January 4, 2013

Don't Feed The Debt Ceiling Trolls

Bloggers have learned some hard lessons about engaging with right-wing nutcases who leave nasty comments: "Don't feed the trolls." Starve them of the attention they seek. Ignore them and move on. This advice also applies to the right-wing nutcases threatening to bring down our economy by refusing to raise the debt-ceiling limit. They won't get any traction on this unless Democrats engage with them. So ignore them, isolate them and scorn them but do not engage with them. Their billionaire & Wall Street funders will stop them and the pubic will see them for what they are, but only if we all just leave them alone. They aren't really going to hold their breath until we all die.

And if they actually did take down the economy (they won't), the country will be better off in the long run because it means the end of the radical right as a force in our politics.

So let them hold their breath until the country turns blue.

Crisis To Crisis, Destruction As A Tactic

Our country is now governed by crisis. We go from crisis to crisis because causing a crisis and making everyone panic works. But it only works if we let it work.

Look at the obstruction and destruction of the last few years. Obstruction has kept us from hiring millions to modernize our infrastructure, making our buildings and homes more energy efficient, helping people with things like the Dream Act and Medicare-for-All, sufficiently stimulating new industries like wind and solar energy production, and SO MUCH more.

And the accelerating, destructive hostage-taking has cost us so much! Giving in to hostage-taking in the first place has only meant more and more of it, with bigger and bigger costs. We gave in when they held back from authorizing unemployment benefits for millions. We gave in when they threatened to shut down the government, including denying elderly people their Social Security checks. The fiscal cliff "crisis" was just more hostage-taking.

Now they are actually threatening again to take the entire economy hostage, if we don't give in and hurt our people even more.

Crisis to crisis. Hostage to hostage. Destruction to destruction. And always obstruction and destruction of the things We, the People to do make our lives better.

Again and again. They hold their breath and threaten to do damage, and we give in and let them hurt us a little so they don't hurt use a lot. And so they do it more.

Crisis to crisis. As long as we engage, it works for them. Each time a bigger hostage, demanding that we hurt ourselves even more before they will take the gun away from the hostage's head.

Now the biggest hostage, the debt ceiling.

What The Debt Limit Is

The process of raising the debt ceiling is basically a mistake in the law. Raising the debt ceiling authorizes Congress to pay the bills that Congress has already committed to paying. But since the Reagan tax cuts and then the 'W' Bush tax cuts the country has not had sufficient revenue to meet the needs of our people without borrowing, so the debt keeps increasing.

What the Republicans are threatening to do is refuse to honor our debts and pay the bills that the United States has already promised to pay. They would default on our bonds - most of which are held by Americans. This would ruin the credit of the country, dramatically increase all future borrowing costs, and forever end America's status as a "safe haven" place to keep money. It would end our status as the "reserve currency." It would be a vote to tell the world that the US dollar is not worth the paper it is printed on.

This would crash our economy and take the world's economy down with it.

That is what they are threatening to do. They are literally threatening to hold their breath until they die because we are afraid we will die, too.

What Is Their Real Power?

The Republican Party is threatening to take us all down with them unless we hurt ourselves even more. But they only have power on this IF we engage. If we don’t engage on this they have no power. If we don't engage they are just a bunch of crazy people threatening to kill themselves if we don't kill ourselves, and that's crazy.

They can’t be serious, so don’t take them seriously. Ignore them. Don't feed the trolls. They have no power this time if we just ignore them.

And ignore the corporate media that feeds on crisis and feeds panic, and the "Fix the Debt" corporate-funded propaganda that tries to convince us to engage.

The debt ceiling is not a crisis unless we help them make it into a crisis. If we ignore them they have to go away.

Not A Crisis Unless We Make It One

This is not a crisis unless we make it a crisis.

Are we really afraid the 2-year-old will actually hold its breath until it dies? Seriously?

And haven't we learned yet what happens later, after we give them what they want when they hold their breath?

Do we really believe the Republicans would take down the whole economy? Really? Do we really believe Wall Street and their billionaire funders will let them do this?

They only have power if we engage with them on this. Their only power is making us afraid.

What To Do This Time

Ignore them. No negotiations, not even any conversations. Don’t fall for it this time. If someone even says the words "debt ceiling" just tell them to go away, you have things that need doing, that deserve attention. Just let them spout their nonsense and don’t respond. Like the crazy guy who stands up at the city council meeting and talks about how UFOs are shooting energy waves into his brain, when he gets done say “Thank you” and just move on to the next item.

Seriously, they threaten to destroy the economy if they don't get what they want? And what they want is things that make our lives harder and less healthy? Really? Then just let them shout it, and let the voters see it, and hold them accountable.

They won't really do that. And if you think they will actually vote to do that -– and the people who fund the Republican Party won’t stop them at the last minute -– then just let them this time. And let them own the reaction. Because if they do that, our country’s minority-party obstruction/destruction/hostage-taking/extortion/intimidation problem will be over.

If debt-ceiling day comes and they are still threatening to do it, just sit back and watch their Wall Street and billionaire funders panic.

Do not engage. Let them hold their breath until the country turns blue.

--

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 24, 2012

The Right's Intimidation Machine

Pushed by Drudge: THOUSANDS SIGN US PETITION TO DEPORT PIERS MORGAN,

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for British CNN host Piers Morgan to be deported from the U.S. over his gun control views.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:35 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 16, 2012

Benghazi

I've been trying to figure out what the Republicans are going on about with Benghazi. They have themselves all in one of their frenzies. But no one can figure out why.

It started out with Romney saying Obama "sympathized with the attackers." But now they're going on about how there is a cover-up that is worse than Watergate. (But they always say that...)

So like most of us, I haven't been able to figure out just what was supposed to have been covered up. But now I think I get it.

Here is what I think is going on: They are trying to say Obama covered up that there was an attack because the election was coming. They believe that all news of attacks helps Republicans and hurts Democrats! So they think if the pubic had known there had been an attack (which everyone of course did know) then they all would have decided to vote for Republicans. And that's why they say Obama "covered up" that there had been an attack.

That's why Romney did that weird thing in the debate about how Obama never said there had been an attack, and it turned out he had said it immediately.

Remember, when Bush was President, how they would make it seem like there was a terrorist around every corner? Two dark-skinned guys on a boat with a camera and the whole right-wing media machine would go nuts about "terrorists planning an attack." They would make up stories about terrorist attacks at convenient times, and raise the alert level from red to dark-red, etc. Remember how they would use terrorism to silence everyone, and get more votes?

Republicans believe that news of an attack helps them, and hurts Democrats. That is what you have to understand, to understand this whole Benghazi thing. When you try to understand just what Obama is supposed to have covered up, that's it.

They are screaming because Obama didn't go all "noun verb 9/11." They believe they own that.

Of course, everyone knew there had been an attack. But never mind that.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 24, 2012

Ryan And Black Helicopters

Paul Ryan tips his hat to John Birch Society conspiracy theories about the UN. See Paul Ryan Winks and Nods to Conspiracy Theorists | Bob Cesca

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:58 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 23, 2012

Republicans Testing Limits Of Stupidity

Obama is responsible for the hurricane heading towards Florida because he runs the National Hurricane Center? Do you think the Republican base will buy it?

Probably...

Rush Limbaugh Claims Hurricane Is an Obama Conspiracy to Cancel GOP Convention

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 22, 2012

Women -- Read This. Oh. My. God.

This is the Oh. My. God. Republican anti-women piece of the day! Like a Boss - National Review Online,

What do women want? The conventional biological wisdom is that men select mates for fertility, while women select for status — thus the commonness of younger women’s pairing with well-established older men but the rarity of the converse. The Demi Moore–Ashton Kutcher model is an exception — the only 40-year-old woman Jack Nicholson has ever seen naked is Kathy Bates in that horrific hot-tub scene. Age is cruel to women, and subordination is cruel to men. Ellen Kullman is a very pretty woman, but at 56 years of age she probably would not turn a lot of heads in a college bar, and the fact that she is the chairman and CEO of Dupont isn’t going to change that.

Jeeze, just go read the rest yourself. Jeeze.

One more:

Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.

From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 10, 2012

Why Did Obama Administration Stop Homeland Security Tracking Of RW Terrorists?

Sunday a right-wing terrorist killed six people and critically wounded three others. This was just one of many ongoing right-wing terrorists attacks around the country. Monday, for example, a mosque in Missouri was burned to the ground.

Right-wing terrorism is a serious threat, and we know it for a fact. Think Tim McVeigh. But in 2009 the Obama administration shut down most Department of Homeland Security tracking of right-wing terrorism, and still has not revived it.

Focus on violent extremists hampered by US laws, political pressure,

Daryl Johnson, the former official who ran the team, told Wired Magazine's "Danger Room" blog this week his team had been "dissolved," and that Homeland Security was "scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counter-terrorism, as is Congress."

The Obama administration has some explaining to do.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 26, 2012

In Case You Don't Believe They Really Mean To End Social Security And Medicare

Nick Gillespie on C-SPAN, Talking About Ending Social Security, Medicare; Reveals What Planet He Lives On

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 19, 2012

Deceptive New Romney Ad Is Key Test For Media

The Romney campaign has released an astonishingly deceptive new ad, containing a blatant, flat-out lie. The new ad actually edits together snippets of words and sentences to make it sound as if President Obama said something he did not say, and then attacks him for saying it. How will America's news media respond? Will the public be informed that they are being lied to? And if not, what comes next -- "photos" of the President robbing a bank?

The New Romney Ad

This is the new Romney ad, intended to shock opinion leaders enough to move public scrutiny away from the problems of his tax returns, conflicting statements about when he was or was not at Bain Capital, and possible possible illegal conduct.


Here is what the President actually said: (from Monday's post, The Latest Lie: "You Didn't Build That")

President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

Media MUST Take Sides On This

What is the purpose and function of our news media? This country was once a self-respecting democracy and the purpose of the news media was to provide needed information to the public so We, the People could make informed decisions. And people who entered the journalism profession did so to serve as watchdogs of the public interest.

That was then. Today, many say that the purpose of the media -- and everything else -- is to make money for those who own it. And that means respecting and never, ever going against those with the most money. And today the ambition of many in the profession is to follow a corporate career path, maybe eventually land a major-media gig. Going down that path means playing ball, not making waves, and most of all not being branded as "anti-business." And all that means, of course, never, ever going against those with the most money.

This new journalistic model -- never, ever going against those with the most money -- is what the Romney campaign is counting on today.

In this model news is supposed to be "objective" and "not take sides" as long as you take a side against those who are not "business friendly." The new standard for news reporting is to follow a "he said, she said" storyline. And always throw in a dose of "both sides do it" false equivalence.

So what about when a big, flat-out, blatant lie -- a knowing fraud with clear intent to deceive people -- comes down the pike? What should journalists and news organizations do then? Should they pass the buck over to snarky "two pinnochio" pretend-fact checkers, or should they take it on and warn the public?

This ad is a key test of the direction of our national news media.

The media can't just take the usual "one side said, the other side said" approach, because we can see what "one side" actually said and it isn't at all what "the other side" says was said. This ad is just a lie. It is a fraud against the public and democracy for a campaign for President of the United States to do this.

So, news media, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to warn the public? Or are you going to claim that "both sides do it"?

Questions For Comments

Leave a comment, what do you think?

How should the news media respond when something like this -- so far out of the boundaries of conduct for American Presidential campaigns -- comes along? How should the media handle blatant lies?

Is this the most deceptive ad in Presidential campaign history?


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 9, 2012

Need More Jobs And Less Sabotage

Another lackluster jobs report with 80K new jobs and an unchanged 8.2% unemployment, Keep in mind that we lost 815,000 jobs in Bush's last month, but this still is not good enough. Republicans are intentionally sabotaging job-creation efforts thinking it will help them in the coming election. How do we stop this and get things moving?

In the chart below, the red lines on the left are the Bush years. On the right are the Obama years. Those red lines just keep going down, with a job loss above 800,000 as Obama takes office. Then you see the lines shooting up -- the effect of the "stimulus." The leveling off is the effect of the program's end -- the period of Republican job sabotage.

Romney In 2006

Watch Mitt Romney in 2006 explaining why a recovery takes time:

“I came in and the jobs had been just falling right off a cliff, I came in and they kept falling for 11 months. And if you are going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected, somehow jobs should have immediately turned around, well that would be silly. It takes awhile to get things turned around. We were in a recession, we were losing jobs every month.”

Jobs Report

The U.S. economy has added more than 4.3 Million private sector jobs in the last 28 months, while losing

Dean Baker, writing at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Job Growth Remains Weak in June, Unemployment Steady at 8.2 Percent,

Restaurant employment grew at an average rate of 29,000 in the winter months; it has grown by just 13,000 a month over the last four months. Retail employment grew by 22,000 a month in October through January. Since January, employment has fallen by a bit more than 1,000 jobs a month.

Construction employment grew by an average of 48,000 a month from November to February. In the last four months it has fallen at an average rate of 14,000 a month. This drop is difficult to reconcile with Census data that show construction spending up 1.1 percent from February to May.

While the overall picture in the establishment data was weak, there were some positive signs. The local government sector added 4,000 jobs in June indicating that employment may be leveling off. Manufacturing added 11,000 jobs, maintaining its modest rate of growth. The health sector added just 13,000 jobs, about half the normal pace. This is likely an anomaly, but if not, it would imply a slower rate of growth of health costs.

Job Sabotage

Isaiah Poole writes in, Jobs Report: Challenge Congress To Act, Obama To Fight,

As we've repeated time and again, the corruption of the Obama agenda by the corporatists and anti-government ideologues in both political parties began when the 2009 Recovery Act emerged as a $787 billion program, more than half of which was tax cuts, instead of the more than $1 trillion in additional spending that was needed to begin adequately repairing the damage of the 2008 financial crash.

Since then, Republicans have assaulted the economy at every opportunity, forcing an austerity agenda of budget-cutting at the very time that the federal government should have been stepping up its spending in key areas, both to bring our infrastructure up to 21st-century needs and to prevent layoffs of teachers, first responders and other essential public workers by cash-strapped state and local governments. From June 2009 to May 2012, 605,000 state and local public sector jobs were cut. If public sector jobs had instead grown at the same pace as the three previous economic recoveries, there would be an extra 1.2 million jobs, and that level of additional employment would have supported the creation of an additional 500,000 jobs...

When the White House and Democrats in Congress tried several times to pass elements of the American Jobs Act, $450 billion worth of job-creation initiatives, Republicans in the House voted as a solid bloc against the efforts, and Senate Republicans filibustered the legislation. The 2 percentage-point reduction in worker payroll taxes was the only major component that survived. Among the opponents is Romney, who has argued that cutting government spending at all levels is necessary to "help the American people" even though, as Tyson said, the teachers, firemen, and police who are being laid off "are American people who help other American people."

Late last month, Congress pat itself on the back for passing a two-year surface transportation funding bill that is at best a status-quo stop-gap... The obstacle in the way was once again House Republicans, who refused to support the longer-term funding commitment needed by state and local transportation planners without numerous "poison pills," including provisions that would have authorized construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without robust environmental review and would have ended federal regulation of hazardous coal waste disposal from power plants.

If it were not for congressional Republicans' repeated obstruction or dilution of virtually every significant job-creation proposal sent to Congress since 2009, unemployment today would likely be under 7 percent instead of stubbornly persisting at around 8 percent. [emphasis added]

The Scariest Chart

Here is the chart of jobs doring this recession compared to previous recessions:



This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 7, 2012

What Digby Said

A GOP dilemma that isn't a dilemma

It would probably be better if they just said, "Paul Ryan is a liar. Democrats have always been the protectors of medicare and always will be." But they won't.

But they won't.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 1, 2012

Conservative Bullying

This post by Sara Robinson is SO important, please read: Conservative Bullying Has Made America Into a Broken, Dysfunctional Family: But There Are Ways to Regain Our Well-Being | | AlterNet

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:44 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 20, 2012

Beyond Depressing

To understand the state of the country read this: Fox News Commenters React to Trayvon Martin: 'Good Shot Zimmy'

Sickening.

What a shame—a tragedy, really— because the dead lil’ gangsta could’ve used “‘A-FIRM-TIV AK-SHUN” to go to kollige an play footballz and make lotsa cash munny!”

Sickening, racist shit. Click through, read them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 23, 2011

Is A Flat Tax Fair?

Conservatives are always pushing for a "flat tax." It sounds so simple: One easy rate, so we all pay the same, easy to calculate... Get rid of deductions and lower the tax rates. So simple, but it turns out it is a simple trick, a scam to enrich the 1%, like so much else that conservatives are selling. Don't fall for it -- it means taxes will go up for the 99% of us who aren't really, really rich. See if you can guess what happens if you are in the top 1%. Or, just scroll down and see the chart.

What We Have Now

We have what's called a "progressive' tax system. This means as you make more you pay more taxes. The first "bracket" of $XX dollars you make is taxed at a low rate. The next $XX dollars are taxed at a higher rate, and so on. Many people think if you "go into a higher bracket" you pay more on all the money you make, but that is not how it works. If a bracket starts at $1 million, and you make $1 million plus $1 you only pay the higher rate on the $1 that is in that bracket. Yes, that means that a 5% increase on taxes over $1 million would mean that person pays a nickel. Yes, all that screaming by Republicans is over a nickel. Screaming is what they do best.

The reason we have a progressive tax system is because we have a democracy. People who make more do so because of the investment in governent that We, the People make. We, the People pool our money collectively and use it to build the infrastructure that lets people make so much money. That's the roads, schools, police, courts, etc. -- they whole system -- that provides the foundation for our businesses to go out an compete in the world. And when our businesses do well, we ask them to pay back a dividend to the rest of us for enabling that to happen.

No Deductions

Conservatives always call for getting rid of deductions, because they are complicated. Get rid of deductions, they say, simplify the system, and you can lower tax rates. Here is the game they are playing. Suppose you have a small businesses, a grocery store. Suppose you buy $100,000 inventory and sell it for $130,000. If you get rid of deductions that means the small-grocery-owner pays taxes on $130,000 because that is the income of the store.

If you say the business owner should be allowed to "deduct" the amount paid for inventory we're back to deciding which deductions to allow. So we are right back where we started, except now the conservatives have lowered tax rates (at the top) and their big corporate sponsors will be gaming the system to give themselves more and more and more deductions just like they already do.

What Happens With A Flat Tax?

Conservatives object to the idea of the rich paying back more. They say that taxes are theft -- government confiscating money that people have earned, ignoring that our democracy enabled them to earn it in the first place. They call taxation "redistribution" of wealth. Of course, as AlterNet's Joshua Holland points out, redistribution is the core job of government. He points out that when government collects taxes and builds a sidewalk that everyone can walk on -- or homeless people can sleep on -- that is redistribution. Courts, schools, police, ports, airports -- all of it is redistribution of wealth.

So conservatives call for a "flat tax." Most notably Republican Presidential candidates Rick Perry and Herman are calling for various forms of this. Cain This means everyone pays the same tax rate as everyone else, regardless of income. Because this is about scrapping democracy's progressive tax system this necessarily means that the rich will pay a lot less. Guess who pays more to make up for that? A good example of this effect is the 9-9-9 tax plan.

The 9-9-9 Plan

The Tax Policy Center takes a look at Repubican candidate Herman Cain's "9-9-9" tax plan, in a post titled, Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Tax Plan

Herman Cain’s plan would eliminate the current individual income tax, corporate income tax, payroll tax, and estate and gift tax and substitute three taxes imposed at a 9 percent rate: 1) a 9 percent “national sales tax” 2) a 9 percent “business flat tax”, and 3) a 9 percent “individual flat tax.”

They have a table here that shows how people's taxes would change under the 9-9-9 plan. Jared Bernstein made a chart illustrating these numbers in his post 9-9-9 in One (Really Long) Graph.

So here you have it: the change in tax liabilities, compared to current tax policy, under 9-9-9, for different income groups, in one incredibly unsettling graph.

In the following chart the blue lines that are above zero illustrate how much more most of us will pay. The red lines below zero show how much less the rich and really rich will pay. The blue lines -- representing taxes on most of us -- go up. The red lines -- representing taxes on the top few -- go ... well, see for yourself.

Average-tax-change-from-9-9-9-plan-10-18-2011-OPT.jpg

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 23, 2011

They Just Lie

Lots of people are talking about Kevin Drum's post about last night's Republican debate, and the flat-out lies told all over the right's disinformation engine. In honor of the discussion, and for all of those who are so surprised, let me trot out a piece I wrote in 2004, They Just Lie: (click through for the links...) (PS right now the lie machine is telling lies about Solyndra.)

They Just Lie

Hesiod spots a big fat Bush lie. Someone has changed a story in order to smear Kerry as weak on terrorism, when it is actually Bush who did the bad deed. He's outraged. He counters with the truth.

Kash spots that decisions in the bush admin. are made "according to political calculations instead of according to the advice of specialists." He is shocked.

Bush is making stuff up and lying, and everyone is surprised and shocked and outraged. And everyone counters with the truth and argues the finer points and tries to disprove each claim.

But what is happening is that while we're all chasing down each and every particular of each and every lie, the general public is hearing over and over again a much broader theme. They're hearing that they should be suspicious of Kerry. For example, today they are hearing the lie that Kerry "voted against American troops," and "did not support bills that would have ensured troops had body armor and earned higher combat pay, and would have given reservists and their families better health care" and all kinds of just the nastiest stuff.

Listen, there is something we all need to get through our heads. They just lie.

If the Bush people did a focus group and found out that people would vote against him because he owns a miniature green Chinese monkey with an earring, THEN WE WOULD BE HEARING THAT KERRY HAS A MINIATURE GREEN CHINESE MONKEY WITH AN EARRING! They are making it up, they are lying, they are going to say and do ANYTHING. OK? They just lie. Get used to it.

They just lie. So don't be surprised and don't be shocked. And most of all, don't start responding by trying to disprove their charges and going through all the points and specifics and particulars! YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT THE CHARGES THEY WILL MAKE TOMORROW AND NEXT WEEK ARE FALSE. OK?

They just lie. What have I been telling you since day one of Seeing the forest? THEY JUST LIE. See the forest, don't get bogged down with trees. See the bigger picture. If you get all bogged down trying to argue each point or disprove each lie you are going to be 100 lies behind by the time you refute the first point of the very first lie.

They just lie. Remember the lead-up to Iraq, all nicely timed for the 2002 election? They just lie. Remember what they said about why we need tax cuts? They just lie. Remember what they said about Al Gore? They just lie. Remember what they said about Clinton?

They just lie. We know it. So when do we figure out that they just lie? When we do figure it out, THEN maybe we can start responding effectively, instead of getting all bogged down in the lies each and every time. The public needs to understand that they just lie, and the things they say should just be ignored. THAT is where we should be spending our time.

(Does repetition work? Tell me what they do.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:00 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

September 7, 2011

A Deficit Pitch Without Social Security--The Only Chance of Winning

Josh Rosenblum

This past Friday night in Washington, a New York Mets pitcher threw the type of pitch President Obama must use in his march to stop any new proposals to cut Social Security if he plans to make it through the game of the deficit talks and his reelection. In the recent past the President and his teams have pitched a slew of failed curveballs that would cut our Social Security. The number 43 Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey helped beat the Nationals 7-3 with his slow velocity, highly unpredictable knuckleball. The 44th President and his multitude of committees have taken an approach to cutting the deficit that replicates a tied baseball game, with no end in sight. Could knuckle balls from a President battling to win the game, save the economy, and win reelection save the tied ball game called the deficit debate? Let’s take a look at the tape.

R.A. Dickey has been pitching great this season, and has the best earned run average of the starters on the Mets but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record of 7-11, which reflects injuries on the Mets but also the poorest run support from hitters out of all the Mets starting pitchers. It’s unclear to Mets fans why Dickey hasn’t gotten the run support he so deserves, just as it’s unclear to the general public why we haven’t gotten the support Social Security deserves from the administration.

If the President throws a Social Security curveball that cuts our benefits to the GOP team trying to beat him, he ought to get ready not to receive any run support, not just from Democrats and the left, but also from the independents and moderate Republicans his advisers are so intent on courting again. By attempting a pitch that doesn’t appeal to his base, independent voters, and moderate Republicans, he may lose the game, the season, and ultimately his Presidency.

But President Obama can still throw an amazing Dickey-like pitch to the GOP’s deficit, defeat the nonsense, not cut Social Security benefits, and win reelection. If Obama fights for Social Security, America’s fans will cheer for him and we’ll give him all the run support he needs to win in 2012.

Social Security has remained one of America’s most successful programs for 76 years. Before it existed and since it’s existed, Wall Street and right-wing conservatives have been telling us how much it stinks, hoping we might one day believe such lies through repetition. Even popular Republican President Dwight Eisenhower recognized how cutting it would be plain “stupid.” But that’s exactly what each of the deficit groups have attempted to do, each throwing their own curveball that would lead to Social Security cuts.

The President started his deficit pitching rotation with the grizzled, often irrelevant old-timers Bowles and Simpson, who proposed to cut Social Security with the indifference of players who knew their time had passed. He then hoped the journeymen Gang of 6 could take on the deficit, but the bipartisan group of men never seemed to materialize on the playing field. Obama’s team, “America,” never got far in the batting order without loading the bases against the “GOP Deficit” team, which lead up to another call to the bullpen. An enthusiastic reliever, Vice President Biden came charging on to the field to lead his bipartisan “gang of dudes” with every intention to save the game, and no ability to corral the Republicans who calmly watched every one of his pitches thrown for balls float by and hit every strike for an intentional foul ball, upping the pitch count until Biden’s arm had vanished.

Then came the President himself, rolling up his sleeves and bringing back the long vanished player-coach, determined to get the save for America, but giving the GOP a few hits and intentional walks in the process so he could get the job done. He’s out on the field and he appears determined to win for America, at any cost to his future as a pitcher and as our President, but the fans are hopeful he’ll win for his future and ours.

The President even told us about his curveball to the GOP, who seem determined to fight against America, 1 minute in to this video, when he acknowledges that he’d offered the Republican Speaker a deal to cut Social Security, which suggests he may throw the same bad curve again if the Supercommittee wants to take it up.

In the next couple of weeks President Obama may let loose with another Social Security curveballl, telling us we need a COLA cut for Social Security. But America isn’t certain whether player-coach Obama would put the important program on the chopping block again for the Supercommittee and the GOP Deficit. This pitch to the GOP Deficit leads to one place—a lost game for the President, and a lost future for Democrats. But a well-placed knuckleball that leaves Social Security out of the ball game and out of the deficit talks would help America and Obama win. If the President throws a slow, hanging knuckleball that’s tough for Republicans to hit but that his own team can cheer for, he’ll win the hearts of Americans including Democrats, independents and reasonable Republicans, whether the Washington Republicans try to screw over America again or not with attempted cuts to Social Security.

Posted by Josh at 7:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 1, 2011

For Jobs Obama Must Bypass Congress

Here is a fact about bipartisanship and civility in Washington: the Republicans in Congress will obstruct anything President Obama proposes to create jobs and help the economy, period. A bad economy helps them in the coming elections, and that is that. Deal with it. If you want to see results on jobs and economic growth you are going to have to get around a Republican House of Representatives intent on blocking jobs and growth. The President can and should "go big" and make dramatic proposals to Congress for job-creation. Doing so will draw contrasts so the public has a clear choice in the coming elections. Fortunately there are things the President can do right now, without the approval of Congress, that will have a big impact on job-creation now and in the future.

China Currency

China doesn't buy from us nearly as much as it sells to us and this has cost us dearly. China manipulates its currency to give Chinese-manufactured goods a competitive advantage in world markets. In effect this subsidizes their products so they have a cost advantage of as much as 30-40% coming out the gate, even before other competitive factors come into play. This has created huge imbalances not just with us but across the world.

The biggest thing the President could do right now is declare China to be a currency manipulator. Doing so enables the administration to impose sanctions, including tariffs, that would remove any cost advantage China gains from their manipulation. This would have an effect on reversing the loss of American jobs, factories and industries to Chinese imports, and would be supported by the public.

The President should officially declare China to be the currency manipulator that it is, and impose tariffs as a remedy. That takes care of China's advantage in US markets, and encourages other countries to take action, too.

With a level playing field our manufacturers can compete in world markets. Our government can take steps to help bring about such a level playing field, or to help our own companies against countries that do not play fair. This would tell companies that it is safe to manufacture here again, and our government will back them up.

But, But ,But...

There is concern about angering China when "we owe them so much money." It is important to remember why we "owe them" money. We owe them money because we thought we had a trade deal with them. By definition a trade deal involves actual trade, which involves buying and selling. We bought from them and they were supposed to use the dollars we spent there to buy things from us. But they didn't. The huge amount we "owe them" by definition means they didn't live up to their part of the bargain. We should insist that they use those treasury notes they have accumulated to purchase US-made goods.

Other Actions That Don't Require Congress

Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing wrote in The Hill last month that there are things the President can do without needing Congress' approval:

There is plenty that President Obama could do on his own right now:

• Expedite small business loans through the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department to help firms expand, retool and hire.

• Convene a multilateral meeting to address global imbalances and in particular Chinese mercantilism. If China doesn't agree to participate, designate it a currency manipulator. (China ships fully one-third of its exports to the U.S. and finances less than 10 percent of our public debt, so we have more leverage than some might suggest.)

• On the heels of the landmark agreement with automakers on fuel economy standards, secure an additional agreement from all foreign and domestic car companies to increase their levels of domestic content by at least 10 percent over the next three years.

• Direct the Department of Defense to leverage existing procurement to contractors that commit to increasing their domestic content of our military equipment, technology and supplies.

• Approve additional applications for renewable and traditional energy projects, contingent on the use of American materials in construction.

• Kick any CEO off of federal advisory boards or jobs councils who has: (1) not created net new American jobs over the past five years, or (2) is expanding the company's foreign workforce at a faster rate than its domestic workforce. Replace them with CEOs who are committed to investing in America. Shame is a good motivator.

National Industrial Policy

Even long-term things like promising the development of a national industrial policy could have an immediate effect on jobs here and now. If companies know that the US government is going to stand behind them if they manufacture here, and enforce trade agreements, and aggressively push for balanced trade where our trading partners don't just sell to us but also buy from us, they’ll put the US back into their manufacturing plans. If they know that the government understands and intends to assist key industries with tax policies, education and training policies, energy policies, infrastructure modernization,key research and development initiatives, and the other components of national strategy -- which is what other governments do -- they will know they are no longer going out to international markets alone, up against national systems.

By making it clear that our government is going to stand up for American manufacturers -- and their employees -- and won't pull the rug out from under them again, companies will have a reason to change their strategies and start bringing these jobs back home.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:11 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 5, 2011

Typical Blatant Republican Racism

Did you see "Fertile Ground": White Nationalists Organize Within Tea Party the other day?

On a very, very related note: Fox News leads the racist way today with Obama's Hip-Hop BBQ Didn't Create Jobs ... just go see the pic they posted. Fox seems to have closed their comments section.

Republican websites follow suit, Everyone Must Sacrifice… Hollywood Hip-Hoppers Dance Barefoot in the Rose Garden at Obama’s B-Day Bash | The Gateway Pundit

In case it isn't clear that they meant to send a certain racist message here, from the comments we see that the readers "get it":

"There went the neighborhood."

The Jefferson’s have indeed “moved on up….”

"Looks more like a street fest in the slums of Rio or some kind of pre-hunt jig on the COngo…what a disgrace…we have definatley sunk to 3rd world status in every respect."

"My kids and I make sacrifice after sacrifice just to make ends meet while Barry-boy and Moose-chelle party like there is no tomorrow."

"Can I come to the States and make a sacrifice? I’d sacrifice a pig on Obama’s lawn. “Soil” it with pig’s blood. Ha! Then again, pigs are smarter than the average commie, so maybe I should sacrifice a commie instead."

"…a few headlines from Drudge: ‘Mob’ beatings at WI state fair… ‘Hundreds of young black people beating white people’… Fairgoers ‘pulled out of cars’… ‘They were just going after white people’…"

"That turd polisher extraordinaire is on the way out, and he knows it. I just hope everyone is keeping their eye on how many curtains are in the White House – that skank Michelle loves to sew them into dresses to drape her fat butt."

From another site, the comments:

"Check out the pimp shoes. And Mooch is wearing the chenille bedspread look again."

"Today….birthday thanks, stock market tanks, went home with skank."

"Note ghetto boys shoes…………."

"Pull yo miniature heyd out yo bloated commie ass ya ignorant POS."

"Good to see they included the token white, Tom hanks."

"Was Hanks the token whitey? Sounds like all the other ‘stars’ were ‘people of color’"


Note, if you think this is not really serious, go see: White Supremacist site Stormfront: A Technique For Recruiting "Tea Party Conservatives" To White Nationalism

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 30, 2011

Golden Oldie: Did Bush Leave Us Bankrupt, Corrupt, Ungovernable?

Feb. 2010: Did Bush Leave Us Bankrupt, Corrupt, Ungovernable?

When you sell the farm, the farm's gone.

Is it already too late for America? I’m starting to think that the anti-tax, anti-government conservative movement that started in the mid-70s, elected Reagan and led to the terrible Bush Presidency may have effectively destroyed the country, leaving it bankrupt, corrupt,ungovernable, ruled by a wealthy elite -- and we're only now just starting to realize it. To cover tax cuts we stopped maintaining the infrastructure and started borrowing. To satisfy their hatred of government we increasingly stripped away rule of law, regulation, and belief in one-person-one-vote. We are seeing the consequences of all of that coming back to roost now.

Reagan left us with massive debt and ever-increasing interest payments. Bush left us with $1.3 trillion deficits and a destroyed economy that would force further increases in the borrowing for years - to be blamed on Obama. The "free marketers" gave away our manufacturing base that will take decades and massive capital investment to recover. Obama can try, but it may just be too late to do anything about the borrowing. We need massive investment in jobs and infrastructure, and a national economic/industrial plan. But, with their own Reagan/Bush debt as ammunition, conservative ideologues continue to block every effort at investment to get out of the mess we are in.

And with the country on the very edge of defaulting on the Reagan/Bush debt, Senate Republicans are FILIBUSTERING the very debt-ceiling deal they were for just a few weeks ago...

There is much more at that old post, go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 25, 2011

Marketing Works

Marketing works - especially when it has a very big budget, is repeated endlessly and goes unanswered. 46% of voters think the media has a liberal bias.

The Hill Poll: Most voters see media as biased and unethical - TheHill.com

A full 68 percent of voters consider the news media biased, the poll found. Most, 46 percent, believe the media generally favor Democrats, while 22 percent said they believe Republicans are favored,,,

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

A Bipartisan Move Against Democracy

Step back from the day-to-day, hour-to-hour details of the debt-ceiling negotiations for a minute and look at the bigger picture. Look what we're in the middle of. Our legislators are being stampeded by a manufactured "crisis" into profoundly changing the nature of our country and who our economy is "for," on extremely short notice, against the clear wishes of the majority of the public. They are doing so without following the long-established process for due consideration of important issues; they are not holding hearings, not giving time for public input, not going through committees... The act of negotiating with these hostage-takers at all is itself a violation of our established, democratic system. The question to ask is not, "What painful cuts should we agree to to save our country," but rather, "Why are we engaged in this anti-democracy exercise at all?"

A Functioning Democracy?

In a functioning democracy an informed public considers and debates its options and then comes to a decision on how best to proceed. In a representative republic our representatives are called "representatives" because they represent us, and vote to implement our wishes.

The founding idea of our country is that We, the People are in charge, and our country exists to promote the common good -- "welfare" -- of all of us. Elected officials take an oath of office to protect and defend our Constitution, which begins with those words, "We, the People." Over time we have built up a system of institutions, processes, procedures, traditions and mechanisms to implement this founding idea. The oath they take is to protect and defend this system.

Oath Of Office: Protect and Defend Our System

Today all of this seems all to have fallen away from us. A fanatical but extremely well-funded minority is using a manufactured "crisis" to hold the country's economy hostage. As ransom -- if we don't want the country to go into default, destroying our economy -- they demand that we force fast and dramatic changes to the nature of our country and our social safety net. These changes will take effect before the public can react and gather the forces of opposition. They will be "locked in," creating "facts on the ground" that we have to deal with, and which are extremenly difficult to undo, no matter what We, the People want or need.

Rather than honor their oath of office to protect and defend our We-the-People system from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to listen to "We, the People," and to promote the common good of all of us, our leaders have instead entered into negotiations with the hostage-takers. The act of entering into these negotiations is by itself an agreement to work outside of our established system, and the result of these negotiations will be to change the equation of who our system is for.

Crisis?

Is there really a "debt crisis" necessitating such a dramatic and immediate response? Just 10 years ago the "crisis" we faced was that we were paying off the debt too fast and it was claimed this would lead to socialism as government surpluses were invested in private assets. So taxes for the wealthy were cut. At the same time, enabled by another "crisis," the military budget was dramatically increased -- in ways that enriched "private contractors."

The result of these changes was an immediate return from budget surpluses to the dramatic budget deficits initiated by President Reagan. Then-President Bush called these deficits "Incredibly positive news" precisely because they would bring on a debt crisis that would enable today's stampede to change our system of government. The debt "crisis" was intentional.

Cause Of Deficits and Debt

The increase of deficits beyond $1 trillion occurred in President Bush's last budget year -- the consequence of the financial collapse and the resulting drop in tax revenue combined with increases in social safety-net program payments. But the underlying cause of the deficits was the Bush tax cuts and wars. Today, in How the Deficit Got This Big, the NY Times offers charts and figures that show that:

...under Mr. Bush, tax cuts and war spending were the biggest policy drivers of the swing from projected surpluses to deficits from 2002 to 2009. Budget estimates that didn’t foresee the recessions in 2001 and in 2008 and 2009 also contributed to deficits. Mr. Obama’s policies, taken out to 2017, add to deficits, but not by nearly as much.

As for the causes of the longer-term debt picture The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has put together this chart, explaining:

Longer term most of our country's future debt problem is from tax cuts, increases in military spending, and the effects of the economic downturn. Most of the rest is because of our private healthcare delivery system. These "debt-ceiling" negotiations are not addressing these causes of the problem at all. Instead they are about using whipped-up panic over those intentionally-created problems to move the common wealth into private hands.

Not The First Time

This tactic of whipping up panic over a "debt crisis" has been used before to stampede legislative bodies into making radical changes on short notice, moving common wealth into private hands. In the post Debt Crisis? Really? I hilighted a 1993 example from Canada that was very similar to today's. From the source's account,

By the time Canadians learned that the “deficit crisis” had been grossly manipulated by the corporate-funded think tanks, it hardly mattered – the budget cuts had already been made and locked in. As a direct result, social programs for the country’s unemployed were radically eroded and have never recovered, despite many subsequent surplus budgets.

There is example after of example of the use of manufactured "crises" to panic and stampede legislatures into privatizing public wealth, just as we are experiencing today.

Democracy Eroded

What is happening here is not supposed to be the process of decision-making used in a representative democracy. Instead what we are experiencing is designed specifically to engineer circumstances that persuade us to bypass established processes and safeguards. These safeguards are in place to protect us from making the very sort of panic-driven decisions that we are about to make. And they are designed to "lock in" the changes, so we can't reverse the damage when we are able to catch our breath.

How can our leaders not recognize and resist what is being done here? Have our own leaders drifted so far from America's traditional love of democracy that they accept this and fall into playing the game?

Elitist Mindset

It seems that our own leaders have fallen into an elitist mindset, which enables them to go along. Persuaded by decades of corporate-funded propaganda, many now believe that the public doesn't know what is good for them, that the things democracy entitles them to -- "entitlements" -- will bankrupt the country, that taxing the wealthy and corporations -- the "job creators" -- will harm the economy. They do not seem to see how much of our wealth is now flowing to a very few at the top of the pyramid. The fact that taxes on the wealthiest have been cut from a top rate of 90% all the way to a rate of only 15% for hedge-fund managers making billions -- far lower than many of the rest of us pay -- is ignored. And the fact that we did not have budget deficits when the wealthy paid higher taxes is also ignored. In fact, today just 400 people now have more wealth than half of our population, and the trend is accelerating. But many of our leaders believe that the things We, the People do for each other are a problem, and we must be protected from ourselves.

One example of the slow drift away from love of democracy is the recent "Deficit Commission." This was a commission of elites -- there were no teachers or unemployed or plumbers or disabled or poor people in that room -- that was assigned to come up with ways to lower our budget deficits. They did not come up with any recommendations, but the leaders of the commissions came up with a plan of their own -- to cut taxes on the wealthy while cutting the things that We, the People do for each other.

Again and again our elites try to create bodies like this that act as an external force they have to submit to, allowing them to escape accountability to voters.

These commissions come up with plans that benefit the wealthy few but violate what the vast majority of Americans want. They are designed to come up with recommendations that benefit the wealthy few, and are presented to Congress with "up-or-down-vote" procedures that leave legislators and voters with no recourse – on purpose. Pre-ordained conclusions with non-democratic force-through procedures.

"Super Congress"

Another example of this kind of anti-democratic, elitist drift was a proposal floated over the weekend to establish a "Super-Congress" -- a Politburo of elites, that sits above the Congress and is not accountable to the public. The idea is to save the people from themselves by creating a special 12-member panel of lawmakers who come up with proposals that the Congress must vote on, with no changes and an "up-or-down vote" to implement, thus bypassing the established, democratic system and keeping individual members from being held accountable for the results. The idea is to "tie the hands" of Congress, keep them from meddling, and get things done quickly before the public can rally opposition.

That this idea was even floated shows the extend of separation that exists between our elected officials and We, the People.

Public Will Revolt

Regular Americans are not currently following this, and are turned out because it is just one more Chicken Little coming out of DC. But the public will revolt when the final decisions are put in front of them. The public overwhelmingly supports Social Security and Medicare, and overwhelmingly want taxes increased on the wealthy.

So when the results are presented to them there will be trouble. And that is also part of the plan.

In the 2010 election Republicans campaigned on a theme that "Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare" and won the election. In 2012 the public will be presented with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on campaign ads, crying out that "Democrats cut your Social Security and Medicare, while keeping taxes low for the rich."

Think I’m kidding? They have already started.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:14 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 14, 2011

Conservatives Crying Wolf

Go see the Cry Wolf Project.

Throughout American history virtually every legislative initiative for progressive reform has been achieved only after bitter struggle by citizens, workers and advocates demanding fundamental rights and protections. In each case, they were met with claims that the proposal will “kill jobs,” generate a stifling government bureaucracy, or curtail economic growth.

The Cry Wolf Project is a network of advocates, researchers and scholars dedicated to demonstrating that, in fact, conservatives and business groups are only "crying wolf" to delay, prevent and weaken important and common sense regulations that save lives, clean our environment and make our families more secure.

Brilliant!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 10, 2011

Concern Over Republican Embrace Of The Ayn Rand Poison

Some say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a political party's ideology on a belief that altruism, democracy and Christianity are "evil." Others say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a country's policies on fictional novels rather than science and history. Still others say is it a bad idea for national leaders to think of most of the public as "parasites" while saying people with tons of cash are "producers" who should govern. I am talking about the Republican Party's embrace of Ayn Rand and her cruel philosophy.


Disciples of Ayn Rand's philosophy of selfishness now dominate the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. There is no way around it. Republican budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan says Rand is his guide. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) says Rand's Atlas Shrugged is his "foundation book." Senator Rand Paul is named after her (or not). Clarence Thomas requires his law clerks to watch The Fountainhead. Fox News promotes Rand. Conservative blogs promote Rand. Glenn Beck has been promoting Rand for years. So has Rush. This isn't recent, Alan Greenspan lived with the Rand cult and promoted and implemented her ideas.

A Philosophy Based On Admiring A Psychopath

Rand believed that a lot of things most of us use as our moral base are "evil." But Rand's writings are the origins of modern Republican philosophy. In Alan Greenspan And Things Forgotten I wrote about the origins of this philosophy:

Rand's work is very popular among conservatives now. It forms a core justification for their "on your own" philosophy praising the wealthy and discarding the rest. So it is useful to explore the formation and core of this philosophy. Early in her writings Rand became fascinated with a serial killer named William Hickman. Rand wrote that the serial killer was an "ideal man," a superior form of human because he didn't let society impose their morals on him. He didn't worry about what others thought and just did as he pleased.

"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," Rand wrote. Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'" She considered these to be good qualities! And so does her cult.

This is the foundation of the modern "tea party" conservative thinking. So when you look at the modern capitalism that has grown up around Rand's philosophy and the big corporations that are chewing up the planet to enrich a very few at the expense of the rest of us, and think it seems sort of psychopathic, maybe that's because it literally is.

See also: Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer.

More And More Concern

More and more, people are becoming aware of the influence of Ayn Rand on current Republican thinking. Amy Sullivan writing at Time's Swampland, Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand Problem and Ayn Rand: The GOP’s Godless Philosopher; Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast, Ayn Rand: The GOP’s Favorite Bonkers Demagogue; Garance Franke-Ruta at The Atlantic, The Echoes of Ayn Rand in Paul Ryan's Budget Plan. (Digby a few years ago: Randy Conservatives and Rand To The Rescue.)


Religious Leaders Sound Alarm


Religious leaders and writers are increasingly sounding the alarm about the Republican embrace of Ayn Rand and what it really means. Examples: Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, Must Christian Voters Choose Between Ayn Rand and Jesus?; Jim Newell at Gawker: Catholics Take on the Republican Cult of Ayn Rand; Stephen Prothero at Tuscon Citizen: You can't reconcile Ayn Rand and Jesus, Frank Cocozzelli at Talk to Action with Is Ayn Rand the Secular Saint of Selfishness? (Is the Pope Catholic?), Frederick Clarkson and Frank Cocozzelli also at Talk to Action with The Randian Fault That Could Shake Conservatism, Joe Parko in an op-ed at the Crossville,Tennessee Chronicle writes We the People: Ayn Rand and the Tea Party Christians and Michael Sean Winters in the National Catholic Reporter, with Pushback from the Religious Left, (please click through to read it all),

This past weekend, Ralph Reed of Christian Coalition and Jack Abramoff fame, hosted a conference of conservative religious leaders here in Washington. They hope to energize conservative Christian voters to turn out at the polls en masse next year, although one wonders whether some GOP leaders will look up from their copies of "Atlas Shrugged" long enough to recognize the deep intellectual schizophrenia within the conservative political ranks today.

The progressive religious group Faith in Public Life organized an event at a nearby hotel to push back against the religious right's agenda. Among others, Father Clete Kiley of the Archdiocese of Chicago addressed the group. Here is the text of his speech as prepared for delivery:

Today we are gathered here to sound an alarm. The proposed federal budget developed by Chairman Paul Ryan, and being pushed by folks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition across the street, reflects a profound crisis for American working families and American values.

There was a time in this country when we all believed in something called the common good. And we believed that if we all put in our fair share, we would be a just country, a strong country, a nation at peace with itself.

There was a time in this country when we all believed it was right to take care of our elderly; to secure their retirement; to provide them with health care; to give them a dignity and quality of life.

In this video Ayn Rand attacks altruism as evil and explains her philosophy of objectivism:



From The Sideshow this week,

The spiritual leader of the modern Republican Party is Ayn Rand, who said: "I am against God. I don't approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness ... I regard it as evil. ... I am the creator of a new code of morality; a morality not based on faith." If I had a lot of money, I'd commission a poster with Ayn Rand's face on it and her name and those words in very big letters and put it on every billboard I could buy space on. And after it had been up long enough for a few "faith-based" people to feel they had to disavow her, I'd slowly, one by one, change the poster for one with the words of a different author: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Paul Ryan Confronted

Watch as Rep. Paul Ryan refuses to accept a Bible from James Salt of Catholics United. The Bible was specially marked with passages about helping the poor. This occurred at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference last week in DC.

"Why did you choose to model your budget on the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than the faith of economic justice in the Bible?"

So Republicans have a lot of explaining to do. And not just to their Christian"base."


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:04 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 6, 2011

10 Years Since Bush Tax Cuts: Why The Onion Was Right

It is 10 years since the Bush tax cuts passed. When Bush took office (and never forget the Supreme Court's 5-4 role in that) The Onion famously declared, “Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over.” They had no way to know how prescient they were. Now we are living the real nightmare.

10 years of Bush tax cuts is enough! Click here to demand your representative supports the Fairness in Taxation Act so the rich contribute their fair share.

The Onion satire had Bush declaring,

"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

Everything the Onion declared in jest became true right down to the Bush administration proposing to sell national parks. Pushed through using "reconciliation," the Bush tax cuts -- along with the Bush wars and military increases -- have nearly bankrupted the country. As Roger Hickey writes in, 10 Years Of Bush Tax Cuts Is Enough,

Cutting taxes on the wealthy did not create jobs as conservatives promised. ... the Bush Administration [had] the "worst track record on record" for jobs, according to the Wall Street Journal. Bush declared that "the surplus is the people's money," and proceeded to give the surplus away to very few people. Now that we face chronic deficits, it's long past time for millionaires and billionaires to starting giving back.

10 years of Bush tax cuts is enough! Click here to demand your representative supports the Fairness in Taxation Act so the rich contribute their fair share.

Deficits: "Incredibly Positive News"

Ten years ago we had a huge budget surplus. Then came the Bush tax cuts, immediately pushing us into terrible budget deficits. What did Bush say about that? Bush said that turning from surplus to deficit was "Incredibly Positive News,''

President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government's fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." He said that was "incredibly positive news" because it would halt the growth of the federal government.

"Incredibly positive news" -- never for a minute think that these deficits and the resulting debt were anything but intentional, a scheme to gut government and force us toward the current rigged and one-sided discussion of cutting Medicare, etc.

Bring Back Peace And Prosperity

It would be so simple to bring back peace and prosperity. First and foremost: undo the Bush tax cuts.

5-12-11bud2

But the Supreme Court helped lock in the Bush nightmare, with the "Citizens United" ruling, allowing unlimited corporate money to interfere in our elections. In the 2010 Congressional midterms more than $300 million was pumped into those nasty smear-ads by corporations, half of it from secret donors, according to Common Cause. How much of that came from, say, China? We don't get to know.

