Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

~~~

~~~

RIP Ben Bradlee

RIP Ben Bradlee
One of our nation's best.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

INHERIT THE IGNORANCE

Apparently, in order to be supported by the GOP's base, a presidential candidate must debase him/herself and announce to the world his/her distrust of science. All of the presidential contenders, save for Jon Huntsman, have proudly voiced their doubts about Evolution as settled science, thus making monkeys of themselves in the eyes of enlightened minds in all corners of the world. All corners except in America, where we are at the bottom of the heap in all surveys that ask what percentage of our population accepts Evolution. Only Turkey is lower than we are.

This will warm the hearts of wilfull know-nothings and ensure that their children will carry on in their tradition of believing in a book written by Bronze Age superstitious, women-hating, old men. Good on them.
No amount of evidence will ever dissuade these types from their inscient world view. And as the presidential popularity polls show, the dumb and the ignorant will surely inherit the top Republican polling spot.




Here is Richard Dawkins, eminent ethologist and evolutionary biologist with his take on the lastest embarrassment from the GOP, Governor Rick Perry:


"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.

A politician’s attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy but, compared to Perry’s and the Tea Party’s pronouncements on other topics such as economics, taxation, history and sexual politics, their ignorance of evolutionary science might be overlooked. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well.

Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.

[skip]

There are many reasons to vote against Rick Perry. His fatuous stance on the teaching of evolution in schools is perhaps not the first reason that springs to mind. But maybe it is the most telling litmus test of the other reasons, and it seems to apply not just to him but, lamentably, to all the likely contenders for the Republican nomination. The ‘evolution question’ deserves a prominent place in the list of questions put to candidates in interviews and public debates during the course of the coming election."

Richard Dawkins wrote this response to Governor Perry for On Faith, the Washington Post’s forum for news and opinion on religion and politics.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann (Jerk-MN) Says Earthquake and Hurricane is God's Warning to Washington

"WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told Floridians Sunday that Hurricane Irene and the earthquake felt along much of the East Coast last week were messages from God to warn 'politicians' to start heeding divine guidance, which she suggested is being channeled through small government conservatives.

'I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?'  Bachmann, a third-term Minnesota representative, told a crowd in Sarasota that the St. Petersburg Times estimated contained around 1,000 people.

[skip]

Her comments appear to link God's will with those who believe the U.S. government is too large and intrudes too much on people's lives. A Bachmann spokeswoman has not responded to a request for clarification of the congresswoman's comments. "

I have some questions for this foolish woman who will never be president:  If the earthquake and the hurricane are God's message to the politicians in Washington [that means he's speaking to you, too, madam, and the Tea Party wrecking crew], how, pray tell, can you determine that God was going after the politicians on economic policies and not the Congress people who are threatening to dismantle the EPA, NOAA, FEMA, Social Security, and Medicare to make more difficult the lives of millions of Americans and guarantee a permanent underclass in this country?

Did God come to you, Michele, in a vision and personally tell you at whom he is directing his wrath?  If so, I think you should be running for pope and not president.  When "God" speaks to clerics and holy people, that's called divine revelation; when he speaks to lay people, it's called insanity. 


Also, the next time God talks to you [you DID say he told you to run for president, didn't you], could you ask him to tell you what the people in the state of Texas did that pissed him off so royally?  They're enduring one of the worst droughts in the state's history--under the leadership of a Tea Party yee-haw, who loves the Baby Jesus more than Darwin.  Governor Goodhair even led a prayer rally for rain, which was ignored.  The drought is worse now than ever.


Dozens of people died as a result of hurricane Irene, and not one of them, to the best of my knowledge, was a Washington politician--one, in fact, was a 9-year old boy. You diminish those tragic deaths by conjuring up an out-of-control maniacal God who would obliterate innocent men, women, and children to make a political point. 

Having a campaign spokeswoman make excuses for you after your callous pronouncement and claim you were "only joking" doesn't cancel out the fact that you're a heartless nincompoop whose idea of something funny is the destruction of thousands of people's lives.  




THREE CHARTS THAT EXPLAIN REALITY

It is useful in any discussion on the economy and jobs to have the facts.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Therefore, in place of words, I offer these three charts as visual proof of who is responsible for the economic troubles we are experiencing now, and how President Obama's 2 1/2 years in office has improved the mess Bush left us.  

A majority of economists understand that government cutting spending during a downturn makes that downturn worse.  We need another stimulus; the first one was not big enough.  In the meantime, read these charts and understand for the gazillionth time that YES, it absolutely is BUSH'S FAULT,  and Mr. Obama, with the help of a cooperative Congress, could do much more to improve the disaster Bush left to the American people. 

The reality is that improving the economy would give Mr. Obama a second term, and we all know that the GOP has clearly stated that denying President Obama a second term is more important to them than improving the economic life of America and putting people back to work.  It is difficult to understand how anyone could continue to support a political party with such a small, spiteful goal:  The continued suffering of the American people for political gain.
 
h/t daily kos





More reading here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

IRENE

I've got my candles, flashlight, food provisions, a bottle of deliciously liberal Chardonnay,
and a Julien Barnes novel all ready for Irene to come crashing into Boston on her psychedelic motorcycle.





