Autumn Glass wallpaper

colored glass

Autumn Glass wallpaper

US wasted billions in rebuilding Iraq

A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children’s hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets.

As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds has been wasted on these projects – more than 10 percent of the $53.7 billion the US has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.

That amount is likely an underestimate, based on an analysis of more than 300 reports by auditors with the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And it does not take into account security costs, which have run almost 17 percent for some projects.

The money spent on Iraq can be reported in a couple of ways. Both reminiscent of the movie War Inc. or an episode of the original Twilight Zone. There are success stories which include the building of new schools and hospitals. Much of the construction done by contractors, but military personnel sometimes pitched in or provided security so that projects could be completed. The irony is those schools and other projects were only necessary because neoconservatives and their minions in the media ginned up the case for war. A war supposedly required for the national security of the USA. Bush 43 invoked visions of mushroom clouds. Dick Cheney swore Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear program – one that had been dead since the late eighties and any dreams of such a future program by Saddam was wiped out by Clinton’s Operation Desert Fox. Thus Bush destroyed a country to rebuild it so premises that would make for an entertaining, yet unbelievable political thriller. Where were the marches by the tea nuts, the Palinites, the Beck-stanians and the let’s get  back to the roots of the constitution Sunshine Patriots. In the Right’s daily whining and rants about the descent of the US into tyranny – one never hears requests for accountability – either as such accountability pertains to the rationale for invading Iraq or the money that had disappeared down the memory hole. Whether they be your common variety wing-nut or the new improved tea wing-nut – they have the whole imminently pressing issue of Obama’s true religion, the  Marxist conspiracy to take over America and ending wasteful programs like Social Security in their sights, but the real betrayal of the United States by conservatives who sent neophytes  to do some of that there trivial nation building – Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq is completely and conveniently off the true conservatives radar,

To pass muster with O’Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn’t need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O’Beirne’s staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O’Beirne’s office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq’s government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance — but had applied for a White House job — was sent to reopen Baghdad’s stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq’s $13 billion budget, even though they didn’t have a background in accounting.

Conservatives are fed up, they’ve had enough, they are going to return America to the righteous – all because of health care reform that will save over 18,000 lives a year. Conservatives hope the rest of us do not care or have very short memories about the billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives lost because of their stellar knowledge of national security and public policy.

Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Sharon Angle, maybe next Alaska Senator Joe Miller and other tea smoking Constitutional enthusiasts, based on the most astoundingly toxic reading of history,  are sure doing away with Medicare and unemployment insurance are the key to returning the USA to the perfection that we somehow squandered.  No mention of the corruption perpetuated by the conservative movement and its wealthy benefactors.

“Calvin: Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?

Hobbes: I’m not sure that man needs the help”

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president.

Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government “handouts” to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics. Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.” That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today.

I watched the tea nut health care reform town hall videos. I watched videos from Beck’s rally. There is one constant to always keep in mind when trying to get at what conservatives stand for. They do not stand for the truth. They’re interested in being reassured whatever they believe is true. Those beliefs do not require the justification of facts in any way, shape or form. America’s conservatives are not the first political movement to think they were actors rather than puppets. There is obviously a personality type which enjoys manipulating and being manipulated. Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Glenn Beck, Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity and the run of the mill winger are all made for each other. We’ll never have a self-perpetuating energy machine, but we do have a self-perpetuating cycle of right-wing proto-fascist propagandists and followers.

Just so we’re clear: Dr. King vs Glen Beck, an info-graphic.

This is the Right’s new messiah – Glenn Beck becomes damaged goods, The radio phenom takes over the morning zoo, makes fun of miscarriages and flames out. Part 2 of 3

The animosity between Beck and Kelly continued to deepen. When Beck and Hattrick produced a local version of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” for Halloween — a recurring motif in Beck’s life and career — Kelly told a local reporter that the bit was a stupid rip-off of a syndicated gag. The slight outraged Beck, who got his revenge with what may rank as one of the cruelest bits in the history of morning radio. “A couple days after Kelly’s wife, Terry, had a miscarriage, Beck called her live on the air and says, ‘We hear you had a miscarriage,’ ” remembers Brad Miller, a former Y95 DJ and Clear Channel programmer. “When Terry said, ‘Yes,’ Beck proceeded to joke about how Bruce [Kelly] apparently can’t do anything right — about he can’t even have a baby.”

“It was low class,” says Miller, now president of Open Stream Broadcasting. “There are certain places you just don’t go.”