P.S. A Simple Plan To Fix The Jobs Emergency -- And The Economy, Too

Take Action

10 years of Bush tax cuts is enough! Click here to demand your representative supports the Fairness in Taxation Act so the rich contribute their fair share.


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 13, 2011

Actually, "The Rich" Don't "Create Jobs," We Do.

You hear it again and again, variation after variation on a core message: if you tax rich people it kills jobs. You hear about "job-killing tax hikes," or that "taxing the rich hurts jobs," "taxes kill jobs," "taxes take money out of the economy, "if you tax the rich they won't be able to provide jobs." ... on and on it goes. So do we really depend on "the rich" to "create" jobs? Or do jobs get created when they fill a need?

Here is a recent typical example, Obama Touts Job-Killing Tax Plan, written by a "senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth,"

Some people, in their pursuit of profit, benefit their fellow humans by creating new or better goods and services, and then by employing others. We call such people entrepreneurs and productive workers.

Others are parasites who suck the blood and energy away from the productive. Such people are most often found in government.

Perhaps the most vivid description of what happens to a society where the parasites become so numerous and powerful that they destroy their productive hosts is Ayn Rand’s classic novel “Atlas Shrugged.” ...

Producers and Parasites

The idea that there are producers and parasites as expressed in the example above has become a core philosophy of conservatives. They claim that wealthy people "produce" and are rich because they "produce." The rest of us are "parasites" who suck blood and energy from the productive rich, by taxing them. In this belief system, We, the People are basically just "the help" who are otherwise in the way, and taxing the producers to pay for our "entitlements." We "take money" from the producers through taxes, which are "redistributed" to the parasites. They repeat the slogan, "Taxes are theft," and take the "money we earned" by "force" (i.e. government.)

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner echoes this core philosophy of "producers" and "parasites," saying yesterday,

I believe raising taxes on the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy and to hire people is the wrong idea,” he said. “For those people to give that money to the government…means it wont get reinvested in our economy at a time when we’re trying to create jobs.”

"The very people" who "hire people" shouldn't have to pay taxes because that money is then taken out of the productive economy and just given to the parasites -- "the help" -- meaning you and me...

So is it true? Do "they" create jobs? Do we "depend on" the wealthy to "create jobs?"

Demand Creates Jobs

I used to own a business and have been in senior positions at other businesses, and I know many others who have started and operated businesses of all sizes. I can tell you from direct experience that I tried very hard to employ the right number of people. What I mean by this is that when there were lots of customers I would add people to meet the demand. And when demand slacked off I had to let people go.

If I had extra money I wouldn't just hire people to sit around and read the paper. And if I had more customers than I could handle that -- the revenue generated by meeting the additional demand from the extra customers -- is what would pay for employing more people to meet the demand. It is a pretty simple equation: you employ the right number of people to meet the demand your business has.

If you ask around you will find that every business tries to employ the right number of people to meet the demand. Any business owner or manager will tell you that they hire based on need, not on how much they have in the bank. (Read more here, in last year's Businesses Do Not Create Jobs.)

Taxes make absolutely no difference in the hiring equation. In fact, paying taxes means you are already making money, which means you have already hired the right number of people. Taxes are based on subtracting your costs from your revenue, and if you have profits after you cover your costs, then you might be taxed. You don't even calculate your taxes until well after the hiring decision has been made. You don;t lay people off to "cover" your taxes. And even if you did lay people off to "cover' taxes it would lower your costs and you would have more profit, which means you would have more taxes... except that laying someone off when you had demand would cause you to have less revenue, ... and you see how ridiculous it is to associate taxes with hiring at all!

People coming in the door and buying things is what creates jobs.

The Rich Do Not Create Jobs

Lots of regular people having money to spend is what creates jobs and businesses. That is the basic idea of demand-side economics and it works. In a consumer-driven economy designed to serve people, regular people with money in their pockets is what keeps everything going. And the equal opportunity of democracy with its reinvestment in infrastructure and education and the other fruits of democracy is fundamental to keeping a demand-side economy functioning.

When all the money goes to a few at the top everything breaks down. Taxing the people at the top and reinvesting the money into the democratic society is fundamental to keeping things going.

Democracy Creates Jobs

This idea that a few wealthy people -- the "producers" -- hand everything down to the rest of us -- "the parasites" -- is fundamentally at odds with the concept of democracy. In a democracy we all have an equal voice and an equal stake in how our society and our economy does. We do not "depend" on the good graces of a favored few for our livelihoods. We all are supposed to have an equal opportunity, and equal rights. And there are things we are all entitled to -- "entitlements" -- that we get just because we were born here. But we all share in the responsibility to cover the costs of democracy -- with the rich having a greater responsibility than the rest of us because they receive the most benefit from it. This is why we have "progressive taxes" where the rates are supposed to go up as the income does.

Taxes Are The Lifeblood Of Democracy And The Prosperity That Democracy Produces

In a democracy the rich are supposed to pay more to cover things like building and maintaining the roads and schools because these are the things that enable their wealth. They actually do use the roads and schools more because the roads enable their businesses to prosper and the schools provide educated employees. But it isn't just that the rich use roads more, it is that everyone has a right to use roads and a right to transportation because we are a democracy and everyone has the same rights. And as a citizen in a democracy you have an obligation to pay your share for that.

A democracy is supposed have a progressive tax structure that is in proportion to the means to pay. We do this because those who get more from the system do so because the democratic system offers them that ability. Their wealth is because of our system and therefore they owe back to the system in proportion. (Plus, history has taught the lesson that great wealth opposes democracy, so democracy must oppose the accumulation of great, disproportional wealth. In other words, part of the contract of living in a democracy is your obligation to protect the democracy and high taxes at the top is one of those protections.)

The conservative "producer and parasite" anti-tax philosophy is fundamentally at odds with the concepts of democracy (which they proudly acknowledge - see more here, and here) and should be understood and criticized as such. Taxes do not "take money out of the economy" they enable the economy. The rich do not "create jobs, We, the People create jobs.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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April 18, 2011

Conservative Tax Tricks – Are We "Broke?"

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Conservatives have been saying lately, "We're broke," and need to cut back on the things we (government) do to protect and empower each other. They have a unique definition of the word "we" when applied this way to Americans. For them "we" doesn't mean "We, the People," it means something different.

In the last few decades conservatives cut taxes on the rich. And then they cut taxes on the rich. And then they cut taxes on the rich. And then they did it even more. Finally, after cutting, cutting and cutting taxes on the rich they complain that there isn't any money to run our government!

Speaker of the House John Boehner, Jan. 26: "Well, if you really want to talk about what the 'Sputnik moment' is," he replied, "it's the fact that we're broke. And American people know we're broke." Again on Feb. 10: "We're broke. Let's be honest with ourselves."

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says Wisconsin is "broke," too. (Therefore they have to get rid of unions???)

Conservatives even extend their nonsense to claim California is "broke" because it taxes the rich!

Are We Broke?

If the definition of "we" is "we" then we certainly aren't "broke." In fact just 400 of us have more money than half of the rest of us -- 155 million people. Just 400 people have that much! That's a whole lot of "not broke" right there.

Last year the top 25 hedge fund managers -- just 25 people -- had income of $22 billion. Those 25 people had more income than all the people in 440,000 average American families combined. (Median household incomeaccording to the Census Bureau in 2008 was $52,029.) That's a whole lot of "not broke" right there, too.

And these are just two examples of how extreme the income inequality in our country has gotten. A few at the top have so much at the expense of the rest of us.

Where Did The Money Go?

Those 25 hedge fund managers have been granted a special tax rate of only 15%. Those 400 wealthy people who own more than half of the rest of us get much of their income from "capital gains," dividends and other special low-tax gimmicks. The top few percent of Americans have been getting tax breaks since Reagan, and the result is that the rest of us have to make up the difference. We're not "broke," we're paying for the gains at the top.

Joshua Holland, Tax Day Question: Who's Paying What?,

The federal income tax bill for a person making $15,000 is 51 percent higher today than it was 30 years ago -- a big jump.

... If you make $100,000, you'd be paying 33 percent less today than in 1981.

Someone making a really good living that brought in $250,000 would pay 47 percent less – that person's federal income tax bill dropped from $126,953 in 1981 to $67,398 today.

It hasn't just been income-tax cuts, either. The businesses owned by the top few percent have also been getting the breaks. Joshua Holland again, in How Big Business Gets a Free Ride by Lobbying to Raise Your Taxes, explains,

Well, consider this: in the 1940s, corporations paid 43 percent of all the federal income taxes collected in this country. In the 1950s, they picked up the tab for 39 percent. But by the time the 1990s rolled around, corporations were paying just 18.9 percent of federal income taxes, and they forked over the same figure in the first decade of this century. We – working people – paid the difference.

So what we are seeing it that the income at the top is rising:

While the taxes at the top are falling:

And the taxes paid by the corporations is also falling:

How Did It Happen?

Since the early 80s our economy has been restructuring itself in ways that send almost all of the gains to a few at the top. "Free trade" pitted our workers against exploited workers in a race to the bottom. Deregulation removed consumer and other protections, allowing corporations to become predatory and monopolistic. Meanwhile the tax system has been restructured to send the tax collections downward. One of the biggest tax shifts was increasing the Social Security payroll tax on those at the bottom and middle – money that was supposed to be set aside for their retirement -- and using that money to fund tax cuts for those above. And now they claim all that money people were putting away is gone so we need to cut their retirement by moving the retirement age out. In addition the corporations are paying a lower share of the taxes as well.

America Is Not Broke

Simple answer to a simple question: America is not broke, we are richer than ever. But the "We" that make up We, the People are not sharing in the gains, while the "we" that make up the wealthy few are not sharing ... anything. The tax cuts have stolen from us our ability to maintain our infrastructure, education our people, maintain our competitiveness in the world and take care of each other.

As Michael Moore said in Wisconsin,

"America is not broke, not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich."

Here's Cenk on this:

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April 13, 2011

Republican Budget SO Loony Even The Nuts Think It's Nuts!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The Republican budget is SO loony it's even scaring the right-wing nuts! How often does THAT happen?

The Republicans are voting on their budget plan this week. The plan eliminates Medicare and guts Medicaid, guts the rest of the government (except the things their oil company and military-contractor sponsors make money from), while dramatically cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Reporters are asking Republicans to comment publicly on the plan and the responses are not what you'd expect. When reporters use "tread cautiously" to describe ANYthing Republicans do, you know something's up.

LA Times: Boehner treads cautiously on Ryan plan,

House Speaker John Boehner offered qualified support for Rep. Paul Ryan's sweeping budget blueprint, which would convert Medicare into largely a private insurance system and transform Medicaid into a state-run block grant program. ... Boehner said he believed the Ryan plan will reduce the debt and will preserve Medicare – but stopped short of singing its praises.

Washington Post: Republican presidential candidates tread carefully GOP budget plan,

Mindful of the political risks, most Republican presidential hopefuls treaded gingerly after House Republicans unveiled a budget plan that would slash federal spending by about $5 trillion over 10 years while revamping health programs for the elderly and poor.

"Revamping" is reporter-speak for eliminating, privatizing, abolishing, doing away with.

Several, including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, praised the budget's sponsor, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, but stopped short of fully endorsing the blueprint and didn't indicate whether they backed the massive changes in Medicare and Medicaid.

"Massive changes" is more reporter-speak for wiping out, killing, destroying, sending to Heaven.

LA Times: House GOP faces risky vote on Medicare, Medicaid,

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs) commended Ryan "for his willingness to begin a long-overdue and critically important debate." But she "continues to review this legislation," including its effect on Medicare,...

Even members of the freshman class, who ran on cutting deficits and upending political convention in Washington, are treading carefully. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican whose Pennsylvania district was held by a Democrat for nearly 30 years before his victory in November, declined to comment on how he would vote.

Rep. Sean Duffy, a Republican freshman from a working-class, erstwhile Democratic district in northwestern Wisconsin, also has praised Ryan but has not yet signed on publicly to the plan.

Politico: Some in GOP squirm over Paul Ryan budget,

Rep. Tim Murphy ... is still undecided. Susan Mosychuk, Murphy’s chief of staff, said it’s a “high-profile vote” that they are “still taking a look at.”

Rep. Gus Bilirakis ... is “still looking it over and trying to decide.” ...

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) ... said he’s undecided.

Rep. Steve Southerland ... is in the same place as Bilirakis.

So is Ohio freshman Rep. Jim Renacci. “He’s still reviewing it,” ...

Even The Base

In Plurality of Republicans want Medicare left alone, Ezra Klein cites a Gallup poll showing that even Republican voters don't like the Republican budget.

The most popular position in the GOP’s coalition isn’t that Medicare needs a complete overhaul, as Ryan thinks. It isn’t that it needs major changes, or even that it needs minor changes. It’s that we shouldn’t try and control costs at all. That’s not true for the Democrats’ coalition, where both “minor changes” and “major changes” beat “no cost control,” and it’s not true for the independent coalition, where “minor changes” at least tie cost control.

And in more bad news for the GOP, elsewhere in the poll, raising taxes on the rich turns out to be very popular, while a plurality further cuts in programs.

Even Bachmann!

Saving the best for last, from the above-cited House GOP faces risky vote on Medicare, Medicaid,

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who is considering a presidential bid, said the plan "merits our full attention," but didn't go further.

Whoa, even Rep. Michelle Bachmann thinks it's nuts! When Michelle Bachman thinks something is nuts, you are waaaayyyy past nuts and into full-on, screaming, idiotic, crazy, frothing, hallucinating, straight-jacket-wrapped, padded-cell, chasing-with-a-net budget lunacy.

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April 8, 2011

No One Wants A Shutdown ... Except Republicans

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Since the election the entire Republican structure, from the bottom to the top, has been rejoicing that they are in a position to shut down the government again. Their radio and TV and blogs and articles and speeches have been talking demanding a shutdown, strategizing it, planning it, and just itching to do it. They live for it. This time, we’ll do it right, they say. This time, we'll get away with it, they say. They have also been talking about how they can blame the other side. Don't let them.

When former Republican Senator Alan Simpson said he "can't wait" for the “bloodbath” that would come when Republicans got the chance to shut down the government, it confirmed what many of us had been seeing on the right: they are itching for and demanding a government shutdown. They just couldn’t wait, and were even saying so in public!

From January’s post, "Gut Or Shut" -- Is America Ready?,

Republicans are saying they are going to either gut the government or shut it down.They mean it. It's gut or shut, and they are not going to allow a third choice. This is not just posturing and they are not likely to engage in bipartisan bargaining. Their rhetoric has painted them into a corner with their base. We should take them at their word and prepare.

... One after another Republicans -- the very people responsible for the massive debt -- have been outlining their "conditions" for a vote to prevent default and allow the country's economy to survive. They maintain they are not going to pass a budget that does not gut the government, and if the Senate and President do not go along with this they will just let the government default. They say they "can't wait" for a "bloodbath." Senator Jim DeMint, for example, said today,

"We need to have a showdown at this point that we are not going to increase our debt ceiling anymore," he said. "We are going to cut things necessary to stay within the current levels, which is over $14 trillion. This needs to be a big showdown."

This "gut or shut" threat is so far beyond anything the country has experienced thatthe country really has no idea what is about to happen in the next few months. But this is just the next step in a 30-year plan and we should understand it that way.

In fact, over a year ago President Obama warned Republicans that their inflated rhetoric would make it difficult for them to compromise, forcing them to shut down the government again. From TPM, the President,

"[I]f the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me."
So Here We Are

So here we are. They have been promising for months to do this – whether they do it tonite or later with the debt ceiling vote. Don’t be surprised, and don’t let them even try to shift the blame. They demanded it and they are rejoicing in it.

Here are just a few examples of Republican demands to shut or gut the government. Just a few. (Conservative media first, scroll down for Republican elected officials.)

Conservative Media Demanding Shutdown

Limbaugh Brushes Off Concerns About A Government Shutdown: The Government Has Shut Down "Several Times" Due To Snow

Fox News' Whip Count: Napolitano Pushes GOP Congressmen To Support A Government Shutdown,

Cavuto Tells Americans Worried About Shutdown To "Shut Up"

Cavuto Promotes "Fiscal Upside" To A Government Shutdown

Fox's Cameron: Dems Must Accept GOP Strings On Short-Term Spending Bill Or "Deny Funds To The Troops"

Dick Morris Invents "Targeted Shutdown" Solution To Budget Battle

Hannity Advice For GOP: Don't Compromise To Avoid A Shutdown

Dick Morris: GOP Will Exhibit "Cowardice" If They Compromise To Avoid Shutdown

Town Hall, "Shut It Down!":

CNN report, Tea Party: Bring on a government shutdown,

...Tea Party supporters, including some members of Congress they helped elect, welcome a possible government shutdown as soon as midnight Friday. Bringing to a halt what they consider to be a bloated and misguided federal government would be a tangible success for their citizen activism that claims allegiance to no single party.

Stossel: People Affected By Government Shutdown "Shouldn't Be Getting Those Handouts Anyway"

Stossel Dreams Of Government Under Lock And Key

Wash. Times' Kuhner Advocates For Government Shutdown,

"[I]f the budget crisis leads to a government shutdown, so be it. It will be Mr. Obama's fault. He is the one who is bleeding the country white. A shutdown will unmask the destruction he is wreaking upon America."

Michael Steele: ‘There’s Nothing Wrong With A Government Shutdown’,

STEELE: Well I think there’s — I personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with a government shutdown. I’ve been an advocate for it for six, seven months now. For the simple reason that it is the shocker. It is the reality check that the spenders need to have, that those who are trying to chart a different course need to have.

Conservative Media Push For Government Shutdown While Claiming Any Shutdown Would Be Dems' Fault

Right-Wing Media Agitate For Government Shutdown...

Kudlow In Wash. Examiner: A Government Shutdown "Doesn't Sound That Bad To Me." In a March 8 op-ed in The Washington Examiner, columnist Lawrence Kudlow wrote that a government shutdown "doesn't sound that bad to me.":

Hannity: "Shut The Government Down" "Until We Cut A Trillion Dollars From The Budget." From the March 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity: ...

Varney And Crowley Insist American People Would Love A Government Shut Down. From the February 17 edition of Fox Business Networks' Varney & Co.: ...

Limbaugh: "All I Wanted Was A Government Shutdown" For Christmas. From the December 17 edition of Rush Limbaugh's radio show:

LIMBAUGH: Ah, darn it. Does this mean there's not gonna be a government shutdown? That's the only thing I really wanted for Christmas. I got everything else. My Christmas is giving stuff. All I wanted was a government shutdown. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/17/10]

Carlson: "The Public Needs To Be Let In On A Little Secret: We Can Survive" A Government Shutdown. On the March 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson noted some services that would be affected by a government shutdown and stated: "They've done a study to show that the public needs to be let in on a little secret: We can survive when the government shuts down for a short period of time." She continued: "And that, I think, would raise a lot of questions about whether or not there's bloating in the federal government." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/2/11]

Doocy: Shutdown Could Make Americans Realize "They Don't Really Need That Gigantic Mechanism." Later on the March 2 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) that "some Democrats worry that if there was a shutdown that barely affected the everyday lives of a lot of people, that would reinforce your argument on the conservative side that a lot of government is wasteful, and they don't really need that gigantic a mechanism." [Fox News,Fox & Friends, 3/2/11]

Washington Times: Government Shutdown "Wouldn't Be A Bad Thing." In a February 25 editorial,The Washington Times stated that "a shutdown of the non-essential functions of the federal government ... wouldn't be a bad thing." The Times further wrote that "[s]pending our way out of a recession has been a failure, and the public is ready for change - even if that means living for a few weeks without government functions that, by definition, we can live without." [The Washington Times, 2/25/11]

Fox's MacCallum and Bolling Agree That A Government Shutdown Wouldn't Be "The End Of The World." On the December 16, 2010, edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum suggested it wouldn't be "the end of the world" if "the government stops operating for a little while."

Gingrich Defends Government Shutdown In Advising GOP To Absolutely Stop Passage Of Spending Bill. Fox News contributor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich defended a government shutdown on the December 16, 2010, edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

O'Reilly On Possible Government Shutdown: "Good. These Pinheads Need Some Time Off." On the December 16, 2010, edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly stated: ...

Erickson: "I'm Almost Giddy Thinking About A Government Shutdown Next Year. I Cannot Wait!" Via Twitter

See a long list at: Right-Wing Media Dismiss Potential Effects Of A Government Shutdown

Republican Elected Officials

Steve King Demands ‘Blood Oath’ From Boehner To Shut Down The Government

NY Times, Conservatives Balk at Stopgap Spending Measure

Frustrated with the pace of budget negotiations, Congressional conservatives are lining up against a new stopgap spending measure in a challenge to Republican leaders who back the legislation needed to avert a government shutdown.

Bachmann: Vote Against CR is "Our Mice or Men Moment"

Representative Todd Rokita:

“I feel I have no choice given what I ran on, given what I got 70 percent of the vote on, I have to shut down the government.”

Representative David Schweikert,

“A shutdown is not out of the question.”

GOP Rep.-Elect Nunnelee Vows To Shut Down The Government If Health Care Reform Is Not Repealed

Rep.-Elect Steve Womack Joins Shutdown Caucus

Rep. Mike Pence:

Rep. Joe Walsh:

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who has argued that a government shutdown might actually be good for the country, did not back down from that claim today when he spoke to CBS News' Nancy Cordes on Washington Unplugged today.

Rep. Gohmert On Government Shutdown: ‘Yes We Can’

NY Times, As Budget Talks Continue, Hard-Liners Get Support From Tea Party

At a two hour-plus Tea Party rally outside the Capitol, some members, raising their fists to the chants of “Cut it or shut it,” suggested they would stand firm.

“It’s time to pick a fight,” said Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, one of his party’s more combative supporters of smaller government.

… The immediate question, though, remained whether Mr. Boehner could bring House Republicans along on a deal for a $33 billion cut. “If that’s the number, it ain’t good enough,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah.

… Several lawmakers spoke at the rally, including Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, with raucous cheers following her every word, and the Republican Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Politico, Eric Cantor draws line at new stopgap bills

It’s not just freshmen or rank-and-file Republicans who are balking at approving another stop-gap measure, which will come up for a vote on Tuesday.

On Monday, Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he won’t vote for the measure because it doesn’t stop funding for Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics that also provide abortions. The resolution for the rest of the year, which the House passed last month but which hasn’t garnered enough support in the Senate, cuts $317 million in family planning funding.

In the Senate, Republicans Marco Rubio and Mike Lee said Monday they won’t support the three-week stopgap.
Last week, freshmen Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) also said he won’t support the bill and implied that a government shutdown might actually be good for the budget debate.

Sen. Mitch McConnell,

MR. GREGORY: Is the prospect of a government shutdown over any potential fight over spending, is that an option in your mind? Is it a viable alternative? SEN. McCONNELL: We, we have two opportunities coming up. We have the continuing resolution on March 4th, and then the president has asked us to raise the debt ceiling. So we have two opportunities here to do something important for this country on the issue of spending and debt. We ought not to lose that opportunity. The president ought to work with us on both those occasions to address this important issue.

MR. GREGORY: Is a government shutdown a viable alternative in your mind?

SEN. McCONNELL: As I said, we have two opportunities, opportunities...

Ron Paul Catches Shutdown Fever: ‘I Don’t Think It Would Hurt One Bit’

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland eyes government shutdown (September),

A prominent Republican congressman raised the specter Friday of a government shutdown if the GOP wins control of the House.

Speaking to hundreds of activists gathered at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington for the Faith and Freedom Conference, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) urged the audience to stand with House Republicans when they go toe-to-toe with President Barack Obama.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: Stand With Republicans When We Shut Down the Government, (September),

"The government shut down," said Westmoreland -- and the crowd started cheering. "That's what I wanted to hear! A good clap for that!"

Caught On Tape: Republicans Touting Support For Government Shutdown

Sen. Mike Lee, Politico, Mike Lee: Shutdown may be 'necessary'

The interviewer followed up, asking, “Even if it leads to government default or a shutdown?”

“It’s an inconvenience. It would be frustrating to many, many people, and it’s not a great thing,” Lee responded. “And yet at the same time, it’s not something that we can rule out.”

“It may be absolutely necessary,” he said.

Sen. Sessions: Top Senate Budget Republican not ruling out government shutdown

The Alabama Republican says he wants no less than a 10 percent across the board spending cut in exchange for his vote to raise the debt limit.

Republicans Gave Standing Ovation To Shutdown

Washington Post, Monday,

"House Republicans huddled late Monday and, according to a GOP aide, gave the speaker an ovation when he informed them that he was advising the House Administration Committee to begin preparing for a possible shutdown"

It's pretty clear who wants the government shut down.


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April 7, 2011

They Created The Deficits. It Isn't ABOUT Deficits.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

"Watch what we do, not what we say" -- famous quote from a Nixon official, explaining that they make up the stuff they say to distract and divert people from understanding what they are doing.

They say they are trying to cut deficits. They are doing something else entirely. Remember, they created the deficits, on purpose, so they could use them now to get what they want. Remember, Bush said his deficits were "incredibly positive news." Remember, Reagan said it was about "cutting the government's allowance." They created the deficits, on purpose.

Now, with their "strategic deficits" ruining us, corporate conservatives have whipped the public into a deficit-fear hysteria. They are using that hysteria to push through dramatic changes to our country that have nothing whatsoever to do with deficits, and even in many cases make the deficits worse. It isn't about deficits.

In Wisconsin they claimed they were outlawing public-employee unions as a deficit-fighting measure -- after the unions had given in on every demand to cut pay and benefits. The plan was to defund the unions, not to cut deficits. They only said it was about deficits, as cover. It wasn't about deficits. They used the deficits as a smokescreen to get what they really want.

In Washington they are using a supposed deficit fight to defund the EPA and Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting and so many other things that We, the People (government) do for each other. They are proposing to abolish Medicare! They want to privatize or at least cripple Social Security. They are gutting Medicaid, Food Stamps and regulatory enforcement. They say it is to cut the deficit. It isn't about deficits. They created the deficits to get them to this point.

And as we go through these fights over "deficits" do not ever forget that they just finished passing even more huge tax cuts for the rich. It isn't about deficits.

They say it is about deficits, they do something else entirely. They always say it is about whatever the public is stirred up about, and then push for their agenda. Always. It's what they do.

"Nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes" - Tom DeLay, 2003

If the public was all worried about green cheese on the moon they would be saying that the way to fight green cheese on the moon is to defund unions, abolish Medicare, get rid of regulations, cut taxes on the rich, etc. Don't be distracted, don't be diverted. It isn't about deficits. They created the deficits


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Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:25 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

April 1, 2011

Social Security "Cannot Exist" Says Rep. Cantor, House Majority Leader

From Campaign for America's Future:

Help Fight Cantor's Quest to Eliminate Social Security

Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said out loud what he really thinks: He believes Social Security "cannot exist." At all. For anyone.

This week NPR played Cantor’s remarks to the conservative Hoover Institution: He declared: "So we've got to protect today's seniors. But for the rest of us? For - you know, listen. We're going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be."

These guys say things like this at right-wing think tanks, expecting that the folks back home won’t hear them. We want to make sure every person in Rep. Cantor's congressional district hears those words straight from his mouth.

The Campaign for America's Future isn't letting Rep. Cantor get away with it. We have a TV ad that will let his constituents know about his extreme opposition to Social Security. But we need your help to get it on the air. The more you can donate, the more we can get his constituents to see the ad and the more we can spread the truth, and put him on the hot seat.

Click here to help us keep this ad on the air »

Here is what CAF sent out in an email:

Help us expose Rep. Eric Cantor's plan to make sure Social Security "cannot exist." Contribute $10, $25 or $50 to our ad campaign.

This week NPR played Cantor’s remarks to the conservative Hoover Institution: He declared: "So we've got to protect today's seniors. But for the rest of us? For - you know, listen. We're going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be."

These guys say things like this at right-wing think tanks, expecting that the folks back home won’t hear them. We want to make sure every person in Rep. Cantor's congressional district hears those words straight from his mouth.

Check out our hard-hitting ad. Then help us get it on the air.

Help us expose Rep. Eric Cantor's plan to make sure Social Security "cannot exist." Contribute $10, $25 or $50 to our ad campaign.

A significant ad buy in Rep. Cantor's central Virginia district would only require 100 supporters to donate $50 each.

But the more you can donate, the more we can get his constituents to see the ad and the more we can spread the truth, and put him on the hot seat.

Help us expose Rep. Eric Cantor's plan to make sure Social Security "cannot exist." Contribute $10, $25 or $50 to our ad campaign.

All year, the Campaign for America's Future has been leading the fight to protect Social Security. And our polling shows that big majorities across the country want to strengthen Social Security – including in Cantor’s district.

We helped stop the President from embracing disastrous Social Security cuts in his State of the Union address. Now, let's make sure the Republicans know what they’re in for if they try to abolish one of American's most successful, and most popular programs.

Thank you for all of your support.

Sincerely,

Roger Hickey, Co-director
Campaign for America's Future

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:21 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

January 10, 2011

Why Conservatives Use Extreme Rhetoric

Conservatives use extreme rhetoric as a strategy. Watch the video. I gave a talk on this in 2007, titled, "We're All In This Together."

Those in the conservative movement understand that public appreciation of community and government are the underpinnings of support for these and other target issues. So by first working to erode public support for government and community they can effectively leverage their efforts and erode support for all of their targets at the same time.

The guy in the video clip attacks public education – but he does it as part of a larger attack on what he calls “liberals.” “Liberals” is the shorthand name for their enemy but it is really an attack on community and government. Some of you here may not think of yourselves as “liberals,” but because you value public education this puts you in that enemy category as far as THEY are concerned

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 7, 2011

Tea Party Betrayed On Spending Cuts

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The Tea Party membership is being set up for yet another huge betrayal by the DC Republican establishment. The members had very clear expectations that specific spending cuts would fix the government's budget problems. The Republican leadership is betraying them by cutting things Tea Party members do not want cut, and are not cutting the things they were led to believe would fix the budget problems.

Tea Party members expected the new Congress to fix the budget by cutting "government waste," stopping corporate bailouts and handouts and cutting a list of things they believed the government spends most of it money on. On top of this, Republican groups ran ad after ad after ad blasting Democrats for cutting Medicare and not increasing Social Security's cost of living adjustment. Tea Party members voted based on these promises and these promises are being broken as the new Congress convenes.

The very things they do not want cut will be up for cuts, and the things they want cut will not be cut. They are going to find out that the very people who campaigned against cutting Medicare and for increasing Social Security are actually planning to cut Medicare and Social Security. And they are going to find out that the budget cannot be fixed by cutting the things that the Republicans let them believe the government spends most of its money on.

Fact: Republican groups ran millions and millions of dollars of ads promising not to cut Medicare, and to increase Social Security. Republican establishment ran millions and millions of ads against Democrats for "cutting $500 billion from Medicare" and not increasing Social Security cost-of-living. As a result, for the first time the senior vote went to Republicans.

Here are just a few of the ads that saturated the airwaves, saying that Democrats should be thrown out for cutting Medicare:





And voters were sent flyers like this: (click for larger)

politifact-photos-ron_johnson_flier_combined_660

Fact: Polls show that Tea Party members believe that the government spends much of its money on foreign aid and welfare for illegal immigrants and Tea Party members expect the budget to be fixed by cutting those. The public thinks the deficits are caused by things like foreign aid. The Republican establishment was very happy to let them believe that, and to take their votes. The Republican leadership has done nothing to disabuse them of that notion, and continues to refuse to specify any actual spending cuts they plan to make.

Fact: People believe that much government spending is wasted. They want the waste cut, but they don't want cuts in things that are done for them. That is not what they think of as "waste." The Republican leadership has encouraged people to think government wastes money and the budget can be fixed by cutting :waste instead of things the public wants. They continue to lead the public to believe that so much is wasted, even after two terms of Reagan elected to cut waste, one term of the first Bush elected to cut waste, and two terms of the second Bush elected to cut waste. (Except, of course, military spending, which is were serious waste occurs but is "off the table" for cuts.)

Fact: aside from military, debt interest and various subsidies for large corporate interests, government largely spends money on We, the People. This is what Tea Party supporters, mislead by the Republican leadership, and discovering. The money isn't wasted (except in the military budget) and isn't misdirected. People do not want spending cuts on things the government does for US like Medicare, health research, education, unemployment benefits, mass transit, aid to the poor, etc. They were led to believe that the budget problems would be fixed by cuts elsewhere and that is hatt they expect. Anything else is a betrayal of their trust.

So, once again, what will Tea Party members do when their leaders betray them?

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:18 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

January 4, 2011

"Gut Or Shut" -- Is America Ready?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Republicans are saying they are going to either gut the government or shut it down. They mean it. It's gut or shut, and they are not going to allow a third choice. This is not just posturing and they are not likely to engage in bipartisan bargaining. Their rhetoric has painted them into a corner with their base. We should take them at their word and prepare.

On TV Sunday Lindsey Graham, a supposedly "centrist" US senator said he is willing to let the United States default on its Treasury obligations, saying,

“I will not vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long term debt obligations starting with Social Security, a real bipartisan effort to make sure that Social Security stays solvent, adjusting the age, looking at means tests for benefits. On the spending side I'm not going to vote for a debt ceiling increase unless we go back to 2008 spending levels, cutting discretionary spending...”

Sen. Graham said the threat to destroy the economy unless Social Security is cut is "a great opportunity to change the course of America's future." Yet there is little widespread shock or outrage or calls for his resignation from the so-called "responsible" leaders among the D.C. elites. So it appears that willingness to destroy the economy of the country and the world to score an ideological victory has moved into the realm of acceptability. This tells us how much our politics has changed in recent years.

One after another Republicans -- the very people responsible for the massive debt -- have been outlining their "conditions" for a vote to prevent default and allow the country's economy to survive. They maintain they are not going to pass a budget that does not gut the government, and if the Senate and President do not go along with this they will just let the government default. They say they "can't want" for a "bloodbath." Senator Jim DeMint, for example, said today,

"We need to have a showdown at this point that we are not going to increase our debt ceiling anymore," he said. "We are going to cut things necessary to stay within the current levels, which is over $14 trillion. This needs to be a big showdown."

This "gut or shut" threat is so far beyond anything the country has experienced that the country really has no idea what is about to happen in the next few months. But this is just the next step in a 30-year plan and we should understand it that way.

The Huge Debt Was The Plan

The huge deficit and accumulated debt was intentional. It was the plan all along: cut taxes on the rich, grow the debt into an emergency and then use that emergency to force cuts in things our government does for We, the People. Do not forget this and do not let the country forget this, either. This is not an emergency, it is just the next step in their plan.

Making this very point, President George W Bush called his deficits "incredibly positive news" because the resulting debt would force a debt crisis. And he left behind a $1.4 trillion deficit in his last budget year to clinch the deal. Now Republicans are gloating that they can gut or shut the government with the debt ceiling vote. This is not an emergency, it is just the next step in their plan.

It Is About WHAT To Cut

The huge debt was caused by tax cuts for the rich and military spending increases. But those are not what the Republicans are talking about fixing in the name of cutting the deficit. Far from it.

When they say they are “cutting spending” what they mean is they are cutting the things that government does for US - for We, the People. They are keeping the things that government does for the wealthiest 1% - the ones who got the bailouts and tax cuts. They are not talking about cutting the military even though we spend more than all other countries combined. They are not talking about cutting subsidies for big corporations - especially not for oil and coal companies. They are not talking about restoring top tax rates to where they were when the economy (more or less) worked.

They are talking about gutting the things that we do for each other and that protect us from the power of predatory corporate wealth – consumer protections, worker safety, environmental protections, health care, retirement, and the rest.

The Social Security Trap

It appears form Senator Graham's remarks, and others, that the #1 target is Social Security. While conservatives have had the program in their sights since its inception, today's focus on Social Security is also a trap aimed at the 2012 Presidential election.

Republican leadership are trying to trap President Obama into agreeing to cut Social Security and then use this to drive him from office. They plan to campaign that Obama cut Social Security, just as they successfully campaigned that "Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare" in the 2010 midterms. In the 2010 campaign anonymous-donor organizations aligned with the Republican Party ran ad after ad after ad after ad in district after district after district claiming "Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare." Seniors abandoned the Democratic party, and Republicans swept the election.

The Public Does Not Want Social Security Touched

This Social Security trap is one pillar of the 2012 plan, and the White House and party leadership should pay attention. Poll after poll after poll warn that the public does not want Social Security touched. Even Tea Party rank-and-file do not want Social Security touched.

Wall Street's Central Role

Wall Street is also at risk in this game, and should pressure the Republicans to stop threatening to let the country default on its debts. Economist Dean Baker, in Saving Social Security: Stopping Obama’s Next Bad Deal, points out that Wall Street would be destroyed by a debt default, while the rest of us wold survive. For this reason the President should call the bluff.

The prospect of the U.S. government defaulting on its debt creates the sort of end of the world scenario in which Congress rushed to pass the TARP in 2008. Back then ... luminaries told members of Congress and the public that we would have a second Great Depression if the Wall Street banks were not immediately bailed out, no questions asked. And the money flowed.

The prospect of defaulting on the debt will create a similar outbreak of shrill warnings of disaster. ... privatization of Social Security and Medicare and major cuts and/or elimination of other important programs. The argument from the administration will be that they have no choice.

[...] not only Democrats, but also independents and even Tea Party Republicans overwhelming support Social Security and Medicare. Furthermore, the gun, in the form of a potential debt default, is actually pointed at the Wall Street banks, not the public.

... the day after the default, the country would still have the same capital stock and infrastructure, the same skilled labor force and the same technical knowledge as it did the day before the default.

One thing that would not be around the day after a default is Wall Street. The default would wipe out the value the assets of the Wall Street banks...

For this reason, the threat of a default is a gun pointed most directly at Wall Street. Given the power of Wall Street over Congress, is inconceivable that they would ever let the Republicans pull the trigger.

This means that if President Obama is prepared to take the right and popular position of supporting Social Security and Medicare, he will win. This is both good policy and great politics.

Guy Saperstein, in The Looming Debt Ceiling Shakedown, writes that the President should call the bluff,

The Republicans are running a total bluff. They don't want the government to default on government bonds anymore than Obama. It would cause economic chaos, cost Wall Street trillions and lead to a civil war within the Republican Party between the Wall Street Wing and the Lunatic [aka, Tea Party] Wing ...

Wall Street is supporting the Republicans because they want a weaker, more controllable government -- and a piece of that Social Security money. They are convinced that President Obama will cave and agree to gut government and Social Security. But, as Baker points out, this game of default threats puts Wall Street at greater risk than the rest of us. President Obama should use that to draw a line in the sand: He won't sign anything other than a clean debt ceiling bill. Gutting Social Security should never be discussed as a budget-cutting strategy, and especially not at the barrel of a gun. Back off, send a clean bill, and then let’s talk about all the corporate sacred cows that members of both political parties have been protecting, that long ago needed to be weaned from the federal teat, as well as the unnecessary spending on defense and wasteful tax giveaways. And at the same time, let’s embrace the common sense that only in a growing economy that pays its workers well can we ever hope to repair the damage done by reckless conservative policies.


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Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:16 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

December 24, 2010

Fox News Attacks Rudolph As Communist

Is this a joke? Paul Abrams: Fox Slams :Rudolph/Reindeer" Song for Promoting Social Justice

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 17, 2010

Don’t Pass Tax Cuts For The Rich And Then Tell Me About Deficits

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Congress passed tax cuts for the rich and cut the estate tax way down, adding $800 billion to the deficit and placing Social Security on the chopping block. No one will have predicted what’s coming next year in the name of deficit reduction: they are going after Social Security and everything else that benefits the middle class, and will hold the full faith and credit of our country hostage to get that. Choice: Gut the programs or kill the country. Action: get ready now for the coming fight.

Where We've Been

The Congress passed tax cuts for the rich and a huge cut in the estate tax at a time of worries about deficits and intense concentration of wealth. This act just puts the name on what has occurred since Reagan: it formalizes the collapse of We, the People democracy, replaced by plutocracy. And that was with the big Democratic majorities that we all worked so hard to elect. Next year is when it starts getting bad. Action: get ready now for the coming fight.

Here is my message to Republicans: Tax cuts for the rich were so important to you that you took the country hostage, you refused to help the unemployed, you obstructed everything to get them. You blocked unemployment checks, DADT, the DREAM Act, the START Treaty, everything. So don't come back to me and complain about deficits, and say you need to cut the budget.

My message to the President and Democrats: Rewarding obstruction just makes things worse. You caved on, well, everything in the last two years. You pre-negotiated away things the country needs, only to have Republicans respond by increasing their demands, and then you caved on that. They filibustered something like 420 bills, not to mention judges and appointees, and you only brought the cots out once. So they just did it more. And they will do it more and more, until you stop rewarding them. Action: get ready now for the coming fight.

Worse Fights Coming

There are already signs of the start of the next fight. The big fight is when the debt ceiling has to be raised, and they can hold the country's and world's economy hostage to their demands. Before that, though, will be an omnibus spending bill.

Giving in to hostage takers has only solidified this kind of hostage-taking as a successful tactic. For example, last night, even while the House was capitulating to the last hostage-taking, Republicans again used the tactic to kill the omnibus spending bill. Republicans took the spending bill hostage and threatened to shut down the government if Dems didn’t accept their new demands. And Dems again gave in. As TPM puts it today,

Late last night, Harry Reid's plan to get the federal government funded through the end of the fiscal year went up in flames, burning months and months of work by Senate appropriators and their staffs. To avert a government shutdown, Reid agreed to work out a federal funding plan with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- Congress will agree to continue funding the government at its current levels through some yet-to-be-determined point next year.

... Next year, though, this arrangement will come back to haunt Dems. ... Whatever date they decide will be the deadline for resolving the next spending fight, which will occur in a dramatically different, and more conservative political environment. Republicans will demand spending cuts. And if they're successful, the stimulative impact of the just-passed tax package will be clawed back.

If they win every time, why would they stop using the tactic? Again and again rewarded for obstruction, Republicans take new hostages. Essentially they say, again and again, "Agree to our demands or we will blow everything up." Again and again the President and Dems cave. Rinse and repeat.

Action: get ready now for the coming fight.

How Far Will They Take This?

Just how far will they take this? Look at just how far they have taken it. Look what they have already done to the country. As CAF's Robert Borosage put it in Top End Tax Cuts and a Collapsing Infrastructure

America is literally falling apart. Collapsing bridges, exploding water mains, crumbling levees are a deadly clear and present danger. Children go to schools that are dangerous to their health. Our declining infrastructure is also costly economically, with outmoded transport, crowded highways, slow and inadequate broadband impeding our ability to compete. As President Obama has suggested, we need to make significant investments in building a 21st-century infrastructure, in education and training, in research and development as a foundation for a revived American economy.

The new batch of conservatives is very different from anything this country is used to, and that even includes the conservatives who shut down the government in the 90s, and relentlessly investigated President Clinton and literally anyone who ever knew him. Don't forget impeachment. They do not care about governing, they care about winning. And they now see absolute obstruction -- no matter the cost to the country -- as a wining tactic.

People haven’t come to grips yet with what it means when one party can just block everything, and has no interest in governing at all. The corporate right intends to use the debt ceiling and the threat of literally ruining the country to get their way. They will refuse to provide funding for anything they don’t like and threaten to kill the government if they don't get their way. At risk: Social Security, Medicare, alternative energy programs, infrastructure funding, the Department of Education, certainly NPR, anthing to do with science, reason, civility ...

They see this as their moment. They intend to reform the government in their far-right image or destroy it. If you think I am being extreme to say this, watch Fox for a while, listen to their radio shows, read their magazines and blogs. They intend to destroy the government.

Limbaugh: “We won the election, we shut it down.”

Limbaugh was talking about last night's hostage-taking on the omnibus spending bill, but reflects what I am hearing on the radio and blogs about their attitude in general. They really, really mean it, they see this as their moment to get everything they want or just destroy the government. They don't really care which.

Former Senator Alan Simpson recently gave a preview of conservative thinking. From Politico,

“I can’t wait for the bloodbath in April,” Simpson said, relishing the prospect of political turmoil. “When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ‘em a piece of meat, real meat” in the form of spending cuts.

“And boy, the bloodbath will be extraordinary,” he said.

They want that "bloodbath." They just can't wait.

Actions:

First we have to bolster our own leaders, ask them to stop rewarding obstruction and fight for us and let them know you will fight for them if they do. We need an absolute commitment that Social Security will not be touched! Especially now that the just-passed payroll tax cut threatens Social Security's financing.

Tell The President: Stand Up To The Hostage-Takers! Defend Social Security And Medicare.

Action: get ready now for the coming fight.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 14, 2010

Prevent Hostage-Taking: Add Debt Ceiling To Tax Deal!

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

If you like your Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, courts, roads, trains and the rest of what government does for We, the People, then you should pay attention to this. Early next year the Republicans will demand severe cuts to everything or they will allow the country to default on its debt. They mean it and they are planning for it. The coming "debt ceiling" fight can be averted by increasing the debt ceiling as part of this tax-cut deal.

A week ago, in Stop The Next Bad Deal: The Debt Ceiling Fight, I wrote about this,

If you think the tax cut fight led to a bad deal… it may also lead to an expectation by conservatives they will finally be able to cut, gut or shut the government in the coming fight over raising the debt ceiling. The President and Democrats in Congress should take steps now to keep them from thinking they can win that.

Early next year the country’s debt ceiling has to be raised – or else. Conservatives are likely to push for “or else” and hold the “full faith and credit of the United States” hostage to their demands to gut the middle class and democratic government.

Here is what Democrats can do: add the debt ceiling increase to this tax-cut deal or say no deal. Adding huge amounts to the deficit in this tax-cut bill is setting the Republicans up to take hostages again. But adding the debt ceiling increase to this deal prevents them from doing that.

Democrats in the House, at the maximum point of leverage, should add this to their demands for passing this tax-cut deal.

The Next Hostage-Taking Opportunity

It's coming for sure. Conservatives see the debt ceiling fight as an opportunity to cut, gut or shut the government and are planning for it. They are planning to create a crisis -- possibly the worst the country has faced -- to force panic and then impose severe "Shock Doctrine" reforms. Here's what The Hill is reporting:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday he's hoping to assemble a bloc of senators who will demand tax and spending reforms before agreeing to vote to raise the U.S. debt ceiling next year.

The very idea that they might not vote to increase the debt ceiling -- and allow the US government to default -- tells you what is coming. But if you want more proof:

"The debt ceiling, obviously, is going to have to be increased if we're not going to default, so the question is, what do we get in exchange for that, and what kind of fiscal controls?" said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House budget panel, last week on Bloomberg Television.

They are going to do this. They are going to take the biggest hostage ever. You can stop this. Democrats in the House are at the maximum leverage point. You can stop this. You can literally save the country by demanding the debt ceiling be increased in exchange for this tax-cut deal and the huge amount of debt it adds.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 31, 2010

Tea Party Members VS Tea Party Wall Street Funders

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

The Tea Party hates the Federal Reserve. You hear it over and over:
Tea Partiers support audit of Federal Reserve.
Tea Party could challenge Federal Reserve.
From Tea Party Advocates, Anger at the Federal Reserve.
Audit the Federal Reserve - Toledo TEA Party.
Tea Party Patriots | The Secret of Oz - Federal Reserve.
NH Tea Party: Federal Reserve Must Go
American Tea Party Constitutional Coalition: The Federal Reserve - A Scam!.

THIS is the member of Congress that the Tea Party's funders are trying hardest to defeat:


Go figure.

In the following paragraph, please click the links. If you are a Tea Party supporter, PLEASE click the links:

Do you think the tea party is getting played? Any Tea Partier who votes for these guys is being played for a sucker. The 12 leading Tea Party Senate candidates have accepted over $4.6 million in campaign contributions from Wall Street for the upcoming election. (See the list.)

What will Tea Party members do when their politicians betray them?


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Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 29, 2010

Map: 6 Mos of Right Wing Violence

Right Wing Violence 6mos - Mar 15 - Sep 15, 2010 - Google Maps. Click the pins, scroll the map, use the +- bar to zoom in. Click this link to go to the full-sized map and explanation.


View Right Wing Violence 6mos - Mar 15 - Sep 15, 2010 in a larger map

(ht skippy)

Watch your backs!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:42 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 26, 2010

What Will Tea Party Members Do When Their Politicians Betray Them?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture I am a Fellow with CAF.

Tea Party members hate Wall Street bailouts, trade deals like NAFTA, job outsourcing, giant corporations buying laws, government spending, and elites telling the rest of us what to do. But there is no question that their candidates - many of them wealthy corporatists themselves - are funded by big corporations (even foreign oil companies) and Wall Street. So the question is, once in Congress will they vote with their base or their owners? And when they vote with the people who bought them, what will Tea Party members do about it?

Trade

Tea Party members want to be able to buy things that are "Made In America" in stores again. I have yet to meet a Tea Party supporter who doesn't absolutely hate NAFTA, WTO and other one-sided “free trade” agreements. They say these treaties "violate our sovereignty." But Tea Party candidates are funded by groups like the Chamber of Commerce and others who are the drivers of these "free trade" policies that close American factories and send jobs out of the country. This does not bode well for these candidates voting the way Tea Party members expect them to if they are elected.

Outsourcing

Tea Party members are astonished when they learn that the government gives companies tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs away. But just a month ago a bill to do something about this was filibustered in the Senate by a unanimous Republican caucus. One thing about Tea Party candidates - they're also unanimously Republicans. Does anyone other than Tea Party members really think the Tea Part candidates are going to go against the now-unanimous Republican support for these outsourcing incentives if elected? Tea Party candidate Scott Brown didn't after he was elected.

Bailouts

If there is one thing that unites all Tea Party members, it is hatred of the Bush Bank Bailouts (except they think these passed under Obama.) But this is an area where their leaders will almost certainly stand with the banks, because that's where the money is -- their campaign money to be precise. The other day I wrote about In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills.

