Monday Mashup (10/21/13)

October 21, 2013
  • From the “road to hell paved with good intentions” department (still in the wake of the shut down misery), I give you this from Brent Budowsky…

    The president and Congress should agree to enact a one-time, limited-duration tax holiday to permit American companies to repatriate foreign-held capital at a tax rate of 12 percent, and use the revenue to finance a large infrastructure rebuild of American roads, bridges, ports and schools.

    This package would include a clean continuing resolution to reopen and fund the government and a clean extension of the debt ceiling, which would both expire Dec. 31, 2014. Larger talks could begin immediately without the blackmail and extortion of repeated threats to shut down the U.S. government or trigger a U.S. default and global financial crash — tactics that are repugnant to the American way and intensely disapproved of by a large majority of the nation.

    I think Budowsky is a pretty bright guy, but if he’s serious about this, then I think he should also come out in support of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, sponsored by Democrats Carl Levin of Michigan in the Senate and Lloyd Doggett of Texas in the House (here). Because, as the Daily Kos post tells us, the Institute for Policy Studies has determined just how bad an idea a “tax holiday” would be, listing the “Top 10 Layoff Leaders” of U.S. firms between 2004 and 2011, all of who benefitted from repatriated millions from 2004-2005.

    As far as I’m concerned, if these malefactors really had any interest in helping our economy grow, they never would have offshored the earnings in the first place.

  • Next (and continuing with the corporate media post-mortem on the events of this week), I give you Howard Kurtz of Fix Noise here

    But the Ted Cruz wing is also getting beat up from the conservative side, as in this New York Times column by Ross Douthat (by the way, the “Kurtz Republicans” headline refers not to me, of course, but to Colonel Kurtz of “Apocalypse Now” fame).

    “There is still something well-nigh-unprecedented about how Republicans have conducted themselves of late,” Douthat writes. “It’s not the scale of their mistake, or the kind of damage that it’s caused, but the fact that their strategy was such self-evident folly, so transparently devoid of any method whatsoever.

    I guess this is a bit of “concern trolling” by Kurtz and Douthat; as noted here, there very definitely was a “method” behind the near-catastrophic antics of “Caribbean Cruz” and his playmates this week.

    And this tells us how the fight was set up by, among others, former Reaganite Ed Meese, who, for a time, was in charge of something called the Conservative Action Project (now run by former Repug congressman David McIntosh)…

    The defunding idea, Mr. Meese said, was “a logical strategy.” The idea drew broad support. Fiscal conservatives like Chris Chocola, the president of the Club for Growth, signed on to the blueprint. So did social and religious conservatives, like the Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition.

    The document set a target date: March 27, when a continuing resolution allowing the government to function was to expire. Its message was direct: “Conservatives should not approve a C.R. unless it defunds Obamacare.”

    But the March date came and went without a defunding struggle. In the Senate, Mr. Cruz and Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, talked up the defunding idea, but it went nowhere in the Democratic-controlled chamber. In the House, Mr. Boehner wanted to concentrate instead on locking in the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, and Tea Party lawmakers followed his lead. Outside advocates were unhappy but held their fire.

    “We didn’t cause any trouble,” Mr. Chocola said.

    Yet by summer, with an August recess looming and another temporary spending bill expiring at the end of September, the groups were done waiting.

    “I remember talking to reporters at the end of July, and they said, ‘This didn’t go anywhere,’ ” Mr. Needham recalled. “What all of us felt at the time was, this was never going to be a strategy that was going to win inside the Beltway. It was going to be a strategy where, during August, people would go home and hear from their constituents, saying: ‘You pledged to do everything you could to stop Obamacare. Will you defund it?’ ”

    Heritage Action, which has trained 6,000 people it calls sentinels around the country, sent them to open meetings and other events to confront their elected representatives. Its “Defund Obamacare Town Hall Tour,” which began in Fayetteville, Ark., on Aug. 19 and ended 10 days later in Wilmington, Del., drew hundreds at every stop.

    The Senate Conservatives Fund, led by Mr. DeMint when he was in the Senate, put up a Web site in July called dontfundobamacare.com and ran television ads featuring Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee urging people to tell their representatives not to fund the law.

    When Senator Richard M. Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told a reporter that defunding the law was “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,” the fund bought a radio ad to attack him. Two other Republican senators up for re-election in 2014, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, were also targeted. Both face Tea Party challengers.

    In Washington, Tea Party Patriots, which created the defunding tool kit, set up a Web site, exemptamerica.com, to promote a rally last month showcasing many of the Republicans in Congress whom Democrats — and a number of fellow Republicans — say are most responsible for the shutdown.

    While conservatives believe that the public will back them on defunding, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a majority — 57 percent — disapproves of cutting off funding as a way to stop the law.

    Last week, with the health care exchanges open for business and a number of prominent Republicans complaining that the “Defund Obamacare” strategy was politically damaging and pointless, Mr. Needham of Heritage Action said he felt good about what the groups had accomplished.

    “It really was a groundswell,” he said, “that changed Washington from the outside in.”

    There has been a very definite, coordinated, deep-funded apparatus at work on the right to kill the Affordable Care Law, which most certainly constitutes a “method.” And we saw it come to life in truly hideous fruition over the last few weeks.

    And if anyone thinks that these fools and frauds have been chastened in any way (more here)…

    So now that we’ve returned to something approximating a “status quo” in Washington, D.C. (and I STILL can’t believe how the Dems stuck to their guns and routed Boehner and his pals – kudos), I guess that means that it’s time for the Foxies to return to one of their biggest spectator sports, and that is to blame Number 44 for the supposedly out-of-control federal deficit, that is robbing our kids and our grandkids and our grand-grandkids, or whatever (here – of course, not a peep about the environmental state of this planet, rampant income inequality, waste of alternative energy resources, etc.).

    Which means, I suppose, that it’s time for a reminder on how we got into this fiscal mess in the first place (here). And as noted here, we’re paying down the debt faster than anyone anticipated anyway.

