Some American Park History – And Conservatives Are Too Weak To Win Campaigns Based on Truth

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi ca 1880. Bartholdi is most often thought of as the sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty. While that assures his place in U.S. history, he also created another prominent U.S. icon, the “Fountain of Light and Water” located in Bartholdi Park in Washington D.C.

In 1877 the United States paid $6,000 for an iron fountain sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (later famous for the Statue of Liberty) that had stood at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., who was redesigning the Capitol grounds at the time, had learned that the fountain was available and recommended to Architect of the Capitol Edward Clark that it be bought and placed in a suitable location.

A new water basin was built opposite the U.S. Botanic Garden’s Conservatory’s principal (north) front, located in the center of the National Mall, to receive the fountain. The fountain then moved to its present location in Bartholdi Park in 1932.

The fountain was a public magnet, a destination for both locals and tourists at the time as it was among the first well lit public spaces where families could enjoy the spectacle of the fountain as they took an evening stroll. Originally is was lit by 12 gas lamps. Battery-powered electric igniters replaced these lamps in 1881. In 1885 the lights surrounding the large basin were added. The fountain was completely electrified in 1915.

Bartholdi Fountain in its original location on the National Mall by the West Front of the Capitol. c. 1890. Barthholdi Park is still in operation, providing about two acres of beautifully maintained green space for escape from all the local asphalt.

Bartholdi Fountain 2011. Over the course of time the fountain had amassed dozens of coats of paint, but was stripped and restored in 2008.

Greater Los Angeles : the wonder city of America 1932. Not as large (1246×8100 as some maps I’ve posted.), still an interesting map historically and culturally. 1932 was not the best of years ( The Depression) and yet the map creators still wanted to present L.A. as a thriving metropolis. L.A. did happen to benefit from the Summer Olympic Games being held that year. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum had been expanded to hold the estimated crowds, but ticket sales were very slow. Some big name Hollywood stars – including Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, and Mary Pickford – offered to entertain the crowd and ticket sales picked up.

This is more or less a recap of the last thirty days: 6 Things Mitt Romney Is Hiding. Includes his old e-mails as governor of Massachusetts, the details of how and why he has offshore bank accounts, has yet to offer public details of his big money bundlers – something both Obama and John McCain have done in the past. The missing years of letters from his father’s archive of letters. Some amazingly intimate letters are in the archive including asking one of Mitt’s about his son’s dating, who he was dating and who he should date, ” good-looking” Mormon girls. So why hide the rest. The tax returns of course. If Mittens makes it to the White House he will be the first modern president to do so with America knowing nothing about his taxes. While it appears legal, technically because of the way he used a loophole in something called a “blocker corporation” to get such a large amount of money into the IRA. We still do not know the details of an IRA account that contains at least $20.7 million and as much as $101.6 million.

Press Barred From Mitt Romney’s Jerusalem Fund-raiser. It seems that the negative reaction to what David Axelrod “punnily” called the Mittness Protection Program has caused a reverse in course and Mittens will allow some press. It is not that Romney’s people are afraid of gaffes, they’re likely afraid that Romney is so comfortable with his own arrogance he does not think about what he says before he says it.

How the U.S. Government Helped Mitt Romney Build His Fortune

At events across the country, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is trying to convince voters that small business owners in fact build the roads and bridges they use every day. Unfortunately, Romney’s “We Did Build It” gatherings have hit some potholes, with many participants revealed to be the recipients of government contracts and subsidies and others unaware of the full context of President Obama’s selectively edited remarks now under attack.

But Mitt Romney has another, much larger problem with his baseless contention that President Obama is “insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America.” Because on his road to becoming a $250 million captain of private equity at Bain Capital, Mitt Romney had a lot of help from his uncle. Uncle Sam, that is. As it turns out, the U.S. tax code doesn’t merely allow Romney to pay a lower rate than many middle class families. Without the public subsidy that is the corporate debt interest deduction, there might not be a Bain Capital–or a private equity industry as we know it–at all.

That tax code which conservative serial liars insist is so unfair to the wealthy, actually pays for the sleazy behavior of the Mitt Romneys in private equity firms. Not only has Mitt never built anything, invented anything, created any valuable service, he parasitizes companies and their employees without even risking his own money. I can’t find the link now, but a liberal writer/political analyst recently called Romney a capitalist. I honestly cannot stick the ice pick deep enough into my brain to find a way to truthfully claim that Romney competes and creates something of value for society. Certainly Bain created great returns for the parasites that invested with them. If two or three layers of vultures feeding on carcasses is capitalism the middle-class is doomed. Australian and international criminal Rupert Murdoch’s continues to feed red meat to  unquestioning American zealots and the Right-Wing Urban Myth Industry: Fox News “Doubling Down” On Deceptively Edited Comments

Fox News accused President Obama of “doubling down” on comments they helped characterize as “insulting” to business owners, but in doing so, Fox itself doubled down on its campaign to strip Obama’s statements out of context to further a political agenda.

Obama spoke at a campaign event and pointed out how benefits such as American infrastructure factor in the success of small businesses. Fox deceptively edited the president’s remarks to accuse him of telling small business owners that if they have a business, “you didn’t build that.”

This morning, Fox returned to the scandal they helped to manufacture, reporting that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Obama’s comments “insulting” to business owners. Fox then turned its sights on another campaign event and accused President Obama of “doubling down.” Here’s the portion of the remarks that Fox chose to play as evidence:

OBAMA: We did not build this country on our own. We built it together. And if Mr. Romney doesn’t understand that, then he doesn’t understand what it takes to grow this economy in the 21st century for everybody.

