Friday, October 12, 2012

I Agree With Paul Ryan, Says "Moderate" Idiot

There aren't enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending ~ VP candidate and United States Representative for Wisconsin's 1st congressional district Paul_Ryan (dob 1/21/1970) dissembles during the VP debate on 10/11/1012.

The following from blogger Willis Hart, a self described "Moderate", regarding the VP debate on Thursday 10/11/2012...

Willis Hart: Martha Raddatz asked Vice President Biden a very simple question tonight. She asked him what, other than raising taxes on the wealthy, would the Obama administration do to reduce the budget deficit. His hysterical response... was, "Just let the Bush tax-cuts for millionaires expire!" That was it. ...if [Biden] thinks that that's all that's necessary, then he is a total frigging idiot. (10/11/2013 AT 7:29pm).

Why? Because of the simple fact that raising taxes on the wealthy won't come close to making up the budget shortfall (he agrees with Paul Ryan, in other words). But what this "Moderate" fails to take into account is the positive effect that raising taxes on the wealthy will have on the economy. The government needs this money for programs to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Historical data shows that during the times when taxes were the highest the economy did the best. In a 7/10/2010 article that asked the question, are low taxes exacerbating the recession, David Sirota points out that, "though the Reagan zeitgeist created the illusion that taxes stunt economic growth, the numbers prove that higher marginal tax rates generate more resources for the job-creating, wage-generating public investments (roads, bridges, broadband, etc.) that sustain an economy.

They also create economic incentives for economy-sustaining capital investment [because] the easiest way wealthy business owners can avoid high-bracket tax rates is by plowing their profits back into their businesses and taking the corresponding write-off rather than simply pocketing the excess cash and paying an IRS levy".

So, no, Joe Biden was not an idiot to emphasize the fact that raising taxes on the wealthy would reduce the budget deficit. It would, in fact, raise much more than the 70 billion dollars a year that the "Moderate" says can't possibly make much of a difference. This "Moderate" is in favor of gutting entitlements, raising the retirement age, and otherwise placing the burden of paying our debts largely onto the backs of the middle class and poor.

This "Moderate" fully endorses the Bowles-Simpson proposal that includes cutting the corporate tax rate and benefits for seniors. Regarding the proposal, commission member Rep. Jan Schakowsky said "Bowles-Simpson is touted by inside-the-Beltway pundits who think that cutting benefits for seniors who have an average income of $22,000 a year is the type of hard choice we need to be making". Schakowsky concluded "we should not and need not reduce the deficit on the backs of seniors and others who survive on a low income".

Schakowsky presented her own plan that increased government investments to grow the economy. This represents the Liberal perspective regarding capitalism. Capitalism is a flawed system of which results in wealth concentrating at the top. The solution isn't the other extreme (socialism), but a mixed system in which the government intervenes to level the playing field and prevent total plutocracy via redistributive programs.

Yet "Moderates" and Conservatives still buy into the fairy tale that is supply-side economics. Even though Reagan's OMB director David Stockman admitted that Reagan's tax cut was a "Trojan horse to bring down the top rate", we keep voting Republicans into office who want to cut taxes and deregulate. bush did it and the result was the Great Recession. Now Romney says that, because Obama didn't turn things around fast enough, the answer is more failed voodoo economics!

Although "Moderates" seek to strike a balance between raising taxes and slashing entitlement programs. But I agree with Rep. Schakowsky, who said "the plan [Bowles-Simpson] is anything but balanced". Any plan that proposes small tax increases (nobody dares suggest anything higher than the Clinton rates) and cuts in investments and entitlement programs isn't balanced or "moderate" in my opinion. It's Conservative.

Joe Biden was right to emphasize the necessity of raising taxes, especially with the fiscal cliff looming. The Democrats MUST not buckle under again and make a deal that does not include tax INCREASES on the wealthy, although drastically cutting military spending is, I think, a close second (so Joe Biden could have mentioned that, and did not). But that isn't what the "Moderate" wanted to hear. In his mind the only "serious" solution to bringing down the deficit is to cut entitlement cuts and raise the retirement age; and with that assessment I must disagree completely.

Proposals like Bowles-Simpson would hurt the middle class and negatively impact the economy, but the "Moderate" instead focuses on the "unfairness" of "taking" too much of a wealthy individual's income (it is, in fact, the primary focus of his blog). Me, I don't know how someone can call themselves "moderate" when they worry SO MUCH about the wealthy being "overtaxed". That's what Conservatives do.

That is one of the responses the "Moderate" post received. A conservative who calls himself "dmarks" described Obama's desire for the tax rates (at least for the wealthy) to go back to where they were under Clinton as "unnecessary" and "greedy". I say it is greedy to cut programs that benefit the middle class and poor, whether the advocate for that course of action is a "Moderate" who thinks taxes could be raised a few percentage points (but entitlement cuts are a necessity) or a Conservative who is dead set against any tax increase (and plans on voting for Romney and tax cuts).

SWTD #121, wDel #13.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Left Does Not Need to Lie to Make Romney Look Bad

When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven't gotten around a lot ~ Barack Obama (b. 8/4/1961) 44th president of the United States, responding to a question about Romney's bogus and insulting claim that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax and believe they are victims and entitled to an array of federal benefits at a Univision town hall-style forum on 9/20/2012.

On 9/22/2012 self-described "Moderate" blogger Willis Hart asked the question, "still don't think that MSNBC lies like Fox?". The title of the post was a link to Youtube video of some remarks by Mitt Romney that were supposedly deceptively edited by NBC's Andrea Mitchell to enforce the Left's narrative that Mitt is a rich out-of-touch douche (Youtube video title: "MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Caught Blatantly Lying & Distorting The Truth About Mitt Romney").

My response, which I cannot make on his blog because he recently banned me, would have been that I don't think Andrea Mitchell lied. Primarily because lying to make Mittens look bad isn't necessary. Yes, the video was edited, and yes the edit did make it appear he was confused by the "amazing" technology he witnessed at a sandwich making business he had recently visited (Wawas of PA). After airing the edited video on her MSNBC program Andrea Mitchell Reports, Mitchell "suggested this might be Romney's supermarket scanner moment". The point he was actually making was that government is behind in using technology to improve it's efficiency because government has no competition.

So, the video WAS edited, and those edits did make it appear that Romney's comments are an example of him being rich and "out of touch" with the common man. However, when viewed in their full context, it is clear his comments are not an example of this. So, why do I doubt Andrea Mitchell lied? Because there are numerous other Romney quotes that the Left can use to "make Romney look bad". There is NO NEED for them to fabricate any. I suspect someone else edited the video and handed it off to someone at MSNBC. Andrea Mitchell did not lie... although an argument can be made that this is an example of poor reporting. Whoever put the story together (not necessarily Andrea Mitchell) did a bad job of confirming if the (out of context) quote was what it really appeared to be.

Regarding those quotes that actually do make Romney look bad (and make it completely unnecessary for the Left to have to fabricate any), two examples that recently were reported on include Romney making it clear he has no idea what a dirty bomb is, and that Romney thinks it would be a good idea for people to be able to open windows in airplanes (in case of a fire). The first comment I've transcribed from the 9/18/2012 broadcast of Rachel Maddow Show and is as follows (it is IN CONTEXT, BTW)...

(The quote is from the same video in which Romney disparages the 47 percent of people who refuse to take personal responsibility... according to him.)

Mitt Romney: I mean, if I were Iran and a crazed fanatic, I'd say, "Let's get a little fissile material to Hezbollah and have them carry it to Chicago or some other place. And then if anything goes wrong or America starts acting up, we'll say, guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we're gonna let off a dirty bomb.

Rachel Maddow: OK... Mitt Romney doesn't know what a dirty bomb is. A dirty bomb is not a nuclear explosion... you do not need to have a nuclear program in order to make a dirty bomb possible. You do not need fissile material from somebody's nuclear weapons program in order to put together a dirty bomb. A dirty bomb is just a regular bomb that explodes the regular way - except that it's been packed with radioactive material - and that radioactive material can come from anywhere. From medical waste, from a nuclear power plant (which Iran has)... Every country in the world has access to the radioactive material necessary to make a dirty bomb. By singling out a nuclear armed Iran as a threat to the US in terms of what it would take to make a dirty bomb, Mitt Romney has just display profound ignorance on a really important subject.

