Sunday, October 31, 2010

MUST READ: On-the-mark insights from Frank Rich

The Tea Partiers are not smart enough to realize how they are being used by the real power in the Republican Party.  Tea Party believers/supporters actually expect to have an impact on decisions and votes, if they can get their candidates into Congress. Dream on, folks.  The real power lies with the wealthy corporatists who have taken over their party--and our country.  Read about it below:


whatever Tuesday’s results, this much is certain: The Tea Party’s hopes for actually effecting change in Washington will start being dashed the morning after. The ordinary Americans in this movement lack the numbers and financial clout to muscle their way into the back rooms of Republican power no matter how well their candidates perform.

Karl Rove now parades his disdain for the [Tea Party] when speaking to the European press. This month he told Der Spiegel that Tea Partiers are “not sophisticated,” and then scoffed, “It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek.” Given that Glenn Beck has made a cause of putting Hayek’s dense 1944 antigovernment treatise “The Road to Serfdom” on the best-seller list and Tea Partiers widely claim to have read it, Rove could hardly have been more condescending to “these people.” Last week, for added insult, he mocked Sarah Palin’s imminent Discovery Channel reality show to London’s Daily Telegraph.

The [powerful Republican] country club elite is happy for Tea Partiers to put up signs, work the phones and make “those pesky little trips” door-to-door that it finds a frightful inconvenience. But the members won’t let the hoi polloi dine with them in the club’s “main dining room” — any more than David H. Koch, the billionaire sugar daddy of the Republican right, will invite O’Donnell into his box at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center to take in “The Nutcracker.”

The main dining room remains reserved for Koch’s fellow oil barons, Lott’s clients, the corporate contributors (known and anonymous) to groups like Rove’s American Crossroads, and, of course, the large coterie of special interests underwriting John Boehner, the presumptive next speaker of the House. Boehner is the largest House recipient of Wall Street money this year — much of it from financial institutions bailed out by TARP.   What the Tea Party ostensibly wants most — less government spending and smaller federal deficits — is not remotely happening on the country club G.O.P.’s watch. The elites have no serious plans to cut anything except taxes and regulation of their favored industries.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why Sisterly Chats Make People Happier

A good article for both men and women to read, by
Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and the author of “You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives.” Although my dearly loved blood sister is gone and I miss her and our chats very much, I still have "sisters" among my dear friends and am exceedingly grateful for them! 

Rally for a RETURN TO SANITY -- It's About Time!!!

I watched the Rally on C-Span today -- what a wonderful contrast to the Glenn Beck craziness!  Over 100,000 people gathered in Washington to show their support for a Return to Sanity in politics and in our daily lives. They were joined by Americans in many cities all over the country, as well as citizens of other countries who are crying out for sanity to prevail in this poor beleaguered world.  The rants from the wild-eyed right wing have dominated the news for far too long.  Most Americans are disgusted with the loud and ignorant Tea Party wingnuts who blindly follow their fanatical Pied Pipers Beck, Coulter, Limbaugh and their ilk, as they keep insisting on continuing the upside-down, backwards insanity of Bush/Cheney politics. ENOUGH ALREADY!  Today, through a rally of reasonableness, we took a step forward, calling for responsible leadership of our country by people who have IQs above that of moron.  I hope thinking Americans will hearken to that call on election day and deny the Tea Party crazies any place in the halls of Congress. It's hard to believe we even have to deal with something so wacky as this, and millions of us wonder "HOW IN HELL DID IDIOTS LIKE O'DONNELL, PALADINO and ANGLE EVEN GET ON THE BALLOT?"   The following article gives some answers to that question:

By Robert Parry
As satire has done through the ages, Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” has found a comedic way to focus national attention on a serious issue: Will the United States begin acting like a responsible force in the world or will it continue to wander off into its own ghastly dreamscape?

Millions of Americans have responded positively to Stewart’s message, with thousands arriving from all over the country to take part in Stewart’s semi-serious rally at the National Mall in Washington on Saturday.

But other Americans are confused about why someone would call a march for “sanity,” and some who get the point are perturbed by its implicit criticism of their own craziness.

Whether Stewart’s rally will have any lasting effect is another question. Is it possible that many Americans don’t want to be sane? Or put differently, are they addicted to the crazy?

Is watching the madness of Glenn Beck simply too much fun for many? Are Rush Limbaugh’s rants a way for listeners to feel better about their own personal grievances, by blaming the hated “liberals” or the “minorities” or some other scapegoats?

Especially on the Right, crazy has become the bread-and-butter. For Muslim-haters like Michael Savage and Steven Emerson – not to mention the bigger names like Limbaugh and Beck – irrationality and fear-mongering are how they rile up their audiences and make their money.

Crazy also is how you trump rationality. You can dismiss it as “liberal elitism” brought to you by those pointy-headed, we-know-better-than-you-do Al Gore types, folks who want us to listen to the “scientists” as they explain about the looming calamity of global warming and stuff like that. Isn’t it more fun to simply call scientific judgments “myths” and feel superior to all those PhD guys?

To the Religious Right, irrationality has another role, as a defense of “biblical truth” in the face of reason. Anyone who operates under the principles of empiricism and objectivity is by definition a “liberal” for not accepting the Bible and Faith as the provider of all answers.

Many centrists are uncomfortable with Stewart’s rally for a different reason. They may find his jokes amusing, but they reject his more serious message – that the U.S. political/media process has gone quite literally mad. If you’re a Washington-Post-or-CNN-styled journalist, you simply can’t accept that the system you have helped sustain is insane.

To do so – and to be honestly self-critical – would require acknowledging that you sat on your hands in the face of George W. Bush’s violent delusions of the past decade because to do otherwise would have put your salary at risk. For these centrists to accept the need to restore sanity would require them to admit they tolerated madness.

Some on the Left also have trouble with Stewart’s observation about how insane things have become because they, too, have operated with their own unrealistic expectations, at least about how much can be done and how quickly. As we also have seen with some of the conspiracy excesses of the 9/11 truther movement, anti-empiricism is not a monopoly of the Right.

Still, the American Right must be seen as the principal culprit in the decoupling of America from rationality.

The latest manifestation of the Right’s wackiness can be found in the rise of the Tea Party, a movement of supposedly grassroots, mad-as-hell regular Americans. However, even that image is an illusion. The reality is that the movement is heavily subsidized by wealthy corporate donors (such as the billionaire Koch brothers) who want to ensure deregulation of their industries.

The reality that the Tea Party's phony “grassroots” obscures is that the hated federal government is the only force potentially powerful enough – if it were energized on behalf of the people – to counter the overwhelming might of multinational corporations. By hobbling the government, the Tea Partiers are simply empowering the corporations to run everything.

But the Tea Partiers have been persuaded that they are the new revolutionaries fighting for America against all those who would sap its strength – from the liberals and the illegals, to the Muslims and the atheists – but most of all, the federal government itself.

How It Happened

But how did the United States of America get here? How could the most powerful nation on earth with a sophisticated media reach this place where a comedian is needed to point out how crazy the political system has become?

