Old Watch wallpaper – Freedom and Health Care Reform

blue watch

Old Watch wallpaper

 

I Don’t Want Health Care If Just Anyone Can Have It

As a concerned citizen, I must voice my adamant disapproval of the “universal health care” proposals we’ve been hearing so much about. I don’t have any gripes with expanding and improving health coverage, per se. It’s the “universal” part that irks me. Providing health care for all would completely undermine the whole idea of health care. If every last one of the 40 million uninsured bozos in this country is going to get access to the vast, virtually unnavigable system of medical care we chosen few now enjoy, then I no longer even want it.

When hospital administrators see me flash my Blue Cross card, it means something. It tells the world, “Hey, look at me: I pay increasingly high monthly premiums, submit to annual exams, and claim any health-related expenditures over seven percent of my yearly income on my taxes, and you can’t.” But when this bill passes, they’ll be handing out insurance cards willy-nilly, and nobody will be able to tell the difference between someone who’s had health coverage for 20 years and someone whose boss was compelled by law to provide it to all full-time employees.

Then again, maybe they’ll offer some sort of special Platinum Plus medical card. But I can’t count on that.

Health care is all about exclusivity, pure and simple. It’s for a group of like-minded people bonded by the dream of only having to contribute a portion of their weekly wages to ensure unfettered access to a number of licensed health care professionals. If we change all that, health care will be about as elite as a public restroom, open to any yokel who waltzes into an emergency room and can legally establish California residency.

If we let the government get away with this the next thing you know they will be making us buy car insurance, stopping at red lights, only have guinea fowl in land zoned for agriculture, make men wear pants at work, force us to eat half pound cheese burgers smothered in mayonnaise, let the disabled have the best parking and have honest reasons for going to war. Freedom is not dead, but it is hooked up to life support at a Canadian hospital because its cheaper there.

Being able to buy affordable healthcare is something like Stalin or Mao would have done. For parents to be able to put their children on their health insurance coverage until age 26 is just like the Bataan Death March. If anyone has a preexisting condition that is the universe telling you it is time to go broke or die, or both. So giving people with preexisting conditions health insurance is messing with the universe and exactly the kind of thing Mussolini would do. Freedom means suffering and dying to decrease the surplus population.

The 10 Most Hilariously Unhinged Right-Wing Reactions to the Obamacare Ruling

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker beat back a recall effort, we learned that conservatives aren’t exactly gracious in victory. On Thursday, when Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court’s moderate bloc to uphold ObamaCare. we discovered that the Right is nothing less than unhinged in defeat.

The remarkable thing about the heated debates about the law over the last three years is just how modest these reforms really are, especially when one considers how screwed up our healthcare system was to begin with.

The reality is that there is no “government takeover” underway. Some lower-middle-class families are going to get some subsidies to buy insurance, maybe ten million or so more poor people will be eligible for Medicaid. Insurers will get some new regulations that are popular even among Republicans.

And with Thursday’s ruling, the government can no longer mandate that you carry insurance, it can only levy a small tax on those who don’t. The real-world impact of that? Only an estimated 1 percent of the population will face the tax – a tax that maxes out at 1 percent — and it may not even be enforceable!

[  ]…1. Totally Not Exaggerating!

Baby-faced Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro offers a coolly dispassionate analysis of yesterday’s ruling…

benshapiro @benshapiro

This is the greatest destruction of individual liberty since Dred Scott. This is the end of America as we know it. No exaggeration.

3. Health Insurance Is So Much Worse Than the Murder of 3,000 People

It’s a good thing Mike Pence is a reasonable conservative.

In a closed door House GOP meeting Thursday, Indiana congressman and gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence likened the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Democratic health care law to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to several sources present.

He immediately apologized.

10. Or Is He?

Unlike most constitutional experts, some conservative bloggers thought that the law was so obviously unconstitutional that something fishy must be going on…

Someone got to Roberts. I bet they got to him and told him he has to vote this way or members of his family – kids, wife, parents, whoever – were going to be killed.

Later this afternoon, it’s going to come out that Roberts was coerced. … the whole story will come out, Roberts will issue his REAL opinion, and Obama and Axelrod will be taken away in handcuffs.

Hey, one can always hope!

If conservatives want to start some kind of camping to impeach Chief Justice Roberts I’ll be happy to join. Though I do think they are being ungrateful  ankle-biters. Roberts and the other worshipers of Plutocracy, with the Citizens United decision, gave a few dozen billionaires the right to buy elections. A conservative wet dream come true. Republicans are like trick or treaters whose bundle of candy can never be big enough.

Republican states – those with a conservative majority legislature and a Republican governor, or some combination of those things that would make it impossible to implement any Medicaid changes, did win something yesterday. The right to be as evil as they want to be just for spite, On Medicaid, Republicans Explore New Moral Depths by Paul Waldman

As the lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act worked their way up to the Supreme Court, I always found the challenge to the expansion of Medicaid to be the strangest part. Quick context: the program provides insurance for poor people, splitting the cost between the federal government and the states. But the current rules say that each state gets to set its own eligibility standards, which meant that if you live in a state run by Democrats and you’re poor, you can get Medicaid, but if you live in a state run by Republicans, you have to be desperately poor to get Medicaid. For instance, in Mississippi, a family of four has to have a yearly gross income below a princely $9,828 to qualify. Because if a family is living high on the hog with their $10,000 a year, they aren’t really poor, right?

Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act fixed this, by changing Medicaid so that everyone with up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($30,657 for a family of four) would qualify. And to make things easier on the states, the bill provided that the federal government would pick up almost all of the tab. The federal government pays 100 percent of the cost of paying for the new enrollees through 2016, 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019, and 90 percent from then on. In other words, the federal government is saying to states, “Here’s a bunch of free money to insure a whole lot of your citizens, which will make them healthier and more productive.” And almost every state run by Republicans replied, “How dare you do such a thing to us! It’s unconstitutional! We’re suing!”

And unfortunately, the Supreme Court gave them the right to turn down the money, so each state gets to decide whether it wants to accept the expansion. The irony is that this change in Medicaid is much, much more valuable to the states that have been the stingiest with Medicaid up until now. Massachusetts, for instance, already sets Medicaid eligibility at 133 percent of the poverty level, so they get no new money. It’s the Republican states with Scroogian eligibility who will get the most benefit, insuring millions of their citizens at little cost. But they’re the ones who don’t want it.

It’s pretty obvious that many Republicans wish there was no such thing as Medicaid at all. But if they have to tolerate poor people getting health care, they want to make sure as few of those poor people get it as possible. Because after all, if you can take your kids to the doctor whenever they get sick, how are you going to learn that being poor proves how sinful you are?

When this all comes down in 2014, the Republican governors and legislators who choose to opt out of the Medicaid expansion shouldn’t be allowed to claim that it’s a budgetary issue, because it isn’t—it’s free money, as far as their state budgets are concerned. They’re already trying. Here’s Phil Bryant, the governor of Mississippi, saying that the state doesn’t have the money to cover the estimated 330,000 people in the state who would get insurance paid for by the federal government. Here are Republican officials in Florida, where around a million people could get coverage under the Medicaid expansion, pleased as punch that the Court gave them the opportunity to say “No coverage for you!” to those poor Floridians.

So these Republican officials will be saying to their own citizens, “The federal government is offering to give you free health insurance, but we won’t let you have it. Your health is less important than us making a statement about how much we hate the welfare state and how much we hate Barack Obama and everything he touches.” They believe that it’s better for a person to have no insurance at all than to get insurance from the government. That position is morally vile enough in the abstract, but when they’re actually confronted with a choice to make about whether to allow their citizens to have health insurance, some of them are going to say no. I struggle to find words to describe how despicable and cruel that is.

Let’s put on our tricorne hats and try to imagine what The Founders would have done. We could go by the example of Pennsylvania Hospital. It was founded in 1751 by Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin “to care for the sick-poor and insane who were wandering the streets of Philadelphia.” Lieutenant Governor James Hamilton, who Glenn Beck and Mitt Romney would have hated, signed the charter for the hospital into law. Funding came from private donations and from taxes.

As a southern I have to abject a little to the sweeping title of this article, but readers will see that she is talking about regressive southerns. Not everyone is the south is a regressive, any more than everyone from the north or north-west is an enlightened progressive.  Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America

As described by Colin Woodard in American Nations: The Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, the elites of the Deep South are descended mainly from the owners of sugar, rum and cotton plantations from Barbados — the younger sons of the British nobility who’d farmed up the Caribbean islands, and then came ashore to the southern coasts seeking more land. Woodward described the culture they created in the crescent stretching from Charleston, SC around to New Orleans this way:

It was a near-carbon copy of the West Indian slave state these Barbadians had left behind, a place notorious even then for its inhumanity….From the outset, Deep Southern culture was based on radical disparities in wealth and power, with a tiny elite commanding total obedience and enforcing it with state-sponsored terror. Its expansionist ambitions would put it on a collision course with its Yankee rivals, triggering military, social, and political conflicts that continue to plague the United States to this day.

David Hackett Fischer, whose Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways In America informs both Lind’s and Woodard’s work, described just how deeply undemocratic the Southern aristocracy was, and still is. He documents how these elites have always feared and opposed universal literacy, public schools and libraries, and a free press. (Lind adds that they have historically been profoundly anti-technology as well, far preferring solutions that involve finding more serfs and throwing them at a problem whenever possible. Why buy a bulldozer when 150 convicts on a chain gang can grade your road instead?) Unlike the Puritan elites, who wore their wealth modestly and dedicated themselves to the common good, Southern elites sank their money into ostentatious homes and clothing and the pursuit of pleasure — including lavish parties, games of fortune, predatory sexual conquests, and blood sports involving ritualized animal abuse spectacles.