Back to my commentary: As has been pointed out, these 47 percent of people who don't pay income taxes include a lot of likely Romney voters (who may not be Romney voters anymore after hearing these remarks). Senior citizens, military personal, and voters who live in southern states (states that receive more in federal money than they pay in, as opposed to northern states that tend to vote democratic and pay in more than they get back). On the other hand, these people probably aren't paying attention (or seen this reported on Fox Nooz) so they'll probably still vote for Romney despite the utter contempt Romney clearly has for these people.

Now, on to my second example of Romney saying something dumb that makes it unnecessary for the Left to fabricate anything to support their "narrative" that Romney is out-of-touch, makes dumb gaffes, and is otherwise not qualified to be president.

As reported by the Huffington Post (and numerous other "less biased" news sources), a fire broke out on a private plane carrying Mitt Romney's wife Anne (which was then forced to make an emergency landing). Speaking about the incident, Romney said, "the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous". According to Romney, it's "dangerous" because "you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft...".

There are several problems with this statement. First of all, there is less oxygen at high altitudes, oxygen feeds a fire, and the pressure outside the plane isn't the same as inside it. Although, regarding the oxygen issue, Romney was concerned about the occupants of the plane being able to breath (I guess it didn't occur to him that fire needs oxygen to burn). The cabin pressure issue, I think, really makes this a super dumb statement. Or, perhaps he was just joking, as, according to the NYT writer who first filed on the comments, "it was clear from the context that he was not being serious".

If a "joke" then I agree with the Telegraph reporter who said Romney has "[a] sense of humour that no one else quite gets". In any case, we still have two examples of Romney making stupid gaffes that make it completely unnecessary for the Left to have to fabricate any. He disparaged the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax, even though this number includes members of the Republican base, and his complete lack of understanding regarding what a dirty bomb is (and the fact that individuals in Iran could construct one absent Iran having a nuclear weapons program.

Andrea Mitchell lied? Why? There's no reason for her to lie; all the Left needs to do is tell the truth to make Romney look bad. Lie, and you can get caught, so why do it when it isn't necessary?

Also, who uses a link as the title of a blog post as Willis Hart of Contra O'Reilly does? Links are supposed to be embedded in your post. Try learning a little basic HTML. Failing that, don't use a frigging LINK as the TITLE of a blog post (put it in the body)! It just looks dumb.

SWTD #120

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Republican Rigging Benefits Wealthy, Hurts Everyone Else

The fact that Romney may be viewed as wealthy doesn't necessarily pose problems for his candidacy. The challenge for Romney lies more in the fact that large majorities say if he is elected president, his policies would likely benefit the wealthy ~ Kim Parker, associate director of Pew Social & Demographic Trends. (Quote excerpted from the article, "Americans Say Rich Are Greedy, Dishonest, Don't Pay Enough In Taxes: Pew Report" by Hope Yen of the AP, 8/27/2012).

The following is an excerpt from the 9/2/2012 broadcast of MSNBC's Weekends With Alex Witt, which I edited for brevity and clarity. Host Alex Witt and guest Carmen Wong Ulrich discuss a new Pew poll that finds 75 percent of Americans believe the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

Alex Witt: Now a new study that paints a fascinating picture of what Americans really think about rich people. Carmen Wong Ulrich is a personal finance expert and the president of Alta Wealth Management, so she's making people rich with that company.

As we get to this survey, it's from the Pew Research Center, it says people see those who are wealthy as more intelligent, more hard working, yet also greedy and less honest. Where does this come from?

Carmen: Well, here's the thing. If you break it along party lines... Democrats are much more likely to say that people who are rich are basically more greedy and less honest. Republicans are more likely to say they're intelligent and hard working. So it really cuts across party lines.

But a third to 50 percent of Americans said it doesn't matter if you're wealthy. That doesn't make you more intelligent or less likely to be honest. It doesn't matter at all. So it's a big number that said it doesn't matter.

Alex Witt: OK, let's get to taxes. This one shows, that when it comes to paying them, 58 percent said [the] rich pay too little, 26 percent said they pay their fair share, and just 8 percent say they pay too much. Anything here surprise you?

Carmen: No... Again, this split along party lines. 78 percent of Democrats say the wealthy do not pay enough in taxes. Only 33 percent of Republicans said the same thing.

Alex Witt: On the campaign trail wealth is certainly one of the big issues. What's the takeaway from what the study tells us... do you think this tells us more about how people view the rich...

Carmen: What it really showed is there is a belief that there is a huge income gap between the wealthy and the poor. 65 percent of Americans say that gap exists. The study asked, "do you believe the rich get richer and the poor get poorer"? Over 75 percent of Americans agreed. If you're a Democrat it's 92 percent, while if you're a Republican it's still over 50 percent. So, no matter what party they're in, people are saying America is changing and the rich are getting richer.

My Commentary: "Perception is reality", is one of the lines (I didn't quote) that Carmen used in commenting on this poll. I don't know if that means she does not believe the rich are getting richer at the expense of the rest of us, but I believe it is true. I know it isn't only a "perception", but that the facts show this is the case. I also agree with the people who responded to the poll who said the wealthy aren't necessarily more intelligent (50 percent) or harder working (34 percent).

But, if the wealthy aren't necessarily more intelligent or harder working then why are they getting richer while the rest of us are getting poorer? Certainly, being wealthy is a huge advantage, as making money after you already have money is a lot easier, but I strongly believe the reason is (in huge part) because our economic system is rigged to favor the wealthy.

This is an assertion that I have been ridiculed for on a Conservative blog I used to comment on. One commenter even claimed that this assertion was one of the reasons I was viewed as a "laughingstock" by the other people who frequent that blog. According to these people, those who complain of a rigged system (like the Occupy Movement) are simply jealous, lazy and greedy individuals who are looking for government handouts.

However, as Liberal talk show radio host Thom Hartmann correctly points out (in a 10/26/2006 article), "what's normal in a free and unfettered economy is the rapid evolution of a small but fabulously wealthy ownership class, and a large but poor working class". Historical evidence shows us that (under normal conditions[1]) only governmental economic and social policy can sustain a large and growing middle class.

Pew also found that "63 percent of Americans say the GOP favors the rich over the middle class and poor"[2]. I think the results of this poll make it clear that most people realize governmental policy supports the middle class, and that the reason it is currently in decline is due to a rigging of our economic system by the GOP. Here's hoping that translates into a win for Barack Obama in November.

[1] The other method by which a middle class can arise is by, "a sudden change in the relationship between population and resources. After the Black Death wiped out more than a third of the population in 14th century Europe, the increased demand for labor drove up the price of labor to the point when a middle class emerged in some places. Many historians identify this as one of the factors that brought about the Renaissance". (Excerpt from the 10/26/2006 Thom Hartmann article, "There's Nothing Normal About A Middle Class").
[2] From the AP article, "Americans Say Rich Are Greedy, Dishonest, Don't Pay Enough In Taxes: Pew Report" by Hope Yen, 8/27/2012.

SWTD #119

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Romney's Tax Plan Would Complete Reagan's Dream of an American Oligarchy

Where some people are very wealthy and others have nothing, the result will be either extreme democracy or absolute oligarchy, or despotism will come from either of those excesses ~ Aristotle (384 BC to 322 BC) a Greek philosopher who was a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato's teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy.

The Walton family owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of America. The top 1 percent owns 40 percent of the nation's wealth while the bottom 60 percent own less than 2 percent. Between 2009 and 2010 93 percent of all new income went to the top 1 percent, the other 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent. The United States has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any industrialized nation on earth and it is worse now than since the 1920s. The United States has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. [source: Bernie Sanders on the 8/3/2012 Stephanie Miller Show].

In response John Fugelsang asked: "if 60 percent of the population controls only 2 percent of the wealth, does that mean that the top 40 percent needs to pay 98 percent of the taxes?" [John Fugelsang is a friday regular on the Stephanie Miller Show].

The rigged tax system of the United States has been moving up toward oligarchy for the past 30 years - ever since Ronald Reagan set us on that path. According to a non-partisan analysis conducted by the Brookings Institute and the Tax Policy Center, "...a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed – including reducing marginal tax rates substantially, eliminating the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) and maintaining all tax breaks for saving and investment – would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle and/or lower-income taxpayers. This is true even when we bias our assumptions about which and whose tax expenditures are reduced to make the resulting tax system as progressive as possible".

