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      Well, if it did. Let me tell a story, possibly apocryphal. Back in the 70s the Russian (USSR) ambassador supposedly had a talk with the Pakistaini leader of the day. This is what he is reputed to have said. ” I do not know who will be in charge in Moscow in ten, twenty or […]
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A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

I’m liberal. I’m not ashamed to say it. In fact, I’m proud of it.

Wikipedia defines liberalism as:

Liberalism is a broad class of political philosophies that considers individual liberty and equality to be the most important political goals.[1]

Liberalism emphasizes individual rights and equality of opportunity. Within liberalism, there are various streams of thought which compete over the use of the term “liberal” and may propose very different policies, but they are generally united by their support for political liberalism, which encompasses support for: freedom of thought and speech, limitations on the power of governments, the rule of law, an individual’s right to private property,[2] and a transparent system of government.[3][4][5] All liberals, as well as some adherents of other political ideologies, support some variant of the form of government known as liberal democracy, with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law.[6]

According to author and philosophy professor Peter Vallentyne, “Liberalism comes in two broad forms. Classical liberalism emphasizes the importance of individual liberty and contemporary (or welfare) liberalism tends to emphasize some kind of material equality.”[7] In Europe, the term “liberalism” is closer to the economic outlook of American economic conservatives. According to Harry Girvetz and Minoque Kenneth “contemporary liberalism has come to represent different things to Americans and Europeans: In the United States it is associated with the welfare-state policies of the New Deal program of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whereas in Europe liberals are more commonly conservative in their political and economic outlook”.[8] In the United States, “liberalism” is most often used in the sense of social liberalism, which supports some regulation of business and other economic interventionism which they believe to be in the public interest. A philosophy holding a position in accordance with Scottish pioneer of political economy Adam Smith, that laissez-faire economics will bring about a spontaneous order or an invisible hand that benefits the society, is referred to as “classical liberalism.”[9], of which US-style libertarianism may be considered an extreme example.

Liberalism has its roots in the Age of Enlightenment and rejects many foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, established religion, and economic protectionism.[10][11][12] Instead, it founds itself on the assumption of the equal dignity and worth of individuals.

By that standard, this is a liberal blog. I’d say we’re pretty obsessed with equality of opportunity and a transparent system of Government around here.

Wikipedia defines Progressivism as

Progressivism is a political and social term that refers to ideologies and movements favoring or advocating changes or reform, usually in a statist or egalitarian direction for economic policies (government management) and liberal direction for social policies (personal choice). Progressivism is often viewed in opposition to conservative ideologies.

In the United States, the term progressivism emerged in the late 19th century into the 20th century in reference to a more general response to the vast changes brought by industrialization: an alternative to both the traditional conservative response to social and economic issues and to the various more radical streams of socialism and anarchism which opposed them. Political parties, such as the Progressive Party, organized at the start of the 20th century, and progressivism made great strides under American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.[1]

Ideologically, that makes me and this blog a Progressive blog. And ideologically, therefore, I am a Classical Liberal Progressive (or a “Moderate Liberal”), if you want to get down to the nitty gritty technical term of liberalisticims.

But I am not, in fact, a Progressive by identity. I am a liberal. Because in today’s American Political Culture, being a “Progressive” makes you a Right Wing Fundie in liberal drag. Sad, but true.

Liberals have been demonized for quite a while in this country. I’d say it probably started with the Reagan Era, when Religious zealots and Conservative Southern Democrats took over the Republican Party. Around that time, a lot of wealthy and privileged former self described College “Liberals” moved to the Republican Party, declaring themselves “Conservatives.” Publicly, they took up the cause of Militarism and Religious Fundamentalism, but privately they were hypocrites, and their activities are well-documented in one of my favorite books, Blinded By the Right, by David Brock (I quote it often).

Hillary Clinton called their politics of personal destruction political activism “A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.” She was mocked for it in the media, but she wasn’t wrong. Ever since Nixon’s Resignation, these kooks had been using corporate sugar daddies like Richard Mellon Scaife to fund their agenda in the media and in interest groups.

Old farts like Pat Robertson and James Dobson and Newt Gingrich come to mind, but they weren’t the only tools involved in the process. Jokers like Andrew Sullivan, Ariana Huffington, and Chris Matthews cheered for some of the worse disasters of my Generation: CDS and the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the election of George W. Bush, and the War in Iraq. And they did it all under the guise of their Gung Ho “Conservatism.”

