Friday, May 31, 2013

Brookings' Intellectually Honest Analysis Of Romney's Tax Proposals Got Me Banned

Romney says he is going to balance the budget, cut taxes, raise defense, protect Medicare, and preserve all the institutions of the federal government that we need from the FBI to the FAA. You can't possibly do all of those things. That was my problem. How does the math add up? To me, he's still at war with math ~ Tom Friedman (b. 7/20/1953) NYT columnist and self-identified Republican, on the 9/2/2012 broadcast of BC's Meet the Press.

Preface 1: This is a old post. I originally intended to publish it in September of 2012, but never got around to finishing it. I wrote most of it, but never actually completed it for some reason. I was recently looking for things to delete from my computer and found this... and decided to dust it off, finish it, and publish it. Why? Because it explains MY SIDE of a debate that lead to me being banned from the blog Contra O'Reilly.

I've authored a number of highly critical posts over the last few months that take aim at the proprietor of that blog, a Mr. Willis L. Hart (who I refer to as "PA" below). This post explains why. He banned me over a stoopid disagreement over former presidential contender Mitt Romney's tax plan (a plan that was never explained in detail, therefore making assumptions necessary if anyone wished to critique it).

Preface 2: What follows is my original post which my records say I intended to publish on 9/1/2012...

According to Wikipedia Harvard ethicist Louis M. Guenin describes the "kernel" of intellectual honesty to be "a virtuous disposition to eschew deception when given an incentive for deception".

Definition-wise, Wikipedia states that Intellectual Honesty is: [1] One's personal beliefs do not interfere with the pursuit of truth. [2] Relevant facts and information are not purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one's hypothesis. [3] Facts are presented in an unbiased manner, and not twisted to give misleading impressions or to support one view over another. [4] References are acknowledged where possible, and plagiarism is avoided.

Regarding "Intellectual Honesty", I certainly do not try, nor have I ever tried to deceive with any of my posts, although I'm not going to claim that my personal beliefs never interfere with the pursuit of truth. They do. Facts here will sometimes be presented in a "biased" manner... from my Democrat-Liberal-Progressive point of view, that is. That is my bias. I don't deny it, but I do deny that I am the most intellectually dishonest person Willis Hart this particular as*hole has ever had to deal with.

The particular as*hole (PA) who levied this insult (and then banned me from his blog) did so because I defended a report from the Brookings Institute and the Tax Policy Center that said the Romney tax plan would raise taxes on the poor and middle class (see my previous post on the subject). Regarding Brookings' determination "...that a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed... maintaining all tax breaks for saving and investment... would... increase the tax burdens on middle and/or lower-income taxpayers", PA asserted that, "this study was done for one purpose, and one purpose only, to make frigging Romney look ridiculous".

Because Romney has put forward very few specifics, Brookings was required to make a number of assumptions in order to do the analysis at all. One of the things they assumed was that because Romney has said he favors "maintaining all tax breaks for saving and investment" that items that fall into this category are "off the table".

So just what deductions is Mitt Romney talking about? In their analysis Brookings/TPC says, "offsetting the $360 billion in revenue losses necessitates a reduction of roughly 65 percent of available tax expenditures. Such a reduction... would require deep reductions in many popular tax benefits ranging from the mortgage interest deduction, the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance, the deduction for charitable contributions, and benefits for low and middle-income families and children like the EITC and child tax credit".

No way says PA. PA thinks it is much more likely that Romney would lower taxes as he has described, while keeping these deductions and allow the deficit to rise. Do I think Romney would actually put forward a budget that did this? I doubt it, but, AGAIN, he has proposed a huge tax cut that also "maintains all tax breaks for saving and investment", and that simply is not possible unless many or most tax expenditures are reduced or eliminated. This is another reasonable assumption... in my opinion.

But because of these assumptions PA determined that the Brookings analysis was BS. Why? Apparently because the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, and the Manhattan Institute (all Conservative) made that exact criticism. Even though Brookings concluded that "maintaining all tax breaks for saving and investment" meant taxing these items would be "off the table".

But PA says the report's assumptions are not reasonable, and when I continued to insist they are, PA flew off the handle declaring, "what an absolute piece of shit you are". Why? Because I was claiming (according to PA) that "[Brookings] included it by not including it". No. They looked at these items and determined that they were "off the table" because they fell into the category of "tax breaks for saving and investment".

So, why MUST these items be "on the table" according to PA? Because Mitt Romney has never said they were off. In other words, because Romney has not put forward a detailed tax plan, ANY analysis of a possible Romney tax plan (taking what Romney has said and making some assumptions) is completely invalid. Or any analysis that doesn't include reducing or eliminating tax deductions for "municipal bonds and life insurance savings" is invalid. Why? Damned if I know.

I do know, however, that I'm "intellectually dishonest" for agreeing with the Brookings determination that these things would be "off the table", and was banned for that reason. PA authored a post that said, "You're done. I don't want you to comment here anymore". OK by me. This guy is clearly a lunatic. Why we can't simply disagree on what is a "reasonable assumption" is beyond me.

Finally, regarding the comment from PA that the Brookings/TPC report was done, "to make frigging Romney look ridiculous"... PA says Brookings (one of the preeminent Think Tanks in the country) is LYING because they are a "Liberal" organization. He bases this on an article from US News & World Report that points out that from 2003 to 2010 most of Brookings political contributions went to Democrats (97.6% to Democrats and 1.2% to Republicans).

The US News & World Report article identifies Brookings as a "Liberal" Think Tank. However, in an article titled "Brookings: The Establishment's Think Tank", Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) points out that "much of Brookings' top brass has come from Republican administrations". FAIR says labeling Brookings Liberal is "a victory of Right-wing think tanks" and that "to this day, Brookings is commonly, and inaccurately, dubbed liberal... It's called centrist almost as often, but never conservative, though that label would be more accurate than liberal".

SourceWatch says Brookings was "initially centrist... [but] since the 1990s it has taken steps further towards the Right in parallel with the increasing influence of Right-wing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation.

Wikipedia states that the Tax Policy Center was formed "in 2002, [by] tax experts who had served in the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton administrations [with the objective of] providing unbiased analysis of tax issues".

Now, FAIR and SourceWatch are both progressive/Liberal organizations, but who better to determine what organizations are "Liberal" than other Liberal organizations? So why all the donations to Democrats? I say it is because that is where all the Moderates are. PA describes himself as a "Moderate", and has (previously) identified as a "Blue Dog" Democrat. So who are these Moderate Republicans he thinks Brookings should be donating to if they were really (in PA's estimation) a centrist organization?

With the ascendance of the Tea Party and Mitt having to adopt positions contrary to those he used to hold in order to secure the nomination, how can any sane person deny the Republican Party has moved to the Far Right? Beats me, yet the Hartster does just that, in agreement with his Conservative buddy dmarks who contends that Brookings is a "well known leftist group".

But articles can easily be found via Googling that correctly state that Republicans of yesteryear would not be welcome in the Republican Party of today, including Richard Nixon and the Repub saint Ronald Reagan.

In a recent Fox News interview conducted by Chris Wallace former Senate majority leader Bob Dole said he "doesn't think he could make it in today's Republican Party". Wallace referred to Dole's "generation as Eisenhower Republicans, moderate Republicans". These are the Republicans that by and large no longer exist, so how the hell can Brookings donate to the re-election campaigns of moderate Republicans when there aren't any (or hardly any)? The answer to that question should be self-evident, I say.

But I disagreed, and that was another of several reasons the "Moderate" proprietor of Contra O'Reilly asked me to leave his blog and never return (and that he'd delete my comments if I did). This is a frigging stoopid reason for a banning, IMO. What it really shows is this Willis Hart fellow is really not all that Moderate.

Afterword: On 2/10/2013 PA (AKA Willis Hart) authored a post titled "The Silence of the Lefts" in which he criticized the political Left for it's "silence" regarding specific actions taken by the Obama Administration that are very similar to actions taken by the prior administration. Specifically drone strikes, reauthorization of the PATRIOT act, indefinite detention and rendition of terror suspects, and the president's kill list.

For the record I actually AGREE with PA. Both with his objection to these policies, and with his criticism of the Left in it's acceptance of Obama continuing these policies (when they were severely critical of bush when he did the exact same things). Willis does, however, slip in one lie. According to him Democrats in Congress were "seemingly" briefed on waterboarding. He is one of those who thinks Nancy Pelosi lied when she said the CIA never briefed her on the fact that they were waterboarding. Pelosi told the truth about not being briefed about EITs (enhanced Interrogation Techniques) AKA waterboarding, as her House colleague Bob Graham confirmed.

Also, while the Left (voters and politicians) are much too accepting of these policies just because a Democratic president is in office, there are voices of Progressive disagreement. I would have told Willis that if I had been allowed to comment (and I did tell him I disagreed with these policies prior to my banning). I am actually in agreement with the 26 members of the Progressive caucus (the real Left) who sent a letter to President Obama "demanding greater openness on all aspects of its counterterrorism-related targeted killing program".

