Sunday, September 30, 2012

Are We (Bleep!)ed?

Please read FDL's masaccio's A Glimpse of the Oligarchy’s View of the Future for US Workers. Better read the comments as well. Please tell me what you think of the content.

Are we as fucked as masaccio believes we are? Will voting do any good? Are hard times about to befall us again? Are manufacturing jobs about to reappear in the US, but with salaries reduced to $13 — $18 an hour to compete with Chinese wages? If any or all of this is the case, what can we do about it?

And... will there be violence in the streets in America, violence which the oligarchs are said to fear above all else? If there is, will the oligarchs persuade their tame "elected" public officials to act to use the US Army to impose indefinite detention on citizens within the US, as implied in the National Defense Authorization Act? (See comment on above post by 1der, quoting Chris Hedges. Please follow all links regarding Hedges's suit against the Obama administration, resulting, for now, in a ruling that the NDAA is unconstitutional... Obama is of course appealing.)

If masaccio is right, let me add that we are not the first nation in history to suffer a vanishing middle class through the deliberate efforts of the very wealthy. Solutions have not always been tidy. Please feel free to offer your favorite comparisons.

Todd Akin: Overturning 1963 Equal Pay Act Is 'About Freedom'

That's right: Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO, US Senate candidate), opposing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), suggested Thursday at a town hall meeting that nearly fifty years of settled law requiring equal pay for equal work by women was an assault on the employers' freedom. As good as his word, Akin is on record as having voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Note this exchange:
Rep. Todd Akin
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?

AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I'm making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don't think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don't pay. I think it's about freedom. If someone [wants] to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that's fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.
In other news, Akin proposed once again legalizing slavery and withholding the franchise from women and racial minorities. OK, no, he didn't say that. Aloud. That's a pernicious slander. For now. Wait a week...

But here's something that is true: Akin's conservative consultant Kellyanne Conway praised Akin by comparing him to David Koresh... yes, that David Koresh, of the Waco compound in 1993. Now there's an exemplar of conservative leadership: everyone under Koresh's command was killed, but before he killed them in a fire, Koresh was... yes... banging girls who had not reached the age of consent. Is Conway saying we need more like David Koresh?

I should be grateful for Akin's efforts in McCaskill's behalf. But his whole candidacy frightens me. The GOP is not going away, despite my fondest dreams. But it IS changing. Election after election, Republicans grow ever more morally extreme, further from the American center and further from sanity. If the GOP will continue to back a candidate who has gone off the deep end as far as Akin, how far will they ultimately go? and... with what consequences for women and racial minorities?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Police Brutalize, Arrest TransCanada Pipeline Protesters

Pipe this crud across US+Texas...
What could possibly go wrong?
Kevin Gosztola at Firedoglake's The Dissenter and Current TV 's Films for Action (essentially crossposts) has details about Texas police (what level? not mentioned) using handcuffed stress positions while pepper spraying and tasering demonstrators who obstructed the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline being constructed by TransCanada, all while TransCanada officials stood by and made no attempt to halt the brutalization.

Here's a bit of background on tar sands by Edward Burtynsky at TreeHugger (love the site name!) for those unfamiliar (note: "oil sands" is just a sanitized name for "tar sands"):
  • Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.
  • At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing.
  • Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes.
  • The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world.
  • The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.
  • Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.
In other words, tar sands are an idea whose time is long past. Poisoning water much needed for other purposes to produce a fossil fuel whose burning pollutes our air might have been acceptable in the 19th century, before far cleaner energy sources were available. It is not acceptable today.

As for suppressing protesters' peaceful demonstrations by brutalizing them... shades of the late 1960s and early 1970s! Does nothing ever change for the better?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Not Conservative Enough?

Paul Krugman highlights the surprising context in which we enter the last few weeks before the presidential election, comparing conventional wisdom with the facts on the ground ("... the Republicans appear to be in a shambles — while the Democrats seem incredibly united, and increasingly, dare I say it, enthusiastic") and the astonishing poll numbers in literally every major poll except Rasmussen. Krugman attributes the status and direction to the GOP's insistence on an ideology-driven election (in which Democrats are less strident about social issues but surely better aligned with moderate Americans than increasingly extreme Republicans) and possibly to Obamacare, which at least in theory will result in 50 million more Americans with medical coverage than if it had not passed. His conclusion, somewhat of a surprise, is a welcome thought to any American with "the conscience of a liberal":
All of this in turn has an implication that Republicans won’t like — assuming that Rasmussen doesn’t have a special insight into the truth denied to all other pollsters, and that Obama does in fact win with a solid margin. The right is already set up to blame poor Mitt, claiming that he lost because he wasn’t conservative enough. But that’s not what we’re seeing; it looks as if voters are rejecting the right’s whole package, not just the messenger.
From Prof. Krugman's lips to God's ear, as the saying has it. Is it even remotely possible that after a lifetime fighting ever stronger religious fundamentalists, social conservatives, and the "anti's" (anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Black, anti-Hispanic, anti-Asian, anti-Native-American, and most especially, anti-intellectual), my generation at long last is on the threshold, entering a period of some... maybe not much, but some... genuine hope for a measure of sanity in American society?

Hope and vote and work; hope and vote and work...

ASIDE: I wanted a graphic for this post, a symbol of liberalism in its broadest sense. Athena's owl occurred to me, but that bears additional connotations. So I searched Google Images for "liberalism" and found that, while few if any positive icons for liberalism exist, our adversaries have outdone themselves. Indeed, the ratio of negative to positive images associated with liberalism, if you believe Google, is surely a thousand to one. So for the moment we will do without. Apologies for the bare-text post.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Curiosity Finds Ancient Mars Rocks Deposited By Rushing Water

Carl Franzen of TPM:
NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover has hit paydirt, discovering rock formations on the Red Planet that [were] most likely formed by the vigorous flow of a stream of water in Mars’ ancient history, NASA announced Thursday.

...
And somewhere, the shade of the late Carl Sagan is nodding and muttering, "Told you so!"

Water is only one of three items required for life to have ever existed on Mars. The other two are a source of carbon (for organic compounds) and an energy source. All must have been present simultaneously for life to have existed. None individually is evidence of earlier (or current) life on Mars. Even organic compounds, while suggestive of life, can be formed in space in a number of other ways. So we still have a lot of research yet to do.

There be cool pictures at the links above!

" 'Once The Rockets Are Up...' "

" '... who cares where they come down; / That's not my department,' says Wernher von Braun."

V‑2 Replica,
Peenemünde
Thus sang the incomparable Tom Lehrer in a deeply bitter song (YouTube) about the infliction of more than 3,000 V‑2 rockets by Nazi Germany on five nations (Belgium, UK, France, Netherlands, and Germany itself), starting in September 1944 and continuing for several months. The fatalities were not heavy... in London, each V‑2 killed on average two people... but the effect was terrifying, and there was basically nothing the Allies could do in response, except to pursue the European war effort as vigorously as possible. I have been reading Studs Terkel's "The Good War" (quotes are a part of the title), especially interviews regarding Londoners' reaction to the V‑2 strikes, and it is clear that for all the people's courage, the V‑2 was a terrorist's weapon, as surely as an IED or other homemade bomb today. And Wernher and company were therefore terrorists.