Antique Map of Italy 1573

Antique Map of Italy 1573

Pamela Geller’s of Atlas Shrugs has been of the more maniacal opponents of the Park 51 project to e located two blocks what has come to be called “Ground Zero”. Detective fiction buffs with some spare time might want to solve the mystery as to why Geller has been invited to appear on CNN, Fox and NBC among other media outlets to babble on about Park 51 and Imam Feisal Abdul. The only analyst or insight she seems to bring to the non-story is she hates Muslims and doesn’t understand why everyone else doesn’t have the same blind hatred she does. Geller has mastered the right-wing or Glenn Beckian art of tying together people and events in a manner that makes one gives thanks neither she or Beck are nuclear physicists. We’d all be dead, but at least there wouldn’t be a Muslim…or Quaker…Methodists…Hindu …any religious community center which did not pass their jack booted religious-patriotism litmus tests. If the game is degrees of separation between people who are up to no-good than Geller and Fox have some plain’n to do –  Fox News co owner funded Ground Zero mosque imam: report

The second largest shareholder in News Corp. — the parent company of Fox News — has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to causes linked to the imam planning to build a Muslim community center and mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, says a report from Yahoo!News.

According to the report from Yahoo!’s John Cook, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who owns seven percent of News Corp., “has directly funded [Imam Feisal Abdul] Rauf’s projects to the tune of more than $300,000.”

Cook reports that Prince Al-Waleed’s personal charity, the Kingdom Foundation, donated $305,000 to Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, a project sponsored by two of Rauf’s initiatives, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, which is building the Manhattan mosque.

[  ]….Cook notes that it was none other than News Corp.’s New York Post that reported on Prince Al-Waleed’s donation to Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow. He reports that Fox News had no comment for his article, and emails to the prince’s Kingdom Foundation were not returned.

This comes on heels of the news Karen Hughes, a Republican political adviser and Dubya’s Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs worked with Imam Feisal Abdul, but suddenly doesn’t remember who he is.

The National Review On-line typifies the right-wing tendency to latch on to an urban myth like a chew toy – At National Review, Avik Roy tries to explain in “A Non-Demagogic Disquisition on Death Panels” how conservatives are perfectly right to worry about this non-existent phenomenon

Not adding to the versimilitude: Roy throws in as a supporting example the end-of-life counseling document “Your Life, Your Choices” used by the Veterans Administration for years before Obama walked in the door. Roy thinks this example shows that the state can’t handle such delicate matters without trying to get veterans to kill themselves.

The Right was utterly silent during the Bush years when the VA was using the very same “Your Life, Your Choices” and that vets are directed to other source material about their medical care. Republicans feign concern that a vet, left free to make decisions for themselves, might make a choice that offends their finely warped sensibilities. On the other hand lying about WMD and sending over 4000 troops to their deaths they have no problem with. We’ll never hear the slightest apology from the Right for their participation in one of the most despicable political crimes of our time.

Wet Green Apple wallpaper

Wet Green Apple wallpaper

New Jersey state education commissioner, or as of this writing, former state education commissioner Bret Schundler signed up for membership in the hypocritical lying weasels party of his own volition. Thus signing up for the proposition that Social Security, Medicare, workman’s compensation and unemployment insurance were schemes cooked up by Satan and Stalin to destroy the United States. Even so, while he was employed as a political crony to New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie, Schundler did, we’ll assume, pay his taxes as a very well paid government employee. Thus on termination he has every legal if not moral right to collect unemployment. There are some other members of the lying hypocritical weasels movement who do not think well of those anti-American socialists who collect unemployment,

And to add insult to injury, major Republicans have derided the character of the recipients of unemployment benefits. NY GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Carl Paladino has suggested sending people receiving unemployment benefits to prison dorms, Nixon administration official and conservative pundit Ben Stein has complained that the unemployed are “unpleasant people…who do not know how to do a day’s work,” Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) suggested the jobless are “sitting back and waiting” instead of looking for work, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has claimed “welfare” is making the persistently unemployed lazy.

This is what happened to Schundler,

You’ll recall from Tuesday night’s TRMS that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie initially expressed willingness to take the blame for the mistake that cost his state as much as $400 million in federal education funds – though he did this while blaming Washington bureaucracy, Barack Obama and paper quantity.

But now the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that a new video reveals a lack of preparedness by state education commissioner Bret Schundler at a presentation to the U.S. Department of Education. Christie found offense in this so he ordered his chief of staff, Rich Bagger, to ask Schundler to resign.

The Star-Ledger further explains,

Ousted state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler today said he asked Gov. Chris Christie to be fired from the work he considered his “life’s dream,” rather than resign, so he could receive unemployment benefits to pay his bills.

Apparently Schundler, “once hailed as a rising star in conservative circles,” has gained a new appreciation for taking advantage of federal assistance.

