Snow Frosted Winter Tree wallpaper

winter holiday wallaper

Snow Frosted Winter Tree wallpaper


The evidence for the Republican war on the economy, our core American values and the middle-class keeps piling up, Beck And FreedomWorks Campaign Against Fred Upton: ‘Light Bulbs Are Just The Beginning’. In which it is no wonder that sites such as Think Progress and Media matters have full time employees. The delusional Right has so many myths you need full time crews just to keep track of them. I was aware they hated energy saving light-bulbs. It also turns out they have a full blown urban myth about incandescent light bulbs.

There was, in fact, no bill to ban incandescent light bulbs. Because of the advanced light-bulb standards Upton helped pass in 2007, “the incandescent bulb is turning into a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation,” the New York Times reported last year. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”

What happened to the right-wing meme of letting the market decide. Conservatives till think the market should decide – you know, whatever they tell the market to decide. Those Americans interested in saving on their utility bill by buying energy saving products are being sucked into the vast left-wing conspiracy to save them a few dollars. As TPro notes Republicans are bucking an economic and cultural shift that would create thousands of new jobs and prepare America to compete in the global economy for the next century,

The Tea Party movement is increasingly attacking American innovation and 21st-century jobs on all fronts: Rush Limbaugh is leading the charge against the breakthrough Chevy Volt, Republican governors are killing high-speed rail, Glenn Beck is cooking up conspiracy theories about smart grid technology, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is trying to kill the wind industry, and the entire right-wing movement is convinced green jobs are going to destroy the United States economy.

Like most high school kids I had to read Moby Dick. We got into a discussion about the late 19th century whaling industry and whale oil. Commercial whalers fought the restrictions on whaling. If whalers had been allowed to continue their old ways instead of innovating and finding alternatives, eventually whales would have been hunted to extinction and the whaling industry would have collapsed. The whales gone, we would have panicked as we found new oil sources for oil lamps and bones for corsets. Modern conservatives want to put the nation in the same position with energy. They want us to stay mired in old unsustainable energy sources until we reach the panic point of unaffordable and unhealthy fossil fuels. They’re the modern whale bone corset party.

What was the great legacy of eight years of trickle down conservative economics? More poverty and less growth.(pdf)


Republicans - The Party of Poverty




While I have some reservations about Wikileaks thus far the current document dump is not reviling all that much. Even the Korean missile sales to Iran were not shocking for those keeping up with arms control issues. Marc Lynch, who has been an expert on the  middle-east for years has not found anything to rise the roof. This is not to say the documents are not a fascinating treasure trove for policy wonks,  WikiLeaks and the Arab public sphere

I don’t think that there’s going to be much revision of the American foreign policy debate, because most policy analysts have already heard most of what’s in the cables, albeit in sanitized form. The cables still generally confirm the broad contours of what we already knew: many Arab leaders are deeply suspicious of Iran and privately urged the U.S. to attack it, for instance, but are afraid to say so in public. I haven’t seen anything yet which makes me change any of my views on things which I study — the cables show Arab leaders in all their Realpolitik and anti-Iranian scheming. I never thought that Arab leaders didn’t hate Iran, only that they wouldn’t act on it because of domestic and regional political constraints and out of fear of being the target of retaliation, and that’s what the cables show. I’ll admit that I’m finding a wealth of fascinating details filling in gaps and adding information at the margins. Nobody who follows regional politics can not be intrigued to hear Hosni Mubarak calling Iranians “big fat liars” or hearing reports of the astoundingly poor policy analysis of certain UAE royals. This will be a bonanza to academics studying international relations and U.S. foreign policy comparable to the capture of Iraqi documents in 2003 (I wonder what norms will evolve about citations to these documents, which the U.S. government considers illegally released?).

Marc notes any real percussion are likely to be in the middle-east. I’m not so sure, other than some embarrassment. The Saudis and most of the other middle-east leaders that do not trust Iranian leadership are Sunni and/or Arab, as most Muslim are. The Iranians are Persian and Shia. The tension between the two groups is only a few centuries old. Iran is thus well aware they are surrounded and out numbered. What I do find stunning is the Right’s use of Muslim leader opinions as moral and strategic justification for nuking Iran. Conservatives had decided all Muslims are part of a terrorists cult until they needed their confidential cables to use as justification for mass murder. Arms Control Wonk also seems to find the leaks less than earth shattering, Wikileaks and “CableGate”

Although Wikileaks claims the cache of purloined cables “reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors,” I am not so sure.  Indeed, what I am struck by is how close the agreement is between what the United States says in public and in private.  Sure, cables are candid — such as when speculating on Muammar al-Qadhafi’s fondness for a certain “voluptuous blonde” — but certainly not scandalously so.  To put it another way, I can’t imagine another government that could suffer 250,000 prejudicially chosen cables being posted on the internet and come off looking more sober, professional and pragmatic.

