Black and White Old Tree wallpaper

Black and White Old Tree wallpaper

The Telegraph is not the world’s best newspaper and so I’ll probably get burned for linking to to this, Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising

The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.

On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.

The link The Telegraph has to th alleged Wilileaks document is not working and I cannot find it. Such a cable would certainly make relations with what might ultimately be victorious dissidents a lot stronger. The Right is falling all over itself offering lots of contradictory narratives. Former U.N. Ambassador and right-wing heart-throb John Bolton is warning  a successful revolution in Egypt will bring radicals to power – he refers to the Muslim Brotherhood ( as does Islamophobe bed wetter Pam Gellar). As both TProgress and TNR state such fears are probably unfounded, Five Things to Understand About the Egyptian Riots

The ‘Islamist Menace’ is overblown. Some American commentators have argued that Al Jazeera is somehow fanning Islamism and anti-Americanism with its coverage. But as Marc Lynch has pointed out, Egyptian citizens, like Tunisians before them, are so—justifiably—angry at their governments that it’s hard to imagine what new provocations the station could come up with. Similarly, concern about the relative strength of the Muslim Brotherhood, which espouses a fundamentalist strain of Islam and has championed and employed violence in the past, should be balanced against three other facts: (1) The Brotherhood has renounced violence and it has been active in Egyptian politics, transformed by an internal debate about whether and how to participate, for some time now; (2) Thus far, observers on the ground report that it is young, secular Egyptians who are leading this revolt; (3) The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition organization in Egypt, is a first-rank enemy of Al Qaeda, and has been for decades. (A chapter in the recent “Self-Inflicted Wounds” from West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center lays out the feud, and how it has played out in Egypt, South Asia and elsewhere, in detail. Briefly, the Brotherhood’s goals have been more political and focused on individual governments—and thus less focused on what Bin Laden refers to as the “far enemy”—the United States homeland.) Meanwhile, it is reasonable to be concerned about the future role of radical extremists where other forces are weak, but this kind of scaremongering is actually quite ignorant; it’s also disheartening and potentially damaging to the true democrats—some of whom organize around Islam, and some of whom don’t—that are doing the struggling and dying right now. Americans, like others around the world, are instinctively cheering for them. They are right to do so.

I also agree with TNR it takes some arrogance to try to get out in front of this story as events unfold. It is a pretty reliable prediction that whatever negative happens will be blamed on President Obama. It was not long ago we had pushes  to spread democracy. Small d democracy, as students of political science know, is simply people voting for whatever is popular. What is popular is not always just. Thus one of the reasons the U.S. was founded as a democratic republic. Individual rights are respected, but we have the popular vote and some states have referendums. In a republic like ours you can vote for or against anything as long as it does not undermine the basic liberties outlined in the Constitution. Hopefully Egypt will embrace a democratic republic with a foundation of basic human rights. Bush and conservatives during the Bush era gave a lot of lip service to spreading democracy – a very good piece that looked at the Bush/Republican blatant hypocrisy on promoting democracy from 2006 by Glenn Greenwald – The fruits of democracy. The fact is that if some Middle-East authoritarians regimes opened the flood gates of popular elections tomorrow the people might well vote to install tyrannical theocrats. This fear has always been part of what guided America’s Egyptian policy. It was better the authoritarians you know than the authoritarians that might take their place. Times change and so should policy. It does not appear Egypt is headed in that direction, but revolutions, like war, do not always turn out the way one would like. If there is a power vacuum in Egypt where the police and well established institutions such as universities, the military and moderate religious leaders do not step in, other less desirable leaders could. Time to Rethink U.S.-Egyptian Relations

President Obama urged the government and protesters to avoid violence, and he called on President Hosni Mubarak to move forward with political and economic reforms. No matter what unfolds in the coming days and weeks, President Obama needs to develop a policy that follows up on those words. Otherwise America’s credibility and power to influence events in Egypt and region will continue to wane.

Much has been written about America’s declining power to shape and influence events in the Middle East and around the world. Part of this efficacy crisis is related to successive U.S. administrations making declarations that are subsequently not implemented into policy changes. The result: Stated goals are not achieved and America looks weaker.

Most recently in Egypt, the George W. Bush administration was notorious for elevating the rhetoric on freedom and then doing nothing when the Mubarak government took several steps backward into more repression. As Hisham Kassem, a prominent Egyptian publisher and democracy activist who won an award from the National Endowment for Democracy, told me in a 2007 interview for my book, “George Bush made the first serious U.S. attempt on democratization in Egypt. … now we’ve seen this U-turn take place—and believe me, this U-turn is very damaging—people who put their necks out on the line and risked their lives and reputation…the minute the United States backed off, Mubarak went back to take more power.”

