Huh? What am I missing here? If you are a gay kid you can be a Boy Scout, but if your dads or moms are gay, they are second class citizens and cannot be part of the organization? Nice message. Or is it the other logical conclusions of this policy, gay people must be pedophiles, gay could be caught from an adult, or gayness is a learned behavior from adults? I really think this is one messed up organization that I don’t think I would want my kids (well at this point kid’s kids) being a part of. Their baby step forward simply reinforced many false and hurtful stereo types.
From the Daily Beast: “The president’s new plan is only as viable as his willingness to fight for it, according to all those who witnessed its failure the first time around (Gitmo). It remains to be seen if Obama will use his political capital to make sure the job gets done, or if he will leave it to underlings who might not carry it out once more.”
From the New York Times: “In the past, we have been deeply troubled by the administration’s insistence that the review of planned targeted killings be handled entirely within the executive branch. On Thursday, he said he was willing to talk to Congress about “options for increased oversight” — including the establishment of “a special court to evaluate and authorize lethal action” or “an independent oversight board in the executive branch.” Mr. Obama said he had constitutional and operational concerns about both ideas; in the end, he may not agree to either. But at least he did not contemptuously dismiss them as some of his advisers have done in the past.”
The targeted killing of anyone without due process except in very extreme battlefield conditions is very troubling. Drone strikes should be counted on the fingers of one hand in one year if it were used appropriately and again, where is the independent review that it is justified?
Words are cheap and if we have learned anything from both President Obama and the Republicans, watch what they do, not what they say. I am watching
Here are just a few thoughts I had running through my mind at 5 am this morning as I perused the papers and the days events:
- In Moore we celebrate the “rebuild it” mentality as we did in New York after Sandy. I wonder why. Can’t we learn from stupid choices which are sure to repeat themselves soon enough?
- We are going to limit our drone wars. I can’t help it. Killing and war are fairly stupid and if we believe in human rights, there should be due process. Mistakes are common. Collateral damage just isn’t acceptable. In a declared war is one thing, but we are violating everything we stand for because we think it will never apply to us
- Apple gets celebrated for their innovative ways of tax sheltering billions of dollars and we want to send tax collectors (IRS) to jail. Tells you something about our Congress and why the country is becoming about the 1% or as Jared Bernstein said this morning in the Huffington Post, “Because they can indefinitely shield their foreign profits from U.S. taxes, meanwhile engaging in endless (legal) schemes to avoid taxes in countries where they book those earnings, the link between the profitability of American companies and the well-being of America is broken”
- I guess the compromise excluding gay couples from the immigration bill may be worth throwing our principles about equal rights out. After all there was that three-fifths thing in the Constitution regarding counting slaves for representation. But then that got sorted out in the Civil War. Also thinking somehow the Supreme Court will bail them out on this in their ruling on DOMA is a pipe dream
- Yes the deficit is coming down, but for all the wrong reasons at the wrong time or as the Wonkblog put it, “Our deficits aren’t dropping because we’re doing something right. They’re dropping because we’re doing everything wrong. We’re cutting deficits much too quickly in the next few years — that’s what Bernanke’s testimony is about. We’re letting them rise (albeit modestly) between 2016 and 2023. We’re doing basically nothing about long-term deficits, which is where the problem actually lies. And we’re using policies, like sequestration, that most everyone agrees are bad policy — so we’re cutting spending by cutting the wrong kind of spending.”
- In Florida an 18-year-old American is facing felony charges over claims that she had sexual contact with her underage girlfriend in a consensual affair. That is after a model student at another high school was charged with a felony after a science experiment went bad (discharging a destructive device which was Mentos dropped into a plastic Coke bottle). Another state I never want to visit or live in. These people need to get a life.
- In the world of giant hypocrisy, Stephen Fincher, a Tennessee congressman who supports billion of dollars in cuts to the food stamp program is one of the largest recipients of federal farm subsides, collecting nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012. In 2012 alone, the data shows, Mr. Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners, even if they do not grow crops. I wonder how many food stamp folks got $70,000 in food stamps. So who is the leech again?