Government Spending

Will Tea Party politicians vote to balance the budget? Really? Their members certainly expect them to. But like so many misinformed Americans, Tea Party members think the government spends most of its money on welfare and foreign aid. This is why Tea Party candidates refuse to specify just what spending they will cut to balance the budget. (Also see here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, etc.)

So when they get into office will they really cut spending -- where the spending really is? There are plenty of reasons to think they won't. The first and foremost reason is they are funded by people like the Chamber of Commerce who really, really want that spending to keep flowing. This is why Republicans increased government spending and deficits so much the last time they were in charge. In fact, there are reasons to think they'll incresase spending. For example, they hate health care reform, but if they really vote to repeal it they will increase the deficit, because the reform cuts the projected deficits by at least $138 billion.

But the bloated, huge, vast, overwhelming military budget might be worth a look. We spend more on military than every other country combined. (Total military-related spending actually pretty closely matched the deficit this year.) What do you think the odds are that the Tea Party politicians will cut the military budget?

Foreign Oil

Tea Party members understand that our addiction to foreign oil is harmful. We spend more than $300 billion a year on foreign oil -- much of it sent to the Middle East (MUSLIMS!) -- and need to find alternative sources of energy. But Koch Oil is the primary organizer, supporter, funder, and everything of the Tea Party, as well as much of the so-called "conservative movement." But Koch Oil is mostly about oil, not representative government. This is why they directly fund or set up front groups to support climate denial or oppose transit projects, alternative energy, even energy conservation. So don't expect Tea Party leaders to do anything -- anything -- that Koch Oil doesn't want them to do.

What Happens When Tea Party Members Are Betrayed?

It's pretty clear that the Tea Party members are being set up for a big disappointment. There is little chance that the politicians they are supporting are going to do what the members think they're going to do once in office. The members might supply the votes, but the big corporations behind so many of the things that the Tea Party members hate are the ones supplying the money and organization. These politicians, once in office, will understand that the big money can go after them just as well is it went for them this time, if they don't do what they're told by their big corporate funders. But on the other hand, there will be lucrative lobbying jobs waiting for them if they play along. They are going to disappoint the Tea Party members, no question. What will Tea Party members do then?

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 23, 2010

The "Pledge Document" - The Photos Tell The Fantasy Story

Holy Toledo! I downloaded the Pledge To America document. Before reading I skimmed through it and noticed the photos. You try it. Download it and look at the photos. It is clear just who is and who is not "American" in their eyes.

After looking at the pictures, read the thing. Like the pictures, it's about some kind of white fantasy America. The rich won't have to pay taxes, "other" spending will be cut -- but not anything that might affect you or any programs you like (since nothing is specified) no matter who you are, people won't need government assistance and certainly won't get it, companies won't need to be regulated, women won't need an abortion even to save their life, the environment won't need to be protected or cleaned up. Oh, and no one will need to sue corporations - because you won't be able to anymore. And if people do need those things, well too bad.

The deficit they created with tax cuts will be cured by ... tax cuts? The TARP bank bailout they left us with will be cured by ... tax cuts? The jobs that never appeared after their tax cuts will be created by ... tax cuts? The health care bill will be replaced by ... tax cuts? Terrorists will be fought with ... tax cuts?

RJ Eskow names it: GOP's "Pledge" To Rob The Middle Class: No Jobs, No Health Care, No Security,

Once you strip away the rhetoric, the answer is simple: Off the top, their plan is a trillion-dollar giveaway to the rich - at everybody else's expense. Their "pledge" would slash needed spending, kill jobs and end any hope of growing the economy. It declares open season on the public's health and safety with a deregulation agenda that would unleash BP, Goldman Sachs, and every other corporation whose risky behavior endangers us. It would lead to even more financial crashes and environmental disasters. Firefighters, cops,and teachers would be laid off in droves. The deficit would soar. We'd face a permanently stagnating economy. The middle class would wither away.

That's the future they're offering. It's Bush on steroids, fattened up and ready to feast on ... you. If you like today's economy, you'll love the one these guys are cooking up.

RJ goes into detail. Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:23 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos

September 18, 2010

The Rich Do Whine

Just go read The whining of the rich ォ The Reality-Based Community

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:37 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 10, 2010

Republicans...

Probably going to be a serious candidate for President soon...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 28, 2010

Beck Rally Draws 3-500,000

Glenn Beck Leads Religious Rally at Lincoln Memorial .

Here's the thing. Beck promotes both Christianity and Ayn Rand, but his followers don't know that Rand strongly promoted atheism, teaching things like this:

"the concept of God is degrading to men."

this:

There is a great, basic contradiction in the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism -- the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's first concern and highest goal; this means -- one's ego and the integrity of one's ego. But when it came to the next question, a code of ethics to observe for the salvation of one's soul -- (this means: what must one do in actual practice in order to save one's soul?) -- Jesus (or perhaps His interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one's soul, one must love or help or live for others. This means, the subordination of one's soul (or ego) to the wishes, desires or needs of others, which means the subordination of one's soul to the souls of others.

This is a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This is why men have never succeeded in applying Christianity in practice, while they have preached it in theory for two thousand years. The reason of their failure was not men's natural depravity or hypocrisy, which is the superficial (and vicious) explanation usually given. The reason is that a contradiction cannot be made to work. That is why the history of Christianity has been a continuous civil war -- both literally (between sects and nations), and spiritually (within each man's soul).

and this,

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:21 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 23, 2010

Five Things People "Know"

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The things that people "know" are very different from the "reality-based" things those of us reading a blog like this know, and those things seem to always, always serve the corporate right.

I have been away on vacation. While away I have been talking to "regular" people who are outside of the circles many of us who follow progressive blogs and news closely live in. The particular group I spent time with might not fairly represent "regular" people but whenever I spend time talking to people who are outside of our highly-informed circles, whether it is talking to relatives, doing call-in radio shows or just talking to people I meet I come away very discouraged by the things that most people "know." The corporate right has been very effective at spreading an anti-government, anti-democracy narrative that, when believed, puts their interests on top.

Some of the things that people "know" that I heard in one form or another on my trip include:

1) Government caused the financial crisis. A lot of people know this, and a lot more have heard it repeated over and over. Government forced banks to give mortgages to poor people and minorities. Taxes and government spending "take money away" from and generally harm the economy.

2) Obama bailed out the banks. The most a lot of people know about the stimulus is that it was a lot of money and it went to bailing out the banks. Obama's massive spending increase (Democrats "tax and spend") is the cause of the deficit and the government is at risk of going bankrupt.

3) Corporations (plutocracy) are always more effective and efficient than government (democracy). Government messes up everything that it touches.

4) "Entitlements" are welfare and are destroying people's independence and work ethic. People think the government will solve their problems so they don't turn to themselves. Illegal immigrants immediately get welfare and have lots of babies on welfare and this is why states are going bankrupt.

5) Social Security is going broke and won't be there for younger people.

Of course all of these are just wrong, and of course acting on these beliefs leads the country to results that are terribly destructive to the economy and people's lives while a few at the top make out very very well for themselves. I'm not going to spend any time here getting into how much is wrong with each of these. I do want to get into why people believe these things.

So many of us -- by "us" I mean people likely to be reading this -- spend our time in somewhat insular information environments, where the blogs and other information sources we read and the people we talk to tend to follow news closely, and to be very highly informed with "reality-based" information. But "regular" people do not follow the news closely, and the "news" they get does not come from the same places as the news sources you and I carefully seek out.

Why The Right Controls The Narrative

It's simple. The corporate right controls the narrative because they make an effort to do so, and the forces of We, the People democracy, community and caring humanity do not. (Peace love and understanding, truth and happiness.)

Corporations and conservatives have invested a ton of money in a huge ideological message machine because they understand marketing. There is FOX News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio, Drudge Report, a vast, vast Astroturf operation and all the rest of the right's propaganda operation. It is very, very well funded. They have constructed an effective narrative and they repeat it and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it -- and then they repeat it.

But there is also the corporate-owned "mainstream" media that largely echoes and often directly transmits the right's narrative. First, they echo these anti-government themes. Then, as with the current anti-Muslim "ground-zero mosque" frenzy they carry the things that distract from the real issues. Why? Because it serves their interests, too. If people are focused on distractions instead of looking at the real causes of their economic woes it is all the better for the real causes of their economic woes: namely the big, monopolist corporations.

(Does the mainstream media reflect corporate interests against those of the rest of us? Without going into detail here is a simple test: When was the last time you saw, heard or read someone on TV, radio or in a newspaper explain the benefits of joining a union?)

Meanwhile progressives and the forces of democracy are barely reaching out to regular people at all. We seem to focus our efforts mostly on elections, and do very little between elections to persuade the public that there are benefits to them of a progressive approach to issues. (And never mind our political leaders who repeat and reinforce the right's frames and narratives.)

A big part of this is that it takes a lot of money to reach out past our circles. But we sure do seem able to come up with money for elections. In fact the return on investment of reaching people outside of the election cycle should be obvious. We wouldn't have to raise and spend so much money in the election cycle if we were making the case that progressives bring more benefits to regular people, because then regular people would be more inclined to vote that way in general.

I plan to write more about this.

I think I did an OK job going into more detail on the things people "know" and why in this video from the Netroots Nation panel, The 2010 Elections: Channeling the Power of Jobs, Populism and the Angry Voter. Use the bar to slide this to the 40:00 minute mark, and watch for about 5 minutes.

And, while I'm showing videos, here is Love, Peace & Happiness by the Chambers Brothers. (I can't get it out of my head since writing "Peace love and understanding, truth and happiness" above...)

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 15, 2010

Reagan Revolution Home To Roost -- In Charts

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

It seems that you can look at a chart of almost anything and right around 1981 or soon after you'll see the chart make a sharp change in direction, and probably not in a good way. And I really do mean almost anything, from economics to trade to infrastructure to ... well almost anything. I spent some time looking for charts of things, and here are just a few examples. In each of the charts below look for the year 1981, when Reagan took office.

Conservative policies transformed the United States from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation in just a few years, and it has only gotten worse since then:





Working people's share of the benefits from increased productivity took a sudden turn down:




This resulted in intense concentration of wealth at the top:




And forced working people to spend down savings to get by:




Which forced working people to go into debt: (total household debt as percentage of GDP)

\


None of which has helped economic growth much: (12-quarter rolling average nominal GDP growth.)




Please leave a comment pointing people to a chart with a change after Reagan took office. How about a chart that shows America's investment in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure over time?

Sometimes it can be so obvious where a problem comes from, but very hard to change it. The anti-government, pro-corporate-rule Reagan Revolution screwed a lot of things up for regular people and for the country. Some of this disaster we saw happening at the time and some of it has taken 30 years to become clear. But for all the damage done these "conservative" policies greatly enriched a few entrenched interests, who use their wealth and power to keep things the way they are. And the rest of us, hit so hard by the changes, don't have the resources to fight the wealth and power. (Speaking of which, you can donate to CAF here.)

Look at the influence of these entrenched interests on our current deficits, for example. Obviously conservative policies of tax cuts and military spending increases caused the massive deficits. But entrenched interests use their wealth and power to keep us from making needed changes. The facts are here, plain as the noses on our faces. The ability to fight it eludes us. Will we step up and do something to reverse the disaster caused by the Reagan Revolution or not?


Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Drowning In Debt
Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling
Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 11, 2010

Today's Conservatives

Drudge, FOX and lots of right-wing blogs picked up on my post the other day about Speaker Pelosi being heckled at the AFN conference. So I have received hundreds of emails, and comments at the YouTube channel. Almost all of them are like this one:

More than half you people on here should be fed into a wood chipper that ejects its refuse directly into the ocean. And guess who gets to pick whom? Me bitches! Fuck you!

THIS is your modern "conservative" movement. Nastiness seems to be all they are about, all they have.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:16 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos

May 23, 2010

"Statism" and the Ayn Rand Cult

Count how many times the word "statist" appears in this weird op-ed in the Washington Post: America's new culture war: Free enterprise vs. government control.

"Statism" has become a cult-word, used most frequently by people who are in the Ayn Rand cult. "Collectivist" is another. The Rand cult has been around quite a while now. Alan Greenspan actually lived with the Rand cult for a while. Randians are more and more becoming the core of the conservative movement, as this op-ed reflects. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, members of Congress and others are more and more frequently using strange-sounding Randian cult-words like these.

I don't know if the author of the op-ed is a Randian, but he uses the word "statist" over and over and places free enterprise and government as an either-or. He thinks regulation of business is wrong. (Aside -- He writes that "government housing policy," not Wall Street, caused the economic crisis. (??) He's the head of the American Enterprise Institute.)

So now I am thinking about the Rand cult... Randians believe government is inherently bad -- evil actually -- and that helping others is wrong and immoral. "Collectivism" means democracy and this is also bad. They say it is the group imposing its will on individuals. From the Ayn Rand Lexicon,

“Democratic” in its original meaning [refers to] unlimited majority rule . . . a social system in which one’s work, one’s property, one’s mind, and one’s life are at the mercy of any gang that may muster the vote of a majority at any moment for any purpose.

[. . .] Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom . . .


As for government,
The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.

I don't understand how it is consistent for them to claim that protecting from criminals is legitimate. Doesn't society define what a criminal is?

Oh, and by the way, for any Christians who think they are conservatives, here is where they stand on religion:

Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. ... They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very—how should I say it?—dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.

[. . .] Christ ... according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used.


And here you also find the roots of Glenn Beck's warning to run from any church that asks you to help others,

It’s either-or. If capitalism’s befuddled, guilt-ridden apologists do not know it, two fully consistent representatives of altruism do know it: Catholicism and communism.

Their rapprochement, therefore, is not astonishing. Their differences pertain only to the supernatural, but here, in reality, on earth, they have three cardinal elements in common: the same morality, altruism—the same goal, global rule by force—the same enemy, man’s mind.

There is a precedent for their strategy. In the German election of 1933, the communists supported the Nazis, on the premise that they could fight each other for power later, but must first destroy their common enemy, capitalism. Today, Catholicism and communism may well cooperate, on the premise that they will fight each other for power later, but must first destroy their common enemy, the individual, by forcing mankind to unite to form one neck ready for one leash.


Go see what they think of charity, altruism, the environment, morality, society...

If you are starting to feel that you have entered into the mind of the sociopath, there is a reason you feel that way. As she was developing her philosophy she was enthralled by a serial killer named William Edward Hickman. Ayn Rand wrote that the serial killer was an "ideal man," a superior form of human because he didn't let society impose their morals on him. He didn't worry about what others thought and just did as he pleased.

"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," Rand wrote. Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"

She saw these as positive traits and the philosophy she developed certainly reflects this view. And this is the foundation of the modern conservative thinking.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:31 PM | Comments (21) | Link Cosmos

May 20, 2010

Are Police Just More Government Meddling?

Anti-government conservatives say that government is "collectivism" and immoral. They say any government interferes with individual and business rights. Sarah Palin has said that government caused the Great Depression. Glenn Beck says that government is socialism.

Now Kentucky Tea Party Senate candidate Rand Paul says civil rights legislation is wrong because it is government interference with the right of individuals to "freely associate." It is wrong because it is the "collective," or community imposing their will on the individuals and businesses who choose to discriminate based on race, etc...

These libertarian ideas always make me wonder why they don't also come out against police departments as "government meddling." After all, laws are just more examples of the community imposing its idiotic morals on individuals. You might say robbery and murder interfere with the rights of people to live, and therefore must be punished, but isn't that exactly the same as not letting a person do business or eat or sleep in a hotel based on skin color? They're against those laws, so why not be consistent and be against other laws? Isn't a law against robbery the same as regulation of business that is designed to protect consumers from being scammed? They're against that as "government interference" in the rights of the business to scam consumers. Why aren't they against laws against fraud?

At least Ayn Rand was consistent. She wrote that a serial killer was an "ideal man," a superior form of human because he didn't let society impose their morals on him, He didn't worry about what others thought and just did as he pleased. "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," Rand wrote. Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'" This is the foundation of the modern conservative thinking.

So don't be surprised when a "Tea Party" candidate comes out and says there should be no civil rights laws, no regulation of business. Just be surprised when they don't come out and say that it is no one's business who murders who.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 5, 2010

Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The conservative argument of the last 30-40 years boils down to this: "Hey look at this big pile of seed corn. Let's eat it!" Almost 30 years after the "Reagan Revolution" our infrastructure is crumbling around us. Since the Reagan-era tax cuts we have been deferring maintenance of (and never mind modernizing) our infrastructure, and as a result have become less competitive in the world economy.

Meanwhile our economic competitors, countries like China and India, have been building infrastructure like crazy. Other countries are investing, educating, improving public services because they know these things make the economy explode later. A major component of China's stimulus was infrastructure and public services - including public welfare - because of the economic benefits that come later.

Now for those countries it is later, while for us it's just becoming too late. Their investment is paying off while we're having trouble paying off the accumulated Reagan/Bush tax-cut debt.

How did we get here?

Public infrastructure is the roads, courts, education, etc. that enable an economy to prosper. We got ourselves out of the Great Depression with a big investment in public infrastructure. The government taxed the wealthy and built or improved modern roads, bridges, post offices, courthouses, shipyards, schools and other public structures that enabled business to take off.

And then business took off. The idea was, of course, that business would give back some of the returns to keep that process going. But instead the big companies and wealthy families funded a conservative propaganda machine that convinced people to let them just keep it. Look at this chart from 14 Ways A 90 Percent Top Tax Rate Fixes Our Economy And Our Country:

krugman_chart

You can clearly see that the money that should have been invested in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure instead has gone to a few wealthy people at the top of the food chain. (We're the food.) And of course, we all can clearly see the results of this in today's economy. They ate the seed corn, America is crumbling.

Now, here we are later and we are seeing the result of the Reagan Revolution. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card estimates that we are $2.2 trillion behind just on maintaining the existing infrastructure, never mind modernizing. Please click through and explore what ASCE is saying there. (Conservatives -- there are lots of pictures!)

What do we do?

The answer is obvious. It is called public investment. Ask the big companies, the banks and the wealthy to pay back some of the incredible amounts of money they have been piling up as a result of the past investment that We, the People made in building that infrastructure that enabled the economy to boom. Use that money to invest in maintaining and modernizing the infrastructure so that the economy can again thrive for all of us.

We can employ the unemployed and bring our infrastructure up to par at the same time. There is a lot of work that needs doing and we have a lot of people out of work.

The payback will be enormous. The economy will explode. And we can build sustainability into the process this time.

What is in the way?

The problem now is that the corporate/conservative propaganda machine has gone way past talking people into cutting taxes for the rich and cutting back on public spending for infrastructure and our people. Now they have become very extreme, convincing a number of people that government spending - We, the People spending on the common good - and government itself - We, the People making the decisions for ourselves - is the wrong approach. They believe that any government at all is "socialism" -- run for the benefit of all of us -- and that all public services must be "privatized" -- meaning run for the benefit of a few. They believe it is wrong, even immoral to have public schools, public transit, public health care, regulations that restrict what companies can do to consumers or the environment, etc.

They have the megaphone because they have the money. We have to confront this head on.

More to come!

This is another story of a wealthy few selling off the country's people and future. This is another story of gains for a few at the expense of the rest of us. These stories are becoming all too common. This is the Reagan Revolution coming home to roost, and I will continue to write about the terrible price we are paying and will be paying for a long time for the failed experiment in conservative ideology.

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:56 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

April 18, 2010

American Idiot Week!

It's American Idiot Week! over at Brilliant at Breakfast. First up is Bobby Jindal:

Our first Idiot, as Blue Girl reminds us, is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who just over a year ago, scoffed at the idea of volcano monitoring: Still think volcano monitoring is something to be mocked, there, Bobby? Here's something around which your greedy little Republican mind can perhaps wrap itself.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 9, 2010

Tea Party Jesus

Through skippy, go see this: Tea Party Jesus.

Click each picture to see who really said it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 5, 2010

Tea Party Sedition

Sara Robinson: None Dare Call It Sedition.

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:40 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 22, 2010

Conservatives: Against The Community

Here is Glenn Beck addressing the conservative convention CPAC:

In an apparent reference to John McCain, Beck condemned a "guy in the Republican Party who says his favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt." He then read disapprovingly the Roosevelt quote that "we grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used . . . so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community."

"Is this what the Republican Party stands for?" Beck demanded. He was answered with boos and cries of "no!" "It's big government, it's a socialist utopia and we need to address it as if it is a cancer."

Let it sink in: The crowd boos the very idea of benefit to the community.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:25 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 17, 2010

Huge 2009 Budget Deficit -- Just One More Conservative Failure

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.

Conservatives claim that President Obama "tripled the deficit" and point to the huge 2009 budget deficit as proof. The fiscal-year 2009 deficit, as reported in October was, indeed, about triple the prior year's borrowing. But the 2009 budget was the last budget year of the prior, conservative administration. It is just one more demonstration of the failure of conservative policies.

Basic math: A budget year that ends 8 months into a President's first year wasn't that President's budget.

Yet we hear, over and over, that "Obama tripled the deficit." Recently, when President Obama spoke at the Republican caucus retreat, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that Obama had "tripled the deficit." A CNN fact check addresses this,

Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account.

Don't believe me? See the conservative Cato Institute on this: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit | Cato @ Liberty,

Listening to a talk radio program yesterday, the host asserted that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. This assertion is understandable, since the deficit jumped from about $450 billion in 2008 to $1.4 trillion in 2009. As this chart illustrates, with the Bush years in green, it appears as if Obama’s policies have led to an explosion of debt.

[chart]

. . . But there is one rather important detail that makes a big difference. The chart is based on the assumption that the current administration should be blamed for the 2009 fiscal year. While this makes sense to a casual observer, it is largely untrue. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.

[corrected chart]

Please click through to see the charts. And then look at Cato: Who's To Blame for the Massive Deficit? for an even better explanation,
What about the so-called stimulus, they will ask, with its $787 billion price tag? Or the omnibus fiscal-year 2009 appropriations bill? And how about Cash for Clunkers and Obama's expansion of the children's health insurance program? Didn't these all boost spending in 2009?

The answer is yes. But these boondoggles amounted to just a tiny percentage of FY2009 spending — about $140 billion out of a $3.5 trillion budget — as the pie chart nearby illustrates.

Here are some examples of how this propaganda is applied. Keep in mind as you read these and look at the charts that the 2009 budget was Bush's last budget, and began before Obama even took office.

Heritage Foundation: Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures. Look at how the colors on the chart trick you into thinking that 2009 is an Obama budget year. This is just outright deceit.

Here is Heritage directly labeling the 2009 budget as Obama's in a chart.

Here is a similar use of deception in charts, by right-wing blogs.

More examples: Federal budget triples under Obama – yes TRIPLES, and After Tripling The Deficit, Obama To Try And Create Jobs With More Government Spending, and Obamanomics: Deficit Tripled in One Year

Fox News: Obama Triples Budget Deficit to $1.4 Trillion (they have since changed the headline but here is it as it appeared:) fox nation clip

Here's a good one, using a Heritage propaganda chart: Obama’s Tripling of the National Debt in Pictures

The right's noise maching is good, though, there are 27,000 websites listed if you search for "obama tripled the deficit" in quotes.

Conservative policies since Reagan have led to massive debt. Don't let them trick you by changing the colors on a chart.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:40 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 14, 2010

Tea Party Nonsense

All you need to know about the Tea Party people:

CONFUSION-BASED RAGE...

Indeed, it's easy to forget this, but the first Tea Party crowds started protesting in March 2009 -- exactly one month after President Obama signed one of the largest tax-cut packages in American history into law. The protestors wanted to make clear that they are "taxed enough already," choosing to pretend that they hadn't just received a tax cut from the president they hate so intensely.

One more thing - the rant by CNBC's Rick Santelli that is supposed to have spontaneously started the Tea Party movement (even though the websites were all ready to roll out and the corporate astroturf groups already had the strategy mapped) was NOT about taxes, it was a protest of the government helping out people who might lose their houses, and about how Wall Street and rich people were who should run the country. Never mind that...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

January 26, 2010

Republican Operatives Caught Bugging Dem Senator's Phones

A Republican operative has been arrested along with others, for attempting to bug the office of Democratic senator Mary Landrieu. From the Shreveport Times,

An FBI affidavit says the incident happened Monday. At least two of the suspects were dressed in work clothes and construction hats and claimed they were technicians for a telphone company.

The four were identified by the U.S. Attorney's Office on Tuesday as James O'Keefe, 25; Stan Dai, 24; Robert Flanagan 24; and Joseph Basel, 24.


Before this, O'Keefe was known for filming ACORN employees and editing the tapes to make it appear the employees were engaged in improper behavior. An investigation by the Congressional Research Service found that O'Keefe and the videotapers were the only party to the affair that had violated any laws.

Another investigation by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger found that,

The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O'Keefe's and Ms. Giles's comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 3, 2010

Profiling

Given a national platform by Fox News, retired Air Force Lt. General Tom McInerney says it is really time to crack down on the kind of people who commit terrorist acts,

“We have to use profiling. And I mean be very serious and harsh about the profiling.”

I can't imagine how they are going to be able to handle intensely searching anyone who looks like or has a similar background to Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, Scott Roeder, ...

... oh, wait, he doesn't mean those terrorists. They don't count, for some reason.

He means only racial and religious profiling. Even though most terrorism here has come from white right-wingers. He continues, on his Fox News national platform,

“If you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man then you should be strip searched,” he said. If we don’t do that, we’re going to lose an airliner, he explained.

So it isn't about keeping us safe from people who are known to have committed terrorism at all, it's all about going after people because of their race and religion. And Fox News gives this bigotry a national platform. Shame.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 1, 2010

Bad Newspaper Business Model: Catering To The Right

My local newspaper runs the Mallard Fillmore comic strip. Today's strip tells readers they shouldn't read newspapers.

This is brilliant thinking on the part of the big corporate owners of the news media. Cater to the right, which wants to destroy the news media. The right tells people not to trust the media. People stop reading newspapers. Brilliant. Business. Model.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 23, 2009

Under The Government's Control

Apparently having any laws or regulations at all means that things are "under the control of the government."

P.S. Oh, and this is supposed to be a bad thing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 16, 2009

Washington Times Against Protectionism Before They Were For It

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

President Obama is visiting Asia, and is blasted over and over about America's supposedly "protectionist" policies.

"China on Monday accused the United States of increasing protectionism..."
Think about it, the country with the massive trade surplus accuses the country with the massive trade deficit of being "protectionist." Call it The Audacity Of Projection.

Our trade opponents have learned that all they have to do is shout the word “protectionist” and their American enablers will quickly run from doing anything that might help American companies and workers. But what happens later, when the consequences start hitting home? Do the "free trade" shouting, foreign-competition enablers take the blame and accept responsibility when Amercan dollars are spent overseas and American workers lose jobs and American factories close? Who could have known that they would point the finger at the President instead of themselves?

Here is what I am talking about:

On February 8, 2009, during the debate over the stimulus package, the conservative Washington Times joined the "free trade" chorus, denouncing the package's proposed "Buy American" requirements as the same kind of "protectionism" that conservative mythology says caused the Great Depression: EDITORIAL: How to cause a depression,

...Tucked within the economic stimulus bill the House passed last week was a clause requiring state and local public works agencies to buy American iron and steel for their reconstruction projects, and the Senate expanded it to all manufactured goods.

[. . .] The stimulus bill has a way to go before it reaches Mr. Obama's desk, but if strong "buy American" mandates are present at that time, he will have no choice but to veto the bill. Otherwise, he will be forever known as Barack H. (Hoover or Hawley) Obama.

Conservative free-traders got what they demanded. In response to these and other cries of “protectionism!” the Senate backed away from the Buy American clause, changing it to vague language requiring that the money be spent in ways consistent with existing treaties.

Since this wording gives the President some discretion in how the money is spent conservatives started demanding the President spend it ... outside of the country. For example, a Washington Times editorial on March 24, EDITORIAL: The Mexican-American War of 2009, ended by blasting President Obama for wanting American stimulus dollars to stimulate America's economy:

"Wasn't Mr. Obama going to be the "international" president who was going to get the rest of the world to love us? The path to improving relations does not involve destroying jobs in other countries as well as in our own."
So now it turns out that many stimulus dollars are being spent according to the wishes of the "free trade" conservatives, with money to purchase wind turbines creating jobs in Europe and China, and who could have known, the very same free-trade conservatives are JUST OUTRAGED that President Obama is sending American stimulus dollars out of the country! For example, a Washington Times editorial on November 13, EDITORIAL: Stimulus creates jobs in China, begins,
Of the $1 billion in clean-energy stimulus money spent since the beginning of September, $850 million has gone to foreign wind companies. It doesn't take a bunch of experts at a hastily planned "jobs summit" to discover this isn't the way to bolster employment in America.

Indeed, the 11 U.S. wind farms that received stimulus money from the Treasury have imported 695 of the 982 wind turbines to be installed, creating 4,500 jobs overseas. That's far more overseas work than the stimulus money has created in the United States.

Yes, how DARE they not require that American stimulus dollars be spent in America! This from the very same Washington Times editors who earlier in the year demanded exactly that.

Who could have known that conservatives would attack President Obama for the consequences of giving in to conservative demands??!! The Washington Times was against protectionism before they were for it. Call it The Audacity Of Hypocrisy.

The lesson to be learned here is to stop listening to these conservative, "free trade" clowns. They are only interested in making the rich richer at the expense of the rest of us and will say whatever advances that goal. We should start just doing what is right for the country, our workers, our factories, our companies and our jobs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:30 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

November 14, 2009

NBC Nightly News Leads With Promo of Palin's Book

In the intro to tonite's NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, led with "Sarah Palin's Book, you can't get it yet, but we've got it."

The second segment of the "news" broadcast was entirely Palin and her book. It started with all the "buzz' about the book, just a huge puff piece, calling it a "juicy political tell-all. The book names names and exposes what really happens in the back rooms of a national political campaign." Holt even held the book up to show to the audience! Then the segment went through different reasons to buy the book... Holt even letting the audience know that she has a bus tour coming up.

You just can't buy advertising like that! Someone will get footage up so you can see this amazing "news" report.

You might remember that on October 11 NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt John Harwood had a story claiming the White House views supporters of gay rights, etc. as the "internet left fringe" and "those bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult."

Palin's book is published by a company owned by ... Rupert Murdoch, NBC's competitor. But when it comes to promoting the far right, they're all on the same page.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:40 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 2, 2009

Rich-Guy Populism -- Glenn Beck

Over at Commonweal Institute, Brad Reed has a great post: Glenn Beck Peddles Populism for Rich Guys,

The irony is that Beck is only really opposed to big government when Republicans aren’t controlling it. For instance, he has no issues with allowing the government to torture prisoners and is supportive of police brutality. And those big government bailouts of the financial industry that Beck rails against on a regular basis? Back when George W. Bush was president, Beck actually chided Congress for not giving more money to rescue the banks.

So Beck isn’t against big government. Rather, he’s opposed to government action that helps the poor at the expense of the rich. For instance, have you ever seen a conservative oppose tax cuts in any form? Well, Glenn Beck does, but only if they’re being given to poor people. Indeed, when economist Jeff Frankel appeared on Beck’s show to advocate giving tax cuts “to low-income, working Americans,” Beck compared him to Josef Stalin and accused him of trying to “redistribute the wealth.”

Go read, ans see what he says about Ayn Rand.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 17, 2009

Fairness Doctrine

How can conservatives argue that:
1) Liberals dominate the media
2) Restoring the "Fairness Doctrine" will get rid of conservative voices in the media

??

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 15, 2009

The Next Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory

This is going to sound really weird, but read it, and then come back in a few days and tell me if I was right. The next right-wing conspiracy theory is that Obama is controlling the TV-show companies and using them to control people's minds and get everyone to go join the communist party ... or something.

You have to know how they think to get this one. The prequel is that story about the group of kids in a school who were videotaped singing a song about helping the President. The video got onto YouTube and the wingnuts turned it into a conspiracy theory about "indoctrination." And they hold tea-party-style protests outside of the school now. And, of course, FOX News pushes the whole thing over and over.

So here is the new nutcase conspiracy theory. Between Oct 19 and 25 several TV shows are going to promote volunteerism and service. Therefore you are all going to be forced to join the communist party.

Wow. Get it?

No?

OK, volunteerism and service are ... wait for it ... liberal. Apparently if you click on the website that the shows put up to promote voluneering, you can find AARP, which is a liberal conspiracy.

Yes,that is what they are claiming. Go see for yourself. LEAKED NETWORK MEMO REVEALS: Obama Controls Your Television Set:

But this year there are a couple new strangers in town: “Volunteerism” and “Service.” You’ve heard of them. Their names have been bandied everywhere since President Obama took office...

... suggested topics pitched to an overwhelmingly left-of-center group: Education, health, environment, the economy and lastly — almost as an afterthought as some kind of “bi-partisan” cover – support for military families.

PART II: Search and Ye Shall Find…Left-Wing Advocacy:

The plan is to weave volunteerism and service into the plots of their shows and then, ultimately, encourage viewers to get up off their sofas and go to a handful of web pages that are meant to provide opportunities for service. ... these seemingly benign volunteer search engines often seem to be Trojan Horses for controversial, left-wing causes.

The October 19-25 “I Participate” campaign broadcast on all four major television networks for a full week of programming will point viewers to www.iparticipate.org (as mentioned in Ashton’s tweet) and the AARP’s www.createthegood.com web sites.

. . . When I clicked for more info I found out that the phone bank listing was a month old, but there was a handy link for other opportunities to serve Planned Parenthood...

... if you are in, say, Virginia and want to volunteer on an environmental project, the very first opportunity you get is to volunteer as a Global Warming Ambassador.

It continues like that.

Volunteering and heping others is a communist plot.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:18 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

September 20, 2009

Understanding Libertarians

Wow. Go read where Ayn Rand's ideas for the libertarian cult of individualism that forms the values core of the modern right come from: Open Left:: The Cultural Contradictions of Conservatism-Part 1

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

The Right's Strategic Propaganda Effort

Always worth reading again: Tentacles of Rage: The Republican propaganda mill, a brief history

This is a 2004 story looking at the history of how the right became so prominent in American politics in recent decades, roughtly from Gioldwater to George W. Bush. They had enormous funding - in the hundreds of millions per year - in those decades. Huge checks went to anyone who would promote right-wing corporate values. For example, mid-1970s:

... the terms of the offer an annual salary of $200,000, to be paid for life even in the event of my resignation or early retirement—spoke to the seriousness of the rightist intent to corner and control the national market in ideas.

In the 1970s $200K a year promised for life wasn't bad at all. And supplemented with speaking fees, book advances, the occasional $10K check for an article denying global warming, etc...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 3, 2009

A Wonderful Line

Steve Benen:

The crazies have a political party, a cable news network, and a loud, activist base. They're mad as hell and they're not going to take their medications anymore.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 8, 2009

Death Panels Prove Barack Obama Murdered Vince Foster

The mystery is solved: Barack Obama murdered Vince Foster.

It should have been obvious all along. Of course Hillary could not have murdered Vince Foster in a secret "love nest" apartment. She had her agent Barack Obama do it for her. And Barack Obama put Vince Foster's body into the trunk of a car and drove it to the park where it was "found".

Barack Obama was also secretly smuggling cocaine from an airstrip in Arkansas. He held up traffic at the LA Airport while he got a $500 haircut. He fired the people in the Travel Office so he could give the job to a cousin. He sold plots in Arlington National Cemetery. He accepted secret money from China and transferred out nuclear secrets to the Chinese government.

Barack Obama betrayed us at Yalta.

Now Barack Hussein Obama is setting up Death Panels. This is the whole purpose, the culmination of the plan, the final chapter of health insurance reform, of killing Vince Foster, of smuggling cocaine and selling cemetery plots and taking over the travel office and selling nuclear secrets to China and engaging in the Whitewater scheme and shredding the Rose Law Firm files and crossing the border during the Korean War, and putting the microfilm in the pumpkin: It was, along with George Soros the Jew and other Hell-Demons, to finance the takeover so he could finally set up Death Panels across the country where the true American Patriots will be tried and summarily executed so that the Socialist Elders of the demon-gogs could ARISE and control our minds and sell our ports, and sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids, and put Big Government Labor Bosses over the Silent Majority when he hypnotized the weak from his Pergamon Altar Nazi Pulpit Greek columns in Denver! It is OBVIOS!

Barack Obama has a lot to answer for.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:40 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 31, 2009

Free-Market Conservatives Are Just Wrong

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

There are things you can see in front of your face, and then there are things that conservative “free market” ideologues tell you.

One example is when they talk about the minimum wage. (An increase in the national minimum wage goes into effect today.) Conservative “free market” ideologues tell you that raising the minimum wage “costs jobs.” They say that if employers have to pay a few cents more per hour they won’t employ as many people.

But then there is something you can see in front of your face: whenever the minimum wage is raised, things get better. Things obviously get a little better for the people who work at the minimum wage, and for their families. As this works its way up the food chain things get a little better for the people and stores these workers rent and buy from. But also, studies looking into the effect of what actually happens after the minimum wage is raised show that the net effect is no loss of jobs.

Here is why. Employers hire the number of people they need to get done what needs to get done, according to demand. Ideally they employ the correct number of people to fill orders, run checkouts, stock shelves, etc. They don’t just have extra people sitting around for the heck of it. Of course there are some tasks where a calculation of a few cents in wages can make someone “not worth it,” but in the aggregate any jobs lost from this are offset by the new people hired to meet the increased demand created by people spending the higher wages. More people with more money to spend increases demand, which is good for business. Profits for some employers may be reduced a bit by the increase in labor cost, but these are also offset by increased profits for others due to increased demand.

Even so, conservative free-market conservative ideologues continue to make the claim that increasing the minimum wage “costs jobs” anyway. It’s what they do. They make a bad thing out of paying American workers good wages and benefits. They complain about workers getting pensions and health care. They just don’t seem to like it when regular people are better off. But here is a warning: never, ever dare suggest to a free-market conservative that a CEO or a trust fund child should pay some taxes – you’ll get an earful about how this would just ruin the economy.

The free-market conservatives are just wrong.

A second thing a free-market conservative ideologue wills tell you is that it is good for more and more of the things that used to be made here to be made in other countries instead. They say that by moving factories to other countries we all benefit because “we pay lower prices.” They say we benefit because “foreign competition encourages greater productivity” (even though we are talking about moving our factories from here to there.) They say that moving factories to other countries, “unites people in peaceful cooperation and mutual prosperity.”*

They say that moving factories to other countries, to make the same things that the factories were making here, should be called “trade.”

But we can all see right in front of our faces that none of this is so. Moving jobs out of the country to make the same things that were made here is not "trade" and it certainly hasn't brought us prosperity. It is just moving our jobs out of the country to make the same things that were made here, so a few people can pocket what was being paid to the American workers, while they stick the taxpayers with their unemployment pay and the costs of trying to keep their devastated communities alive.

Free-market conservative ideologues seem to believe that society works better when a few people get paid a lot, while the rest of us have very little, and advocate policies that bring that about. They have been the dominant force in our country's policymaking for many years, and we can see in front of our faces that the result is that a few people are getting paid more and more and the rest of us less and less. (Bailed-out Citigroup is paying one person a $100 million bonus, 738 others bonuses of $1 million or more, and Merril Lynch paid 696 people bonuses of $1 million or more.) They have put in place policies that stick the taxpayers with the costs and the wealthy few with the benefits.

We can all see that moving factories out of the country has destroyed lives, torn apart communities, created massive debt, created a very few massively rich people at the expense of the rest of us ... oh, and ruined the economy. That, too.

It is time for us to realize that these free-market conservatives are just wrong. They get paid to say that stuff, but it is just wrong. Moving a factory out of the country to make the same things it made here is not “trade.” It does not benefit anyone except a few, and when the purchasing power inevitably dries up it doesn’t even benefit those few either. They made a short-term profit and now we all suffer a long-term loss.

it is time for us to come up with new policies, new plans, new strategies and new rules of the game.

*Actual claims at Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:22 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 27, 2009

The Origins Of The Birther Theory

This post originally appeared at Open Left.

OK, sit down for this. The root of the "forged Obama birth certificate" idea is that Obama was created as part of a Jewish-Communist conspiracy to take over the United States. More on this later in the post.

We all know that the "birthers" are gaining momentum. Senator Inhofe is pushing it now. CNN and FOX have people pushing it on the air. The followers of the conspiracy theory are becoming increasingly fanatical. It's all over YouTube.

They disrupted a Congressman's town hall meeting the other day. Watch this to see the intensity they have:

And here is the great Mike Stark chasing down a few elected Republicans in DC, asking them to go on the record about this:

(continues)

A recent component is they that a birth announcement in Hawaii papers back when Obama was born was planted there by someone. Yes, a conspiracy so vast that someone on the other side of the planet posted this item in a Hawaii newspaper for a child born in Kenya to make it look like he was born in Hawaii because they knew that one day he would need to be a "natural born" citizen in order to be President of the United States.

Seriously. This is serious nut stuff, but we saw nut stuff when Clinton was President and it was able to go as far as an impeachment. And then they won the Presidency on a campaign of "restoring honor and integrity to the White House." So don't discount nut stuff.

Why does it matter whether Obama was born in the United States or in Kenya? After all, as the child of a citizen he is automatically a citizen. And as for being born outside of the United States disqualifying him to be President, John McCain was also born outside of the United States and both Bush and Cheney were from Texas, which violated the 12th amendment. So exceptions are easily made -- IOKIYAR.

Here is the story of why this is so important to them:

The origins:

I wrote about the origins of this weird attack on Obama last year at my blog Seeing the Forest, when it showed up in right-wing magazines and websites. See Seeing the Forest: "Who Sent You?" -- The Coming Attack on Obama.

I'll call it the "Who Sent You" campaign. As weird as it sounds -- and it is weird stuff -- the gist of it is that Obama's birth was part of a secret plan by communists, Jews and one-worlders to take over the world. As you read this it is going to sound so fanatically wingnut/John Birch Society/black helicopter/precious bodily fluids weird that you are likely to dismiss it as the rantings of crazy people. But I have learned over the years that this stuff resonates with a certain crowd, and they are remarkably effective at tapping the fears of Americans.

Was I right a year ago when I said this is the kind of story that "resonates with a certain crowd"? Heh.

It is a long post there with background and links, but to sum it up sites like National Review's The Corner and others started pushing a weird conspiracy theory, laying the groundwork for the attack on Obama that you are seeing today.

In February, The Corner at National Review Online posted Obama's Political Origins.
. . . all of my mixed race, black/white classmates throughout my youth, some of whom I am still in contact with, were the product of very culturally specific unions. They were always the offspring of a white mother, (in my circles, she was usually Jewish, but elsewhere not necessarily) and usually a highly educated black father. And how had these two come together at a time when it was neither natural nor easy for such relationships to flourish? Always through politics. No, not the young Republicans. Usually the Communist Youth League.

. . . I don't know how Barak Obama's parents met. But the Kincaid article referenced above makes a very convincing case that Obama's family, later, (mid 1970s) in Hawaii, had close relations with a known black Communist intellectual.

. . . Political correctness was invented precisely to prevent the mainstream liberal media from persuing the questions which might arise about how Senator Obama's mother, from Kansas, came to marry an African graduate student.


This story refers to this from Accuracy in Media, Obama’s Communist Mentor,

In his biography of Barack Obama, David Mendell writes about Obama's life as a "secret smoker" and how he "went to great lengths to conceal the habit." But what about Obama's secret political life? It turns out that Obama's childhood mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, was a communist.

[. . .] Obama's communist connection adds to mounting public concern about a candidate who has come out of virtually nowhere, with a brief U.S. Senate legislative record, to become the Democratic Party frontrunner for the U.S. presidency.

. . . AIM recently disclosed that Obama has well-documented socialist connections, which help explain why he sponsored a "Global Poverty Act" designed to send hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. foreign aid to the rest of the world, in order to meet U.N. demands


There is more there, and you can click through to the sources...

So this story with its claim that Obama wasn't born in the United States, and his birth certificate was "forged," etc. isn't coming out of nowhere. There is an actual reason that some of them give for why anyone would do this, plant phony birth announcements, etc. This comes out of the incredibly paranoid and weird "John Bircher" core of the conservative movement. Yes, the ones who coined the phrase "Democrat Party." I'm not saying that your everyday birther is even aware of this as the basis of the complaint. But there it is.

It is nut stuff. It is serious nut stuff. But nut stuff works for them so watch out.

Update - See Talk to Action: New World Order Conspiracy is not disseminated by white supremacist groups alone

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 24, 2009

Is Bipartisan Stance Destroying Obama's Presidency?

This post originally appeared at Open Left.

Is Obama's insistence on bipartisanship killing his presidency?

I submit that health care reform could fail and take the Obama Presidency with it, and that this may well be the result of attempting to appease Republicans who want only to destroy him.

Let's look at the record. When Obama took office the country urgently needed sufficient stimulus to make up for the slack in demand from consumers and businesses. But before even offering his plan Obama weakened it because he believed this would bring in Republican votes. And then while the plan was going through Congress more and more actual stimulus was removed. Then the stimulus didn't get a single Republican vote in the House, and only a couple in the Senate. In the name of bipartisanship Obama gave up a good plan in exchange for nothing. Now the economy is beginning to suffer the consequences.

Meanwhile the Republicans who Obama gave up so much to bring on board are working to destroy his administration with propaganda and lies about how the plan is failing, how the plan is part of a socialist conspiracy to ruin the country, etc.

With health care Obama is again repeatedly offering up compromise in the name of bipartisanship while the Republicans are again working to destroy him and health care reform. If he was giving things up in exchange for the promise of votes that is one thing, but there will be no Republican votes. This is the big game now, and the Republicans have correctly stated that a failure of health care means the failure of this presidency. So they are doing everything they can to kill health care reform. They are telling every lie they can find, using every scare tactic in the book, calling him every name, and encouraging the worst in every nutcase out there.

Bipartisan must be a two-way street. The assumption of bipartisanship on the part of the other side is a mistake when the other side has no intention of reciprocating. It misjudges the changes that have occurred in the Republican party.

This political call for bipartisanship in understandable and politically astute. The country longs for a return to the days when the parties could argue their positions with Senatorial camaraderie and reach compromises that incorporated the best ideas from both sides. Politicians are smart to recognize this longing and appeal to it. But they are not smart to extend that wish into a belief that today's Republicans are willing to play along.

We have seen this before. At the 2006 YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas a few bloggers were invited to a roundtable with Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who was contemplating a run for President. With the "mainstream" press watching from the sidelines as if this was a football game, Marcy Wheeler and Natasha Chart tried to pin down Warner on his insistence that Iran was a problem while Pakistan was not. (It turned out that Warner hadn't thought that much about Pakistan.)

Then we asked about his instinct for bipartisanship. "Hunter" from DailyKos asked Warner, "You said that in Virginia you got a lot done working across the aisle. Do you think that is possible on a national level now?" Warner answered that you can't "ram through transformational change in a 51-49 way, I don't think it 's going to get done. I may be naive on this, but I think there are still enough people of goodwill in the country and even in Congress. You have to reach out and grab them."

I then pointed out that in 1993 as a party strategy the Republicans had decided to block Clinton's health care plan, even before any plan was decided on. Then I asked, "I think part of what Hunter's asking is, what if they don't? What if, just like with Clinton's plan they decide they're just going to block whatever you do?"

Warner answered, "If you don't think there are enough people of goodwill willing to step up and do the right thing regardless of party, then I'm truly worried for the country."

I replied, "So are we. That's why we're here. The question is, what if they don't? What's plan B?"

Warner didn't have a plan B. He was going to just get bipartisanship because he was a nice guy who was willing to work with the other side. This appears to be Obama's position as well.

This is recorded in Matt Bai's book, The Argument, pages 248-249. In the book, Bai faults the bloggers for their attitude against working with Republicans, saying that we are uncompromising. I love Matt, but he gets it fundamentally wrong here. I, and I think most bloggers, long for a Republican party that can be worked with again, because the extremists that have taken over are harming the country and the world.

But when the other side is trying to destroy you, you just have to take that into account. You don't give in, and then give in more, and then give in more, thinking they will change. Why should they when you just keep giving them what they want? We're certainly learning that in California. Obama needs to learn that as well, before there is nothing left to give them.

That's what they are waiting for, and that's when they will make their move.

Here is my suggestion. The next time a Republican circulates anything like the picture of Obama dressed with a bone in his nose, and claims that he is trying to make us all live under socialism, Obama should say, "That's enough" and "ram through" a health care plan that works for the people. It will save his presidency.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:55 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 23, 2009

About The Birthers

A year ago I wrote about an insane smear attempt on Obama. This is the root of the "birther" conspiracy theory - that Obama was not born in the United states. The origin of this is truly wild, insane stuff - that Obama is the product of a secret Jewish/Communist conspiracy to take over the world. But more and more people are fanatically falling for it...

Seeing the Forest: "Who Sent You?" -- The Coming Attack on Obama

The latest on this is that there was an announcement of Obama's birth posted in the Honolulu Advertiser on August 13, 1961, on page B-6.

But the wingnuts are claiming that it was forged, or placed there, even though he was born elsewhere. Think about the level of conspiracy involved: a baby is born in Kenya but secret agents plant an announcement of his birth in a Hawaii newspaper, because one day he will be President and it must be believed that he was born in the U.S. for that to happen...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 22, 2009

Scary Stuff

Read the comments. Scary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Prime Dumbassery

The Free Republican is a conservative website, and they have an interesting post up. Go read it.

FYI, about that line just after the "Therefore" ... the Secretary of State is Hillary Clinton, dumbass.

This is funny.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

When They Say Government They Mean You

This post originally appeared at Open Left.

I'd like to talk about government. The conservative/corporate propaganda machine has turned "government" into a bad word. Conservatives portray our government as some kind of enemy of the public. We have all heard the scare stories about the harm done by meddlesome regulations from intrusive big government programs run by government bureaucrats.

Let's step back from reacting to the word as we hear it today and think about what the word really means.

