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      As many have heard, John Tory, the mainstream right wing candidate, won convincingly in Toronto and Olivia Chow came in third place, even doing worse than Doug Ford (brother of the famous crack-smoking Rob Ford.)  Much hand wringing has ensued that progressive just can’t win elections in Toronto. While it’s true that Toronto is hard [...]
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I see your problem

Over at No More Mister Nice Blog, the author comments on just how livid Democrats would be if Joe Lieberman was nominated to replace Janet Napolitano at the Department of Fatherland Homeland Security:

And though it’s a small step in the scale of things, it could also be the final straw, the act that finishes the job of alienating the liberal base that worked to elect Barack Obama twice.

Um, just out of curiosity, what was it the so-called “liberal base” saw in Obama in the first place that led them to believe he was one of them?  It’s like putting the first piece of a complicated piece of Ikea furniture together incorrectly and then, halfway through, looking at a badly constructed sideboard and a pile of wooden pegs and cam screws. (No particular reason for this metaphor, why do you ask?) Nothing fits and you have to take it all apart and start over.  It’s frustrating and maddening.  Obama didn’t fit from the very beginning.  But I suspect that only people who actually understood what “liberal” means realized that.

*****************************

In other news, my basement walls are exposed after demolition of the damaged and mildewed paneling.  As expected, the previous construction was shoddy and the walls uninsulated.  Now that the concrete block is exposed, I get to spend the weekend cleaning, waterproofing and sealing the suckers up so the room can be rebuilt and finished next week.

It’s a lot more fun than I make it sound.  Really, it’s a field day.  I can’t think of anything I like more.  In fact, I would be completely selfish to keep all this DryLocking pleasure to myself, so if you’re in the Pittsburgh area, by all means, bring your nappy roller and masonry brush and join the fun!  No, no, don’t thank me.  It’s the least I can do.

******************************

And here’s a picture of my local mall:

IMG_2014

If you are a fan of horror movies, you might recognize this place as the location of one of George Romero’s zombie movies.  Yes, this is THAT mall.  Well, it’s been 40 odd years since the zombies moved to Pittsburgh and at first there was a lot of local prejudice.  It was hard to make friends with them, they seemed to have their own night culture and, ok, they smelled.  But gradually, over time, they started to assimilate.  There were a few human-zombie romances that ended tragically but teenagers are all about melodrama, am I right? These days, it’s not unusual to see glassy eyed couples together.  And while brains cuisine kind of didn’t catch on, zombies have gotten used to putting french fries on their sandwiches.  It’s like they’ve always been here.

 

Cynically Sussing the Paul Ryan Choice for Romney

“Braaaaains”

On the surface, Romney’s choice of zombie eyed granny starver Paul Ryan as his VP running mate shouldn’t make any sense.  This is the guy who is determined that everyone who isn’t wealthy or well-connected take a severe haircut in services, that we pay for, by the way, so that the wealthy and well-connected never have to pay us back for all the money we let them have in the past 30 years.  If Romney was up against the *old* Democratic party, it would be a piece of cake to shoot this down.

But the fact that Romney even made this choice in the first place indicates something entirely different.  For one thing, the Republicans have been saving their ammunition, and they must have a ton of it, while Obama has been burning through campaign money like a wildfire trying to cripple Romney and he hasn’t gotten much traction.  Obama even threw the tax return issue out there, probably because he felt he had to.  Romney can stonewall that from now until doomsday but the best time to have brought it up would have been just before the election.  What do the Democrats have left?

There must be an advantage to Romney picking Ryan or he wouldn’t have done it. Republicans play to win. I’m going to guess that the deficit hawkery is really important to the GOP to ensure its wealthy base pays nothing in taxes.  But it doesn’t want to necessarily kill the donor as long as there are still organs to harvest.  You don’t want full scale insurrection on your hands. So, choosing Ryan might have been a safer choice. Let’s try to reason this out:

1.) By getting Ryan out of the House, the pressure is off the GOP to actually go through with any severely drastic cut his plan would have provoked the Tea Party lunatics to demand.  The Tea Party won’t be happy until no one gets anything they PREPAID.  It’s a power thing, not a rational objective.  They’ll push the envelope because they can, not because it’s wise or good for the party.  But with Ryan out of their hair, the GOP leadership can claim they now have a power vacuum and who is going to take his place for pushing and whipping like he did?  They will look in vain for a replacement but all of the up-and-comers will fall short of Ryan’s brilliant political skills.  Maybe they won’t be able to get all the way through Atlas Shrugged or they have a nugget of compassion that hasn’t been bred out of them.  Who knows, but for some reason, they’ll be more self-effacing and compliant than Ryan.