    Oh, and also in the matter of the economy, this tells us what the party of Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, McConnell, etc. has wrought, basically killing any hope of a turnaround just to stick it to that Kenyan Muslim Socialist at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    So what remains as the hot new “boom town” in this country? Tyler Cowen gives us a commercial for Texas here (cheap energy, a potential glut of “high-tech skill” jobs, low taxes, micro-houses – ?).

    Well, that may be all well and good, but what does it matter if the whole damn state is running out of water (here)?

    This is of course to be expected from Cowen, who once claimed here that income inequality made the “99 percent” more industrious, or something (second bullet).

  • Continuing, someone named Todd Starnes decries the quite-appropriate designation of the American Family Association as a “hate group” here.

    Want to know why? Check out some of the quotes from here

    “Homosexuality is a poor and dangerous choice, and has been proven to lead to a litany of health hazards to not only the individuals but also society as a whole.”
    –AFA Action Alert, July 20, 2012

    “[Islam] is, in fact, a religion of war, violence, intolerance, and physical persecution of non-Muslims.”
    –Tim Wildmon, March 6, 2012

    “The homosexual movement is a progressive outgrowth of the sexual revolution of the past 40 years and will lead to the normalization of even more deviant behavior.”
    – Don Wildmon, AFA website, 1999 (still posted as of 2011).

    “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
    – Bryan Fischer, AFA director of issue analysis for government and public policy, 2010

    Basically, the AFA Is so nuts that they even accused the Foxies of having “gone gay” here.

    I report, you decide (way too damn funny).

  • Further, “Chuckles” Krauthammer of the WaPo basically says that the pro football team for Washington, D.C. should change its nickname because it’s hurtful to a minority group, or something (here).

    I’m not saying that such an argument doesn’t have merit, but I think it’s typically ridiculous for it to come from someone like Krauthammer, who has never been shy about using demeaning language against those with whom he disagrees, to say nothing of propagating outright falsehoods:

  • He called Obama a “narcissist” here (an “evergreen,” I realize).
  • He baselessly (of course) accused the Obama Administration of “lawlessness” in its policy to encourage prosecutors not to seek mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders (here).
  • He also pushed the false claim here that the Obama Administration encouraged government agencies to draft talking points without references to terrorism in the BENGHAZI!!! attacks in order to protect the ongoing investigation (in reality, agencies such as the FBI and CIA made that decision, not the White House).
  • Also, Krauthammer said that the ruinous effect of the sequester were “the most ridiculously hyped Armageddon since the Mayan Calendar” here (spoken like a truly “kept” member of the Beltway political-media-industrial complex).
  • (And this is just for this year – imagine how many links I’d have if I bothered to research, oh, say the last decade of quotes from Krauthammer?)

    By the way, I really don’t have a dog in the fight, as it were, on the question of the Washington Redskins being renamed – the owner of the Washington Bullets basketball team changed the name to Wizards after the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (he and Rabin were friends), so there is a precedent.


    I just think it’s a little funny that there’s such a brouhaha over the Washington pro football team, but I don’t hear a word spoken about the logo of the Cleveland, Ohio professional baseball team.

  • Finally (and sticking with sports, and minority rights) this tells us that last Friday was the 45th anniversary of the removal of Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 1968 Olympic Games after their “black power” salute.

    And as noted here

    (Today), that frozen, dramatic moment of 1968 resistance is far more likely to be celebrated than criticized. Smith and Carlos are now routinely lauded for their bravery and daring. As ESPN proclaimed bluntly upon giving Smith and Carlos their Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2008, “They were right.”

    No one was saying that in 1968. Amidst the angry denunciations, there was one column, published in the Chicago American newspaper, that was particularly ugly. The journalist responsible has never deigned to comment or explain, let alone apologize, for why he decided upon the words he chose. The writer became an iconic broadcaster who now sits comfortably as the elder statesman of the sports world. He appears in family friendly movies like The Waterboy and Cars 2. His name is Brent Musburger.

    In 1968 Musburger was a restless, ambitious young sports writer looking to make his name. He found his opportunity when Smith and Carlos made their stand. Musburger didn’t see a demonstration. He saw a target.

    “One gets a little tired of having the United States run down by athletes who are enjoying themselves at the expense of their country,” he wrote. Musburger then infamously called Smith and Carlos “a pair of black-skinned stormtroopers.”

    To this day, mention Musburger’s name to John Carlos and he grits his teeth. This is particularly illustrative because Carlos is fond of saying that he has no hate in his heart toward anyone even after all the isolation and criticism he endured. As he is fond of saying, “Bitterness leads to cancer which leads to death and I have too much work to do to have time for any of that.” Name a nemesis of his from 1968, like Jesse Owens or another member of the media and he responds with a smile and recounts how in private, they buried the hatchet. But not Musburger.

    “We are talking about someone who compared us to Nazis. Think about that. Here we are standing up to apartheid and to a man in Avery Brundage who delivered the Olympics to Hitler’s Germany. And here’s Musburger calling us Nazis. That got around. It followed us. It hurt us. It hurt my wife, my kids. I’ve never been able to confront him about why he did this. Every time I’ve been at a function or an event with Brent Musburger and I walk towards him, he heads the other way.”

    The actions of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Olympic Games long ago showed courage and fortitude. They knew full well the consequences of their actions, and they engaged in them anyway. It’s what real men (and women) do.


    And apparently, Brent Musburger, by his failure to owe up to his callow, hurtful words and deeds (for which he should have apologized long ago), doesn’t know a thing about the behavior of real men.

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    Monday Mashup (1/7/13)

    January 7, 2013

    (I know I’m a news cycle or two behind on some of this stuff, but this is the best I can do.)

  • It looks like I’m not the only one who thinks that PA Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett’s lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of Penn State isn’t a stinking dead dog of a case (here)…

    There have been a lot of embarrassing days for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and, by association, Penn State, but Wednesday was the worst of all.

