Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Think They’d Settle For a Cage Fight?
One thing that’s truly exceptional about Americans is their firm belief that this is their planet and they make the sun shine and the rain fall on it. If something good happens on Earth? Americans had a hand in it. If something bad happens on Earth? Americans will fix it, tout de suite. Got problems? send America “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore” and we’ll whip ‘em into shape.
And, after running The Greatest Show On Earth for over 200 years now, Americans are the world’s go-to experts on every topic under the sun, because . . . we say so. And the First Amendment guarantees that we get to say just about anything with authority and it must be respected.
So. If we don’t believe in evolution or climate change or bad things happening in American History, well, goshdangit, it doesn’t exist. And, to make sure it keeps on not existing, we’ll change the textbooks so our chilluns ain’t infected by bad ideas. And this is possible because, in America, a scientist has no more say than Sarah Palin. We’re a democracy, don’t you know?
What is it about the democratization of ignorance that some folks find so intoxicating?
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Posted by Bette Noir on 03/19/14 at 10:44 AM
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
C’mon Truth, Get Your Damn Shoes On!
“A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but it has never been verified as originating with Twain. This quote may have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) who attributed it to an old proverb in a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, April 1, 1855. Spurgeon was a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher. His words were: “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”
Brace yourselves, Roasters, it’s starting early this time around. You know what I mean, right? that goofy quadrennial American reality show called The Making of The President, in which a gang of nattering political nabobs join in a rousing cacophonous chorus of Me! ME!! Look at meeeee!
One of the talking points that seems to be developing legs, on the Right, is the Lawless Obama meme. Rallying round that notion, I expect the pundits of the courtier press to be donning their little amateur constitutionalist thinking caps, any minute now, and letting us in on what their “gut” tells them is unconstitutional. And we the people will commence quivering with fear because . . . ASSAULT ON LIBERTY!!!
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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/18/14 at 10:57 AM
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Tom Perkins Makes Some Interesting Points
I have the feeling that Tom Perkins and I don’t have considerable overlap in our personal views or experiences regarding money. It’s okay, and I judge, but, like, I don’t judge, man. He’s made a living knowing things about money, while for me, economics is a neat hobby, but I read poetry in college because my folks wanted me to be a useful citizen and iambs kept me off the pipe and the pole. Kind of. So I am taking his pronouncements with a grain of salt and a spoonful of sugar.
It’s hard to not look at a claim that people should earn votes based on their tax dollars as a form of elitism where wealthy people have more value in a system based on their proportionate capacity to pay more in tax dollars because they have those dollars to pay. I could envision a system where, by virtue of greed and the complicity of the hoi polloi, the wealthy could become disenfranchised by a tax law exempting the 1%-ers from all taxation. Followed by a brief and satisfying reign of terror in the exact year they lose all the votes. But I have long dipped my toes in speculative fiction where justice often follows narrative ends.
I do not suggest that such a future is practical nor probable. But I do note that our popular elections are so run that money does have sway in the ability of candidates, or whole movements, such as the Tea Party, to gain offices. The ability to create issues, generate turn-out, attract donations (by that old black magic called “It takes money to make money”), run ads that popularize a candidate’s name and visage, and so on, are greatly aided by money.
Why, let me introduce you to the Koch Brothers, if you haven’t been introduced! They’ve got a system. They are two guys who can fund a remarkable number of think tanks (thought tanks, I think, because the thinks were already pre-thunk, no?), action groups, and whatever you might call them. This is several different ways to funnel money to campaigns, really. Many ways to soften up voter minds or harden positions for the gullible faithful inclined to seeing things their way. Billionaires can even buy or build whole news networks. They are even owning whole states, in their unpleasant way. With the Citizen’s United decision, dollars pretty well convert to votes. Perkins’ dream is about here.
I think this is why folks of limited resources need to take advantage of voting while we can, because it is regularly being screwed with. (Nope, even today.) And let’s make sure our votes don’t get bought out from under us.
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 02/15/14 at 12:46 AM
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
The Last Sanctuary Of The Terminally Inept*
*I have always felt that violence was the last refuge of the incompetent and empty threats the last sanctuary of the terminally inept. Neil Gaiman
Evidently the Republican Party Retreat last week did little to cure the GOP of its compulsion to punch above its weight on increasing the debt limit. GOP “leadership” are planning to spend the week winnowing through their roster of hostages so that they “get something” out of this next round of negotiations. At least someone seems to have had the presence of mind to quietly increase the term of the debt ceiling hike from the GOP-preferred 3 months to one whole year! because . . . ELECTION YEAR.