In the 1980s, early in the Reagan administration as an investigative reporter for the Associated Press, I was encountering so much deceptive propaganda regarding U.S. policies on Central America that I half-jokingly asked an editor what should an American news organization do if the U.S. government went from lying once in a while to lying all the time?

The realistic answer at AP and other mainstream news organizations was to retreat and to avoid any head-on battles. The thinking was that the cheerful dishonesty of Ronald Reagan, a former actor and ad pitchman, would eventually fade away and rationality would return, that the pendulum would swing back on its own.

But the imaginary pendulum never worked. Instead, through the 1980s, the Right used its combined power of the Executive Branch and the emerging right-wing media to assert control over reality itself. A few politicians and journalists fought back, but most accommodated and waited.

Meanwhile, Reagan won over large segments of the U.S. electorate with his something-for-nothing promises. Indeed, his greatest role as an actor may have been as the Pied Piper leading the American people off to their doom.

Reagan promised that tax cuts tilted to the rich would generate more revenue and eliminate the federal debt; that this money also could finance a massive military buildup which would frighten America’s enemies and restore national prestige; that freeing corporations from government regulations and from powerful unions would herald a new day of prosperity brought about by the magic of “free trade” and “free markets”; that the country could turn its back on alternative energy and simply drill for more oil; that whites no longer had to feel guilty about the plight of blacks; that traditional “values” – i.e. rejection of the “counter-culture” – would bring back the good old days when men were men and women were women.

Despite the appeal of Reagan’s message to many, it was essentially an invitation to reject reality. Even Reagan’s vice presidential nominee, George H.W. Bush, had famously labeled Reagan’s tax-cut scheme “voodoo economics.” Early in Reagan’s presidency, his budget director David Stockman acknowledged that the tax cuts would flood the government in red ink.

But tax policy wasn’t Reagan’s only ignore-the-future policy. Rejecting President Jimmy Carter’s warnings about the need for renewable energy sources, Reagan removed Carter’s solar panels from the White House roof and left the nation dependent on oil. Reagan also led campaigns to break unions and to free corporations from government regulations.

Perception Management

In foreign policy – although the Soviet Union was in rapid decline – Reagan put ideological blinders on the CIA’s analysts to make sure they exaggerated the Soviet menace and justified his military buildup.

Reagan achieved this “politicization” of the CIA by placing in charge his campaign chief William Casey, who, in turn, picked a young CIA careerist named Robert Gates to purge the analytical division of its long tradition of objectivity. Gates arranged the scariest intelligence estimates possible.

Reagan also credentialed a group of young intellectuals who became known as the neoconservatives – the likes of Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle and Robert Kagan – who emerged from an elitist tradition (advocated by philosopher Leo Strauss) that it was their proper role to manipulate the less-educated masses and guide the people in a desired direction.

The neocons worked with seasoned CIA propagandists, like Walter Raymond Jr. who was moved over to the National Security Council, to develop what was called “perception management” for controlling how the American people would see and understand things.

The neocons used fear, exaggeration and lying to get the American people behind Reagan’s support for brutal military regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala as well as the contra rebels seeking to overthrow Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government.

Perception management operatives targeted honest journalists, human rights activists and congressional investigators who dug up unwanted facts that challenged Reagan’s propaganda. To discredit truthful messages, the neocons “controversialized” the messengers.

These techniques proved very successful, in large part, because many senior executives at leading news outlets – from the AP where general manager Keith Fuller was a Reagan enthusiast to the New York Times where executive editor Abe Rosenthal was himself a neocon – sided with the propagandists against their own journalists. [For details on “perception management,” see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

Meanwhile, the American Right was building its own media infrastructure with wealthy foundations footing the bills for a host of political magazines. Far-right religious cult leader Sun Myung Moon poured billions of mysterious dollars into the Washington Times and other media operations.[See Secrecy & Privilege.]

By contrast, the American Left mostly under-funded or even de-funded its scattered media outlets. Some, like Ramparts and Dispatch News, were shuttered, while other formerly left-of-center publications, such as The New Republic and The Atlantic, changed hands to neocon and conservative owners. [See’s “The Left’s Media Miscalculation.”]

Despite the long-term costs, Reagan made many Americans feel good in the short run. Many bought into Reagan’s notion that “government is the problem.” In 1984, Reagan’s gauzy “Morning in America” vision won big over Walter Mondale’s appeal for fiscal responsibility.

The Iran-Contra Window

Perhaps the last best hope to reassert reality came with the Iran-Contra scandal, which played out from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

Reagan’s secret arms-for-hostages deals with Iran had the potential to unravel an interconnected series of national security cover-ups and scandals, including cocaine smuggling by Reagan’s contras and creation of the “perception management” operation itself.

However, again, truth about these complex scandals was not considered that important, either in Congress or within the Washington news media. The governing Democrats, the likes of Rep. Lee Hamilton and later President Bill Clinton, chose to sweep the scandals under the rug in the hope that the Republicans would reciprocate. [See Secrecy & Privilege.]

Not only were hopes for bipartisanship unrequited, the Republicans grew more emboldened and more partisan. The GOP and its allies ramped up personal attacks on Clinton by turning loose their powerful new media infrastructure, which by the 1990s featured the Right’s domination of AM talk radio.

A typical example of the Right’s propaganda was to distribute lists of “mysterious deaths” of people somehow connected to President Clinton. Though there was no evidence that Clinton was implicated in any of the deaths, the sophistry rested simply on the number of cases.

What the Right learned was that it could achieve political gain with the American people by circulating an endless supply of baseless or wildly exaggerated allegations. Many Americans would believe them just because of the repetition over right-wing talk radio and other outlets.

On Election Night 1994, Democrats were stunned by how effective the tactic of using bogus and hyped anti-Clinton charges proved to be. Between the smearing of Bill and Hillary Clinton and the voters desire to punish Democrats for raising taxes to close the Reagan-Bush-41-era deficits, the Republicans swept to control of the House and Senate.

The Fox Effect

In the years that have followed – especially with the emergence of Fox News in the mid-to-late 1990s – the dominance of right-wing propaganda over non-ideological reality moved to the center of the American political process. The rout of rationality was on.

During Campaign 2000, journalists from publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post ganged up on Al Gore. They even put made-up quotes in his mouth so they could haze him as if they were the cool kids on campus and he was the goofy nerd. By contrast, journalists knew to fawn all over the ultimate big man on campus, George W. Bush, as he made them feel important by giving them nicknames.

When Gore still narrowly defeated Bush in Election 2000, the major news media stood aside as Bush and the Republicans stole the White House.

The see-no-evil attitude hardened after the 9/11 attacks when mainstream outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN, consciously misreported their own findings of a Gore victory in Florida, based on an unofficial media recount. Instead of leading with that remarkable fact, they buried the lede and highlighted that Bush would still have won some partial, hypothetical recounts. [See Neck Deep.]

The media mood after 9/11 – a combination of misguided patriotism and fear of right-wing retaliation – caused the mainstream press to retreat further from a fight for reality. Key journalists, such as the Times’ reporter Judy Miller and the Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, even became collaborators with Bush’s propaganda about Iraq.

