Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Questions for Cheney that will never be answered--or even asked

Even if some brave soul amongst the mealy-mouthed press corps should ask him the following questions (risking their career because their corporate bosses don't like pointed questions to be asked), Cheney is known for never answering a question directly--and sometimes not even indirectly.  If he doesn't like a question, he just will ignore it and say whatever he wants to about anything else.  He is an evil man, dedicated to himself, without a scintilla of compassion or empathy in his entire being: a true sociopath who, unfortunately for all of us, reached the highest office in the land and took it over for Eight Long Years, causing untold suffering and misery to millions in the world.  I believe his karma will be in the same category as that of Hitler, Stalin, Herod, Genghis Khan, Ivan the Terrible, Vlad the Impaler, and other cruel and corrupt despots who have appeared through the ages in the human race.  Who knows? He may even be the reincarnation of one of those ancient brutes.  Here are a few of the questions proposed by Internet readers of Huffington Post: 

"I would ask him to release the minutes from the closed-door meetings he had with the energy companies." "Where are the Enron Energy meeting minutes?"

"Can you reconcile your [socially conservative] reputation with your embrace of your daughter's sexual orientation? How you are able to compartmentalize what appears to be that type of ...paternal compassion with the crafted image of toughness?"

"What makes you think that waterboarding is okay when this type of torture goes against international law?"

Will someone be held to account for the treasonous act of revealing the ID of an undercover CIA operative during time of war?

"You are a strong proponent of the unitary executive theory. If President Obama had asserted the right, under the 14th Amendment, to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval, would you have supported him (or does the unitary executive theory not apply to Democrats)?"

How can you seriously justify torture despite all the evidence that it does not work?

Why did you support the Iraq invasion under false WMD info, and when you realized that was false why didn't you speak out?

"At the Tokyo Trials, (The Internatio­nal Military Tribunal for the Far East) after World War II, an internatio­nal coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-base­d interrogation, known variously then as 'water cure,' 'water torture' and 'waterboar­ding,' ... A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted - by American judges - were hanged. Should the United States apologize or pay reparation­s to those soldiers' families?"

"What is it that you wish you could have accomplish­ed but never got around to getting it done?"

"I would ask him what happened to the [billions] in cash that disappeared in Iraq? And who sends money stacked in skids anyway?"

"If he says that [capturing] Bin Laden is the result of their administration's work for 10 years, and basically claiming credit, then will he take credit for the fact that his administration's policy is the reason why our economy is in the situation that it is. [Why] take credit for one but not the other?"

Did you personally profit from the war in Iraq due to your relationship with Halliburton?


Truth about Dick Cheney, a real terrorist in our midst

Dick Cheney, the Ultimate American Terrorist

by: William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

Vice President Dick Cheney in a June 20, 2007 file photo. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

- Dick Cheney

It is axiomatic by now: when someone leaves government service, especially from a high-profile position, they write a book. They all do it, sometimes more than once. Richard Nixon is the main example of one who produced a multi-volume apologia; by the time he went into the ground, he'd penned enough books to fill a wide shelf. Henry Kissinger was similarly prolific, which leads one to wonder about the relationship between criminal activities and the printed page. Nixon was chased from office after a series of crimes that, at the time, had no precedent, and Kissinger is still so infamous that he cannot travel abroad for fear of arrest. Both wrote enough books to take up half the political science section of any local bookstore, perhaps in the vain attempt to explain away the lasting damage their actions did to the republic.

Speaking of damaging the republic, Dick Cheney has a book out. I'm sure you've heard about it by now; he laid the groundwork for its release by claiming the contents would cause heads to explode in Washington, causing a lot of people who should know better by now to say, "Ooooh, this should be good." It isn't, at all, but I must confess that my head did come very close to launching itself off my shoulders...not because of what's in the book, but because I have to deal with the rancid reality of a free and un-convicted Dick Cheney appearing in the public eye once again.

If there were any justice to be found in this deranged country, Dick Cheney would have penned his pestiferous, self-serving little memoir by the light of a bare bulb inside the cell of a federal prison. If there were any justice to be found, Mr. Cheney would be forced to contend with the "Son of Sam Law," which, according to World Law Direct, "refers to a type of law designed to keep criminals from profiting from their crimes, often by selling their stories to publishers. Such laws often authorize the state to seize money earned from such a deal and use it to compensate the criminal's victims."

The Son of Sam, a.k.a. David Berkowitz, killed six people and wounded several others during his notorious summer-long shooting spree in New York. Berkowitz is an absolute piker compared to Dick Cheney, whose actions directly caused deaths and injuries that number in the hundreds of thousands. The deaths he is responsible for are ongoing to this day, in fact. If there were any justice to be found, whatever profits he earns from his book would be spread out between the families of dead and wounded soldiers whom he lied into war in Iraq, between the families of dead and wounded Iraqi civilians, and between Americans like Valerie Plame, who along with numerous other intelligence figures, had their lives bulldozed by Cheney's eight-year rampage through our system of government.

It would hardly amount to a pittance paid to each injured party - there are so many to account for! - but it would be a kind of justice all the same, for nary a dime of profit would line Dick Cheney's already-stuffed pockets.

Alas, the generations to come will be forced to reckon with one of the great and lasting failures of the Obama administration: the simple, unbelievable fact of Dick Cheney's continued freedom. He and his ilk committed enough brazen crimes to keep a brace of federal prosecutors busy for the next twenty-five years, and yet Mr. Cheney remains unmolested by the system of law he so vigorously disdained. According to Wikileaks, not only has the Obama administration failed to seek a reckoning with Cheney, they worked vigorously behind the scenes to ensure that no such reckoning will ever come to pass.

And so we have Dick, and his book, and yet another hard lesson on the absence of justice. He'll make a few bucks off the thing, which he can bank next to the obscene millions he gained through his nefarious Halliburton war profiteering. He was still getting paid by Halliburton while in office. Remember that? They called it a "deferred retirement benefit," an annual check with six zeroes to the left of the decimal, and all the while Cheney was steering your tax dollars into Halliburton's coffers with a blizzard of bald-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

There is so much to remember about Dick Cheney's time in office. There was the Office of Special Plans, which he created to formulate the most effective lies possible about Iraq, WMD, and connections to September 11. There was the torture in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, which he referred to as "the dark side" and which he championed with great vigor. There was his dismissal of lawfully-issued congressional subpoenas, and his dedication to the idea of a "Unitary Executive" which is beholden to nothing and no one. There was his broad plan to spy on millions of Americans without a warrant, which he wanted to continue even after the whole thing was declared to be illegal. There was (and remains) the program of indefinite detention without due process of law, which was his baby, and there was the coddling of known criminal and double-agent Ahmed Chalabi, who was his pal.

