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Hullabaloo


Saturday, September 20, 2014

 
Strange bedfellows' forced marriage


by digby

Why do you suppose the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation might be nervous about Larry Klayman taking  important, potentially precedent setting government surveillance cases to the Supreme Court? Could it be because he's a conservative nutcase and isn't to be trusted? The good news is that they've asked to join the Judicial Watch case that's being heard in the DC Circuit, pointing out that they have a teensy bit more expertise in electronic surveillance law than Klayman:
On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked to join in arguments set to be held in November on the government's appeal of the first and only judicial ruling disputing the constitutionality of the NSA's program sweeping up information on billions of telephone calls to, from, and within the United States.

The groups asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to allow them 10 minutes of argument time.

The move is the latest step in an effort by the civil liberties organizations to have a hand in as much as possible of the pending litigation related to the NSA's so-called bulk collection of phone data for counterterrorism purposes. In July, the ACLU and EFF joined the legal team for the appeal of an Idaho nurse's challenge to the NSA program. The ACLU also brought a suit on its own behalf that is pending before the 2nd Circuit and EFF has several cases pending in California.

Klayman says they've lost some of these cases so that means he's just as qualified as the EFF. He welcomes their participation but doesn't want to give up any of his time to make oral arguments.

I'm surprised he has the extra time to even do this considering that he's hot on the trail of ISIS terrorists who are holed up in a hotel in Juarez Mexico getting ready to invade Arizona. Not kidding.

Civil libertarians are often strange bedfellows. You're always in a position of having to stand up for the rights of people with whom you disagree. But Klayman is someone to keep an eye on. He's not what you would call a "principled" civil libertarian although he's often on the right side of certain issues. Let's just say I wouldn't put it past him to make a bad argument for political/ideological reasons as part of a longer term strategy. Not that he necessarily is doing that in this case. But his record is very spotty.


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TV celebrity gasbags think they work hard

by digby


Nothing like rich TV celebrities looking down their noses at the poor:


Fox News' chyrons parrot a report by the Heritage Foundation claiming "that the actual living conditions of the more than 45 million people deemed 'poor' by the Census Bureau differ greatly from popular conceptions of poverty" because many of the poor have "consumer items that were luxuries or significant purchases for the middle class a few decades ago."

Apparently, they haven't noticed that these "luxuries from decades ago" are now cheap. Jesus.

The Center for American Progress explains:
These arguments are mean and misleading on several accounts. First, the electronic devices that Heritage cites are everyday necessities today. Who has iceboxes anymore? Who doesn't need a cell phone to find a job or keep one? Fortunately, these appliances are all significantly cheaper these days, but not so the real everyday basics such as quality child care and out-of-pocket medical costs, both of which have risen much faster than inflation, squeezing the budgets of the poor and middle-class alike. In fact, if anything, those who we consider poor today are far more out of the social mainstream in terms of their basic income than when our poverty measure was first set in the 1960s.

[...]

To avoid a real discussion of these issues, the Heritage Foundation craftily creates indexes that rank households on skewed measures of "amenities" that suggest that no further federal action is needed to buoy the standard of living of poor and working-class families. Such indexes are heartless and foolish. Heartless because they ignore the fact that it takes much more than a few appliances to support a family. And foolish because they lend credence to the calls for cutting the supports that research has shown are necessary for every child to become a healthy and productive adult.

I have a neighbor who complains that people in a subsidized housing building down the street all have big screen TVs. I pointed out that you can buy a big screen TV on Craigslist for a hundred bucks at which point he admitted that he doesn't think these people should be allowed to watch TV --- they should be working.

It's the age-old argument. If you're poor, it's because you're lazy. And if you're lazy you should suffer. So you'll work harder. Like maybe work 12 hours a day at minimum wage. As the restaurant worker who lives in the subsidized housing down the street --- and juggles two jobs does.

This discussion always reminds me of Jack London's description of what happens psychologically to people who work at low paying hard labor jobs in his book Martin Eden. Martin is an ex-sailor and budding writer who takes a job working in a hotel laundry to make money so that he can ask his girl to marry him. He thinks it's a good deal --- 12 hour days leaving plenty of time in the evening for writing and reading. And one day off a week. It doesn't work out that way. The work is brutal ... and tiring. And it does something destructive to the spirit.

This picks up the story of his laundry work a week into it after he's discovered that he's too tired to do anything but sleep and work:

All Martin's consciousness was concentrated in the work. Ceaselessly active, head and hand, an intelligent machine, all that constituted him a man was devoted to furnishing that intelligence. There was no room in his brain for the universe and its mighty problems. All the broad and spacious corridors of his mind were closed and hermetically sealed. The echoing chamber of his soul was a narrow room, a conning tower, whence were directed his arm and shoulder muscles, his ten nimble fingers, and the swift-moving iron along its steaming path in broad, sweeping strokes, just so many strokes and no more, just so far with each stroke and not a fraction of an inch farther, rushing along interminable sleeves, sides, backs, and tails, and tossing the finished shirts, without rumpling, upon the receiving frame. And even as his hurrying soul tossed, it was reaching for another shirt. This went on, hour after hour, while outside all the world swooned under the overhead California sun. But there was no swooning in that superheated room. The cool guests on the verandas needed clean linen.