In America government is us. It is, by definition, "We, The People." Our Constitution is the defining document of our government and it couldn't be clearer, declaring that We, the People formed this country "to promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves"... In other words, watch out for and take care of each other; "We, the People" have banded together to watch out for each other, take care of each other and build institutions to protect and empower each other.

With this in mind let’s try an experiment. Try substituting some variation of the words, "We, the People," "us" or “the people making decisions for ourselves” every time you read or use the word "government." Or use the word "our" instead of "the" when you say "the government." Our government, us, we, the people, working together to take care of and empower each other.

My favorite use of this experiment is to apply it to Reagan’s keynote statement, “Government is the problem, not the solution.” Reagan is making a profoundly anti-democratic statement here. He is saying that “The people making our decisions for ourselves and watching out for each other is the problem.”

With statements like these, Reagan and the conservatives are advocating a different system of government than democracy. They are saying that we should hand those decisions and responsibilities over to the "private sector" - the corporations - and let others decide how things are going to be done and how our money and common resources will be used.

Another example is when conservatives repeat, “Don’t let the government tell us what to do.” That becomes, “Don’t let us tell us what to do,” or a little more broadly, “Don’t let us decide the rules that we will live by.” If WE aren’t the deciders, then who is? What about the conservative pejorative, “big government?” They are complaining about “big We, the People.” They want “limited government.” So they have a beef with US having more power over ourselves! Of course, if WE don’t have this power, who do you think will?

Conservatives complain about government as a meddlesome, intrusive problem. But just who is government a problem for? If you are a top executive in a large chemical corporation and your bonus depends on lowering the cost of discarding toxic wastes, government stands between you and the river into which you want to dump the wastes. It costs the company less to dump the waste into the river, you will get your bonus, but We, the People don't want that stuff in our water. So for you, government is the problem. And that is a good thing. But our government is us. Our government protects us.

How about the refrain that people shouldn’t rely on government, but instead should rely on themselves? That sounds good, somehow. But try it with “each other” and a small adjustment to “themselves,” and what they are saying becomes, “People shouldn’t rely on each other they should be on their own.” This is a variation on their “personal responsibility” mantra. They want us alone and defenseless. (This is also why they hate unions.) Is alone and defenseless really such a good way to live, especially in a world dominated by big corporations always trying to trick us and get our money? Wouldn’t it be better if we were working to protect each other from the big corporations?

Spending: When conservatives complain about government spending they mean empowering and taking care of each other. They don’t like us doing that. We as a species learned from the beginning to band together, take care of each other. And now they want us separated and on our own.

Government taxing and spending is what empowers us. In the 1950s President Eisenhower proposed building the interstate highway system. That was an example of government spending, and as I wrote the other day, the top tax rate was over 90% on income above a certain amount. So after executives and owners of big companies made several hundred thousand dollars additional income was taxed at a very high rate. They could still become very, very wealthy, but more slowly. This taxation meant that the major beneficiaries of our government helped us pay for our government.

It paid off. The interstate highway system triggered a surge of economic growth, new industries, new products -- and even greater income for the very people who were taxed to help pay for it.

We also spend money protecting each other. Let’s talk about the distortions in military spending another time. What about our spending to regulate corporations and enforce those regulations? Or spending on education or health care or parks? Conservatives just hate that. They have convinced much of the public that government spending - the people taking care of each other - is bad. And the way to disempower us is to cut taxes, the ability to gather the resources we need to fight the battles we fight with the rich and powerful.

Try these experiments, substitute "us" and "We, The People" when you hear conservatives complain about government. Substitute "the resources we need to empower each other and fight the powerful" when you see the word "taxing" and substitute "taking care of each other" when you see the word "spending." This can be very powerful and empowering. It helps us see what kind of world the conservatives are really advocating.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:34 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

July 21, 2009

Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Medicare As Socialized Medicine

Hear it for yourself:

Listen to this wingnut talk about how if seniors get health care soon "the government" will control everything we do.

Here is how it ends:

If you don't stop Medicare, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free.

Here is some of the nonsense:

As if we’re not already overextended enough financially, the issue of National Health Care is now on the table once more vote. Here’s some perspective you might find interesting.

Now back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.

Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We had an example of this. Under the Truman administration it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.

Let’s take a look at social security itself. Again, very few of us disagree with the original premise that there should be some form of savings that would keep destitution from following unemployment by reason of death, disability or old age. And to this end, social security was adopted, but it was never intended to supplant private savings, private insurance, pension programs of unions and industries.

Now in our country under our free enterprise system we have seen medicine reach the greatest heights that it has in any country in the world. Today, the relationship between patient and doctor in this country is something to be envied any place. The privacy, the care that is given to a person, the right to chose a doctor, the right to go from one doctor to the other.

But let’s also look from the other side, at the freedom the doctor loses. A doctor would be reluctant to say this. Well, like you, I am only a patient, so I can say it in his behalf. The doctor begins to lose freedoms; it’s like telling a lie, and one leads to another. First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors aren’t equally divided geographically, so a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him you can’t live in that town, they already have enough doctors. You have to go some place else. And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go.

This is a freedom that I wonder whether any of us have the right to take from any human being. All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man’s working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it is a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay and pretty soon your children won’t decide when they’re in school where they will go or what they will do for a living. They will wait for the government to tell them where they will go to work and what they will do.

What can we do about this? Well, you and I can do a great deal. We can write to our congressmen and our senators. We can say right now that we want no further encroachment on these individual liberties and freedoms. And at the moment, the key issue is, we do not want socialized medicine.

Former Representative Halleck of Indiana has said, “When the American people want something from Congress, regardless of its political complexion, if they make their wants known, Congress does what the people want.”

So write, and if your representative writes back to you and tells you that he or she too is for free enterprise, that we have these great services and so forth, that must be performed by government, don’t let them get away with it. Show that you have not been convinced. Write a letter right back and tell them that you believe in government economy and fiscal responsibility; that you know governments don’t tax to get the money the need; governments will always find a need for the money they get and that you demand the continuation of our free enterprise system. You and I can do this. The only way we can do it is by writing to our congressmen even we believe that he is on our side to begin with. Write to strengthen his hand. Give him the ability to stand before his colleagues in Congress and say “I have heard from my constituents and this is what they want.”

Write those letters now; call your friends and them to write them. If you don’t, this program I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, and behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country. Until, one day, as Normal Thomas said we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:04 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 17, 2009

Pay for Play

This post originally appeared at Open Left

How much of what we see on TV, hear on the radio and read in newspapers or online as "conservative" or "centrist" opinion is actually paid for by corporate interests? In fact, how much of what we think of as "conservatism" itself is actually just paid corporate PR?

A story about "pay for play" is surfacing today in Politico. And to reward good behavior: I say good for them.

The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s endorsement in a bitter legislative dispute, then flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.

For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”

This follows the story the other day about the Washington Post and then reports of other media outlets selling “access” to lobbyists.

I have followed this stuff for some time, and I venture to say that most -- not all but most -- of what I see coming out of the so-called "conservative movement" appears to have been little more than corporate pay-for-play for many years.

I started thinking about this back when the "conservative" position was pro-logging. Remember how they mocked the spotted owl? (The spotted owl is an "indicator species," or a shorthand way to judge the health of an entire ecosystem.) I wondered why the logging industry was a cause for conservatives, but not the fishing industry, which was greatly harmed by the logging practices advocated by conservatives. The answer turned out to be that a guy who ran a corporation that had made a ton of money looting S&Ls (how come no one remembers the S&L Crisis?) had bought a lumber company and was destroying all the old-growth redwoods was hooked into (i.e. paying) the conservative movement. (Please read the links and follow the links there!) And so the "conservative" opinion became that logging old-growth forests was a good thing. Cash payment was the reason for this core pillar of conservative ideology. (The whole thing ended up paying off even more handsomely, probably thanks to more conservative movement backscratching.)

Over the years I have seen one after another example of this use of the so-called "conservative" movement to drive the interests of particular corporations, in exchange for money. We used to see it serving tobacco interests. Now we see it serving oil and coal interests -- and right now insurance company interests.

A few years ago I said at a YearlyKos panel, Ethics, Corruption and Movement Politics,

So, like I said the conservative persuasion machine and media echo chamber quickly moved past that initial far-right funding to also take in big corporate money. But corporate money is “interested” money – it necessarily has strings or it would not be given. And the strings necessarily go back to the interests of the corporation – not the public or the country – or even the conservative movement.

The movement followed the money and started to change from pure ideology to lobbying for the interests of the corporate backers. The think tanks began making arguments in support of what were little more than paying customers.


The corporations saw an opportunity and took over the so-called "conservative movement" and big, big, big money started flowing in.

As i said at the start of this piece, "How much of what we see on TV, hear on the radio and read in newspapers or online as "conservative" opinion is actually paid for by corporate interests? In fact, how much of what we think of as "conservatism" itself is actually just paid corporate PR?" I think the answer is pretty clear at this point, and that is most of it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:10 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 16, 2009

The Wingnuts Apparently Will Believe ANYthing

So now the wingnuts are trying to claim that the House health care reform plan makes private insurance illegal.

It's all over the RW blogosphere. Little children chasing a soccer ball, all terrified that the boogey-man is coming.

They are pointing to a provision that outlaws the OLD kinds of private plans that trick people out of their coverage once they get sick using pre-existing conditions, etc. The NEW plans from private insurers will have NEW rules that protect the people who buy them. For example new plans must have caps on what a person has to pay out themselves so no one goes bankrupt anymore. They can't refuse to pay when someone gets sick because they didn't tell the insurance company that they had acne when they were a teenager (yes insurance companies do refuse to pay because of that now.)

No wonder no one takes them seriously anymore.

Oh, and please read some of the comments at the referenced sites.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:26 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 9, 2009

WWRD?

What Would Republicans Do? The Republicans criticize ... well, everything. Currently they criticize the stimulus because it is "spending."

So a quick question. Can anyone tell me what the Republican plan for fixing the economy is? I mean, of course, cut taxes, especially taxes on the rich and corporations. That goes without saying. That was their solution to the terrorists attacks, Katrina, health care, and caribou migration.

But seriously, can someone leave a comment and let me and the readers here know what it is the Republicans think should be done about the economy? Everything I have heard amounts to firing people (government workers), paying people less, getting rid of pensions, and, well, cutting taxes on the rich and corporations.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:46 AM | Comments (11) | Link Cosmos

July 7, 2009

Governing Or Coasting On Governing By Others

This post originated at Speak Out California

The resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin provides an opportunity to understand what is happening to us in California. There are people who have so little respect for government and governing that they thing Palin's resignation is a good thing. In California there are also people who have so little respect for government and governing that they think it is a good idea to let the state fall off of a financial cliff.

Sarah Palin is said to be resigning so she can climb the ladder of Republican politics -- possibly even to run for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. One would think that abandoning office in the middle of her term would disqualify her from having a future in seeking elected office. But this is not the case -- just the opposite. In fact this is so much not the case that the resignation is seen as a "brilliant" strategic move to increase her chances of obtaining that Presidential nomination prize.

The lesson to take away from Palin's resignation is that actually governing once elected to office is not the point. Modern-day Republican Party politics is not about governing, not even a little bit. It is about being against governing.

This is how they can get away with being against government: Good government was put in place in this country in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s (with 90% tax rates at the top, by the way) and has been taken for granted since. The infrastructure of roads, laws, trash collection, etc. has been in place and functioning for so long that it is taken for granted. And so it all provides a safe platform for anti-government ideologues to pretend that government is not needed.

This brings us to California. We have a minority of elected officials who also do not care about governing. So far they have been able to get away with it, because of the work that We, the People did for several decades to build this state and make it governable.

California enjoyed massive government infrastructure investment from the 1930s through the 1960s. We built the best roads, water systems, schools, courts, etc. As a result we had the most prosperous industries, most well-educated people and best-functioning government.

And so the anti-government tax-cutting ideologues were able to defer maintenance of that wonderful system, handing the maintenance money out as tax cuts, and no one saw the foundations of that prosperity slowly begin to erode. They were able to complain about government and ignore governing because government was there for them and all of us anyway.

Well now we have coasted along on the infrastructure built decades ago, but it has eroded, and we are coming to the end of the time when the ideologues can enjoy the luxury of deferring maintenance. But our Republican leadership is firmly entrenched in their anti-governing ideology. They are willing to let the state fall off a cliff rather than actually pay to maintain the governing structure they depend on -- because they believe it will just operate as it seemingly always has, for free.

But governing is about about the people of the state and their needs. It takes skill, wisdom, an understanding of government and governing to be an elected leader. Sarah Palin obviously has none of these qualities, nor does Ahnold, for that matter. While our most vulnerable people are begging for their services and programs not to be dismantled so that they can actually have food and help in their most basic needs, our Governator boasts about sitting in his jacuzzi smoking a stogie.Would FDR ever suggest that? Would Dwight Eisenhower? What kind of leadership, compassion, understanding is reflected in these kind of "leaders." The answer is obvious and dramatic: NONE.


Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:40 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

July 4, 2009

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Governing

People need to understand that in Republican circles, resigning as Governor does not harm Sarah Palin's career. Being a Governor is just ... governing ... and Republicans don't do that.

In fact, there is a contempt for the idea, and Palin has just reinforced her brand as one with contempt for government. The very word, "Governor," is suspect to them. The only use of the job is to affect redistricting so Republicans can have more power, and to keep a state from "spending" (also known as providing services to the citizens) and especially from asking the rich or corporations to pay any taxes for their use of the infrastructure the rest of us built.

In California we understand this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:03 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 18, 2009

So Hard For Republicans

Oh the poor Republicans and their victimization fetish. Here's the latest: a Republican Twittered that the struggle of the Iranian people is just like the heroic struggle of the Republicans against the Democrats.

People are responding in sympathy. Some examples:

My neighbor stopped me to talk today. Now I know what it is like to be questioned by the Basij!

I got a splinter in my hand today. Felt just like Jesus getting nailed to the cross.

Walked out onto Constitution Ave in D.C. and was almost hit by a taxi. Reminded me of Tienanmen Square.

ran through the sprinklers this morning, claimed solidarity with victims of Hurricane Katrina

Had to move all my stuff to a new office w/o a corner view. Now i know what the Trail of Tears was like.

It gets better. Go see: Pete Hoekstra Is A Meme

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 16, 2009

Short Media memories

Remember a couple of years ago when the media echoed the Repubican accusation that any vote against war funding was a vote against "supporting the troops," and against america?

But It's OK If You Are Republican (IOKIYAR): TheHill.com - In reversal, GOP balks at war funding


House Republicans are preparing to vote en bloc against the $106 billion war-spending bill, a position once unthinkable for the party that characterized the money as support for the troops.

For years, Republicans portrayed the bills funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as matters of national security and accused Democrats who voted against them of voting against the troops.

In 2005, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) went so far as to say sending troops into battle and not paying for it would be an “immoral thing to do.” And just last year, more House Republicans voted for the war supplemental bill than did Democrats, who opposed the legislation because it did little to wind down the military effort in Iraq.

But Republicans say this year is different. Democrats have included a $5 billion increase for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help aid nations affected by the global financial crisis.

So, will there be a media firestorm?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:54 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 4, 2009

Think Tanking For Bucks

The Heartland Institute's Quest for "Real Science" on Global Warming | Center for Media and Democracy,

The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-headquartered think tank that has taken on the role of trying to coordinate the disparate global warming skeptics, has organized yet another conference to be held in Washington this week disputing the reality of global warming. "The real science and economics of climate change support the view that global warming is not a crisis and that immediate action to reduce emissions is not necessary," they claim.

But when the Heartland Institute talks about "real science," it is hard to ignore the fact that for years they have defended the policy agenda of the tobacco industry without disclosing that they were funded by Phillip Morris. Indeed, Heartland still claims to defend the rights of smokers, a ploy long used by the tobacco industry to keep themselves out of the spotlight.

Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Tea Party Telemarketing Still Happening

Wow, someone is throwing a LOT of money into this "tea party" thing. Maybe this is how the big banks are using their TARP money. I just got a robo-telemarketing call from 402-982-0883 and all it was was a short mesage saying something along the lines of "pay attention to the tea party movement." And that was ALL, no pitch to give money or call a number of go to a website!

Online, people are reporting tones of calls from this phone number. What's interesting is before this the number was involved in all kinds of telemarketing scams.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:23 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 1, 2009

DC Vigil For Dr. Tiller

am in DC for the America's Future Now! conference. Last night there was a spontaneous vigil in Dupont Circle for Dr. Tiller, killed by a right-wing terrorist. About 100 people showed up on very short notice from a Facebook, Twitter and emailed announcement a few hours earlier. Here is a picture, (taken in the dark with a cell phone):

DCvigil.jpg

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:50 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 27, 2009

Why Do Republicans Oppose Sotomayor?

All the news shows are talking about the Republican problems in coming up with ways to oppose Supreme Court nominee nominee Sotomayor. Not one of them backs up to ask the question, "Why?"

It's just a given that they will oppose. It's what they do.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 6, 2009

Don't Ignore Right-Wing Threats Of Violence

Sara Robinson says,

Right-wing talkers have built careers out of demonizing liberals; but when they start talking about what specific steps should be taken against them, that's not something we should ignore.
The right has been ramoing up the violent rhetoric lately. Don't ignore it. (And never, ever ignore Sara.) Read the whole thing.

And watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:15 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

April 27, 2009

A Market For Selling Organs

I've been noticing that the usual suspects on the right have been pushing to remove regulations on organ donations, and allow "the market" to rule. So we can be more like the slums of India, I guess.

Here is an example of this,

The establishment of a transparent, public market to permit the sale of organs from live donors will transform organ procurement from a lengthy, stressful, medically damaging waiting game into a safer, more efficient, routine, life-saving process. Such a market would have both economic and moral merit; it would deliver more and better organs at less cost than alternative options, and will result in more lives saved.
The right has largely become a pay-to-play operation, so this might mean that some really, really rich person somewhere is on a waiting list for a kidney...

Expect to see more of this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:20 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 23, 2009

Repubilcans Say Timothy McVeigh Was "Opponent" of Dems

The Department of Homeland Security came out with a report warning about right-wing extremism and the potential for more terrorist attacks like the one from right-wing extremist (Oklahoma City bomber) Timothy McVeigh.

As you read the linked article, remember that the report being discussed warns against extremist right-wing terrorists, bombers, etc. Republicans defend them as "speaking against the regime." And never forget the Republican reaction to the Waco standoff. Republicans defended the Branch Davidians for shooting law enforcement officers who showed up to serve a warrant, defended the people who then held all those children hostage after the shootout, and then claimed that the government started fires to kill them -- even after it was proven the Davidians started the fires themselves. The Republican majority in Congress then held hearings that took the side of the Davidians against the government, even after Democrats brought witnesses to the hearings to talk about the repeated child molestation they had endured from Davidians.

So with that in mind, look at how the Republicans are reacting to these new warnings of rising right-wing violent extremism. Conservative reps. want Napolitano out,

“Singling out political opponents for working against the ruling party is precisely the tactic of every tyrannical government from Red China to Venezuela," said Texas Rep. John Carter, a member of the party's elected leadership who has organized an hour of floor speeches Wednesday night to call for Napolitano's ouster. “The first step in the process is creating unfounded public suspicion of political opponents, followed by arresting and jailing any who continue speaking against the regime.”

. . . The Department of Homeland Security issued a report earlier this month warning federal, state and local law enforcement officials that the slumping economy "could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past."

Extremist bombers and terrorists are "critics on the right."

Watch your backs, these people are nuts, they are dangerous, and the Republican machine is promoting them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 22, 2009

Why We Have Low-Information Voters

We have low-information voters because they receive low information.

I was reading this story, Credit card bill tests Democrats' political will, and came across this:

Her [Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY] proposed legislation would halt credit cards from imposing arbitrary rate increases and penalties and certain billing practices on balances with different rates. It is expected to win approval by the committee, and later by the full House.

But it remains unclear whether Democrats in the Senate can muster the 60 votes needed in that chamber to advance controversial legislation amid stiff opposition from the banking industry. The Senate's version of a credit card reform bill includes tougher language. [emphasis added]

The REASON that 60 votes are needed in the Senate is because the Republican party is obstructive every single bill. It isn't that "the Democrats" don't need to muster a few votes, it is that the Republicans are acting in ways never before seen in history. The name for it is "filibuster" and it was used on a few occasions in the past, when the concerns of the minority were sufficient to have them stay up all night talking.

Now we have a corporate-purchased party that blocks consumer legislation so they can get more lobbying money from the banking industry.

My complaint: No one reading a story like this would know any of this. So they would not have the information needed to make an informed decision in the voting booth, and certainly not know who to call to ask them to vote the right way.

The corporate news media is not serving our democracy. They serve a different master.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 15, 2009

Texas Republican Governor Talks Of Seceding From The Union!

The South shall rise again!

Texas Gov. Rick Perry today talked of his state seceding from the United States. From the story,

Perry told reporters following his speech that Texans might get so frustrated with the government they would want to succeed from the union.

. . . Perry has criticized federal bailouts and has refused $555 million in unemployment money because of strings attached. He has in recent days asserted states' rights under the 10th Amendment and denounced Washington for overstepping authority.

. . . And conservative radio commentator Rick Green declared, "We are firing the first shots of the 2nd American revolution right here in Texas."

Some in the crowd, which included libertarians and other third-party advocates, said even Perry was not conservative enough.

This is pretty serious stuff here, advocating treason, another civil war and possibly encouraging another Timothy McVeigh.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:11 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

April 13, 2009

Teabagger Parties - Remember The Seeing the Forest Rule

The Seeing the Forest Rule: When right-wingers are accusing others of something it is usually a cover for something THEY are doing. Today's variation is when they claim they are doing the honest, innocent thing it usually means they doing are the dishonest, conniving thing. The promoters of the upcoming anti-Obama "tea parties" claim that they are "grassroots" but really they are one more corporate-funded, lobbyist-organized Republican bait-and-switch operation, tricking their supporters into supporting even more corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the rich.

Here is what I am talking about. The NY Post is owned by the same company as FOX News. SO take a look at this: TEA PARTIES: REAL GRASSROOTS - New York Post,

...these Tea Party protests aren't the same old rituals with the same old marchers.

These aren't the usual semiprofessional protesters who attend antiwar and pro-union marches. These are people with real jobs; most have never attended a protest march before. They represent a kind of energy that our politics hasn't seen lately, and an influx of new activists.
[. . .] Instead of the "astroturf" that has marked the ACORN-organized AIG protests, this movement is real grassroots. So if you've had enough, consider visiting a Tea Party protest in your area -- there's bound to be one.

It's your chance to be part of an authentic popular protest movement, one that just might save America from the greed and ineptitude of the folks who have been running it into the ground.

There are numerous posts and articles like this one, all claiming this is a "spontaneous" and "grassroots" event. In fact, as Jane at Firedoglake points out, the tea parties are organized, funded and promoted by a big lobbyist organization. Think Progress also writes about this and Media Matters writes about how these anti-Obama events are receiving exhaustive on-the-air promotion from FOX News, to the point of calling them "FNC Tea Parties." (So does Think Progress.)

Also be sure to read Oliver Willis, The Seminal, Crooks & Liars, Washington Monthly, Newshounds and DownWithTyranny writes about the calls to violence associated with the tea parties.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:48 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Take The Right Seriously, Please

We're all laughing at the right's nuttiness, especially the teabagging campaign. They say Obama isn't an American, that he is a communist, that in ten weeks he is responsible for the bush deficit, that he is planning to put everyone in concentration camps, that he is going to replace the dollar with a world currency, that he is gutting the military... And he has only been in office ten weeks.

In fact they're back to being as crazy and paranoid as they were when Clinton was President. Remember the accusations that Clinton and Hillary were murderers, that Hillary personally killed Vince Foster, that Clinton ran a drug-smuggling operation out of an airstrip, that he was looking through FBI files, that he fired the travel office to put a cousin in, that he "sold" plots in Arlington cemetery, that he held up runway traffic to get a $500 haircut, that he used cocaine in the White House, that he hung obscene ornaments on the White House Christmas tree and the other fabrications that came daily?

We laughed then, too, and how did that work out? They took over the Presidency, the House and the Senate. Then they started wars. They tortured people. They appointed corporate lobbyists to run every agency. They filled the courts with Federalist Society judges that rule for the corporations and religious right every time. They stole billions -- in one documented case actually having the Fed ship truckloads of pallets of hundred dollar bills directly to Iraq to be distributed to Bush cronies. They destroyed the economy of the world. And they worked hard to destroy the world itself -- the arctic is melting, the fisheries are depleted, the resources are plundered... And they get away with it -- who is being held accountable for any of that?

When Joe McCarthy was spreading his poison we dismissed him as a nutcase. We laughed at the John Birch Society's paranoia, when they called Eisenhower a communist, and they ended up getting Bolton appointed to the UN. We thought the "Impeach Earl Warren" campaign was a joke and now they have the Supreme Court majority. We laughed at Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's campaign and the religious right ended up staffing the administration with their followers. ... And now we mock them for being insane over Obama.

So I want to say, please take the right seriously. They may appear to be crazy - and they are - but this doesn't mean it isn't going to work. Let me explain.

In another life I was involved in direct mail. I learned a lot.

Direct mail lets you measure the effect of every smallest thing. You can change the color of the paper the letter is written on and then measure the effect this has -- and by the way, the color actually makes a measurable difference. Changing the price from $9.99 to $9.95 can have a significant effect on the number of people who choose to buy what you are selling.

So what I am getting at is that the most important lesson I learned was there is a reason that direct mail is worded the way it is, and looks the way it looks. That reason is that it works. "Buy now" is a call to action, and if you put "buy now" at the right place in your offer, people ... buy now. Every single word, the color, the font, the thickness of the ink, the headline, even the placement of periods and commas have all been tested and they are there because putting them there that way increases the number of people who make the decision to buy.

Repeat: they do it because it works.

What the right did in the Clinton years worked. They know how to do this stuff. That is why people across the country are reporting that a mass robo-call effort is underway to invite people to these tea parties. This is a funded strategic operation. They are reaching out to the general public with their message that Obama and "liberals" are to blame for the economy. They are setting the stage to own the issue when the economy gets worse.

Going out and talking to the general public with their message is effective, and that is what they are doing. Everything with them is about shaping public opinion. Everything is propaganda, saying whatever they need to say and refining what they say until it is having an effect, and then repeating and repeating that message. It's just standard marketing and advertising. And they get away with it because they are the only ones doing that. They have an entire TV channel dedicated to telling the public that conservatives and their ideology are good, and that everything that is bad in their lives is the fault of the liberals. They still have dozens - hundreds - of radio shows repeating that message 24 hours a day across the country. They still have hundreds of paid operatives writing op-eds, books, speaking to groups, appearing on their TV and radio shows, always always always repeating a coordinated strategic message.

It works. They're doing it and they are funded and strategic. We aren't. We're right and they are wrong, progressive policies and candidates are better for people than conservatives ones, but we aren't telling the public. We have no coordinated marketing effort to explain to the general public how and why progressives and progressive ideas and policies are better for them than the conservative approach. Until we do the right remains just as dangerous as ever.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:02 AM | Comments (6) | Link Cosmos

April 11, 2009

Robo-Calling for Tea Parties

People around the country are reporting receiving robocalls inviting them to anti-Obama "tea parties," so it would appear that the tea-parties are a major funded operation.

Leave a comment if you have been called.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 9, 2009

Public Schools Are Socialism

Many conservatives say that public schools are socialism.

Are they right?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 6, 2009

Elephant In Room Ignored

David Waldman at DailyKos is more than a little bit surprised that the media is ignoring a great big Republican elephant in the room.

Background: In Pittsburgh Saturday Richard Poplawsk shot and killed three police officers. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

Richard Poplawski, 23, met officers at the doorway and shot two of them in the head immediately, Harper said. An officer who tried to help the two also was killed.

Poplawski, armed with an assault rifle and two other guns, then held police at bay for four hours as the fallen officers were left bleeding nearby, their colleagues unable to reach them, according to police and witnesses. More than 100 rounds were fired by the SWAT teams and Poplawski, Harper said.

So what is this Republican elephant in the room?

Waldman: TradMed terrified of right wing role in P-burgh story and earlier: Daily Kos: Story punches reporters in face; goes unnoticed.

The guy had been convinced that Obama was going to take away everyone's guns, that Obama was going to impose military rule on the country and that "Zionists" control the government.

So, do you think this might have anything to do with Republicans telling that public that Obama is going to take away everyone's guns, put people in "camps" and impose "socialism" on the country? Do you think it has anything to do with the emails I am getting from Republicans saying that people need to arm themselves, "be armed and dangerous," form "an underground," gather into "cells" and that southern states should "secede from the union?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:38 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

March 31, 2009

Teachers Fired To Pay For Huge Corporate Tax Cut -- Why?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

I've been asking around and it seems that most Californians don't know that the budget deal that fires so many teachers also has a huge tax cut just for big, multi-state and multi-national corporations.

But it's true. Last month's budget deal that fires teachers, cuts essential government services, and guts the investments that bring future economic benefits also has a huge tax cut for the largest of corporations. While this part of the deal has been kept pretty quiet, the LA Times had a story, Business the big winner in California budget plan. From the story,

The average Californian's taxes would shoot up five different ways in the state budget blueprint that lawmakers hope to vote on this weekend. But the bipartisan plan for wiping out the state's giant deficit isn't so bad for large corporations, many of which would receive a permanent windfall.

About $1 billion in corporate tax breaks -- directed mostly at multi-state and multinational companies -- is tucked into the proposal.

But wait, won't a big corporate tax cut cause companies to come to California, creating jobs? No, they are already here and it will drive them away, because it is paid for by firing teachers.

A study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, released in 2005, found that most companies decide where to locate based not on tax breaks but on factors such as the availability of a highly educated workforce. California's proposed plan would cut spending on higher education by hundreds of millions of dollars.

So how did this happen? This was part of the deal to get a few Republican votes. And why did the Republicans want this so bad? Because they understood who really elected them.

If you look at the independent expenditure reports for the 2008 California election you'll see a massive amount of last-minute money. For example, in the 19th Senate District, a political action committee (PAC) named "Californians for Jobs and Education" put almost $1 million into just one race: $570,653 into defeating Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson, and another $373,778 to help elect her opponent, Republican Tony Strickland. When you look this group up on ElectionTrack you learn that this money came from corporations like Arkansas' Wal-Mart, Blue Cross of Ohio (Ohio?), Reliant Energy, major real estate companies, and from other PACs.

Now it gets interesting. Many of the contributions to that PAC came from other PACs, especially one called Jobs Pac. When you track down Jobs PAC you find that it is a conduit for huge, huge amounts of money coming from large corporations like Philip Morris, ATT, Chevron, Safeway, Sempra Energy, Verizon, big insurance companies, big pharmaceutical companies, big real estate companies ... and other conduits like the Chamber of Commerce.

Why did these huge corporations put so much money into California state elections? Because we let them, and because of the return on investment they receive from tax cuts like the one that is forcing us to fire so many of our teachers.

There is a key lesson to learn from this. When it comes time to choose, that is when you can really see who is for or against something -- where their priorities really are. And in this case, when push came to shove, in the end who did the conservatives come through for? The large corporations. They danced with the ones that brung them.

Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:03 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

March 27, 2009

The Superior Happy-Budget

Have you heard about the Republican alternative budget plan? It doesn't include any actual numbers or ... budget. It does, however, tell the public that it is better and will make them happy.

The boring Democratic budget has numbers and, well, budgets:

DemPlan1.jpgDemPlan2.jpg

The shiny, superior, pleasing Republican budget has happy faces:
RepPlan.jpg

Go read it. It really does just say Democrats Bad, Republicans Good, fire baaaad.

Ok, it doesn't say "fire baaaad." This does:


Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:18 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

March 2, 2009

Watch Out For Wikipedia

Try this: start or edit a Wikipedia article that includes information that might be unfavorable to conservative corporate interests, perhaps in the area of tort reform (incl medical malpractice, etc) or trade/protectionism, etc. Try adding citations to studies that show that tort reform is a corporate-funded effort to keep people from being able to sue companies that harm them... I tried it and it was removed in a few minutes.

Or try to edit the entry on Protectionism, perhaps adding something like the words "unfair competition" as in protecting America jobs from unfair competition from countries that exploit workers. Someone did this the other day and the edit lasted a few minutes before it was removed because it changed the "long accepted definition of protectionism." In other words, the idea that our standard of living should be protected from competition using exploited workers is unfair goes against the corporate-interest meaning of the term.

Try editing entries covering other issues around trade, economics or corporate issues. See how long it takes before a pro-corporate viewpoint is returned to the article. Or add an article about a progressive organization. I added an article about the Commonweal Institute, and it was immediately removed, so I put another up and it was immediately flagged for removal. (I am working to save it...) An article about me - put up and edited by others - was also removed twice. The circumstances involved a professional "leading tort-reform advocate" -- while I'm the person who wrote this report about how the tort reform movement is involved with the corporate/conservative movement. Go figure.

This is a problem at Wikipedia. It is quite possible that there are people who are paid to show up and push Wikipedia to reflect a conservative, pro-corporate viewpoint. And why wouldn't this be the case as it is in so many other areas where corporate interests are affected? (I know of one corporate-funded conservative movement insider who spends much of the normal workday and evenings editing Wikipedia.) So it seems the Wikipedia organization may be unable to sufficiently police the site to keep this from happening, and to keep new people from having unpleasant experiences and being shouted down and driven away. There are so many areas of political life where conservatives shout down or intimidate everyone else until they give up and go away. Wikipedia is fast becoming one more.

This has real-world implications. Wikipedia shows up at the top of many if not most Google searches, and people tend to believe this means it is a reliable source. This positioning implies a public-interest responsibility for accuracy and objective presentation of material. On non-controversial topics Wikipedia is a very reliable and possibly the best source for information because over time the "wisdom of crowds" effect brings increased expertise to bear.

But like so many things today, in areas where corporate resources can be focused, the subject matter increasingly reflects the viewpoint that serves the interests of the few at the top. Wikipedia's prominence is the likely reason this conservative information-purging occurs. It is also the reason Wikipedia has a responsibility to do something about it.

(Edited a bit for clarity, focus.)

PS also see this about article deletions.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

February 13, 2009

Ronald Reagan Movie!

Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny - Citizens United Productions -- from Gingrich Productions.

Newt Gingrich was the married guy who was porking his secretary in a car in the parking garage of the House of Representatives, while upstairs they were impeaching the President for having an affair. That kind of says it all, don't you think?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 10, 2009

GOP - REALLY The Party Of The Confederacy

Show Me Progress:: "War of Northern Aggression"?

According to Republican State Rep. Bryan Stevenson, the proposed pro-choice "Freedom of Choice Act" is the biggest federal power grab since the "War of Northern Aggression."
Go see the video clip.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 8, 2009

Gingrich For Supreme Court!

If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg resigns for health reasons I propose that Barack Obama demonstrate his spirit of bipartisanship by nominating former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to the court.

Certainly a Justice Gingrich will reciprocate by adjudicating from the bench in a bipartisan fashion and we will all live happily ever after.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:07 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

January 20, 2009

The Right Wishes Obama NOT Well

Limbaugh: ‘I Hope Obama Fails’

WorldNetDaily: Pray Obama fails

Riehl World View: The Speech

Having read Obama's speech, it seems to me that if you are at all Right-leaning, you must be crazy if you want this guy to "succeed."
Human Events: A Dangerous Presidency Begins

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:49 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

December 16, 2008

Pat Buchanan On Auto Company Loan

I'm going to give credit where credit is due. Pat Buchanan has written a column on the auto industry and American manufacturing and jobs that everyone should read. So I am linking to it, and even linking to the repugnant Human Events site where it appears.

Please read The Toyota Republicans. Excerpt:

What are Republicans thinking of, pulling the plug, at Christmas, on GM, risking swift death for the greatest manufacturing company in American history, a strategic asset and pillar of the U.S. economy.

The $14 billion loan to the Big Three that Republican senators filibustered to death is just 2 percent of the $700 billion the Senate voted to bail out Wall Street. Having gone along with bailouts of Bear Stearns, AIG, Fannie, Freddie and CitiGroup, why refuse a reprieve to an industry upon which millions of the best blue-collar jobs in America depend?

. . . Is the Republican Party so fanatic in its ideology that, rather than sin against a commandment of Milton Friedman, it is willing to see America written forever out of this fantastic market, let millions of jobs vanish and write off the industrial Midwest?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:35 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 14, 2008

Republicans Call Humane Society "Terrorists" -- Who's Next?

Now the HUMANE SOCIETY are "terrorists." Who's next, nursing home workers who want to join a union?

Go read Full-page New York Times Ad Calls Humane Society "Terrorists",

Here’s the gist of the ad: a Humane Society vice president is speaking at a holiday event sponsored by the Humane League. ... the Humane League has members from a group “Hugs for Puppies,” and Hugs for Puppies had members from SHAC Philly, and SHAC Philly had members from SHAC USA, and six members of SHAC USA were convicted on “animal enterprise terrorism” charges for running a controversial website.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:57 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos

December 9, 2008

Auto Company Competitiveness Problem

The big cost problem with the American car companies is that Japan, Germany and other countries provide health insurance and good pensions, while the United States does not. This means that the American auto companies have to try to compete while providing these benefits to their workers against companies that do not provide those benefits.

Republicans say that the cure is for companies to stop providing these benefits. And the way to get that is to break the unions. That is their beef with the auto loan discussion. They want to break unions across the board, and stop companies from providing any benefits. (Remember that McCain's health care plan was to stop companies from providing health care benefits.)

So, who is our economy for? And are we going to continue to make things in this country?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:06 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

December 8, 2008

A Thought On Conservatism

We attribute a lot of thought to conservative ideology. But is it thought, or just smoke? For example, isn't deregulation really just, "Look the other way while I steal all the money," and then later DIFFERENT people argue about how to pick up the pieces? The people who proposed deregulation and spent a bunch of (their company's) money pushing it, they're already gone with the money at this point.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:28 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

December 5, 2008

Forget $400 Haircuts -- How About $110,000?

McCain Campaign Spent $110,000 on Palin’s Stylists

Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist was paid $68,400 and her hair stylist received more than $42,000 for roughly two months of work, according to a new campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Remember this the next time you hear a Republican talking about "elitists" and "expensive haircuts."

Actually, remember this the next time you hear a Republican talk about anything.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:38 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

December 2, 2008

Time For Nuclear Option In Senate?

Hey, a few years back I was hearing a big hullabaloo on the news about something being proposed called the "Nuclear option." Also there were ads for it all over the TV. As I remember it, there was this big campaign demanding "an up or down vote" in the Senate, the proponents saying that it was terribly unfair to allow fewer than half of the Senate to block votes. People were so unhappy with filibusters that they wanted to change Senate rules to prevent them.

So tonite I'm wondering, all of those Republican Senators who demanded "an up or down vote" become the rule of the Senate, maybe they were right and maybe now the Democrats should join them -- they'll certainly still want to vote to end filibusters, right? -- and end this obstructive practice.

Here are some Republicans who will certainly join the fight for reviving this idea for a rule change:

It's time for up-or-down vote - Bill Frist

Up, Down or Out - Bob Dole

George W. Bush calling for up or down vote

Wall St Journal editorial calling for nuclear option

Up or Down - National Review

Weekly Standard

Pat Buchanan

Cato Institute

Center for Individual Freedom

And tons of gems like this:

"This is the time to unite, Republicans. It’s no time to weaken. Quit the back-and-forth on the part of a few Republicans. That only fires up the Dems to think they can work for defeat on any issue coming before Congress. Don’t give the Dems any breathing space. None. They don’t deserve it.

The Red States are anxiously awaiting the Republican United Party to act against the filibuster tradition. It’s a worn custom and way past its profit. It’s time to oust the filibuster as the game playing, day care center maneuvering any thinking American has always regarded it to be. Enough is enough."

/snark

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 26, 2008

Right-Wing Myths

In Worried About Thanksgiving Fights with Right-Wing Family Members? Sara Robinson explains the top ten right-wing myths and how to answer them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 2, 2008

They're Trying Everything

Reports that Obama volunteers in Pennsylvania are getting robo-calls telling them that their shifts are canceled.

Did you hear the one where Florida Democrats are getting calls saying they can vote by phone to avoid the long lines? They are given a number to call, they "vote" at that number and are thanked and told they don't have to go to the polls. That one is in the Election Protection Wiki.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 29, 2008

One Of The Worst?

This is one -- just one -- of the sleaziest Republican smear/deceit ads this year. Sen. Dole in North Carolina hires a voice impersonator to sound like her opponent, to say "There is no God" in an ad, saying her opponent "took godless money."

Wow. That's really creepy. And Sen. Dole apparently thinks North Carolina voters are really, really stupid. Is she right?

One thing that comes out of this election: I think it has become pretty obvious what the Republican Party is about. They say nasty and things to trick people who don't follow the news into voting for them, and then they hand over public money to a few wealthy corporation owners who fund all of this.

I think people are starting to become well-enough aware of this game to start doing something about it. ONE thing would be to stop allowing a few people to use corporate resources to influence our politics. It isn't corporations that are the problem, it is this abiloity of a few people to access corporate resources and use them to subvert democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 22, 2008

Race Boating

Great name for what the Republicans are doing: Race Boating.

Go read Open Left:: Race Boating: Swift Boat Backer Funds Racist Mail.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 12, 2008

More Threats To Kill Obama

This is at a popular right-wing blog. Warning you will need a strong stomach to see this. It is a photo of Obama and a noose and the words "The F**king Solution" - and more, with the usual nasty right-wing victim-complex justifications, all followed by some really nasty comments frok readers. Just go see for yourself.

Update It was removed there, but it is still up here. Update - It's gone there too. Good riddance. Also, I have learned that the one posted at Say Anything was a reader blog, and not from the bloggers at that site. I want to point that out, the blog itself was not responsible.

Update - The whole thing is covered here.

The original post continues:

This had better get the Secret Service involved fast.

And just to document where this stuff is heading, this at Fox news Forums, whipping people up that Obama is rigging the election by accusing ACORN of "vote fraud" even though there has never been a single fraudulent vote cast as a result of voter-registration mistakes.

It makes your everyday smear look almost trivial...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:13 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Palin's Accusation That Obama is A Terrorist

Sarah Palin repeatedly accuses Obama of having various "ties" to terrorists, and pretty buch of being a terrorist himself.

Remember the Seeing the Forest Rule: When Republicans Accuse it is a good idea to see if it is what THEY are really doing. The accusation serves as an inoculation. It works like this: Billy steals a cookie from the cookie jar. Billy runs to mommy and tells her Bobby took a cookie. Bobby responds with "No, mommy, Billy did it." This gets Bobby is serious trouble, and Billy gets away scott-free -- plus a cookie.

So of course an investigation into Sarah Palin reveals ... you guessed it. A DailyKos post explains, and David Neiwert has a summary at his blog:
# That Gov. Palin, when a Wasilla city council member, formed an alliance with some of the more radical far-right citizens in Wasilla and vicinity, particularly members of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party who were allied with local John Birch Society activists. These activists played an important role in her election as Wasilla mayor in 1996.

# Once mayor, one of Mrs. Palin’s first acts was to attempt to appoint one of these extremists (a man named Steve Stoll) to her own seat on the city council. This was a man with a history of disrupting city council meetings with intimidating behavior. She was blocked by a single city council member.

# Afterward, Mrs. Palin fired the city’s museum director at the behest of this faction.

# She fomented an ultimately successful effort to derail a piece of local gun-control legislation which would simply have prohibited the open carry of firearms into schools, liquor stores, libraries, courthouses and the like. The people recruited to shout this ordinance down included these same figures, notably the local AIP representative (who became the AIP’s chairman that same year).

# She remained associated politically with the local AIP/Birch faction throughout her tenure as mayor on other issues, particularly a successful effort to amend the Alaska Constitution to prohibit local governments from issuing any local gun-control ordinances.

But really, what did you expect?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

August 5, 2008

It's OK If You Are Republican

In a post a couple of years ago, Who Is The Crazy Person In The Room? I wrote about trying to describe what Republicans have been up to, to someone who doesn't read the blogs:

I've said before that when I try to talk about the stuff that the Republicans are up to, to people who don't really follow the news, they think I'M the crazy person!
For example, today Republicans Presidential candidate McCain volunteered his wife to compete in a topless biker "beauty pageant."

By the way, the rest of that older post,

My wife and I share a house with a roommate who doesn't really follow the news. Today I told him that last week the Vice President of the United States shot a man in the face with a shotgun, and blamed the guy he shot, and then when he got out of the hospital the guy apologized for the pain he had caused the VP -- and then this week the President of the United States allowed our ports to be sold to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

You should have seen how he looked at me.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 2, 2008

Republicans and Reaching Out

Interesting ... as you look at this small-sample test of reaction to an Obama ad, watch the Republican reaction (red line) plunge as Obama says "What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar, a Republican..." at this site: New Obama Terrorism Ad has Little Effect on Voter Support

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 17, 2008

"25,000 Members" But Only 5 Donors? Is This The New Math?

Earlier this week, we wrote about the Republican group, Vets For Freedom, and their ability to run $1.5 million dollars in TV advertising with seemingly no support.

In our blog post, we noted that the founder of the group was claiming thousands of donors. And the group claims to have 25,000 members. A number which if true might give a hint of credibility to their claims. However, when it is becoming increasingly clear that more and more real veterans are coming out in support of Barack Obama, is it possible that VFF actually has 25,000 members?

Well, we're not from Missouri but frankly, we'd have to see the membership roster to even believe that they have 2,500 members, why?

First, in their last report, they have exactly 5 donors listed. One, two, three, four, five. So unless their marketing efforts are truly horrific, to the tune of a .00000005 response rate, we have to believe that their member list is slightly inflated.

Second, if you look at their web site traffic on public sites, you'll see that the traffic is very very light; with some recent days in May hovering around zero, wouldn't a 25,000 member person organization have more than a couple of thousand total visits a month?

Unfortunately, many news organizations are taking the 25,000 numbers as a fact versus a 'claim' -- if we claimed that a million people read everything we wrote, it wouldn't make it true -- but who knows maybe people would start writing that -- just like we are seeing these.

There's an old expression, a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on, and today from The Guardian in London, we have proof.

The £750,000 campaign launched by the 25,000-member Vets for Freedom implicitly criticises the Republican senator's anti-war Democrat rival Barack Obama, who has stated he wants to withdraw combat forces within 16 months of taking office.

On the other hand, if Vets For Freedom really does have 25,000 veteran members, we'll post the whole membership list right here, just send us the names guys, we'll put everyone up.

After all, we can easily fit in five names right here.

Posted by Dave and James at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 12, 2008

Right Wingnut Idiots

From PFAW's Right Wing Watch: The Dangers of Auto-Replace. Here's the story: The right-wingnut American Family Association's website runs AP news stories, but automatically replaces every appearance of the word "gay" with the word "homosexual." Go read about what happened.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 8, 2008

Press Praises Wealthy America-Hater Templeton

John Templeton Sr. died today. He had moved away and renounced his US citizenship because he hated our country.

But he was extremely wealthy, which makes him a hero to some. The Washington Post, for example: Billionaire Investor John Marks Templeton Dies at 95. Others called him a "philanthropist"

Even though he had renounced his citizenship and our country Templeton was a "conservative sugar daddy" who funded many U.S.-based anti-government organizations (as well as proponents of creationism and "intelligent design.") He funded many far-right-wing causes and includingpoliticians.

His son carries on.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 29, 2008

Wingers Say Book Conspiracy

A right-wing blog says Soros-the-Jew is behind the McClellan book.

Scott McClellan was Bush's press secretary, and has written a book saying Bush led us into Iraq with propaganda, admitting ordering the Valerie Plame leak, and many other things we all know. Now a right wing blog says it's all part of the great Soros-the-Jew MoveOn communist appeaser jihadist latte-drinking conspiracy that is behind everything else. See lgf: The Soros-McClellan Connection

And, heh, there are 1244 comments as I post this. They're worth scanning. Heh.

(H/T Down With Tyranny)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 20, 2008

Pat Buchanan Goes After Bush Idiocy

Bush Plays the Hitler Card. Read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt:

In that same speech to the Knesset, Bush dismissed the idea we could ever successfully negotiate with Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran:

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them that they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before."

But did not Ronald Reagan's negotiations with the Evil Empire, as he rebuilt America's military might, bear fruit in a reversal of Moscow's imperial policy and an end to the Cold War?

Richard Nixon went to China and toasted the greatest mass murderer of them all, Mao Zedong, when Maoists were conducting a nationwide purge: the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Yet, Nixon ended a quarter century of implacable U.S.-Chinese hostility. Was Nixon's trip to China useless?

Three years after Nikita Khrushchev drowned the Hungarian revolution in blood, Ike had him up to Camp David. John Kennedy ended the most dangerous confrontation of the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis, by negotiating with that same Butcher of Budapest.

Were Ike, JFK and Nixon all deluded fools? For the dictators they negotiated with -- Khrushchev and Mao -- were far greater mass murderers and enemies of America than is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Bush's father negotiated with Syria's Hafez al-Assad, the Butcher of Hama, and made him an American ally in the Gulf War.

Was President Bush's father a deluded fool?

And remember, McCain took Bush's side of this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 19, 2008

All You Need To Know about Republican Accusations

When you are deciding whether to listen to a Republican when they talk about Democrats as "appeasers," consider this. Crooks and Liars has the story of Oliver North on Fox News backing up Republican accusations that Democrats are "appeasers."

So who is Oliver North? Oliver North is the guy that Republican President Ronald Reagan sent to provide weapons and missiles to Iran.

Let me repeat that because many people today are either too young or don't remember what happened in the 1980s. Not long after the Iranians stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took several American diplomats hostage for 444 days, Republicans gave them missiles and other weapons. Oliver North, hero of the American Right and Fox News pundit, gave advanced weaponry to Iran.

And now they call Democrats "appeasers."

It's called the Seeing the Forest Rule: When Republicans accuse others of something, it usually means it is something they are doing. (See also.)