But perhaps the most destructive piece of the Southern elites’ worldview is the extremely anti-democratic way it defined the very idea of liberty.

Generally liberals and progressives want to maximize personal freedom while also balancing it with responsibility to the community. If your conservative neighbor – who shouts FREEDOM out his window at sunrise everyday wants to keep a big heap of animal waste near your property line. Waste that stinks, draws rodents and insect pests, and leaches into and contaminates  your ground water. Well that is how conservative think freedom works. They have the mental outlook of kids with behavioral disorders. They want something and throw a temper tantrum if they don’t get it. Weight the consequences or ramifications of their behavior on others? That is what they call tyranny. They wanted an invasion of Iraq. What’s a few lies about WMD or getting some people killed. They wanted it and those that would deny them their latest desire are commies, Nazis and terrorists sympathizers. It was the adult version of the scene in the TV show where the parents says no to the $150 sneakers and the kid yells I hate you and storms off. It is a scene played over and over again in how conservatives perceive and frame public policy.

Today in history: On June 29, 1776: The Virginia state constitution is adopted. $15 bill from that year

Virginia, 15 Dollars, 1776

The American colonies (or states, as they now began calling themselves) issued currency of their own to pay war expenses and keep local economies afloat. Issues from Virginia featured an armored Amazon brandishing a sword. She stands above and on the prone body of a dead male ruler, whose crown has fallen on the ground. The motto could not be more plain: SIC SEMPER TYRANNUS (Be it ever thus to tyrants). This vivid image still adorns the Virginia state flag.

Unlike most Revolutionary War currency, this note was printed on only one side. And the paper for its printing left something to be desired. It looks as if this note were forcibly torn in two. But whether it was torn deliberately or by accident, someone pinned it back together — crudely but effectively.

The denomination is given as “fifteen Spanish milled dollars.” Those coins were the famous “pieces of eight,” now minted by machinery (“milled”) in Mexico City and elsewhere. They were the monies of choice when coins were available, and Americans liked them so much that they eventually based their own United States dollar on the Spanish-American prototype.

 

The Man of Commerce Map – Irreconcilable Differences, Democrats Are Adults, Republicans Are Brats

The Man of Commerce Map

“The Man of Commerce” is a detailed map that conflates human anatomy with the American transportation system. Published in 1889 by the Land & River Improvement Company of Superior, Wisconsin, the map promotes Superior as a transportation hub and shows the routes of 29 railroads across the United States. The outline map of North America is superimposed by a cutaway diagram of the human body. The map’s metaphor makes West Superior “the center of cardiac or heart circulation.” The railways become major arteries. New York is “the umbilicus through which this man of commerce was developed.” The explanatory notes conclude: “It is an interesting fact that in no other portion of the known world can any such analogy be found between the natural and artificial channels of commerce and circulatory and digestive apparatus of man.” Use of the human body as a cartographic metaphor dates back at least to the 16th century, to the anthropomorphic map of Europe as a queen in Sebastian Münster’s Cosmography (1570). This map may be the earliest application of this metaphor to North America. The cartographer was A.F. McKay, who in 1889 briefly served as the editor of the Superior Sentinel newspaper. The map was engraved by Rand McNally. The American Geographical Society Library acquired the map in 2009, aided in part by the Map Society of Wisconsin. The only other known copy of this map is in a private collection.

Most of the time regionalism in the U.S. – a kind of localized nationalism – is between friends or business. People take pride in where they’re from and the advantages of living there. This map took regionalism to  extraordinary heights. Mckay had to really extend his imagination to make Superior THE U.S. hub of commerce. Below is the Sebastian Münster’s 1570 map done in a similar spirit for Europe. In 1570 there was tremendous trade competition between Europe and the two giants of commerce, India and China.

Anthropomorphic map of Europe as a queen in Sebastian Münster’s Cosmography (1570)

As the presidential campaign heads into the summer I cannot help but wonder what people see when they look at Mitt Romney. As has been the frequently painful to watch spectacle of conservatives running for office on the morality ticket Romney can claim some traditional moral standards, like fidelity. Fidelity is a a moral issue, but more a personal one than political. If it is political certainly President Obama and the vast majority of Democratic officials can claim that moral ground as much as Mitt. Though these personal moral standards are not the only ones. According to one Gallop poll about morality there are only four issues that truly split the country, we all pretty much agree on everything else. There is a glaring omission from that poll: Obtaining money by nefarious means or outright stealing. To me that is a huge issue. If you’re at the median in income or below – half the country, if someone takes your laptop or smartphone, they are stealing work from you – the hours and labor you put in to make that purchase. That is in addition to the costs of the intangibles like personal information. When Mitt Romney and Bain raided corporations they always made sure they make money, lots and lots of money – sometimes taking government subsidies at tax payer expense and they made money whether the takeover resulted in the corporation surviving, making a profit after reorganization. This was all apparently legal, but was it moral. Was it right to lay off workers, outsource jobs and make still bill those companies for Bain’s “services”. Romney like to use the word freedom a lot in his speeches. Wonderful word freedom. yet in this Orwellian world we all know that words like freedom can be used by some malevolent characters to defend of egregious behavior. In that regard Romney is a typical Republican, use good words to mask deeply immoral actions. In terms of truthfulness and ethics, Romney may already have accomplished what would have seemed impossible just four years ago, surpassed George W. Bush in his magnitude of immoral behavior – and Mitt is not even president.

Ezra Klein write this editorial last year, Obama revealed: A moderate Republican

Take health-care reform. The individual mandate was developed by a group of conservative economists in the early ’90s. Mark Pauly, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was one of them. “We were concerned about the specter of single-payer insurance,” he told me recently. The conservative Heritage Foundation soon had an individual-mandate plan of its own, and when President Bill Clinton endorsed an employer mandate in his health-care proposal, both major Republican alternatives centered on an individual mandate. By 1995, more than 20 Senate Republicans — including Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Dick Lugar and a few others still in office — had signed one individual mandate bill or another.

As we all know Obamacare is basically the same plan Romney signed into law in Massachusetts which was modeled on health care reform advocated by the far Right conservative Heritage Foundation. There are really only a couple of issues driving this election cycle. Most of them can be put under the general heading of the economy. The other is Right’s desire to destroy the health care reform plan that was modeled on their plan. There is a temptation to think that old canard about life being like high school is kind of funny, but not true. These men and women in Congress are serious people with good mature adult reasons for taking the positions they do, right? In regards Conservatives, life is like a high school where everyday is like playing king of the hill. That is why they are hell bent on repealing the ACA. President Obama and Democrats will get credit for doing something they did not have the political courage to do. Republicans support Obama’s health reforms — as long as his name isn’t on them

What’s particularly interesting about this poll is that solid majorities of Republicans favor most of the law’s main provisions, too.

I asked Ipsos to send over a partisan breakdown of the data. Key points:

* Eighty percent of Republicans favor “creating an insurance pool where small businesses and uninsured have access to insurance exchanges to take advantage of large group pricing benefits.” That’s backed by 75 percent of independents.

* Fifty-seven percent of Republicans support “providing subsidies on a sliding scale to aid individuals and families who cannot afford health insurance.” That’s backed by 67 percent of independents.

* Fifty-four percent of Republicans favor “requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employers.” That’s backed by 75 percent of independents.

* Fifty two percent of Republicans favor “allowing children to stay on parents insurance until age 26.” That’s backed by 69 percent of independents.

* Seventy eight percent of Republicans support “banning insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions; 86 percent of Republicans favor “banning insurance companies from cancelling policies because a person becomes ill.” Those are backed by 82 percent of independents and 87 percent of independents.

* One provision that isn’t backed by a majority of Republicans: The one “expanding Medicaid to families with incomes less than $30,000 per year.”

“Most Republicans want to have good health coverage,” Ipsos research director Chris Jackson tells me. “They just don’t necessarily like what it is Obama is doing.”

I’d add that Republicans and independents favor regulation of the health insurance system in big numbers. But the law has become so defined by the individual mandate — not to mention Obama himself — that public sentiment on the reforms themselves has been entirely drowned out. It’s another sign of the conservative messaging triumph in this fight and the failure of Dems to make the case for the law.

Its like your mom and dad both made the exact same PB&J sandwich, but you liked mom’s best. There has been quite a bit of analysis written about how Democrats frame their messages. Time and again if you ask the public about a specific policy or piece of legislation without including labels, Democratic policies always win. On the issues the U.S. is left of center. So what kind of message do you formulate for adults who see the same two PB&J sandwiches and reject one because Democrats made it. Obama and Democrats did use mostly Conservative messages – health care reform will save the country money ( confirmed by the CBO). The mandate which the conservatives cited above championed, was the responsible thing to do. Yet Republicans are willing to increase the deficit – which they suddenly started caring about in 2009 – by $230 billion dollars. Romney, the guy running as a weirdly moral candidate promises to repeal the ACA, thus increase the deficit as part of his first 100 days as president. Moral Mittens will repeal legislation that Republicans support as long as it is known as Obama’s or Democrat’s legislation. We are not now or in the near future going to have one those mature serious and civil public debates about issues like health care reform, or the deficit or anything else because one of the participants in the debate is a diaper wearing, perpetually pouting brat.

That an ATF agent died, as well as hundreds of Mexicans makes Fast and Furious and its predecessor program tragic. Yet the political circus around it is ripe for satire. The Real Scandal of Fast and Furious

Actually, despite silly headlines like this, it’s not a complicated story at all. Operation Fast and Furious — hey, let’s give guns to bad guys, what could possibly go wrong? — was a bad idea, poorly done, and thus not unlike hundreds or thousands of other poorly conceived and executed government plans of recent memory. (Like the Iraq War, for example). The Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, deserves no small measure of blame for thinking that such a dangerous, unwieldy sting could be completed, successfully, without a great deal of unintended pain and sorrow.

