Daily Archive: 08/23/2012

Aug 23 2012

“And call that good which, right or wrong, will tend to make his order strong.”

Why We Don’t Spend As Much Time Denouncing Republicans As We Do Democrats

Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report

Wed, 08/22/2012

We know who and what the Republican party is.



In today’s political ecology, the job of Republicans is to provide political camouflage to right wing Democrats like the last two Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama, by moving still further rightward, even past the boundaries of lunacy.



The fact is that 120% evil Republicans offer the only justification for our support of 100% evil Democrats. And with the dissolution of what used to be the black consensus for equality, civil liberties, full funding for public education, and opposing war spending and corporate privilege, Obama-era Democrats continue to flee rightward toward war, privatization and austerity.

This deformed puzzle is not the political logic of free and responsible people. It’s the cramped and twisted reasoning of someone trapped in a box urgently trying to convince himself that it’s not really a box, that pragmatic acceptance of the box as the whole of the great and free universe is really all that can be hoped, struggled and strived for. It’s not. Only a beaten, cowed and enslaved people can imagine their forbears sacrificed and struggled for them to choose among greater and lesser, but both still monstrous evils.

We at Black Agenda Report spend more time denouncing Democrats because they act like and enable Republicans. We don’t spend as much time denouncing the party of white supremacy because Republicans rarely bother to pretend to be anything else.



That’s what choosing “lesser evils” has earned us. It’s time to chuck the fake choice between evil Republicans and slightly less evil Democrats. It’s time not just to think, but to climb outside the two-party, lesser-evil box, to breathe the free air and get ready for something new.

“Oh for a pen of living fire.  A tongue of flame.  An arm of steel.

To rouse the people’s slumbering ire, and teach the tyrant’s heart to feel.”


Whitfield, James M.How Long.

Aug 23 2012

“Bashing Democrats”

On numerous of occasions I have been accused of “bashing Democrats,” “hating Obama,” as well as, some outrageously, vile charges that won’t be repeated here. The accusations have been in response to criticism of President Barack Obama’s policies which have been not just disappointing for a Democratic administration but, in some instances, worse than any neo-con Republican. It’s baffling that the Republican party is bothering to oppose his reelection, he’s done most everything they would have done short of starting another war unless one considers the expansion of the “war on terror” to Yemen and Africa. My guess would be that the Republicans are jealous that Obama isn’t a member of the GOP.

I was asked the other day by my former precinct captain why I don’t criticize Republicans. My answer was that I do. It’s just that today they are called Democrats. On that note, I give you the Black Agenda Report‘s managing editor, Bruce Dixon, who says it quite succinctly:

[..] The fact is that 120% evil Republicans offer the only justification for our support of 100% evil Democrats. And with the dissolution of what used to be the black consensus for equality, civil liberties, full funding for public education, and opposing war spending and corporate privilege, Obama-era Democrats continue to flee rightward toward war, privatization and austerity.

This deformed puzzle is not the political logic of free and responsible people. It’s the cramped and twisted reasoning of someone trapped in a box urgently trying to convince himself that it’s not really a box, that pragmatic acceptance of the box as the whole of the great and free universe is really all that can be hoped, struggled and strived for. It’s not. Only a beaten, cowed and enslaved people can imagine their forbears sacrificed and struggled for them to choose among greater and lesser, but both still monstrous evils.

We at Black Agenda Report spend more time denouncing Democrats because they act like and enable Republicans. We don’t spend as much time denouncing the party of white supremacy because Republicans rarely bother to pretend to be anything else. African Americans haven’t voted Republican in 50 years. But we’re more unemployed than we’ve been in seventy years, and more imprisoned than we’ve ever been.

That’s what choosing “lesser evils” has earned us. It’s time to chuck the fake choice between evil Republicans and slightly less evil Democrats. It’s time not just to think, but to climb outside the two-party, lesser-evil box, to breathe the free air and get ready for something new.

What Bruce said applies to all Americans regardless of race, gender, religion or national origin.

Actor and activist, John Cusack, in his conversation with Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley, questions where are the “lines” that the “progressive left” will not cross and what it means in terms of voting for Obama.

Now that the Republican primary circus is over, I started to think about what it would mean to vote for Obama…

Since mostly we hear from the daily hypocrisies of Mitt and friends, I thought we should examine “our guy” on a few issues with a bit more scrutiny than we hear from the “progressive left”, which seems to be little or none at all.

