You can access all the past editions of The Daily Planet on the green Category bar on the top of each page under the heading PlanetPOV.
Nearly 300 Cambodian workers at a factory that manufactures clothing for H&Mmysteriously took ill this week, according to a Reuters report on Thursday. At least 284 employees collapsed on Tuesday and Thursday at M&V International Manufacturing in Kompong Chhang province, 56 miles away from Phnom Penh, with some reporting a pungent odor before fainting. “Workers smelled something bad coming from the shirts,” Norn Leakhena, a worker at the factory, tells the news agency. Officials are blaming the faintings on the “weak” health of the workers, noting that the factory will be suspending operations until next week to allow its 4,000 workers to rest. H&M is investigating the faintings, but said that the government, local authorities, and UN’s International Labour Organization have found no “plausible causes so far.” […]
The M&V incident isn’t an isolated one, however. H&M says it’s consulting with state agencies, workers, and third-party inspectors to uncover what happened after 300 workers fell sick at a separate facility in Phnom Penh in July. But human-rights organizations are blaming the faintings on forced overtime on meager salaries that sustain hundreds of thousands of rural poor.
Human-rights organizations are blaming the faintings on forced overtime on meager salaries that sustain hundreds of thousands of rural poor.
In April, after Reuters reported 104 faintings over a two-day period at a Puma footwear factory, the sports giant commissioned an independent query from the Washington-based Fair Labor Association. Following its analysis, which concluded that chemical exposure, poor ventilation, and exhaustion were “strong possibilities” for the spate of illnesses, Puma initiated a plan that limited work hours to 60 per week.
Whether the same causes are behind the M&V situation remains to be seen, but anecdotal evidence points in that direction. “In the beginning, the smell was fine but after years, workers can’t take anymore,” Leakhena, the M&V factory worker, says.
David Graeber: Yes there’s a standard story we’re all taught, a ‘once upon a time’ — it’s a fairy tale.
It really deserves no other introduction: according to this theory all transactions were by barter. “Tell you what, I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow.” Or three arrow-heads for that beaver pelt or what-have-you. This created inconveniences, because maybe your neighbor doesn’t need chickens right now, so you have to invent money.
The story goes back at least to Adam Smith and in its own way it’s the founding myth of economics. Now, I’m an anthropologist and we anthropologists have long known this is a myth simply because if there were places where everyday transactions took the form of: “I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow,” we’d have found one or two by now. After all people have been looking since 1776, when the Wealth of Nations first came out. But if you think about it for just a second, it’s hardly surprising that we haven’t found anything.
Think about what they’re saying here – basically: that a bunch of Neolithic farmers in a village somewhere, or Native Americans or whatever, will be engaging in transactions only through the spot trade. So, if your neighbor doesn’t have what you want right now, no big deal. Obviously what would really happen, and this is what anthropologists observe when neighbors do engage in something like exchange with each other, if you want your neighbor’s cow, you’d say, “wow, nice cow” and he’d say “you like it? Take it!” – and now you owe him one. Quite often people don’t even engage in exchange at all – if they were real Iroquois or other Native Americans, for example, all such things would probably be allocated by women’s councils.
So the real question is not how does barter generate some sort of medium of exchange, that then becomes money, but rather, how does that broad sense of ‘I owe you one’ turn into a precise system of measurement – that is: money as a unit of account?
By the time the curtain goes up on the historical record in ancient Mesopotamia, around 3200 BC, it’s already happened. There’s an elaborate system of money of account and complex credit systems. (Money as medium of exchange or as a standardized circulating units of gold, silver, bronze or whatever, only comes much later.)
So really, rather than the standard story – first there’s barter, then money, then finally credit comes out of that – if anything its precisely the other way around. Credit and debt comes first, then coinage emerges thousands of years later and then, when you do find “I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow” type of barter systems, it’s usually when there used to be cash markets, but for some reason – as in Russia, for example, in 1998 – the currency collapses or disappears.
Welfare Reform’s Record of Success?
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:
Over the 15 years since President Clinton and Congress reformed welfare in 1996, states have transformed what were previously their AFDC programs, which were primarily focused on providing income support, into work-based systems that tie cash assistance to participation in work or work-related activities such as job search.
In the early years of welfare reform, the combination of a strong labor market and state policies such as work mandates and work supports (like child care assistance) significantly increased employment among participants in TANF, a block grant that replaced AFDC. At the same time, however, many families left the welfare rolls without gaining employment, leading to a substantial increase in the number of families disconnected from both welfare and work.
Over the years, TANF has become less effective both in assisting working families affected by economic downturns and in helping very-low-income families in crisis. The result is a weakening safety net that is falling short of its promise to help families become self-sufficient and to protect families with children who are unable to work, often because of health problems.
Employment among single mothers increased substantially during the early years of welfare reform, but many of those early gains have been lost.
The data suggest that a strong labor market is central to the success of a work-based assistance system. In the early years of welfare reform, employment rates increased significantly among single mothers, including those with the lowest levels of education. However, as the economy has weakened, a substantial portion of the early gains have been lost.
The employment rate among single mothers with less than a high school education started increasing before the creation of TANF. It peaked in 2000 and then started to decline; by 2009 (the most recent year available) it had fallen back to 54 percent, the same level as in 1997.
TANF caseloads, unlike AFDC caseloads, haven’t responded to changes in the number of jobless single mothers.
In most years, the AFDC caseload rose and fell to reflect changes in the number of jobless single mothers. Beginning in 2002, however, the two trends diverged: the number of jobless single mothers started rising, while the number of families receiving TANF kept falling. While TANF caseloads have increased modestly more recently, the gap between the number of jobless single mothers and the number of families receiving assistance remains very wide.
TANF does far less to help families escape deep poverty than AFDC did.
TANF benefits are too low to bring many families out of poverty, but they can help reduce the depth of poverty. Unfortunately, TANF has proven far less effective at lifting families out of deep poverty — that is, incomes below half the poverty line — than AFDC did, mostly because fewer families receive TANF benefits than received AFDC benefits. (The erosion in the value of TANF benefits also contributed.)
In 2005 (the latest year for which data are available), TANF lifted 650,000 children out of deep poverty — just a fraction of the 2.2 million children that AFDC lifted out of deep poverty a decade earlier. In 1995, AFDC lifted 62 percent of children who would otherwise have been below half of the poverty line out of deep poverty; by 2005, this figure for TANF was just 21 percent. If TANF had been as effective at keeping children out of deep poverty in 2005 as AFDC was in 1995, there would have been 1.1 million very poor children in 2005; instead, there were 2.4 million.
LOS ANGELES — As they stood on the bank, the small and eager group exchanged the requisite disparaging jokes about the Los Angeles River, best known for its uninviting concrete channels that make many think of a drainage ditch.“Every great city has a river,” said Steve Reizes, 50, a property manager who occasionally bikes along part of the river to commute between his home in Sherman Oaks and his office downtown. “They market riverfront properties and restaurants and all kinds of things. Why shouldn’t we have that, too?”
The 280 spots for the trips sold out within 10 minutes this month. Mr. Reizes used two computers to ensure that he could get a pair of the $50 tickets, a strategy usually associated with diehard fans looking for seats at a hot concert.
