Robert Parry: Who Betrayed 'Objective' Journalism?
Mairead Maguire: Finding Heart and Courage: An Open Letter to President Obama
Karen J. Greenberg: Kiss the Era of Human Rights Goodbye - What Bush Willed to Obama and the World
The Rude Pundit: Friday Fun Quotes (Texas "Education" Edition)
Glenn Greenwald: Ronald Reagan: Vengeful, Score-Settling, Hard Left Ideologue
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driftglass: A Reader Asks...
TRex: Death To Crapitalism
Mahablog: Why Is There an Economy?
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Government Actions to Address the H1N1 Flu Virus
Friday, May 1, 2009
Someone should remind House Minority Leader John Boehner of that "inclusion" thing so the next time he decides to produce a fearmongering video, he should probably leave out the photos of President Obama meeting with the Hispanic Caucus that he interspersed with pictures of Hugo Chavez and Al-Qaeda operatives with rocket launchers as well a photo of the Pentagon aflame.
As for us Republicans, the outlines of the GOP of the future are already coming into focus. We pledge to become a party of inclusion, not exclusion. What binds us is our faith – a belief in the ability of individuals to succeed in a free environment and to shape their own destiny through hard work.
Opportunity and the incentive to work and produce inspired America to flourish. The Republican Party will never forget that.
~ Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House minority whip, January 28, 2009
You see, they really are the party of inclusion... except for Hispanics, Muslims and other brown-skinned people that don't look like they do. The caucus' complaint doesn't upset me as much as that video. So much for the GOP changing their tune. Sinking ship, my friends. Sinking ship.
Hispanic Democrats are furious and demanding an apology over an image wedged in a new GOP web video on terrorism that shows members of the Hispanic Caucus sitting at a table with President Obama.
...Among many other images designed to, according to the GOP, “[underscore] why the American people are growing more worried about the Administration’s political decisions on national security,” the video includes an image at the 1:11 mark of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the White House.
I knew I'd find something to post. David Sirota gets this exactly right:
When [Demomcrats] temporarily took back the Senate in 2001 after Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords' party switch, they said the Republican House would stymie their priorities -- a logical argument that came true. When they won both houses of Congress in 2006, they said George W. Bush would veto their agenda -- again, a fair assertion that proved correct. When they won both Congress and the White House in 2008, they insisted they still couldn't do very much because their 58 Senate votes couldn't overcome a filibuster -- a less believable claim considering Obama's bully pulpit, but nonetheless at least mathematically valid.I think there was a little quid pro quo here with regards to the timing of the Souter and Specter announcements, though I can't say for certain. Tristero over at Digby's Hullbaloo certainly thinks there are more things in the Washingtonian heaven and earth than are contained the mass media's philosophy:
It has been like watching a 15-year version of an Indiana Jones film -- every time we think the quest to find the ark will be completed, there's been another twist, putting off the promised conclusion just a little bit more.
Any questions now why Democrats are paying good money to run Specter as a Democrat?I think the changes in the years since the GOP's heights of victory in 2002 have been epochal. Remember that Al Gore and John Kerry both almost won. Had either of them, we wouldn't now know the name of Barack Obama as anyone other than a slightly left-of-center senator from Illinois who coulda-shoulda-woulda make a run at the White House at some future date, maybe 2016. As it is, Bush's Rethugli-goons were in a multi-generational downward prior to 9/11 and they only really got one and a half election's worth of juice out of that melon. Rove's doubling-down of Nixon's Southern Strategy only made the GOP's long-term prospects more bleak in the face of large-scale demographic trends which anyone could foresee, as long as this country continued to have a functioning democracy (arguably, we don't) which is why he and his minions could crow about a Permanent Republican Majority -- which lasted about as long (proportionately speaking) as Hitler's Thousand Year Reich.
I didn't think so.
Special note: Of course, I don't like Specter. Of course, I'm disgusted that the Democratic party has moved so far to the right that a conservative pinhead like Specter would even consider joining. Of course, I'm appalled at the manipulation and cynicism involved in purchasing Specter's votes for Obama's Supreme Court nominations.