Meanwhile, the neocons, who had returned to power under Bush, reprised their old strategy of perception management, stoking excessive fears of Iraq’s mythical WMD programs and stomping out any embers of doubt. For millions of Americans, the WMD lies became truth as they were repeated everywhere, from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh to the pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Since President Obama’s election in 2008, the Right has again pulled out the old disinformation bag of tricks. The Right used its media dominance to pound the public with barrage after barrage of conspiracy theories about Obama.

Anti-Obama falsehoods took on the color of truth simply by their endless retelling. For instance, the canard that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii as his birth certificate shows, gained credibility with large numbers of Americans. Similarly, the Right convinced tens of millions that Obama is a Muslim, though he is Christian.

At this late stage, the Republican Party and the Right recognize that they can dominate American politics through a clever mix of disinformation and faux populism, especially when dealing with a confused and embittered electorate.

But other Americans understand that craziness is not the way to rebuild the nation or to make the United States a responsible force in the world. That is why Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity has touched a popular nerve.

It may be all that stands in the way of a landslide victory for insanity.

Friday, October 29, 2010


It's humorous and sad at the same time to consider that we earthlings think of ourselves as an "advanced civilization," when we are, in most every way, extremely primitive in our attitudes and actions.  Because we have not evolved beyond childish egocentric behavior, we continually backslide during our very slow evolution -- one step forward, five steps back.  We see this happening in the political scene, over and over.  Without introspection into our personal and national patterns and motives, our evolution will continue along like this for future eons -- at a snail's pace.  Without humility and an admittance that the way we have been proceeding is not working well for us as a species, there will be no changes, and very little growth in humane action and understanding.

Unfortunately, one look over the centuries reveals that we seem to be locked into an every-man-for-himself kind of consciousness, where greed and power are the strongest motivators, no matter which class we happen to be born into.  Climbing over others to get our own desires fulfilled is the unquestioned norm on this planet.  The Republican Party at present exemplifies this to a great degree in America, but this kind of behavior is prevalent all over the earth.  Power, greed, selfishness, prejudice and ignorance cause wars between neighbors, between political parties, between religions, and between countries, and ravage what could be a peaceful existence for all, on a beautiful planet that deserves better temporary occupants.

I've come to the conclusion that it will take thousands, perhaps millions, of centuries for mankind as a whole to rise to a wisdom that sees beyond differences to a true brotherhood of man.  Although our present-day religions (and our own Constitution) preach equality, charity and love, the majority of Earth's population do not follow those precepts.  Instead, we have wars, even while--incredibly--each of the warring factions hypocritically praises the teachings of their own religion, and loudly proclaims them as their guide.  What could be more ignorantly ego-driven than that kind of madness?  A sad and tragic example of this crazy-thinking are the anti-abortionist fanatics who kill doctors who dare to help women in their great need.  Those same killers defend their murderous actions by calling the doctors murderers. Through rabid Christian fundamentalism, they have learned to twist their minds into contorted "logic" in which they feel justified in refusing responsibility for shooting and killing innocent people. Taking it upon themselves to be judge and jury, they kill with no remorse.  In their minds, they are "good Christians," though there is great doubt Christ would recognize them as such.

The following article from today's Huffington Post tells the weary story once again of egomania in our government and egomania in our world, where there is no care for the whole -- only for the parts that are jealously guarded and viciously defended against any perceived threat to their power or greed. Thus, by such stupid behaviors, we are ever denied the peace and wisdom we claim we so long for.  I often wonder, as I watch these scenarios enacted over and over again, without any apparent growth or understanding in the participants, does anyone ever think of life and death as a whole? Do any of these small but self-important actors, in their short-lived appearances on Earth's stage, ever think about what they could possibly gain (or, more importantly, LOSE) by their behavior?  Do they never look beyond the present day, and its gains or losses, to a broader view of life and its meaning?  Do they never consider they will someday have to account for their actions in a venue beyond this world? What seems important to them now will pale in significance if/when they are exposed to a more cosmic viewpoint.  It's too bad they can't take that viewpoint now, instead of indulging their egos in such infantile games as those described below:


After several weeks of officially pleasant interactions, signs are emerging that the Treasury Department's knives may be coming out against Elizabeth Warren. In recent weeks, Treasury officials have leaked details about Warren to Politico as part of what appears to be an effort to paint her as some kind of prima donna. These relatively silly stories raise troubling questions, however, about what Treasury officials may be leaking with fewer fingerprints and greater ramifications.

The Politico pieces have been petty, but there's no doubt they both came from Treasury. On Oct. 12, Politico ran a piece featuring this anonymous nugget (among others):

Some at Treasury grumble that Warren, in her early memos, spent much time detailing what press she was going to do... rather than the nuts and bolts of setting up an agency.

Then yesterday, in Politico's Morning Money column:

NEW PAINT JOB -- We also hear that while Warren is out west, her Treasury office is getting a makeover (Warren will have digs both at Treasury and the CFPB's L Street headquarters). That's something of a rarity for Treasury officials, who usually leave their offices as-is. There is much internal debate as to exactly what color it is that is going up on Warren's walls. One person called it "Arizona sunset," another "terra cotta."

Both of these represent the kind of meaningless, issue-free, pseudo-news that serves as Politico's bread-and-butter. The actual complaints themselves, of course, are preposterous. Warren is painting her office and making media appearances -- exactly the sort of things you'd expect the head of a new federal agency to be doing during her first weeks on the job. But look at the frame Treasury is putting on the stories. In both, Warren is portrayed as an ego-centric fluff-monger, not a serious policymaker. Look at fancy Elizabeth Warren painting her office! Our humble boss Timothy Geithner would never do such a thing!

Just days before an election, it's somewhat astonishing that Treasury officials would be working the media to smear Warren instead of, say, talking about the economy. And it's certainly counterproductive for Treasury to be creating these distractions for the new, can't-be-independent-soon-enough agency as it sets out to re-regulate Wall Street.

This sort of bad judgment is surprising even in light of the burdens Treasury's failures have created for the White House over the past two years. But this silly back-biting wouldn't be that troubling on its own. A few childish press people going rogue, maybe, or perhaps petty payback for some perceived bureaucratic slight. But last night's HuffPost Hill newsletter subtly connects the leaks to a brutally dishonest article that appeared in the New York Times this week:

TREASURY GUNNING FOR ELIZABETH WARREN? -- Shahien Nasiripour sends us word: "This morning, Politico's Ben White reported that Elizabeth Warren's 'Treasury office is getting a makeover... something of a rarity for Treasury officials.'... The latest leak by Treasury officials against Warren has reform advocates worried. 'There's no doubt they're trying to undermine her,' one source says. Observers of the new agency also have been scratching their heads about who may have been behind a controversial New York Times story on Wednesday about Elizabeth Warren aide Raj Date, who worked closely with consumer advocates and was hailed for his efforts during the financial reform debate. Date attracted strong defense on the blogosphere in the aftermath of a story reformers consider to be an unfair hit piece.

If in fact Treasury officials played any sort of role behind the Times story, it's hard to state just how disgusting such behavior would be. The article in question is an outrageous smear targeting Raj Date, one of the most committed and effective consumer advocates in the United States. No reporter who had even tangentially covered the Wall Street reform bill would have written it, and the fact that the Times' editors allowed it to be printed is a grave embarrassment. Few people I've spoken to say they'd be surprised if it was planted by somebody pursuing an agenda against Warren and the CFPB.