Stay safe everyone.

UPDATE:

The bleak, uncaring world of Libertarianism:

"GILFORD, N.H. -- After a lunch speech, Ron Paul slammed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and said that no national response to Hurricane Irene is necessary.

"We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960," Paul said. "I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.

Let's take a look back at Galveston circa 1900, shall we?
The Hurricane of 1900 made landfall on the city of Galveston in the U.S. state of Texas, on September 8, 1900. It had estimated winds of 145 miles per hour (233 km/h) at landfall, making it a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It was the deadliest hurricane in US history, and the second costliest hurricane in US history based on the US dollar's 2005 value (to compare costs with those of Hurricane Katrina and others).
The hurricane caused great loss of life with the estimated death toll between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals; the number most cited in official reports is 8,000, giving the storm the third-highest number of deaths or injuries of any Atlantic hurricane, after the Great Hurricane of 1780 and 1998's Hurricane Mitch. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 is to date the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States. By contrast, the second-deadliest storm to strike the United States, the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, caused more than 2,500 deaths, and the deadliest storm of recent times, Hurricane Katrina, claimed the lives of approximately 1,800 people."

h/t Dependable Renegade

Friday, August 26, 2011

"THE STRIDENT CLAMOR OF BAD PEOPLE"



"A Painting In The White House Depicting Obama's Racism

Is this what Obama preaches about being non-bias? Or is this what he learned by sitting in Rev. Wright's church for 20 years? As The Revvvverend Jessie Jackson says keep the racial hate alive! Or something like that. Is this what America is all about? Or is it all about having a racist President in the White House? What’s next ? Having a painting of Mexican illegal’s jumping the border on his wall? Or a painting of Dick Cheney shooting his friend at a Hunting Accident. I have a great idea, why not have a really big painting of the DRUNKEN Ted Kennedy swimming away for the drowning Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick. I’d go for that one. I’d even vote for having a painting of Obama Blaming Bush for all his woes. Or maybe a painting of Moochie Obama walking down the streets of Spain in her African costume and all the little kiddies following her just like the Pied Piper. Or a painting of Moochie on Vacation captioned "Let them eat cake""


****************

I'm not going to link to the blog that posted this pile of strident, incoherent, and illiterate pigshit. Why give the blogger more traffic.   My regular readers will guess correctly who it is.


That he or anyone else of his ilk can interpret hanging an American iconic work of art in the White House as a "racist" action on the part of President Obama illustrates how devoid of basic human decency many on the fringe have become since the election of our first bi-racial president. Only this blogger's morally depraved readers will agree with his ignorant, bilious rant. 

Honorable people will see it for the tragic example of mindless bigotry that it is.


"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."
Martin Luther King, Jr.


Do not be silent.

UPDATE:

The people visiting the above quoted blog, as well as the blog host, didn't bother to do one ounce of research on why the Rockwell painting is hanging in the White House.  The woman who is the subject of the painting, Ruby Bridges, suggested that the White House allow it to be featured there.  The commenters at that blog swallowed the blogger's lies whole--just like, I might add, those who blindly follow and believe the misinformed leaders on the right:  Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, etc.

"On Wednesday, Ruby Bridges — the now 56-year-old woman depicted in the Norman Rockwell painting "The Problem We All Live With — described to Politico's Josh Gerstein her efforts to convince President Obama to hang the painting in the White House."

If I were to point this fact out to those bigots, they'd accuse me of "blaming Bush."


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"THE PROBLEM WE ALL LIVE WITH"




That's the title of the famous Norman Rockwell painting dipicting Ruby Bridges of New Orleans walking to her first day of school.


Ms. Bridges was only six years old when her parents volunteered her to help integrate New Orleans schools.  As a result, she became the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting that captures her innocence and the malignant hatred the little girl endured on the day she walked into the all white William Franz elementary school in NOLA.

"The court-ordered first day of integrated schools in New Orleans, November 14, 1960, was commemorated by Norman Rockwell in the painting The Problem We All Live With.[5] As Bridges describes it, "Driving up I could see the crowd, but living in New Orleans, I actually thought it was Mardi Gras. There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting, and that sort of goes on in New Orleans at Mardi Gras." Former United States Deputy Marshal Charles Burks later recalled, "She showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn't whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we're all very proud of her."--Wikipedia

The Norman Rockwell painting was recently placed in the White House on a temporary basis. 



More here.


The election of our first bi-racial president has brought out the racism that never really disappeared after the Civil Rights Act, but, instead, went underground; and in parts of this country, flourished.  All one has to do is read the comments under the report in Politico to understand that reality.  All one has to do is look at the racist emails sent around by conservatives who think it's only a "joke" to depict the First Family as primates; all one has to do is stomach one afternoon listening to Rush Limbaugh bring Mr. Obama's race into his rants against the president's policies and then listen to his followers call it "comedy;" all one has to do is read the remarks spoken by members of the media and Congress--remarks that, make no mistake, are based on Mr. Obama's race.