To the right, the story has been an election-year blessing, a roiling melange of: (1) gun righteousness; (2) antipathy toward Holder, and; (3) fear and loathing of Mexico and Mexicans. When Colbert mocks the vast “conspiracy” the right sees in all of this — what’s the matter, good old-fashioned bureaucratic incompetence isn’t good enough anymore? — it’s hilariously funny until you realize that tens of millions of people evidently believe the plot to be true. “If I lie in a lawsuit involving the fate of my neighbor’s cow, I can go to jail,” Walter Lippmann wrote in 1919:

But if I lie to a million readers in a matter involving war and peace, I can lie my head off, and, if I choose the right series of lies, be entirely irresponsible.

As I’ve followed the story — and so much of it has been told so well by my CBS News colleague Sharyl Attkisson — I keep thinking about the mission and the frustrations of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. The folks there are, unsurprisingly, apoplectic at the week’s events. A Republican-dominated Congress that has done nothing to stop gun trafficking on the Mexican border all of sudden is concerned enough about gun trafficking on the Mexican border to quickly hold contempt hearings and a floor vote?

This might be some kind of record, the first and last time conservatives suddenly cared about dead Mexicans. Its a brilliant game. Issa asks for documents – thus far Holder has handed over 140,000 which you know darn well Issa has not bothered to read. Every time Holder hands over more documents Issa, like a knee jerk reflex replies this is not enough, you’re hiding something. If Holder took Issa by the hand to the record archive at the DOJ and said here, go for it. Issa would claim Holder has buried what he wants in some secret hiding place. All of this egged on by the NRA who claims Holder is using F&F to pass some Draconian gun laws. The only obvious problem with that is that neither Congressional Democrats or the President has introduced even one new gun law. The Bush 41 gun laws against assault style rifles was allowed to expire without the slightest attempt to renew. We still have the gun show loophole or as some call it the loophole for terrorists courtesy the Bush 43 administration where any wacko r terrorist in a hurry can buy their gun without a background check. That is another issue on which Democrats get a thumps up from voters – they want background checks. Would Founders like James Madison really support selling a 9mm semi-automatic to a convicted rapist.

The Madness of Justice Antonin Scalia

For what seems like decades a conventional wisdom, built largely by a handful of Supreme Court correspondents, has held that Justice Antonin Scalia is the high court’s most brilliant, disciplined, albeit ideological, member. He is also, according to this conventional wisdom, deliciously witty.

[  ]….In a piece for Salon, Paul Campos, for instance, is not mincing words about the tottering justice. Scalia, Campos writes, “has in his old age become an increasingly intolerant and intolerable blowhard: a pompous celebrant of his own virtue and rectitude, a purveyor of intemperate jeremiads against the degeneracy of the age, and now an author of hysterical diatribes against foreign invaders, who threaten all that is holy.”

Campos was referring to Scalia’s concurring, dissenting opinion issued in Arizona v. U.S. where a majority of the justices invalidated three of provisions, and weakened a fourth, of Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law. In his opinion Scalia not only railed against alleged dangers undocumented persons pose to Arizona, but also ruminated about state sovereignty and took a shot at President Obama’s actions on immigration policy.

As Campos and others note, Scalia simply cannot contain his partisan leanings. Campos thinks the justice “no longer cares that he sounds increasingly like a right-wing talk radio host rather than a justice of the Supreme Court ….”  

In part, Scalia complained in his dissent that if Arizona does not have the power to secure its borders with unconstitutional laws, “we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state.”

During the ACS Supreme Court Review, former U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger also challenged Scalia’s off-the-wall take on state sovereignty.

Calling it the most “striking question” asked this Term, Dellinger cited Scalia’s question to the federal government, during oral argument in Arizona v. U.S. “What does state sovereignty mean if it does not include the right to defend your borders,” Dellinger read Scalia’s question from the oral argument transcript.

Well that implies, Dellinger said, that New York could forbid people from New Jersey “from coming into the state.”

The states, however, are not sovereign in the sense Scalia sees them, Dellinger said.

For instance, he noted, “They can’t coin money, they can’t have an army, they can’t have a navy, they can’t engage in treaties, they can’t make a compact with another quasi-sovereign, without the express permission of Congress. Those are not attributes of an entity that has sovereignty. But the notion that a justice could think that controlling the borders of the state is an attribute of sovereignty that a state has, fundamentally transforms, I think, the nature of our Constitution.”

When it comes to state’s right  Scalia, like a lot of the wacky Right, seems to forget their version of sovereignty was rejected in a little confrontation called the Civil War and the Constitutionalists won, and the treasonous Confederates lost.

P.S. Over the years I got a couple of interviews with Nora Ephron and saw her movies of course. She seemed like such a warm, smart and funny woman. Writer and Filmmaker With a Genius for Humor.

Red Apple Water Drops wallpaper – Republicans Show True Colors, Contempt for Democracy

summer, spring, water drops

Red Apple Water Drops wallpaper

 

Remember the famous or infamous words of George W. Bush, “Spreading the seeds of democracy”. A phrase employed by Bush administration officials and their conservative Republican surrogates to justify the invasion of Iraq. An after the invasion rationale used because their initial justification – that Iraq has WMD and were an “urgent” threat to the national security of the U.S. fail apart. Juan Cloe, Glenn Greenwald and countless others pointed out the hypocrisy when the U.S. was supporting authoritarian military governments like that in Egypt. That real democracy meant that if given a chance many of those countries in the Middle-East (Libya, Saudi Arabia are two examples) were given the opportunity to participate in a truly democratic election they would in many cases vote in governments of which conservatives would not approve. Iraq was supposedly Bush’s legacy of – the planting of the seed of democracy – given the chance to vote, what did the people of Iraq do – they voted in some radicals – leaders of groups who had been fighting U.S. troops in the streets and with IEDs that killed and maimed U.S. military. Conservatives have been pushing for war with Iran. Iraq’s parliament enjoys fairly close diplomatic ties with Tehran. So democracy or something resembling a nascent democracy has started in Egypt. Who’s complaining that it was better to have a military dictatorship? Conservatives who sold us all that spreading the seeds of democracy garbage:  Whiskey! Democracy!

 This is also wonderful. Power Tools! (Power Tolls is the Republican blog PowerLine)

Let’s hope that the Obama administration doesn’t follow the Jimmy Carter playbook for dealing with revolutions in strategically vital Islamic nations.

Once upon a time, way back ten years ago, we had to invade a strategically vital Islamic nation to Create Democracy. Now we need to maybe consider attacking a strategically vital Islamic nation because of Democracy.

Hooray!

Power Tools explicitly informs us that the best thing we can do for the peoples of Strategically Vital Islamic Nations is to maintain proxy military dictatorships.

Truly, they hate us for Our Freedoms.

Rep. Allen – I see commie everywhere – West (R-FL) joins in the hypocrisy on his FaceBook page. West was stationed in Iraq and helped, as best as an insane ideologue can – to make Iraq a safe place for Islamic radicals to be voted into office and now he’s complaining. Both Power Tools and West don’t know what they’re talking about, but when has that ever stopped a conservative from blindly ranting nonsense. Egypt’s new government is certainly far from my dream of a democratic republic, but it is a step towards a more moderate state. There are some rational players who made it into the new parliament. Mursi and the Brotherhood in a Pluralist Egypt

That is, all the doomsaying about Egypt turning into Iran is to say the least premature, since Mursi at the moment is more Tantawi’s vice president than anything else.

Moreover, despite the Orientalist impulse in Western writing to see everything in the Middle East as black and white, as fundamentalist or libertine, Egypt’s political geography has been revealed by this year’s elections to be diverse. It isn’t just puritans versus belly dancers.

Here are the major factions according to the outcome of the first round of presidential elections, in which there were numerous candidates with strong ideological commitments. I was in Egypt for that election and did a lot of interviewing with Egyptians of all stripes, coming away impressed at how all over the place the electorate was. (Obviously I’m using the candidates below as a sort of political shorthand, and there is more overlap than the categories suggest, but this is ballpark):

1. The Labor Left, led by Hamdeen Sabahi (20.17%)
2. Classic liberals, led by Amr Moussa (11.13%)
3. Authoritarian secularists,led by Ahmad Shafiq (23.66%)
4. Muslim liberals, led by Abdul Moneim Abou’l-Futouh (17.47%)
5. Muslim fundamentalist, led by Muhammad Mursi (24.78%)

The military, headed by Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, still retains quite a bit of power. President Muhammad Mursi is likely to appoint some less ideologically rigid followers to his government as a reward for backing him in the power struggle. While Egypt has some religious common ground with Iran one should always remember that Iranians are Persians, not Arabs and not Egyptians. Historical tribal loyalties also mean identity. Egypt is not about to give up its identity to the Iranian mullahs. As usual conservatives do not want to deal in very important details. Egypt is moving in the right direction. It may take a generation or more for them to become the Sweden of North Africa, but they’re closer now than they were a couple of years ago. The original ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, called the Bill of Rights were ratified in 1791. These included basic rights such as freedom of speech, freedom to petition the government, yet with these basic rights as part of our framework it would be almost another hundred years before African-Americans had those rights and it was not until 1920 women in the U.S. had the universal right to vote .

Back during the Bush-era I used to read conservative Kathleen Parker at the WaPo. As far as conservatives pundits go she could be fairly rational once in a while. In the end the kool-aid is just too strong, Kathleen Parker: Ann Romney has a horse. So what?

Thus, Ann Romney, wife of the presumptive Republican nominee, recently became a target of ridicule when it was revealed that she co-owns an Olympian horse that will compete in dressage, a sport she apparently enjoys.

