Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

~~~

~~~

"FETUS,

TRANSGENDER, VULNERABLE, ENTITLEMENT, DIVERSITY,

EVENDENCE-BASED, SCIENCE-BASED."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Night Poetry

These I, Singing in Spring
Walt Whitman (from Leaves of Grass, first published in 1860 edition)



These, I, singing in spring, collect for lovers,
(For who but I should understand lovers, and all their sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?)
Collecting, I traverse the garden, the world—but soon I pass the gates,
Now along the pond-side—now wading in a little, fearing not the wet,
Now by the post-and-rail fences, where the old stones thrown there, pick’d from the fields, have accumulated,
Wild-flowers and vines and weeds come up through the stones, and partly cover them—
Beyond these I pass,
Far, far in the forest, before I think where I go,
Solitary, smelling the earthy smell, stopping now and then in the silence,
Alone I had thought—yet soon a silent troop gathers around me,
Some walk by my side, and some behind, and some embrace my arms or neck,
They, the spirits of friends, dead or alive—thicker they come, a great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing in spring, there I wander with them,
Plucking something for tokens—tossing toward whoever is near me;
Here! lilac, with a branch of pine,
Here out of my pocket, some moss which I pull’d off a live-oak in Florida, as it hung trailing down,
Here, some pinks and laurel leaves, and a handful of sage,
And here what I now draw from the water, wading in the pond-side,
(O here I last saw him that tenderly loves me—and returns again, never to separate from me,
And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of comrades—this Calamus-root shall,
Interchange it, youths, with each other! Let none render it back!)
And twigs of maple, and a bunch of wild orange, and chestnut,
And stems of currants, and plum-blows, and the aromatic cedar:
These, I, compass’d around by a thick cloud of spirits,
Wandering, point to, or touch as I pass, or throw them loosely from me,
Indicating to each one what he shall have—giving something to each;
But what I drew from the water by the pond-side, that I reserve,
I will give of it—but only to them that love, as I myself am capable of loving.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Doctor Carson's Brouhaha







The newest darling of the GOP, Dr. Benjamin Carson, has attracted controversy this week because of remarks he made while discussing marriage equality on FAUX NOOZ's Sean Hannity show.  Here is what Dr. Carson said:


 "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."


Dr. Carson had been invited to speak at commencement at Johns Hopkins Medical in May; but after the above statement, where he lumps gays in with NAMBLA and BESTIALITY, a group of students is circulating a petition, asking that his invitation be withdrawn.

Some on the right are now saying the left is "going after" Dr. Carson.  This is the usual response to hearing criticism when a right winger makes an outrageous remark, and it's hysterical falderol.

Dr. Carson has every right to say what he thinks about gays [that they're in a category with NAMBLA and BESTIALITY].  And those of us who take issue with that insult are perfectly within our right to criticize him for his denigrating remarks.  This is exercising our free speech rights.  No one's  "going after" Dr. Carson.  He entered the political arena, therefore, he is now subject to having his statements examined and criticized.

That's how it works.

Dr. Carson is wrong when he says this:

"What I was basically saying is that as far as marriage is concerned that has traditionally been between a man and a woman and nobody should be able to change that."



Marriage, even in the Bible, has also been between a man and several women; and in some cultures around the world, still is.  Even fundamentalist Mormons still practice polygamy.  So Dr. Carson apparently isn't aware that his understanding of what "traditional" marriage is, is wrong.

Other curiosities about Dr. Carson are his bizarre views on Evolution:

"Ultimately, if you accept the evolutionary theory, you dismiss ethics, you don't have to abide by a set of moral codes, you determine your own conscience based on your own desires."


“You have a theory in which you place your faith, and I have a theory in which I place my faith,” Carson said in a speech. “I say you can believe what you want but I simply don’t have enough faith to believe what you believe. I’m a person of faith so I have to believe in God. You know that always gets them.”

From the Washington Post writing on the above quotes:

"Dr. Carson argues that there is no evidence for evolution, that there are no transitional fossils that provide evidence for the evolution of humans from a common ancestor with other apes, that evolution is a wholly random process, and that life is too complex to have originated by the natural process of evolution. All of these claims are incorrect. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming: ape-human transitional fossils are discovered at an ever increasing rate, and the processes by which organisms evolve new and more complex body plans are now known to be caused by relatively simple alterations of the expression of small numbers of developmental genes. Our understanding of the evolutionary process has advanced our ability to develop animal models for disease, our ability to combat the spread of infectious disease and, in point of fact, the work of Dr. Carson himself is based on scientific advances fostered by an understanding of evolution."


Dr. Carson seems to be the perfect new shiny object for the GOJP:  We are told that he's a brilliant pediatric neurosurgeon who doesn't think there's any evidence for evolution, that he believes in traditional  marriage between one man and one woman, even if that combination has most definitely NOT been wholly traditional in human experience, and he categorizes gay citizens along with NAMBLA and BEASTIALITY.