2.) By getting Ryan in the VP spot for the election season, the GOP has a twofer: It can run on the deficit issue, which means that it will be all deficits, all the time on TV and in the papers from now until November, AND it can deep six Ryan in the VP position after the election where we will never hear from him again.  The VP spot is where politicians go to die, er, not literally but functionally.  Think about it, how many VPs have gone on to become president after running a successful campaign instead of after some catastrophic event?  I can only think of one in the recent past- George Bush Sr.  So, what Ryan stands for is important to the GOP message machine, but Paul Ryan himself is not so important or they would have left him where he was.

3.) It will force the Democrats to either out deficit hawk the Republicans, driving the election season narrative to the right, or it will give Democrats an opening to defend the American people from additional demands for sacrifice and economy killing cuts in government spending.  Ehhhh, I’m going to guess that the GOP knows Obama really well and anticipates that he will continue to go right.  It’s what he was hired to do.  The bankers want him to get rid of all entitlements so they won’t feel obligated (do they even have feelings of obligation and responsibility?) to discipline themselves and not gorge on more than they can swallow.  If Obama hadn’t come down so hard on the Occupy movement on the bankers’ behalf, he might have something to hide behind- a moral message about how wrong it is to hurt the 99% of us who work hard and play by the rules.  But he did and now he can’t.

All in all, I’d say this was a win for the GOP.  They know their message and propaganda machine is more than adequate to skew the Democrats’ counterpunch in their direction.  Obama has done a lousy job and he can’t run on the things that are really important to the 99%.  If unemployment were not an issue, the deficit problem wouldn’t be a problem, would it?  If more of us were back at work, we wouldn’t be collecting unemployment benefits, we’d be paying our taxes.  But because unemployment was NOT the focus of Obama’s four years in office, he’s not only allowed the little Depression to impoverish people, he’s added to the deficit because revenue has fallen off. Sure, running up a big deficit during a recession/depression is not a bad thing, but you’ve got to have a plan to replace the money you spent someday while jump starting an economic recovery and this is not an argument that Obama has chosen to make.

Krugman, Stiglitz, Romer, and some other economists have tried to convince him to do it in order to put people back to work, but he only wanted to listen to his banker friends and now he’s stuck.  In order to turn this around, he’s got to grow a unibrow and become a FDR style Democrat on steroids.  Cewl, swave and deboner will not cut it, especially when there’s more desperation than commitment behind the nasal stopped Chicago accented delivery.  He had four years, two of them with his party in majority in BOTH houses of Congress, and he wasted them, falling right into the trap the GOP laid and the rest of us anticipated. Republicans wanted to make life so difficult that the only way to make it better would be to apply New Deal strategies, which they would try to oppose.  A skillful politician would have gone bold and big.  Alas, we got Obama.

For a guy who has so many political gifts {{cough, cough}} and plays a mean game of 11-dimensional chess, he should have seen it coming.

************************************

One other thing that should be glaringly obvious: the *presumptive* lineup for both parties will contain…

four men

You know, this is the 21st century and it’s almost like the 20th never even happened when it comes to women.  All of the other countries in the world are at least struggling with their females in government problem.  Here, we act like there is no problem.

Even Pakistan has had a female head of state.  Pakistan.  But here?  Not even on the radar.

I’ve always wondered why women stay in abusive religions where they’re not considered the equal of men.  What’s in it for them?  And why don’t women ask that question of their parties?

Just curious.