Is there anything else you need to know about Republicans?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 24, 2008

Moon And The Republicans

Please watch this video about the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his organization's political influence with the Republicans. This is an important story. Moon, for example, owns the Washington Times. Front groups set up by his organization have been receiving millions of tax dollars from the Bush Administration.


Online Videos by Veoh.com

And definitely get the new book on Moon, Bad Moon Rising, by John Gorenfeld

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 25, 2008

Because Drudge Says It's True?

All over the progressive blogosphere there is outrage at the Clinton campaign. The Drudge Report had a great big headline "CLINTON STAFFERS CIRCULATE 'DRESSED' OBAMA" and people are outraged.

People, you are being played like a violin.

I posted about this photo yesterday, because several right-wing blogs were carrying it. Not one said anything about it coming from the Clinton campaign. Today the Drudge Report takes the opportunity to inject the photo to the mainstream and gets a twofer bonus, getting all the Obama supporters to blame the Clinton campaign.

Why is it so hard for people to understand that the right wants us divided? Why is it so hard to see that they are working to set us against each other? Come on, people, Hillary Clinton is not your enemy, she is on our side.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 12, 2008

Watching Freedom's Watch: The Donors

Since 2004, we have been very involved in investigating, exposing, and uncovering the roots and exposing the tactics and lies of the right-wing smear machine. James was involved not only in John Kerry's campaign, but also in the Truth and Trust Team, a group of Kerry friends and family who attempted to fight back against the Swift Boat Veterans.

Dave, of course, followed the campaign and those attacks closely, and then worked with James and others, including our friend, Taylor Marsh, on The Patriot Project in 2006. Created by John Kerry, David Thorne and others, The Patriot Project helped veterans such as Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy and John Murtha defend themselves -- even looking into previous attacks on John McCain. We also were part of the team that exposed the Economic Freedom Fund, a group created with a $5,000,000 donation from Bob Perry that attacked moderate Democrats, primarily in red states.

Why do folks like Bob Perry give money like that? It's strictly business.

Take, for example, the global warming arena where we have shown folks how the same tactics, the same strategies, the same people sometimes who created this whole smear empire with the tobacco companies, are now doing the same with global warming.

ExxonMobil has given these groups $25 million over the years - often, incredibly, as charitable donations. This past quarter, they had $11.7 billion in record profits. That's a return on investment we all would envy.

Now, we are looking forward not back.

And what we see is a front group on steroids, a massive death star of right wing machinery, floating, ready and waiting.

Freedom's Watch, operating like the opposite of a grassroots-funded progressive group like MoveOn.org, was founded by major donors like

... Sheldon G. Adelson, the chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, who ranks sixth on the Forbes Magazine list of the world's billionaires; Mel Sembler, a shopping center magnate based in St. Petersburg, Fla., who served as the ambassador to Italy and Australia; John M. Templeton Jr., the conservative philanthropist from Bryn Mawr, Pa.; and Anthony H. Gioia, a former ambassador to Malta who heads an investment group based in Buffalo, N.Y. All four men are long-time prolific donors who have raised money on behalf of Republican and conservative causes.
as well as
Richard Fox, one of the major building, development and real estate management companies in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey and a longtime GOP activist. He co-founded the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Gary Erlbaum, owner of Greentree Properties in Ardmore, Pa., who tried to rally Orthodox Jewish support for last year's failed reelection bid of conservative Christian Sen. Rick Santorum.


Freedom's Watch has direct connections with the Republican Party and is staffed by Republican Party operatives like Ari Fleischer, former White House Spokesperson; Bradley A. Blakeman, a former deputy assistant to George W. Bush; Kevin E. Moley, a senior adviser to Dick Cheney during the 2000 campaign.

Check out their site and their rhetoric. It is a major right wing group and here's the scary part:

Freedom's Watch says it plans to raise over $250,000,000 to play in this election. But Freedom's Watch is a 501(c)(4) organization, which means they can engage in political activity but not as their primary mission. They are allowed to lobby on issues but not support candidates. Yet the group appears to be primarily designed to influence elections in favor of Republican candidates

But who is going enforce the laws? The FEC? The Justice Department? Perhaps Senate Democrats can issue one of their strongly-worded statements of disapproval.

So what do we do?

We watch them -- and we start exposing them now, every day, all day.

We are going to post these articles frequently and often.

We are going to launch a Newsladder where we would appreciate everyone joining and linking up anything they see about this group.

We are going to launch in the coming days a new site, www.watchingfreedomswatch.com where, again, will write and expose this group.

The issue isn't you - and what you know. If you are reading this you are a blog-reader and already know more than most people about how these things work. The issue is whether we can drive narratives and how much knowledge we can give the average American about who these folks really are and what they are up to.

Posted by Dave and James at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 10, 2008

Driving A Wedge

The Drudge Report is a right-wing site that is used to drive right-wing propaganda into the large, corporate media outlets. When a story is featured at the Drudge Report, you always have to ask why, and ask what is the right's intent behind getting this story into circulation.

Today Drudge points us to a story, Wilder Still Sore Over Clinton Comment. This story is obviously an effort to drive a wedge between supporters of Senators Obama and Clinton. It uses out-of-context, incomplete quotes and mischaracterizes the intent and meaning of the quotes to drive up tensions.

The nation's first elected black governor said Saturday he is not ready to excuse comments former President Bill Clinton made about Barack Obama.

In campaigning for his wife last month on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Clinton called Obama's opposition to the Iraq war "a fairy tale." Clinton suggested Obama had toned down his early anti-war fervor during his 2004 Senate campaign.

. . . Clinton also implied that an Obama victory in South Carolina would amount to a reward based on race, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 20 years earlier.

Wilder said the former president's comments stung him and other black voters and diminished their respect for Clinton.

"It's not just me (who) feels that; any number of people feel that," Wilder said. "A time comes and a time goes. The president has had his time."

This is propaganda at its best.

Readers know that I do not favor one candidate over the other. I think they are both great candidates who would make excellent Presidents, but neither offers the transformational, progressive change I believe would most benefit the country and world. I defend BOTH of them from attacks -- and wish they would defend each other and us from attacks.

This is an attack. It is an obvious attempt to split the Democratic Party and its supporters, going into the elections. Duh!

Are you going to let them play you like a fiddle? Keep in mind who the enemy is here. The stakes are high: If we let the primary contest divide us how many hundred thousand Iraqis or Iranians will be killed before the 2012 elections, how much more will corporations take over our democracy, how much more concentration of wealth at the top will we see? Please do not be fooled by this stuff! If it appears at DRUDGE, you KNOW something is going on.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 24, 2008

Big Government

Conservatives always say the government is "too big," and that their goal is to balance the budget by "cutting spending."

But have you ever, ever heard a conservative what outline spending they would cut to reach that goal? Of course not. Why is that?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 23, 2008

Republicans and Economies

Ladies and gentlemen, there was a REASON that Americans were loath to elect a Republican into the government for an entire generation after the Great Depression: They remembered.

Update - I was waiting for a comment asking me to explain what I mean, because it would make my point.

Previous generations REMEMBERED. There was nothing to add. Over time people have forgotten how Republican economics caused the depression, and how they fought every single program that helped the people at the expense of the wealthiest and the powerful corporations. (And in fact led to the prosperity that the wealthiest and corporations enjoyed since.)
But now people do not remember how concentration of wealth, corporations preying on citizens, anti-union policies, etc. LED TO the economic collapse.

The depression was ended by pro-union policies, redistributive taxes, REGULATIONS on businesses and the fuinancial sector, and an understanding that We, the People run the government, and the reason we have corporations is for OUR benefit, not just the benefit of the few.

Over time, as I said, people forgot. And here we are again.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 19, 2008

Trying To Drive A Wedge

Here is a glimpse of the right's operation at work, trying to drive wedges between Democrats. A Drudge Report headline links to Murdoch's Times Online: Women turn on ‘traitor’ Oprah Winfrey for backing Barack Obama

What is the basis for this headline story? Anonymous messages left in blog comments:

It started with a message on her website entitled “Oprah is a traitor” and rapidly expanded to include several discussions that attracted hundreds of comments.

In the original post, a reader called austaz68 said she “cannot believe that women all over this country are not up in arms over Oprah’s backing of Obama. For the first time in history we actually have a shot at putting a woman in the White House and Oprah backs the black MAN. She’s choosing her race over her gender.”

In a subsequent comment, 2nurselady wrote: “I don’t think Oprah is a ‘traitor’, but I do think she may be alienating a lot of her fans.”

Don't fall for it. Stick together.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 17, 2008

McCain Ahead Of Clinton, Obama and Edwards

So many are so sure that Democrats have the Presidential election in the bag. But progressives do not have an idea/communications infrastructure to tell the public how their ideas benefit them, which creates demand for progressive candidates and policies. Hundreds of millions of progressive/liberal dollars go into election-cycle spending, but none into creating an overall public attitude environment that is ready to accept those election-cycle messages. If a fraction of that election-cycle money went to organizations like the Commonweal Institute, Speak Out California, Netroots Nation, etc. these organizations could reach out to the public all year, every year and help to create demand for progressive policies and candidates. Sheesh, how many lost elections is it going to take before people get that?

In What I Expect In 2008 I wrote,

The election is a year away and the Republicans are working hard to set the stage and prime the public for their campaign themes.
. . .
1) Iraq will not be in the news, and the Dems will be blamed for any failures. [...]

3) Accusations that we have a Do-Nothing Ineffective Congress [. . .]

5) Dems will face a hostile media that favors Republicans.

Later that month I wrote,
Conservatives and Republicans talk to the general public, and use a megaphone. Fox News is still there, just like they have been for a while. Rush Limbaugh is still there, spreading his lies, and his audience is still huge. Same for the rest of their machine - newspapers, other talk radio... And then there is their online effort, including the viral e-mails.
And already we have a Republican polling ahead of all Dems,
If the general election were held right now, McCain would beat New York Sen. Hillary Clinton 47% to 42% and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 45% to 43%, the survey revealed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 28, 2007

Republicans Get To Their Point

Republicans are making their point more clear -- and the point is that hatred and bigotry will be their 2008 campaign theme: Chase "the Muslims" "back to their caves."

John Deady, Co-Chair for New Hampshire’s Veterans for Rudy:

…(Rudy Giuliani has) the knowledge and judgment to attack one of the most difficult problems in current history. And that is the rise of the Muslims. And make no mistake about it, this hasn’t happened for a thousand years. These people are very, very dedicated. They’re also very smart, in their own way. And we need to keep the feet to the fire and keep pressing these people ‘til we defeat them or chase them back to their caves, or in other words, get rid of them.
Go read more and see the video clip.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 23, 2007

The Bush Secrecy List

A list of all the way s the Republicans are keeping the public from knowing what their own government is doing:

TPMmuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Bush Admin: What You Don't Know Can't Hurt Us, 2007 Version,

Last year, we launched the insanely ambitious project of recording every significant instance of this administration stifling government information. As we said then, "they've discontinued annual reports, classified normally public data, de-funded studies, quieted underlings, and generally done whatever was necessary to keep bad information under wraps." To be sure, the list will continue to grow through January, 2008.

My wife likes to say, whenever I point out the things the Republicans are doing - So what? Who is going to do anything about it?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 22, 2007

The Far Left


Where do you have to be in your head to be able to say that the New York Times is the "far left?"

The New York Times, which helped start the Iraq war... The New York Times, which sits on stories about things like wiretapping Americans without warrants at the request of the Bush administration.

Maybe it goes back to when the right called it the "Jew York Times." How else can you explain it?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 8, 2007

Is Fox News A Soft-Porn Network?

I've long noticed that Fox's MySpace is a soft-porn enterprise. Now Brave New Films is taking on Fox News for the same.

Watch the video:

Go here for a petition :FOX Attacks Decency with Bill O'Reilly Leading the Way

Demand "a la carte" cable television.

Under current law, you cannot opt-out of FOX. You are forced to put money in FOX's pockets every time you pay your cable bill.

The best way to keep FOX out of your home is to force cable companies to offer "a la carte" cable, where you only pay for the channels you want. A la carte will lower your cable bill, prevent inappropriate programming from entering your home, and will keep your money out of FOX's pockets.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 23, 2007

IS Greed Good?

This piece originally appeared at the Speak Out California blog.

"Greed is good." That line from the 1987 film Wall Street shocked the country with its blatant articulation of the 1980s-era Reagan philosophy of greed. Twenty years ago it was still a shock to civilized people to hear such a vulgar statement promoting self-interest over community. From the movie,

The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right; greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge - has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words - will not only save Teldar Paper but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
Greed used to be considered one of the "seven deadly sins." Religions warn against its harmful effects on people and the greater community. Buddhism warns that greed is one of the three poisons. W.Jay Wood wrote in Christianity Today,
Greed is an inappropriate attitude toward things of value, built on the mistaken judgment that my well-being is tied to the sum of my possessions....Greed alienates us from God, from our neighbor, and from our true self.
But twenty years after being shocked by the promotion of a "Greed is good" philosophy much of the public instead buys into the consumer culture of greed and self-interest over public-interest. How has this change come about?

It had help. For example, John Stossel, co-anchor of ABC's 20/20 and host of ABC's John Stossel Specials reports for ABC radio, and ABCNews.com wrote a 2006 opinion piece titled Greed Is Good, which he posted at the far-right Townhall site (and many other far-right sites), Stossel writes,

If pursuing profit is greed, economist Walter Williams told me, then greed is good, because it drives us to do many good things. "Those areas where people are motivated the most by greed are the areas that we're the most satisfied with: supermarkets, computers, FedEx." By contrast, areas "where people say we're motivated by 'caring'" - public education, public housing etc. - "are the areas of disaster in our country.... How much would get done," Williams wondered, "if it all depended on human love and kindness?"
This Stossel piece is derived from a 1999 20/20 episode of the same name, and for years was widely promoted and distributed as a "Greed" teaching kit for classrooms by the Palmer R. Chitester Fund, Inc.

The accompanying teachers guide (PDF document), included such "educational" tidbits as,

The video argues that "the more government tries to help, the worse things get" and uses the circumstances of the Lakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota as an example. Would the Lakota Sioux tribe be more prosperous without government support? What evidence would support or refute this argument?
and,
Some say that decreasing tax rates stimulates the economy by enabling workers to keep more of the money they earn. As a result, they have added ability to put money back into the economy by spending, saving and investing. Others accept high tax burdens believing that the cost of government is justified based on all of its programs and agencies. The video shows an example of the typical two earner household- Bill and Mary Thurston of St. Louis, who both work from January until May to pay their share of annual taxes. Do you think American taxpayers are getting their money's worth? Which taxes do you think are/are not justifiable?
and,
Have students research reports of government waste and report the most egregious cases they can find. Have them detail specific examples of what could happen to a private company that operated in the same manner.
Anti-government propaganda like that is "educational?" Of course not. But there it is, with the credibility and celebrity of both ABC and Stossel backing up the pro-greed, ideological message.

A 2000 Salon.com article titled Prime-time propagandist, said,

"Stossel in the Classroom" is a series of study aids that includes Stossel's popular ABC News special reports, accompanied by study guides written by two conservative economics instructors at George Mason University. The study guides are emblazoned with a big blue ABC News logo and Stossel's face. ABC News and Stossel had almost nothing to do with the development of "Stossel in the Classroom," but the product is deceptively packaged to look like an ABC product.
Who is the Palmer R. Chitester Fund that distributed these so-called study materials? Media Transparency describes The Palmer R. Chitester Fund as follows:
The Palmer R. Chitester Fund was created by the combative Bob Chitester, with startup money from the Bradley Foundation, to create right wing "popular" media, and lately has taken to selling educational materials based on the error-prone reporting of ABC TV's arch-conservative correspondent John Stossel. It's Idea Channel distributes "intellectual" videotapes on conversations between mostly members of the right wing movement on topics ranging from political science to economics to history.
The Fund is now part of Chitester Creative Associates. It's President Bob Chitester proudly declares,
"Over 80% of U.S. secondary schools are now using at least one of our teaching units."
The Fund receives grants from numerous sources to help it distribute similar teaching materials. (One source, for example, is the John Templeton Foundation. John Templeton, such a radical anti-government conservative that he renounced his US citizenship in 1968. Yet, in 2007, Templeton was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People (Time 100) under the category of "Power Givers.)

The Salon article mentions some of the other sources and participants,

One contributor to the "Stossel in the Classroom" series is the John M. Olin Foundation, an organization that popped up regularly in stories detailing Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy" during the investigation and impeachment of President Clinton. For three decades, the Olin Foundation has funded many of the most influential institutions and individuals on the right. Board member and conservative columnist Walter Williams' professorship at George Mason University is also underwritten by Olin.

Chitester Fund is a conservative foundation, sporting John Fund of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Williams among others on its boards. Text on the Chitester Fund Web site describes the organization's mission: "We are particularly interested in illuminating the prerequisites of a free society -- (with an) emphasis on projects that examine the role of government and explain the interrelationship of economic, personal and political freedom," code for a closeted conservative group. [emphasis added]

Yes, some of this is old news - to some of us. But it is worth rehashing because it helps tell the story of disturbing changes in our culture. In the time since the statement "greed is good" shocked us our society certainly has become more greedy and self-interested. And in that time society has become much more of an on-your-own, in-it-for-yourself society as contrasted with a "we're-all-in-this-together, take-care-of-each-other" society. Certainly the "free market"-oriented one-dollar-one-vote"value" has clearly come to dominate over the humanitarian and democratic value of one-person-one-vote.

The "economics education" effort described in one example here is just the tip of an iceberg - of a huge effort to push America's public attitudes rightward. Some have estimated that spending on the conservative movement's "message machine" is over $300 million dollars per year.

What can we learn from this? One thing we can learn is that it is possible to move America's public attitudes and change our culture. The so-called conservatives were certainly able to accomplish this. We can even see and learn from how they did it. It wasn't easy and it wasn't inexpensive, but they proved that a systematic effort to educate the public certainly can succeed.

I think it is time that progressive-minded Americans begin to put resources of our own into an effort to educate the public about the benefits to them of values like democracy (one-person-one-vote vs one-dollar-one-vote) and community (taking care of each other rather than everyone on their own and out for themselves). We must do this to restore the country that our Founding Fathers envisioned.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 21, 2007

War Profiteering and Corruption -- Here Is Something You Can Do

Frank Rich's column today, Suicide Is Not Painless, talks about the systematic corruption of defense contracting, especially where Iraq is involved.

Here's the thing. You and I read the blogs, so we already know at least something about what is going on. You and I know about, for example, the truckloads of cash that were shipped to Iraq to be handed out in bricks. We know about the $9 billion that just disappeared. But most people in the country are not exposed to the information that blog readers take for granted, haven't heard about it, and would have a hard time believing that anything like this is going on. I'm serious. But remember, a huge chunk of the population still thinks that Iraq attacked us on 9/11 - or was at least involved - and there's a big chunk that believes that weapons of mass destruction were found.

There is something we can all do to help. Today's column about the corruption should be sent around by e-mail to people who don't usually read blogs.

Please help with this by e-mailing it to people. People need to know about the corruption and fraud that our huge "defense" budget is generating. If more people understood what is going on, there would be less vulnerability to Republican propaganda that says cutting military budgets - or even having hearings looking into the corruption - is unpatriotic. That kind of talk is nothing but a game to keep the corruption going, but it will keep working unless more people learn about what is going on and where their money is going.

The Abramoff corruption machine was modeled after the defense-contractor scheme, but was tiny and amateurish in comparison. (For example, the Abramoff operation didn't actually buy entire media companies as a way to help keep people from learning about the racket, as defense contractors have done.)

Please read Frank Rich's column today, and please, please send it to friends and relatives who might not otherwise see what is going on. And ask them to send it on to others!

Please read it, and e-mail it to others. Then, after you have done that, read Billions over Baghdad, another story about the massive corruption.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Nine Months Ago

Nine months ago the Republicans were saying that real patriots should just shut up - for six to nine months.

It’s all totally irresponsible. It’s just unbelievable. The president is sending over a new commander, he’s sending over troops, and the Democratic Congress, in a pseudo-binding way or non-binding way, is saying, ‘It won’t work. Forget it. You troops, you’re going over there in a pointless mission. Iraqis who might side with us, forget it, we’re going to pull the plug.’ It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months and say the president has made a decision, we’re not going to change that decision, we’re not going to cut off funds and insist on the troops coming back, so let’s give it a chance to work. You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. I hate to say this about the Democrats. They’re people I know personally and I respect some of them. Do they want it to succeed or not?
SO, OK, it's been nine months. Can we talk now?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 14, 2007

Republicans and Security

Read about how Republicans take care of national security: The man who knew too much. CIA agent discovers a country working to get nukes that could threaten us, Republicans kill his career and cover everything up as "state secrets."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 9, 2007

This Week's Right-Winger Sex Story

Go read the whole story: "Friend of Falwell" minister dies during bizarre sex play,

An Alabama minister who died in June of "accidental mechanical asphyxia" was found hogtied and wearing two complete wet suits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, according to an autopsy report.

(while apparently in the midst of some autoerotic undertaking)...

... Gary Aldridge graduated from Liberty University and later worked for the late Jerry Falwell.

Really, what can I say? What's the deal with right-wingers and deviant sex, anyway? Rubber suits really, really turn some people on. I don't understand it, but there it is. And the asphyxiation-while-masturbating thing...

TWO wetsuits? Did the check for gerbils? Never mind...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

RW Bloggers and Conservative Philanthropy

Here is an interesting post: The Triumph of Conservative Philanthropy: <em>Powerlineblog</em> and conservative philanthropy,

Every now and then you get a glimpse of where the true power is over at Powerlineblog. Today Scott Johnson has a post up titled "Coming attractions," that publicizes two upcoming conservative movement events.
The post looks at how right-wing think tanks, celebrities and money work together, the whole while supporting their bloggers and getting their message out to their blogosphere.
In their own way the conservatives have setup an institutional supply-side structure for getting their message out. First they create and subsidize hundreds of institutions like Claremont and CAE; next they find reliable Republicans to staff them. These institutions then create content for media dissemination, which is taken care of by blogs like Powerline and columnists like Kersten.
But on OUR "side" the House and Senate just voted to condemn MoveOn, with many so-called "Democrats" voting to do that. And there is no progressive infrastructure ecosystem to support our activists, thinkers, writers and organizers.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 31, 2007

Five Letters: B.L.A.C.K.

While writing today about what conservatives are saying, I came across this little gem -- The mortgage crisis is because we allowed black people to get mortgages. Townhall.com::The Subprime Mortgage Market In Perspective,

Scarcely a soul will recall that political pressure over red-lining was partially responsible for the subprime failures in the first place.
And while on this subject, in my earlier post about conservative philosophy, I chose not to comment on the blatant racism of the conservative Townhall post but I will point it out now. That post wrote about the "shiftless people" of New Orleans and makes a point of calling the mayor, "Mr. "Chocolate City." And the readers "got it."

I don't usually fault bloggers for the comments they elicit, but this post was very clear in its point, and the number of readers leaving racist comments demonstrated that they got that point. Comment examples,

Yes, Katrina was different. It was different because of the huge fat women sitting on the kerb surrounded by their 12 year old daughters with their babies, chanting WE WANTS HEP! instad of getting up off their fat behinds and looking after themselves.

Two weeks after 9/11 the news cameras had packed up and refused to show us any more video or film; months later in New Orleans we were still being treated to shots of wailing Black women and their fatherless babies sitting on their backsides and screaming for cash.

The difference between Katrina and New York City on 9/11 is five letters long. B L A C K.

Other comment examples:
You're very lucky you don't own a business because a Mr. Jackson and a Mr. Sharpton would be on your doorstep shaking you down for reparations payments.

...Presidents from now on will have to tell all the citizens down there, sitting on their fat, welfare fed butts, that we'll never forget and the checks are coming.

In a nation where many people think that they are entitled to reparations for slavery, it is unlikely we will get over Katrina anytime soon.

Time to get these 'welfare queens' off the government dole.
Has no one noticed that the middle class blacks left New Orleans? It was the ones who were poor that got left behind. And one of the main reasons they are poor are because of liberal policies that hurt family values and promote a general sense of irresponsibility - not just among blacks but among liberals in general.
The fat Blacks in New Orleans should take a note.
...they need a Guliani-esque type mayor to reshape i.e. clean out the inept police force and instill a tough clean up the streets type police chief who will dredge up the thugs that rule New Orleans and deposit them in the can.
Yes, they came here to Houston. Our crime rate is over the top. Between the "victims" and the illegals you can just imagine. ... They are still having regular Americans pay their rent. Of course, ACORN is involved as well as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Go figure.
Before intergration, we dealt with MORE issues than waiting on a governement check
if the pictures from NOLA had shown fat WHITE women sitting on the kerbstone chanting WE WANTS HEP! instead of stirring their stumps on their own behalf, the answer would now be a yawn, just as it was when the Wal-Mart Looter Video showed that even the Black COPS were stealing. And remember how many of these same people said that the reason "Whitey" did not come with sedan chairs to carry them away to a Five Star Life of Ease was RACISM.
The dems have created, coddled and kept down an entire population for the past forty years. The "victims" have become the life blood of your party. The population of NO is a great example of what your party has done. There are people who literally can't do a darn thing for themselves. That's not being compassionate, that's being elitist and superior. Lastly, I find nothing progressive about your party. You have used the same ploys for decades, race baiting and class envy.
It is NOT katrina that wiped-out and ruined NO. It is a large segment of this citizenry that created the nightmare that is NO prior too, during and after. There is no amount of government money that will make these citizens change themselves or their behaviors.
Nagin's "Chocolate City" was a s*** hole before Katrina, and an even worse one now. I lost whatever sympathy I had for the NO "refugees" a few days after the storm, when so many of them wound up here in Houston, and prompty started scamming everyone in sight, from the Feds on down, for money. Never mind how much the crime rate here skyrocketed after they showed up, and even how the local school district was talking about setting up separate schools for the "refugee's" kids, since they could not seem to attend the regular schools without assaulting the locals right and left.
the theme of blacks on Welfare dominates because in New Orleans, blacks dominate. It is, as the Mayor said, a "chocolate city."
Did you forget to mention that blacks represent 13% of the population yet 47% of the welfare recipients are black? ...You're intellect is stellar. So.....what you meant is blacks are approx. 10 times more likely to be on welfare white people, nnless you "forget" to use poulation statistics.
There is a lot more there but it's too sickening to continue...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

The Difference Between Conservatives and Progressives

Progressives believe we are a community, all in it together, taking care of each other, helping each other. Conservatives believe we should each be on our own, and responsible only for ourselves ("personal responsibility").

There is a good articulation of conservative philosophy today at the conservative movement's Townhall.com: It's Time To Get Over Katrina Already. Some excerpts:

Two years after Katrina, everywhere you turn, there are people carping, whining, and kvetching. Just why hasn't the pity party for the citizens of New Orleans run out of booze and chips yet?

... we're all supposed to eternally sit around and weep tiny little tears of sadness for the people who really took it on the chin in a hurricane because they chose to live in a city shaped like a soup bowl on the coast. Let me tell all the citizens of New Orleans something that should have been told to them 18 months ago: it's time to stop playing the sympathy card and get over it.

Nobody is owed a living for the rest of his life because he had a bad break two years ago.... How sad and pathetic is it that these shiftless people are still leaching off their fellow citizens?

... Guess what, buddy? You're right; nobody does "give a s*** about New Orleans" any more other than a few saints and a lot of manipulative Democrats looking for a political issue they can exploit. That's the nature of life. [emphasis added]

This pretty clearly shows how conservatives think about the idea that people should take care of each other - no?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 27, 2007

Today's Republican Arrested For Sex Crime Post - Senator Craig of Idaho

ANOTHER Republican official arrested... BREAKING NEWS: Senator arrested in airport restroom

According to the police report obtained by Roll Call, Sgt. Dave Karsnia of the airport police was investigating a men's room where frequent arrests have been made for sexual activity. Soon after the plainclothes officer took a seat in a stall, he noticed "an older white male with gray hair standing outside my stall." He peered through a crack in the door for two minutes before entering the adjacent stall.

The officer reported that Craig tapped his right foot, "a common signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct." Craig allegedly moved his right foot so that it touched the officer's left foot. When the officer flashed his badge beneath the stall wall, Craig reportedly exclaimed, "No!" The officer informed him he was under arrest and took him for 45 minutes of interrogation and photographing.

and Sen. Craig arrested in airport men's room; admits to disorderly conduct - On Deadline,
Roll Call is reporting that Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, was arrested earlier this summer in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport by an undercover officer investigating complaints about sexual activity. The Capitol Hill newspaper says it obtained the arrest report.

So far, CNN and several blogs are reporting the news.

On Aug. 8 Craig pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. A 10-day sentence was stayed, but he received a year probation and paid more than $500 in fines and fees, Roll Call writes.

A spokesman for Craig described the June 11 incident as a “he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the senator's office would release a fuller statement later today.


How many is this now? Hookers, soliciting blow jobs in mens' rooms...

Update - To be clear, I don't care if someone wants to see a hooker or get a blowjob in a mens' room - that is their business. But the Republican Party stands for putting people in jail for things like this. They think it is their business to tell everyone else what to do and how to live their lives. And the fact is that most of them don't care either - they do it themselves. But they use that kind of stuff to trick good people into voting for them so they can then loot the treasury and launch wars. I am sick of it, and I hope a lot of other people are as well.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 24, 2007

While Progressives Talk To Each Other, Conservatives Talk To The Public

Progressive bloggers talk to each other. Conservatives talk to the public.

For example, Bush and the Republicans recently renewed their claim Iraq attacked us on 9/11 and that is why we invaded that country. Their politicians, pundits, talk-show hosts, bloggers, news anchors, op-ed writers, letter-to-the-editor writers and others all said it, using largely the same "tested" words and phrases, on the radio, in the newspapers, in their blogs and on their TV channels. Progressive bloggers responded with the truth, but who did they reach?

The right talks to the public, and it works. Support for Initial Invasion Has Risen, Poll Shows,

Americans’ support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall.

[. . .] However, the number of people who say the war is going “very badly” has fallen from 45 percent earlier in July to a current reading of 35 percent...

[. . .] The poll’s findings are in line with those of one conducted last week by The New York Times and CBS News.

And other lies continue as well. Just today, for example, from the right-wing Heritage Foundation, The War in Iraq: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,
While WMD were not found, some may have been moved to Syria in the convoys of hundreds of trucks that crossed the border just before the U.S.-led intervention and during the first few weeks of fighting.

[. . .] If the U.S. pulls out of Iraq before it has a stable government capable of defending itself, the likes of bin Laden will have a safe haven from which to attack the U.S. again.

[. . .] If we stand back and allow al-Qaeda's terrorists to succeed, they will turn Iraq into a base for attacking us, just as they turned Afghanistan into a base for attacking us. The Clinton Administration decided that the U.S. had no stake in the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Only after the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to operate from its territory did we discover—too late—that we did have a stake there.

Right, blame Clinton. But it was Clinton who did something about Iraq's WMD, and tried to do something about al Qaeda before 9/11, not Bush. Remember the "aspirin factory?"

Progressives need to start reaching the general public with the truth as well as each other. We need to start working together to fund and build the organizational infrastructure to develop and test messaging, then coordinate the use of messaging, train speakers, employ pundits, develop media channels, etc.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 9, 2007

DC Madam's Phone Reords Out - One Republican Senator Down Already

The phone records of the "DC Madam" were posted on the web a few hours ago. The first casualty is, of course, a Republican Senator from Louisiana.

U.S. Sen. apologizes after phone number appears on escort records,

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., apologized Monday night for "a very serious sin in my past" after his telephone number appeared among those associated with an escort service operated by the so-called "D.C. Madam.''
Etc. Etc.

Republicans...

OK, for fun, better go check it before they take it down:
Vitter Statement on Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage,

“This is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won’t do anything about it.

We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts’s values. I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage. I am the only candidate proposing changes to the senate rules to stop liberal obstructionists from preventing an up or down vote on issues like this, judges, energy, and on and on.” stated David Vitter.


More to come...


Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 6, 2007

Walking Trough Wingnuttia

Just for fun, a short walk into the wild world of wingnuttery. These people really are nuts.

Today at TownHall:

Hillary’s Ultra-Left Campaign Speak

Hillary Clinton denies that she’s a Marxist, but she sure talks like one.

Dems: Selective Outrage

..listening to the wailing and keening by Democrats and their donor-base - The National Press Corps - you would have thought President Bush had not just commuted Libby's sentence but had pardoned him and presented him with the Medal of Freedom.


The Democratic Party's Stealth War On Black Americans

If you look back through American history and find a black American being enslaved, lynched, railroaded, or persecuted, 99 times out of a hundred, you'll find a Democrat behind it. The hated and feared KKK? Throughout most of its history, it was little more than a hooded, thuggish arm of the Democratic Party.

... Democrats cooked up the great society, welfare, food stamps, and all other manner of government goodies because they said they wanted to "help" people. What was the result of that "help?" The Democrats did something that they hadn't managed to do when they enslaved black Americans, persecuted them with Jim Crow laws, or terrorized them with the Ku Klux Klan: they managed to nearly destroy the black family.

... part of the reason why Democrats are so rabidly pro-abortion is because they believe it helps lower the number of black Americans.

What's Fair About the Fairness Doctrine?

Lately, I’ve been hearing rumors that prominent liberal politicians, the very same people who are always proclaiming themselves passionate advocates for free speech, are looking into ways to muzzle conservative radio talk show hosts.
[. . .] While on the subject of fairness, I’d like to go on record as stating there’s nothing fair about American taxpayers being made to foot the bill for illegal aliens.

... What’s more, I think it’s high time we not only stopped funding the U.N., as corrupt an organization as exists anywhere in the world, but cut off foreign aid altogether.

Teaching Homosexuality to Kids

As many parents know, most sex-ed classes are already candid enough, thank you very much. The last thing we need is for anyone to spice them up or further complicate what should be a pretty simple subject. But that’s what schools in Montgomery County, Maryland plan to do by introducing lessons on homosexuality to 8th and 10th graders -- lessons that serve to further the radical homosexual activist agenda.

Finding the Good News from Iraq

Unfortunately there are far too many relying only on the mainstream media for news from Iraq who would be incredibly surprised to learn there is any news from there other than complete disaster and despair. Bad news captures most of the headlines. The public deserves the whole story from Iraq – including the good news.

At Human Events:

America Should be Proud to Expand Guantanamo

I am proud of Guantanamo, as every American should be.

[. . .] Closing Guantanamo buys President Bush nothing. American and global Leftists still will hate his guts, and enemy Islamofascists still will want him and his 300 million constituents dead. So, Bush might as well expand Guantanamo so he can padlock more Muslim fanatics -- even if liberals scream.

Edwards is So Pretty

FrontPageMag:

The "No Fairness Left" Doctrine

Why don't liberals just put on brown shirts and arm bands and march around bonfires, consigning radios to the flames, to the rousing strains of "Hillary Uber Alles"?

Since the Left can't compete in the marketplace of ideas, it wants to shut it down.

The aborted push to revive the misnamed Fairness Doctrine, and apply it to talk radio, is but the latest example of liberalism's drive to gag the opposition.

[. . .] With honorable exceptions, the Left controls all of society's idea transmission belts, except talk radio. But being the monopolists that they are, any competition terrifies them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 2, 2007

Libby - Reactions From The Authoritarian Right

The authoritarian right is starting to weigh in. (Note - Read the comments at these blogs at your own risk.)

The Strata-Sphere,

Libby was tried by an abusive prosecutor out for fame and name who knew Libby had nothing to do with the exposure of Valerie Plame’s identity to the media, but all the same caught Libby in misrecollections of events. [...] At least he did not do what Clinton did which was pardon drug dealers and tax evaders.

American Mind,

President Bush’s poll numbers can go any lower so he’s not hurt politically. The Bush bashers will pile on, but they’d do it no matter what. In fact, Bush ends up giving something to conservatives who feel the Plame investigation was a joke and Libby got a raw deal.

Don Surber,

...This was a witch trial. America should be ashamed that it allowed this “special” prosecutor to ignore his mission — finding out who blabbed to Bob Novak that Joe Wilson’s wife was CIA — and instead the prosecutor went after Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

Sister Toldjah,

The Nutroots who were out for Rovian blood in the pLamegate case (but settled for Libby’s instead after it was announced that Rove wouldn’t be indicted) won’t be too pleased to hear about this - nor, I’m sure, will Pat Fitzgerald and that liar Joe Wilson. Expect the usual foaming at the mouth and howls of outrage any second now.

Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller,

Sandy Pantsbergler couldn’t be reached for comment. Just shut up, upChuck, shut the fuck up and go suck on the tailpipe of a Chevy ‘57, will you? There is no possible way that you could serve your country any better than by doing that.

Oh, and Harry Screed was bloviating something about the Bush Administration “not facing justice for silencing critics.” Because heaven knows, once Dickhead Armitage had mentioned non-covert agent Valerie Plame’s name, we never heard a single word from her or her lying sack of shit husband ever again!

Flopping Aces,

This is just outstanding. Lets recap, a case about the outing of a CIA deskjockey who sent her husband off with the sole purpose of harming the President's policy became a perjury case against a Cheney aide. Perjury not even related to the outing mind you since everyone now knows who did in fact out her....cough Armitage cough....but no matter. Libby gets some dates wrong and BAM! Lets send him to prison for 3 years. This case was a political railroad job from the beginning so why shouldn't more politics be brought into it?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

No Choice But Impeachment

The Democrats in Congress have been trying to avoid having to face what we are dealing with in this country at this time.

We have a President asserting that he is above the law. He is backed by an authoritarian political movement that feels that laws should not apply to them, either. They have been and are working to destroy the agencies of government and fracture each and every one of the institutions of civil society. They have politicized the system of justice in the country to the point where we don't just wonder, we know that people are prosecuted or left alone based on their political affiliations.

They have launched aggressive war.

The pendulum is not swinging back. This is not a normal time. This is not business as usual. We can't think that impeachment will get in the way of "getting things done."

This is about principles and the Constitution. This is about Rule of Law and democracy. This can no longer be avoided.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 26, 2007

Employee Free Choice Fear and Smear

Bob Geiger has a post up: BobGeiger.com: GOP Gives Employee Free Choice Act Fear-And-Smear Treatment.

The Employee Free Choice Act helps restore some ability for employees to unionize. Under Reagan and then under Bush it has become nearly impossiblefor employees to form a union, and those trying to do so get fired. This is against the law, of course, but who enforces the law when it brushes up against what the big corporations want? And the big corporations do NOT want unions.

So the Republicans are out there with the fear and smear tactics. Read Bob's post for examples.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 12, 2007

Getting Rid Of Public Schools - They MEAN It

I've said before that when you try to tell people about the right's agenda, they think YOU are the crazy person.

I've said before that when I try to talk about the stuff that the Republicans are up to, to people who don't really follow the news, they think I'M the crazy person!
I remember a few years ago telling my liberal aunt that the right wants to get rid of public schools. She's STILL mad at me for saying such an extremist, ridiculous thing. I MUST be an exaggerator, making up these things I say about the conservatives...

Today, another example. In the LA Times: Do away with public schools talks about "government-lovers" and "political correctness" and "bureaucrats" and mocks public schools for teaching about the civil rights movement. And there it is in the LA Times.

The right uses a tactic called "The Overton Window". This is the Overton Window at work. In a talk to an education group recently I discussed how this works:

The Overton Window is a sophisticated tactic to help move the Right’s self-described “unthinkable” ideas all the way to becoming policy.

The strategy is to make radical ideas seem acceptable and comfortable.

They describe a “ladder” of steps – degrees of public acceptance. They say they work to walk the public up this ladder step by step.

According to the Overton Window concept, when the public FIRST hears ideas like getting rid of public schools, they consider them unthinkable, but with time and repetition, these ideas begin to be considered only radical, then with familiarity they become acceptable, and eventually sensible and worth putting into policy.

This is another example of the use of this tactic. It is intended to shock us. Then, we get used to it. Watch this video clip I used in my talk to introduce the topic. As I said in my talk,
Anything LESS extreme sounds almost moderate by comparison – in the window of “thinkable.” THIS is why they say those outrageous things. They’re walking people up the ladder. It’s part of the long-term strategy.
These people are serious.

A few years ago I worked on a report titled, Responding to the Attack on Public Education and Teacher Unions, describing the organized effort to attack public education, and making some suggestions for countering this effort. Countering this effort requires more than just informing some people about facts and issues. The effort to privatize schools is part of a larger, coordinated attack on community and government itself. They MEAN it. It is past time that we understand what we are up against here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 10, 2007

Do You Think The Right Is Down For The Count?

Many think the right has been knocked out, down for the count. Many think they won't be a problem in 2008, a Democratic victory is assured.

Take a look at what happened to the immigration bill last week. Did the concerns of labor or other progressive-aligned groups matter? Not a whit.

But the right's anti-immigrant, talk-radio-propelled machine cranked up and BOOM! Immigration bill gone.

And, to top it off, even though it was Republican votes that killed it, the "conventional wisdom" word went out that "both parties" killed it.

Don't think the right's communication and activation machine isn't waiting to be used again.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 28, 2007

Terrorism From The Right Escalating

Rick Perlstein notes the rise in Right-Wing Terrorism, and the major news media's failure to connect the dots.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 23, 2007

Gore on Fire

I saw Al Gore talk at a book signing for his book, The Assault On Reason, in Marin County (north of San Francisco) this evening. He was supposed to talk for a short time, take questions and sign books, but he just got going an gave one of the most inspired, intelligent and I think historically important articulations of the current threat to the American experiment and our democracy that I have heard. He was just on fire.

Gore says our country’s problems go beyond the manipulations and corruptions of Bush and Cheney. He talks about what has happened to this country that we could have ever allow a Bush and Cheney and their lies and evasions and incuriosity to take the reigns of our government – and allowed them to stay there after it became clear what they are about. And he has some very insightful things to say about the historical forces that brought us where we are, and how they might guide us through this.

At times he sounded like a guru, talking about “truthforce,” about how honesty enables us to see clearly without the distortions and distractions that come from constant TV exposure to trivia like gossip about Paris Hilton and Britney and work to push deadly situations like the Iraq war and global warming from our discourse. This is a man who has thought about what is happening to us, and who has the vision and experience to come up with some answers.

He asked how could not just the President, but the Congress, the media and the rest of our system of checks and balances and watchdogs have let Iraq – which he called the worst strategic blunder in our history – happen? How could he public have been fooled into thinking that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11? It’s not just Bush who did that – it’s all of us. Bush is just a symptom. We are ALL responsible for the decisions our country makes. So we all have to get involved and start fixing this broken system. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

I have only had time to read excerpts from Gore’s book, The Assault On Reason, but I predict that the conversation it fuels will be fundamentally and historically important. Buy this book! And listen for news of Gore coming to your area, or appearing on TV, to talk about this subject. The guy is just on fire and I think that fire could catch and spread and help bring about the changes we need.

It’s late or I would write more. I am inspired. (does it show?) I hope that a video of this evening’s talk surfaces soon. I'll post about it if I learn of one.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 3, 2007

Domestic Terrorism Ignored

The other day I wrote about two domestic terrorism incidents that ere ignored by the media. Orcinus: The other kind of terror has more. Go read.

But remember: The FBI has de-emphasized right-wing extremist crimes and displaced them with an emphasis on "eco terror" as far as its chief domestic-terror concern. This is in no small part because this administration is being run by people who don't consider bombings and arson against abortion clinics to be terrorism.

[. . .] Of course, acknowledging that this is the case would require a major readjustment of the media's constructed narrative about the "war on terror." So it continues to turn a blind eye, and in the process it profoundly misinforms the public.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 27, 2007

More Right-Wing Terrorism News

Earlier I wrote about a terrorist bomb discovered outside an Austin, Texas abortion clinic

Now this: Militia raid targets weapons,

Simultaneous raids carried out in four Alabama counties Thursday turned up truckloads of explosives and weapons, including 130 grenades, an improvised rocket launcher and 2,500 rounds of ammunition belonging to the small, but mightily armed, Alabama Free Militia.
Will we hear calls to "profile" Christians now? Will white males now be searched whenever they try to get on a airplane?

Will we hard anything about this on the news?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Terrorist Attack In Austin

And the news media won't report it. See if you can guess why not.

Feministe :: The terrorism that dare not speak its name

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 10, 2007

Fear

Instead of being afraid of what Republicans have traditionally told people to be afraid of, now most people are just afraid of Republicans.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 4, 2007

Pelosi Wears Scarf - Wingnuts In Full-On Frenzy

Sheesh. Speaker Pelosi wore a head covering whie visiting a mosque, and the right-wingers are in a frothing, seething, full-on anti-Muslim racist frenzy.

scarf1.jpg

Never mind that Laura Bush and Condoleeza Rice ALSO wore headcoverings when visiting mosques, as well as when visiting the Vatican.

22cnd-laura-bush.2.jpg condi.jpg

So here they go: Pelosi Allows Radical Muslim Propaganda Coup,

"The anti-American propaganda this woman has given the very people who want to totally destroy us is immense."
Here's a good one,
"Tired of being beheaded, hijacked, kidnapped and terrorized? Try Dhimmitude! It's 100% submissive and guaranteed to appease the enemies of freedom. Well, temporally anyway. Because that's all we have to do you know, is just be nice to them. [. . .] The left wants peace at any cost. Terrorism pays."
Another, with a dose of pure anti-Muslim racism:
"I guess the Muslims will give her props for the head scarf, after all she is playing the role of a good dhimmicrat. Then again, depending on how sensitive the Syrians are feeling, she may of sparked another international “Religion of Peace” murderous rage."
See also Has speaker Pelosi committed sedition by her visit to the mideast?

Go see the pics and read The Mahablog : Pelosi Wears Scarf; Righties Bark at Moon

And to really understand America's right, read the 800 comments here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 1, 2007

Drumming Up The Fear For Summer

Headlined at Drudge, this: IDF intelligence: Iran, Hizbullah preparing for possible US strike - Israel News, Ynetnews.

Sounds bad, no? Iran AND Hizbullah both getting ready to strike at the United Stastes this summer!

But if you do what most people do not do - click through to the story and read it - it does NOT say they are preparing to strike the U.S. It says they fear that the U.S. is going to attack them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 15, 2007

Republican Blogs Support For Death Plot Against Carter and Clinton

Do you remember the recent national media flap over supposed "liberal" commenters at Huffington Post supposedly being sorry that a suicide bomber missed Vice President Cheney during his visit to Afghanistan? Never mind that the Huffington Post immediately deleted the comments, and never mind that there were suspicions that the commenters were actually right-wingers setting the Huffington Post up for the story.

Well the very same blogs that drove that story into the national news are chock full of comments today praising al Qeuda terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for plotting to kill former Presidents Carter and Clinton. And those comments are not only not deleted, they come from regulars, and remain.

Will this also become a national media story? Of course not - IOKIYAR!

In the post Support for al-Qaida plots on large right-wing blog, Glenn Greenwald has the story.

But commenters at Little Green Footballs have not only expressed surprise, but outright support, for Mohammed's assassination plot against a former U.S. President. They are out in droves expressing sorrow that Al Qaeda did not have the opportunity to carry out its plot.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Right Wingnuts Back On Vince Foster, Clinton Murders

I'm not kidding, this US Attorneys scandal has them so desperate that they're back on that stuff.

4/93 - Waco
5/93 - Travel Gate
7/93 - Vince Foster shows up dead - shot in the head - in the park (much more here).

All of which were easy to sweep under the carpet as the DOJ had a completely freshman class of US Attorneys (especially in Arkansas).

Really, you have to go see it for yourself.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 9, 2007

Authoritarians

I've been thinking that the problem we are dealing with in this country is not an ideological left/right battle at all, but rather the rise of the authoritarian personality-type in our politics. Authoritarians have seized the label of "conservative" but this crowd is not at all conservative - not even anything like traditional Republicans. I have always had the sense that the current crop of "conservative movement" wingnuts would attach themselves to any ideology if it helped them achieve power.

Maybe what the country needs is a personality test before someone can run for office - sort of like the Strategic Air Command tests given to people before they're allowed to handle nuclear missile launch keys...

What do you think?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 7, 2007

Wingnuts on Ann Coulter

Over at Sadly, No! a look at how the wingnutosphere responded to Ann Coulter's latest. SWingNet Refuses To Exorcise The Coultergeist

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 24, 2007

What Exxon Money Buys

From a "senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute" we get this: Patrick J. Michaels on An Inconvenient Truth on National Review Online,

This Sunday, Al Gore will probably win an Academy Award for his global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, a riveting work of science fiction.

The main point of the movie is that, unless we do something very serious, very soon about carbon dioxide emissions, much of Greenland’s 630,000 cubic miles of ice is going to fall into the ocean, raising sea levels over twenty feet by the year 2100.

Where’s the scientific support for this claim? Certainly not in the recent Policymaker’s Summary from the United Nations’ much anticipated compendium on climate change. Under the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s medium-range emission scenario for greenhouse gases, a rise in sea level of between 8 and 17 inches is predicted by 2100. Gore’s film exaggerates the rise by about 2,000 percent.

Except that the UN report specifically said they were leaving out a prediction of how much sea levels would rise from melting polar ice because they could not be precise,
The panel said that because there is no scientific consensus about how fast ice in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting, its estimates of sea-level rise are based only on the fact that ocean water expands when it warms.
A follow-up UN report says there is a 50% chance that the melting ice will raise sea levels by 13-20 FEET.

I'm just a Fellow, not a Senior Fellow, and not even in "environmental studies," but I knew that. I wonder if this clown got a $10,000 check for writing this stuff.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Why Wingnuts Toe The Line

Why do wingnuts toe the line? It isn't JUST the money. It's also because it is very, very ckear what happens to them when they cross the line and displease the Right's leadership, even a little bit.

A very well-known and popular hunter who writes for outdoors magazines, gives talks across the country and stars on his own TV show wrote one time that he doesn't think people should hunt with military-style assault rifles.