Then, around the time of the mid term elections in 2006, they had a Come-to-Jesus moment and left the Republican Party, hilariously declaring themselves icons of the “New Left,” and by extension liberalism itself. Most of them had gotten their starts by smearing the Clintons, whom they declared were Republicans in drag. Sadly, the irony was lost on them and their projection continued. And even worse, they gained an audience. They and their followers coined themselves “The Progressive Movement.”

It wasn’t long until “The Progressive Movement” began cheering for their new standard bearer, Barack Obama. Again, the irony was lost on their audience. These imbeciles had spent the past two decades decrying all things liberal and good, why would anyone vote for the candidate they were peddling on places like Politico, the Huffington Post, and Daily Kos?

Well, I’m not like a lot of people. I don’t actually think Americans are stupid. Hillary won the popular vote. But the damage is still done. We have Bush the Third as our POTUS.

Today, these “Progressives”- Right Wing Fundies in liberal drag- and their allies in the media do the same thing to Sarah Palin and her family that they did to Bill Clinton and his family. The tactics are exactly the same. They slander her, spread rumors about her, and attack her and her children in the most gratuitous and revolting ways imaginable. They accuse her and they accused Bill Clinton of doing and being exactly what they are- power hungry, morally depraved, and ruthless- capable of doing and saying anything to obtain their victories.

I don’t believe in coincidences, and neither should you. The media is neither “liberal” nor “conservative.” The media is corporate. Since the emergence of a twenty four hour news cycle, they’ve depended on their sponsors and their ratings for profit, and don’t you know? Follow the money! You just have to watch CNN for one day to understand. The graphics in Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room are eerily similar to the graphics from Obama’s campaign and the DNC and RNC. A panel of all-male, white reporters will solemnly declare that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are just whining- the Political coverage of them isn’t sexist and they are just trying to score political points with women. Then they go on a break and in the first commercial a woman is debating a Swiffer mop. A special about Al Gore’s Global Warming Documentary is solemnly discussed and Al Gore’s credibility is questioned with deep concern. Then they disappear and the screen explains, “This program has been sponsored by GM and Chrystler Motors.”

And again, the irony is lost on the audience.

Hillary’s famous “Right Wing Conspiracy” disguised as a Left Wing Conspiracy isn’t gone. It’s been with us this whole time, mouth breathing down our necks and leering at us like a bothersome lover.

And it’s rick rolled us once again.

Cross Posted at Age of Aquarius

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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Health-Care Nightmare “Waterloo” Reform

The German newsmagazine “Der Spiegel” has a lengthy article about the inadequacies of the US healthcare. Because it’s the the hard copy, I was thinking about summarizing it here or at least reproducing the compelling graph in the article. They just did me a favor and posted the whole thing in their international online edition.
An Ailing System

Will Health Care Be Obama’s Legacy or Waterloo?

Barack Obama wants to modernize the American health care system. But his ambitions come with a cost of around $1 trillion, a price tag that even some Democrats say is too high. Will he fail, as Clinton did before him?

Oh my! This is not going to end well.
Overhaul proposal would omit key Dem. provisions

After weeks of secretive talks, a bipartisan group in the Senate edged closer Monday to a health care compromise that omits a requirement for businesses to offer coverage to their workers and lacks a government insurance option that President Obama favors, according to numerous officials.

Maybe we should just say adieu to healthcare reform
Health Policy Now Carved Out at a More Centrist Table

The fate of the health care overhaul largely rests on the shoulders of six senators who since June 17 have gathered — often twice a day, and for many hours at a stretch — in a conference room with burnt sienna walls, in the office of the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana.

Does Health Insurance Make You Fat?

A recent economics paper may give skeptics of President Barack Obama’s push for near-universal health care new ammunition. The argument? Health insurance makes you fat.


Gates-gate

The entire 911 call and dispatch audio of Gates’ arrest are here (h/t Cinie)

Even after 911 tape released in Gates case, questions linger

The woman who placed the call never said anything about black men breaking into Professor Gates’s house. So how did it get into Sergeant Crowley’s report?

Questions on race aspect of Henry Louis Gates case show sublety(sic) of racism

The question remains: How exactly did the word “black” get into the police report?
[…]
Other Harvard professors have demonstrated how the memory can be reworked by experience.
Maybe the word just slipped in the same way suitcases became backpacks.

What should have happened in Gates confrontation?