I am also in agreement with Progressive host of The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur, who says the problem isn't with drones, because drones are just a tool. The actual problem is how we are using this tool. The three problems identified by Mr. Uygur are that... [1] We have used drones to execute U.S. civilians without a trial, [2] Most of the drone strikes are signature strikes where we have no idea who we're killing, and [3] We often do double taps where we kill first-responders and the people trying to help the wounded.

I am absolutely in agreement with Mr. Uygur on all three points. With these three concerns addressed I'd have much less a problem with the Obama administration's use of drones. But because they are not addressing them, and are in fact killing innocent civilians - I say they are creating more "terrorists" than they are killing... by angering the relatives of the innocents we are killing, who then join up to fight against the United States [1].

As it currently is utilized I strongly oppose the administration's use of drones. I am not silent in this regard. Also, in regards to the uninformed (Lefty) voters, Mr. Uygur says, "the great majority of Americans have no idea what we're doing with these drones. They think we're only targeting high level terrorists". He is correct. There are uninformed voters on both the Left and the Right. Here the Left is "silent" (in support of the drone program) because they don't understand how the drone program works.

In concluding his post PA says, "I'm beginning to think here that the Left wasn't so much anti-war as anti-Bush", but I say he is a fibbing (as well as displaying his fervent anti-Left bias). He has a point (so I don't say "lie"), but to not mention (at all) that there are those on the Left who are against these policies - the same as when bush was president - is a little dishonest. Only "a little" because I'm sure there are some on the Left who only complained about drones when bush was president because bush was president. Now they support the use of drones because it is a Democratic president doing it.

But for PA to suggest the Left is entirely silent? The progressives (that Willis dislikes with much intensity) ARE speaking out. That he ignores this fact is as dishonest as PA's characterization of me as "the most intellectually dishonest person [he] has ever had to deal with". That is way over the top and a huge distortion of reality - a reality in which I AGREE with him on some topics but disagree with him on others. The problem PA actually had with me was that, when I disagreed I wouldn't end up caving when he kept insisting he was right.

[1] AKA blowback, which is a concept the idiot Willis, while he criticizes Obama for his drone policy, does not agree with. According to dope, the idea that all the murdering via drone that we're doing (of mostly innocents) causes anyone to seek revenge "ultimately fails". The US, in his mind, is blameless, in other words. Sounds like something a jingoist fear mongering warmongering MIC-stooging Republican would say. (Note: This footnote was added on 7/19/2015).

Video Description: Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks speaks out against Obama's use of drones.

SWTD #160, wDel #27.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where is the Adulation I Deserve?

As blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of sense ~ Jonathan Swift (11/30/1667 to 10/19/1745) an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. Swift is remembered for works such as Gulliver's Travels and A Modest Proposal (among others).

The end is near. Not the end of the world, but the end of this blog. Or the end of any hope I had that this blog might possibly attract even a small number of readers who comment. Back May of 2007 I authored a post titled, "This Blog isn't dead. Or is it?". Obviously, being only my 9th post, it might have been absolutely was premature to give up so soon. But now that 6 years have passed and still my posts get comments from two people (at most) is, I think, a greater indication that I'm wasting my time.

The last few commentaries have received zero responses. Given that reality, I'm thinking now may be just the right time to call it quits. Or quitting may actually be something that is long overdue. Some may say I didn't attain the "adulation" I was seeking. This speculation came to me via a fellow left-leaning commenter on another blog. I was informed that "whatever your bliss, do it for sun or fun; but doing it for an audience, for adulation, for hits [is] not worth it, my friend".

Easy for him to say... this is an individual who has a successful blog (which I am not going to link to here). He also said it was "bad form" to plug your own blog in a comment on the blog of another. He referred to this as "blog whoring". Blog whoring? I think it is entirely appropriate that, if you've happed to post on the same topic on your blog, to write a comment giving your opinion on the topic at hand, then direct anyone who is interested back to your blog for your further thoughts ON THE SAME TOPIC.

I've done it before without realizing how very rude I was being. If I'm offending everyone with my "blog whoring" I probably should stop, as I've never had that much success linking back to my blog in a comment on another blog anyway.

In any case, should I call it quits or should I continue? Also, now that I've asked will anyone reply? Also, what is up with me having 14 followers, zero of whom ever comment? Some of them commented once or twice, some of them never. I think people added me to their followers list and then never returned. Why do that? Maybe they couldn't figure out how to remove me from their following list? I removed myself from a list once, and it was a little tricky to figure out.

Whatever the reason you are reading this post - if you have gotten this far (it's almost the end) - PLEASE respond. Let me know why you're here, and, if you were here before, why have you never commented? Getting people to read and comment is the whole point of blogging, in my strong opinion. If I wanted to write something nobody would read I could keep a journal. That way, I could be sure nobody ever read it. Or, I could post whatever I decided to write online... that also seems to be a good way to be sure nobody ever reads.

Anyway, in regards to this "adulation" I was accused of desiring... I'd have given up long ago if that is truly what I wanted... because I clearly am not getting it.

SWTD #159

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Inceptrix Revealed

The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it's as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues ~ Terry Pratchett (dob 4/28/1948) an English author of fantasy novels best known for the Discworld series of about 40 volumes, as quoted in the tenth entry, Moving Pictures.

Everything was a little hazy. I had been dreaming, and my dream was remarkably similar to a movie from 1987 starring Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito. How odd, I thought. It seemed quite real, but couldn't possibly be.

"He's coming out of it", I heard a familiar feminine voice say. Looking up, I saw a familiar face. It was the nurse who had put me under for transport to the prison hospital. Currently I was strapped to a gurney with an IV stuck in my arm. The gurney was in the back of an ambulance that was currently in motion, transporting me to jail, presumably. The ambulance driver turned around and glanced at me. To my amazement it was my friend Jed.

"Jed?" I asked, strongly disbelieving that my friend had returned again. "Yes, that is your friend Jed", the woman confirmed. "My name is Jennifer Garafellow, and I'm a friend as well". "You can trust her, Dervish", Jed said, not taking his eyes off the road this time. "What's going on?" I asked. "We are transporting you to the prison hospital along with a police escort", Jennifer explained. "But we are going to do our best to make sure you're diverted from that destination". Exasperated, I cried, "I still don't understand!".

"He can't wrap his brain around what you told him", Jennifer observed. "It is just to unbelievable" she concluded. "You got that right" I acknowledged. "I must be nuts, because I am positive I saw Jed disintegrate before my eyes" I added, certain that was the crucial evidence that proved beyond any doubt I was completely insane. "Disintegrate?" Jed said, laughing. "No, Dervish, I simply disconnected from the Inceptrix". "What the frick is the Inceptrix", I naturally inquired.

"The Inceptrix is what we call the virtually reality program we are all currently plugged into. It's like The Maxtrix from the film of the same name as I explained to you previously. Truth be told, you are very much like the Neo character portrayed by Keanu Reeves in that movie". "Yea, right", I said. "Me being completely insane makes a lot more sense". "Come on Dervish", a frustrated Jed complained. "I've just about had it with your refusal to accept the truth. Remember there was only one scene in The Maxtrix where Neo refused to believe that what Morpheus was telling him".

"I remember", I said. "Neo threw up, passed out, and then, when he woke up he accepted his situation. But that was after being removed from the Maxtrix. Don't I need to choose the red pill first?" "No", Jed answered. "This is the Inceptrix, NOT the Matrix. I told you that already. Things work a little differently here". "So how does it work?", I asked. "First we have to get you to accept the truth. Only then can you be disconnected and physically removed. If your mind is not ready to accept reality as it is outside the Inceptrix there is a strong possibility you'll go crackers".

Crackers? Certainly Jed must mean that I could go insane. Question is, how did I know that did not already happen? I was about to ask him that very question when Jed spoke again, interrupting my thoughts. "We're coming up on our turn", Jed said. "This is where we deviate from the road to the prison. As soon as we turn the cops following us will know something is up".

"Is it that rogue cop who killed you?" I asked. "Indeed it is. You can think of him as the Agent Smith character". "So he's a computer program?" I asked. "No, he is an alien in human form", Jed said, correcting me. "Hold on" he added, taking a sharp right turn. As soon as he did the cop car behind us turned on it's lights and sirens, giving chase as Jed accelerated.

The ambulance entered a tunnel, and what transpired next was very much like the final chase scene from the 1998 film Ronin starring Robert De Niro. Jennifer unstrapped me from the gurney and helped me into the front seat. I fastened my seat belt as we wove in and out of traffic, causing multiple collisions which resulted in the deaths of numerous innocent motorists.