But that is exactly what is going down. To ignore it, or to deny it, is not merely silly. It's naive. Dangerously naive: after all, there is a vicious, malicious, extreme-right Republican party that, given half a chance, will rear its ugly head up again and create even more havoc than they already have.
Now, it's time to get Franken seated. And fast.
Bye-bye, Mayberry Machiavellis. Welcome to politics, Chicago-style
Nevertheless, after Reagan and his goon squad took this country over an ethical cliff, we finally hit bottom during the four-year stretch from 2002 and 2006, bumping and scraping along the seething, blood-caked boneyard on the floor of hell. I read somewhere on the interwebs these last few years (probably on Billmon before he went off the air) that though the GOP had truly taken over all three branches of government, two were relatively easily reversible, because the long-term damage done by these goons in our four-year march through perdition was actually in the judiciary. We could band together and fight to get the president we wanted, if we fought hard enough. We could fight our smaller local battles and get the legislatures we wanted both state and federal. We could fight for city councils and school boards and mayors, but the lasting damage, the Reich-wing moles planted throughout our government, the ringing echo of the Nixonland waking nightmare we've lived in since the late 60's will quietly march on in the form of appointed judges with secret agendas.
Which is why the GOP will go to the mat for Souter's seat. They will use every ounce of strength they have left, pull every trick, use every parlimentary sleight-of-hand, tell any lie, clutch their pearls and faint on any couch, bribe any official, level any threat, throw any tantrum. They may be (as Mr. C sez in his return post) the 21st Century Whig Party -- bound for oblivion -- but they all know that, collectively, this will be their last stand as a cohesive political entity. We have not yet even begun to see them bring Teh Crazy, no matter who Obama nominates, because they are so disorganized right now and their porcine, drug-addled sex-tourist demagogue of a leader is so convinced of his own potency, that no coordinated effort to keep their powder dry and regroup so as to live to fight another day is in the offing for this scattered mob on the run. They will go berserk on any name put forth by our president, because loading the judiciary with lifetime appointments has been the real goal of their reign of terror all long.
So this fight for Souter's seat, I think, is the looming Cosmic, Epic Battle Royale for the Ages for which the GOP has been itching. I wish it wasn't so early in Obama's term, but I think he has with this appointment and Specter's defection the power now, right now, to destroy utterly the last dregs of political power of the disorganized remnants of that corportized, violent, racist hard-right we've battled since the days of Nixon. They will never disppear completely, but their ability to regroup will be smashed beyond repair for two generations.
Thus, the fight right now is to prevent them from doing any further harm and that fight starts with Souter's seat. Damage would include a compromise candidate, by the way, because they will demand such. Then our fight will be to undo the deep, deep harm they've inflicted over the last 25 years, from Clarence Thomas forward, at all levels of the federal judiciary. On that score, if Souter's seat is the first step, impeaching Jay Bybee is the second step in a long, long chain of dispatching all those wicked, morally compromised men and women who are appointed for life and bringing our scales of justice back into some kind of balance.
The fact that Alito and Roberts are young terrifies me for exactly the same reason.
posted by Armadillo Joe
I don't know why, but this makes me laugh (from BlueGal at C&L):
And if you're curious, Rock Paper Scissors Spock Lizard is an actual variation of the original game.
I got nothing else right now. My last post kind of did me in. Any ideas?
So after some fun in the sun and 95%* completely tuned out to 24/7 cable chatter (which I highly recommend to anyone on a semi-regular basis), I come back to find that Arlen Specter has the Swine Flu?, Air Force One flew over New York City, President Obama completes his first 100 days in office and has a news conference (love it!), and the GOP is becoming the 21st Century Whig Party faster than Norm Coleman can file another suit. I should go away more often.
On Specter - when I first heard about this I thought it's obviously a huge blow to the GOP but I still have my reservations. Just because you can switch your party affilation on your voter registration card doesn't mean that you can switch your vote or your thought process overnight. Arlen Specter calling himself a Democrat might be more of a thorn in the side of the Democratic party rather than a help. That's a powerful 60th vote and he knows it. I don't think Harry Reid's "deal" that Specter can keep his seniority is going to be very helpful either. Reid steps in shit again. Thanks, Harry.