There was all this, and so much more besides, but one incident stands out in my mind above all else. It was only an accent in the symphony of wrongdoing Cheney directed from his office, and was barely noticed at the time, but I will never forget it.

It was a simple thing, really: the National Archives, by dint of two different federal laws, annually collects the official papers of the Executive Branch for the edification of future historians, researchers and government officials. It is a by-rote requirement, one small cog in the wheelworks of government, but not this time.

Dick Cheney said no. No, you cannot have any papers from the office of the Vice President, and for one reason: the office of the Vice President, because I say so, is not part of the Executive Branch.

It deserves to be written twice: Dick Cheney actually claimed, with his bare face hanging out to all the world, that the office of the Vice President is not part of the Executive Branch. The unmitigated gall required to utter such a claim, especially after so much talk about the "Unitary Executive," is unparalleled in modern American history.

There, right there, is everything you need to know about the man. Dick Cheney is the ultimate American terrorist, one who not only lacks respect for American law and government, but who spent his eight years in office actively working to destroy and dismember the functions of that government. He tore the place up, deliberately and with intent, because he hated the law and the government it supported, and we will be a long time recovering from his deeds. He is directly and personally responsible for thousands of deaths and injuries. If this is not terrorism in the raw, then the word has no meaning.

Dick Cheney has blood on his hands, but will remain free for the foreseeable future because the administration that replaced his lacks the honor, integrity and intestinal fortitude to address what he has done. Until such a reckoning is at hand, all I can do is remind Mr. Cheney, and anyone who will listen, of another fact of law that, God willing, will be brought to bear against him someday.

There is no statute of limitations on murder, and murder is exactly what he did.



This is the way interviews should be done, but you seldom see it in our mainstream media. It makes you hunger for more! This woman journalist who (unlike the FOX dumbell eye candy) combines genuine intelligence with her beauty, asks all the right questions and elicits strong answers from Lawrence Wilkerson (chief of staff to Colin Powell during the Cheney/Duhmbya administration and good friend of Poppy Bush who was allegedly horrified at the takeover of his son's presidency by Cheney). 

The interviewer brings up the curious situation that many other books trying to give true information about what happened during the de facto Cheney presidency are being redacted and ignored, while Cheney's book of lies is being allowed to go forth, largely unchallenged and touted all over the mainstream media.  Plus, NO ONE in the Obama administration is willing to hold Cheney/Bush responsible for war crimes!  Wilkerson speaks to this cowardice in Obama's administration and gives some interesting reasons why they aren't pursuing devils like Cheney.

This is one of the best interviews I have yet seen -- I wish I could get RT news on my TV.  But I will definitely be looking for it online!  Bravo to the interviewer -- and Bravo to Wilkerson for saying what needs to be said -- loudly and repeatedly -- in our country today.  Cheney, wretched man that he is, will soon be receiving the karma he deserves in the afterlife, but for now he's trying to rewrite history in his favor, justifying his every evil action while Vice President.  Except for the most fanatical right wing lemmings who will believe anything he says, he is doomed to failure on that score.  In my opinion, the only way this book can become a best seller is for the right wing billionaire Koch brothers to purchase them all and give them out free to the Limbaugh dittoheads.  And I wouldn't be surprised if they do just that.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Andy Borowitz: Satan wrote the foreword to Cheney's book

Love that Andy Borowitz, who, in this satirical jab at Cheney, reminds me of Mark Twain!

August 30, 2011

Cheney’s Book Features Foreword by Satan

‘Couldn’t Put it Down,’ Says Prince of Darkness

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – Publishing circles were abuzz today with the news that the new memoir by former Vice President Dick Cheney features a foreword by an unusual contributor: Satan.

In his introduction, the Prince of Darkness said he rarely reads political memoirs but made an exception in the case of Mr. Cheney “because we had worked so closely together in the past.”

When he began to read the Cheney manuscript, however, the Lord of Misrule said he was “surprised” by what he found.

“Quite honestly, I couldn’t put it down,” Satan wrote. “It was almost like a book I would have written myself.”

In what could be construed as minor criticism of the book, Satan admitted he was “miffed” that Mr. Cheney took total credit for the idea of invading Iraq, but added, “We were such close collaborators at the time, it may be hard for Dick to remember whose idea was whose – half the time we were finishing each other’s sentences.”

While Satan said he is unlikely to make a habit of writing introductions to books, he said that he could foresee making another exception in the future: “I’ve heard Rupert Murdoch is working on his memoir.”

Elsewhere, after Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) said God created last week’s earthquake and hurricane to punish America, God issued this rebuttal: “Actually, that’s why I created Michele Bachmann.”


Bill O'Reilly -- tried to get cops to investigate his wife's boyfriend

What a hoot -- I often wondered how any woman could stand this egomaniac.  I guess his wife stood it for as long as she could...
Read all about it:


This is the BEST analysis yet of today's political scene!

Chris Hedges, a most intelligent NY Times journalist and war correspondent, tells it loud and clear!!!

The Election March of the Trolls

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig

29 August 11

This is no fairy tale. The 'corporate trolls' identified by Hedges are lurking under the bridge to the future and have the power to refuse passage to the forces of democracy. -- JPS/RSN

e have begun the election march of the trolls. They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity - the 2012 presidential election. Journalists, whose role has been reduced to purveyors of court gossip, whether on Fox or MSNBC, descend in swarms to report pseudo-events such as the Ames straw poll, where it costs $30 to cast a ballot. And then, almost immediately, they blithely inform us that the Iowa poll is meaningless now that Rick Perry has entered the race. The liberal trolls, as they do in every election cycle, are beating their little chests about the perfidiousness of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. It is a gesture performed not to effect change but to burnish their credentials as moralists. They know, as do we, that they will trot obediently into the voting booth in 2012 to do as they are told. And everywhere the pulse of the nation is being assiduously monitored through polls and focus groups, not because our opinions matter, but because our troll candidates understand that by parroting back to us our own viewpoints they can continue to spend their days lapping up corporate money with other trolls in the two houses of Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and television studios where they chat with troll celebrity journalists.

The only commodity the troll state offers is fear. The corporate trolls, such as the Koch brothers, terrify the birthers, creationists, militia lovers, tea party militants, right-to-life advocates, Christian fascists and God-fearing red-white-and-blue patriots by proclaiming that unless they vote for Perry or Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann or some other product of the lunatic fringe of our political establishment, the American family will be destroyed, our children will be corrupted and the country will turn socialist. Barack Obama, who they whisper is a closet Muslim, will take away their guns, raise their taxes and bring homosexual couples into kindergartens.

