Monday, August 31, 2009

Flagged For Removal on Anchorage Craigslist


(Why'd I get flagged for removal three times? More evidence of liberal censorship. Well, I'll just have to put it up yet again, by golly.)

I just thought I'd post in the missed connection because if the last kerfuffle of a presidential election doesn't qualify as, like, a missed connection, then what does? LOL!

Anyhoo, I'm looking for a platonic longterm relationship with another elderly republican with presidential aspirations whose name isn't You Know Who LOL! I'm 45, still shapely and attractive in a school marm in a porno film kinda way and my hobbies include killing wolves and mooses from helicopters, seeing Russia from my renovated house, collecting voodoo dolls of witches and shopping, shopping shopping! Age really isn't a consideration as long as you're somewhat younger than a certain senator from Arizona. And the best part is if we can get elected, we can overthrow the uppity guy in the W H and death panels in your golden years wouldn't be a consideration.

All I ask is that you spend no more than a month or so in the WH and then have the consideration to step aside so the young blood can take over (like, can you see me presiding over the Senate or whatever it is that the Vice President does? Like, how many tie-breaking votes would I get to cast? Hellooo?)

Don't be fazed by my cutting and running from my last job. If I get to be the 48th president or whatever number we'd be up to by then, trust me, that'll be a job worth sticking to, ya betcha.

(The fourth version can be found here for the next half hour or so until those damned liberal censors in the Klondike take this version down, too.)

An Open Letter to the Great State of Texas


Go.

If you feel that strongly about it, then just go. Please. Just... just get the fuck out of our union. If you feel that strongly about taking stimulus money designed to save and create jobs, to free up credit liquidity to get our economy going again, then don't go away angrily. Just go.

You have been an embarrassment to our nation long enough. Personally, I'd rather replace the state of Texas with Puerto Rico or an erstwhile-inhabited desert island in Fiji so we don't have to put up your constant irrationally egotistical boasting about how everything in Texas is bigger and better (despite never having fielded a World Series-winning team yet inflicting Connecticut Yankee George W. Bush on the rest of the world).

We're sick and tired of hearing new about you yahoos executing innocent men (and Supreme Court Justice Tony Scalia said that's lawful so no problem there) then launching a forensic investigation that would exonerate him only 5 years after you killed the man.

If you don't like your Social Security, if you don't like your government-run Medicare and Medicaid, if you don't like annual federal disbursements that help fund your schools and institutions of higher learning, your police and fire departments and other civil and social service agencies, if you don't like being included in transportation and infrastructure funding bills, if you don't like the billions in earmarks that your legislators have been getting for you all these decades, then fuck you. More for us.

Texas collectively has always struck me as that overweight, unrefined country bumpkin uncle who shows up only when there's free BBQ at the patriarch's house, the one the rest of the family can't stand but tolerates because, while you may be the farting, belching, ball-scratching, family-loathing right wing uncle, you've always been our farting, belching, ball-scratching, family-loathing right wing uncle. Yet, if you were serious about just never coming around again to eat our food, drink our beer and clog our toilet, then hardly any of us would shed a tear.

But know this: If for any arcane reason al Qaeda had considered your infrastructure critical enough to attack on September 11th, we would've been there in a heartbeat. If God forbid Galveston had again been struck by a hurricane like Katrina four years ago, we would've been there. If Timothy McVeigh had decided, instead, to bomb a federal building in Texas instead of Oklahoma City, we would've been there for our American brothers and sisters.

We would've started huge internet campaigns and relief organizations to supplement the federal response. We would've dispatched our local fire and law enforcement officials to help your people, volunteers would've poured in from all over the country to help out. Doctors and nurses and paramedics and ordinary volunteers would've put their lives on hold to help triage and treat the victims regardless of the nature of the emergency and the risks to our safety. We are Americans. That is what we do. The federal government would've stepped in with emergency funds and the president would've declared parts of Texas a disaster area, even if it would've taken FEMA five days to get there. We would've even rescued your pets.

But if you want to take your 24,326,974 people out of the union badly enough, if you honestly think that everywhere outside of your purloined state constitutes the entire United States, if you'd rather fly your Lone Star flag in lieu of the Stars and Stripes, if you are that determined then I guess we cannot stop you. If you want to further weaken the military infrastructure of the rest of our nation and make yourselves that much more vulnerable, fucking A. Go for it.

But we would've loved you as our fellow Americans. We would've put our lives in danger to help you Texans in the event of a catastrophe. We saw it in New York City. We saw it in New Orleans. And you would've seen it anywhere disaster would've struck your state.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Billionaires for Wealthcare


This is one of the funniest videos you'll see this year. This video was shot outside of Rep. Susan Davis' town hall on health care in San Diego yesterday. What makes it especially funny is that these carbon-based tools of the HMOs and Big Pharma actually take them seriously. Tip o' the tinfoil hat to reader Nunya, the Politicky Bitch, for the link to the original blog post, which features a photo gallery of Rep. Susan Davis' town hall.

A "Real American" Holiday


(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)

I've never linked to an open thread before but Blue Gal's open thread on Crooks and Liars last night is absolutely an exception I must make.

August 29th has proven to be a date of many anniversaries. Yesterday was the day we eulogized Ted Kennedy in Roxbury, Massachusetts. John McCain spent much of his 73rd birthday at his colleague's memorial service. And, of course, McCain four years ago found a way to get some partying time in with his ideological baton mate George W. Bush on the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Yet August 29th marks yet another anniversary and it has nothing to do with the late Sen. Kennedy or John McCain's birthday or Hurricane Katrina. Our colleagues on the other side of the Grand Canyonesque Great Divide have chosen to commemorate not just August 29th, to not merely celebrate it with hoopla and heartfelt Huzzahs but to even give it a name:

Sarah Palin Day.

Huh? Was yesterday also the former Alaska Governor's birthday? Nopers. August 29th was the first anniversary of John McCain officially announcing Sarah Palin as his Dick Cheney.

Liberals and conservatives both commemorate August 29th. The former (this year excepted because of Sen. Kennedy's passing) solemnly remember the day Katrina began tearing apart the Gulf Coast. The latter celebrate the day Sarah Palin was introduced as John McCain's running mate. Aside from the date, the only other thing our two sides have in common is observing the beginning of a catastrophic defeat for the Republican Party.

Yet, in an absurd way, Sarah Palin's 9 week-long whirlwind tour of America actually won back some votes that the GOP had surely lost during the previous 36 months. Sarah Palin had actually energized a base, bringing back into the campaign of a man who cut a cake with a still-vacationing George W. Bush the day the deadliest hurricane in 36 years slammed into the Gulf Coast.

One with reasonable cognitive functions will surely wonder why Sarah Palin's elevation to the national stage rates commemoration over that of the most horrendous natural national catastrophe since Galveston. Citing skewed priorities only addresses the disconnect but as xenobiologists struggling to understand a new alien life form, some of us can grope toward theories.

Palin's Gidget on PCP charm resonated with a disturbingly large percentage of shrieking, gun-toting, Old Testament-slapping racist gargoyles who were artificially validated and fooled into thinking they constituted "the Real America." It was the demented glee glub of McCain's incomplete and reluctant base and their hatred of McCain's opponent actually took him aback.

Sarah Palin, a product of a novel that could have been co-authored by Horatio Alger and Stephen King, was the Pied Piper of Wasilla, a charmer of bipedaled vermin who were willing to follow her siren song back onto a ship that had already hit the iceberg.