As I explained on Wednesday, the Times story is a pack of innuendo and distortion that tries to portray Date's years of work on behalf of consumers as a bank lobby plot to enrich subprime lenders. The article absolutely shocked consumer advocates and members of Americans for Financial Reform who worked closely with Date to rein in Wall Street (disclosure: I have been a member of AFR's steering committee since August), and there has been considerable pushback to the story's mischaracterizations this week from reform advocates.

I had assumed the Times piece was planted by a bank lobbyist looking to hamstring the young agency -- until I saw Thursday's Morning Money, and realized that Treasury people weren't just griping with reporters on background -- they were actively leaking attacks, however childish.

Treasury officials would be making a serious error if they think they can scapegoat Warren in an effort to deflect criticism from the Department's own very real failings. As Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Warren has been highlighting major problems with the Treasury's foreclosure relief plan for literally years. But Geithner and Treasury have steadfastly refused to change the program, as millions of avoidable foreclosures have rained down on the economy.

The result, ultimately, has been bad for the bigwig bankers and too-big-to-fail behemoths that Geithner has boasted about subsidizing stabilizing. Last week, while Treasury continued to deny that the ever-escalating foreclosure fraud outbreak is a serious problem, investors started placing bets that Bank of America's stock will sink below $3.00 a share.

So Wall Street reform advocates are concerned, and you can bet they'll be watching Treasury very closely over the coming months, because their willingness to work with Warren will indicate a tremendous amount about Treasury's commitment to financial reform of any variety.

When President Barack Obama named Warren to her current post, he did so in an unusual manner. The new head of the CFPB would require 60 votes for Senate confirmation, and it appeared that a confirmation process would be both long and difficult. So instead of formally nominating Warren as CFPB Director, Obama named her a special adviser to both the president and Treasury. Since the Treasury has temporary authority over the CFPB, Warren's new post allows her to set-up the agency without going through a confirmation battle.

Reform advocates were divided by the maneuver. It was either a clever piece of strategy -- allowing Warren to build up her political appeal for confirmation by demonstrating her effectiveness -- or it was an effort to scuttle her away into a powerless role. In either case, reformers promised to keep an eye on any efforts at Treasury to undermine her work.

If Treasury is indeed behind the Date hit-piece, there could be no real question about Geithner's machinations. Trash-talking Warren, her top advisers and the CFPB itself would be an unmistakable effort to compromise the entire enterprise. If it worked, Geithner could deny Warren the formal nomination as CFPB director, Warren would go the way of Brooksley Born, and less consumer-friendly officials could quietly crush the young agency.

That would be a shame, since a strong CFPB headed by Warren is the signature accomplishment of the Wall Street reform bill Obama signed this summer. Whatever its other shortcomings, the legislation created the opportunity to level the playing field between bigwig bankers and ordinary citizens and strengthen the financial security of American households.

That's a big if, of course. But reformers will be watching Treasury very closely from here on out.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm Sorry I Was a Bigot -- a Good Article

A worthwhile message from a man who allowed his mind to open...

By Mark Osler


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can meditation change your brain? Surprising answer

I believe meditation can change your brain for the better.  Having meditated for many years, I can say from my own experience that I feel calmer and more peaceful inwardly now than I did before I learned to meditate.  It is very easy for me now to go into a meditative state at any time I want to--for brief or longer periods of time.  Meditation can change your perception of what is truly important in life -- and what is not.  Studies have shown that it helps to clear your mind, enabling you to make better decisions. 


Scary Colorado Republican Tea Party candidate doesn't believe in separation of church and state


WASHINGTON:  Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1801 that "religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God" and argued the Constitution required "building a wall of separation between Church & State."

Colorado Republican Senate candidate and Tea Party favorite Ken Buck last year said he "strongly" disagrees with one of the bedrock principles of American society: the separation of church and state.

"I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state," said Buck at a forum for GOP Senate candidates last year. "It was not written into the Constitution. While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that's sanctioned by the government, it doesn't mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion. And so that, that concerns me a great deal."

His remarks were captured by the site ThinkProgress, which also has video.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bush: A President the Dittoheads Love (Yuk!)

by David Michael Green

First the Big Reagan Lie, now the Even Bigger Bush Lie.

It was only a matter of time, of course, before conservatives would come out of hiding.

Pummeled over the years for their association with the catastrophe known as the Bush administration, singing its praises had become too great a lie even for those whose every political utterance is an exercise in deceit and hypocrisy.

But I knew they wouldn't wait long before trying to canonize their main man, just as they've already done over the years by building a one-man Mt. Rushmore In The Sky for their patron, Saint Ronald of Hollywood-cum-Washington (and what, really, was the difference between the two in his case, anyhow?).

And now, of course, they are starting to do it for the Caligula Kid as well. Billboards are popping up on the landscape with a picture of the prior president, asking, "Miss me yet?" Regressive commentators on television are beginning to dare mentioning the Bush years again. Recent poll data shows that Bush and Obama are rated as near equals in the public's assessment of the two presidencies. Now the Boy King's memoir is soon to be released, and we can certainly expect a lot more of these attempts at reviving the stinking corpse of his wrecking ball presidency.

But the project of turning Bush into a great president comes with a few, um, issues associated with it, however. Heck, even just rescuing him from the cesspool of the club of failed presidents requires no small miracle.

Most of the presidents amongst these bottom-dwellers are guilty of some singular bungling of large proportion, such as failing to prevent the Civil War, blowing Reconstruction, or doing too little in response to the Great Depression. Those are serious indictments. But what if you were guilty of the equivalent of all of those crimes, plus ten more? All in one presidency?

Meet George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States.

Trying to mythologize the Bush presidency is not going to be easy.

If you manage to turn a record high surplus into a record high deficit, and to double the national debt in the process, history will not hold you in high regard for doing so, just as it indicts Ronald Reagan for tripling the debt on his watch.

If your policies serve the interests of an economic oligarchy rather than the people, history will not approve of that, just as it does not admire Republican presidents from Grant to Hoover for doing the same.

If you populate your administration with corrupt political cronies rather than experts and experienced administrators, history will treat you poorly for it, just as it does Ulysses Grant.

If you completely fail to respond to a catastrophic hurricane that drowns a major city, history will adore you about as much as it does Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned.

If you manage to sell your country a war on the basis of lies, history will not regard you well, as it has not Lyndon Johnson for precisely that reason.

If you succeed in mismanaging a war into protracted failure, history will not be kind to you for that, just as it isn't kind to Harry Truman for the stalemate of Korea.

But if you manage to do that for seven years, rather than three, history will be even less kind to you.

And if you manage to that for not one but two wars, over seven years time, history will be very angry indeed.

If you make your country hated in the world, history will not respect you, just as it admires John Kennedy for doing the opposite.

If you shred the US Constitution in order to facilitate a police state with unlimited government powers, history will cast its aspersions upon you, just as it does on Joe McCarthy.

If you ignore a looming catastrophe like global warming - and indeed if you exacerbate that catastrophe - history will regard you very poorly, just as historians generally agree that James Buchanan is America's worst president for failing to respond to its unfolding Civil War crisis.