A perfect combination for a GOJPers dream candidate.  After all, he's passed the test that calls for true acceptance as a true believer in today's GOJP:  Religious dogma over facts.

Rational Nation USA has a post up on this subject as well.  HERE.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Grand Old Jurassic Party


UPDATE BELOW

Today we take a look at what's happening, or has happened, in GOJP land on economic and social issues:   


Walker Wrecks Wisconsin as State Plunges to 44th in Private Sector Job Growth 

"Remember when Scott Walker promised 250,000 additional private sector jobs if only the voters would elect him Governor of Wisconsin? 

Well, they did, but he hasn’t delivered. 

Wisconsin has fallen again, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics report. They are now at 44 out of 50 states for private sector job growth from September 2011 to September 2012."

[skip]

"...Forbes named Wisconsin one of the worst states for business, somehow claiming that because they weren’t a “right-to-work” state they are flailing, when in reality, Walker’s union busting policies have had plenty of time to attract business, per the Right wing claim. But they haven’t."



In 1995, Texas lawmakers insisted on imposing "abstinence only" as the only standard for sex education in schools across the state:    

"The results have been devastating. 


In 1992, Texas had the ninth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. 

By 2008, it had jumped to third-highest. In other categories, the statistics are just as staggering today: 

Texas is ahead of the national average in teen births, repeat teen births and high schoolers who have had sex. 

The state lags behind the national average in high schoolers who have used a condom or birth control pills for their last sexual encounter. State taxpayers are left with a $1 billion annual bill for teen births. That’s just the beginning. 

Babies born to mothers ages 15 to 17 have poorer health, lower cognitive development, do worse in school and have higher incarceration rates. No wonder that, in a poll of bipartisan voters last month, 84 percent of Texans said they favored a comprehensive program that includes teaching abstinence but that also provides scientific-based information. 

That approach, abstinence-plus, has been previously endorsed by this newspaper. Rather than embracing the will of the public, state lawmakers, led by Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, are using sex education to push an anti-abortion agenda that would lead to state intervention in local decision-making."





Food Stamp Use is Highest in Red States: The Truth Republicans Do Not Want You to Know


"Economists say that providing food stamps might be the most stimulative action the government can take. Tax cuts for the wealthy ranks around 12th. I'm not against tax cuts for the wealthy out of any disdain for the wealthy. 

[skip]

So, the question is, do Republican approaches work? Who do they work for? Do they work long term? 

[skip]

Charts of food stamp usage show that while a few Democrat-led states have high food stamp usage; food stamp usage is highest consistently across Republican states. 

What does that say about the Republican approach...the top down, trickle down theory of economics fails the poor. Under conditions where the poor were helped, one would expect that there would be less reliance on food stamps. People would receive short-term support, a little assistance getting on their feet, maybe some job training, or some assistance paying for community college and would be on their way. 

If the poor are uplifted even just slightly then they become tax payers rather than living off food stamps. 

Republicans are angry about food stamp usage because they have failed to uplift the poor in their states. The top down, trickle down, economic approach has broken social mobility in Republican led states. Republicans are angry because their failed economic approach leaves them with fewer tax payers and more people on welfare." 



Here is an astute analysis:


The Grand Old Jurassic Party
STEVE ERICKSON FEBRUARY 14, 2013

With its focus on ideological purity, the Republican species is on the brink of extinction.



"The Republican Party is a presidential election away from extinction. If it can’t win the 2016 contest, and unless it has bolstered its congressional presence beyond the benefits of gerrymandered redistricting—which is to say not only retaking the Senate but polling more votes than the opposition nationally—the party will die. 

It will die not for reasons of “branding” or marketing or electoral cosmetics but because the party is at odds with the inevitable American trajectory in the direction of liberty, and with its own nature; paradoxically the party of Abraham Lincoln, which once saved the Union and which gives such passionate lip service to constitutionality, has come to embody the values of the Confederacy in its hostility to constitutional federalism and the civil bonds that the founding document codifies. 

The Republican Party will vanish not because of what its says but because of what it believes, not because of how it presents itself but because of who it is when it thinks no one is looking."


And lastly, here's another reason why minorities don't like them. (Remember how the GOJP has claimed it must attract Latinos and make them feel welcome in their party?)   Now read below how a member of the House of Representatives, without a hint of embarrassment, refers to farm workers.  After all, where he comes from, this is probably an acceptable term for Latinos:


"Rep. Don Young (R-AK) used an ethnic slur to describe Mexican farm workers in an interview with a local station KRBD on Thursday. "My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” he said while discussing economic trends of the last few decades. “It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.” Young's "wetback" remark comes as the GOP is engaged in a large scale effort to win over Latino voters, who have been alienated by party members' anti-immigration rhetoric and policies in recent years."