************************************

And here’s a blast from the past.  This goes out to Paul Ryan and his buds:

This caught my eye…

I’m a bit busy in Philly today.  Will probably be here for another hour.  Eyes are burning but in spite of the pain, this weird New York Times article caught one of them.  Take a look and see if it looks “off” to you too.  It’s about a hair braider in Utah who can’t practice because she doesn’t have a license in cosmetology and doesn’t want to spend $16,000 to get one.  Here’s the money quote:

This isn’t just a random Utah law. There are more than 1,000 licensed professions in the United States, partly a result of more than a century of legal work. As the country industrialized, state governments wanted to protect their citizens and create standards not just for lawyers and doctors but also for basic services. It didn’t take long for professional groups to find that they also stood to benefit from the regulations. Over the years, more and more started to lobby for licensing rules, often grand­fathering in existing professionals while putting up high barriers to new competitors. In fact, businesses contorting regulation to their own benefit is so common that economists have a special name for it: regulatory capture. “Everyone assumes that private interests fight like crazy not to be regulated,” says Charles Wheelan, who teaches public policy at the University of Chicago. “But often, for businesses, regulation is your friend.”

What?  Do you ever get the feeling that our feudal overlords will just not be satisfied until there are no labor or professional protections standing between them and us??

Up until now, we political junkies have always thought of regulatory capture as something really big an powerful financial institutions do to the agencies that regulate them, like making sure someone friendly to you gets to run one or making sure that YOU can pick the agency that regulates you or throwing out a potential offer of employment down the road (kinda sorta).  We really haven’t seen it apply to little people.  And, I’m sorry, I understand that all this woman does is braid hair but all that some manicurists do is paint nails and they have to get a license so that we know they are trained in safety and hygiene standards.  It’s not too much to ask.  If you don’t want to go through all of the training and licensing, don’t advertise to the world.

When I read this this morning, I immediately flashed back to a couple of years ago when the NYTimes was featuring long term unemployed people but only the brassy blonde, grossly overweight women asleep at their monitors or living in a seedy motel rooms were ever pictured.  It’s almost like the Times *wanted* us to be unsympathetic.  This article feels like a sleight of hand, making the generall public feel like they are the potential victims of regulatory capture if they want to start their own businesses.  Oh, sure, it seems like an unfair inconvenience now until someone gets hurt because they stuck their hands in a warm tubful of infectious cuticle softener or have their kitchens ruined by a plumber who didn’t know how to compress a fitting.  There is a reason for regulation.  Maybe we need to evaluate, update and streamline them but small business people shouldn’t be put on the same level as big financials.  It sounds like another death tax meme.

I don’t like it when the media starts making the news, or making news up, instead of just reporting it.  The NYTimes has been guilty of so much misdirection in the past couple of decades and never held accountable. Who are they taking orders from?  It’s getting to be embarrassing.

I only read if for the Krugman.

**********************

Poll of the day:

Brooke asked me this last night.  According to her logic, I got it wrong.

The Nineties as viewed through the CDS looking-glass

Bill? Is that you?


From the comments over at Ian Welsh’s blog:


We paid for that “prosperity” later …

The “clinton” economy benefited from the initial stimulus of cheap goods imported into the US from the free trade agreements… the exported jobs would take more time, the explosion of consumer credit, greenspan’s irresponsibility in nourishing a huge stock market bubble, and wall street being set lose in a major way on the world’s markets. Workers fell further behind during those wonderful clinton years in wage inequality …. even behind what they were during the republican dominated 80s.

“Both the average wages for non-supervisory workers and the earnings of those in the lowest 10 percent of wage earners,” notes Robert Pollin, “not only remained well below those of the Nixon/Ford and Carter administrations, but were actually lower than that even than those of the Reagan/Bush years. Moreover, wage inequality — as measured by the ratio of the 90th to the 10th wage decile — increased sharply during Clinton’s tenure in office, even relative to the Republican heyday of the 1980s.”

http://dissidentvoice.org/Sept05/Street0929.htm

Yeah, clinton did a great job with his secretary of treasury deregulating everything in sight, carrying out polices that led to hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi children, passing welfare reform, increasing the H1-B visa limits, relaxing the limits on media ownership, preventing college students with marijuana possession convictions from getting federal financial aid, and passing The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which helped lead to this wonderful growing police state we live in and increased the amount of inmates by 50% during his reign.

The delusory “healthy” clinton economy was the results of easy credit, the technology boom, the initial benefits of cheap goods from the free trade agreements that he couldn’t do enough of, his abhorrent secretary of treasury, rubin, talking greenspan into exploding the money supply to reflect the “productivity miracle”, and the consequent stock market bubble. In the end, we all saw how real that was when many highly capitalized dotcom companies never developed viable business models and went bankrupt with wall street walking away rich. It was mainly based on bullshit and it started to fall apart even before the abominable bush came into office. And, also, that initial wave of corruption that finally surfaced from enron and worldcom and the like in 2002 or 2003 … that didn’t start the moment bush came into office, it started when clinton was president. It obviously got a lot worse under the worst president in our nation’s history, but the economy did not just start to fall apart in January 2001.