Gosh and gee willikers this is odd. A Republican rising star Schundler asks to be fired so he can be a lazy unpleasant person who doesn’t know how to do a day’s work – in the words of his own political komrades – by anther Republican wunderkind Chris Christie, who was upset his state would not get funds from the federal government so his state’s budget wouldn’t tank. Rich Lowry at the intellectual flea pit known as The National Review On-line recently wrote of Chrsitie,

For adults, look to the statehouses. Look in particular to New Jersey and Indiana, where Govs. Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels are forging a limited-government Republicanism that connects with people and solves problems. They are models of how to take inchoate dissatisfaction with the status quo, launder it through political talent, and apply it in a practical way to governance.

So The NRO’s newly christened saint is not the pure do it yourself, anti-big gov’mint pull yourself up by the shiny medal thingys on your Gucci loafers conservative Lowry claims. Lowry advocates using Christie as a gold embossed template for how its done,

Christie has just concluded a six-month whirlwind through Trenton that should be studied by political scientists for years to come. In tackling a fiscal crisis in a state groaning under an $11 billion deficit, he did his fellow New Jerseyans the favor of being as forthright as a punch in the mouth. And it worked.

[   ]….He matched unyielding principle (determined to balance the budget without raising taxes, he vetoed a millionaires’ tax within minutes of its passage) with a willingness to take half a loaf (he wanted a constitutional amendment to limit property taxes to 2.5 percent, but settled with Democrats for an imperfect statutory limit). He’ll need an Act II to get deeper, institutional reforms, but New Jersey is now separating itself from those other notorious wastrels, California and Illinois.

Christie kneeled and saw the shining light that said thou shall not ask the millionaires of New Jersey for a small sacrifice we’ll just get the money from the federal government – you and me. Yes, absolutely, those interested in being weasel flim-flam artists should keep an eye on Lowry’s golden boy to see how it’s done.

Joe Miller Calls Senator Lisa Murkowski a Whore? (Updated). Miller was one of  Sarah Palin’s picks. They both seem to have the same demented sense of right and wrong. For the Millers and Palins of conservatism every little slight, every little bump in the road, is a monumental assault on them personally. I’ve read that Palin is going to star in her own reality show. What might be memorizing television is the sight of a group of right-wingers such as Miller, Palin, Sharon Angle,  Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), Ben Stein, Glenn Beck and Dick Armey on a Big Brother themed show where they could battle for title of biggest viscous loon.

Waxy Leaves with Rain Drops wallpaper

Waxy Leaves with Rain Drops wallpaper

“Ground Zero Mosque” Foes Bankrolled By Feds

President Barack Obama has declared that a group of moderate Muslims have the right to build a community center in lower Manhattan, two blocks from the site once occupied by the World Trade Center towers. Yet representatives of a wholly US government-funded outfit have joined the vociferous opposition to the Park51 or Cordoba House project that critics have dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” A leader of this group—which receives $4.3 million a year from the government—has even proclaimed that the community center could be a front for Islamic terrorism. That’s not all: the same agency, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCRIF), has been the subject of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint for allegedly discriminating against Muslim employees.

One of USCIRF’s was appointed by John Boehner ( the orange conservative from Ohio). Leonard Leo is a member of the extreme right Federalist Society. Leo is working with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Virginia Thomas is helping to organize rallies against Park 51. A Supreme Court justice’s wife is fighting and organizing against religious freedom. Conservatives really don’t get irony. The commission recently booted one Muslim member. Tax payers and fans of the Bill of Rights are both getting a kick in the teeth, and paying for the privilege.

Defending Public Safety Unions

Dan Foster has a new piece at National Review on the supposed problems caused by fire and police unions. It pins the blame for local and state budget deficits on public sector unions. And while it does make a few salient points about boondoggles, it uses some shoddy statistics to misidentify the source of deficit woes: Foster would have you think that public sector unions drive the fiscal problems in the states, but what we’re really seeing is bad fiscal management of public employee compensation, wage stagnation in the overall population, and evidence that unions are in fact a pretty good idea.

Start with the broader problems. Foster cites statistics that show state and local public-sector employees earn more than those in the private sector. But that’s an old straw-man: Once you control for factors like education and duties, you find that on average state and local public sector workers are paid 6.8 to 7.4 percent less than their private sector counter-parts…

Republicans have so much bizarre idiocy flying through the culture-sphere at all times its difficult to keep track of it all. Than once you pin something down, they just make up some more. They’re like a political petri dish of ever multiplying spores. Foster – using some deceptive numbers – which he probably took some effort to carefully massage in order to “prove” his case. What’s remarkable – in an abhorrent way – is how they won’t ever bother to come up with numbers which prove letting tax rates for those making over $250K revert back to about what they were under Saint Ronnie will hurt the economy. A fire fighter or a cop making a few dollars more a year which conservatives feel deeply in their black lying hearts is too much – that becomes something to start the shrill whining.