Predator Drone
Today, the US military, and two US presidents so far, are distressingly fond of UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, "drones" for short. Drones in one form or another have been around since 1916, and, again in one form or another, in actual use since the Vietnam War. Today's drones, UASs (unmanned aircraft systems, including ground control), in use since 2005, piloted remotely from the battlefield (if indeed a battlefield is involved at all), launching missiles at ground targets, are less than precise in their targeting:
... Since 2006, drone-launched missiles allegedly had killed between 750 and 1,000 people in Pakistan, according to the report. Of these, about 20 people were said to be leaders of Al Qaeda, Taliban, and associated groups. Overall, 66% to 68% of the people killed were militants, and 31% to 33% were civilians. US officials disputed the percentage for civilians.[29] ...
You can find most any value you want for the percentage civilians killed, depending on the political views of a given web site's author, but there is little dispute among non-US-government sources that the number is relatively high. It almost seems at times as if any person killed by a missile launched from an American drone is automatically classified as a "militant," and how are they to defend their names? Many of the civilians have been killed while going about their daily business, not participating in any hostile activity... in one well-known incident, a wedding party was attacked, killing 37 people, mostly women and (more than half) children. Given the imprecision of remotely piloted drone attacks and the (relatively) small numbers of people killed, the UAV is ultimately a terrorist's weapon. And hence Barry and company are terrorists.

Eventually, Wernher von Braun became one of "our boys," and his image was rehabilitated for public consumption. (Clearly, Tom Lehrer didn't get that memo.) The question is whether Barack Obama, who is not a bad human being, can be made to see that engaging in terrorism makes one a terrorist, no matter how virtuous one's person, no matter how noble one's cause. Every child needlessly killed in a drone attack is not only a moral atrocity but also a motivation for future terrorist attacks against the US, and I for one will not be surprised when they happen. If Mr. Obama wins a second term (which I sincerely hope he does, because his opponent is a man of no virtue whatsoever that I can perceive), we have to begin his reeducation in the content of the Geneva Conventions and the limits of warfare to which any civilized nation must be subject. As he is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, perhaps we can hope for the best. [/mild irony]

ADDED: worth reading is Glenn Greenwald's New Stanford/NYU study documents the civilian terror from Obama's drones.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Early Voting In Texas...

... runs from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2. For early voting schedules in other states, please see here.

Our voting machines look
something like this...
Note that in Harris County, Texas, if you vote early in person, you do NOT go to your designated polling place (which hasn't been announced yet anyway), but rather to any of 37 early voting locations around the county. Here is a list with a map (.pdf). The polls are also open different hours from Election Day; for early voting poll hours, see here (scroll down).

To check your voter registration, you have to visit a different site. The Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector is also the Harris County Voter Registrar; you can do several kinds of voter search here to verify you are registered and to see a mock-up of your voter certificate, together with a list of your current elected officials. In times past, you could vote with just your Texas Driver's License; I wouldn't bet on being able to do that this year... bring your voter certificate AND your TDL, whether the law requires both or not.

... yours may look... different!
If you insist on voting on Election Day, Nov. 6, you'll have to wait to find out your polling location. Yes, that's how badly the Texas GOP has fucked over redistricting in yet another attempt, possibly the third in 10 years, some of them successful, to obtain an illegal, unfair advantage. I presume the county will eventually list polling places, probably on the evening of Nov. 5. [/snark] If anything goes wrong at your polling place on Election Day, or if a "patriot" group takes exception to your skin color or neighborhood of residence and tries to force you to use a provisional ballot ("provisional" in this context means "no way in Hell will this ballot ever be counted"), it's pretty much too late to do anything about it. Election Day voting should be viewed as an absolute last resort.

I highly recommend voting early: the poll locations and hours are already established, the lines are much shorter, and there's not really any more danger that your vote will be "lost" than there is on Election Day.

Again, when you go to vote, bring both your voter certificate AND a photo ID containing your home address, e.g., a driver's license. The law may or may not require it by that time, but if you have it, you will have a lot better argument with those who would prevent you from voting. Believe me... they are out there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

According To Paul Ryan, When Jesus Was Crucified, It Was Barack Obama's Fault

Obama's bad call?
Well, maybe not that specific violation. But when a replacement pro football official made an apparently bad call (I didn't see the game) in a game involving Ryan's beloved Packers, costing them the game... Paul Ryan likened the officiating to Barack Obama. Yes, he really said this:
And you know what, it reminds me of President Obama and the economy. If you can’t get it right, it is time to get out. I half think these refs work part-time for the Obama administration in the Budget Office. They see the national debt clock staring them in the face. They see a debt crisis, and they just ignore and pretend it didn’t even happen. They are trying to pick the winners and losers, and they don’t even do that very well.
Jeebus Cripes on a crutch in a crapheap! The man is obsessed. If the proverbial butterfly in China farted, resulting in our current headlong rush toward global climate change, Ryan would blame Obama for the fart.

There's plenty to criticize about Barack Obama without resorting to this sort of thing. But at least Obama, unlike Ryan, is neither lame-brained nor demented. Voters: do not let Paul Ryan anywhere near the levers of power. Nowhere near, I tell you!

(H/T TBogg.)

'Screw The Vote'

The Atlantic offers an article on organizations such as "True the Vote" a Tea-Party-based right-wing voter intimidation squad, and King Street Patriots, a poll-obstructing group that wreaked considerable havoc in Houston in 2010 in its highly dubious attempt to "prevent voter fraud," i.e., to prevent minorities from voting.

Poll tax receipt, Harris County, TX 1960
Some things never change. As Michael Moore suggests on his front page (there's no permanent link to an individual item on that page), this kind of Republican bullshit has been going on at least since the poll tax and literacy tests in the 1920s, continuing through caging and similar abuses, and its primary purpose today is the same as it has always been: to prevent people of color from voting.

If I were African American, I might take along some insurance on my trip to the polls. A driver's license would be good (though 21 million Americans don't have them). A passport? how likely is that in poverty-stricken Black communities, though it may be more common in Hispanic neighborhoods.? A military ID? no good, if it doesn't have your current physical address on it.

A gun? would that help prevent the TPers from stopping people from voting? I remember an incident some years ago in which a local Black militant brought an organized Black paramilitary unit, complete with rifles on their shoulders, to march outside selected polling places in Houston. No violence resulted. I do not know if the effort was successful in protecting the vote, but it certainly got the attention of the media.