Mustering such massive amounts of willful ignorance and sheer, ineducable stupidity that endures one year later is an impossible task for us to imagine. Yet it was obvious from the gitgo that McCain was really the doddering old fool to her Anna Nicole Smith. At best, McCain was regarded as a broken down Trojan Horse whose primary function was to infiltrate the White House with their millenarian matriarch in tow and then have the courtesy and consideration to drop dead on Inauguration Day.

It didn't matter to them and still doesn't matter now how comically unfit she was for even the glorified sinecure of the vice presidency. It never occurs to our colleagues on the right that we would've seen a political marriage made in hell, that Palin would've co-opted, contradicted and otherwise undermined practically every doddering step of a McCain presidency.

It didn't matter to them and still doesn't matter now that she pals around with terrorist witch hunters or that she drained the dwindling coffers of the McCain campaign with clothes shopping sprees that were exceeded only by Imelda Marcos or the corrupt former President of Zambia.

It didn't matter to them and still doesn't matter now to our opponents that she chose to cut and run from token criticism and a lame duck administration when she was perfectly able to run for a second gubernatorial term or that she'd used in Hezbollah/Hamas/al Qaeda fashion at least three of her kids and her grandson as human shields for cheap political points.

The ones trying to create this extra-Hallmark holiday based on a rushed, coerced and astoundingly ignorant choice on McCain's part are very likely the same ones who were short-stroking to the words of people such as Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh and several of our most hateful Republican legislators who'd more or less succeeded in transforming the Gulf Coast's 1800 fatalities from victims to self-euthanizing underachievers and fuckups.

In the end, it can only be theorized that these apocalyptic, End of Days yahoos voted not their informed conscience but Sarah Palin's reactionary, uninformed one. Setting up her little tent under the much larger big top of McCain's and fooling these born again fans of revelations (You can call them either rebirthers or Revelers) into thinking that they were under the real Big Top is one of the biggest con jobs in presidential electoral history. They were swindled into thinking they were "the Real America" by an anti-American separatist just as the poor blacks of New Orleans were swindled into thinking they, too, were part of real America. It's a real America that will never quite divest itself of the urge to make itself a little bit whiter, a little bit more like Palin's fabled "Real America."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Craigslist Postings From the Edge


Heed my advice: No matter where you live, no matter how liberal your state or city, never spelunk into the politics section of Craigslist. Because even in Massachusetts, Navy blue among the bluest states, you'll find postings such as this. This isn't just one boo aimed at Obama that was cherry-picked among a sea of partisan, left wing supporters of Obama. This is typical of such idiocy that we've seen overrunning the pages of virtually any Craigslist politics forum anywhere in the country.

What follows is my retort to this EEG flatliner:
I've long been mystified why and how Massachusetts Craigslist has been taken over by so many right wing idiots whose feet spend more time in their mouths than on the ground. This posting takes the cake. Because only a knuckle-dragging, right wing moron like you would ever A) Think that Obama is a socialist and B) proudly posts a picture claiming that Russia had socialism. Russia for 72 years had a communist regime, not a socialist one. Socialism is defined by what we see in many Latin American countries such as Venezuela. Just because the English translation of "CCCP" is "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" doesn't mean they were socialist any more than the National Socialists of 1933-1945 Germany (aka the Nazis).

Besides, only an ambulatory organ donor such as yourself shrieks about socialism without having any understanding of the true definition of socialism (which is never more needed than in the current health care debate, which is obviously the only overhaul most of us will likely see in our lifetimes) nor its benefits. Obama is trying to get affordable health care for everyone. No one will tax you unless you make over $250,000 a year, no one's going to kill your grandma, no one's going to require that you see a "death panel", no one's advocating health care for illegal immigrants and government will not tell you which option you must take. These are long-discredited talking points that mainly started on Fox "News" and Sarah Palin's Facebook page.

Recycled teabaggers such as yourself are tools of lobbying groups, Big Pharma and health "care" entities that are already so bloated from denying people like you and yours health care over the years (they're the REAL death panels) that they can afford to spend a total of $1.4 million A DAY on lobbyists. That's over half a billion dollars a year. Any industry that can afford to spend that much on 3300 lobbyists (roughly 6 per federal lawmaker) is one that plainly doesn't need help.

The One Vs. The Many


Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the far right’s reaction to Senator Ted Kennedy’s death, aside from the ghoulish grave-stomping, is their immediate attempts to revise the history that they find inconvenient. It’s perhaps not too much of a stretch to say that, like obituary editors, they already had their talking points all lined up while the senator was still among us. And posthumous ones dutifully echoing Sean Hannity and Rush warn us of "the Wellstone Effect."

Yet, as with the larger issue of health care reform, every time someone from the lunatic fringe far right speaks, they betray their hypocrisy, starting with their kneejerk reaction to Sen. Robert Byrd’s call to name the health care bill after Ted Kennedy. This is only appropriate, since health care, moreso than with virtually any other statesman or legislator during Kennedy’s career, was one of his highest priorities.

How soon they forget the first draft hagiographies that spurted forth from journalist’s pens when Reagan died in 2004. How soon they forget that, even before Reagan’s death, his wife Nancy wrote a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch pleading for Congress to fund stem cell research so that others wouldn’t suffer from Alzheimer’s like her husband. It was a surprising turnaround, since funding stem cell research rubs against the grain of virtually every Republican in the land. But Nancy Reagan had pull with the GOP and still does.

Instead, we’re seeing Kennedy’s death and Byrd’s call to use Kennedy’s death to push a comprehensive health reform bill being politicized to cartoonish proportions.

However, considering this is the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, making for more compelling dual portraits by contrast is Kennedy’s legacy when compared to that of another Republican “president”: George W. Bush. Daily Kos’ Louisiana wrote a diary that extolled Ted Kennedy’s lobbying on behalf of the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. What was lost on the diarist were the monstrous ironies between Ted Kennedy’s understated but heroic conduct and that of George W. Bush.

Kennedy called, unsuccessfully, for the creation of a cabinet-level Gulf Coast Redevelopment Authority. George W. Bush suggested Karl Rove as Reconstruction Czar long after demoting FEMA from a Cabinet-level authority to a mockery headed up by an Arabian horse judge. It was Reconstruction all over again, all right. One year after the storm made landfall, 81% of the residents of the 9th Ward still hadn’t been returned and people were forcibly evicted from apartment buildings that hadn’t been touched by a drop of water and were condemned.

Before Kennedy had called for a Cabinet-level authority to rebuild the Gulf coast, FEMA had already outsourced the job for a city-wide evacuation to IEM, or Innovative Emergency Management, a client of a lobbying firm named The Livingston Group. IEM is headed by Madhu Beriwal, a heavy GOP campaign contributor, a woman, like Michael Brown, with no emergency management experience whatsoever, who nonetheless was paid $500,000 to come up with an evacuation plan that was never written in spite of a computer scenario underwritten by three contractors, among them IEM, that eerily anticipated what a Category 5 hurricane could do (After Katrina made landfall, their boasting of landing such a huge contract for an evacuation plan was mysteriously lifted from the company’s website.). Lost on critics of Kennedy is that if Bush hadn’t underfunded the levee reconstruction, if his campaign contributors at IEM had done their job, Kennedy’s call for a Gulf Coast Redevelopment Authority wouldn’t have been necessary.