Instead of scrutiny, the usual arguments in favor of another Obama presidency are made: We must stop fanatics;-he’s the last line of defense from the corporate barbarians-and of course the Supreme Court. It all makes a terrible kind of sense and I agree completely with Garry Wills who described the Republican primaries as ” a revolting combination of con men and fanatics…the current primary race has become a demonstration that the Republican party does not deserve serious consideration for public office.”

True enough.

But yet…

… there are certain Rubicon lines, as constitutional law professor Jon Turley calls them, that Obama has crossed.

All political questions are not equal no matter how much you pivot. When people die or lose their physical freedom to feed certain economic sectors or ideologies, it becomes a zero sum game for me.

This is not an exercise in bemoaning regrettable policy choices or cheering favorable ones but to ask fundamentally: Who are we? What are we voting for? And what does it mean? [..]

The entire transcript of the conversation was posted in this article by poligirl. It’s quite long but quite thought provoking assessment of Barack Obama’s presidency and how many of our principles of law and the constitution the “progressive left” has compromised and abandoned supporting him.

The line for me was Obama’s vote, as Senator, to renew FISA with all its unconstitutional provisions, after saying that he would filibuster if it were not fixed. I knew then that the “we’ll fix it later” line was the grand lie to a tired, desperate electorate that was in need of relief from years of war and economic stress.

Along with Bruce Dixon, John Cusack, Jonathan Turley and others, I will continue to criticize Democrats for pushing a right wing agenda. I’m still not ready to make nice.

Aug 23 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Gail Collins: The Sexual Spirit of ’76

In colonial America, conventional wisdom held that women could not get pregnant unless they enjoyed the sex.

People, who would have thought I’d have an opportunity to bring up this factoid right in the middle of a presidential race? Thank you, Representative Todd Akin of Missouri! Without you, we might have been condemned to spend today reinvestigating the Congressional Budget Office Medicare cost projections. [..]

Politicians who say they oppose all abortions are making perfect sense, except for the part where they try to impose their doctrinal beliefs on the vast majority of the country, which does not share that particular religious conviction. It’s the abortion-except-for-rape-and-incest position that doesn’t compute. Rape victims, yes, but not a 14-year-old who was impregnated by her 15-year-old boyfriend? The impoverished mother of six kids whose birth control method failed? There’s no way to set the worthy-of-compassion bar unless you trust women to set it for themselves.

Maybe Akin’s real sin is that he exposed the phoniness of the rape-and-incest exception, which is just an attempt to make radical extremism look moderate. That and the theory of the delighted womb.

Paul Krugman: A (Not So) Serious, (Not So) Honest Running Mate

Paul Ryan for vice president, or as Mitt Romney said at the press conference introducing Mr. Ryan as his running mate, “the next president of the United States.”

There is lots of horse-race speculation: It’s a disaster! No, it changes the conversation away from Bain and those missing tax returns! I have no idea who’s right.

What I do know is that anyone who believes in Mr. Ryan’s carefully cultivated image as a brave, honest policy wonk has been snookered. Mr. Ryan is, in fact, a big fraud who doesn’t care at all about fiscal responsibility, and whose policy proposals are sloppy as well as dishonest. Of course, this means that he’ll fit into the Romney campaign just fine.

As I said, I have no idea how this will play politically. But it does look like a move from weakness, rather than from strength; Romney obviously felt he needed a V.P. who will get people to stop talking about him.

Dean Baker: Land of the fee: The $1.2 trillion health care tax

An inefficient health care system is costing $1.2 trillion, but many economists want to fix the budget by slashing it.

Economists tend not to be very good at economics, which is one of the main reasons that the world is facing such a prolonged downturn. Few economists were able to recognise the enormous imbalances created by housing bubbles in the United States and elsewhere, or to understand that the collapse of these bubbles would lead to a prolonged period of stagnation in the absence of a vigorous response by governments.

Economists’ grasp of economics has not improved since the start of the downturn. There is little agreement within the profession on the appropriate way to bring the economy back to its potential level of output. Nor is there even agreement as to whether this is possible.

Instead, many economists are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, yelling that we have to do something about budget deficits. This concern is bizarre since it is easy to show that the current deficit in the United States is almost entirely due to the collapse of the housing bubble. The loss of revenue from this collapse, coupled with the measures taken to offset the impact of the downturn, explain almost all of the rise in the deficit since 2007, when it was just 1.2 per cent of GDP.