Parker goes on to play the sympathy card, pointing out Ann Romney’s illness – of which we’re all certainly sympathetic, but that is not the point and Parker knows it. It’s Not About the Damn Ponies

It’s true that Romney makes most of his annual income off of dividends and capital gains he earns by investing his fortune. But he made $374,327.62 in 2010 on speaker’s fees alone. That’s a figure, by the way, that Romney characterized as “not very much” money. Kathleen Parker thinks people are just hating on the Romneys’ success out of some kind of pony-envy, but we’re really appalled about something completely different. We’re appalled that he wants to cut way back on programs to help the poor and middle-class survive and advance in our society at the same time that he wants to hand out a $250,000 annual income tax break to millionaires. Over a four-year presidential term, that would be a million dollar tax break to everyone who made a million dollars a year for those four years. You can’t make a proposal like that when you are worth a quarter of a billion dollars and then complain about the budget deficit and call for massive cuts in social spending, and then think you’ll be above criticism.

As for Ann Romney’s horse, Ms. Parker doesn’t get into the specifics for a good reason. Apparently, the Romneys formed a corporation to deal with this horse, and they declared a $77,000 loss in 2010 for that corporation. If the corporation ever makes any money by, for example, breeding this Olympic-performing horse, they can write off those losses. And you thought the Olympics were about amateur sports!

Because of the way tax laws actually pay rich people to buy stuff the government or the people are underwriting Romney’s horses. because of tax laws pertaining to mortgage deductions we’re also helping the Romney’s pay for their mansions. There was a time and place for some of this subsidizing certain economic activity as a way for the government to encourage, in this instance, buying a house. Building houses was one of the things that – having exported so much of our manufacturing – kept the economy going. Young guys that did not go to college stopped going to work at the local mill and got a fair wage framing houses or installing AC. Arguments can be made for and against continuing some of these tax incentives, but let’s not use them to shield very wealthy people from criticism. For taking advantage of those tax breaks in ways that take advantage of the system – and to defend them with tedious false outrage. I’ve had a couple of friends who have had MS, had insurance – while things were rough for a while medically and finacially, luckily they recovered. So it is also tragically ironic that Parker should use Ann Romney’s MS as a shield against criticism of tax breaks when it is possible that this week or next the SCOTUS may strike down the Affordable care Act (Obamacare) – Real People, Real Problems: The Stakes of the Obamacare Lawsuit

Do you care how the Supreme Court rules on health care reform this week? I don’t mean in the political sense. I mean in the personal sense—because the law’s fate is a very personal matter for many millions of Americans.

They’re the Americans who have diabetes and Crohn’s disease, cancer and hay fever. They’re the Americans who don’t have access to health benefits and the Americans who have access to health benefits but can’t afford to pay for them. There are a lot of these people, more perhaps than you realize—at least tens of millions and perhaps more than a hundred million, depending on how you want to define the categories. If by now you’re thinking, gee, maybe I could end up becoming one of those people, you’re right. Death and taxes aren’t the only certain things in life. Accident, illness, and injury are too. They’ve plunged the lives of plenty of Americans, even those who thought they had good insurance, into financial and physical chaos.

There is no opting out of health care in any rational view of being alive. This is what the ever supposedly empathic Parker would like to take away from people who don’t own dressage horses or mansions, and what Ann Romney would take way as well,  10 Things You Would Miss About Obamacare

1) Access to health insurance for 30 million Americans and lower premiums. More than 30 million uninsured Americans will find coverage under the law. Middle-class families who buy health care coverage through the exchanges will be eligible for refundable and advanceable premium credits and cost-sharing subsidies to ensure that the coverage they have is affordable.

2) The ability of businesses and individuals to purchase comprehensive coverage from a regulated marketplace. The law creates new marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to compare and purchase comprehensive coverage. Insurers will have to meet quality measures to ensure that Americans can access comprehensive coverage when they need it.

3) Insurers’ inability to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Beginning in 2014, insurers can no longer deny insurance to families or individuals with pre-existing conditions. Insurers are also prohibited from placing lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage and rescinding insurers except in cases of fraud. Insurers are already prohibited from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions.

4) Tax credits for small businesses that offer insurance. Small employers that purchase health insurance for employees are already receiving tax credits to encourage them to continue providing coverage.

If after March 23, 2010 someone was denied insurance coverage because they had MS that was a violation of the law. If the SCOTUS strikes down the law and they’re still suffering from MS the insurance company could just cancel their insurance coverage. Though Ann will still have her horse therapy. Other MS victims will either pay out-of-pocket, hope a charity hospital will treat them for free or just suffer. If the Romneys are such good-moral people, why aren’t they outraged at the possibility that many Americans will die because of the lack of health insurance.

Antique Celestial Chart 1730 – The Republican Myth That Productivity is Rewarded

Antique Celestial Chart 1730. Listed on the side are the longitudes and latitudes of the constellations. The mythical figures give it an artistic look, but the precision of the measurements are an indication of the embrace of the scientific method.

Four Books on the Nature and Virtues of Plants and Animals for Medicinal Purposes in New Spain

Description

Francisco Hernández de Toledo (1514–87) was a court physician, who in 1570 was ordered by King Philip II of Spain to embark on a scientific mission to New Spain (as Mexico was then called) to study the medicinal plants of the New World. For seven years Hernández traveled throughout the country, collecting specimens and gathering information on how plants were used by indigenous physicians. He returned to Spain in 1577 with 16 volumes of notes and with numerous illustrations made by three indigenous painters who assisted him in his work. Hernández died in 1587 without seeing his work published. His editor, Recchi, also died, in 1595, without being able to finish the work. Quatro libros de la naturaleza y virtudes de las plantas y animales que estan receuidos en el uso de la medicina en la Nueva España (Four books on the nature and virtues of plants and animals for medicinal purposes in New Spain) is a Spanish translation of the original Latin of Hernández. It was made by Francisco Ximenez, a friar and nurse at the Convent of San Domingo de Mexico, and published in Mexico in 1615. Because none of the handwritten copies that Hernández left in Mexico survived, Ximenez used a copy of Recchi’s summary for this edition. Ximenez added some personal observations and removed the illustrations. The translation and new observations as to pharmaceutical methods, doses, and preparations showed an advance in knowledge over the original findings of Hernández, but they were not part of the broader European scientific revolution, which generally bypassed the Spanish science of the day.

Such a shame that the original illustrations have been lost. Up until that time no scientific work has so thoroughly detailed the plant life of the New World and possible medicinal properties.

President Obama Was Right – The Private Sector is Doing Fine, Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low

1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from “too much regulation” and “too many taxes.” Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren’t).

Corporate profits as Percent of GDP

2) Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades. One reason corporations are so profitable is that they don’t employ as many Americans as they used to.

3) Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. This is both cause and effect. One reason companies are so profitable is that they’re paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those “wages” are other companies’ revenue.

If the White House and Congress are full of socialists, that must mean that socialism is good for corporate profits. Or conservatives are intellectually incapable of defending the plutocratic we have and yelling socialists like the boy who cried wolf is just a way to distract attention from reality. Wealthiest Americans Dramatically Increase Income

A huge share of US economic growth during the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans, who now make an average of $27 million per household, according to new Mother Jones analysis of varied governmental and academic data. In contrast, the average income for the bottom 90% of the US population is $31,244.

Mother Jones analysis shows a more than 400% jump in income between the bottom 90% and top 1-10%, who average $164,467. This figure increases by about nine times to almost $1.14 million for the top 2%, and then almost triples to about $3.24 million for the top 0.1 to 0.01%, before again increasing almost nine times for the very top of the US economic stratosphere.

If you read some conservative Republican pundits on the net, when writing about how the economy should work, they have taken to using buzzwords along the line of – we have an economy that rewards people who try to live up to their potential. Obviously not true. Worker productivity is high, yet wages have either stagnated or gone done. The bottom 75% of workers are working to their potential, but most of the rewards for that work are being redistributed upwards. Taxes and regulation, the allegedly two big barriers to corporate success are obviously not holding down corporate profits.

Mitt Romney and the conservative Republican version of capitalism is not capitalism. Its legalized vampirism. That should be insulting enough for the average American, but they rub salt in the wound when they claim that what they’re doing is virtuous and all-American. Companies’ Ills Did Not Harm Romney’s Firm

Cambridge Industries, an automotive plastics supplier whose losses had been building for three consecutive years, finally filed for bankruptcy in May 2000 under a mountain of debt that had ballooned to more than $300 million.

Yet Bain Capital, the private equity firm that controlled the Michigan-based company, continued to religiously collect its $950,000-a-year “advisory fee” in quarterly installments, even to the very end, according to court documents.

In all, Bain garnered more than $10 million in fees from Cambridge over five years, including a $2.25 million payment just for buying the company, according to bankruptcy records and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, Bain’s investors saw their $16 million investment in Cambridge wiped out.

That Bain was able to reap revenue from Cambridge, even as it foundered, was hardly unusual.

The private equity firm, co-founded and run by Mitt Romney, held a majority stake in more than 40 United States-based companies from its inception in 1984 to early 1999, when Mr. Romney left Bain to lead the Salt Lake City Olympics. Of those companies, at least seven eventually filed for bankruptcy while Bain remained involved, or shortly afterward, according to a review by The New York Times. In some instances, hundreds of employees lost their jobs. In most of those cases, however, records and interviews suggest that Bain and its executives still found a way to make money.