Bang, career over. They are making an example of him.

'Terrorist' Remark Puts Outdoorsman's Career in Jeopardy,

Zumbo's fame, however, has turned to black-bordered infamy within America's gun culture -- and his multimedia success has come undone. It all happened in the past week, after he publicly criticized the use of military-style assault rifles by hunters, especially those gunning for prairie dogs.

... The reaction -- from tens of thousands of owners of assault rifles across the country, from media and manufacturers rooted in the gun business, and from the National Rifle Association -- has been swift, severe and unforgiving. Despite a profuse public apology and a vow to go hunting soon with an assault weapon, Zumbo's career appears to be over.

... The NRA on Thursday pointed to the collapse of Zumbo's career as an example of what can happen to anyone, including a "fellow gun owner," who challenges the right of Americans to own or hunt with assault-style firearms.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 31, 2007

On Bush's Use Of "Democrat Party"

In the State of the Union speech, President Bush again referred to the "Democrat Party." Media Matter discusses this insult, and looks at the term's history.

Matthew Yglesias writes about Bush and other Republicans repeatedly using the infantile, schoolyard taunt "Democrat Party" when talking about the Democratic Party.

To call someone by something other than the name he wishes to be called by is rude. To make a mistake is forgivable, but to persist -- deliberately -- in declining to use your adversary's proper name is rude and insulting. It's not a big deal unless you take standing up for yourself to be a big deal. When Democrats go on TV and let a conservative get away with the phrase "Democrat Party" it's signaling that Democrats are weak. They're too weak to stand up for themselves. They're too weak to have a sense of group solidarity or party loyalty. They're inclined to let things slide. They don't want to make a scene. They don't like to have a fight. They're weak. Is a political party that can't even protect its own name really going to keep America safe?

... But the fact that this would seem petty and bizarre is the point: "Democratic" is the correct word and this isn't an obscure point. That everyone lets conservatives say "Democrat" over and over again is part of establishing mainstream acceptance of the idea that the conservative media operates in an accuracy free zone. They're propagandists and that's okay by the MSM -- no need to get things right!

I hwrote about this when Rep. Boenher insulted Speaker Pelosi while handing her the gavel, when Bush did it the day after the election and a year before that, and in 2002 I wrote about the John Birch Society origins of the insult.

Update - Paperwight weighs in:

And it does matter, because it's just a punkass bully trick to show people who's the boss. I had a boss who did this to me once, and it was a deliberate attempt to belittle me. The difference between me and the Democrats is that while I chose not to engage in a career-limiting move by calling my boss a petty jackass, the Dems could actually enhance their position by calling the Republicans on this bullshit:
President Bush/Mitch McConnell/Newt Gingrich/John Gibson/Frank Luntz calling the Democratic Party the "Democrat" Party makes me wonder why any American would take this guy seriously. I mean, there are only two major political parties in the United States, and this guy apparently only knows the name of one. It makes you wonder if they can remember where their front door is, or if they have to ask their wife every morning.
Problem solved. You're not whining, you're not complaining, and your opponent is the dumbass who can't remember your name. And then if they say "oh, I know the name" then they can't ever get it wrong again. This game is not hard, people. Attack, always attack. Force your opponent to defend, request, explain.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 4, 2007

Breaking News About Exxon Funding Lies

Reuters - ExxonMobil cultivates global warming doubt -report

Energy giant ExxonMobil borrowed tactics from the tobacco industry to raise doubt about climate change, spending $16 million on groups that question global warming, a science watchdog group said on Wednesday.

"ExxonMobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile , Research) has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists said at a telephone news conference releasing the report.

An ExxonMobil spokesman did not respond immediately to calls for comment.

... U.S. tobacco companies used these tactics for decades to hide the hazards of smoking, and were found liable in federal court last year for violating racketeering laws. [emphasis added]

See also AP - Group: ExxonMobil paid to mislead public

ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in an effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted Wednesday.

The report by the advocacy group mirrors similar claims by Britain's leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change."

... ExxonMobil lists on its Web site nearly $133 million in 2005 contributions globally, including $6.8 million for "public information and policy research" distributed to more than 140 think tanks, universities, foundations, associations and other groups. Some of those have publicly disputed any link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' strategy and policy director, said in a teleconference that ExxonMobil based its tactics on those of tobacco companies, spreading uncertainty by misrepresenting peer-reviewed scientific studies or emphasizing only selected facts.

Dr. James McCarthy, a professor at Harvard University, said the company has sought to "create the illusion of a vigorous debate" about global warming.

Finally, see this from September, The Denial Industry,
For years, a network of fake citizens' groups and bogus scientific bodies has been claiming that science of global warming is inconclusive. They set back action on climate change by a decade. But who funded them? Exxon's involvement is well known, but not the strange role of Big Tobacco. In the first of three extracts from his new book, George Monbiot tells a bizarre and shocking new story.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 20, 2006

Expose Right-Wing Radicals

Kevin Drum said something smart:

Most people -- including a lot of rank-and file Republicans, I think -- simply don't realize just how radical the modern, Texified GOP is. But with majority control Democrats now have the institutional power to expose this at every turn, and Republicans have far less ability to hide it. If they're smart, Dems will use this newfound power at every opportunity.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

America's Two Party System: The Marketing Party and The Product Party

Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.

We do have a two-party system in America: The Product Party and The Marketing Party. We have one party that spends its energy and its resources creating a product that will improve the lives of its supporters, and then we have a second party, one that invests its energy and its resources managing perception.

One party offers substance but without the sizzle, and one is so incredibly adept at selling that it can charm you into supporting an agenda that helps only those who don't need it, and actually hurts you and your family.

By mastering the management of perception and with an utter disregard for facts and reality, the Marketing Party's agenda and vision gets implemented - despite its horrendous consequences for the country, and the world. It has never been worse than it is now. The chasm between their vision, its consequences and the lifestyle and security of the average American is mind-boggling.

Do not underestimate the power of marketing. With enough money, a good campaign and some time, you really can make people think and do almost anything. Exactly why do you think Coke and Pepsi outsell all the other brands - because their sugar water is vastly superior to others? Exactly why do you think one brand of shampoo is "premium" and another is $5 a gallon - is it because they have different ingredients? No, it is because marketing works, especially on a public increasingly trained to respond.

Marketing works so well that some businesses have grown so accustomed to looking for marketing solutions rather than product solutions that they have developed a mindset that it is cheaper to manage perceptions than to fix a product. If people think the product tastes bad - market it as the best-tasting product and make the rubes think THEY're the problem. The result is they can spend millions on the symptoms and nothing on the disease.

Our "CEO President" Bush appears to be cut from this mold. As it became clear that the Iraq occupation wasn't proceeding as intended, Bush didn't change the product - he changed the sell.

The administration spent $20,000,000 on hiring a PR firm to plant positive stories in the press - instead of spending $20 million on body armor to actually reduce the casualties that fostered the public relations disaster. It created "Vets For Freedom" and planted bloggers among the troops in Iraq to send back positive posts. President Bush made major speech after major speech. And top officials made surprise trip to Iraq after surprise trip to Iraq.

But now we are in a time with the marketing no longer is sufficient to solve the problems. Increasingly, the American people have stopped buying the sell. Just as the American automobile manufacturers are forced to increasing amounts of dollars selling a product that increasingly the public does not want to buy, so too did the Administration have to step up the marketing of a war that the public no longer is willing to support.

Sadly, the past two weeks have showcased the collision of perception and reality. Tragically, the administration continues to hold a cult-like belief in the power of perception management, regardless of circumstances and the politically acceptable options that it has provided itself.

The Iraq Study Group recently came forward with a lifeline for the administration, but their recommendations did not sync with the administration's vision for a moment of victory - again, cheaper to change the marketing. So instead of working with the ISG, Baker and other members were - characteristically - smeared in the right-wing's echo chamber to "soften up" public perceptions in advance of the coming Bush rejection of their advice.

Last week, James appeared as a guest on MSNBC's show THE MOST, and was asked how President Bush could improve the "public's impression" of the war. He said,

"The president doesn't have a problem with the perception of the war, the President has a problem with the facts. ... Eventually the product has to speak for itself, and I think the American People are rapidly coming to the conclusion that we have an Edsel on our hands here. They want a solution, they don't need a new slogan."

Between us, we have more than forty years experience in marketing and advertising, and we both know, all too well, that it is exceedingly common for companies to approach product failures as marketing and advertising failures - it allows them to continue to live in denial about the weakness of their product.

With today's Republicans the first instinct is always about the marketing, and not about the country. According to Bob Woodward, Karen Hughes reportedly said, when she first saw the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center, that it was "the perfect backdrop" for a photo opportunity. Even in tragedy, the instinct is toward the marketing instead of the managing.

In the current tragedy the Bush image makers continue to search for the photo-op moment in Iraq. They are looking for the right image - the kiss in Times Square from World War II or the Japanese Admirals on the deck of the aircraft carrier, signing a treaty.

The fact that no such moment exists or ever will exist only increases their desire for it.

Why is their first instinct to market rather than to manage? And how exactly have they gotten away with this total management of perception? How have they been able to sell the American people over the past five years?

The answer may lie in the study of how the "conservative movement" took control of the Republican Party. As Dave wrote last week in Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE!,

There are literally hundreds of conservative organizations that primarily exist to persuade the public to support conservative ideas (and, therefore, conservative candidates.) The people you see on TV or hear on the radio or who write op-eds in newspapers are paid by, or at the very least draw upon resources provided by, these organizations.

You might or might not have heard of the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or Americans for Tax Reform or the This Institute or the That Foundation or the Government-and-Taxes-Are-Bad Association - but there really is a machine or network of well-funded conservative organizations marketing the conservatives-are-good-and-liberals-and-government-are-bad propaganda every hour of every day and they have been doing so for decades.

Yes, marketing. They have been doing this solidly for over three decades and they've been doing it well, and with an incredible amount of money, resources and talent behind it.

The people in power in the Republican Party got there by marketing and perception management, and using a $ell and $mear strategy to demolish and humiliate their opponents, and that is what they know. They come from a culture of saying anything as long as it keeps the rubes buying. Why would a company spend all that money to clean up the product when you can instead spend less and sell the idea that Toxic Sludge is Good For You.

The conservative movement understands this. They understand if they are going to cut student loans, hand over the management of Social Security, arguably the most successful government assistance program in our history, to the private sector, give away valuable public resources and then, on top of everything else, wage a war without reason or basis, the spend must be astronomical.

The American people are a living focus group to the success of their plan. The past thirty years has seen a slow and steady decline in the public's understanding and acceptance of progressive values - like equal rights for all our citizens or the acceptance of all religions.

It's important to point out another old expression: great products sell themselves. And while in practice, it holds that to reach great heights, great marketing combined with great products is actually the key - think Apple and the iPod - the better the product, the less marketing dollars need to be applied to drive sales. YouTube, Facebook, MySpace... If you're selling the best made car in America, the press reviews, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing greatly enhances your paid advertising. If you're selling a lemon, you better have tens of millions to spend.

This brings us to the other party in our two-party system - the well-meaning Product Party that doesn't understand marketing. The Product Party stands in bewilderment as time and time again, The Marketing Party works its perception management magic to win elections, control the debate and lead the media and public to diss its leaders and policies. As Dave wrote last week,

We can see the results of the conservative marketing campaign all around us: War. Debt. Crumbling infrastructure. Falling wages. Loss of pensions. Loss of health insurance. Declining union membership. Massive trade deficits. Distrust of government, courts, schools and other institutions of community. The list just goes on and on.

But really, after decades of conservatives pounding out their message and progressives keeping their message to themselves, what should we expect?

And to make this problem worse, the Marketing Party is very good at shifting the blame for their bad product. For example: take a moment and look at the reality of the financial mess that is being handed to the new Congress - it is stunning. And yet, if the Democrats don't explain this clearly and succinctly to the American people, the result will be that the mess will land - squarely - in the wrong party's lap.

The Product Party's product is responsible and involved government: a government that can fix the schools and patch up the potholes. A government that would actually practice hurricane rescue not just preach it.

The Katrina debacle laid bare the failure of the right wing's anti-government agenda. The reason they didn't do anything for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is they don't really care. Government - or product - is just not what they do - marketing is.

However, they cared deeply when they began to lose the public relations battle - like 9/11 and Iraq, the reality is inconsequential - managing the perception of the reality is paramount.

The Product Party is known for fiscal management and international diplomacy and building mass transit and roads and bridges and schools. This is the party that brought us the middle class and the weekend and Social Security and inspections for e-coli.

But the Product Party is a political party full of boring policy "wonks" holding community meetings where hours are spent arguing the best and most democratic ways to provide services and, well, fix those potholes and even working on the finer points of health care finance administration management policies subsection 3, paragraph... ... and who wants to hear about THAT?

So where the people in the Marketing Party got there using marketing pizzaz, the people in the Product Party got there by plugging away and delivering a product. They're not the most adept at marketing. Whereas the people from the Marketing Party don't understand - or care - about the actual product, apparently the people in the Product Party don't understand - or care - about marketing - reaching and persuading the public. Democrats have long had the product but are woefully unskilled in the marketing and the willingness to spend and support the marketing. There is something to the idea of marketing and selling people on something that goes against the nature of the wonky democracy idealists of the Product Party.

Which leads to their problem. Don't people realize that almost all the veteran leaders in America are Democrats? They ask this - thinking of Max Cleland, Wes Clark, John Kerry, Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, Tim Walz, Jim Webb and more. Don't people understand the Democrats want to raise the minimum wage, improve health care, make global warming a priority, enact the recommendations of the 9/11 commission and more? Don't the understand how much better the Democratic product is for their families and the future?

No, the people don't.

Because you can't just be the party that does the boring work of cleaning up the toxic waste left behind by that wrecking crew - the people known for marketing, selling and heading for the county line. If you want the public to understand what you are about you have to be the party that does the work, and communicates the fact in clear simple English to voters who have better things to do with their lives than listen to the nuances of toxic waste policy.

In fact, The Product Party is not only running against the sell and smear tactics of the right, they're running against a coordinated program that says "government itself is bad." The Republicans have spent 40 years running down government. Ronald Reagan famously said that "government is the problem" and then left for the county line leaving us with 4 trillion of debt. George W. Bush, the "CEO President" emulated Enron, and implemented "no-bid" contracts while the Republican Congress got rid of the system of oversight.

So what can be done? The Democrats have to understand that people respond to marketing, and that building a better product doesn't always mean that the people will flock to you if they don't find out about it. They must remain the party of the Product, but they also need to be the party of the Marketing. Only we can be both, the Republicans can not.

Why? Because the last six years has not only demonstrated the Republican mastery of their marketing but it has shown the misery of the product. From not implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission to the absolute abandonment of our fellow Americans in the aftermath of Katrina, and the outrageous lies regarding the solvency of Social Security, the product that we are being sold is dangerous and destructive. "You can't fool all the people all the time." And on November 7, 2006, the marketing plan fell apart.

So now the Product Party has the ball and there is no question that the Democrats will deliver the goods. However, the danger lies not in the performance but in the perception of the performance and especially in how we clearly communicate the mess we inherited.

If Democratic leaders believe that all we have to do do is do a better job, and surely the American voters will reward us with the White House in 2008 and continued control of Congress, watch out.

Our moment in the sun, and moment in power, will be very short-lived indeed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 15, 2006

Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE!

Every time you turn on the radio or a cable news show you hear one form or another of the same old message, “conservatives and their ideas are good and liberals and their ideas are bad.” Think about how often you hear one or another variation of that theme.

But how often do you hear that liberals and progressives are good? How often do you hear that liberal/progressive ideas are better for people than a conservative approach? And if you are reading this you're looking for progressive ideas. So how often do you think the general public is hearing that progressives and their values and ideas are good?

The public does not hear our side of the story very often – if ever.

Why is that? Maybe it’s because we aren’t telling people our side of the story!

There are literally hundreds of conservative organizations that primarily exist to persuade the public to support conservative ideas (and, therefore, conservative candidates.) The people you see on TV or hear on the radio or who write op-eds in newspapers are paid by, or at the very least draw upon resources provided by these organizations. You might or might not have heard of the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or Americans for Tax Reform or the This Institute or the That Foundation or the Government-and-Taxes-Are-Bad Association – but there really is a network of well-funded conservative organizations marketing the conservatives-are-good-and-liberals-and-government-and-democracy-are-bad propaganda every hour of every day and they have been doing so for decades.

Click this link to visit a collection of links to articles, studies, reports and other resources for learning about the right-wing movement, its history, how it is funded and how it operates.

Now, can you think of any organizations that exist to tell the public that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good? Do you know about any organized effort to persuade people to support progressive values and ideas?

People respond to marketing, and conservatives have been marketing their cause while progressives have not. This has been going on for decades, and as a result of this the public’s understanding and acceptance of progressive values - like democracy and community - has eroded. We can see the results of the conservative marketing campaign all around us: War. Debt. Crumbling infrastructure. Falling wages. Loss of pensions. Loss of health insurance. Declining union membership. Massive trade deficits. Distrust of government, courts, schools and other institutions of community. The list just goes on and on.

But really, after decades of conservatives pounding out their message and progressives keeping their message to themselves, what should we expect?

So it is time to change the game. It is time to start funding organizations that talk to the public about the benefits that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates bring to them. $1000 given today toward building public appreciation of progressive values could have greater impact than $100,000 spent in support of a candidate in the days before an election.

Helping the public understand and accept progressive values will help the efforts of "issue organizations" like environmental groups, pro-choice groups, and others. As the public comes to understand and accept the underlying progressive values they will naturally support organizations that promote particular issues that are based on those values. And as the public begins to demand progressive solutions to problems the candidates they support will also naturally support the efforts of these organizations.

Marketing creates demand. Let’s create a demand for progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates.

The Commonweal Institute wants to tell people that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good for them. (Commonweal means "the public good" or "the common good.")

As I wrote the other day, I am an unpaid Commonweal Institute Fellow. Let's change that. Click here to help.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 12, 2006

War On Darkies

Townhall.com::It's not just about the Koran or the Bible...::. Apparently it's also about darkies reading the Koran:

It’s about all the books and documents that follow—like the Constitution. It’s about being on the same page, for the one who takes office with his hand on the Koran, as Congressman-elect Keith Ellison proposes to do, makes a profound statement. By rejecting the Bible, he rejects its and our country’s principles of reason and free will. ... Keith Ellison wants to govern in a country whose values he rejects. Keith Ellison rejected American values quite deliberately and not insignificantly as a college student at Wayne State University in the early 1980s. He made that choice in the tradition of the 1960s radicals who turned to other religions in their wholesale rejection of Western values--with white radicals turning to Eastern and pagan religions repackaged as New Age “spirituality,” and black radicals turning to the putative religion of their African forebears: Islam. This is about someone who followed the lead of a black separatist, Malcolm X … [emphasis added]

… Most recently, he rushed to the defense of the six imams kicked off a U.S. Airways flight for suspicious behavior. Consider his ties to these imams through their mutual terrorist-linked organizations, CAIR and NAIF, at whose conferences he gave speeches just days before the removal of the six imams.

Consider the fact that he has a long association with black supremacist Louis Farrakhan and publicly echoed his anti-Semitism under pseudonyms, such as Keith Ellison-Muhammad. Consider the fact that this has been well-documented, but that he was elected anyway. DiscovertheNetworks.org

Consider the fact that he has downplayed this association for the benefit of the useful idiots, the left who celebrate his election as an example of “diversity” and “inclusiveness.”

… In spite of decades of civil rights legislation, affirmative action, and special funding for minorities, professors are still repeating the same lectures about the terrible Western hegemony.

… The multiculturalists presented reason and truth as notions of a Western imperialistic culture; as a result, now reigning in our educational institutions is the unquestioned dogma of multiculturalism that dismisses debate about the dangers of Keith Ellison as merely “intolerance.”

Yikes! Muticulturalists!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 4, 2006

Letter From Senators To Exxon Mobil: Stop Supporting The Deniers

Senators Rockefeller and Snowe have written a remarkable letter to the Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, (and cc'd the Board of Directors), asking Exxon to stop funding the global warming "denial industry."

From the letter, "It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the "deniers."

Here is the text of the letter:

Mr. Rex W. Tillerson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
ExxonMobil Corporation
5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving, TX 75039

Dear Mr. Tillerson:

Allow us to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your first year as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the ExxonMobil Corporation. You will become the public face of an undisputed leader in the world energy industry, and a company that plays a vital role in our national economy. As that public face, you will have the ability and responsibility to lead ExxonMobil toward its rightful place as a good corporate and global citizen.

We are writing to appeal to your sense of stewardship of that corporate citizenship as U.S. Senators concerned about the credibility of the United States in the international community, and as Americans concerned that one of our most prestigious corporations has done much in the past to adversely affect that credibility. We are convinced that ExxonMobil's longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.

Obviously, other factors complicate our foreign policy. However, we are persuaded that the climate change denial strategy carried out by and for ExxonMobil has helped foster the perception that the United States is insensitive to a matter of great urgency for all of mankind, and has thus damaged the stature of our nation internationally. It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the "deniers." Likewise, we look to you to guide ExxonMobil to capitalize on its significant resources and prominent industry position to assist this country in taking its appropriate leadership role in promoting the technological innovation necessary to address climate change and in fashioning a truly global solution to what is undeniably a global problem.

While ExxonMobil's activity in this area is well-documented, we are somewhat encouraged by developments that have come to light during your brief tenure. We fervently hope that reports that ExxonMobil intends to end its funding of the climate change denial campaign of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) are true. Similarly, we have seen press reports that your British subsidiary has told the Royal Society, Great Britain's foremost scientific academy, that ExxonMobil will stop funding other organizations with similar purposes. However, a casual review of available literature, as performed by personnel for the Royal Society reveals that ExxonMobil is or has been the primary funding source for the "skepticism" of not only CEI, but for dozens of other overlapping and interlocking front groups sharing the same obfuscation agenda. For this reason, we share the goal of the Royal Society that ExxonMobil "come clean" about its past denial activities, and that the corporation take positive steps by a date certain toward a new and more responsible corporate citizenship.

ExxonMobil is not alone in jeopardizing the credibility and stature of the United States. Large corporations in related industries have joined ExxonMobil to provide significant and consistent financial support of this pseudo-scientific, non-peer reviewed echo chamber. The goal has not been to prevail in the scientific debate, but to obscure it. This climate change denial confederacy has exerted an influence out of all proportion to its size or relative scientific credibility. Through relentless pressure on the media to present the issue "objectively," and by challenging the consensus on climate change science by misstating both the nature of what "consensus" means and what this particular consensus is, ExxonMobil and its allies have confused the public and given cover to a few senior elected and appointed government officials whose positions and opinions enable them to damage U.S. credibility abroad.

Climate change denial has been so effective because the "denial community" has mischaracterized the necessarily guarded language of serious scientific dialogue as vagueness and uncertainty. Mainstream media outlets, attacked for being biased, help lend credence to skeptics' views, regardless of their scientific integrity, by giving them relatively equal standing with legitimate scientists. ExxonMobil is responsible for much of this bogus scientific "debate" and the demand for what the deniers cynically refer to as "sound science."

A study to be released in November by an American scientific group will expose ExxonMobil as the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate change denial front groups in 2004 alone. Besides a shared goal, these groups often featured common staffs and board members. The study will estimate that ExxonMobil has spent more than $19 million since the late 1990s on a strategy of "information laundering," or enabling a small number of professional skeptics working through scientific-sounding organizations to funnel their viewpoints through non-peer-reviewed websites such as Tech Central Station. The Internet has provided ExxonMobil the means to wreak its havoc on U.S. credibility, while avoiding the rigors of refereed journals. While deniers can easily post something calling into question the scientific consensus on climate change, not a single refereed article in more than a decade has sought to refute it.

Indeed, while the group of outliers funded by ExxonMobil has had some success in the court of public opinion, it has failed miserably in confusing, much less convincing, the legitimate scientific community. Rather, what has emerged and continues to withstand the carefully crafted denial strategy is an insurmountable scientific consensus on both the problem and causation of climate change. Instead of the narrow and inward-looking universe of the deniers, the legitimate scientific community has developed its views on climate change through rigorous peer-reviewed research and writing across all climate-related disciplines and in virtually every country on the globe.

Where most scientists dispassionate review of the facts has moved past acknowledgement to mitigation strategies, ExxonMobil's contribution the overall politicization of science has merely bolstered the views of U.S. government officials satisfied to do nothing. Rather than investing in the development of technologies that might see us through this crisis--and which may rival the computer as a wellspring of near-term economic growth around the world--ExxonMobil and its partners in denial have manufactured controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too reminiscent of those used by the tobacco industry for so many years. The net result of this unfortunate campaign has been a diminution of this nation's ability to act internationally, and not only in environmental matters.

In light of the adverse impacts still resulting from your corporations activities, we must request that ExxonMobil end any further financial assistance or other support to groups or individuals whose public advocacy has contributed to the small, but unfortunately effective, climate change denial myth. Further, we believe ExxonMobil should take additional steps to improve the public debate, and consequently the reputation of the United States. We would recommend that ExxonMobil publicly acknowledge both the reality of climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it. Second, ExxonMobil should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history. Finally, we believe that there would be a benefit to the United States if one of the world's largest carbon emitters headquartered here devoted at least some of the money it has invested in climate change denial pseudo-science to global remediation efforts. We believe this would be especially important in the developing world, where the disastrous effects of global climate change are likely to have their most immediate and calamitous impacts.

Each of us is committed to seeing the United States officially reengage and demonstrate leadership on the issue of global climate change. We are ready to work with you and any other past corporate sponsor of the denial campaign on proactive strategies to promote energy efficiency, to expand the use of clean, alternative, and renewable fuels, to accelerate innovation to responsibly extend the useful life of our fossil fuel reserves, and to foster greater understanding of the necessity of action on a truly global scale before it is too late.

Sincerely,

John D. Rockefeller IV
Olympia Snowe

Cc:
J. Stephen Simon
Walter V. Shipley
Samuel J. Palmisano
Marilyn Carlson Nelson
Henry A. McKinnell, Jr.
Philip E. Lippincott
Reatha Clark King
William R. Howell
James R. Houghton
William W. George
Michael J. Boskin

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 29, 2006

Responsibility? None

A right-wing radio host calls for assassinating members of Congress and overthrowing the government. A right-wing "news" site reprints his instructions for how to accomplish it - claiming to disapprove. Right-wing Drudge Report sends its readers to the website.

See WorldNetDaily: Assassinate half of Congress, urges Web-radio hatemonger

How about NOT helping him spread the word?

Note - I don't consider the readers of Seeing the Forest as possible candidates for recriotent into this. But maybe I'm also not being responsible by repeating this here. What do you think?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Their Own Medicine

How do Republicans handle a dose of their own medicine? Here's what far-right blogger Instapundit.com - today:

REPUBLICANS DON'T LOVE THE LORD? If a Republican said something like that about Democrats, it would be a national scandal. We're seeing a lot of unforced errors from Harold Ford all of a sudden. I think he and his campaign could use a good night's sleep.
IFa Republican said something like that about Democrats? IF? Like that is NOT what the Republicans have been saying about Democrats every minute of every hour of every day for year after year? And is it a "national scandal?"

What a clown. What clowns.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 16, 2006

Election Prediction / Voting Machines Post

Prediction: If Republicans lose the House, they are going to accuse Democrats of hacking the voting machines.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 1, 2006

RW Blogger Wants Republican Congressional Leadership to Resign - Others Defend

Update note - Follow the updates I'm posting, and watch how the right turns this into a full-fledged "October Surprise" plot, entirely the Democrats' fault.

This RW blogger wants the Republican Congressional leadership to resign from their leadership positions. But... but... all they did was cover up for a pedophile! Hastert Knew While Foley Flew,

I cannot tell CQ readers how disgusted I am with Speaker Hastert.

... Hastert should have been a man from the beginning and admit that he knew about Foley. Now he has destroyed any credibility left in his Speakership, and he has only compounded the embarrassment for the GOP caucus. Foley's actions reflect on Foley alone, but thanks to Hastert and perhaps Boehner, the aftermath will reflect on all Republicans in the House.

Republicans have to act swiftly to remove the stench of Foleygate from the party. They need to demand the resignation of Hastert as Speaker, as well as Boehner as Majority Leader if he lied to protect Hastert. Allowing Foley off the hook was a mistake in judgment, but this is a betrayal of those who trusted Hastert to lead the House with dignity, honesty, and integrity.

And another joins him. It’s time for Speaker Hastert to step down,

Denny Hastert, despite being tainted by the stink of scandal, has been a faithful servant of his constituents and his nation since he was first elected to the House in 1986. But lying to the American people, even indirectly through a statement issued by a press office, is beyond the pale. It’s time for the Speaker to step down.
And another, Cold Fury, Foley the Leader,
Keep telling me about how we have to keep voting for these friggin’ child molester protectors just because they aren’t as bad as the Dems.

That’s not some podunk member sticking up for a buddy. That’s your House frickin’ leadership sheltering the boy-loving SOB. He should have been gone within an hour of Boehner and Hastert finding out. Were I in Hastert’s shoes,I’d have been screaming and throwing stuff off Foley’s desk at him. Were I sitting there, they’d have had to call security on me, had Foley not offered his retirement on the spot. Instead, Hastert can’t remember discussing it. Can’t remember discussing the possible child molesting habits, of the Congressman who is vice chair of the task force to fight child molestation and child pr*n? WTF?!?!

If they can’t fire a guy who looks like he’s probably a child molester, what makes you think they’ll be able to take a stand on tough issues on our behalf? They can’t ditch a guy who will jeopardize their election chances six months out, they wait until 30 days before the election? What the hell is wrong with these people. If they can’t even protect their own interests, how do you think they are doing with ours?

No, we don’t need to put the Democrats in office. What we need, is some new Republicans.

Congrats to them.

An update on the shame on them side: Anti-Idiotarian RottweilerFoley’s Follies (UPDATED AGAIN)

“Call me “Independent” from now on.”


But Right Wing Nuthouse calls it a "smear campaign.",

But why let common sense or common decency for that matter spoil a good smear campaign? The muddy hoofprints left by Democrats over the last few years as they have dirtied the reputations of several Republicans who have later turned out to be innocent (Karl Rove in Plamegate for one) reveals a party so totally bereft of ideas that their only hope to take advantage of the monumentally stupid and disastrous Republican leadership is to pray for more Americans to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, hope that gas prices go higher, and wish for an economic downturn.
Macsmind agrees in Foley setup?,
Although not confirmed, it’s being thrown around that ABC’s primary source for the computer chats and emails is the liberal watch dog group CREW.
Significant, because while there is a story about how the GOP leadership knew of Foley’s actions for at least a year, after which he was ordered to stop contact with the teen, there reports that CREW also knew of the allegations months ago. In fact according to reports, CREW had contacted the FBI, and were waiting to go public when ABC posted the story. So the obvious question is “Why wait”? I think it’s obvious they were waiting to have the greatest effect.
It is interesting that CREW now is calling for an independent counsel to look into - not Foley - but the GOP leadership. This less than fourty-eight hours after his resignation. Pretty darn quick I would say, since the facts are still coming out. It’s almost like they had it all ….like, planned.
Say Anything says it’s hysterical: Should Republican Leadership Be Fired Over Foley Mess?,
I think that’s a bit of an overreaction. In fact, I think it’s somewhat hysterical.
However distasteful Foley’s actions are (and this observer finds them unequivocally repugnant) there are some important facts to keep in mind before we throw anyone under the bus.
First, given information available now, it doesn’t appear as though Foley has broken any laws.
Zimbio says Democrats should resign first, in a long post about Studds, Frank, Clinton, etc. Foley, Republican House Cleaning & Democrat Accepting,
But what about the Democrat's history? It doesn't take much to find the history of perverts and criminals in the Democrat party, but what is interesting is what happens to these pervs and criminals when exposed?
Flopping Aces, The Latest Democratic Hitjob,
Was Foley a perv? Most definately so. But the speed with which the Democrats came out swinging at the Republican leadership, accusing them of knowing about the sexually explicit emails long ago, gave me pause. Not because I believed them, but because this has been their modus operendi for every “scandal” for the past 6 years. Every single Democratic hitjob has begun like this and almost every single “scandal” has been proven to be nothing more then netroots stomping their feet shrilling crying “but those big bad evil Republicans just have to be wrong!”
Amy Proctor,Republican Congressman Resigns,
However, there’ll be no listening to lectures on morality by the likes of Nancy Pelosi or any other Democrat on this blog until Democrats condemn…
Justbarkingmad, What did CREW know and when did they know it?
CREW stands for Citzens for Resposibility and Ethics in Washington. As we’ll see they are neither responsible nor ethical. There is something even sicker than Mark Foley’s online sexual advances against a minor. It is CREW’S decision to make the knowledge of this an October Surprise. Which Rick Moran hints at in his Update II.
The truly depraved in this disgusting affair are not Foley, or the local papers; it is CREW which withheld information that Foley had gone beyond relatively innocuous emails into full fledged sexual stalking mode.
… It is mind boggling to know that some people will put their desire to see “their side” win over the safety of children.
Alabama Liberation Front: Foley: It gets worse
Down a ways in the post: “Is this some kind of Democratic "October surprise"? If Foley was hitting on 16-year-old boys a year ago, why didn't we find out about it until five weeks before Election Day?”
OK, a new theme is REALLY taking of - this is ALL a Democrat plot: Right Wing Nuthouse: THE WEBSITE THAT STARTED IT ALL - STRANGE BUT TRUE,
CREW is a liberal public interest group funded by George Soros and seems to have its fingerprints all over this scandal.
Blue Crab Boulevard, A Question Of Timing, Dems are, if anything, "even more guilty":
If the finger is being pointed at the House leadership for doing nothing, then anyone who sat on much more damning information until just before an election for political purposes is, if anything, even more guilty.
Don Surber, Lefty glee over Foley is hypocritical,
But before lefties get too high and mighty, let me remind them of that little double standard going on here. McGreevey is getting away with sexual harrassment. He got to go on “Oprah” and pretend he was the victim.

Not saying two wrongs make a right.

I am saying if lefties want a good look at a hypocrite, they might try looking in the mirror.

Ace of Spades HQ: Republican Leadership Knew Something About Foley Scandal Months Ago,
Questioning the Timing: Of course this disclosure is perfectly timed to impact the upcoming elections.
The left, though, won't note this true question-the-timing situation. Not many on the right are even bothering to note it.
Which makes sense. The Democrats hardly had any obligation to time the disclosure in order to help the GOP, now did they?
Questioning The Timing II: ... If we're talking cover-up-- what precisely did the Democrats know, and when did they know it? I wrote above they had no obligation to time the revelation of this to do anything except damage the Republicans -- at least in political terms.

But what about in law-enforcement/protect the children terms?

If Democratic operatives, and therefore, presumably, the DNC itself, had the full details of this months or even a year ago, did they allow a pederast to roam free for a year purely for partisan advantage?

Did the Democrats know more than the GOP did, and if so, didn't they have an obligation to share this evidence with the police, a year ago, and not just ABCNews a month out from an election?

The American Thinker: Foley and the Blame Game,
What we do know is that reputable media and the Republican leadership acted appropriately on the initial innocuous correspondence and could not proceed further in view of the parents’ demand that their son’s privacy be respected only to find months later just before the election that same correpondence showing up on an unlikely blog site and then almost simultaneously on ABC and on C.R.E.W.’s site. As for the demand that a special prosecutor be appointed, maybe Patrick Fitzgerald can be appointed. Then he can fail to ask ABC or C.R.E.W. how they got the correspondence, ignore their political motivations, conflate their partisanship with “whistleblowing”, not look for the sources of the later sexually explicit emails, and nab Hastert for forgetting when he went to the bathroom on the day he heard about the emails.
HotAir: Did Hastert know last year that Foley was a pervert? Update: Pelosi wants GOP questioned under oath (Bumped),
I hate having to defend Hastert, partly because he’s a jackass and partly because it’s bad form to defend anyone in any way associated with a child molestation scandal, no matter how much the facts are in their favor. But I think he’s getting a raw deal here, at least based on what we know thus far.
[. . .] Now that we’ve dispensed with that, go read this post at Moran’s and pay special attention to Update II. Who was ABC’s source for those e-mails? And for how long, exactly, was that source sitting on them while filthy Mark Foley was busy ogling the pages?
[. . .] Update: Maguire notes that dKos was awfully far ahead of the curve in picking this story up and says he smells a rat. Meanwhile, according to Fox, Nancy Pelosi has issued a statement calling on the GOP House leadership to be questioned about what they knew and when they knew it — under oath.
Late Afternoon Update -- Wingnuts entirely migrate to habitual victimhood: GOP Bloggers: What Did The Media Know About Foley And How Long Did They Know It?,
Well, perhaps it's time to ask the media "what did you know, and when did you know it?"
And Flopping Aces descends into full-scale wingnuttery in Foleygate Has Begun
,
I hearby declare shananigans…..get your broomsticks fellas.
That’s not all of it, apparently some commentors to JustOneMinute believe they know who the owner of the blog is, one Jason Leopold
… Where in the world are the Democrats going to end up on this?


MORE COMING

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 29, 2006

Front Group Report: Black Republican Freedom Fund

This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project

A new, factory-produced front group named the Black Republican Freedom Fund is running ads saying - sit down for this, and do NOT have a cup of coffee anywhere near your face - "Martin Luther King, Jr. Was a Republican."

Last week in Patriot Project's report, Front-Group Economic Freedom Fund and Meridian Pacific, the question was asked,

"How is it that so many front groups are able to appear just in time to spread their lies and poison into campaign seasons? It is almost as if there is a template that is used, with a factory that cranks them out, all the parts assembled, needing only a misleading name -- and a target."
That story discussed how one person is able to fund a front group that is now conducting nasty (and in one case likely illegal) "push polls" and running ads against Democrats in Congressional districts around the country.

That Patriot Project story concluded,

"These connections show more than the fact that there is very little beyond obscure legal wording that separates these front groups from the core Republican Party. They show that there is a far-reaching, "in-place" infrastructure ready to be called on at a moment's notice to secure the objectives of the party and its funders. Organizations like the Economic Freedom Fund can be set up according to a template. Just put money in this end and smears and lies are sprayed out of the other. Inside, operating the machinery are people who move freely between these front-group firms, campaigns, corporate lobbying organizations and the Party. Front groups are set up to obtain signatures for a ballot initiative, saturate the airwaves with ads in favor of or against any candidate or issue - or smear someone like John Kerry or John Murtha. Just write the check, and there you go."
Today Patriot Project further explores this front-group phenomenon, looking at the arrival of yet another factory-produced, turnkey operation: the Black Republican Freedom Fund (BRFF). BRFF is funded, according to their June 30, 2006 report, by over $129,000 in "unitemized contributions" plus a number of other, smaller contributions, all but one under $1,000.

BRFF is running a "Martin Luther King, Jr. Was a Republican" campaign attempting to convince African-Americans that the largely-white Republican Party is their true home. But in this election the Republicans seem to be having a bit of a race problem. For example one Republican, Senator George Allen, has been in the news for calling a non-white person "Macaca" and telling him "Welcome to America." More recently there have been revelations that he has a history of using the "n-word" and even may have placed a severed deer head in the mailbox of the "nearest black person." So yes, the Republican Party does appear to have a slight bit of a race problem on its hands. So the answer? Why, accuse the Democrats of having a race problem, of course.

Here's how the cynical process works. Your opponent is strong and you are weak in a certain area - in this case it is about strong African-American support for Democrats and a Republican race problem making its way into the news. To fight this you set up a front group that is designed to drive a wedge into the core of their support while providing "cover" to deflect attention from you. And to get this done you say anything - whatever is necessary to trick the voters into thinking their interests are served by your cause. So in this case the front-group Black Republican Freedom Fund is set up to run ads in urban areas that say, "Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan," "Democrats released those vicious dogs and fire hoses on blacks" and "Democrats blocked the minimum wage passed by Republicans."

This cynical wedge-driving process is reminiscent of the line from The Godfather, "It's not personal. It's business." It's just how it's done - you do what you have to do. It's just a job, just business.

Further illustrating the factory-made process of setting up these front groups, NBRA shares the same street address and suite number as the DC office of another far-right front group, the National Center for Policy Analysis. This is not to say the two organizations are connected or share facilities or personnel -- a call to a law firm also sharing this address disclosed that this is an "executive suites" facility, which is, in a way, the office equivalent of a post-office-box address. The point is that these are ready-to-go offices that you can move into or out of immediately while giving every appearance of being an established, credible operaiot - quite appropriate for the kind of factory-made, ready-to-go front group that pops up just in time to set a nasty tone and drive a wedge into a target demographic for the election.

Taking note of the ad's outrageous claim that Martin Luthor King Jr. was a Republican, Steve Gilliard of The News Blog, talking to Raw Story said,

Gilliard told RAW STORY that the ad was particularly offensive because "it assumes that blacks are unsophisticated voters, who are driven by emotion," when Maryland just "may have the highest concentration of blacks with advanced degrees on the planet."

"So to try and rewrite history is insulting," Gilliard added. "People know the history of the two parties and this is just offensive."

BRFF, yet another 527, is entirely a creation of the National Black Republican Association (NBRA). The "About Us" page of the BBRA website makes their association with the Republican Party very clear,
MISSION: The mission of the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) is to be a resource for the black community on Republican ideals and promote the traditional values of the black community which are the core values of the Republican Party: strong families, faith in God, personal responsibility, quality education, and equal opportunities for all.
GOAL: The goal of the NBRA is to return black Americans to their Republican Party roots by enlightening them about how Republicans fought for their freedom and civil rights, and are now fighting for their educational and economic advancement.
NBRA's website also explains the relationship to BRFF,
The Black Republican Freedom Fund: Our affiliated political action fund, the Black Republican Freedom Fund, will strongly support, both politically and financially, black Republican candidates under the NBRA's Blue County Victory Plan. This strategy entails identifying, training and financing black Republicans to run for election in districts populated largely by black Americans, with the aims of getting black Republican elected and winning votes for the top of the Republican ticket.
Perhaps a review of the rules about connections between front groups and political parties is in order.

NBRA shares a certain extremist bent with other front groups Patriot Project has examined. NBRA Chair(wo)man, Frances Rice, writing at far-right Human Events - a publication that features Ann Coulter - demonstrates this extremist tone, (note the early-1960's John Birch Society-style wording "Democrat Party")

"And as one pundit so succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is as it always has been, the party of the four S's: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism.

It was the Democrats who fought to keep blacks in slavery and passed the discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. The Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan to lynch and terrorize blacks. The Democrats fought to prevent the passage of every civil rights law beginning with the civil rights laws of the 1860s, and continuing with the civil rights laws of the 1950s and 1960s.

[. . .] Today, Democrats, in pursuit of their socialist agenda, are fighting to keep blacks poor, angry and voting for Democrats. Examples of how egregiously Democrats act to keep blacks in poverty are numerous.

[. . .] We must demonstrate that the Democrat Party policies of socialism and dependency on government handouts offer the pathway to poverty, while Republican Party principles of hard work, personal responsibility, getting a good education and ownership of homes and small businesses offer the pathway to prosperity."

Rice has been in the press before,
Back in February of this year, we caught Frances Rice, one of the state's leading Republican organizers, plagiarizing Washington Post columnist Colbert King; when cornered, she accused Venice Florida! dot com of racism.
And, finally, an endnote -- events last year following Katrina. From Sept. 2, 2005,
BLACK REPUBLICAN GROUP PRAISES BUSH'S DISASTER REACTION
Seeing the hundreds of relief convoys pouring into New Orleans, bringing medicine and millions of gallons of food and water to provide relief and comfort to the people devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the National Black Republican Association (NBRA), a grassroots organization, issued a statement of praise for President Bush and his show of compassion and leadership in directing the relief effort.
... "As African Americans," NBRA officer Andre Cadogan said, "we are deeply concerned about efforts of President Bush's critics to politicize, for their own partisan political agenda, a disaster that affects so many of our fellow African American citizens."
This was apparently too much for even the organization's own Board of Directors to stomach. Just one week later, on September 12, seven of ten Board members resigned,
RESIGNATIONS AT THE NATIONAL BLACK REPUBLICAN ASSOCIATION

More than half of the newly formed National Black Republican Association's board of directors has walked out, according a now former high ranking board member.

... The exodus comes as President Bush has come under fire for his administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, a storm in which many blacks died.


The Patriot Project is working to expose the front groups, their funding, their connections and their tactics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 25, 2006

Authoritarianism and Theocracy -- Bloggers Are Sounding A Warning

Arianna Huffington, in Bill Clinton's Bipartisan Love-In Blows Up in His Face writes,

Hooray! Good for Bill Clinton. He finally called Fox News and the right-wing on their BS, right? Well, sort of.

... I'm glad the Chris Wallace interview is flying all over the internet, but I really hope that one person who will watch it over and over again is Bill Clinton. And that on the fifth or sixth viewing it might occur to him that the more cover he gives Bush and his cronies, the more they're able to increase and entrench their power. Power they use to destroy everything that Clinton purports to stand for.

There is a fundamental point here. I, and many others, think that the Democratic leadership has profoundly misjudged the nature and intentions of the conservative movement. John Dean, in his book Conservatives Without Conscience, warns that we are witnessing the rise of an authoritarian government, and Kevin Phillips, in American Theocracy, warns that the current Republican leadership is intent on bringing about a theocracy. This is not politics-as-usual. THIS is what the bloggers are so shrill about.

In March I wrote,

Maybe, just maybe, they mean the things they are saying. And I think this warning about the extreme things the Right is saying is a big part of what political blogging is about.

... So political bloggers are more likely than others to be visiting websites and forums where right-wingers more openly discuss their ideas, or are more likely to be listening to Limbaugh and others on the radio. And what we are reading and hearing is frightening. The things they are saying to each other are DIFFERENT from what they are saying to the public. The things they are writing and saying are extreme and violent and subversive. It is not like what we as Americans are used to reading and hearing.

The things the Republicans are saying and doing are so extreme that regular people refuse to believe it when you try to warn them about what is happening.

... Bloggers are trying to warn the public that what is going on in America is DIFFERENT from politics-as-usual. The bloggers have been trying to get the Democratic leadership and the media to understand this. We are seeing something new to America forming, something dangerous to democracy. The "pendulum" is not swinging back.

... When will the Democratic leadership begin to realize that the extreme things the Republicans are saying might be what they mean to do?

The signs are all around us -- take it seriously.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:50 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 17, 2006

If The "Islamofascist" Threat Is Real

If the Bush administration truly believes that “Islamofascism” and Iran are threats to the very survival of the United States, then for the good of the country there are steps they can take to get the public to rally behind the effort.

First, they need to recognize that they have lost credibility because of their “mistake” about Iraq’s WMD. They said the United States needed to invade Iraq because we faced an imminent threat, an they were wrong - with the severest of consequences for the United States and the Middle East. So it is hard for the public to trust that they are right now. If we really do face such a serious threat then for the good of the country Bush and Cheney should declare that Iran is a serious enough emergency to warrant that they leave office and ask the Congress to put in place leadership that the American public and the world can trust.

Second, they should immediately implement the draft, so that there will be sufficient forces available to prevail in what they are saying will be a decades-long “clash of civilizations.”

Third, they should immediately repeal their tax cuts and impose an additional 50% surtax on incomes above $250,000. This is necessary to immediately balance the budget and begin paying down the massive debt they have accumulated. The country will need to be strong financially to purchase the necessary weaponry.

This fourth suggestion is really important. The Republican election strategies are tearing the country apart. If they really do believe that we are in a war for the country’s survival they should stop this stuff right now. Calling people traitors does not motivate them to join arms with you against a common enemy. A divided country is a weakened country. President Bush (before resigning and requesting that the Congress bring in credible leadership) should DEMAND that the Ann Coulters, Rush Limbaughs and John Bohners and his other surogates stop attacking other Americans as unpatriotic, and begin working to bring the country together.

They would do these thing if they really do mean what they say, and all this talk isn’t just another cynical, divisive election tactic.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 5, 2006

How Is Iran Different From Republicans?

Tell me how the radical fundamentalist Islamists are somehow different from our own Republicans? Maybe it's some kind of who-can-be-further-right competition they're having. Iran head wants liberal teachers ousted,

Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country's universities, urging students to return to 1980s-style radicalism.
Update - Max Blumenthal at HuffPo.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 31, 2006

Watch Olbermann's Special Commentary

This is history you're seeing.

Also at Crooks and Liars サ Keith Olbermann Delivers One Hell Of a Commentary on Rumsfeld

This is one to send to friends and family. (Click on E-mail this story below.)

The transcript: (And a good-quality video)

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

And so good night, and good luck.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 26, 2006

The Message The Conservatives Are Getting

I have said that the way to understand what Bush and the conservative movement leaders are saying is to listen to what their followers are hearing. And you don't have to go far at all to get the message - the conservatives want war with all of Islam, especially American Muslims.

Over at Townhall - which is a Republican commentary hub, this: Home grown terrorists,

“We are not at war with the Muslim faith.” So say various members of the media and government, either because they actually believe it, or because their blind adherence to political correctness dictates as much.

... Make no mistake, these were your fellow citizens cheering a terrorist organization that has already proudly killed hundreds of Americans. If they would cheer such a despicable group, what else might they do for them or Al Qaida? A logical question that political correctness forbids us to ask.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 24, 2006

War For Free - Just Go Shopping and Be Afraid

This Washington Times op-ed echoes and amplifies the right-wing narrative that we are in a glorious world war against Islam. Iran scores in world war

A world war in which we face extinction - but don't need a draft, or taxes to pay for it, or fuel economy standards, or ... well anything. Just go shopping and be afraid.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 23, 2006

Republicans and Illegal Immigration Revisited

The Republicans are supposedly against illegal immigration ... unless ...

Unless the Republican newspaper Washington Times is doing it.

(More info here and here.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 22, 2006

The STF Rule - The Accuser Describes The Accuser

The STF Rule: When Republicans accuse, it means they're probably doing what it is they are accusing others of.