For those, usually liberals, still rooted in a reality-based world, one that believes in evolutionary science, the corporate trolls offer a more refined, fear-based message of impending doom: If you abandon the Democrats we will be governed by Bible-thumping idiots who will make us chant the Pledge of Allegiance in mass rallies and teach the account of Genesis as historical and biological fact in our nation's schools.

And underneath it all runs the mantra chanted in unison by all the trolls - terror, terror, terror. The troll establishment spins us like windup dolls and laughs all the way to the bank. What idiots, they think. And every election cycle we prove them right.

"The only people who grasp the distinction between reality and appearance, who grasp the laws of conduct and society, are the ruling groups and those who do their bidding; scientific, technical elites who elucidate the laws of behavior and the functions of society so that people might be more effectively, albeit unconsciously, governed," wrote James W. Carey in "Communication as Culture."

The trolls dominate or have neutralized every major institution in the country on behalf of their corporate paymasters. The press, education, Wall Street, labor and our political parties are managed by trolls or have been destroyed by them. Sometimes these trolls speak like liberals. Sometimes they speak like conservatives. Sometimes they are secular. Sometimes they are Christians. But the language they use is a cover for the relentless march toward a totalitarian capitalism and a kingdom where the trolls, if not the rest of us, live happily ever after. Rick Perry and John Boehner overtly make war on Social Security. Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi say they would like to save Social Security but are sadly powerless before the decisions of a congressional super committee they helped form. The result, of course, is the same. We get to choose the rhetoric and manner in which we are deceived and disempowered. Nothing more.

All cloying appeals to the Obama administration to use stimulus money to build public works such as schools, libraries, roads, clinics, public transit and reclaiming dams, as well as to create jobs, are about as effective as writing heartfelt appeals in the era of the old Soviet Union to Uncle Joe Stalin. The trolls have gamed the system. There is no economic, political or environmental reform, from campaign finance to environmental controls, that can be implemented to impede the march of the corporate state. The rot and corruption at the top levels of our financial and political systems, coupled with the increasing deprivation felt by tens of millions of Americans, are volatile tinder for revolt. And the trolls are prepared for this too. They have put in place draconian state controls, including widespread internal surveillance, to silence our anemic left. They know how to direct the rage of the right wing toward the last pockets of the cultural, social and political establishment that cling to traditional liberal values, as well as toward the most vulnerable among us including Muslims, undocumented workers and homosexuals. They will make sure we consume ourselves.

A society is in serious trouble when its political pariahs have at the core of their demands a return to the rule of law. This inversion, with our political and cultural outcasts demanding a respect for law, highlights the awful fact that the most radical and retrograde forces within the body politic have seized control. These forces demand that we serve the dictates of the marketplace. They are destroying all legal impediments to corporate exploitation and profit, as well as dismantling the regulatory agencies that once protected the citizen. They defend torture, offshore penal colonies, black sites and kidnapping (they call it "extraordinary rendition") of state enemies. They protect and abet financial fraud. They wage pre-emptive war. They refuse to restore habeas corpus. Without warrants, they monitor, eavesdrop on and wiretap tens of millions of citizens. They order the assassination of US citizens. They deny due process. They give corporations the status of persons. They ignore the suffering of the unemployed and the poor, slashing basic social service programs while doling out hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds to corporations. On these key issues, the only ones that really matter, there is no disagreement among trolls from either the self-identified left or the self-identified right. All their public disputes in the election cycle are a carnival act.

All conventional forms of dissent, from electoral politics to open debates, have been denied us. We cannot rely on the institutions that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. The only route left is to disconnect as thoroughly as possible from the consumer society and engage in acts of civil disobedience and obstruction. The more we sever ourselves from the addictions of fossil fuel and the consumer society, the more we begin to create a new paradigm for community. The more we engage in physical acts of defiance - as Bill McKibben and others did recently in front of the White House to protest the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would increase the flow of "dirty" tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico - the more we can keep alive a new, better way of relating to each other and the ecosystem.

Most important, we must stop being afraid. We have to turn our backs for good on the Democrats, no matter what ghoulish candidate the Republicans offer up for president. We have to defy all formal systems of power. We have to listen closely to the moral voices in our society, from McKibben to Noam Chomsky to Wendell Berry to Ralph Nader, and ignore feckless liberals who have been one of the most effective tools of our disempowerment. We have to create monastic enclaves where we can retain and nurture the values being rapidly destroyed by the wider corporate culture and build the mechanisms of self-sufficiency that will allow us to survive. The corporate coup is over. We have lost. The trolls have won. We have to face our banishment.

In William Shakespeare's play "Coriolanus" the Roman consul is deposed by the mob. Coriolanus, whatever his faults, turns on those who thrust him from power to declare a valediction we should deliver to our class of ruling trolls and all those who remain in their embrace.


There's no more to be said, but he is banish'd,
As enemy to the people and his country:
It shall be so.


It shall be so, it shall be so.


You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders; till at length
Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,
Making not reservation of yourselves,
Still your own foes, deliver you as most
Abated captives to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising,
For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
There is a world elsewhere.

Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is "The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress."


Monday, August 29, 2011

12 minute video on PG&E Smart Meters - IMPORTANT to watch

How Smart Meters emit deadly microwave radiation bursts right through
homes and every cell of the bodies of residents THOUSANDS of times a day.


Rick Perry -- a sad case of what Republicans consider to be Presidential material

If only 38% of Americans believe in evolution (!), no wonder we have ignorant candidates like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann being taken seriously.  The lack of erudition and discernment in a large part of the American populace is appalling.  What follows is an excerpt from an article by Richard Dawkins.  The rest of it can be read at:

Attention, Governor Perry: Evolution is a fact

By Richard Dawkins

Q. Texas governor and GOP candidate Rick Perry, at a campaign event this week, told a boy that evolution is ”just a theory” with “gaps” and that in Texas they teach “both creationism and evolution.” Perry later added “God is how we got here.” According to a 2009 Gallup study , only 38 percent of Americans say they believe in evolution. If a majority of Americans are skeptical or unsure about evolution, should schools teach it as a mere “theory”? Why is evolution so threatening to religion?

