Sight update on the Iran “Situation”

PARIS — One day after it said it test-fired missiles capable of striking targets 1,250 miles from its soil, Iran said Tuesday it would soon offer a timetable for international inspectors to visit a hitherto secret nuclear enrichment facility, but was not prepared to renounce its nuclear program or debate its “rights” to operate the previously undeclared plant.

The existence of the facility near the holy city of Qum was revealed last Friday by President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain, at the same time as the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency’s announced that Tehran had informed it of the plant’s existence earlier in the week.

via Iran Insists on Its ‘Rights’ to Nuclear Program – NYTimes.com.

I’m a bit curious why the word “Rights” is in “Quotes” in this story.  According the to the NPT, Iran is within their rights (no quotes, real word) to have a civilians nuclear industry.   I understand the suspicion, but why the quotes here?

They don’t fit at all.  I was almost expecting this to have a Judith Miller byline.

On the other hand…

Whatever one’s reaction, the actions now taken in light of this news by Iran and the international community will be decisive. Obama, Brown, and Sarkozy were right to stress the need for the IAEA to investigate it seriously and for Iran to meet UN demands which it has heretofore disregarded. One can expect that the information revealed today will be used not only to press Iran to treat seriously the talks that are slated to begin on Oct. 1 in Geneva, but also to convince recalcitrant partners Russia and China (whose leaders are present in Pittsburgh but did not join Obama, Brown, and Sarkozy on the stage this morning) to support tough sanctions against Iran in the likely event that those talks prove inconclusive. If in fact Iran does not comply with international demands, then Moscow and Beijing will be put to the test — if they refuse to support sanctions even in light of this new deception by Tehran, they are unlikely ever to do so, and the U.S. and its allies will need to move forward without them or weigh other options.

Oh wait, that’s the same hand. 

Ahh, here’s the other hand, and the reason Iran wants nukes.

There is no good evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. It has offered to allow regular International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of the newly announced facility near Qom, which would effectively prevent it from being used for weapons production.

There is a secret nuclear facility in the Middle East, however, producing plutonium and not just enriched uranium, which has the capacity to make 10 nuclear warheads a year.

Here is a 3-D reconstruction of the most dangerous weapons plant in the Middle East, at Dimona in Israel.

And so it goes…let’s see if it goes to war again.

I think the likelihood of having hard core sanctions against Iran are fairly unlikely.  China was denied making deals with Hussein, Saddam, for oil in Iraq, so they went to Iran for energy.  If the sanctions target the energy industry (and what else is one going to target?), I would seriously doubt that China is going to be on board.

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Tea Party Protesters Protest D.C. Metro Service – Washington Wire – WSJ

Tea Party Protesters Protest D.C. Metro Service – Washington Wire – WSJ.

“These individuals came all the way from Southeast Texas to protest the excessive spending and growing government intrusion by the 111th Congress and the new Obama administration,” Brady wrote. “These participants, whose tax dollars were used to create and maintain this public transit system, were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capital did not make a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit for them.”

The irony, it burns.

The Audacity of a New Hope

The Audacity of a New Hope

The Audacity of  a New Hope
The Audacity of a New Hope

This post is more just a general clearinghouse of some of the more interesting articles I’ve come across lately, and a bit of a call for a ray of hope, somewhere along down the line.

First up is this diatribe by Camille Paglia [bio].  She takes no prisoners on either side.

By foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans, Democrats have managed to destroy the national coalition that elected Obama and that is unlikely to be repaired. If Obama fails to win reelection, let the blame be first laid at the door of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who at a pivotal point threw gasoline on the flames by comparing angry American citizens to Nazis. It is theoretically possible that Obama could turn the situation around with a strong speech on healthcare to Congress this week, but after a summer of grisly hemorrhaging, too much damage has been done. At this point, Democrats’ main hope for the 2012 presidential election is that Republicans nominate another hopelessly feeble candidate. Given the GOP’s facility for shooting itself in the foot, that may well happen.

I would mention one quick point of fact that Pelosi was just pointing out some of the more absurd rhetoric that many townhall and tea-bag protesters have adopted (parodied to wonderful effect by Tom the Dancing Bug here). Indeed, it was an illustration of Godwin’s Law and the sad fact that pointing out what others are doing in a ham-fisted way can often make it seem like one is doing it themselves.