Swine Flu - Seriously? I mean, I know it's an important issue... but so was Avian Bird Flu. How many of us were affected by that again? Come on, people. Stop those Spring Break Cancun vacations and grinding on the dance floor with someone who is coughing in your face. Wash your hands and move on.
Air Force One Flyover Outrage - I get it... just enough for the people in the area to be concerned. I'm sure no one north of Canal Street knew anything about it until the outrage, the UNMITIGATED GALL, I TELL YOU!, to have an Air Force One photo-op and not tell anyone. Except local law enforcement. And certain public officials. But it almost seems comical that certain New York politicians who didn't know were using the opportunity for their own photo-op. Couldn't they just release a statement?
Besides the fact that we have three major airports in the area; JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. I have planes flying over my head all the time. I live 10 minutes away from LaGuardia and they land a couple of miles away. Everyone needs to take a breath and calm down. Did we all of a sudden stop taking our shoes off at the airport? Have we stopped the racial profiling at the TSA security gate?
President Obama's First 100 Days - The President had another news conference. (Did anyone else notice he didn't call on Fox for a question? Heh.) Isn't it nice to know what's going on on a regular basis and hearing it from the horse's mouth rather than the previous clown having what, like 10 news conferences in his 8 years? Obama's going after the Most Presidential News Conferences record like Tiger Woods is tracking down most PGA Majors won. 100 days down, 2,820 days to go. Suck it, Rove.
GOP Implosion - ...Huzzah!
*I caught about 10 minutes of the news conference.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I have been struggling to compose a post about the oncoming implosion of the Rethugli-twit Party and the self-induced death spiral they just can't seem to pull out of, but the Specter defection yesterday seems to me to be that threatened implosion made extant. James Wolcott at Vanity Fair quotes from a very glum David Frum:
The Specter defection is too severe a catastrophe to qualify as a “wake-up call.” His defection is the thing we needed the wake-up call to warn us againstAbout which Wolcott opines:
The iron-girder he-men of the conservative blogosphere have greeted former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Arlen Specter's defection to the Democrats with whiskery hoots of "good riddance/get lost/don't let the door hit your withered buttocks on the way out" and similar pleasantries. Many of them appear defiantly resigned to the Republican Party becoming a regional bastion of true believers, the Branch Davidian compound of the Confederate Jesus. To those, however, who still share the same sky as those in the real world and think that the best escape route out of minority status and possible extinction is to win elections (crazy, I know), the Specter defection is a disaster.But Lance Mannion is pretty sure that Specter switching labels is something of a collapse (caused by the inhabitants) of the last pole holding up the GOP's decaying tent:
Everything the Republicans and their paid propagandists in the Media have been doing and saying since November 5 has had one goal.And Maha sez that such a spin out of control and off into Kukoo-Land is too long a trip from which to walk back:
Holding the Party together.
It's always fun to remind them who won the last election, but they really don't need the reminding. They know the results. And they know what the results suggest about what's in store for them. They can read the polls. Barack Obama is wildly popular. Independents have abandoned them. The demographic trends are against them. If things continue this way in less than a generation it will be easier to find a person under forty who identifies as Zoroastrian or philatelist than one who identifies as Republican.
Under these circumstances, the sensible thing to do is fall back and re-group. Gather the most loyal and reliable and determined troops together and do everything you can to keep up their morale and ready to fight back when the time to fight back arrives.
The smart thing to do, then, would seem to rally the base, keep them happy and energized, and donating, and get them out there working for the next election.
The trouble with this for the Republicans is that their base is their problem.
The base is insane.
the Republican Party is acting like an apocalyptic cult — a small number of true believers waiting for some Big Cataclysmic Event that’s going to change everything, to their advantage. For that reason, present reality doesn’t interest them, because present reality is just a temporary aberration (which it may be, but not in the way they think). Thus, movement conservatives brush off opinion polls that show their positions to be wildly unpopular. They don’t need to worry about election losses, shrinking party membership, an aging political base, or senior senators who jump ship. They don’t need to change with the times. They’ll be vindicated when the Mother Ship arrives.Frankly, I say it couldn't happen to a finer bunch of assholes. They and their fellow travellers have spent the better part of fifty years (to say nothing of kicking it into high gear over the last ten or so) calling me and all my friends traitors and ni**er-lovers and slutty wimmins and faggoty perverts and terrorist-pal-around-ers and otherwise generally spewing eliminationist rhetoric directed at us, yet only thinly disguised as "satire" to avoid being arrested for incitement. They have been inviting this circular feeding frenzy for decades.