I have not gone through them all ( overwrought header but a Cliff notes version here  – Bomb, Bomb Iran: The Top 5 Most Shocking Things About The Wikileaks) there has not been anything leaked which either has not been published in some form some where or which would not be published by most news outlets. In other words no one deserves to be executed despite the bed wetting of the usual suspects, WikiLeaks: The four most extreme calls for retribution

1. Even before the latest document leak, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was on television claiming  WikiLeaks presents “a clear and present danger to America” and touting the necessity of classifying it as an official terrorist operation under the Espionage Act. That declaration would allow the government to “seize their funds” and eventually shut the organization down. Fair to say, King wants that declaration.

[  ] …4. Calling Assange an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands,” Sarah Palin wrote  on her Facebook today that the WikiLeaks founder should be “pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda.” Whether that means dead or alive is unknown, but, for what it’s worth, there is no proof Assange’s actions have led to violence. Details, who needs ’em?

These people’s ideological cousins can be found in the lynch mob in the Ox-Bow Incident. Start hanging everyone now. No need for evidence.

In Which I Become a Conservative

Ross Douthat, an Atlantic alumnus, contends in the NY Times that the recent controversy over “enhanced” TSA procedures illustrates the dominance of partisan reflex in today’s politics. Liberals complained about excessive state power when Bush and Cheney were in charge — but now they’re happy, and it’s conservatives up in arms about the excesses of Obama, Biden, and ‘Big Sis.’ EG

Douthat – to cut to the chase – is a lying sack. Liberals as a group find the new TSA screenings an intrusion on privacy and counter productive. More here – False equivalence troops, attack!

With the recent TSA controversy, many right wingers who got full of themselves as warriors for liberty and justice, fighting the battle for white people’s civil rights to demand that only other people get man-handled at airport security.  They would prove that they totally love liberty, and all that Tea Party shit was about revolution, not about them wishing that they could live when women couldn’t vote and slavery was legal.  The only problem with this is that liberals were there first—all these freedom fighters who wanted to complain and perhaps sue had to go to the ACLU, that organization they usually condemn with all their liberty-loving ways.  Liberals were there first, they believe those rights belong to everyone, they are always fighting for them no matter who is President, and they tend to care about civil liberties even when Fox News isn’t pointing their nose in a certain direction.

Liberals still push back against Bush era polices. The outrage has died down only because most of the avenues to curtail the worse abuses – aspects of the Patriot Act, indefinite detention for anyone designated an “enemy combatants” and so forth have been thwarted by the administration’s use of “national security” to block any investigation and lawsuits. What is ironic is Douthat and his bed wetting comrades who have suddenly discovered unreasonable trespasses against our civil liberties, not only defended those of the Bush administration but pulled all the usual – disagree with a conservative and you’re anti-American bull hockey. The opposite is usually true. If you disagree with radical authoritarians like Steve King, Sarah Palin and Ross you’re probably a darn patriotic American who doesn’t think the Constitution allows too much freedom.


Antique Map of Europe circa 1595, Petty Palin

Antique Map of Europe circa 1595

Sarah Palin’s gaffe in which she refereed to North Korea as our allies was reported by the press. The press should have known better. Everyone’s gaffes – at least any made by Democrats – are grist for the daily spin machine. Most of the Democratic bloggers who bothered to post about the gaffe formed an echo: let’s give her a pass. Hey, we call misspeak once in a while. A perfectly appropriate response. Yet for the half term governor from Alaska and failed VP candidate of 2008, the 11th commandment – thou shall not say or report anything negative, nor engage in debate with Sarah Palin – had been violated. She quickly rolls out a post on Obama’s gaffes. Should anyone care to navigate to her original FaceBook post the self-righteous indignation virtually jumps from the screen. Mess with Sarah Palin. Report what she said per verbatim. How dare the lamestream media do such a thing. There is a little problem with Palin’s latest siren call to living martyrdom. She culled all those gaffes from the self-same media reports on Obama. No gaffe goes unnoticed. Democratic bloggers and pundits; generally gracious. Palin high on petty rage: not so gracious and set on vindication far out of proportion to the perceived wrong. Whether from personal memory or a reading of modern history who does Palin remind you of? There are several good candidates. Nixon will do. Nixon with Lipstick

What’s the difference between Richard Nixon and Sarah Palin? Lipstick. (Well, that and military service, graduate education, a keen intellect, years of national political experience and a proven grasp of policy foreign and domestic.) But as a fellow “serial collector of resentments”, the half-term Alaska governor is Nixon’s heir. When it comes to the paranoid style, the politics of payback, the perpetual war on the press and the championing of “real Americans” versus supposed elites, the Mama Grizzly is the second coming of Tricky Dick.

On Thanksgiving of all days, Sarah Palin was her Nixon best in attacking the president and the press. Furious about the understandable media reaction to her gaffe about “our North Korean allies,” the pitbull in lipstick took to Facebook to again complain that the media did not show “some consistency on this issue” and “completely makes things up without doing even rudimentary fact-checking.”