This weekend a memorial to The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., will be dedicated at the Mall in Washington, and already I've read people complaining about this the way certain people complained when a day was set aside to honor Dr. King's birthday.

None of this surprises me; all of it saddens me.  I thought, within my lifetime, I would see a lessening, not an increase of the problem we all live with.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DID YOU FEEL THAT?

Yes!  I sure did.  And I'm in Boston.

At around 1 o'clockish, (didn't check my watch), I heard a funny noise and looked up at the ceiling thinking the people above me had dropped something. I then began to feel a swaying in the living room.  I looked down at the sofa table and saw the orange juice in it sloshing back and forth in the glass, as well.  I knew immediately it was an earthquake. 

I've experienced two while visiting my daughter in SoCal, and I remember feeling one when I was a kid and living in a suburb north of Boston.


Yes, it was a 5.9 earthquake and the epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia.

More here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

LIBYANS HOLD SIGN THANKING "FANTASTIC 4"





Grateful Libyans hold sign thanking the "Fantastic 4," U.S. President Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and U.S. Ambassador the U.N. Susan Rice .

David Gergen:

"DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, John, I think there have been a lot of signs here in recent days that Gadhafi is coming toward his end….So I think he’s getting down to his, as I say, I think he’s going down to his final days. In terms of interpreting how this was done, if — Obama took a risk. If Gadhafi had been there for six months, I think he would have lost that gamble and he would have been seen as ineffectual. If he brings him down soon, I think it’s going the other way. John, you know, they got Bin Laden. If they get Gadhafi too, that’s a pretty good summer for President Obama.

….You have to say that if we get him, if he is toppled — and I do think he’s going to be toppled, either dead or alive, I think he’s going down and going down fairly soon. That with U.S. playing a secondary role, one which I have gone the other way, I would prefer the U.S. in a more muscular role, but if the Obama approach works, you have to give him credit for it.

Gergen’s conclusion that he would have liked to have seen Obama take a more “muscular” approach, but if Obama is successful then we have to give him credit, is one Gergen lived up to yesterday when he admitted he had been wrong by tweeting:
#Gadhafi seems finished! If so, #Obama/alliance approach vindicated. Critics (including me, Neo-cons,GOP, etc.) shd give credit."
h/t Politicususa

REBELS HOLD TRIPOLI

UPDATE BELOW


The New York Times is reporting that Libyan rebels are holding Tripoli:

WASHINGTON — As rebel forces in Libya converged on Tripoli on Sunday, American and NATO officials cited an intensification of American aerial surveillance in and around the capital city as a major factor in helping to tilt the balance after months of steady erosion of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s military.       


The officials also said that coordination between NATO and the rebels, and among the loosely organized rebel groups themselves, had become more sophisticated and lethal in recent weeks, even though NATO’s mandate has been merely to protect civilians, not to take sides in the conflict.
       
NATO’s targeting grew increasingly precise, one senior NATO diplomat said, as the United States established around-the-clock surveillance over the dwindling areas that Libyan military forces still controlled, using armed Predator drones to detect, track and occasionally fire at those forces.

[SKIP]

“NATO got smarter,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst with the RAND Corporation who follows Libya closely. “The strikes were better controlled. There was better coordination in avoiding collateral damage.” The rebels, while ill-trained and poorly organized even now, made the most of NATO’s direct and indirect support, becoming more effective in selecting targets and transmitting their location, using technology provided by individual NATO allies, to NATO’s targeting team in Italy.
       
      
[SKIP]

Administration officials greeted the developments with guarded elation that the overthrow of a reviled dictator would vindicate the demands for democracy that have swept the Arab world.


A State Department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said that President Obama, who was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, and other senior American officials were following events closely.
Privately, many officials cautioned that it could still be several days or weeks before Libya’s military collapses or Colonel Qaddafi and his inner circle abandon the fight. As Saddam Hussein and his sons did in Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Libyan leader could hold on and lead an insurgency from hiding even after the capital fell, the officials said.

A discussion over at Politico on President Obama's strategy in the Libyan revolution:

Jonathan Schanzer
Foundation for Defense of Democracies :

President Obama will certainly appear vindicated by the news that Tripoli has fallen. Libyans have even more reason to celebrate, now that the long war against Muammar Qadhafi appears to be nearing its end. But a bigger battle - an internecine one - may still be looming.

Darrell M. West
Vice President, Governance Studies, Brookings :

Sometimes, a patient and gradual strategy works well and that is the case with Libya. The U.S. does not always need to send in American troops to get the desired results. It took six months, but Obama’s strategy paid off.

James Carafano 
Heritage Foundation, Defense and Homeland Security :

Looking Forward

Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan - all remind there is lots of work to be done after the capital falls.

It is time to focus on what comes next.