As a result of that lack of follow through, America’s power and credibility in Egypt and the region suffered.

Bush 41 did the same thing with the Kurds and anti-Saddam dissidents back in the late 1980s. Thus not establishing the U.S. as having a great track record on living up to its promises. Push comes to shove our leaders have always chosen stability and cheap oil prices.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) is Owned and Operated by Banking Interests. His Reward? Republicans Put Anti-Investor and Anti-Consumer Toomey On Banking Committee

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) was one of the financial industry’s biggest apologists during November’s campaign, opposing the Dodd-Frank financial reform law while claiming that derivative deals were “non-risky,” even as they cost schools and cities all across the country (including many in Pennsylvania) millions of dollars. And Toomey has been totally unrepentant about his personal role in deregulating the financial industry.

In 2000, former Sen. Phil “mental recession” Gramm (R-TX) attached the Commodity Futures Modernization Act to an unrelated, 11,000 appropriations bill. The CFMA ensured that the growing market in over-the-counter derivatives, including credit default swaps, stayed entirely unregulated. Toomey — then a member of the House of Representatives — voted for that bill, and said that he would do it again, inaccurately claiming that the legislation “did absolutely nothing to cause the financial crisis.”

The culture of corruption is part of the Republican gene pool. Vote them into power and they cannot help themselves. If you’re against this kind of crony capitalism that rewards wealth and punishes working Americans you’re just a damn Marxist.  Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s 10 Major Findings

Over-the-counter derivatives contributed significantly to this crisis...”
Speculating on devices like collateralized debt obligations fanned the flames, with everyone from farmers to corporations to investors betting on prices and loan defaults. When the housing bubble popped, these were at the center of the fallout.

“The failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction…”
But, the report found, those bets wouldn’t have been possible without the seal of approval from ratings agencies.

“This crisis could not have happened without the rating agencies. Their ratings helped the market soar and their down- grades through 2007 and 2008 wreaked havoc across markets and firms,” the report reads.


The New Republican Majority Record Thus far

Republican wallpaper

The Republican Majority Record Thus Far


To review, Do As I Say, Not As I Do: 97% Of House GOP Still Holding On To Their Congressional Health Plans

This morning, as the House of Representatives begins debating H.R. 2 Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, the majority of Republicans in the House will still be receiving insurance through the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Plan — a federal exchange which offers subsidized coverage to federal government workers, including members of Congress. According to a ThinkProgress analysis, seven, or just three percent of all the Republicans in the House have agreed to give up their insurance while they vote to repeal coverage for some 32 million Americans.

[  ]….– REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R-NY): Freshman Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) rejected claims that it was hypocritical for him to receive health coverage that provided the same consumer protections he was trying to repeal for others. “What am I, not supposed to have health care?” Later, he said the reason to have coverage is “practicality. I’m not going to become a burden for the state because I don’t have health care and, God forbid I get into an accident and I can’t afford the operation…That can happen to anyone.” [Hotline On Call, 1/6/11]

Indeed, by 2014, uninsured Americans will be able to enroll in “PRIVATE insurance” through a series of state-based exchanges that will attempt to attract younger and healthier enrollees — like Schock — who could bring down premiums for the entire risk pool. The mandate will require these individuals to purchase insurance so that they don’t “become a burden for the state” once they require medical attention.

Many if those Americans who would go without health insurance would not become a burden to the state. because there is such shame attached to asking for help many will wait until it is too late and simply die. The Republican Partay is a death panel.

As recently as two days ago Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), speaking as representative of the tea baggers, was complaining about government waste. That would be that same Bachmann who has been raking in earmarks for her district,

Just days after saying she had requested zero earmarks for her district, Rep. Michele Bachmann admitted to Fox News’ Brian Wilson that she had indeed requested millions in earmarks in 2008. But, she says, it’s not a big deal because her earmarks were less than the average earmarks for the rest of Minnesota’s congressional delegation.

…Bachmann secured $3,767,600 for her district in 2008. As Think Progress has pointed out, the average earmark for Minnesota’s delegation is $2.1 million…

It seems the new Teapublicans are just as blatant liars and hypocrites as the old Republicans.