Seriously, what will it take to assure democracy for every eligible voter, independent of race, ethnicity, color, and wealth?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Try Monsanto Tumor-Ready™ Corn... Thousands Of Rats Can't Be Wrong!

Once more there's something for foodies to think about when we shop. Via ellroon, from Truth-Out, French Study Finds Tumors and Organ Damage in Rats Fed Monsanto Corn. California has a ballot proposition, Prop. 37 (which Monsanto is fighting), that would require labels on genetically engineered foods. Texas has... um, the corn in stores looks pitiful here this year anyway; I haven't had any this season.

Welcome, Americans, to the new, genetically enhanced version of that old game show, You Bet Your Life! Look: I don't have time or resources to present a fully researched article on GM crop failures, development of pesticide-resistant insects, development of super-weeds, undesired cross-pollination of non-GMO crops by nearby GMO crops, and now... apparently... the emergence of tumor-inducing agents in the GMO food crops themselves or the associated GMO pesticides/weedkillers/etc. But the information is out there to anyone conversant with Google search.

We can either meet the undeniably hostile lawsuit-driven forcible introduction of this company's increasingly clearly dangerous products head-on, or we can watch every other variety of the same plant become hybridized with potentially pathological genetic modifications. All agriculture is in danger. Ask your grocer to carry known organic produce. If they are unwilling to go that far, ask them at least to avoid carrying unlabeled genetically engineered produce. And if you're alive next year, remember to ask them again, because the GMO demons never go away.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

That Explains It All

On his IRS Form 1040 for 2011, Mitt Rmoney (actually, his tax preparer) filled in the blank labeled "Foreign country name" with "USA". (Click through for an image.) Several professional tax preparers confirmed to US News Washington Whispers blog that for a US citizen, the blank should be left blank. But hey, it's pretty obvious from his "47%" remarks that Rmoney is not from the same country as a lot of us...

I only wish there had been a blank labeled "Planet" ... I'd give a lot to see how Rmoney would fill in that one!

(H/T TPM.)

Birthers And Birchers And Prayers, Oh My

Did you think that Red-baiting was soooo mid-twentieth-century? Did you think that "terrorist" is the new "Communist" as an epithet to hurl at someone you don't like? Did you think the John Birch Society (or perhaps this is a better link) no longer existed?

Think again. The chair of the Alabama GOP has not only turned birther, he is asserting that Obama's upbringing as a Communist has been "verified." I used to think that word meant "confirmed as being true," but like so many other words in GOP newspeak, apparently that's not what it means anymore... at least not to an Alabama Republican still living in the mid-twentieth century.

There's no warrior like an old warrior, and there's no old warrior like an old cold warrior. They say ignorance is bliss: I say ignorance is Republican.

(Steve wanders away, humming "If mommy is a commie, you gotta turn her in...")

Robert Reich: Rmoney Is 'Living Embodiment' Of Upward Redistribution Threat To Democracy

Robert Reich offers his observations on Rmoney's very circumscribed release of his tax information (those who remember Richard Nixon may call it his "modified limited hangout"), and what it implies:
...

"Job Creator's" Reward
American has had hugely wealthy presidents before — think of Teddy Roosevelt and his distant cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt; or John F. Kennedy, beneficiary of father Joe’s fortune.

But here’s the difference. These men were champions of the working class and the poor, and were considered traitors to their own class. Teddy Roosevelt railed against the “malefactors of great wealth,” and he busted up the oil and railroad trusts.

FDR thundered against the “economic royalists,” raised taxes on the wealthy, and gave average working people the right to form unions — along with Social Security, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and a 40-hour workweek.

But Mitt Romney is not a traitor to his class. He is a sponsor of his class. He wants to cut their taxes by $3.7 trillion over the next decade, and hasn’t even specified what “loopholes” he’d close to make up for this gigantic giveaway.

And he wants to cut benefits that almost everyone else relies on — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and housing assistance.

...

In other words, everything America is learning about Mitt Romney — his tax returns, his years at Bain Capital, the video of his speech to high-end donors in which he belittles half of America, his gaffes, the budget policies he promotes — repeat and reenforce the same underlying reality.

So much wealth and power have accumulated at the top of America that our economy and our democracy are seriously threatened. Romney not only represents this problem. He is the living embodiment of it.
As I shut down my tiny business in the face of an overwhelming recession that kicked the bottom out of demand for the once highly sought product I produced, in my last year of that tiny business, as things were clearly going to ground for me and for millions of other small business owners, in that last year, I paid federal taxes at a far higher rate than Mitt Rmoney. In fact I'd say that because my income was earned income (not capital gains), and because self-employed Americans pay both halves (employee's and employer's) of their payroll tax, my tax rate was dramatically higher than that of Mitt Rmoney, Rich Boy Wonder.

And what does Rmoney do to "earn" all this money? That's simple: he uses other people's money to buy companies, squeezes them hard (firing people, selling assets) to make them appear more profitable, sells their lifeless carcasses to someone else, who finds out the hard way that you can't run a company without employees and equipment... and finally takes home his tidy profit. "Job creator," my fucking ass!

I'm sorry, but that's just not right. Mitt Rmoney is a freeloader. He takes from the little guy and gal. He doesn't worry about us; he said so right out in front of Dog and everybody. He forces the rest of us to compensate for his low, low tax rate; he leaves thousands of people jobless. And he does it because he can, and for him, that makes it "right." May the good Dog preserve me from people engaged in that sort of "rightness"!

Mr. Rmoney: you're no Teddy, and you're no FDR!

Friday, September 21, 2012

US Names 55 Of 86 Gitmo Prisoners Cleared For Release

Kevin Gosztola at FDL:
The United States government has disclosed the names of fifty-five of the eighty-six prisoners cleared for transfer from  Guantanamo Bay prison. All of the names made public were of prisoners President Barack Obama’s interagency  Guantanamo Bay Review Task Force approved for release from the prison. Previously, the US government had maintained the names of prisoners cleared could not be made public because it would get in the way of diplomatic efforts to repatriate or resettle prisoners in their home country or other countries.

...
Two cheers for the Obama administration for committing sufficiently to their release to actually name their names. One cheer permanently withheld for holding these apparently not dangerous individuals for a total of eleven years without charge, trial, meaningful access to attorneys, etc. ad nauseam. I'm sorry, but that does not reflect a commitment to civil liberties and human rights on the part of the Obama administration.

Still, in these ghastly times, we take what positive news we can get. I wonder what kind of poo Rmoney will fling about this announcement...

Extra! Extra! Mitt Rmoney Dyed! (Sic. Sick...)

Mitt Rmoney dyed or artificially tanned his skin to appeal to Latino voters! Actually, at this point, that's a bit of a strong statement. The original source of the rumor is a thread on Democratic Underground, a site not noted for its moderation (that's a compliment, mind you!), showing several pairs of pics of Mittens with different skin tones. Maybe he spent a day with John Boehner and both of them overdid the tanning booth experience.