A. There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.

Any other organization -- a big corporation, say, or a university, or a learned society - -when seeking a new leader, will go to immense trouble over the choice. The CVs of candidates and their portfolios of relevant experience are meticulously scrutinized, their publications are read by a learned committee, references are taken up and scrupulously discussed, the candidates are subjected to rigorous interviews and vetting procedures. Mistakes are still made, but not through lack of serious effort.

The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We have to stop making excuses for Obama

It's way past time for him to stand up against the Republicans. If he's going to do it at all, it better be damn soon--like immediately!!! As the author of this excellent article says, "The only thing more destructive than expecting too much out of our leaders--or ourselves--is expecting too little."

HELPLESS PRESIDENT LIT--The Latest Trend in Political Tragedy
By R J Eskow

Call it "Helpless President Lit." A recent Ezra Klein column is the latest in a growing genre which celebrates our Commander-in-Chief, not as a powerful leader, but as a perennial victim. It portrays him as someone who's powerless over other people's actions, and sometimes even over his own. In this genre the President is forever at the whim of forces beyond his control, even when he has a supermajority in the Senate and a strong majority in the House.

Helpless President Lit is a form of melodrama. It's like an old-fashioned cliffhanger with the President replacing Little Nell, that noble young creature who's forever being tied to a train track or suspended over a gorge by some dastardly villain. Except the country's about to get hurt, not him - and nobody's coming to the rescue.

There'd be no point discussing this backward-looking and speculative genre if it didn't encourage the President and his supporters to continue on such a destructive course of action. I agree with Klein and other critics who say we focus too much attention on the Presidency. But this discussion affects our thinking and behavior at all levels of political engagement.

The only thing more destructive than expecting too much out of our leaders - or ourselves - is expecting too little.

The Rules of the Genre

There are strict conventions in "Helpless President Lit." Its authors must characterize the President's progressive critics as naive. They must say his detractors are expecting more than any President can deliver. The President must be portrayed as a victim of circumstance, powerless in the face of Republican intransigence.

This calls for the frequent use of code words like "realistic," designed to persuade the reader that its plausible to describe the most powerful executive in the world as a helpless creature of our political climate, rather than someone with the platform and the power to reshape it.

Forget all that talk about a "post-imperial Presidency." To them it's a post-Presidential Presidency. Can you imagine George W. Bush's supporters talking this way?

Once the President's helplessness has been attested to, attention is then directed toward the his dissatisfied progressive constituents. The tone that's employed may vary from witheringly critical to mildly and politely condescending.

With each new work of "weak President lit," straw men tremble in fear. But real criticisms, most of which are clear-eyed and practical - and yes, realistic - go unheard. And a Democratic President is encouraged by his enablers to continue down a destructive - and self-destructive - path.

"... shadows on our eyes leave us helpless, helpless, helpless."

Klein's piece is called "What Could Obama Have Done?" The answer seems to be nothing - except possibly to be a little less awesome.

Klein writes:

"I've never been able to come up with a realistic scenario in which a lot more got done, the economy is in much better shape, and the president is dramatically more popular ..."

"Indeed, if you had taken me aside in 2008 and sketched out the first three years of Obama's presidency, I would have thought you were being overoptimistic: an $800 billion stimulus package -- recall that people were only talking in the $200-$300 billion range back then -- followed by near-universal health-care reform, followed by financial regulation ... (don't ask don't tell, Bin Laden, Gaddafi, etc) ... There was no way. And yet all that did get done."

"But the administration hasn't able to get unemployment under control -- perhaps it couldn't have gotten unemployment under control -- and so all of that has not been nearly enough."

Something important's being overlooked here. Obama got what he requested - roughly $770 billion - and said he was satisfied with it. That left many voters with no choice but to blame him for the outcome.

Realistic Action

Klein employs another "helpless President" convention when he challenges his readers to rebut him if they dare - but only, he cautions, "if you have a realistic vision for what an actual president operating in the American political system could have done differently."

Ezra, you're on. Here are five realistic things the President could have - and should have - done:

One: Genuinely help struggling homeowners, using funds that were approved and allocated, rather than torturing them with the HAMP "extend and pretend" program which primarily benefited big banks.

Two: Direct the Attorney General to aggressively pursue criminal indictments of executives at major financial institutions, rather than agreeing to 'slap-on-the-wrist' SEC settlements or pretending that minor, separate investigations are part of a broader global mortgage program. (The Attorney General could have started with AIG, moved on to JPMorgan Chase, and then turned to the drug-laundering operations within Wells Fargo Bank. More info on bank criminality here.)

Three: Push for a public option in that health bill -- the one that Ezra describes as achieving "near universal coverage," but which really forces many Americans to buy inadequate private health insurance at exorbitant prices. (When everybody else was telling us this bill would eventually be wildly popular, some of us predicting its political impact much more accurately.)

Four: Press the Senate for a much stronger financial reform bill, instead of consistently trying to water it down through the efforts of Tim Geithner and other Administration officials. We saw a number of Republicans like Tom Coburn and Chuck Grassley cross the aisle and vote for robust reforms, but only if they were brought to an open vote on the Senate floor.

Five: Request a stimulus that was big enough to work, when it had the political capital to do it. Smart economists in the Administration knew that at least $1.2 trillion was needed. WOnly about $500 billion of his $770 billion initial package was in the form of much-needed spending. The rest consisted of tax cuts, some of which could have had stimulus effect and much of which didn't.

Most importantly, the President could have used his "bully pulpit" to advocate, advocate, advocate -- for jobs, for investment, for regulation, and for the role of government in American life. Instead he has preferred to adopt the destructive "above left and right" posture that's undermined his party and weakened him in the eyes of the public.

Sins of Commission

But the most destructive aspects of this Presidency haven't been the things he hasn't done. They've been the things he has done, Here's a sampler:

  • Creating a "Deficit Commission" and stacking it with people who are anti-entitlement, anti-government, and oppose reasonable tax rates for the wealthy.
  • Repeating the misguided austerity rhetoric of the right.
  • Repeatedly targeting Social Security.
  • Flip-flopping on key campaign positions - e.g. on the public option and the so-called "Cadillac tax" on health plans, as well as on methodology for cost-of-living adjustments that would hurt the middle class, the elderly, and the disabled.

And that doesn't include his continuation of the Bush anti-civil liberties initiatives, the targeting of whistleblowers, and the aggressive pursuit of independent news sources.

It's Not About Him

This is the point in the conversation where somebody says "Why do you hate the President?" The answer is I don't hate him. We could speculate endlessly about why he's made the choices he's made. But, whatever his motivations, he's made a lot of mistakes and squandered a lot of opportunities. That's hurt the country, and it's also hurt his electoral prospects.