Republicans read the Constitution out loud on the floor of the House. Probably the first time for most of them. It was a condescending bit of theatrics to remind the country that it had veered away from the original words and intentions – Republicans Read Constitution Pretending Slavery Never Happened. Just the omission of slavery alone made the attempt to magically return us to the glossy days of perfection of 1778 were redacted. What the Republicans did find was the commerce clause which allows Congress to regulate commerce. The commerce clause is greatly amplified by the necessary and proper clause. What Republicans did not find in the Constitution is equally important – they did not find the words “God” or “Corporation”. In should be common knowledge that James Madison had originally wanted to use the word conscience in the first Amendment where it says freedom of religion. That would have helped clarify the Founders’ intentions that every American was free to believe according to their conscience. Not free to coerce their fellow Americans to believe in certain dogma. There were corporation in early America and one would think if the Founders had wanted to give them person-hood and the rights which go with it, they would have done so. Republicans also discovered “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.” No wonder we have heard little about so-called conservative originalism since then.

One can be fairly certain that as the economy climbs out of the ditch conservatives drove it into they will take credit for the recovery. Only the fact based community knows otherwise,

The Republican argument, as explained by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, is that the election results combined with the tax cut deal injected a new sense of “certainty” into the economy, which immediately translated into job creation. How you evaluate that thesis depends in part on whether you think companies make their hiring plans according to their future expectation of what taxes will be like or on the much more pressing question of whether they need more workers to satisfy current demand. But a closer look at the numbers also undermines the GOP thesis. In 2010, new jobless claims benefits peaked in August, and then started a more or less steady decline, long before the election or any tax deal. A score of other economic indicators started flashing the green light around the same time. It all came too late to help Democrats in the midterm elections, but the change was there to see nonetheless.

If the U.S. Constitution is perfect one would think it would be the document – both the explicit and implicit laws expressed in that document – which Cons would defer in making their arguments. That has not been the case – Haley Barbour and the GOP Confederacy of Dunces

As the health care reform debate reached its climax in March, Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia was among those longing for the days of the ante bellum South. Missing the irony that health care is worst in those reddest of Southern states where Republicans poll best, Broun took to the House floor to show that he was still fighting the Civil War:

“If ObamaCare passes, that free insurance card that’s in people’s pockets is gonna be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the War Between The States — the Great War of Yankee Aggression.”

If you thought you had heard that outdated term of Dixie revisionist history recently, you did. In February 2009, Missouri Republican Bryan Stevenson took exception to President Obama’s support for the Freedom of Choice Act, legislation which would codify the reproductive rights protections of Roe v. Wade nationwide:

“What we are dealing with today is the greatest power grab by the federal government since the war of northern aggression.”

Who continues to call the treason of the Confederacy “the war of northern aggression”. It is not Americans who believe our guiding document is the U.S. Constitution.

How far Right and unhinged can conservatism go? Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is a far right ideologue. He gets a conservative rating of 60 by the very right-wing Conservative Union. That he does not get a 90 or better like such extremists as Steve King (R-IA) or Mitch McConnell (R-KY) shows how far out of the mainstream the conservative movement has become. But Lugar at least recognizes that a political ideology must have at least a few cogent ideas and be able to articulate those ideas, GOP Sen. Dick Lugar Chides Tea Party Movement For Offering Only ‘Cliché’ And No ‘Specifics’

Lugar’s moderate stances and cooperation with the White House have earned him scorn from many conservatives, and tea party activists in Indiana are gearing up to field a primary challenger against Lugar in 2012. The senator has said he is ready for a challenge from his right, and this week, Lugar seemed to increase such a possibility by taking an opening shot at the tea party. As quoted by US News, Lugar said the conservative activists are “unhappy about life in America,” but traffic only in “cliché” and “are not able to articulate all the specifics”:

“I think there are a great number of Americans, not just in Indiana, who are genuinely angry about how things have turned out for them. Sometimes they are unemployed or they have family members who have been unemployed or they are in situations in which they feel a heavy governmental restriction of their activities. In essence, they are unhappy about life in America and they want to express themselves.”

Lugar says most just want to be heard, but really can’t focus on what’s bugging them. “We want this or that stopped or there is spending, big government—these are all, we would say, sort of large cliché titles, but they are not able to articulate all the specifics,” he says.

In other words a sentence constructed as a noun, a verb and its unconstitutional are not the makings of a movement or an answer to any issues of public policy. On the contrary such bizarre inconsistent behavior are  hallmarks of a mob ruled by craziness and hatred.