Here’s another
:


And the children in Iraq who were being slowly starved to death, or having cruise missiles lobbed at them might disagree as to the whole peacefulness of Clinton.

Clinton embellished his foreign policy with “humanitarian” aims and ideals, but in Iraq and beyond, he displayed the customary indifference of US presidents to human rights and the suffering of innocents. On his watch, military aid to Turkey, engaged in a scorched earth campaign against its Kurdish minority, and to Colombia, conducting a dirty war against left-wing insurgents, skyrocketed. The embargo on Cuba was tightened. Global efforts to block the militarisation of space were derailed while a stringent, self-serving neo-liberal economic regime was promoted through NAFTA and the WTO. Hundreds of thousands perished in Rwanda without Clinton lifting a finger, but he found time to bomb a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that his officials falsely alleged was producing chemical weapons.


Wow. It’s a miracle the nation survived.
/snarkfont

What’s really weird is these lefty purity trolls HATE Bill and Hillary more than than they dislike Reagan, Bush, Bush II or Bush III.

I don’t know what they’re smoking but I don’t want any of it.


Run for your lives! Here comes peace and prosperity!

 



Is this WTF week?


Sombody said I seem angry lately. You think so? I wonder what gave them that impression.

Greg Sargent is buns up and kneeling:

What if the Dem base’s lack of enthusiasm is rooted in the fact that Dems aren’t even aware of how much Congress has accomplished in the last two years?

A new poll from Pew and National Journal contains a really striking finding: Only one third of Democrats think this Congress has achieved more than other recent Congresses. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Dems think it has accomplished the same or less.

[...]

Yet despite passing an enormous stimulus that many credit with rescuing us from disaster, passing health reform after a half century of failure, rescuing the auto industry, and successfully completing the biggest overhaul of Wall Street regulations since the Great Depresssion, only one third of Democrats think this Congress has achieved more than other recent ones.

Maybe this speaks to an enormous Dem failure to communicate their successes. Or maybe it’s another sign of how bloated expectations were amid the euphoria of Obama’s win. Or perhaps the sense of just how monumental our problems are — and the fact that Dems secured such large Congressional majorities — led rank and file Dems to expect truly historic, paradigm shifting levels of leadership.

Or maybe it’s because 60 percent of rank and file Democrats DON’T DRINK KOOL-AID!

(But that’s probably because they’re bitter, clingy racists, right Greg?)

Steve Benen assumes the position:

I don’t expect the public to have an extensive knowledge of federal policymaking history, but I at least hoped Americans would realize the scope of recent accomplishments. We are, after all, talking about a two-year span in which Congress passed and the president signed the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, etc. Policymakers might yet add to this list in the lame-duck session.


Uh, Steve? Didja ever consider that maybe we DO KNOW what Obama and the DINOcrats have been up to, but WE’RE NOT FUCKING HAPPY about it?

Here’s Glenzilla with an example of what I’m talking about:

As I’ve noted before, the column of mine which produced the greatest level of hate mail and anger in the last year — both in terms of intensity and quantity — was this one from August, 2009, when I compiled the evidence strongly suggesting that the White House, despite Obama’s multiple statements to the contrary, had secretly bargained away the public option with corporate interests early in the negotiation process and therefore did not intend to push for its inclusion in the final bill. That produced so much anger because it contradicted the central Democratic orthodoxy at the time that Obama — as he claimed in public — was trying as hard as he could to have a public option in the health care bill, but . . . gosh darn it, he was unfortunately stymied by his inability to get 60 votes for it, despite his best efforts (the fact that the health care bill ultimately passed via reconciliation, whereby the public option would have needed only 50 votes, was a separate issue).


Gee, What’s not to love about that, Steve?

But wait, there’s more! Jonathon Chait at the New Republic:

Depressed Democrats Losing Touch With Reality

Every time a Democratic leader tells the base to stop whining and wake up to the fact that this is the most successful period of liberal governance in more than four decades, liberals just get more petulant.


Jeebus! Whose side are these fuckwads on, anyway?

Serenity now! SERENITY NOW!