The sweat poured from Martin. He drank enormous quantities of water, but so great was the heat of the day and of his exertions, that the water sluiced through the interstices of his flesh and out at all his pores. Always, at sea, except at rare intervals, the work he performed had given him ample opportunity to commune with himself. The master of the ship had been lord of Martin's time; but here the manager of the hotel was lord of Martin's thoughts as well. He had no thoughts save for the nerve- racking, body-destroying toil. Outside of that it was impossible to think. He did not know that he loved Ruth. She did not even exist, for his driven soul had no time to remember her. It was only when he crawled to bed at night, or to breakfast in the morning, that she asserted herself to him in fleeting memories.

Monday morning he was hard at work, sorting clothes, while Joe, a towel bound tightly around his head, with groans and blasphemies, was running the washer and mixing soft-soap.

"I simply can't help it," he explained. "I got to drink when Saturday night comes around."

Another week passed, a great battle that continued under the electric lights each night and that culminated on Saturday afternoon at three o'clock, when Joe tasted his moment of wilted triumph and then drifted down to the village to forget. Martin's Sunday was the same as before. He slept in the shade of the trees, toiled aimlessly through the newspaper, and spent long hours lying on his back, doing nothing, thinking nothing. He was too dazed to think, though he was aware that he did not like himself. He was self-repelled, as though he had undergone some degradation or was intrinsically foul. All that was god-like in him was blotted out. The spur of ambition was blunted; he had no vitality with which to feel the prod of it. He was dead. His soul seemed dead. He was a beast, a work-beast. He saw no beauty in the sunshine sifting down through the green leaves, nor did the azure vault of the sky whisper as of old and hint of cosmic vastness and secrets trembling to disclosure. Life was intolerably dull and stupid, and its taste was bad in his mouth. A black screen was drawn across his mirror of inner vision, and fancy lay in a darkened sick-room where entered no ray of light. He envied Joe, down in the village, rampant, tearing the slats off the bar, his brain gnawing with maggots, exulting in maudlin ways over maudlin things, fantastically and gloriously drunk and forgetful of Monday morning and the week of deadening toil to come.

A third week went by, and Martin loathed himself, and loathed life. He was oppressed by a sense of failure. There was reason for the editors refusing his stuff. He could see that clearly now, and laugh at himself and the dreams he had dreamed. Ruth returned his "Sea Lyrics" by mail. He read her letter apathetically. She did her best to say how much she liked them and that they were beautiful. But she could not lie, and she could not disguise the truth from herself. She knew they were failures, and he read her disapproval in every perfunctory and unenthusiastic line of her letter. And she was right. He was firmly convinced of it as he read the poems over. Beauty and wonder had departed from him, and as he read the poems he caught himself puzzling as to what he had had in mind when he wrote them. His audacities of phrase struck him as grotesque, his felicities of expression were monstrosities, and everything was absurd, unreal, and impossible. He would have burned the "Sea Lyrics" on the spot, had his will been strong enough to set them aflame. There was the engine-room, but the exertion of carrying them to the furnace was not worth while. All his exertion was used in washing other persons' clothes. He did not have any left for private affairs.

He resolved that when Sunday came he would pull himself together and answer Ruth's letter. But Saturday afternoon, after work was finished and he had taken a bath, the desire to forget overpowered him. "I guess I'll go down and see how Joe's getting on," was the way he put it to himself; and in the same moment he knew that he lied. But he did not have the energy to consider the lie. If he had had the energy, he would have refused to consider the lie, because he wanted to forget. He started for the village slowly and casually, increasing his pace in spite of himself as he neared the saloon.

"I thought you was on the water-wagon," was Joe's greeting.

Martin did not deign to offer excuses, but called for whiskey, filling his own glass brimming before he passed the bottle.

"Don't take all night about it," he said roughly.

The other was dawdling with the bottle, and Martin refused to wait for him, tossing the glass off in a gulp and refilling it.

"Now, I can wait for you," he said grimly; "but hurry up."

Joe hurried, and they drank together.

"The work did it, eh?" Joe queried.

Martin refused to discuss the matter.




A big screen TV and a computer are probably the only respite from the mind numbing nature of the work low paid workers do --- it's all they've got to keep them from going nuts. Sadly, some of them might be watching Fox News.



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QOTD: Colbert

by digby

On Sean Hannity demonstrating how his father beat him with a belt:

“After all, Sean’s dad whipped him with a belt and he never needed to go to a psychotherapist. He just has to have them on his show three times a week. Mentally, he grew up to be a psychologically healthy adult who cleaves desperately to strong authority figures, lashes out at any perceived weakness, and takes his belt off on live TV. Still, perfectly normal."

It is if you're a conservative.

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Wanna see it again?

by Tom Sullivan

I wanted to make a couple more points about a post Digby mentioned the other day.

