Cutting Through The Crap

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Those Who Ignore History...



So the House of Whoever-It-Is-They-Represent is voting today on money to train and arm Syrian "rebels." I hope they read this first. And this.

What could possibly go wrong? Nothing, I guess; especially if we follow this advice. Which, no doubt, is based on clear-headed assessment, like this, from our most level-headed, clear-eyed US Senator.

And here's the not even slightly funny part: John McCain and Lindsey Graham, constant mongerers of war and praisers of exactly the wrong people, might well be facilitators of the very boogeymen that frighten them so:

“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN’s Candy Crowley in January 2014. “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,” the senator said once again a month later, at the Munich Security Conference... 
... Like elements of the mujahideen, which benefited from U.S. financial and military support during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and then later turned on the West in the form of al-Qaeda, ISIS achieved scale and consequence through Saudi support, only to now pose a grave threat to the kingdom and the region. It’s this concern about blowback that has motivated Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to encourage restraint in arming Syrian rebels. President Obama has so far heeded these warnings. 
 John McCain’s desire to help rebel forces toss off a brutal dictator and fight for a more just and inclusive Syria is admirable. But as has been proven repeatedly in the Middle East, ousting strongmen doesn’t necessarily produce more favorable successor governments. Embracing figures like Bandar, who may have tried to achieve his objectives in Syria by building a monster, isn't worth it...

And let's not even get into the suggestions that McGraham were pawns in the Saudi goal of annexing Damascus. Because that would be too painful to contemplate.

Oh. God. We will never learn.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Be Afraid, Teabaggers. Be VERY Afraid



Read the names here; then, consider the impacts of (and, likely, a big part of the reasons for) the right-wing desire to stop immigration, even legal immigration, of non-whites. Consider where the future of our country lies, in whom the vestiges of the "American Dream" reside, the belief that hard work combined with good (i.e. non-bible-based) education will lead to success.

Fearing hoards of reality-based and motivated people, the leaders of our right-wing America-lovers not only want to close the doors to our country, but to our schoolhouses and voting booths. They may not be stupid themselves, because they're damned successful in their efforts; but those efforts are predicated on the stupidity of their voters, and are aimed at maintaining high levels of it across the prairies and beyond the mountains, from sea to warming sea.

If there's any hope for our country at all, it's in those kids and in the hints that they and the rest of their generation are not so hate- and fear-filled, so willfully ignorant as the one infecting our present-day body politic, like necrotizing fasciitis.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Rule Of Thumb


Someone forwarded another of those right-wing emails that makes an outrageous claim about the latest horror perpetrated on what's left of America by that black guy. As usual, it included the declaration "Snopes confirms!!" (This one was the well-worn warning about a "little known" part of Obamacare that mandates the establishing of free gas stations in black neighborhoods. Yeah. I'd believe that.)

So here's the rule: if one of those emails arrives and if it contains any variation of "Snopes confirms," you can be 100% certain the opposite is true. Without fail, without question.

Liberals, of course, are used to this, because the liberal brain includes healthy skepticism toward unbelievable claims. But it wouldn't hurt if the rare conservative who wanders by these parts would keep it in mind.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Alaska's Finest



There was a time, way back before innocence died, when George W. Bush looked into Vlad Putin's eyes and saw his soul, somewhere down there along with the yellowcake he saw in Niger and the mobile biological weapons factories he saw in Iraq. We judge the character of presidents, after all, by the way they judge the character of others. Whether they pal around with terrorists, for example.