I also disagree with her 2012 predictions, at least for the moment.  I wouldn’t mind being wrong on this.

Having said all that about the failures of my own party, I am not about to let Republicans off the hook. What a backbiting mess the GOP is! It lacks even one credible voice of traditional moral values on the national stage and is addicted to sonorous pieties of pharisaical emptiness. Republican politicians sermonize about the sanctity of marriage while racking up divorces and sexual escapades by the truckload. They assail government overreach and yet support interference in women’s control of their own bodies. Advanced whack-a-mole is clearly needed for that yammering smarty-pants Newt Gingrich, who is always so very, very pleased with himself but has yet to produce a single enduring thought. The still inexplicably revered George W. Bush ballooned our national deficits like a drunken sailor and clumsily exacerbated the illegal immigration debate. And bizarrely, the hallucinatory Dick Cheney, a fake-testosterone addict who spooked Bush into a pointless war, continues to be lauded as presidential material.

Which to me really sets up the point: the Democrats might be a bit reluctant to push forward their own agenda, but at least that agenda is rational.   As I mentioned a while back, even if the Democrat do try and compromise on the health care legislation, the Republicans are so worked up into a fervor by their fringe, now their Beck-led core, they can’t support anything the Obaminator supports without facing the wrath of the Fauxrage.

This problem is pinpointed in Tom Friedman’s horribly titled op-ed, “Our One-Party Democracy“.

The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.Look at the climate/energy bill that came out of the House. Its sponsors had to work twice as hard to produce this breakthrough cap-and-trade legislation. Why? Because with basically no G.O.P. representatives willing to vote for any price on carbon that would stimulate investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, the sponsors had to rely entirely on Democrats — and that meant paying off coal-state and agriculture Democrats with pork.

Indeed, when we look at the general response of the Beck-led nutjob Republican core, we see the same old mantra being brayed at high volume.

GLENN: Let me tell you something. For those of you who think climate change is real and manmade, you should know this, that — I mean, you don’t have to be a socialist, I guess, to believe in global warming. It’s just that almost everyone who does believe in global warming is a socialist. I mean, believes in manmade global warming that now can be fixed and reversed or whatever. And we’ve got the tools to fix it. Almost everybody who says, “I’ve got a plan to fix it” is a socialist.

So that’s about where we stand now.  A lot of serious, deep, and long term problems to solve.  One party that actually can see them but is afraid to do anything serious about them, and one party that seems to only see a black dude in the Oval Office and can’t come to terms with it.  Oh yeah, I, like Jimmy Carter, went there.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter said. “I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans”

Continued Carter, who is famously from Georgia: “And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

Just to be clear here, I don’t think all Republicans are racist, nor do I think anybody who disagrees with Obama or the Democratic policies are racist.  Nor do I think people who don’t understand science, or history are racist [1].

I do think, however, that the level of vitriol, disrespect, and suspicion aimed at the President has a serious racist element.  Gone is the notion of respectful disagreement.  It has been replaced with outright hatred.  Gone is the notion of “we know you think this is best, but believe you are wrong.”  It has been replaced with “He’s not even an American and we need to take our country back!

Gone is the notion that the Office of the President should be respected, in any way form or fashion.

It took George W. Bush nearly four years, and one terribly misguided war to reach this level of opposition.  It took Obama eight months of doing what he campaigned on to reach the same level of opposition.  There is obviously something else at work here.

Such was the audacity of Barack Obama, and those who voted for him.  Thinking that somehow, some way, those that lost the election would accept their defeat and work to re-invent a party that had lost its way in the support of torture and war and an absurd approach to health care.

Instead we got the Party of No.   A party led by those that want to see our country fail.  A party that sees fear around every corner, and steadfastly refuses to acknowledge their own failure, and complicity, in the problems we now face.

A party that, indeed, refuses to accept we even face these problems, and just keeps shouting “Liar!!” at those who painstakingly point them out.   And just keep shouting “No!!” at any and all proposed solutions simply because of who they are proposed by.

I hate to break to to you folks, but its not going to work.   It’s going to continually marginalize you, which is just going to make you angrier, which is just going to marginalize you further.

We need a sane and rational opposition party for our system of government to work.   We need someone to propose *better* ideas, and work to get those ideas implemented.  We need the sane Republicans to take back over their party.

And we need it soon.  *That*, my friends, is an audacious new hope.  And I hold it dear.