Mitt Romney says he will reduce taxes across the board, but in reality his elimination of deductions would RAISE taxes on middle and lower income taxpayers. The Brookings/Tax Policy analysis says, "[Romney's] tax cuts predominantly favor upper-income taxpayers. Taxpayers with incomes over $1 million would see their after-tax income increased by 8.3 percent (an average tax cut of about $175,000)... while the after-tax income of taxpayers earning less than $30,000 would actually decrease by about 0.9 percent (an average tax increase of about $130)".

In other words: Romney wants YOU to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy! Unless you're rich and greedy, why would you cast your ballot for Mitt Romney? Barack Obama should win re-election in a landslide, but we all know he won't. It's going to be close. Why? I've been declared "arrogant" for saying so, but I'm convinced that a lot of voters are allowing themselves to be tricked into voting for oligarchy.

SWTD #118

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A Decidedly Non Auspicious Adventure (Part 1)

When you're safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home ~ Thornton Wilder (4/17/1897 to 12/7/1975) an American playwright and novelist who won three Pulitzer Prizes - for the novel "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" and for the two plays "Our Town" and "The Skin of Our Teeth". He also won a US National Book Award for the novel "The Eighth Day".

Suri Cruz backed away slowly. Her companion William was drawing far too much attention, and Suri knew it was only a matter of time before the police arrived. Sure enough, a number of uniformed officers emerged from the crowd after William punched a portly woman in the gut. The crowd started shouting and several people pointed fingers at William. The overweight woman sank to her knees without a sound, then fell on her face and lay there unmoving. "Great", thought Suri. This appeared to be William's SECOND murder of the day!

One of the uniformed officers commanded William to surrender, and he took off running down an alleyway. Suri pushed her way through the crowd, intent on getting back to the Inn as quickly as possible. As far as she knew the authorities were looking for her, an accessory to the earlier murder, wherein William slugged a priest in the nose, causing him to fall and hit his head in the stone courtyard outside the temple of the oracles.

Suri intended to grab her gear and clear out of town before she was found and arrested. This wasn't the first time William's actions had lead to the deaths of innocent people. The adventuring party she and William belonged to previously was wiped out in a disastrous encounter with the Caecilanoids of the Underdark. A party of seven people was whittled down to just two - her and William - before they finally made it back to Schultzberg, the small hamlet both she and William had grown up in.

After they successfully located the Caecilanite treasure, the others seemed overjoyed, quickly forgetting the earlier death of Artemis, Suri's mage apprentice. The gangly teenager died when a spell he was casting fizzled and he was knifed in the gut by one of the small group of goblins that attacked them shortly after they entered the caverns.

Suri blamed herself. She never should have allowed Artemis to accompany them on such a dangerous mission. But Artemis had demonstrated himself to be a promising magic user on their first few missions, and, when he begged her to allow him to travel with them into the Underdark, she relented when William promised he'd keep an eye on the young magic user. How foolish that decision had proven! After easily dispatching the half-dozen goblins everyone - including William - was shocked to find Artemis near death.

Joshua, the half-elf cleric attempted a healing spell, but was too late. "I messed up the incantation" Artemis muttered as Suri cradled his head in her arms. "A healing spell, stat!" she shouted at Joshua. The holy man laid his hands on the boy and began to chant, but Artemis was already gone. "What am I going to tell his parents?" Suri exclaimed, glaring at William.

"Why are you glaring at me?" William asked. "I don't know his parents". "You promised to keep an eye on him", Suri cried. "Oh, yea, I did do that", William said, remembering his earlier pledge. "It didn't even occur to me that a couple of goblins would be a problem for the kid".

Suri suggested that they abandon the mission and return home, but was outvoted by the rest of the group. Suri did manage to convince the companions to cover the body with some rocks, and she vowed to return at a later date. "His family would want his body returned for a proper burial" Suri explained when William complained about the time they were wasting. She knelt down and said a silent prayer, tears filling her eyes.

Several days later they finally located the chamber where the secret door leading to the treasure was supposedly located. The yellowed map Artemis' father found among some old papers that belonged to a now deceased grandfather lead the way. "Completing the mission is the least we can do to honor Artemis' memory", a self-serving William had reasoned, and everyone excepting Suri agreed.

The halfling thief, Leeta the Lucky, ran her hands over the smooth stone walls, using her unique skills in an attempt to locate the secret door... if it existed. The pale light of a glowing stone atop Suri's staff illuminated the chamber. After 20 minutes (or more) had passed Suri heard a squeal escape Leeta's lips. "I found a lever", Leeta said. "I think this may be it". Suri looked at Leeta and saw the small female halfling squatting in a dark corner, her hand wedged into a narrow crevice where the wall met the floor. Leeta pulled furiously and a crack appeared in the wall.

A rectangular outline materialized in what had once been a solid stone wall, then a door swung open. Abel, one of two burly blond blue-eyed fighters was about to step through when Leeta hissed, "wait, I need to check for traps!". "Nonsense" William said frowning at the halfling. "Enough time wasting, let's go get that treasure!". "Indeed" Abel agreed, "Me and my brother have had enough of this dark place. We want to go home". He strode through the opening and was promptly skewered in the side with a massive spear that sprung from the door frame.

"My Gods!" screamed Abel's brother Rutger. He rushed to his brother's side, but it was too late, the spear had slain Abel instantly. Unable to enter the room because Abel's large frame blocked the doorway, William swung his sword and hacked through the shaft of the spear with three mighty blows. Rutger grabbed his brother around the waist and gently lowered him to the ground. "Who will help me carry my brother's body home?", Rutger asked.

"We'll deal with that after retrieving the treasure" William answered. "But first I think Leeta should check for traps". "Sure, now's a good time to check for traps", Suri remarked sarcastically. A visibly angry Rutger looked like he might leap to his feet and attack William, but was stopped when Joshua knelt down next to him to say a blessing over his dead brother's body. Joshua closed Abel's eyes, finished his prayers, and the remaining companions proceeded through the doorway after Leeta determined the spear was the only booby trap present.

SWTD #117, WTM #5.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

War Criminal Hypocrite

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses ~ Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith writing for The Center for Public Integrity, 1/23/2008.

When commenting on other blogs I often, when the topic comes up, refer to George bush (and others in his administration) as "war criminals". The reason I believe the label is applicable is mainly due to his invasion of Iraq and authorization of waterboarding. But lately, on a another site the blogger dmarks (real name Dennis Marks) has been "calling me out" for my "hypocrisy" whenever I do it (use the "war criminal" label when referring to bush and bush administration officials).

According to Mr. Marks, if I were consistent and not a hypocrite, I'd have to acknowledge that Bill Clinton is also a war criminal, because he authorized the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 without UN authorization, which is the "same" thing bush did when he ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2002.

Dennis says the only reason I say bush is a war criminal while Bill Clinton is not is because bush has an "R" behind his name. Of course these accusations are patently absurd due to a few important distinctions between the bombing of Yugoslavia and the invasion of Iraq.

In order to "catch" me in my hypocrisy, Dennis asked me if "George W. Bush [was] lying when he said that Saddam Hussein had been engaged in the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction technology which was a threat to countries in the region and he had made a mockery of the weapons inspection process"?

Turns out this is actually something Nancy Pelosi said, so when I said, "yes, bush lied", Dennis responded with the following...

Dennis Marks: Bush told the truth. We all know this. However, the quote I gave you was a bit of a "sting". It proved two things: your hypocrisy, and that you never bother to check anything. (5/9/2012 AT 8:11am).

So it looks like Dennis got me good, huh? Except that the Nancy Pelosi comment is from 12/16/1998 (when Clinton was president) and actually represents what the politicians believed to be true at the time. Also, Nancy Pelosi did not then conclude that we must go to war with Iraq in order to "disarm" them, and neither did president Clinton.

Also, what Nancy Pelosi said was in line with what United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter reported regarding Iraq's WMD program. In August of 1998 Scott Ritter said that, absent effective monitoring, Iraq could "reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program".

The intent of Pelosi's statement was to keep up the pressure on Iraq and to signal her support for the UN inspections. The Clinton administration was in favor of containment and inspections and not of waging war. And the Clinton administration policy of keeping the pressure on Iraq paid off, because in June of 1999 weapons inspector Scott Ritter said, "when you ask the question, does Iraq possess militarily viable biological or chemical weapons? the answer is no! It is a resounding NO. Can Iraq produce today chemical weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Can Iraq produce biological weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Ballistic missiles? No! It is NO across the board. So from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has been disarmed".