UPDATE:
Note to the GOJP:  If you want to be seen as a more inclusive party, it's best that you don't call gay people "filthy."  


Geeeez!

Latinos are "wetbacks," gay people are "filthy," women who wish to have their health insurance include contraception coverage are "sluts," and African-Americans stay with the Democratic Party because they're too stupid to know any better?

And this Michigan Republican says gays are responsible for half the murders in cities!  Where do they get these idiots?  I mean, does the GOJP send out flyers asking for the craziest, dumbest people to join them and become leaders?  It certainly seems so.

Whew!  And they wonder why minorities don't go near this party.

Dumb is too kind a word. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

All Eyes and Ears On SCOTUS This Week






Blockbuster cases to be heard on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week:


"The Supreme Court will take up a challenge...to California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure which amends the state’s constitution to hold that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” 

 The outcome could range from requiring all states to accept gay marriage or decreeing such bans constitutional. The justices could also dodge the issue." 


"The Court could determine that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection for all under the law. In that scenario, gay couples in states like Massachusetts and Maine would begin to receive federal perks for married couples such as retirement and tax benefits. 

 The reach of such a decision would be important for future gay marriage battles. “Of course, if they strike it down they could write the opinion narrowly, just about Section 3 of DOMA, or broadly in a way that recognizes a constitutional right to marriage equality,” says Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law professor at UC-Irvine."





Polls in 2013

A March Washington Post poll shows that 58% of Americans support same-sex marriage while 36% oppose. The poll indicates that 52% of GOP-leaning independents under 50 years old now support gay marriage.
A March Quinnipiac University poll found 47% support and 43% opposed among all voters.
A March Fox News poll indicated that 46% of Americans both support and oppose same-sex marriage.
A February 6-10 CBS News Poll shows that 54% of Americans support same-sex marriage while 46% oppose.



As the above polls indicate, a majority of Americas have come to understand that marriage equality is a civil right, not a privilege, and marriage equality certainly should not be denied through religious prohibitions that would be imposed on a secular society such as ours.  No religious organization will be forced to perform marriages it is opposed to. So those who object to marriage equality can rest assured that if his or her religion forbids such unions, his or her place of worship is in no danger.  Happily there are religions that have embraced marriage equality and welcome couples who wish to marry into their community.


Unfortunately many Americans still do not support this basic civil right:   Marriage equality:


"Among G.O.P. Voters, Little Support for Same-Sex Marriage 
By NATE SILVER 

The decision by the Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, to announce his support for same-sex marriage may come to be seen as a watershed moment for gay rights advocates. 

Mr. Portman’s announcement, which he said he made in part because his son is gay, has so far yielded relatively little pushback from Republicans on blogs and social media, or from other Republican office-holders. Instead, gay rights advocates are increasingly finding support from influential Republicans.

But the rank and file of the Republican Party may be different, and the polling suggests that they have largely not changed their views on same-sex marriage." 




I remain very hopeful that the SCOTUS will rule favorably later this year on these two issues, since I cannot find any legal or moral reason that it should not.  I'm pretty certain all of us know gays and lesbians either through our circle of friends or through family members; and any arguments against extending equal rights to our LGBT family and friends would be a step backward and a betrayal of the fundamental guarantees America was founded on.


Let's hope America does the moral and just thing in this case.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Poetry

I wrote this poem a while back in free verse form and had it workshopped.  The participants in the poetry workshop liked it well enough, but Lucie Brock-Broido, who ran the workshop, suggested I put it in sonnet form.  


C(LOVE)

The evening’s air is sweet with new mown grass,
I know what lies ahead.  The candle’s lit,
we are alone. I touch with tenderness
your bulbous form, peel back your papery skin,

reveal your glossy flesh, as sleek as pearl.
I gently pull apart each clove, I press
you to my lips and am enflamed--your oil,
your pungent scent, your promise of a sauce,

a broth, or piquant aglio olio dip.
I chop and crush, you satisfy my need,
surrender all your fire, your creamy pulp,
your lusciousness.  O little passion bead,

I’ll always keep you near to me, that we
may ever share this allium ecstasy.

                                          --S.K.



Saturday, March 23, 2013

HEAD EXPLOSION ALERT!

UPDATE BELOW


Wait until the frightwingers hear about this!


Brits name Michelle Obama as their fashion queen : 






All hail the foremost representative of fashion royalty! A British magazine created this image of Michelle Obama as a queen to promote its best-dressed list.



"Michelle Obama might still be regarded as a polarizing figure in America, but the Brits are less divided in their feelings about her — especially in their appreciation of her fashion sense. 

The famously choosy Sunday Times Style Magazine named the first lady to the top of its best-dressed list and put a tiara-bedecked Obama in profile in the queen's spot on a first-class stamp. 