Just a few years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers decreed that the river was not even a river, with parts of it too dry to be considered much of a waterway. But last year, the Environmental Protection Agency reversed that decision and said that the 51-mile river could be navigated like any other, although parts of it can dry to a trickle at times. This summer, the corps granted a limited permit to the Los Angeles Conservation Corps that would allow a set number of paddlers on a 1.5 mile stretch for seven weekends. […]
Most of those on the water had seen stretches of the river before, using the bike path and walkways that line it in some parts, visiting a bird preservation area. And one participant confided that the concrete banks served as a good hideout for smoking marijuana when he was a teenager.
(This is the bird sanctuary right near where we live.)
The view from the water seemed wholly different somehow. The two-and-a-half-hour trip had plenty of stretches that felt worlds away from the city. When the group spotted a great blue heron on a branch, a reverent silence fell. The paddling stopped for a few moments as they watched the bird open its wings and glide through the sycamores.
The cameras came out again moments later when a few egrets were kind enough to stay still, stretching their long graceful necks like Hollywood starlets.
And while it was far easier to spot plastic bags and rusting shopping carts than fish, a few people waved from the banks, where they were reeling in catfish that they said they would eat for dinner that night.
As the boaters glided through the final stretch of calm water, it was hard for them to square this bucolic scene with the concrete vistas that they knew so well elsewhere on the river.
“Why didn’t they ruin this part?” one participant wondered.
The sentiment was exactly what Mr. Wolfe and other advocates wanted to hear. “We’re at a tipping point — once they let people on, nobody will want to come off,” he said. “If this is the will of the people, politicians will have a hard time arguing that this isn’t an attraction.”
As the group pulled the boats ashore near the Sepulveda Dam, the afternoon sun inspired a round of celebratory beers. But on the van ride back to the starting point, Lavanya Mahendran lamented the absence of a waterfront bar.
“Instead, we’re all going to go our own ways,” she said. “And just have to hope we can come back to a river again.”
(This is what the L.A. River used to look like everywhere:)
(This is a great site with tons of info and maps!)
Economic damage costs to date in the US exceed $35 Billion. Here is a preliminary summary of 9 U.S. Billion dollar disasters that have occurred so far in 2011:
Upper Midwest Flooding, Summer, 2011 Melting of an above-average snow pack across the Northern Rocky Mountains combined with above-average precipitation caused the Missouri and Souris Rivers to swell beyond their banks across the Upper Midwest (MT, ND, SD, NE, IA, KS, MO). An estimated 11,000 people were forced to evacuate Minot, North Dakota due to the record high water level of the Souris River, where 4,000 homes were flooded. Numerous levees were breached along the Missouri River, flooding thousands of acres of farmland. Estimated losses exceed $2.0 billion as the event continues to unfold (as of 8/15). The flooding also stretched into the Canadian Prairies, where property and agriculture losses were expected to surpass $1.0 billion, at least 5 deaths.
Mississippi River flooding, Spring-Summer, 2011 Persistent rainfall (nearly 300 percent normal precipitation amounts in the Ohio Valley) combined with melting snowpack caused historical flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Estimated economic loss ranges from $2.0-4.0 billion; at least 2 deaths. Below are more detailed stats, which are preliminary, as the event continues to unfold (as of 8/15): $500 million to agriculture in Arkansas; $320 million in damage to Memphis, Tennessee; $800 million to agriculture in Mississippi; $317 million to agriculture and property in Missouri’s Birds Point-New Madrid Spillway; $80 million for the first 30 days of flood fighting efforts in Louisiana.
Southern Plains/Southwest Drought, Heatwave, & Wildfires, Spring-Summer, 2011 Drought, heatwave, and wildfires have created major impacts across the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, southern Kansas, and western Arkansas and Louisiana. In Texas and Oklahoma, respectively, 75% and 63% of range and pasture conditions were classified in ‘very poor’ condition as of mid-August. Wildfire fighting/suppression costs for the region are also ~$1 million / day with over 2,000 homes and structures lost. The total direct losses (as of August 15) to agriculture, cattle and structures are well over $5.0 billion; both direct and total economic losses will rise dramatically as the event continues.
Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, May 22-27, 2011 […]
Southeast/Ohio Valley/Midwest Tornadoes, April 25-30, 2011[…]
Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, April 14-16, 2011 […]
Southeast/Midwest Tornadoes, April 8-11, 2011 […]
Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, April 4-5, 2011 […]
Groundhog Day Blizzard, Jan 29-Feb 3, 2011 […]
[…] The drug will come with a high financial cost to society. Pfizer says it will cost $9,600 a month, or $115,000 for patients who take it for a year. In clinical trials, the average duration of treatment was between 22 and 32 weeks, but because the drug appears to extend patients lives, many may be on it for far longer than that. One study, presented at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, said that 60% of patients on Xalkori were alive after two years, compared to 9% in historical controls.
However, Pfizer is making efforts to make sure that patients themselves don’t have to pay the cost. It says that it will cover insurance copayments that are more than $100, and that it will give the drug away free to eligible patients who are either uninsured or under-insured.
Only 5% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer have the mutation in the ALK gene that Xalkori targets, but lung cancer is so common that this still represents some 9,000 people each year. In one study of 136 patients, half of patients responded to the drug, based on scans of their tumors.In a second study, 61% of patients responded. Three patients saw their tumors disappear from the scans. […]
A new age of medicines will work very well in a select few. But many disease sufferers may need several new drugs at once to have an effect–and, unlike older combination drugs, some of these medicines may work only as combinations, not by themselves. That scares the FDA and drug companies both. But pharmaceutical firms have shown new willingness to develop drugs for very rare diseases partly because they have found they can charge a small fortune for the ones that work.
Is President Obama allowing millions of Central Americans to live in the United States illegally as part of his secret plan to destroy “White America”? According to William Gheen of the group Americans For Legal Immigration, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Gheen told a conservative talk radio show earlier this week that if things don’t improve under “Dictator Obama,” patriotic Americans may resort to possibly violent, “revolutionary means.” (Gheen, as Media Matters pointed out, has been a frequent presence on Fox News and at tea party rallies). Here’s what Gheen told talk show host Janet Mefferd:
What Janet Napolitano has spent most of her time doing in the last couple of months has been, one, preparing the new spy network that’s available now, the new data-collecting, see everything you do online, beyond the normal terrorist list that they’re creating, they’re creating a much larger list now of people who might be troublesome here in the country. And putting out videos and propaganda telegraphing what I believe to be a conflict with White America they’re preparing for after they get another 10 or 15 million people in the country to back them up…
We’re no longer referring to him as President Barack Obama, our national organization has made the decision and made the announcement we now refer to him as Dictator Barack Obama. That’s what he is. And basically at this point, if you’re looking for a peaceful, political recourse there really isn’t one that we can think of, and I’m really not sure what to tell people out there than I guess they need to make decisions soon to just accept whatever comes next or some type of extra-political activities that I can’t really talk about because they’re all illegal and violent.