Someone once said that frequently the worse thing a journalist can do to someone is report what they actually said. In this case that seems to be Palin’s problem. She made a gaffe which most people would have forgotten as soon as they heard it. Palin gives the story legs. She gives the public yet more insight into how her sense of self, her priorities and paranoia fuel her politics. if she had not made the gaffe all she would have said – in her own corrected version when the gaffe was caught on-air – was the U.S. should stand by its allies, the South Koreans. Pretty boiler -plate yawn inducing response. One which few would disagree with save the old John Bircher right and right-wing libertarians. Palin seems to be relating to the public, navigating public policy and striking out in the same way her daughters conduct their flame wars on FaceBook. We have a grown woman who really thinks life is high school. Not similar to high school in some ways, but with all the petty vindictiveness. Americans, as the tea nuts town hall rage-athons of 2009 are testimony, are used to speaking their mind. Palin seems, like Nixon, to believe she has the right to speak hers, but not anyone who doesn’t belong to her special clique. She recently called the Bush’s blue bloods. Blue bloods another word for elite. The elites, the blue bloods, are a clique. One clique at war with another. Will the Palin presidency include toilet papering the houses of her political opponents.

Obsessed much? In her new book Palin mentions President Obama 44 times. 5 Lessons of Palin’s New Book, ‘America By Heart’

* Wants to Repeal the 16th Amendment?  Salon’s Justin Elliott muses over “her apparent opposition to the federal income tax, along with the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which allowed for the present-day income tax and was passed in 1913. Given that some 45 percent of government revenue comes from the individual income tax, this is a fairly radical position for Palin to take. She includes the 16th Amendment in her description of unjustified federal power grabs.”

* Doesn’t Get Black American History  The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen sighs, “She reportedly takes Michelle Obama to task for her supposedly infamous remark from the 2008 campaign: ‘For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.'”

It’s appalling that Palin and too many others fail to understand that fact – indeed so many facts of American history. They don’t offer the slightest hint that they can appreciate the history of the Obama family and that in Michelle’s case, her ancestors were slaves – Jim Robinson of South Carolina, her paternal great-great grandfather, being one. Even after they were freed they were consigned to peonage, second-class citizens, forbidden to vote in much of the South, dissuaded from doing so in some of the North, relegated to separate schools, restaurants, churches, hotels, waiting rooms of train stations, the back of the bus, the other side of the tracks, the mortuary, the cemetery and, if whites could manage it, heaven itself.

The tendency to criticize without offering any substantial alternatives is also high school. The world after high school is not that much more demanding in some ways, but simply bashing something without a plan to replace a complex system you’d ditch is where the adults come out to play. Palin needs to bring a better game to be taken seriously by anyone but her genuflecting base.

Palin is not much different from your basic Nixon-Bush model conservative when it comes to history and placing current events in context. To be taken seriously, first she’ll have to stop drinking Glenn Beck’s toxic punch of historical revisionism. Than prove is she capable of being genuinely able to empathize with people who do not live in the same bubble of denial.

More Retro Santa Claus art

Santa Seasons Greetings

Jolly Santa with gifts

Santa Claus ask if they have been good this year

Santa Claus at the window. Have to make sure the kids are asleep.

Santa Claus gift for little girl

Some without Santa that might make nice e-greeting cards. Those who are thinking of using any of these for print might want to see your photo editor to change the color settings from RGB to CMYK. The colors print slightly better that way .

Santa and a holiday wish come true

Blank retro holiday card

Children holiday sleigh ride

Blue and Black Old Clock wallpaper

time wallpaper

Blue and Black Old Clock wallpaper

Katrina vanden Heuvel in The GOP: Gobbling up our blessings – seemed to simply be repeating the fact that Republicans are trying to have their cake and your cake too when it comes to extending the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthy while also claiming the deficit should be our major priority. While that bizarre contraction is par for the course for Republicans. It is old news. She adds a twist by noting that one of those nearly extinct Republican moderates thinks keeping those cuts is a poor way to stimulate the economy,

The top 1 percent of Americans captured a staggering 66 percent of all income gains over the past decade. America’s inequality is now at record extremes. And, as the independent Congressional Budget Office and John McCain’s economic adviser, Mark Zandi, agree, providing tax cuts for the rich is the least effective way to boost the economy. The beneficiaries tend to save the money, invest it in growing markets abroad, or worse, throw more into the financial casino now reopened on Wall Street, fueling the computerized hyper-speculation that has nothing to do with productive investment.

At the same, the human toll caused by the economic recession continues to rise. There were 2.9 million job openings in September, but the total number of unemployed workers was 14.8 million, with half of these workers jobless for 21 weeks or more. Long-term unemployment insurance is keeping millions of workers and their families out of poverty. It is, without question, one of the most effective ways of boosting the economy, as the unemployed spend that money to buy food, pay rent or make car payments, while looking for work.

Corporate profits are soaring. Wall St is raking in the cash as usual. The usual suspects are immune from economic down-turns. The occasional report of some stock broker losing their Porsche doesn’t count. Unemployment insurance is not a hand out to the undeserving it is a tiny fractional compensation for the fact that markets are not rational. While this economic downturn may be the worse since the great depression it is one among several we’ve had over the last fifty years. Since we’re not going to have perfect markets, which never have downturns, and when they do crash the ones who cause it do not suffer the consequences, the least a civilized modern democracy can do is provide some protection to those most vulnerable to the piss poor decisions of others.