Ted Kennedy accidentally drowned one woman. George Bush knowingly let over 1500 drown, knowing by Monday night that the levees had burst and not letting even the emergency management authorities in New Orleans know, much less the tens of thousands that were trapped. He also deliberately underfunded the Army Corps of Engineers, who only got a tiny fraction of the money they said they needed to rebuild the levees and pump stations. Bush also lied about knowing how fragile the levees were, saying that “no one could’ve anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Ted Kennedy called his actions the night Mary Jo Kopechne drowned “indefensible.” Bush scuffled his feet in place and murmured something about taking “responsibility” for FEMA’s response to the disaster then three and a half years later essentially taking it back by snarling at a reporter in the last days of his administration that he didn’t want to hear about what they didn’t do. “We pulled 30,000 off their roofs.”

Beyond Bush, we see other stalwarts from the Party of Personal Responsibility such as Sen. John Ensign, who’s still bleating, I didn’t do anything legally wrong, unlike Bill Clinton. We’re seeing Republicans giving other philanderers such as Sen. David Vitter a standing ovation for coming out about his own marital infidelity only when he knew someone was going to expose him. Amazingly, two years later, Vitter’s actually getting a respectful hearing even after telling people in all-white Elmwood why Obama’s health care reforms would be worse for them than what they already have.

Tom DeLay, even after Randall “Duke” Cunningham confessed to accepting $2.4 million in bribes, still called the most corrupt congressman in the history of our Republic “a hero” and “an honorable man of high integrity.”

We saw a GOP leadership that closed ranks around child endangerment crusader Mark Foley for years on end even while knowing that Foley was leering at underaged pages and making sexually explicit remarks to them in emails and online chats. We heard about Karl Rove threatening to block Foley’s dreams of being a lobbyist unless he ran for another term, thereby exposing him to more underaged pages, because he was a GOP cash cow.

All things considered, I’d say that Ted Kennedy throwing himself on the mercy of the American people, without whining about victimization and without offering excuses, qualifies him as being the standard bearer for the true Party of Personal Responsibility.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Miracle of Moral Relativism








(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)

"I'm more than willing to go off decorum to ensure THIS MAN is not beatified. Sorry, he destroyed lives. And he knew it." - Moonie Times scribbler Andrew "Not so" Breitbart on Twitter

The death last Tuesday night of Senator Ted Kennedy has unleashed a lot of pent-up hatred of not just the late senator and his historic legacy but against all victories hard-won by the liberal lawmaker over nearly a half a century in the Senate. In the last day and a half, we've heard it all: Leftists clinging to Kennedy's bloated corpse in order to keep the health care bill afloat; Teddy's daddy being a bootlegger; and, of course, Chappaquiddick.

How soon right wingers forget about the blood- and shit-stained legacies of the forebears of their own heroes. Thank the Good Lord for moral relativism! Huzza!

While it may be true that Edward Kennedy's father was a bootlegger, what they seem to forget was that, A) it still has nothing to do with Kennedy's legacy in the Senate, B) Ted Kennedy was less than two years old by the time Prohibition was repealed C) Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. was a lifelong Republican.

The biggest point that ought to be brought up is D.

Personally, I'd rather have a senator representing my state whose father was a bootlegger than a chief executive who used Daddy's money to steal an election and whose father's father was a Nazi financier who made enough money for Adolph Hitler to buy and make armaments that would go on to kill American soldiers. I'd also rather have in the Senate a man who spent a lifetime in public service to make amends for one tragic mistake than have as a president an incurious intellectual bulimic whose grandfather made money off concentration camp slave labor, tried to overthrow the government in a fascist coup and later lined his pockets with that slave labor money when his trust fund kicked in and would never find the cajones to decry his grandfather's seditious shortcomings.

Prescott Bush was the kind of villain you'd see in a Robert Ludlum or Ian Fleming novel. Like Kennedy's father, he would later bury his criminal past in public honors and public service, eventually becoming a United States Senator himself while the press dutifully never once mentioned his attempted fascist coup in 1933 that would've involved right wing industrialist buddies like Remington (who would've supplied the arms to millions of disaffected WW I veterans).

The press's silence was understandable. After all, part of the coup's strategy was to bribe the editors of 25 of the biggest newspapers in America and one can only assume that during Bush's candidacy the bribe money kept flowing.

Prescott Bush, despite being named by Gen. Smedley Butler, the man who would've led this ragtag army to help depose Franklin Delano Roosevelt, never once saw the inside of a federal courtroom nor ever had to testify before a Congress of which he would in less than 20 years time become a large part.

Accountability, or the lack of it, is a two-edged sword, and these right wing shit smears beneath Rush Limbaugh's and Andrew Breitbart's tortured BVD's ought to heed that lesson.

The rage, rage coming from the right that we're hearing against Kennedy really has nothing to do with Chappaquiddick. It has more to do with Kennedy successfully defeating losing, hateful, spiteful GOP agendas and policies and showing them up for the evil that they were. In voting on historic civil rights, immigration, educational, national security and health care issues, to name but a few, Senator Kennedy wasn't merely a man who had lived in history but one who made history as someone always near the very center of power in Washington, a man to whom Richard M. Nixon would personally extend a health care compromise.

But red-lensed moral relativism makes all the difference to those who weren't even alive or old enough to follow the news when Kennedy walked away from the scene of an accident that left a young woman dead. It may be true that perhaps Kennedy should've been impeached and thrown out of the Senate as a result of his crime. But if that had happened, who knows who would've succeeded him and Head Start perhaps wouldn't exist. Edward M. Kennedy, instead of being regarded an unpunished villain, ought to serve as a example of the value of giving a person a second chance.

The Bush clan had plenty of chances to make good, to make amends, to right the wrongs of their forebears. Ted Kennedy took his second chance and remained, with the ongoing blessings of the grateful voters of Massachusetts, in the Senate for another 40 years, justifying the second chance that fate gave him. The Bushes, far from making amends, entered public service to enrich themselves, to add a superficial patina of glitz and respectability to hide a subversive, corrupt, seditious past and present that merely served to shield them from accountability for their own crimes.

Mary Jo Kopechne's name is more famous than the names of any soldier that has died in Iraq or Afghanistan, even more of a household name than NFL safety Pat Tillman. Yet when George W. Bush's time comes, no one will bring up the names of some of the first casualties of his successful invasion and occupation but failed war in Iraq that was built on a dog-eared house of cards made up entirely of jokers. No one even on the left will bring up the names of Staff Sgt. Donald C. May, Jr., Lance Cpl. Patrick T. O'Day and Pfc. Francisco A. Martinez-Flores. Those three Marines died in exactly the same way Mary Jo Kopechne died when their tank drove off a bridge and plunged into the Euphrates less than a week after the invasion.

In the balance, I'd rather have a man like Ted Kennedy representing me and my interests than the scion of a long line of war criminals and profiteers who combined never had to face one tenth the accountability that Ted Kennedy endures even in death.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Class


Class. That's what attracts me to the conservative movement. Sheer, unadulterated class. It isn't just about comic relief or the moral relativism that turns Democratic sinners into saints by comparison. It's their class.

What follows are just some handpicked comments from our various ideological competitors on the death of iconic Senator Ted Kennedy. If you ever needed a better reason for donating to Pottersville, spelunking into the moral and intellectual sewage pipes of places like Free Republic, Little Green Footballs and Red State would be it. I took a lot of hits for the team by doing this. (Look out for my counter-comments- They're parenthesized.)

The Freepers never disappoint, as this sampling shows:
In honor of Ted Kennedy, liver transplants for alcoholics will not be free in the government option.