Police experts say Gates probably overreacted. But Sergeant Crowley appeared to let the situation spiral out of control, they add.

Cambridge Officer, Gates Said to Meet at White House July 30

The three men are set to convene about 6 p.m. at the executive mansion, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting hadn’t been officially announced.

Robin Wells (aka Mrs Krugman) also chimes in:
Hard Truths and the Teachable Moment: The Gates-Crowley Saga (via Krugman Blog)


U.S.-China

Low bar, long horizon for U.S.-China talks

China is bringing 150 senior officials, including nearly its whole Cabinet, to the United States this week for talks whose symbolic value is likely to trump concrete achievements.

The Strategic and Economic Dialogue on Monday and Tuesday may simply produce a broad outline on the way to deal with economic, security, diplomatic and environmental issues that divide the world’s two most important economies.

US, China have pointed questions in private

The United States and China are striking a conciliatory tone in their public comments during economic talks, although that hasn’t stopped China from posing some pointed questions behind closed doors about such issues as America’s soaring budget deficit.


Around The Nation

Why does this administration let Biden go out and give speeches without a babysitter? Sigh!
Clinton moves to calm Moscow over remarks by Biden

Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, yesterday sought to head off a spat with Russia after it was angered by comments by Joe Biden, US vicepresident,
The Kremlin had demanded clarification of remarks in which Mr Biden suggested Russia would be forced to improve relations with the US because its economy was “withering”.

GOP headache: The birther issue

When lawmakers return home for recess in August, they can expect to hear tough questions from constituents on the economy, health care and government spending.
But Republicans are preparing for something else: the birthers.

Seven indicted in N.C. court for terrorism

All are charged with conspiring to provide support to terrorists and conspiring to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad.

Bunning Quits, Makes 2010 Race Harder (Not Easier) for Democrats

Before today, it was an equation that looked pretty good for Democrats: an opponent they could paint as old, ineffective and distant from his own party. Come to our party, they might say in a commercial, where at least you won’t have him.

New Jersey: Teaching the World to Steal, in Perfect Harmony

[W]hile people are busy expressing shock at the discovery that New Jersey has a corruption problem, it seems the most striking aspect of this story has been largely ignored. There is a silver lining here. This enterprise required a great deal of cooperation between an extraordinarily diverse group of people. A merry band of walking stereotypes worked together, in perfect harmony, and remains together, united by their depravity.


Economy Watch

Is Goldman Sachs Evil? Or Just Too Good?

Inside Goldman Sachs, America’s most successful, cynical, envied, despised, and (in its view, anyway) misunderstood engine of capitalism.

Bernanke Feared a Second Great Depression

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Sunday said he engineered the central bank’s controversial actions over the past year because “I was not going to be the Federal Reserve chairman who presided over the second Great Depression.”

As Cash for Clunkers Starts, Dealers Hope to Clear Lots

After many months of agonizingly slow sales, automakers and dealers are anxiously counting on the cash-for-clunkers program, getting under way officially on July 27, to help clear their lots.


Opinion Columns & Editorials

A New Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China (By Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner)

As we move toward recovery, we must take additional steps to lay the foundation for balanced and sustainable growth in the years to come. That will involve Americans rebuilding our savings, strengthening our financial system and investing in energy, education and health care to make our nation more productive and prosperous. For China it involves continuing financial sector reform and development. It also involves spurring domestic demand growth and making the Chinese economy less reliant on exports.

Clive Crook thinks Obama’s leadership or lack thereof is the biggest problem in the healthcare debate. Give it to him, he has a point.
Obama is failing on health reform (By Clive Crook)

This failure has three separate aspects. First, though politicians and commentators talk about the president’s plan, he does not have one. Learning the lessons of “Hillarycare” far too well, Mr Obama has set out broad goals for reform and some principles to guide the design, but no more. This self-imposed distance is bad both substantively and politically. It is substantively bad because left to its own devices an unguided, disputatious, difference-splitting Congress was bound to make a hash of it. And it is politically bad because the public understands this.

Paul Krugman takes an axe to the Blue Dogs Dems
An Incoherent Truth (By Paul Krugman)

Right now the fate of health care reform seems to rest in the hands of relatively conservative Democrats — mainly members of the Blue Dog Coalition, created in 1995. And you might be tempted to say that President Obama needs to give those Democrats what they want.
But he can’t — because the Blue Dogs aren’t making sense.