Beck tells audience to ruin Thanksgiving dinner with misinformation about inflation

While advising his Fox News viewers to talk about inflation at their Thanksgiving dinners, Glenn Beck falsely claimed that the government removed food and energy prices from its measure of inflation to hide rising prices, that a survey showed economists are “worried” about inflation, and that Social Security recipients are not receiving a cost-of-living adjustment because the government “changed the calculation.”

Lie, distort economic data, scare grandmothers and ruin Thanksgiving. It is just another day in Conservative LalaLand. The strangest aspect to Glenn’s inflation hoax is why the faux concern about Social Security. Beck, like many of the teatards, think Social Security is socialism. Why should he care whether it’s recipients get an adequate adjustment for inflation.

Happy Thanksgiving! Conservatives Mangle History To Score Political Points

According to the narrative, it wasn’t until a more capitalist structure was imposed that things really started to work. From Borowski’s FreedomWorks post:

In 1661 and 1662, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians did share two meals together. But it wasn’t until the “miracle of 1663” that they celebrated a bountiful feast like we do today. As Governor William Bradford wrote that year, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty.” This was the year that Bradford switched to a more capitalist system.

In short, Borowski writes, “private property saved the Pilgrims.”

As the New York Times reported last week, the story is part of Rush Limbaugh’s yearly Thanksgiving broadcast, and it’s part of the course load at Glenn Beck’s online university.

Sounds great. Pass the cranberry sauce and the supply-and-demand dogma and let’s do this thing.

Trouble is, the Times reports, the conservative Thanksgiving tale is not exactly true. At all. From the paper:

Historians say that the settlers in Plymouth, and their supporters in England, did indeed agree to hold their property in common — William Bradford, the governor, referred to it in his writings as the “common course.” But the plan was in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.

Whatever the political leanings of the Pilgrims in that system, a historian tells the Times, “the arrangement did not produce famine.”

There is a rumor conservatives play a drinking game when they watch “Survivor”. Whenever two or more of the contestants cooperate or help each other they shout SOCIALISM – than do a shot of prune juice.

Democrats and President Obama either really suck at being socialists, or those that accuse them of being modern Marxists are people of low character and poor judgment – GOP Urges Slashing Corporate Taxes as Profits Hit Record

Despite a decade of Bush tax cut windfalls for the wealthy pushing income inequality to levels not seen since 1929, Republicans are calling for another $700 billion, 10-year payday for the richest Americans. So it should come as no surprise that as corporate profits reached an all-time record in the third quarter, leading voices in the Republican Party want their tax bill slashed, too.

As the New York Times reported Tuesday, happy days are indeed here again for corporate America:

“American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.”

Part of a longer article that goes into some much more detail. Among other things it points out that it may indeed be possible to cut corporate tax rates and collect more revenue if loop holes are closed. This is where President Obama could nail hold conservatives for a reasonable compromise if he doesn’t blink and go all bipartisan again. “General Electric not (only) avoided paying taxes altogether last year; it actually record(ed) a $1.1 billion tax benefit.”

Sarah Palin’s sins are piling up faster than beer cans in Fort Lauderdale during spring break. She reaches a new low in plagiarizing Jonah Goldberg – Why do these passages from Jonah Goldberg and Sarah Palin sound so similar?

Little Lighthouse wallpaper – The Republican Agenda? America be Damned.

sea coast landscape

Little Lighthouse wallpaper


Consider a thought experiment. Imagine you actively disliked the United States, and wanted to deliberately undermine its economy. What kind of positions would you take to do the most damage?

You might start with rejecting the advice of economists and oppose any kind of stimulus investments. You’d also want to cut spending and take money out of the economy, while blocking funds to states and municipalities, forcing them to lay off more workers. You’d no doubt want to cut off stimulative unemployment benefits, and identify the single most effective jobs program of the last two years (the TANF Emergency Fund) so you could kill it.

You might then take steps to stop the Federal Reserve from trying to lower the unemployment rate. You’d also no doubt want to create massive economic uncertainty by vowing to gut the national health care system, promising to re-write the rules overseeing the financial industry, vowing re-write business regulations in general, considering a government shutdown, and even weighing the possibly of sending the United States into default.

You might want to cover your tracks a bit, and say you have an economic plan that would help — a tax policy that’s already been tried — but you’d do so knowing that such a plan has already proven not to work.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Steve is a sharp guy and has probably previously entertained the very real possibility Republicans do not like democracy very much. In the movie Runaway Jury ( based on the novel by John Grisham) conservative lawyer Rankin Fitch has a talk with his clients in which he explains how to stack a jury with people predisposed to certain verdicts. It is because, to paraphrase, verdicts are too important to trust to juries. Since Nixon Republicans have had a similar approach to democracy or rather how America Inc. should be run. There is too much money and power to be trusted to informed voters. Conservative politicians, think tanks, lawyers and most ( though not all) conservative judges have always pushed for more power for the wealthy and corporations than individuals. The Citizens United case, if not their crowning achievement, certainly one of the cherries on top of that half century long tradition. It is one of those true conspiracy that we dare not speak. While it has clearly been a nefarious conspiracy, it has not been particularly secret. It would be nice to have one or two smoking guns – a body or two. Instead what we have is years of circumstantial evidence. In 2004 Paul Krugman made note of it in The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century.