And so it is that we look similarly at presidential contenders, and their choices of pallsers-around. John McCain, in that context, comes to mind not only because he was the choice of a once-credible and still-major political party to assume the reins of power, but also because he remains the most sought-after voice by our media in their never-ending commitment to providing our citizens with the information they need from the best sources possible. So should we also consider the significance of the fact that that same fount of foreign policy wisdom sought to perpetrate upon us the least qualified, most poorly informed, most diseducated and dishonest charlatan and conperson ever to receive a vice-presidential nod. Convinced himself that she was just the ticket; or shamelessly shed what little remained of his honor, in the pursuit of power and ego. Dan Quayle? Thomas Jefferson Winston Churchill by comparison.
... “There’s some sort of unofficial birthday/Iron Dog-type/snowmachine party in Anchorage. A nice, mellow party, until the Palins show up,” Coyne wrote. “There’s beer, of course, and maybe other things. Which is all fine, but just about the time when some people might have had one too many, a Track Palin stumbles out of a stretch Hummer, and immediately spots an ex-boyfriend of Willow’s. Track isn’t happy with this guy, the story goes. There’s words, and more.” 
“The owner of the house gets involved, and he probably wished he hadn’t,” Coyne continued. “At this point, he’s up against nearly the whole Palin tribe: Palin women screaming. Palin men thumping their chests. Word is that Bristol has a particularly strong right hook, which she employed repeatedly, and it’s something to hear when Sarah screams, ‘Don’t you know who I am!’ And it was particularly wonderful when someone in the crowd screamed back, ‘This isn’t some damned Hillbilly reality show!’” 
“No, it’s what happens when the former First Family of Alaska comes knocking. As people were leaving in a cab, Track was seen on the street, shirtless, flipping people off, with Sarah right behind him, and Todd somewhere in the foreground, tending to his bloody nose,” she concluded...
I'm not so naive as to think this incident would do anything but enhance Ms Palin's (any and all of the Ms-s Palin) cred with the baggiest of our teabagging Americans. But to those remaining conservatives able to recall -- and long for -- the days of intellectual rigor, one would hope that -- assuming they swallowed hard and pulled the lever or punched the chad anyway -- they might shudder in some mortifying combination of relief and shame. And work to bring their party back to one that valued people who knew what they were talking about and who considered open-hearted discourse a part of the process. Instead of whatever it is that Palin and McCain have come to be. Or, at least regarding the moose-huntress, always were.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Shades of 9/11, on 9/11


Hard not to have a sense of deja vu: a president telling of a direct threat to the US. At least he didn't promise a quick war that would pay for itself, or lie about WMD, or, far as we know, divvy up the oil fields in advance; but he eschewed troops on the ground, whereas we all know there are special forces there already.

No doubt ISIS/ISIL are really horrible people; in fact, calling them people strains the definition. And they're certainly a destabilizing force in a land where stability is vapor already. Do they, with their better quality videos and leftover US weapons, represent a greater threat to the homeland than any other insanely hate-filled group or individuals? Hard to see how.

Will this effort, as opposed to every previous one starting the day after 9/11/01, finally eradicate a named terrorist group, lowering the number on the planet by one, forever? Will this mole stay whacked? Will we be more successful this time around in identifying the good guys? As opposed to when McCain went to Syria and hung with pre-ISIS? Or when Reagan armed the pre-al Quedas in Afghanistan? Is there something I'm missing, a way in which this war won't engender more of the same? Will it actually, demonstrably, by recognizable parameters, make us safer?

Would we be doing this if our political system weren't so irretrievably broken? If the right-wing weren't intent upon (and depressingly successful at) painting our president as weak, or worse? If there weren't people at Fox "news" suggesting the president ought to get advice from the guy who screwed up everything he touched as Commander in Chief? (Yes, they did. No, it wasn't an Onion satire.) If the WSJ and other right wing organs weren't actually saying, without irony, that Dick Cheney is "still right?" (Somehow I'd have thought the use of the word "still" would refer to a person who'd been previously right about something, anything, regarding his own war adventurism. But I guess that's just me.)

In my bleeding liberal heart, there resides the belief that not every problem is solvable with American power, nor in need of direct American intervention. As horrifying as it is to see the despicable depths to which some humans are capable of descending, especially in the name of their sick perception of some religion or other, part of me says some things just have to play out across time. If the people most directly affected are unwilling or unable to root out the evil, then how are we to do it? (And what ever happened to the billions we invested in training the Iraqi army?)

"We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here." I didn't buy it when Cheney and his puppets said it then, and I don't now, as President Obama seems to imply it, yet again. Is that how it works? Really? Do our interventions there really make us safer here? Is that what's prevented, so far, another 9/11-level attack, or is it the efforts at surveillance at home?

Clearly, I have no answers. I really don't know if what we're doing is good or bad, effective or damaging. I don't know if there are subterranean reasons for doing this, as there clearly were in our invasion of Iraq, or if it's the best decision of the best minds addressing real threats to the safety of our nation.