But we need to be cautious. The end of the GOP as an effective political party is not the end of the fight. Not hardly.
The Rethugli-puke Party does not circumscribe The Reich Wing or conservatism in toto or the Ruling Class or any other group of those self-identified classes of toxic political actors who are collectively and as individuals all a deep, mortal and existenstial threat to the free and just America that those tending-toward-blueishness among us revere. The GOP has merely been the political wing of that movement since all those dirty fucking hippies and promiscuous wimmin-folk and uppity negroes scared the bejebus out of Ma and Pa Goober back in the 1960's and they decided that war-mongering plutocratic corporate overlords were better political allies than anything to be found in the ranks of LBJ's ni**er-lovin' party. Ever since, the GOP has been acting as the political expression of a particularly nasty, fearful, racist, violent, authoritarian strain of American nativism. The Rethugli-goon Party has been their political wing just as Sinn Fein acts as the political organ of the IRA.
No, the deranged GOP clown car of liars, degenerates and reprobates, with their socially corrosive tax codes and hostility to the public sphere, with their racism, sexism, authoritarianism and bigotry, with their love of War and Jesus as the Answer for Everything and their brittle, tinny jingoism, with their haughty sanctimony and sadistic, mean-spirited glee at the sight or even the thought of others suffering in pursuit of their petty aims have all been begging to be blasted into oblivion for decades. Any chance we have now to chase these cockroaches, to pursue these scurrying, slithering hordes as they disguise themselves in women's clothing and shove onto the lifeboats or change into civilian clothes, burn their uniforms and try to blend into the general population ahead of the advancing army, any chance we have at all to chase them relentlessly, to shine a light on their true identities and expose them as liars and thieves, to ruin their chances of making a living anywhere but anonymously shoveling manure out of a barn in southern Patagonia, we must take and take without mercy. Because we didn't clear decks after W's grand-pappy tried to overthrow FDR and we didn't clear the decks after McCarthy and we didn't clear the decks after Watergate and we didn't clear the decks after Iran-Contra, because we failed to track down and destroy the bad actors back then we are at war in Iraq today, cheerlead the whole way by survivors and descendants of all those previous scandals.
The time to end this cycle is now.
Even as Specter's departure marks the likely historical end of the 20th Century Republican Party, the American political landscape left in its wake remains ravaged by the war they've waged, as de-forested as an Agent Orange'd jungle, as pock-marked and cratered as a World War One no-man's land, a smoldering remnant of one political party's scorched-earth march to hegemony, littered with political landmines and unexploded human ordnance, hiding and poised to maim and bedevil our peace-loving descendants for generations, no matter how many swords Obama inspires us convert into plowshares in the coming decades.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I know B'way-C said no SUPERTRAINS!, but in this instance I have to break the rules and hope for the best because it sure is funny when conservatives say one thing and do another -- which is, naturally, all the time because they could never actually live by the words they profess (but that's another blog post for another time) -- and watching them get on the bandwagon while protesting the very same bandwagon is one more too-precious-not-to-mock entry in the hypocrisy file.
Because, it turns out, despite the fact that he belittled the whole idea mercilessly with lies about an L.A. to Vegas high-speed link, Eric Cantor remains true to the for-me-not-for-thee creed of the modern GOP when he actually expresses the idea that rail is a good for the car-loving folks of Vir-ginny (via Huffpost):
Asked about high-speed rail at a recent local event in Virginia, Cantor was all thumbs up. "If there is one thing that I think all of us here on both sides of the political aisle from all parts of the region agree with, it's that we need to do all we can to promote jobs here in the Richmond area,"Of course, he is (as ever) disingenuously acting the part of the aggrieved party. If you read that passage closely, you realize that he is getting all upset because Obama's rail plan doesn't include a high-speed link between D.C. and Richmond. Why a high-speed link would even need to exist between D.C. and Richmond he doesn't say, but I chalk it up to regional chauvanism as everyone thinks their part of the puzzle is the most important. He's in the House, so I am unsurprised that he wants some of that steel wheeled "pork" for his district, too. One man's pork is another man's stimulus.