Senorita! Mas cerveza y tequila aqui, por favor!


Monday Midday: Zombietime News and Views

This is how I feel this morning

Hello Conflucians!! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’ve been sitting here staring off into space like a zombie since I woke up at 7AM Eastern time. The only time I’ve gotten up was to make a cup of tea and go to the bathroom. I guess it’s the end-of-the-semester syndrome–nearly compete emotional, physical, and spiritual burnout.

Here are a few interesting stories for you to discuss when you finish reacting to myiq’s post–maybe seeing that headline about Obama’s grade for his first year that bumped me into zombieland. B+?! What is that guy on? We’re in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, real unemployment is around 20%, the banksters are being bolstered by Obama’s free hand with the U.S. Treasury, health care reform is dead for at least another decade, and Congress is pushing for cuts in Social Security and Medicare. In my gradebook, that would be grounds for an F.

Anyway…where was I? Oh yeah. Headlines…..


Developing nations walked out of the Copenhagen climate talks this morning:

A little more here

THE Copenhagen climate summit is in chaos after poor countries walked out of negotiations en masse today.

The G77, a group which represents 130 developing countries, walked out because it is concerned the existing Kyoto protocol will be abandoned.

Australia’s Climate Change Minister Penny Wong confirmed that organisers were trying to fix the problem and coax back the developing world.

Many countries at the UN climate summit want a brand new treaty to tackle climate change, but the developing world wants the Kyoto protocol to continue as well.

The protocol forces rich countries to reduce or limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

Senator Wong said the walkout was “most unfortunate”.

“It is regrettable that we appear to have reached a gridlock on process,” she said.

I was getting excited, but the developing nations have already walked back in:

Developing nations return to Copenhagen climate talks

Talks at the UN climate summit resumed on Monday afternoon after protests from developing nations forced a suspension.

But talks have been limited to informal consultations on procedural issues, notably developing countries’ demands for more time on the Kyoto Protocol.

The G77-China bloc, speaking for developing countries, said the Danish hosts had violated democratic process.

Some delegates talked forlornly of the vast amount of negotiating left to be done before the summit concludes.

The countries that suspended co-operation were those which make up the G77-China bloc of 130 nations. These range from wealthy countries such as South Korea, to some of the poorest states in the world.

Italy’s Berlusconi to stay in hospital after attack (with video)

Italian Prime Minister is in the hospital after having a statue thrown at his face.

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi will stay in hospital at least until Tuesday after having his nose broken by an attacker, doctors say.

A medical bulletin reported in the Italian media said Mr Berlusconi was able to eat, but only with difficulty.

Mr Berlusconi, 73, suffered a broken nose, two broken teeth and a cut lip after being hit with a model of Milan cathedral after a rally in the city.

A 42-year-old man was arrested and has been charged with aggravated assault.

The suspect, Massimo Tartaglia, was said by police to have had a history of mental illness, receiving treatment over a 10-year period.

Excuse me, I started laughing inappropriately and had to take a short break. {wiping tears away}


The Horrible Health Care Destruction Nightmare Continues unabated. Will it ever end?

Health Care Progress Report: December 14

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) — one of the Democratic caucus members the plan was intended to appease — dropped a bombshell Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” when he said he would not vote for a bill that expands Medicare.

“From what I hear, I certainly would have a hard time voting for it because it has some of the same infirmities that the public option did,” he said about the Medicare buy-in.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), another conservative who may or may not vote for the health care bill, said on “Face the Nation” that the Medicare buy-in is “the forerunner of single-payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option.”

WTF are Lieberman and Nelson doing in the Democratic party anyway?


Is Reid Cursed by the Lucky Number 60?

Sixty is the number of senators in the Democratic caucus, and the precise number needed to overcome Republican filibusters. It is the magic number of votes that Mr. Reid needs to pull together to advance major health care legislation.

In many ways, 60 is also a mirage – falsely raising Democratic hopes, particularly those of more liberal senators, that they have the muscle to push the health care bill without making painful concessions to centrists in both parties.

To be sure, controlling 60 votes has generally been advantageous to the Democrats. They have repeatedly cleared procedural obstacles that Republicans set in their path, even on routine bills that ultimately are approved by overwhelming majorities.

But on the health care bill, in particular, the notion of nominally controlling 60 votes has emboldened many Democrats, especially liberals, to make demands that they might otherwise have regarded as unreasonable if their party held even one less seat.