In any case, don't forget what a hidden camera captured recently when Rmoney said, "it would be helpful to be Latino" And voila! now, sometimes, he's Latino!

Sorry, Mittens: Hispanic voters are not stupid. As I grew up in Texas, I've been around Hispanic-American citizens all my life. Theirs is a culture indisputably dedicated to hard work, diligent study, analytical thinking, commitment to family and faith, and (specifically Hispanic-Americans) commitment to country. By and large, they don't care what color your face is, only what's in your heart. And I think you've made that clear, Mr. Rmoney, and a majority of them don't like what they see, any better than I do.

ADDED: I just noticed... in the comment thread of the first link above, Attaturk offers, "He is the Juan Percent." Groooaaaannn!

OOPS: H/T Enfant, in comments. Sorry, Enfant!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

'Free People Read Freely'

Still restricted after
all these years
That's the motto of the ACLU of Texas's thirtieth annual Banned Books Week. On the linked page, click "2012 Report" for a .pdf containing a list of banned books this year and a lot of material about the cultural context of book-banning in America today. Example: in Tucson, AZ, classes in Latin-American Studies, including their entire reading lists, were banned. The good news: the total number of books banned has gone down steadily since GeeDubya left office. The bad: the bastards haven't stopped trying.

One banned book is one banned book too many. Every free individual should be able to read whatever s/he wants, with no exceptions and most certainly no legal restrictions. If parents want to restrict the reading of their minor children, I can't stop them, but a parent who is not a religious nutjob should seriously contemplate the consequences of rearing a child to believe that there are things s/he shouldn't read. Growing up, I was allowed to read literally any book on my parents' shelves, and often enough I read material "not suitable for younger readers" ... with no apparent harm to my eventual functioning as a good citizen. Free people read freely.

Read a banned book this week!

Rmoney Apologizes?!!??!

Well, in The Onion, he does... in an article titled "Romney Apologizes To Nation's 150 Million 'Starving, Filthy Beggars' ". (H/T ellroon.)

CPPP: If Rick Perry Accepted Texas Participation In ACA, Texas Uninsured Count Would Be Cut In Half

According to a new report, Choices and Challenges, issued by the Center for Public Policy Priorities (press release [.pdf], full report [.pdf]), thanks to "Gov. Goodhair" Perry's rejection back in July, along with other Republican governors, of his state's full participation in all parts of the Affordable Care Act, we are losing an opportunity to cut Texas's uninsured rate in half.

In other words, half of the people in Texas who have no medical insurance now would be able to obtain insurance, if Gov. Perry would relent on his heartless commitment to... well, to whom, exactly? His refusal is even bad for the state's health care industry! ThinkProgress put it this way back in July:
...

Perry’s announcement is an especially harmful move because Texas will benefit more from the Affordable Care Act than any other state. Texas was recently ranked worst in the country for health care delivery by the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, scoring “weak” or “very weak” in nine of 12 categories. Perry’s office discounted the study as overly broad, and has argued that Texans’ real problem is personal health choices, not lack of health insurance.

More than 25 percent of Texans – 6,234,900 people – are uninsured, the highest rate in the nation. ...

...
Between Perry's dismissal of people's need for medical insurance (reminiscent of the CEO of Whole Paycheck a few years ago) and Mitt Rmoney's remarks about the 47% who are dependent on the government, this seems to be "National Republican Blame‑the‑Victim Week." They really are proper bastards, aren't they?

So WTF are Perry and three other Republican governors thinking? Matthew DeLuca at The Daily Beast attempts to answer that question:
...

Perry may not like the idea of expanding Medicaid,  ... Some studies show that without the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured Texans could climb all the way to one third of the population.

Health care is one of the state’s biggest industries, and hospitals in Texas are likely to push hard in the coming months to get the Lone Star State to take Obamacare into its warm embrace. ...

...

Let me insert a note: a quick glance does not show any change in Perry's position since July (ThinkProgress Aug. 27, Dallas Morning News Sep. 17). Resuming DeLuca:
...

The Affordable Care Act is supposed to go into full effect in 2014, but Perry says he will not implement the expansion of Medicaid or creation of a state health-care exchange prescribed by the law. ...

“To expand this program is like adding a thousand people to the Titanic,” Perry said Monday on Fox News. “You don’t expand a program that is not working already.”

...
Could we please arrange for a deck chair for Gov. Perry? His disinclination to implement federal law (even if he is legally entitled... can I say "entitled" about a Republican?) reminds me of the Tea Party, or worse. Say, could we arrange for the TP to make up the rest of the "thousand people"?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi Of Myanmar: Free, Visiting America, Receiving Awards

If you are inclined to visit this site, you probably need no introduction to Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's indefatigable democracy and human rights advocate, who struggled for decades with her country's heretofore authoritarian government, frequently imprisoned (usually house arrest) for her activities.

At long last, Myanmar (a.k.a. Burma) is taking some steps toward a freer society and a more representative government... not in a big hurry, but after decades of uncompromising totalitarian rule, the steps they have taken are welcome. Ms. Suu Kyi is a member of the new Parliament. Best of all, this icon of democracy and freedom is now permitted to travel (though I am uncertain what degree of freedom she enjoys). At present, she is in the United States, accepting a Congressional Gold Medal, and meeting informally with President Obama... I'm sure the two Nobel Peace Prize winners had a lot to talk about.

This has been your daily dose of hope and optimism. I wish it were actually daily, but even the struggle, especially with the occasional victory, can inspire the best in us.

Mitt Rmoney And Monsanto: With A Combination Like That, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Palmer's pigweed,
Roundup™-resistant
ellroon points us to an article by Mother Jones's food/ag writer, Tom Philpott. Philpott tells a story of Rmoney, Bain, Monsanto, greed, criminal dumping of toxic chemicals, and superweeds that are Roundup™‑Ready™‑Resistant(™?). Go ahead and read it; it will make you want to switch to exclusively organically grown produce... that is, if you can find any in this GMO-polluted world...
UPDATE: Enfant, in comments, led me to several related articles. Here are two that I consider well worth your time:
The harder you look, the deeper the evil that Mittens represents.

AFTERTHOUGHT: in comparing available ag processes for producing food, I cannot say unequivocally that conventional agriculture (using chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer) is wholly bad. I eat a certain amount of conventionally grown produce, either because a similar organically grown item is too expensive or is not grown within, say, 100 miles of Houston. (Search for "locavore" for more info on eating locally grown produce... you'll be glad you did.) But I am altogether NOT forgiving of genetically modified organisms (GM or GMO): they have the potential to be hazardous to your health and to the very practices of agriculture that the world's livelihood depends on. When the information is available... and since the presidency of GeeDubya Bush, it has NOT always been required on labels... I avoid GMOs at all costs. Maybe you should, too. Do your own research. Think it over.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On History Repeating Itself With Scarcely A Mumble

Japanese Internees


I have been reading the late lamented Studs Terkel's "The Good War", his book about (as he spells it) World War Two. The quote marks, says Terkel, are part of the book's title, because that's what some people called it, but the phrase, of itself and without quote marks, is an oxymoron. Have I mentioned how much I miss the lively, vibrant Terkel in his long and well-lived life? Few people elicited my unreserved admiration as he did.