Gheen has since clarified (sort of) that he doesn’t personally support violence as a political tool, but believes President Obama isn’t leaving freedom-loving Americans with much a choice. (Gheen previously made news when he called Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) gay at a tea party rally and alleged that Graham’s supposedly closeted lifestyle was being used as blackmail toforce him to adopt more moderate stances on immigration.)
It’s worth noting that Gheen’s conspiracy theory, while extreme, isn’t so far removed from what actual elected officials are saying. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who famously suggested that terrorists were smuggling babies across the border as part of a stealth jihad, revealedon Tuesday that Democrats were secretly planning to register undocumented residents to vote in the November elections. Gohmert, citing no one in particular, alleged that it would be part of a “quid pro quo”—”we allow you to stay illegally and make sure you go down and vote.” ACORN!
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic:
Jay Rosen, the astute press critic, is giving a speech on Friday about the problematic ways the political press covers presidential campaigns. It’s a subject a lot of folks have addressed over the years, so it’s impressive that he’s added value to the conversation. Here is one especially noteworthy passage:
When journalists define politics as a game played by the insiders, their job description becomes: find out what the insiders are doing to “win” the game. Reveal those tactics to the public because then the public can … well, this is where it gets dodgy. As my friend Todd Gitlin once wrote, news coverage that treats politics as an insiders’ game invites the public to become “cognoscenti of their own bamboozlement.”
Isn’t that a memorable phrase?
Of course, the news consumer who revels in reading about the insider game never imagines, any more than do journalists who report on it, that they’re potentially being bamboozled in the process.
They regard themselves as insiders … which brings us to Rosen’s next argument:
In politics, our journalists believe, it is better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere, thoughtful, or humane. Savviness is what journalists admire in others. Savvy is what they themselves dearly wish to be. (And to be unsavvy is far worse than being wrong.)
Savviness is that quality of being shrewd, practical, hyper-informed, perceptive, ironic, “with it,” and unsentimental in all things political. And what is the truest mark of savviness? Winning, of course! Or knowing who the winners are.… Therefore the savvy don’t say: I have a better argument than you. They say: I am closer to reality than you.… What’s so weird about savviness is that it tries to position us as insiders, invited to speculate along with journalists and other players on how the mass public will react to the latest maneuverings. But the public is us. We are the public. But we are also the customers for the savviness product. Don’t you see how strange that is?
In case you answered “no,” he proceeds to explain:
Take the most generic “savviness question” there is. One journalist asks another: “How will this play with the voters?” Listening to that, how will this play with the voters, haven’t you ever wanted to shout at your television set, “Hey buddy … I’m a voter! Don’t talk about me like I’m not in the room when I’m sitting right here watching you.” This is what’s so odd about savviness as a political style performed for the public. It tries to split the attentive public off from the rest of the electorate, and get us to join up with the insiders. Under its gaze, other people become objects of political technique.
For Rosen, the result is a press that focuses public attention on a lot of stuff that shouldn’t actually matter. “In campaign coverage, nothing is more common that a good lesson in candidate strategy: how Mitt Romney plans to capture the nomination by skipping the Iowa caucuses,” he argues. “That’s what fascinates the pros, the insiders. But think about it for moment: Should we give our votes to the candidate with the best strategy for capturing our votes?”
The incredible thing is that there are people who think so. Let’s shift gears to a 2007 op-ed by Mark Halperin, an insider political journalist if ever there was one:
MORE than any other book, Richard Ben Cramer’s “What It Takes,” about the 1988 battle for the White House, influenced the way I cover campaigns. I’m not alone. The book’s thesis — that prospective presidents are best evaluated by their ability to survive the grueling quadrennial coast-to-coast test of endurance required to win the office — has shaped the universe of political coverage. Voters are bombarded with information about which contender has “what it takes” to be the best candidate. Who can deliver the most stirring rhetoric? Who can build the most attractive facade? Who can mount the wiliest counterattack? Whose life makes for the neatest story?
Our political and media culture reflects and drives an obsession with who is going to win, rather than who should win. For most of my time covering presidential elections, I shared the view that there was a direct correlation between the skills needed to be a great candidate and a great president. The chaotic and demanding requirements of running for president, I felt, were a perfect test for the toughest job in the world. But now I think I was wrong. The “campaigner equals leader” formula that inspired me and so many others in the news media is flawed.
Yet it persists.
To put it mildly, al Qaeda has been on quite a losing streak recently.
A drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency killed Al Qaeda’s second-ranking figure in the mountains of Pakistan on Monday, American and Pakistani officials said Saturday, further damaging a terrorism network that appears significantly weakened since the death of Osama bin Laden in May.
An American official said that the drone strike killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the last year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner. Mr. Rahman was in frequent contact with Bin Laden in the months before the terrorist leader was killed on May 2 by a Navy Seals team, intelligence officials have said.
American officials described Mr. Rahman’s death as particularly significant as compared with other high-ranking Qaeda operatives who have been killed, because he was one of a new generation of leaders that the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death.
Rahman was frequently in close contact with bin Laden, serving as the leading liaison between the terrorist leader and al Qaeda affiliates. When U.S. forces killed bin Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahri took his place, Rahman was elevated to the #2 slot.
He didn’t quite make it four months in the position.
A U.S. official told the New York Times, “Atiyah was at the top of Al Qaeda’s trusted core. His combination of background, experience and abilities are unique in Al Qaeda — without question, they will not be easily replaced.”
This only serves to reinforce the perception that al Qaeda is struggling badly. Under the Obama administration, U.S. forces have now killed bin Laden, Rahman, al Qaeda financial chief Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and al Qaeda spiritual leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, among others.
What’s more, the underlying point of al Qaeda’s message throughout the Middle East — that terrorism and anti-Western violence are the only means towards social progress — has been proven false by the Arab Spring and the change that’s come in Egypt and elsewhere. It also comes as al Qaeda’s fundraising efforts, thought to be thriving a half-decade ago, are reportedly struggling badly.
And this is just al Qaeda; under the Obama administration, the counter-terrorism successes go even further. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s top military commander, was captured. High-profile terrorists have been killed — Hakimullah Mehsud, Baitullah Mehsud, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan — while many more have been arrested — Najibullah Zazi, Talib Islam, and Hosam Maher Husein Smadi.
I’m sure Rudy Giuliani and Liz Cheney will be along any minute now to tell us how all of these developments are evidence of Obama administration weakness.
This is not to say the larger terrorist threats against the West are gone; they’re not. But al Qaeda appears to be reeling, and the terrorist threat appears to be significantly reduced. This larger trend is clearly heartening.
[…] Aug. 24, 2011
To: All Internet Operatives and Interns
Re: Internet Operations — For Immediate and Aggressive Implementation
CONFIDENTIAL — EYES ONLY
You’ve all been working hard, and it’s paying off. Obama’s numbers are plummeting as I type this. Congratulations all around. But we can’t afford to be complacent now.
I just want to briefly go over a few Mission Points with you.
1. Main mission: Infiltrate all liberal web sites, posing as disaffected liberals with liberal-sounding user names, icons and signatures. (Reference Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, FDR, Smedley Butler, Bill Clinton, etc.)
2. Express. Disappointment. With. Obama. (Whining pays double!) (jk!)
3. Push primary challenge. Push third party. Push Green. Push Socialist. Push write-in voting. Push non-voting to “send a message.”