—-

[Pic source Our Nerd President brandishes a lightsaber after a fencing demonstration on the White House lawn today during a photo op to promote Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games.]

[1] That first link is for the climate change deniers.  The second link is for the “OMG!! Obama is hiring commie czars” people.

Charles Darwin biopic having trouble finding American distributor

Charles Darwin biopic having trouble finding American distributor

Paul Bettany plays Charles Darwin in Creation
Paul Bettany plays Charles Darwin in Creation

The next round of the war on culture is coming soon (or not) to a theatre near you.

From the Telegraph:

Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

I read this news with a rather heavy sigh.  When I read those numbers (and recall recent attacks on science in my homeland) I feel nothing but sadness and shame for my state.  After a weekend when the U.S. lost one of its great scientists, I can’t help by be bothered by the irony at work here [1].

On the one had, we have a scientist using the understanding brought to the world by Darwin on the functioning of living species.  Indeed, some of Darwin’s direct work was on the changes brought about in species of plants and animals that had been domesticated by our own.

This hand includes work that saved an estimated 245,000,000,000 lives by improving crop yields to such a degree that predictions of global collapse brought about by our species’ proclivity for reproduction [2].

For his insights into the nature of nature, Darwin is castigated as the embodiment of evil by some.

Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as “a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder”. His “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to “atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering”, the site stated.

The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as “a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying”.

This sad and hateful bias against science and explanatory theories, even as it saves millions of lives and averts global disaster, is a big part of why I have such issues with the conservative movement in the U.S.

People often lament about the lack of agreement is political circles about how to go forward given the deep problems we are currently facing.  In the case of politics, there is often a deeper and more rational reason for that divide, being that each of has has different life experiences which guide and inform our politics and therefore differ on how to properly deal with reality.

When it comes to science, however, the purpose of the scientific method t is to remove thae bias of personal experience and propose theories that *anyone* would find to be true if they collected their own data.  Sadly, however, the politics still come into it, as we will soon see when the next legislative battle regarding how to deal with global warming, and our responsibility to deal with *another* looming apocalypse comes to the political fore [previously foreshadowed here].

Perhaps there will be another Borlaug, using the insights of Darwin, to turn Gore into another Malthus.

One can only hope.

[1 source]

Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009)[1] was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate, and has been called the father of the Green Revolution.[2] Borlaug was one of only five people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.[3] He was also a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor.

During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations.[6] These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people from starvation.[7] He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

[2 source]

A Malthusian catastrophe (also called a Malthusian check, crisis, disaster, or nightmare) was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production. Later formulations consider economic growth limits as well. The term is also commonly used in discussions of oil depletion.

Based on the work of political economist Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), theories of Malthusian catastrophe are very similar to the subsistence theory of wages. The main difference is that the Malthusian theories predict over several generations or centuries, whereas the subsistence theory of wages predicts over years and decades.

Dick Army led by Dick Armey marches on Washington

Dick Army Marches on Washington
The Dick Army At Work.

All those folks that don’t want to pay taxes unless it is for torture and war marched on Washington, D.C. today.

The protests, organized by Fox News and FreedomWorks.org (Dick Armey’s lobbying firm) focused on how U.S. taxes should be cut to increase the deficit by even more than the $5,000,000,000,000 added during the last eight years.

“The government should be concentrating on cutting spending on all the programs, not thinking of new, wonderful ways of spending more. … I’ve voted my whole life. This is the first time in my life I’ve gotten off the couch and said, ‘I’m sick of this. It’s only three hours away, and I’m going to be there.'”

Translation, “I loved it when Reagan and Bush ran up the deficits, but now that it’s a Democrat doing so, I finally got off my couch to yell at him.”

The rampant ignorance about the current situation on health care in the U.S. was par for the course.

Another man said, “We’re here to let the government know that we do not want government involvement in our health care, nor do we want the higher taxation that comes along with such a proposal.”

“We like having a government and health care system which is the absolute worst industrialized country in the world when it comes to preventing the death of our own citizens,” he did not add. [source 1]

Not realizing their own hypocrisy, the organizers tried to paint it the protests as having absolutely nothing to do with partisanship.

What brought everything together was the Obamacare idea, which contains every odiferous objection,” Tea Party Express organizer Mark Williams said in August.

+

Although the Tea Party Express tour was funded by Our Country Deserves Better, a conservative political action committee, Williams said his organization is nonpartisan and that the rallies are not aimed at one politician over another, namely Obama.