Horse Stables as Internee Residences
In an early chapter, Terkel interviews Japanese-Americans who in various ways and degrees experienced the internment. Japanese-Americans' businesses were seized; some were surveilled individually by FBI agents (not all willing agents, as it turns out) and many... far too many... American citizens were arrested and interned in camps of various sorts; one described in the book was a stables, complete with all the smells and utter lack of personal privacy. Families were broken up, men and older boys confined in one place and their wives and daughters in another. The resemblance to slavery, another historical practice of our "home of the free and the brave," was all too graphic and obvious. Some 110,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese legal residents on the American Pacific coast were interned; a much smaller number of those in the Hawaiian Islands, where a large fraction of the total population were of Japanese ancestry, were also interned. Internment took place in other states as well, applied "unequally" as described by the wiki. Military rule was instituted; civil liberties were largely squelched... both with the blessing of the Supreme Court. No American apology was forthcoming until October 1993, when President Bill Clinton at long last issued one.

Fast-forward to September 2001, and refocus on Houston, TX, on an apartment complex housing an odd blogger/musician/etc. and his mate. A family living near me were Muslim, scarcely a surprise in a city boasting one of the best and largest medical centers in the nation... we have all kinds of nationalities and religious affiliations among our residents, many of them students in advanced fields, and most Houstonians like it that way.

Guantánamo Detainees
I will call the couple "Mary and Joseph," mainly to annoy any jeebus-botherers who may be lurking about. They had two lovely, very young children. Both had good jobs in Houston. Within a few weeks of 9/11/2001, it became apparent to them that things were not going to return to normal in America for our Muslim residents. Fortunately for them, unfortunately for us, Joseph was Canadian by birth. When the handwriting was on the wall and John Ashcroft & Co. were at their most strident, even before Guantánamo was known for what it is today, the couple decided that life in America was about to become very difficult for Muslims, be they citizens or (especially) not, even basically apolitical Muslims like themselves. Rumors of possible internment, ultimately never realized in mass quantities, were all too plausible at the time. Nasty remarks were occasionally leveled at the children, who were probably just old enough to understand what was going on. So Joseph contacted his family in Canada, and the whole family packed up and moved home, rather than face what America had in store for Muslims. I don't blame them one bit. The whole incident was America's loss.

How many more times will America alienate... word chosen very deliberately... members of its population who do not suit the current majority's opinion? If, say, Rmoney were to become president, what would he order done to the 47% he spoke so ill of, and how far would his exclusionary policies reach, among Americans and generally desirable noncitizen aliens?

Our nation's ancestors surely turn in their graves every time an American government undertakes to divide, suppress and exclude some of us from the body politic. I believe we owe those ancestors a debt, payment of which means putting a stop to all the exclusion so popular in certain political circles. Either it stops, or America goes to ground, at least the America descended from those founders. Rmoney and crew may be prepared for that. I most emphatically am not.

The Walls May Be Falling On The Rmoney Campaign

Perhaps it is too soon for such an assessment, but I don't think so: the videos are one of several outright gifts Rmoney has made to the Obama campaign recently. And the polls are starting to show it. At this point, there can't be all that many undecideds left to claim by either candidate. And Obama's lead is not small.

Josh Marshall sums up the reaction to, as Rmoney calls them, his "off the cuff" remarks (if I need to wash under my arms, Rmoney needs to launder his shirt). Marshall is responding to comments by Jon Chait:
Like Chait, I found Romney’s comments genuinely shocking. I thought this was caricature Mitt Romney, the born-to-privilege millionaire who holds average working people in contempt as hopeless losers driven to suck money [from] productive people like Mitt Romney. But this is actually the real Mitt Romney. The best case for him is that he was just pandering to this wealthy crowd and doesn’t really believe this either. But that seems like a stretch.
When you have to walk back your comments as "off the cuff" for the general public, but nonetheless double down on the content of your remarks for your wealthy backers, surely even if you're Rmoney... not the brightest bulb on the string... you know you're in trouble.

Next: watch for the Rmoney campaign to fabricate from whole cloth a variety of Obama‑related scandals: 
  • "Obama caught in bed with 2008 Obama Girl!!!" 
  • "Obama found to be stealing cookies from Girl Scouts!!1!!1!" 
  • "Obama, a proven Muslim, missed attending a Christian church three times last month!!!" 
And so on.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mother Jones Publishes Secret Video Allegedly Of Rmoney At High‑Dollar Fundraiser - UPDATED 2x

Via Paul Krugman, we have David Corn at Mother Jones providing videos, text transcripts and of course Corn's commentary on Rmoney's remarks at what appears to be a secret fundraiser for "a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires" (Paul Simon). Paul Krugman expresses some minor doubt that that really is Rmoney speaking (as whoever it is, is off‑camera), but I have watched (heard) all the videos all the way through, and I am persuaded that no actor could imitate Rmoney's speech that well, nor could anyone else write a script with the unconscionable depth of mean‑spiritedness on display in the segments of the speech.

If this is indeed Rmoney, he holds at least half of Americans in raw, unmitigated, unjustifiable contempt. He maligns the poor in almost every way possible; I kept expecting him to say that they... we... don't wash under our arms. Yes, it was that vile.

Rmoney correctly assesses that the election turns on as-yet-undecided independents, many of whom voted for Obama in 2008. But two things are clear: those indy voters are not stupid and are unlikely to be played as a group, and many of those same voters now find themselves in dire economic circumstances more like Rmoney's much-maligned lower-income and zero-income people. Perhaps some of the independents will indeed blame Obama (who, for all his faults in matters of human rights and civil liberties, is by and large not to blame for our nation's economic failures). But many of us can see through the smokescreen, and will at a minimum not vote for Rmoney. (I will in fact vote for Obama, with regret even as I push the button, but I will do it.)

And now that some of us have seen (heard) those videos, I suspect a few soft Rmoney supporters will be driven by outrage to vote for Obama. Maybe I am overestimating the common sense of the American people, or underestimating the effect of the next month and a half of false and vituperative Rmoney campaign ads, or failing to credit the effectiveness of the GOP's voter suppression program. But the revelation of these videos can only have a positive effect from our viewpoint.

We have a nation to save from vile plutocracy. It has nothing to do with whether Obama is your favorite president, or person, or anything else. Rmoney and Ryan are worse human beings than GeeDubya and Cheney ever dreamed of being in their most villainous fantasies. We have a job to do, and these videos, once authenticated, will help us to do it.