Robert Reich: The Fanatical GOP

We’re witnessing the capture by fanatics of what was once a great and important American political party.

The Republican Party platform committee now includes a provision calling for a constitutional amendment banning all abortions, without an exception for rape or incest. This is basically Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s position. (At least the GOP platform doesn’t assert that women’s bodies automatically reject “legitimate” rapists’ sperm.)

Paul Ryan, Romney’s selection for vice president, has co-sponsored 38 anti-abortion measures while in the House of Representatives, including several containing no exception for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

But the GOP’s fanaticism goes far beyond the its growing absolutism about abortion.

Dennis Kucinich: Tilling the Ground for the Seeds of Terrorism

After more than 10 years of war against al Qaeda and the accompanying global “war on terrorism,” we have failed to learn that our actions create reactions. Our presence creates destabilization, then radicalization. Occupations create insurgencies. In Afghanistan, we have fueled the very insurgency we struggle to fight. [..]

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria — al Qaeda surfs instability created or supported by U.S. interventions. Al Qaeda is ready to exploit resentment toward the U.S. while capitalizing on the openings created by U.S. interventionism. As a result our U.S. tax dollars are being used to fuel the rise of extremism.

Have we learned nothing from the Soviet Union’s demise as a result of its adventure in Afghanistan? Will we continue to spend tax dollars to create even more U.S. enemies which will then be used to justify the expenditure of more U.S. tax dollars, thus setting the stage for an accelerated downward spiral for our economy and our own decline as a great power?

Shane Hayden; Giving In to the Surveillance State

IN March 2002, John M. Poindexter, a former national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, sat down with Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the National Security Agency. Mr. Poindexter sketched out a new Pentagon program called Total Information Awareness,, that proposed to scan the world’s electronic information – including phone calls, e-mails and financial and travel records – looking for transactions associated with terrorist plots. The N.S.A., the government’s chief eavesdropper, routinely collected and analyzed such signals, so Mr. Poindexter thought the agency was an obvious place to test his ideas.

He never had much of a chance. When T.I.A.’s existence became public, it was denounced as the height of post-9/11 excess and ridiculed for its creepy name. Mr. Poindexter’s notorious role in the Iran-contra affair became a central focus of the debate. He resigned from government, and T.I.A. was dismantled in 2003.

But what Mr. Poindexter didn’t know was that the N.S.A. was already pursuing its own version of the program, and on a scale that he had only imagined. A decade later, the legacy of T.I.A. is quietly thriving at the N.S.A. It is more pervasive than most people think, and it operates with little accountability or restraint.

Aug 23 2012

When the Next Crash Comes Remember Which Side You Were On and Learn

Cross posted at our new beta site Voices on the Square and The Stars Hollow Gazette

Yes, another crash is coming. I can’t predict precisely when as that would be a fool’s errand, but much closer than you think. It will probably be after our President is reelected and will care very little what you or I think once he and his treasury push for criminal TBTF banks to bailed out once again. Doctor Doom: the nickname for economist Nouriel Roubini: one of the relatively few outside the mainstream(part of the Got It Right (pdf) project) who predicted the last crash thinks 2013 is a perfect storm for another one which will be even worse and it makes sense.

Despite on theoretical fiscal policy limits with regard to the US, Roubini is absolutely right on the political deadlock with the coming crisis. We wasted our last crisis and that’s something Conservatives have not done whether we’re talking about the stagflation crisis of the 70s or 9/11. There won’t be as many political options this time to prop up the underlying economy in 2013 because Democrats have failed to change the Senate rules because most of them secretly like the way things work or don’t work in Washington. Sadly, if Republicans take over both houses again, they will change the Senate rules as they threatening to do in 2005 and 2006.

Anyway some might still want to scoff at Roubini’s prediction, but that will come back to bite them in the ass. Not even Roubini can predict the exact moment it will happen, but if one knows anything about the history of financial crashes, since the 80s when the 1933 banking reforms passed by FDR started slowly being dismantled, they started happening once again in a 5-7 year time-frame(and even closer than that if you count global stock crashes which count now more than ever since our markets turned dark with OTC derivatives and Information Asymmetry all around); some worse than others as the 2008 bust was on par with 1929 but you get the idea.