4. Effective memes/talking points:
“Obama is a DINO.”
“Obama is no different than a Republican.”
“Obama has sold us out.”
“It feels good to vote your conscience.”
“It feels good to stick to your principles.”
“Don’t be trapped into voting for the lesser of two evils.”
“We need to punish Obama and the Democrats by not voting.”
“We’d be better off with a Republican in the White House.”
“Obama is a war-mongering, torturing, corporatist shill.”
I simply cannot emphasize this point enough: No meme is too extreme or radical. “Obama is worse than Bush!” “Obama is a war criminal!” Remember: the reader thinks he is reading the opinion of a fellow liberal. It’s all about peer suggestibility, people. Keep expanding the Overton Window. The more you push a radical notion, the more likely a slightly less radical notion becomes acceptable. Someone else said it this way: “The bigger the lie, the more likely people will believe it.”
So take it over the top. Absolutely nothing is outside the realm of plausibility. “Obama is an alien from the planet Negron.” I like it!
The libs are disappointed that Obama hasn’t turned America into a socialist paradise by now, but they’re lazy and spoiled, not savvy and proactive like us. They think that by whining on a liberal web site they’re engaging in some sort of “activism.” They’re “holding Obama’s feet to the fire.” They actually believe that DC policymakers or their staffers somehow have the time to read every ridiculous liberal blog. They don’t get it that the only ones reading their whiny little rants are–wait for it–other liberals. So they’re actually doing a whole lot of heavy lifting for us with all their dis-motivating buzz-kill, and we want to encourage them as much as possible. When your enemy is engaged in a circular firing squad, pass them the ammo!
Look, we suckered all those nutjob Christian fundies out of their votes and their money. LIberals are almost as easy to fool!
You’ve done great work so far. At this point, many of the liberal blog sites are virtually indistinguishable from RedState. (And can you imagine us on RedState trashing our own candidate? Riiiight.) On most liberal sites, anyone praising Obama is hounded and laughed out of town. Seeya later, blackwaterdog! We, with the help of the libs, have made it uncool to approve of or admit to liking Barack Obama on a liberal web site! Obama-trashing is now in vogue! Is this a great country, or what?!
Remember, in 2000, the Greens helped us put George in the White House by chanting that Al Gore was the same as Dubya! That George W. Bush was the same as the biggest liberal around! And libs bought that! They’ve obviously got a serious masochistic streak, so let’s hand them a whip! (Can you imagine what America would be like today if we’d had that commie wuss Al Gore in the White House for eight years? Gives me goosebumps!)
The Internet was liberals’ most effective weapon against us, for spreading lies and motivating other libs to vote and volunteer and donate, but not any more! Now the only effect of liberal blog sites is to sap enthusiasm and deter liberals from voting, period. We have monkey-wrenched our enemy’s strength and turned it into a liability. The Republican Party owes Karl’s Keyboard Kommandoes a huge debt of gratitude. You were instrumental in keeping Democrats home last November, and look what happened: we took back the House! I only wish I could thank you all in person. Mmmwahhh!
I know most of you work at home, but here at Crossroads I sometimes hear you guys yelling across your cubicles. “Hey, rec me on Kos! I’m owning those liberal schmucks! That’s another Prius-load of Dims staying home! Spurn, baby, spurn! It’s a beautiful thang!”
Gotta love that energy!
But we can’t let up now. Now is the time to work even harder to sow and fertilize discontent out there in lib-land. The debates have begun and soon a front-runner will emerge for the libs to focus on and sling their mud at, instead of their own guy. (Go Ricky! Either or both! The Ricky/Ricky ticket! Anybody but that grotesque, hideous beotch from the Klondike!)
If Obama manages to steal a second term, he could be an unfettered loose cannon and inflict irreparable damage on our Republic. Two words: Supreme. Court. We just can’t afford to let Obama pack the SCOTUS with liberal activist judges.
The long-overdue Citizens United decision means that finally our friends in business will no longer be muzzled from speaking out politically, so now our voices will have the full force of our resources behind them. Here at Crossroads we’re poised to spend $20 million for ad campaigns spreading the truth, and the sky’s the limit.
And we also have to acknowledge the work of our fellow patriots at the RNC and Heritage and CFG and AEI, etc., and all the private grassroots blog-warriors out there as well, such as the excellent Advantage Consultants. You guys are our Republican Underground, freedom fighters prosecuting our mission in the trenches on a daily basis. And don’t think we don’t recognize your commendable job of scrubbing all the filthy liberal lies out of Wikipedia.
Here are some helpful answers to your Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Some libs are wise to us. A Rand Paul staffer got caught on Daily Kos last year. What if I am called out as a mole or troll?
A: No problem; actually an opportunity. Simply accuse the accuser of being a troll for Obama and the DNC, of trying to stifle dissent. (Libs are suckers for that kind of stuff.)
Say, “It’s not a crime to criticize the president!” Or, “So I’m not allowed to say anything bad about Obama?” It’s a straw man that works every time. Try this: “Nobody’s gonna shut me up! I’m gonna keep on speaking out! Attica! Attica!”
Q: What do I do if the libs confront me with Obama’s accomplishments? What if they start rattling off all the liberal crap he’s foisted on the American people?
A: Just come back with the “warmongering corporatist torturer” bit (I know–he’s a piker, he sucks at it, but some of them will actually believe that). Mere laughing dismissal is often very effective. Usually all it takes is an LOL. Call your attackers “Obamabots.” Accuse them of mindless fawning, of worshipping their “saviour.” Dismiss the positive, accentuate the negative. Reference Paul Krugman and Glenn Greenwald. We know Obama hosed us on the debt ceiling deal, for example, but the libs think he sold out. That’s the spin we want to push. And it won’t hurt to ramp up the vitriol and nastiness. We want to make every liberal site an unpleasant place to visit.
Q: What if some of this criticism does reach Obama’s radar and he starts going even more leftist or tries to kick Republican butt? Won’t that backfire on us?
A: Nothing would be better! Bring it, O man! We’ve already managed to inform a big chunk of the electorate that Obama is in truth an angry, racist, America-hating communist. If we can goad him to the point where he stops playing rope-a-dope with us and starts acting like the thuggish, belligerent, socialist dictator we know him to be in reality, we win. We want nothing more than for him to lose his temper and get all pushy and uppity (I love that word!) and uncompromising. Heck, if he gets uppity enough, we might have some traction on an impeachment move. Admittedly, it’s frustrating that he has kept his cool no matter what we throw at him. His phony act of being so consistently goddamned adult and steady and reasonable and sober and bipartisan is what has made all our people in comparison look like stubborn, childish, maudlin, jingoistic, perverted, hypocritical, narcissistic, grandstanding, demented, ignorant, freak-show corporatist whores who don’t give a shit about America. And they’re not. Not at all. Nope. Not all of them. No way, Hozay!
Q: Is our work really that effective? I mean, how many people actually read these liberal blogs?