In early 2003 The UN weapons inspectors (who had been absent from Iraq for several years) were in the process of verifying if Iraq was in compliance with the UN Resolutions calling for Iraq to disarm. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said the inspectors "found no stockpiles of WMD and had made significant progress toward resolving open issues of disarmament". According to Blix the open issue would be resolved in a matter of months.

Then, on 3/7/2003, the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, confirmed that what Scott Ritter said in 1999 was true when he told the UN Security Council that, after his team had done 247 inspections at 147 sites, they found there was no evidence of resumed nuclear activities, nor any indication of nuclear-related activities at any related sites. He went on to say that evidence suggested Iraq had not imported uranium since 1990 and no longer had a centrifuge program. He concluded that Iraq's nuclear capabilities had been effectively dismantled by 1997.

So, the question is why - even though it appeared as though Iraq was complying - did bush order "shock and awe" on 3/19/2012 and a ground invasion on 3/20/2003... a mere 12 days after Mohamed ElBaradei said Iraq was complying and no WMD had been found? According to bush the mission was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people". How could disarming Iraq be bush's primary reason for toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein when the UN weapons inspectors on the ground were reporting that Iraq was already disarmed?

bush obviously did not "tell the truth". Given what the inspectors ON THE GROUND were saying, bush clearly LIED. So, not only did bush invade Iraq without UN authorization (violating articles 33 and 39 of the UN Charter) but he ordered an invasion to "disarm" Iraq when the UN inspectors were telling him Iraq was already disarmed.

This is quite different than what Bill Clinton did when he authorized the use of American troops in a NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 to stop the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Albanians by nationalist Serbians in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's province of Kosovo. Yes, Bill Clinton bypassed The UN. According to Wikipedia, "the issue was brought before the UN Security Council by Russia, in a draft resolution [that said] 'such unilateral use of force constitutes a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter'. China, Namibia and Russia voted for the resolution, the other members against, thus it failed to pass".

So neither president's war (Clinton/Yugoslavia and bush/Iraq) was authorized by the UN, and, because of this, I think the case can be made that each is a war criminal - if UN authorization is the only criteria used in determining if a war is "legal". Certainly others HAVE argued that Bill Clinton is a war criminal (do a Google search if you don't believe me). But SHOULD each be charged with war crimes? I say "no", because Bill Clinton did obtain the authorization of another international body (NATO), whereas bush went to the UN and argued his case... and the UN specifically said "no". And not only did they say no to the invasion, they also said no to his claim that Iraq was not disarming.

To Clinton the UN did NOT say "no". To bush they did say "no".

Also, while Bill Clinton authorized bombing to stop war crimes, which resulted in the real war criminal (Slobodan Milosevic) being brought to trial, bush authorized an invasion based on a lie. Iraq had no WMD, which the UN weapons inspectors told him BEFORE he invaded. Later, when no weapons were found, bush blamed an "intelligence failure".

I think this explains why the people of Serbia consider President Clinton a hero and erected a statue statue to honor his actions that stopped the brutal Serb forces' crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians, whereas, in Iraq, one Iraqi showed his appreciation for bush's invasion by calling him a "dog" and throwing his shoe at him (which is a sign of contempt in Arab culture). According to Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi television journalist who threw the shoe bush narrowly ducked, his action was intended as "a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people".

"This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq" al-Zaidi shouted as he threw his second shoe. He was referring to the huge number of Iraqis killed since the war began. A peer-reviewed study from the prestigious medical journal The Lancet says approximately 1.4 people have been killed as a result of the conflict. Although the 1.4 million figure is an estimate, it is an estimate with a 95 percent confidence interval (Wikipedia: "In statistics, a confidence interval... is used to indicate the reliability of an estimate").

Also, Lila Guterman, writing in a in a January 2005 Columbia Journalism Review article stated, "I called about ten biostatisticians and mortality experts. Not one of them took issue with the study's methods or it's conclusions. If anything, the scientists told me, the authors had been cautious in their estimates".

The blogger who declared me to be a hypocrite says the Lancet's casualty estimates are "pulled from thin air with no evidence", but the real reason he objects is because pointing out how many innocent lives bush's illegal war has cost illustrates how enormous and disgusting a lie his claim that "bush told the truth and saved lives" is.

There is also the failed reconstruction, the primary purpose of which was to enrich the bush administration's contractor buddies. Given the fact that so many of these contractors over billed the government and did shoddy work on top of that, and so few of them were prosecuted - what else can one conclude?

Finally there is the bush administration's violation of the Geneva Conventions. The Third Geneva Convention, which deals with the treatment of prisoners of war, states that "physical or mental torture [as well as] any other form of coercion" is prohibited. Under the Geneva Conventions torture is defined as a "grave breach" and individuals involved can be prosecuted for war crimes.

Furthermore, during the tribunal that convened following the war in the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Court found that these "provisions are considered customary international law, allowing war crimes prosecution by the United Nations and its International Court of Justice over groups that have signed and have not signed the Geneva Conventions.

bush authorized torture by his own admission, although the torture he admits to authorizing is "only" the waterboarding of three individuals. But far more individuals than the three detainees who were waterboarded were subjected to torture. The photographic evidence of the torture that took place at Abu Ghraib is proof of that.

Human Rights Watch says that "Al-Qaeda detainees would likely not be accorded POW status, but the [Geneva] Conventions still provide explicit protections to all persons held in an international armed conflict, even if they are not entitled to POW status. Such protections include the right to be free from coercive interrogation, to receive a fair trial if charged with a criminal offense, and, in the case of detained civilians, to be able to appeal periodically the security rationale for continued detention".

In regards to "detained civilians", bush administration official Lawrence B. Wilkerson (chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell) contended that there are innocent civilians being held (indefinitely) at Gitmo. Mr. Wilkerson said, "there are still innocent people there. Some have been there six or seven years". Gavin Sullivan of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights says "[bush] bears ultimate responsibility for authorizing the torture of thousands of individuals at places like Guantánamo and secret CIA black sites around the world".

The Iraqi people are aware of all of these factors - bush lying about WMD, the large number of deaths from collateral damage and the civil war the invasion unleashed, the human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib and detention of innocent Iraqis, the billions that went to corrupt US companies instead of to Iraqis (who could have rebuild their own infrastructure), and the theft of their oil on behalf of Western oil firms - and this is why they will NEVER erect a statue in bush's honor.

Most recently the blogger who criticizes me said that my "ignorant, personal interpretation of international law [has] crumbled to dust". The straw man he has set up is that the ONLY reason I call bush a war criminal is because he violated the UN Charter by not obtaining UN authorization to invade Iraq, but Clinton did the same, and since I don't agree I'm an ignorant hypocrite.

But, as I've just proven, aside from neither Clinton nor bush receiving UN approval for their military actions, the situations are not at all comparable. And, when Dennis says my case against bush rests "entirely" on the singular fact that bush invaded Iraq without UN authorization, he's lying. I'm not a hypocrite, and bush IS a war criminal, albeit an unprosecuted one.

SWTD #116

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Melee at May Day's

I'ma steal this boo, when the cops behind me. It's kill or be killed, but them niggas can't find me. ~ C-Murder (b. 3/9/1971) AKA Corey Miller, is an American rapper and convicted murderer. C-Murder is the brother of both Master P and Silkk the Shocker, and uncle of rapper-actor Romeo. C-Murder has released eight albums. His first platinum album was Life or Death, which was released in 1998. He is currently serving life imprisonment following his conviction for a 2nd degree murder committed in 2002.

William ran down the alleyway with four officers of the Lord Mayor's police force in hot pursuit. "Halt!" the lead officer commanded again. That damn Suri abandoned me! William thought while running. He was fairly tired now, what with all the earlier running, but if caught he knew he'd go back to prison for sure. Spying an open door, William quickly dashed inside, barreling into a man who had his hand on the knob and was in the process of shutting it.

The man went flying down a flight of stairs, although he pulled the door shut behind him before his hand was yanked from the knob. William, not wanting to get trapped below ground with no exit may have hesitated if not for the fact that following the stairs down was the only option, what with the Lord Mayor's officers hot on his heels. He leaped down the steps two and three at a time, jumping over the man's body when he got to the bottom. Glancing at the man, William could see he was quite dead, his neck snapped. A pool of blood was already forming beneath his cracked skull.