If you are warned of a cataclysmic terrorist attack by your staff and do not respond, instead spending the month before on vacation, history will devastate you for this alone, just as one of Stalin's great crimes (among many) was to fantasize that Nazi Germany would not attack the Soviet Union, ultimately at a cost of tens of millions of his people.

Indeed, if you spend more time during your presidency on vacation than any other president ever, history will not admire you, just as it does not admire Warren Harding.

If you run for president as one kind of politician but then completely abandon those politics for something different (and supremely ugly), history will not look kindly upon you, just as it does not upon John Tyler.

If you employ disgusting prejudices to win elections, history will consider you cheap garbage for doing so, just as it does George H. W. Bush.

And if you manage to deeply polarize your country, especially in a time of national crisis, history will admire you about as much as it does Richard Nixon for doing the same thing.

If you did any one of these things, you'd find yourself down at the bottom of the list in the historical ranking of American presidents.

But if you've managed to do every one of these things over the course of a single presidency, you'd not only occupy the very bottom slot on the list, you'd be in a category all your own.

It really is astonishing, isn't it, to think about how thoroughly this perfect storm of a president could wreak havoc on a developed (or is it?) democracy (or is it?) in the 21st century.

But what is even more astonishing is that his mythologized revival is already showing signs of working.

Even today, less than two years out of that nightmare.

Even today, with both of Bush's two wars still endlessly droning on, still dragging down the country as they chew up American, Iraqi and Afghani lives like some sort of industrial-scale human sacrifice machine.

Even today, as Bush's economic depression spreads misery across the land.

It's astonishing that the guy is taken even remotely seriously, let alone that he has not been thrown in jail or met the same fate that the Tsar or Il Duce did.

It's astonishing that he would dare to publish a book less than two years after having wrecked a world so thoroughly.

In just what sort of country can something so shameful happen?

Yep, trying to mythologize the Bush presidency is not going to be easy.

If this were Sweden or Canada, that is.

But this is America.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

INTERESTING: Jane Austen couldn't spell -- had erratic grammar

She's renowned for her precise, exquisite prose, but new research shows Jane Austen was a poor speller and erratic grammarian who got a big helping hand from her editor.

Read about it at:

Austen's handwritten manuscripts will go online Monday at, the result of a three-year project to digitize the author's unpublished work.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pilot refuses full body scan -- I AGREE WITH HIM

Idiocy has replaced sanity in our world today.  Fear has brought about these naked body scanners that add more radiation to those enduring them.  The alternative to having your naked body revealed to airport workers is a humiliating patdown, which includes a patdown of the genital area.  Who can blame this pilot for refusing both?  Yet, if you refuse them, you are not allowed to fly.  What a world....


My oh My -- Ginny Thomas has reopened a can of worms

I wonder if Clarence is speaking to her these days? These Tea Party women are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, that's for sure, and by her actions Ginny Thomas has proven that once again. Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell, Michelle Bachman and Sharron Angle, move over and make room for your sister!  I'll bet Clarence would love to divorce Ginny right about now, but that would only add more fuel to the fire burning all around him. (~.~) 

All of this must seem very sweet to Anita Hill to have her story, after all these years, finally being revealed and accepted as the truth. Angela Wright was prevented, 19 years ago, from telling about her harassment by this jerk, but her story is also being aired in today's world.  Now here comes yet another woman adding more info. about Clarence and his obsession with sex and porn.

Thomas escaped once through a coverup by the wheelers and dealers in the Republican party -- but here's the truth finally catching up with him.  What is that old saying?....Oh yeah, THE TRUTH WILL OUT.  The present Pope is finding that out, along with many Catholic priests and bishops, as did O.J. Simpson (now finally in jail!) -- and a long line of predatory politicians and preachers (most of 'em on the conservative side).  And now, thanks to his wife, Clarence Thomas can be added to the list.  The creep is being shown to the world for what he is: a lying sexual predator.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Virgina and Clarence Thomas: Fodder for the Comedians

Shouts & Murmurs: Three Things to Do When Clarence Thomas’s Wife Calls You

Like many Americans, over the past several years I have been the recipient of multiple unwelcome voicemails from the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. These calls have come in the middle of the night, at the crack of dawn, even at the dinner hour favored by telemarketers. Regardless of the time of day, all of these voicemails have one thing in common: she always sounds like she’s drunk-dialing me, except she appears to be completely sober.

I know what you’re saying: “It’ll never happen to me. Virginia Thomas doesn’t even have my phone number!” Well, that’s what I thought, and several years of trauma counseling later, I’ve come to realize (the hard way) what a fool’s paradise I was living in. Consider this: according to a recent study, the odds of Virginia Thomas leaving a threatening voicemail for you are higher than those of Christine O’Donnell correctly identifying the First Amendment. With those grim statistics in mind, here are three simple steps you can take if and when Mrs. Clarence Thomas calls:

  1. Start apologizing the moment you hear her voice. Remember, like a bear at a campsite, Virginia Thomas does not want to eat you, she’s only after your food, and in this case, your apology is the only thing protecting you from Mrs. Thomas mauling you to death. If apologizing does not work, clap your hands loudly into the receiver in the hopes of scaring her away.

  2. When she says, “This is Virginia Thomas,” reply, “No, this is Virginia Thomas. Who’s calling? Wait a minute—is that you, Anita Hill?” When she denies being Anita Hill (and she will), say, “There you go again, with your infernal lies. This is like Clarence’s confirmation hearings all over again. You disgust me, Anita Hill.” With any luck, accusing her of being Anita Hill will disorient her long enough for you to summon help.

  3. Get in the habit of answering your phone, “Long Dong Silver residence.”

One final note: if you get a call in the middle of the night and there is silence on the other end, that is not Virginia Thomas. That is Clarence Thomas.


Apology?!?!?! If anyone should be making an apology, it should be Clarence Thomas, to BOTH Anita Hill AND Angela Wright. Angela Wright was the other woman who was also sexually intimidated in the workplace by Clarence Thomas. The Republicans wouldn't allow Wright to testify. They knew it would verify Hill's story and show Thomas to have a pattern of sexually predatory behavior. Both Hill and Wright continue to stand by their allegations. You can read the entire interview with Angela Wright here: http://www emplates/s tory/story .php?story Id=1511360 1

Read more

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The Incredible Chutzpah of ClarenceThomas' wife

Virginia Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas, out of the blue called Anita Hill the other day -- and asked her to "APOLOGIZE" for telling the TRUTH about Thomas's sexual harassment of Hill almost twenty years ago.  No one should be surprised at this brazen move by Virginia Thomas...she is a Tea Party organizer, after all.  Read on to learn more about this woman and her boldacious ways.  She's a perfect mate for the (FILL IN THE BLANK) she is married to.  Her husband is probably less than grateful for her actions, which have brought back to the news forefront his disgusting sexual harassment of Anita Hill and his lying about it.  We have had to endure Thomas's abominable presence on the Supreme Court for many years, but the shadow of his guilt hangs over his head for all who have eyes to see.  Millions of us women have been sexually harassed by men who, like Thomas, thought it was their privilege to impose themselves on us, and we were supposed to accept it.  Anita Hill's story was very familiar to those of us who learned, through sad experience, how to recognize sexual predators and distance ourselves from them.  There is no doubt about Clarence Thomas being what Anita Hill accused him of.  We live in more enlightened times for women these days, in which Anita HIll's story might not be as readily dismissed as it was 20 years ago.  But, then again, powerful men (surrounded by others like themselves), when called to justice, still almost always prevail over the women they've abused. 

by Robin Marty

It's no wonder Anita Hill initially called the police, thinking she was being pranked.  Who ever expects the wife of a Supreme Court Justice to call out of the blue and ask for an "apology" for...well, not lying under oath nearly twenty years prior about being sexually harassed?