+

“This is not people upset over one particular politician or one particular party,” Williams has said. “In fact, if you ask the Republicans in the crowd, you’ll find they are just as upset at their party as they are at the Democrats.”

=

Hypocrisy

[quotes from here]

I’ve mentioned this before, but I find the entire “Tea Party” movement to completely lack any sense of their own irony.  From the ‘pedia.

The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act for a variety of reasons, especially because they believed that it violated their right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives.

Now, instead of protesting against the right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives, they are protesting against the right to be taxed by their own elected representative.

This is like South Carolina rep Joe Wilson shouting out that Obama is a liar (when fact checking orgs all say it is Wilson who has a problem with the facts) about illegal immigrant, when he himself voted for an (unpaid for) expansion of federal benefits for…wait for it…illegal immigrants [2].

To make matters worse, none of these folks had any problems with George W. Bush cutting taxes (and increasing the deficit) by $2,500,000,000,000 (nearly 40% of which went to richest 1% of Americans, many of whom are now running these latest protests).  This simple fact exposes the hypocrisy and partisan nature of these protests.  What, you folks *just* realized that Bush doubled the national deficit….now it’s all Obama’s fault?

To make matters even more hypocritical, with all the signs I saw, and all the rhetoric I heard, I didn’t hear a single complaint about the U.S. government, under Bush and Cheney, torturing people.  I didn’t hear a single complaint about warrantless wiretaps.  Nothing about the actual abuses of power, just a bunch of whining about how people don’t want to pay for…well…anything.

—–

A couple of observations watching the proceedings on C-Span.

Unknowing Irony Update:  I just heard Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” as the background music.  Ummm, really?

Nazi Update: Ummm, why are they talking about Nazi’s?  Remember when Hitler proposed providing all Germans, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation?  Yea, me neither.

Final hypocritical statement:  One of the FreedomWorks.gove folks (a conversative political lobbying firm) just told everyone they were now “Community Organizers”.  This is funny as “community organizers” have been equated with commies/socialists since this whole movement against paying taxes started.

Quick update on why this is the death throes of the Republican party:  The only black or brown face I’ve seen has been on stage.  Not a single hispanic in sight (all those illegals must be working hard today, cooking these folks food, cutting these folks lawns and raising their children).   And BTW, if you think the rhetoric has been bad so far during Obama’s eight months in office, wait until Congress takes up the much needed immigration reform legislation which is coming next…

[1] WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) – France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst in new rankings focusing on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions in 19 leading industrialized nations, researchers said on Tuesday.

If the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year, according to researchers writing in the journal Health Affairs.

[2] However, in 2003, Wilson voted to provide federal funds for illegal immigrants’ healthcare. The vote came on the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, which contained Sec. 1011 authorizing $250,000 annually between 2003 and 2008 for government reimbursements to hospitals who provide treatment for uninsured illegal immigrants. The program has been extended through 2009 and there is currently a bipartisan bill in Congress to make it permanent.

“Roy, wake up. A plane has hit the World Trade Center”

“Roy, wake up. A plane has hit the World Trade Center”

Rep Joe Wilson, Illustrating the real problem with the U.S.
Calmly calling the President a liar.

I was sleeping when I heard those words.  I don’t remember what my dream was that day, as I lay all comfy in my bed.

I had recently left a job in Colorado and was planning on moving to New York City to continue life and see if a long distance relationship could turn into a viable short distance one (it didnt’).   During the move I was staying with my folks in Dallas on that fateful morning, eight years ago.

Quickly rising from my slumber, I moved immediately to the television and watched in horror as the rest of the days events unfolded.

I had planned today to write a bit more about the current health care reform agenda and how those opposed to it aren’t really interested in anything resembling an honest debate.  Instead, you can read about that here [1], as I’m going to tell the other half of my 9/11 experience.

Most of the rest of that morning was spent frantically calling on the phone to my girlfriend, and her family and friends, trying to find out if she was all right.  She lived in an apartment on Ave A and 3rd street, and I remembered the calm moments of climbing to the rooftop of her building and marveling at the views of the Twin Towers, and the amazing accomplishtments of modern man, as I would enjoy the simple comfort of a cigarette, basking in the glow and energy of the City.