WTF?!! Wanting Americans to have reasonably priced health care like the civilized countries do is “unreasonable?” Maybe it’s reading assinine stories like this every day that is making me feel like a zombie.

ProPublica.org is running a series of stories on police misconduct after Hurricate Katrina–highly recommended.

<a href=”After Katrina, police shot first and asked few questions.“>After Katrina, NO police shot first and asked few questions

Matt McDonald left his native Connecticut and headed to New Orleans in the summer of 2005, shortly before Hurricane Katrina struck and floodwaters engulfed the city. McDonald was a troubled soul, a heavy drinker who had lived on the streets, but he kept in touch with his family, calling from time to time.

After the storm, his brother John, an auto-body technician who lives in Norwich, Conn., began working the phones, reaching out to anyone in Louisiana he thought might know something. “I heard so many different things,” John McDonald recalled.

John McDonald’s wife, Kerry, spent the next month making one phone call after another. “It was such a big runaround,” said Kerry McDonald, who recalled speaking to FEMA officials, American Red Cross staffers, New Orleans police officers and numerous others. “One person would say he was shot to death; the next would say he was found floating.”

Eventually, despite the conflicting stories, one thing became clear: Matt was dead at 41. His body was identified by several distinctive tattoos, including the name of his daughter, Crystal, and a pair of black bat wings.

His girlfriend, Martha Dziadul, paid to cremate the body.

Four years later, a reporter looking at the conduct of the Police Department in the aftermath of the hurricane called Dziadul to ask whether she had ever seen the official report on McDonald’s death. The document said a police officer armed with an AR-15 assault rifle had shot him to death on Sept. 3, 2005.

She was staggered. “They never, ever told me the police shot him. They told me it was a homicide,” she said. “They said: We don’t even know what day it happened because we weren’t there.”

Shot or Not, Dead or Alive? Two Men’s Fate Lost in Chaos

A motionless body lay on the pavement. Perhaps 20 riled-up police officers milled around. On the shoulder of the road, an RTA bus was parked at a crazy angle, like a dislocated elbow. Nearby was a long white limousine, crashed into a pole.

What had we stumbled upon?

Then there were guns aimed at us, and my face was pushed against a wall. I heard lots of shouting and cursing.

It was three days after the levees broke: Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005 — in my limited view, the day things completely fell apart in New Orleans.

The desperation was mounting. The cavalry wasn’t coming, it seemed. We were in it alone.

The heat was brutal, punishing. Supplies were minimal, and shrinking.

Can any country that permits this kind of abuse and neglect of its people survive? I honestly don’t think so.

There are a couple of terrific opinion pieces at Truthdig today:

Scott Ritter on Afghanistan: Our Murderers in the Sky

The true test of a society and its leaders is the extent to which every effort is made to both properly define a problem as one worthy of military intervention and then exhaust every option other than the use of force. It is true that President Barack Obama inherited the war in Afghanistan from his predecessor and therefore cannot be held accountable for that which transpired beyond his ability to influence. But the president’s recent decision to “surge” 30,000 additional U.S. military troops into Afghanistan transfers ownership of the Afghan conflict to him and him alone. It is in this light that his decision must be ultimately judged.

In many ways, Obama’s presentation before the Long Gray Line at West Point, in which he explained his decision to conduct the Afghanistan surge, represented an insult to the collective intelligence of the American people. The most egregious contradiction in his speech was the notion that the people of Afghanistan, who, throughout their history, have resisted central authority whether emanating from Kabul or imposed by outside invaders, would somehow be compelled to embrace this new American plan.

Chris Hedges: Gravel’s Lament: Fighting Another Dumb War

I have spent enough time inside the American military to have tasted its dark brutality, frequent incompetence and profligate ability to waste human lives and taxpayer dollars. The deviousness and stupidity of generals, the absurdity of most war plans and the pathological addiction to violence—which is the only language most who command our armed forces are able to understand—make the American military the gravest threat to our anemic democracy, especially as we head toward economic collapse.