Instead of putting these people on pedestals we should be knocking them off!

There is no forgiveness for the sins of Teddy Boy, he will burn in hell!

One of my favorite Kennedy “accomplishments” was getting the Catholic Church to declare his marriage to Joan “annulled” after 20 or 30 years of marriage and 19 children.

I won’t begrudge anything GWB said in his eulogy - except the part about Teddy loving his country.

“In a life filled with trials, Ted Kennedy never gave in to self-pity or despair”

...couldn’t afford to! Didn’t want to draw attention to his being a murderer. I wish GWB would zip it. He sucked up to this pathetic excuse for a human being and then got “screwd and tatooed” by same. Along with the rest of us. Teddy was about Teddy. That’s all that needs to be said.

Thank goodness for disposable waste bin liners.

Kennedy smears President Bush and our troops on the US Senate floor:

He described the Iraq war as a fraud “made up in Texas” as part of political strategy — accused the President of the US of “telling lie, after lie, after lie”, in order to go to war in Iraq. (it goes on and on about how Sen. Kennedy "smeared" conservatives with inconvenient truths.)

Did you expect (GWB) to say “thank god the bastard is dead”.

If I were a public Official, I would issue this tissue of lies about Fat Teddy also.

It’s what they do.

In public they all say such nice BS’y words. But in private?

Bwaa-haa-haa.

Ted might have been a real lion in congress, but he sure was one rotten human being. I guess the Donks can forgive him for murder but I can't.

Bush lied with flies ...
There is a natural term limit ...
Only the good die young ... RIP Mary-Jo.

Former dictator Saddam Hussein on the death of Senator Kennedy: Welcome to Fire Lake. No swimming allowed.

Again, W shows his class....would the Libs be as kind in the death of W? I think not!!!! (Well, let's tote up the score card: Kennedy killed one woman by accident then lied about it. Bush killed nearly 5000 Americans alone with a years-long carpet-bomb of lies, allegations and innuendos. Nope, I wouldn't give us showing the late W any class much of a chance.)

Let's move on to Red State, shall we? From RS Insider, and his stirring words on "Republican decency":
Well, we all pretty much knew that this was coming:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that both the Kennedy family and the Senate have “lost our patriarch” and vowed Congress would renew the push for the cause of Kennedy’s life, health care reform.

Out of respect for my RedState colleagues, I have delayed the posting of this post for several hours, but it is worth noting that MSNBC had already reported that Reid (always a classy guy) uttered these words before I made it in to work this morning. In other words, before Kennedy’s corpse was even cold. Now, a wise man once coined the maxim de mortuis, nil nisi bonum, and we here at RedState have always made an effort to let even the death of even the most contemptible of our political foes pass without a word of criticism.

However, given that Reid, et al are apparently going to use this fundamental aspect of Republican decency in order to push a political legislative agenda (rather than, say, allowing the family to grieve privately and quietly, if that is their desire), it sadly becomes necessary to wonder aloud whether Kennedy as a man was worth emulating at all.

Then he goes on and on like a rabid Energizer bunny robotically tap dancing on Ted Kennedy's undug grave and reminding us once again about the virtues of Republican decency. And if that lesson's still lost on you, then check out the inspiring comment below:
Here’s an idea. Let him lie in state in front of the HHS building. Just like Lenin did. Then we could have all the liberals, radicals, and leftist elites parade by with thumbs up claiming, “He’s our guy!”

Of course, there might be a little backlash when someone asks how much money he cost us verses the work he did for the state in the last few years of his life. Then we’ll want to know if anyone asked him if he was depressed, or believed he was a burden to his family, or just didn’t want to go on with his life, since he was terminally ill with brain cancer and all…

Hey, I apologize for being less than respectful, but darn it, they started it. If they are willing to pass him around like a baton in a relay race, or pom poms in a pep rally, then all bets are off.

Again, sorry for being so direct, don’t ban me.

Then there's the stirring eulogy also delivered at Red State by Dan McLaughlin that begins thusly:
It is traditional, upon the passing of an important and famous person - however controversial - to find some good words to say. This is not an easy task in the case of Ted Kennedy, a man whose personal life ranged from alcoholism to debauchery to sexual harrassment (sic) to (sadly, uncharged) second-degree murder, and whose public career entailed the embrace of nearly every foolish, ruinous and cruel political idea of the past five decades and whose most enduring legacy is installing the bitterly polarized modern Supreme Court confirmation process.

Little Green Footfalls, as usual, comes through in a pinch, giving us a dose of their radioactive lunacy (there's only a few noteworthy ones. The only reason there aren't more is because Chuckie is busy deleting the not-so-nice ones and threatening peoples' accounts time and time and time again. Six comments were deleted at last count):
I can hear the left now...

Let us all come together over this terrible tragedy and drop our partisan bickering to pass long-needed health insurance reform.

By that, we mean all you Republicans and town hallers stop complaining and drink our coolaid.

I must confess that I seem to have been born immune to Kennedys. I have never felt any hint of what normal people seem to feel. Sorry. (Empathy, another famed Republican trademark)

Curious how most on the right pay respectful condolences today while the left rushes to exploit his death.

These people are contemptible.

If Ted Kennedy lived under ObamaCare, he would have died last year. (Curious how most on the right are trashing a 47 year senator and turning it into an opportunity to trash health care reform while the left pay respectful condolences.)

Next, I give you Michelle the Merciless and her Little Green Footballers:
There is a time and place for political analysis and criticism. Not now.

Yes, there will be a nauseating excess of MSM hagiographies and lionizations — and crass calls to pass the health care takeover to memorialize his death.

That’s no excuse to demonstrate the same lack of restraint in the other direction. Not now.

If not, then when? When other evil men have died, was there the same restraint?

This is the problem with too many conservative commentators and politicians: They are too nice. For example, they would rather have socialized health care than tell the truth about Ted Kennedy.

Because we all know that is what is going to happen. We’ll have days of gushing coverage of the passing of the “great” Ted Kennedy, with no conservatives with balls to state what an evil man the degenerate was.

Then we will have, as Rush points out, The Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care bill. And it will probably pass because of all the glowing praise for Kennedy.

Right now is the time to bring up all the evils that Ted Kennedy has inflicted upon this country. (Remember where you heard that first, folks: "Many conservative commentators and politicians are too nice.")

No politics involved. This was an evil man, whether he thought himself so or not. I hope he burns in Hell.

My mother always said, if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything. However, I’ can’t resist. Senator kennedy, as you roast on the spit in hell, can you see the images of all the evil you have embraced?

If Michelle Malkin doesn’t want us to mention any of the evils he inflicted upon our nation (in respect for the death of the cold blooded murderer), how about coming up with ANY good thing he used his power to contribute, as Debbie Schlussel suggests.

Complete silence.

Also, where is the justice to Mary Jo Kopechne when we have conservative commentators, like Michelle, who refuse to say anything bad about Ted Kennedy in his death? (Keep your back against the wall, Michelle, dear. The natives are getting restless.)

I know Michelle wants us to make nice, probably because of how crude remarks made here will be pounced upon by liberal bloggers and the MSM.

That is difficult to do. Would we be hypocrites if we suddenly said glorious things about Senator Kennedy? Yes. Would any tears shed be crocidile tears? Yes.

How do you put aside all the damage this man has done to our country, not to mention his horrible personal behavior? You don’t.