If anybody thinks otherwise, they're not being "realistic." They're not reading the polls - not his approval ratings, and not the avalanche of polling which shows that austerity economics is as unpopular with the public (including most Republicans) as it is with smart economists.

Right Action

This is also the moment when somebody usually says "You may be right, but this isn't the time to criticize Obama. Do you want President Bachmann to run this country?"

This is exactly the time to criticize the President, because it's not too late for him to take some aggressive steps to repair some of the damage. In fact, here are some actions he can take right now:

  • Use his executive authority to implement a strong, smart, fair assistance program for underwater homeowners - one that helps homeowners and not banks.
  • Investigate criminal activity in the nation's largest banks.
  • Propose a bold jobs program, even if it will be shot down by Republicans. And if you're as concerned about his reelection as you should be, make that "especially if it will be shut down by Republicans."
  • Announce that he will honor his campaign pledges by refusing to raise the eligibility age for Medicare or Social Security, and by ending his efforts to lower Social Security benefits with a cost of living adjustment that's even more unfair than the one we have today.

What the President's defenders don't understand is that he's being criticized for what he does and doesn't do, not for failing to get better results. The Bhagavad-Gita says "a wise person is judged by her actions, not by the fruits of her actions." That's the standard by which the President - or any of us - should be judged.

Co-Presidential No More

I'll say this for "Helpless President Lit." At least it's not "What Would Hillary Have Done? Lit," a genre which is not only speculative but pointless. (I reject the choice anyway, even hypothetically. The right question is, "What would someone who was not a misguided 'Third Way' Democrat have done?" The Barack/Hillary exercise can never answer that question.)

Obama's defenders need to stop being enablers and let him know that this kind of behavior can't go on - for his sake as well as theirs. The "helpless President" movement must be "codependent no more."

The moral? We need to be more a little more self-reliant and a little less dependent on charismatic leaders. A good way to start is by asking White House for more action to fix our broken economy.

(More samples can be found here. Klein's piece is one of the least objectionable of the lot.)


More humor from Andy Borowitz - ya' gotta' love him


August 24, 2011

Pat Robertson Blames Mild Earthquake on People Who Seem Kind of Gay

Almighty’s Anger at Metrosexuals Caused Ambiguous Quake

VIRGINIA BEACH (The Borowitz Report) – Evangelist Pat Robertson sparked controversy in today’s broadcast of his 700 Club program by saying that yesterday’s mild East Coast earthquake was God’s revenge on people “who act kind of gay.”

“All across the Eastern seaboard, there are men who get manicures, wear designer eyewear and know about thread counts,” Rev. Robertson.  “God finds this somewhat gay-like behavior confusing, and He responded by getting mildly peeved.”

The televangelist warned that if Americans persist in their “seemingly sort-of-gay behavior,” the country should brace itself for additional ambiguous acts of retaliation from the Almighty.

“God will strike back at people who act sort of gay with all kinds of mild responses,” he said.  “If you keep getting pedicures and facials, you can expect two to three inches of rain and some really hot humid days in your future.”

Rev. Robertson said that New Yorkers who reacted in an over-the-top way to yesterday’s temblor “run the risk of moderately annoying the Heavenly Father yet again.”

“God looks at people who get their panties in a twist after a little shaking, and He says to Himself, ‘Wow, that’s really kind of gay,’” he said.

Elsewhere, in Libya an exit strategy was being discussed in which Muammar Gaddafi would relinquish all power but still be Mayor of Tripoli on FourSquare.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quake Censors were removed from Virginia nuclear plant in the 1990s

Just the kind of budget cuts the Tea Party members advocate and want more of.  Just think about it, folks--wouldn't we all feel safer with a Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry in the White House? (Don't all shout at once):

A nuclear power plant that was shut down after an earthquake struck central Virginia Tuesday had seismographs removed in 1990s due to budget cuts.

U.S. nuclear officials said that the North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors, had lost offsite power and was using diesel generators to maintain cooling operations after an 5.9 earthquake hit the region.

The North Anna plant, which was near the epicenter of Tuesday's quake, is reportedly located on a fault line.

Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Senior Scholar Bob Alvarez told the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) that the North Anna plant was built to withstand a 5.9-6.1 quake.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rates the plant as the seventh most likely to receive core damage from a quake. But they say the chances of that are only 1 in 22,727.

According to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory (VTSO) removed all seismographs from around the plant in the 1990s due to budget cuts.

In February, Dominion Virginia Power confirmed its commitment to add a third reactor to the plant.

"While Dominion has not decided on the schedule to build the unit, the company will continue to move forward with the federal combined operating license process and preliminary site development work," Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell II said in a statement.


Perceptive analysis of Tea Party Republicans and their mindset

Whatever It Is, I'm Against It
By Robert Becker


Groucho Marx, the great philosopher of "Horse Feathers," [could have been talking about today's Republican Party when he sang:]

Whatever it is, I'm against it. No matter what it is or who commenced it, I'm against it.
Your proposition may be good, But let's have one thing understood, Whatever it is, I'm against it.
And even when you've changed it or condensed it, I'm against it.

Here's the deck-clearing negation the right wing nutcases are selling, a heaven on earth for the braying Bachmann-Perry Tea Party clan:

No tax increases, no regulations, no income tax, no Federal Reserve,
No abortions, nor labor, gay, minority, women's nor civil rights.
No separation of church-state, no immigration,
No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid,
No unemployment insurance or retraining funds,
No federal aid to education, research, or health care.

In short, the government roughly in effect the way it was soon after God -- or was it Columbus?, No, Vikings -- discovered America, when nothing but native arrows could impede unregulated, predatory expansions. Beyond Bachmann, Perry makes clear exactly what his pious flock favors -- America as exceptional Christian Nation, God's imperial fortress armed to the teeth to battle incalculable enemies until the Rapture blasts secular liberalism, Muslims, Jews, evolution and climate change.

As David Frum, GOP strategist opines, with beguiling comic understatement:  Republicans do not take intelligence or expertise very seriously as qualifications for the presidency. Mitt Romney's smarts do him surprisingly little good; Rick Perry's non-smarts do him disturbingly little harm; and Michele Bachmann's out-beyond-the-Orion-belt substitutions for familiarity with life here on Earth only intensify the admiration of her fan base.

To read more, go to:    As one reader points out in his comments at the end of the article: 

Basically, there is a hard core group of Americans who are so extremely Christian and so extremely anti-acceptance of anything and everything that doesn't jive with their narrow- minded beliefs, that they would vote for a candidate who came out and openly declared that blacks shouldn't be allowed to hold jobs or get an education.

