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News Bites for a Chilly Sunday: January 20, 2013

2:05 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

– On Gun Appreciation Weekend, the NRA’s counter-celebration to President Obama’s second inaugural, someone in New Mexico went berserk and killed five people. And not with a crossbow, either.

– Also on Gun Appreciation Weekend, five people at gun shows in three different states (North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana) managed to get shot and injured during the events. I sense future Darwin Award nominees in the making — not so much the victims as those who shot them, as they’re not always one and the same.

This Bellingham, Washington guy says he always sleeps with a loaded .45 under his pillow, apparently so he can shoot intruders. Don’t know if he’s shot any intruders, but he did kill his girlfriend, apparently accidentally.

Howie Klein has a deal for us: ‘$100 for anyone who can get Bachmann, Broun, or Gohmert to explain on video why they believe in the “Sandy Hook Hoax.” Or $50 for Stockman’

– Neocon critics of Chuck Hagel claim he tried to shut down an Israeli USO operation. People who were actually involved in the USO operation say that in reality, Hagel helped save that Israeli USO operation.

– Yet another reason to go organic: Modern conventional agriculture kicks out 68% of all US nitrous oxide emissions — and nitrous oxide is 310 times more potent at trapping heat than is carbon dioxide.

– But if you do go organic, stick to farmer’s markets and the locally-owned co-ops and stay away from Whole Foods, whose CEO John Mackey is a mendacious schmuck.

– In other news, Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term as President of the United States, but not before he put some stain on a bookshelf. FLOTUS Michelle and the two First Daughters (the same two adorable little girls the NRA is not-so-subtly threatening) also did some volunteer work before attending a Kid’s Inaugural Ball. (Malia and Sasha are lovely, but I think Malia needs to get bangs like her mother’s (what our British readers would call “fringe”) to make her forehead a tad less prominent.) (UPDATE: Guess what? The NRA’s threat against Malia and Sasha Obama is based on a lie. Quelle surprise.)

That’s what I’ve got for today. How about you? Read the rest of this entry →

Is Obama White House Finally Admitting Lanny Davis and Jim DeMint Duped Them WRT Honduras?

9:13 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Nearly three years after Lanny Davis — who was in the pay of the golpistas, or coup leaders — talked his old friend (and now Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton into talking President Obama into reversing course and tacitly backing the right-wing corporate coup in Honduras (and with archconservative modern-day plantation fantasist Jim DeMint backing up Davis by holding up various Obama nominations), we are starting to see some truth creep into the US establishment media about the murderous cauldron of hell Honduras has become as the golpistas work to slaughter all democratic opposition:

In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.

[...]

The current government of President Lobo won power in a November 2009 election managed by the same figures who had initiated the coup. Most opposition candidates withdrew in protest, and all major international observers boycotted the election, except for the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which are financed by the United States.

President Obama quickly recognized Mr. Lobo’s victory, even when most of Latin America would not. Mr. Lobo’s government is, in fact, a child of the coup. It retains most of the military figures who perpetrated the coup, and no one has gone to jail for starting it.

This chain of events — a coup that the United States didn’t stop, a fraudulent election that it accepted — has now allowed corruption to mushroom. The judicial system hardly functions. Impunity reigns. At least 34 members of the opposition have disappeared or been killed, and more than 300 people have been killed by state security forces since the coup, according to the leading human rights organization Cofadeh. At least 13 journalists have been killed since Mr. Lobo took office, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

I can’t see how such words could have made it into the New York Times, the ultimate upholder of the neoliberal concensus mindset that is dictated to Americans, unless the Timesmen felt it was finally safe to allow these words onto their timidly-establishment pages. And by “safe” I mean “without fear of retribution from those who backed the coup”.

Of course, those of us not buddy-buddy with Lanny Davis, Jim DeMint, or the t-shirt and other companies backing the coup (and who didn’t want to pay their workers a living wage) are quite familiar with all of this and have been since the start of the coup nearly three years ago.

Charles Taylor Stumps for Obama 2012, Calls It a Book Review

7:38 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

So I’m reading a review of Stephen King’s new novel 11/22/63 by a guy, Charles Taylor, who I know from past experience of his work to usually be honest almost to a fault and therefore trustworthy as a reviewer.

And it’s going good so far — Stephen King, under appreciated: check. Reference to Leslie Fiedler praising King: check. Mention of prior misapprehended novel written in the wake of 9/11: check.