I would say to liberals scouring this comment section for weapons to use against the right - we are sorry for your loss. We know he was one of your icons. Do we regret comments made about the man? not on your life. (Moi? Dragging your spittle-flecked, inappropriate, politically- and ideologically-hateful and ignorant remarks on Kennedy's death kicking and screaming into the light of day to expose you for the detestable, grave-stomping, artists of douchebaggery that you truly are? Moi???)

I am listening to Glenn Beck right now. Pray for him!! Next, I will listen to Rush Limbaugh. Pray for him!! If those voices are taken from us, THAT will be a time to mourn.

I had the misfortune of having to listen to NPR for an hour this morning and it was the entirely expected gushing celebration of this man’s political life. We will be treated to days of this on television.

The liberal media is not playing mournful music and speaking in hushed tones. They are busily and noisily air-brushing one of their political heroes.

We should stand silent for this? Please. I pledge not to speak or post rudely during his actual funeral, but I am definitely not going to stand silent for a days-long orgy of liberal myth-making.

MM I mean no disrespect to you, but we need to call a spade a spade and a shovel a shovel.

The man deserves no respect.None what so ever.The things he did and stood for are despicable.

How about the million of abortions that happened because of this man? The woman he murdered and got away with it? The women he raped?
If you feel he deserves respect, then what about Ted Bundy? (Bundy, unlike Kennedy, was a Republican.)

Ted Kennedy gets a couple days of respectful mourning, or silence if one cannot mourn. Beyond that he will get the respect from me he gave to Robert Bork, which is more than he deserves.

Rounding out the list the always "too nice" Queen of the Airbrushes Debbie Douchebag, who bravely sallies forth into the wastelands of Wingnuttia without Chuckie's or Michelle's hypocritical posturing of civility:
Sadly, I can’t think of a single thing he contributed to America (other than helping subsidize the wine and spirits industry through personal consumption). Can you?

Like I said: Class. May we all aspire to their example.

(In case you're a glutton for punishment, Blue Texan at Firedoglake has even more.)

RIP The Liberal Lion


About the only good thing that could be said about Ted Kennedy's cancer was that he was too ill to preside over a Town Hall meeting without having to be harassed by wingnuts screaming about death panels and euthanizing Grandma.

A major chapter in American politics closed last night when, exactly one year after his rousing appearance at last year's Democratic National Convention, Ted Kennedy succumbed to his glioma brain cancer.

If you have a small child or have ever had a small child who went to Head Start, you have Ted Kennedy to thank for that. Whatever small progressive reforms the Senate let him have for your health care plan, you have Ted Kennedy to thank for that, too. Any help that ever came out of the Senate for working class families had Ted Kennedy's fingerprints and DNA on it.

Senator Edward Kennedy was like Mother Teresa, Walter Cronkite, Queen Elizabeth II and Fidel Castro. No matter how old you are, chances are pretty good that these people have been around and still calling the shots your entire life. After a while, you begin to take their immortality for granted.

Yet Kennedy's 77 year-long life span cannot nor should not be measured in purely political terms. He remembered meeting FDR as a child, forging that tenuous link uniting one liberal champion to another. The third longest-serving Senator of all time had seen it all: The Cuban Missile crisis; the assassination of both his brothers; Martin Luther King's assassination; two major recessions; four wars and was right in the middle of the health care debate up until almost the very end.

Kennedy and his family were forged as much by tragedy as any family had a right to be. Having lived through the deaths of both parents, three brothers and three nephews and, just recently, his sister Eunice, Senator Kennedy's life was a large slice of American history. He had lived center stage in it for almost exactly the last third of the history of our republic.


Few will forget Ted Kennedy coming out after his cancer was diagnosed and heartily endorsing Barack Obama at the Democratic convention with strong but failing voice, his shirt collar and tie hanging loosely about his neck. It evoked in its own way, the dying Lou Gehrig's legendary farewell to baseball. And even in the twilight of his career, when he must have known he was fighting a losing battle with cancer, the senior senator from Massachusetts vowed to be back on the floor on the Senate come January to fight for health care reform. Instead, Ted Kennedy collapsed after suffering a seizure during Barack Obama's inauguration day luncheon. That same day, Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving incumbent senator, was also taken to the hospital on hearing the news.

It's up for speculation who Governor Deval Patrick will appoint as Kennedy's successor or if he will honor the Senator's final wish and to rewrite the law so that he could appoint a temporary successor so as not to interrupt Massachusetts' representation during the health care debate.

But whoever the Bay State's governor appoints, one thing is obvious: The history that Ted Kennedy, a man who'd cast nearly 15,000 votes in the Senate, had both lived and made will not be repeated, reproduced nor relived and his successor will have unusually large expectations to honor.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conservatism: The 5th Estate Chapter Two







Chapter Two
The Second Estate: The Nobility


In at least two major ways, the Republican Party throwing in their lot with corporations is the perfect analogue of its slightly loosening grip on the poor and middle class of rural America: The more ironic of the two analogues being that, while the GOP hasn’t materially improved conditions in the South, the alliance between corporations and the GOP has certainly been mutually beneficial. And while cynical liberals and even some Democrats such as Sen. Dick Durbin say that corporations “run the place”, the fact is that neither our political nor corporate leaders do. It’s a cozy, rotten, endlessly corrupt co-dependent symbiosis, in which one faction needs the other to realize their own aims.

While some Republicans in the federal government came from the corporate world (most notoriously Sen. Prescott Bush of Connecticut, who before FDR’s inauguration tried to woo penurious WW I veterans out of retirement to bring about a fascist coup before Gen. Smedley Butler, the man who was to lead these troops, blew the whistle), Republicans in generations past didn’t have the symbiotic relationship with Corporate America to the degree we see today.

Three days before leaving office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the nation with concerns that are more relevant and dire today than they were in 1961.

The 34th President and five star general, very much a product of it, warned about the rise of “the military/industrial complex.” It was, along with George Washington’s in 1797, the most prescient farewell address ever given by a departing Chief Executive. Most relevant to today’s trends are these words:
“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military/industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together…

“As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Even though Eisenhower’s address needs to be taken in its proper historical context (of course, militant Islamic terrorism was virtually nonexistent and the bad guys were the “atheistic” Communists), Eisenhower’s warning to future generations of citizens and statesmen take on the chilling weight of prescience of disaster to come. Eisenhower’s Cassandra-like quasi-predictions (in particular the insolvency of our grandchildren who are even now already mortgaged to two wars and counting) are vitally important to dust off and re-examine because he stresses the importance of an informed and vigilant citizenry that’s still in a position to halt the spread of the emerging military/industrial complex. Eisenhower never forgot the power of the electorate and that all politicians, including the presidency, are merely civil service positions to serve the will of the people.

What Eisenhower didn’t count on was that many of the corporations whose annual revenues were far below what the government then spent on national defense would become a huge part of the Pentagon’s bottom line and that an informed citizenry would become virtually powerless when those forces were turned on us simply for taking his advice. Eisenhower never foresaw that a certain administration would be acting on both mandates from God and the whims of corporate interests who thrive on war and fear of terrorism.

Yet he’d seen the potential (or maybe evidence of) abuse and corruption between Big Government and Big Business and called our attention to it (reportedly angering Prescott Bush, who already knew firsthand what it felt like to have the whistle blown on him by a highly-decorated war general).