All I know is that I'm not very optimistic about it, and it's hard to shake a sense of gloom. To understand at least part of the reasons why, read the words of Georgia congressman and recently defeated (by an even more egregious teabagger) senate candidate, Jack Kingston:

“It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long." 

The aforementioned bleeding heart says the military approach to international asymmetrical (and very real) terrorism hasn't ever, and won't work now. I hope I'm wrong. I think the way to maximize homeland security is by homeland security; and that our future is at much greater risk by those in Congress who'd stop paying for all the things it (our future) needs than by a bunch of undeniably awful people operating thousands of miles away.

And I think Dick Cheney and his demon spawn, spewing their highly remunerative war-mongering, and the screaming heads at Fox and all over the airwaves braying that we're moments away from imposition of Sharia law (how it happens, exactly, they haven't elaborated), are the greatest threat of all. They make a damn good living by scaring the shit out of people. Other than very nicely lining their own pockets, and those of their contributors, they got everything wrong last time around. But it worked like a charm, and it's working again.

Deja vu. Deja fucking vu. Let's hope, for reasons I'm too dumb to see, that this time is different.

[Image source]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mitch The Predictable


Gotta admit I was pleasantly surprised at the margin of victory, 79 - 18, for the vote on a constitutional amendment to end "Citizens United." Of course, all the "no" votes were Rs.

On the other hand, the vote in question was only to allow the bill to come up for a vote (the Senate rules are nothing if not arcane), and it remains to be seen if it'll get enough R votes at that point to pass the constitutional requirement of 66 on the final tally. (Update, 9/11: anyone wanna guess?)

Mitch "Up or down vote" McConnell is the archetype, the Platonic ideal, the very model of the modern major hypocrite, switching positions with the political winds and, most particularly, depending on who's in the majority in the Senate. His "nay" is not in question. And even if the Senate passes the bill, there's no way in hell the House, with its R majority, will. Their seats are virtually cast in cement, the same kind mobsters used to drown their victims; and whereas the people who elect them are the very ones losing the most in the march to plutocracy, their fully Foxolimbeckifed brains will never understand how they've been played for fools.

Mitch counts on it. He gets lots of money to count on it, from the tiny group of very rich men in whose thrall the R party has come to be; and they count on the deception to remain unquestioned.

Which, of course, it will. That's what their propagandist media machine is for. And it's never failed.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Person Of Interest



One of the curious things about Facebook is that if a "friend" leaves a comment on the page of someone unknown, I get notified. Recently that phenomenon sucked me into a "conversation" with the original poster, who'd claimed Barack Obama is the worst president ever.

I made the mistake of responding to some comments by people who were making fully Foxolimbeckifed claims about the horrors of Obamacare. What I did was post links to impartial articles, among which was one discussing the fact that several red states have recently decided to sign on. And one linking to a just-released study by Kaiser-Permanente, about premium rates, which were, shall we say, at odds with claims made on that thread.

Here's how the original poster responded:
People like you Sid make me sick to my stomach. Socialized 
medicine is run by your Government and we the people don't 
want the government to run any part of our lives. You Liberals 
are so insecure that you have to have others making your 
decisions mainly because your not smart enough to and your 
too lazy to go out and make a life on your own. Go find some 
more lie's that your boyfriend Muslim brother digs up, this is 
what you morons feed on is lies. So go back to your Liberal 
News and get your daily food serving. You creep.!!!
And there, in a nutshell, is the reason I'm so depressed about the future of our country, and the democracy on which, at one time, it was based. (Side note: as seen somewhere else on Facebook: "You can teach people to hate, and you can teach people to spell. Evidently, you can't do both.")

There, in a nutshell, is the result of non-stop Foxolimbeckification. The end of discourse. The ingestion, without the benefit of digestion, of deliberate lies and disinformation, based entirely on the well-established certainty that the consumers of right-wing propaganda will take it in with unmitigated credulity.

Nor is it mysterious: clearly Foxolimbeckifed teabaggers like it that way. They prefer their hatred to information. They reject the hard work of addressing real issues with real commitment to finding solutions. Because that would require letting go of prejudice; because that would require mental effort; because that would require what the US is really about, and it's not zero-sum politics. Until recently, anyway.