This has been a high-water mark for the first lady and her sartorial influence. 

The fashion-savvy Obama, who has championed American designers such as Jason Wu and Tracey Reese, is also on the cover of Vogue's influential March issue."





Michelle Obama might be regarded as a polarizing figure only because those on the extreme right make her so.  

She is an intelligent, caring, dignified, and lovely First Lady who is admired around the world and here in her own country.  

There will always be malcontents who envy or hate her and wish to bring her down.  I've been to conservative blogs where they post racist links to try to diminish her.  That sort of creepy hatred doesn't affect her one jot.

Those unhappy creatures who continue to disrespect Mrs. Obama will themselves be eaten up by their own nastiness.

"Hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." 



HEAD EXPLOSION ALERT!!!

What did I tell ya?  Here's the first comment on this post about the FLOTUS, and just after the "Texas conservative" took the time to come here, write it, and hit "publish", I heard a terrible EXPLOSION!  And bits of crania fell on my roof!  Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle.  

Poor commenter haz a sad!  Because Michelle Obama!  

From Texas conservative @1:23 PM 

"Did you ever read such crap before in your life as this CRAP about MOOCHELLE Obama the Wicked Witch of the West Wing? And why is this Nazis FORCING my kids to eat the food that she wants them to eat? If the libtards are nuts over her then let them, and tell her to STFU."



Normally I delete trolls, but this comment so perfectly illustrates the bile (and illiteracy) that churns in the minds of these sorts of malcontents. Whomever "Texas conservative" is, I thank him or her for his or her cooperation in proving my point.



OMG!  There's this, too?!   Both Obamas in one week!

What will we tell the children?

UPDATE:


Friday, March 22, 2013

President Obama Receives Highest Civilian Honor from Israel



Obama first sitting president to receive Medal of Distinction in Israel


"President Obama received Israel’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Distinction presented by President Shimon Peres at a state dinner."




Barack Obama visited Israel in the third month of his second term in office.

George W. Bush went during the last year of his presidency and his father, George H. W. Bush never went.

You know who else never went to Israel during his 8 years in office?

If you said Ronald Reagan, you'd be correct.

So, to review, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, all went to Israel during their presidencies, while Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush never went, and George W. Bush went in the LAST year of his presidency.

And how many times have I read on rightwing blogs that President Obama disrespects Israel?  Is no friend of Israel?  

A lot.

And those bloggers obviously don't know what they're talking about.


By MARY BRUCE (@marykbruce) and JONATHAN KARL (@jonkarl) 
JERUSALEM, March 20, 2013 

"Seeking to reassure the United States's primary ally in the Middle East, President Obama today told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his administration remains committed to doing "what is necessary" to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. "We do not have a policy of containment when it comes to a nuclear Iran. Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," 

Obama told reporters at a joint press conference after a series of closed-door meetings with Israeli leaders. "The United States will continue to consult closely with Israel on next steps. And I will repeat, all options are on the table," he said. It's no secret that Obama and Netanyahu have had a rocky relationship, although it was hard to tell by the way the two leaders publicly lauded each other and joked around. 

 During the American presidential campaign, Republicans alleged that President Obama was not committed to protecting Israel, but today Obama and "Bibi," as he called him, appeared at ease in front of the press. 

 Netanyahu even placed Obama's commitment to Israel's right of self-defense above that of any other U.S. president."



To the misinformed wingers who disparage this president and his relations with Israel?  

Do your homework.





Haaretz:

When love was here for a royal visit 

The whole point of Obama's trip to Israel is the pep talk for peace that he delivered in Jerusalem. Peace, the president said, is necessary, just and possible.


David Horovitz in the Times of  Israel

 "It was a deft, brilliantly conceived speech. He told Israelis how moral they are, how admirably creative they are, how smart with those 10 Nobel prizes, how democratic, how prosperous, and how mighty — the most powerful country in the region. He told them that the world’s strongest nation stood unshakably with them. “So long as there is a United States of America, Atem Lo Levad” — you are not alone. 

 And having built them up, convinced them of their near-invincibility, he showed them a theoretical future that he insisted could be realized if they would only trust in their strength sufficiently to take risks for peace. A future in which the security threats will recede. The prosperity will increase. The moral stain of occupation will disappear. All it takes is that determined, constant push for peace. How could they refuse him?"