It's Saturday. Do yourself a favor and read Matt Stoller's account of how we got here. Here, being America facing yet another military engagement in the Middle East driven again by petrodollars and "an infantilized deceptive version of American foreign policy." It whitewashes Saudi and Qatari support for radical Sunni militants to "accomplish aims that their states cannot pursue openly." Twenty-eight pages of the 9/11 Commission report remain classified (censored, says Stoller) reportedly because they implicate Saudi players in funding the 9/11 attacks. Add to that homegrown propaganda, hysteria, and enforced ignorance in the name of national security and you've got an opportunity for Washington to roll out a new branded war, complete with even flashier TV graphics and a more blood-stirring musical theme than the last war's.
To recap recent history, Stoller writes:

And so, almost immediately after the [9/11] attacks, Saddam Hussein became the designated bad guy and the Bush administration, supported by the entire Republican Party, foreign policy establishment, and a substantial chunk of Democrats (Bill and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, for starters), prepared for war in Iraq. The Bush administration alluded many times to a supposed link between 9/11 and Hussein, which was a ludicrous conspiracy theory, but an acceptable one because it served the interests of the Bush administration and a coddled foreign policy elite. But rather than expose the entire secret deal by which elites conducted a shadow foreign policy through Saudi petrodollars, most journalists told Americans that Saddam Hussein had to go.
And in the PTSD-addled America post-9/11, the administration used secrecy and a lapdog media to play the American public like a fiddle. It was the one thing they were good at, as I illustrated in a 2006 op-ed well after "Mission Accomplished":
... Vice-President Cheney dismissed those who suggest that overthrowing Saddam Hussein simply “stirred up” terrorists, saying, “They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq on September 11th, 2001, and the terrorists hit us anyway.” (In case you missed the connection Cheney repeatedly denies making, Saddam = Osama = September 11th.)
The president weighed in too, admonishing critics to “debate responsibly when American troops are risking their lives overseas.” Debating a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq might “embolden” terrorists (read, put troops at risk).
Let’s review: a) Those concerned about emboldening terrorists lack the resolve to put troops at risk against already emboldened terrorists; and b) Those hoping to minimize the risk to troops irresponsibly put troops at risk by emboldening already emboldened terrorists.
It’s like watching close-up magicians at the Magic Castle. This trick is called: “Heads, I win. Tails, you lose.” Wanna see it again?
The doublespeak and reflexive saber-rattling was as mind-numbingly frustrating then as now. The classified state leaves the American public having learned little, and deciding how to address ISIS with the same option it had then: Trust us. If we are to make better decisions regarding ISIS, Stoller writes, we need to have an "adult conversation ... about the nature of American power [as] the predicate for building a global order that can drain the swampy brutal corners of the world that allow groups like ISIS to grow and thrive."


What Stoller doesn't say is that if petrodollars from Qatar and Saudi Arabia ultimately fuel Sunni militants, then the sooner the West abandons the oil economy, the sooner those swamps may dry up on their own. As a bonus, it just might save the planet.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

 
View NFL Player Crimes in Interactive Graphical Form 

by Spocko

Can't keep track of which NFL player has committed what crime? Want to avoid filling in your Fantasy Football League with past or current domestic violence felons?
NFL Crimes graphic
Sort by your favorite team, crime or position!

Here's a nifty website (Link) that takes the data from USA Today's updated arrest list and lets you sort and display the info by crime, team or position.

 Note: No commissioners, NFL staff or team owners are on the list.

Think Goodell should resign? Ultraviolet petition here.



 
They don't own country

by digby

One of the many reasons I hate war fever --- bullshit "heartland" boosterism:

Country music loves America and cares about those Americans in ‘fly-over country’ whom sophisticated New Yorkers and CBC listeners love to hate: the farmers, ranchers, truck drivers, waitresses and cowboys who still work the land, go to church, and fight the wars that keep other Americans safe (at least for now).

Oh stick it. Like Roy, I'm a fan of country music and this irks the shit out of me.

Here's one for Real America:


This one too.

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I know you are but what am I?

by digby

Salon is featuring a great piece by an anti-gun proliferation activist from Nebraska describing what it's like dealing with the Open Carry zealots. Her group came to the attention of a local pro-gun shock jock and all hell broke loose. In the end the radio talker managed to tar the anti-proliferation people as dangerous potential "school shooters" evidently because the gun nuts have convinced themselves that the only people who commit mass killings are liberals who, by definition, are against guns. You have to admire the mental agility required for that level of rationalization.

Anyway, I was most intrigued by this anecdote:
Gun violence prevention activists in Oklahoma had a similar run-in with willful misinformation in right-wing media a few months ago. Volunteers from Moms Demand Action as well as unaffiliated gun reformists had gone to a farmer’s market in Tulsa to get people to pledge to be gun-sense voters. A group of open carry activists came to the farmer’s market armed to confront the volunteers. When it began to rain the volunteers left for Chipotle, which they had advertised on Facebook, and arrived there to find open carriers already awaiting them. When a volunteer asked if Chipotle had a policy prohibiting weapons — the company had recently announced one — the manager said she had seen a memo about it but was unaware of any official policy on the matter. The open carriers continued the “conversation” about gun rights, and eventually the volunteers left with no further interaction with the management.