The Great Unraveling is a chronicle of how “the heady optimism of the late 1990s gave way to renewed gloom as a result of “incredibly bad leadership, in the private sector and in the corridors of power.” Offering his own take on the trickle-down theory, economist and columnist Paul Krugman lays much of the blame for a slew of problems on the Bush administration, which he views as a “revolutionary power…a movement whose leaders do not accept the legitimacy of our current political system.” Declaring them radicals masquerading as moderates, he questions their motives on a range of issues, particularly their tax and Social Security plans, which he argues are “obviously, blatantly based on bogus arithmetic.” Though a fine writer, Krugman relies more heavily on numbers than words to examine the current rash of corporate malfeasance, the rise and fall of the stock market bubble, the federal budget and the future of Social Security, and how a huge surplus quickly became a record deficit. He also rails against the news media for displaying a disturbing lack of skepticism and for failing to do even the most basic homework when reporting on business and economic issues.

Sure  the sum of the intelligence and knowledge of many Republican politicians (Mitch McConnell(R-Ky), James Inhofe (R-OK) and pundits like O’Reilly and Beck could fit in a thimble, but conservative leadership as a whole is not that dumb. They can do basic math. They knew the combination of the Bush tax cuts with spending trillions on two wars would cripple the government. While they all seem like shrill banshees now, during the Bush years the very same conservatives would only grumble about the deficits in an interview on their way to a K-Street meeting. Dick Cheney declared that deficits did not even matter. he was right in the sense they do not matter when you have about 10% of the population out of work and millions have lost their homes. Moderate to liberal Democrats have pointed out the catastrophic damage and apparent lack of morality and accountability millions of times. Some have thought that doing so would be a source of shame for Republicans. That has not been the case because on the contrary – wrecking the economy, stacking the courts with activists right-wing  ideologues, running up historic deficits is part of a truly accomplished mission. The mission Krugman warned about over five years ago. You might say that the Bush era was about killing the body. Now, having turned even further to the Right, they are about to kill off the head during the Obama administration. There Will Be Blood

So here’s what the very serious Mr. Simpson said on Friday: “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. … When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ ” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued.

Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize.

Some explanation: There’s a legal limit to federal debt, which must be raised periodically if the government keeps running deficits; the limit will be reached again this spring. And since nobody, not even the hawkiest of deficit hawks, thinks the budget can be balanced immediately, the debt limit must be raised to avoid a government shutdown. But Republicans will probably try to blackmail the president into policy concessions by, in effect, holding the government hostage; they’ve done it before.

Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America’s role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson “can’t wait.” And he’s what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican.

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing.

Democrats are not going to hold Republicans accountable. They’ll make a few statements. The network infotainment programs will show snips of Obama, Reid or Pelosi saying this is awful with a Republican saying no it ain’t. The press will have continued its stellar job of letting both sides have their say, than drive home to their McMansions in Connecticut. Informing the public is no longer the media’s job as they see it. The conservative pundits – in all their malicious glory – will droll over their keyboards about how they stopped the Kenyan socialist agenda. It is small and relatively little consolation that the working class conservatives – those in the median income range ($55,000 household income and below) will have a gaping foot wound. It will fester and smell like a rotting corpse. In exchange for shooting themselves in said foot one assumes they’ll take solace in perhaps getting closer to their cultural ends. Those Don’t Tread on Me flags will seem even quainter as they actively helped give their savings and rights way to the corporate plutocracy.

It mat seem like a change of subject but the START treaty is a good case in point. A wide variety of defense experts think START is a good deal for U.S. and world security. Everett McKinley Dirksen, He Ain’t

The Obama administration has gone the extra mile – well, several extra miles, actually – to satisfy Senator Kyl’s concerns over New START. So far, Team Obama has been taken to the cleaners.

A friend of mine, who worked on nuclear issues during the Reagan administration, likes to say that, back in his day, those who tried to block and parry nuclear negotiations and treaties were “under adult supervision.” The naysayers were mere Assistant Secretaries or lower; enough of their superiors understood that proper deterrence required complementary reassurance to audiences at home and abroad. A world leader and a leader of alliances needs to be able to make nuclear arms reduction treaties happen.

Now the supervisors are retired, and the blockers have risen to become former-undersecretaries-in-waiting for even more exciting positions in the next Republican administration. The supervisors – former Secretaries of State and Defense, former national security advisers, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, and a host of ex-commanders of the U.S. nuclear deterrent – understand what’s at stake, and urge the Senate’s consent to ratify New START. Senator Richard Lugar gets it. The rest of his Republican colleagues do not appear to be eager for a vote, at least without Senator Kyl’s blessing. The prospective crop of presidential candidates have been Palinized, and what’s left of the moderate wing of the DC chapter of the Republican Party fears Tea Party challengers in primary elections. There aren’t many profiles in courage on the Republican side of the aisle besides Sen. Lugar at this point.