At the bottom of the steps was a dimly lit room filled with several rows of dirty cots; a flophouse that provided beds for the city's poor for the cost of a few coppers. A decrepit old crone who had been sweeping the floor looked up in shock as William vaulted over the body of the man he had just accidentally killed. "You murdered my son!", the woman shrieked. William saw another staircase on the oppose end of the room which he assumed led back up to the street, but the old bat stood directly in his path between the rows of cots.

William hesitated for a split second, until he noticed the old woman had began to speak in gibberish and wave her hands around. Either she had lost her mind or she was casting a spell. William charged the woman, determined to take her out before she could finish her incantation. Unfortunately he was to late. Suddenly William felt incredibly drowsy. Feeling his eyes closing, William staggered and fell to his knees. The hag had hit him with a sleep spell! William recognized the effects, having been the target of this magic previously.

Fighting the strong desire to lie down, William shook off his drowsiness and rose shakily to his feet - just in time to see a gray-haired old man charging him with a hefty looking broadsword held above his head. Obviously the bastard intended to behead William while in a vulnerable position (on his knees and almost asleep).

"Look out Father!", the hag shouted, but the old man didn't have time to react before William skewered him with his weapon, killing the man instantly. "Noooo!" the hag cried as William's attacker fell to the ground. William pulled his sword from Father's belly, spilling his guts on the floor. Then William turned his attention back to the old woman who was now furiously rubbing her glowing hands together. William took but a step forward when the woman opened her hands and showed him her palms. A bolt of bluish white sprang forth, shot across the room, and hit William square in the chest.

Pain racked William's body and he staggered back as the electrical energy coursed through his body. William had had just about enough of this old bat! Energized by pure rage William sprang forward and swung his sword with tremendous force. A look of abject horror crossed the woman's face for a brief second before William's sword separated her head from her body. William's feet touched the ground at the same instant the hag's head bounced off the stone floor and rolled away into a corner. She stood there for a few seconds until her headless body crumpled and fell in a heap.

The exhausted William, smoke rising from the cauterized wound to his chest, barely had time to contemplate what had just happened when he heard the door at top of the steps burst open and two of the policemen who had been pursuing him moments earlier thunder down the stairs. "There he is!" shouted the lead officer, almost tripping over the body lying at the foot of the staircase. Just in time the officer noticed the dead man he had just been about to step on, extended his stride and placed his foot forcefully down in the pool of blood surrounding the man's head. His foot slipping in the blood, the officer's leg shot out from underneath him and he flew backwards, landing forcefully on his back.

William turned, not having the energy to run or even lift his sword, and saw the officer's head strike the staircase, splitting open his cranium. The second officer stopped, starring in disbelief at his fallen compatriot. Shaking off his shock, the officer sidestepped the bodies at the foot of the stairs, faced William and drew his sword. "Me taking you peacefully into custody is no longer an option, murderer", the officer growled.

"I surrender!" William cried, more fearful now of being killed than being apprehended. "I do not accept" the policeman replied, thrusting his sword at William. The officer's sword grazed William's arm, cutting through the sleeve of his tunic and opening a shallow gash in his right arm. As William and his would-be killer faced off the remaining two officers who had been pursuing him previously arrived and descended the steps into the room.

"This butcher just slaughtered May Day and her family, as well as our fellow officer" the man who had just slashed William's arm informed his compatriots. "My gods, look at the carnage!" another of the officers gasped. The two newly arrived policemen drew their swords and joined their friend in facing down William.

"I surrender!", William cried again. "Then throw down your weapon", the officer who had just refused his surrender ordered. "I want to, but you'll kill me", William whimpered. "Not until after the trial", another of the officers countered, probably lying. But either way it was a fight to the death William concluded as he raised his sword.

SWTD #115, WTM #4.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Global Climate Change Hoax Hoax

The greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people ~ James Inhofe (dob 11/17/1934) the Senior Republican Senator from Oklahoma and author of the book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, explaining his view on global climate change.

I come down on the side of those who believe that there is a hoax concerning global climate change. In my opinion the hoaxers are full of *censored*. They know they're wrong, but they continue pushing their untruths for political and monetary gain.

Or, at least some of them know they're wrong. Those would be the ones bought and paid for by the oil industry. Then there are the true believers; those who really believe the debate hasn't been settled, despite most scientists agreeing.

These "no global warming" or "questionable global warming" hoaxers and their dupes really tick me off. Global climate change will lead to the starvation of millions. The human suffering will be beyond comprehension, and these liars and their dupes caution prudence. It isn't worth the cost, they say, given the fact that the scientists may be wrong.

Personally I believe we should err on the side of caution and go with the best available information we have. Information which says global climate change is real, and occurring right now. Insurance companies, faced with increasing claims from severe weather, acknowledge the reality of global climate-change.

You think they aren't basing their conclusions on reams of statistical data gone over by their actuarial experts using advanced algorithms? I mean, I read a story on Yahoo News today that said insurance companies are pulling out completely from certain states in "tornado alley". Do you really think they'd be doing this if nothing had changed? If they could previously make profit selling policies to these people, and now they've determined that the risk is too high, clearly something is different.

That "something" is global climate change. Wake up naysayers, you're being duped. Don't buy into the hoax that global climate change is a hoax. It's real. (Also, the "market" has spoken. The insurance companies say it's real. Don't Conservatives say the market is always right?)

Video Description: Columnist for The Guardian, George Monboit interviewed on global climate change.

SWTD #114

Friday, April 06, 2012

Banksters Threaten Politicians With SuperPAC; Tea Party Useful Idiots for Banksters

The nation's banks have been taking it on the chin for too long. Until this very moment they've been powerless to strike back. Now, finally, the Supreme Court has bestowed the tools on them, through Citizens United, to finally have a voice in public affairs. They can now begin their trip on the road to renewal with their very own SuperPAC ~ David Dayen, in the sarcastic opening of his FireDogLake article, "Bankers Finally Get a Voice With Their Own SuperPAC".

The following is an excerpt from the 4/5/2012 broadcast of Current TV's The Young Turks, which I edited for brevity and clarity. Host Cenk Uygur and guest Thomas Frank discuss the takeover of our democracy by the plutocrats and the role of the Tea Party useful idiots.

Cenk Uygur: There is a new SuperPAC in favor of the bankers, and they say they're going to buy the politicians. ... Apparently they think they are suffering great injustices. Now, let me give you some quotes from some of the bankers involved.

Roger Beverage is the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Bankers Association, and he says, "Congress isn't afraid of bankers, they don't think we'll do anything to kick them out of office. We are trying to change that perception".

Oh yeah, nobody in Congress is afraid of you at all. That's why Dick Durbin, the number two man for the Democrats in the Senate said, "frankly they run the place". They RUN the place! And this guy is like, boo-hoo they won't listen to us.

Before I go on, let me give you an interesting stat. The FIRE sector (that stand for Finance, Insurance and Real Estate), is number one in lobbying. They are the biggest contributor of campaign funds and the biggest spender on lobbying in Washington over the past 14 years. And they cry about not having enough representation?!

Look at this, more crying here... Howard Headlee, president and CEO Utah Bankers Association, quote, "clearly there are members of Congress who have absolutely no reservations about kicking traditional banks in the teeth, and we are tired of it. We've got to be able to defend the folks who have the courage to stand up for us as well".

As if bankers are oppressed. Oh my god, the bankers! Is anybody standing up for them? It's absurd. But at least they're honest about their intentions here. They basically talk about buying our politicians. Here is Matt Packard, who is the chairman of Friends of Traditional Banking. He says, "if someone says I am going to give your opponent 5 thousand dollars or 10 thousand dollars, you might say 'Yea, OK'. But if you say the bankers are going to put in 100 thousand or 500 thousand, or 1 million into your opponent's campaign, that starts to draw some attention".

You know what that means? That means "let's go buy them"! 5 or 10 thousand won't do it. I need a million, and I [say to the politician], "either you're going to get elected with this million dollars, or your opponent is going to get elected with this million dollars". So you now work for the banks. As if they didn't buy our politicians enough already.

Finally, one more minute of clarity, we have Don Childears, president and CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association, saying, "we need to get more deeply involved as an industry in supporting friends and trying to replace enemies".