But then I stumble onto this paragraph, written to describe his take on how different King’s treatment of 9/11, especially in its immediate aftermath, has been from other writers:

That alone put him at odds with much of the commentary and decision-making that followed 9/11, from the sanctimonious pronouncements made on the left about the cause of the attacks before anyone had claimed responsibility for them, to the right’s use of them to justify its slavish militarism and contempt for human rights. Implicit to many of these responses was the belief that nothing had happened that couldn’t have been anticipated, and consequently that not only the causes of the attacks but the proper response to them was self-evident. Against these arrogant certainties, King focused on uncertainty as the very currency of American life.

Um, what?

I certainly don’t recall any “sanctimonious pronouncements made on the left about the cause of the attacks before anyone had claimed responsibility for them”. I do recall one very accurate piece by Gary Kamiya, Taylor’s fellow Salon writer at the time, and done after the attacks had been linked to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. (By contrast, PNAC member Donald Rumsfeld, hours after the 9/11 attacks, while the Pentagon fires were still burning, urging his people to “go massive” in trying to find a link to Saddam Hussein, so as to find a way to carry out the wishes of PNAC guru and Iranian government operative Ahmad Chalabi and attack Iraq. Most sane people would find this, ah, somewhat more reprehensible than Gary Kamiya’s being right about 9/11.)

Either Charles Taylor’s dictionary states that “sanctimonious” means “correct and accurate”, in which case he needs a new dictionary, or he’s indulging in the favorite activity of American mushy-middle centrists seeking to render a coherent defense of their ideology, which is inventing imaginary irrational just-as-bad-as-righties progressives to attack.

Taylor then returns to reviewing 11/22/63, discussing the problems with time travel as a means of righting wrongs and solving problems, the chief wrong in this case being JFK’s murder (which in Stephen King’s mind set off a host of ills), and then sets up another, erm, interesting passage: Read the rest of this entry →

Contrary To GOP Claims, OBL Event’s Timing Shows It Wasn’t Politically Motivated

4:49 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

In a wondrous case of projecting what they would have done onto Obama, various conservative and Republican commentators are insisting that the hit on Osama bin Laden was done purely for political reasons. Here’s a typical example from a Twin Cities conservative blogger, Andy “Residual Forces” Apilkowski:

“What better way to change the subject of economic collapse & break down of our way of life, but a head on a stick outside castle Obama #tcot”

Yes, I grabbed a screen shot. As you can see, it arrived just as the Rude Pundit was wondering if the GOP would be decent or if they’d be their “usual dickish selves”. Didn’t take long for his question to be answered, did it?

Here’s what shows that this wasn’t politically motivated: The intelligence crowd had first got word of his location back in August — which of course was right before a key set of midterm elections, one where the Democrats would have been glad for something to take with them into November; it very well could have saved the House and at least one Senate seat.

Bear in mind that any political boost from this event is only going to last a few months at most. If Obama was going to use it to boost his or the Democrats’ electoral hopes, he would have either pulled a Bush and done it back in August or September of last year, or waited until August or September of next year for the presidential elections. Instead, he did so now, and whatever boost he gets will have long since vanished by November of 2012.

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Lies and the Lying Liars That Revive Them

3:56 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Amazing, how over the span of eight-plus years, high-powered conservatives with a national reach are touting themselves as such helpless little infants, so untutored in the ways of society, that they can claim they’re unfamiliar with something that’s present in every sports bar and many fast-food places, and has been for over two freaking decades: “closed” captioning on TVs.

I am not kidding. Sarah Janacek and Kellyanne Fitzpatrick did it in late 2002, and Jim Hoft’s doing in early 2011:

It appears that Gateway Pundit saw a picture of the Tucson rally, in which the Jumbotron was featured. He then mistook the closed captioning as “instructions” for the audience to applaud.

That’s right, folks: A bit of technology that every sports bar, many regular bars, and many casual-dining restaurants have possessed for nearly three decades is somehow so unfamiliar to these self-styled wise ones that they can allegedly mistake it for “applause signs”.

If this sounds awfully familiar to some of you, it should: It’s the same bogus story that was bruited about after the Wellstone memorial:

Kellyanne (Fitzpatrick) Conway went on TV the day after the memorial and told a nationwide audience that the Jumbotron instructed the crowd “when to cheer and when to jeer.” (The speeches were close-captioned and would indicate when there was LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE.)