So, what do you think represents a greater threat to the foundations on which this country is built, on the persistence of which it depends: someone willing to try to engage in conversation by providing facts on which to base it, or someone who responds like the above-quoted proud "conservative?"

And when will what's left of conservatism in the country demand better of their bedfellows?

[Image source]

Another Day, Another Right-Wing Lie


Yawn. And this one's so dumb, it's like they figure they don't even have to make an effort to get their believers to believe.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reason Vs Insanity



This is Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse responding, based on reality, to a speech by Republican Senator James Inhofe after the latter blocked, based on bogosity, a resolution stating that climate change is real.

One can hope that Mr Whitehouse's confidence in a future wherein the Senate will finally act on the problem is not misplaced; and that if it's not, the time will come before it's too late.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mything In Action



Here's an interesting article on the latest in scholarly evidence, or lack thereof, of the existence of Jesus. (A former friend, now evidently insane, used to claim, even before he went over the edge, that there was more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is of Julius Caesar. I think he read it in a book.) I'm an agnostic on the issue, but I do find it interesting.
... The arguments on both sides of this question—mythologized history or historicized mythology—fill volumes, and if anything the debate seems to be heating up rather than resolving. A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity. Since many people, both Christian and not, find it surprising that this debate even exists—that credible scholars might think Jesus never existed—here are some of the key points that keep the doubts alive: ...
The article goes on to list several factors which support the idea of mythologized history.

Well, trying to prove non-existence of Jesus is about like trying to prove the non-existence of god; so it's mostly a moot point. He's among, what, a few thousand godheads around this planet in whom billions believe but whose existence or lack of it, is exactly equally ephemeral. To me, it speaks of a deep human need -- which is undeniable -- to explain the inexplicable in mystical terms, and to hold them ever more tightly even as evidence mounts against those particular terms. Age of the earth. Evolution. Human physiology. Stuff like that.

I don't expect the race to survive long enough (mostly because of the ill effects of such beliefs) to evolve past the need. But it's an endless source of interest to me. How it is that, while observing billions of people believing just as strongly in different deities, people can maintain their own certitude in the exclusive rightness of theirs? Even more challenging is to observe how, among the christianist theocrats in this country, they manage to claim the superiority of the teachings of their faith while ignoring at least half of them. Especially the hard ones, the ones that require a little sacrifice for the greater good.

Those of differing faith, or no faith, so they claim, can't possibly have a moral compass, can't distinguish right from wrong.

Which is, in fact, as wrong as it can be.

One word.

Empathy.

Those that have it (which, sadly, includes very few in today's R party, especially the most "religious" among them) have all they need to walk goodly in the world. Paradoxically, that quality isn't lacking in any of the atheists I know or know of, but is undeniably absent in the most vocal right-wing paragons in this country, Christian leaders and politicians alike. And only to a more obvious and grisly degree in Muslim maniacs on the other side of the planet.

As I've said plenty of times around here, I understand and respect the need for belief in most people; and I know plenty of believers for whom their faith is a source of personal strength, and who see the value in keeping it that way. Personal. If all believers in this country were like them, though, I'd have nothing to rant about.

My guess is that Jesus didn't exist, or that if he did he was nothing like the person who began to appear, many decades post quasi-mortem, in various contradictory gospels. But it doesn't matter much, either way, any more than does the "reality" of Ganesh or Shiva or Odin. Belief is belief. But it's curious that so many people are so certain in their belief, absent real "proof" and in the face of such contradictory descriptions of his backstory and characteristics. Even more curious, though, is the spectacle of so many Americans demanding that this is a Christian nation, that we become a bible-based society, while behaving in the most unchristian, unbiblical, uncharitable and non-empathetic ways imaginable.

Humans! What amazing organisms we are.

[Image source]


Seer Of The Right



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Genealogy Of A Right-Wing Lie



There's so much I could say about the presumptions, about the coverage, about the reactions from left and right, the opportunism, regarding the killing of Michael Brown. Also, there's nothing I can say, because others have said it so much better than I ever could. (That link is a must-read, far as I'm concerned.)