Barack Obama, who is as mesmerized by the red, white and blue bunting draped around our vast killing machine as the press, the two main political parties and our entertainment industry, will not halt our doomed imperial projects or renege on the $1 trillion in defense-related spending that is hollowing out the country from the inside. A plague of unchecked militarism has seeped outward from the Pentagon since the end of World War II and is now sucking our marrow dry. It is a familiar disease in imperial empires. We are in the terminal stage. We spend more on our military—half of all discretionary spending—than all of the other countries on Earth combined, although we face no explicit threat.

Mike Gravel, the former two-term senator from Alaska and 2008 presidential candidate, sat Saturday on a park bench in Lafayette Park facing the White House. Gravel and I were in the park, along with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and other anti-war activists, to denounce the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at a sparsely attended rally. Few voices in American politics have been as consistent, as reasoned and as moral as his, which is why Gravel, on a chilly December morning, is in front of the White House, not inside it.

Hedges is one powerful writer!

Please add more links in the comments. I’m sure I missed something big….

HAVE A MARVELOUS MONDAY!!!!!!!!!

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The Zombie Tribe

Obama!  Obama!  Obama!

Obama! Obama! Obama!

What’s so hard about condemning sexism and misogyny?  Does it really matter who the victim is?  John Cole gets it:

You know, I have no idea what the hell David Letterman is thinking or what he thinks he is accomplishing with crap like this, but this was inexcusable. He should be ashamed of himself.

And I’m not trying to sound like some politically correct scold, and I have no problem with comedians being comedians. There are lots of reasons to dislike Sarah Palin, there are lots of reasons to not be impressed with her leadership, her beliefs, or, well, anything about her, but when you start with the “slutty” crap, or are making jokes about her daughter getting “knocked up,” you’ve crossed a line. I have no problem attacking Palin for her idiotic proposals and all the stupid things she has said, but this just is the kind of nonsense that is no good for anyone.

Maybe I’m over-reacting, and I know I’m not always perfect, but I’m really losing my patience and tolerance for this kind of stuff. There was no place for this kind of stuff with Hillary and Chelsea, there is no room for it with Michelle and their kids, and the same standard should apply for Sarah Palin and her kids. Hell, it should apply to all women.

But some of his readers don’t:

She worked that slutty angle —and no way in hell can anyone say certain men didn’t respond. Starbursts, remember? It was an image she carefully presented and I don’t get all the vapors people here get for her getting called on it.

By the way, this whole ‘insulting to women’ chorus of protest is so fucking misplaced. You people seemed to missed that the very real and much more damaging diss occurred when Palin ran for VP using her best MILF act.

Part of the reason conservatives loves them some Palin is she is an anti-feminist. What could be a bigger diss than to get where she is because she has a vagina and men like her because she’s hot?

She made herself into the lapdance the rednecks couldn’t buy (while pushing her high heels into the face of every woman who ever fought to get their due for their competence, intelligent and capability, and not for being a hot mamma). And somehow, amazingly, a comedian joking about Palin’s carefully cultivated Fuckable Me image is the thing that is over the top.

Sheesh. Some of you really missed what Palin was up to. Palin was the manchurian candidate for feminism.

The hot fuck-me chick who can’t be fucked. Like a slutty stewardess. She’s got the fuck-me thing going on but what can you do? Bend her over one of the seats? Unobtainable Sex Object. Akin to the Hot Librarian with the Big Glasses. (Another stock male fantasy character Palin more than hints at as well). Cuz guys, you know when she takes off those glasses and lets down her hair she’ll fuck you so hard on the book stacks your dick’ll be bruised.

Sure that’s stereotype that demeans women. Hell yes. But Palin is totally reinforcing that one. She’s projecting it: This is the modern Conservative Woman.

It’s a feature not a bug that it’s undermes feminism. Why do you think conservatives love this exemplar of Woman? And where’s the vapors over that?

It’s actually interesting that Letterman said ‘stewardess’. No flight attendants for conservatives. Women are stewardesses. Waitresses in the sky.

You can get pissed at Letterman but I think he’s noticing something here. It says more about how conservatives see women than Dave does.

Letterman did wasn’t nice. But comedians often say harsh shit. A difference between comedy and a comedian making gratuitous insults is whether it was true or not. Good for Dave for calling her on it. She doesn’t get to have it both ways.

That was one of many comments in a long thread (361 comments) where numerous people defended David Letterman’s misogynistic comments about Sarah and Willow Palin.  What was so hard about denouncing something that is obviously wrong? Why would these people defend the indefensible?

The answer is tribalism

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