    After months of trying to heal from the most horrifying scandal and cover-up in the history of American colleges and universities, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett undid a year’s worth of goodwill by announcing in a bizarrely timed news conference that the state is suing the NCAA to overturn the strong Jerry Sandusky scandal sanctions Corbett himself welcomed less than six months ago.

    The crux of Corbett’s case is that the unprecedented NCAA sanctions were “overreaching and unlawful” and an “attack” on the economy of the state.

    But, on July 23, 2012, Corbett welcomed the NCAA sanctions, saying, “The appalling actions of a few people have brought us once again into the national spotlight. We have taken a monster off the streets and while we will never be able to repair the injury done to these children, we must repair the damage to this university. Part of that corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed by the NCAA on Penn State University and its football program.”

    So which one is it, Governor? This couldn’t have anything to do with trying to convince football coach Bill O’Brien to stay at Penn State and not bolt to the NFL, could it? (Although, after that performance Wednesday, one would think O’Brien would know that ripping the scab off the terrible wounds at Penn State is the last thing that will encourage already wary recruits to commit.)

    Christine Brennan’s well-done article in USA Today also points out the following…

    The fact that Corbett has the audacity to say these things with a straight face is mind-boggling. One could even ask why he’s still the governor, because his actions – inaction, actually – played an integral part in the entire, horrifying Sandusky saga. Corbett was the attorney general when his office took over the Sandusky case in early 2009. As we know now, even then, there was plenty of graphic and stunning testimony from at least one young man, then known as Victim No. 1, not to mention the story of another victim that had been covered up for 10 years.

    Yet it took Corbett’s state prosecutors nearly three years to charge Sandusky.

    Nearly three years.

    And to answer the question Brennan poses above as to the real reason behind this utterly pointless lawsuit (to say nothing of a waste of taxpayer money), she tracks down one of the biggest pieces of the proverbial puzzle by pointing out that a certain Tom Corbett was indeed PA’s attorney general while the Sandusky monstrosities were happening. Also, as noted here, Corbett needs to shore up his base as they say for an upcoming gubernatorial re-election bid, trailing a generic Democrat 47 to 37 percent.

    USA Today also tells us that Corbett has yet to discuss the suit with incoming PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who is facing a bit of a test on this issue herself. If she caves and goes along, then that will speak volumes as to how much she truly cares about the rule of law versus political expediency (and let’s not forget that she stood mute during Corbett’s “fetal ultrasound bill” nonsense while her Dem challenger Patrick Murphy rightly stood up and decried another hateful right-wing stunt…for now, though, Kane deserves the benefit of the doubt).

    (Oh, and an update here tells us that Corbett first went along with the NCAA sanctions against Penn State but has apparently changed his mind because he didn’t have all the information in front of him at first, or something – no word in the story as to whether or not Corbett’s nose grew when he said that.)

  • Next, Jeffrey Goldberg concocted the following in the Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    Myth: Renewing the assault-weapons ban is the clear answer.

    By my definition, any device that can fire a metal projectile at a high rate of speed into a human body is assaultive. How deadly a shooting is depends as much on the skill and preparation of the shooter as on what equipment he uses. It may be beneficial to ban large-capacity magazines and other exceptionally deadly implements. But we shouldn’t be under the illusion that this will stop mass killings.

    I know of no one arguing that that is the case; the issue is trying to make it as difficult as possible for those killings to take place. And as Think Progress points out here

    One of the principal weapons used by James Eagan Holmes in the horrific Dark Knight Rises shooting would have been subject to a series of sharp restrictions under the now-expired federal Assault Weapons ban. The AR-15 rife carried by Holmes, a civilian semi-automatic version of the military M-16, would have been defined as a “semiautomatic assault weapon” under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. If the law was still in force, semiautomatic assault weapons would have been outright banned.

    The post also tells us that there were loopholes in the 1994 bill that allowed gun manufacturers to legally produce slightly modified AR-15s, though a 2008 bill closed them.

    The Inky piece above is a little less wanker-ific for Goldberg on this subject relative to his other tripe; as noted here about another gun column he wrote for The Atlantic…

    Goldberg’s macho obsession reveals itself further in the stories he tells of shootings in progress that were allegedly stopped by good guys with guns. It’s telling that in every single one of these stories, he seriously misrepresents the facts — check out (Salon’s Alex) Seitz-Wald’s piece for the details of this.

    In fact, in the real world, it is very rare for people to successfully defend themselves with guns when they are unexpectedly attacked; indeed, such attempts often prove counterproductive. Seitz-Wald has more on this, but I urge you to check out this fascinating video, which illustrates the general point. Overall, the serious health and safety risks of owning a gun almost always outweigh the negligible benefits. That is generally true at the individual level. It is definitely true on the level of society as a whole.

    And yet, Goldberg is simply incapable of thinking clearly on this point. Instead, he spouts libertarian gibberish and wanks off to macho fantasies about whipping out his penis substitute and blowing the bad guys away. Toward the end of the article, he writes, “I am sympathetic to the idea of armed self-defense because it does often work” (not!) and “because encouraging learned helplessness is morally corrupt.”

    Does Goldberg believe that the majority of Americans, including a large majority of American women, who do not own guns are “morally corrupt”? What, exactly, is “morally corrupt” about leaving the business of armed defense to the trained professionals in our police departments and military who make this their life’s work? Isn’t one of the fundamental reasons of forming any kind of government in the first place to provide for a common defense, instead of having to bear the totality of that burden all by yourself? Did Goldberg ever take political science 101?

    Maybe not, or maybe for Goldberg, common sense is merely a “suggested elective.”

  • Continuing, it looks like the corporate media campaign to proclaim the Speaker of the U.S. House as a Republican statesman of some type is kicking into overdrive, with Ross Douthat of the New York Times performing a bit of fluffery noted here.

    Aside from Douthat’s ridiculous attack on Chris Christie for “Governor Bully” rightly calling out Boehner for refusing to hold a vote on aid primarily to New Jersey and New York as a result of Hurricane Sandy, we also get this from the Times’ conservative quota hire columnist…

    …Boehner has done his country a more important service over the last two years than almost any other politician in Washington.

