Conservatives Who Have Bungled Foreign Policy For Years, Have No Humility on Syria

Summer Flowers wallpaper

Summer Flowers wallpaper


MoJo goes out of their way to present all the sides – Democrats for and against, Cons for and against, Bombing Syria: A Running Guide to the Debate. I recommend reading the whole article and their on-going updates, but here are a couple items that stand out,

Steven Cook, a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, published a piece in the Washington Post on Friday contending that an assault on Syria would do far more damage than good. Cook, who previously had recognized a case for intervention, wrote:

The formidable U.S. armed forces could certainly damage Assad’s considerably less potent military. But in an astonishing irony that only the conflict in Syria could produce, American and allied cruise missiles would be degrading the capability of the regime’s military units to the benefit of the al-Qaeda-linked militants fighting Assad—the same militants whom U.S. drones are attacking regularly in places such as Yemen. Military strikes would also complicate Washington’s longer-term desire to bring stability to a country that borders Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. Unlike Yugoslavia, which ripped itself apart in the 1990s, Syria has no obvious successor states, meaning there would be violence and instability in the heart of the Middle East for many years to come.

While others have pointed out that the goal of a retaliatory attack would be to make the targets ones that would damage Assad’s military capability, causing just enough damage to motivate Assad to come to a negotiated settlement. With aid from Russia and Iran, Assad could run this civil war into a years long stand-off. Mojo mentions the record 2 million refugees produced by the war. There is no reason to believe it will get better without a precise tactical strike. Mojo gives us a look at the same old opinions from the same bungling analyst that served us so well with Iraq, like Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria gets some little bit right once in a while that is not a complete hack, but really, is this guy the one to listen to with a grade of D in foreign policy issues. Though Zakaria looks like a razor sharp analyst compared to “James Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia (who the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol calls one of “American conservatism’s leading thinkers.” Always Wrong Kristol’s recommendation is like getting a thumbs up from an arsonist. Conservatives and the media have this toxic relationship where they help lead each other off the cliff, repeatedly, yet they keep holding hands and walking towards the cliff, dragging the American public along for the ride. Conservatives, including the bizarre Rand Paul (R-KY) have nothing worth listening to. If they happen to say something someone agrees with, it is pure luck, like getting your number on a roulette wheel. Oh, and former congressional representative Allen West (R-FL) is still a venal cowardly tree stump that can make sounds. If Ceaser, Kristol, West, John McCain, John Bolton and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) had their way we would be neck deep in a war with Iran right now. These conservatives are not concerned with what is best for the USA or Syria, they’re focused on how to best make a Democratic administration look bad, so they’ll take any position on the buffet table to do so.

Senate hearings are ongoing as I post: They will not authorize ground troops and will set a time table or window within which the strikes may occur. I don’t think anyone wanted ground troops anyway, so that was a no brainer.

Liberals disenchanted with this administration, just a reminder of the kind of mindless arrogance we could have in the White House – Rubio: We Wouldn’t Be At This Stage With Syria ‘If I Had Been In Charge’ (VIDEO). Yep Moses Rubio would have spoken from the mountain top and everyone would just stand in awe of his magnificence. I hope every single day that by way of some miracle, the conservative movement gains some modicum of humility. Remember everyone in Afghanistan and Iraq was just going to give up after a couple of months at most.


Labor Day, War Powers and Wages

Season Changes wallpaper

Season Changes wallpaper

We all know the rules. Since president Obama was elected for his first term, conservatives in typical knee-jerk reaction hate everything he likes, are against everything he is for. For almost eight years they loved war, they claimed freedom wasn’t free and if they had to lie your son, daughter, spouse to their deaths in some Middle-east sand pile, well it was for the good of the Republican Party and anyone who did not support their less than sane agenda was a terrorist loving hippie. NO, OBAMA ISN’T GOING TO WIN THE HOUSE VOTE

Free Republic directs me to this post by a popular right-wing blogger known as Soopermexican (the post is also at his blog):

Viral Facebook Post: ‘I Didn’t Join The Navy To Fight For Al Qaeda In Syria!’

… this post, reportedly from a U.S. Naval Chief Petty Officer, on Facebook for a conservative talk show has more than 5,000 ‘shares’ even though it’s only been online for four hours.

Us hippies warned everyone that invading Iraq would make Iran’s influence in the region stronger, and we were right. That did not stop  – let’s assume there is a real senior Chief involved – from supporting a war based on lies about WMD. Now he doesn’t support a limited military strike against a sociopath that actually used WMD. So he and this FaceBook posse of Koservative Keyboard Pacifists are on the side of the ACLU, ACLU Urges the President to Obtain Official Congressional Authorization Before Taking Military Action in Syria. I saw a poll from a couple of days ago that showed a majority of Americans do support a limited military strike, like using a cruise missile or perhaps a drone strike on Assad’s military. That is what the president is talking about, not boots on the ground. That is not an unreasonable response to the actions of Assad. If there is no consequence, he may be emboldened to take even more criminal actions. Though I agree with the ACLU, it would be best if we started a tradition of adhering to the Constitution before we started military actions against foreign powers. If Congress wants – with a conservative majority in the House big enough to stop any kind of military action – to give Assad a pass, well, that the way we’ll go. Though a few weeks or months from now when Bashar al-Assad ( Syria’s president, with help from Iran and Russia) launch another chemical attack, we should not hear any arm-chair quarterbacking from conservatives. But you know we will because conservatism is just another name for weasel-brats.

Fox’s Payne Distorts Argument Against Minimum Wage Increase

Neil Cavuto hosted Fox Business contributor Charles Payne on the August 28 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto to discuss protests planned by fast-food workers, who are demanding higher pay and the right to unionize. Payne claimed during the segment that employers don’t owe a debt to their employees and mischaracterized the minimum wage increase as a sliding scale of pay:

PAYNE: Listen, I don’t begrudge anyone for trying to earn extra money, but what they’re essentially saying is that their salary should be doubled from where they are. It doesn’t match the skill set. Now, if we start to talk about this — and listen, it’s something that’s been echoed all day long with theme of the March on Washington — that somehow corporations owe a debt to people who work for them. So if Susan has two kids, she gets X amount of income, then she has another child, then the corporation should pay more money specifically because they owe her a debt and she had another kid — sort of the responsibility or the welfare state that’s been such a burden on America is now being thrusted, or attempted to be thrusted on the shoulders of corporate America.

This is the real world, not the LSD fueled fantasies of Fox News, Neil Cavuto and Charles Payne. McDonald’s paid CEO Don Thompson a compensation package worth $13.8 million this year. Everything over say $100k is money Thompson stole from the profits produced by the labor of front line employees. In no way, at no time will Thompson ever do anything, or have any ideas worth more than $75k a year. Thompson like the rest of the corporate plutocracy has made employees into serfs and made themselves into feudal lords. Their compensation has become completely unconnected to any value and work they bring to a company. They have the power to redistribute incredible sums of money from the working class to themselves. So they do. Until some of that power is take back by workers the welfare for the arrogant greedy plutocrats will continue.

Shameless Hypocrisy of the Day, The Supernaturally Incompetent Conservative Donald Rumsfeld Criticizes Foreign Policy

Heroes in Ebony

Heroes in Ebony–The captors of the Confederate steamer USS Planter (1862), Robert Small, W. Morrison, A. Gradine and John Small.

At 04:00 on 13 May 1862, while her captain, C. J. Relyea, was absent on shore, Robert Smalls, a slave who was Planter’s pilot, quietly took the ship from the wharf, and with a Confederate flag flying, steamed past the successive Confederate forts. He saluted the installation as usual by blowing the steam whistle. As soon as the steamer was out of range of the last Confederate gun, Smalls hauled down the Confederate flag and hoisted a white one. Then he turned Planter over to the USS Onward of the Union blockading force.

Besides Smalls, Planter carried 15 other slaves to freedom behind Union lines: seven crewmen, five women, and three children. In addition to the cargo of artillery and explosives, Smalls brought Flag officer Samuel Francis Du Pont valuable intelligence, including word that the Confederates had abandoned defensive positions on the Stono River.

While we’re delving into history, some quotes from former conservative Republican Secretary of Defense in the Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld:

I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that. – Interview with Steve Croft, Infinity CBS Radio Connect, November 14, 2002

But no terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. – Hearing Before the House Armed Services Committee, September 10, 2002 [9]. Quoted on March 14, 2004. Iraq was not a leading exporter of terrorism against the U.S. then or any other time, and they had no connections to al Qaeda or 9/11.

We know where they [Iraq’s WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat….I would also add, we saw from the air that there were dozens of trucks that went into that facility after the existence of it became public in the press and they moved things out. They dispersed them and took them away. So there may be nothing left. I don’t know that. But it’s way too soon to know. The exploitation is just starting. – Interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News This Week, March 30, 2003. This is my favorite quote from Rummy. There was never any WMD, Bush called off the hunt for them several years after he kicked out weapons inspectors and invaded Iraq.

Rumsfeld, like the other neocons never had much humility or honor. That is why he shamelessly weighs in on the current situation in Syria,  Rumsfeld: Obama Administration Hasn’t Made Case for Intervening in Syria

Rumsfeld explained that “there really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation.” (Yesterday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters it is “absolutely in the national-security interests of the United States and the international community” to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.)

In an interview with Neil Cavuto that will air Wednesday night on Fox Business Network, the former Bush secretary of defense blasted the administration as “mindless” for tipping its hand and said he “[couldn’t] imagine what they’re thinking” by giving President Bashar Assad’s regime “crystal clarity, with respect to what they attempt.”

Of course the current administration should listen to the shameless venal rantings of someone who has proven to be singularly incompetent in foreign policy and management of U.S. military forces. Give the country fifty years and scholars will be writing about how the Bush administration, the invasion of Iraq and the management of that invasion was one of the most egregious betrayals of the American people in the nation’s history. The only episode that comes close is Nixon and Kissinger’s malicious prolonging of the Vietnam War for political gain.

Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein

“Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein,” Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983. This is after Iraq had used poison gas against Iran and the Kurds.