UPDATE early Tuesday 9/18: video confirmed by Rmoney at a 10:00pm presser as indeed being him, confirming his point but (paraphrasing his own words) admitting it was not "elegantly" stated. Then he doubled down on the content, once again calling approximately half of Americans lazy bums who don't work and don't pay taxes. What a motherfucking jerk.

UPDATE 2  early Tuesday 9/18:  Jeebus! David Brooks... yes, that DAVID BROOKS... agrees that Rmoney fucked up bigtime! Brooks even makes some rare sensible, even sensitive observations. Read him quickly, before he changes his mind!

Getting A Bigger Charge Out Of My Electricity Vendor

Un-Reddy Kilowatt?
I just spent a half hour in an online chat with a customer rep from Houston's largest (and my current) supplier of electricity. Our plan at Our House is up for renewal in a couple of months, and I needed answers to the following apparent conundrum:
  • Our current plan is 100% wind power, as it has been since wind was first made available in Houston;
  • 100% wind power seems to be available to new customers of this company;
  • The company did not mention 100% wind power in its "plans for you" listed in my contract renewal.
The chat was very satisfactory; the rep was polite and helpful. But the result is that the company will not sell me 100% wind power. Period.

Meanwhile, in searching the web for other vendors (I've barely scratched the surface; I made no immediate progress), I ran across an article by Loren Steffy, a generally sane Houston Chronicle business columnist who also writes Fuel Fix, an energy industry blog. (Think: Houston's raison d'être is energy production. Of course there's a major blog for it; actually, several blogs.) Steffy's post, titled nonchalantly "Why the power company makes out like a bandit in Texas," begins like this:
Reddy-2-Kill-or-Watt?
NRG Energy has started making out its Christmas list a little early this year.

In a recent filing, the biggest Houston-area generator of electric power wrote a letter to the North Pole of Deregulation – Public Utilities Commission – to say what it wants: a doubling of the current caps on wholesale electricity prices and adopting what’s known as a capacity market.

Both possibilities have been considered separately to improve reliability for its troubled electric grid, but NRG’s filing is the first suggestion that the PUC do both.

Each option is likely to be expensive, and combined, it could result in higher prices and fewer companies for consumers to choose from in buying electricity.

“It’s outrageous,” said Paul Ring, an independent market analyst who writes the blog Energy Choice Matters. “It’s going to ruin the market.”

...
It's going to ruin our household budget, too. And not just ours. Houston summers are hotter, for longer, than most places in the country, and air conditioning is not optional: poor people whose electricity is cut off literally die here of dehydration and worse.

My best guess? Our electric vendor decided that there was too little profit in wind power, so they reduced the percentage in the mix in the few contracts remaining, to 20%. Most of our power, to quote GeeDubya, is nu‑ku‑lar.

So now I must shop for another vendor, not really expecting to find one. Welcome to Houston, Texas, energy capital of the nation, where suppliers give the customer exactly what they think s/he should want.

ADDED: how could I have forgotten to mention: the P.U.C. almost always gives the energy companies what they ask for.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Netan-yahoo Invades US Politics

David Jackson at USA Today:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his demands that the United States step up pressure on Iran's nuclear program have nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election.

"What's guiding me, contrary to what I have read in the United States, is not the American political calendar, " Netanyahu said on CNN's State of the Union. "It's the Iranian nuclear calender."

Netanyahu said "we know they (the Iranians) are working toward a (nuclear) weapon," and he wants the Obama administration to draw a "red line" that Iran cannot cross without inviting military action.

Such a red line "actually reduces the chance of a military conflict" because Iran will pull back its enrichment process rather than risk war, Netanyahu said.

Obama administration officials say economic sanctions are working in Iran, and have urged Israel not to launch any pre-emptive military action of its own.

...
Oh, give me a break... Benjamin Netanyahu reminds me a great deal of George W. Bush: a mean-spirited, reckless cowboy, a small child prone to tantrums when he doesn't get his way. And why not: with tantrums, he often gets his way. Israelis may like this guy, and the US may back Israel, but the two-year-old child has no business drawing the US into a preemptive, invasive war against yet another country that poses minimal military threat to the US. If Israel is so goddamned sure Iran is about to have nukes, but doesn't have them yet, let Israel bomb those presumably secret sites... what do we provide Israel all that high-tech weaponry for, if not so they can defend themselves? Why must the US change their diapers?

If Netanyahu insists on attacking Iran now, let him do it without American help. Israel is threatening a preemptive invasion, much like the one GeeDubya perpetrated against Iraq; we all saw how well that worked out for America. Now Bibi wants a second helping, and has shown clear signs of taking sides in the US presidential election in favor of Rmoney.

A word to the "wise": Bibi... keep your hands off our elections. If you meddle, you might just give us ideas about doing the same in Israel's politics. You wouldn't want that, I'm sure.

Scott Walker's Anti-Collective Bargaining Law Struck Down

A Wisconsin county judge has struck down Gov. Walker's draconian anti-collective bargaining law as a violation of both state and US constitutions. Here's Scott Bauer at HuffPo:
...

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void.

In his 27-page ruling, the judge said sections of the law "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions."

Colas also said the law violates the equal protection clause by creating separate classes of workers who are treated differently and unequally.

The ruling applies to all local public workers affected by the law, including teachers and city and county government employees, but not those who work for the state. They were not a party to the lawsuit, which was brought by a Madison teachers union and a Milwaukee public workers union.

Walker issued a statement accusing the judge of being a "liberal activist" who "wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process."

...
It is good to see Walker brought up short, even if only temporarily. An appeal is planned. Let the judge-shopping begin.

AFTERTHOUGHT: the right to bargain collectively by forming unions is central to achieving fairness in employer treatment of workers. This is no less true of public employees. As it has been repeatedly shown that quality and productivity rest squarely on fair worker compensation and working conditions, I am forever mystified that some "conservatives" demand the most unequal possible relationship between management and labor. Forcing workers into effective wage slavery by denying their bargaining rights is not just wrong... it's also stupid beyond words. In other words, it's Republican.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

House GOPers Inadvertently Vote To End Welfare-To-Work Requirements

There are many differences between Republicans of my youth and today's ranting radicals, so I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, given their recklessness, that one thing today's GOPers lack is caution... and apparently intelligence. Here's TPM's Brian Beutler:
...

The bill — sponsored by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Joseph J. Heck, (R-NV), and Buck McKeon (R-CA) and called the Workforce Investment Improvement Act — would allow states to lump moneys from state-federal employment and training programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, into a single fund. But by doing so, it could essentially nullify federal eligibility requirements for those programs, according to the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan analysis arm of Congress which reviewed the bill.

---
Long ago in an earlier lifetime, I knew someone who worked for CRS. They take their job very seriously: they make every effort to get their facts right, their legal opinions right, their numbers right, etc., etc., with no partisan bias. If they say the bill would strip welfare‑to‑work requirements, you can pretty much depend on it: the bill would strip welfare‑to‑work requirements.