Yossi Klein Halevi calls it perhaps ” the most passionate Zionist speech ever given by an American president”: 

 "Of course, his embrace had an explicit message for Israelis: Don’t give up on the dream of peace and don’t forget that the Palestinians deserve a state just as you do. But as the repeated ovations from the politically and culturally diverse audience revealed, these are messages that Israelis can hear when couched in affection and solidarity. After four years of missed signals, Obama finally realized that Israelis respond far more to love than to pressure."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What The Gobshites* Are Saying on the Intertoobz

I went blog-hopping this morning to see what our conservative/libertarian friends were writing about and came across a couple of posts purporting to be about race, racialists, and racism.  The first one I read begins with definitions on what racism and the term "racist" is, then it devolved into the same old biased, ignorant rant against the president, thereby proving, to me at least, that people of a certain political persuasion haven't the ability to discuss these issues with any sense of their own deep-seated bigotry and biases.  This particular screed continued with a grossly insulting reference to liberals/progressives and the entire African-American community:


"There is simply no other way to explain the concerted effort among progressive communists to keep American blacks poor, ignorant, and dependent upon government for their sense of self-worth."

First off, who are these "progressive communists" who have the legislative power in Washington or in local governments to "...keep American blacks poor, ignorant, and dependent upon government...?"  

The writer shows his crass bigotry toward African-Americans by his gross generalization of an entire group of people.  His lazy statement contains the idea that all American blacks are so poor, so stupid, and so helpless that they haven't the ability to see that progressives/liberals are keeping them that way?  This demeaning premise is probably one of the most racially loaded statements to be read anywhere by anyone, and it is a great insight into exactly why 98% of our African-American citizens reject the Republican Party.  

Hint to GOP:  When you keep telling a huge percentage of our population that they're too stupid to know what's good for them, those same people are not likely to want to join your club.

The GOP believes African-Americans are all helpless moochers who haven't the ability to think for themselves, and that African-Americans stay within the Democratic Party because the Democrats give them "stuff."  The blogger who posted this piece of gobshite, and others who nod their head in smug agreement, can't accept that almost a majority of our African-American brothers and sisters belong to the Democratic Party through their own free will and choosing and that they make that choice with intelligence and by understanding what a good many GOPers secretly believe of them.   

Go read that blogger's statement again and understand how biased and bigoted it is.


The blogger continues this phony examination of racism and racists by launching into the usual Teapublican attack on President Obama, after telling us that African-Americans are too stupid to think for themselves and by quoting some right-wing writer's 2008 biased and inaccurate description of President Obama:


"Dr. Jack Wheeler, who in 2008 wrote: 'Barack Hussein Obama is an eloquently tailored empty suit. He has no resume, no accomplishments, no experience, no original ideas, no understanding of how our economy works, no understanding of how the world works, no balls … nothing, in fact, but abstract, empty rhetoric devoid of substance. 

 'The man has no identity; he is half white, which he rejects. 

The rest of him is mostly Arab, which he hides but is disclosed by his non-African surname and his Arabic first and middle names, proclaiming his Arab parentage to people in Kenya. Only a small part of him is black African from his Luo grandmother, which he pretends he is exclusively. 

 “What he is not, what he is not even a genetic drop of, is ‘African American.’ He is not the descendent of enslaved Africans brought to the Americas chained in slave ships. He hasn’t a single ancestor who was a slave. Instead, his Arab ancestors were slave owners. They were profitable slave-trading Muslims —until the British ended it.” This is the real Barack Obama, who in their infinite wisdom the American people elected —twice." 


 "Was Jack Wheeler a racist, or was he simply making an astute observation? 

Yes. I call this Wheeler person a racist AND excruciatingly stupid.

But wait, because this Wheeler character's body was found somewhere on a trash heap, the writer connects it immediately, with no evidence whatsoever except his galloping biases, to "Chicago politics," code words for Barack Obama, since that's where he and most of his political allies came from:

 "Among a few, then, it was no surprise that Jack Wheeler’s body turned up on a trash heap. Some would describe his murder as his likely comeuppance. Others might call it Chicago politics ... the kind of gangsterism we've come to expect from Eric Holder, who sold guns to Mexican drug gangs in order to make a case against our Second Amendment rights..."


It's impossible to have a discussion with people like the person who quoted this mish-mash of bigotry, innuendo, and lies. They see Mr. Obama as an interloper who has no right to be in the White House.   

No other president has ever been subjected to a continuous assault on his birth, his  heritage, his relatives, and his ancestors.  

There is a reason for this, my friends.  

You figure it out.  

The person who wrote and quoted that pile of feculence certainly can't.



*Gobshites: h/t Charles Pierce

Monday, March 18, 2013

George and Tony's Excellent Adventure in Iraq.




Coming up to the ten-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, more information on the false premise for going to war--Saddam Hussein's WMDs, has become public.  And it confirms what many of us have been saying for the past ten years:   There were no WMDs.  

The fake-threat of WMDs was sexed up by Bush and Blair to get the USA and the United Kingdom frightened enough to send their blood and treasure to fight their war.  Ten years later and hundreds of thousands of dead Americans, Iraqis, and other nationals, and trillions of dollars that plunged us into debt, what have we to show for it?




"Prior to the war, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom claimed that Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a threat to their security and that of their coalition/regional allies. In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with UN weapon inspectors to verify that Iraq was not in possession of WMD and cruise missiles. 