Ultimately a call finally got through, and some semblance of peace returned to my heart.  Over the new few weeks the stench of burning bodies and debris became too much for her, and a long bus ride brought her back to my arms, ending the first half of this story.

Fast forward to three years later, and I am living in New York, single, and wandering the town around the time of the Repbuclian National Convention in 2004.   Our country had since surrendered its sanity to fear after the events of that September day three years previous, and was currently conducting a war against a country that had no involvement in the attacks.  I had marched against the war a number of times, pointing out, again and again (sometimes loudly, sometimes softly) that the war and 9/11 had little connection outside of a tenuous religious and skin tone one.

Vast conspiracy theories about the attacks and the war had been created, and cynicism and skepticism about our government and its aim was rampant.   While I never felt that even someone as evil as Dick Cheney could allow such an attack to occur, I was, and am, more than willing to say that politicians are often willing to use the fear they create to accomplish their own agendas.

I am was lamenting this fact in a random bar after a couple of Dewars and waters and having struck up a conversation with the bartender and a couple of patrons about whatever and whatever.

It was then that the other side of the 9/11 hit me.

“I lost seven friends on that day,” the bartender said.

And so the convesation came to a screetching halt.  What had been a general lament became a personal attack, and I crossed a line from which it was impossible to pull back.

Now we are seeing the same distrust and conspiracy theories come up around an overhaul of a health care system, and economy, that is eating away at our future prosperity.

It is this level is distrust in one another, and working from vastly different sets of facts and evidence that make the conversation about how to go forward from here so frustrating.   In this sense, the attacks on 9/11 pale in comparison to the response to those attacks.   As we give into the fear and terror that a collapse of our economic way of life engender, our ability to rationally address the problems diminish.  They way forward becomes lost in a cloud of conspiracy and distrust.

This, to me, is the saddest legacy of those attacks.  We still haven’t recovered, we have simply transferred the fear of the other, to the fear of the self.

And so it goes, eight years on.

[1] : Most Republicans made clear during the day that Obama’s speech had done nothing to lessen their opposition.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio stuck to Republican positions that the Democratic health-care proposals would give illegal immigrants health care, pay for abortions, and establish panels that make life-and-death decisions. Obama said they would not.

PolitiFact.com, a truth squad run by the St. Petersburg Times, found that there was no subsidy for illegal immigrants in the legislation, no “death panels,” and no public money for abortion.

Let’s Talk about Socialism (and the sub-text Totalitarianism)

Let’s Talk about Socialism (and the sub-text Totalitarianism)

Wow, where to start with this one.  I’ve been reading a lot, as per, regarding what used to be a debate about much needed health care reform in this country.  That debate has since devolved into mad, crazy fear-mongering and nutjobbery about the creeping tide of communism/fascism/LOUD NOISES coming to our country.

A quick stat for you: here’s a nice graph of all the companies that Obama has nationalized…

OMG! The Horror!

It should also be noted that of the nationalized business assets, the leaders of each corporation went to Washington D.C. and *begged* to be nationalized.  In no case that anyone has seen has Obama, nor anyone in his administration been aggressive in this regard.  We’ve even begun to see a profit on some of the money we invested.

To compare and contrast, take a look at Hugo Chavez. You’ll also note that in the case of Chavez, and every other historical power monger, they have had no fear of loudly declaring their intentions.

Sadly, to those of the crazed and dazed right of this country, it is in fact Obama’s lack of saying he wants pull any of this crap that means he really wants to.  I know, I know, that doesn’t make any sense to sane and rational people, but that’s where we are at nowadays.

One of the major fears that opponents of health care reform (and more the point, foes of Democrats in general, as that who is really driving the “debate”) is the generalized fear of government that all Americans now seem to hold near and dear.

This fear tends to be illustrated by the mantra, “what has government ever done right?”

When I hear this, I’m always reminded of a wonderful scene from a movie about a guy who wasn’t quite Jesus.

The argument here, however, isn’t that government is the end-all, be-all solution to all problems.  No one, outside of the Hugo Chavez’s of the world is making such an argument.  The point here is simply that while often inefficient and frustrating, it’s nice to have clean water, and go the store and buy clean meat, and turn on the TV and have clean signals, and the list go on for a while.

Back to the greater point, what about totalitarianism?  This is the actual fear that many Americans have, that an all powerful government will watch their every move, torture them, re-educate them, and the destroy their economy.