But yet another conservative, though, has had a revelation that "law-zee mercy" rail is a good, conservative thing that any self-respecting conservative should support because a car-oriented culture is destructive of families and communities, which are good conservative things that conservatives like (and no one else is allowed to like, fucking hippies) so conservatives should support such uplifting, conservative policies that promote rail travel.
OK, I make fun, because the author David Schaengold, actually very eloquently and persuasively makes some very salient arguments in favor of rail travel and against what I have called (stealing from James Kunstler) the Happy Motoring culture. He even sums up rather nicely the heretofore liberal/conservative split on rail travel (h/t Sully):
Sadly, American conservatives have come to be associated with support for transportation decisions that promote dependence on automobiles, while American liberals are more likely to be associated with public transportation, city life, and pro-pedestrian policies. This association can be traced to the ’70s, when cities became associated with social dysfunction and suburbs remained bastions of ‘normalcy.’ This dynamic was fueled by headlines mocking ill-conceived transit projects that conservatives loved to point out as examples of wasteful government spending. Of course, just because there is a historic explanation for why Democrats are “pro-transit” and Republicans are “pro-car” does not mean that these associations make any sense. Support for government-subsidized highway projects and contempt for efficient mass transit does not follow from any of the core principles of social conservatism.It is amazing to me how the conservatives are always on the wrong side of everything. Now that we've seen what expensive gasoline can do to our economy and the whole idea of Peak Oil is gaining ground in the mainstream, the policies championed by conservatives for decades, policies that promoted car-centric sprawl and corporate big box stores and all the assorted accoutrement of the Happy Motoring suburban lifestyle (a lifestyle that tended to vote Republican, BTW -- hence the support) is now coming back over to the side of rail.
Anyone remember National Review's list of "Conservative Rock Songs"? It's kinda like that, in the "if I like it, it can't be liberal - thus it must be conservative" sort of way all conservatives everywhere are willing to make moral, economic, political, ethical and cultural exemptions for themselves from their much vaunted "values."
At any rate, though a conservative, Mr. Schaengold makes some very good arguments in favor of rail travel. Hell, he's so far off the GOP reservation that he not only manages to pay Hillary Clinton a compliment, he does so regarding one of the Hillary-bashing canards Reich-wingers have used relentlessly for over a decade to club the former First Lady: he agrees with her declaration that "It Takes A Village."
I'll wait for them to apologize for impeaching her husband, too.
Please read the whole thing. It is definitely worth it.
This is not a Breaking News blog, for the most part, but some news is just too big not to post up.
Arlen Specter has switched parties.
The long-tim GOP-er is now a Dem. If Franken holds on to the seat he rightfully won, that makes the magic 60.
Funny how this ties into a post I was already composing about the death spiral of the GOP. Remember when, in the summer of 2001, Senator Jim Jeffords became an independent, rather than sign on with the yahoos drafting in behind Chimpy McLies-a-lot and his Evil Uncle Dick(head)? If those planes hadn't done what they did on 9/11, we'd probably have seen the GOP slowly self-destruct over the next several election cycles in the wake of W's incompetence. Instead, we got to see them soar to unimaginable heights of power and then brilliantly, spectacularly "auger in."
I also think the announcement of this switch might have be timed to cover Specter's gutting of pandemic funding as the swine flu starts to look like Captain Trips. Either way, the GOP's job in 2010 just got a great deal harder.
Suck on that, haters.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Hey, you Blog-O-Maniacs! B'way Carl has again asked me to mind the store in his absence, but told me no SUPERTRAINS! so I'll have to find something else to write about.
How about social justice?
Or just basic vengeance?
Because when we evolve out of our natural state, when we build institutions and organize ourselves into entities that coerce or persuade through incentives or through the naked threat of violence (or the actual use of violence) the lone caveman to stop bashing other cavemen on the head and taking their cavegirls, we have formed a government.