This didn’t stop one of the open carriers from writing a fact-scant propaganda piece for the website Freedom Outpost, whose recent headlines include “Obama to Force Militant Homosexual Agenda on Entire World” and “What More Can Barack Obama Do to Destroy America Before He Leaves Office?” In the piece, the author admits to taking a group of armed men to Chipotle to confront the unarmed volunteers. He acknowledges that Chipotle doesn’t want open carry in its stores and says they expected they would be asked to leave. Yet he claims that the gun reformists — whom they had forced into an armed encounter at a restaurant with a no open carry policy — were kicked out for “rude behavior.” Chipotle refuses to comment on the incident, but the agreed upon facts — that openly armed men followed unarmed volunteers to a place that tries to prohibit open carry — make the idea that the gun extremists were somehow the victims prima facie absurd.

Absurd as to the rationalization yes. But the implication of the story is very, very clear. If you want to protest the proliferation of guns you are free to do it. Just be prepared to face down armed counter protesters. 

That's what we call freedom in America. --- if America were run by the mafia. After all, they didn't have to actually shoot anyone to get their way. They'd just show up, flash their guns and tell the store owner, "nice little store you have here --- be a shame if anything happened to it."Those protesters would be foolish to press their case in the presence of these "good guys with guns," either. Political disputes have a way of getting out of hand at times. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to argue with people who are packing heat.

But turning the protesters into the "rude" ones who were asked to leave by management was an extra savvy touch. See, these good guys with guns needed to be armed. How else could they have protected themselves from these liberals? After all, they are irrational weirdos who are shooting up schools and movie theatres.

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Update on the most transparent administration in history

by digby

Via AP:


The fight for access to public information has never been harder, Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee said recently at a joint meeting of the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Associated Press Photo Managers. The problem extends across the entire federal government and is now trickling down to state and local governments.


1) As the United States ramps up its fight against Islamic militants, the public can’t see any of it. News organizations can’t shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off — there are no embeds. In fact, the administration won’t even say what country the S. bombers fly from.

2) The White House once fought to get cameramen, photographers and reporters into meetings the president had with foreign leaders overseas. That access has become much rarer. Think about the message that sends other nations about how the world’s leading democracy deals with the media: Keep them out and let them use handout photos.

3) Guantanamo: The big important 9/11 trial is finally coming up. But we aren’t allowed to see most court filings in real time — even of nonclassified material. So at hearings, we can’t follow what’s happening. We don’t know what prosecutors are asking for, or what defense attorneys are arguing.

4) Information about Guantanamo that was routinely released under President George W. Bush is now kept secret. The military won’t release the number of prisoners on hunger strike or the number of assaults on guards. Photo and video coverage is virtually nonexistent.

5) Day-to-day intimidation of sources is chilling. AP’s transportation reporter’s sources say that if they are caught talking to her, they will be fired. Even if they just give her facts, about safety, for example. Government press officials say their orders are to squelch anything controversial or that makes the administration look bad.

6) One of the media — and public’s — most important legal tools, the Freedom of Information Act, is under siege. Requests for information under FOIA have become slow and expensive. Many federal agencies simply don’t respond at all in a timely manner, forcing news organizations to sue each time to force action.

7) The administration uses FOIAs as a tip service to uncover what news organizations are pursuing. Requests are now routinely forwarded to political appointees. At the agency that oversees the new health care law, for example, political appointees now handle the FOIA requests.

8) The administration is trying to control the information that state and local officials can give out. The FBI has directed local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology the police departments use to sweep up cellphone data. In some cases, federal officials have formally intervened in state open records cases, arguing for secrecy.

They really don't want you to know what they are doing.

But you can feel confident in one thing:



So basically at least some emails that have ever in history been sent over email by some Americans have not been collected. Good to know.

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Must be the "illegals"

by digby

The charming, decent and humane Laura Ingraham:



Speaking of sob stories...




What specifically is she talking about here? Ah:




Boo hoo hoo.  It's all those refugee kids illegally voting for Democrats. Because no Real American would ever vote for Democrats, amirite?

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Tell us what you really think

by digby

Jonathan Schwarz found a little document prepared by our betters explaining why we need them to do our thinking for us. It an excerpts of a recently declassified CIA Magazine article (Who knew the CIA had a magazine or that it classified it?) It's about the CIA'S drug running during the 1980s:
…ultimately the CIA-drug story says a lot more about American society on the eve of the millennium than it does about either CIA or the media. We live in somewhat coarse and emotional times—when large numbers of Americans do not adhere to the same standards of logic, evidence, or even civil discourse as those practiced by members of the CIA community.

I think this is probably pretty indicative of their general attitude toward the polloi. Indeed, there was a time when they were all recruited out of the Ivy League (maybe they still are) for their superior genetic and social ties, so it stands to reason they would have these patrician attitudes.

Maybe you think that's fine. After all, they do such important work you wouldn't want to trust it someone who doesn't understand that the American people are little better than wild animals. For instance, could we expect your average coarse, illogical, overly-emotional American to properly torture someone? I didn't think so.

Click over to A Tiny Revolution to see another perfect illustration of their civilized behavior.
 