Antique Double Hemisphere World Map c1780 – Are Conservatives Concerned About American Tragedies or Always Happy To Exploit Them

Antique Double Hemisphere World Map c1780

Antique Double Hemisphere World Map c1780. Created by Samuel Dunn (died 1794), who was a British mathematician and amateur astronomer. Note in the top center are celestial maps and at the bottom center is a map of the moon’s surface. There is also a good map on his Wikipedia page.

Australia has Promised Britain 50,000 More Men; Will You Help Us Keep that Promise

Australia has Promised Britain 50,000 More Men; Will You Help Us Keep that Promise”. This is a recruiting – Around 1915  –  poster from Australia for what they called at the time, The Great War, now referred to as WW I. Australia would suffer about 62,000 casualties from the war.

Remember Scarborough! Enlist Now

“Remember Scarborough! Enlist Now”. Almost a recruiting poster from WW I – created in 1915. Scarborough, Hartlepool, and Whitby were small English coastal towns. On December 16, 1914, a German naval force of battle cruisers bombarded Scarborough, an defended town without any gun placements. The Germans were hoping to draw out the numerically superior British naval fleet out into the North Sea, where it would be vulnerable to German minefields and submarine attack. The Germans claimed they though the town did have gun placements. 122 civilians were killed and another 443 wounded. Military service was voluntary at the time and recruiters hoped to appeal to public anger at the Scarborough attacks to encourage enlistment. The heroic figure is Britannia carrying the British flag. In the background – difficult to see in the thumbnail, is a burning town.

So many conservatives are having what appears to be mental breakdowns at the mere thought that there might be some tiny bit of gun regulation – closing the gun show loophole, limits on magazine size for semi-automatics – are two of the modest proposals I have seen floated around by Democrats and a few conservatives. I cannot cover them all so I’ll go with the King of Konservatism, Rush Limbaugh. We’re Living the Collapse of Our Culture

RUSH:  Oh, no, no, no, no.  It’s very frustrating because we’re now immersed in many circumstances and situations where the last thing that anybody wants to hear are facts.  The last thing anybody wants to contemplate is the real truth about something.  Instead, everybody wants to live in illusions and advanced political agendas.

[  ]….So much to say about this, and I sit here in full knowledge that were I to open up and share with you my genuine, real thoughts about what’s going on in this country, I’d be brought up on charges.  I think we’re looking at all the wrong places to solve all of these problems.

Remember, folks, during the presidential campaign, I said, “Twenty-five years ago we were warning about what was going to happen if X kept happening and Y kept happening and if we didn’t stop Z.”  Well, now, we’re there.  We’re no longer talking about what will happen unless we do something about it.  We’re living it.  We’re living the collapse.  We’re living the implosion of our culture and our society.  Politically, morally, religiously, you name it, and it all stems from the fact that no one is allowed to have values.  Values are judgmental.  You have no right to impose values on people.

So we’ve gotten to the point where nothing is really wrong.  There are just explanations for it.  And in practically every instance, the explanation and the proposed cure is nothing more than the advancement of a particular political belief or ideology.  In this case, liberalism.

I do not remember a time when Limbaugh and conservatives were not saying these were the end times, liberals are to blame, feminists are to blame, unions are to blame. In this transcript he also includes mental health professionals and supporters of good mental health. I tempted to write some throw-away line about hardly blaming Limbaugh for this tiresome rant of the kind that has made him a millionaire. Yet speaking of responsibility and accountability and other multiple syllable words that conservatives struggle to say or define; his assertions are unsupported, as usual by anything resembling a fact. Conservatives just don’t do evidence based arguments. They say whatever it is often. Sometimes they say it loud. Repetition and volume do not magically make things true. Limbaugh has made a career out of having one schtick and he sticks to it. His listeners don’t care if he sticks to the facts. He is their golden calf and you don’t question anything when you join up with the Ditto head army of adopters. If every year you predict the end of American culture, the end of the country, well, who knows one day you might be right. A bankruptcy inducing strategy for roulette, but it turns out to pay very well in conservative Lala Land. Yep back in the day the when the USA was ruled by manly white racist, those were the days we need to get back to,

Limbaugh praised former segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond for calling a gay soldier “not normal”: “He’s not encumbered by being politically correct…. If you want to know what America used to be–and a lot of people wish it still were–then you listen to Strom Thurmond.” (TV show, 9/1/93, transcript archived on Nexis) In the America that “used to be,” Thurmond was one of the country’s leading racists, running for president in 1948 on the Dixiecrat ticket, with a platform that opposed federal anti-lynching laws and boasted the slogan, “Segregation Forever!”

** Limbaugh admitted to Newsday’s Richard Gehr (10/8/90) that as a DJ in Pittsburgh in the 1970s he had once dismissed a black caller by saying, “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

This might be news to many people, but Limbaugh is both an expert economist and a math wiz,

New Math

LIMBAUGH: Comparing spending on entitlements to military spending: “Social Security alone would make three military budgets.” (radio, 12/13/95)

REALITY: In 1995, according to the Office for Management and Budget, the U.S. spent $291 billion on the military. Three times $291 billion is $873 billion. Social Security in 1995, according to OMB, cost $362 billion.

When He Was a Boy…

LIMBAUGH: Limbaugh enumerated some of the changes the world has seen since the birth of his 104-year-old grandfather: “When he was born–I mean, we look at things that have happened since he was born. Electricity’s been invented, the automobile was invented, the mule as a means of plowing the field vanished.” (TV, 12/27/95)

REALITY: Limbaugh was combining two of his worst subjects: science and history. The first commercial use of electricity, the telegraph, began in 1843–almost 50 years before Limbaugh’s grandfather was born in 1891. Edison invented his electric light bulb in 1879, and 1881 saw the first practical electric railway (Electrical Construction & Maintenance, 5/91). The first steam- powered automobile was invented in 1769, while gasoline-powered models were introduced in 1885 (Automotive Engineering, 6/90).

5. James Madison

LIMBAUGH: Quotes James Madison: “We have staked the future upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

FAIR: “We didn’t find anything in our files remotely like the sentiment expressed in the extract you sent to us,’ David B. Matter, associate editor of The Madison Papers, told the Kansas City Star (1/16/94). In addition, the idea is entirely inconsistent with everything we know about Madison’s views on religion and government.'”

It is not uncommon for people to look at the past through rose colored glasses, Limbaugh seems get his history from crystal balls and acid trip like hallucinations. The Madison he is trying to wrangle into a conservative corner was a complex man and wrote quite a bit about religion including,

  • The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State (Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819).
  • Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and & Gov’t in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history (Detached Memoranda, circa 1820).

According to Limbaugh, who is certain that liberalism is to blame for everything from diaper rash to the next mass murder, conservatives did nothing wrong in a little treasonous episode called the Iran-Contra scandal,

Reinterpreting his false claim that no one had been indicted in the Iran-Contra scandal, Limbaugh declared: “I obviously misspoke when I said there were no indictments — I clearly meant to say there were no convictions, a point I have made on many occasions.”

Limbaugh did not “misspeak”: He had argued at length (TV, 1/19/94) that none of the 14 Iran-contra indictments ever happened. And his fallback position is equally false: Most of the 14 were either convicted or plead guilty, including many felonies. That’s why Limbaugh was already backpedaling in his rebuttal: There were “no convictions on the substantive points,” he claimed — citing Ed Meese as his expert.

One of the more stellar moments of Konservative Kulture at work was that Admiral John Poindexter was one of those convicted felons. Conservatives, being the grand and noble guardians of cultural norms – like not rewarding convicted felons – appointed this convicted felon who betrayed the U.S. to director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office during the Bush 43 administration. Letting no treachery go unrewarded is one way to push American culture into the sewer.

Perhaps Limbaugh is not having a breakdown, but just just another shrill chapter in the failed history of conservatism. One to exploit his followers to pay the rent on his Palm Beach mansion.

Here are some more conservatives setting a great example of how to be moral upstanding Americans, Conservative Group, Club for Growth,Tells Republicans To Hold Hurricane Sandy Relief Package Hostage.

The blame liberalism crowd(Tea Party Group Blames Connecticut Shooting On Teachers, Unions, And Sex) also has to explain – and I’m sure they have some explanation stored between their confederate flags and right-wing manifestos – for the mind control that includes Conservatives among those serial killers and mass murderers – like Holocaust Museum killer James Von Bruun, Glenn Beck fan Byron Williams, cop killer Richard Poplawski who was afraid that President Obama was going to ban all guns, Maine dirty bomber James Trafton, anti-government nutbar Joseph Stack and of course no one has gotten any ideas about using guns to solve political differences from Sharon Angle*, Michele Bachmann, Bernard Goldberg or other conservatives who have suggested something in the ball park of, “If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies*.” Are conservatives such as Limbaugh really concerned about cultural calamity or are they actively hoping and working for it so they can recreate some weird cyborg nation that is half Medieval Europe and half Antebellum south.

The Good Old Days: Myth vs. Reality

By 1830, a skilled worker or experienced machinist earned as much as $1.25 a day. However, jobs that paid that well were uncommon. An average worker could expect to earn between fifty and seventy-five cents a day. A woman lucky enough to find a paying job earned far less than a man. Her standard wage was anywhere from half to two-thirds less than her male counterpart.

Unions were almost unheard of. Where they existed they were considered, by factory owners and industrialists, to be “un-American.” When horse-car drivers in New York City demanded that their traditional 16-hour work day be reduced to only 12 hours, their demands were branded as “communistic” by state assemblyman Teddy Roosevelt. When strikes did occur, they were often put down by troops and militiamen.

Child labor

Children often worked the same long hours as their parents. By 1900 there were nearly two million children under fifteen years of age working in factories across the nation. Child labor was in great demand by employers who considered children to be a bargain. Kids were paid between $1.50 and $2.50 a week for up to 84 hours of work. (Two or three cents an hour was considered low pay, even by the standards of the day.)

Safety in the workplace

In the days before government regulations and the union movement, the place where you worked could easily become the place where you died. President Harrison observed in 1892 that, “American workmen are subjected to peril of life and limb as great as a soldier in time of war.”

During the 1890s it was estimated that nearly a million workers were killed or injured each year in the work place. Power shafts and belts to drive the machines were open and unprotected. Factories were dimly lighted and the workers’ machines and equipment were not equipped with the safety devices now required by law. The rule of thumb,for those lucky enough to still have one, was, “if you take the job – you assume the risk.”