- In hearings, the IRS has taken the Fifth and is not being cooperative with Congress. I wonder why? Could it be because the Republicans, before knowing anything, sent out a lyching party to “throw people in jail”? One has to wonder why anyone would work for the federal government
Well just a few of the “say what?” moments while reading the paper this morning. Oh, and nothing on creating jobs, dealing with global warming, fixing our infrastructure, etc. Is this a great country or what?
I know, I know, I am a bleeding heart liberal and I should love the President no matter what. But as I documented in No There There, President Obama is no Progressive and in many ways he has become Judas, leading us to the arms of our political enemies. Well not all of them. There are some who are true fruit loops, yet their understanding of limiting government intrusion into our lives and our press surpasses even my libertarian leanings.
The Daily Beast today ran a wonderful article that I think sums up (Obama’s War on Journalism: ‘An UnConstitutional Act’) where he has gone that none of us ever thought he would go:
The press-punishing, speech-chilling, and unabashedly overreaching actions by the Obama administration against the Associated Press and Fox News Channel’s James Rosen lay bare the essential dynamic between any president and a press that is always more prone to being lapdogs than watchdogs…In the case of the AP, the Obama administration secretly subpoenaed phone-call logs and other information from an office in which over 100 journalists worked. Officials were on the hunt for the sources that cooperated with the AP on a story about a failed terrorist plot in Yemen. As AP head Gary Pruitt has put it, the administration’s subpoena was “so secretly, so abusively and harassingly and over-broad…that it is an unconstitutional act.”…
“Under U.S. law,” writes Greenwald, “it’s not illegal to publish classified information,” so the Obama administration is claiming that it’s illegal for journalists and publishers to “solicit” such information. That doesn’t simply fly in the face of the First Amendment and Vietnam-era rulings guaranteeing press freedoms, it declares “ war on journalism” by essentially criminalizing the very act of investigative reporting….Was Obama so gaseous in the classroom when he taught constitutional law? Such hoary old encomia to abstract verities are laughable in the face of how all the president’s men are actually going about their business of surveilling and harassing the press.
Nick Gillespie gives a good accounting of the hypocrisy of President Obama and what is the real scandal of his Presidency. Between that and his falling back on belt tightening language when we needed an engaged and stimulating government program tells me once again, there is no there there and we need to quit making excuses for him and start holding him accountable. I guess we need to pay attention to that old axiom, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Our Founders understood that, but we may have become asleep at the wheel.
It is no surprise that I am an atheist and after a horrendous event like the tornado in Moore Oklahoma, you get a lot of thanking God, which assumes everyone believes in some fairy godfather. But the best was from Wolfe Blitzer on CNN who asked an Oklahoma tornado survivor if she “thanked the Lord” on live TV and she responded “I’m actually an atheist.”
What I wish she would of said was, “and should I thank him for the destruction and the taking of 24 lives?” You can’t have one without the other. Oh, but he works in mysterious ways. It is amazing that they never get that they are shoving their religion in our face 24/7 or how inane and illogical it is.
Well right now in Moore, Oklahoma, you are seeing why we need government. And unlike many Republicans who don’t want to fund FEMA or find things to savage to pay for (or not to pay for) emergency relief, we are all in this together. And we do that through GOVERNMENT!
And what an opportunity we have to spend some money, provide jobs and rebuild Moore. It would be called stimulus, but it is really relief. Now here comes the big one: We need to invest in infrastructure that limits this damage/loss of life in the future in extreme weather events. That would be government again. And just how would we do that you ask? Well in Tornado Alley we could require storm shelters or build community ones. FEMA (you know Gov’ment) already helps the locals pay up to 75% of that cost. How could a school not have one? Oh I know the complaint, we can’t afford that.