No one ever signed on for such an enterprise, mind you, because we don't choose the time and location of our births. Besides, someone has to be in charge and who was that first caveman to tell all the other cavemen to stop bashing heads? Well, he was the baddest MF of them all and what he says goes. Until some bigger and badder MF comes along and does the same to him. And that leads us to all sorts of questions about lines of succession and who gets to be in charge, because if its a simple matter of just bashing heads until no one is left to say you can't have the throne, anyone can eventually become king, right? Its still true to this day for dictatorships throughout South America and Africa. Thus, the folks at the top of the food chain eventually declared that god himself put them there and everyone else should just accept that fact and go about their business of growing food and otherwise fighting and dying for the king's ambitions.
What could go wrong with a system like that?
Which is why, by the 17th & 18th Centuries A.D., a bunch of idle rich hanging out in the salons of the European continent who had grown weary of hearing this whole "divine right of kings" crap to justify every cockamamie idea that ever popped into a monarch's head -- ideas which usually resulted in the deaths of hundred or thousands of their countrymen, too boot -- and who were young and idealistic (as youth are wont to be) finally cooked up a bunch of alternate ideas about social contracts and "consent of the governed" to explain how and why we got here, with all those kings and bureacracies and gendarmes and all that sort of thing. For a few decades, all their lofty rhetoric and fancy words remained just the college newspaper Op-Ed screeds of their day, laying fallow and unheeded, until a bunch of yeoman farmers in a far-flung British colony over on the American continent (and the wealthy transplants who owned the land those farmers worked and saw a way to keep even more of their money) got a hold of those ideas as a way of giving the finger to that clown King George who thought he could do whatever he wanted because, well, he was king.
A couple of years and one semi-hot revolution later, we had ourselves a king-free government, though not for lack of trying on the part of a great number of our so-called Founding Fathers. Luckily, our own George (Washington, that is) had read enough of all that coffee house prattle from Yurp to actually believe some of it and, to our everlasting relief, declined every attempt to put a crown on his head.
But other mischief was afoot back on the Continent and enough peasants got tired enough of starving and dying for Marie Antoinette's pearls that they had a little revolution of their own. You might recall it had something to do with guillotines and some cat named Robespierre. From that blood-soaked chaos, some time later (like almost 30 years later), the dictator who rose up from humble origins on a small island off the French coast to have royalty bow down before him was ultimately defeated on a battlefield in Belgium, but not before reshaping the way government ruled over the people who resided on the land it controlled. Consent of the governed became our notion of the Rule of Law and the people were assured a voice in their own government. OK, only if they were white and male, but at least divinity was no longer a pre-requisite for governing and that put us on the road to the expansion of suffrage, battles which are being fought -- even in this country -- to this very day.
All of which brings me to this quote:
“No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?” e-mails an irate Citigroup executive to a colleague.I think you guys can predict my response to this Marie Antoinette from Citigroup:
Because when I use the phrase "Ruling Class" to refer to a certain group of people in this country, I'm not kidding. I'm not exaggerating. They are a direct line from the aristocracy of a former day -- not always by blood, mind you, but always by disposition -- and they really and truly think this country, all the people in it and its institutions and all of its natural resources, belong to them. The purpose of this country and all the people in it is to support them in the oppulent lifestyle to which they have grown accustomed and to do whatever they require to maintain the economic and political structures (domestic and foreign) that enable that lifestyle, which is why they have no qualms about soaking up our tax dollars when they try so hard to avoid paying any taxes at all and then sending the poor and brown-skinned among us either to prison or off to a war they themselves are too precious to fight. Like Vietnam, Iraq is a rich man's war and a poor man's fight.
The previous president is from the Ruling Class and he sure as shit acted like the military was his personal revenge and ego-boosting tool, which
Whether AIG bonuses or torture to justify a ginned-up war, the impulse is the same for these people, the logical waters they drink are drawn from the same poisoned well, and the natural political home for their functionaries is the GOP. But these people and their pet political party didn't come out of nowhere. They have deep roots in human history and this country is no exception, no matter what our glorious mythologies may tell us about what a free and noble people we are, about what an exception to history our story represents.
For more on that, go read driftglass.
Plus, some SUPERTRAINS! --
Choo-choo trains RAWK!