Even though the words on the closed captioning followed the speaker’s words by five or so seconds and were often misspelled, Sarah Janecek, a Minnesota Republican lobbyist, said the speeches on the Jumbotron were proof that the speeches had been written and vetted by the cynically politically motivated Democrat who ran the event. Actually, the people who spoke at the Wellstone memorial were all chosen by the families of those who died. No one’s speech was vetted. The Wellstone people had all spent the previous five days going to funerals. It never occurred to them to vet the speeches. The irony is that because they weren’t thinking politically, they opened themselves to being accused of staging a political event.

Janacek’s tried to deny all of this, but I — and several other persons who were at the event and/or heard Janacek’s dishonest commentary on it on Minnesota Public Radio the morning afterwards — know better. Here’s Techno, a regular Balloon Juice commenter and personal friend of Paul Wellstone:

@Doctor Gonzo:
It is true what you say about this stupid slander about closed captioning being used after the Wellstone funeral. In fact, it was first said by that execrable Republican hack Sarah Janecek on MPR the day after the funeral.

The reason I remember this so clearly is that I was driving my car and got so upset at this lie that I had a heart attack and wound up in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I have not knowingly conversed with a Republican since that day except to insult them. I am STILL angry about that cynical lie.

And here’s Velveteen Ocelot commenting at Democratic Underground:

She was all frothing at the mouth about the memorial right afterwards, lying out her ass on local Hate Radio about how the organizers were using closed captioning to prompt the crowd, and going on about how horrible and partisan and scripted it was. Maybe she realizes how full of crap she was and feels bad about it now; or maybe — more likely, I think — she just wants to distance herself from the truly repellent Katherine Kersten, who really went off the deep end in that obnoxious column. I was doing some volunteer work at one of the DFL offices just before that election, trying to get out the vote for Mondale, and Al Franken showed up and got after Janacek on the phone to call her on her bullshit. I know what she said then, and it was 180 degrees from what she’s saying now.

A caution to those conservatives who, like Jim Hoft, are tempted to revive and repurpose the Wellstone event “applause signs” smear, or any other of the smears originated and disseminated by Republicans about that event: The lying by Republicans about the Wellstone event in Williams Arena was so egregious and so infuriating that it did two (2) things: it led to the rise of the reality-based, progressive side of the blogosphere, and it caused Al Franken to decide on a career in electoral politics. Do you all really want to risk anything like that happening again?

UPDATE: TBogg notes that at least one other right-wing blogger is jumping into the fray on Hoft’s side — even as his own commenters try vainly to correct him. And when a person who actually works as a closed-captioner tried to explain to Hoft and his fan base how closed-captioning works, one of them looked him up online, found out he was gay, and decided that meant his word couldn’t be trusted. Oy gewalt.

A Sellout (or Three) Too Far? Obama’s 2012 Support Collapsing in Wake of Latest Betrayals

10:13 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

In the wake of last month’s elections, polling showed that a non-trivial portion of Americans aren’t too crazy about Republicans or Democrats, but feel that since the Democrats and Obama didn’t keep their promises, there was no reason to care, much less vote.

Obama’s response: Pull a Bill Clinton and tack to the right — and betray the people who voted for him in 2008 over and over and over again.

Oddly enough, this didn’t cause Americans to flock to his side. In fact, the opposite has occurred — he’s now so unpopular that Mitt Romney, the least-teabaggerish of the GOP contenders and the likely winner of the 2012 Republican nomination for president — would beat him if the election were held today:

President Barack Obama’s approval ratings have sunk to the lowest level of his presidency, so low that he’d lose the White House to Republican Mitt Romney if the election were held today, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The biggest reason for Obama’s fall: a sharp drop in approval among Democrats and liberals, apparently unhappy with his moves toward the center since he led the party to landslide losses in November’s midterm elections. At the same time, he’s gained nothing among independents.

“He’s having the worst of both worlds right now,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in New York, which conducted the national survey.

“As he moves to the center, he’s not picking up support among independents and he’s having some fall-off among his base. If his strategy is to gain independents and keep the Democrats in tow, it isn’t working so far.”

Only 42 percent of Americans approve of the job he’s doing, and 50 percent disapprove. Worse yet, the poll was taken on December 2 — right after his screw-the-civil-servants plan (aka the pay freeze for Federal employees) was announced; the negative effects of his Poor Tax plan haven’t been felt yet on his numbers, but they will be soon.

And so long as the economy continues to tank for most Americans — a situation that raising taxes on the poorest third of Americans while giving every single millionaire in the US over $139,000 in free money is not going to fix, as John Maynard Keynes (or Jon Walker) could tell him — his poll numbers will continue to go down.