UPDATE from Andrew Sullivan's blog:


Steve Benen is steamed by the partisan tone of McCain and Butters' statement:
Remember hearing about the "blame America first" crowd? Well, say hello to the "thank America last" crowd.
[...I]f McCain and Graham really want to complain about why “this success was so long in coming,” maybe they can talk more about their trip to Tripoli two years ago, when both McCain and Graham cozied up to Gaddafi, even visiting with him at the dictator’s home, discussing delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime. Both senators shook Gaddafi’s hand; McCain even bowed a little."

 
Libya Falling: A Less-Costly American-led Way of Waging War
By Mark Thompson

"So the U.S. was able to spearhead the imminent collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya on the cheap. We launched full-fledged invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq against murderous tyrants, but elected not to do the same in Libya. Is this a new template for U.S. wars, or just an acknowledgment of a war-weary nation?


It’s a little of both, actually. President Obama, who was elected, in part, to help wind down those two post-9/11 wars, had no desire to begin a third. But he was willing to help NATO and the Arab League by providing a precision-guided attacks in the Libyan war’s first two weeks, before taking a decidedly back seat for the next five months."


Read on at Battleland.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

SUNDAY NIGHT POETRY

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone by
Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
   enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
   enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother's face,
like a ship that carried me along

THE FAR LEFT'S ANSWER TO TEA PARTY? THE DONNER PARTY! via Bill Maher




Thursday, August 18, 2011

V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N.

OMG! President Obama is going on vacation?  Is it true that the Kenyan, Marxist, Commie, Pinko Socialist guy who isn't in love with America is actually taking his staff and daily briefings all the way to Martha's Vineyard in beautiful Blue Massachusetts for the 545th vacation since he's been preznit?

How dare this family man take time away from the country's problems  just like Congress has--since August 3 btw--and escape from people like Senator Tom Coburn (Jerk-OK) who says the president likes to help the poorest and the least fortunate among us only because as a  poor and less fortunate Black kid of a single mother, he got all kinds of good stuff from the gummit like food stamps so he and his mom could, y'know, eat.  What kind of country is this that allows that sort of free give-away for leeching minorities? 

But I digress.  Apparently, even the failed presidential candidate blow-hard, Donald Trump, is chiming in on the frequency of presidential vacations, even though he's too dumb to realize that Mr. Obama is a slacker on vacation taking time compared with Dubya and Saint Ronnie.  But don't tell the guy with the stupid hair and purdy mouth that fact.



THE EMBARRASSING DONALD TRUMP, FAILED, ALMOST-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  “They used to complain about George Bush, but I understand he’s already exceeded George Bush and we’re not even through the year. ... I think it sends a very, very bad message,”
But Mark Knoller of CBS, the unofficial keeper of presidential work schedules, reported that President George W. Bush had taken more time off than Obama at this point in his first term.
Obama’s upcoming vacation is his ninth vacation since taking office. Obama has spent all or part of 38 days on vacation away from the White House. He has also made 14 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 32 days, for a total of 70 days, Knoller said.
Bush, at this point in his first term, had made 14 visits to his Texas ranch spanning all or part of 102 days, Knoller said. He also made 40 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 123 days. His vacation total at this point in his presidency was all or part of 225 days away.

Of course, these facts won't stop the rightwing snivellers from foaming at the mouth and spewing their toxic spittle all over the internet over President Obama's well deserved vacation.  They don't deal in facts, rather, they prefer lies and distortion to keep themselves roiling in their fake outrage.

BTW, to the numbnuts who think the president is "on vacation," understand that the president is still on call as the president even when he's on Martha's Vineyard and being briefed daily.  IOW, he's doing presidential work even though he's here in Massachusetts enjoying quality time with his family-- a family value, afterall.  Don't you just love family values presidents?

Welcome back to Martha's Vineyard, Mr. President. 

Relax. 

Enjoy your family. 

Every other president has done it, even in critical times.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MUSLIMS, ATHEISTS, MORE POPULAR THAN TEA PARTY POLL SHOWS


Poll: Tea Party Less Popular Than Muslims, Atheists, 21 Other Groups | The debt ceiling deal has left the Tea Party more disliked than ever, as a recent New York Times poll shows. In April, 2010, 21 percent of Americans approved of the Tea Party while 18 percent disapproved of it. Now, 20 percent approve while a stunning 40 percent disapprove of it. Ironically, the conservative movement is now more unpopular than two often-marginalized groups it sometimes rails against — Muslims and atheists — and is the least popular of the 23 groups the poll asked about:
The Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

MORE ON GOVERNOR PERRY'S JOBS MYTHICAL MIRACLE:

 “Texas has one of the highest percentages of workers who are paid the minimum wage and receive no medical benefits. Perry has also presided over a steady, decade-long decline in his state’s employment to population ratio. He inherited a ratio of more than 47 percent from George W. Bush, but now only 43.5 percent of Texans have a job, compared to 44.7 percent of the total U.S. population."

I guess Gov. Perry is hoping no one will actually, y'know, look at his record and his rhetoric and discover they don't match up in the truth department.  But Perry's one of those good ole Tea Baggers, and they create their own reality, which has no relation to truth.