If you recall, that is exactly what they've been falsely accusing Obama of doing: gutting welfare‑to‑work.

I remember a cartoon early in the 2003 Iraq war in which GeeDubya Bush is complaining that he just can't get enough intelligence. Actually, the problem seems to afflict the whole blessed GOP.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kurt Eichenwald: Bush Admin Repeatedly Ignored Warnings Prior To 9/11 Of Imminent Attacks

This is not new news. But it is high time it gets the attention it deserves. According to Vanity Fair contributing editor and former New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald, classified documentation exists (parts of which he has personally read) that shows that warnings of an imminent al Qaeda attack were repeatedly provided to several of the highest officials in the Bush administration... and repeatedly ignored. In short: 9/11 could have been prevented, but the neocon's were too self-confident that al Qaeda was bluffing. Unfortunately, Bush & Co. supplied only the infamous Aug. 6 presidential daily briefing to the 9/11 Commission, withholding all other memos to the president and other high officials containing evidence of an imminent attack.

In other words, the overconfident bastards fucked up, subjecting our nation to an attack that would eventually, with a lot of help from Bush & Co., have the very effect al Qaeda intended: the gradual but relentless undermining of the basics of American philosophy of government and hence of the American nation.

Short version: 9/11 is wholly the Bush administration's fault. End of story.

(H/T Adgita Diaries for quotes from Paul Craig Roberts and Kurt Eichenwald of the NYT.)

AFTERTHOUGHT: years ago, long before 9/11/2001, I had a colleague who happened to be a Democrat. He offered genuine insight into the Republican notion that government should be run like a business. He said that Republicans' business plan was simple: they planned to increase their market share by destroying public confidence in the product marketed. When Saint Ronald Reagan said, "Government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem," he was invoking a slogan, not offering a plan. Reagan set the pattern for all subsequent Republican presidents.

Government is, for better and worse, essential to human survival. Why in the world would anyone vote into government office a candidate who believes that government is the problem? Is not such a belief guaranteed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

And so it was. From Saint Ronald forward to George W. Bush... especially GeeDubya... Republicans expressed their distaste for government by doing it badly. And gawd a'mighty, did they ever do it badly, in the approach to 9/11, the immediate response to 9/11, and the aftermath of 9/11. (That sentence sounded like Rudy Giuliani, didn't it.) Here we sit, eleven years later, still stunned by how badly our government approaches the balance between security and liberty... and how liberty is losing ground. One morning we'll wake up to a disaster far worse than 9/11: an utter undoing of the basic processes of representative democracy in a free society, whether by revolution or sheer incompetence, I can't say. Either way, we could have avoided it by "dancing with them as brung us," sending people to Washington who believe in the power of government to do good things.

Here ends the sermon for the day.

Esther Puts Her Best Foot Forward



,,, this time, it's her left [front] foot.

Rmoney Doubles Down On Desperation

It's almost as if Rmoney is trying to determine just how immature he can appear as he willfully undermines the diplomatic processes of a sitting US president. Here's Benjy Sarlin of TPM:
A top foreign policy aide to Mitt Romney suggested Thursday that the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens would never have happened if Romney were president. There wouldn’t even be anti-American protests in the Middle East if Romney were in charge, the aide said.

“There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation,” Romney adviser Richard Williamson told the Washington Post. “For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we’ve had an American ambassador assassinated.”

He blamed the attack that killed Stevens on Obama’s handling of the region, arguing that the Muslim world would have held the hypothetical Romney administration of 2008-2012 in much greater esteem, which would have prevented violent protests over an anti-Muslim film like the one that led to Stevens’s death.

...
Oh, give me a fucking break. Sarlin points out the blindingly obvious:
Williamson served as an official under President George W. Bush. Numerous deadly attacks on diplomatic compounds in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Syria took place during the Bush administration. When countries around the world were engulfed in protests over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, the Bush administration condemned the material as “unacceptable” even as it repeated the United States’s dedication to free speech.
But of course IOKIYAR. Anything is OKIYAR.

Rmoney must be feeling truly desperate. In general, I doubt Americans are going to approve of his campaign's opportunistic comments on an ongoing international incident. If he continues doubling down on this, he may rest assured that if he becomes president, we will do every possible thing to undermine his own diplomatic efforts... and given his demonstrated "competency," I suspect that will be easy. Sauce for the goose...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

ACLU TX Releases Report: Texas Schools Routinely Violate Studentsʼ Religious Freedoms

This page at aclutx.org contains a link to a downloadable .pdf of the report, At the Mercy of the Majority: Attacks on Religious Freedom in Texas Public Schools in the Decade after Santa Fe v. Doe. This is an ongoing problem nationwide, not just in Texas. Take a look. You know at least one person (I am a UU), and probably many more, who are members of minority religions, so do not think for even a moment that this isn't important to you.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I just read the whole report, and it is depressing.

Seldom have I been shown with such clarity the frequency with which districts, schools, administrators and teachers deliberately, premeditatedly, probably with good intentions, blatantly violate the First Amendment and applicable federal and state law enforcing it.

These well-meaning people are criminals in every sense, but there is simply no enforcement mechanism, except what the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and similar org's do on a case-by-case-by-tedious-case basis.

There is scant difference between violations, which fall into fewer than a half dozen categories, within which the incidents are almost identical in detail. The particular behavior can often be brought to a halt in that instance, but the same behavior sprouts up in another nearby district or school within a year.

And there's no way to punish violators of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment: an attempt to fine a school district or official for noncompliance would simply make martyrs of them, and Christians in particular long ago learned to use martyrdom to their advantage.

But if religious freedom is to mean anything at all in America, the above-named org's must continue the daily grind of stamping out violations one by one. Please consider helping out one or more of those org's; in my case, it's the ACLU, but all of them do good work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Confronted With Killing Of US Diplomats In Libya, Rmoney's First Reaction Is To Politicize The Incident - UPDATED 3X

When I was young, I was taught that "US politics stops at the water's edge": i.e., that the introduction of partisanship into matters of war or diplomacy was unofficially off-limits for any American official. That rule just took a major hit from Mitt Rmoney, who doesn't seem to care what his deplorable politicization of an international incident looks like to the rest of the world.

US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three embassy staffers were killed in a rocket attack in Benghazi, apparently in the second day of mob assault on the embassy, which was reportedly destroyed.

A separate article links the attack to the infamous Qur'an-burning American pastor Terry Jones, whose prior very public actions have triggered violence against Americans in Muslim countries before. (Aside: I wonder if the Rev. Jones could be charged as an accessory to murder. I doubt it. I suppose there's a First Amendment issue involved, and there's no American law against being a motherfucking bastard.)

All that aside, what the fuck does Rmoney think he's doing? I know Republicans in general have done their damnedest to stir up as much trouble for Obama as possible; that is clear from their congressional obstructionism to Obama's legislative attempts to create jobs. But... what about that "water's edge" thing?