The choice is his: He can continue to act like a Republican and see his numbers tank, or he can tack back away from the far right and back to the center and left, and be re-elected.

Think hard, Mister President.

Thank You, Nancy Pelosi, For Saving Me Money

7:46 pm in Financial Crisis, Government, Legislature, Politics by Phoenix Woman

It has come to my attention that the fix is in:

FDL has learned that in a last minute move, Nancy Pelosi sneaked language into the rule that the House is voting on tonight regarding war funding.

Embedded in the rule is the requirement that the House will vote on the deficit commissions’s recommendations in the lame duck session if they pass the Senate.

Pelosi knows full well what the committee wants to do. The fix is in.

Happening on CSPAN now.

Pelosi’s office number: (202) 225-4965

Thank you, Nancy Pelosi, for saving me money. The money in question being that which I might have donated to any Democrats this election cycle. Turns out I’ll need it, thanks to your pushing for a vote to put me on cat food when — or if — I retire.

The apologists are all revved up saying all manner of silly things in their effort to excuse this:

"But but but this will never ever pass the Senate!" Oh really? How do you keep 41 Senators, many of whom are Conservadems, from voting for cloture?

"But this isn’t a big deal — it was planned from the start!" News flash: We knew Harry and Nancy had struck a deal; we just didn’t when or how it would be implemented. Turns out that Nancy picked the most chickenshit cowardly self-serving way it could have possibly been done. Since this rule is only in effect for the 111th Congress, it expires on January 5 and applies only to the lame duck Congress.

Pete Peterson’s smiling now. He’s got my retirement money. Maybe he’ll use it to fill one of his swimming pools.

Remember When Republicans Liked Exit Strategies?

8:06 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

It’s so funny to hear all the Republicans like McCain and their fellow travelers like Lieberman complain about Obama’s having an exit strategy instead of an unending commitment to quagmire. As not-so-ancient history shows, Republicans hate exit strategies only when they’re applied by Democrats to wars Republicans started, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Democrats start wars, Republicans are all about the exit strategy — as they showed when opposing President Clinton’s Kosovo actions back in the late ’90s. Crooks and Liars back in 2005 put together a whole list of juicy exit-strategy-praising quotes from prominent Republicans, including my personal favorite from George W. Bush — who within three years after this statement would be starting his own exit-strategy-free wars of choice:

"Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."

Preach it, Georgie!

Whom the gods would destroy, Part Two: The crisis in Honduras

7:25 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Introduction. The Timetable and the Motives behind the Honduran Coup. This, the second of a multi-part series on the Honduran coup against Manuel Zelaya, seeks to understand how it was viewed by both supporters and opponents of Zelaya, develop a clear timeline of events, and examine the legal issues, including both Honduran and international law. While conclusions are left to the final section, this analysis does make it clear that the removal of Zelaya violated the Honduran Constitution, which was the threshold event triggering international involvement.

Also in this section, troubling questions of US involvement in the coup are surfaced. Additionally, politicization of the Library of Congress, which produces key research reports on which the US Congress depends, is demonstrated. Just as corrupt intelligence from the Office of Special Plans led the US into an unnecessary war and occupation in Iraq, research written with an agenda can deceive the Congress and the Administration into disastrous foreign policy decisions.

(Continued from Part 1. Crossposted at DailyKos by my MR co-blogger Charles Utwater.)

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Whom the gods would destroy, Part One: The Crisis in Honduras

7:02 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Introduction: Antecedents. The expulsion of President Zelaya of Honduras and the "politics of destruction" deployed against Bill Clinton both represented illegitimate attempts to remove popular progressive political leaders. In each case, a few very wealthy men employed a campaign of defamation, amplified by media under their influence or control, to weaken the Executive. The attacks were characterized by wild accusations against the Presidents of involvement in drugs, financial crimes, and lust for power, as well as by a tone of exaggerated anti-communism.

Using control of the Congress and highly-politicized courts, a pseudo-legal process was used to accuse the Presidents of civil crimes and eventually to initiate proceedings to remove them from office. In the case of Honduras, a military coup was used to complete the process of usurpation of power. This politics of seizing power by creating a furor based on falsehoods has rendered both nations incapable of solving major problems that are tending toward economic, social, and ecological collapse.

This diary is the first of a well-documented multi-part series.

(Crossposted at DailyKos as a diary by my MR co-blogger Charles Utwater.)

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