OK, if you don't do as the bankers tell you, you're going to get fired. It's not like you're the people's representative, you're now the representative of these donors who have bought you. Now they're going to buy you even more effectively, if you can imagine it. We have the perfect guest to discuss this - Thomas Frank, the author of the best seller What's the matter with Kansas, and he also has a new book out, Pity the Billionaire.

First of all, tell me about the hardships facing Billionaires and bankers in this country. How bad of shape are they in?

Thomas Frank: It's been really hard on them Cenk. They were bailed out. The government was basically giving them cash at extremely low interest rates. It's been difficult.

Cenk: That drives me crazy. 700 billion from TARP (at least), and 7.7 trillion in basically free money from the FED (money that they can turn around and loan back to the government at 3 or 4 percent). They get all this money with no strings attached (they can give any bonuses they like), honestly it's a GD robbery. And here are the robbers crying, "oh, poor us", right?

So the question that arises, and the one you try to answer in your book, is... how did they get away with it?

Thomas Frank: These people who are society's masters are now complaining that everyone is being mean to them; that they're being ground under the heel of a Socialist tyrant. Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged?

Cenk: When I was younger I tried to read it. I read like three pages, and I was like, this is the most boring book I've read in my whole life.

Thomas Frank: I forced myself to read it last year. It's the most popular book with the Tea Party set. It had a huge resurgence in the aftermath of the bailouts. Everybody was buying it. The book is about capitalists going on strike because people like you and me are to mean to them. [both laugh]

Cenk: This isn't capitalism, it's crony capitalism, where a select few bankers capture the whole system and use it to crush their competition.

Thomas Frank: We're seeing it happen before our eyes. Setting up the SuperPAC, that's what this is all about.

Cenk: It's obvious. They're saying, we're going to spend a million dollars and the [politician] will do whatever the hell we tell him to. Now the question is, how do they get the population to [vote against their own interests and in the interests of the banksters]?

Thomas Frank: The way they do it, and you've seen this unfold over the last couple of years... they represent themselves as a populist movement; as the populist response to the financial crisis. [They deployed the Tea Party dupes to] rail against socialism and economic collapse if we don't return to laissez-faire capitalism. The really crazy thing [is that people buy this nonsense]. They won in 2010.

Cenk: Right. The Tea Party people...the actual voters going to the protests... they have no idea what's going on. They said they were against the bailouts, but they didn't do a single protest on Wall Street, they didn't protest against (even Obama's) Treasury Department. Do you think they know they were tricked, or are they like, "yea, we're fighting for the little guy!".

Thomas Frank: I went to the very first Tea Party rally in a park in Washington DC, less than a month after Obama was inaugurated. The things that they were saying kind of made sense to me. A lot of the things they were protesting against were things that I was angry about too. It started as them being angry about the bailouts, but somehow, along the way this gets turned into a call for a more pure free market. We haven't deregulated enough. We need to double down in the direction we've been going for the past 30 years.

Cenk: They got suckered hook, line and sinker. The Koch brothers sent the buses in. They said, here, we know you need to go to the anti-Obama pro-corporate rallies, and [the Tea Partiers] fell for it.

My Commentary: The Supreme Court Citizens United decision was the beginning of the end of our democracy. Unless President Obama is elected to a second term and he is able to appoint one or more SCOTUS judges, it's over... goodbye democracy, hello plutocracy.

Video Description: Cenk restates the Bankster SuperPAC story for The Young Turks YouTube channel. Quote: "The greedy never stop being greedy". Go to Wolf-PAC to fight back.

SWTD #113

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Did George Zimmerman Shoot Trayvon Martin In Self Defense?

Citizens have the natural right and the common sense duty to protect themselves, their families, their communities, and their property... guns are the equalizing tools of self-protection, utopian lamentations notwithstanding ~ Edgar A. Suter, chairman of "Doctors for Integrity in Research & Public Policy".

Everyone who's following the story knows George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. Perhaps it's just me, but it seems as though if you're a Liberal you're more likely to think it might have been murder, while Conservatives (the hard-right Fox Nooz watching types) are more likely to believe it was self-defense. But perhaps it was neither?

That's the theory put forth by a blogger who calls himself Dale Gribble Rusty Shackelford. Commenting on another blog, Rusty said, "I think this is going to flush out very similar to the Duke case".

Rusty is referring to the 2006 investigation into rape allegations made against three members of the men's lacrosse team at Duke University in Durham NC by a young black woman. The allegations turned out to be false and the players were cleared.

In making this comparison, Rusty must mean that George Zimmerman will be cleared. That is, George Zimmerman did NOT shoot Trayvon Martin. So, who did shoot him? My guess would be that Trayvon shot himself accidentally in the scuffle. A scuffle that ensued after Trayvon followed Zimmerman back to his truck and decked him.

Yes, Zimmerman may have followed Trayvon first, but, if you listen to the 911 tape, you'll find that Zimmerman complied when the operator said "we don't need you to do that" (follow the suspicious black male). Zimmerman said, "OK" and headed back to his truck. It was there he was confronted by Trayvon, who punched him, got on top of him and began pounding his head against the concrete, and finally shot himself accidentally when he went for Zimmerman's gun.

If not for this unfortunate fortunate accident, it would be the shooting death of George Zimmerman we would be discussing. And Trayvon would be in jail awaiting trial for murder.

I'm surprised Rusty did not compare this incident to the Joe Horn case. On 11/14/2007, in Pasadena TX, local resident Joe Horn shot and killed two men burglarizing his neighbor's home. Joe Horn, seeking to prevent the two thieves from getting away with property stolen from Joe's neighbor's home, ignored the 9-11 operator's advice and went outside to confront the two men. After shouting "move, you're dead!", Horn gunned down both men in cold blood self-defense. A grand jury later cleared Mr. Horn.

The lesson to be learned from these incidents is that Conservatives must stand their ground, and, when confronted by law-breaking minorities they should shoot to kill. Because regardless of whether Zimmerman shot Trayvon, or Trayvon shot himself, Trayvon got what was coming to him.

Or, that's the impression you might be left with after reading some Conservative takes on what went down. Personally I think George Zimmerman may be guilty of murder, although I believe a courtroom is the proper place to determine that. I only hope this doesn't end with a miscarriage of justice similar to the miscarriage of justice we saw in the Joe Horn case.

Note: For the record, I don't subscribe to the gun rights ideology of the individual who I quoted at the top of this post. My position on guns is more in line with the following quote...

...I don't believe gun owners have rights. The Second Amendment has never been interpreted that way. Now I am not for taking guns away or denying guns to law-abiding citizens, but I don't think it's a constitutional right that they have... ~ Sarah Brady (dob. 2/6/1942) the wife of former White House Press Secretary James Brady. James Brady sustained a permanently disabling head wound during the Reagan assassination attempt which occurred on 3/30/1981. Sarah and James Brady became leading advocates of gun control in the United States.

SWTD #112. See also PPP #15.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Current TV Shoots Self in Foot By Dismissing Olbermann (Corporate Democrats Silence Keith Again!)

For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it ~ Keith Olbermann on his depature from Current TV (via Twitter), 3/30/2012.

Current TV debuted a new program last night hosted by disgraced former NY governor Eliot Spitzer called "Viewpoint". At first I thought, "This is odd, where's Keith?". Then I figured that they were debuting this new program in Keith's time slot so viewers who tuned in specifically to watch Keith (like me), would continue to watch "Viewpoint" when they moved it to it's regular time slot on Monday (following Jennifer Granholm's "The War Room", I presumed).

Given Keith's history of clashing with management wherever he has previously worked, all the news stories are saying it was no surprise that Current decided to dismiss him. And there are also the reports that Keith was upset with technical difficulties on his program (difficulties that led him to start broadcasting from a completely black set). So, perhaps I should have seen this coming. Regardless, I was still shocked when I read the email from Newsmax this morning that announced Keith and Current were parting ways (I'm subscribed to several Rightwing newsletters).

I assumed that Current was aware of Keith's history and planned to avoid his notorious "clashes with management" problem by putting him in charge. When hired by Current Olbermann was named "Current Media's chief news officer" and given an equity stake in the company. In my mind this meant they were committing seriously to Keith... because extraditing themselves from this relationship would be extraordinarily difficult (and quite expensive).