“Despite what anybody says, I, as secretary of Defense, and the entire uniformed leadership of the American military believe that this treaty is in our national security interest,” Gates said, taking on claims by critics of the treaty that some in the military privately oppose the accord.

The main Republican talking point and as usual a completely false one, is START will hamper future technological advances in our defense system. Not true at all. Funding is already in the works for that very thing. Republicans have weighed the issue. Help America and the world be a more secure place or do anything to stop Democratic achievements. They have chosen the latter. With that in mind there is no reason we will not see Simpson’s bloodbath in February.

Only Monday but I’ll take a chance and call E.J. Dionne Jr. snip from his latest column the quote of the week, Calling the bluff on deficits

So on the one hand, we have to cut, cut, cut because fiscal catastrophe is looming. On the other, we have to make the problem worse by shoveling more money to the rich because . . . taking care of those with tidy incomes is contemporary conservatism’s highest purpose.

Than E.J. goes on to try to shame Republicans. Moderate minded Americans might as well give up that ghost. many of you still believe that Republicans feel some fidelity to responsible government. No. They have sworn allegiance to the right-wing agenda, America be damned.

December Snow Wallpaper

December Snow Wallpaper

Oregon Senator Wyden(D) effectively kills Internet censorship bill. At least for this session of Congress.

Opponents of the bill insist that many sites which contain allegedly infringing materials also traffic in legitimate data that’s constitutionally protected. There’s also a fear that whatever action the US takes, other countries will seek to emulate, and some to a much more zealous degree.

Activist group DemandProgress, which is running a petition against the bill, argued the powers in the bill could be used for political purposes. If the whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks is found to be hosting copyrighted material, for instance, access to WikiLeaks could be blocked for all US Internet users, they suggested.

A group of academics, led by Temple University law professor David Post, have signed a petition opposing COICA.

“The Act, if enacted into law, would fundamentally alter U.S. policy towards Internet speech, and would set a dangerous precedent with potentially serious consequences for free expression and global Internet freedom,” Post wrote in the petition letter

Democrats also step up to guard net neutrality – FCC may regulate Internet lines days before Christmas

Republicans are already mounting a campaign to oppose the potential Internet line regulations, which would aim to rein in how cable and phone companies manage Internet traffic. Nineteen Republicans signed a letter to Genachowski on Friday urging him not to move forward with net neutrality.

“Reigniting the network neutrality debate will only distract us from that work and further jeopardize investment, innovation, and jobs. We ask you not to circulate such an order,” they wrote.

Democrats on Capitol Hill may come to the commission’s defense, however, as the policy has various supporters in the House. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement on Friday that he wants the agency to act this year.

“Preservation of a free and open Internet is essential to protect consumers, spur investment, foster innovation and promote the free flow of ideas,” he said.

An FCC official also remained steadfast on Friday that net-neutrality rules are a sound policy.

“Net Neutrality is about preventing anyone from regulating the Internet. There are some cable and phone companies out there that want to decide which apps you should get on your phone, which Internet sites you should look at, and what online videos you can download. That’s regulating the Internet — and that’s what the FCC is trying to stop,” the official said.

Republicans are complaining about the Dec. 22 vote. You know the same people that back in 2003 were having votes at one AM Friday morning to pass some stealth legislation that would rather avoid Democrats voting on and the press talking about all week.

In 2007, Beck Praised IAVA But Now Demonizes The Vets Group As Part Of His Made-Up Soros Conspiracy and Glenn Beck Promotes Socialism to West Point Cadets. Beck is very difficult to take seriously. Then you read the comments on stories about him and his followers talk like members of a cult where Beck is the holy guru who can do no wrong. These are people who have given up anything resembling critical thinking skills, blather on about freedom and act like Beck puppets.

Doubling down on the stupid and misogyny – Bryan Fischer Defends ‘Feminized’ Medal Of Honor Comment: God Honors ‘Aggressive War’. It difficult for people such as Fischer, who seem to have a god-complex to realize the thoughts in their heads are not coherent or relevant to reasonable sentient beings.

Family group demands Florida’s governor-elect stop selling porn

Family group demands Floridas governor elect stop selling porn

A conservative Christian group wants Florida’s Republican governor-elect to stop selling “pornography” to Latinos.

The Christian Family Coalition (CFC) is calling for Rick Scott to divest in the website QuePasa which has a partnership with Playboy Mexico. Scott reportedly owns shares of QuePasa worth about $6-8 million — nearly 15 percent of the company

Conservative values are like rip tides, difficult to keep track up and dangerous to swim in. Where were these people when a guy who committed 14 counts of Medicare fraud was running for governor. Go into a bank and steal $20 and go to jail for ten years. Be a Republican with a spreadsheet, steal millions and be rewarded with elected office to steal some more while collecting dividends from your adult entertainment investments. Yep, tea partiers are nothing like ordinary conservatives.