    That service hasn’t been the achievement of a grand bargain with the White House, which he has at times assiduously sought. Nor has it been the sweeping triumph over liberalism that certain right-wing activists expect him to somehow gain. Rather, it’s been a kind of disaster management — a sequence of bomb-defusal operations that have prevented our dysfunctional government from tipping into outright crisis.

    I think it’s hilarious to read this from Douthat as he utterly whitewashes Boehner’s role in contributing to “dysfunctional government” that has risked “tipping into outright crisis” (please note the following)…

  • Here, Boehner basically made noise to the effect that he would take the debt ceiling hostage again in upcoming negotiations, even though he said here that doings so in 2011 would lead to “financial disaster.”
  • Here, Boehner allowed another vote to repeal the health care law, this one from Moon Unit Bachman (Boehner could have put his foot down and said no, but of course he didn’t want to risk the almost-perpetual rage of the Teahadists).
  • This tells us that Boehner’s supposed “Plan B’ at deficit reduction would have cut taxes for the richest 1 percent of earners and raised them for the poor (as Atrios and many others have pointed out, the Repugs claim to care about the deficit, but in fact they want to use that as a cudgel to attack “New Deal” and “Great Society” social programs).
  • Here, Boehner said that there’s “no difference” if revenue comes from the middle class or the super rich (the latter has had a nice, cushy ride for the last 10 years at least).
  • Here, Boehner threatened filibuster reform, which is particularly funny since that has nothing to do with the U.S. House, but it is a matter for the U.S. Senate.
  • There’s a lot more I could get into about Orange Man and how he has done more than his share to contribute to the utter mess in Washington, but instead of listing it all, I’ll merely link back to here if you want to read further (and here is another example of Douthat acting as the press secretary for another Republican politician, perhaps the most infamous one of this still-new century).

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • And speaking of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, The Daily Tucker propagandized as follows recently (here, using the business of Fluffy Head bringing the illegal ammunition onto “Meet The Press” despite being warned by the D.C. police not to do so)…

    (David) Gregory’s soft-glove treatment of Obama stands in contrast to the media’s treatment of President George W. Bush in 2003, and especially before the 2004 election.

    Shortly before the 2004 election, Bush was slammed by numerous media outlets for not securing the large stockpiles of weapons in Iraq. For example, in late October 2004, the New York Times ran front-page articles about missing weapons from the Al Qaqaa, creating a mini media scandal.

    But before and after the 2012 election, Obama escaped scrutiny from the established media outlets.

    Number One, I don’t know what that previous sentence even means. Number Two, trying to draw a comparison between the attack in Benghazi which, tragically, claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others and the missing Al Qa’qaa explosives is particularly ridiculous. As Wikipedia tells us here (quoting from a Frank Rich New York Times column in May 2005)…

    It’s also because of incompetent Pentagon planning that other troops may now be victims of weapons looted from Saddam’s munitions depots after the fall of Baghdad. Yet when The New York Times reported one such looting incident, in Al Qaqaa, before the election, the administration and many in the blogosphere reflexively branded the story fraudulent. But the story was true. It was later corroborated not only by United States Army reservists and national guardsmen who spoke to The Los Angeles Times but also by Iraq’s own deputy minister of industry, who told The New York Times two months ago that Al Qaqaa was only one of many such weapon caches hijacked on America’s undermanned post-invasion watch.

    Staying with Number 43 for a minute, “The Pericles of Petticoat Junction” alleged here that Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi in Libya dismantled his WMD because Saddam Hussein did also. In response, this tells us that Gaddafi first said he’d do that in December 2003, when the debate about Saddam Hussein and his alleged WMD was still raging (more is here).

    And while we’re still on this wretched subject, Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo tells us here that Dubya is supposed to be such a humanitarian…please; I guess the wingnuts have given up on the “Bush bounce” at last and are merely settling for a “bump” at this point.

    In response, this tells us that, over a year since we left Iraq under the SOFA, there are still about 500,000 “displaced persons” (i.e., refugees) as a result of the war of choice in Iraq waged by President Obama’s wretched predecessor.

  • Finally (switching back to sports), this tells us that the NHL lockout is over, the third of its type over the 20-year reign of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

    I hope you’ll excuse me if I’m not bubbling over with joy at the moment.

    Of course, many “Stepford” Flyers fans in this area are deliriously happy at this moment, if the social media activity is any indication. They can’t wait for the orange-and-black to hit the ice again.

    Count me out (and I think this covers a lot of how I feel about this).

    Of all the professional sports leagues, the NHL can probably afford this type of a spat between players and management the least mainly because of the comparative pittance the sport generates in TV revenue versus MLB, the NFL or the NBA. And while I’m not totally enamored with the players’ role in this mess, it should be noted for emphasis that they did not strike during any of the three stoppages, but were locked out by ownership each time.

    And I guess it would make me a bit too much of a cynic to put out the possibility at least that maybe the owners decided to cave a bit because they realized they were losing too much money.

    It really gets me, though, that, as I said, there are far too many people in this area of the country who are just willing to let bygones be bygones and put down the dough for a ticket to a Flyers game like nothing ever happened.

    You know what? There are lots of venues for college or minor-league professional hockey out there that you can support if you love the game (the Trenton Titans for one are closer to my turf), and you won’t have to wonder if the entire league will shut down when it comes time once more to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. And you’re bound to have a seat closer to the action (ice hockey, on any level, remains a truly great live spectator sport).

    And that is all I will support when it comes to ice hockey for a little while. The NHL took all of the excitement and interest it has generated in the game to date (helped in no small measure by the great run of the Los Angeles Kings that led to their first-ever Stanley Cup win last season) and pissed it down the drain. Now they have to win me back (and firing Bettman would be a nice first step in that direction).

    I don’t like hostage taking when it comes to politics. And I certainly don’t like it when it comes to our professional sports also.