I am a structural engineer and I hear it all the time. Florida contractors complain about expensive requirements in building codes for tie-downs from high winds. In California I catch crap from contractors when I specify tie down rods and additional earthquake resistance elements. No you cannot design housing and buildings to withstand winds like we had in the tornado in Oklahoma, but with either community or home storm shelters, we could reduce the loss of life. From Sandy in New York, to tornados in the mid-west, to earthquake safe buildings and infrastructure in the west, these investments pay for themselves. But as soon as the dust settles nobody remembers and starts complaining (Better Business Bureau) about how these things (regulations) drive up costs and restrict business through all those bad regulations.
Oh, and yes we need government to be the adult sometimes. Why do we let people rebuild in harm’s way? Why are we rebuilding on the Coast in New York? Why do we let people build in flood plains along the Mississippi River? Why do we let people build houses and buildings in Tornado Alley without safe rooms? Because we don’t have the political courage to say no. And we pay for it over and over, because nobody gets unsubsidized flood insurance, and we don’t deny rebuilding funds because you were foolish. We the people subsidize it. The government pays for people to build in harms way and maybe we ought to rethink that (See NYT on storm shelters).
I heard one politician from Oklahoma explain how they are self-sufficient and take care of their own. But they will do it through their own state government, and when that isn’t enough, and it won’t be, we will all help rebuild it. Then he said they have a market based insurance company approach to getting appropriate insurance in these disaster areas. We will see. Like medical insurance, how they actually perform will be determined after a horrendous event, not before. But like flood insurance, what happens when private enterprise won’t insure there any more? No we don’t need no stink’in government.
So yes we need Government and it is what is pulling people out of the rubble, and it will be what helps rebuild their community, and it will be the one, if it is responsible, of requiring and helping to pay for upgrades to our facilities to resist natural disasters in the future. I don’t see the private sector running in based on the profit motive to save our asses. Somebody has to pay for it, and that would be all of us. Oh and right now we are celebrating teachers and their bravery. Tomorrow we will be back to bashing them and cutting their pay as government employees. Time to start thinking big again.
What is there to say? Best laid plans of mice and men… We think we can control our fate and then nature steps in and flattens our world and steals our most precious love ones. It is why we really are in this together and we need to support each other. This wasn’t some punishment sent to us because of some perceived transgression or a failure to follow the rules. This is the chaos of life. This is why we are all in this together and we must help each other. Because life is not fair and chaos happens randomly. Maybe in our climate of mean spirited politics and selfishness that is so Washington and our country these days, we need to stop and think. And then do what we can to help our fellow citizens whenever we can, because, well, shit happens.
Of the three scandals, two are non-scandals, and one is part of the real scandal. The real scandal, in America, the home of democracy and probably the greatest document ever written to secure the rights of all people, the Constitution, is that the American people are no longer well enough informed to manage their democracy.
Thomas Jefferson said “A properly functioning democracy depends on an informed electorate.” Ours isn’t functioning and the reason is that we have a totally uniformed electorate. And not only what they don’t know is scary, what they think they do know is not critically evaluated. Here are some examples:
- 67% of Americans can’t name any Supreme Court Justices
- 41% of Republicans believe Benghazi is the worst political scandal in American history, but nearly half don’t know where it is
- Fewer than 40% of Americans could name the three branches of the federal government
- 40% of Americans don’t know Obamacare is the law of the land
- Only 6 % of Americans know that the budget deficit has been shrinking during President Obama’s presidency, despite the fact that this is a demonstrable, incontrovertible, entirely objective truth. Oh and it is shrinking at the largest rate in post WWII America
- Only 18% of Americans profess to have a good idea of what the consequences of the sequester will be
- 46% of Americans believe in Creationism. That means that almost half of Americans reject science or facts that are inconvenient to what they need to believe
- And my favorite, while 97% of all scientists have accepted global warming as human caused, more than half the nation thinks scientists are split 50-50 on the issue and the numbers change with the weather
This is just the tip of the iceberg. And it tells you how Americans can elect and believe fruit loops like Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, or Ted Cruz. It tells you how false rumors on the internet and scandal gates get rolling. Of course it has been aided and abetted by our press which either in an attempt to be non-judgmental (fair and balanced) gives equal footing to the crazies, or utilizes the sensational as entertainment, contributes to our dumbing down. But the real problem is that most people just don’t know very much even with all the amazing technological ways to fact check things, and they believe whatever they hear from familiar sources without any critical thought. Oh, and it doesn’t help that corporate America continues to try to confuse to market us dangerous things (Tobacco, global warming, pesticides, and food additives to name a few).