Hostages at the top of the list, this time around, appear to be either Keystone XL pipeline approval or the temporary “risk corridor” function in Obamacare. There are good explanations of how the “risk corridor” works to keep insurance premiums stable during Obamacare implementation here and here and why eliminating it is an abysmal policy choice designed to cripple the program.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 02/04/14 at 10:30 AM
Thursday, January 30, 2014
One Sh*t Sandwich - Hold The Bread. Coming Right Up!
Evidently, House Republicans were so inspired by President Obama’s SOTU speech that they stayed up all night dreaming up really cool, bipartisan ways to help him achieve the goals he outlined.
Republicans really hate it when people accuse them of being a do-nothing pack of congressional losers because they have binders—they can show ‘em to you—full of really great laws that would fix so many problems if Obama would just put down his veto pen and quit being such a dictator.
So, this morning, House Republican leaders delivered a letter, to the President, promising to pull four of their favorite 2013 bills out of the circular file and toss them across the aisle and give him one more chance to be a team player, because this is an election year and nobody likes a do-nothing Congress.
Without further ado here are their offerings:
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Posted by Bette Noir on 01/30/14 at 04:23 PM
Sunday, January 05, 2014
McCain and Graham are Predictable About Violence In Iraq
I think it is unfortunate that there is increased violence in Iraq and a bloody shame that al-Qaeda seems to have control of Fallujah. Based on the aftermath of first, the invasion of Iraq, then the war there, then our withdrawal, it is likely that reasonable people could predict that there would be increased violence, and that Fallujah was a likely place for a bunch of it. And, sure as fire is hot and water is wet, Senators McCain and Graham are all over it, and if you’ve been reading the libretto thus far, I bet you know what song they are singing:
McCain and Graham had been vocal critics of President Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, and they called the reports of al Qaeda gaining control in Fallujah and elsewhere “as tragic as they are predictable.”
“While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” the Republicans said in a statement. “When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests.”
“Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever,” McCain and Graham said. “What’s sadder still, the thousands of brave Americans who fought, shed their blood, and lost their friends to bring peace to Fallujah and Iraq are now left to wonder whether these sacrifices were in vain.”
It’s very sad that the country was destabilized by a decade of war, and it is President Bush who signed the status of forces agreement that led to the withdrawal, and ending the presence of US troops in Iraq was overwhelmingly in accordance with what the US public wanted. That decision has consequences—and so would staying. If Sens. McCain and Graham are under the impression that brave Americans specifically fought, shed blood, and lost friends to bring peace to Fallujah, they might want to ponder a rationale for the AUMF that started with weapons of mass destruction that no longer existed, and contemplate also why Fallujah does not happen to have peace today. The presence of US soldiers battling ISIS today would not constitute peace, and if the size of the conflict was smaller because of our continued presence, it would be somewhat like a lid on a pot that’s boiling over. Asking us to take into consideration whether the living or the dead Americans who fought in Iraq wonder whether their sacrifices are in vain—is itself a vanity.
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Posted by Vixen Strangely on 01/05/14 at 12:50 AM
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Are the Benghazi Talking Points Quite Done, Here?
The use of the deadly attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans as a political tool has frankly astonished me since the foreign policy naif Mitt Romney had the bad taste to broach it the very evening that it happened. For that reason, I see a kind of lukewarm vindication of the Obama Administration’s public statements regarding the matter in the NYT’s in-depth study on it, which draws two meaningful conclusions: that al-Qaeda was not involved in the attack and that it did stem in part from the widespread protests over a rather dumb bigoted little video, just as was stated by current NSA Susan Rice.
It has long seemed to me that the Benghazi affair as initiated by the Romney folks was a matter of using President Obama’s perceived strength (as having authorized the successful raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden) against him. The failure on the Romney side began with the claim that a statement attempting to ameliorate matters from the Cairo embassy was a sign that the Obama Administration actually sided with radical Islam, but this blew up into a claim that the administration was actually somehow derelict in defending the Libyan embassy from attack from several others on the Republican side, including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa. The use of the Benghazi tragedy as an indictment of the Obama Administration spans a number of criticisms that conservatives have had with the Commander-in-Chief—that he is Muslim or more sympathetic to radical Islam, that he isn’t a real leader, or that he wants America to fail.
It’s pretty much always been bullshit. Senators McCain and Graham did the best job of giving the game away when they failed to attend a briefing on the matter, opting instead to hang their faces in front of a camera pointing fingers. Rep. Issa, supposedly a kind of watchdog, has fluffed the matter at intervals, but is mostly of the school of investigation that insists that if he doesn’t hear what he thinks he ought, there is surely a cover-up afoot.
And it appears that, for the time being, he is not apt to drop this very tasty rag while there is yet some flavor in it:
On Sunday, “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Issa to respond to The Times story, which was published online Saturday. The story also said the Benghazi attacks were “fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
“We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi,” Issa said Sunday. “People from this administration … have said under oath there was no evidence of any reaction to a video.