  • Wednesday Mashup (11/21/12)

    November 22, 2012

  • Yep, Thanksgiving will soon be upon us; one way to tell is that the Bucks County Courier Times ran its full-page ad for the Surplus City Gun Mart (well whaddaya know…a Yugo Zastava AK-47 PAP M70 is on sale for $675! Now here comes another angry comment thread started by a gun owner pissed off at me for not saying whether or not it was a full or semi-automatic).
  • Continuing, it looks like the punditocracy is still licking its collective wounds over the Repug election losses suffered two weeks ago – Ross Douthat opined as follows in the New York Times recently (here)…

    Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

    Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

    Yes, you only need government if you’re “assimilating downward,” according to Douthat.

    Apparently it’s necessary for me to point out that one of our major political parties subjected this country earlier this year to all kinds of fear mongering about the supposed horrors of contraception (and I’ll note that again later), which would definitely help to reduce teen pregnancy (here – sorry to re-inflict “Little Ricky” on everybody again), and that same political party did all it could do to oppose the DREAM Act, which would encourage educational opportunity for Hispanics born of undocumented workers as a condition of citizenship (with the “E” in DREAM standing for “education” – hard to believe that Orrin Hatch was a co-sponsor of the original bill introduced in 2001 with Dick Durbin). And here’s a hint; that party isn’t the Democrats.

    I suppose it’s just “the soft bigotry of low expectations” for Douthat to assume that the only way Hispanics would support the Dems would be if they were getting a handout, but apparently that’s what we have here (with that awful phrase coined by Douthat’s fellow traveler and Bushie Michael Gerson, who, if nothing else, saw the need to reach out to Hispanics for real, albeit for political expediency, in a way Douthat apparently does not).

  • Next, I give you some true hilarity from Michael Barone of Irrational Spew Online (here)…

    Barack Obama attended more than 200 fundraisers for his presidential campaign, but he refrained from raising money for congressional Democrats.

    That proved to be a wise move for him, as were his strategists’ decisions to run heavy ad campaigns against Mitt Romney and to build an even more effective turnout machine in target states.

    But it proved to be less than helpful to his party. Democrats did gain two Senate seats thanks to clueless Republican candidates and Republicans’ failure to produce better turnout.

    But Democrats got beaten badly in races for the U.S. House and state legislatures. That’s clear when you compare the number of House Democrats after this year’s election with the number of House Democrats after 2008.

    In response, allow me to add this, which tells us that the U.S. House Repugs lost eight seats and the Dems picked up eight seats from 2010 until now (incremental progress to be sure, but progress all the same).

    Also, I’ve read some of my lefty brethren, including the folks doing God’s work at Think Progress, decrying the fact that the Repugs gerrymandered congressional districts to favor their party’s incumbents (and as noted here, when you look at net vote totals, the Dems were chosen more than the Repugs, though not by much). I have no doubt that the gerrymandering charge is true, but the Dems aren’t completely innocent on this either, since, as nearly as I can tell, that’s what happened to the gone-and-definitely-not-missed Repug U.S. House Rep Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland (I’m not going to tell you the Dems are perfect, just that the Repugs are better at seizing power and holding onto it by any means necessary).

  • Continuing, Jon Meacham of Time tells us the following; namely, that Number 44 should try to imitate Number 3’s second term (here)…

    At his core, from year to year and age to age, Thomas Jefferson was a politician who sought office and, once in office, tried to solve the problems of his day and set a course for the future within the constraints of his time and place. That he often did so with skill and effectiveness is a tribute to his life and is, I think, the heart of his legacy.

    Far be it for me to criticize a towering intellect like Jefferson, but I will only note the following from here; namely, that Jefferson’s second term wasn’t particularly “ducky.” The biggest thing he did wrong was to try and institute an embargo in an effort to remain neutral in France’s war with Great Britain; the embargo failed, severely hurting the commerce of the northeast states, and by basically entering the Napoleonic Wars on the anti-British side, Jefferson’s actions paved the way to our involvement in the War of 1812.

    Every president in my experience who is elected to a second term faces some kind of travail, either of his own making or not. And believe me when I tell you that I don’t wish that on President Obama, since he has already inherited enough trouble without having to create any more.

  • Further, there are some on my ideological side who have quite rightly taken Charles Lane of the WaPo to task, but I’ve more or less given him a pass. That is, until now; here, he basically says that the income tax deduction for state and local taxes should be eliminated because it benefits “blue” states that “need to live within their means” (see, they have “their expensive urban school systems, bloated pension liabilities and all” – with “urban” being a code for those oh-so-bad Obama voters who “want stuff”).

    Of course, Lane doesn’t even take into account that, regardless of what happens with the budget and the Beltway “fiscal cliff” kabuki, “blue” states will end up paying most of the bill anyway (here). Also, here is an example of “red state socialism” that doesn’t do anything to help our finances either (and Lane, imagining himself as a supposed fiscal guru here, once claimed that cutting the minimum wage was a supposed means to stimulate job growth.

    (I’ll tell you what – I’ll just let Atrios, using that Twitter thingie, have the last word here.)

  • Finally, this Jim Treacher idiot over at The Daily Tucker tells us the following (here)…

    When last we heard from Sandra Fluke, she had parlayed the worldwide fame she earned by being insulted by Rush Limbaugh into a spot on the Obama campaign. Her public appearances have been very successful, with attendance numbers sometimes breaking double digits.

    I was going to try and paraphrase Treacher some more, but I’m not going to bother; putting it as simply as I can, he is criticizing Fluke for her claim that an unintended pregnancy can be a barrier to a career or educational opportunity (which, as noted here, ties into a Guttemacher Institute study that claims the very same thing).

    (Also, though I’m sure Treacher and his fellow wingnuts don’t care, I’m going to provide this link anyway, telling us that the U.N. has declared that contraception is a “human right.”)