So can you run a democracy with so much disinformation? I don’t think so. We continue to make bad choice after bad choice and dismantle the America we built looking for some Nirvana that did not exist in the 19th Century (See Republican Economic Theories). We learned how to cope with depressions in the 1930s and we threw all that knowledge away. We know we need to invest in our people, and yet we continue to cut and marginalize government. It is as though we put the inmates in charge of the insane asylum and we are running amuck. Fruit loops are becoming main stream and America declines.
I wonder if and when people, intelligent people, will re-engage, where intellectualism is valued. And don’t be confused by the honest difference of opinion argument when the data is staring us in the face. I wonder when we will look at policies that are not working (austerity) and change course. I wonder when we will not be afraid to try new ideas, and not be afraid to change them if they don’t work. Instead we get cries of the government is coming for our guns, death panels, and the IRS is one big Democratic conspiracy. It is sad to watch this experiment fail because most people can think critically and yet are being sold elixir by traveling medicine men. But if you are a traveling medicine man, you are doing just fine. Don’t change a thing.
Oh, and back to why one scandal is part of this bigger problem: The Justice Department’s attempt to stifle our news media’s ability to inform us about what our government is really doing is just part of the bigger picture of treating us like mushrooms, keep us in the dark and feed us …and then let us vote.
Well, as I thought, the IRS focus on the Tea Party was not some rogue partisan operation, but just the end result of an impossible work load, tons of Tea Party requests for tax exempt status, confusing and impossible to understand guidance, changing supervision, and a Congress that changed the rules with little or no support to actually accomplish the work. Like everything else, it would appear that when government doesn’t work, it is because, our Republican friends have cook the books so it can’t work. See Confusion and Staff Problems Rife at IRS Office in Ohio in the New York Times this morning.
Of course the one thing we should be talking about, why we are even considering tax exempt status for political organizations and shielding of their donors does not come up. The one thing the Republicans do have right (sort of) is that our tax code is a mess and we need to junk it. Think about how simple life would be if we just paid a value added tax on everything we buy and then taxes on income would be irrelevant. Oh, I can dream.
Well I have been harping on realizing the reality of there is no legislative agenda possible and start fighting for 2014 where we might get some if we can win some House seats and Harry Reid gets his head out of his ass on the filibuster (he and ‘institutional Democrats’). So Michael Tomasky took Obama on today with some very good advice about not going Bulworth, but Rambo that I have been pushing here and called my LATMO approach (Laugh at Them and Move On):
He can’t change Mitch McConnell’s mind. The pundits who write that are just in fantasy land. But he can try to change the public’s mind. He can go to them and say enough. These people are betraying you and betraying America. And he can give a primetime Oval Office address to lay out the factual case (why, by the way, does he never, ever do this?). The number of bills filibustered. The number of bills that didn’t even make it to filibuster. The number of executive-agency appointments blocked. The number of judicial nominees blocked. The number of recess appointments he’s had to make. The exact nature of the fiscal offers he has put on the table, and a catalog of Republican rejectionism. I dare say that the facts of the case are about as overwhelmingly on his side as facts in a case can ever be.
Obama has been trying to avoid a direct confrontation with these people throughout his presidency. Well, it’s pretty clear now that he’s not going to get out of this without having it. With all these controversies bubbling, it may be coming sooner rather than later—and as much as I hate even writing these words, his ability to serve out the eight years, given how capable these people are of spinning accidents and errors into vast conspiracies, might depend on it. Forget the shades and ski cap. He needs to get that headband on.