I have never meet or heard of a Democrat to whom moral values were not important. Conservatives, despite their regularly recurring lapses in the area of fidelity and personal behavior, seem to think what goes on in people’s bedrooms is the beginning and end of morality. What a normal, fairly rational American would describe as a kind of theft, cheating, con-game, unearned rewards, merit-less income, a swindle, a scheme – conservative Republicans consider virtue. Conservatives have catapulted past putting lipstick on a pig to making grand theft a noble aspiration. They think because they use spread sheets, lawyers, accountants, bankers and complicated financial instruments to perpetrate their crimes, that makes it legitimate commerce.

Samuel Wurzelbacher(Joe The Plumber) Defends Campaign Ad Tying Holocaust To Gun Control

Earlier this week, Samuel Wurzelbacher — known to most as Joe the Plumber — posted a campaign ad on YouTube that sought to blame gun control laws for human atrocities, including the Armenian genocide of the early 1900s and the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II.

Amazingly, Wurzelbacher kept digging. Yesterday in an interview with the Toledo Blade, Wurzelbacher defended the ad by denying he ever mentioned the Holocaust:

“All I said was gun control was implemented, and then governments proceeded to violate human rights,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “Nowhere did I mention the Holocaust or was I even talking about it.”

Apparently, Wurzelbacher can’t find any references–explicit or otherwise–to the Holocaust in the lines “In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, 6 million Jews and 7 million others, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated.” Worse, he goes on to blame “the liberal media” for pointing out the obvious–and deeply offensive–Holocaust reference.

His campaign spokesman Phil Christofanelli told the paper that the story was “generated by left-wing liberal blogs and picked up by the ‘sympathetic liberal media.’” Jewish groups were swift to condemn the ad, as were Democrats and the overwhelming majority of viewers on YouTube. As of publication, the ad has been viewed almost 50,000 times and most of the feedback has been negative. ( When you repeat what someone said on video verbatim that makes you a liberal)

You know what might be the craziest possibility here. That Sam does not think the the Holocaust, and the massive imprisonments and deaths between 1939 and 1945 were the same thing. As recounted elsewhere conservatives have a dreadful and bizarre knowledge of history. I’m a gun owner. While I think some people – those who are disabled, the elderly, single women or men should consider buying and learning to use a hand gun to protect against home invasions if nothing else ( it is an important decision, not to be taken lightly. Children die from mishandling their parents hidden guns all the time.), that does not mean that guns possess some kind of magic. They will not save you in all circumstances. If 80% of your neighbors own guns and become political fanatics the odds of shooting your way out of that situation are slim.

Republican Jerry Sandusky Found Guilty On 45 Counts. I mention that he is a Republican, not because it means that all Republicans are sexual predators, but as a reminder that Republicans give us the daily sanctimonious bullsh*t that they walk on water and are the only good Americans. Though I doubt this will slow the river of self righteous doggerel.

 

Beach Conch Shell wallpaper – Republicans Have a History of Malice and Lies

 Beach Conch Shell wallpaper

I guess I should add that found shells should be thrown back into the ocean as other sea creatures use them as homes and protection.

Darrell Issa Shows Contemptible Disregard for the Constitution or what is Darrell Issa hiding?

The chairman’s heavy-handed style invoted the reproach that the contempt vote was “nothing more than a political witch hunt,” as People for the American Way president Michael Keegan termed it.

“To be sure, Congress has a legitimate interest in investigating Operation Fast and Furious, but Chairman Issa and Republican majority on the Committee appear to be more interested in scoring political points than in getting to the bottom of what happened,” argued Keegan, who added that, “The hoops the Committee is demanding the Attorney General jump through illustrate that these contempt hearings are as partisan as they are extreme. Over the course of this ‘investigation,’ the Committee has ordered the A.G. to produce documents whose confidentiality is protected by federal law, has refused to subpoena Bush Administration officials to testify about their knowledge of the operation during their time in office, has refused to allow public testimony from officials whose testimony counters Issa’s partisan narrative, and has repeatedly rejected the A.G.’s efforts to accommodate the committee, making compliance all but impossible.”

Issa’s actions undermined not just his own credibility but any sense that he and his allies might be acting in defense of — or with any regard for — the Constitution.

There is no reason to suggest that Holder is above criticism for his actions as Attorney General. He has been called out by Democrats as well as Republicans on a variety of issues. And he has not always managed his response to Issa’s abuses well. Nor should anyone who vaiues transparency and government oversight be pleased when a president determines that it is necessary to invoke “executive privilege” in a fight with Congress, as Barack Obama has done to thwart Issa’s demands.

But it is Issa whose actions have been contemptible. He is demanding deliberative documents that are ordinarily off-limits to Congress, a big ask, yet he has not built a credible coalition of supporters for the demand. And when the details of the documents and the issues involved are laid out—along with the offers by Holder to brief the committee—it quickly becomes evident that the committee chairman is so unwilling to compromise that he won’t take “yes” for an answer.

It is an old legal and political tactic to keep asking for documents when all the relevant documentation has either been released or  as in this case, the AG has offered to brief the committee in private. No, you must have some more documents somewhere – example Paul Mirengoff at Power Liars:
Those Fast and Furious documents must be dynamite. That is an assertion without evidence. Conservative web sites irregardless the hundreds of words they use – are using that as a large part of their argument. There must be more, we just know it in our hearts. Yet looking back over the way in which Issa has conducted his “investigation” it is obvious he is ignoring witnesses and documents that go back to the Bush administration and their “gun walking” program. There is also another aspect of the gun walking program that is laden with public relations land mines – the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Terry was apparently killed with one of the guns sold in the program. I would never make the case that gun walking was the brightest idea ATF ever had. It is certainly tragic that anyone, especially a law enforcement agent was killed  in connection with the program. That said, one assumes that Terry’s family has followed things closely, yet they have been quick to publicly condemn Holder, yet have no public criticisms of Issa. because of the circumstances what the Terry family says carries some wait in terms of the public perception and political aspect, if not the purely legal one. Why haven’t they used that leverage to pressure Issa about the political witch hunt agenda. In contrast to truth finding. One thing about arrogant narcissists like Issa is they will slip up eventually. He let the public know how he viewed his war on AG Holder in an interview on Fox, Fast & Furious Inanity Reaches New Heights

Darrell Issa, one of the GOP’s star attack dogs, more or less admitted the fever swamp origins of tea party outrage over Fast & Furious when he told Sean Hannity that Obama was using the program to “somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.”

I’ve read some circumstantial evidence in the last few months that Issa and conservatives were, at least in part, using fast and Furious to whip up some more gun control conspiracy outrage among the NRA crowd. It turns out yet another time in which reasonable people were correct and conservatives have been caught being less than truthful and their motivations purely political. Rightie libertarians join in at The Volokh Conspiracy. VC writes an occasional good post about 1st amendment rights. Who do they go to for facts about Fast and Furious one of the fast and Furious Urban Myth cultists David Kopel, who writes, Is President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege valid?

Fast & Furious was a program implemented by the Arizona office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, in Sept. 2009 through January 2011.

he could buy himself some plausible deniability by claiming that he was going with the name change, but gun walking started back in the Bush administration.

The 2007 probe operated out of the same ATF office that more recently ran the flawed Operation Fast and Furious. Both probes resulted in weapons disappearing across the border into Mexico, according to the emails. The 2007 probe was relatively small — involving over 200 weapons, just a dozen of which ended up in Mexico as a result of gun-walking. Fast and Furious involved over 2,000 weapons, some 1,400 of which have not been recovered and an unknown number of which wound up in Mexico.

Earlier this month, it was disclosed that the gun-walking tactic didn’t begin under Obama, but was also used in 2006 under his predecessor, George W. Bush. The probe, Operation Wide Receiver, was carried out by ATF’s Tucson, Ariz., office and resulted in hundreds of guns being transferred to suspected arms traffickers.

The older gun-walking cases now coming to light from the Bush administration illustrate how ATF — particularly its Phoenix field division, encompassing Tucson, Ariz., as well as Phoenix — has struggled for years to counter criticism that its normal seize-and-arrest tactics never caught any trafficking kingpins and were little more than a minor irritant that didn’t keep U.S. guns out of the hands of Mexican gangs.

Even those cases against low-level straw buyers are problematic for the ATF. There is no federal firearms trafficking law, making it difficult to prosecute cases. So law enforcement agencies resort to a wide variety of laws that do not carry stringent penalties — particularly for straw buyers.

Documents and emails relating to the 2007 case were produced or made available months ago to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, though the Republicans on the panel have said little about them. In the congressional investigation, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has focused on the questions of what Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, knew about Fast and Furious, and when he knew it.

Following the e-mail trail from that investigation it is clear that mistakes were made. Did a list of mistakes ever make it to Holder’s desk. Did he ever have the details of what field agents were doing. Since the Phoenix field division chief of the ATF seemed a little confused about the details and legal authorization it seems doubtful that Holder knew of and approved Fast and Furious. And he obviously cannot be held responsible the program that it morphed out of, Operation Wide Receiver.

Some essential reading on the subject, What The Right Wing Media Won’t Tell You About The Subpoenaed Fast And Furious Documents – Holder has provided over 140,000 documents to Issa. Issa keeps asking for documents because he cannot find any that support his wacky agenda. And Five Things To Know About The Republican Witchhunt Against Attorney General Holder.

 

 

Back during the Bush-era many Democrats said over and over again that the Bush administration was lying about what they knew and did leading up to 9/11. Conservatives, with no proof said they were lying. They were wrong than and they continue to be wrong. Conservatives owe the USA yet another apology the country will never get.  This is from a report done in 2004: Claim vs. Fact: Condoleezza Rice’s Opening Statement

CLAIM: “We decided immediately to continue pursuing the Clinton Administration’s covert action authorities and other efforts to fight the network.”