Keep up the good work, Gov. Perry.  You're making things easier and easier for the White House:

"Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), using borderline-violent rhetoric towards Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and casually throwing around words like “treacherous” and “treasonous.” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters today, “When you’re president or you’re running for president you have to think about what you’re saying because your words have greater impact. President Obama and we take the independence of the Federal Reserve very seriously and certainly think threatening the Fed chairman is probably not a good idea.”
As Greg Sargent explained very well this afternoon, rhetoric like Perry’s is exactly the sort of thing the White House needs to reinforce its larger message.
Here’s another reason Republican establishment figures have to be unhappy about Rick Perry’s implied threat towards Ben Bernanke: It plays into the Obama strategy of presenting himself as the “adult in the room” while elevating more prominent expressions of Republican excess or outright whackjobbery and using them as a convenient foil. […]

As Kevin Drum notes today, Obama has settled on a reelection narrative that is centered on the idea that he’s the only “sober, serious guy who’s fit to be president” in the room. He’s running against “Teh Crazy.” You can debate endlessly whether Obama is focusing his attacks too generally on “Congress” or whether he should be calling out Republicans more directly, but the overall objective is clear: Obama’s foil is Republican extremism and excess. Having the most prominent and accomplished true conservative in the presidential race suggest that a Republican Fed chairman may be guilty of treason, while implicitly threatening him with a species of Texas frontier justice — even in jest, if that’s how it was intended — can only help in this regard.


Exactly right. One of the lines I’ve heard Obama use three times in two days is, “I know you’re frustrated; I’m frustrated, too.” It’s part of a not-so-subtle effort to draw voters a picture: sensible people believe American politics is broken, and the president is on their side. The question for voters is whether someone like Obama, the grown-up who solves problems, or someone like Perry, the buffoon who accuses Ben Bernanke of treason, can be trusted to help make politics work again."

h/t Steve Benen/Washington Monthly

Monday, August 15, 2011

PRAGMATISM, THE PRESIDENCY, AND ACTIVISM, by Sheria at The Swash Zone

Friend and fellow blogger, Sheria, posted this excellent piece over at The Swash Zone. It deserves to be read by all. Thanks Sheria!

"I have repeatedly read posts by others who argue with great passion that President Obama should follow in the examples of Abraham Lincoln in addressing slavery and FDR in addressing the Great Depression. I appreciation the beacons that both former presidents are in the history of this country; however, what we believe to be true and what is fact often are vastly different.


A recent article, Frederick Douglass, the activist who would not 'grow up' offers a frame for evaluating the repeated criticism of President Obama from many members of the left. This article deals with President Lincoln as assessed by Frederick Douglass, not as a historian many years after the facts but as a witness to those events.


One of the most common misrepresentations of history is the oft repeated mantra that Lincoln freed the slaves. He didn't. The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to slaves that lived within the borders of states that were in rebellion against the Union; it did not apply to any slaves in the border states that were still loyal to the Union nor Confederate states which had already come under Union control; President Lincoln did not wish to lose the support of those slave owning states. The goal was to preserve the Union. As the Confederacy was not under the President's control, it did not accept Lincoln's offer to agree to the emancipation of slaves in exchange for compensation. The reality is that the Emancipation Proclamation was a grand gesture and of great symbolic value but it didn't free any slaves. [see for ex. pbs.org, thinkquest, national archives] In the year prior to the EP, 1862, Congress had passed a law that freed any Confederate slaves who escaped to the Union states and added those slaves to the Union's military ranks. Slavery did not officially end in this country until 1865 with the passage of the 13th amendment. [Id.] 


The factual details don't lessen what Lincoln accomplished. I offer this history lesson because I think that the adherence to mythology is interfering with the ability of progressives to get on the same page and work at the business of re-electing Barack Obama. Lincoln was no cowboy riding in on a white horse. He compromised on  what Frederick Douglass and  the abolitionists saw as the most significant cause of the Civil War, ending slavery. He did so because the Union could not afford to lose the slave owning border states to the Confederacy.


In 1862, Horace Greely, editor of The New York Tribune addressed an editorial to Lincoln in which he suggested that Lincoln's administration lacked direction and resolve in its war efforts. Lincoln responded with a letter to Greely that few seem to accurately recall:
'My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. [Lincoln letter]'
Frederick Douglass took issue with Lincoln's willingness to abide slavery if that was necessary to preserve the Union. However, Douglass was also pragmatic and eventually came to respect Lincoln's seemingly measured tread.  


In April 1876, in a speech delivered at the unveiling of the Freedmen's Monument in Memory of Abraham Lincoln,  Douglass said of Lincoln: 
'...I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict. His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen. Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible...Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined. [emphasis added] [Douglass' Oration]'
Frederick Douglass was an activist and activists do not have to answer to a constituency, nor do they have to play well with others. There are those who no doubt will dismiss my evaluations of activism vs. politics as narrow and cynical. I intend it as neither, but simply pragmatic. 


Activism is an essential part of political and societal change but the demand that such activism be regularly and blatantly engaged in by this President is to ask him to go beyond the bounds of his office. I chose to focus on Lincoln because of sheer laziness. Lincoln has been a hobby of mine for years and I didn't have to do a lot of research. However, similar issues can be raised with FDR's presidency.