Jenny removed a gun from her waistband and shot out one of the rear windows. Then she commenced firing on the pursuing police vehicle. We emerged from the tunnel and were forced to swerve to the left. A steep incline with the sea below was on our right. The police vehicle overtook us and pulled alongside. "Pull over immediately!" the cop in the passenger seat screamed. When Jed did not comply the cop started firing, spraying the ambulance with bullets, one of which hit Jed. When the bullet struck Jed swerved, coming dangerous close to the edge.

The cop car pulled up closer, bashing into the side of the ambulance. Suddenly a tire blew and Jed swerved out of control, crashing into the railing separating us from the sharp drop off. Ricocheting off the guardrail Jed hit the cop car again, this time much more violently. The cop car careened off the road (to the left) while the ambulance swerved out of control to the right, crashing right through the guardrail and over the edge. I was too weak to scream, otherwise I would have. The vehicle plunged several hundred feet, hitting the water below with great force.

The ambulance quickly began to sink as water gushed in the (shot out) driver's side widow. With in seconds the ambulance was completely submerged and sinking to the bottom. I struggled with my seat belt but it seemed to be stuck. Before I knew it my lungs filled with water. Unable to free myself I stopped flailing and accepted my fate. I would not be becoming the savior of humanity as a real life Neo; instead I would drown and sink to the bottom of the ocean. This ambulance would serve as my coffin in a watery grave.

SWTD #158, TI #5.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Man in the Hat Kills the Other Man in the Hat

Seeing a murder on television can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some ~ Alfred Hitchcock (8/13/1899 to 4/29/1980) an English film director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, billed as England's best director, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood in 1939 and became a U.S. citizen in 1955.

Larry was a aspiring novelist who taught a creative writing class for adults at a community college. One of his students was a short balding man named Owen. Owen wrote a story in which a man in a hat killed another man in a hat for no other reason except being insane. Larry read the story and told his student that the killer in the story would get caught because he had no alibi.

Larry suggested that Owen see a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. A movie that would show Owen the importance of writing characters that were believable, in that if one of them murdered the other one, it wouldn't be because the killer was insane. The killer must have a motive, and attempt to get away with the murder by establishing an albi. Those, Larry informed his student, were the keys to writing a good mystery.

Owen took his instructor's advice and saw Strangers on a Train. After viewing the movie Owen had an idea. On a prior occasion he overheard Larry say that he hated his ex-wife and wished she were dead. Owen had a similar problem with his mother. Owen's mother constantly belittled him and called him names. Owen decided that his life would be a lot better if his mother was not around anymore.

"Criss Cross", Owen told Larry, and explained to him his idea that he would kill Larry's ex-wife if Larry would kill Owen's mother. They would exchange murders just like the two characters in the movie. And each of them would then have an alibi when the murder they had a motive to commit took place. That way neither one would get caught.

Larry said he thought Owen's idea was not a good one. He explained that he did not really want his wife dead, but had only said he did because he was very angry at the time. This did not seem to sink in with Owen, and he left his meeting with Larry determined to kill Larry's ex-wife.

The next time Owen saw Larry he told Larry that he had killed his ex-wife. Larry was shocked, both by the news that his ex-wife was dead and by the realization that he did not have an alibi. At first he thought Owen was lying, but on the TV he saw a news report that said his ex-wife was missing. His ex-wife was on the news because she was a famous novelist, unlike Larry. That is why Larry hated her so much. Not only was she a successful writer while he was a failure, but it was his writing that she was famous for - his ex-wife had stolen his novel and published it as her own!

"The police will think I did it!", an angry Larry informed a clueless Owen. "I don't have an alibi for the night you murdered my ex-wife". It was then that my friend Larry contacted me and explained his problem. "I'll be your alibi", I told Larry, suggesting he tell the police that he and I spent the night together at my place playing cards and watching movies. I decided Larry was telling the truth because, in my estimation he was not capable of murdering anyone.

"Thanks, Dervish" Larry said. "Come over to my place right away so we can discuss in detail what we did on the night your ex-wife was killed", I said, recognizing the importance of getting our stories straight. Larry agreed with my plan and we carefully came up with a fictional account of what we did that night. Later, when the police questioned Larry our stories apparently matched up to their satisfaction, as they let Larry go.

"We're not out of the woods yet" Larry remarked when we met up later. "Right" I said, agreeing. "This Owen fellow is a weak link". "That is why we have to kill him" Larry said, shocking me. "We murder him, make it look like a suicide, and then plant evidence in his home to make it look like he was obsessed with my ex-wife. He was a crazed stalker who read her book - the one she stole from me - and decided to kill her".

"How about we break into his house and look for evidence first?" I said, trying to talk my friend out of murder. "OK", Larry said, thinking it over. "We can try that first". And so we did. I spent hours surveilling Owen's home in order to learn his comings and goings, but I never saw the mother Larry told me Owen lived with. After surveilling Owen's house for two weeks I told Larry I had observed him leaving his home every Thursday night carrying a bowling ball bag. "That is when we shall go then" Larry concluded. "You keep a lookout while I break into his house and look for evidence".

But I disagreed, telling my friend that I thought he should be the lookout while I looked for evidence. I was worried what Larry would do if Owen came home unexpectedly, given the fact that he had previously suggested we murder Owen. And so it was I who entered Owen's house that evening at dusk. Given the fact that I was a private detective, I was able to easily pick the lock on the back door.

"I thought you worked at a Progressive think tank", Larry said, not believing that I was a PI. "Yes, I work at the think tank, but I am also a PI" I informed my friend. It was true that I hadn't done any private investigative work in a while, but my license was current.

Where would Owen hide evidence of the murder? I decided to look in the basement. After a short search I found what I deduced was the right door, but when I tried it I found it was locked. No problem. I took out my tools again and opened the lock in short order. Creeping down the steps I was surprised by the sound of someone mumbling. I was about to run (thinking there was someone there) when I saw a person tied to a chair. I flipped on the light and was surprised to see a woman who looked exactly like a young Kathryn Janeway, the captain of the Starship Voyager. But, no, it was Larry's ex-wife Maggie. I remembered thinking she looked just like Janeway the last time I saw her, sometime before the divorce.

Quickly I removed her gag. "Dervish?" she said, recognizing me. As I loosened her bonds she explained to me that she had been kidnapped and held here by a crazed stalker she knew as Owen. Just then I received a call on my walkie. "Owen's car pulled into the driveway!", an alarmed Larry hissed. A few seconds later the door at the top of the steps flew open and a short man in a hat appeared, brandishing a gun. "Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my house?" an angry Owen demanded to know.

Owen held the gun on me as he descended the stairs. Suddenly Larry appeared behind Owen and bashed him in the head with a 2X4. Owen lost his footing and tumbled head over heels down the steps. A loud snap could be heard as he landed face first on the concrete. Owen lay there not moving, obviously dead. "I think I killed him!" Larry exclaimed. Then he saw his ex-wife. "Maggie, you're alive!" Larry cried, overjoyed. He ran down the steps, jumped over Owen's body, and embraced his stunned ex-wife.

"I'm so happy to see you" Larry sobbed. "The police thought I killed you", Larry added, still hugging Maggie tight. Then a shot rang out. I looked and saw Owen lying on the floor, a smoking gun in his extended hand. He had used his last bit of life to shoot Larry. Owen died immediately after firing the bullet that killed Larry; the shot to his head blew his hat (as well as a large portion of his head) clean off.

"The man in the hat killed the other man in the hat", the shocked Maggie whispered. "What's that?" I asked. "It's a story Owen kept reading to me over and over" Maggie explained. "He told me that Larry didn't like it, but that he didn't trust Larry's opinion and wanted mine. Given the fact that I'm a published author while Larry was a loser who taught creative writing at a community college. That's why he said he kidnapped me - to get the opinion of a real writer. And for revenge against the man who belittled his abilities".

"Makes sense" I concluded. Owen had killed Larry for no reason other than the fact that he was insane... and Larry had insulted his writing ability. I called the cops on my cell and they showed up a short while later. Maggie and I were held for questioning, but released a few hours later. Also, it turns out Owen killed his mother some time ago. The cops found her body buried in the basement, so in the end things turned out far differently than anyone might have expected. That is, given the similarity between how things began and a certain movie from 1987 in which it was suggested the mother character be killed by throwing her from a train.

SWTD #157, TI #4.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Yahoo Going Nooz Route In Aggregating Glenn Beck The Blaze Right-wing Nuttery

By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise ~ Adolf Hitler (4/20/1889 to 4/30/1945) dictator of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. Hitler was at the center of Nazi Germany, World War II in Europe, and the Holocaust.

The Yahoos at Yahoo News appear to be at it again. If they aren't hiring Fox Nooz butt kissers like Dylan Stableford, then they're cozying up to Right-wing nutjob Glenn Beck's The Blaze. "Scandals Have Snowballed Through the Obama Years and More May Be Coming" is the nooz story I discovered a link to prominently featured on the Yahoo home page. Did Yahoo News pay for this Obama bashing tripe by "assistant editor" (and former Paul Ryan staffer) Christopher Santarelli, or are they just conferring to The Blaze some legitimacy by aggregating their nooz?