A: Your work is very effective, or we wouldn’t be paying you. True, the people who visit these liberal sites might be a tiny percentage of the population, but they are the most political, the most likely to get involved in organizing, volunteering and fundraising. In other words, the core. If we can raise enough doubts among the core, and constantly reinforce those doubts through peer suggestibility, we will in essence drive a stake through the heart of the Democrat party. And that is a good day’s work, my friends!
Q: He got Osama bin Laden. How the hell do we spin that?
A: Easy: “Obama assassinated a foreign leader without a trial.” “Obama should be tried for murder before an international court of law.” “They didn’t even read bin Laden his Miranda rights, or offer him counseling!”
People, the bottom line is that I don’t care what you do, or what it takes. We get it. The libs don’t. We know it’s all about votes, and the money and enthusiasm and volunteering that gets votes. The guy who goes to the White House in 2013 will have either an R after his name, or a D. Do we want the party of Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi and Sherrod Brown in our house, or do we want the party of Grover Norquist, Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers? So, all eyes on the prize, which is: Keeping those godless, America-hating libs away from the voting booths!
We want to make this the new theme song of the Democrat party:
(To the tune of the In-N-Out jingle)
Sit it out!
Sit it out!
That’s what a Dem-ocrat is
Onward to the Hundred-Year Majority!
And remember: The month’s top poster wins a dream lunch with KR!
Yours in liberty, free enterprise, and purity of purpose,
8:26 PM PT: Wow, 50 HRs and counting. I stepped into a nest of rattlesnakes, I guess. I used to love this site years ago, but now I’m sick over what it has become. All I tried to do was hold up a mirror, and maybe some here didn’t like what they saw. When so much of the work here is so closely aligned with that of our enemies (yes, the Republican party is my enemy), then I think we need to question what effect we’re having. Of course this is interpreted by some (defensively, I feel) as an admonition to stop criticizing President Obama, and that is completely missing the point. We are talking mostly to each other here, so a constructive purpose of dissent on DK would be to rally others to action. What action are we rallying our fellow Kossacks to take?
8:51 PM PT: My greatest disappointment: Apparently no one got the reference of “Spurn, baby, spurn!” Didn’t anyone here see “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”?
And to think, Ron Paul struggles to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.
After a lunch speech today, Ron Paul slammed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, and said that no national response to Hurricane Irene is necessary.
“We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960,” Paul said. “I live on the gulf coast, we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.
“There’s no magic about FEMA. They’re a great contribution to deficit financing and quite frankly they don’t have a penny in the bank. We should be coordinated but coordinated voluntarily with the states,” Paul told NBC News. “A state can decide. We don’t need somebody in Washington.”
To be sure, this isn’t exactly surprising. It’s consistent with everything we know about Ron Paul and his ideology.
But for the record, let’s take a moment to note just how misguided his worldview really is.
As a factual matter, natural disasters hit American communities in 1900, and in time, they’d recover. But “in time” is the key part of that sentence — families and communities would struggle for a very long time to get back on their feet before federal agencies played a role in disaster response. FEMA isn’t “magic,” but so long as we overlook 2001 to 2008, it is an efficient, effective agency that’s proven itself very capable of providing much-needed assistance to hard-hit areas. If Galveston is ever hit again by hurricane, I suspect Ron Paul’s constituents be very glad to see FEMA on the scene.
What’s more, voluntary coordination among states is a recipe for one outcome: failure. Cash-strapped states barely have the resources for schools and law enforcement; the notion that they’ll be able to prepare and respond to a natural disaster, and rebuild in its wake, without any federal role whatsoever, is ridiculous.
If Mississippi, which is not at all a wealthy state, gets hits by a hurricane, will it have the financial wherewithal to provide for the affected areas? For that matter, would Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana — none of which is wealthy — be able to effectively put together a “voluntary coordination” plan in the event of a natural disaster?
As Jay Bookman explained a few months ago, “A state suffering destruction on such a scale cannot be told to suck it up and pull itself up by its own bootstraps. After all, it is moments such as these that put the ‘United’ in the United States. We are not self-contained human units each out to maximize individual wealth and consumption; we are Americans, and we help each other out.”
On the list of things Americans can and should expect from the federal government, “disaster relief” should be one of the few responsibilities that the left and right can endorse enthusiastically. It’s something people can’t do for themselves; it’s something states can’t afford to do; and struggling communities can’t wait for the invisible hand of the free market to lift them up, especially since it’s a market private enterprise isn’t eager to enter.
“We should be like 1900”? No thanks.
Extreme Liberal’s Blog:
Fellow liberals — listen up. President Obama and the Democratic Party are looking great going into 2012. Don’t let the media or our opponents on both the right and the faux left discourage you, that is their goal. The media wants every election to be close, it increases their ratings and we all know that is the only thing they care about anymore. Journalism, shmournalism! And of course the Teapublicans aren’t even living in the same reality as the rest of the country, they are running around chasing phantom problems that don’t really exist and holding prayer rallies.
As I always remind myself heading into an election year, 95% or more of the American people don’t pay a damn bit of attention to what is happening in politics until the conventions and debates start up. Sure, the hard core party folks are engaged in the primaries, but we know how many people actually vote in the primaries. The real fun doesn’t start until next summer, when people will begin to pay attention. Most everything that happens until then, will never even be seenor heard by that 95% of people who are going to work, playing softball, going to the beach, camping, going for bike rides and just hanging around the porch talking about bullshit. More of these people are aware of what Snookie did in Italy than anything that is happening in Washington.
So I say to you fellow liberals, don’t get bogged down in the heat of the moment. Don’t let current perceptions and media generated memes get you down or affect your motivation. We have an ace in the hole, President Barack Obama. Anyone who doubts his political abilities is fucking stupid, if you ask me. And when you consider all the stupid shit the Teapublican’s have done over the last 2 and 1/2 years that will be used as ammunition against them — once the campaigns get rolling in earnest, it’s going to be fun as hell to watch. The President has given us a taste of it in the last few weeks, but wait until he gets going.
When people try to get you to play the negative meme game or the “woe is me, I didn’t get my pony game” — be polite, cite some facts, some accomplishments, but mostly stay positive and remember that if the pundits were right, President George H.W. Bush would have served a second term.
Via Matt Yglesias, here’s David French at National Review Online speaking about poverty:
It is simply a fact that our social problems are increasingly connected to the depravity of the poor. If an American works hard, completes their education, gets married, and stays married, then they will rarely — very rarely — be poor. At the same time, poverty is the handmaiden of illegitimacy, divorce, ignorance, and addiction. As we have poured money into welfare, we’ve done nothing to address the behaviors that lead to poverty while doing all we can to make that poverty more comfortable and sustainable.
French here is committing the sadly common sin of assuming a correlation indicates a causation, and he’s doing so in a way that conveniently reinforces his worldview. It is certainly true that people who complete an education and stay married are less likely to be poor. But it is not obvious that the former leads to the latter. Note that the second sentence quoted above:
If an American works hard, completes their education, gets married, and stays married, then they will rarely — very rarely — be poor.
can easily be reversed to say the following:
If an American has money, they will complete their education, get married, stay married, and find meaningful employment.
while still staying faithful to the correlation.