Scotland votes no

by Tom Sullivan

In a historic referendum, Scotland yesterday voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. With a margin of 55% - 45%, the vote went solidly against Scottish independence in what one writer hyperbolically described as "the greatest existential challenge to the British state since Spitfire dogfights in 1940." Turnout was 84.5%. UK Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to honor agreements to yield more power to the Scottish parliament if Scotland rejected independence.
As Scots living abroad weighed in, Valerie Wallace in Wellington, New Zealand approved Scotland remaining in the UK.
Scotland is, in fact, already a separate country – but a separate country within a larger polity. I am a Scot, but I am also a Briton, and those two things for me have never been mutually exclusive. With Scottish parents, English grandparents, Irish ancestry and a Welsh name, my Britishness can’t just be ‘unmade’.
Perhaps, but there will be some long faces this morning among American secessionists, particularly in Texas.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

 
Exceptional Oxymoron

by digby

The land of the free imprisons more people than any other nation in the world:


Both in raw numbers and by percentage of the population, the United States has the most prisoners of any developed country in the world — and it has the largest total prison population of any nation. That didn’t change in 2013. After several years in which the prison population dropped slightly, the raw number of inmates in United States custody went up again in 2013.

More than 1.57 million inmates sat behind bars in federal, state, and county prisons and jails around the country as of December 31, 2013. In the federal prisons, more than half of those sentenced to a stints of a year or longer are still there for drug crimes. In states including Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, and Georgia, at least 1 percent of male residents were in prison on December 31. And across the country, racial disparities persist. Black men are six times more likely than white men to be in prison. Hispanic men are 2.4 times more likely, according to a Sentencing Project analysis of the data.

This doesn’t paint the full picture of the U.S. incarceration system. Many have estimated the total number of U.S. incarceration to be more than 2.4 million. This is in part because another estimated 12 million individuals cycle through the county jail systems in a given year for periods of less than a year, and are therefore not factored into a snapshot on December 31. There are also other mechanisms of incarceration not factored into this figure, including immigration detention, civil commitment, and Indian Country facilities, according to a Prison Policy Initiative briefing.

Does that make any sense at all?

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We just disagree

by digby

Pew has a new poll out on the differences among conservatives and liberals in their approach to teaching children.  It says a lot:



Nothing particularly surprising in that. But I can't help but wonder where Jesus would come down.

I also wonder if capitalism would survive if everyone were conservative. Without valuing curiosity and creativity it's hard to see how it would. On the other hand, who would be the security guards at the store?

We do have a lot in common too:



I'm a little confused by the conservatives saying they value good manners, though.
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Blowback to homegrown terrorism

by digby

So James Clapper changed his story once again and says he didn't lie to congress, that it was a "mistake", which is crap.(He was informed of the exact wording of the question before the hearing.) But whatever. We can twist ourselves up into a pretzel over whether he deserves to be sanctioned and he never will be so that's that.

He appeared today at an intelligence summit in Washington sponsored by two major industry groups. And he's described as being depressed and down, presumably because he feels unfairly maligned. But he is also upset that the government has been forced to be accountable to the public, apparently believing that we're all in danger because of it. I thought this was particularly interesting:
In a question and answer session afterward, Clapper said the disruption of a plot to behead people by supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in Australia underscored the threat posed by homegrown sympathizers of the group, which he said is adept at motivating and recruiting followers.
From what we know of this plot (at least what the Australian government has told us) is a scary prospect. Now, whether it was a bunch of yahoos just jumping on the bandwagon is unknown and since we've seen a lot of allegedly scary homegrown plots revealed to be less than what they initially appeared. And yes, there have been a couple here in the states that were deadly, like Ft Hood and the Boston Marathon bombings. And that raises the question Robert Wright raises in this interesting piece:

The perpetrators of these attacks weren’t people who had been lured abroad by Jihadists, given terrorism training, and dispatched to America with a mission. They were people who, while in America, got alienated, got inspired by Jihadist propaganda, and, if any expert instruction was necessary (like how to make the bomb the marathon bombers used), got it via the internet. Apparently the kind of terrorism that’s hardest to fight is the kind that ferments at home.

And what makes it ferment? In both the Boston Marathon and the Fort Hood cases, the attackers seem to have been driven by the perception that the US is at war with Islam, as evinced (in their minds) by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So, if homegrown terrorism is fostered by the perception that the US is at war with Islam, what should we do to counter that perception? Here’s what I don’t recommend: Declare war on an entity that calls itself the Islamic State, enmeshing yourself in combat that will last for years.

Obviously, this entity doesn’t deserve to be called the Islamic State, because its values don’t align with the values of the great majority of the world’s Muslims. But the relatively small number of Muslims who are vulnerable to the appeal of terrorism will consider a war against this “Islamic State” a war against Islam.

The problem of terrorism is complicated, and so is the problem of ISIS. I’m not saying that our thinking about how to respond to ISIS should begin and end with the question of whether declaring war on it will foster homegrown terrorism. But, given that, since 9/11, homegrown terrorism is the only kind of Islamic terrorism that has shown much in the way of an ability to actually kill people in the United States, it would be nice if the debate over how to handle ISIS at least included some discussion of the question.

You'd think so. But instead we have leaders beating their chests about "destroying ISIL" and hand-wringing from the nation's spooks over the fact that they have to be even the slightest bit restrained when one of the major factors driving this phenomenon is that we keep waging war on Muslims. Maybe we could try not doing that.

Wright concludes his article with this:

Again, I’m not saying that the prospect of homegrown terrorism, or even of blowback in general, is by itself a killer argument against Obama’s de facto declaration of war (though I do think that, all told, the declaration was a mistake). I’m mainly just saying that America’s national security discourse is in need of repair. When we face a crucial foreign policy decision, we fail to factor in glaringly obvious considerations.