Douglass' evaluation of Lincoln doesn't diminish the man at all but it does make it clear that no man walks on water and offers a prism that reflects how I believe history will also view Obama. Just as was Lincoln, Obama is the President, not an activist. His responsibilities are vastly different than those of an activist. I believe that far too many are demanding that Obama take on a mythical role that no president has ever exercised. 


Bachmann just won the straw vote election out of a field of Republicans, any of whom is saner than she. I find that frightening. Rather than contributing to the constant criticism of President Obama and the continual refusal to acknowledge all that has been accomplished (an extensive list) our common goal should be to ensure that the President has a second term to work towards our goals. Douglass voted for Lincoln in 1864 in spite of his concerns and supported Lincoln's campaign. We have a president who understands the system and who is working that system with every tool at his disposal. What we need are activists; the campaign slogan has always been, "Yes we can." What have you done lately?"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

SUNDAY NIGHT POETRY


In the old days a poet once said
by Ko Un

In the old days a poet once said 
our nation is destroyed
yet the mountains and rivers survive

Today's poet says
the mountains and rivers are destroyed
yet our nation survives

Tomorrow's poet will say
the mountains and rivers are destroyed
our nation is destroyed and Alas!
you and I are completely destroyed

QUEEN OF STRAW

Michele Bachmann, the woman who will NEVER be president, won the Iowa straw poll on Saturday.


Wow!  I'm so not impressed.


Other winners of Iowa's straw poll?  Pat Robertson and Mike Huckabee.

The Borowitz Report gets it:

AMES, IOWA (The Borowitz Report) – Calling the results of today’s Iowa straw poll “alarming,” Standard and Poor’s took the unprecedented action of downgrading Iowa’s IQ.


While the effects of such an extraordinary measure are hard to predict, experts say the IQ downgrade could result in Iowans having difficulty completing sentences or operating a television remote.

“This downgrade would be very upsetting to Republicans in Iowa,” said an S & P spokesman.

“Fortunately, there’s no way they’ll understand it.”

The winner in the straw poll, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), gave a rousing victory speech that was simulcast in English across the state.

But there may be tough sledding ahead for Rep. Bachmann, as a new poll shows her losing support to Texas Governor Rick Perry among voters who describe themselves as morons."


Late night jokes:

“Newsweek is taking heat for calling Michele Bachmann ‘The Queen of Rage.’ Michele says, ‘There’s only one raging queen in our household, and it’s not me.’” –Conan O’Brien

“‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ made $54 million this weekend. It’s about small-brained creatures who rise up and take over the Earth. First they form political groups called Tea Parties.” –Jay Leno

h/t Blue Mass. Group

Here's a song for the Queen of Straw:





Saturday, August 13, 2011

ROMNEY AND PALIN INCREASED TAXES TO IMPROVE THEIR STATES' CREDIT RATINGS

But don't tell their followers, it would make their heads explode and make them look at these two Republican presidential hopefuls as the hypocrites they truly are. [Palin keeps showing up at presidential hopeful events playing her cute little game of "Am I or Am I Not Running for President."]

Here's what Palin--who screeched about NOT raising the debt ceiling--did as governor of Alaska:

How Sarah Palin Got a AAA Credit Rating for Alaska

"Alaska recently had its bond rating raised to AAA for the first time in the state's history, largely due to fiscal improvements brought about by Sarah Palin while she was governor. The state currently enjoys a $12 billion budget surplus.

This is unquestionably a good thing for the people of Alaska, just as the country's downgrade is a bad thing. The state enjoys lower borrowing costs as a result. But especially in light of the current dysfunction in Washington, it's important to understand why Alaska's fiscal situation improved: It was largely because Palin raised taxes. Specifically, the state oil tax. Her central achievement as governor was signing a law, Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share (ACES), that dramatically increased the state's share of oil profits just as oil prices began to take off. "

But Palin would never admit to the fact that she raised taxes and how that improved Alaska's revenues.  Why?  Because she and her fellow Tea Party nuts are against raising taxes under any conditions.  But facts are stubborn things, and Palin--hypocrite that she is--won't point out to anyone that raising taxes improved Alaska's credit rating. 

Now on to Mitt Romney and his hypocrisy [this is nothing unusual for him]:

From the New York Times editorial today:


"Rejecting compromise was not the way Mr. Romney governed. He balanced the Massachusetts budget with new income from $269 million in closed tax loopholes, and $271 million in increased fees. He has claimed unconvincingly that those were not taxes, but it turns out that his administration boasted about them to the bond rating agencies in 2004 and 2005, and his state won an upgrade by demonstrating fiscal prudence. Now he is repudiating that approach at the federal level.
       
That has been the nature of every Republican debate this cycle: deny the truth or tell an outrageous lie with such bellicosity that no one dares to challenge it.
       
