. troops to the Philippines, where they will be “greeted as liberators” (Pitts apparently has it on good information from Theodore Roosevelt that the insurgency there is in its “last throes”).
  • Issue a public statement of support for the pro-Democracy movement in Hungary, and, in a nod to the eternal leader of the Republican Party, encourage East German leader Erich Honecker to “tear down this wall.”
  • Send a congratulatory wireless telegram to aviator Charles Lindbergh upon completion of his trans-Atlantic flight.
  • Want to retire Pitts once and for all, at long last? Click here.


    A Catalogue Of “Nothing”

    November 19, 2009


    This is embarrassing, even for Fix Noise.

    And in response, I give you the reality-based point of view here (and that’s only as far as the end of April and doesn’t include this).

    There is room for intelligent discussion about how Obama is proceeding in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other places, but of course “Clusterfox” will never be interested in intelligent discussion.


    Misplaced Praise For A Traitor To Peace

    November 12, 2009

    arafat
    I’ll admit that it’s not easy to post about the Middle East, which is why I generally stay away from it, but I felt compelled to say something based on this story, which in part tells us the following…

    Thousands of Palestinians turned out Wednesday for a rally here to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and to show support for his successor, President Mahmoud Abbas, who recently expressed an intention to retire.

    The rally took place in the grounds of the Mukata, the presidential headquarters in this West Bank city where Arafat took ill in 2004. He died in a Paris hospital, but his body was flown back and buried in the compound amid frenzied scenes of adoration and chaos.

    I don’t have an issue with Abbas, who will never escape Arafat’s shadow largely because the founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization allowed terrorism to flourish on his watch, to the point where Hamas basically calls the shots in that area of the world. And yes, I’m completely aware of the fact that Israeli intransigence on the Palestinians had a lot to do with Arafat’s ascent.

    However, Arafat was, at best, a flawed deliverer of legitimacy (one of the few times I actually agreed with Dubya on anything was when he said Arafat had “failed as a leader” in 2004, though that was hypocritical considering our slavish subservience to Israel under Dubya’s “administration”). And the only reason he won the Nobel Prize along with the late Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres of Israel was because it would have been bad manners to exclude him.

    And I think the following is noteworthy about Arafat (from here)…

    In August 2002, the Israeli Military Intelligence Chief alleged that Arafat’s personal wealth was in the range of USD $1.3 billion,[92]. In 2003 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conducted an audit of the PNA and stated that Arafat diverted $900 million in public funds to a special bank account controlled by Arafat and the PNA Chief Economic Financial adviser. However, the IMF did not claim that there were any improprieties, and it specifically stated that most of the funds had been used to invest in Palestinian assets, both internally and abroad.[93][94]

    However in 2003, a team of American accountants–hired by Arafat’s own finance ministry–began examining Arafat’s finances; this team reached a different conclusion. The team claimed that part of the Palestinian leader’s wealth was in a secret portfolio worth close to $1 billion, with investments in companies like a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ramallah, a Tunisian cell phone company and venture capital funds in the US and the Cayman Islands. The head of the investigation stated that “although the money for the portfolio came from public funds like Palestinian taxes, virtually none of it was used for the Palestinian people; it was all controlled by Arafat. And none of these dealings were made public.”[95]

    Although Arafat lived a modest lifestyle, Dennis Ross, former Middle East negotiator for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, stated that Arafat’s “walking-around money” financed a vast patronage system known as neopatrimonialism. According to Salam Fayyad—a former World Bank official whom Arafat appointed Finance Minister of the PNA in 2002—Arafat’s commodity monopolies could accurately be seen as gouging his own people, “especially in Gaza which is poorer, which is something that is totally unacceptable and immoral.” Fayyad claims that Arafat used $20 million from public funds to pay the leadership of the PNA security forces (the Preventive Security Service) alone.[95]

    Fuad Shubaki, former financial aide to Arafat, told the Israeli security service Shin Bet that Arafat used several million dollars of aid money to buy weapons and support militant groups.[96] An investigation by the European Union into claims that their funds were misused by the Palestinian Authority found no evidence that funds were diverted to finance terrorist activities.[97]

    Also, as noted here…

    Arafat, too, must take his share of the blame for the failure of the peace process. Time and again, he failed to make the bold moves that might have broken the logjam. It was never a viable option for the PLO to confront the rejectionists Hamas and Islamic Jihad militarily — that would have meant a full-scale civil war — but he could have marginalized them if he had been a better leader. Unwilling to either rule out the military option or embrace it, he was a master tactician who seemed never capable of delivering the bold strategic stroke. (In that sense, he resembled his ancient nemesis, Ariel Sharon, a brilliant field general who lacks a larger vision.) Danny Rubinstein, the Haaretz correspondent who has covered the Palestinians for years, noted on Thursday that Arafat could not resist the siren song of the Palestinian street: If it called for violence, he delivered violence. “This was his weak side. This is how it came out,” Rubinstein says. “He always felt it necessary to speak to his people such that they would continue to embrace him, to esteem him, to idolize him, and, most importantly, to obey him.”

    And Gary Kamiya of Salon.com also tells us the following…

    At the end of his life, although he still held all effective Palestinian power in his hands, Arafat had come to serve a purely symbolic function. That function was sentimentally useful: Arafat represented the last hope for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees around the world, still holding their yellowing deeds and keys to houses in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem to which they will never return. But practically, it was an encumbrance. He was a statue, a myth, and his larger-than-life stature blocked a new, more pragmatic generation of Palestinian leaders from emerging. Those leaders will make the same demands Arafat did — a contiguous state in most of the West Bank, a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, shared sovereignty over the holy sites, some fair resolution of the refugee question that does not spell the end of Israel. But perhaps they will actually be able to achieve them.

    I must tell you that I can think of better tributes.


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