They'd jump with joy if a candidate came out and declared that women who get abortions, should themselves be given the death penalty.

They'd fully accept it if a candidate declared that evolution was a hoax, that the Earth was the center of the universe, that all scientific research was evil, that public school teachers were all Communists and should be jailed, and most importantly that the South actually won the Civil War and should be allowed to secede.

In short, there are more nutty wackos in America than most people realize. Tens of millions of Americans are extremely mean-spirited, and most of them think of themselves as Christians, being led by people like Palin, Perry and Bachmann who are "Christian pretenders".


Monday, August 22, 2011

The true human cost of the Iraq war -- a must-see video

See entire 78-minute video online at:



Soon we will be seeing the same thing here in the U.S.  The government's refusal to exact responsibility/repayment from the bailed out corporatists, plus Obama's wimpy behavior in dealing with the thug Repugs has brought us to this. It has become impossible to have true representatives of the people in Congress and the White House (i.e., deregulation of Wall St., bailout of the giant corporations, right wing lobbyists paying off their--not our--representatives). The middle class is dying and the will of the people is being ignored. The only recourse the people have is to revolt.

when you rob people of what little they have, in order to protect the interests of those who have more than anyone deserves, you should expect resistance – whether organised protests or spontaneous looting. And that's not politics. It's physics.

Jetman Flight at Grand Canyon: Flying Like a Bird

YouTube - Jetman Flight at Grand Canyon West

All I can say is WOW! (But I wouldn't want to try this myself)


Republican Romney to quadruple size of his $12 million home

Mitt Romney is planning to demolish his $12 million, 3,009-square-foot mansion in La Jolla, California and replace it with an 11,062-square-foot home. The current home was “inadequate” for their needs, according to a campaign spokesman: "They want to enlarge their two-bedroom home because with five married sons and 16 grandchildren it is inadequate for their needs." The Romney’s California home is one of three that they own, including a $10 million vacation home in New Hampshire. Construction will not begin on the La Jolla home until after the campaign is over.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Deception of the consumer: "Vitamin" water

Watch the video below to see the latest deception concocted by corporate America to fool the uninformed consumer. Consider yourself now informed:

From Natural News: Most mainstream consumers actually believe that Vitamin Water is a healthy beverage. What they don't realize is that Vitamin Water is mostly sugar water.

Even Coca-Cola's own attorneys have publicly admitted that Vitamin Water is not "a healthy beverage."

Today, the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center releases the latest Food Investigations video that exposes the "Vitamin Water deception."


The 2012 GOP Candidates -- God help us all!

Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest -- You can choose which is which.

"All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure."
-- Mark Twain

By William Rivers Pitt

And so begins again the Herculean task of wrapping my poor, abused mind around yet another crop of Faustian caricatures lined up to scrap and scrape for the Republican presidential nomination. They seem to get worse every year, but this time around, there are definitely a lot more bananas in the bunch.

Let's see. We have Newt Gingrich, who pointedly continues to declare that he remains a viable candidate, despite having blown four tires and an engine immediately after leaving the starting line. We have Rick Santorum, whose name, when Googled, is given a whole new definition that appears at the top of the search engine list (presumably despite the best efforts of Mr. Santorum's campaign and supporters). There is Ron Paul, whose much-ballyhooed libertarianism fails to encompass his desire to give the Federal government whole and complete control of a woman's reproductive process.  There is Jon Huntsman, who seems like a fairly balanced guy (he has openly declared his belief in evolution and global warming), which means he is utterly doomed in the GOP primary chase. There's Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Thaddeus McCotter, and Buddy Roemer, too...and if you said "Who?" to any or all of those names, you're far from alone.

According to the "mainstream" news media, however, there are only three Republican presidential candidates worth paying attention to. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has already been running for something like thirty weeks, not that you'd know it from his deliberately stealthy campaign. Romney, of course, ran for the nomination in 2008, but was undone by Mike Huckabee, who stayed in long enough to keep Romney from collecting enough GOP base votes to survive. John McCain essentially won the nomination by default in the aftermath of Romney's collapse, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) has been in the race since late June, having declared her candidacy early this summer (with no small amount of historical irony) in Waterloo, Iowa. Bachmann is a Tea Party darling who has, at various times, blamed Presidents Carter and Obama for the outbreak of swine flu, claimed that carbon dioxide is not harmful to your health, stated that the elimination of the minimum wage would be a cure-all for unemployment, and sincerely believes that gay people are looking to take over the country so as to crash the planet into the sun.

The most recent entrant into the 2012 Republican field is Texas governor Rick Perry, who jumped into the fray howling like a werewolf in the rut. He began by accusing the Fed chairman Ben Bernanke of treason, followed up by questioning President Obama's love of country, and concluded his trifecta of crazy with the claim that environmental scientists who warn of global warming are only in it for the money. Perry was first brought to national attention when he made it known that the state of Texas might secede from the union after Obama's election, and once tried to end a drought with a statewide prayer drive.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your 2012 Republican presidential field.

Feel better?

I don't.

Granted, the freak-show reality of the GOP's Big Three - Romney, Bachmann and Perry, oh my! - is sure to deliver a great deal in the way of entertainment value. When Perry ripped off his "treason" remark about Bernanke, about thirteen dozen former Bush officials came down on him like a ton of bricks, exposing for a national audience what is already widely known in Texas: Bush and Perry do not like each other. This dynamic promises to expose any number of rifts within the Republican Party, as Mr. Bush remains at the right hand of God in the minds of many GOP base voters. Perry has been learning foreign policy at the knee of such catastrophically failed luminaries as Douglas Fieth and William Luti, presumably the last two people in America who still think invading Iraq was a good idea.

Romney, for his part, is believed by many Republican voters to have no principles worth mentioning. Exhibit A will be the fact that he is running as fast as he can from his own health care reform plan for Massachusetts, adopted to no small degree by Mr. Obama for his own health care reform legislation. Add to that the fact of Romney's Mormon faith, which many GOP evangelical base voters consider to be a cult, and what he has before him is a very long row to hoe.

Michele Bachmann is...well...simply insane on any number of levels, and so she will certainly give us all fits before the curtain comes down on this sorry show. She barely has a voting record to speak of, and is only in the race because Tea Party voters like her style. If she stays in long enough, she could wind up playing the evangelical spoiler role (a la Huckabee in '08), thus upending the whole show and delivering the GOP nomination to one of the also-rans who linger at the back of the pack.