One could easily make a case that Eisenhower and his generation’s Republicans marked the last time in American history that the GOP was a populist party with a real populist, if not progressive, agenda. During Eisenhower’s eight years, we’d avoided major military engagements, continued the post-war economic boom that saw the revival of a powerful and growing middle class, the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes and we’d adopted and maintained a strong and respected foreign policy. Essentially, nothing happened during Eisenhower’s stewardship and that’s how many people liked it. Except, perhaps, for the rising military/industrial complex.

40 years later, Donald Rumsfeld stood in the briefing room of the Pentagon and told America that the government, particularly the Defense Department, was going to outsource every conceivable job under the sun and that we, the taxpayers who’d have to foot the bill, wouldn’t have a Goddamned say in the matter. In fact, Rumsfeld’s presser that day stood in opposition to every lesson and warning given to us by President Eisenhower.

24 hours later, a projectile believed to be Flight 77 struck that same building on September 11th. Switchboards at all of our major defense contractors from GE and Boeing to Halliburton to Blackwater, from the Carlyle Group to Bechtel began lighting up like Christmas trees.

And under George W. Bush, a man who outsourced even the presidency from time to time, a man who let Jack Abramoff pimp access to him for $100,000 a pop, every day was Christmas if you were a Republican war profiteer. While many of the countless contractor abuses in Iraq alone bear repeating (whole books have been devoted to the subject, in particular Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army), the aim of this book is to show how, in a manner very akin to if not identical to the German Nazi Party, the Republican Party has climbed into bed and elevated its own political and social standing with Big Industry.

Sadly, the outsourcing of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the entire so-called War on Terror and the abuses arising from said collusion are just a few examples of the GOP working hand in hand with Big Business to a wildly inappropriate degree. But Iraq and Afghanistan provide a good jumping off point.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Endgame






The way it looks, only a miracle will be enough to cover our increased rent. I've thrown everything I've had into my checking account (savings, Paypal, etc) and we're talking about $51 leftover for gas, electric (also due the 1st), food (which will run out at the end of the month) and other incidentals. Obviously, that won't be enough and there's not much of a chance of even having the $650 to keep from getting evicted by the 1st.

Barb and I are out there every day in this heat wave in a sweltering car in which the windows won't roll down. We've canvassed this town for jobs both appropriate and inappropriate for us and are taking her 15 year-old jalopy to industrial parks and sign shops outside of town with no guarantee that the car will hold together long enough for us to earn money to fix it.

That miracle I mentioned would be you, guys. If you have recently given already, you can stop reading. But for those regular readers who haven't, now would be a good time to consider a small donation if you can afford to. About $50 would make the difference between defaulting on the rent and being able to make it through. I wouldn't be asking for this help if it wasn't absolutely necessary. Hopefully, something will break and do so before the end of the month. But I now have a girlfriend and two cats to provide for (including car insurance) and I can't stand the idea of us getting evicted a month after her arrival.

So anything you can do would be a small miracle at this point. Thank you all in advance.

I'm So Proud to be an American


...but I'd be prouder to be a right wing terrorist so I could get a pat on the head from my Congressman.

Actual exchange between Congressman Pete Herger (R-Hamas) and a supporter:
“I am a proud right wing terrorist,” he declared to cheers.

Herger praised the man’s attitude.

“Amen, God bless you,” Herger said with a broad smile. “There is a great American.”

Sounds like Herger was channeling John Boner or maybe Tom Coburn in egging on these right wing assholes in their various and sundry lunacies.

Elsewhere, Herger said in typical Republican Apocalyptic doublespeak that Obama's watered-down, public option-less, non universal single payer health care that's been taken over by the Gang of Six and the GOP in general bill would a "threat to democracy."

And we're expected to lose seats to these clueless clowns in next year's election?

Small wonder Obama's seriously thinking of freezing out the Republicans in the health care bill negotiations and going for a partisan vote. But it may be far too late. Whether the bill passes with or without Republican cooperation, the American public is going to skeptical about it to say the least.

I'm just amazed that Obama's patience with these assholes had lasted this long. Think of us giving away almost half the stimulus spending bill earlier this year in order to buy three Republican votes that didn't even matter. The only way to get these obstructionist pricks to listen is to freeze them out the way Nancy Pelosi did in the House in the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress when the Democrats passed a raft of progressive legislation to show how smoothly a one party system of government can run.

But these Republican assholes have got to go. It's one thing to provide a check and balance to one party but to openly embrace self-described terrorists as "great Americans" and to encourage the childish, neanderthal behavior that we've been seeing from these bellowing, teabagging astroturfers should alone earn them censures if not articles of impeachment.

(Tip o' the tinfoil hat to Jill Hussein at B@B.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Matrix of Happenstance


Pastor Steven L. Anderson
Faithful Word Baptist Church
2707 W Southern Ave, Suite #105
Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 248-4082
Info@faithfulwordbaptist.org

Greetings, Mr. Anderson:

My colleagues and I have been reading with great interest the transcripts of your sermons and have been listening to the audio recordings of your pontificating from your bully pulpit and I have a proposition for you:

I, too, have similar views about humankind and there's much common ground that we share, Mr. Anderson. I, too, hate the Sodomites (by the way, the chief Sodomite on Capitol Hill is named Barney Frank, not Franks. Just a small niggling detail.). They are not deserving of Christian mercy any more than are Catholics, Jews, lesbians, sexually active gay Lutheran pastors, sexually deviant pastors who smoke the pink cigar, abortionists, daytime talk show hosts, purveyors of pornography and most Protestant denominations outside the Baptist faith. Were I of your profession, Mr. Anderson, I too would cast them from the congregation as per Hosea. You are to be commended for completely ignoring the more liberal half of the Bible, which is the namby-pamby New Testament where Jesus says to hate the sin but love the sinner, turning the other cheek and loving thy neighbor.

It is obvious that homosexuals are coming from somewhere. Of course, it impossible for them to breed as it is impossible for them to be born to heterosexual parents every day. They must be indoctrinated. Why hardly a day goes by when I am not accosted by some limp-wristed, show tune humming nancy boy who lays his hand upon my arm and asks me, "How would you like to be gay? I can turn you."

Likewise it was brilliant of you to point out the fact that these specially protected deviants and pillow-munchers have no natural enemies. It would be highly amusing to hear what Mathew Shepard has to say on the subject or it would be had he not been murdered by a pair of right-thinking Americans for reasons other than his homosexuality.

You say you preach the Bible although I fail to see where God or anyone else mentions the $700 billion bailout bill forcefully rammed through Congress by the Sodomite Frank and signed into law by President Bush (although I'm sure we can count on the goldfish memory of the American public to somehow make Obama fully responsible for it).

Yet you are right in saying that the creatures of the field overpopulate and that took a lot of courage to say that as a man who plainly loves his wife so much that he turned her vagina into a clown car and produced with her five babies by the time she had attained the age of 30.

Praying for the President's death was a nice touch and I'm curious to know whether you had invited your children at their evening prayers to similarly pray for the death of their president. Teach 'em young, as we say. Wishing for Obama's teeth to be broken in his mouth as King David would have it and salting him like the slug that he is was a brilliant mixed metaphor that seems peculiar only to courageous conservatives such as yourself.

So, yes, Mr. Anderson, we share similar views. Like you, I feel I walk about this world blinded by a fog of filth and look at those who don't replicate me and my colleagues as bags of pus and meat. The world reeks of such individuals and only people such as me know how glorious it is to revel day in and day out in a blind, orgiastic rage of all that which does not subscribe to my own belief system.