In this fantastic (in the true meaning of the word) piece at right-wing Townhall, Our covert enemies, Michael Barone tries to accuse anyone promoting what he calls "multiculturalism" of being "covert enemies" of the country (i.e. traitors). He follows the narrative's script about "elites" pretty well, so he might get his bonus,

Our covert enemies are harder to identify, for they live in large numbers within our midst. And in terms of intentions, they are not enemies in the sense that they consciously wish to destroy our society. On the contrary, they enjoy our freedoms and often call for their expansion. But they have also been working, over many years, to undermine faith in our society and confidence in its goodness. These covert enemies are those among our elites who have promoted the ideas labeled as multiculturalism, moral relativism and (the term is Professor Samuel Huntington's) transnationalism.
Of course, following the STF Rule, he's describing the conservative movement's own attack on all of the fundamental institutions of our society - government, public schools, the justice system, etc.

But then, OOPS, look how he ends his piece:

We have always had our covert enemies, but their numbers were few until the 1960s. But then the elite young men who declined to serve in the military during the Vietnam War set out to write a narrative in which they, rather than those who obeyed the call to duty, were the heroes. They have propagated their ideas through the universities, the schools and mainstream media to the point that they are the default assumptions of millions.
What is that a description of? "Young men who declined to serve in the military during the Vietnam war?" That's not a description of Gore, Kerry, Murtha, Cleland, etc., it's instead a description of Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh and every single leader of the conservative movement! And this thing about propagating their ideas until they become conventional wisdom -- is a description of the conservative movement itself!

OOPS! Maybe he won't get his bonus after all.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:30 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 12, 2006

Bolton --The Next Wedge

Matt Stoller says the next big fight is over filibustering Bolton's nomination to be UN ambassador, which is really about Israel. I've been saying the Republicans plan to use Lieberman as a wedge to split Democrats, and Matt says Bolton is the tool..

MyDD :: Bolton's Pull versus Lamont's Push, Matt says,

We'll learn just how committed the Democratic Party insiders are to opposing Bush's foreign policy objectives in the wake of Ned Lamont's stunning victory.
Go read all about it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Upcoming Republican Primary in Rhode Island -- Compare and Contrast

In recent weeks we have been treated to a press firestorm over the Connecticut Democratic primary, in which the "netroots" DARED to run a candidate against Senator Joe Lieberman, and beat him. The insider press and political system is in absolute SHOCK that this could happen, with a good dose of anger at the voters for daring to go against their wishes. (Never mind that a far-right candidate beat a moderate candidate in Michigan's Republican primary -- for some reason that is different and remains unreported.)

You might also have noticed that since the primary, the press has paid far more attention to Lieberman - the loser of the primary - than to the winner. This is because the Republicans are promoting a wedge narrative intended to split the Democratic Party. By amplifying the voices of disgruntled Lieberman supporters, the Repubicans hope to keep a segment of the Democratic Party from voting this November.

In illustration of my point, contrast this firestorm to the situation with the upcoming Rhode Island Repubican primary. Lincoln Chafee is an old-style Republican Senator from Rhode Island. By "old-style" I mean he precedes the Christian Right/conservative movement takeover of the Republican Party and remains independent of The Party's corruption machine. And the far right is not happy about that, so they are running a candidate against Chafee in Rhode Island's upcoming Republican primary. You would think the "on the surface" similarities would drive press coverage, but the opposite is the case. (I say "on the surface" because in this case it is actual radicals running a candidate against an incumbent, where in Connecticut the opposition candidate actually had a more centrist voting record than the incumbent.)

Conservative group sets sights on Chafee,

Since its inception in 1999, the group has spent millions to help dozens of conservative Republicans win seats in Congress - often at the expense of more moderate party members. The Club's president, former Rep. Pat Toomey, nearly defeated Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in 2004.

This year, the group's top priority is defeating Chafee, who angered many Republicans by voting against President Bush's tax cuts and then casting a write-in vote for the president's father in the last election.

... Republicans who support the Club say its refusal to compromise its ideology gives it credibility.

"They're not about getting more Republicans elected, they're about getting real Republicans elected," said Jerry Stacy, spokesman for Sharron Angle, a Club-endorsed House candidate in Nevada.

Learn how the American system operates now. Keep an eye on this one -- compare and contrast the coverage and commentary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 21, 2006

Election Prediction

Here is my election prediction.

In November we are all going to be in shock that the Republicans would do that, go that far, do such things, let it get to that point. We simply aren't going to believe that that could have happened in this country, this world, this day and age. All of us.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 11, 2006

Murder Supreme Court Justices?

Here we go.

Prominent right-wing blogger today calls for the murder of Supreme Court Justices - the Right fails to condemn it. Go read.

It's based on the Right's call to murder journalists. This has been around a while.

Seriously, watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 9, 2006

Attack Politics and Playing Victim

Who wrote about,

“providing a shield from attack” by “working away from the negative image your opponent wants to pin on you. If you know you are going to be attacked as morally imperious, it is a good idea to lead with a position that is inclusive and tolerant.” … “Symbols are so powerful that if you manipulate them cleverly … you can even launch mean-spirited attacks on your opponents and pretend to be compassionate while doing it.

… positioning [yourself] as victims gives … a license to attack. … But remember this: using fear as a weapon can be dangerous. Enemies inspire fear, friends do not. … [so let] surrogates do the dirty work. When and how to use fear is a political art. If you are a white male … be careful when you go on the offensive, and be sure to surround yourself with allies who are neither white nor male.”

The first paragraph sounds a LOT like the STF Rule, no?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 20, 2006

Boycott Because They Carry Musica Latina?

The wingnuts are at it again. This time they're calling for a boycott of Circuit City because they carry "Musica Latina." No I'm not kidding. See Townhall.com :: Columns :: Circuit Ciudad at TownHall. If you don't know what TownHall is, it was started by the Heritage Foundation and is the central place for the Right's pundits.

The boycott stems from your misguided decision to provide customers with a better selection of “Musica Latina” than Country music CDs. In America, this is simply unacceptable.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 9, 2006

YearlyKos -- Ethics, Corruption and Movement Politics Panel Remarks

Following are my prepared remarks to the Ethics, Corruption and Movement Politics panel:

Joe Trippi, Dave Johnson, David Sirota, Melanie Sloan
Thank you for inviting me to speak on this YearlyKos panel about movement politics and corruption. I’m Dave Johnson. I blog at Seeing the Forest, and I am a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute.

I’ll begin by briefly going over the origins of the modern Conservative Movement, from Goldwater to Heritage Foundation to Reagan to now.

After Goldwater’s 1964 defeat the far right built – or bought, really – a movement based on persuading Americans to think differently about themselves and the world. And I do mean the far right. How many of you remember the base commander in Dr. Strangelove, muttering about “precious bodily fluids”? Well that was the far right I’m talking about, and I remember them. Actually they aren’t really all that different now – they just hide it.

With really big funding they set up the beginnings of a “persuasion engine.” They started setting up dozens, then more dozens of what are called think tanks, like the Heritage Foundation -- built around marketing the (make quote signs with fingers) “ ideas” they generate. But all this effort wasn’t about ideas to solve the country’s or humanity’s problems -- Everything was designed to change the public’s political attitudes and make us more accepting of right-wing ideology.

Using the latest sophisticated marketing research into techniques – things like strategic narrative, the actions of similar others, social network analysis, and social desirability bias – they began endlessly repeating, in a thousand variations, the message that a conservative approach is better, and liberals are bad and stupid and shameful and evil.

Have any of you heard any of that – on the radio, or on TV maybe?

And they thought long term. They understood that the high school student they influenced today could some day be an activist or candidate. They understood that the junior research assistant they paid now would be the noted author or the influential columnist later. And they paid well – no point losing these people to the business world. You could make a LIVING being a conservative.

They also set up a huge media “Echo chamber” with conservative movement authors and commentators citing conservative movement “scholars” and “Institutes,” and so on, until their “reports” and “studies” seemed to be coming from every media outlet.

Eventually people started to think that there was a consensus of “experts” who all agreed that these conservative approaches were the only practical solutions to our problems. In short, they repeat marketing messages through multiple channels, over a sustained period of time, to create CONVENTIONAL WISDOM.

For more about the history of this movement go to commonwealinstitute.org/information.html That’s Commonweal like commonwealth without the th – look for the RESOURCES button on the Commonweal site, that takes you to that information.

The conservative movement didn’t just build UP THEIR ideas in the minds of the public. They also used their communications machine to tear DOWN their opponents -- organizations and political parties and even individuals.

Most people today perceive Jimmy Carter as having been a bad president. But let me suggest something. Knowing what we know now about how the right’s smear machine works, please go find and read President Carter’s so-called “Malaise speech.” Google the words “carter malaise speech”. Read that speech and you’ll see the signs that he was under attack by this right-wing machine that we are more familiar with today. We didn’t understand it back then but you’ll SEE it now. And knowing what we know now about oil and energy … you’ll cry. Especially when you see Al Gore’s new movie An Inconvenient Truth.

The reason this is relevant to this panel is that Carter was up against the machine, funded in part by the big oil companies. Their problem with Carter wasn’t ideological, it was only business -- Carter tried to reduce our use of oil – reductions that are so relevant today as we face Middle East wars, category 5 hurricanes and melting glaciers. Go read that speech.

This machine grew powerful -- they destroyed Carter - and then Mondale, then Dukakis, then Clinton, then Gore. Kerry went up against the machine and got the Swift Boating. Labor unions, environmentalists, teachers, civil and women's rights advocates, advocates for the poor, almost any group with the word "community" in its name, and so many others unfortunately also find themselves on the defense.


So, like I said the conservative persuasion machine and media echo chamber quickly moved past that initial far-right funding to also take in big corporate money. But corporate money is “interested” money – it necessarily has strings or it would not be given. And the strings necessarily go back to the interests of the corporation – not the public or the country – or even the conservative movement.

The movement followed the money and started to change from pure ideology to lobbying for the interests of the corporate backers. The think tanks began making arguments in support of what were little more than paying customers.

And so did their politicians.

For example, some of you have wondered why the logging industry are good Conservatives for cutting the trees, but the fishing industry, which depends on leaving the trees alone, are called environmental whackos. Ask, rather, who pays more?

(Personally, I always wondered why Jesus was in favor of capital gains taxcuts and dividend exclusions? But that’s another story)

Finally with Bush in office the lobbying turned to outright corruption, PURCHASING of legislation, regulation or deregulation, tax breaks, lucrative contracts and policy, by whoever offered the highest bribe.

So I have laid out some of the background that set the stage for the Republican corruption scandals you read about on the blogs. Also on the panel today is David Sirota, who has written a GREAT new book about this Hostile Takeover of our country by big money and corruption. So without further ado, let me pass the microphone to David.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 28, 2006

A Good List of Republican Lies

Go to And The Clocks Were Striking Thirteen: Swimming Upstream and scroll down a bit.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 25, 2006

They're Going To Ban BuzzFlash

Update -- WE WON! Go read.


The Republicans are trying to "deregulate" the Internet. They're about to allow the big telecommunications companies to decide which websites their customers (YOU) can and can't see. This is what "Net Neutrality" is about. If you are against letting big companies decide what websites you can see, that means you are in favor of Net Neutrality.

MAKE NO MISTAKE about what this will mean. In the 1980s the Republicans "deregulated" radio and television by getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine and allowing a few big companies to buy up all the stations, and now you can't turn on the radio without hearing that conservatives are good and liberals are bad. And you will not ever see a representative of organized labor on your television telling you about the benefits of joining a union. In the South the ONLY viewpoint you ever hear is the Republican Party viewpoint. MAKE NO MISTAKE about what "deregulating" the Internet will mean. It means they will ban BuzzFlash, and DailyKos, and Digby and any other voice that speaks out against the corporate takeover of your country.

Here is what you can do today. Matt Stoller has a post up at MyDD with a list of members of Congress to call TODAY. Matt says

Urge them to support the bipartisan Sensenbrenner-Conyers Net Neutrality bill (HR 5417) in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday -- and to support it without amendment. Saying without amendment is key.
Here is the list:

Howard Berman (D-Calif. 28th)
Phone: 202-225-4695
Fax: 202-225-3196

William Delahunt (D-Mass. 10th)
Phone: (202) 225-3111
Fax: (202) 225-5658

Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas 18th)
(202) 225-3816 phone
(202) 225-3317 Fax

Marty Meehan (D-Mass. 5th)
Phone: (202) 225-3411
Fax: (202) 226-0771

Bobby Scott (D-Va. 3rd)
Phone: (202) 225-8351
Fax: (202) 225-8354

Chris Van Hollen (D-Md. 8th)
Phone: (202) 225-5341
Fax: (202) 225-0375

Maxine Waters (D-Calif. 35th)
Phone: (202) 225-2201
Fax: (202) 225-7854

Mel Watt (D-N.C. 12th)
Tel. (202) 225-1510
Fax (202) 225-1512

Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y. 9th)
Phone: (202) 225-6616
Fax: (202) 226-7253

Robert Wexler (D-Fla. 19th)
phone: (202) 225-3001
fax: (202) 225-5974

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 19, 2006

Lies About Badges and Incubators

I saw a story on the right-wing blogs and other news sources this morning, that the Iranians had passed a law requiring Jews and Christians to wear identifying "badges." This follows a recent report, repeated everywhere and now conventional wisdom, that the President of Iran had called for "wiping Israel off the map." That report was not correct - knocked down by Juan Cole, who wrote about the (intentional?) mistranslation in his now-famous post about Christopher Hitchens and those in Washington fishing for (or creating) a pretext for war.

And, of course, the "badges" story is also false, circulated to drum up popular support for war against Iran. Yet ANOTHER enemy for us to hate, who is "just like Hitler." Like the "babies thrown from incubators" story that launched the first Gulf war, stories like this are circulated to lay down a smokescreen to confuse the public and create that pretext for war. See: Iran report of Holocaust-style badges questioned,

"It's absolutely factually incorrect," ... "Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I've checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside."
"The Iranian people would never stand for it. The Iranian government wouldn't be stupid enough to do it."
Political commentator and 940 Montreal host Beryl Waysman says the report is true, that the law was passed two years ago.
I'm not defending Iran here - not at all. If the Iranian Ayatollahs have their way the world will be much worse off. I'm just pointing out that in the Propaganda Age, you have to learn to question what you hear - especially when it's designed to hit you in the gut and make you want to kill.

Here are some of the right-wing blogs reflexively repeating today's lie. To their credit, others have added updates to their own reflexive posts, letting readers know that the story may not be true.

Update - Juan Cole talks about this today. (Through Atrios)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 16, 2006

Wingnuts Against Women

Wingnuttery (also filed under Party over Country): Violence Against Women Act abuses the rights of men. Bush should not have supported the Violence Against Women act because,

The act, which costs nearly $1 billion per year, is one of the major ways former President Bill Clinton bought the support of radical feminists. ... It's unlikely that the feminists who will spend all that money will ever vote Republican.
Right, our government is only for Repubicans. (Works even better if you give them money.)

Here's my favorite part:

This criminalizing of ordinary private behavior and incarceration without due process follows classic police-state practices. Evidence is irrelevant, hearsay is admissible, defendants have no right to confront their accusers, and forced confessions are a common feature.
And here we enter the yee-ha zone:
Violence Against Women Act money is used by anti-male feminists to train judges, prosecutors and police in the feminist myths that domestic violence is a contagious epidemic, and that men are naturally batterers and women are naturally victims. Feminists lobby state legislators to pass must-arrest and must-prosecute laws even when police don't observe any crime and can't produce a witness to testify about an alleged crime.
These far-right "conservatives" are the people in charge of every branch of our government.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 9, 2006

Making My Case So Well

I'd like to bring everyone's attention to a comment left by one of our regular "conservative" visitors, at the post Rallying the Base, in which I wrote, "Republicans are down in the polls, so blatant racism is used to remind them who they are for and who they are against."

Here's the comment, judge for yourself whether it makes my point:

Wow...your racism-Detecto-matic must be set to "hypersensitive"...why is it racism to point out that in large measure, the refugees from New Orleans brought their city's high crime rate with them when the moved to Houston?

Would you rather the matter not be discussed because the cold truth (Blacks commit crimes in numbers that are WAY disproportionate to their percentage of the population) makes liberals uncomfortable?

First, I'm "hypersensitive" to think Rush was talking about Black people. Rush was oh-so-careful not to say he meant Black people when he talked about "New Orleans refugees." That's what's known as a "code word." Republicans are so good at using code words, but so-called "conservatives" sure are good at picking up the message that is being sent, no?

And then, of course, comes the racist argument that Black people are different, are criminals, etc. But I was just being a typical "hypersensitive" liberal to think this was about race. It must be a conspiracy theory to think it was about race...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 1, 2006

Authoritarianism

Take a look at the series, Rightwing Authoritarianism and Conservative Identity Politics, at Patterns That Connect.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 25, 2006

Neocon godfather Francis Fukuyama declares movement "a failure"

See this article in the Scotsman online, which states that Fukuyama has declared neoconservatism discredited and a failure, that "it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention [in Iraq] itself or the ideas animating it kindly", and that the movements' advocates are Leninists who "believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will.." Among other bon mots of note.

It appears that not all right wingers are completely immune to reality.

UPDATE: Just found an op ed in the New York Times authored by Fukuyama himself, entitled: After Neoconservatism.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 4:16 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 21, 2006

War With Oceania - So Yesterday

The Bush administration is allowing the sale of several American ports to the United Arab Emirates, and of course cronyism is involved.

Before today the Republicans were sending surrogates around the country whipping up anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments. The right-wing, Bush-cult blogs were all lined up in anti-Islam frenzy. WE WERE AT WAR WITH EASTASIA!!!

But not today. Today we are at war with EURASIA! We have ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia! Today Democrats are racists for daring to question a Bush deal (even though it is largely Republicans who are questioning this.)

Rush this morning:

This is the first time in four years that I can recall a Democrat seriously being concerned about this group of people, and this is racism. This is racism. We are concluding that all Arabs are terrorists. We are concluding that every damn one of them -- be they a sheik, an emir -- they are all terrorists. They all have ties to terrorists and they all seek our utter, total destruction, and we can't risk an exception to that. They're all that way -- and welcome to racism Democrats, because the Democrats are leading the show on this just as well as a lot of conservatives are. So when Democrats are illustrating their racism, their xenophobia, they're also demonstrating that they fully acknowledge we have an enemy. Well, this is a tenuous position for them to take because their kook base doesn't believe any of this.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:22 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 9, 2006

Cult

Read this Kos diary, How The Wingnuts Destroyed My Best Friend and tell me how the current "conservative movement" is different from a cult? Except I don't really think the leaders of this "movement" buy in to the stuff they are selling. I think the ideology is largely for propaganda purposes, like the con-man telling the 80-year-old grandma that she will get a free car if only she will pay for shipping...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 20, 2006

Press Ignored Murder Mystery

Through Atrios, this fascinating story,

Wait until you hear the rest of the story. It has all the elements of a good murder mystery.

* The congressman (an ardent and vocal supporter of G.W., by the way) resigns only six months after re-election, just prior to his aide's death. The reason: amid rumors of marital infidelity, the recently-divorced husband wants to spend more time with his sons.

* A medical examiner who had his license revoked in another state. Why? He lost it falsifying autopsies.

* The medical examiner's supervisor had contributed thousands of dollars to the congressman's election campaign.

* Contradictory reports about whether there is a visible head injury or not.

* A medical conclusion that contains several inconsistencies. First, that Mrs. Klausutis, who was a marathon runner, died of a cardiac arryhthmia. Second, that although she had suffered a fractured skull and a "contracoup" bruise on the opposite side of the brain, the injury could not possibly have been caused by a physical assault.

* Then there's the question of whether the office was locked and the lights were on. One report says the door was locked and the lights were off; another report says the door was unlocked and the lights were on.

* And if all this weren't enough, there's the scientist husband who does high level weapon design work for the Air Force.

These are only the more obvious elements of the case. And this is not newsworthy enough for the press?

Go find out who this invovles - it will blow your mind.

(Yes, an old story, but still not investigated. No justice.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 20, 2005

Et Tu, Far-Right Washington Times?

. . . unlimited?

President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Mocking Dems For Supporting Bush After 9/11

DRUDGE REPORT has a piece up mocking Senator Harry Reid for his support of Bush after the 9/11 attacks. Supporting the President of the United States after the country is attacked becomes derision by bullies later.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 19, 2005

What Will Happen

Daou Report: The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade):

The third button on the Daou Report's navigation bar links to the U.S. Constitution, a Constitution many Americans believe is on life support - if not already dead. The cause of its demise is the corrosive interplay between the Bush administration, a bevy of blind apologists, a politically apathetic public, a well-oiled rightwing message machine, lapdog reporters, and a disorganized opposition. The domestic spying case perfectly illuminates the workings of that system. And the unfolding of this story augurs poorly for those who expect it to yield different results from other administration scandals.

Here's why: the dynamic of a typical Bush scandal follows familiar contours...

1. POTUS circumvents the law - an impeachable offense.

This piece is well worth a read!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 17, 2005

If the President does it, it's not illegal

From Digby at Hullabaloo:

Look, the problem here, again, is not one of just spying on Americans, as repulsively totalitarian as that is. It's that the administration adopted John Yoo's theory of presidential infallibility. But, of course, it wasn't really John Yoo's theory at all; it was Dick Cheney's muse, Richard Nixon who said, "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal." . . .

I suspect that there are many more of these instances out there in which the administration has simply ignored the law. They believe that the constitution explicitly authorizes them to do so.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 11:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 16, 2005

More Purchased Right-Wing Columnists

This time it's part of the Abramoff scandal. Op-Eds for Sale,

A senior fellow at the Cato Institute resigned from the libertarian think tank on Dec. 15 after admitting that he had accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff for writing op-ed articles favorable to the positions of some of Abramoff's clients.

[. . .] Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the conservative Institute for Policy Innovation, says he, too, took money from Abramoff to write op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist's clients. "I do that all the time," Ferrara says. "I've done that in the past, and I'll do it in the future."

This brings the Abramoff scandal one step closer to where it is heading - its tie to the funding of the Right's network of organizations that support the Republican Party. Bribes come in to pay for contracts, tax breaks, etc. Some of the taxpayer money that goes out as tax breaks, contracts, etc. is then kicked back into the political process to keep the Republicans in power. Bribes in, taxpayer dollars out, money to buy op-eds, TV ads, etc. Absolute corruption, absolute power.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:52 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 15, 2005

Does Bush Support Right-Wing Attacks On Jews?

Last week I wrote about Republicans Dropping the Code-Word "Liberals" and Accusing Jews Directly. It continues today at Townhall.com:

The sad fact is that the ACLU is made up in good part of Jews, and it is that organization and its lawyers who are leading the assault against Christmas.

... Unfortunately, as is so often the case with black Americans, those who are high- profile and get most of the media attention are the radicals and the rabble-rousers. When my critics accused me of promoting anti-Semitism, I pleaded not guilty. I asked them if they thought that gentiles were so stupid that, until I wrote my piece, they didn’t recognize that there is a secular jihad underway in this country to remove Christ from Christmas.

Do we get condemnation of this stuff from the "uniter not divider" Bush Administration? Does he show that he is President of the United States, not just of the Republican Party?

Condemnation? No, after last week's attack on Jews Bush's response is to send his Secretary of State to honor the Heritage Foundation:

Taking questions after a speech on Iraq to the Heritage Foundation, Rice again took Iran to task on a range of issues...
A speech in which she said:
The organization, the Heritage Foundation, is a true bedrock of our democratic principles, our freedom, our way of life and a vehicle by which free men and women can debate their future. Thank you very much for the great work of this organization.
TownHall, where this attack on Jews is published, is a product of the Heritage Foundation. From their website
In 1993, The Heritage Foundation, one of the most prestigious conservative think tanks joined forces with National Review to open the Town Hall forum on the CompuServe service. The CompuServe forum was the hub for conservative thought online for several years but was shut down when the World Wide Web became the dominant online medium.

Townhall.com was launched in 1995 on the World Wide Web as the first conservative web community. At that time, only a handful of political sites existed and Townhall.com was the first major investment in online activism made by either side.

In 2005, Townhall.com split off from the research focused Heritage Foundation in order to expand the scope of Townhall.com's mission to inform, empower, and mobilize citizens for political change.

Bush sends his Secretary of State to honor them. NO WONDER TownHall felt free to continue the attack today!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:48 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 13, 2005

Yes, Virginia, There Is A War On Christmas

AND IT'S ALL IN LOWER CASE,

nobody ever sees secular heathens actually try to drink the blood of christian children, but that is no sign there is no war on christmas. the most real things in the world are those that neither logical men nor rush limbaugh can see. did you ever see jesus ride a dinosaur? of course not, but that’s no proof that he didn’t.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 9, 2005

More About the Right Targetting Jews

Yesterday I wrote about the Right starting to drop the not-so-subtle undertones, coming right out (right out, get it?) and saying that their "war on Christmas" campaign really IS about Jews. The other day Nitpicker caught a good one,

... I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to.

... If you figure that -- listen, we get a little theological here, and it's probably a bit over my head, but I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to. And that's fine. Let 'em. But in the meantime, as long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition.

And links to even more of that one at Media Matters

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 8, 2005

Dropping the Code-Word "Liberals" and Accusing Jews Directly

There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about "mainstreaming extremism" lately. That is Republicans injecting hard KKK stuff, disguised to sound more moderate, into mainstream outlets. The Republican charge that there is a "war on Christmas" is a prime example of this. Now we find out who they have been implying is behind this war - because they're dropping the code words and saying it out loud. Townhall.com :: Columns :: The Jewish Grinch who stole Christmas by Burt Prelutsky,

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas would become a dirty word. You think it hasn’t? Then why is it that people are being prevented from saying it in polite society for fear that it will offend?

... How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening?

... Although it seems a long time ago, it really wasn’t, that people who came here from other places made every attempt to fit in.

... When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists, and the ACLU, at the forefront.

... But the dirty little secret in America is that anti-Semitism is no longer a problem in society; it’s been replaced by a rampant anti-Christianity. For example, the hatred spewed towards George W. Bush has far less to do with his policies than it does with his religion. The Jews voice no concern when a Bill Clinton or a John Kerry makes a big production out of showing up at black Baptist churches or posing with Rev. Jesse Jackson because they understand that’s just politics. They only object to politicians attending church for religious reasons.

... It is the ACLU, which is overwhelmingly Jewish in terms of membership and funding, that is leading the attack against Christianity in America. It is they who have conned far too many people into believing that the phrase “separation of church and state” actually exists somewhere in the Constitution.

... I happen to despise bullies and bigots. I hate them when they represent the majority, but no less when, like Jews in America, they represent an infinitesimal minority.

I am getting the idea that too many Jews won’t be happy until they pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.

Heritage's TownHall is central to the whole Right Wing Noise Machine. Heritage Foundation is the hub of the "conservative movement" that now controls the Republican Party. The Christian Right has learned to use code words to disguise the anti-semitism at the core of their movement, but here they just come out and say it.

You think I've been kidding when I say that "liberal media" comes straight out of the old far-right "Jew media" and "Jew York Times" stuff? "Liberal" and "Jew" used to be interchangable words for the Right. They have always been able to talk about the ACLU to get votes in the South, but here you see what they have meant.

So do you think President Bush or any Republican leader will condemn this now? Are you kidding? He is more likely to give a speech at the Heritage Foundation than condemn them. He is more likely to send his Vice President to appear on a stage with the author of this piece. That's how they do it.

Note - See also
More About the Right Targetting Jews
and
Does Bush Support Right-Wing Attacks On Jews?


Update Other blogs have also picked up on this:
Roger Ailes
Brilliant at Breakfast
Julien's List
Left in the West
First Draft
Atrios
Supreme Irony of Life
Fiat Lux
Pandagon
The News Blog
The Happy Feminist
Enhidne of the Snakes
NewsHog
Kentucky Democrat

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:14 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 16, 2005

Shocker: Republicans Not Promoting Black Candidates!

The Black Commentator has an interesting piece up, Minority Inclusion is Diversity Diversion at the GOP, from a black Republican, discussing diversity in the Republican Party.

I think the Republican coalition is in a bind on this. The Party is all about the money, and votes from the rubes. They have willingly become the party of the Confederacy as much as of the Religious Right, and must cater to those voters. Of course, what those voters wind up with is losing their pensions and health care so a few rich people can get longer-range Gulfstream jets... But it's their own fault for being so blinded by the hatreds the Republicans cater to, to see it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 15, 2005

Right Going Nuts

RedState.org is even banning people for mentioning that the Washington Times is published by Rev. Moon.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Wingnuts Accuse Senators Of Treason

Speaking of spinning away far from the mainstream, the wingnut blogs are accusing SENATORS of treason. Even Republican Senators. Examples:

Talk About Aiding the Enemy!.

Senate Defeats Democrat Surrender Plan,

So desperate has the left become for a replay of Saigon in 1975 that they are trying to force a victorious American army to turn over their victory to the defeated enemy. [. . .] The Democrats are, in the whole, lying about why we went into Iraq and are trying to engineer an American defeat in Iraq in service to their political goals in the 2006 election.
Hugh Hewitt,
...the best gift the United States Senate could give Zarqawi and his terrorist ranks.
Terrorists? I thought we were in Iraq to get rid of the WMD...


Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Wingnut Cultists Developing Own Language

Reading this right-wing blog post, I'm starting to think the wingnuts are spinning off so far from mainstream thought that they are developing their own language. You tell me:

The Chappaquiddick Submariner got pwned BIG time when Tim Russert got him to bloviate and blather about a statement that then turned out to have been made by, wait for it, John “Fuckface” al-Q’erry.

Fat Drunken Ted then proceeded to flail and thrash about like a flounder freshly hauled out of the wreckage of an Oldsmobile.

I read lots of RW blogs, and even listen to Rush. But this is so "insider" that I can't make it out.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 14, 2005

Conservatives Splitting?

In State Power & Conservative Ideology, Stephen Crockett writes,

It is increasingly apparent that there is an important ideological conflict going on in the modern conservative movement between supporters of increased state power and supporters of limited government.

. . . The Bush Republicans advocate a “neo-con” approach to state power that critics fear is a potential creeping fascist ideology disguised as conservatism. Secret prisons, torture and unlimited detention in prisons without trial are all examples of policies supported by the Bush Republican that outrage both traditional conservatives and civil libertarians.

Traditional conservatives rely on the rule of law instead of personal rule by a strong leader or leadership group. The Bush Republicans seem to believe that anything the Bush Administration wants to do should be permitted because they claim that they should be trusted not to abuse the power of their offices.

Traditional conservatives believe that the system of checks and balances should be strong enough to survive good or bad White House or Congressional leaders. The Bush Republicans seem to view the checks and balances system devised by our Founding Fathers as obstacles to imposing their views on our government and nation.
Lots more. Good stuff. Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 7, 2005

Vatican Endorses Evolution

The wingnuts are trying to get a Catholic majority on the Supreme Court. The Republican-Catholic relationship is a marriage of convenience, a ploy for votes. Traditionally the Republican base is anti-Catholic.

For a good example of the anti-Catholic feelings of the fundamentalists, look at the language of Bush's buddy Bob Jones. From Catholic.com,

Not long after Pope Paul VI died in 1978, Bob Jones, chancellor of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, wrote an ill-tempered article in his school’s magazine, Faith for the Family (not to be confused with Dr. James Dobson’s magazine, Focus on the Family). The article was republished by the Fundamentalist organization Mission to Catholics, International (run by an ex-Carmelite priest-turned-Fundamentalist minister) as a tract entitled The Church of Rome in Perspective.

No effort is made to be conciliatory, as the first line demonstrates: "Pope Paul VI, archpriest of Satan, a deceiver and an anti-Christ, has, like Judas, gone to his own place." It goes downhill from there.

John F Kennedy encountered strong anti-Catholic bias from the Republicans and had to address Southern Baptist leaders in September, 1960, to assure them that he would not "take orders from the Pope." But before the 2004 election Bush asked the Pope for exactly that - he asked the Pope to order American Bishops to set aside Catholic views on war, torture, corruption, materialism and debt and campaign against Kerry because Kerry said he wouldn't follow the orders of the Church on abortion when in office. And he got his wish.

Well, the election is over, and it looks as though the alliance may be as well. I wonder if this will affect the Alito nomination, when the wingnuts start to understand what getting what they wished for could mean. As I noted above, Catholics oppose war, torture, corruption, materialism and debt -- also known as the Republican Party Platform.

Evolution in the bible, says Vatican - The Other Side - Breaking News 24/7 - NEWS.com.au

THE Vatican has issued a stout defence of Charles Darwin, voicing strong criticism of Christian fundamentalists who reject his theory of evolution and interpret the biblical account of creation literally.
Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution were "perfectly compatible" if the Bible were read correctly.

His statement was a clear attack on creationist campaigners in the US, who see evolution and the Genesis account as mutually exclusive.

"The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim," he said at a Vatican press conference. He said the real message in Genesis was that "the universe didn't make itself and had a creator".

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:19 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 4, 2005

Red Cross New RW Enemy

The wingnuts are at it again. Now the enemy is the Red Cross "and its ilk". Red Cross Demands Access to Terrorists,

This is not exactly news. The ICRC and its ilk have long demanded that al-Qaeda terrorists, who represent an extremist ideology rather than a specific country, be accorded full protections under the Geneva Conventions. We note the story only to point out that despite the ICRC’s prodigious efforts on behalf of terrorist captives, there remain those insensible critics who insist that anti-American politics have replaced human rights concerns atop of these groups’ agenda.
Asking to see what's going on in secret prisons becomes "efforts on behalf of terrorist captives" and "anti-American politics". What's next? Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 21, 2005

Coulter, At Republican Fundraiser, Calls For Repression Of Free Speech

Go see THE BRAD BLOG: "Coulter Calls for 'Repression of Free Speech', Florida Republicans Applaud!"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Some Wingnuttery

The "Establishment" & the Cheney/Rumsfeld Cabal,

It seems to me Secretary Rice was sent to her position to weed out and clean house on these hangers on. We have a bunch on left over bureaucrats from a leftist administration looking to keep some power and a paycheck.
He's talking about a 31-year military veteran and former director of the Marine Corps War College, Colin Powell's Chief of Staff, the the "leftist" adminstration he is referring to is Bush's father.Blogs for Bush
Delay's Judge donated to John Kerry...and MoveOn!

If true, the judge should be removed from office just on that point alone - MoveOn being a terrorist-apologist organization engaged in a treasonous attempt to engineer American defeat in the War on Terrorism.

NewsMax: Michael Reagan: It Wasn't Racism in Toledo; It Was a Thugfest,
This incident, which grew out of a planned march by 14 neo-Nazi members of the absurd National Socialist Movement of Roanoke, Va., played right into the hands of a liberal national media intent on exacerbating the whole race issue whenever an opportunity to do so arises.

. . . When the neo-Nazis left without marching, why did some blacks pillage their own part of town? If it was a matter of race hatred, why didn't they invade a totally white neighborhood to vent their so-called anger?

Not the Nazis' fault, it's the fault of the nature of black people. I won't forget his dad laying a wreath on SS graves at Bitburg, after telling the European Parliment that the Lincoln Brigades "fought on the wrong side." (They were fighting against Nazis.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 16, 2005

RW Sites - Racist Scorn For Those Protesting Nazis

Post-New Orleans the codewords continue, this time in support of actual Nazis. From The Politial Teen,

Earlier this afternoon, a neo-Nazi group had planned a march to protest the recent black on white violence in Toledo. However this protest was quickly broken up by many unhappy African-Americans and whites. This “counter-protest” quickly turned into a group of violent people who set fires and looted homes and business.
And, for those in the Republican coalition who prefer their racism overt rather than code-worded, another site says that the counter-protesters are confirming racist stereotypes: Note to Gangsters: When You're Protesting Racists' Stereotypes, Be Sure Not to CONFIRM THEM,
...and in other news, another group of racists marched in Washington without the objects of their protest rioting, attacking or looting in response.
Yep, them darkies and their rioting and looting...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 10, 2005

The Natives Are Restless

Check out this conservative critique of George Bush's presidency: George Bush, the Manchurian candidate, from The Business Online. Sourced via Dave Farber's Interesting People list.

Excerpts:

Nor is it just the White House that is contaminated by it: when senior Republican leaders in Congress, who have presided over an orgy of public spending and pork-barrel, claimed that there was no fat left to cut in federal spending and that “after 11 years of Republican majority we’ve pared it down pretty good”, it was clear that the inmates had indeed taken over the asylum.

There is now a distinctive fin de regime stink about Republican Washington. Karl Rove, the President’s eminence grise, has been called to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA officer’s name. The cronyism of Ms Miers’ nomination to the Supreme Court is now the rule in DC, not the exception: for example, Julie Myers, another inexperienced Bush lawyer, has been nominated to run the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. She has no convincing qualifications for this post, a vital one in an age of terror; but she is the niece of retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers and the wife of the Department of Homeland Security secretary’s chief of staff.

This guy is right: Bush's form of "conservatism" bears no resemblance to the term as conventionally defined... and this is likely to come back to bite him in 2006/2008.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 26, 2005

GOP offers comments on aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

From a list I'm on:

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do
it, but God did."
-- Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.), as quoted in The Wall
Street Journal.

"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in
Texas. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were
underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is
working very well for them."
-- Barbara Bush, as quoted by the American
Public Media's "Marketplace" program.

"Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" -- GOP Majority
Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas)
, while visiting child refugees from New
Orleans at the Houston Astrodome.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 2:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 19, 2005

No On Roberts

I endorse what Chris says in MyDD :: Complicity Doesn't "Keep Your Powder Dry",

If Democrats are unhappy with, but vote for, a stealth nominee with a miniscule record of actual rulings, who refused to answer any questions during his hearings, and who claims that everything he wrote and did in the past reflected the views of his clients and bosses rather than his own views, then how are they ever going to oppose these characteristics in any nominee in the future? If Democrats vote for Roberts, they will make it clear that they sanction the Bush administration to propose someone for O'Conner's seat who also doesn't have to have an actual record, and who also doesn't have to answer questions.
If Roberts wasn't a "conservative movement" insider Bush would not have nominated him. His work with the Federalist Society should be seen the same way working with the KKK would be seen, for many of the same reasons. Iran/Contra prosecutor Walsh, on the Federalist Society:
"It reminded me of the communist front groups of the 1940s and 1950s, whose members were committed to the communist cause and subject to communist direction but were not card-carrying members of the Communist Party," Walsh wrote. [For details, see Walsh's Firewall.]

Washington Democrats, how can you still not understand what the "conservative movement" is about? This is NOT normal times; these are NOT normal Republicans; this is NOT "politics as usual." Al Gore voted to confirm Scalia to the Supreme Court. Think about that. Think about Scalia's role in appointing Bush to the Presidency. It could be YOU next.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 16, 2005

Republicans = Failure

Bilmon has a devastating critique of the structural failulre and incompetence of why the entire line of reactionary conservatism from Nixon to Bush is a policy failure at the most fundamental level.

Command And Control

But the Reagan administration also wasn't the first GOP team to try to bring the federal beast to heel. While I was on the "govvie" beat, I came across a book called The Plot that Failed: Nixon and the Administrative Presidency, which recounted Tricky Dick's efforts to neuter his cabinet and gain direct control over the bureaucracy. This struggle took various forms -- including the creation of OMB, upstaging cabinet secretaries (like Kissinger's end runs around the State of State Bill Rodgers), inserting Nixon loyalists in key subcabinet postitions, and impounding appropriated funds (to show the agencies they couldn't cut their own deals with Congress.)

Here's a blast from the past that is a real kicker:

DiIulio's letter to Ron Suskind, which became the basis for a revealing piece in Esquire magazine, is worth rereading now:
In eight months, I heard many, many staff discussions, but not three meaningful, substantive policy discussions. There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues. There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical, non-stop, 20-hour-a-day White House staff. Every modern presidency moves on the fly, but, on social policy and related issues, the lack of even basic policy knowledge, and the only casual interest in knowing more, was somewhat breathtaking -- discussions by fairly senior people who meant Medicaid but were talking Medicare; near-instant shifts from discussing any actual policy pros and cons to discussing political communications, media strategy, et cetera. Even quite junior staff would sometimes hear quite senior staff pooh-pooh any need to dig deeper for pertinent information on a given issue.
. . . This gave rise to what you might call Mayberry Machiavellis -- staff, senior and junior, who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible. These folks have their predecessors in previous administrations (left and right, Democrat and Republican), but, in the Bush administration, they were particularly unfettered.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 15, 2005

Chertoff Delayed Katrina Response

Hat tip to Tim Grieve at Salon Did The Wrong Guy Resign? (view 30 second ad for day pass)

Michael Brown stepped down as the director of FEMA Monday, but a new report from Knight Ridder walks responsibility for the Katrina debacle a little bit higher up the chain of command. While Brown has taken much of the blame for the federal government's slow response in New Orleans, Knight Ridder says that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff failed to give Brown the authority he needed to mobilize a massive federal response to Katrina until 36 hours after the storm struck land.

Who had the authority in the meantime? Michael Chertoff.

Chertoff had the authority and responsibility to declare Katrina an *incident of national significance.*

An updated timeline from Think Progress has a request from the Louisiana National Guard on Sunday, the 28th for 700 buses.

On Monday, Chertoff was still discussing immigration with Bush.

While Gov. Blanco was requesting assistance to evacuate the Superdome, Chertoff was putting together a task force.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:07 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 7, 2005

Talking Point Takes Off

Oliver Willis:

It’s a testament to modern tech that you can actually see a talking point take off in real time.
Go to Oliver's blog to see what he's talking about.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Moral Failure

Incompetence, corruption, cronyism, classism, racism and refusal to accept responsibility are all just symptoms of moral failure. Bush is a moral failure as a President, as a man and as a human being.

Contemporary American conservatism is a political ideology built on a foundation of racism and contempt. The callous disregard of the Republican Party for the general welfare of America, and their malice towards poor black Americans, epitomizes everything that is wrong with conservatism and the Republican Party. The same moral failure that led to Abu Ghraib led to the negligent homicide of tens of thousands of Americans following Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans is the canary in the coal mine. The next community or the next family conservatism kills could be yours.

Update courtesy of Lis Riba from the comments, Riba Rambles: Musings of a Mental Magpie. Thanks Lis.

I was channeling George Lakoff, who expresses my outrage more profoundly and effectively than I can. The Post Katrina Era

Katrina's tragic consequences were not just due to incompetence, natural disaster, or Bush policies (though he is accountable). This is a failure of moral and political philosophy.

It is impossible for me, as it is for most Americans, to watch the horror and suffering from Hurricane Katrina and not feel physically sore, pained, bereft, empty, heartbroken. And angry.

Lakoff is right about America being at a tipping point, if the Democratic Party can communicate the intense outrage that is roiling America.

The Katrina tragedy should become a watershed in American politics. This was when the usually invisible people suddenly appeared in all the anguish of their lives -- the impoverished, the old, the infirm, the kids and the low-wage workers with no cars, TVs or credit cards. They showed up on America's doorsteps, entered the living rooms and stayed. Katrina will not go away soon, and she has the power to change America.

Our national disgrace is a direct consequnce of a callous conservative ideology:

A lack of empathy and responsibility accounts for Bush's indifference and the government's delay in response, as well as the failure to plan for the security of the most vulnerable: the poor, the infirm, the aged, the children.

The deep truth:

This was not just incompetence (though there was plenty of it), not just a natural disaster (though nature played its part), not just Bush (though he is accountable). This is a failure of moral and political philosophy -- a deadly failure. That is the deep truth behind this human tragedy, humanly caused.

It is a truth that needs to be told, starting now -- over and over. There can be no delay. The Bush administration is busy framing it in its own way: bad things just happen, it's no one's fault; the federal government did the best it could -- the problem was at the state and local level; we'll rebuild and everything will be okay; the people being shipped out will have better lives elsewhere, and jobs in Wal-Mart!

The right wing slime machine is winning the blame game and the frame game.

Unless the real truth is told starting now, the American people will accept it for lack of an alternative. The Democratic response so far is playing right into Bush's framing. By delaying a response for fear it will be called "partisan," the Democratic leadership is allowing Bush to frame the tragedy. And once it is framed, it is hard to reframe! It is time to start now.

We need to shout it out over and over and over again. There is one villain in this national disgrace. His name is George W. Bush.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 3, 2005

Racism

Republican racists visit annatopia.

The Republican Party is racist to the core. It's time to start calling them on it. Hastert and Trent Lott are just the tip of the ice berg.

Hat tip to Eloy at MyDD. Hastert Tries Damage Control After Remarks Hit a Nerve:

In Syracuse, N.Y., former president Bill Clinton was discussing New Orleans's dilemma when someone described the speaker's comments. Had they been in the same place when the remarks were made, Clinton said, "I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 10:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 23, 2005

Chickenhawks

Chickenhawk excuses. (Be sure to read the comments.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Classic STF analysis on "Intelligent Design" movement.

STF readers will be very familiar with many of the concepts, principles and players mentioned in the article below.

Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive

The "intelligent design" controversy, especially as it manifests in the "teach the controversy" approach, is a classic example of long-term right-wing thinking that eventually winds up inserting a formerly "fringe" idea into the mainstream of discussion, and of turning an issue on it's head: now, the issue is promoting "academic freedom" so that people can make "legitimate criticisms of Darwin", not teaching "Creationism" and replacing science with religion.

... and the Discovery Institute (an offshoot of the Hudson Institute) is an example par excellence what the right wing funds, and how the resulting organizations operate.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 18, 2005

Why most chickenhawks are hypocrites

Majikthise : Why most chickenhawks are hypocrites. Excerpt:

1. A chickenhawk supports the war and could volunteer to fight.
2. Moreover he* recommends the war enthusiastically, and tries to convince other people that the war is worthwhile. He may have exhorted us to invade Iraq in the first place. Maybe he even attacks critics of the war for being "weak" or "unpatriotic."
3. He knows that there aren't currently enough troops to fight the war properly.
4. He understands that if the war is not fought properly, we will lose. He can't advocate the status quo, because that would be hypocritical. After all, he says he supports the war. He also claims to support our troops, and he wouldn't want any unnecessary deaths for lack of reinforcements.
Go see where it is going.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 11, 2005

Reassigning the Meaning of Words

Atrios has two back to back posts up that ilustrate how the Right reassigns the very meaning of words to promote their propaganda agenda. In this case, the word is "terrorism."

In the Vandalism post, he links to AMERICABlog, which discusses how MSNBC's Tucker Carlson praises France for blowing up a Greenpeace boat, killing one person on board. Apparently blowing up a boat and killing the occupant is not "terrorism."

In the Meanwhile... post, he points out that the FBI says bringing a bomb on a plane is "not a terrorist activity":

Officials have found no apparent connection between Charles Alfred Dreyling Jr. and any terrorist group or activity, said Agent Gary Johnson, an FBI spokesman.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration labels animal rights and environmental activists as "terrorists".

And we all understand that it isn't Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph look-alikes who they mean when they say "terrorists" should be "profiled."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 9, 2005

Listen To Limbaugh

I'll keep saying it. To understand what is happening to the country you have to listen to Rush Limbaugh, and visit sites like Free Republic and the right-wing blogs. This stuff is the mainstream of The Party now. Limbaugh is so mainstream that his show features things like interviews with the Vice President of the United States.

From Paul Waldman: 'Cozying up to hate radio',

Those who have never listened to Limbaugh might be surprised at just how repugnant his comments are. But will any reporter ask Cheney whether he agrees with the things Limbaugh says, or whether he believes it is appropriate for the vice president to associate with a character who trafficks in such hateful rhetoric?

Chances are the answer is no.

What is happening to us is not "the pendulum" swinging. These people are intentionally dividing the country. The only historical precendent is the period leading up to the Civil War.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:20 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 7, 2005

Religious Right Supporting Troops

Sisyphus Shrugged - the problem with this is, of course, that only a very tolerant God wouldn't have smote Fred Phelps

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 2, 2005

A Curiosity

I have a question.

President Bush has repeatedly insisted that our invasion of Iraq was not in response to the 9/11 attack. Here are a couple of examples:

“We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th.” September 17, 2003

“This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda.” June 17, 2004

He HAS said that we invaded Iraq because they were preparing to attack us, and members of his administration went so far as to say Iraq was preparing to attack us with nuclear weapons. (He has also said that we attacked Iraq "to bring freedom to the Iraqi people.")

My question: Why does the right-wing blogosphere and much of the media continue to repeat that we are in Iraq "because we were attacked" and link the invasion to 9/11 even though the President insists that is not the reason? Why are so many supposedly loyal right-wingers going against the President on that?

What I am getting at is, shouldn't we take advantage of opportunities to remind them (comments at RW blogs, letters to editors, talk-show call-ins, etc.) that the President has insisted that the invastion was not because of 9/11?

Update - Doesn't matter, they're brown. That's the whole point. Fighting "them" there so we don't have to fight "them" over here means brown. Iraq? Iran? Doesn't matter. Brown matters.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 27, 2005

The Ball

Wingnuts. Watch the video. This is Republican Jean Schmidt speaking, the opponent of Paul Hackett, running in next week's special election in Ohio. (I wrote about this the other day.)

The ball will attack YOU!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 22, 2005

Don't Ask - He Won't Tell

AMERICAblog nails the problem with the Right's "Don't ask a Supreme Court nominee any questions" request.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 13, 2005

Party Over Country

In Fox News: Anti National Security, Oliver Willis links to a video of a Fox News commentary that says all that needs to be said about "conservatives" and REAL patriotism.

As you watch the video, keep in mind that:
1) In 1991, the acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Joe Wilson, sheltered 800 Americans at the embassy in Baghdad during Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.

2) His wife Valerie Plame was a CIA covert operative working to keep WMD out of the hands of terrorists.