Another bizarre story driven by a silly tea smoking conservative:  Meet Bruce Majors: The Tea Partier Advising Beck Rally-Goers To Stay Off The Green And Yellow Lines

He’s organized protests online, and is the owner of the Tea Party Professionals group on Linkedin. He was also identified as a “LP [Libertarian Party] campaigner and everyone’s-facebook-friend” by a libertarian blog. He also appears to have written for the American Spectator, among other publications.

A frequent commenter on progressive blogs, Majors describes himself on his OpenSalon.com profile as an “Anarcho-capitalist revolutionary sharpening his guillotine.” On Talking Points Memo — where he was flagged with a “Troll Alert” and the subject to a lengthy profile — his bio states that he is “[l]ooking for employment as guillotine operator for citizens’ tribunal.”

Indeed, elsewhere in Majors ‘extensive online presence, there is a clear flirtation with violence as a political tool. In a Facebook note titled “We will remember in November,” Majors listed the names of all the members of Congress who voted for the Affordable Care Act — dubbed the “The Executioner’s List” — followed by a picture of a guillotine and accompanied by this call to action..

Bruce Majors

Conservatives keep claiming tea nuts are perfectly normal everyday Americans. I know that some of them are look outwardly normal enough because I know some. That doesn’t mean the wrapping doesn’t conceal the nutty nugget filling inside. Majors sells real estate – which apparently gives him too much free time. Regular trolling is not enough for Majors, he has stolen screen names to return to blogs where he has been banned for harassing  commentors.

First it was Google flirting with Verizon- Steve Jobs Is Watching You: Apple Seeking to Patent Spyware

It looks like Apple, Inc., is exploring a new business opportunity: spyware and what we’re calling “traitorware.” While users were celebrating the new jailbreaking and unlocking exemptions, Apple was quietly preparing to apply for a patent on technology that, among other things, would allow Apple to identify and punish users who take advantage of those exemptions or otherwise tinker with their devices. This patent application does nothing short of providing a roadmap for how Apple can — and presumably will — spy on its customers and control the way its customers use Apple products. As Sony-BMG learned, spying on your customers is bad for business. And the kind of spying enabled here is especially creepy — it’s not just spyware, it’s “traitorware,” since it is designed to allow Apple to retaliate against you if you do something Apple doesn’t like.

REPORT: Martin Luther King would have been on Glenn Beck’s chalkboard

Beck’s discussions of the rally’s supposedly crucial role in American history have included frequent invocations of the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King Jr. in particular. According to Beck, the rally will “reclaim the civil rights movement” because “Martin Luther King’s dream” has “been distorted” and “massively perverted” by progressives. In attacking the people he claims are “perverting” King’s legacy (i.e. progressives), Beck has suggested that he and his followers are the “inheritors and the protectors of the civil rights movement.” In Beck’s words, they will “take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place.”

Beck is completely rewriting history.

King forcefully advocated for drastic action by the federal government to combat poverty; supported “social justice”; called for an “economic bill of rights” that would “guarantee a job to all people who want to work”; and stated that we must address whether we need to “restructure the whole of American society” — all ideas that Beck has vilified.

Beck once claimed that anyone who took him seriously is an “idiot“, proving even a utter assclown will offer up some sage advice once in a while. Beck – conservative pundits in general – are like brilliant sociopaths in their reinvention of the snake-oil salesman. They’ve got a bottle of cure-all and if you buy it all the problems in the world will magically disappear. All liberals have on their side is facts, reason and caring about the average American.

Songwriter George David Weiss dies aged 89

US songwriter George David Weiss, who helped write chart-topping tracks such as Can’t Help Falling In Love and What a Wonderful World, has died aged 89.

The musician died of natural causes at his home in Oldwick in New Jersey, his wife Claire said.

Weiss also co-wrote songs which were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Elvis Presley.

Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World. He does a nice introduction which explains how one can see a wonderful world even amid all the ugliness.

Manhattan Reflections Skyline wallpaper

black and white wallpaper

Manhattan Reflections Skyline wallpaper

One of the first tactics conservatives and the tea nut subset of right-wing conservatives did to fight the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was to scare the grandparents – reform will kill grandma. This certainty about the great grandma plot was not just echoed by the usual gaggle of right-wing pundits and professional liars such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, but from supposedly the saner mainstream of conservatism Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sarah Palin. Seniors are great targets for unhinged rightie propaganda – they scare easily about money matters because as a group they are so economically vulnerable and as a group they are reliable voters. So with our rightwing tin foil helmets in place what is the next logical step in fighting the expiration of Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy? They’re going to bankrupt grandma and grandpa. Allowing the Bush Dividends Tax Cut to Expire for the Richest 2% Will Not Harm Seniors