"Nooz" as I define it (and I think many on the Left would agree here and use the word similarly) is Right-wing propaganda masquerading as actual news. The term is (of course) in reference to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, otherwise known as Fox Nooz or Faux Nooz. Now, I have noticed that on this occasion (as well as others) Yahoo News is going the "nooz" route, in that they seem to be catering to the far-right with one-sided news (or "nooz") stories authored by "reporters" actually employed by Yahoo, or by aggregating nooz from far-right sources, as is the case with this article from The Blaze.

Following are some excerpts from The Blaze story in which Glenn Beck employee Christopher Santarelli interviews writes about an interview of TN Representative Marsha Blackburn by Mallory Factor (Blaze contributor and not a woman despite the feminine name). Blackburn, one of the nuttier members of the House, believes the Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare) to be "a government run, government ensured, government financed, government delivered healthcare system" (it isn't), and that it might include death panels (it doesn't).

Santarelli: Rep. Marsha Blackburn says the growing controversy involving HHS Secretary Kathy Sebelius trying to raise money from companies that her department regulates ranks among the major scandals that are plaguing the administration. The funds raised would go to nonprofits that help people enroll in and get excited about Obamacare.

My Commentary: According to Steve Benen of the Maddow Blog funds are needed to promote the health care law. The more people that sign up, the larger the pool and the lower the costs per person... but the Republicans won't provide any funds for this necessary promotion, so Sebelius has been soliciting "private-sector health executives and non-profit organizations" for some cash to fund the promoting. It's all quite legal so long as there is no quid pro quo.

Santarelli: "A lot of people have said it sounds like Iran-Contra - to me, I think it's probably a little bit worse", Blackburn said in a video interview with TheBlaze contributor Mallory Factor.

My Commentary: No, it isn't "a bit worse". You only think that because you're a nutter. The two situations are actually not comparable in the least. With Iran-Contra individuals in the Reagan administration were raising money via the sale of weapons to Iran to fund Nicaraguan rebels. It was all very illegal, while Sebelius asking for donations to promote the health care act is totally legal. One was a scandal that should have resulted in Regan going to jail, while the other isn't a scandal at all.

Blackburn does, however, appear to be on the same page as the other Tennessee Rs. Regarding the fundraising, Senator Lamar Alexander says "the legal analogy with Iran-Contra is strong", and that it "should cease immediately and should be fully investigated by Congress". Fu#k you Lamar. Intelligent people recognize this as yet another Republican attempt to undermine the president's health care legislation. Also, shame on the voters of Tennessee who elected these far-right kooks (a group that does not include me. I live in TN, but didn't vote for either of these dumbasses).

Santarelli: Blackburn told TheBlaze that scandals have "snowballed" through the Obama years, now coming to a head with... Benghazi, the Department of Justice caught surveilling lawful media outlets like the Associated Press and Fox News, the IRS targeting conservative groups, and this latest controversy with Sebelius and the HHS. Blackburn told TheBlaze that she has even heard of more whistleblowers set to step forward regarding scandals at the EPA.

My Commentary: That Republicans cut funding for protecting our embassies and consulates is a valid concern and should be addressed. The real scandal regarding the IRS "targeting" conservative groups is that they were all approved, even though the law says 501c4's "must operate exclusively for the promotion of social welfare" and not allowed to "specifically endorse any political candidate".

So the IRS found that no tea bag group was violating this rule? What bull. In any case, the real reason groups like these want the 501c4 status is so they can "avoid having to reveal their contributors". I agree with Senator Ron Wyden who says politically active groups (like the tea party groups that were "targeted") "ought to be 527 organizations [that] must disclose their donors" (they would still be tax exempt).

As for the Justice Department seizing of AP phone records, concern over that is right and just, but Republicans have previously opposed a media shield law, while it has broad support from Democrats. Republicans simply want to have their cake and eat it too in regards to this issue; i.e. criticize the administration but not "hamstring" future (Republican) administrations when it comes to going after the media's reporting of White House leaks. What is needed here is some serious reforms to ensure freedom of the press, and it does not appear as though (the hypocritical) Republicans are willing to go far enough.

Regarding Blackburn's assertion that individuals within the EPA are going to whistleblow, I'm not sure what she is referring to. However, given Blackburn's abysmal voting record when it comes to Oil/Energy/The Environment, she's probably referring to the EPA's attempt to regulate CO2... that is, actually do something about Global Climate Change given the fact that Congressional Republicans refuse to do a damn thing to address this serious problem.

Santarelli: Blackburn said that along with colleagues in Congress she will investigate these cases methodically and responsibly, subpoena individuals when necessary, and "make certain power grabs like this don't take place".

My Commentary: It isn't responsible to exploit non-scandals for political advantage Marsha! It isn't that I think Congress should ignore these issues, as I am a believer that it is the role of Congress to provide oversight, but that isn't the Republican goal here. The goal is to embarrass the Obama Administration, use these "scandals" for political advantage (in the upcoming midterms and in the next presidential election) and to stymie the Congressional Democrats and President's agenda. Proof of that will be their failure to pass any meaningful reforms.

I predict that the IRS scandal will open the door to further abuse of 501c4s. These groups will now be able to openly politick and hide who their donors are (which is what the Repubs want). The AP/Fox scandal might result in some legislation that provides some protections to reporters, but passage of the media shield law the Dems want is unlikely. The Benghazi hearings might lead to better protections for our overseas diplomats, but I haven't actually heard any talk of restoring any of the cut funding.

Finally, in regards to the "little bit worse" worse than Iran-Contra issue of funding for the implementation of ObamaCare... the Repubs object to the use of funds from outside sources, but they won't approve any government funding (thus eliminating the need of the administration to rely on donors), because the goal here is to sabotage it (the implementation). My prediction here is that nothing will happen - the Repubs won't stop Sebelius nor will they restore funding.

In other words, the Repubs will fail utterly to make any of these faux scandals stick. Although I'm sure some of them know that, but will press ahead anyway due to the fact that regardless of the outcome they will achieve their primary objective of obstructing. And that, folks, is why this recovery has been so weak, and we get ignorant Keynesian-bashing comments such as the following...

Willis Hart: There have only been 2 sharp economic downturns in U.S. history that haven't been followed by a sharp economic recovery; the Great Depression under Hoover... and FDR and this current malaise under Bush and Obama. I would strongly argue that it (the fact that both were responded to via an interventionist government) is hardly a coincidence (5/5/2013).

No. I'd argue the problem is not enough intervention. With this idiotic statement Mr. Hart completely ignores the fact that the Republicans have been working hard to stymie a recovery via actual sabotage. That is the REAL intervention that is taking place here... intervention by the Republicans aimed at making the economy worse!

So what we have here, IMO, is far-Right propaganda coming from a individual who presents himself as "Moderate" and from a supposed "news" organization which some might mistake for unbiased straight reporting. But who really gives a crap what one deluded individual thinks (Willis Hart), or even one deluded individual with a small audience (Glenn Beck) thinks. I find it far more troubling that Yahoo News is lending it's legitimacy to this type of extremist nuttery. I've never seen a MSNBC story on Yahoo.

Also, don't forget that Beck was fired by Fox for, among other things, claiming that the president hates White people. Fox has more legitimacy IMO than Beck, and remember I made the case earlier that Fox traffics in Right-wing propaganda. The Blaze is loony-toon paranoid propaganda which should be shunned by all of us normals (both on the Left and on the Right).

Just as Dish Network adding The Blaze to its channel lineup was a very bad idea, so is Yahoo adding it to it's news feed a bad idea. Both these companies need to rethink these decisions. Glenn Beck may be able to make a buttload of money catering to far-Right nuts, but that doesn't mean anyone else should even acknowledge the existence of The Blaze. I'm not saying search engines should censor their results as I do not support censorship, but placing stories from The Blaze alongside stories from legitimate news sources (and thereby lending The Blaze credibility) is, I think, a little troubling.

SWTD #156

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Decidedly Non Auspicious Adventure (Part 2)

Fortune and misfortune are two buckets in the same well ~ German Proverb.

After checking for traps, the halfling thief Letta the Lucky flipped open the top of the first of a dozen or more heavy wooden chests. Everyone gasped when they saw the thousands of gold and silver coins contained within. "I'm rich", William the Moderate gasped, a huge grin spreading across his face. "This is many more times the value of Artemis' family farm" Suri Cruz, the group's mage guesstimated. "We should be able to pay off his parent's mortgage easily".