Railroads were especially dangerous places to work. In 1900 alone, more than 2,600 rail workers lost their lives in rail accidents and more than 41,000 were maimed or injured. Between 1898 and 1900 American railroads lost as many workers to accidents as the entire British Army did in its three-year Boer War.

Workers’ compensation was unknown. Disabled workers received no pay, benefits, or social security. During this same period, the wealthiest men in America were the owners of railroads. Railroad Barons amassed fortunes ranging into the billions of dollars.

Industry and energy

In the early 1800s people and animals were the number one and two sources of energy. In that order. Machinery was relatively uncommon and the amount of work a person could complete in a work day was almost entirely dependent upon strength and personal endurance. As the century progressed, there was a noticeable decline in wood cover around America’s growing communities. Racing TrainsBy 1860 most of the firewood used in Boston, Massachusetts was being hauled by ship from Maine. Energy was expensive in terms of human labor and cash. Getting enough fuel to last the winter was a year-round chore for rural folks. A miscalculation in the amount of wood collected could mean, at worst, freezing to death and at best, a long miserable winter. In the industrialized north, water power was the source of energy for mills. By the 1830s, five to ten horse power was typical for a country mill and twenty-five to fifty horse power was standard for a large city mill.

Mills often had to shut down for extended periods in the summer and winter months because water power was not available due to droughts or frozen ponds and rivers. Clocks in many mills were tied to the water wheel. The slower the flow of water – the longer the work day. It was a practice called “mill time” that came to an end when towns and churches installed clock towers on the commons.

The standard of living

While life may have been cheap for the industrialists, the cost of living was high for the workers. Looking at the ads in old newspapers, we are often struck by seemingly low prices of goods and groceries. Some typical prices at the turn of the last century were:
“Good Old Days” Prices           Modern Price Equivalents
Butter …….. 19 cents a pound
Bacon ……… 10 cents a pound
Fowl ………. 12 cents a pound
Eggs ………. 15 cents a dozen
Shoes …… $2.50 a pair
Flour …… $6.50 a barrel
Fire Wood .. $3.00 a cord

In today’s dollars:

Butter ……… $36.48 a pound
Bacon ………. $19.20 a pound
Fowl ……….. $23.04 a pound
Eggs ……….. $28.80 a dozen
Shoes ……… $480.00 a pair
Flour ……. $1,248.00 a barrel
Fire Wood ….. $576.00 a cord

When “Old Days” prices are translated into the numbers of hours worked and then charged against today’s typical wage of $12.00 an hour, a different picture emerges. For example: butter at 19 cents a pound meant that an average worker making 75 cents a day on a 12 hour shift had to work just over three hours for his pound of butter. If it took as many hours to earn a pound of butter today as it did in the 1800s, butter would sell for about $36.48 a pound. Hardly a bargain.

Hard times

Without the safety-net of unemployment insurance, food stamps, or other state or federal service programs, folks of the 1800s were pretty much at the mercy of their employer and the whims of a changing American economy.

In the early days, when a man lost his job, he faced the very real prospect of watching himself and his family starve to death. To a large extent, employers realized this and had a steady, if not willing, pool of people ready to work at any price.

In 1887 America experienced a depression that saw nearly three million workers loose their jobs. Many families lost their homes or were thrown out of their city tenements. Thousands of homeless families lived on the streets of major cities.

Between 1893-98, another economic crisis swept the country throwing nearly four million workers off their jobs. Almost one in five workers was jobless.

Factory owners faced with diminishing profits often cut wages. When workers refused wage cuts or attempted to unionize, the factories simply shut down. Lockouts usually ended after workers pledged to the owners that they would not form a union.


After a hard day at work, in the fields or factory, most people returned home, ate whatever dinner was ready, and collapsed until the start of the next work day. Folks who wished to stay up and socialize or finish chores often did so in dim, candle lit rooms.

By the standards of yesterday, our homes blaze with the brilliance of day. A twenty-five watt bulb burns with the light of more than 200 candles. An average family room today has about 175 watts of light – or the equivalent of more than 1,400 candles.


Horses were common forms of transportation and their pollutants were everywhere. The early street sweepers and sanitation men who were hired to keep the streets clean were not just picking up gum wrappers. In twelve months a city with 15,000 horses produces enough manure to cover an acre of ground to the depth of 175 feet. That amount of waste, when mixed with summer rains and the hot August sun turned large cities like Boston, New York, and Chicago into the worst kind of steam baths imaginable.

Civil Rights

Racial and religious minorities were at the mercy of the times. In 1836 a school for black children was burned to the ground by an angry white mob in Canton, Connecticut. Slavery was the law of the land until it was ended by the civil war and a constitutional amendment.

Between 1882 and 1903, more than 3,300 people were lynched across the United States. Lynching of blacks alone totaled 2,060. Guilt or innocence made little difference to a mob driven by a blood lust. Lynching went far beyond simple hanging and often include anything from boiling the victim alive, castration, and torture to burning at the stake.

Discrimination in the workplace was rampant. Blacks, Jews, and Catholics were not allowed to work at many jobs. The law of the land did not protect minorities in the good old days.


As cities became industrialized, the air was modernized. Smoke stacks were considered a sign of progress and large industrialized cities had hundreds, if not thousands, of them. Clouds of pollutants –- sulfur, ammonia, and coal dust – settled on laundry, lungs, and gardens. Tanneries with their slaughter houses, bone boiling, and manure added their own unique flavor to the air around them.

Government regulations to protect citizens and the environment were nonexistent. Business resisted then, as much as it does today, any attempt to make it clean up its act. Pollution was accepted as the necessary price of progress.


Food in the good old days wasn’t always that good. Reports abound of stores selling food products that were adulterated or mixed with questionable ingredients. Without refrigeration, butter was often rancid. If not rancid, it might contain a mixture of casein and water. If butter was in short supply, a local concoction of calcium, gypsum, gelatin, lard and mashed potatoes might be offered to the consumer. Sometimes bleach was added to produce the creamy appearance of real butter.

In the days before the Food and Drug Administration the rule was definitely “buyer beware.” Coffee might be anything from coffee to a high priced blend of roasted peas, beans, chicory, and rye. Some bakers were known to add large amounts of alum to flour in addition to an unknown quality of roaches, bugs and other insects.

Before the days of refrigeration, store-bought meat was a real adventure. In the slums of the larger cities, the poor could buy their meat from second-hand meat stores places that specialized in collecting and re-selling other people’s table scraps.


In the slums of large cities and rural towns, the poor lived lives of utter despair. If you were poor, life tended to be harsh and short. Disease and starvation were grim realities. In the 1830s the first “poor farms” were established in smaller communities.

In the early days of the 1800s, the poor were viewed as a community problem and were often assisted by the town and some private charities. As the poor migrated to large cities in search of work, and their numbers grew, charities were overwhelmed by sheer numbers. By 1880, an estimated 100,000 homeless children wandered the streets and back alleys of New York City.

Life and Death

A child born in the 1800s had a 40 percent chance of dying before they could grow to adulthood. Disease and high infant mortality were facts of life and epidemics were common. Hundreds of thousands died each year from cholera, small pox, yellow fever, influenza and other common diseases. Antibiotic drugs and vaccinations were not yet discovered.

North Carolina Autumn wallpaper – The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plain

North Carolina Autumn wallpaper


U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks

The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.

Iranian officials have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election, a senior administration official said, telling their American counterparts that they want to know with whom they would be negotiating.

News of the agreement — a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term — comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and the weekend before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy.

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world’s major powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time.

It is also far from clear that Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, would go through with the negotiation should he win election. Mr. Romney has repeatedly criticized the president as showing weakness on Iran and failing to stand firmly with Israel against the Iranian nuclear threat.

This is bad news for Romney and the radical Right. The Iranians were supposedly intractable and would never agree to any sincere and constructive talks. So they’re wrong again. This not particularly news as talks with Iran have been going on through back diplomatic channels for years so it is the culmination of the Obama administrations stick and carrot approach.’ We don’t even have to dust off the old crystal ball to predict some of the conservative punditsphere’s reaction and spin: If the Obama White House even agrees to talks, that is a sign of weakness, the Iranians should simply cave into all demands before talks even begin, who cares about helping Iranian leaders save face before talks. As one commenter here notes, and some at the NYT article, negotiating is for the weak. A strong and exceptionalist nation – which in conservospeak means bomb first, negotiate later – doesn’t talk, they demand. The general fear among left of center blogs about Romney, considering that his foreign policy team includes Crazy John Bolton and some of the same neocons that guided Bush-era foreign policy is that Romney will start a war with Iran. I think it was a pundit at the New York Magazine (I’m not sure and cannot find the link) that argued that Obama was more likely to go with some kind of bombing or strategic missile strike if Iran did not open up its nuclear energy development for international monitoring. The reasoning goes that America is still feeling burned by the Iraq fiasco. Soldiers and their families are still suffering the consequences with the full range of issues from integrating back into civilian work life to PTSD and physical disabilities. Those families, many of whom lean conservative would absolutely turn on a Romney administration starting another counter productive war. Romney’s poll ratings would drop like lead at any attempts to start a war. The conservatives who hang out at and are mentally submerged in the all war all the time mentality of sites like The Free Republic, Breitbart and Hot Air greatly overestimate the actual troop’s desire to get bogged down in yet another mid-east debacle. American do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons, but they do not want another ground war in the Middle-East, New poll: Majority of Americans oppose military strike on Iran. If it should come down to Israel coming under attack, that changes things, with the majority of Americans supporting intervening to defend Israel. Which is what Obama has pledged he would do. This last bit is how the Right is framing the issue. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows that an Iranian attack on Israel would be the same as Iran committing national suicide. Conservatives want to appear like the tough guys with the never-ending saber-rattling, but they just end up looking like insecure weenies in light of the overwhelming American superiority in our ability to launch missile and air strikes.

Just a reminder of the last time Republicans broke bad on someone:  Iraq: the rationale for, cost of, and occupation plans following America’s conquest (DOS, DOD, CIA, FBI)

Insufficient terrorism preparedness and prevention, domestic and international, before and after 9/11 (CIA, FBI, DOD, etc.);

Halliburton’s Corruption. In 2004, Pentagon auditors found that Halliburton had not adequately accounted for $1.8 billion of the bill it sent to the United States government for its work in Iraq and Kuwait.