Black and White City No Cross Walk wallpaper

black and white city skyline

Black and White City No Cross Walk wallpaper

It’s funny in a dark ironic way to hear conservatives talk about freedom and capitalism. They think corporations should have the right to organize and send an army of lobbyists to Washington to literally write legislation which benefits them. They do not think workers should have the right to organize to protect themselves against an employers abuse of power. In other words conservatives think the plantation model is the best form of capitalism for America. One that benefits the wealthiest and most powerful and protects the wealth and powerful from the demands of the peons who make their wealth for them. Let’s say you’re a Captain of Industry – a regular John Galt – who opens up a shipyard to make the fastest most technologically advanced freight ships the world has ever known. Galt is free to do that and over the course of his lifetime he might actually get one ship built. If he wants to be wealthy and make lots of ships he is going to need workers. All the wealth he accumulates is thus partly do to his enterprising idea, but that idea would have been nothing more than day dreams without labor. In America we call people like Galt Captains of Industry. We profile them in magazines. Interview them on TV. Write books about them. Yet they stand on the shoulders of the men and women whose labor was an essential ingredient to their success. Certainly people with ideas and initiative should reap rewards from same, but why do conservatives venerate these people and not the very essential workers who make not just Galt’s wealth possible, but because of the interconnected nature of a modern economy, everyone’s wealth possible. Why do conservatives refer to America’s workers as thugs or as lazy. Conservatives seem constitutionally unable to talk about labor without calling them thugs. The occasional incident where a union member get in a scuffle with someone – there those thugs go again. Why is it those scuffles are proof of endemic thuggery but 300,000 farm workers made sick by pesticides is not thuggery. America’s history is filled with incident after incident where the Galts were safe in their nice offices when workers were killed because of unsafe working conditions. Corporations belong to manufacturing and other business associations whose aim is to promote their interests. Workers are frequently threatened with the loss of their job if they even talk to a union. In the conservative dust trap – or mind – business is always the pure angel and the worker always the lazy thug. Businesses want to discriminate based on gender  – hey that’s not thuggery – that is the utopia known as the conservative plantation model for capitalism. Bosses have rights, employees have the rights bosses feel like giving them. Can you smell the freedom and liberty. Senate Republicans Vote Unanimously Against Bill To Help Guarantee Fair Pay For Women

Today, Senate Republicans voted unanimously against legislation to close the pay gap between women and men. The Senate voted 58-41 against allowing debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help end discriminatory pay practices against women. It had already passed the House.

More than 45 years after passage of the Equal Pay Act, the pay gap shockingly persists with women still earning on average 77 cents to every man’s dollar. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “This persistent pay gap translates to more than $10,000 in lost wages per year for the average female worker.” The gap is even worse for women of color: African-American women earn 61 cents and Latinas earn 52 cents for every dollar a white non-Hispanic man earns.

Republicans thugs just committed a grievous act against the average American to preserve the vaulted rights of corporate America to run their plantations the way they want. In a free and open democracy the rights of people who just do an honest day’s work for a living should count as much as the rights of the plutocracy.

Economists explain why Right-wing Republican Lunatic Glenn Beck’s inflation theory doesn’t add up

Glenn Beck has cited recent, short-term increases in commodities prices to fearmonger over rising inflation — an explanation that economists tell Media Matters is “nonsense” because of the extreme volatility of such prices.

Yesterday, Beck opened his Fox News show by claiming that “this morning, I read a report out of China. Walmart, Gap and JC Penney are now worried about, quote, ‘terrifying’ rise on cotton prices that could skyrocket your clothing prices by as much as 30 percent by spring. That’s inflation — radical inflation.”

Beck has also cited the National Inflation Association’s estimates of massive increases in food prices in the near future, which the group based on rising commodity prices and attributed to the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy.

But according to Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, these claims don’t add up.

“Commodity prices are very variable — they soared in 2007-8, probably in large part because of Chinese demand, plunged in 2008-9, thanks to a global slump, and have now recovered most but not all the losses,” said Krugman. “They really tell you nothing about underlying inflation, which has been steadily declining.”

Graph of commodity prices

This is the kind of dry economic stuff most people don’t pay attention to. It gets an enormous amount of traction with the right. Not because the millionaires like Beck, Sarah Palin or the Koch brothers will be affected, but because the low information voters that hang on every word Beck grunts would he hit pretty hard.

Are the Palin Girls Cyberbullies? Analyzing their Facebook flame war

Soon enough, other posters show up to marvel at the train wreck (“Hahahaha goodness! This is madness!” writes someone called Raven). Willow starts to sound like someone who feels cornered. She lobs a bomb at the whole crowd: “Sorry that all you guys are jealous of my families success and you guys aren’t goin to go anywhere with your lives.” This backfires with everyone except Imran. “Ima be a dentist ” he writes. “kinda wanted to be a politician. But after all this I just don’t know.”

High school hasn’t changed much since my day. Once the insults start flying no one is going to let the opposition have the last word. Both young women, hopefully, will outgrow their quick resorts to being crude as an answer to critics. What is more disturbing to me is the false sense of accomplishment. Their parents were thrown into the spot light and have exploited that to make millions. Their family’s sudden fortune was by way of real accomplishment and hard work? The girls themselves are enjoying the windfall of their parent’s marketing themselves as hybrid politicelebs. They seem well on their way to living in the legendary bubble of conservative fortune. Good things happen to them because they are some how special and deserving compared to the ordinary folks. There is no sense of humility, of the acknowledgment of luck and of being grateful for their good fortune. Partly the girls fault – they are in their teens thus old enough to have some grasp of the concept of humility – though it is mostly their parents fault. Sarah’s thin skin and proclivity for vindictiveness is now legendary. It seems to be rubbing off on her children.