I realize there are people who have no scruples. (Rmoney seems a good example.) I know there are Americans who consider their highest loyalty to their religion [added] or to their political party [/added], not to their nation. (I suppose America's permitting that is one acid test of whether America has the potential to be a free country.) BUT NO ONE WHO HOLDS THAT BELIEF SHOULD BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. End of story.

Well, not quite. My condolences to the families of Ambassador Stevens and his staff. Diplomacy can be a very dangerous occupation, and their positions... coupled with the utter stupidity of one brainless US pastor... cost them their lives. There is a long history of "shoot the messenger," and regrettably, Ambassador Stevens's death will not be the end of it. But it is always tragic when some of our best and brightest are killed essentially for no good reason.

And Rmoney's reaction? I feel as if he pissed on their graves.

UPDATE: as Ben Smith of BuzzFeed tells us, even many Republicans believe Rmoney's statement was "trying to score a cheap news cycle hit," an "utter disaster," "[n]ot ready for prime time," not "presidential of Romney to go political immediately," etc., etc. What can I say... all of those assessments of Rmoney, all by Republicans, are valid: he is nowhere nearly mature enough to execute foreign policy without precipitating major disasters. This man must NOT become president. (H/T upyernoz for the link.)

UPDATE: this is probably the only occasion on which you will find praise on this site for the responses of Turtle-face and Orange-man, but both Sen. McConnell and Rep. Boehner got it just right:
“Yesterday we commemorated the anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, and today we are reminded that brave Americans serve us every day at the risk of their own lives,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement. “We honor the Americans we lost in Libya and we will stand united in our response.”

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced plans for a moment of silence in the House and ordered flags at half staff.

“We mourn for the families of our countrymen in Benghazi, and condemn this horrific attack,” he said in a statement. “Eleven years after September 11, this is a jolting reminder that freedom remains under siege by forces around the globe who relish violence over free expression, and terror over democracy — and that America and free people everywhere must remain vigilant in defense of our liberties.”
Now THAT is the sort of response Rmoney should have offered.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall's piece yesterday, 9/12, on Rmoney's moment of obvious unreadiness for the presidency is well worth reading. His conclusion (all bolds mine):
Bear in mind, this [activity within Romney's campaign] was all happening while attacks on US personnel abroad were ongoing. According to a statement released this morning by the White House, the President was told last night that Ambassador Chris Stevens was unaccounted for. Only this morning did he learn that Stevens had died in the attacks that were on-going last night.

The campaign also authorized Romney’s top foreign policy advisor to give a blistering interview attacking the president while the attacks were continuing.

Politics is hardball. Everything is, in some sense, fair. But campaigns are also a prism into the judgment and steadiness under pressure of a person who would be president. This was amateur hour for the opposition campaign last night, reminiscent of John McCain’s rash call four years ago to cancel the presidential debates and the campaign itself to deal with the unfolding economic crisis. There was nothing ignoble or dishonorable about McCain’s suggestion. It just showed a certain rashness that was widely viewed as unpresidential.

Romney’s moment was quite different — rash and shameful. Not worthy of a president. Crass, undignified and troubling on many levels.
"[R]ash and shameful. Not worthy of a president." Enough said.

Rmoney's Breathtaking Ignorance

In a magazine interview about LGBT issues, Rmoney said:
I didn’t know you had families.
It's bad enough to run an asshole for president, but the GOP is running an ignorant asshole...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dave Lippman...

... nails it, as he so often does, in his latest, Electoral Dysfunction (YouTube).

Don't blame me, I face the same dilemma many of us do, even if I am voting for what's-his-name... Dave's last line explains my vote as well as anything. We do what we can, which these days, isn't very damned much... see my post immediately preceding this one.

Ninth Guantánamo Prisoner Dies, Apparently W/O Charge Or Trial

Obama enthusiasts, please note that four (4) of the prisoners died during Obama's presidency. He promised to close Guantánamo, and did not, apparently for political reasons. So their deaths are on his hands. (Would Rmoney have done differently? Oh, gimme a fucking break. Of course not.)

Here's the statement posted on FDL by Center for Constitutional Rights:
Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement in response to the news that a ninth man has died in detention at Guantánamo.

With great sadness, the Center for Constitutional Rights condemns the fact that yet another detained man – the fourth on President Obama’s watch – has died at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, most likely without charge and certainly without trial. Neither the name of the man nor the details of his death have yet been released by the Department of Defense. Whatever the cause turns out to be, it is clear that the United States government is ultimately responsible for his death.

Military investigations into several of the deaths at the base remain under a cloud of suspicion; and the Center’s clients, families of two men who died there in 2006, never got their day in court or the chance to know the truth about what happened to their sons. The Center for Constitutional Rights calls on the government to preserve the evidence in this case, conduct a full and impartial investigation, and treat the body and the family with all proper respect, none of which, regrettably, has consistently occurred in the past.

More than half the men remaining at Guantánamo have been cleared for transfer but remain imprisoned, trapped by politics. Whether because of despair, suicide or natural causes, as Guantánamo enters its 11th year of operation – 11 years of indefinite detention without trial or prospect of release – death has become an inevitable consequence of President Obama’s failure to close the prison.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for the last 10 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that nearly all the men detained at Guantánamo have had the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts. In addition, CCR has been working through diplomatic channels to resettle men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org. Follow @theCCR.
(Bolds mine.)

The awful thing that happened on 9/11/2001 can in no way justify the United States's flagrant disregard of anyone's basic human rights and civil liberties. (If you think otherwise, you have clearly not thought the matter through. Please go away and think some more. You are welcome on this site when you change your mind... not sooner.) Retaining people in Gitmo who have been cleared for release... people perhaps in the wrong place at the wrong time, people sold out to an America willing to pay money to those who turn in "terrorists" ... is itself an atrocity. America should close Guantánamo and go home. Until it does, America allows a gaping wound to fester, a wound that will motivate future terrorists. The choice is (at least in theory) ours to make: close Guantánamo, or live our national life constantly looking over our shoulder. Guantánamo should be closed today. Yes, I am aware of the obstacles... but the real problem is a lack of motivation on the part of our leaders of both parties. Enough is enough. Either we can advocate human rights, or we can keep Guantánamo open. We can't do both.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rmoney On Pre-Existing Conditions

I tell you, that man really knows how to charm a voter. Here's Sahil Kapur of TPM:
...

“I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place,” the Republican nominee said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “One is to make sure that those with preexisting conditions can get coverage.”

His campaign later told TPM he wasn’t signaling a shift in policy and was instead referring to his existing stance in favor of protections on preexisting conditions only for those with continuous insurance coverage — not for first-time or returning buyers.

...
Such a deal! Sing it, Billie; it's the Republican anthem, only they sing it without irony...

Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own

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No Police Like H•lmes



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