But I do think the attempts to demonize the victim when the facts remain obscure (and might forever), are pretty pathetic. Horrifying, really. The following little episode is a perfect example of how the right wing scream machine operates in all sorts of situations. It produces a deliberate lie (Fox "news" is famous for its nearly countless dishonest video edits), confident that it'll be repeated in the echo chamber and that the gullible will believe it like they believe Fox is "fair and balanced" and that global warming is a hoax.

The cop who killed the victim was severely beaten by the victim before killing him; so much so that he suffered a fractured orbit (despite the fact that video shows him calmly remaining at the scene and talking to other cops). Except that the whole thing was a shameless lie by a famous right-wing blogger, whose conspiracy theories always get play comparable to the second coming:
Not only has Jim Hoft’s story been shown to be false by CNN, we now know he deliberately misled his readers into thinking this was a CT scan of officer Darren Wilson by altering the image.
Jim Hoft is busted. Exposed as a fraudster. He should apologize and retract this post, but I know he won’t — because that’s not how the Dumbest (and Most Dishonest) Man on the Internet rolls.
If you haven't heard the details, go to the link. It shows how the images that made their way to Fox "news" and which were touted by no less a right-wing icon and arbiter of all that is true as Ann Coulter, were intentionally, brazenly, confidently falsified.

Once again, we see how readily the consumers of right-wing media are gratefully and eagerly misled and misinformed by their preferred sources. They like it that way. They must; because the evidence of the falsehood-feeding is everywhere.

(And, with perfect timing after I wrote the above, there's this.)

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Horror...



When The Truth Spins Out...



For those who claim today's R party, in the thrall of teabaggers, isn't racist. Sometimes, without meaning to, politicians tell the truth.
Had he said simply that he was opposed to Obama, his racism might be just on him. But, maybe by an act of a fed-up god, he decided to reveal the obvious: today's Republican party is playing to the lowest common denominator of the wrongest of the right wing. (And, yeah: he didn't intend to offend anyone.)

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Take You Your Tired Your Poor



And now, your dead.

"There are many youngsters who only three days after they've been deported are killed, shot by a firearm," said Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in San Pedro Sula. "They return just to die."
At least five, perhaps as many as 10, of the 42 children slain here since February had been recently deported from the U.S., Hernandez said.

To R leaders, the kids at our border were liars and thieves. A threat to us all. Their claims of refugee status were lies.

Our country has lost its soul. Or, more properly stated, has had it stolen by teabaggers and those who manipulate them to their soulless ends.

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Let Us Count The Ways...



The ways in which teabaggers are being manipulated by the billionaire string-pulling deceivers behind the "movement" are legion. Most importantly they've been convinced (astonishingly easily) that all their needs will be met by cutting government, eliminating help for the needy, keeping wages low, and, most importantly, by handing government money to the very wealthy and to the biggest corporations. Why they believe that, against all the evidence of what happens under Republican control, is unimaginable; except to say that it's testament to the connection between selfishness, religious fanaticism, and gullibility. And to the tendency of the human brain of the conservative variety that's dominant today, to revert to scapegoating and denialism in the face of tough problems.

That much we all know, and agree upon, right?

But the above graphs, from here, are pretty breathtaking: in addition to the indirect ripping off they're suffering, by way of legislative malfeasance, teabaggers' money is being literally stolen from them by the most prominent of Tea Party fund-raisers and PACs. And -- surprise, surprise, surprise -- Sarah Palin about the worst thief of all.

Plenty of time has passed since the first seeds of astroturf were sewn. Clearly, the target audience (let's call them what they are: suckers) either understand and like being manipulated, or are too dumb to notice, or are happy enough with their anger and misinformation that curiosity doesn't enter into it at all. From conversations I've had, in person and online, I think it's door #3.


Monday, August 18, 2014

I'll Never Understand


What is their deal? Really. Do they actually believe that those things they want to cut are harming the economy in some way? If so, doesn't their continual aggregation of wealth belie that? The disconnect is beyond my understanding.

But much further beyond ken is the fact that so many of the very people most at risk, were the K brothers to get their way, line up behind them like marching elephants. Teabaggers, led around by their noses, funded by those guys, convinced that they have something to gain by losing everything.

It's gotta be some kind of mind control. Except, where are the minds?