The comedic aspect of this fool's gallery is far beside the point. Not one of these individuals should ever be allowed anywhere near the kind of power one is given upon assuming the office of President of the United States...and yet the "mainstream" news media has been propping these three up as legitimate, thoroughly normal candidates for the highest office in the land. It is a testament to how utterly deranged our political culture has become that any of these people would even be considered an appropriate candidate for dog-catcher, and yet we will spend the next fifteen months being spoon-fed the idea that these three are perfectly appropriate potential nominees, and not a pack of deranged fanatics who couldn't govern their way out of a wet paper sack.

Who knows, though. Some heretofore unannounced challenger could parachute into the race and change the whole dynamic. People have been muttering the name Jeb Bush as a potential candidate, which would be interesting; I think it might be easier to run for president with a dead koala bear tied around my neck than it would be to run with the name "Bush." Sarah Palin could make a late entry, thus answering all of my most earnestly delivered prayers.

These people frighten me for a variety of reasons, but what frightens me most of all is the fact that, almost certainly, one of them will be the Republican nominee for President...and the "mainstream" media will tell us how perfectly normal that is. isn't. These people are uniformly terrible, no matter what the TV says. Pass it on.

About author William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence. His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation, will be available this winter from PoliPointPress.

Interesting site about reincarnation

There are many mentions of reincarnation in the Bible.  This site has links to them, as well as to Dr. Ian Stevenson's exhaustive research on the subject, and various case studies.  Quite an interesting site for the curious to explore.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

We could use Trust-Buster Teddy Roosevelt as President right about now

By Bob Burnett (one of the founding executives at Cisco)

We live in interesting times. The global economy is splintering. U.S. voters hate all politicians and there's political unrest throughout the world. The root cause of this turmoil is the failure of the dominant economic paradigm -- global corporate capitalism.

The modern world is ruled by multinational corporations and governed by a capitalistic ideology that believes: Corporations are a special breed of people, motivated solely by self-interest. Corporations seek to maximize return on capital by leveraging productivity and paying the least possible amount for taxes and labor. Corporate executives pledge allegiance to their directors and shareholders. The dominant corporate perspective is short term, the current financial quarter, and the dominant corporate ethic is greed, doing whatever it takes to maximize profit.

Five factors are responsible for the failure of global corporate capitalism. First, global corporations are too big. We're living in the age of corporate dinosaurs. (The largest multinational is JP Morgan Chase with assets of $2 Trillion, 240,000 employees, and offices in 100 countries.) The original dinosaurs perished because their huge bodies possessed tiny brains. Modern dinosaurs are failing because their massive bureaucracies possess miniscule hearts.

Since the Reagan era global corporations have followed the path of least resistance to profit; they've swallowed up their competitors and created monopolies, which have produced humongous bureaucracies. In the short-term, scale helps corporations grow profitable, but in the long-term it makes them inflexible and difficult to manage. Gigantism creates a culture where workers are encouraged to take enormous risks in order to create greater profits; it's based upon the notion that the corporation is "too big to fail."

Second, global corporations disdain civil society. They've created a culture of organizational narcissism, where workers pledge allegiance to the enterprise. Corporate employees live in a bubble, where they log obscene hours and then vacation with their co-workers. Multinationals develop their own code of ethics and worldview separate from that of any national state. Corporate executives don't care about the success or failure of any particular country, only the growth and profitability of their global corporation. (Many large corporations pay no U.S. income tax; in 2009 Exxon Mobil actually got a $156 M rebate.)

Third, global corporations are modern outlaws, living outside the law. There is no invisible hand that regulates multinationals. In 1759 Philosopher Adam Smith argued that while wealthy individuals and corporations were motivated by self interest, an "invisible hand" was operating in the background ensuring that capitalist activities ultimately benefited society. In modern times this concept became the basis for the pronouncements of the Chicago School of Economics that markets were inherently self regulating. However, the last five years have demonstrated that there is no "invisible hand" -- unregulated markets have spelled disaster for the average person. The "recovery" of 2009-10 ensured that "too big to fail" institutions would survive and the rich would continue to be rich. Meanwhile millions of good jobs were either eliminated or replaced by low-wage jobs with poor or no benefits.

Fourth, global corporations are ruining our natural capital. Four of the top 10 multinational corporations are energy companies, with Exxon Mobil leading the list. But there are many indications that our oil reserves are gone. Meanwhile, other forms of natural capital have been depleted -- arable land, water, minerals, forests, fish, and so forth. Multinational corporations have treated the environment as a free resource. When the timberlands of North America began to be depleted, lumber corporations moved to South America and then Asia. Now, the "easy pickings" are gone. Global corporations have ravished the world and citizens of every nation live with the consequences: dirty air, foul water, and pollution of every sort.

Fifth, global corporations have angered the world community. The world GDP is $63 Trillion but multinational corporations garner a disproportionate share -- with banks accounting for an estimated $4 trillion (bank assets are $100 trillion). Global black markets make $2 trillion -- illegal drugs account for at least $300 billion. In many parts of the world, a worker is not able to earn a living wage, have a bank account or drive a car, but can always obtain drugs, sex, and weapons. And while the world may not be one big village in terms of lifestyle, it shares an image of "the good life" that's proffered in movies, TV, and the Internet. That's what teenagers in Afghanistan have in common with teenagers in England; they've been fed the same image of success in the global community and they know it's inaccessible. They are angry and, ultimately, their anger has the same target -- multinational corporations (and the governments that support them).

We live in interesting times. The good news is we're witnessing the failure of global corporate capitalism. The bad news is we don't know what will replace it.

Human Behavior of the Stupidest Kind

Ever hear the saying: "Cutting off your nose to spite your face"? Middle-class/poor Republicans are proof of it, supporting the policies that keep the rich richer and take away benefits from themselves.  This article explains a possible reason behind it.  It's a small but meaningful switch from the "I got mine and I don't care if you get yours" to "I got mine and I don't want you to get yours."   

Are the Poor Standing In the Way of Tax Increases for the Rich?
By Robin M.

As we watched the debt ceiling battle unfold and Republicans fight tooth and nail to ensure that tax cuts for the wealthy were not rescinded, an overwhelming majority of the public felt that politicians were implementing economic policies that were being clamored for by the rich and the special interests.

But what if they had an ally no one suspected?  Could it be that many of those policies were supported by a chunk of the lower-middle class?