"Farming is for the little people", William scoffed. "Suri can give them a portion of her share and they can forget about farming and live the good life". Suri ignored William and turned her attention back to Letta who was inspecting a second chest. "No traps on this one either" she declared. "Just a simple lock I can pick lickety-split" she said, picking the lock in no time and flipping open the top. This chest was filled with hundreds of sparkling gemstones. Green emeralds, red rubies and white diamonds of small to intermediate size sparkled and shown. "This will buy me a mansion with servants to cater to my every whim!" William exclaimed.

Rutger the burly fighter went down to his knees, sobbing. "With this incredible wealth we could easily purchase resurrection magics to bring back my brother Abel". "Now hold on" William retorted. "That's all fine, but you do realize that Able lost his share of the treasure when he died, right? Now, if you want to spend some of your share to have him brought back and then split what you have left with him... with that I've got no objection. But this treasure is only being divided five ways as I see it".

"Now is not the time for greed" Joshua the half-eleven cleric lectured. "Indeed", Suri agreed. "There is more than enough treasure to go around. Although I would argue that everyone that began this quest should receive a full share. Or their kin should receive their share. However, if these other chests are filled similarly I sincerely doubt we'll be able to lug all this treasure out of here".

"What have we here?" a quizzical Leeta pondered. She opened a third chest, removed one of multiple smaller boxes, opened that box, and found a number of small metal vials inside. "My guess would be magical potions" Suri said, kneeling down next to the wooden chest to inspect what Letta had found. "More valuable than gold, but probably not worth as much as the gems" William reasoned. "We should load up on the gems first". Then, putting a bit more thought into it he asked, "are any of them healing elixirs?"

"The vials don't seem to be labeled" Suri responded, holding one with her fingertips by the cap and spinning it around. "There are some markings inside the lid of the box", Leeta said. "Although I do not know what the language is". "Then move on to the next chest" William commanded. "We need to determine which items are the most valuable, take them, then come back for the rest later".

"I concur", said Rutger. "But do not burden yourself to heavily with treasure William" Rutger cautioned. "We need to be able to carry out my brother's body". "Me?" asked William. "I am sincerely sorry Rutger, but I'm carrying out treasure, not bodies. Perhaps we can cover him with some rocks and get him on another trip". "No. That is not acceptable", Rutger replied. "The longer we wait the more difficult it will be to revive him". "That isn't true" William lied. He knew what Rutger said was factual, but there was no way in hell he was carrying out a body instead of booty.

Rutger was getting very angry. Suri could tell due to the grimace on his face and the way he was clenching his fists. A fight was about to break out in her estimation. Suri put her finger to her lips and said "shhh. I think I hear something". "What the hell are you talking about?", William yelled, his anger at Rutger bubbling over. William's yell attracted the attention of something, as all the remaining companions could clearly hear the sound of many pairs of feet moving quickly in their direction, obviously attracted by the sound of William's shout.

"By the Gods, William! You dunce, what have you done?" Suri remarked, looking afraid. She considered extinguishing her light, but it was clearly too late for that, as whatever William had attracted the attention of arrived. Several green skinned humanoids with anuran heads and bulging eyes entered the room, quickly noticing the companions. The slimy-skinned monsters began hissing and jabbering angrily in a foreign tongue while menacing the humans (and half-human) with their stone tipped spears. "A bunch of backward savages", William almost scoffed (he was clearly at least a little nervous). "Let us dispatch them quickly".

Suri recognized the frog-like humanoids as an evil race of under dwellers know as the Caecilanoids (or "Croakers"). Reasoning with them was out of the question. Clearly a fight was about to commence. Suri noticed that, despite his bravado, William shrunk back, retreating into the shadows. The Caecilanoids struck first, advancing and thrusting their spears while croaking their battle cries. Rutger swung his sword slicing into the chest of one of the humanoids. A spray of green blood erupted from the wound. The monster cried out in pain and sank to it's knees, fatally wounded.

This appeared to greatly anger the fallen Croaker's compatriots, several of which ran at Rutger in unison, spears extended. Rutger swung his sword, chopping through one of the spears and sweeping the monster aside. Two more bore down on him and Rutger was skewered through the belly by both of his attacker's pikes. Rutger attempted to scream in agony, but only managed a gurgle as a stream of crimson passed between his lips. The creatures pushed forward, plunging their weapons through the large warrior's midsection. He fell back and the spears snapped in half. Rutger lie on the stone floor unmoving.

Meanwhile Suri completed the casting of a spell, which resulted in a bolt of energy that sprang from her outstretched palms. A stream of white hot electrical energy shot across the room, forked, and struck two of the Croakers squarely in their chests. The blasts lefts gaping and smoking holes in the midsections of their Caecilanite foes, causing them to promptly drop dead. Joshua swung his mace, bashing one of the creatures in the head.

Leeta stuck her short sword into the abdomen of an attacker, pulling the weapon to the side as she withdrew it, gutting the creature. It died, but not before spitting a vile substance in her face, blinding the halfling. Luckily the two remaining Caecilanoids decided they had enough and retreated from the room, leaving the bodies of their six slain brethren behind.

"We have won!" William cried triumphantly, emerging from the shadows. The other three companions were unsure if William had done any fighting at all. Did he hide in the dark the entire time? Everyone (except William) had been fighting for their lives and so were not sure what his contribution had been. "I killed that one", William said, pointing to a dead Caecilanoid lying on the ground, a sword wound in it's back.

But Joshua paid William no heed. He was already attending to their fallen friend, Rutger. Suri approached Joshua. "Does he live?" she asked. "No" Joshua said simply.

SWTD #155, WTM #6.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Intellectual Honesty Concerning ex-Preznit bush's WMD Lies

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it ~ George Santayana (12/16/1863 to 9/26/1952) philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. A lifelong Spanish citizen, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States, wrote in English and identified himself as an American. The quote presented here is from Santayana's The Life of Reason Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense.

Today, many (if not most) American citizens agree that our war with Vietnam was a mistake and we never should have gotten involved in a conflict that lead to the deaths of 58,220 American soldiers. I bring up Vietnam because some say a lie by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson lead to our involvement that escalated to full blown combat.

Professor of History at the University of Kentucky George C. Herring argues that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and the Pentagon "did not knowingly lie about the alleged attacks, but they were obviously in a mood to retaliate and they seem to have selected from the evidence available to them those parts that confirmed what they wanted to believe".

So, although exactly what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin was later called into serious question, LBJ used the incidents to pressure Congress into passing the Southeast Asia Resolution on 8/7/1964 (which eventually lead to all out war).

Whether or not LBJ lied is, in my opinion, a tad more nebulous that the question of whether or not George W. bush lied in order to pressure Congress into allowing him to invade Iraq. Although blogger Willis Hart of the blog Contra O'Reilly strongly disagrees. In fact, according to him it is "quite chilling" that I would suggest such a thing. In a 6/3/2012 post Mr. Hart alludes to a bunch of other lies that LBJ may have told (I'm not well read when it comes to the Vietnam war, nor did I live through it), and (of course) he incorrectly assumes that I defend LBJ in regards to all of these probable lies. I was, however only referring to the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

The reason for Hart's posting was (in part) to gauge my "intellectual honesty" when it comes to declaring a president a "war criminal". I say George W. bush is a war criminal due (in part) to his lies about Iraq having WMD. I say ex-preznit bush knew Iraq possessed no WMD, as the inspectors on the ground at the time told him so. The Hartster disagrees.

Willis Hart: you gave me no evidence that Bush KNEW that there weren't weapons of mass destruction and then lied to the American public... No testimony. No paper trail. Zero. (7/10/2012 AT 7:00pm).

Unfortunately Willis is wrong. The invasion of Iraq was ordered by ex-preznit bush on 3/20/2003 AFTER the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, told the Security Council (on 3/7/2003) via written report that the "UN inspections in Iraq worked". Mr. ElBaradei's team conducted 247 inspections at 147 sites and found "no evidence of resumed nuclear activities... nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any related sites". The IAEA report went on to say that "Iraq had not imported uranium since 1990... no longer had a centrifuge program, [and that] Iraq's nuclear capabilities had been effectively dismantled by 1997".

The IAEA answers to both the Security Council and the UN General Assembly. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security (Source: Wikipedia). A report by the IAEA submitted to the UNSC most certainly qualifies as the "paper trail" that Mr. Hart is sure does not exist.

Two days after ordering the invasion, in a radio address on 3/22/2013, the former preznit said, "our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people".

Given the fact that the weapons inspectors submitted a report 14 days earlier to the UN that said they hadn't found any WMD, is it a reasonable assumption that bush lied? I mentioned the IAEA Report in a comment on Mr. Hart's blog on 5/5/2012. On 7/10/2012 he made the claim that there is no paper trail or evidence and until then we can't talk (i.e. he can't be convinced bush lied). In response I said, "I already gave [you the evidence]. We can't talk because you ignored it and are pretending it doesn't exist".