The really funny thing about contemporary Republicans (not to be confused with conservatives, who have largely been left out in the cold by the extremists) is that when this was actually happening, and the government was conducting warrantless wiretaps, torturing people, and destroying the economy by borrowing a trillion dollars to conduct a war sold on lies, there come from the right a defeanening silence, if not outright cheers.

Indeed, many decided that torture was all right for their safety, and warrantless wiretaps were needed for their safety, and invading countries that didn’t attack us was necessary for their safety.   Back then (all the way back in 2008) the President needed to have all these powers and this vast leeway in order to protect the United States of America.

It was terribly frustrating to make the argument at that point that no, we really shouldn’t be starting a two-front war when the first front is stalled, and no, we really shouldn’t be torturing people, and no, borrowing money to blow stuff up was a bad idea, as anyone who stood up to this trend was quickly branded a Godless Treasonous Anti-American.   I would politely (well, relatively politely) point out that whatever powers were handed or conceded to Bush, would by proxy be handed to the next President, which at the time looked to be another Clinton.

This would generally generate a moment of pause, and then the nationalistic ferver would again take over and the “Love it or Leave it” chants would come louder.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and finally many can see how poorly it fits their conception of our nation.

So rather than deal with it, and work to get these policies revoked, they’ve instead decided that NOW it is UnAmerican to pay their taxes, and NOW it is UnAmerican to have their kids in school.   I will give Dick Cheney a bit of credit though for consistency though, he still thinks torture is awesome.  His only problem is that the Obama Administration isn’t learning the tactic and is, gasp, actually looking to prosecute some of the folks that did it.

Where can we go from here is the question that probably bugs me most.  We have an entrenched class of  nattering nabobs who have convinced nearly half of the Republican party that our President isn’t even really an American.

What can you say to the deluded that brings them back down to reality?   What can you do when evidence placed directly in front of their faces in ignored?  How can you convince those convinced they are fighting the next Hitler/Mao/Stalin to take a deep breath, relax, and use their right to vote in the next election, and actually trust in the very fiber of our Democracy and trust in the Constitution they profess to love so much?

I certainly don’t know the best answer to these questions, but luckily I can accept comments and suggestions as to the right path.  I know there is one, somewhere.

Perhaps I believe so because somewhere along the way, as I was protesting against the war, and the torture, and listened to those absolutely sure Bush would stage an attack to secure a third term, and then found them to be horribly mistaken, somewhere along that way I learned to breathe, and I learned to relax,.  And I remembered to vote for what I thought was right.

I learned that change can come.  Now that change is here, and the fear it brings came right along with it.

McCarthyism ’09 Claims Its First Victim

McCarthyism ’09 Claims Its First Victim

Sen. McArthy with the Red Glare
Sen. Joe McCarthy

Over the weekend and under the cover of darkness, we had the first casualty of the new Red Scare.

Van Jones, Obama’s pick to help build the U.S.’s green job economy, resigned after the constant attacks by the right wing media.

For those that don’t know who Jones is, here’s a couple of bios about the guy.

When you look at his actual accomplishments, and his dedication, he seems to be the perfect guy for that job.  But oh how looks can be deceiving when one puts on the red sunglasses and sees Commie demons around every corner.

Jones submitted his resignation after the constant attacks from an alcoholic (who, according to rumors on the Internet, raped and killed a woman during a blacked out stupor in 1990) talk show host with the innocuous name of Glenn Beck.

You can see the type of attacks leveled at Jones here (warning: rumors and innuendo abound here).  Just as with McCarthy (read a bit here), Beck’s love of the drink and scarediness of dark skinned men dancing fueled his paranoia.

Actually McCarthy was probably no more racist than your average Republican politician of the 1950’s, which is, well, pretty damned racist.  OF COURSE, racism has absolutely nothing to do with current nutjob attacks on the President.  After all, racism no longer exists in this country.  People how just, you know, don’t trust the guy, have plenty of others reasons to site (cue: socialist/marxist/communist whargarrrbl).

The sad thing is, when one gives in to people like Beck and McCarthy, it only makes them stronger.   There is now blood in the water, and the sharks are just getting warmed up.

In the socialist propaganda news, Barrack Obama delivered a completely innocuous speech to many of the nation’s children today.

[general note: hey, spreading rumors is fun and profitable, why not get in on the action?]