    Beyond that, let’s not forget how Fluke ended up in the spotlight; as noted below from here

    Fluke, then a 30-year-old law student at Georgetown, was invited by Democrats to speak at a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the new Administration rules on Conscience Clause exceptions in health care.[20] The exception applies to church organizations themselves, but not to affiliated nonprofit corporations, like hospitals, that do not rely primarily on members of the faith as employees.[21] In addition, another exception was created for religious institutions in which an employee can seek birth control directly from the insurance company instead of the religious-based nonprofit.[22] Democrats requested the committee add Sandra Fluke to the first panel, which was composed of clergy and theologians. Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-California) refused, stating that Fluke lacked expertise, was not a member of the clergy, and her name was not submitted in time.[20][23] Democratic members criticized the decision not to include Fluke since it left that panel with only male members,[24] when the hearing covered contraception coverage.[25]

    So basically, if the Repugs had allowed Fluke to speak at the hearing instead of engaging in a typical hissy fit, then that probably would have been the end of it. But no.

    When I worked on the phones for President Obama and the Democrats a couple of days before the election, I had the opportunity to meet Sandra Fluke; she and Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood stopped by. It was hard for me to recall a more unassuming individual; if anything, she was effusive in her praise of our efforts and tried to downplay her own accomplishments. I made sure to thank her for standing up to Rush Limbaugh and the other blowhards on the right on the contraception issue, and if anything, she was embarrassed by my compliment.

    I started this post writing about Ross Douthat and his column about the Dems and Hispanics. And yes, it’s true that Republican alienation of this very powerful voting bloc had a lot to do with their losses on November 6th.

    But make no mistake that this bunch also lost because of their shameful, despicable words and actions to a hell of a lot of women in this country. And the Sandra Fluke case is Exhibit A on that sorry score.

    And if the Repugs choose to learn absolutely nothing and repeat their grotesque actions two years from now, then they will entirely deserve the electoral losses they will inevitably suffer once again.


  • Tuesday Mashup (7/31/12)

    July 31, 2012
  • I got a laugh out of this item from “Deadeye Dick” Cheney recently…

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney said President Barack Obama is “one of our weakest presidents” and worse than Jimmy Carter.

    “Obviously, I’m not a big fan of President Obama,” Cheney said in an interview that aired Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think he’s been one of our weakest presidents. I fundamentally disagree with him, philosophically. You’d be hard put to find any Democratic president that I’ve disagreed with more.”

    “Worse than Jimmy Carter, from your perspective?” ABC’s Jon Karl asked him.

    “Yes.”

    (Oh, and by the way, here is another example of journalistic malpractice from corporate media hack Jon Karl.)

    And one more thing – allow me to present the following in response:

    Approval rating upon leaving office (Jimmy Carter) – 34 percent
    Approval rating upon leaving office (Dick Cheney) – 13 percent

    I rest my case.

  • Further, I give you the following from some Fix Noise bimbette (here)…

    Warning: Bailout alert!

    The Obama administration has decided it’s time to spread the wealth some more, just in time for the election.

    Who’s getting it this time? Broke college grads.

    Obama’s team wants these borrowers to be able to wipe out their private student loans through bankruptcy.

    Again the administration is forgetting there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    Oh yes, how dare those mooching, in-debt college students go looking for a “big gumint” handout, right (oh, and by the way, “Foxies,” you can have more than one sentence in a paragraph).

    In response, please allow me to point out how the ruinous 109th Congress rewrote the bankruptcy law that is now devastating both credit card and student loan debtors, as noted here.

    Of course, anyone defaulting on their home, car or credit card payments can declare bankruptcy, cumbersome though that process now is, but students carrying student loan debt cannot. And Obama is merely trying to level the playing field (which, of course, is all it takes to start another round of wingnut harrumphing).

  • Silly in-debt college students – don’t they know that corporate “welfare” is the only type approved by Republicans?

  • Continuing, “Pope” Douthat whined as follows recently at the New York Times (here)…

    “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well … Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church. He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.”

    But Mrs. Obama’s words notwithstanding, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today.

    You can see this confusion at work in the Obama White House’s own Department of Health and Human Services, which created a religious exemption to its mandate requiring employers to pay for contraception, sterilization and the days-after pill that covers only churches, and treats religious hospitals, schools and charities as purely secular operations. The defenders of the H.H.S. mandate note that it protects freedom of worship, which indeed it does. But a genuine free exercise of religion, not so much.

    If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

    I think this commentary is particularly stupid considering the fact that the recent merger in these parts between Abington Memorial and Holy Redeemer Hospitals was canceled after widespread outcry among doctors, clergy, and community organizations (here)…

    “It was clear that the outrage and betrayal was felt unanimously throughout the hospital,” wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s OB-GYN program, in a letter they released after the meeting. “There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care.”

    Lisa Jambusaria of Los Angeles, who is in the final year of her 4-year ob-gyn residency training at Abington, said she would never have applied there if she had known abortions would be banned. Although the hospital performs fewer than 100 abortions per year, many involve women carrying defective fetuses that would not survive beyond birth, or women whose own health is endangered by the pregnancy.

    “We are one of the rare hospitals that provides these (abortion) services,” Jambusaria said. “We get these referrals all the time.”

    So, instead of resorting to typical right-wing polarizing language next time, why doesn’t Douthat actually base his argument in science, best medical practice and medical community need instead of ideology (yes, I know asking the question is futile, but I’m inclined to do it anyway).

    (And by the way, on the subject of belief and mental health, I’ll offer this and merely say that this is consistent with my own experience.)

  • Finally, I give you yet another example of why our corporate media, for the most part, shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    See (as noted here), “Chuckles” Krauthammer of the WaPo opined as follows recently…

    Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer took a victory lap Sunday evening after White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer’s claim that the White House did not return a Winston Churchill bust to the British Embassy was discredited.

    “I suggest Mr. Pfeiffer bring this to a short, painless and honorable conclusion: a simple admission that he got it wrong and that my assertion was correct,” Krauthammer wrote in a Sunday evening blog post. “An apology would be nice, but given this White House’s arm’s-length relationship with truth — and given Ryan Zimmerman’s hot hitting — I reckon the Nationals will win the World Series before I receive Pfeiffer’s mea culpa.”