I think it is VERY clear that Mr. bush lied. The only other excuse would be that he did not believe the inspectors, and that simply does not fly with me AT ALL. A commenter on the Hart blog known as dmarks (or "Dennis Marks" as he is otherwise known) argues that Saddam had been given many chances and had drawn out the process (of complying with the UN resolutions that said he must dispose of his WMD), and that he had fired on UN planes in violation of the cease-fire that ended the first Gulf War. While that is all true, it completely ignores the fact that Saddam was a crazy dictator and such things are to be expected from crazy dictators!

When Saddam violated the various UN resolutions it was entirely up to the UN to determine how those transgressions were to be dealt with. Enforcement of UN resolutions concerning Iraq was NOT the prerogative of the United States or ex-president bush. The fact is that bush made his case for war with Iraq to the UN and the UN rejected it.

When bush ordered the invasion of Iraq he violated Articles 33 and 39 of the UN Charter, which is why Kofi Annan (UN Secretary-general from 1/1/1997 to 12/31/2006) said the war "was an illegal act that contravened the UN charter". This statement by Anon was made during a 9/16/2004 BBC interview while he was still the UN leader (not after his term expired).

But Dennis dismissed Mr. Annon's assessment of the legality of the war. Mr. Marks says Annon's comment provided SOME support for the argument of illegality, but not much... because the Secretary-General's comments were "off the cuff" and a "personal opinion". No Dennis, Mr. Annan's assessment was based on what the UN charter says (the 2 previously mentioned articles). That isn't an opinion, but rather a fact-based conclusion. As for Dennis' contention that the remarks were "off the cuff"; that is complete nonsense, as well as a serious charge of incompetence and/or irresponsibility.

The agenda here is clear, I believe... although they may be excusing and dismissing bush's crimes for slightly different reasons, the fact remains that Hart and Marks are acting as apologists for a president who lied and knew at the time he was lying. Lyndon Johnson prematurely went with some intel that later turned out to be wrong and used it as an excuse to ease us into a war step by step. And he kept it quiet when he found out later the intel was inaccurate.

Also, as alleged by Mr. Hart, he "lied" about the war's progress by misrepresenting it as "going swimmingly well when it wasn't"... as if the bush administration didn't do the exact same thing (by touting the success of the surge that actually wasn't a success).

But neither GWb nor LBJ are war criminals according to Mr. Hart. And that's why he says "at least I'm consistent". Personally I think that's a bunch of bullpoop. I'm consistent, in that I think both wars were very bad ideas, although Vietnam came about due to the irrational Communist paranoia of the time (along with some distorting and dishonesty from our leaders), while Iraq can be attributed to outright blatant lies from despicable and reprehensible individuals in the bush administration who wanted war for political advantage; i.e. bush's desire to be a "war president".

Dennis says, "I'm pretty sure his meltdown over the LBJ issue got him booted out of Will's blog". Mr. Marks is wrong. The Hartster didn't ban me over my LBJ comments (the banning came later, and what was at issue was an entirely different topic).

Also, there was no "meltdown", I only said I wasn't convinced that LBJ lied about the Gulf of Tonkin (initially). Certainly not in the same manner bush lied about WMD. LBJ found out LATER the Gulf of Tonkin info he got was inaccurate, while bush found out BEFORE he invaded that Iraq didn't have WMD.

Both liars, I suppose, but in my mind bush's lie was more egregious. That may be due to me being an adult of voting age during the Iraq war, while LBJ left office before I was born (and the war wrapped up while I was an infant). Also, I'm a Democrat and there is some partisan bias in play here... I'll admit that.

What do you think me-buck? Are the lies that got us into Vietnam comparable to the lies that got us into Iraq? I say they are, but only marginally. But the real issue here (the point of this post, that is) is that both Mr. Marks and Mr. Hart are completely wrong when it comes to the issue of bush lying. The evidence plainly shows that bush told a big fat lie, and in regards to that fact I am the one who is being honest, while the Hart fellow is being dishonest.

So what's up with these irrationals on the ironically titled rAtional nAtion uSA blog who'd rather we all move on because bush isn't president anymore? Do they want us to forget the past and thus be condemned to repeat it?

Further Reading
[1] Study Shows Bush & Co. Lied, 1/23/2008 (PE post by Shaw Kenawe that points to an article from the website The Center for Public Integrity).
[2] Fact Check: No WMDs in Iraq, 2/19/2008 (Regarding people who say buried barrels of degraded chemical or biological weapons qualify, Fact Check says, "we suggest ridicule").
[3] Republicans Still Denying Bush Lied About Iraq by Jonathan Chait. Daily Intelligencer, 2/9/2015 (That "the bush Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent" was the conclusion of Phase two of the Senate Report on Prewar Intelligence on Iraq).
[4] SWTD #312: Iraq War Based On gwb Lie Of "Disarming" Saddam When IAEA Officials Who Were There, On The Ground, Said Iraq Had No WMD, 9/4/2015.

SWTD #154, wDel #26.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Suspension of Disbelief Cubed

Suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative. The phrase came to be used more loosely in the later 20th century, often used to imply that the burden was on the reader, rather than the writer, to achieve it ~ An excerpt from the Wikipedia entry.

I awoke with a splitting headache. Slowly opening my eyes I took in my surroundings. I appeared to be lying in a hospital bed. Also, to my amazement my friend Jed was sitting in a chair nearby. "Glad to see you're awake, Dervish", Jed said looking relieved. "What the hell happened?" I asked. "I thought you were dead". "Clearly I am not dead", my friend replied. "Let me explain. You were shot by a rogue police officer. But the bullet really only grazed your head and the cop didn't realize it. Probably due to the massive loss of blood".

"But what about you?" I protested, feeling woozy. "I thought you had a heart attack after being tased. I checked your pulse and you didn't have one". "Yes, that happened", Jed agreed. "But, as for explaining why I didn't have a pulse and appeared to be dead, that is something you are going to have a hard time believing". "Try me" I shot back.

"Well, you've seen the film Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio, haven't you? "Yes", I replied, not sure where this was going. "Well", what about The Matrix, have you seen that one? I'm referring to the picture with Keanu Reeves in the lead" Jed explained. "I don't understand why you're quizzing me on what movies I've seen", I said. "Just go with me", Jed insisted. "Have you seen it?". "Yes", I replied, utterly confused at this point.

"OK. What about Independence Day, and Terminator 2? Starring Will Smith and Arnold Schwarzenegger respectively, of course". "What the hell are you talking about?", I demanded. "What do these movies have to do with you being killed and me almost being killed? I don't understand". "Just answer the question", Jed said, looking very serious. I lay there for a little while, staring at Jed. He stared back at me. "Yes, I have seen all those movies", I finally said.

"Think of this as Inception meets The Matrix meets Independence Day meets Terminator 2", he said. "Think of WHAT as that?", I inquired. Had my friend gone crazy? "No, I have not gone crazy", Jed replied as if reading my mind. "The situation you are in is like that. It is like Inception in that your dream of the violent sporting event was a dream within a dream. It is like The Matrix in that what you are experiencing right now is not real, but only a virtual reality simulation. It is like Independence Day in that it is aliens (and not intelligent machines) who are using what remains of humanity as batteries to power their machines which are stripping Earth of it's natural resources".

"How is it like Terminator 2", I asked, not believing a single thing Jed had just told me. "It is like Terminator 2 in that I am a cybernetic robot". "From the future?" I asked. "In a way", Jed replied. "The year is not really 2013 as you believe, but actually around a 1000 years later. Anyway, the reason I have no pulse is because I am not human. The tazing merely disrupted my electrical circuits. I only appeared to be dead while my CPU was rebooting".

"Here, feel for a pulse", Jed said, extending his arm. I felt for a pulse but there was none. "Still not buying this cockamamie story", I said, letting go of Jed's wrist. Jed withdrew a switchblade from his jacket pocket. "I could use this knife to slice the flesh from my arm and reveal my robotic endoskeleton", Jed said. "Although I would rather not damage myself in that manner".

Still I did not quite believe the line of BS Jed was feeding me, but clearly something strange was going on. "So why did you scream at me and then cry hysterically when the cop said he was going to give you a ticket?" I asked, sure I had finally stumped him. "It's like Star Trek Generations. You know, the film where they replaced Kirk and crew with Picard and the cast of the Next Generation series. You've seen it, right?", Jed asked.

"Actually, I just caught it on TV recently", I admitted. "Well, then you should recall one of the subplots had to do with the android character Data and his emotion chip. I too have an emotion chip. The reason for my chaotic emotions is because this chip was infected with a virus. But don't worry, the virus has been dealt with".

"Sure", I agreed, certain my friend had flipped his lid. Perhaps we had both flipped our lids and were in the psych ward. I wasn't able to ponder just what was going on for long though, as voices in the hall outside the room distracted me. "This way officer. The suspect is in this room", a female voice in the hall outside said.

"Oops. it's too late", Jed said. And then he disintegrated in a blinding flash, leaving not even ashes behind. "What the frick!" I exclaimed in astonishment. But I did not have time to ponder this new development either, as just then a familiar officer of the law entered the room. "That's the violent crack dealer who attacked me", the familiar cop said to a second uniformed officer who entered the room alongside him.