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, chief economic adviser for John McCain’s presidential campaign and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, recently told the Senate Finance Committee that seniors at all income levels would be hurt if Congress did not make permanent the income tax cut enacted under George W. Bush for corporate stock dividends. As this report explains, only those seniors who are among the richest 2 percent of taxpayers will lose any portion of the Bush income tax cuts.
Nonetheless, Holtz-Eakin claims seniors at all income levels will be harmed. His argument is that corporations would stop paying dividends because the wealthiest individuals receiving them no longer would receive a tax break for them. The result, he argues, is that dividend income would decline for taxpayers at all income levels, particularly seniors. The former CBO director has overlooked the fact that two-thirds of the dividends paid by corporations are to tax-exempt entities, meaning they would have little, if any, incentive to change their practices for paying dividends.

Seniors, Stock Dividens and Taxes

Douglas Holtz-Eakin is also on record as saying this about Rep. Paul Ryan’s flimflam Road map – “I think it’s fabulous, it’s a great template for everyone that’s not just relying on smoke and mirrors.” If your thinking is based on a foundation of smoke and mirrors that makes it difficult to call it when you see it. Ryan’s road map is smoke and mirrors. Perhaps sadder than that, the Road map is the most serious Republican economic plan out there.

One of the benefits of being a Republican is you can just let go with your moral flaws. No pretenses about working toward being a better person.  Republicans fly their greed, moral failings, xenophobia and hubris like a badge of honor. Decoding Meg Whitman’s shout-out to New York – Did the candidate for governor just tell Californians that Wall Street wants her to win the election?

From 1998 to 2002, while she was CEO of eBay, Whitman helped steer millions of dollars of her company’s investment banking business to Goldman, court records show.

In 2001, Goldman put Whitman on its corporate board, paying her an estimated $475,000 for little more than a year of part-time service. The company also gave her insider access to the initial public offerings of hot stocks worth millions, according to the records.

Whitman left the board in 2002 after she was targeted in a congressional probe of bond underwriters and “spinning” — a financial maneuver, now banned, in which Goldman and other firms allegedly traded access to hot IPOs for bond business. Whitman later settled a shareholder lawsuit related to profits she and other execs made from buying the IPOs.

Meg Whitman crony capitalism seems a lot like that we find in many Republican millionaires – and yes a few conservative Democrats too – based on who you know, not how hard you work or even how well you play the game. Meg probably has misty day dreams of bringing back the culture of corruption that defined Republican leadership from 2000 until…. now.

Mama Grizzly Man Why the candidate of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express is losing in Alaska.

On Tuesday, in her home state, Sarah Palin’s favorite will probably get trounced. Joe Miller is widely expected to lose by a large margin to incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary—an embarrassing defeat for the former governor, who has endorsed Miller, but also to Miller’s other major backer, the Tea Party Express.

Miller was a virtual unknown when he announced his Senate candidacy in April. But his big political debut came in June when both Palin and the Tea Party Express endorsed him.

While Miller is a political unknown – OK he is a straight down the line far Right kook judging from his soundbite platform – I kinda fell sorry for him, having fallen in with a seedy bunch. The likely Republican senate nominee is going to be the  right-wing  Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski voted for the Bush-Republican TARP bail-out ( a Tea Nuts sin), but she did vote against  the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Oops Murkowski voted for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. One of President Obama and Democrats signature legislative victories, which is progressive and genuinely pro women – some might say feminist. So no wonder fake feminist Palin doesn’t like her.

update: ballots are still being counted but Tea But conservative Miller may have pulled an upset despite what the polls said. Senatorial candidate and Tea Nut fav Rick Scott ( another Republican trying to buy a senate seat spending $50 million just on the primaries against McCollum) – who could easily qualify as the photo for the picture for corruption in a pictionary won the Republican primary in Florida. Conservatives claim the new crops of right-wingers who are out right-winging the old guard wing-nuts are not extremists. Kind of depends on how one defines reality. The encouraging news for Democrats ( another view here) is those generic polls which supposedly show right-wing conservative ahead don’t mean that much. As of today Democrat Alex Sink would beat Al Capone Scott. Every Democrat runs their own race and most of the far right candidates – Nevada’s Sharron Angle, California’s Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina carry a lot of stinking baggage. What is the conservative answer, the great vision, the wise insight into solving the problems they created – Bush 2.0 plus some doubling down on the xenophobia. Never underestimate the Republican ability to gain traction on bizarre issues like Obama’s birth certificate, secret plots by Muslim imans ( that they paled around with) and trashing the Constitution in favor of Christian Sharia law.