After all, these key things — education, a successful marriage, and a job — are a lot easier to come by if you’re not poor. What’s more, they’re a lot easier to come by if your parents weren’t poor. But just being born into a poor home means a person is going to have a much harder time coming by these key things that keep him or her out of poverty. That doesn’t make the person depraved. It makes the person a victim of circumstances.
Some of that can be remedied, of course, or at least mitigated, through job training programs, a better public education system, and other things. But those generally fall under the category of government, and French doesn’t want to cede a space for that. It’s far easier to say that the poor are poor because there’s something wrong with them.
Adam Sewer, American Prospect:
[…] My basic problem with (Ron) Paul is this: His conception of freedom is fairly simply expressed as the equation less government = more freedom. For someone like me, that equation is woefully inadequate, because the power of the federal government is sometimes necessary to ensure that people’s individual freedom isn’t being infringed upon by other sources.
In that light, Friedersdorf’s characterization of the Civil Rights Act as some anachronistic concern is a bit frustrating. Paul’s opposition to the bill suggests to me that as president, he wouldn’t strenuously enforce anti-discrimination laws, or protect the voting rights of language and ethnic minorities. We’re not talking about stuff that happens in black and white films. We’re talking about discrimination in employment, housing, police brutality. We’re talking Lilly Ledbetter and Safoorah Khan, we’re not talking about things that happened fifty years ago. This stuff isn’t “irrelevant.” We are talking about the federal government making sure that people are able to make a living or cast a ballot regardless of the color of their skin. And it’s a role for the federal government that Paul finds wrong in principle. These issues are “immediate and significant” to millions of Americans.
Friedersdorf is a civil libertarian, so his critique of Paul’s immigration policy focuses on his reprehensible position on repealing birthright citizenship. But Paul’s proposed immigration policy is, if anything, less forgiving than Obama’s. He opposes any path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and inexplicably for an anti-Drug Warrior, thinks we’re going to “secure the border” in a way that somehow outstrips the demand for immigrant labor or the ingenuity of market actors. Aside from supporting a border fence (so much for boondoggles!) he thinks we should end mandatory emergency room treatment for undocumented immigrants, which essentially makes illegal immigration a crime punishable by death via neglect. This doesn’t bother Paul though, because”Catholics want to help a lot of these people.” Obama’s immigration policy, until recently, has been incredibly aggressive, but at least it was part of a strategic effort to secure comprehensive reform, one that failed largely because of the bad faith of Republicans in Congress. The conditions under which Paul wants to “streamline” immigration policy can’t actually be met–and frankly I wouldn’t want them to be.
Is Paul going to unilaterally end the War on Drugs? I could imagine him being better than Obama in terms of things like not raiding medical marijuana dispenseries, but he can’t change federal law without Congress, which couldn’t even bring itself to completely repeal the crack/powder cocaine disparity. Take a look at how ICE reacted to Obama telling them to focus on deporting criminals instead of teenager and sick people, and you can get an inkling of the institutional backlash should Paul try to stop enforcement of federal drug laws. Is he going to stop state police from enforcing draconian drug laws in the states? Of course not, because he wants to leave them alone. Ending the War on Drugs is going to take more than a president, it’s going to take a nationwide shift in public policy, one that seems to be occurring already but will take time to come to fruition.
Friedersdorf told me in our Bloggingheads that civil liberties issues are the most important ones to him. I understand why Ron Paul appeals in this sense, because in issues of national security and foreign policy, where the president’s influence is at its height, Paul has taken positions that echo the ones Obama took as a candidate. We would probably fight fewer dumb wars and fewer shadow wars under a President Paul, but Friedersdorf’s faith in Paul’s ability to somehow unilaterally shift American national security policy, with all of its entrenched interests and stakeholders, through mere force of will, is folly. Maybe it’s comforting to think that Obama’s failures in this area are wholly personal, but they’re not. […]
My conception of personal freedom involves not just the absence of government interference, but within reason, a certain amount of freedom from need–the elderly shouldn’t live their twilight years in destitution, children should not lack for medical care because they were born into poverty, and getting cancer shouldn’t mean that you lose everything you own to pay for medical bills. It also means you don’t leave the states to dole out constitutional rights as they see fit. This is a profound philosophical difference that really can’t be bridged through Paul’s support for a less interventionist foreign policy and the rule of law. The American Prospect is a non-profit, so I’m not really comfortable writing here about who I voted for or who I plan to vote for in the future. But suffice it to say that while I share Paul’s views on a few things that matter very much to me, I’m not willing to toss everything else aside for that reason.
“Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is,” Romney said at a New Hampshire town hall event last night, after being criticized by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for being “mushy” on climate change. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.” Copying a Rick Perry line, Romney concluded: “What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.” He also said, “I do not believe in putting a carbon cap” on polluters. Two months ago, Romney said, “I believe that humans contribute” to global warming, “so it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.” A Romney aide told Reuters that “the candidate has not altered his position on climate change.”
Jonathan Alter, Bloomberg:
Tell me again why Barack Obama has been such a bad president? I’m not talking here about him as a tactician and communicator. We can agree that he has played some bad poker with Congress. And let’s stipulate that at the moment he’s falling short in the intangibles of leadership.
I’m thinking instead of that opening sequence in the show “Mission Impossible,” the one where Jim Phelps, played by Peter Graves, gets his instructions.
Your mission, Jim (and readers named something else), should you decide to accept it, is to identify where Obama has been a poor decision-maker. What, specifically, has he done wrong on policy? What, specifically, would you have done differently to create jobs? And what can any of the current Republican candidates offer that would be an improvement on the employment front?
I’m not interested in hearing ad hominem attacks or about your generalized “disappointment.”
I want to know, on a substantive basis, why you think he deserves to be in a dead heat with Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and only a few points ahead of Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann in a new Gallup Poll. Is it just that any president — regardless of circumstances and party — who presides over 9 percent unemployment deserves to lose?
Left, Right, Center
Every day you’re pummeling him from the right, left and middle. Senators John McCain andLindsey Graham even attacked the president for letting Libyan rebels take Tripoli instead of burying Muammar Qaddafi under American bombs months ago. Here we have the best possible result — the high probability of regime change for about one-thousandth of the cost of getting rid of Saddam Hussein and no bad feelings from the locals — and Obama gets savaged anyway.
Like everyone else, I’ve got my list of Obama mistakes, from failing to break up the banks in early 2009 to neglecting to force a vote on ending the Bush tax cuts when the Democrats still controlled Congress. He shouldn’t have raised hopes with “Recovery Summer” and “Winning the Future” until the economy was more durable. I could go on.
But do these miscalculations really mean it’s time for him to go?
Most of the bad feeling goes back to the first year or so of the Obama presidency. And in hindsight, those decisions really weren’t so bad. To prove my point, let’s review a few areas where he supposedly messed up.
A Few Rebuttals
From the left: “He should have pushed for a much bigger stimulus in 2009.”
That’s the view of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, now gospel among liberals. It’s true economically but bears no relationship to the political truth of that period. Consider that in December 2008, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a hardcore liberal Democrat, proposed a $165 billion stimulus and said he would be ecstatic if it went to $300 billion. President- elect Obama wanted to go over $1 trillion but was told by House Democrats that it absolutely wouldn’t pass. In exchange for the votes of three Republicans in the Senate he needed for passage, Obama reduced the stimulus to $787 billion, which was still almost five times Rendell’s number and the largest amount that was politically possible.