Aug 23 2012

On This Day In History August 23

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 23 is the 235th day of the year (236th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 130 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1902, pioneering cookbook author Fannie Farmer, who changed the way Americans prepare food by advocating the use of standardized measurements in recipes, opens Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery in Boston. In addition to teaching women about cooking, Farmer later educated medical professionals about the importance of proper nutrition for the sick.

Farmer was born March 23, 1857, and raised near Boston, Massachusetts. Her family believed in education for women and Farmer attended Medford High School; however, as a teenager she suffered a paralytic stroke that turned her into a homebound invalid for a period of years. As a result, she was unable to complete high school or attend college and her illness left her with a permanent limp. When she was in her early 30s, Farmer attended the Boston Cooking School. Founded in 1879, the school promoted a scientific approach to food preparation and trained women to become cooking teachers at a time when their employment opportunities were limited. Farmer graduated from the program in 1889 and in 1891 became the school’s principal. In 1896, she published her first cookbook, The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which included a wide range of straightforward recipes along with information on cooking and sanitation techniques, household management and nutrition. Farmer’s book became a bestseller and revolutionized American cooking through its use of precise measurements, a novel culinary concept at the time.

Cookbook fame

Fannie published her most well-known work, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, in 1896. Her cookbook introduced the concept of using standardized measuring spoons and cups, as well as level measurement. A follow-up to an earlier version called Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book, published by Mary J. Lincoln in 1884, the book under Farmer’s direction eventually contained 1,849 recipes, from milk toast to Zigaras à la Russe. Farmer also included essays on housekeeping, cleaning, canning and drying fruits and vegetables, and nutritional information.

The book’s publisher (Little, Brown & Company) did not predict good sales and limited the first edition to 3,000 copies, published at the author’s expense. The book was so popular in America, so thorough, and so comprehensive that cooks would refer to later editions simply as the “Fannie Farmer cookbook”, and it is still available in print over 100 years later.

Farmer provided scientific explanations of the chemical processes that occur in food during cooking, and also helped to standardize the system of measurements used in cooking in the USA. Before the Cookbook’s publication, other American recipes frequently called for amounts such as “a piece of butter the size of an egg” or “a teacup of milk.” Farmer’s systematic discussion of measurement – “A cupful is measured level … A tablespoonful is measured level. A teaspoonful is measured level.” – led to her being named “the mother of level measurements.”

I still have my copy.

Aug 23 2012

Allergic to Courtrooms

Matt Taibbi, Eliot Spitzer Discuss Eric Holder’s Failure

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

POSTED: August 22, 11:40 AM ET

A good prosecutor should look down the barrel of a bunch of millionaire lawyers at Davis Polk or White and Case and feel turned on by the challenge of combat. Making a deal with any devil should burn him at the core, keep him awake at night.

But that’s exactly who Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer haven’t been, exactly who Bob Khuzami at the SEC hasn’t been. Instead of being fighters, they’ve been dealmakers and plea-bargainers. They’ve dealt out every major financial scandal, from Abacus to the Muni-bid-rigging cases (they prosecuted a few low-level guys at GE but let the big players at the big banks skate) to the Citigroup fraud settlement that was so bad a judge threw it back at the govenment’s face. In that latter case, amazingly, the govenment is now fighting not for its constituents, but for its right to give out crappy deals to repeat-offender banks without judicial review.

Aug 23 2012

My Little Town 20120822: Dad and The Lawn

I took a week off from blogging last week for a number of reasons.  One was that I was having trouble getting my mind around topics.  Another was being in sort of a strange set of moods that have made concentration rather difficult.  Yet again, and probably the root cause of the other two is either spending large amounts of time with someone (no time to write) or no time at all (no motivation to write).  In any event, I think that I have some balance back.

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Dad was sort of obsessive about the lawn.  We had a big yard, the front being the largest and the back second, with the sides being somewhat smaller but still large by most standards.  The problem was that we had lots of large trees.  In the front were two post oaks, a hackberry (that was hollow at the bottom), a mockernut hickory (one with really sweet nuts, unlike many mockernuts), and a papershell pecan.

The side on the south had a walnut tree that I planted, and the back had two large walnut trees.  The side on the north had a very tall pine and a redbud tree.  All of that shade made it sort of hard to grow grass.

Aug 23 2012

No Dancing IV

I think it’s the tempo and not the lyrics.  This one is just as morbid and dark, but was and is a great hit with the techno crowd (not that there are many of them).

Fly on the Windscreen