Representative Michele Bachmann, for example, said the credit downgrade was because the government could not pay its debt. Standard and Poor’s actually said it was because lawmakers like her did not take a default seriously. Representative Ron Paul ridiculously claimed that the United States is bankrupt. Tim Pawlenty said President Obama had no plan to reduce social insurance spending, conveniently forgetting that Mr. Boehner walked away from the president’s overly generous offer to reduce that spending in exchange for revenue increases.
       
The Republican Party has been led into its current cul-de-sac by manipulative officials who would not tell voters the truth about the government’s finances. It will remain there if even its “moderate” leaders refuse to break the pattern."


And finally another Massachusetts Republican politician lying about how increasing revenue here helped raised our state's credit rating--when the then governor, Mitt Romney--petitioned S&P to do so:

Scott Brown, lying like the rest of them (via Blue Mass. Group):

"In an op-ed in today’s Boston Globe, Senator Brown shares with us his recollection of how, a decade ago, Massachusetts pulled itself out of recession using only spending cuts and bipartisanship.

'In 2001 to ’02, the bursting of the technology bubble hit the Massachusetts economy hard. Our unemployment rate was growing faster than any other state in the country, and we faced a fiscal crisis that many experts said was the worst since World War II. The projected deficit for 2003 was nearly $3 billion.

But instead of raising taxes, Democrats and Republicans worked across the aisle: We tightened our belts and balanced the books by cutting spending. It wasn’t easy, but after some tough negotiations and re-setting of priorities, we turned our deficit into a surplus and the economy and jobs started coming back.'

A pretty story that neatly coincides with the Senator’s campaign platform. The only problem is that it’s not true. The state did raise taxes on income, capital gains and cigarettes in 2002, increasing revenues by $1 billion to help close the deficit.

We in the reality-based community always stand ready to help with the fact checking, Senator."


Why does any honest person belong to the GOP?  These are blatant examples of two conservatives running away from their own actions--actions that benefitted their states and actions they now condemn at the federal level.  And then a conservative senator telling lies about how Massachussetts received an improved credit rating after raising revenue.

These  people sicken me.

(I'll be posting at a later date about Elizabeth Warren's upcoming challenge to Scott Brown for the junior senator's seat here in Massachusetts.)

GO ELIZABETH!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rick Perry for President? Tell Him to Fix his $27 Billion Dollar Texas Deficit First, and Then Tell the Other Person Who Will Never Be President to Stop Being a Magnificent Hypocrite

Maybe Perry can hold a state-wide prayer meeting and ask God to fix the deficit.  Afterall, look at all the rain his prayers produced for his drought-ridden state.


RICK PERRY'S HUGE BUDGET DEFICIT:

And Texas ranks 49th out of 50 states in low taxes.  Tell us, Gov. Good Hair, how low taxes = jobs and low deficits.


Meanwhile, Texas is the killingest state in the Union, and compares favorably in state killings with Iran.




On to the next candidate who will never be president:


Michele Bachmann:  Magnificent Hypocrite.

Bachmann harangues anyone she can get to listen to her about the government's "orgy of spending" while holding out her greasy hypocritical hand for government money.  Her followers will ignore this rampant duplicity because it's part of their culture to support people who say one thing and then do the opposite.

"Though Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has repeatedly trashed the Environmental Protection Agency and vowed to have "its door locked and its lights turned off" if she gets to the White House, new information obtained via the Freedom of Information Act shows that she petitioned the EPA for help and grant support at least twice, among at least 16 requests for federal funds and help.
Many of those funding requests would require dipping into stimulus funds, the Huffington Posts's investigation showed. Bachmann has in the past dismissed President Barack Obama's massive stimulus plan as "fantasy economics" and advocates for limited government and fiscal conservatism.

“During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy [of spending]," she said of the stimulus and auto industry bailout May 4, 2009. "It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed."

According to the obtained records, just three weeks later, on May 20, Bachmann wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and asked for funding for a rail park in Minnesota "which will enhance economic development and job opportunities in this rural Minnesota community."

These latest findings are only the latest in a line of incongruences between Bachmann's campaign rhetoric and her personal record, including the revelations of Bachmann's federally supported home loans, federal subsidies received for a family farm and the clinic she owns with husband Marcus Bachmann accepting Medicaid funds."

Joe Scarborough this morning on Bachmann:



"Michele Bachmann's first answer was, I wish the federal government had defaulted. Had defaulted! A week after Americans lost--some of them perhaps lost half of their pensions. Lost half of their 401ks. When trillions of dollars went down the drain with Americans suffering, she said that and got applause, and if anybody thinks that guys like my dad are going to be voting that way...they are out of their mind and they are too stupid not only to prognosticate, they are too stupid to run Slurpee machines in Des Moines...Michele Bachmann is a joke. She is a joke. Her answer is a joke. Her candidacy is a joke...Iowa, if you let her win, you prove your irrelevance once again."



Smartypants has a great post up on how extreme the GOP has become just over the past 4 months.


Crooks & Liars exposes Bachmann as the repugnant liar that she is.