    Oh, and by the way, as long as the Nationals were mentioned – yeah, as I type this, the Phillies are in full-sell mode and the Nats are clearly ascendant – I’d like to say something.

    First of all, good for the Nats…there are seasons of losing as well as seasons of winning, and the roles clearly are reversed at the moment. But the D.C. team should at least try to be gracious. By that I mean that they should stop their whining about those oh-so-bad-mannered Philly fans (I probably should have said this in May when the Phils last went there, though they’re slated to play there again beginning tonight). At least we came to watch you when you were lousy (and believe me that it isn’t easy to put up with New York or especially Boston fans at Citizens Bank Park, but we’ve gone along with it…their money is the same color as ours).

    So shut up and chalk it up to past history, OK? Nobody likes a winner with a chip on his shoulder.

    Now, back to Krauthammer – the following is noted in the Daily Tucker piece…

    It turns out there are two Churchill busts, one that had been in the White House since the 1960s and another that Prime Minister Tony Blair loaned President George W. Bush at the outset of the Bush administration. Pfeiffer admitted as much in an update to his blog post. Obama returned the loaned bust to the Brits when he moved into the White House, and the original bust was moved to the White House residence, where it is today.

    Do you want to know why Krauthammer refuses to give up on this, even though he is manifestly wrong? Because he was rooked into believing that the Obama Administration told the Brits what they could do with their bust of Churchill because of some nutball conspiracy theory by Glenn Beck, as noted here (namely, Beck circulated the urban legend that the return was an Obama Administration protest over Britain’s involvement in the Kenyan Mau Mau revolution of the 1950s).

    Wikipedia tells us that Charles Krauthammer is published in 275 newspapers and media outlets in this country. I can think of no greater evidence of the utter failure of our corporate media to educate and inform than that simple fact.


  • 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.


  • Monday Mashup Part One (6/28/10)

    June 28, 2010

  • 1) In response to this pic, I only wish to ask the following question…

    This is CNN?

  • 2) Also, Tyler Cowen of the New York Times wrote an entire column yesterday about our economy with not a single mention of this country’s chronic unemployment (here).

    Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, Paul Krugman gives us the following (here)…

    We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

    And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.

    In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven’t yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

    As far as rhetoric is concerned, the revival of the old-time religion is most evident in Europe, where officials seem to be getting their talking points from the collected speeches of Herbert Hoover, up to and including the claim that raising taxes and cutting spending will actually expand the economy, by improving business confidence. As a practical matter, however, America isn’t doing much better. The Fed seems aware of the deflationary risks — but what it proposes to do about these risks is, well, nothing. The Obama administration understands the dangers of premature fiscal austerity — but because Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress won’t authorize additional aid to state governments, that austerity is coming anyway, in the form of budget cuts at the state and local levels.

    And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.

    What a shame that those in the “pain caucus” such as Cowen, who seem to have no problem whatsoever with a national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, apparently can’t or won’t find an appreciation for the plight of those worse off than they are.

  • 3) And in the department of corporate media illogic, Ross Douthat of the Times tells us the following today about Afghanistan (here)…

    Advocates of a swift withdrawal tend to see Biden as their ally, and in a sense they’re right. His plan would reduce America’s footprint in Afghanistan, and probably reduce American casualties as well.

    But in terms of the duration of American involvement, and the amount of violence we deal out, this kind of strategy might actually produce the bloodier and more enduring stalemate.

    It wouldn’t actually eliminate the American presence, for one thing. Instead, such a plan would concentrate our forces around the Afghan capital, protecting the existing government while seeking deals with some elements of the insurgency. History suggests that such bargains would last only as long as American troops remained in the country, which means that our soldiers would be effectively trapped — stuck defending a Potemkin state whose leader (whether Hamid Karzai or a slightly less corrupt successor) would pose as Afghanistan’s president while barely deserving the title of mayor of Kabul.

    At the same time, by abandoning any effort to provide security to the Afghan people and relying instead on drone strikes and special forces raids, this approach would probably produce a spike in the kind of civilian casualties that have already darkened America’s reputation in the region.

    Shorter Douthat…

    We have to stay in Afghanistan and execute McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy, including rules of engagement that allow our people to get killed easier than they might otherwise, because if we pull out (and Heaven forbid we execute some cowardly li-bu-ruul strategy like that), we’ll just have to go back in and start all over, and in the process, kill more people than we are now. Is that about right?

    But just remember that Douthat tells us that “success is the only way out.”

    With all of this in mind, I give you the following from U.S. House Rep Dennis Kucinich (here)…

    In a little more than a year the United States flew $12 billion in cash to Iraq, much of it in $100 bills, shrink wrapped and loaded onto pallets. Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that “at least $9 billion” of the cash had “gone missing, unaccounted for.” $9 billion. Today, we learned that suitcases of $3 billion in cash have openly moved through the Kabul airport.

    One U.S. official quoted by the Wall Street Journal said, “A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen.” $3 billion. Consider this as the American people sweat out an extension of unemployment benefits. Last week, the BBC reported that “the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are funneling the money to warlords.” Add to that a corrupt Afghan government underwritten by the lives of our troops. And now reports indicate that Congress is preparing to attach $10 billion in state education funding to a $33 billion spending bill to keep the war going. Back home millions of Americans are out of work, losing their homes, losing their savings, their pensions, and their retirement security. We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war.

    Bring our troops home. End the war. Secure our economy.

    Amen to that.


  • More Race Ramblings And Douthat Delusions

    July 20, 2009

    ROSS-DOUTHAT-BILL-KRISTOL-largeI guess it took a well-deserved day off to Paul Krugman for the New York Times to finally allow print column space to its conservative quota hire columnist Ross Douthat (as you may recall, he got the nod when Kristol Mess – both pictured – finally gave up the editorial ghost on the pages of the “Old Gray Lady” last January).