Prior to the attack, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) found no evidence of WMD, but could not yet verify the accuracy of Iraq's declarations regarding what weapons it possessed.  After investigation following the invasion, the U.S.‑led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear, chemical and biological programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion, but that they intended to resume production if the Iraq sanctions were lifted. 

Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or abandoned chemical weapons from before 1991 were found, they were not the weapons which had been one of the main arguments for the invasion. Some U.S. officials also accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, but no evidence of a meaningful connection was ever found."  --Wikipedia



By Tom Whitehead, and Duncan Gardham
11:42PM GMT 
17 Mar 2013 

"The US and UK are accused of relying on questionable information that suggested Saddam Hussein was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), despite warnings over its authenticity. At the same time, other foreign intelligence that suggested no such programme existed was dismissed, according to a BBC Panorama investigation. One Iraqi spy – codenamed "Curveball" – whose claims to have witnessed the manufacture of WMD were seized upon by the Americans told the programme the invasion had been based on his 'lie'.

 Lord Butler, who, a year after the invasion, carried out a British review of the intelligence used, admitted that he was unaware that two senior members of Saddam's regime had secretly told the CIA and MI6 that WMD did not exist. The documentary will reignite questions over the legality and justification of the Iraq war. One source told the programme the conflict was borne out of "choice" rather than 'necessity'."


New evidence: CIA and MI6 were told before invasion that Iraq had no active WMD




"BBC’s Panorama reveals fresh evidence that agencies dismissed intelligence from Iraq foreign minister and spy chief Fresh evidence is revealed today about how MI6 and the CIA were told through secret channels by Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister and his head of intelligence that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair told parliament before the war that intelligence showed Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programme was 'active', 'growing' and 'up and running'." 


More here:


CIA and MI6 knew Iraq had no WMDs BBC Panorama to claim

All lies; all hubris  

The Bush Administration dragged the US and other countries into an illegal war based on lies.  

Here are the costs in human life and debt we must live with for years and years to come:


190,000 lives lost, $2.2 trillion cost - Looking back at decade since start of Iraq War



"In the decade since its beginning, the Iraq War has claimed more than 190,000 lives, including 7,888 American military personnel and contractors, according to a new comprehensive study of the war. In recognition of the 10 year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq on March 19, Brown University has released The Cost of War project, an analysis of the direct and indirect human, economic and social cost of the war. Here's a by-the-numbers look at some of the major findings: 

 $2.2 trillion – The cost of the Iraq War, including cost related to caring for veterans. 
Initial estimates were $50-60 billion. $500 billion – 
The cost of caring for Iraq War veterans through 2053. 134,000 – 
The number of Iraqi civilians who died of direct war violence. 
That number is about 70 percent of total war deaths. 
 4,488 – The number of U.S. service members killed in Iraq."

With the tax dollars the US spent for a failed state and the terrible consequences of war, it could have brought health care to every man, woman, and child in the US.  Our priorities appear to be those of an empire in decline.

And last but not at all the least, the spittle-combed neocon who helped deceive Americans into supporting his war of choice, Paul Wolfowitz:

10 Years On, Paul Wolfowitz Admits U.S. Bungled in Iraq


"In an interview with The Sunday Times to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, he said there 'should have been Iraqi leadership from the beginning', rather than a 14-month occupation led by an American viceroy and based on 'this idea that we’re going to come in like [General Douglas] MacArthur in Japan and write the constitution for them'. 

 He accepted that too many Iraqis were excluded by a programme to purge members of the ruling Ba’ath party, that the dissolution of the Iraqi army was botched and that the 'biggest hole' in post-war planning was not to anticipate the possibility of an insurgency. 'The most consequential failure was to understand the tenacity of Saddam’s regime,' he said."

Hubris.

We can thank President George W. Bush for the horror that was, and still is, Iraq, the thousands of lives lost, and the pillaging of the US treasury to pay for his Miserable Failure.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day to All My Irish Family and Friends!







And from the incomparable Flann O'Brien/Brian O'Nolan, one of my favorite Irish writers:

 

 Brian O'Nolan/Flann O'Brien, Myles na gCopaleen


 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Donald Trump Speaks to CPAC's Empty Chairs!

Donald Trump:   "Birth certificate...blah, blah, blah...college transcripts...blah, blah, blah...my people are finding amazing things about...blah, blah, blah...Obama...blah, blah, blah.

His own people didn't show up to listen to the braying jackass.

And remember:  This clown was invited to CPAC, and Chris Christie, a very popular conservative governor of a very liberal state, wasn't.

Can the GOP be any more self-destructive than that?






Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PAUL RYAN STILL DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THAT HE AND MITT LOST THE ELECTION

During the campaign, Ryan claimed that the election would be a choice between two fundamentally different visions for America, and the American people fundamentally REJECTED Ryan's and Romney's visions.  In fact, Ryan's own home town and home state rejected him, and every one of Romney's home states, Michigan, Massachusetts, and California, REJECTED him.  What don't they understand about this total rejection by the American people?

During the campaign, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the Ryan budget "immoral."  Ryan loves to talk about his devotion to his religion, and yet he appears not to know the fundamentals of his savior, Jesus's, message.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called him out on his merciless budget plan that would comfort the already comfortable and afflict the already afflicted.

From Andrew Sullivan's blog "The Daily Dish:"
"...Ryan's budget is as notable for what it cuts as for what it doesn’t cut. Social Security, defense, and Medicare — together making up about half of the federal budget — would scarcely be cut at all. After all, it’s hard to win a Republican election if you abandon old voters and the defense industry. 

As for health care and cash support for the poor? That’s where the hammer hits. Jon Cohn adds: The report’s distinct treatment of defense and non-defense spending is actually a great window into Ryan’s fundamental philosophy. The section on defense spending has long passages about the importance of national security and the dangers of intemperate cuts. Rooting out waste is important, the document says, but it must be done carefully. 

The section on the social safety net has virtually no similar language. A reader unfamiliar with the reality of American life would have no idea that millions of Americans live in poverty—that they struggle, every day, to pay for bare necessities like gas, rent, and food. Of course, if “The Path to Prosperity” mentioned those things, readers might want to know what Ryan proposed to do about them. But Ryan doesn’t propose meaningful substitutes for the support he’d take away. Instead, he puts his faith in the strength of individuals and communities to help those who struggle. 

The absence of defense cuts reveals that this is not about fiscal conservatism; it’s about a society that celebrates soaring inequality while attempting to remain the sole global hegemon. It’s almost a parody of a document of how a democracy perishes – because its social contract ends with two utterly separate nations of “hyper-rich” and “always-struggling”, it delegitimizes capitalism by rewarding and even celebrating its abusers, and because its premature austerity could well increase the long-term debt, rather than lower it. It’s a high school term paper of utopianism. 

And it’s all Paul Ryan knows." 



Here's Ryan in his own words:


"This to us is something that we're not going to give up on, because we're not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people."

There it is people.  What could be plainer than that?

America's very own zombie-eyed granny starver, but he loves Jesus!

Ayn Rand would be so proud. Not to mention that she died while living off public assistance and receiving Medicare because she smoked herself to death. And Ryan himself used publicly financed student loans to get through school just in time to cut the same programs for everyone else. 


Paul Ryan has not worked a single day in his adult life outside of government.  He IS government.  The kind that likes to tell people how EEEEvul and liberty-killing it is while taking all of its benefits and working to keep them away from everyone else.   








Monday, March 11, 2013

New Rules



Bill Maher points out how everything's become political, even our beer!

(I'm out of town for a few days.  No intertoobz while away.  See you on Wednesday.)




Friday, March 8, 2013

Massachusetts Sculptor and Musician, Jack Vasapoli

My cousin, Jack Vasapoli, is a sculptor and musician [he plays the alto sax with a local band, The Swamptones].  

Over the last 30 years he has carved in wood images of some of our greatest jazz musicians.   In the spring of 2012, he had a one-man show at The Brooks School in Andover, Mass.  

This February and March, Buckingham, Browne and Nichols is featuring a one-man show of Jack's remarkable sculptures of America's legends of music.







More images of Jack's work HERE.

Bravo, Jack!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Powerful, Rich White Guy, Roger Ailes, Calls POTUS "Lazy." Antonin Scalia Sticks Fingers in Ears, Yells La-La-La, I Can't HEAR You!.

Let's see.  

The less than august Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, makes a statement claiming we're no longer a racist nation, we're all over that; therefore, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is not needed in our racially sensitive and racially healthy, non-bigoted country. 

Then we read this from Roger Ailes of the MOST WATCHED cable news station in this country:

 “Obama’s the one who never worked a day in his life. He never earned a penny that wasn’t public money. 

How many fund-raisers does he attend every week? 

How often does he play basketball and golf? 

I wish I had that kind of time. 

He’s lazy, but the media won’t report that.


So Fox News' chief said the President is a lazy black man who lives off public money and loves to play basketball." 



For the record, Obama taught law at a private university and worked at a law firm, so Ailes is not only peddling racist garbage, he's peddling lies. Also he's a racist swine. 

Now let's talk about someone who spent his ENTIRE life benefiting from government help and working for the government.  As an adult, this guy never held a job outside of government.  But would Roger Ailes call him LAZY, living off of public money?   Hmmmmm.  

Perhaps the two photos below can explain why.