Iraq’s spiral into a near genocidal sectarian war

Abu-Gate is the term occasionally found identifying the allegations of acts of brutality, abuse, and torture at Abu Ghraib Enemy Prisoner of War camp in Iraq.

The Treasonous “Outing” of Valeria Plame. After former Ambassador Joseph Wilson exposed Bush’s Niger uranium claim as a lie, two Bush administration officials sought revenge by exposing his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent, thus endangering her life and the lives of her network of informants, and committing a most serious crime.

Politically Manipulating Intelligence. America’s $30 billion intelligence agencies are supposed to give strictly accurate information to the President. But when the intelligence agencies could not find evidence of Iraqi WMD’s, Vice President Dick Cheney made several unprecedented visits to the CIA to intimidate intelligence officials into writing deliberately misleading reports.

When testifying before Congress in 2007, L. Paul Bremer, the former head of reconstruction in Iraq, was unable to account for as much as $12 billion—about half of his budget—as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority between May 2003 and June 2004. According to a report by Rep. Henry Waxman, contractors brought bags to meetings in order to collect shrink-wrapped bundles of money.

Most Americans live in the reality based community. When we screw up or trust people who screw up badly, we learn from the experience. Not so with the average conservative politician. This time when they bang their head into that wall there is going to be a different result. Romney Enlists General Behind Iraq Debacle as Key Military Adviser – General Tommy Franks, USA (Ret.)

Deliberately concealed [4] from the American public how in 2001, at Bush White House’s request, he was planning an Iraq invasion—while we were still trying to topple the Taliban and find  bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Lost track of bin Laden at Tora Bora in late 2001 [5], then claimed he hadn’t [6], then was proven wrong [7].

Perpetuated [8] the bogus “weapons of mass destruction” myth about Iraq.

Ignored warnings from his CENTCOM predecessor [9] that Iraq wouldn’t be a walk in the park, and disregarded an earlier series of US war games [9], titled Desert Crossing, that predicted many of the difficulties of an Iraq occupation.

Completely failed to plan for any post-conflict cleanup [10] after the predicted fall of Saddam Hussein. “You pay attention to the day after,” he reportedly told the administration [11], “I’ll pay attention to the day of.” Here are the briefing slides [12] he showed administration officials in which he described “post-hostilities” operations in Iraq as “unknown,” and here’s where he estimated [13] we’d have a mop-up force of about 5,000 US troops in Iraq by 2006. (Actual US forces in Iraq throughout that year averaged about 141,000 [14].)

Authored one of the most nakedly self-serving, embarrassingly written military memoirs [15] of all time. (“Rumsfeld fixed me in his thoughtful blue gaze.”)

In case anyone has not heard of the phenomenon – Franks is a great example of the Peter Principle – “the effect could be stated as: employees tend to be given more authority until they cannot continue to work competently.” Franks would have been a competent colonel – someone who is good at following instructions. He sucked at strategy and adjusting tactics. Which is kinda the whole point of being a competent general.


Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) Benghazi document dump exposes several Libyans working with the U.S.

But Issa didn’t bother to redact the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.

“Much like WikiLeaks, when you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences,” an administration official told The Cable Friday afternoon. “This does damage to the individuals because they are named, danger to security cooperation because these are militias and groups that we work with and that is now well known, and danger to the investigation, because these people could help us down the road.”

One of the cables released by Issa names a woman human rights activist who was leading a campaign against violence and was detained in Benghazi. She expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government.

“This woman is trying to raise an anti-violence campaign on her own and came to the United States for help. She isn’t publicly associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life,” the administration official said.

Do conservatives watch a lot of Three Stooges movies growing up and consider them instruction videos. An Issa staff stooge has since claimed that hey just because the documents were marked sensitive does not mean we should not let the world know what they said. Imagine for a moment the little gears turning inside Issa’s pointed head: go for some gotcha points against the Obama administration or look out for America’s best interests. The George W. Bush gear screamed release the sensitive documents as soon as possible, damn the consequences.

So long to the great statesman and WW II hero George McGovern, George McGovern: He deserved better
In 1972 the populist war hero was destroyed by Richard Nixon’s dirty tricks and Democrats’ self-destructive fear

The son of a Methodist minister, McGovern grew up in Depression-era Mitchell, South Dakota and never forgot the raw Dustbowl desperation he witnessed there. He volunteered for the Air Force at the start of World War II and won the Distinguished Flying Cross; just as influential in his career was the hunger he saw in Italy as the war came to a close, which led to his lifelong work on hunger relief. He returned home and went to divinity school on the G.I. Bill but switched to history, doing his doctoral dissertation on the 1913 Colorado coal strike, which shaped his lifelong advocacy for labor. He supported Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party presidential bid in 1948, but moved away due to the predominance of what he derided as “fanatics,” Communists and extremists.

Elected to the House of Representatives in 1956 (despite being red-baited for his Wallace association, a sign of things to come), he ran for Senate in 1960, campaigning alongside John F. Kennedy. Kennedy later lamented that he probably cost McGovern his election, given that the Massachusetts Catholic was associated with a toxic East Coast liberalism unpopular in South Dakota. He was right; McGovern lost, but Kennedy made him the first director of his Food for Peace program (he would be President Clinton’s Ambassador to United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture through both Clinton terms.) McGovern won the senate seat in 1962.


“The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plain.” – George McGovern

Happy Birthday John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993)

Lithograph of Great Lakes and Chicago – On Every Measure Democrats Beat Republicans on National Security

Lithograph of Great Lakes and LaSalle Str Chicago, Illinois. Around mid 1800s to 1872.

Buffalo & Chicago steam packet empire state: M. Hazard, Commander. [Currier & Ives between 1835 and 1856]. In the Chicago-Great lakes poster above, about center, is a picture of a “side wheeler”.

Intelligence office says it got Libya attack wrong, not White House

Extremists from groups linked to al Qaida struck the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” the top U.S. intelligence agency said Friday, as it took responsibility for the Obama administration’s initial claims that the deadly assault grew from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video.

The unusual statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence appeared to have two goals: updating the public on the latest findings of the investigation into the assault, and shielding the White House from a political backlash over its original accounts.

“In the immediate aftermath (of the assault), there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo,” spokesman Sean Turner said in the statement. “We provided that initial assessment to executive branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly.”

[  ]…In his statement, Turner said that U.S. intelligence agencies’ understanding of what happened in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, has evolved as they’ve collected and analyzed information on the incident. “As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists,” he said.

“It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate,” he said. “However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to, al Qaida.”

Turner didn’t name a specific group. Other U.S. officials have said that they were focusing on the possible involvement of the North African affiliate of the terrorist network, al Qaida in the Maghreb, known as AQIM, and local Islamic militant groups.

The statement did not quiet the political backlash.

Shortly after it was issued, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., called for the resignation of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who was the first senior official to detail the administration’s initial account that the attack was spontaneous during appearances on Sunday morning television talk shows.

King (R-NY) has a very relativistic moral compass when it comes to terrorism. King supports actual terrorism sometimes. His wishy washy moral bearings are typical of Republicans. If the AQIM attacks has occurred on Bush’s watch he and other conservatives would be claiming that just means they have that terrorists right where they want them, that by criticizing the president in a time of war they are being unpatriotic and undermining the war on terror, the criticism by conservative bloggers and politicians is telling the enemy that the U.S. is weak and will “cut and run”. As events and intelligence gathering evolve about any violent event, the facts frequently change. That conservatives would try to twist and exploit the news facts as they emerge is typical of the fetid morality of the conservative movement. They have never displayed much in the way of genuine concern or appropriate reactions to anything bad that happens within ten feet of a Democrat, one should not expect them to rise above it all and act like patriots intend of fevered nationalists out for blood.

What do the attacks on the Libyan Embassy compound mean. Conservatives are being comically absurd in their quest to shape the meaning. They claim this makes Obama weak on terrorism. This is from the same people who brought us the bloody war on terror. In which the deaths of Americans and innocent men, women and children reached historic heights from 2001 to 2008. Unless you listen to Glenn Greenwald who thinks Obama is  worse than Bush on inflicting civilian causalities (Glenn means well, but that is one of his weakest cases). Terrorist Attacks and Presidents

Terror attacks count by president

Terror fatalities by president

It is pretty clear that if one is willing to put partisan blindness aside – an impossible task for Republicans – Democrats hold a clear advantage on keeping Americans and innocent foreigners safe.

(Not including Iraq and Aghanistan attacks, and abortion attacks)
1) September 11 (Domestic Islamic) – 2,992 fatalities
2) Karachi (Overseas Islamic) – 12 fatalities
3) Riyadh (Overseas Islamic) – 34 fatalities
4) Riyadh #2 (Overseas Islamic) – 22 fatalities
5) Riyadh #3 (Overseas Islamic) – 4 fatalities
6) Jeddah (Overseas Islamic) – 4 fatalities
7) Amman (Overseas Islamic) – 57 fatalities
8) Damascus (Overseas Islamic) – No fatalities
9) Athens (Overseas Islamic) – No fatalities
10) Algeria (Overseas Islamic) – 60 fatalities
11) LAX Shooting (Domestic Islamic) – 2 fatalities
12) Beltway Snipers (Domestic Islamic) – 10 fatalities
13) Anthrax (Domestic?) – 5 fatalities
14) Madrid (Overseas Islamic Allies) – 191 fatalities
15) London (Overseas Islamic Allies) – 56 fatalities
16) Chapel Hill SUV attack (Domestic Islamic) – No fatalities
17) Yemen (Overseas Islamic) – 16 fatalities
18) Mumbai, India (Overseas Islamic) – 190 fatalities

Bush did manipulate the country into Iraq, with some help from some Democrats and the media. So Bush and the conservative pundit warriors take take blame for these fatalities as well: 5,921 US military dead. 31,844 wounded in action, of which 13,954 were unable to return to duty within 72 hours. A conservative estimate of civilian Iraqi deaths is between 108,000 and 119,000. And let us remember the that Bush and Cheney were the great masterminds of terrorist fighting even if Bush did say,  “I don’t think you can win [the war on terror].” Mr. weak on terrorism, President Obama, certainly with the help of the Pentagon and CIA did kill Bin Laden, where as Bush Inc. lost Bin laden at Tora Bora. One of the reasons the CIA was able to relentlessly persue every Bin Laden lead during the Obama administration, is that the Obama White House resurrected the CIA’s Bin laden unit that Bush disbanded, July 4, 2006 – C.I.A. Closes Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden.