“What we know, David, is the initial reports did not name this video as the prime cause,” he added.
Is that so? (No, it is not. And being a very concerned person, he might perhaps have looked at more than a few media accounts, no?) He’s also said that if a group alleges it has some connection with al-Qaeda, then that is good enough for him, which must be very validating to jihadi-come-lately groups who can at least claim to know somebody who knows somebody.
I’m afraid until Fox News gives the high sign, the idea that there was something more than usually rotten in Benghazi will be as certain a thing as the unbearable whiteness of Santa Claus in some quarters.
What I do want to point out, though, is that there is a sobering side to this in that the militants who made this attack came from the people the US supported in the overthrow of Qaddafi. I think there is an analogy that could be preemptively applied to involvement in Syria, for example. If anyone has the ear of, say, Sen McCain, they might want to try to explain it to him. I sort of hope President Obama has figured it out, but I’ve no real idea. Something about good intentions.
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 12/29/13 at 11:22 PM
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
So. Here we are, eleven months away from Mid-Term-a-Palooza and the Rebranding of the GOP advances apace. Or not. The Great Rebranding is reminding me a lot of Dr. Seuss, lately [as you can see] because it is such an extraordinary feat of wishful thinking as in Oh the Thinks You Can Think in which “Dr. Seuss explores the imagination and encourages the reader to push their creative mind to limitless heights.”
Back in January, when the Republican National Committee delivered its post-mortem, it was surprisingly on-target in regard to what went wrong in 2012. Those who touted it seemed a little overambitious in believing that all of the necessary changes, or even a few, could be made before the next national election, nevertheless the prescriptions were “directionally-correct,” as they say in PowerPoint.
Unfortunately, by about April, the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Echo Chamber decided that, for the most part, they like their old brand just fine and they’re convinced they can keep on selling it with a little updated PR, a few new faces, perhaps, and some new code words. Maybe just adopt a deliberately retro look . . .
Now, in December, it’s pretty clear that Republicans just can’t/won’t change . . . here are just a few select examples of how the GOP plans to capture the hearts and minds of Americans and impress voters with their leadership skills without twitching a whisker . . .
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Posted by Bette Noir on 12/10/13 at 01:34 PM
Monday, December 02, 2013
Postcards From the Conserv-o-sphere
Anyone who worked in business during the ‘90s is probably over-familiar with Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It was a thing for a while and transformed regular workers all up and down the ladder into pioneering Paradigm Shifters.
The world of business is particularly susceptible to pop psychology fads, ideally presented at a fourth-grade level, that promise to revolutionize the work environment in ways that just happen to flow right to the bottom line. The book also happened to spawn a cottage industry of workshops, book sequels, videos and probably action figures that made the highly effective Mr Covey quite wealthy, indeed.
Covey’s 7 Habits for those who don’t have them tattooed on their inner arm, are:
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Easy enough? Well, lately I’ve been noticing traces of a deviant strain that appear to have infiltrated the 21st century Republican Mind.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 12/02/13 at 10:42 AM
Monday, October 28, 2013
Revenge of the Kludgeocrats
So. It’s been awhile, about 3 years now, so it’s understandable that some of us may have already forgotten our bitter disappointment when the Affordable Care Act morphed, before our eyes, from a brave new universal healthcare plan, that would finally bring the US in line with the rest of the industrialized world, to a neoliberal Frankenstein’s monster designed to lead New Deal liberals and Reagan conservatives to a great post-partisan Kumbaya moment.
As we know, ACA barely made it, thanks only to a Democratic super-majority, without a single Republican vote. And the result is a healthcare law that left liberals and conservatives both holding their noses over a law that hardly anyone approves of in its current form.
By the time, conservative-bait and liberal dreams were all present and accounted for, ACA had turned into a Rube Goldberg model of healthcare policy.
One of the interesting bits of ACA history is that it is based, in large part, on a 1989 Heritage Foundation blueprint of the conservative alternative to single-payer healthcare along the lines of Medicare.
At that time, Republicans were not fond, at all, of the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act which requires any hospital participating in Medicare (i.e., most, if not all) to provide emergency care to anyone who needs it, underwritten in large part, by the federal government. Republicans hailed the Heritage Foundation plan, a market-based approach dependent on individual responsibility, much more to their liking.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/28/13 at 10:44 AM
Thursday, October 24, 2013
And things were said and tears were shed, People
The above video is of Rep. Pete Sessions of TX, who was supposedly the person who said he could not stand to look at President Obama at some point in a White House meeting. And I don’t even know if it is true. I won’t pretend I know. Let’s just call him the Schroedinger’s Racist, and posit that unless the White House meeting in question was actually recorded, we simply can not infer from the available data whether he actually expressed the opinion that he could not stand the President and will not know until that event can be observed.