But the only way these comments can be portrayed as doubling down on an insult to business owners is to completely strip them of context. In the portion of Obama’s speech that Fox chose to ignore, it’s clear that he  explicitly touted the “drive and ingenuity of Americans who start businesses” as crucial to “what makes us such a robust dynamic economy.” Here is what Obama actually said:

OBAMA: As I said, I believe with all my heart that it is the drive and ingenuity of Americans who start businesses that lead to their success.  And by the way, that’s why I’ve cut taxes on small businesses 18 times since I’ve been President.  (Applause.)  I believe the ability for somebody who is willing to work hard, and sweat and sacrifice to turn their idea into a profitable business, that’s what makes us such a robust, dynamic economy.  We prize that.

But I also believe that if you talk to any business owner — small or large — they’ll tell you what also helps them succeed alongside their hard work, their initiative, their great ideas, is the ability to hire workers with the right skills and the right education.

  What helps them succeed is the ability to ship and sell their products on new roads and bridges and ports and wireless networks.  What helps them succeed is having access to cutting-edge technology, which like the Internet often starts with publicly funded research and development.  (Applause.)  And what helps them succeed is a strong and growing middle class, so they’ve got a broader base of customers.

How can anyone tell the difference between Fox News, Mitt Romney and convicted criminal James O’Keefe. They all take video, edit it to make it say what they want to hear and distribute it as the conservative version of reality. This tells everyone about how intrinsically weak the conservative movement is. They cannot win based on the truth. They cannot win a straight up debate about public policy.

Romney and Obama Strain to Show Gap on Foreign Policy

In his latest broadside against the incumbent’s foreign policy, Mitt Romney blamed President Obama for the Arab uprisings last year, arguing that he could have headed them off by pressing the region’s autocrats to reform first.

“President Obama abandoned the freedom agenda,” Mr. Romney told the newspaper Israel Hayom, referring to President George W. Bush’s democracy policy, “and we are seeing today a whirlwind of tumult in the Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that could have changed the course of their history in a more peaceful manner.”

The critique was the latest attempt by the presumptive Republican candidate to undercut Mr. Obama’s handling of international affairs. But once the incendiary flourishes are stripped away, the actual foreign policy differences between the two seem more a matter of degree and tone than the articulation of a profound debate about the course of America in the world today.

If you believe Glenn Greenwald, not only is there no daylight between Obama and Bush 43, Obama is worse in terms of authoritarian national security policy. There may not be much daylight, but there is some. As the NYT notes candidates usually make lots of foreign policy promises but find that once in office their choices are limited. Romney actually thinks Russia is the number one security threat to the U.S. yet as the article also notes how big are the chances that Romney would screw up relations with Russia and screw up the Afghanistan/Russian supply route for American troops. Romney will follow the advice of the CIA and the Pentagon, just as Obama is doing as concerns the use of drones and special forces to kill terrorists. The differences are, as is usually the case with conservatives, going that extra mile in hubris. Thinking all problems cannot be solved with force, but much more force. I’m grateful for that little bit of daylight between conservative hawks and liberal hawks. The latter is at least marginally saner and it succeeds where conservative hubris fails.

I would say that all the liberal concern about the abuse of drone warfare is unfounded, but some of it is a little shrill. Lacking in facts, The Moral Case for Drones

But most critics of the Obama administration’s aggressive use of drones for targeted killing have focused on evidence that they are unintentionally killing innocent civilians. From the desolate tribal regions of Pakistan have come heartbreaking tales of families wiped out by mistake and of children as collateral damage in the campaign against Al Qaeda. And there are serious questions about whether American officials have understated civilian deaths.

So it may be a surprise to find that some moral philosophers, political scientists and weapons specialists believe armed, unmanned aircraft offer marked moral advantages over almost any other tool of warfare.

“I had ethical doubts and concerns when I started looking into this,” said Bradley J. Strawser, a former Air Force officer and an assistant professor of philosophy at the Naval Postgraduate School. But after a concentrated study of remotely piloted vehicles, he said, he concluded that using them to go after terrorists not only was ethically permissible but also might be ethically obligatory, because of their advantages in identifying targets and striking with precision.

“You have to start by asking, as for any military action, is the cause just?” Mr. Strawser said. But for extremists who are indeed plotting violence against innocents, he said, “all the evidence we have so far suggests that drones do better at both identifying the terrorist and avoiding collateral damage than anything else we have.”

[  ]…AVERY PLAW, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts, put the C.I.A. drone record in Pakistan up against the ratio of combatant deaths to civilian deaths in other settings. Mr. Plaw considered four studies of drone deaths in Pakistan that estimated the proportion of civilian victims at 4 percent, 6 percent, 17 percent and 20 percent respectively.

But even the high-end count of 20 percent was considerably lower than the rate in other settings, he found. When the Pakistani Army went after militants in the tribal area on the ground, civilians were 46 percent of those killed. In Israel’s targeted killings of militants from Hamas and other groups, using a range of weapons from bombs to missile strikes, the collateral death rate was 41 percent, according to an Israeli human rights group.

In conventional military conflicts over the last two decades, he found that estimates of civilian deaths ranged from about 33 percent to more than 80 percent of all deaths.

Mr. Plaw acknowledged the limitations of such comparisons, which mix different kinds of warfare. But he concluded, “A fair-minded evaluation of the best data we have available suggests that the drone program compares favorably with similar operations and contemporary armed conflict more generally.”

Just something to think about.