President Obama and the team of intelligence experts he has put in place have done a remarkable job of tracking down and killing terrorists. The Terrorist Notches on Obama’s Belt

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Anwar al-Awlaki as of today.

Earlier this month officials confirmed that al Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed in Waziristan, Pakistan.

In August, ‘Atiyah ‘Abd al-Rahman,  the deputy leader of al Qaeda was killed.

In June, one of the group’s most dangerous commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri,  was killed in Pakistan. In Yemen that same month, AQAP senior operatives Ammar al-Wa’ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, and Ali Saleh Farhan were killed. In Somalia, Al-Qa’ida in East Africa (AQEA) senior leader Harun Fazul was killed.

Administration officials also herald the recent U.S./Pakistani joint arrest of Younis al-Mauritani  in Quetta.

Going back to August 2009, Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan leader Baitullah Mahsud was killed in Pakistan.

In September of that month, Jemayah Islamiya operational planner Noordin Muhammad Top was killed in Indonesia, and AQEA planner Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was killed in Somalia.

Then in December 2009 in Pakistan, al Qaeda operational commanders Saleh al-Somali and ‘Abdallah Sa’id were killed.

In February 2010, in Pakistan,  Taliban deputy and military commander Abdul Ghani Beradar was captured; Haqqani network commander Muhammad Haqqani was killed; and Lashkar-e Jhangvi leader Qari Zafar was killed.

In March 2010, al Qaeda operative Hussein al-Yemeni was killed in Pakistan, while senior Jemayah Islamiya operative Dulmatin  – accused of being the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings – was killed during a raid in Indonesia.

There is more at the link. It does not include bringing down Moammar Gaddafi. This is the same Moammar Gaddafi that Bush reached a diplomatic deal with. Actually Bush claimed credit for negotiations about WMD that had started during the Clinton administration. Republicans talk about national security the way teen punks talk about being tough in really bad 1950s teen exploitation movies. Look behind the curtain and they shouldn’t brag as much as they do, they just do not have the facts, the real outcomes to back them up. And just a reminder that Republican Robert Gates was SecDef until 2011. A name that conservatives in 2007 tossed around as a potential presidential candidate. If conservatives want to make the case that President Obama has done a terrible job, they also simultaneously make the case that one of their own is incompetent terrorist appeaser.

To casual observers it may seem like conservatives are maintaining a constant level of shrill paranoia, false and sleazy accusations and generally immoral behavior. It is not a scientific measurement, but comparing what I read at conservative blogs, conservative newspaper columns and listen to from conservative media, the spin on Benghazi, Libya is especially shrill,  as is the following story because they sense they are not going to have a huge win this election cycle. Nothing whines as loud as a conservative scorned at the ballot box. They think, within the nice safe bubble of the Republican echo chambers that all the trends, the “facts” are on their side and are panicked to find out that sane America disagrees. With ‘Dreams From My Real Father,’ Have Obama Haters Hit Rock Bottom?

After four years of invective, four years during which the right has called President Obama a traitor, a communist, a fraud, an affirmative-action case, a terrorist-sympathizer, and a tyrant, its shrillest voices have been reduced to the most primal insult of all. They are calling Obama’s mother a whore.

For a while now, pictures purporting to show Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, modeling in 1950s bondage and fetish porn have been floating around the darker corners of the Internet. Now, though, they’ve made their way into a pseudo-documentary, Joel Gilbert’s Dreams From My Real Father, which is being mailed to voters in swing states, promoted by several Tea Party groups and by at least one high-level Republican. At the same time, Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, Obama’s America—the first of all his works to hit the top spot on The New York Times bestseller list—has a chapter essentially calling Dunham a fat slut. If Obama is reelected, it’s hard to imagine where the right goes from here.

It’s tempting to ignore Dreams From My Real Father because it’s so preposterous. The movie claims that Obama’s actual father was the poet and left-wing activist Frank Marshall Davis, who Dunham met through her father, who was a CIA agent merely posing as a furniture salesman.

That stench in the air is desperation mixed with the moral decay that is the conservative movement. CNN Lets Dinesh D’Souza Peddle Conspiracy Theory That Obama Is “Anti-American”

Conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza appeared on CNN this morning to reinforce the message of his error-laden and factually inaccurate movie, 2016: Obama’s America, attacking President Obama as “anti-American” and claiming he has “embraced a Third World ideology.”

While CNN host Zoraida Sambolin pressed D’Souza to explain his accusations, she offered no pushback to D’Souza’s outlandish claims about Obama’s character nor did she point out the discredited claims contained in his movie.

If I had the time and artistic talent I’d draw a political cartoon of elected Democrats and candidates in this election cycle standing with their arms folded, looking forward, with frenzied Republicans throwing the kitchen sink, dirty socks and anything that can grab to throw at them.

Blue Skies Airliner wallpaper – Conservatives Lack The Moral Courage for Honorable Debates

airplanes, clouds

Blue Skies Airliner wallpaper

I am not even sure why this is news except that Politico decided to run it: Obama’s campaign whisperer

Barack Obama’s top advisers are making a mid-“core” correction in their attacks on Mitt Romney — with a little nudge from Bill Clinton, who is finding a niche as an Obama campaign whisperer and fundraiser.

Late last year, as Romney galloped to the right, Obama’s messaging team hit on what it assumed would be a durable bumper-sticker attack: Romney, senior advisers David Plouffe and David Axelrod intoned time and again, was a political shape-shifter who lacked any real moral or political “core.”

The slogan was the Obama talking point for months. But Clinton, echoing survey data presented by Obama’s own pollster Joel Benenson, quietly argued that the empty-core approach failed to capitalize on what they see as Romney’s greatest vulnerability: An embrace of a brand of tea party conservatism that turns off Hispanics, women and moderate independents.

A more effective strategy, Clinton has told anyone who would listen, would be to focus almost exclusively on Romney’s description of himself as a “severe conservative,” to deny him any chance to tack back to the center, according to three Democrats close to the situation.

As much as The Big Dog is a triangulator par excellence, President Obama could do far worse – and has – for  taking advice. President Clinton pulled off an amazing feat in 1992, he unseated an incumbent. And no, it is a myth that Ross Perot siphoned off enough conservatives to push Clinton over the top. Statistically, especially in modern era presidential races( post Eisenhower) it is very difficult to get voters to believe they should switch horses. In 2004 Bush 43 had lied the country into a war that will eventually cost around $3 trillion dollars ( an amount conservatives now count as part of Obama’s debt). Bush had squandered victory in Afghanistan. Conservatives went on the biggest spending spree in U.S. history with Bush’s leadership. Bridges and roads were falling apart. They were doing their best to weaken the U.S. educational system – an ongoing agenda that counts among the few things that conservatives know how to do fairly well. The economy did not ‘officially crash until late 2007, but it was well trashed by 2004. Bush eked out a victory. To be a conservative by definition means living in a bubble of manufactured reality thus the support of Mitt Romney who promises to return us to the slip and slide economic policies that brought us the giant sucking sound known as The Great Recession – Eight of the Top Ten 2012 Super PAC Donors Are Anti-Democracy Conservatives Hell Bent on Bringing Back Bush Policies

Last January, a study found that seventeen of the top twenty political donors are Republicans or conservatives. Last night, USA Today published a similar roundup of Super PAC donors in the 2012 cycle, and they found exactly the same pattern. Eight of the top ten Super PAC donors are Republicans or corporations who donate exclusively to Republicans. One is the Cooperative of American Physicians, a group of physicians focused on mitigating the cost of malpractice liability that supports a single Democrat. The other non-Republican group is a teachers union.

These totals may also understate the total amount of spending by these wealthy right-wing benefactors because donors can keep their identities secret by funneling their money into non-profit arms of political organizations. Sixty-two percent of the $123 million raised by Karl Rove’s “Crossroads” political empire in 2010 and 2011, for example, came from secret donors.

With the exception of the Cooperative of American Physicians, notice anything about this group of people. They do not really produce anything. They own companies, make investments and they sit back and collect the money. Adelson, Perry and Simmons/Contran in particular are not producers, they are not innovators, they collect the capital produced by workers. If they were kidnapped by space aliens tomorrow the economy would churn along as though nothing special had happened. Peter Theil is a right-wing conservative libertarian who thinks it got where he is all on his own ( Theil has never had an idea for anything and refuses to acknowledge the technology that makes his fortune possible was made possible technology invented by the government) and in 2009, Thiel (previously a Ron Paul supporter) wrote that “since 1920… the extension of the [socioeconomic] franchise to women… have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” He is the gay Herman Cain, he has more money than some countries yet constantly complains about how oppressed he is.

Mitt Romney is serious and has values. We know this because he hired a guy who is an expert at insulting women and the media on Twitter to be one of his advisers – Richard Grenell, New Mitt Romney Spokesman, Scrubs Online Attacks On Media And Women.Grenell is not even original, he sounds like he has recycled Ann Coulter’s insults and made them even less funny.

Back when Sarah Palin had Paul Revere warning the British, not the Americans during the middle of his famous ride, one of her defenders put up Revere’s written account as proof that she was correct. Never mind that basic reading comprehension had Revere telling the British off after his ride when he was captured.So even given written evidence with the chronological order of events, conservatives till insisted their brand spanking new  interpretation, that turned the timeline sideways, was correct. A very good example of what it is like trying to get conservatives to comprehend basic facts. So it goes with this blogger who is steadfast in his refusal to let facts get in the way of a crazy smear, Obama Selects Woman Who Wanted to Invade Israel As Chair of Genocide Panel

Power’s response seen in the video below is her advice to the President would be

“Alienate” the American Jewish community, and indeed all Americans, such as evangelical Christians, who support the state of Israel, because Israeli leaders are “destroying the lives of their own people.”