    And since it is the habit of individuals of Douthat’s political persuasion to flog “values voter” issues absolutely to death while most of this country focuses on matters of actual substance instead, we are treated today to another rehash of the confirmation hearings last week of Judge Sonia Sotomayor and the perceived impact on race relations in this country (and by the way, Frank Rich’s column yesterday, which started off as a review of the hearings but ended up as an indictment of much of the Repug congressional “Class of ’94,” was one of the best columns he’s ever written).

    Thus, buried in Douthat’s column, we find the following…

    A system designed to ensure the advancement of minorities will tend toward corruption if it persists for generations, even after the minorities have become a majority. If affirmative action exists in the America of 2028, it will be as a spoils system for the already-successful, a patronage machine for politicians — and a source of permanent grievance among America’s shrinking white population.

    You can see this landscape taking shape in academia, where the quest for diversity is already as likely to benefit the children of high-achieving recent immigrants as the descendants of slaves. You can see it in the backroom dealing revealed by Ricci v. DeStefano, where the original decision to deny promotions to white firefighters was heavily influenced by a local African-American “kingmaker” with a direct line to New Haven’s mayor. You can hear it in the resentments gathering on the rightward reaches of the talk-radio dial.

    “The resentments gathering on the rightward reaches of the talk-radio dial” are indicative of nothing except whites who apparently need to have their feelings assuaged as their world of monotone politicians pandering to yesterday’s talking points, Faux News humanoids concocting real outrage over imaginary slights from an African American president, and unofficially restricted access to swim clubs and other bastions of suburban comfort collapse around them.

    More to the point, though, this article in the New Haven Independent tells us of the Rev. Boise Kimber, the “kingmaker” Douthat is referring to in his column (the article tells us the following)…

    At issue in Monday’s Supreme Court decision was whether Kimber is Exhibit A for how crude racial politics trumped merit and fairness in the case of the “New Haven 20.”

    Kimber clearly made an impression on the court.

    Justices Samuel Alito singled out Kimber in a concurring opinion to Ricci v. DeStefano, the case in which a 5-4 majority ruled that New Haven can’t ignore the results of a fire department promotional exam just because no African-Americans scored high enough.

    Alito, in an opinion also signed by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, noted that “even the District Court” (the lower court that ruled on behalf of the city in this case) “admitted that ‘a jury could rationally infer that city officials worked behind the scenes to sabotage the promotional examinations because they knew that, were the exams certified, the Mayor would incur the wrath of [Rev. Boise] Kimber and other influential leaders of New Haven’s African-American community.”

    The opinion proceeds to present a three-paragraph attack bio of the good reverend, going back decades over terrain familiar to Kimber’s New Haven critics.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who sided with the city in the case, takes on Alito’s Kimber-bashing in a dissenting opinion. She argues that Alito “exaggerates” Kimber’s influence and his role in “engineering” the outcome.

    She notes how Alito “recounts at length the alleged machinations of Rev. Boise Kimber (a local political activist), Mayor John DeStefano, and certain members of the mayor’s staff.”

    She then points out that neither Kimber nor the mayor’s staff made the call to disregard the exam results. The mayorally appointed Civil Service Board, “an unelected, politically insulated body,” in Ginsburg’s telling, made that decision.

    She calls it “striking that Justice Alito’s concurrence says hardly a word about the CSB itself, perhaps because there is scant evidence that its motivation was anything other than to comply with Title VII’s disparate impact provision.”

    And, she points out, the firefighters union — another politically influential group — was just as vocal on the opposite side as Kimber.

    “The real issue, then, is not whether the mayor and his staff were politically motivated; it is whether their attempt to score political points was legitimate (i.e., non-discriminatory),” Ginsburg writes. “Were they seeking to exclude white firefighters from promotion (unlikely, as a fair test would undoubtedly result in the addition of white firefighters to the officer ranks), or did they realize, at least belatedly, that their tests could be toppled in a disparate-impact suit?”

    (Another glorious moment from “Strip Search Sammy,” former “Concerned Alumni of Princeton” member…)

    And by the way, I had an issue with Douthat’s column last Monday, but I was not able to follow up on it because I had to close up shop for a few days. However, I can do so now.

    Douthat wrote about the third papal encyclical written by Benedict XVI titled “Caritas in Veritate” (translated to “Charity In Truth”) and among other things, tells us the following…

    When a pope criticizes legalized abortion, liberal Catholics nod and say that yes, they agree, it’s a terrible tragedy … but of course they can’t impose their religious values on a secular society. When a pope endorses the redistribution of wealth, conservative Catholics stroke their chins and say that yes, they agree, society needs a safety net … but of course they’re duty-bound to oppose the tyranny of big government.

    According to Wikipedia, Douthat is affiliated with the Catholic faith, which to me is odd considering that last sentence. I know of no teaching I have ever encountered or experienced in any way that affirms his claim that I am “duty bound to oppose the tyranny of big government.”

    This Wikipedia article tells us, among other things, that Catholic social activism was prominent in the early history of labor unions in this country.

    Also…

    More recent examples of catholic social justice in action is the Campaign for Human Development created in part as an outgrowth of the work of Msgr. Geno Baroni, who founded the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs (NCUEA). NCUEA spawned, funded and trained hundreds of parish, neighborhood and community based organizations, organizers, credit unions, and local programs. Baroni’s Catholic social justice in action included notable proteges, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-OH, currently the longest serving woman in Congress and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD. President Barack Obama’s first community organizing project was funded by the Campaign for Human Development.[2]

    So, far from opposing “big government,” I would say that Catholicism was very much a part of it, and for the better; also, this tells us of Father Robert Drinan, a Jesuit priest who served as a Democratic U.S. Representative from Massachusetts (he was the first member of Congress to introduce a resolution of impeachment against Richard Nixon, not for Watergate, but for Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War – Drinan was forced to step down when Pope John Paul II forbade members of the clergy from serving in public office).

    Douthat tells us that “‘Caritas in Veritate’ is an invitation to think anew about alliances and litmus tests” for both liberals and conservatives. That is indeed a worthy goal.

    It would be worthier still if the columnist himself practiced a bit of that himself before he compelled others to do so instead.


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