Republicans and the Constitution. Putting Radical Ideology Above Facts and Reason

Republicans at work

Republican wing-nuts and the US Constitution

States may not make any law they like, ignore laws they do not. neither may groups of people – what Alexander Hamilton called mobs – inflamed by heated rhetoric or motivated by strong feelings are also not free to undermine the rights guaranteed to everyone.
The Supremacy Clause is a clause in the United States Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2,

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

Thus states are not in any way free to make laws that violate the 1st Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

Is Sharron Angle a Christian Reconstructionist? – A unified theory of the Nevada’s Senate candidate’s stranger musings.

Angle grabbed headlines in June when a radio interview surfaced, during which she suggested that if conservative Republicans can’t take back Congress, they may resort to “Second Amendment remedies” to fix the problem. When pressed on what exactly a Second Amendment remedy was, she dodged the issue and said her quote was taken out of context. In the past, Angle has gone beyond the usual vague talk about limiting federal government, suggesting we eliminate the Department of Education, Social Security, and Medicare.

In discussing religion, Angle often edges into the prophetic. When she was confronted about her unwillingness to support exceptions to an abortion ban even in the case of rape and incest, she said straightforwardly, “God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives.” She objects to laws that prevent pastors from endorsing candidates from the pulpit. Most interestingly, she claimed that entitlement programs of all sorts violate “the First Commandment,” and in case her point wasn’t clear, she elaborated in biblical talk: “We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government.”

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”  from the  Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11. Draft by Joel Barlow who served under Washington as a chaplain in the revolutionary army. Signed into law by President Washington.

TN-Gov: GOP Lt. Gov. opposes First Amendment for Muslim-Americans. No matter how many times one reads the 1st Amendment or read upside down and even backwards there is no freedoms when and where Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey feels like dispensing those freedoms on any given day.

Conservative Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty

“I want to share with you four ideas that I think should carry us forward,” Pawlenty said on Friday at the annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Committee, or CPAC. After invoking “basic constitutional principle and basic common sense,” he continued:

“The first one is this: God’s in charge. God is in charge … In the Declaration of Independence it says we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. It doesn’t say we’re endowed by Washington, DC, or endowed by the bureaucrats or endowed by state government. It’s by our creator that we are given these rights.”

Never mind Pawlenty’s fundamental and no doubt deliberate misreading of the founders’ intent. (Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, is well-known for having cut up a Bible to remove all supernatural references to Jesus.) How, in practice, does Pawlenty envision “God’s in charge” as a governing principle?

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.” –
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782. That doesn’t sound like someone that endorsed organized religion and the narrow interpretations of fundamentalists as a governing principle.

Republicans Conservatives and the 10th Amendment. They’ve always been a little obsessed with the 10th. One easy test of their devotion is the comparison to the low simmer when a Republican is president and their unhinged boil over when a Democrat is president. There are only two words required to understand the Right’s interpretation of the 10th – Civil War. It was decided – in a very bloody and decisive way State’s right were not whatever extremists dreamed up. Rally ‘Round the “True Constitution”

In a recent appearance with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann accused her colleagues of “forg[etting] what the Constitution says” because they are poised to pass comprehensive health-care reform. Not to be outdone, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told right-wing activists on a conference call last Thursday that health reform violates the 10th Amendment; he also called on state legislators and governors to “champion individual freedom” by resisting the bill. Two Florida lawmakers beat DeMint to the punch, having already introduced legislation to block health reform from taking effect in their state.

These efforts are all part of a movement whose members are convinced that the 10th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits spending programs and regulations disfavored by conservatives. Indeed, while “birther” conspiracy theorists dominate the airwaves with tales of a mystical Kenyan baby smuggled into Hawaii just days after his birth, these “tenther” constitutionalists offer a theory that is no less radical but infinitely more dangerous.

Tentherism, in a nutshell, proclaims that New Deal-era reformers led an unlawful coup against the “True Constitution,” exploiting Depression-born desperation to expand the federal government’s powers beyond recognition. Under the tenther constitution, Barack Obama’s health-care reform is forbidden, as is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The federal minimum wage is a crime against state sovereignty; the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local businesses.

Tenthers divine all this from the brief language of the 10th Amendment, which provides that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In layman’s terms, this simply means that the Constitution contains an itemized list of federal powers — such as the power to regulate interstate commerce or establish post offices or make war on foreign nations — and anything not contained in that list is beyond Congress’ authority.

The tenther constitution, however, reads each of these powers very narrowly — too narrowly, it turns out, to permit much of the progress of the last century. As the nation emerges from the worst economic downturn in three generations, the tenthers would strip away the very reforms and economic regulations that beat back the Great Depression, and they would hamstring any attempt to enact new progressive legislation.