Pour billions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money into “the new state of Palestine”

Stage an American ground invasion of Israel and the Palestinian territories — what else can she mean by a “mammoth protection force” and a “military presence” that will be “imposed” by “external intervention”? — Interestingly she considers the exact same thing the height of arrogance and foolishness when it was done in Iraq.

The video is here. She was asked a hypothetical about any genocidal events occurring in the Palestinian-Israel conflict. A stupid question, but certainly well within the bounds of open and free intellectual discussions. She said the U.S. might have to take action that might be unsettling to a part of the American electorate. Most military actions upset Americans one way or the other. That blogger interprets that in his own words as “alienate” Jews and Evangelicals. Israel is the single biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid and a tremendous amount of U.S. military weapons. What is so radical about entertaining the idea of the U.S. becoming involved in creating a stable and thus less radical Palestinian state. It will never happen, but such is the nature of discussions based on hypotheticals. At no place in the video does she advocate the invasion of Israel. Should a genocidal all out war take place in the region she is referring to the U.S. doing something like establishing a peace keeping force like we did in Kosovo – which worked out very well – Fox war monger Sean Hannity even approved. The reason for the Samantha Power smear campaign by the radical Right – facts be damned – is her recent appointment to the Atrocity Prevention Board. Which was part of an address the President made at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This is the press release from the museum, April 23, 2012 – PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCES GENOCIDE PREVENTION INITIATIVE AT UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today welcomed President Barack Obama as part of the nation’s Days of Remembrance activities commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. In addition to touring the Museum and paying special tribute to Holocaust survivors, the president announced the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), which will coordinate the US response to threats of genocide and other forms of mass atrocities.

“As a living memorial to the Holocaust, we feel that one of the most meaningful ways the Museum can honor the memory of the victims is to save lives in the future. We are honored that President Obama has chosen the Museum as the place to announce a significant new initiative to bolster the government’s capacity to prevent genocide,” said Museum Chairman Tom Bernstein. “A comprehensive US strategy to fulfill the pledge of ‘Never Again’ is a great step forward.”

“Museum Founding Chairman and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel reminds us that the Holocaust occurred because people stood by and that the greatest danger to humanity is indifference. We are heartened by the Obama administration’s efforts to create new tools and strategies to halt the perpetrators of the world’s worst crimes,” Bernstein added. Wiesel accompanied the president on the tour and then introduced him before he gave his address.

The creation of a coordinating body such as the APB was one of the key recommendations of the 2008 Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, who issued a statement commending today’s announcement. The task force was co-sponsored by the Museum, the US Institute of Peace, and The American Academy for Diplomacy.

Michael Chertoff, Chairman of the Committee on Conscience, which directs the Museum’s genocide prevention program, and former Secretary of Homeland Security, said, “The creation of this board represents a positive development in how our government responds to the worst forms of violence against civilians. If this step is coupled with strong political will by this and future administrations, the United States will be positioned as a world leader to act in the face of genocide. But now the work really begins, and the key test will be if this new body is utilized effectively.”

This is not so much as an attack from the liberal side against M’s Power, but certainly liberal slanted pessimism. It does manage to give the big picture of what Power stands for, Obama, Samantha Power, and the ‘problem from hell’

There is an interesting back story to Barack Obama’s call today for stronger action to prevent genocide that directly relates to the subject of this blog. The president’s speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum announcing new sanctions against perpetrators of mass atrocities was shaped in large part by senior aides with first-hand experience in places like Bosnia and Rwanda.

The key person here is Samantha Power, now a senior foreign policy advisor to Obama, who was a young reporter in Bosnia in July 1995 at the time of the Srebrenica massacre, seething in frustration at the failure of the international community to take effective action against the likes of Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. As the author of the Pulitzer prize-winning A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, Power provided much of the intellectual heft for a growing genocide prevention movement that has sought to pressure the United States government to live up to the slogan “Never Again.”

In her book, Power states that she returned from Bosnia “haunted by the murder of Srebenica’s Muslim men and boys, my own failure to sound a proper early warning, and the outside world’s refusal to intervene even once the men’s peril had become obvious.” She noted pointedly that the United States “had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred.”

Other Obama foreign policy advisors who cut their teeth on the biggest foreign policy failures of the Clinton administration include United Nations ambassador Susan Rice, who is haunted by her experience on the National Security Council at the time of the Rwanda genocide. Repenting of the government’s inaction over Rwanda, Rice later swore “that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”

Of course, as both Power and Rice have discovered, there is a huge gap between striking a high moral tone as a commentator and the practical constraints of government. While the Obama administration (prodded by Power, Rice, and their allies) played a key role in the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi last year, it has been unable to contribute in any meaningful way to a reduction in violence in Syria. Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel drew attention to this contradiction today in introducing Obama to the Holocaust museum audience by noting pointedly that Bashar Assad is “still in power” in Syria alongside “number one Holocaust denier,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.( Isn’t that a sign of good ol centrism when conservatives and liberals do not think you are good enough)

I’m not criticizing Elie Wiesel, that is like, if not worse than criticizing Mother Teresa, but Wiesel has also criticized right-wing Israelis like Benjamin Netanyahu,

On his visit to the museum, Obama was accompanied by the Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who, in an interview with the Times of Israel last week, had rebuked Benjamin Netanyahu for repeatedly comparing the alleged threat posed by Iran to Israel with the Holocaust, as the Israeli prime minister did last Thursday at a memorial in Jerusalem in a particularly hawkish speech that drew widespread notice in elite foreign policy circles here.

On the very long list of conservative hypocrisies I always find it amazing that they will go into shrill outrage mode over any foreign input into U.S.A. foreign policy, yet get down on all fours and pull the foreign policy of Israel’s far Right. The conservative mind is simply not capable of appreciating the fact that one can support Israel and find some of the things it does a little bone headed. Thinking that does not make one pro Hamas or antisemitic. That is just a logical fallacy upon which conservatives rest most of their arguments. It is absurd to even entertain the idea of letting any Israeli leader dictate when the U.S.A. should go to war. This is a great example by Glenn Greenwald of the attacks which ensue if you do not take the radical Right’s every position on Israel – The predictable aftermath of the anti-CAP smear. Hard to tell if one only reads conservative blogs, but not all Israeli Jews buy into the perpetual war mongering, Jewish Voice for Peace.

Update: One of America’s most patriotic media watchers, Media Matters posted this just as I was finishing this post – Still Not True: Conservatives Revive Falsehood That Samantha Power Called For Invading Israel

Right-wing media are responding to Obama adviser Samantha Power’s appointment as chair of the newly created Atrocities Prevention Board by reviving the long-debunked smear that Power once advocated for an invasion of Israel.

Western Tree Line Blue Skies wallpaper – Conservative Populism is an Oxymoron

Western Tree Line Blue Skies wallpaper


SC Republicans Boo Newt Gingrich Over Romney Attacks

At a forum hosted by Mike Huckabee with 800 undecided South Carolina Republicans, Newt Gingrich was loudly booed when he criticized Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, according to a Republican who attended the closed-press event.

“They were really angry,” said the attendee. The forum will be aired on Fox News tonight.

The booing came when Gingrich mentioned Romney’s name. I am told Gingrich was gently reprimanded by Huckabee who reminded him that the ground rules for the forum stipulated that the candidate were not allowed to attack each other.

Sometimes, if not most of the time, trying to figure out if there is some underlying logical consistency to conservative thinking is like trying to figure out exactly what that road kill was, raccoon? opossum? Who knows. Romney and his PAC buddies (Restore our Future) have run attack ads against Gingrich. Ron Paul has run attack ads against Gingrich. While Romney still seems to have the advantage – ahead in SC by 21 points – you can bet snips of those ads and sound bites by Sarah Palin, among other conservatives ,will be used against the conservative nominee later this year. In her commentary on the same story Digby adds an interesting find about the very strange brand of right-wing conservative populism – Seismic political activity

It turns out that the booing was because Newtie was being mean to Romney and they’d promised not to be negative in this format. But either way, they aren’t populists as we think of populists. They’re producerists who aren’t used to criticizing any thing but government elites. This is new for them:

Calls to rally the virtuous “producing classes” against evil “parasites” at both the top and bottom of society is a tendency called producerism. It is a conspiracist narrative used by repressive right wing populism. Today we see examples of it in some sectors of the Christian Right, in the Patriot movements and armed militias, and in the Far right.

Producerism begins in the US with the Jacksonians, who wove together intra-elite factionalism and lower-class Whites’ double-edged resentments. Producerism became a staple of repressive populist ideology. Producerism sought to rally the middle strata together with certain sections of the elite. Specifically, it championed the so-called producing classes (including White farmers, laborers, artisans, slaveowning planters, and “productive” capitalists) against “unproductive” bankers, speculators, and monopolists above—and people of color below. After the Jacksonian era, producerism was a central tenet of the anti-Chinese crusade in the late nineteenth century. In the 1920s industrial philosophy of Henry Ford, and Father Coughlin’s fascist doctrine in the 1930s, producerism fused with antisemitic attacks against “parasitic” Jews.

This strain remains embedded in American political life and gets lively during times of economic stress. All kinds of strange tentacles emerge from it. The conservative movement spent a lot of money and many decades making sure their “populists” looked in the “up” direction they wanted them to — limousine liberals and government elites. And they’re very well trained. But this election is the first time in years that we’re seeing some resistance. It’s especially interesting that it’s starting with the conservative political elite in reaction to the crude dominance of the Big Money Boyz. This should be fun to watch.