The problem we have with you, Mr. Anderson, is that while you are a promising misanthrope, you are not quite there, yet. There is just enough love within you to make you abominable in my eyes as surely as you would be a loathsome, abominable thing in the eyes of the Old Testament God as described by your spiritual forebear Jonathan Edwards. It isn't enough to hate the fags and liberals and Catholics and non-Baptists. You must hate everyone as do I, Mr. Anderson.

Join us and we can achieve wonderful things in the matrix of happenstance.

By the way, if a fat, bald, black guy with a gap-toothed smile offers you a red and blue pill, take my advice and take the blue pill. Just trust me on this.

Yours in self righteous hatred,
A. Smith

Conservatism: The 5th Estate Chapter One (continued)







Slavery pit textile merchants and plantation owners against abolitionists, Democrat against Republican, rich against poor, white against black and so forth. And, as the conscription riots of 1863 New York City had proved, these racial and socioeconomic battles were not mainly confined to south of the Mason/Dixon line and that the bitterest and bloodiest disputes took place there.

Politicians of all periods are often the savviest and likeliest to capitalize on such divides and, in an important way, southern Democrats must accept much of the blame. Practically the minute Abraham Lincoln breathed his last across the street from Ford’s Theater, his successor began deviating from the dead President’s promise of a humane and conciliatory Reconstruction.

That may have not been Johnson’s intention. In fact, all outward indications were that the new president would try to continue Lincoln’s vision of an orderly and peaceful Reconstruction even to the point of signing executive orders defying acts of Congress passed by Radical and moderate Republicans who wanted revenge on the South for Lincoln’s assassination. But Johnson’s compromises would only go so far and one of the key failures of Johnson’s handling of the Reconstruction was to give plantations back to the former owners (provided they were pardoned) and not to the Freedmen.

The Civil War and the end of slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment that saw many thousands of freed African Americans trade the cotton fields for the battle fields all but devastated the south’s vital textile industry.

Johnson blocking wholesale land redistribution meant that many freedmen were forced to stay on as sharecroppers, working on a “crop-lien” basis which was essentially slavery with few more rights. These sharecroppers were the ones who’d perhaps innately realized they were virtually unemployable elsewhere. Yet many other newly-freed African Americans migrated to cities, centers of industrialism hence economic opportunity, leaving the cotton fields behind forever.

This desertion of what was probably viewed as their Calvinistic destiny plus their newly-empowered status (blacks were now dangerously close to being their equals) in a way released antebellum violence on blacks for merely exercising their newfound rights. In the months following Appomattox, Carl Schurz, Civil War Union Army General and future United States Senator and Secretary of the Interior, wrote a report for Congress detailing how sharecroppers who tried to flee their poverty were treated. Schurz wrote,
The number of murders and assaults perpetrated upon Negroes is very great; we can form only an approximative estimate of what is going on in those parts of the South which are not closely garrisoned, and from which no regular reports are received, by what occurs under the very eyes of our military authorities. As to my personal experience, I will only mention that during my two days sojourn at Atlanta, one Negro was stabbed with fatal effect on the street, and three were poisoned, one of whom died. While I was at Montgomery, one negro was cut across the throat evidently with intent to kill, and another was shot, but both escaped with their lives. Several papers attached to this report give an account of the number of capital cases that occurred at certain places during a certain period of time. It is a sad fact that the perpetration of those acts is not confined to that class of people which might be called the rabble.

The irony in this is that Southern whites didn’t realize that many lawmakers, especially the Radical Republicans, had reviled and victimized them just as surely as the southern Democrats had the blacks. Congress temporarily suspending 10-15,000 former confederates the right to vote while giving blacks that very same right plus limited powers of enfranchisement didn’t exactly improve race relations.

For many in the south, Appomattox had never happened and local Democratic politicians defied Congress with the so-called black laws that sought to take back many if not all the rights given to African Americans after the war. Overturning these Jim Crow laws required an Act of Congress: the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This was vetoed by President Johnson but on the grounds that granting citizenship and rights to freedmen would be tantamount to invading the sovereignty of eleven of the 36 states that had not been readmitted back into Congress. The Democrats, the Republicans of their time as they proudly proclaimed themselves the party of white men, perverted Johnson’s grounds for vetoing the Civil Rights bill and made him one of their own.

While it can’t be said that Democrats on Capitol Hill had much of a say as regards Reconstruction (by a couple of years after the end of the Civil War they had virtually no power in Congress), many state-level Democratic politicians (named The Redeemers) openly worked in collusion with the KKK, “scalawags” and in some cases even the reviled carpetbaggers. The corruption of the Grant administration caused several founding members of the Republican Party, most notably Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, to flee to the Democrats. By the middle of Grant’s administration, Reconstruction (or its original vision of conciliation and mercy toward the old Confederacy and toward newly enfranchised blacks) was dead.

The most violent episode of Democratic intolerance of Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act and the 15th Amendment was the Colfax massacre of 1873. Arising from the disputed 1872 Louisiana gubernatorial election and local offices up for grabs, the armed conflicts between black militia members and KKK-assisted white Democrats resulted in perhaps up to 150 deaths of African Americans. By contrast, only three whites were killed.

There’s the beginning of your Southern Strategy, one that was ready-made and still simmering by the time Nixon began his political comeback 100 years later. Only this time, the Democrats (or the Dixiecrats) had become the Republicans and vice versa. What we saw in Selma, Alabama in 1965 was essentially the same as what Selma residents saw exactly a century ago and for racial reasons.

Despite first the Democrats then the Republicans trying to attach themselves to southern causes, it seems that in neither case was economic recovery part of their M.O. and this is a neglectful trend that continues to this day. For instance, 13 states that contain the 100 poorest counties by capita income (according to the US Census Bureau’s data from the 2000 census) can be considered southern states. Texas led the pack with a whopping 17, almost all in the panhandle region; Kentucky, 16; Mississippi, 14; Louisiana, 5; Alabama, 4; Georgia, 4; Tennessee, 2; West Virginia, 2; Arkansas, 1; Florida, 1; Missouri, 1; Oklahoma, 1; South Carolina, 1. 26 states did not have counties among the poorest 100. Among them: All six New England states, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Neither did California, Oregon, Michigan or Washington State.

It’s also worth noting that many of the 100 poorest counties listed are ones featuring high concentrations of Mexican, Native American and African American populations, three ethnic groups that reliably vote Democratic. The 15th poorest, for instance, 67.29% of East Carroll Parish, LA were African Americans according the 2004 election numbers. Apache County, Arizona, predictably, features 76.88% of Native Americans in the 10th poorest county. Ziebach County, SD, #4 on the list: 72.29% Native American. And the poorest US county in 2000, Buffalo County, South Dakota is made up of 81.59% Native Americans. And #2 Shannon County, SD’s population is 94.20% Native American.

And yet, many of these poor states somehow get less relief money than far wealthier states. In fact, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ 2004 report on the subject, “… more federal money went to rich states than to poor states, but poor states relied more heavily on the federal government to support their social programs.”

In light of all this historical context, we have to once again ask ourselves, Why do southerners who are plainly not represented in any meaningful way by whatever party fastens itself to their cause likewise fasten themselves to the wrong party time and again? The answer is simple but hardly encouraging: Racism.

The Republican Party, like their Democratic ideologues of a century before, appealed to their racism and bitterness over Reconstruction and by skillfully fooling them into thinking, while not having any solutions of their own, that liberals and blacks were the root cause of their impoverishment. And it’s a strategy that still works to this day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fuck the World







That's basically all our government has been saying to the international community, especially the Muslim world: Fuck the world, starting with you ragheads. Because what else could Uncle Sam be saying when we hear the details of long-suppressed reports in which CIA interrogators staged mock executions by threatening to shoot suspects and operating drills near their heads?