In this case, we were too busy reacting to actually think. Once we saw a couple of gruesome videos that seem to have been designed to freak us out, we obligingly freaked out. And virtually nobody of stature said, “Wait, let’s not get emotional; let’s think this through carefully.” Certainly not Secretary of State John Kerry, who said that ISIS, manifesting “sheer evil” was a “cancer” that must be stopped. (Dubious metaphor; with cancer, the medicine doesn’t risk making the cancer itself stronger, the way Kerry’s prescription for fighting ISIS does.) And certainly not Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who said ISIS poses “an imminent threat to every interest we have.” Every single interest!

A central lesson of the disastrous Iraq War is that one job of a post-9/11 president is to calm fears, not feed them. Some of us voted for Barack Obama thinking he would do that, and help restore reason to foreign policy discourse. For a while it looked like we were right. Now it looks like we weren’t.

Sigh ...

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"Compassionate conservatism" is definitely out of fashion

by digby



Arkansas is number 13 out of 50 states in food stamp participation, with 16.5% of the population needing them.

But, you know, to hell with those people.

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Are we ready to grapple with the truth?

by digby

If you read nothing else today, read this piece by Matt Stoller about the untold history of our foreign policy in the Middle East. Since we seem to have finally been reduced to an almost cartoon-like campaign leading into this latest round, it's vital that at least some people start looking at this from another angle and grapple with what we're really involved in. (I flagged this piece in the New Yorker the other day about the still classified 28 pages of the 9/11 report. Somebody needs to leak those pages.)

We are facing a real existential crisis with climate change. And it's being driven by greenhouse gasses and our addiction to oil. So is our foreign policy and the 23 year war we've been involved in in Iraq. This is all of a piece. Stoller says that we must discount the propaganda and stop the censorship (which is the right word to describe our insane classification system.) He concludes his piece on an optimistic note:
Adopting a realistic policy on ISIS means a mass understanding who our allies actually are and what they want, as well as their leverage points against us and our leverage points on them. I believe Americans are ready for an adult conversation about our role in the world and the nature of the fraying American order, rather than more absurd and hollow bromides about American exceptionalism.

Until that happens, Americans will not be willing to pay any price for a foreign policy, and rightfully so. Fool me once, shame on you. And so forth.

Unwinding the classified state, and beginning the adult conversation put off for seventy years about the nature of American power, is the predicate for building a global order that can drain the swampy brutal corners of the world that allow groups like ISIS to grow and thrive. To make that unwinding happen, we need to start demanding the truth, not what ‘national security’ tells us we need to know. The Constitution does not mention the words ‘national security’, it says ‘common defense.’ And that means that Americans should be getting accurate information about what exactly we are defending.

I couldn't agree more. Earlier in the piece, Matt references Rick Perlstein's observation in Invisible Bridge that we were at that moment in the mid-70s and lost our nerve. We succumbed to the cheery delusions offered up by Ronald Reagan in order to feel better and avoid facing the hard work of reckoning with our power and responsibility. I hope he's right that people are ready now to grapple with it. We'd better be.

Update: Also too, this
 
What's all this I hear about that silly bad flu bug?

by digby

My piece in Salon this morning takes a look at the fear scale --- and wonders why the right wing is hysterical over ISIS and thinks the president is wasting time and money trying to stop Ebola:
It certainly seems as though there have been a lot of fearful events over this long hot summer of 2014. Yahoos with too much firepower are blowing airliners out of the sky, terrorists are videotaping themselves beheading journalists, and police are shooting unarmed kids down in the streets of America, just to name a few incidents of the past few months. But it’s hard to imagine anything more scary than a rapidly mutating contagious killer disease pandemic that features all the worst symptoms of the flu until it culminates in bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum, the eyes swell shut, your genitals swell up, all of your skin hurts and you have a blood-filled rash all over your body. And then you die. In the panoply of things to be afraid of you’d think everyone could acknowledge that this is the big one.
Here's just one of the idiotic rightwing pundits:
“I’m just getting very confused about the nature of this enemy. Is it those scary little worms that Drudge always has on the Drudge Report? The scary little Ebola worms? Is that the real threat to national security?”

That's Laura Ingraham. The Ivy Leaguer.

I didn't mention in the piece that there is one right wing pundit who seems to get why the president might be a tad concerned aboutthis disease. He happens to have gone to medical school:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I applaud what the president is doing. This is America at its best. Our armed forces are essentially the biggest NGO on the planet for helping people, the way we did in the tsunami, the way we do in Haiti. It is organized to go and to establish institutions and structures, and that's what it's going to do.

Now, the reason that we are doing this is, a, this could destroy West Africa. In other words, it could destroy all of the existing social structures rapidly, because it's now in urban areas, which has never happened with Ebola.

The other thing, which is unstated because you don't want to start a panic, is that it is possible, extremely unlikely, but possible that the virus mutates and becomes more easy to transmit, perhaps even by respiratory means. If it does, it becomes like the flu of 1918. So it's because of that remote possibility, which we don't even speak about because it is sort of impossible to imagine, that we want to make sure that it stays in West Africa, and deploying the military and all of our resources is a good thing to do. It's humanitarian and it's protective.