Such retreat to fringe constitutional theories is one of the right’s favorite tactics during times of historic upheaval. The right-wing South justified both secession and the Civil War on the theory that the Constitution is nothing more than a pact between sovereigns that each state is free to leave at will. In the immediate wake of Brown v. Board of Education, 19 senators and 77 representatives endorsed a “Southern Manifesto,” proclaiming — in words echoed by modern-day tenthers — that Brown “encroach[es] on the rights reserved to the States” because the “Constitution does not mention education.”

Health care reform – Obamacare if you will – was modeled on a similar plan drafted by the Right-wing Heritage Foundation. Even the knuckleheads at Heritage knew it was constitutional under the Commerce clause and the “takings” clause did not apply because similarly ( though not exactly alike) a citizens pays for health insurance ( from the private sector mind you) and is compensated with health coverage. You pay for Social Security insurance and in exchange you have insurance that you will have some kind of income when you retire even if, you know, the economy crashes because of bad managers.

Republicans have also developed a new fetish for tinkering with the 13th Amendment, Iowa GOP Supports Amendment To Strip Obama’s Citizenship Because He Won The Nobel Peace Prize

At its state convention in Des Moines last month, the Iowa GOP adopted a new party platform that includes the repeal of mandatory minimum wage laws, the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education, and even clarification on the definition of manure. Out of the “387 enumerated planks and principles,” Newsweek’s Jerry Adler found the most “startling” section of the platform calls for “the reintroduction and ratification of the original 13th Amendment.”

Adopted in December 1865, the current 13th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits “slavery” and “involuntary servitude” in the United States or any place under its jurisdiction. The Iowa GOP is not trying to overturn this amendment to reinstate slavery. Instead, it wants to reintroduce the “original 13th Amendment” first offered by senator Phillip Reed of Maryland in 1810. The amendment states that “if any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honor” from a “foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen” and “shall be incapable of holding any office of trust.” In receiving only 12 out of the 13 votes needed for ratification, the amendment was never adopted.

Adopting the never adopted portion of the 13th. By 1993 alone over 314 Nobel prizes have been awarded to U.S. citizens for every category including chemistry, physics, peace, economics and literature. Under the Right-wing Thirteenthers’ plan all would lose their citizenship.  Since that would dovetail with the general contempt modern conservatives have for the arts and sciences, the attitude is not much of a surprise.

The 16Amendment, ratified in 1913 ( despite any wacky conspiracy touted by right-winger Groover Norquist) allows for Congress to levy an income tax. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) – among many right-wingers – thinks we should repeal the 16th. What makes Broun special is he belongs to a subset of the anti-tax crowd who believes the 16th was part of President Woodrow Wilson’s devious plot to turn the U.S. into a socialists dystopia. Federal taxes are used to make grants for medical research, the space program, police and nurse training and so long. It is not like the average American citizen does not get a return on their dollar. The internet started as a government – tax payer funded research program – involving DARPA and university professors. Internet advertising alone – not including the purchase of products over the net – produced $300 billion dollars in revenue and 3.1 million jobs for the U.S. economy in 2009.

Like the tenthers the seventeenthers passion for repealing the 17th Amendment tends to ebb and flow. They’re like children that really want a lolly poop one minute and don’t the next. The 17th increases the amount of democracy we have by allowing for the direct election of federal senators instead of having them appointed by state legislatures. How democracy is increased by taking away that right only the mental back-flips of the right-wing mind could rationalize. Besides taking away another democratic component to our government, repealing the 17th would be counter productive to what the extreme right thinks it will give them – more power, Department of Colossally Stupid Ideas: Repeal 17th Amendment

What I want to point out is how patently stupid repealing the 17th Amendment would be for Republicans and conservatives–and yes, tea partiers–based on a simple fact: Democrats have long dominated the control of state legislatures. And they currently enjoy a level of dominance unlike they’ve experienced since the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Around the fringes of the 17th repeal argument is the assertion that it would take a lot of the corrupting influence of special interests money out of the process. That money would just take a different route. Probably the best way to get money and special interests out of senate races is campaign finance reform and public financing – so no one, such as California’s conservative Carly Fiorina – cannot buy herself a senate seat. Republicans are consistently against taking that most corrupting element out of our election process.

Conservative pundit Laura Schlessinger and supporter Sarah Palin believe in free speech protection, but only for themselves. Any criticism of what they say – you exercising your rights – is a subversion of the Constitution. Its the mad house interpretation of the constitution. Sarah’s husband Todd – who used to belong to the treasonous Alaska Independence party believes in his and his wife’s free speech, but will tear down any expressions of speech that are critical of them. Palin is also a member of the Sharon Angle don’t need no constitution club, just need some of that old time Christian Sharia law – Sarah Palin Claims America is Based on the Bible Not the Constitution

The never-ending saga of Sarah Palin’s infringement upon our national discourse took a turn for the worse (as if that were possible) last night. Palin appeared on “The O’Rielly Factor”, during which she doubled down on her theocratic vision of America by claiming that the Founders intended for our laws to be based on the bible and the ten commandments.