Via ABC News:

“Good morning, Anita Hill, it's Ginny Thomas,” said the voice, “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.”

Hill didn’t think the call was real.

“I initially thought it was a prank,” Hill tells ABC News. “And if it was, I thought the authorities should know about it.”

She reported the call to campus police.

Mark Matthews of our affiliate KGO learned about this and reached out to Virginia Thomas.

Thomas emailed him, saying: “I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago.    That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

Hill tells ABC News: “Even if it wasn’t a prank, it was in no way conciliatory for her to begin with the presumption that I did something wrong in 1991. I simply testified to the truth of my experience. For her to say otherwise is not extending an olive branch, it’s accusatory.”

She continues: “I don’t apologize. I have no intention of apologizing and I stand by my testimony in 1991.”

Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas, is best known for her Tea Party organizing roots, having no qualms about staying on the political sidelines despite her husband's need to have an appearance of non-partisanship.  The New York Times recently reported:

Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court, is the founder and chief executive of Liberty Central, a nonprofit organization set up to “restore the greatness of America,” in part by opposing the leftist “tyranny” of President Obama and Democrats in Congress. Its first contributions of $500,000 and $50,000 came from undisclosed donors. The size of those gifts, their anonymity and their importance to the organization raise a serious issue of ethics for Justice Thomas.

Sarah Field, an executive of Liberty Central,
told The Times that the organization pays Mrs. Thomas. Justice Thomas is a beneficiary of that pay and has a responsibility under federal law to “inform himself” about who the donors are because they have an impact on Mrs. Thomas’s personal financial interests.

Mrs. Thomas is not legally required to disclose the donors. That is unfortunate, but she does have a duty to do so, just as former President Bill Clinton had a duty to disclose the donors to his library and charitable ventures when his wife became secretary of state.

Justice Thomas needs disclosure to know if either of those donors is a party in a case before the Supreme Court or has an interest in a party. That is the only way he can comply with a fundamental ethical and legal requirement to “disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

Could this new ploy be a way to get Thomas back in the headlines in a way that doesn't scream of impropriety and possible back door dealings? Instead, it's just reminded everyone of the days of public hair on coke cans, and a porn called Long Dong Silver.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rachel Maddow -- sanity amidst insanity

Click on headline below to watch Wise Woman Rachel's clear explanation about right-wingnuts running for office and their spurious claims and rants against the Democrats

The Rachel Maddow Segment You Must Not Miss

In this segment, Rachel Maddow does the following:

  • Lays waste to every single mainstream media narrative about the midterm elections
  • Exposes those narratives as the Republican wish lists that they are
  • Reminds us all of the stakes in this election, especially when it comes to the extremists being pawned off as viable candidates.

If there were a Debunkers' Hall of Fame, Rachel Maddow's name would be all over the trophy. It's so good I'm not including the transcript. Just watch. You'll see what I mean.


Obama versus the Loonies

The Loonies are among us -- and they're running several candidates of their breed.  Just look at Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Carl Paladino.  Rational people would say these candidates are seriously mentally disabled and belong in the loony bin.  As a rational human being, you wouldn't think these nut cases could be taken seriously by ANYone.  Yet, you would be wrong. There are actually voters in this country who identify with people like O'Donnell, Angle, and Paladino.  If the word "intellectual" is ever mentioned within their hearing, they rise up, ranting and raving against the nasty "intellectual lib'rals."  Higher education is anathema to them.  They much prefer to think of themselves as the common folk (even though they vote for a George Bush who thought of himself as an "elite"--go figure. There is no rhyme or reason to their thinking.) But with the arrival of Sarah Palin on the political scene, tapping deeply into the "us common folks" well, we now have her imitators: the Sharron Angles, the Christine O'Donnells, and the Carl Paladinos, spewing their idiocy and ignorance in their daily appearances before their worshipful followers. 

It's sad to see in a country that had, up till now, come so far in knowledge.  But, as a country, we are fast regressing with the rise of the idiots, which came to full bloom with the (s)election of George W. (Duhmbya) Bush as President and Evil Dick Cheney as his puppeteer.  Then came the rise of Sarah (with cynical "Thanks" to John McCain, a used-to-be "maverick" who has sold out his principles--if he ever really had any).  OMG! Can any rational person even imagine Sarah and the Palin tribe in the White House??????????? To do so, is to make the blood run cold. Yet there are millions of voters in this country who have formed a "Tea Party" around candidates such as this.  Pathetic. Sad. Unbelievable. But true.  I receive e-mails from some of the believers in people like O'Donnell, Palin, and Angle. They watch FOX News for their directions, and they love being called "dittoheads" by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  And, often, they have bigoted views that will never accept a black man in the White House.

As a philosopher once said, it does take all kinds to make a world, but I am concerned that there are so many dittoheads in our world today.  And they will vote again for more obstructionists and crazies--even against their own interests!--ensuring that our country will be taken down by this kind of ignorance.

The following is from an essay by Roger Simon:

...even if Obama had pleased his entire party, that still would have left Republicans, the tea partiers and the wackos.

How can one blame Obama for the shocking numbers of people who erroneously believe he is a Muslim or was not born in the United States or is a socialist-communist-fascist (take your pick or take all three)?

Nobody in the White House, including Obama, expected the degree of sheer hatred that has been directed against him. They knew Obama’s approval ratings would fall — how could they not when, in his first 100 days in office, he hit 69 percent, the highest approval rating for any president at that point in 20 years?

But tensions, fears and suspicions bubbled just beneath the surface. Certain facts had been overlooked in the wave of pride and good feeling that followed Obama’s election. While Obama had won the popular vote by a solid 7 percentage points, he had lost the white vote by a landslide, 12 percentage points. And when he made a world tour, in which his messianic image got amplified and his halo got polished by huge and adoring crowds, the clouds back home began to gather.

He cannot be blamed for the demons who demonize him. In a fine story by Sandhya Somashekhar in The Washington Post on Sunday, under the headline “Hope Isn’t What It Used to Be,” a little doozy appeared in the 25th paragraph about how a volunteer was manning the Democratic Party table at the Arkansas State Fair “when a man walks over wearing a green T-shirt that says, ‘Either he dies, or the country dies.’”  (!!! Need anything more be said about the crazies?)

Either he dies, or the country dies? Do we really live in a country where a man would go out on the street wearing such a thing? If I had seen it, I think I would have called the Secret Service. (I Googled the phrase to see if I could find the manufacturer of the T-shirt, but I found no hits. Does the person print them up in a basement?)