But hey it's nothing to the imminent threat of ISIS Ninjas sneaking across the border and killing us all in our beds. So, let's be sure to keep our priorities straight.

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Changing everything

by Tom Sullivan

Naomi Klein appeared last night on All In with Chris Hayes to discuss her new book, "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate." Extending arguments from her earlier work, Klein calls for a reevaluation of "the values that govern our society." She writes that, “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war ... there are policies that can lower emissions quickly, and successful models all over the world for doing so. The biggest problem is that we have governments that don’t believe in governing.”

I haven't read it yet, but I wanted to comment on the backlash we are sure to see.

Klein believes trying to address climate alone -- as the environmental movement has -- gets the issue wrong. As the Guardian put it, "[I]t’s about capitalism – not carbon – the extreme anti-regulatory version that has seized global economies since the 1980s and has set us on a course of destruction and deepening inequality." Klein told Chris Hayes, "It's not the end of the world. It's just the end of that highly individualistic, zero-sum game kind of thinking."

This, of course, will set lots of hair on fire on the right. In fact, Hayes led off the segment with a few choice quotes from some spokesmen on the right who believe climate change is a left-wing conspiracy to threaten mom and apple pie. Rush Limbaugh: "That's what global warming is. It's merely a platform to advance communism."

Please. I was born during the second Red Scare. I was a tot when they launched Sputnik. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis. That was half a century ago.

A quarter of a century after that, the Berlin Wall fell and American conservatives declared that Saint Ronald of Reagan had slain the Evil Empire and won the Cold War. And a quarter of a century after that, they’re still looking for commies in woodpiles and for Reds under their beds before they cower beneath the sheets.

Last year, even Forbes gave communism all the relevance of a Renaissance festival.

Not even the Chinese are communists anymore. Have you seen Shanghai lately? China has about cornered the free market in glass-and-steel skyscrapers and the cranes and concrete to build them. They sure as hell cornered a chunk of investment by Republican donors.

It took most of the 1990s, but with the former Soviet Pacific fleet rusting away at the docks in Vladivostok, even the Pentagon figured out communism wasn’t the Red Menace anymore. It took Russia less than a decade after the Wall fell to revert to the oligarchy it was before the Bolshevik Revolution – peasants and plutocrats. Which is where we're headed, if you haven't noticed.

If conservatives' would-be leaders are so worried about the U.S. emulating the Roosskies, they might want to stop licking the boots of our domestic plutocrats. They might want to get their heads out of their anti-communism and join the rest of us in addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

 
Crumbling under the pressure?

by digby

Somebody get this guy a valium:

Speaking at a party at Downing Street, British Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly said he’s had enough. “I have to say that after the events I’ve been facing over the past few days, assassination would be a welcome release.”

Good lord, I hope he's just talking about the Scottish referendum and not something else ...


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The Great Debate

by digby

I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked:
There was precious little suspense about today's House vote on an amendment to include funds for the training of Syrian rebels in the CR. The debate was heated, sure, but these debates are always slanted toward the people who want to talk. The pro-funding side was so confident that Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Iraq veteran and leadership ally, took to the floor to mock the people who had not wanted this funding sooner.

"I don’t remember these colleagues stepping forward a month ago," he said. "By many, I was called a warmonger or a guy who wanted to start a war in Iraq."
That's because when the president wants to go to war you can depend on the congress to rubber stamp it. It's a very rare instance when they don't. But hey, let's keep pretending that the real problem is the separation of powers not being properly observed instead of the fact that we are a military empire and very few people in the government (or the country) are concerned with that fundamental reality:
Kinzger won his gloating rights when the House voted 273 to 156 for the Syria amendment. That number was not far off, actually, from the 296-133 vote twelve years ago that kicked off the Iraq War. But the Iraq War vote almost suceeded with the votes of Republicans alone, 214 of their 222 members voting "aye." This time, only 159 Republicans voted for the funds, and 114 voted against them. Democrats were narrowly with the "no" side, splitting 85-71 against the funds.
That's right. This time more Republicans voted no and more Democrats voted yes. I can guarantee you that the vote would be the other way if the president were a Republican. (Go back to the Kosovo "debates" to see just how these things swing back and forth on a partisan basis.)

There are more Democrats who are consistently anti-war than there are Republicans. They are in a minority in the congress but they do exist. They voted against the Iraq war and they voted against this weird plan today. Good for them.

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A throwdown between oracles

by digby

Is there some reason anyone should care whether one election forecasting model is superior to the other?  I don't see how these models that aggregate polls to predict whether one party or the other will have a majority are anything more than a parlor game.(Or maybe a way for Vegas gamblers to lay odds...)

They're fun.  I enjoy them because I'm a political junkie. But this "fight" between two of the top forecasters seems rather insubstantial to me. After all, political pros rely on their own polling in individual races to determine strategy --- these aggregate poll models really have no bearing on anything as far as I know.  If they didn't do what they're doing --- however accurate they might be --- and disappeared from the scene tomorrow, would it make a difference?

But hey, maybe I'm missing something about the importance of these forecasts. It certainly seems to have the political establishment up in arms.