"Wait a minute, that isn't true at all", I complained, directing my disagreement toward the second officer. But I could protest my innocence no further, as the room suddenly started spinning. He needs another transfusion, a nurse that had entered the room behind the two cops said. She approached the bed and inserted an IV in my arm. In a few seconds I was feeling very drowsy. "This will put him under so that he may be transported to the prison hospital", was the last thing I heard the nurse say before I lost consciousness.

SWTD #153, TI #3.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Don't Tase Me To Death, Officer

"Don't tase me, bro" is an utterance emitted by University of Florida student Andrew Meyer on the evening of September 17, 2007 in efforts to ward off the vicious bite of a police taser after he was detained for getting uppity at a forum with U.S. Senator John Kerry ~ An entry from the Urban Dictionary, which is "a Web-based dictionary of slang words and phrases".

My friend Jed wouldn't stop hollering at me. It was a waste of money to pay for me to attend a sporting event that I slept through. How dare I? he demanded to know. I apologized but reminded him that I did not like sport and had warned him beforehand that I thought it was boring. But my friend continued to complain the entire ride home.

"What are you, gay?" Jed asked. "No, but that is a homophobic comment if ever I heard one", I retorted. "I've had it with you", Jed suddenly yelled as he slammed on the breaks. "Get the hell out" he ordered with a stern face. "No way", I replied. "We're in the middle of nowhere. I'm not going anywhere. You're taking me home".

Then my friend began screaming loudly. Clearly he had lost it. I sat there while Jed screamed until he was red in the face. Exhausted, he finally relented. "I'm not a homophobe", he finally said after several minutes of silence. Just then a siren blared and a pair of flashing red lights appeared in the rear view mirror. "Great, the cops" Jed muttered. A few moments later there was a tap on the driver's side window. Jed rolled it down and asked, "what seems to be the trouble, officer"?

"You're not allowed to pull over here unless there is an emergency", the cop informed my friend. "What?" Jed asked, clearly confused. "There are signs all along this section of the highway", the officer explained. "If there is no emergency I ask that you please be on your way" the officer instructed. Jed fumbled for his keys. "Certainly officer. I apologize for the mistake. I did not see the signs" Jed sputtered, clearly worried he might get a ticket.

"Hold up" the officer instructed. "I think I'm going to give you a ticket after all" he added, pulling out his ticket clipboard. "It was an honest mistake", Jed protested. "Please don't give me a ticket" he pleaded. Suddenly Jed began to cry. He tried to stifle his sobs but was unsuccessful. Soon he was bawling like a little baby.

"What's with this bullsh*t?" the officer growled. "It would be one thing if you were a beautiful chick, but a dude crying is going to get no sympathy from me. Forget the ticket, I'm going to arrest you and have your car impounded" the officer shouted (in order to be heard over the increasing loud wailing emanating from my friend).

"Stop crying and get out of the vehicle before I'm forced to tase you" the officer yelled. "No", Jed said, calming down a little. "It was an honest mistake and you have no cause to arrest me", he defiantly proclaimed. "That's it" the officer decided, pulling out his taser and taking aim. Then he depressed the trigger and a projectile with a thin wire attached shot out and pierced Jed's flesh. Jed screamed in agony as a jolt of electricity coursed through his body.

The cop removed his finger from the trigger and Jed's head slumped forward. Seemingly he was unconscious. "Stop faking unconsciousness and exit the vehicle" the cop screamed. Jed did not respond. I grabbed hold of his wrist and felt for a pulse, but there was none. "He needs CPR" I shouted. The officer opened the door and dragged Jed's limp body from the vehicle, depositing him roughly on the pavement. "MFer, I think you're right" the officer remarked, his face ashen.

Quickly the lawman began CPR, depressing Jed's chest and alternately blowing air into his mouth. But it did not work. Jed was dead from an apparent heart attack. "Jesus H. Christ, what a pu*sy" the angry cop bellowed, jumping to his feet and kicking Jed violently in the gut. It was probably a half-dozen more kicks to the belly before officer friendly finally stopped.

"Violent crack dealers", he suddenly said. "What?" I asked. "You and your friend", the officer explained, "are violent crack dealers who attacked me when I pulled you over. I had no choice but to defend myself". Then he pulled his gun and took aim directly at my chest. "Bang, you're dead", he shouted, firing. I felt myself falling, then my head struck the concrete and everything went black.

SWTD #152, TI #2.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Skepticism Of Policies That Harm The Wealthy Elites But Acceptance Of Policies That Further Enrich Them

...globalization is more of a boon to the members of the global elite than it is to the average Jose ~ Dani Rodrik (dob 8/14/1957) Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government; a quote from his book The Globalization Paradox, which argues "that when the social arrangements of democracies inevitably clash with the international demands of globalization, national priorities should take precedence".

A global climate change denier once quoted science fiction writer Michael Crichton, who said, "the greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with consensus". In other words, the very fact that 90 percent of climate change scientists agree that global warming could cause us some major problems in the future is evidence that these "warmists" are probably wrong. Because those who break with consensus are, more often than not, the ones who end up being right (and that is the case with global climate change. It is mostly "alarmism").

Except when those critical thinkers in the minority are breaking with a "consensus" that benefits the wealthy elites, apparently. Then they are wrong. I'm referring to economists who disagree that "removing trade restrictions invariably helps some firms and people and hurts others but with a positive net benefit for the country as a whole". Willis Hart agrees wholeheartedly with the free traders, even though they are in the majority.

When I presented Mr. William H. Hart with the names (and words) of a few economists who break with consensus and say free trade is problematic, he said, "90% of economists support free trade, wd. It's you who have the minority position on this one".

OK, I get it... when he has the minority opinion (regarding global warming), he's right, because the thinkers he cites "are great precisely because they broke with consensus", but when I'm the one with the minority opinion it proves how wrong I am! That works out quite nicely for Mr. Hart. Also, notice how both these positions (global warming: no big deal and free trade: awesome) benefit the wealthy elites?

BTW, for anyone who might point out that the reverse is true... that I say I'm right on global warming (because the majority of climate scientists agree with me) and right on free trade because I'm with those who are breaking with consensus... I have to point out that I'm only making the first argument and not the later one. The great thinkers who broke with consensus and were right are in the minority. Most often scientific progress is made by researchers who build on the accomplishments of those who came before them. Also, protectionism is what made the US a manufacturing powerhouse. Since we broke with (what used to be the) consensus we've lost millions of manufacturing jobs.

When Mr. Hart breaks with consensus and takes the position that those concerned about the possible negative effects of global warming are "alarmists" and we shouldn't do anything to address the problem because it is actually not a big deal... his position protects the profits of polluters and Big Oil. And when he adheres to the consensus that says free trade is a net positive... his position protects the profits of large corporations who profit by offshoring American jobs to low wage countries. Do you think this is just a coincidence?

I say it is not a coincidence that in each instance Mr. Hart takes the position that best serves the wealthy elites, just as the Conservatives that Mr. Hart insists he is not one of do. Mr. Hart asserts he is a "Moderate" yet he always comes down on the side of the plutocrats and in opposition to policies that would benefit working people. His May 12 post, "Top Five Favorite Newport Mansions, being is just another example of how this individual exhibits behavior typical of a Conservative... behavior that could be called "wealthy worship".

If you have mega-bucks Mr. Hart assumes you worked hard and busted your ass to earn that dough... and the government should keep it's "stealing" (aka taxing) of what's yours to an absolute minimum. If you're a poor shlub, on the other hand, you probably have only yourself to blame for your lot in life. You should have worked harder, not had kids at an early age, not smoked, or some other issue that's entirely your problem and not due in any manner to greedy "job creators" taking advantage of you. This is what is known as "blaming the victim", and is a tactic Conservatives have perfected. It is also a tactic Mr. Hart frequently employs.

The bottom line is that we can do something about global climate change (such as promoting a green jobs economy that will actually be a boon for our economy)... and we can do something about the job-destroying free trade policies being pushed by the corporatists (in both parties, but mostly in the "R" party) who don't want to pay American workers fair wages (by using tariffs and our tax code to encourage corporations to bring jobs back to the US)... but in both instances it will mean slightly less profit for the wealthy elites. Apparently people like Willis Hart find this prospect to horrible to contemplate. That, or he's buying into the spin put out by the plutocrats that we'll all benefit if we do it their way.

Also, the Hartster despises green energy and has written dozens of posts on how terrible it is. Maybe this explains why Mr. Hart hates the former Green Jobs "czar" almost a lot less than dmarks (although he still dislikes him, he just falls short of believing Mr. Jones smiles when he thinks of getting into government and starting a genocide. probably). Regarding Van Jones (an individual I greatly admire) the Hart guy says, "he's a real shit, crony capitalist, 9/11 Truther". Although none of that is even remotely true.