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.” from James Madison’s essay titled “Monopolies”

Black and White Summer Clouds wallpaper, Western Sky wallpaper

black and white art

Black and White Blooms and Summer Clouds wallpaper

Western Sky wallpaper

The librul media at the L.A. Times is running this blatantly deceptive headline for a column – Obama now blames poor job numbers on congressional inaction. Wait! His party runs Congress

According to the president, he’s been “adamant” with Congress for months now about a new jobs bill to help small businesses. Obama says this really good bill is stalled in the Senate, where so much administration legislation has been crammed through so effectively by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid’s been so good at it, in fact, that he’s now running for his political life in a reelection campaign back in Nevada where Obama’s legislation is not so popular.

This us assume this writer’s pants did not burst into flames when he wrote this column. That leaves us knowing for a fact  – just like most conservatives – he has no idea how Congress works. A Republican minority and a couple of Democrats were able to kill the public option in health-care reform. Senate Republicans are holding up a major jobs bill with the mere threat of a filibuster. Some details of Senate parliamentary procedure can be pretty arcane but even your average numskull conservative media hack should have been able to figure this one out. That actually leave the last paragraph to RNC chair Michael Steele – who just woke up from that coma he’s been in since 1999 –

The administration’s “Recovery Summer” has been an epic failure and it is way past time for the White House to be straight with the American people and admit that an $862-billion stimulus did not do what was promised. It is clear that the Democrats’ strategy of reckless spending, ballooning deficits and higher taxes are not the answer and that we need to pursue Republican pro-growth solutions to get our economy back on track.

It was eight years of reckless spending, reckless tax policies, reckless foreign entanglements, reckless monetary policy, reckless enforcement of regulations and reckless management of the economy that left a disaster for Obama to fix. What day is it we can expect Conservatives to have an epiphany and start acting like mentally cogent adults. Steele and the L.A. Times hack are a reminder for those feeling a little down about the midterm elections. If moderates win we win. If right-wingers win, we win. If Democrats keep a bare majority in either house we’ll still get a little progress. If Republicans – who are counting their chickens as I write – win than they get a larger share of the blame for pushing the country back to the disastrous economic policies that got us to where we are today. We can all agree to disagree on many of the particulars of Obama’s economic initiatives, but overall he had to act and he did save the economy from being far worse off than had he sit on his hands and done nothing – If only Obama had …

See if this structure seems familiar to you: Over the past two years, Barack Obama has done X. Now, his poll numbers have slipped to 44 percent. His party is slated to lose a lot of seats in the 2010 midterms. Obama’s decision to do X is to blame.

“X” can be a lot of things. Maybe it’s the decision to attempt health-care reform. Or his socialist tendencies. Or his cool, professorial demeanor. In Matt Bai’s latest article, John Podesta says it’s Obama’s pursuit of an ambitious legislative agenda. If he’d spent less time passing legislation, he could’ve spent more time developing and selling popular themes. In John Judis’s latest article, it’s the absence of populism in Obama’s speeches and policies.

The problem with the essays is that they don’t consider the counterfactual. What if Obama had done not-X? Would things really be better for him?

Ezra’s poll number comparisons show President Obama doing well compared to Reagan and Clinton. Considering he is rebuilding the house Republicans burned down President Obama aint’ doing too bad. Republicans want the public to believe they have put away the matches and they’ll behave themselves this time. Circus master P.T. Barnum once said there’s a sucker born every minute.

Primary losses dull Palin’s “mama grizzly” claws – Endorsements for candidates in Washington, Georgia and Kansas ushered her “cubs” straight out of contention

It’s been a summer of setbacks for Sarah Palin. Candidate “cubs” endorsed by the Mama Grizzly in Chief have been suffering a recent string of primary election losses.

The Republicans’ 2008 vice presidential nominee promised a pack of “mama grizzly” candidates would rise up and defeat Democrats in this November’s elections. But office-seekers she supported in Kansas and Washington state lost their primaries despite her high-profile endorsements. And Karen Handel lost her runoff contest for Georgia governor a day after sharing an Atlanta stage with Palin.

Now, Alaska’s Senate primary on Tuesday is shaping up as an embarrassing defeat in her own backyard. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is expected to dispatch the challenger Palin has endorsed in the Republican contest.

Palin says it is not about picking winners. Kind of a weird admission that it is all a game and as long as her  celebrity status keeps bringing in the millions from wing-nut welfare that’s all that matters. It will probably dawn on her or one of her handlers that she confabulated some more words and meanings and they’ll issue a clarification which will need to be clarified.