Michele Bachmann will never be president.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

THE TRUTH YOU WON'T HEAR ON FOX OR READ ON THOSE NUTTY RIGHTWING BLOGS

How's that "Hopey He'll Fail-ey Thing-ey"  working out for you Sarah?  Rush? Glenn?  Conservatives?

And how's that "Amerik-ey Don't Like-y Him Thing-ey" going?

John Boehner got 98% of what he wanted and was REAL happy, then his poll numbers went south, along with poll numbers for the Republican Party.

And who came out just fine?  The man whom the lunatic Tea Party and Mitch McConnell said they wanted to defeat, destroy, impeach, send back to Kenya, or whatever they hoped for in their sad little wet dreams:

"Despite widespread anger at Washington over the last month’s debt ceiling negotiations and a week of brutal financial news, several polls this week have suggested that Obama and the Democratic brand are hanging tough for now.

A look at Obama’s approval ratings across all 50 states released on Monday showed him gaining ground in a number of critical states since the Democrats’ disastrous midterm election.

A CNN poll on Tuesday showed the Republican party more unpopular than ever in the wake of the debt ceiling fight while Democrats are holding steady.

 And here’s that CNN poll, which has really bad news for Republicans in the wake of the debt ceiling fight. 

Republican unfavorables in the CNN poll have surged to 59 percent, with just 33 percent favorable (Democrats are even at 47/47.)

Meanwhile, the tea party is in even worse shape, with their numbers under water 51 percent unfavorable, and just 31 percent favorable.

In other words, the tea party is down to its core supporters only, and nothing more.

Hostage taking has its price.

In the poll, only 41 percent of respondents said their congressman deserves re-election, with 49 percent saying no mas. And just 25 percent say most members deserve to be re-elected, with a whopping 70 percent saying they do not.

Democrats are at 38/58 don’t deserve/deserve re-election and Republicans are at 31/64."

President Barack Hussein Obama:  Never, never, never underestimate the guy who beat the Clintons, got health care passed [when presidents have been trying to pass it for 100 years], and got bin Laden. 

He's eating the TPers' lunch, and they don't know it.  They're too busy listening to FOX News' lies.  LOL!

h/t The Reid Report




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

THIS IS FOR THE OBAMA-BASHING LIBERALS WHO HAVEN'T TAKEN THE TIME TO READ HISTORY OR UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS PRESIDENT HAS ACCOMPLISHED


It's bad enough to read and hear the lies and misrepresentations put out by foaming-at-the muzzle extremist TPers and GOPers. But to read and listen to some liberals attack and undermine the president without understanding how government works and how FDR had to compromise with the worst elements in the Republican Party is not only disheartening but unfathomable as well.

Here's some history from Steve Benen:

"I’ve mentioned this before, but I often think about Social Security at its origins. In 1935, FDR accepted all kinds of concessions, excluding agricultural workers, domestic workers, the self-employed, the entire public sector, and railroad employees, among others. And why did the president go along with this? Because Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to cut deals with conservatives, even in his own party — many of whom were motivated by nothing more than racism — in order to get the legislation passed.



When delivering red-meat speeches in public, FDR saw his Republican critics and “welcomed their hatred.” When governing, FDR made constant concessions — even if it meant occasionally betraying his principles and some of his own supporters — in order to get something done.


[skip]


Four years into Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential term, the worst of the Great Depression seemed behind him. Massive jolts of New Deal spending had stopped the economic slide, and the unemployment rate was cut from 22 percent to less than 10 percent.


'People felt that there was momentum,' U.S. Senate historian Donald Ritchie tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered. 'Finally, there was the light at the end of the tunnel.'


So Roosevelt, on the advice of his conservative Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, decided to tackle the country’s exploding deficits. Over two years, FDR slashed government spending 17 percent.


'All of a sudden,' Ritchie says, 'after unemployment had been going steadily down, unemployment shot up, the economy stagnated, the stock market crashed again. And now it seemed we’d come out of the Hoover Depression to go into the Roosevelt recession.'


Similar decisions Roosevelt made about spending and austerity are being discussed at the White House right now. In the long term, both political parties say they agree that austerity is a good thing. But what about in the short term, while unemployment remains high?


In other words, today’s emo progressives would have been savagely attacking FDR the same way they’re attacking Obama now. And they would have had more grounds, between the internment of the Japanese, FDR’s initial failure to respond to the slaughter of innocents by Adolf Hitler (it was the Japanese we ultimately went to war against) and his ongoing refusal to address issues of racial segregation, lynching and discrimination against African-Americans, including in the armed forces. That and the compromises FDR accepted as part of the New Deal, including explicitly keeping racial parity out of the equation, would have made Roosevelt as great a villain to the purist progressives of today as Obama has become. And their disappointment would have been just as great.


The bottom line: Roosevelt was no less a great president — even a great liberal president. But being president requires compromises, often unpleasant ones, and there is no 'perfect' example of caution to the wind liberalism for the purists to point to. They can feel free to demonize Obama, but not with the weight of history on their side."


And to those of you who insist that President Obama shoulda/coulda advanced his liberal/progressive agenda more aggressively, here's another reality check:

Barack Obama and the myth of the progressive ‘majorities’