In summary what he have here is a deluded individual who believes... global climate change: BFD, green energy: Lucifer-endorsed, free trade: manna from heaven for American consumers, and the wealthy: job creators we should all worship er admire. Wow, huh? Could one person possibly be any more "Moderate"? What say you me-buck?

SWTD #151, wDel #25.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Benghazi Irrationality

The rational mind of man is a shallow thing, a shore upon a continent of the irrational, wherein thin colonies of reason have settled amid a savage world ~ Wilford O. Cross, a quote from Prologue to Ethics.

The following statement is from the self-proclaimed "Moderate" Mr. Willis V. Hart (whom I have covered on this blog previously) via the Libertarian rAtional nAtion website...

Willis Hart: This was all about the administration protecting Mr. Obama's narrative (right before the election, no less) that Al-Qaeda was on the run and all that crap... We were lied to... and I don't particularly like being lied to whether it's Dick Cheney or Obama. This was a bald-faced lie of a story line that they didn't pawn on us once or twice but dozens of times and for over 2 solid weeks. And it was absurd, a spontaneous eruption... (condensed from two of Mr. Hart's comments).

But it wasn't Obama who lied (or authored the talking points that contained the lie, at least), not according to the NYT's David Brooks, who, on the 5/12/2013 airing of "Meet the Press" shared his assessment of how the talking points were formulated (and by whom) in the aftermath of Benghazi...

David Brooks: My reading of the evidence is a very terrible event happened at a CIA facility, they went into intense blame-shifting mode, trying to shift responsibility onto the State department, onto anywhere else, and the state department pushed back. ... Out of that bureaucratic struggle, all the talking points were reduced to mush and then politics was inserted into it.

So, was it the Obama Administration who wanted to "protect their narrative" of "Al-Qaeda on the run" and therefore lied to us, or is David Brooks right about this "narrative" being constructed by the CIA in an attempt to cover their ass? And why did former Dick Cheney aid at State Victoria Nuland ask for the removal of references to Al-Qaeda and the CIA's warnings about the dangers to US diplomats in Libya? (more on that later).

Brook's take on Benghazi is interesting because Mr. Hart is a huge fan. On 8/29/2012 Willis composed a commentary titled "On David Brooks", in which he said...

Willis Hart: Liberals think that he's a conservative. Conservatives think that he's a liberal. Yeah, you better believe that I can identify with him.

Willis identifies with him because he thinks Brooks is a "Moderate" like him. Willis' "Moderate" position on Benghazi is that he does not like being lied to "whether it's Dick Cheney or Obama". But Willis' hero David Brooks doesn't think President Obama lied. So where does this leave Mr. Hart, I wonder? "Respectfully" disagreeing, I'd guess. Or (more likely) he'd argue what Brooks said does not indicate President Obama didn't lie.

Also, in regards to Brooks and Hart being fellow Moderates... Mr. Brooks, prior to his NYT gig, "worked as reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal [and] as senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception". The Weekly Standard "is an American neoConservative opinion magazine [whose] founding publisher [is] News Corporation [Rupert Murdoch/Fox Nooz]".

OK, got it. Willis identifies with David Brooks because he perceives him to be a Moderate like (he perceives) himself to be a Moderate. But David Brooks isn't a Moderate. Would a "Moderate" work at the neoConservative Weekly Standard? What's odd here is that the Hartster does not identify as neoConservative (he has spoken against the neoCons). While he was gung-ho in his support for bush's Afghanistan invasion, he says he did not support the occupation and nation-building in Afghanistan, or the invasion of Iraq.

But David Brooks is a neoCon (or leaned in that direction while employed by the Weekly Standard, and, since leaving that publication, soured on neoConservatism. I'm not sure.)...

Wikipedia: ...before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Brooks argued forcefully for American military intervention, echoing the belief of commentators and political figures that American and British forces would be welcomed as liberators. [However] In the spring of 2004, some of his opinion pieces suggested he had tempered his earlier optimism about the war. [Also] Brooks' public writing about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is similar to those by neoConservatives, according to a Salon article by Glenn Greenwald, that labels Brooks as a neoConservative.

My conclusions are that [1] The Obama Administration may have been aware that the CIA/State talking points were not entirely accurate, but for political reasons decided to go with them until the investigation revealed otherwise. [2] It's Mr. Hart's "Moderation" that causes him to go with the Conservative talking points on this and label this "lying", and [3] Mr. Hart is not that Moderate. In fact, I think it is quite appropriate that he is a contributor over at the Libertarian rAtional nAtion blog.

Now, back to the former Dick Cheney aide who worked at State and asked "for the removal of references to Al-Qaeda and the CIA's warnings about the dangers to US diplomats in Libya". The State department spokesperson being referred to is Victoria Nuland, and regarding her "Republican party pedigree" Salon says...

Salon's Alex Seitz-Wald: Nuland is married to Washington Post columnist and neoConservative historian Robert Kagan, who helped sell the case for the Iraq War, advised both Mitt Romney and John McCain's presidential campaigns, and co-founded the Project for a New American Century think tank with Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol...

So she's a former Cheney aid with a Republican pedigree AND there is also a neoCon connection? Could this possibly be sabotage, in that Nuland purposefully corrupted the talking points so the Republicans could later claim a cover-up? I'm thinking probably no... but this is a rather odd coincidence, to say the least.

The Washington Post (the same paper Nuland's husband works for) says Nuland is the one who, "after reading the first draft of the State Department talking points that stated the incident was a coordinated terrorist attack", pushed for the revisions because she worried members of Congress [might] "beat the State Department for not paying attention to agency warnings". She asked, "why would we want to seed the Hill?".

Does this revelation take at least some of the wind out of the sails of those (like Hart) who are absolutely convinced this was an Obama administration conspiracy to lie to the American people in order to sustain their "narrative"? Or do the irrationals on Mr. Nation's blog have their own agenda? I think the following exchange suggests they do...

Jersey McJones: If there was some misinformation intentionally trotted out to the public... then there should be reasonable consequences. But this issue is not worth a snotty rag compared to the horror the last administration perpetrated while the cons sat silent. (5/13/2013 AT 01:42:00 AM EDT).

rAtional nAtion: GWB was a poor President overall IMNHO and did more damage to conservatism than perhaps any prior conservative President. Having said this [Jersey McJones] seems to be stuck in time. But I suppose it is understandable. (5/13/2013 AT 09:20:00 PM EDT).

Yea, I understand why Irrational wants to sweep bush's war crimes and lies about WMD that were not found under the rug. If bush had been prosecuted (as he should have been) it would have been extremely damaging for the Republican brand. Not that Mr. Nation is ever going to get the Libertarian government he wants, but he surely does not want to see things swing in the other direction (toward the Democrats). He doesn't want Hillary (or some other Democrat) to win the presidency in 2016. Which is why he's on board with Willis in using Benghazi to damage Obama and Hillary. defines irrational as, [1] without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason; [2] without or deprived of normal mental clarity or sound judgment; [3] not in accordance with reason; utterly illogical", and that is how I view Mr. Hart's outrage over the president's supposed Benghazi "lies". It is very irrational to expect politicians to not act to protect themselves politically. Yet he has no outrage at all when it comes to the Republicans who are using this to ATTACK the Obama administration for political reasons.

It is the Republican lies for which there is FAR greater reason to be outraged, IMO. The truth came out in short order (the Benghazi attack was not a result of a spontaneous attack sparked by the "Innocence of Muslims" video). Obama still would have won the election. Also, nobody died because "the talking points were reduced to mush" (as David Brooks put it)... unlike when bush lied about WMD in Iraq. Mr. Hart isn't outraged about that at all. Quite the contrary, he has authored multiple posts defending bush lying about WMDs, which Willis says there is no evidence of!

When I said, "bush lied when he said we needed to invade Iraq to disarm it... even though all the evidence said Iraq was already disarmed", the Hartster's response was complete denial...

Willis Hart: You gave me no evidence that Bush KNEW that there weren't weapons of mass destruction and then lied to the American public... No testimony. No paper trail. Zero (7/10/2012).

There is "no evidence" bush lied about WMD? Sure. The Downing Street Memo isn't evidence. The Senate Intelligence Committee report that found the bush administration "deliberately misled the American public about Saddam's relationship with al Qaeda and led the nation to war on false premises"... that isn't evidence either.

NO outrage over bush's NARRATIVE that Iraq had WMD and needed to be disarmed, just willful ignorance... but plenty of outrage over Obama's "bald-faced lie"? Willis did mention Dick Cheney lying, but about what I don't know. I tried to comment on the Irrational blog but it appears as though the Irrational fellow won't be publishing my comment. Not that it would matter, because ever since Willis banned me from his blog he refuses to acknowledge any words from me on any site we may both happen to comment on.

SWTD #150, wDel #24.