What is behind this particular “11-dimensional chess”?
Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel? (By Aluf Benn, editor at large Haaretz)

This would seem counterproductive, given the importance the president has placed on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If Israel is part of the problem, it’s also part of the solution. Yet so far, neither the president nor any senior administration official has given a speech or an interview aimed at an Israeli audience, beyond brief statements made at diplomatic photo ops.

Roberto Micheletti, the former president of the Honduran Congress, who became president of Honduras upon the removal of Manuel Zelaya writes about the way forward for his country. Some of his facts are murky but…
The Path Forward for Honduras

One of America’s most loyal Latin American allies—Honduras—has been in the midst of a constitutional crisis that threatens its democracy. Sadly, key undisputed facts regarding the crisis have often been ignored by America’s leaders, at least during the earliest days of the crisis.


Around The World

The Iranian Opposition: Willing but How Able?

Within the next week, Iran will see the 40-day anniversary of the death of protest bystander Neda Agha-Soltan — an emotionally charged religious observance that is likely to draw widespread public mourning — and the scheduled presidential inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The dates will be opportunities for opposition leaders to press their case. But are they organized enough to do it amid the official repression? And do they know exactly what they are aiming for?

The Taliban’s New Mastermind

If you thought Mullah Omar, the longtime head of the Taliban was bad, you should meet his no. 2. A look at the emerging power of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Our Man in Afghanistan

Richard Holbrooke’s particular head-knocking skills may not be perfectly cast for the job of special representative to Afghanistan. On the other hand, who else has the right mixture of grandiosity and smarts to even try?

How do you say “goomah” in Chinese?
China’s concubine culture is back

A top anti-graft official recently acknowledged in public that 95% of the corrupt officials netted in Beijing’s crackdowns kept mistresses.

China’s millennia-old culture of men keeping concubines is back, with many communist party and government officials now keeping at least one “second wife” as a status symbol or to satisfy his sexual needs.

8 killed in $7-million Baghdad bank robbery

Gunmen killed eight security guards and made off with nearly $7 million early today during a bank robbery that police say is the work of insurgents attempting to finance their operations.

Netanyahu tells Obama envoy: Israel doing all it can for peace

The premier told Mitchell that Israel was doing all it could to advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Mitchell said that there are understandings that have been reached that could aid in advancing the process

‘Obama unlikely to present peace plan’

Rather, according to these officials, the administration is aiming to create a positive dynamic that will lead to the relaunching of a Palestinian-Israeli diplomatic process, but this time with more regional players on board.

Settlers completing 11 new outposts

Settlers planned to complete the construction of 11 outposts in the West Bank ahead of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with US envoy George Mitchell early Tuesday morning, in response to American pressure to freeze settlement activity.


From The World Of Science

Could rely more on your “gut feeling”?
Brain Power: In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable Assets

Everyone has hunches — about friends’ motives, about the stock market, about when to fold a hand of poker and when to hold it. But United States troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others’ do.

Is this fair to us?
Women are getting more beautiful

FOR the female half of the population, it may bring a satisfied smile. Scientists have found that evolution is driving women to become ever more beautiful, while men remain as aesthetically unappealing as their caveman ancestors.

Unappealing? Oh Noes!

Divorce and widowhood hurt health

Divorce and widowhood have a lingering, detrimental impact on health — even among those who remarry, U.S. researchers found.

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Why is birtherism suddenly news?

D'Oh


There are some conspiracy theorists out there that are convinced that Barack Obama in ineligible to be POTUS because he was really born in a hut in Kenya and not in a hospital in Honolulu. The land of the free and the home of the brave is also the neighborhood of the nutjob. These particular nutjobs are known as “birthers.”

Birthers are sometimes confused with “Trig-truthers” because of the name.  Trig-truthers are the people like Andy Sullivan who are convinced that Trig Palin is really the child of Bristol Palin and that Sarah faked a pregnancy and childbirth to conceal that fact.

Here at The Confluence we’ve had a big ix-nay on the subject of birtherism since last year. Sadly, some of the people misusing the PUMA name are birthers but we never had any desire to be affiliated with those people or to give them a platform to spread their insanity. In order to avoid calling attention to them we simply banned them, deleted their comments and made the topic taboo.

The people most obsessed with birtherism are the blogstalkers, who seek out and publicize anyone they hope will discredit the rest of us Democrats-in-exile.  One blogstalker became so obsessed with birthers she blogs about nothing else.