If Democrats get swamped on Nov. 2, sure, some of it will be the fault of the enthusiasm gap and some of it will be the fault of the president, but some of it will be the fault of those loonies who have crept into American politics like bedbugs and grown bloated on their own hatreds.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Lazy Rich People by Mary Shaw

Those who have, want more and they don't care about those who have not. Thus, they will elect the same kind of sociopathic politicians in this voting round as we had to endure in power from 2000-2008.  Enormous amounts of money are pouring into the Republican campaigns from the elites (corporations around the world), thereby ensuring that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  The following essay by Mary Shaw tells a part of the story. 

Two clean-cut preppy-type young men emerged from the late-model Jaguar that shared a parking lot with my 10-year-old Corolla. There was a homeless person standing nearby, rattling a can and begging for donations.

"Get a job," yelled preppy #1 at the homeless man.

"Yeah, I'm not gonna give you money for being lazy," said preppy #2.

This reminded me of George W. Bush, who allegedly told one of his Harvard Business School professors that "poor people are poor because they're lazy."

And why, I wonder, are rich people rich, George?

In some cases, it's because they have ingenious ideas at the right time and are clever enough -- and work hard enough -- to sell those ideas successfully. (See Bill Gates.)

But then there are the lazy rich people.

George W. Bush didn't earn his wealth. He was born into money, and born into the connections that would continue to subsidize his whims.

In college, he was described as an average student. No real effort there.

During the Vietnam War, his father got him a cushy gig in the National Guard, so young George wouldn't have to do his duty and actually fight. And even then he went AWOL.

Then they gave him an oil company to run, called Arbusto Energy. But it failed, so he apparently wasn't too motivated there, either.

So he went into politics, was appointed to the U.S. Presidency by the Supreme Court, and spent eight years letting Dick Cheney and his other handlers drive this country into the ground just like that oil business.

From all appearances, it seems as though Bush was too lazy to put much of his own effort or ingenuity (if he had any) into any of these jobs. He just coasted along for the glory, and took more vacation days than any other president in U.S. history.

And that kid with the Jaguar was far too young to have likely earned it for himself.

You see, George, a lot of rich people are rich because they're lucky.

And a lot of poor people are poor simply because they're unlucky.

Like the sweatshop workers in Mexico and China who endure very hard 12- or 16-hour shifts for pennies per day.

And like the divorced mother of three whom you met at a town hall meeting in Omaha in 2005, who has to work three jobs to support her family. You beamed, and you called her situation "uniquely American" and "fantastic!"

These people are not lazy, George. They're not lazy, preppy boys. They work much harder than you ever will.

And, therefore, in my opinion, they deserve a lot more respect than you do.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Ricky Ray Rector of Presidents

by David Michael Green

I wholeheartedly agree with Green, one of the very few columnists/analysts who sees the political scene perfectly clearly.

Oh my god.

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.

This is far worse than I thought.

I've been struggling to understand the implosion of the Obama presidency over the last two years, trying to peel back the layers of the theoretical onion, looking for an explanation as to how this could have happened.

How does somebody with managerial and strategic skills brilliant enough to come from out of nowhere and win the presidency, wresting it away from at least two lions of the political establishment, run such a stupid and failing White House?

How does somebody with the guts to go into the consummately ugly ring of presidential campaigning, and the perseverance to stay in there taking shots for two years straight, manage to turn around and become such a coward, especially after he's been handed the most powerful position in the world?

How does somebody with the communications skills of a Lincoln or a Kennedy wind up sitting by silently, while the worst elements of American society define him in the most disgustingly pejorative terms imaginable?

What the hell is going on here?

There are lots of theories.

Obama himself has argued that many people saw the campaign he ran as far more perfect than it was. There is some truth to this, especially since when the Republicans really came out swinging against him, in August and September of 2008, he sat there - like any good Democrat would - paralyzed and unresponsive. The result was that McCain - even with the pathetically unprepared Sarah Palin attached to his hip - drew nearly even with Obama in the polls at that point. That fact becomes all the more amazing considering that McCain was the Republican nominee, and the country was incredibly sick of Republican rule, having barely survived it for eight years running. But that's what happened, and arguably had it not been for the economic implosion on Bush's watch that fall, Obama's miracle campaign would have miraculously managed to sit back and silently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Still, though, Obama ran a pretty flawless campaign. And he overcame some substantial hurdles, in some cases with a grace that elevated American politics in ways not seen for decades. And he came from near obscurity to win the election (in 2000 - just eight years before he became the party's nominee and was elected president - he couldn't even get admitted to the Democratic convention), and defeat two politicians who were handicapped as far more likely to win, just a year prior. That's pretty amazing talent.

Another theory would suggest that shrinking cowardice is simply endemic to the contemporary Democratic Party. Ever since George McGovern's electoral fiasco of 1972, Democrats seem to have decided that being a pinata is somehow the preferred persona for members of their party to adopt. Or maybe they're just satisfied to govern in between the cycles of Republican catastrophe, when voters give them the keys to the car only because letting the drunken malevolent teenagers of the GOP continue to drive has become just too awful to consider. But that concept never made a lot of sense to me. People like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama invested enormous energy and grit to realize a lifetime ambition of becoming president of the country. Why would such individuals all of a sudden morph into Missy Milquetoasts?

Perhaps a better explanation for the failure of Obama and his ilk to fight hard for the country's welfare and for progressive values is that he is no progressive at all. I've been arguing that for a long time, and he is certainly helping to reaffirm that notion right now by appealing a federal court decision ending Don't Ask Don't Tell, a policy which he claims to oppose. But, in fact, the Obama ideology ship sailed a long time ago. He previously also went to court defending the Defense of Marriage Act. He bailed out Wall Street a hundred pennies on the dollar, and demanded nothing of them in return. He has tripled the US presence in Afghanistan, and is bombing the snot out of Pakistan. He has not closed Guantanamo, and has an even worse record on civil liberties than Bush and Cheney did. His health care bill is a total gift to insurance corporations, and now we've just learned from Tom Daschle that the president had never considered the public option at all, having cut a deal with those corporations in advance promising that there would be no such component in the legislation. And so on, and so on. Stupid voters make the erroneous assumption that politicians like Bill Clinton are liberal because they are Democrats, and because the right and the media keep telling them that these guys are liberals. Most of the country has now done the same for Obama, but of course the opposite is true. So maybe the explanation for his failed presidency is simply that he has adopted the same regressive policies that have been killing the country for three decades now.

Of course, that might just be because his politics happen to be lousy. Or - according to another theory - his presidency might suck because he is beholden to the same oligarchical interests as just about everyone else in Washington. (Of course! What else?) Barack Obama let BP completely run amok, before and after the Gulf disaster. He also has received about $80,000 in campaign contributions from them over the last half-decade, more than any other American politician. Maybe that's a coincidence, but I don't think so. Similarly, Wall Street poured tons of money into his campaign, while he gave them nearly everything they could have dreamed of, and staffed his economic team with all the slimy little Goldman Sachs geckos he could find. Was that an accident? Doesn't seem likely. In other words, maybe Obama's failures are hard to explain because they aren't failures at all. Maybe he is serving his plutocratic masters quite well, thank you very much.