I’ve read some news reports about some of the tea baggers joining in with the 99% and one from out west where some tea partiers didn’t agree with everything the local OWS was doing but brought them some food. I tend to think it is best not to make too much of this mutual sympathies at the edges because that is largely where it will stay. A site called for example has written several attacks on OWS calling them out of touch and focusing on the wrong targets. Those self anointed tea-patriots sound just like the producerism fake populism Digby references. There are quite a few around me, being in the south. They do not skip a beat in condemning what they see as the “limousine liberals” yet see limousine conservatives as the ever virtuous captains of industry. They’ll point out how rich many senate Democrats are and then turn around and call them socialists. Their style of populism – and it is stretching things to call it that – requires the bizarre ability to hold two contradictory ideas in their head at the same time. Money earned by Democrats is elitists and socialist, while money the vulture capitalist conservatives suck out of the middle-class and blue-collar workers is good clean all-American conservative money. They called Sen. John Kerry a gigolo for having a wealthy wife, but said nothing in 2008 about John McCain’s wealth coming from his wife. The clue that holds this strange and contradictory conservative populism together is frequently ethnocentrism, paranoia about government benefits going to anyone but white conservatives( I never hear the conservatives I know say their elderly relatives would be better off without Social Security or Medicare). They’re against government programs including people of color, or wholly imagined hoards of illegal aliens collecting tons of welfare benefits. Time and again we see that conservatives take full advantage of government programs that range from Medicaid to loan guarantees to government subsidies. Liberals and progressives will always be at a disadvantage in this debate because we can produce all the evidence, the charts, the best logical arguments, examples from history (George Washington forced troops to buy supplies, Abe Lincoln – without benefit of a constitutional amendment that was passed after the fact – imposed the first federal income tax to finance the Civil War). What we’re trying to get through are the layers of denial, deflections, rationalizations and hypocrisies. While there are many conservatives who are capable of physical courage, another problem that twists conservative think is the abundance of moral and psychological cowardice. They are terrified of facts, of science of post Enlightenment thinking. Many of them truly think practical answers to problems through public policy measures – like food assistance, Social Security, student loans, bank regulation like the old Glass Steagall Act – anything that is not pure absolutist capitalism – is the slippery slope to living under the hammer and sickle. Never mind that these programs and regulations actually help keep the economy healthy – we would have had a much easier recession, if one at all if 12 banks had not be allowed to become too big to fail.

Romney, other issues aside, flip-flops aside is the perfect spokesman for exactly the kind of insular populism that drives the Right – Romney and the pathology of Bain

No one can make Mitt Romney look good — not even a crazy man with a program that’s slightly to the right of Juan Peron.  Ron Paul, currently the second most popular Republican presidential candidate, may be nuts but Romney is arguably a lot worse: the standard-bearer of the worst aspects of borderline sociopathic, bottom-feeding American capitalism.

I don’t mean to call people names.  I speak as a bona fide expert on these subject, having covered business and written a book about a sociopath and having known many professionally through the years. I’m merely trying to provide a dispassionate analysis of Romney’s life and career, especially (but not exclusively) his record as a job-destroying corporate warrior at the Bain Capital buyout firm.

[  ]…Here’s one of the better brief digests of Romney as a corporate job-destroyer, written by Josh Kosman, who wrote an excellent book in 2010 on the buyout industry called “The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Is Destroying Jobs and Killing the American Economy.” This book is required reading for anybody who wants to understand what Romney did for a living at Bain. He is the living embodiment of how the “job creator” Republican meme is grotesquely misleading, if not an outright lie.

Human beings with a conscience find this appalling, conservatism embraces it. Romney’s most stinging critics – and they seem to be multiplying by the day – are not anarchists or Che t-shirt wearing neohippies, they are capitalists, investors, businesses that have observed the vulturism of the Romneys of America. To these types of corporate raiders businesses are like villages that are to be pillaged. That they occasionally left some villages standing is like saying the fire wasn’t all bad it missed the broom closet. NYT resident conservative David Brooks is typical of the far Right elite. Sometimes he even asks good questions. His answers are abysmal. If this is the best kind of defense conservative word smiths have for Romney, they’re in deep trouble – Will Mitt’s CEO experience make him a good president? The New York Times Op-Ed columnists go to war

What the United States needs, suggests Brooks, isn’t a CEO. We need an aristocrat.

First, successful presidents tend to be emotionally secure. They have none of the social resentments and desperate needs that plagued men like Richard Nixon. Instead they were raised, often in an aristocratic family, with a sense that they were the natural leaders of the nation. They were infused, often at an elite prep school, with a sense of obligation and responsibility to perform public service.

    Whether it is a George Washington, a Franklin or Theodore Roosevelt or a John F. Kennedy, this sort of president enters the White House with ease and confidence, is relatively unscathed by the criticism of the crowd, is able to separate the mask he must wear for public display from the real honest self he knows himself to be.

With this column, Brooks settles, once and for all, the question of whether he himself is an elitist. And not just any run-of-the-mill elitist! No, Brooks is a heroic, truth-telling elitist, with the courage to say what conventional wisdom about American discourse declares verboten!

In sum, great presidents are often aristocrats and experienced political insiders. They experience great setbacks. They feel the presence of God’s hand on their every move.

    Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to talk about these things openly these days. We disdain elitism, political experience and explicit God-talk. Great failure is considered “baggage” in today’s campaign lingo.

I wonder, why might Americans disdain elitism? Could it have something to do with our history, our defining identity as a people who rebelled against monarchy? Could it be that one of our core values, at least until recently, is the idea that anyone, no matter what family they were born into, or how wealthy they are, or what prep school they attended, has (at least theoretically) the potential and opportunity to rise to the highest office in the land?

Gosh, just let’s just go to the obvious. The current president was raised in a very modest home by a single mother. managed to get into Harvard based on academic achievement. He succeeded our first Harvard MBA president who was born with a silver spoon up his ass who had tanked three businesses before dad bought him the governorship of Texas. Brooks hopes hat another golden ass-spoon will take his place because it is only those who are most disconnected with average Americans who can relate to average Americans. What did I say about logic and moral cowardice.

And via Paul Krugman, this article from the WaPo – When Romney ran Bain Capital, his word was not his bond

Yet, there is another version of the Bain way that I experienced personally during my 17 years as a deal-adviser on Wall Street: Seemingly alone among private-equity firms, Romney’s Bain Capital was a master at bait-and-switching Wall Street bankers to get its hands on the companies that provided the raw material for its financial alchemy. Other private-equity firms I worked with extensively over the years — Forstmann Little, KKR, TPG and the Carlyle Group, among them — never dared attempt the audacious strategy that Bain partners employed with great alacrity and little shame. Call it the real Bain way.

[  ]…This is the moment when Bain Capital would become especially crafty. In my experience — which I heard echoed often by my colleagues around Wall Street — Bain would seek to be the highest bidder at the end of the formal process in order to be the firm selected to negotiate alone with the seller, putting itself in the exclusive, competition-free zone. Then, when all other competitors had been essentially vanquished and the purchase contract was under negotiation, Bain would suddenly begin finding all sorts of warts, bruises and faults with the company being sold. Soon enough, that near-final Bain bid — the one that got the firm into its exclusive negotiating position — would begin to fall, often significantly.

[  ]…The real Bain way may be nothing more than a clever tactic to eliminate competition from a heated auction in order to buy a business at an attractive price.

What is pure capitalism? Absolutist capitalism, capitalism the way establishment conservatives think it should be practiced. This is a textbook example. You always… the system.

Another example of conservatives being neck-deep in government loan guarantees and the right-wing noise machine pretending that conservatives ain’t had nothing to do with it – What Liberal Media – CBS Echoes Right-Wing Talking Points Runs Error-Ridden Report On “New Solyndras”

Default Rate For Loan Guarantee Program Is Much Less Than What Government Budgeted For Losses. Bloomberg reported that the government “planned for defaults of as much as 12.85 percent” for the loan guarantee program, and that as of now, the default rate “is less than 3.6 percent. CBS did not mention this fact. [Bloomberg News, 11/10/11]

Most Of The Loans Guarantees Have Almost No Risk Of Default. To date CBS has not covered a Bloomberg Government analysis of the Department of Energy’s 1705 loan guarantee program, which found that 87 percent of the value of all the 1705 loan guarantees (18 of the 28 projects) went to power generation projects, as opposed to manufacturing projects like Solyndra’s factory. The flawed CBS report mentioned several of these projects among the purported “New Solyndras.” The DOE required generation projects to secure a buyer before receiving a loan guarantee — ensuring stable revenue and significantly reducing the risk of the investment. In fact, Shayle Kann, a solar power market expert at GTM Research, has said that these projects have almost no risk of default. [Media Matters, 12/6/11]

[  ]…In fact, Solyndra’s top brass, its board and its paid lobbyists bring close ties to both political parties.

President and CEO Brian Harrison is a registered Republican. Billionaire George Kaiser, an Obama campaign bundler, was one of the venture capitalists who poured private funding into the clean technology startup.

And another venture capital firm, Madrone Capital Partners, which is tied to the GOP-leaning Walton family, was one of 10 firms that helped Solyndra raise about $144 million in November 2008 ( pre- Obama’s election).

In Washington, Victoria Sanville, one of the company’s two in-house lobbyists, had previously worked for four House Republicans: Sam Graves of Missouri, Peter Roskam of Illinois, John Sweeney of New York and George Gekas of Pennsylvania.

Bush Admin. Chose Solyndra As A Finalist For A Loan Guarantee. The Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At a congressional hearing, Jonathan Silver, then-Executive Director of Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, testified that the Bush administration selected Solyndra as one of 16 out of 143 submissions to move forward in the process. [Media Matters, 9/19/11]

Fox and right-wing bloggers have been in derangement mode over Solyndra for months. They never mention that Bush originated the guarantee and Congressional conservatives voted to pass the bill that included the funds. Its like arguing with children – they stand there with jelly all over their face, empty jelly jar on the table and no way are they going to admit they ate all that jelly, a liberal unicorn flew through the window and ate it all.

of course we can rely on the LIBERAL media to keep the public informed because the broadcast media in particular take their jobs as te people’s watchdogs very seriously ..wink wink – STUDY: SOPA Coverage No Match For Kim Kardashian And Tim Tebow

While U.S. television news outlets have largely ignored the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act during their evening news and opinion programming, they have covered repeatedly and at-length Tim Tebow, Casey Anthony, Kim Kardashian’s divorce, the British Royal Family, and Alec Baldwin being kicked off an airplane.

Last week, we released a study showing that during their evening programming, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN devoted a combined total of one segment to SOPA and its Senate companion bill, the Protect IP Act. (That segment aired on CNN’s The Situation Room. Though Fox News Channel has apparently not touched the story during evening programming, conservative/libertarian host Andrew Napolitano has run several segments vocally opposing SOPA on his program, which runs on the lower-rated Fox Business Network.) The parent companies of these networks, as well as two of the networks themselves, are listed as official “supporters” of SOPA on the U.S. House of Representatives’ website.