I’m not gonna get into a discussion of all the various flavors of birther, nor is this an opportunity for them to try to proselytize their fringe religion. The reason I am bringing this up is because suddenly even the White House is talking about the subject. If everyone else is talking about it we might as well discuss it too.

Here we are, halfway through Obama’s first year in office and suddenly birthers are big news. The birthers haven’t won a single lawsuit nor has any new evidence turned up, so what changed? Could it be that POTUS answered a question on Gates-gate last week without the aid of TOTUS and stepped in doo-doo?

The Kool-aid blogs are pushing the birther issue hard and proclaiming that birthers are right-wingers. I don’t know if any paternity tests have been done but if birthers are wingnuts then who do the 9-11 conspiracy loons and Trig-truthers belong to?

Every family has a crazy aunt or uncle that no one takes seriously.  If you visit the mainstream conservative blogs you’ll see that they want nothing to do with the birthers either.  This even includes the blogs that are convinced that Obama is a Muslim socialist.

Don’t be fooled by the shiny objects.  Health care reform is going down in flames (as the Democratic leadership planned) but so is Obama’s approval rating (which they didn’t plan).  So Axelrove responds by ginning up a diversion, just like he did last year whenever Hillary won a primary.

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Rainy Monday: Biphobia

SILENCE

Etymology and use

Biphobia is a portmanteau word patterned on the term homophobia. It is derived from the English neo-classical prefix bi- (meaning “two”) from bisexual and the root -phobia (from the Greek: φόβος, phóbos, “fear”) found in homophobia. Along with lesbophobia, transphobia, homophobia, gayphobia, and biphobia is a member of the family of terms used when discussing issues of intolerance and discrimination toward LGBT people. Note that biphobia need not be an equivalent to the clinical or medical meaning of a phobia – an anxiety disorder. Instead, its meaning and use typically parallel those of xenophobia. The adjectival form biphobic is used to describe things or qualities related to biphobia whereas the noun biphobe is a label for people thought to harbor biphobia[1].

[edit] Basic ideas and their negative stereotypes

Multiple negative stereotypes of bisexuals center on the belief that bisexuality does not exist and on the generalization that bisexuals are promiscuous.

[edit] Belief – Bisexuality does not exist.

This belief stems from binary views of sexuality: a heterosexist view or a monosexist view. In the first view, people are presumed to be attracted to the opposite sex and only heterosexuality and male to female relationships truly exist. Therefore, bisexuality, like homosexuality, is not a valid sexuality or identity. In the second view, people are either homosexual (gay/lesbian) or heterosexual (straight). Maxims such as “people are either gay, straight or lying”[2] embody this dichotomous view of sexual orientations.

Resulting negative stereotypes represent bisexuals as confused, undecided, dabblers, insecure, experimenting or “just going through a phase”. Attractions toward both sexes are considered fashionable as in bisexual chic or gender bending. Either homosexual or heterosexual relations are dismissed as a substitute for sex with members of the “right” sex or as a more accessible source of sexual gratification. What’s more, homosexuality can also be perceived as purely situational, in other words due to sex-segregated environments or groups such as the armed forces, schools, sports teams, religious orders, and prisons. Conversely, heterosexuality and opposite-sex relationships are viewed as “caving into” society’s pressures, fostering oppressions, condoning discrimination, keeping up appearances, retaining straight privilege, hiding in the closet, being self-hating or in self-denial, suffering from internalized homophobia, etc.

[edit] Generalization – Bisexuals are promiscuous.

Categorizing all bisexuals as being promiscuous is a hasty generalization. Moreover, having more than one sexual partner in one’s lifetime, in addition to being commonplace in the world, is not restricted to bisexuals. People of all sexual orientations change partners, practice serial monogamy or have multiple casual sex partners. The strict association of bisexuality with promiscuity stems from a variety of negative stereotypes targeting bisexuals as mentally or socially unstable people convinced that sexual relations only with men, only with women or only with one person is not enough. As a result bisexuals bear a social stigma from accusations of cheating on or betraying their partners, leading a double life, being “on the down-low“, and spreading sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. They are characterized as being “slutty”, insatiable, “easy”, indiscriminate, and in the case of women, nymphomaniacs. Furthermore, they are strongly associated with polyamory, swinging, and polygamy[3], the last being an established heterosexual tradition sanctioned by some religions and legal in several countries.

This is an open thread.

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