Fox News Goes Full Retard

Corrected Fox New Logo
Corrected Fox News Logo

I’ve been watching a lot of the townhall debates lately on C-Span regarding the current attempt in Congress to overhaul the health insurance industry in this country.   One of the better ones I watched recently was Representative Jim Moran’s (D-VI) trying to communicate to his constituents what is in the bill, what isn’t and why.   If you’d like to watch the entire thing, you can do so here.

I’d recommend watching that first, although it is nearly two hours long.  He does a very good job at the beginning of outlining a number of the myths flying around and then opens the door to questions.  Which is where Fox comes in.

During the question and answer period, a man was asked by Rep. Moran for his ID.  This is how Fox News portrayed that event.

Fox uses this edited clip to portray what Rep. Moran did as being unhelpful. What Fox neglects to mention, and completely misses, was the context of the question and what had happened previously during the town hall.

The way the question and answer portion of the town hall was conducted was very simple. Questions were submitted on note card, put into a box and then picked from the box and addressed by the Congressman. A very simple way to attempt to be fair and balanced in addressing voter concerns. The problem was that the simple method was abused.

Previous to the incident Fox showed, a name was called and as staffers attempted to find the woman whose name was on the selected card, another woman acted like she was the one called, grabbed the mic and started ranting about an unrelated issue.

In order to try and keep some semblance of order to the question and answer period of the townhall, Moran simply asked the man to confirm that he was the person named on the card pulled from the box.  That’s it.  Pretty simple and straightforward.  The man then asked his question (paraphrased: “Why No Tort Reform?”) which was then answered by Howard Dean (paraphrased: “We’re already taking on enough of the establishment here, adding more enemies wouldn’t help.”)

In this case, Fox made a completely unrelated point about the incident and used it to continue their ongoing storyline about how Democrats are unhelpful and hate America.

This can be contrast with a more rational take on the Virginia town hall, covered here.

[Howard] Dean spoke, and questions were taken from the floor. Many were combatative, with several questioners demanding to know what kind of health insurance Moran had and how much he paid. Moran answered. But he got more than a little heated when a woman lied about her identity and succeeded in getting the microphone through her ruse.

But somehow in all of that, in large part thanks to Moran’s grit, information was imparted and myriad voices were heard. As ragged and nasty as things got from time to time, it felt like democracy — in a good way.

And C-SPAN showed it all. I know I got up from the TV set better informed on the health care debate than I was when I sat down.

All of which brings us to the grand distorter currently gumming up the air waves via Fox, one Glenn Beck.  I’ve watched Beck a bit over the years, and quickly became rather dismayed at his style of disinformation dissemination.

To get a sense of how this kook works, Jed Lewiston put together this video compiled over the last *week* (just one week) of the crazy that currently being broadcast.

Pulling apart Beck’s delusional fears and massive inability to deal with reality are well beyond the scope of a single post.   When one has gone this far over the edge, no amount of interjection of reality seems to be effective.

I will try one thing though.  Beck has been ranting about Obama’s secret army for a while now, complete with Nazi references (all the while ignoring the fact that Obama, as Commander-in-Chief already has a real army at his beck and call).

The problem here is that this little nugget of delusional victimhood was debunked nearly a year ago by Fact Check.org.

Q:
Is Obama planning a Gestapo-like “civilian national security force”?
I read a quote from Rep. Paul Broun from Georgia which stated that Obama wants to set up a civilian national security force that was similar to the “Gestapo” or the Nazi Brownshirts.

What is the truth behind Obama’s statements that he wants to create a “civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded [as the military]”?

A:
This false claim is a badly distorted version of Obama’s call for doubling the Peace Corps, creating volunteer networks and increasing the size of the Foreign Service.

The problem here is a psychological one.  Once someone has committed themselves to the conspiracies and the delusions, any new information regarding their inaccuracy is quickly discarded.  This is why folks who fall under this spell not only continue to believe in their alternate reality, but also loudly state that no one has ever proved it wrong (as such proof is ignored and/or quickly forgotten) thus confirming the lie.

It’s almost like these folks have a severe physical mental handicap.  A complete a total lack of ability to learn anything beyond the most rudimentary emotional reasoning.

And as Robert Downey, Jr. so eloquently pointed out in “Tropic Thunder”, one should never go full retard on purpose.

If they do, perhaps it’s a good time to change the channel, and starve the beast a bit.

I hear C-Span does good work.

[note: title reference warning: strong language]