STUDY: SOPA Coverage No Match For Kim Kardashian And Tim Tebow


Most of us, certainly those who lean Democrat, are familiar with and sympathetic to PTSD. I tend to think that what we saw with the Marines urinating incidence was a symptom of that – The Banality of Urinating on Taliban Corpses

If you had asked me a few days ago, before news broke that American soldiers have urinated on Taliban corpses, whether American soldiers have ever urinated on Taliban corpses, I would have said: Probably.

You send hordes of young people into combat, people whose job is to kill the enemy and who watch as their friends are killed and maimed by the enemy, and the chances are that signs of disrespect for the enemy will surface--and that every once in a while those signs will assume grotesque form.

War, presumably, has always been like that. But something has changed over the past couple of decades–two things, actually–and they amount to a powerful new argument against starting wars in the first place.

First, there’s the new transparency of war. Infinitely more battlefield details get recorded, and everyone has the tools to broadcast these details. So it’s just a matter of time before some outrageous image goes viral–pictures from Abu Ghraib, video from Afghanistan, whatever. These images will make you and your soldiers more hated by the enemy than ever–and hated by civilians who may identify with the enemy, whether because of national, ethnic, or religious kinship.

Most of these guys are young. They’re in a super stressful situation. They have friends blown apart, maimed for life.. They get angry and stressed. They forget that their actions might be justified on an emotional level, but lose hearts and minds which makes their job harder and more dangerous. It’s the nature of war to act in ways that can be counter productive because of the stress. If America doesn’t want their Marines to act like this then be a little more discriminate about sending them off on ill-defined open-ended missions.

Mountain Morning Light wallpaper – The Flat Tax Lead Bandwagon and Other News

American landscapes, green, nature

Mountain Morning Light wallpaper

The conservative winds are changing regardless of what the latest straw polls show. Herman Cain has made one too many missteps and the conservative establishment has declared his campaign is just about over. This op-ed is from the web equivalent of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, The Daily Caller –  Cain: Rove attacks me to help Romney

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO says former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove is attacking him in an effort to help former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Washington Examiner reports.

Cain’s comments came after Rove, considered the principal architect of President George W. Bush’s political career, mapped out a list of recent Cain “gaffes” on a whiteboard during a Fox News Channel appearance Monday morning. “The whole effect of this is to not create an image, I think, of him being a flip-flopper,” said Rove. “I think it’s to create an image of being not up to the task.”

“It’s a good thing the voters are not looking at Karl Rove’s little whiteboard,” Cain told the Examiner’s Byron York Monday afternoon. “I believe it is a deliberate attempt to damage me because I am not — quote, unquote — the establishment choice. But why not go with the choice that the people seem to like?”

Rove and Fox may not be crazy about Romney, but make no mistake this is a shot to the heart of Cain’s momentum. Cain’s much inflated persona as the outsider wears a bit thin when you consider that most of his campaign organization is the Koch brothers. The Right has taken to describing the Koches as liberal’s boogeyman. They are not invisible and they do not hide under beds, the millions of dollars they spend through the Cato Institute, FreedonWorks and American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) the Koches are a major force in the Anti-American conservative movement. They were and are major players in dismantling unions and workers rights. Forget about this meme that conservative voters are anti-establishment. That is the same old window dressing they used at the height of the tea nuts movement to shift blame for the economy and bungled foreign policy away from “true” conservationism. This analysis is spot on. If either one of the Koches started a run for president tomorrow it would shake up the race considerably.

Aging culture warriors on the Right love Rick Perry. He thinks all the batsh*t insane stuff Michelle Bachmann thinks, except he’s male. Perry has now jumped on the flat tax bandwagon. It hardly matters to the average conservative whether it is Cain or Perry’s flat tax, they will lower the taxes for millionaires and corporations and rise taxes on those with average incomes and below. Flat tax fits on a bumper sticker. Conservative pols have always preferred simple over smart or fair. Thinking hurts their pointed heads. For GOP Presidential Field, It’s Survival of the Flattest

As Steve Forbes learned in 1996 and 2000 and Herman Cain is learning now, the flat tax is a bad idea whose time never came. After all, the move to a single income tax rate for all earners inevitably shifts the tax burden from the rich to middle and lower income Americans. And if the rate is too low, the result is a hemorrhage of red ink from the U.S Treasury that quickly becomes an ocean of debt.

Nevertheless, in one form or another, the top tier of the 2012 GOP presidential stands poised to embrace this latest wildly regressive Republican windfall for the wealthy. Hoping to benefit from the hype surrounding Cain’s simple 9-9-9 plan, Texas Governor Rick Perry with Steve Forbes’ endorsement will announce his own flat tax proposal on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the resurrected Newt Gingrich has exhumed his own scheme in the guise of an “optional” 15 percent flat tax rate. And to confirm the growing flat tax popularity among his party’s primary voters, frontrunner Mitt Romney in typical fashion may be on the verge of reversing course.

If conservatives want to be the party of the perennially wacky Forbes let’s not try to discourage them. Forbes went down in flames. Perry and Cain will do likewise. Your conservative family making $40k a year and now pays no federal income taxes has no desire to start paying a minimum tax of Cain’s 9% or Perry’s 20%( as reported by the WSJ). Romney has not specified his flat tax rate yet and as the weeks progress and the feedback starts coming in I suspect it will be one of those flip-flop-flips which he backs off. Rick Perry: Standing Tall for the 1%

He’d allow multinationals to return the trillion dollars in profits that they have closeted abroad at a 5% tax rate, a truly shameless corporate giveaway. He’d lower corporate taxes to 20% immediately, while “phasing out” corporate loopholes – good luck with that.

Then he would blow a hole in Social Security, providing young workers with a choice for private accounts. Since under the current plan, young workers pay for the benefits their parents’ generation receives, this would starve Social Security of significant income just when the boomers are retiring. He does not say how he would replace what is likely to be a trillion dollar shortfall over the next thirty years.

But it will have to be by cutting benefits since he would put a lid on federal spending at 18% GDP (We currently spend about 24%, and it is impossible to imagine an effective government sustaining Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and bare bone essential services at less than 20%).

During the best of the Bush and total control of the federal government by conservatives spending was 20% of GDP. That is without a recession and spending with no compensating cuts ( its the the glorious borrow and spend years). We have trillions to pay in health are for vets of the two wars conservatives bungled. More of the baby boomers will be retiring. We still need infrastructure spending. A Rick Perry presidency looks as bleak as the landscape in The Book of Eli with no green zone left at the end to save us.

An unfortunate trend is to have a reflexive reaction to anything Obama proposes as dead on arrival. It might be cool in some circles, but not very productive – HARP II, Either A Huge Deal Or Not

The FHFA itself is actually not making any particularly grand claims on behalf of this initiative, and other people I’ve heard from in the government are likewise being very restrained and not promising any gigantic macroeconomic benefits.

Sarah Rosen Wartell, who leads the housing work at CAP, put out a statement observing that “some important details are still to come that will determine how much progress will be achieved.” Joe Gagnon goes really big, and says that if this is designed right we could get three to four million jobs out of it which obviously would be a huge effect. By contrast, Felix Salmon says he thinks this will do almost nothing. Personally, I have no idea who’s right about this. It can’t hurt to try, right?

If we split the difference between Joe and Felix that would mean 2 million jobs and quite a few people staying in their homes.

War By Other Means – Why it’s safe to ignore Republican criticism of Obama’s policy in Iraq.

This is getting all too predictable. President Obama announced that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, in compliance not only with his election pledge but also with the terms of a U.S.-Iraq treaty. In response, the Republicans moaned and hollered that Obama is playing politics with national security, or that he could have negotiated a better outcome, or that he’s surrendering to Iranian domination.

It’s a safe bet that, had Obama announced he was keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq for the indefinite future, most of the same Republicans would have moaned and hollered that he was breaking a promise to the American people, draining the Treasury, and boosting the chance of a terrorist attack by Muslims angered at our continued occupation.

More than this, their complaints are unfounded, based on either ignorance or deliberate distortion.

First, it is crucial to note that this withdrawal and its timetable were set in a treaty called the Status of Forces Agreement, signed Nov. 17, 2008, not by Obama (who wasn’t president yet) but rather by George W. Bush. SOFAs, as they’re often abbreviated, are treaties—bearing the force of national and international law—that presidents sign with each country that hosts U.S. armed forces. They set the terms and conditions under which those forces can stay.

The SOFA with Iraq states, in Article 24: “All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, waters, and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.” That’s as definitive as these things get.

Article 30 does allow for amendments to the treaty, but only in the event of the “formal written approval of both parties and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in both countries.” For the past few months, U.S. officials (including some former Bush officials called back to join the delegation) have tested the waters to see if Iraqi lawmakers would allow—or, more to the point, wanted—an amendment that would permit some of the current 40,000 American troops to stay on. Their conclusion: The Iraqis had no such desire, and not much need.

There is the argument violence will increase on US withdrawal. We’ve been withdrawing troops over the past two years and while there was an uptick for a while violence is down. fewer Iraqis and fewer US military are dying. We’ll still have 40,000 troops on the Kuwaiti border and a Naval carrier group off the coast. Iran talks a lot of smack but they have no desire to have their clock cleaned by US air and naval power.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and some others have suggested that the sticking point was over a clause giving U.S. troops immunity from Iraqi prosecution for alleged crimes. This is a standard feature of such treaties, including of the earlier arrangement with Iraq. It’s true that the Iraqis refused to grant the immunity. But there was no leeway to negotiate an exemption, because the main sticking point was, and is, that the Iraqis simply do not want American troops in their country anymore. One U.S. official in Iraq said in a phone interview, “Even our erstwhile friends [among Iraqi politicians] want us out by the end of the year. None of them lifted a finger to keep us.”

Do Obama’s Republican critics, who have made such a big deal of Iraq’s bourgeoning democracy, really think Obama should (or could) have disregarded the democratically elected parliament of a sovereign nation—a sovereign ally, at that—in order to keep U.S. troops on that nation’s soil, allegedly for its own interest (as defined by us, not by them)? We would then become nothing but an occupying power, sure to trigger an escalation of armed resistance and appear hypocritical in the extreme.