Now, having watched the video, what have you realized about so-called "conservatives" and "patriotism" and maintaining a "strong defense"? Those are just words. Are they words to live by? Not if it gets in the way of the interests of The Party.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:18 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 10, 2005

Suckers

Republican voters are such easy marks for the con men who run the Party.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 29, 2005

Iraq Caused 9/11

The Wingnutosphere is going all out to reinforce Bush's claim that Iraq was behind 9/11. Some examples:

It’s All About 9/11: The president links Iraq and al Qaeda — and the usual suspects moan.

It was good to hear the commander-in-chief remind people that this is still the war against terror. Specifically, against Islamo-fascists who slaughtered 3000 Americans on September 11, 2001. ... It is not the war for democratization. It is not the war for stability. Democratization and stability are not unimportant. ... That is why we are in Iraq. ... Saddam Hussein’s regime was a crucial part of that response because it was a safety net for al Qaeda. A place where terror attacks against the United States and the West were planned. A place where Saddam’s intelligence service aided and abetted al Qaeda terrorists planning operations.

Captain's Quarters

The dominant theme today will be the complaints that Bush exploited 9/11 -- complaints that will once again reveal how critics can't remember what 9/11 actually meant.
Right Wing News
...the Coalition is helping to avoid future 9/11's in America and Europe by bleeding Al-Qaeda dry in Iraq and we're encouraging a wave of freedom that will in time sweep across the Middle-East and help drain the swamp that radical Islam thrives in.
Powerline,
Pelosi's claim that there is "no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq" is mind-numbingly obtuse. Let's itemize just the huge, obvious connections: ...
SoCalPundit,
It seems President Bush’s mentioning of Iraq in the same sentence as the attacks of 9/11 has set off a bit of a fire storm among the leftist elite in America. So often I hear even centrist individuals and media folk state that there is no evidence that Iraq was in any way involved in the attacks of 9/11 or any other terrorist activity for that matter. Nothing could be further from the truth.
PoliPundit.com
The Iraq War was not retribution for 9/11/01, but the Iraq War has been very much about 9/11. It is about 9/11/2008 or 9/11/2012 or whatever the date, God forbid, the next large scale attack on America is scheduled to take place. It is about a U.S. President being responsible enough to act where he saw a threat so that he would not find himself waking up to another 9/11 and knowing that it happened because he had not connected the dots.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:56 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Persecution

FRAMESHOP has questions that we, as Americans, must face. The persecution of Christians must be addressed! Here are just a few, go read the rest:

  • Can anyone think of a day in our national calendar when Federal and State offices are closed because of a Christian Holiday?
  • Can anyone think of one President or Vice President, or any member of the President's cabinet who was a church-going Christian?
  • Can anyone name a Representative or Senator in Congress who has not been forced to resign once he or she became openly Christian?
  • Can anyone think of a state level representative who openly practices Christianity?
  • Can anyone think of a state or federal judge who has been appointed to the bench or elected despite being Christian?
  • Can anyone think of any U.S. diplomats who retained their jobs once it was discovered that they were raised Christian?
  • Can anyone think of any Christian symbols that are mounted and celebrated in our nation's capital on an annual basis?
  • Can anyone think of a single town in America where it is safe to attend a Christian church?
  • Can anyone think of a single place in America where Christian Churches have not been the subject of regular abuse from the public?
  • Can anyone think of a single U.S. University that does not have a quota system to guard against the hiring of too many Christian professors?

    [. . .] And if there's any time left over, try changing the word "Christian" to the word "Muslim" in a few of the questions and see if the answers are any different.

  • Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    "Those" People

    Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11.”

    Dark people. People who are over there, not here. Other people. People who write with funny characters. People who listen to music with lots of drums.

    You know who I mean. Get them. Get them all. Turn them into glass. Make them glow.

    Update - Digby's on it, too. And Crooks and Liars.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 18, 2005

    You Want Nazi? I'LL Show You Nazi!

    The language of the Right grows ever more violent. Through Atrios, Clever Peasantry: Now That's Classy!! catches part of an exchange on Fox

    "I think they would have been very happy to be allowed to defecate on themselves."
    And I heard this on Limbaugh yesterday: (Through DailyKos.)
    The Club G'itmo T-Shirt - What Happens in G'itmo Stays in G'itmo
    On the air Limbaugh was laughing about it, making big funny about the whining liberals complaining about how the prisoners are treated. As is the comic strip Mallard Fillmore. Yep, torture is a big joke. Launching aggressive war, torture, napalm... big funny.

    Watch your backs.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 8, 2005

    Republican Country

    The black boy was somewhere he shouldn't have been, from Mark Kleiman.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    June 7, 2005

    Not Communist Agent After All

    Another GOP Fable Evaporates

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 24, 2005

    Something Is Happening Here

    Voinovich Asks Senators to Reject Bolton,

    The maverick Republican who denied President Bush's U.N. nominee a smooth sail through the GOP-led Senate asked colleagues Tuesday to vote against a "controversial and ineffective ambassador."
    Defying Bush, House votes to expand stem-cell research
    Ignoring a White House veto threat, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday to allow federal research on stem cells taken from human embryos after an emotional debate over the meaning of life and the promise of science.

    [. . .] The 238-194 vote was a rare defeat for President Bush in the Republican-controlled House and may lead to the first veto of his presidency. Fifty Republicans voted for expanded stem-cell research, while 14 Democrats opposed the bill.

    But what it is ... (wait for it) ... is not exactly clear. Republicans defying the far right???????

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:28 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 23, 2005

    I Used To Be A Democrat, But...

    Controversial article in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, Leaving the left / I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity.

    But look at the links on the guy's blog. Federalist Society, Claremont Institute, National Review, Pacific Legal Foundation, Powerline. Far, far right stuff. This guy is a hard-core "movement conservative." I think the Chronicle got taken for a ride.

    Update Someone else noticed...

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:57 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 19, 2005

    Here It Comes II

    Radio host Glenn Beck "thinking about killing Michael Moore".

    How many of you know about how the Rwanda killings were triggered?

    (Through Atrios)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 18, 2005

    Bush's Yalta Remark

    Here's my question:

    in the entire history of the United States, has a president ever publicly uttered a moral equivalency more abhorrent than what Bush did in his Latvia speech?
    I had the same question.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 16, 2005

    Getting government out of our lives?

    This arrived in my mailbox yesterday... think it apropos on the messaging/framing front.

    From the Sunday Portland Oregonian:
    "Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, I think the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives."

    Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:06 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Storkists

    Tom Tomorrow nails it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 15, 2005

    More on Bush and Yalta

    Bush's Troubling FDR 'Apology' at Consortium News,

    But Bush’s V-E Day speech on May 7 contained a dangerous and deceitful subtext that nearly everyone in the ever-clueless U.S. news media missed as they fell over themselves to praise the president’s performance on his European trip.

    [. . .] during the Cold War, U.S. administrations worked to overthrow democratically elected governments in a number of countries, including Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), the Congo (1961) and Chile (1973). Sometimes elected leaders were killed, like Patrice Lumumba in the Congo and Salvador Allende in Chile.

    In nearly all these cases, the putchists followed their coups with brutal dictatorial regimes that kept the population in line through torture, imprisonment and murder. During these depredations, the U.S. government helped the dictators or looked the other way.

    [. . .] If George W. Bush truly wanted to make democracy more than a rhetorical device, he would have given a very different speech at the V-E Day anniversary in the Netherlands. He would have twinned his call for Moscow’s apologies with admissions of Washington’s anti-democratic excesses of the Cold War.

    Bush would have apologized to the people of Iran for the CIA’s sponsorship of the 1953 coup; he would have begged forgiveness from Guatemala’s population for a quarter-century of repression that included genocide against Mayan tribes in the highlands; he would have expressed remorse over the tens of thousands of murdered, tortured and disappeared in Central America, South America and Africa; he would have voiced regret for the millions who perished in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

    [. . .] In dozens of cases over the past five years, when Bush could have stood up for democratic principles inside the United States, he didn’t. Instead, he has approached all political issues with scorched-earth strategies that enlist angry supporters who never grow tired of acting the part of the victim while shouting down weaker political opponents.

    Really -- go read.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    God Is Pro-Choice

    People hold all kinds of irrational religious beliefs. Here is one of the "Questions to Ponder" in Scott Adams' book, The Religion War:

    (6.) The dictionary defines "faith" as belief without evidence. It defines "stupidity" as unreasoned thinking. Is belief without evidence a form of unreasoned thinking?

    The answer does not become a problem until radical Christians insist on turning their unreasoned thinking into legal mandates. Today I will address why God is Pro-Choice.

    Unless otherwise identified, all of my quotes are borrowed freely from Truth In Religion, by Mortimer Adler.

    There are two kinds of truth. The first kind of truth is logical, scientific or descriptive truth which "corresponds to the way things really are." The second kind of truth is the poetic truth of literature and faith, which while not exactly and precisely true, nevertheless may convey profound moral truths. While "the truths of faith or religious belief are beyond proof by any empirical or rational means." It is also a given that "[m]eaning or significance is not dependent on the logical truth of what is being said or thought.

    Scriptural proscriptions against a variety of immoral acts are addressed in Leviticus 20 The Penalties for Acts of Immorality. The contention that Christian faith requires a believer to be anti-abortion is indelibly linked, through Catholicism, to the proposition that contraception is immoral. I selected two representative examples of the Christian and/or Catholic argument against abortion. Birth Control and Genesis38 by Matt 1618 and Contraception.

    I won't bother with a point by point refutation, because it isn't worth the bother. Both of these sites are not only missing a couple of branches on ye old logic tree, they resemble barren logic telephone poles completely lacking any logical coherence. Matt 1618 does make one frank concession:

    Most Christian opponents of the Catholic teaching on birth control say that the Bible nowhere condemns birth control. It is true, birth control is not explicitly mentioned as being condemned in the Bible, in the sense of 'Thou shalt not practice birth control' (though we have seen its clear implications in Genesis 38) . A full reading of Scripture itself likewise does not have an explicit condemnation of abortion itself. In fact, I have seen some use Numbers 5:12-22 as God actually authorizing abortion. There is nothing in the Bible that condemns abortion anywhere approaching the condemnation of birth control that we see in Genesis 38:9

    The condemnation of birth control in Genesis 38:9 is the infamous parable of Onan's wasted seed:

    And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

    If masturbation and contraception are immoral, God could easily have let us know in clearer language. Why did God force us to make the inferential leap from "spilling seed" to masturbation and/or contraception? The prohibition against abortion requires a second inferential leap from contraception to abortion.

    Let's grant that the Bible is divinely inspired. God is perfectly capable of itemizing specific immoral acts, not the least of which is Leviticus 11:12, which states that "everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is an abomination to you." That puts eating shrimp, lobster, clams and oysters on the same moral par as homosexuality and adultery. Nowhere does God specifically identify contraception or abortion as immoral acts. Not once. Why didn't God simply list abortion as an abomination? Did abortion slip his mind?

    St. Augustine's religious and spiritual evolution is instructive in identifying the fatal flaw of the pinched reading of scripture that compels the flawed conclusion that abortion is morally wrong. When he was first forced to read the Bible by his mother he dismissed it as "not for mature minds exercising their literal meaning." Only after he heard a sermon by St. Ambrose on the text "the letter killeth, the spirit giveth life," did St. Augustine revisit the Bible. It was only after he read the Bible for its deeper poetic truth that went "beyond the literal meanings of the words to the moral, allegorical, anagogical, and spiritual meanings to be found in the things literally signified by words of the text" that St. Augistine converted to Christianity.

    It is not from the deeper poetic reading of scripture that radical Christians discover a moral condemnation of contraception and abortion. The biblical ban on contraception and abortion is a pious fiction invented out of whole cloth and transmuted into Catholic dogma over the centuries. Self appointed contemporary Protestant Mini-Popes have adopted the abortion fiction that was not traditionally shared by Protestants. The Protestant Mini-Popes are close to adopting the Catholic ban on contraception, which has traditionallly been a Catholic dogma rejected by most Protestant faiths. The simple fact is that the Bible does not mention either contraception or abortion. If repeating a lie for hundreds of years made it true, the Sun would still revolve around the Earth.

    It would be bad enough if it was the pinched literal reading of scripture rejected by St. Augustine that radical Christians were trying to impose on America by force of law. They have taken it a step further. They are trying to impose moral prohibitions that are not in any way supported by scripture.

    There is a fundamental rule of legislative interpretation that also works as a general rule for biblical interpretation of scripture. Whatever is not prohibited, is permitted. Since contraception and abortion are not prohibited, they are permitted. Every woman is permitted by scripture to make the private medical decision, informed by her personal religious beliefs and conscience, about whether or not to have an abortion. God is Pro-Life.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 5:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 14, 2005

    The Money

    Put a Tiger In Your Think Tank shows ExxonMobile's donations to the Right's netword of think tanks and advocacy communications organizations from 2000 to 2003.

    Look at the amounts contributed by just one company!

    Each of these organizations exists to communicate to the general public in various forms, always about how right-wing ideology and the Republican Party benefit them. That's all they do.

    How many Progressive organizations can you think of that exist to communicate to the general public how Progressive ideas and values benefit them?

    THIS is why Republicans win.

    (Thanks to this Kos story.)

    Update - Commonweal Institute and Breakthrough Institute are two Progressive organizations talking about reaching out to the general public and promoting underlying Progressive values and ideas.

    Give them money so they can get this going.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 13, 2005

    Pentagon Enforces Theocracy

    Do you remember the controversy about the Air Force Academy enforcing right-wing Christianity on the cadets? In the post Who Got the Pink Slip? Think Progress follows up.

    The whistle blower has been fired.

    Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, the person said to be responsible for the harassment of non-Christians, is being given a promotion by the Pentagon. (The investigation is not concluded.)

    This is what is known as "sending a message."

    These people are not fooling around, and the message is that they have already taken control. Watch your backs.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Just For A Laugh / They Lie

    From the Republican Party 2000 Platform:

    Over a five year period, as surpluses continue to grow, we will return half a trillion dollars to the taxpayers who really own it, without touching the Social Security surplus. That’s what we mean by our Lock-Box: The Social Security surplus is off-limits, off budget, and will not be touched. We will not stop there, for we are also determined to protect Medicare and to pay down the national debt. Reducing that debt is both a sound policy goal and a moral imperative. Our families and most states are required to balance their budgets; it is reasonable to assume the federal government should do the same. Therefore, we reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.
    Skip forward to 2005, Bush: Social Security Trust Fund "just IOUs",
    Using a government filing cabinet as a prop, President Bush yesterday played to fears that the Social Security Trust Fund is little more than a stack of worthless IOUs.

    [. . .] "There is no trust fund, just IOUs that I saw firsthand, that future generations will pay," Bush said after inspecting the storage site. "Imagine — the retirement security for future generations is sitting in a filing cabinet."

    T.H.E.Y. J.U.S.T. L.I.E! They say what they need to say at the time to get enough people to let them do what they want, and then they move on with their own agenda. It is just cover stories, sell jobs, smokescreens. See the forest: What they SAY has nothing to do with what they DO.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:13 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 11, 2005

    Bush and Yalta Again

    Pat Buchanan, in Was World War II worth it?, defends Bush's speech claiming Yalta was FDR's betrayal to Communism and taking the discussion in the direction they want it to go. Communism was worse than the Nazis, etc.

    So, Pat and George, which side should we have fought on? Your true colors (and loyalties) are becoming clear.

    Update - ">In a talk about his column,

    He suggested that because Germans voted Hitler in, they did not need to be liberated, and that Britain and France drew Germany into the wider conflict.
    C'mon, Pat and George, tell us which side you think we should have fought on.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 10, 2005

    More More on Bush and Yalta

    Bigger players are picking this up. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo today

    In making this argument the president joins a rich tradition of maniacs who believe that at the end of World War II we should have joined with the defeated remainder of the German army and fought our way through Eastern Europe to the border of Russia and, in all likelihood, on to Moscow to overthrow the Soviet Union itself -- certainly not a difficult proposition considering what an insubstantial land Army the Soviet Union had at the time.

    If that seems like an over-dramatic alternative scenario, then you just aren't familiar with the history of the period.

    [. . .] The president also makes common cause, though whether he's familiar with the history he's wading into I don't know, with those who argued before the war and after that the US and the UK made their fundamental error in the war itself, by allying with the Soviets against Nazism rather than with Nazism against the Soviets. [emphasis added]

    And Slate,

    Last year, George W. Bush endorsed a revanchist view of the Vietnam War: that our political leaders undermined our military and denied us victory. Now, on his Baltic tour, he has endorsed a similar view of the Yalta accords, that great bugaboo of the old right.

    [. . .] Bush's cavalier invocations of history for political purposes are not surprising. But for an American president to dredge up ugly old canards about Yalta stretches the boundaries of decency and should draw reprimands...

    [. . .] Along with the myth of FDR's treachery in leading America into war, the "stab in the back" interpretation of Yalta became a cudgel with which the old right and their McCarthyite heirs tried to discredit a president they had long despised.

    As I wrote the other day (and Josh also gets), Bush is lining up with those who say we fought on the wrong side in WWII, and wrote earlier today, We need to understand just how far to the right Bush's statement was. This is back to McCarthyism. And where will it go from here? Watch your backs. Obviously I'm a strong believer in repetition. Every blog should be on this -- it's waaaayyyy beyond just the usual Bush stuff that everyone ignores. This is so extreme that America should be told -- and warned.

    Update - Kevin Drum has more.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:58 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    More on Bush & Yalta

    Once Again, the Big Yalta Lie,

    The claim that Roosevelt betrayed Eastern Europe at Yalta, and that he set the stage for 40 years of Soviet domination, is an old right-wing canard. By repeating it, and by publicly charging that the Yalta agreement was in the "unjust tradition" of Hitler's deal with Stalin, Bush was simply engaging in cheap historical revisionism. His glib comments belong to the Ann Coulter school of history.

    [. . .] One element of the right-wing mythology developed in those years was that Alger Hiss, who served during the war as an assistant to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius Jr. — and who was charged in the years that followed with being a Soviet spy and was convicted of perjury — was instrumental in getting Roosevelt to collude with Stalin against Churchill. It was none other than Joseph McCarthy who declared in February 1950 that "if time permitted, it might be well to go into detail about the fact that Hiss was Roosevelt's chief advisor at Yalta when Roosevelt was admittedly in ill health and tired physically and mentally." In later decades, conservatives such as Ronald Reagan would denounce any negotiations with the Soviet Union as portending a new "Yalta."

    We need to understand just how far to the right Bush's statement was. This is back to McCarthyism. And where will it go from here? Watch your backs.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Flee

    Pacific Views: Church? State? Who cares?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 8, 2005

    God is Pro-Choice

    If you believe in free will, God is pro-choice. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that suggests anything to the contrary. If you accept the concept of free will, then allowing individual choice is a requirement for allowing people to choose between Satan or God. Free will is at the crux of the abortion debate.

    Martin Luthur broke from the Catholic Church over the issue of free will in his essay, Concerning Christian Liberty. The Catholic Church rejected the idea that God's grace removes freedom from the human will at The Council of Trent.

    I'm not enough of a theologian to explain how right wing Evangelists and doctrinaire Catholics both start from completely different points and arrive at the same conclusion, in spite of the total silence of the Bible on the topic of abortion. That's probably also why I'm a wayward Presbyterian. I think they are both nuts.

    From everything Christ said about Atonement, I think it is clear that all men and women have free will and if they want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they are obliged to follow Christ's words as well as his path. Nobody has defined good works better than Rabbi Hillel:

    Rabbi Hillel, the older contemporary of Jesus, taught the Golden Rule in a particularly emphatic way. One day a heathen asked him to sum up the whole of Jewish teaching while standing on one leg. Hillel stood on one leg and replied, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the Torah. The rest is commentary. Go and learn it.”

    By emphasizing God's grace over free will, right wing Evangelicals also grant themselves permission to dictate what everyone else's moral decisions should be. It also allows them to grant themselves permission to use immoral means to accomplish their ends and bear false witness against those who disagree with them. Since God's grace does not depend on good works, being born again gives them the freedom to impose theocracy through duplicitous, deceitful and sinful actions.

    There is no contradiction in the dichotomy that their religious freedom depends on depriving everyone who disagrees with them of their religious freedom, because God's law supercedes the Constitution.

    Of course, I'm a hopeless case, because I think Scott Adams captures the essence of Genuine Belief in his book God's Debris. There is no room for compromise between the Christian fundamentalist definition of religious freedom and the Constitution. One or the other is going to have to lose. Since Christian Fascism Has the Power, it is entirely likely that the Constitution is going to lose.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 8:30 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Bush Spouts "FDR Betrayed US" Nonsense

    In Europe yesterday Bush spouted old-fashioned far-right nonsense and shit all over FDR and Churchill and all the soldiers who died fighting the Nazis. Bush: Yalta led to repression that still must be addressed,

    Second-guessing Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Bush said Saturday the United States played a role in Europe's painful division after World War II - a decision that helped cause "one of the greatest wrongs of history" when the Soviet Union imposed its harsh rule across Central and Eastern Europe.
    Someone else noticed. (Update - Max Blumenthal noticed, too. But also see this. My point is the similarity of theme.) (Update 2 - paperwight at BOPNews also is on this now, wth a different twist.) (Update 3 - Steve Gilliard is on this brilliantly.) (4 And Lawyers Guns & Money and Brad DeLong.) (5 Digby now.) I thought maybe it was only me. You have to be old enough to understand just how far, far, far right this stuff is. From the story,
    "Certainly it goes further than any president has gone," historian Alan Brinkley said. "This has been a very common view of the far right for many years - that Yalta was a betrayal of freedom, that Roosevelt betrayed the hopes of generations."

    For some understanding of the right-wing roots of Bush's speech read this National Review piece, Under Yalta’s Shadow, (while keeping in mind that the agreement was for free elections in Europe and the Soviets helping defeat Japan and the alternative was war with the Soviets.) Here is Pat Buchanan in The Betrayal of Poland 1939-1945:

    With Poland's membership in NATO at issue, a question has arisen as to whether America owes a debt to the Polish people for Franklin D. Roosevelt's having "betrayed" the Polish nation to Joseph Stalin at Yalta.

    [. . .] But, in truth, Yalta was only the final betrayal of Poland, and not only FDR but Winston Churchill bears moral responsibility for a half-century of communist enslavement of the Polish people.

    But the Right's beef goes back even further. Before WWII there was an "America First" movement, championed by Charles Lindbergh, that among other things tried to stop America from supplying Britain with shipping convoys. Lindbergh complained that "the defense of England" really meant "defeat of Germany." In a September 11, 1941 speech in Iowa Lindbergh "blamed the British, the Roosevelt administration, and the Jews for drawing America into the war, proclaiming that they were all agitators."

    To this day the Right blames FDR for "getting us into" World War II, even saying he conspired to start the war. And they say that the Yalta agreement that Bush spoke out against was part of a "Communist plot" by FDR to help the Soviets take over the world. Here is a recent example. Here is Patrick Buchanan in an article defending America First and accusing FDR:

    And there were secret agents and dupes. Only they were not Nazis. They were communist traitors and Stalinist spies honeycombed through FDR's regime: Alger Hiss, Laurence Duggan and Noel Field at State, Harry Dexter White at Treasury, Lauchlin Currie in FDR's White House, Judith Coplin at Justice, Rep. Sam Dickstein, Julius Rosenberg and David Greenglass in the atom bomb project, etc., etc.
    So what Bush is saying contradicts accepted history and follows the far-Right line that America made a mistake by allying with the Soviets, justifying this with the example of what the Soviets did following the war.

    This has been an ongoing theme in Republican/European discourse, that Germany was fighting the Soviets, and we should have been on their side. Remember when Reagan laid a wreath on SS graves at Bittburg, and when in a speech he said the Lincoln Brigade fought on the "wrong side?" (The Lincoln Brigade fought against the fascists in Spain.) Remember also Pat Buchanan defending Demjanjuk by saying "he was fighting communism." (Update This was from memory, not a source. I'm looking for a source but may have confused Buchanan's support for Demjanjuk and separate Buchanan statements about the Nazis fighting Communism.) And remember that Bush's grandfather helped finance the Nazis.

    Yes, the roots of Bush's speech denouncing FDR and Yalta go way back.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:26 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 6, 2005

    Louie, Louie banned in Michigan

    Hat tip to Salon for an article, Band banned from performing 'Louie Louie' that describes why "Benton Harbor Superintendent Paula Dawning cited the song's allegedly raunchy lyrics in ordering the McCord Middle School band not to perform it in Saturday's Grand Floral Parade, held as part of the Blossomtime Festival."

    Am I the only one who was not aware that a "pop culture controversy" has been simmering for decades over the lyrics to Louie, Louie ? Fortunately, an alert parent notified Supt. Paula Dawning of their concern and Dawning answered the clarion call to protect our children:

    In a letter sent home with McCord students, Dawning said "Louie Louie" was not appropriate for Benton Harbor students to play while representing the district -- even though the marching band wasn't going to sing it.

    Fortunately for us all, the FBI has been on the job:

    The best-known, most notorious version was a hit in 1963 for the Kingsmen; the FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics before declaring they not only were not obscene but also were "unintelligible at any speed."

    Two years? The FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics of a song? We can only hope President Bush awards the agents a Medal of Freedom.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 7:01 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 4, 2005

    Jokes About Masturbating A Horse

    In a recent post I slyly referred to something that I assumed my readers already knew about. That was a mistake, and the subject deserves much wider attention. Bloggers may have heard about it, but the general public certainly has not - and they should.

    At the White House Correspondent's Dinner Laura Bush said the following:

    Taking listeners inside the private White House residence, Bush described her typical evening with the President.

    "Nine o'clock. Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I'm watching 'Desperate Housewives' - with Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife," Bush deadpanned with perfect comic timing.

    Then she said:
    Or as Laura Bush noted on Saturday night about her husband and the ranch in Texas: "George didn't know much about ranches when we bought the place. ... But I'm proud of George. He's learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What's worse, it was a male horse."

    The first lady got even more laughs when she talked about how she went out one night with Cheney's wife, Lynne, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Bush confidante Karen Hughes to Chippendales, a club where women tuck cash in male dancers' skimpy drawers.

    "I wouldn't even mention it, except (Supreme Court Justices) Ruth Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor saw us there," Bush deadpanned. "I won't tell you what happened, but Lynne's Secret Service code name is now 'Dollar Bill.' "

    Meanwhile, the Republicans are outlawing cheerleading in Texas,
    By a 65-56 vote, the House gave preliminary approval to a bill sponsored by Rep. Al Edwards, D-Houston, curbing "sexually suggestive" routines by cheerleaders, drill teams or other public school performance groups.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    It Starts

    Bush announced his plan to turn Social Security into a welfare program for the poor only. And the Right has already started saying we need to get rid of the program, complaining that everyone else has to "subsidize' the poor... Pardon My English: Progressive Indexing of Social Security: Bend Over Middle Class:

    The idea that those earning $25,000 annually or even twice that much, or three or four times that much for that matter, should be subsidizing seniors who apparently haven’t had enough ambition to drag their asses down to the Wal Mart and get a job as a greeter is ludicrous.
    Nasty...

    (P.S. How many lies can you spot in the piece? For example, Clinton never said people earning $30,000 were "rich." He did ask for an income tax on Social Security recipients with incomes above $30,000. But these are RETIRED people wo are not working -- think about how much you have to have in the bank to get $30,000... Why SHOULDN'T they pay income taxes?)

    Thanks to The Daou Report.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    When The President Talks To God

    Everybody! Must See! When The President Talks To God

    Thanks to Pitviper Kos Diary where the first comment posted is "For a second there it was almost like I was in America or something."

    Update - Downoad the song for free through this BOPNews post.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    May 3, 2005

    Right and Wrong Religions

    How many things are wrong with this?

    Update at Paperwight's Fair Shot.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 30, 2005

    Making Shit Up

    Make stuff up, and claim Democrats said it. Play victim and get lots of readers. You guessed it, another "conservative" blog.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 28, 2005

    Leo Strauss

    I posted the following as a comment to the Opium For You post and Dave asked me to repost it as a blog.

    I've been researching the devotion of the neocons to the philosophy of Leo Strauss for a long time. If I haven't posted anything about this here, I should have. He was a professor at the U. of Chicago, taken very seriously at the time by any number of bright young things who considered themselves intellectually elite. A lot of my friends considered themselves intellectually elite and went to the University of Chicago, which considered itself the most intellectually elite university, so this was the right place for Strauss. I wasn't considered intellectually elite because I couldn't afford to go there. It was a private school and very expensive. To be intellectually elite you had to be rich. Of course you also had to be a man, so I could only have become a second-class Straussian at best anyway.


    Strauss himself was, well, nuts. No other way to put it. A victim of Nazi Germany's persecution of the Jews, he spent his life wasting his considerable intellect finding secrets that didn't exist hidden in ancient philosophers, using this to reconstruct Nazi style philosophy. Maybe he suffered from the Stockholm syndrome.

    You had to be a member of the intellectual elite to be allowed to share those "secrets" and this created a vicious circle. Those who wanted to be considered elite were allowed into the inner sanctum and thus could forever consider themselves elite, and plenty of his former students are now in positions of power. I knew some of his followers. You couldn't argue with them because, of course, they considered themselves the cream of the intellectual elite in possession of "secrets' nobody else could grasp -- or were even allowed to know about. Strauss' writings contain their own hidden "secrets" only the initiated elite can interpret and understand. You have to have been given the Keys to the Kingdom or you can't play. The Chosen Ones, the would-be modern Philosopher Kings. Combine this with their cynical manipulation of the Dominionists, who believe that God has appointed them to establish and rule the Kingdom of God on Earth and you've got as poisonously dangerous a brew as has ever existed.

    We would do well to research and understand this.

    Posted by Meryl Johnson at 3:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Al Gore On Rule Of Law

    Al Gore gave a speech Wednesday on the Republican effort to set aside the rules of the Senate and not allow filibusters. Please read it. Exerpts:

    The survival of freedom depends upon the rule of law.

    The rule of law depends, in turn, upon the respect each generation of Americans has for the integrity with which our laws are written, interpreted and enforced.

    That necessary respect depends not only on the representative nature of our legislative branch, but also on the deliberative character of its proceedings. As James Madison envisioned, ours is a "deliberative democracy." Indeed, its deliberative nature is fundamental to the integrity of our social compact. Because the essential alchemy of democracy -- whereby just power is derived from the consent of the governed -- can only occur in a process that is genuinely deliberative.

    Moreover, it is the unique role of the Senate, much more than the House, to provide a forum for deliberation, to give adequate and full consideration to the strongly held views of a minority. In this case, the minority is made up of 44 Democratic Senators and 1 Independent.

    And it is no accident that our founders gave the Senate the power to pass judgment on the fitness of nominees to the Judicial branch. Because they knew that respect for the law also depends upon the perceived independence and integrity of our judges. And they wanted those qualities to be reviewed by the more reflective body of Congress.

    [. . .] I am genuinely dismayed and deeply concerned by the recent actions of some Republican leaders to undermine the rule of law by demanding the Senate be stripped of its right to unlimited debate where the confirmation of judges is concerned, and even to engage in outright threats and intimidation against federal judges with whom they philosophically disagree.

    [. . .] Through their words and threats, these Republicans are creating an atmosphere in which judges may well hesitate to exercise their independence for fear of Congressional retribution, or worse.

    It is no accident that this assault on the integrity of our constitutional design has been fueled by a small group claiming special knowledge of God's will in American politics. They even claim that those of us who disagree with their point of view are waging war against "people of faith." How dare they?

    [. . .] This fight is not about responding to a crisis. It is about the desire of the administration and the Senate leadership to stifle debate in order to get what they want when they want it. What is involved here is a power grab -- pure and simple.

    And what makes it so dangerous for our country is their willingness to do serious damage to our American democracy in order to satisfy their lust for total one-party domination of all three branches of government. They seek nothing less than absolute power. Their grand design is an all-powerful executive using a weakened legislature to fashion a compliant judiciary in its own image. They envision a total breakdown of the separation of powers. And in its place they want to establish a system in which power is unified in the service of a narrow ideology serving a narrow set of interests.

    It is a historic speech that high school students will be reading 100 years from now (if the Right doesn't get away with this coup). Go read the rest. And watch your backs.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Opium For You

    Billmon, on Straussians. Well worth reading, if you have time. Learn about the philosophy of the neo-cons in charge of this country. Part of the idea is to feed religion to the masses to get them to follow you... And yes, this stuff is for real. Billmon is writing about it because the neo-cons believe it.

    To the Straussians, rationality does not provide an adequate basis for a stable social order. To the contrary, the Age of Enlightenment has ushered in the crisis of modernity, in which nihilism – the moral vacuum left behind by the death of God – inevitably leads to decadence, decline and, ultimately, genocide.

    [. . .] What gives Straussian thought its special flavor – a bitter blend of hypocrisy and cynicism – is the fact that Strauss himself didn’t believe in the eternal “truths” he championed. He was a nihilist, in other words – but one who believed only the philosophical elite could be trusted to indulge in such a dangerous vice. In exchange for this privilege, the elite has a special obligation to uphold the “noble lies” the ignorant masses must live by if society is to survive.

    [. . .] The rationale – or rationalization – for the populist ploy is that the common folk are a hell of a lot less liberal (again, using the Enlightenment definition of the word) than what the Straussians like to call America’s “parchment regime” – that is, the ideas and principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The masses want their opium, in other words, and with the right guidance, will happily sweep away the liberal elites who have been denying it to them.

    This, in turn, will set the stage for a golden (or at least silver) age of religious orthodoxy, patriarchal values and a hierarchical corporate capitalism stripped of its original libertarian feistiness – all of it supervised by a moral nanny state freed from the confines of all that “parchment.”

    Billmon comments on this,
    [. . .] If there is a crisis of modernity, it appears to be more a function of the faithful – some whom are getting awfully violent for a bunch of opium addicts. When the 9/11 terrorists flew their planes into the World Trade Center, I can guarantee you they weren’t reciting passages from Mill’s On Liberty. The real crisis may be the lack of modernity, not a surplus of the stuff – an argument the neocons themselves are now making, at least about the religious fanatics in the Middle East.

    The ones in Midwest, on the other hand, are another story. To the Straussians, it apparently doesn’t matter what kind of religious orthodoxy America has – as long as it has one. And so the highly educated followers of a Jewish refugee from demented old Europe have allied themselves with some of the most ignorant, racist and xenophobic people in modern crazy America.

    That's a little bit, to get you worked up. It got me worked up. Anyway, go read it, and learn what shocking conclusions Billmon reaches.

    Update - Digby weighs in on the subject.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 27, 2005

    Setting Aside The Rules

    I participated in a conference call with Senate Minority Leader Reid Monday. The topic was the Republican "nuclear option" of not allowing filibusters anymore.

    Senator Reid said something that I don't think the public is being made sufficiently aware of. He said that the Senate Parliamentarian has stated that this idea the Republicans have of changing the rules of the Senate to disallow filibusters of judicial nominations is itself against the rules of the Senate! (For one thing, the rule change itself could be filibustered, so the Republican insistence that 51 votes is enough to change the rules is against the rules.)

    But the Republicans are saying no, they are just going to change the rule, regardless of what the Senate rules allow or do not allow. Just because they can, and no one can stop them.

    I think the implications of this are disturbing, to say the least. The Republicans are saying they just will not follow the rules of the Senate, because they have the power to say this, and that's that. Rules will no longer apply. And as I understand it the Democrats can't take this to the courts, because separation of powers prevents the courts from getting involved with the internal rules of the Senate. (And if they could take it before the courts, would judges appointed under the Republican rules hear the case...?)

    So this is a bigger deal than just a battle over appointing a few judges. This will be a full-blown Constitutional crisis, well beyond the 2000 Supreme Court decision to set aside the election and appoint Bush as President. This will be about the Republicans saying they will just make up the rules as they go along, because they have the power to do so.

    My question is, how is this different from a coup, takeover, whatever you want to call it? I ask that question in all seriousness and I hope we can have a discussion in the comments, because I don't know the answer. I know I get worked up over things like this (I mean, I'm a blogger, right?) and I would like someone to calm me down and tell me how this is not a takeover. Leave a comment. Reassure me. Tell me not to worry.

    Meanwhile, watch your backs.

    Update - From The Carpetbagger Report has more on what this is about,

    James Dobson did a lot of his usual shtick at “Justice Sunday,” railing against the judiciary, lambasting the culture that’s made him wealthy, demanding better results from the Republican Party, etc. But there was one comment from the weekend stood out for me.
    “Five black-robed justices on the Supreme Court can tell us how it’s gonna be,” Dobson said. “They’re not gods. They don’t do everything right…. For 43 years, the court has been on a campaign to limit religious liberty.”
    [. . .] This is significant because it speaks volumes about the far-right agenda. Focus on the Family and their followers in Congress aren’t just defending religion in the public square; they want the government to literally be responsible for writing and dictating prayers for all public school children. They want the biggest of all possible governments: the state as religious instructor. To do otherwise is “to limit religious liberty.”
    Calling the Supreme Court "black-robed justices" and mocking the concept of existing law... Make no mistake, these people mean it.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:43 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 26, 2005

    Great Stuff

    More great stuff from eRiposte: The Left Coaster: Why the Liberal Media Myth Persists - Part 4

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 25, 2005

    Wingnuts

    I visited Wingnutopia to see what the Republican "base" is talking about.

    WingNutDaily has a big headline, "Iran plans to knock out U.S. with 1 nuke bomb"

    Regular headlines:
    "Tehran to resume nuke enrichment"
    "Iran's imminent threat"
    "Want to help bring liberty to Iran?"

    Other headlines of note:
    "On the 'sin' of sending kids to public school" ("Shortt, writing from a biblical perspective, presents rigorous research about the agenda and effect of government schooling on the nation's young people.")

    Also, can't tell if this is an article or an ad, "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives have Penetrated Washington" reveals how Islamic extremists, taking advantage of Americans' blind trust and gaining footholds in the nation's education system, government, workplace, law enforcement and military, have been covertly working to destroy America's constitutional government and the Judeo-Christian ethics on which the nation was built


    NewsMax has as its first headline, "Latest: Savage's Book Hits #6 on N.Y. Times List"

    The Media Research Center has "Media: Dems 'Good-hearted,' GOP 'Evil'"

    TownHall has "Bolton: Attacked for being anti-Cuba?"
    "Black activists criticize NAACP for filibuster flip-flop, Group now supports Senate tactic that hobbled civil rights legislation."
    "Public school "accountability" is a failure, The free-market system can solve corruption in the public schools."

    These people are nuts.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Terror Fear

    Hey, what happened to The Fear? Where is the "threat level?" Before the election we were getting terror threats all the time... I just checked Fox News and they don't have the "threat level" meter at the bottom of the screen now!

    And remember before the Iraq war started, they were talking about attacks on local shopping malls and smallpox attacks and mailing things to our houses telling us what to do if there is a nuclear attack? Remember The Fear?

    What changed?

    Update - Agitprop in the comments following this post points us to this about the timing of the terror alerts.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 24, 2005

    Christian Fascism Has The Power

    What the disparate sects of this movement, known as Dominionism, share is an obsession with political power. A decades-long refusal to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion” over the nation and, eventually, over the earth itself. Dominionists preach that Jesus has called them to build the kingdom of God in the here and now, whereas previously it was thought that we would have to wait for it. America becomes, in this militant Biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan.

    These are excerpts from Part II of an article in the May issue of Harper's magazine, Soldiers Of Christ. I provided excerpts from Part I, Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch in a diary at MyDD, Onward Christian Soldiers. This post covers Part II, Feeling the Hate with the National Religious Broadcasters by Chris Hedges, Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute.

    After I heard an interview of Chris Hedges on Air America's Morning Sedition, I stopped by Barnes and Noble on the way home and bought their only copy of this month's Harper's. The interview is not available on the Morning Sedition site, but I sent an email request that they add it to their site. I encourage everyone to make additional requests that they add an audio clip of their interview with Hedges.

    The L.A. Times has a couple of recent articles that add background and context to this article:

    2 Evangelicals Want to Strip Courts' Funds: Taped at a private conference, the leaders outline ways to punish jurists they oppose.

    Frist Initiative Creates Rift in GOP Base

    With a couple of minor exceptions, I have refrained from any personal comments. What follows are excerpts from an unvarnished look at radical Christian evangelism:


    Under Christian dominion, America will no longer be a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, Creationism and “Christian values” form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Aside from its proselytizing mandate, the federal government will be reduced to the protection of property rights and “homeland” security. Some Dominionists (not all of whom accept the label, at least not publicly) would further require all citizens to pay “tithes” to church organizations empowered by the government to run our social-welfare agencies, and a number of influential figures advocate the death penalty for a host of “moral crimes,” including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft. The only legitimate voices in this state will be Christian. All others will be silenced.

    [Hedges footnote: When George W. Bush was first elected, Pay Robertson resigned as head of the Christian Coalition, a sign to many that Bush was the first in an expected line of regents that will herald the coming of the Messiah.


    . . .
    My new friends, evidently minor celebrities themselves in the world of Christian broadcasting, have come to Anaheim for the yearly convention because it is the only time they can see all the major Christian broadcasters in one place. They are picture-perfect members of a new Christian elite, showy, proud of how God has blessed them with material wealth and privilege, and hooked into the culture of celebrity and power

    . . .
    A bearded man dressed as a biblical prophet is pushing tours of the Holy Land. I see anti-abortion booths and evidence of fringe groups such as Jews for Jesus and Accuracy in Media, one of whose representatives hands me a report with the title “America Troops Cheer Attacks on U.S. Media.”

    All the seminars and workshops are taking place on the upper floors. One seminar is entitled “Finding god in Hollywood.” Another is called “Invading Cities for Christ: The Thousand Day Plan.”


    . . .
    Bob Lepine, the round-faced co-host of Family Life today, a radio show broadcast from Little Rock, Arkansas, tells us that this session has been sponsored by the Family Research Council, a Washington think tank dedicated to promoting “the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.”

    Editor's note: Or an unjust, oppressive and unstable society if you are not a radical Christian evangelist.
    . . .
    ”Deep in the nation’s capital,” [the] baritone voice [of Tony Perkins, a telegenic man who authored the American History Preservation Act] booms as the camera pans across the Washington mall, “America’s culture was hijacked by a secular movement determined to redefine society from religious freedom to the right to life. These radicals were doing their best to destroy two centuries of traditional values, and no one seemed to be able to stop them – until now.

    Will Congress undo 200 years of tradition?” the video asks ominously. “Not on our watch.”

    The mood of the convention is set. All Christians, everywhere, are under attack.


    . . .
    ”Today, the calls for diversity and multiculturalism are nothing more than thinly veiled attacks on anyone willing, desirous, or compelled to proclaim Christian truths,” [Perkins] says. “Today, calls for tolerance are often a subterfuge, because they will tolerate just about anything except Christian truth. Today, we live in a time when the message entrusted to you is more important than ever before to reach a world desperate to know Christ.

    . . .
    [Illinois evangelist and radio host James] McDonald quotes liberally from the book of Revelation, the only place in the New Testament where Jesus (arguably) endorses violence and calls for vengence against nonbelievers. It is, along with the apocalyptic visions of St. Paul, the movement’s go-to test. Rarely mentioned these days is the Jesus of the four gospels, the Jesus who speaks of the poor and the marginalized, who taught followers to turn the other cheek and love their enemies, the Jesus who rejected the mantle of secular power.

    . . .

    He reminds us, quoting theologian Peter Berger, that “ages of faith are not marked by dialogue but by proclamation” and that “there is power in the unapologetic proclamation of truth. There is power in it. This is a kingdom of power.” When he says the word “power,” he draws it out for emphasis. He tells the crowd to shun the “persuasive words of human wisdom.” Truth, he says, does “not rest in the wisdom of men but the power of God.” Then, in a lisping, limp-wristed imitation of liberals, he mocks, to laughter and applause, those who want to “share” and be sensitive to the needs of others.

    McDonald leaves little doubt that the convention is meant to serve as a rallying cry for a new and particularly militant movement in Christian politics, one that is sometimes mistaken for another outbreak of mere revivalism. In fact, this movement is a curious hybrid of fundamentalists, Pentecostals, Southern Baptists, conservative Catholics, Charismatics, and other evangelicals, all of whom are at war doctrinally but who nonetheless share a belief that America is destined to become a Christian nation, let by Christian men who are in turn directed by God.


    . . .
    The strange alliance in this case is premised upon the Dominionist belief that Israel must rule the biblical land in order for Christ to return, though when he does, all Jews who do not convert to Christianity supposedly will be incinerated as the believers are lifted into heaven; all this is courteously left unmentioned at the breakfast. The featured speakers include Avaraham Hirschsohn, who is the new Israeli minister of tourism, and Mechael Medved, a cultural conservative and a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. Medved is also one of the most prominent Jewish defenders of Mel Gibson’s biopic The Passion of the Christ.

    . . .
    The Christian writer Kay Arthur, who can barely contain her tears when speaking of Israel, professes that although she loves America, if she had to choose between America and Israel, “I would stand with Israel, stand with Israel as a daughter of the King of Kings, stand according to the word of God.” She goes on to quote at length from Revelation, speaking of Jesus seated on a throne floating about Jerusalem as believers are raptured up toward him in the sky.

    . . .
    I speak as well with an Israeli woman, who introduces herself as Marina. She has long blonde hair and is wearing knee-high leather boots. Marina, who emigrated to Israel from Holland and lives on a cooperative mango farm near the Sea of galilee, says she is “embarrassed” to be at the convention. “These people are anti-Semitic,” she says, speaking softly as conventioneers move past the large Israeli display space. The demonization of Muslims and Palestinians by the speakers makes her especially uneasy. I ask her why the tourism ministry is here in the first place. “Money,” she says. “It is all about money. No one else visits Israel.”

    . . .
    Dobson is perhaps the most powerful figure in the Dominionist movement. He was instrumental three years ago in purging the moderate chairman of the NRB from his post and speaks frequently with the White House. He was a crucial player in getting out the Christian vote for George W. Bush.

    . . .

    He likens the proponents of gay marriage to the Nazis, has backed political candidates who called for the execution of abortion providers, defines embryonic stem-cell research as “state-funded cannibalism,” and urges Christian parents to pull their children out of public-school systems. He has issued warnings to the Bush Administration that his extremist agenda must begin to be implemented in Washington and by the federal courts if the Republican Party wants his continued support. Dobson apparently believes that he is without sin.


    . . .
    I can’t help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

    He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major Americcan institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic, rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Adams had watched American intellectuals and industrialists flirt with fascism in the 1930’s. Mussollini’s “Corporatism,” which created an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy, had appealed to many at the time as an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In 1934, Fortune magazine lavished praise on the Italian dictator for his defanging of labor unions and his empowerment of industrialists at the expense of workers. Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderates into passivity.emphasis added
    Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right’s persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral vlues not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first “deviants” singled out by the Christian right. We would be the next.

    Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:52 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Jobs -- Party Members Only

    I've been predicting that the next couple of years will bring greater and greater consolidation of Republican one-party control. They will use all the levers of power to enforce this. For example, the government funds pro-Republican video clips and pays columnists and TV pundits promoting The Party. Government funding for the infrastructure that supports The Party. The Social Security Administration running ads for the Republican Party privatization proposal. Labor unions, teacher organizations, trial lawyers, non-profits like the NAACP harassed for supporting the opposition. Purging the government agencies of non-partisans. Etc... But the big one I predict - I guess I should have written this prediction on the blog sooner - is that this effort will reach into everyone's daily life as Republicans find ways to threaten the jobs of those who don't support The Party.

    Well, here it begins: Any Kerry Supporters On The Line?

    The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meets three times a year in various cities across the Americas to discuss such dry but important issues as telecommunications standards and spectrum regulations. But for this week's meeting in Guatemala City, politics has barged onto the agenda. At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry's 2004 campaign.
    Many jobs depend on your ability to attend government-sponsored conferences and other events. If you can't attend conferences because you haven't been loyal to The Party then you might as well not have the job. Soon security clearances, licenses and other necessary credentials will depend on Party loyalty.

    This is they tip of an iceberg. It will get worse. Expect punishment of people not loyal to The Party. Watch your backs.

    Update - A realization I just had. This also shows that the government is now checking the political loyalties of citizens. Think about that.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:19 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    April 22, 2005

    NY Conference on Religious Right's Agenda

    I just came across this. I can't make it, but I want people to know about it: Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right - a Conference

    Found through TheocracyWatch. Also, they have a good page on Taking Over the Republican Party.

    (I've been prowling the web for more info on Dominionists since I realized that They Mean It.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Digby! Digby! Dibgy!

    But damn, we typed and shopped bravely, didn't we?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

    Good Morning Vietnam!

    I laid the groundwork and introduced this morning's topic in Pope-pouri II. The focus was Karen Pittman's article, Kinda Fonda Jane. Today I will focus on Pittman's "allow me to retort" follow up, Being Fonda Jane.

    Specifically, Pittman raises this salient question:

    And to those who would attempt to argue the empirical evidence with me, I can say only this: What is actually open to debate here is not so much what Jane Fonda did in Hanoi in July of 1972 as whether or not we should forgive her for it.

    That was the gist of my closing question in Pope-pouri II:

    (5.) Do Jane Fonda and Cardinal Law's critics have an obligation to examine their own faults in refusing to grant forgiveness under any circumstances? Since contrition and forgiveness are a two way street, do Fonda and Law's critics have a moral obligation to be forgiving?

    Pittman also addresses another question I posed in Pope-pouri II;

    (4.) Is there any point in either Jane Fonda or Cardinal Law attempting to make a public act of contrition, to critics who can never be satisfied?

    Ms. Fonda’s detractors charge that she should “apologize,” which, truthfully, it seems to me, she has tried to do, on more than one occasion. But even this is not enough, for these folks in the main don’t like the way she has apologized. I guarantee you not even very public groveling and prostration would do the trick for most of them. They would still say her genuflections are fake and that she is only getting down on her hands and knees now to sell a few more lousy books. (The book is actually quite good, by the way.)

    Since Wednesday, a former Vietnam vet was arrested for showing up at one of Jane Fonda's book signings and spitting tobacco juice in her face. He made it cl