Indeed, I think it could break Current if they paid him to leave like MSNBC did (Keith received his FULL salary for the remaining 2 years on his MSNBC contract). This explains why Current is claiming Keith was in "breach" of his contract... for taking several unscheduled days off. According to Meidaite, "technical problems beset the program, and since then, Olbermann has been hosting his show from what appears to be an endless black void". The no-show days were intended to encourage Current to fix the technical problems.

Keith, in his role as "Chief News Officer" wanted Current to succeed, and viewed these technical difficulties as an impediment to that success. Although, as Chief News Officer, I don't know why he couldn't have just ordered the problems fixed. Certainly I believe he should have been able to. Apparently he didn't have as free a reign as the title "Chief News Officer" implies.

What went wrong, a Politico story explains, is a repeat of the MSNBC situation where Keith clashed with MSNBC president Phil Griffin. Politico reports that, "Olbermann had a particularly tense relationship with David Bohrman, the former CNN executive who was brought in as Current president last summer, following the departure of Mark Rosenthal, an executive with whom Olbermann got along well".

A 7/28/2011 "Deadline New York" article by Executive Editor David Lieberman reveals, "Mark Rosenthal decided to leave because [Current co-founder] Joel Hyatt was crowding him in... [Hyatt] wanted to run Current again after Rosenthal recruited Keith Olbermann to come on board. ... Hyatt's desire to run the operation reached the point where he and Rosenthal agreed a few months ago to be co-CEOs... But the the channel's too small to require two chiefs. What's more, Rosenthal had held bigger jobs by himself when he was CEO of Interpublic Media and COO of MTV Networks. He was a board member at Current when Hyatt asked him to step in and professionalize the programming, marketing, affiliate sales, ad sales, and research efforts..."

My conclusion is that Joel Hyatt stepping in and elbowing out Mark Rosenthal is what lead to Keith's firing. And, yes, perhaps Keith should have known better, given Hyatt's past association with the The Democratic Leadership Council. (Wikipedia notes that "Hyatt was a founding member of the U.S. Senate Democratic Leadership Circle and was a member of that group from 1981 to 1986. He was the Democratic National Committee's assistant treasurer from 1981 to 1983").

Given this information concerning Hyatt (information I was previously unaware of until researching this story), it's no surprise Olbermann and Hyatt would clash. Because, as explained by Wikipedia, the DLC "has become unpopular within many progressive and liberal political circles such as the organizations Center for American Progress, Democracy for America, and [progressive blogs like] the Daily Kos... Some critics claim the strategy of triangulation between the political left and right to gain broad appeal is fundamentally flawed. In the long run, so opponents say, this strategy results in concession after concession to the opposition, while alienating traditionally-allied voters".

Count me in as a Liberal who strongly dislikes the DLC. It's the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. NO WONDER Hyatt, the president Hyatt hired (Bhorman) and Keith didn't get along! IMO Hyatt should have butted out and let Mark Rosenthal do the job they hired him to do. At least Hyatt should have consulted Keith before hiring Bhorman... seeing as Countdown was the lynchpin of the network's new format. What Current needed was a president who allowed Keith to run things as he saw fit. That, or Hyatt should have objected to the hiring of Keith from the get-go. This whole debacle is clearly Hyatt's fault. He's the one who put himself in a position where a confrontation with Keith was virtually a foregone conclusion.

It's my opinion that Current has shot itself in the foot with this boneheaded move... and Tim Goodman, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, agrees. In his Friday article he predicts that we can "bet on Olbermann to be around longer". That is, Current will fail while Olbermann will find employment as a political commentator elsewhere. Goodman explains his conclusion, stating, "now, let's disabuse those who think he's unemployable given his track record of going someplace and then leaving not too long after, burned bridges and accusations littering the highway behind him. That reputation of his hasn't stopped anyone yet. And it won't in the future. Olbermann's delivered ratings wherever he's been - most recently his defining stint at MSNBC and then Current. If you want to equate him to a diva wide receiver in the NFL (or quarterback or whatever), that's fine. If you're a sports fan, you know that those divas always find a home and always get paid".

Keith's response to the firing, via Twitter: Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract. It goes almost without saying that the claims against me in Current's statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently (Huffington Post Keith Olbermann Fired By Current TV; Replaced By Eliot Spitzer by Jack Mirkinson, The Huffington Post 3/30/2012).

My response is... it's back to MSNBC for me. I'm don't think I'm going to watch Eliot Spitzer. He's OK, but Current hiring him to host the lynchpin show for their network is unbelievably stupid. I feel bad for The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur (and gang). Cenk left his gig in the 6pm slot at MSNBC on 7/20/2011 because "he had been told he was too combative towards those in power" and had been instructed to "tone it down".

Cenk's move to Current seemed ideal, because he got to bring along all his friends (from the "Young Turks") and was able to speak his mind (no MSNBC censorship). When I heard about what happened with Cenk Uygur, I thought... that makes sense, given Current's hiring of another individual who speaks his mind (and was let go from his last gig for that reason)... now we've got two strong independent minded Liberals who speak back to power on the same network. "Bravo Current" I thought... AT THE TIME.

The statement released by Current founders Joel Hyatt and Al Gore reads (in part), "Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it". So they're claiming that Keith was uncooperative and disrespectful. Again, didn't they know that working with Olbermann might be difficult when they decided to enter into this relationship?

Dismissing Keith and abruptly replacing him with the inferior (no disrespect intended) Spitzer, especially when Keith was only trying to do what was best for Current, does not, in my opinion, represent loyalty to Current viewers. Difficulties should have been anticipated and they should have been worked out... THAT would have shown loyalty to viewers who followed Keith from MSNBC to Current.

What gives, Al Gore? I thought Current was serious about challenging MSNBC... which is becoming the "establishment" Left channel. Current could have been the REAL progressive channel (instead of another "Liberal" channel run by DLC/Corporate types like MSNBC), but, clearly Current has decided, in letting Olbermann go, that's not the strategy they're going to use to attract viewers any longer.

So, why the heck should people watch Current now? Keith Olbermann provided that reason, and there isn't much of one anymore, in my opinion. I'm disappointed Gore didn't oppose Hyatt's meddling... unless he's in agreement with Hyatt. Then I'm disappointed with him for that reason. Which is probably the case, given the fact that Gore, like Clinton, is also a DLC/Corporate Democrat. At least Gore was hands-off and didn't interfere like Hyatt (although Gore should have said something when Hyatt elbowed out Rosenthal).

I wish Keith luck in his lawsuit against Current, even if that means the destruction of Current and the end of "The Young Turks". The Young Turks was my second (now first) favorite Current program, but if Keith was wronged (and I believe he was) he is due justice. Sorry Cenk, I hope it doesn't come to that. I'll keep watching the "Young Turks" as long as Current remains on the air... unless Hyatt and Bohrman decide to fire him too... for being to outspoken/difficult. In conclusion, I say what we need is a REAL progressive news channel RUN by progressives. I'm sick of the Corporate Democrats being in charge.

Video Description: Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) explains why he turned down a new, significantly larger MSNBC contract after hosting a prime-time show on the network that was beating CNN in the ratings. [It was because he wouldn't play ball with Corporate Democrats].

SWTD #111, KO #3.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tickling the Conservative Id

There has been a lot of talk about whether Gingrich's recent language, including his performance in the South Carolina debates and his earlier declaration that Barack Obama has been America's best "food-stamp president", amounts to a coded appeal to racist sensitivities. The answer is simple: yes ~ Leonard Pitts Jr (10/11/1957) a politically progressive African American commentator, journalist and novelist, as quoted in his 1/29/2012 publication article, "GOP's Politics of Racial Resentment".

I would not make black people's lives better by giving them other people's money ~ Rick Santorum (5/10/1958) a Republican politician who served as a United States Senator representing Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2007, as well as a religious fundamentalist, homophobe and racist, as quoted during a 1/2/2012 Iowa campaign speech... a comment he later denied, insisting he was actually talking about "bla" people.

The following is an excerpt from the 3/13/2012 broadcast of Current TV's The Young Turks, which I edited for brevity and clarity. Host Cenk Uygur discusses recent statements by Sarah Palin with Alexis Garcia (a political Correspondent with PJTV) and Paul Waldman (Contributing editor at the American Prospect)...