The Economist takes a look at how often, despite knowing that it would hurt their own prosperity, those who are on a lower rung of the economic ladder will find themselves supporting fiscal policies that will greatly benefit the rich simply to be sure that those who are struggling even more economically don’t “gain on them.”  It’s a fascinating look at how one swatch of society will vote against their own best interests just to make sure that someone worse off won’t potentially “beat them.”

Instead of opposing redistribution because people expect to make it to the top of the economic ladder, the authors of the new paper argue that people don’t like to be at the bottom. One paradoxical consequence of this “last-place aversion” is that some poor people may be vociferously opposed to the kinds of policies that would actually raise their own income a bit but that might also push those who are poorer than them into comparable or higher positions. The authors ran a series of experiments where students were randomly allotted sums of money, separated by $1, and informed about the “income distribution” that resulted. They were then given another $2, which they could give either to the person directly above or below them in the distribution.

In keeping with the notion of “last-place aversion”, the people who were a spot away from the bottom were the most likely to give the money to the person above them: rewarding the “rich” but ensuring that someone remained poorer than themselves. Those not at risk of becoming the poorest did not seem to mind falling a notch in the distribution of income nearly as much. This idea is backed up by survey data from America collected by Pew, a polling company: those who earned just a bit more than the minimum wage were the most resistant to increasing it.

As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow, this theory could shed light on why so many people in a time of need think that the best way to cut debt is to eliminate the social safety net rather than ask the wealthy to forgo their tax breaks.

In addition, the book What's the Matter with Kansas? gives another reason for this bewildering behavior on the part of Republican voters:  From an review:

By focusing attention on culture issues, the Conservatives not only distract their followers from economic concerns, they remove capitalism itself as an issue. For Red Staters, capitalism is a natural force, and free markets are an absolute good. Concerns about environment, globalization, estate taxes, Wal-Martization, health and welfare all disappear, since laissez-faire is an inviolable principle. Capitalism cannot and must not be regulated in this worldview, and any restrictions and regulations designed to "thwart" it are necessarily wrong if not evil. The fact that culture itself -- MTV, Hollywood, Howard Stern, Fear Factor -- is a capitalist product that follows the same profit motivations goes unnoticed. In Kansas, as in most places, there is no connection in people's minds between culture and capitalism.

Anyone who truly wants to understand today's upside-down political world, who wants to understand how middle class people can enthusiastically support tax cuts that give them nothing and the rich more money and power, should read WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS? Mr. Frank offers clear and straightforward explanation of this bizarre phenomenon, and his insights and implications should send chills down the spines of those who espouse a free, fair, and open society. To quote Frank's closing line: that the "fever-dream of martyrdom that Kansas follows today...invites us all to join in, to lay down our lives so others might cash out at the top; to renounce forever our middle-American prosperity in pursuit of a crimson fantasy of middle-American righteousness."


Friday, August 19, 2011

Perry Dumber than Bush

How Dumb Can the Tea Party Right Wingers Be?  Unfortunately, Dumber than You Can Imagine. If you think Duhmbya Bush was their worst, you're wrong.  Look who they're bringing to the table now:
Perry: King of the Know-Nothings
By Michael Tomasky

Dog-whistle politics probably date back at least to Cato the Elder, but in our time the practice was perfected by George W. Bush. Tossing a scriptural reference into a public utterance that would go unnoticed by us heathens but would reassure the touched was a trademark of Bush and his talented speechwriter Michael Gerson. Well, we’re now in a new era. Rick Perry has traded in his dog whistle for an air-raid siren. He wants everyone to hear, loud and clear. His is the most right-wing presidential candidacy by a “serious” contender since I don’t know when (Warren Harding? But he pardoned Eugene Debs!). Have we really reached the point where reveling in conservative hatreds and revenge fantasies can get a man elected president?

Bush—and it leaves me speechless that he’s starting to look reasonable by comparison with the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls—was hardly apologetic about his political views. But he and Karl Rove did have the sense to know when they were throwing gasoline on the domestic fire, and they did it in smallish doses. You might be able to Google up the odd careless quote from Bush about something like global warming, but in general, and especially on the occasions when he knew his words were being very closely watched, he steered well clear of extremism.

Remember “Clear Skies,” the Bush environmental initiative from 2002? It ended up being laughable, but hey, at least it was an environmental speech. To read it today is astonishing. He acknowledged the importance of protecting the environment. He recognized the existence of global warming. He came out in favor of—ready?—a cap-and-trade plan for reducing emissions. Yes, he spoke those very words, even elaborating: “This approach enjoys widespread support, with both Democrats and Republicans, because we know it works. You see, since 1995 we have used a cap-and-trade program for sulphur dioxide pollution.” The dog-whistle part came in the sentences that proclaimed the science “uncertain,” and in his refusal to acknowledge straight up a human role in global warming.

Now fast-forward to Perry. During his maiden week on the hustings, when he knew every word would be carefully tracked, Perry declared that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by scientists greedy for grant money. This earned him a rare Four Pinocchios from The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column, which in PerryWorld is, of course, merely proof about how right he is.

Nearly every day has brought forth a new gem. On Thursday, he told a New Hampshire school-age child that he’s “not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely” how old the Earth is. He preceded these with a remark about Barack Obama not being respected by the military. And, of course, there was the infamous statement that Ben Bernanke would be committing “treason” by priming the economy. Not bad—nail the black guy and the Jew in your very first week on the trail!

Michele Bachmann aspires to be the right-wing It Girl. Perry wants to be the movement’s Id Boy. He’ll speak the words that the others won’t quite. Given this assemblage, that is really saying something, but consider: Even Bachmann has stuck largely to an economic script so far. Perry will home in on the darkest corners of the Tea Party mind and work relentlessly to activate the demons that lurk there. It will all be right out in the open. The questions are whether it can succeed, and whether Obama has the backbone to respond. It was, as usual, profoundly discouraging to see Obama’s flaccid response to Perry’s Bernanke remarks. Perry needs to be “a little more careful” with his words? That’s the best the guy could do? And then he remained silent on Perry’s military slam. Yes, I know all the reasons why: Don’t elevate him and so on. But please. That above-the-fray strategy has helped guide the president to his lofty 40 percent approval rating.

Perry may lose the nomination for other reasons, but I think we can be reasonably certain that GOP primary voters will not punish him for expressing extreme views in the language of prideful ignorance, nor for speaking disparagingly of the president. So if he does become the nominee, Obama is going to have to mix it up. He’ll need to do so with any GOP candidate, but this is especially so with Perry, because he will say anything, and he will make it personal. Every few weeks, or days even, something happens that makes me ask myself how much more right-wing this party can get. As long as Perry is in the race, we’re going to keep finding out.