See, President Obama did actually work in the private sector, and he has been president of the US for over four years, a not-for-the lazy, stressful, difficult job, made even more so by the obstructionist, sabotaging lie-mongerers in the GOP who, in addition to vowing to never cooperate and never compromise with the president, have happily kept alive the suspicion, held by certain morons in their party, that he isn't even an American.  Also, those same cementheads in that unfortunate political party continue to slander and slur his wife, our FLOTUS.

The guy in the second photo below hoped to be the next vice president of the US, and probably will run for the presidency at some point in his all-government, all-the-time career.

Can we guess how many cable news moguls will call the guy in the second photo "LAZY?"

I'm gonna go out on a thin limb and guess "none."

Can you figure out why?

But...but...we don't need special laws to protect certain people's right to vote, because ANTONIN SCALIA and ROGER AILES!







Go read Smartypants on this subject right now!

And then this by Ta-Nahisi Coats in the New York Times.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We Crazy!

Things that don't make sense:

UPDATE BELOW

Guns kill more people. So why does terrorism get all the attention? 

 "The next time you play airport security theater — remove shoes, display laptop, toss water bottle — think of the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Think of the moviegoers in Aurora, Colo., the citizens in Tucson peaceably assembled to meet with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old Chicago girl killed by gunfire days after coming to Washington with her high school band for President Obama’s second inauguration.  

[skip]

A commemoration of the march is scheduled to begin Sunday in Selma, led by Mr. Lewis and Vice President Joseph Biden Jr., and will end in Montgomery on Friday. Its urgent purpose is to underscore why the Supreme Court must uphold a central provision of the Voting Rights Act, which is now under challenge in Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder. That provision — Section 5 — applies in Alabama and other places where voting discrimination remains much worse than elsewhere in the country. It requires that any change in voting rules be preapproved by the Justice Department or a special court in Washington. Without this provision, there would be no way to prevent new efforts to block blacks and Hispanics from voting or to reduce their electoral power.

Americans suffer assaults on their privacy — they are groped in public and wiretapped en masse — and surrender their constitutional protections against unwarranted searches in the name of the war on terror, yet they cannot muster the will to protect children from mass murder with military-style weapons. We have spent more than $1 trillion on homeland security since Sept. 11, 2001, yet have withheld annual funding of less than $3 million for research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on gun violence."



Get rid of the Voting Rights Act because Antonin Scalia is a proud white man?


"March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday in the annals of the civil rights struggle in America. That day, around 500 people set out to march the 54 miles from Selma, Ala., to the state capital in Montgomery in support of what would become the Voting Rights Act. The voting rights movement was transformed into a national cause when the marchers were stopped on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they left Selma.


A state trooper told them they were “an unlawful assembly” and ordered them to disperse. When they did not, they were attacked by about 150 troopers and others who wielded billy clubs and tear gas. Fifty-eight people were treated for injuries at a local hospital, including Representative John Lewis, then 25 and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, for a skull fracture.

[skip]




 The justices heard oral argument on the Shelby County case last Wednesday. This week’s events in Alabama should remind them of the enormous cost many Americans have paid to win the right to vote, and why that remains under persistent threat and must be defended."  --Lincoln Caplan, NYTimes, March 2, 2013



Leonard Pitts on gutting the Voting Rights Act:


"Watching media empires built upon appeals to racial resentment, seeing the injustice system wield mass incarceration as a weapon against black men, bearing witness as the first African-American president produced his long form birth certificate, all helped me understand just how silly we were to believe bigotry was done. So a chill crawled my spine last week as the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could result in gutting the Voting Rights Act. 

That landmark 1965 legislation gave the ballot to black voters who had previously been denied it by discriminatory laws, economic threats, violence and by registrars who challenged them with nonsense questions like, “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap.”

Jon Stewart explain "teh crazy."









UPDATE


More things that don't make sense: 

Why do people believe ANYTHING they get from The Daily Caller, or the vomitous Breitbart.crap? 

The story about Senator Menendez has been racing around wingnuttia and not a few easily duped blogs for months and has finally been shown to be false, false, FALSE. 

Is there anything that the pathetic little bow-tied twit, Tucker Carlson can do right? He and his fellow travelers at Breitbart.vomit continue to give a bad name to stupidity. 

 From Andrew Sullivan's blog:

  "This is a pretty definitive exposure of a total fabrication in the Daily Caller. But along with its sister propaganda sheet, Breitbart, what defines this new form of hackery is not that it makes shit up, but that even when it is busted, it keeps up the Baghdad Bob routine. its imperviousness to truth even when it is presented with it. The detachment from reality – the strongest feature of today’s degenerate Republicanism – is embedded in its own fabricated media. That’s partly why they were living in never-never-land even on election day last November. Another piece detailing the DC’s being a party to a con, concludes, after ABC News destroyed the lies: The ABC News story isn’t a game changer; it’s a game ender. 

 Not if you live in what’s left of Tucker Carlson’s brain."