FACT: Newsweek reported that “In the months before 9/11, the U.S. Justice Department curtailed a highly classified program called ‘Catcher’s Mitt’ to monitor al-Qaida suspects in the United States.” Additionally, AP reported “though Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000, the Bush administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months,” thus terminating the reconnaissance missions started during the Clinton Administration. [Sources: Newsweek, 3/21/04; AP, 6/25/03]

In a recent report, New NSA 9/11 docs – “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released,”

Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn’t get the institutional support they needed,” says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.

Ace national security adviser Condoleezza Rice is among those conservatives who said no one could have predicted that al-Qaida would attack.

CLAIM by Rice : “We increased funding for counterterrorism activities across several agencies.”

FACT: Upon taking office, the 2002 Bush budget proposed to slash more than half a billion dollars out of funding for counterterrorism at the Justice Department. In preparing the 2003 budget, the New York Times reported that the Bush White House “did not endorse F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators” and “proposed a $65 million cut for the program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants.” Newsweek noted the Administration “vetoed a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism.” [Sources: 2001 vs. 2002 Budget Analysis; NY Times, 2/28/02; Newsweek, 5/27/02]

Again from the NSA papers,

And yet, simultaneously, the CIA declared that budget concerns were forcing it to move its Counterterrorism Center/Osama bin Laden Unit from an “offensive” to a “defensive” posture. For the CIA, that meant trying to get Afghan tribal leaders and the Northern Alliance to kill or capture bin Laden, Elias-Sanborn says. “It was forced to be less of a kinetic operation,” she says. “It had to be only for surveillance, which was not what they considered an offensive posture.”

“Budget concerns … CT [counterterrorism] supplemental still at NSC-OMB [National Security Council – Office of Management and Budget] level,” an April 2000 document reads. “Need forward movement on supplemental soonest due to expected early recess due to conventions, campaigning and elections.” In addition, the Air Force told the CIA that if it lost a drone, the CIA would have to pay for it, which made the agency more reluctant to use the technology.

I read at least a couple of conservative blogs or magazine sites every day. Every day they have some new black helicopter tale about Democrats. They never turn out to be true. Yet time and again from Watergate to Iran-Contra to letting Bin laden escape to failing to protect the country in the months leading up to 9/11, Republicans have been found to be malevolent and criminally negligent. And they want to cut Mitt Romney’s taxes and increase taxes on the middle-class, Middle class could face higher taxes under Republican plan, analysis finds

To wit, the budget of GOP wunderkind Paul Ryan(R-WI)—which calls for big tax cuts, small deductions, and severe spending cuts—would raise middle-class taxes, and give a huge break to the wealthiest Americans. The Washington Post reports:

The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday. […]

The net result: Married couples in that income range would pay an additional $2,700 annually to the Internal Revenue Service, on top of the tax increases that are scheduled to hit every American household when the George W. Bush-era cuts expire at the end of the year. Households earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.

 

One more Republican conspiracy that said more about them than the truth was the health care reform will kill grand ma conspiracy theory. That was a lie of monstrous proportions repeated by mouth breathers with no sense of decency or shame. What is true is that killing health care reform might well kill grand ma, Over 26,000 annual deaths for uninsured: report

More than 26,000 working-age adults die prematurely in the United States each year because they lack health insurance, according to a study published ahead of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

On reading that news many Republicans probably cheered.

 

Today in American History. On June 21,1882: Artist Rockwell Kent is born. He illustrated sold-out 1930 edition of Moby Dick with haunting images.

In early 1841 at the age of 21, Herman Melville shipped out on a voyage to the Pacific Ocean aboard the Massachusetts whaler Acushnet, which he deserted in the Marquesa Islands after only 18 months. He then served briefly on the Australian whaler Lucy Ann; the Nantucket whaler Charles & Henry, and in the US Navy. His whaleship experience supplied the background for his sixth and most famous novel, Moby-Dick, or the Whale, published in 1851. The first American edition of Moby-Dick of 2,915 copies did not sell well at $1.50 and only netted Melville lifetime earnings of $556.37.

Although he continued to write poetry and fiction, Melville supported himself as a New York City customs inspector for 19 years before dying in 1891 at the age of 72. It was not until the 1920s that Melville achieved recognition as one of the icons of American literature. This 1930 edition of Moby Dick, published by Random House and illustrated by Rockwell Kent, introduced Melville to thousands of Americans.

Moby Dick cover, 1931 edition.

Moby Dick illustration

Every year there are a few lists of overrated classics. Moby Dick does not usually make those lists and for good reason. It is actually a good book.

Industrial Gears wallpaper – Romney Makes Weird Sandwich to Medicare Comparison, Conservative Media Stumbles

Industrial Gears wallpaper

 

Conservatives do and say dumb things. It happens that dumb things are not that difficult to report yet some of the press is not able to put the latest Romney goofiness in perspective – MSNBC mischaracterizes(sic) Romney remarks

MSNBC aired footage today that inaccurately portrayed Mitt Romney’s remarks at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania.

Discussing how the public sector suffers from a lack of competition, Romney told the audience about an optometrist who wanted to change his address and subsequently received 33 pages of paperwork from the federal government, which begat a months-long bureaucratic nightmare during which the optometrist in question wasn’t receiving his checks. “That’s how government works,” Romney said.

Then, to illustrate the advantages of competition in the private sector, Romney shared an anecdote from his visit to the local WaWa chain store. “I was at WaWas, I went in to order a sandwich. You press a little touchtone keypad — you touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier — there’s your sandwich. It’s amazing. People in the private sector have learned how to compete. It’s time to bring some competition to the federal government.”

But in the MSNBC clip, which first aired on Andrea Mitchell Reports, Romney’s remarks begin with the WaWa anecdote and end at “It’s amazing,” an edit — first noted by conservative blogger Sooper Mexican — that makes it seem as though Romney was expressing amazement at the advent of touchtone screens.

The MSNBC clip feeds into the narrative, beloved by some on the left, that Romney is a 1950’s throwback. After the clip cut, Mitchell and MSNBC contributor Chris Cillizza broke out into laughter — which is understandable, given that they both had been led to believe that Romney was wowed by a simple machine. In fact, what Romney found so “amazing” was the discord between private sector innovation and public sector bureaucracy.

Romney Medicare, subs and efficiency

This is simple. Romney made a bizarre apples to oranges comparison. Romney’s story – based on a totally unverified anecdote from one person reminds me of the Michele Bachmann(R-MN) statement about vaccines being dangerous. Why were vaccines dangerous according to Bachmann? Because a woman she meet at one of her rallies said so.

One, he could have changed his address on-line in a few minutes. One of the reasons it might take a little longer for a health care provider to change addresses is because Medicare has to take precautions against Medicare and Medicaid fraud. How in the world is that like using a debit card to buy a sub.

Romney plans to gut Medicare and Medicaid anyway so why does he care whether providers have to take a few minutes to file a change of address.

Romney’s little play acting was supposed to demonstrate how private sector efficiencies should be introduced into the public sector. There is just one little problem with that. Government efficiency is at its best in dispensing safety net benefits like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. In a study of private sector versus government, they came out about even in satisfaction ratings: Government is Good. An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution 

In the public’s view, government agencies are not only wasteful, they are enormously wasteful. Surveys reveal that Americans believe that 48 cents of every tax dollar going to bureaucracies like the Social Security Administration are wasted.3 Yet investigations by the Government Accounting Office and various blue-ribbon commissions have found that waste amounts to only a small fraction of that figure. Al Gore’s National Performance Review, conducted when he was vice-president, examined the federal bureaucracy in great detail and discovered that waste consisted of less than two cents of every tax dollar.4 Of course we should be ever vigilant about waste and try to eliminate it wherever we can find it, but it seems clear that the extent of this problem is being highly exaggerated by conservative critics of government. As one set of scholars who examined a wide variety of the studies on government waste concluded: “There is … little evidence to support the widespread impression that government inefficiency squanders huge amounts of money.”5

full size chart.

The numbers indicate citations. Is there government waste. Certainly. One of the most infamous examples was the outsourcing of government services to Blackwater, which became XE and than became Academi, “The congressional investigation found that Blackwater charges the government $1,222 per day for each private military operative – more than six times the wage of an equivalent soldier.” Is that the kind of private sector efficiencies Romney thinks are automatic as soon as we turn over government services to private contractors. Than there were those no-bid contracts to Halliburton( or its subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) – which squandered millions in tax dollars, sullied tainted drinking water to the troops, supplied shoddy wiring that electrocuted several soldiers. More here, Questionable Iraq Contracts May Exceed $10 Billion. Liberal media? If there were such a thing they would do their job and make Romney answer some tough questions about the drivel he passes off as keen insights. Another recent example: Experts Say Romney’s Defense Plan Doesn’t Add Up

Romney wants to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Should he and his Republican cult succeed in doing so they will also be repealing the cost efficiencies built into health care reform –   Quality Health Care Delivered Effectively and Efficiently.

Not all the the ACA has even been implemented yet and it has already saved tax payers $2.5 billion in Medicare fraud. Not bad considering that Medicare fraud has less than 2% fraud rate.

The media seems to buy into the Romney is now, since the primaries are over, a moderate. yet the sub sandwich story demonstrates that like the NYT resident conservative David Brooks, Mittens is just sneakier about selling deeply false, radical and weird points of view.

Conservatives do seem to have a loyal devotion to falsehoods. Sometimes they know better and are just being malevolent. Other times they appear to believe their own hogwash. The jack bootd poster at the Republican site Atlas Shrugged posted this fantasy, Obama Threatens Any Opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt with the Withdrawal of All U.S. Aid

The Obama administration warned Egypt’s military leaders on Monday to speedily hand over power or risk losing billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic aid to the country.