AFA’s Fischer says America has ‘feminized’ the Medal of Honor

Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta certainly earned the Medal of Honor bestowed upon him Tuesday, said the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. But continuing to award the medal to people who save American lives instead of to those who kill the enemy has “feminized” the medal, Fischer contends.

Giunta, 25, of Hiawatha, rushed into enemy fire to aid fellow soldiers during a harrowing battle in Afghanistan in 2007. When his platoon was ambushed, Giunta pulled a wounded soldier to safety, and in the process was struck by two bullets himself. He recovered to help mount a counterattack, eventually reaching another injured soldier. Giunta continued pressing ahead in search of Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan, the third wounded soldier and one of Giunta’s best friends. When he found two insurgents attempting to carry away Brennan, he opened fire, killing one and wounding the other.

Brennan eventually died despite Giunta’s efforts.

For his courageous actions, President Barack Obama awarded him the medal, the first to a living soldier since the Vietnam War.

“When we think of heroism in battle, we used the think of our boys storming the beaches of Normandy under withering fire, climbing the cliffs of Pointe do Hoc while enemy soldiers fired straight down on them, and tossing grenades into pill boxes to take out gun emplacements,” Fischer wrote on his blog Tuesday. “That kind of heroism has apparently become passe when it comes to awarding the Medal of Honor. We now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them.”

So strange. Where to begin. Saving lives is something women do, real men kill? Anything life affirming is feminine and not of much value, men need to get back to maiming and killing to reaffirm their manhood? Soldiers who save lives are wimps who are not doing their jobs? Needless to say Preacher Fischer has never served in the military much less on a battlefield. A commenter at the link shares some stories about Iraq and Afghanistan the preacher should read.

Detainee Acquitted on Most Counts in ’98 Bombings. To which Hugh Hewitt – who for some mysterious reasons has a radio show and is published in newspapers for the acuity of his insights, writes, President Obama, Eric Holder and 5 Members of the United States Supreme Court: What Will You Say Now To Families of the Victims of the Embassy Bombings?

Today’s travesty of justice can be laid at the feet of President Obama, Attorney General Holder and the five justices who have systematically destroyed every attempt by the Congress and President Bush to create a coherent system of military tribunals for terrorists.

224 innocents were killed by this terrorist, including 12 Americans.  They will never receive justice because of the absurd legal theories of a small group of justices and the refusal of Barack Obama and Eric Holder to demand of their left-wing colleagues in the Congress a continued insistence on military tribunals.

The defendant, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was captured in 2004. That was plenty of time for Bush and a right-wing administration who thought they had unlimited powers during war time to have any kind of tribunal they wanted, but never got around to it. Ghailani was tortured so that tends to taint any evidence. No one to blame for that except conservatives like Hewitt and Bush. The conservative lack of accountability at work. Their screw ups are always someone else’s fault. Technically Ghailani will be serving twenty to life, but for all practical purposes just say life. So Hewitt is just whining while he wets his adult diaper. The practical results are the same – Ghailani rotting in prison until he dies. What if Bush had tried Ghailani in a military tribunal? The rules concerning evidence received under torture would have been the same, The Ghailani verdict and American justice

Then there is the false premise — found at the center of every attack on the Obama DOJ’s conduct here — that the key witness would not have been excluded had Ghailani had been put before a military commission at Guantanamo.  That is simply untrue.  The current rules governing those military tribunals bar the use of torture-obtained evidence to roughly the same extent as real courts do.  Anyone who doubts that should simply read Rule 304(a)(1) and (5) of the Military Commissions Manual, found on page 205 of the document:

[304(a)(1)]  No statement, obtained by the use of torture, or by cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. . . . whether or not under color of law, shall be admissible in a trial by military commission . . . .

[304(a)(5)] Evidence derived from a statement that would be excluded under section (a)(1) of this rule may not be received in evidence against an accused who made the statement if the accused makes a timely motion to suppress or an objection . . . .

The only exceptions to those exclusionary rules are essentially identical to those used in the judicial system, which were applied by Judge Kaplan but found to be inapplicable (“the evidence would have been obtained even if the statement had not been made; or [] use of such evidence would otherwise be consistent with the interests of justice”).  As The New York Times’ Charlie Savage pointed out this morning, “Judge Kaplan strongly suggested in a footnote that a military commission judge would have excluded that testimony, too, pointing to restrictions against the use of evidence obtained by torture in military trials.”  Savage went on to note:  “still, arguments over the factual details of the case were overshadowed by the political dynamics of the verdict” — meaning that nobody is going to let the facts get in the way of a nice right-wing, fear-mongering, liberty-attacking orgy.

Everyone should know by now conservatives think terrorists are super human. Unless an officially sanctioned wing-nut shoots a terrorist with a silver bullet, drives a stake through their heart and mumbles some incantation then we’re all going to be forced to wear burqas.