From the right: “The stimulus and bailouts failed.”
When Obama took office, the economy was losing about 750,000 jobs a month and heading for another Great Depression. The recession ended (at least for a while) and we now are adding several thousand jobs a month — anemic growth, but an awful lot better than the alternative. How did that happen? Luck?
Fed, Stimulus, TARP
All the bellyaching ignores that the Federal Reserve’s emergency policies stabilized the financial system, and that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the stimulus increased economic growth and saved or created millions of jobs. According to the Treasury Department, taxpayers will end up actually making money on the bank bailouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Obama inherited from the previous administration.
The Republican alternative for job creation wasn’t tax cuts (the stimulus contained almost $300 billion in tax cuts) but deficit reduction and rolling back regulation. I’ve yet to see a single economist convincingly argue how either would have reversed the catastrophic job losses.
From all sides: “He took his eye off jobs by pushing health care.”
Not really. Health care consumed enormous time and political capital in late 2009 and early 2010. But with the stimulus new and still being absorbed (with remarkably little scandal) into the American economy, it’s not as if health care distracted the president from another jobs program in that period. Sure, he should have rhetorically “pivoted to jobs” earlier, but substantively it wouldn’t have made much difference. And Republicans have offered no evidence for their claim that the Affordable Care Act (which includes tax credits for small businesses) has contributed to current levels of unemployment. How could it? The program hasn’t even fully begun yet.
The all-purpose explanation from the business community is “uncertainty.” We’re told that people, and enterprises, won’t invest because they aren’t sure about future taxes. This is a crock. “People invest to make money,” the noted lefty socialist Warren E. Buffett recently wrotein the New York Times, “and potential taxes have never scared them off.”
Again, from all sides: “He looked weak during the debt- limit debate.”
Yep. And if you were president and a group of extremists was pointing a gun at the head of the American economy, what would you have done? Invoking the 14th Amendment sounded satisfying, but a constitutional crisis layered on top of a debt-limit crisis would have been a fiasco, and probably would have ensured default as world markets spent months wondering who in the U.S. had the authority to pay our bills.
Elections involving incumbents are inevitably hire/fire decisions. With foreign policy mostly off the table, hiring a Republican means buying his or her jobs plan. Firing Obama means rejecting where he has come down on big decisions. He and Romney will unveil their jobs plans in September. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from Democrats, Republicans and especially independents who voted for Obama the last time but have given up on him now. Why?
Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to be specific and rational, not vague and visceral.
Town Hall: “Who are you the slave of?”
The first news that came out of the study, which was introduced by its authors — David E. Campbell, an associate professor of political science at Notre Dame, and Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, who are also the co-authors of the book, “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” — in a New York Times’ piece titled, “Crashing the Tea Party,” was that they found yet more evidence that the most durable myth about the phenomenon — that it is a grassroots uprising of what Profs. Campbell and Putnam called “nonpartisan political neophytes” — is patently false.
To the contrary, their research underscored what many observers have long-suspected — that the tea party is really nothing more than the same racist social conservatives who have been seeking dominion over American politics since the Reagan era.
But there was another finding from the study that is even more damning of the fake grassroots tea party phenomenon — a factor that makes the tea party’s total domination over Republican Party leaders in Congress even more puzzling:
[In] data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow brought this second factor to light in coverage of the study on Monday night. The chart above — which was created by MSNBC (see minute 07:23 in the top video to the right) based on data collected by professors Campbell and Putnam and which we have enhanced for readability — shows the approval ratings of the 24 most familiar, nationally known political groups and personalities, Campbell and Putnam referred to in the New York Times.
Here’s how Rachel Maddowdescribed the findings — the transcript picks up around the 06:40 mark in the top video to the right:
RACHEL MADDOW: The latest New York Times poll reveals the tea party is the most unpopular it has been since they started polling on the tea party’s favorability back in April last year.
The percentage of Americans who think the tea party movement has too much influence within the Republican Party is the highest it has ever been. This New York Times poll squares with most of the other polling out there. A CNN poll released around the same time, again, shows the unfavorability rating of the tea party at the highest point it’s ever been since they started polling on the tea party last year.
The tea party is not just really unpopular as a political group. They are among the least popular groups of any kind of Americans in politics and culture right now. According to data compiled recently by a pair of professors, one from Notre Dame, one from Harvard, the tea party ranks lowest in popularity of any of the 24 separate groups of Americans or individuals who they polled on.
All of these groups you see here are more popular than the tea party with Americans, broadly speaking.
The tea party is more unpopular than Muslims, nothing against Muslims, of course. The tea party is more unpopular than atheists as a group, again, nothing against atheists. Of all the groups in American politics you could conceivably think to ask anybody about — Democrats, Republicans, gay people, liberals, conservatives, Muslims, atheists, all of them, the tea party is the single least-respected, least-liked group in the entire country.
And I do not mean for that to seem ad hominen. I don’t mean this as an insult. I’m reading you the data.
If you asked America, would you want a Muslim president or a tea party president, the data shows that America would pick a Muslim president, not a fake Muslim president, but an actual Muslim president…
[This] does bring us to this question, and it’s an open question because I don’t know the answer to it. If you were the Republican Party and were going to give one of these groups of Americans veto power over who was going to be your presidential nominee — if you were going to declare that there could not be a Republican nominee unless that nominee got these people’s approval first — which of these groups would you — I mean, really? You would give that power to the one at the very, very bottom underneath the atheists?
…You cannot go anywhere in national Republican politics, certainly not in Republican presidential politics, as anything remotely appearing to be centrist. You cannot go anywhere unless you pledge fealty specifically to the tea party.
And who are they, again? They are these guys at the bottom of that list.
Why is that? Mathematically, why is that?
The Beltway explanation for this is that the tea party is such a new phenomenon and so unprecedented, nobody has dealt with anything like this. So there’s maybe just a “fear factor” among politicians, even though they may be very small and very unpopular and getting less popular all the time — even though they are getting more disrespected by most of the American people, politicians are scared of the tea party because the tea party is such a new thing.
But if you care to look at the data about it, instead of just listening to the Beltway jabber about it, the only other thing that is as clear about the tea party right now, as how unpopular and disliked they are — the only thing as clear as that — is hownot new they are.
From the people who have been studying these folks over time, and I quote:
Early on tea partiers were often described as non-partisan politic neophytes. Actually, the tea party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the tea party was born. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of tea party support today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being tea party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics … They were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006…
In other words, the tea party is the same old, same old Republican base it has always been. It’s the social conservative movement that we have known about for a very long time. There’s nothing new here. Republicans have been handling the issue of their base and dealing with this problem effectively for years. Why are they so flummoxed by it this year?
Not that anyone cares what we think, but this seems meaningful to me. From the new Pew Poll:
Changing Economic Priorities. As many Americans (47%) place a higher priority on spending to help the economy recover as on reducing the budget deficit (46%). In June, 52% said reducing the deficit was the higher priority while 42% said spending to help the economy recover was the higher priority.