It wasn’t enough that Obama invited the Muslim Brotherhood to his submission speech in Cairo in June 2009, despite the fact that the group was banned at that time for obvious reasons: they wanted to install a Sharia government, and the draconian, barbaric code of Sharia in Egypt. It wasn’t enough that after he invited the Brotherhood to his speech, he had officials in his administration meeting with this Islamic supremacist group. It wasn’t enough that he abandoned the true freedom movement, when the women of Iran and the Persians, Zoroastrians rose up after 30 years of oppressive Sharia rule. He spit on them and left them to die.

The reality: President Obama warned the Egyptian military – who the CIA, Special Forces and Naval Air helped defeat – to respect the results of the democratically help elections: Obama administration warns Egypt’s military leaders to hand over power or risk losing US aid

As Egypt’s Islamist candidate claimed victory in a presidential run-off, Pentagon and State Department officials expressed concern with a last-minute decree by Egypt’s ruling military council giving itself sweeping authority to maintain its grip on power and subordinate the nominal head of state. The move followed last week’s dissolution of parliament by an Egyptian court.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said the U.S. was troubled by the timing of the military leaders’ announcement, just as polls closed Sunday night for the presidential election. He said the U.S. would urge them “to relinquish power to civilian elected authorities and to respect the universal rights of the Egyptian people and the rule of law.”

The military council pledged Monday to hand over power to the new civilian authorities by the end of the month.

But the new military powers and the recent collapse of Egypt’s first freely and fairly elected parliament have Washington concerned about the perilous state of Egypt’s democratic transition. The Obama administration has sought to safeguard its interests while championing change in Egypt. Sunday’s election runoff were the second round of the first presidential elections after three decades of authoritarian rule under Hosni Mubarak, who made Cairo a bulwark of American influence in the Middle East before being pushed from power in February 2011.

So Atlas Shrugged is portraying the Egyptian military’s attempt to declare the democratic elections void as the same as support for Muslim radicals. She does know that the military is Muslim as well? The “He spit on them and left them to die” silliness is just delusional. It is a reference to the Iranian protests of 2011. What she wanted was for the U.S. to invade Iran just like we did Iraq. The Iranian people showed no signs they wanted an invasion that would have likely caused hundreds of thousands of causalities – and ended up being twice the nightmare of Iraq. I’m pretty darn sure that at no time did President Obama spit on those Iranian protesters. Conservatives are pushing for war with Iran. Which they hope to get with a Romney presidency. To his credit, thus far anyway, Romney has laid out a plan similar to President Obamas’. For those liberals who think there is only degrees of difference between conservatives and Democrats on foreign policy, be thankful for those few degrees of difference.

Senator Scott Brown(R-MA) is quite the little prima donna or just a wuss, I’ll only debate you if that widow shuts up

Furthermore, Brown says that he can only get asked about the Boston Red Sox and Celtics and how awesome they are.

And Elizabeth Warren has to wear an “I love Hitler” T-shirt.

Brown has agreed to two radio debates, including one being moderated by Dan Rea, a conservative-leaning talk show host, and another hosted by Margery Eagan, a Boston Herald columnist…

What, was Newsmax not available? The Herald, of course, is the city’s right-wing newspaper which has relentlessly flogged the “Warren is a fake Native American” non-story. Brown is desperately trying to stay on safe territory.

But hey, can you blame him? He’s woefully out-of-touch with his state’s electorate, so if he can hide the “debates” on wingnut radio, that would be a plus for him.

But telling a widow to shut the fuck up? That level of crassness you couldn’t make up.

 

Seattle Night Skyline wallpaper – Republicans, Immigration and Hypocrisy

Seattle Night Skyline wallpaper

Immigrant and radical conservative Neil Munro was clearly acting like a heckler, not a reporter. of course that makes him the far Right’s new hero. Conservatism is something of a cult of hero-worship. They invent them regularly. In his best imitation of the late Andrew Brietbart, having been slapped down by President Obama with admirable restraint at that, Munro skunked off off like a petulant child who had been scolded for flinging mashed potatoes at the dinner table. The Right’s reaction has generally been either to cheer on this knid of bratty behavior or to timidly condemn it. Neil Munro bad, media worse, say conservative bloggers at RightOnline

“I found it embarrassing. I like the Daily Caller, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to interrupt the president during a speech,” said Jon Fleischman, who writes the FlashReport on California politics. “It diminishes the stature of the office of the president of the United States, and Obama does that well enough for himself.”

One assumes Fleishman voted for the worse president in history twice and is ready to vote for a continuation of Bush 43 with the election of Mittens.

At the same time that they disagreed with the way Munro acted, conservative bloggers gathered at the Venetian Hotel here said the question was legit and needed to be asked.

“The fact that he would interrupt the president, I don’t agree with that. But the question needed to be asked. I commend him for [asking that question], but his timing might have been a little off,” said Jim Hoft, who writes GatewayPundit.

Munro’s moronic question was  “Why’d you favor foreigners over Americans?” in regards president Obama executive order to halt deportation of illegal immigrants attending college  – those brought here as children by their parents. For all intent and purposes they are Americans. They and their parents have worked, paid taxes and purchase goods and services that fuel the economy. Only in the twisted thinking of a conservative is being fair and humane to these people showing some kind of bias for “foreigners”. If Munro has no genuinely inkling of what constitutes obnoxious and stupid behavior he needs to return home and have his parents re-raise him with some sense of decency and honor. The question assumes without presenting facts. An old conservative mental glitch that shows no signs of weaning. Mike Huckabee  ( who Ann Coulter once called the Republican Jimmy Carter) defends Obama’s decision while throwing in an absurd objection to the ‘way’ it is going to be implemented :

Dave Briggs came back to the policy rather than the way it was implemented, asking whether it was a “job-killer,” which Huckabee said was “not necessarily” the case, since the people affected are educated in the United States, many of them proven very intelligent. “You don’t punish a kid for what his or her parents did,” adding that this stance “makes me very unpopular with a lot of Republicans.” Alisyn Camerota noted he was not alone among Republicans, either, with Sen. Marco Rubio and John McCain pushing modified versions of the act.

“This isn’t amnesty,” Huckabee explained, but a “pathway to become legal” for people for whom “it doesnt make sense to throw you out because you’ve done well.”

What’s up with the we kinda approve of the decision, but do not like the way it was implemented via executive order or it is unconstitutional for Presidents to make such decisions about laws governing how immigration policy is handled. As is usually the case when conservative Republicans start yammering about what presidents can do and the constitution, they’re either lying, clueless or being contentious assclowns: 10-19-2007, US Army Lures Foreigners with Promise of Citizenship

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has granted US citizenship to 32,500 foreign soldiers. In July 2002, US President George W. Bush issued an executive order to expand existing legislation to offer a fast track to citizenship to foreigners who agree to fight for the US Armed Forces. About 8,000 non-Americans have joined the US military every year since then.

The foreigners already represent 5 percent of all recruits. They even make up the majority of soldiers from some New York and Los Angeles neighborhoods. Four years and 3,800 US deaths after the beginning of the Iraq campaign, fewer and fewer American citizens are willing to fight in a war opposed by a majority of the US population. But despite the Iraq war’s lack of popularity, US generals are demanding 180,000 new recruits a year.

The Pentagon already spends $3.2 billion a year on recruitment, even sending its recruiters to high schools to persuade 17-year-olds still a year away from graduation to enlist.

The US military learned long ago that foreign recruits are often the most dedicated Americans.

An executive order that left Congress out. An executive order in which a president decided immigration policy without a change in the law. How can that be. Remember John Yoo, the Bush administration lawyer who made the Unitary Executive argument that if the president does it, whatever it is, it is legal. Without a shred of hypocritical shame he writes in the National Review – that also supported and defended Yoo’s Unitary Executive Theory – Executive Overreach, June 15, 2012 8:26 P.M.

President Obama’s claim that he can refuse to deport 800,000 aliens here in the country illegally illustrates the unprecedented stretching of the Constitution and the rule of law. He is laying claim to presidential power that goes even beyond that claimed by the Bush administration, in which I served. There is a world of difference in refusing to enforce laws that violate the Constitution (Bush) and refusing to enforce laws because of disagreements over policy (Obama).

See directly contradictory evidence that Bush did the same thing to furnish troops to fight in Iraq by way of a kind of amnesty program. What the Bush administration did do – and Yoo tacitly admits – is ignore what they thought was unconstitutional in conducting the infamous “war of terror”- like adhere to the Geneva Convention, of which the U.S. is a signatory and thus binding law. What Bush and Yoo were supposed to do in that case was challenge the status or constitutionality of our legal obligations to the SCOTUS, but Yoo and Bush never had the courage or moral character to do so. They simply ignored the law. There was one case that made it to SCOTUS that would serve as a rebuke to the Bush-Cheney-Yoo circle jerk of constitutional make-believe, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. A conservative SCOTUS said in the Hamdi decision that no, contrary to Yoo’s maniacal claims, Bush was not king.

The antics of Munro also brought up the subject of the media not doing its job – this is the most secretive president, where’s the transparency, the usual faux outrage by people in perpetual outrage mode over nonexistent issues or issues they have pumped full of hot air. President Obama has not been perfect, but in some ways his administration has been remarkably open compared to the Bush administration. Except in one area, national security related secrecy and executive power. January 22, 2009 – Obama’s First Executive Order Strikes a Blow for Transparency and the Rule of Law

In a world where political symbols matter, President Barack Obama chose a worthy subject for the first executive order of his new administration.

His first executive order, entitled “Presidential Records,” revokes Executive Order 13,233, President George W. Bush’s constitutionally lunatic procedure for enabling former Presidents and Vice Presidents to limit public access to their records. The obscurity of the subject does not diminish the importance of what the new President is signaling.