That alone flouts American law, in which interrogators are forbidden to threaten "imminent death." And what's truly frightening is not only that the CIA deliberately broke US law by threatening executions but even did so on their own. According to the Isikoff/Hosenball article for Newsweek, "Mock executions were not authorized in Justice Department memoranda that outlined the legal parameters that Bush administration lawyers believed should govern the use of 'enhanced' interrogations." Got that? They went beyond even what Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee and John Yoo pulled out of their asses and authorized.

But they knew what they were doing was wrong because the videotapes that almost surely documented these mock executions were destroyed years ago. So it's not as if the CIA interrogators are amoral sociopaths who didn't know right from wrong. They knew damned well what they were doing. And they destroyed at least 92 tapes to cover their asses.

Such tactics were done a few years later in 24, a show that Joel Surnow created for Fox so he could short-stroke to Jack Bauer's torturous exploits.

In real life, however, mock executions were done by the Iranians, whose Revolutionary Guard has been officially designated a terrorist organization, to 53 of our countrymen during the hostage crisis. Cmdr. Lloyd Bucher, CO of the USS Pueblo, was captured by North Korean soldiers and subjected to a mock firing squad. The North Koreans were designated by Bush as one third of the "Axis of Evil."

Twenty years ago, a Marine officer was fired for carrying out mock executions with blanks into war game scenarios in Norway.

In Nicaragua under the Sandinistas once reviled by Ronnie Reagan and George HW Bush prisoners were brutally beaten, were subjected to mock executions and believable death threats were made against family members.

So what does this say about us? That we are no better than the nations and governments that we criticize for human right abuses, that we're not a fucking bit better than other nations that torture. That we think we can get away with this because our national security is more important than anyone's else's. And what do we say in return?

Fuck the world.

Well, we'd get off very lightly if the world doesn't one day say to us, "Well, fuck you, too."

Conservatism: The 5th Estate Chapter One







Chapter One

“We’re an empire now.”

It’s erroneous and even irresponsible to call the latter-day conservative movement a 5th column. The neocons’ hypernationalism, with the Wolfowitz Doctrine calling for simultaneous wars on foreign soil, automatically disqualifies any claim of them being a Trojan horse for any potential invader/occupier from without.

Yet we’ve seen the Republican Party in all its hydra-headed glory take unmistakable steps toward becoming not merely the closest thing that America has to a 5th Estate but a legitimate superstate heedless of any power shifts in the White House, Congress or the Supreme Court. This may or may not be by design but the trends and results are clear enough.

Classically defined, the legitimate four estates from the European Middle Ages are thus: The clergy (the First Estate), the Nobility (the Second Estate), the Commoners (the Third Estate) and the most readily identifiable, the Press (the Fourth Estate). As far as is possible in latter-day America, the Four Estates can be reinterpreted thusly:

The Clergy (Particularly Christian fundamentalists / millenarians / evangelicals without whose support George W. Bush wouldn’t have stood a chance); The Nobility (Or the corporate titans who, in a way, control our government through PAC soft money, other campaign contributions and corporate sinecures); The Commoners (Rural and Middle America, especially those who made the Southern Strategy possible); And of course, The Press, the most identifiable of the Four Estates.

Some have energetically made claims that the blogosphere is the 5th Estate. But the blogosphere, at best a semi-sentient vestigial twin of the media, is largely made up of parts of the first four estates and hardly qualifies as an independent entity. The Commoners, the wealthy, the devout and especially the media have all drifted into the blogosphere. The interclass overlap provides, at most, a common meeting ground, sort of a cybernetic courtyard in which elements of all four established estates can meet and bicker.

Once serving a noble purpose, the fractious, ego-filled blogsphere is today virtually a mainstream entity, that vestigial twin growing larger as the host media shrinks with a very real possibility of the former actually supplanting, if not subsuming, the latter. Any A list blog wouldn’t have a chance of becoming or remaining an A list blog without some corporate sponsorship, advertising and public relations (witness the boutique blog, The Huffington Post and its endless parade of celebrity trophy bloggers). With bloggers getting invited to appear on national TV, syndicated talk radio shows, obtaining book contracts and, in some cases such as Ana Marie Cox, becoming part of the legitimate mainstream Fourth Estate, the politically-plagued blogosphere can hardly be described as a detached entity with no overlap with the other three estates.

Instead, we have to take the GOP’s and conservative movement’s collusion with all four estates a little out of sequence, beginning with the Commoners.

The Third Estate: The Commoners


Instead, we’re seeing the Republican Party digging its talons into the other Four Estates in a manner that never would’ve been possible 40 years ago. The earliest extant example of this is, of course, Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

A masterstroke of political proselytizing, Nixon helped create the Southern Strategy in 1968 by astutely tapping into white Appalachian disaffection with their impoverished lot in life. By getting these Dixiecrats away from the Democrats and their evil Civil Rights and War on Poverty agendas, the GOP had to make these people think that Democrats, liberal policies and the black man was the enemy and that the idea-bankrupt Republicans were the answer to all their problems.

Turning the lower half of the country against their African American neighbors was, to say the least, the easiest part. In a way, Dr. King’s assassination that year and the resultant riots that burned in major southern cities seemed to validate and resurrect atavistic Caucasian fear of the Angry Black Man.

In reality, the Southern Strategy’s M.O. was nothing new. Back in 1863, politicians and activists cynically exploited the anger of Irish laborers who feared losing their jobs to free blacks who would do them for lower wages. The conscription riots of July 1863 had as much to do with racial and socioeconomic antagonism as it did legitimate rebellion against President Lincoln’s “rich man’s war.” Newspaper and eyewitness accounts attest to African Americans getting hunted down, beaten, stabbed, shot, burned alive and openly lynched in the streets of New York City.

While socioeconomic disaffection waxes and wanes and is situational, fear is atavistic and Nixon’s campaign henchmen were frighteningly adept at exploiting them and all without making Nixon look like George Wallace.

But the true ingenuity of the Southern Strategy wasn’t in merely turning White Appalachia and Middle America against their fellow Americans and to get them to vote against their best interests but to ensure that they would continue doing so decade after decade. Slowly, the tide is beginning to turn, as Barack Obama’s Election Day numbers suggest (the president won five southern states: North Carolina, Maryland, Missouri, Florida and Virginia.).

Yet, it ought to be remembered that at the Southern Strategy’s genesis in 1968, African Americans had been empowered with unrestricted voting rights through the Voting Rights Act only three years earlier. It also ought to be noted that African Americans were also newly empowered by President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (the second executive order was signed on January 1st, 1863). In both cases, we saw white America being horror-stricken and violently reacting to a newly-empowered people who had until very recently, been subservient, second or third class citizens.

Yet, throughout 20 consecutive election cycles, it can’t be accurately said the GOP for which they’ve faithfully voted has made the south rise again. In fact, one can trace an unbroken line from the 19th century Democratic Party to the latter-day Republican Party proving how and why the South to this day has never fully recovered from the devastating effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

America is a deeply divided and bitterly polarized nation today but this is not a new phenomenon. Whereas today’s hot button issues such as health care, immigration, abortion and gay rights expose profound partisan and ideological fissures, the Civil War and its corollary issues such as slavery and wealth distribution also sundered a much more politically-engaged America.

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