Disgruntled Democrats. Currently, 61% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say their party is doing only a fair or poor job of standing up for its traditional positions, such as protecting the interests of minorities and helping the poor. Last fall, shortly after the midterm election, 50% said the party was doing only a fair or poor job in supporting the party’s traditional positions.
I think it’s fairly amazing that in an environment where there is absolutely no public discussion about government spending to help the economy recover that more and more people are demanding just that. It’s a tribute to the common sense of many Americans that they are able to see past the mountains of horseshit that’s being piled on daily and come to the obvious conclusion: people are hurting and it’s their government’s job, its raison d’etre, to use the tools at its disposal to try to fix the problem. Apparently it has not escaped the notice of half of Americans that this mumbo jumbo about the deficit and “confidence” and the rest isn’t addressing their concerns.
Moreover, and perhaps more interesting, is the fact that self-identified Democrats are finally waking up to the fact that their leaders aren’t acting like Democrats. After all, if you don’t believe in marshaling government power to mitigate the pain of average citizens in a time of crisis, then you should probably be in the other party.
I actually feel rather uplifted by this. If this much of the public can figure this out without anyone’s help, perhaps there’s some hope they can make the politicians listen.
Though a previous release showed voters were slightly happy with the results of the recent Wisconsin recall elections, that was because Republicans were more happy that they did not lose control of the Senate than Democrats were unhappy that they did not gain a third seat. By a one-point margin (48-47), Wisconsinites would actually prefer that Democrats control that body. Most of that is because Democrats have a three-point identification advantage in the state, as Republicans seem to now be a tad more enthusiastic about maintaining their majority than Democrats are wanting their party in charge, and independents split 43-42 for the GOP.
Wisconsin is not particularly eager to see same-sex marriage made legal. Only 39% want that, and half do not. But when voters are given three options, including civil unions, two-thirds want gay couples to at least have the same legal rights as married couples, if not the name. That includes 81% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and even 49% of Republicans.
Democrats express fairly positive views of their party’s congressional leaders – 53% approve of their job performance. But Democrats are increasingly critical of the party’s advocacy of its traditional positions, such as protecting the interests of minorities, helping the poor and needy and representing working people.
Currently, just 38% of Democrats and Democratic leaders say the party is doing an excellent or good job of standing up for its traditional positions; 61% say the party has done only a fair or poor job. Last November, following the party’s dismal showingin the midterm elections, Democrats and Democratic leaners expressed more positive views of how well the party was standing up for its traditional positions (48% excellent or good/ 50% only fair or poor).
Republicans and Republican leaners currently give about the same negative evaluations as Democrats of their party’s advocacy of its traditional positions – in the GOP’s case, on such things as reducing the size of government, cutting taxes and promoting conservative social values. Only about four-in-ten Republicans (39%) give their party excellent or good marks, while 59% say it has done only a fair or poor job. That represents little change from November 2010 (40% excellent/good, 52% only fair/poor).
Clarence Thomas writes one of the meanest Supreme Court decisions ever.
[…] I don’t think that the failure at the court is one of empathy. I don’t ask that Thomas or Scalia shed a tear for an innocent man who almost went to his death because of deceptive prosecutors. And, frankly, Ginsburg’s dissent—while powerful—is no less Vulcan in tone than their opinions. But this case is of a piece with prior decisions in which Thomas and Scalia have staked out positions that revel in the hyper-technical and deliberately callous. It was, after all, Scalia who wrote in 2009 that “this court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.” It was Thomas who wrote that a prisoner who was slammed to a concrete floor and punched and kicked by a guard after asking for a grievance form had no constitutional claim.
The law awards no extra points for being pitiless and scornful. There is rarely a reason to be pitiless and scornful, certainly in a case of an innocent man who was nearly executed. It leads one to wonder whether Thomas and Scalia sometimes are just because they can be.
Truthout via Center for American Progress:
Following a six-month long investigative research project, the Center for American Progress released a 130-page report today which reveals that more than $42 million from seven foundations over the past decade have helped fan the flames of anti-Muslim hate in America. […]
Donors Capital Fund
Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT),Middle East Forum(MEF), Clarion Fund(Clarion), David Horowitz Freedom Center (Horowitz)
Counterterrorism & Security Education and Research Foundation (CTSERF), Center for Security Policy (CSP), Horowitz
Lynde and HarryBradley Foundation
MEF, CSP, Horowitz
Russell Berrie Foundation
IPT, CTSERF, MEF
Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund
IPT,CTSERF, MEF, CSP, Clarion, Horowitz
IPT, MEF, CSP, Jihad Watch, Horowitz,American Congress for Truth
Newton and Rochelle Becker foundations
IPT, CTSERF, MEF, CSP, Clarion, Horowitz, American Congress for Truth
The money has flowed into the hands of five key “experts” and “scholars” who comprise the central nervous system of anti-Muslim propaganda: […]
This is how it ends for Glenn Beck. His Restoring Courage rally was sparsely attended by an estimated 1,000 people and largely ignored by the US media. Beck’s once rising star has now fallen into the gutter.
Glenn Beck had high hopes for Jerusalem. This was going to be his big post Fox News comeback. He has been using the Restoring Courage rally to hype and his soon to launch GBTV internet service. The first signs of trouble for Beck came when Think Progress noted that the venue was, “surprisingly small.” They never realized at the time that this small venue would feature empty seats.
[…] If you are looking for one word to sum up how Glenn Beck went from drawing 3 million viewers nightly on Fox News to seeing his audience plummet and Fox severing ties with him, that word would be dull. By believing his own hype while taking himself too seriously, Glenn Beck bored his fans into leaving him. After his Restoring Honor rally bombed last year, it was the height of self-delusion for him to think that thousands would follow him to Israel.
Glenn Beck was fine when he was the conservative rodeo clown providing a nightly dose of entertainment to the blue hairs that make up the Fox News audience, but his program became too dark, too paranoid, too religious, and too stuck on one paranoid conspiracy theory note to maintain its appeal.
Yossi Sarid seemed to speak for many Israelis who weren’t thrilled with having Beck’s circus in their country either, “Beck, Hagee and their swarm are anti-Semites, who are not even aware of their anti-Semitism and the extent of its ugliness. Or maybe they are. In recent years this anti-Semitism has not been directed mainly against Jews, for they have found the Arab substitute for it. Now they are using the Arabs to scare Israel and the Muslims to scare the world. And the white, Aryan lion will devour them and their undercover envoys such as Barack Hussein. The visit ended yesterday, the circus is folding its tent and moving elsewhere. Let’s pray it will not return soon. Mr. Beck, don’t come back. We’re not short of dangerous wackos here.”
The turnout for Restoring Courage proved one thing. Glenn Beck needed the platform of Fox News more than Fox News ever needed Beck. The media platform to push his dark wares is gone now, and for most of America it is out of sight out of mind as it relates to Glenn Beck.
FAIR’s Media Contact List: Contact national media and make your voice heard!
FAIR’s Media Activism Kit: A step-by-step guide to getting involved in media activism, from letter-writing to organizing a demonstration. Includes an essential resource list.
Online News Sources:Where to keep up with the news
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession. ~ Albert Camus