Transparency group’s report gives Obama mixed grades

The government also has made an effort to curb the number of government employees with “original classification authority,” or the ability to classify documents as top secret, secret or confidential. In 2008, there were 4,109 federal workers with this status. By 2009, the number had shrunk to 2,557 — the lowest since 1993. Even so, derivative classifications, or classified documents that can be changed or mutated, soared 135 percent in 2009, mainly because classified e-mail messages were included for the first time.

Finally, the administration reduced the number of backlogged requests by 40 percent in 2009, processing 55,000 more requests than it received in the fiscal year of 2009. Most of this drop is due to the Department of Homeland Security, which had 74,879 backlogs in 2008, but just 18,918 by the next year. Some of these backlogs are quite old; the longest pending request in 2009 was 18 years.

However, the administration has run into trouble with closed meetings, declining declassifications and a $75 billion National Intelligence Budget.

Conservatives and much of the public for that matter has a short memory about what happened two months ago much less scandals that happened four or more years ago. The Bush administration was not only one of the most secretive, but disseminated propaganda to the public under the gaze of real news, March 15, 2005, White House Defends Video News Releases.

The White House on Monday defended the administration’s use of video news releases that are sent to television stations across the country and frequently used without any acknowledgment of the government’s role in their production.

In an opinion last week, the Justice Department concluded that the practice was appropriate as long as the videos presented factual information about government programs. The memo was sent to heads of federal departments and agencies.

[  ]….The advice conflicts with the opinion of the Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress. The GAO says that video news releases amount to illegal “covert propaganda” when they fail to make plain that the government is behind the releases.

Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey criticized the Justice Department’s memo and asked Bush to order that it be rescinded.

“It is wrong to deceive the public with the creation of a phony news story,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is also illegal.”

There was also the Armstrong Williams scandal, No pundit left behind After Armstrong Williams pocketed $240,000 from the Department of Education, he conducted a flattering interview with Education Secretary Rod Paige for Sinclair Broadcasting.

Sinclair Broadcasting made headlines last year by aligning itself with partisan, conservative forces and pushing a political agenda. In May, the media conglomerate refused to air “Nightline” when Ted Koppel read aloud the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. (Antiwar propaganda, Sinclair executives claimed.) Then, in late fall, Sinclair pushed forward a one-sided, anti-John Kerry documentary on the eve of the election. In both cases, while ignoring charges of bias, Sinclair bosses seemed to relish their time in the spotlight.

But now Sinclair is getting burned by one of its conservative stars and the media company is running for the shadows. In the wake of news that its on-air mainstay, conservative talk-show host and syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams, pocketed $240,000 from the Department of Education in exchange for hyping a White House education initiative, Sinclair is going out of its way to distance itself from its prime-time pundit.

Conservatives will always consider the media librul as long as the media does not push far Right talking points 24/7. That is how they define bias. If it’s not conservative Republican produced propaganda, it’s not news. The media are not scrutinizing President Obama hard enough? The media let Bush and Republicans skate for eight years, Lapdogs to the end?

I’m thinking about the way Bush essentially walked away from press conferences during his first term (holding just 14 compared with Clinton’s 44); the way former chief of staff Andy Card famously dismissed the press as just another D.C. special interest group seeking access; the way the White House for years waved into press briefings a former $200-an-hour male escort with no journalism background and no serious press affiliation; the way Bush/Cheney declared war on The New York Times, using the newspaper as a campaign issue in the 2004 campaign; the way the administration churned out misleading video news releases that crossed the legal line into “covert propaganda”; and the way the administration audaciously paid off pundits like Armstrong Williams to secretly hype White House initiatives.

“Republicans have a clear, agreed-upon plan how to diminish the mainstream press,” is how Ron Suskind, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who was granted unique access inside the White House to report on the administration’s communication strategy, once summed up the situation. “For them, essentially the way to handle the press is the same as how to handle the federal government; you starve the beast. When it’s in a weakened and undernourished condition, then you’re able to effect a variety of subtle partisan and political attacks.”

[  ]…How is any of this surprising? There has been no camouflaging Bush’s strong feeling of contempt for the press, so why do journalists act disappointed when his derision radiates? For instance, it was a small detail but did you notice in Robert Draper’s new book, Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush (Free Press), that when a staffer apologized for interrupting a rare Oval Office print interview Bush was giving Draper, Bush was quick to respond, “It’s okay. This is worthless, anyway.”

There was the time Bush needled a White House reporter for wearing sunglasses while asking a question at a Rose Garden press conference. (The reporter is legally blind.) Then last summer, when the White House press room was closed in order to make some much-needed renovations, Bush made a rare appearance in the room where he “insult[ed] pretty much everyone in spitting distance,” according to Dan Froomkin on Washingtonpost.com. Bush mocked reporters’ make-up, he called one a “crackpot,” and he derided ABC’s veteran reporter Sam Donaldson as a has-been. The assembled press corps loved it, basking in the attention, as well as the insults.

[  ]…Oddly enough, reporters left out what was perhaps the White House’s most egregious example of that pattern, which came on July 2. With most of the White House press corps heavy hitters up in Kennebunkport, Maine, to cover Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit there, Bush that afternoon left the assembled press and flew back to the White House, where he quickly announced he was commuting the sentence of his former aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who had been convicted of perjury and obstructing justice in the Valerie Plame leak investigation.

Not only was the news a political blockbuster, and not only did it leave the White House press corps “scrambling” to cover the story from Maine, as ABC’s Martha Raddatz put it that evening, but the announcement involved a high-profile legal case that had ensnared scores of journalists, some of whom were forced to testify in court. Meaning, the press was part of the Libby story. And yet Bush, in a classic F-U gesture, purposefully ditched White House reporters and made the Libby announcement without them present.

Was the press upset? Did journalists raise a ruckus after being snubbed? Hardly. According to one Wall Street Journal reporter, the White House’s chronic pattern of travel deception has “become a running joke among reporters.”

When conservatives lead the press around like a dog with a tight collar the press eats it up. One of the reason is that they had such close relations with Bush White sources. If the press started calling Bush and Company on their distortions, lies and lack of truthiness, they were shut out of the loop. Obama is was not and is not an insider. The press has shown they have nothing to lose by having a double standard, by holding Obama up to much higher standards than Bush. This is the hidden Democratic tax. Small controversies involving Democrats become mountains under the media microscope, while large conservative scandals are just politics, a difference of opinion or a matter of she said he said. The media just cannot bring itself to call any major Republican figure a liar. To this day the three major broadcast networks have never fired anyone or apologized to the public for having war mongering far Right leaning military analysts on during the run up to the Iraq invasion selling the nation on war and for having them on during the occupation telling everyone how great things were.

Almost forgot this ‘constitutional’ Bush executive order, Congressional Report Assails Bush Executive Order on Iraq Insurgent Funding

Over the summer, we reported on an under-the-radar executive order issued by President Bush allowing him to freeze or seize the U.S-based assets of anyone, potentially including U.S. citizens, he deems to threaten “the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq” or who “undermin(e) efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq.”

The executive order was written so broadly as to alarm civil libertarians, who feared it was a back-door attempt at criminalizing the antiwar movement — which Bush could conceivably argue posed a threat to Iraq by seeking to end the U.S. military presence — or even unwitting donors to insurgent-linked charities. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, Molly Millerwise, told us not to worry: “Be assured that the individuals and entities we add to this list are in full faith acting in an aggressive, violent and reckless way in financing the insurgency,” she said.

Earlier this month,the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said: actually, maybe you should worry. It released a report (pdf) exploring “the contrast between the executive order’s broad language and its narrow aim” and questioning why the Treasury Department hasn’t released a list of eligible Iraq-related targets for the order.

Imagine during the peak of the Iraq war you grandmother get a solicitation from a charity asking for money for Iraqi orphans. There is a picture of a thin young kid in ragged clothing. She throws a ten spot into the envelope. Gosh, turns out that charity was directing half its money to some organization on some watch list. Suddenly grandma’s a terrorist sympathizer. Did the conservative experts on the constitution and what constitutes recessive presidential power make a big deal about Bush executive order. Of course not. Bush’s order could have landed some innocent person in jail. Obama’s executive order might…keep someone in school.

Conservative George Will openly rejects judicial restraint. This might be the single best reason to support Obama in 2012. Picture the next Supreme Court justice being appointed by Mittens – via recommendations from the nutbars at the Federalist Society, the Chamber of Commerce and the American Enterprise Institute.

Average CEO Pay At Largest Companies Grew Twice As Fast As Worker Wages In 2011, Rising To $14.5 Million. Because the people in the $4 thousand dollar suits just plain work harder than everyone else. Why aren’t they using that money to hire Americans if they care so much about their country.

Sheldon Adelson To Lavish $71 Million In Casino Money On GOP Super PACS. Money he gets by way of his gambling interests in Asia.

Today in history: June 17, 1775: Battle of Bunker Hill takes place near Boston.

Battle of Bunker Hill.  British and American forces engaged in combat on a hill. British ships at sea in background.

Sarah Palin mocks Obama on drug use, dogs

Sarah Palin ridiculed President Barack Obama at a conservative bloggers conference Friday for his “cocaine snorting” and eating dog as a child.

Romney was cruel to a dog. Bush 43 was an alcoholic for twenty years and admitted to using cocaine, so what is your point M’s Palin? That you’re a typical conservative hypocrite and cheap shot maker. America already knew that. I’m not particularly anti-hunting, especially for those like native Alaskans who do so to put food on the table, but leave it to conservatives to take hunting to the extreme, With a disdain for science that alarms wildlife experts, Sarah Palin continues to promote Alaska’s policy to gun down wolves from planes.