Video Clip of Sarah Palin: [Clip used in an Obama campaign ad pulled from the Sean Hannity Show]. Obama has never been seen in the conventional, traditional way as we who would describe a man of valor. And his profession as a community organizer... what went into his thinking was this philosophy of radicalism. He is bringing us back, Sean, to days... you can harken back to days before the civil war. What Barack Obama seems to want to do is go back to before those days when we were in different classes based on income, based on color of skin. Why are we allowing our country to move backwards... [End video clip].

Cenk Uygur: OK, that's it... it's official. This breaks the record for the dumbest criticism of the president ever. President Obama would like to go back to the days before the civil war when we had slavery. Who can possibly believe that? How can you be that profoundly stupid?

But Palin says that was "heavily edited". All right, we have the actual clip from the Sean Hannity program. Let's see if she was taken out of context.

Unedited Video Clip of Sarah Palin: [My summary] Sarah Palin says exactly the same thing as in the edited clip, with a few sentences removed to cut down the length of the clip. The edited clip is an accurate representation of what she said. Her "out of context" claims are baloney. [End video clip].

Cenk: [Scoffs] Oh, that made it much better. ... She went on and on, calling him the "radical of the radicals". She said "radical" about eight times. When you see the full tape it's much worse. So, Alexis, you're in a tough spot here. Are you going to defend this national embarrassment or not?

Alexis Garcia: ...Obama makes an ad about this because it's the only thing he can talk about. He's got to rile up his base. Your viewers are intelligent and can see this for what it is. The president can't talk about the economy, he can't talk about gas prices, he's continuing the bush policies in Afghanistan... he's got to remind his base - look at the Right-wing wackos out there.

Cenk: Alright, a spirited effort. ... Now I've got to go to Paul. Paul, when someone pitches you a softball, what do you normally do with it?

Paul Waldman: Well, you hit it. And I think it does show the Obama campaign sees some political benefit in drawing attention to Sarah Palin. I don't think that's aimed at the base. I think it's aimed at the broader electorate, particularly independents. What we've seen over the course of this primary, as the Republican candidates have tried very hard to appeal to their base, is that the opinions of the Republican Party and of those candidates in particular have gone down and down [he's talking about public sentiment]... and the Obama campaign knows what it's doing.

Sarah Palin knows what she's doing too. Even though you look at that statement and you may think that's nuts... she understands what parts of the Conservative Id she's tickling. Since Obama came into office, and even before... there's been this real part of the Conservative movement in America who believe the way to keep up their support and generate opposition to Obama is to play on racial grievance. To tell people that, not only is he "other", but that the blacks in America are coming for them.

That's why Rush Limbaugh tells his listeners that the Affordable Health Care Act is reparations for slavery. That's why Glenn Beck goes on TV and says Obama has a deep-seated hatred of White people. That's why Andrew Breitbart did that edited Shirley Sherrod video that tried to convince people that the agriculture department was discriminating against Whites. It's this message over and over that Obama is some kind of Stokely Carmichael type figure... despite everything that he's actually done.

If we can go back and find that he some sort of radical association, that will give you the clue that his war on White people is about to begin. It hasn't actually begun yet, of course... because you don't want to talk about the things that have actually happened. It's always right around the corner. Some kind of terrible thing is about to come and all of that racial grievance is going to be unleashed on White America.

Cenk: Unfortunately we're out of time... to me it seems like Paul is right, of course... [End of segment]

My Commentary: Alexis Garcia's response isn't a "spirited effort", it an obvious dodge. She doesn't answer the question, although she's right about Sarah Palin being a wacko. (and about Obama continuing the bush policies in Afghanistan, unfortunately)... but her answer isn't why I decided to turn this excerpt from the Young Turks into a blog post. The reason I did that is because of Paul Waldman's response concerning Palin "tickling the Conservative Id". It's blatant race-baiting. They deny it eternally, but continue to employ it.

Video 1 Description: Sarah Palin on the Sean Hannity program, 3/9/2012. Sarah inserts the racist dog whistles (those excerpted for the Obama Ad) beginning at the 5:22 mark, and ending at 6:47.

Video 2 Description: Mitt Romney on Barack Obama: "He has been awful European". Translation: Barack Obama isn't American. Or, as a commenter who calls himself "tom cook" on the World Net Daily message board recently said, "You can't be just a good old American anymore to be popular; you have to be an African-American, or a Latin-American, or some other wog-American. The liberals and the NEA have made all of the stupids ashamed of good solid American Americans". So, who are the "American Americans"? Obviously they're white people.

SWTD #110

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reason Magazine Advocation Of Means Testing Entitlements Politically Naive

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1/30/1882 to 4/12/1945) the 32nd president of the United States (3/4/1933 to 4/12/1945). Excerpted from his 1/11/1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union.

The following is an excerpt from the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, 2/1/2012, which I edited for brevity and clarity. Thom and Matt Welch (the editor in chief of Reason Magazine) discuss the social safety net and entitlements.

Matt Welch: I happen to agree that we should have a saftey net, but where I disagree with you, probably, is that entitlements are ruining the saftey net. You have to choose between one of the two so that Warren Buffett is not on Medicare, but his secretary is [a mangled metaphor, since I highly doubt Warren Buffett's secretary would qualify, but you get the point... Matt Welch is in favor of means testing].

Thom Hartmann: Well, then I'd suggest that you're politically naive. The history of programs that are defined as welfare... that are programs for poor people... is that they're very easy to cut. Even supposedly Progressive or Liberal politicians like Bill Clinton ended "Welfare as we know it". It was fine during a boom time... all the restrictions that Clinton put on Welfare... you can't be on it more than 4 years (I think), and you've got to jump through all these hoops... even if you're a single mother with a couple of kids.

But now that we're 4 years into the bush great depression that isn't working so well for a lot of people in this country. If you start means testing Social Security and Medicare, they're going to turn into welfare programs, and mark my words, someone's going to come along and say, "Oh, yea, people who have income over $200 thousand shouldn't get Social Security. Let's cut that down to $40 thousand... let's cut that down to $10 thousand... and then, finally, let's do away with it".

Matt Welch: I think that's a very interesting objection and one that I'm going to take into consideration. Reason Magazine is going to have an upcoming story on entitlements versus the welfare state. It's true that the vision for Social Security, after people started living longer... the concept was that it would retain it's politically popularity if we spread it among people who don't need it as much.

Thom Hartmann: It's a very small number of people.

Matt Welch: But that's what is sinking our finances. That's the problem.

Thom Hartmann: No, it's not. You know, if you took the cap off Social Security, so that everybody making over $106 thousand paid on all of their income... the Social Security program would be solvent forever. In fact it would have a massive surplus, larger than the 2.6 trillion it's got right now.

Matt Welch: You might get agreement from some of my [committee].

My Commentary: I'm not sure about that last word, "committee"... I listened to the audio several times, but I couldn't discern exactly what Matt Welch said. In any case, I'm pretty sure he indicated that some of his fellow Libertarians might agree with the argument in favor of lifting the cap (in regards to high wage earners not paying Social Security tax on income over 106k). That's interesting. I'd have been positive before that Libertarians would be strongly against raising (or removing) the SS tax cap in addition to being strongly in favor of means testing.

In my opinion Republicans are in favor of means testing because they want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, and means testing is the first step in accomplishing that goal. I mentioned this on the blog of a self-described "Moderate", and he called it a "conspiracy theory". He also said lifting the cap would amount to the largest tax increase in American history and he would vociferously oppose it. A Libertarian leaning blogger ridiculed the argument against means-testing, saying it amounted to "bribing" higher income people to gain their support for the programs.

But here is a Libertarian, and the editor in chief of the top Libertarian magazine no less, voicing some agreement with Thom Hartmann. I must say that Matt Welch's Libertarianism sounds at least a little more reasonable then Ron Paul's... this is an individual who thinks allowing an uninsured person to die represents "freedom". I'm with FDR in opposing this kind of "freedom". A necessitous man is not a free man. Perhaps enacting FDR's proposed Second Bill of Rights should be a goal of the 99 percent movement? At the very least we need to STOP the talk of "reforming" (cutting) entitlements that even our "socialist" president seems to be gung-ho for (with his "grand bargain").

Thom Hartmann Postcast Info: If you are a subscriber to the Thom Hartmann program podcast, the location of this segment of audio can be found at 7:30 to 9:37 of Hour 2 on Thursday February 2 of 2012.

Video: Ron Paul was serious when he said (to audience applause at the 9/12/2011 CNN Tea Party debate) that society should allow uninsured people to die.

SWTD #109