All these are possible explanations for the unexpected meltdown of this presidency. But I have another theory now. An 'Oh my god' theory.

Remember Ricky Ray Rector? He was the poor SOB with an IQ of about 70, who was put to death by the State of Arkansas in 1992. Governor Bill Clinton flew home off the campaign trail to supervise the state's murder, so that he could show the voting public that he was just as capable of ruthless ugliness in the name of serving his own interests as any Republican ever was. Americans like that in a president. We like our president to be just like us - not some elite snob with that whole ethics thing going on, or all that other effete East Coast superiority shit (see, for example: "Bush, George W."). Anyway, poor Ricky Ray was so out of it that, just before they fried him, he asked the prison guards if they would save the pecan pie from his last meal so that he could have it "later". Didn't matter to Wild Bill. He made a public spectacle of flipping the switch on a guy who didn't have a clue of what was about to hit him. (And why not, either? So some dummy on death row had to die for him to get to the White House - so what? What's wrong with that? Heck, in Clinton's second race, he cut millions of people off welfare in order to win. Ricky Ray was small potatoes when it comes to presidential roadkill.)

Anyhow, keep Ricky Ray Rector in mind as you read the following passage from a New York Times article about to be published, based on an interview with one Barack Obama of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.: "In an hour-long interview with the Times's White House correspondent, Peter Baker, Mr. Obama predicted that his political rivals would either be chastened by falling short of their electoral goals or burdened with the new responsibility that comes from achieving them. 'It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible, either because they didn't do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn't work for them,' Mr. Obama said. 'Or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.'

Say what?!?!

Oh my god.

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.

Now I have a new theory explaining the failure of the Obama presidency: This is the Ricky Ray Rector of presidents.

This guy managed to get through the last two decades without noticing just what the vicious thugs of the Republican Party are entirely capable of.

This guy lived through the last two years of his own sinking presidency without noticing what these sick freaks have already been doing to him personally at every juncture.

This guy is completely unaware that multiple Republicans poised to take control of the House - some of whom will have gavels in one hand and blank subpoenas in the other - have already come out and made clear that they will run this White House ragged by investigating it over every scandal they can possibly invent.

This guy does not realize that some of them are literally already talking about impeachment.

This guy is the Ricky Ray Rector of presidents. He is about to be subjected to a cosmic-scale buggering of epic proportions, and he's still talking about "working with" Attilla's Army of the GOP, and hoping that the Hitler Youth across the aisle might "feel more responsible" after they have achieved their goal of wrecking him and his party, precisely by means of wanton irresponsibility.

Oh my god.

I know that presidents can famously be trapped inside a bubble of insularity, but this is something altogether frightening. This cat is utterly in denial. This is no longer just a matter of being a slow learner. This is no longer a matter of some kumbaya obsession to offer lovely bipartisanship cookies to a pack of ferocious, starving jungle tigers. If Barack Obama thinks that getting shellacked in November is going to make his life better - never mind ours - this president can no longer be said to be rational. I mean this quite seriously. The above passage suggests to me that our president is fully delusional.

Even Obama's top political advisor seems to be waking up to a glimmer of reality, although he is ridiculously late in doing so. Cynthia Tucker writes that, "In an interview last week in his West Wing office, David Axelrod, one of Obama's closest advisers, acknowledged that the administration had been surprised by the unified Republican resistance to the president's agenda. 'We had the idea that, particularly in a time of national crisis, there would be more of an inclination to work together. Well, I think we miscalculated,' Axelrod said."

Yeah? You think, Dave? Hey, maybe you did miscalculate there just a bit, now that you mention it.

It gets worse: "I think the Republicans have been diabolically clever about how they've portrayed this. They stood on the sidelines and made a decision that 'we're going to let him wrestle with this mess that we created. And then in two years we can try and hang him with it."

I dunno. Maybe it's diabolically clever to wreck an entire country of 300 million people for narrow partisan gain, or maybe it's just diabolical. And pathologically cynical. And stunningly sick.

But I do know two things for sure. One is that these monsters made clear their intentions from the very beginning. First by their voting pattern on every bill the Democrats put forward, despite that Democrats wouldn't know liberalism if it slapped them upside the head, and despite that Republicans voted against many of the very bills that they had previously supported or even co-sponsored in some cases. They also made clear their intentions by means of their rhetoric, trashing the president to the point of questioning his nationality, and literally accusing him of being a granny killer. And they announced themselves as well by overtly stating, as Senator Jim DeMint - among the sickest of the sick - did, early on, that their strategy would be precisely what Axelrod describes.

So, given all those clear indications, just exactly how astonishingly stupid do you have to be, Dave, to be figuring this out only now?

Except that, actually, you guys still are not! Even today. Whatever Axelrod might say, his boss is still talking about working with these animals. Still fantasizing that they'll play ball with him. And worst of all, somehow imagining that, following their crushing defeat of him in November, they will somehow be more inclined to be nice to him than in the past. Or that their rabid tea bagger constituents would allow them to cooperate with a president they see as Satan, Stalin, Hitler and some gay guy all rolled into one, anyhow. Are you freakin' kidding me?!?!

This has to be some sort of wicked twisted curse, some kind of Greek tragedy or something. After eight years of Bush and his party dragging the country over the cliff, now we are shackled to Neville Pollyanna Chamberlain Milquetoast, who is busy laying plans for tea and crumpets with the tea party mob who seek to annihilate him, and - for many of them - not just metaphorically either.

That means that during the next two years of multiple continuing national crises, we will be treated to standing by and watching some sort of insane WWE political wrestling match between two leviathans: One, which is murderously vicious and represents the predatory elite oligarchy ripping off the country at every turn, and the other, which is pathetically feeble and represents the predatory elite oligarchy ripping off the country at every turn.

America is so over. Imagine how they must laugh at us over noodles in Beijing. I just cringe for this country every day, with each worse-yet news report from the front lines of a political system that makes full-blown dysfunctionality seem like a panacea by comparison. There seems to be no bottom to the well of our stupidity and greed and hypocrisy and insistence on committing national suicide.

Yep, America is surely over. But, goddam it, does it have to be this embarrassing?

I keep trying not to write any more rants about the failings of Barack Obama. I'm sick of hearing myself say it. But every time I vow to avoid the topic, some new development like this interview comes along and just blows me away.

I could not possibly care less about the fate of the Democratic Party, and increasingly I feel that way about the country too, both of which manifestly deserve their fate. (AMEN!)

But, that said, Democrats can now no longer avoid recognizing that they have a self-destructive (and self-destructing) fool at the helm of the party, and they will be forced to decide whether they are really dumb enough to run this loser for a second term in 2012.

That's up to them, and one reason that I don't care is that, even if they do dump him, they are highly unlikely to choose anyone who is more than slightly better ideologically than Barack Obama, or anyone who has more than a marginal bit of additional spine. I can't even think of who that could be in the party.

But maybe Democrats could have the decency to find someone who can at least recognize the difference between the electric chair, on the one hand, and the electrical parade at Disneyland, on the other.

Would that be asking too much?

Meanwhile, somebody get this idiot his pecan pie.