Some people might allege that based upon a priori data, we can reasonably speculate that Pete Sessions is in fact just the sort of person who might have made a disrespectful remark regarding the President. Others might state that the authoritative denial of the White House spokespeople negates the likelihood that he said that thing—but reasonable people might also weigh the possibility that the remark exists as an inadmissible anecdote—not on the record, but having been heard by someone, just not in a fashion readily reproducible.
In other words, he may have said it, and have had it been officially unsaid. In fact, it may have been very necessary to do so, because in order for the aforementioned White House meeting to have been in effect, the actual authority of the holder of the office that the White House represents would have to be validated. The failure to recognize that authority would tend to corrupt the resulting exchange of the conversation.
And we have no particular reason to believe that the conversation was corrupted, do we?
I leave that logical exercise for the reader to determine on his/her/their own.
(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 10/24/13 at 10:44 PM
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Pandering For Dummies
Anyone who thinks that the recent implosion of the Republican party signals a new day of maturity, logic and rationality in matters governmental probably also believed that the results of the 2012 presidential election would finally “break the fever” of hyper-partisanship in Congress.
From where I stand, Shutdown 2013 is looking like a warm-up act for what promises to be a fully-pyrotechnic, Apocalypse Now midterm campaign year with freak flags flying from “sea to shining sea.” I expect that Heritage Action and the Senate Conservative Fund, and their proud sponsor Koch Industries, will be out for blood and handing out torches and pitchforks to every True Patriot.
Now that President Obama has committed the ultimate crime of executive uppityness—standing up to House Republicans and laying bare their utter incompetence and impotence—he must be removed.
At the Philadelphia Convention, Benjamin Franklin noted that, historically, the removal of “obnoxious” chief executives had been accomplished by assassination. Franklin suggested that a proceduralized mechanism for removal — impeachment — would be preferable.
As a result we have Article II, Section 4 of the US Constitution which states:
The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
That’s pretty straightforward. “High Crimes,” though a little dated and vague, sounds like pretty serious stuff. Nothing there about being apologetic, sex acts [I’m looking at you, Bill] socialism or playing too much golf. Nevertheless, impeachment has become a standard feature of the Republican playbook when a Democrat is in office. But, if it helps them blow off steam in an institutionally acceptable and relatively harmless way, why not.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/16/13 at 09:07 AM
Monday, October 14, 2013
Values Voters Nadir
The GOP’s Little Engine That Could, hurtling toward inevitable wreckage, pulled into its final stop yesterday to pick up a few last passengers bound for glory. Turns out there was a sort of Harmonic Convergence of ultra-conservatism shaping up this weekend that brought together the illuminati of the far right. There were truckers and Sarah and veterans—oh my!
The Values Voters were in town to renew their vows to God, Guns and Glory, and to select this year’s homecoming king who turned out to be that paragon of conservative values and Christian soldiery, Ted Cruz. Now it just so happened that “our vets,” as Caribou Barbie calls them, were planning a civil protest to make the point that they should always have access to their memorials.
The veterans laid no blame on political parties involved in the government shutdown, they simply wanted to make the point that they feel that these memorials should never be inaccessible to veterans and the public who wish to honor them.
Unfortunately, the Values Voters, all pumped up on a weekend of conservative purity and American Exceptionalism decided that this was a terrific opportunity to flip Obama the bird and get their pictures in the news being patriots again, just like in the 2009 Glory Days.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/14/13 at 09:45 AM
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Time To Reboot, America
This past week has reminded me, often, of the words of the late, great Adlai Stevenson who said:
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.
Stevenson was referring to the Republicans of his time: McCarthy, Nixon, Goldwater, etc but I’m sure he’d feel the same about the current crop.
Most of us grasp that the current level of governmental dysfunction is both unacceptable and unsustainable. Some of us appreciate the fact that a manufactured crisis has blossomed into a constitutional crisis in which President Obama has no real choice other than to refuse to negotiate on the debt ceiling. To relent would be to gravely damage the office of the presidency.
The 2012 presidential election seriously depleted the leverage of congressional Republicans despite the fact that they read their continuing House majority as some sort of voter mandate that they have become somewhat maniacal about defending.
Unfortunately, maniacs make mistakes and these particular maniacs seem bent on making every mistake in the book.
Republicans, flying blind without a map or a manual, have launched the country into serious turbulence which, as we are all learning, is much easier to do than to un-do.
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Posted by Bette Noir on 10/10/13 at 12:36 PM
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Today in Obama Betrayals . . .
Wait, what? He did? Yes, he did! Obama nominated Janet Yellen to chair the U.S. Federal Reserve. Going to be a tough job going forward but she is seemingly a tough lady.
And speaking of tough - the Prez trash talked the Rethugs for an hour today in his presser. I’m liking second term Obama more and more.
Posted by marindenver on 10/08/13 at 08:37 PM