 
It looks like somebody's clean money is touching somebody's dirty money after all.

by digby

I haven't seen many people comment on this so maybe I'm off base. But it seems to me that this is going to cause trouble:
It was one of the trickiest issues when lawmakers were debating Obamacare, in the end, the Affordable Care Act squeaked through congress after lawmakers crafted a compromise about abortion coverage. Customers who wanted to purchase a health plan that covers abortion services would be required to send a separate check to their insurers for that coverage. That way, no taxpayer money would be used to subsidize abortion.

But a new study by the federal Government Accountability Office surveyed 18 insurers.

"All but three insurers indicated that the benefit is not subject to any restrictions, limitations or exclusions," the GAO reports.

That means the federal government could have been subsidizing plans that pay for abortion.

The administration says it's done nothing wrong, but will provide guidance in the coming days.
Maybe it's no big deal and nobody will care. I hope that's how it goes. But considering what we went through during the health care debate on this issue, I'm having a hard time believing that the anti-abortion zealots are going to let this pass.

In case you don't recall what went down, here's a little reminder. You'll recall that it was pro-life Democrats, led by Bart Stupak in the House who threatened to tank the health care reforms unless the President agreed to insure that the federal government didn't cover abortion in the bill.  The compromise was to make sure that the money of someone who opposes abortion would never even touch the money of someone who wants to buy insurance to cover the procedure thus keeping the taint of Satan from your personal balance sheet.

Recall this also from (the now former) congressman Stupak after the fact. (He wasn't very bright.)

Michigan congressman Bart Stupak, who played a pivotal role in the passage of the health care bill, said there is something worse than the hatred – including death threats and angry calls to his house – he experienced because of his support for the legislation.

“Ultimately, what stings the most isn’t the hatred,” wrote Stupak in a column posted on the Newsweek magazine’s website. “It’s that people tried to use abortion as a tool to stop health-care reform, even after protections were added.”

The pro-life Democrat said in the column for the magazine’s May 17 issue that he has “two longstanding personal convictions”: that health care is a right and federal funds should not pay for abortions.

He maintained that President Obama’s executive order sufficiently safeguards against the use of federal money to pay for abortions in health care reform. Obama had assured him that the executive order is “ironclad,” he said.

President Obama, Stupak and his group of pro-life Democrats worked out a last minute deal in March that exchanged the congressmen’s votes in favor of the health care bill for an executive order stating that no tax dollars be used for abortions.

Stupak argued that at that point the health care bill would have passed even if they voted against it. He said his coalition’s agreement with the president was meant to “add pro-life protections” on the legislation.

Pro-life groups, however, denounced the deal, arguing that an executive order does not have the force of law and that Stupak betrayed the movement at the most critical time.

“We need statutory law,” Stupak recalled the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops telling him after hearing about the deal.

The Michigan lawmaker, who has served in Congress for nearly two decades, told the USCCB that President Abraham Lincoln used an executive order to free the slaves and President George W. Bush used one to block embryonic stem cell research.

Maybe nobody in the anti-abortion crowd has gotten the memo on this yet. (If not, don't say anything ...) But I'll admit I'm a little bit surprised that there hasn't yet been an outcry over this (as far as I know.)  It was a huge fight that left everyone unsatisfied.



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Huckabee!

by digby

My piece for Salon today is about the Republican who's polling at number one in Iowa right now.  No, not Jindahl, not Christie not Ryan, Paul or Cruz.  It's Mike Huckabee and he's ahead by a mile:
Byron York reported that Huckabee called reporters together yesterday for a wide-ranging conversation about the Middle East (he’s very concerned) and a possible presidential run and it looks like he’s getting back in the saddle. York observes that unlike his run in 2008 where he lamented all the chatter about Iraq, he’s going straight at foreign policy as the focus of his campaign, rather than domestic issues, which would appear to signal that the GOP is getting back in its comfortable groove. (Not that this should come as a surprise — Benghazi!™ was a pretty good first clue.)

Some of this reticence to put their hopes and dreams once again in the other man from Hope is understandable. After all, he declined to join the losing GOP clown show in 2012 after having made a fairly decent showing in 2008. (What most people would call having good political instincts is often seen among the faithful as a sign of disloyalty.) In that race, Rick Santorum was left to carry the banner for the Christian right pretty much by himself and while he did a surprisingly respectable job of sticking it out to the bitter end, there’s really nobody in the world who can see him sitting in the Oval Office, not even his own voters. Huckabee, on the other hand, has long been seen as a serious contender and for good reason. Nobody else in the Republican game today has his particular combination of political gifts. Why they’re almost, dare I say it, Reaganesque.

Read on for some fun Huck quotes and a bonus Youtube of him playing Cat scratch fever with Ted Nugent.

Seriously, I think the guy in underrated and if he does get in, assuming he can raise money, I think he has the potential to successfully weave together the GOP's various strands. (Of course, if we're at war anyone with an R after his name can do that simply by waving the flag and displaying America's big swinging manhood.)


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"You can't feed a family with GDP"

by digby

That's Neil Irwin's line in the piece that accompanies this rather stunning chart:



The census numbers on what American families made last year are as mediocre as they are predictable. We now know that if your household brought in $51,939 in income last year, you were right at the 50th percentile, with half of households doing better and half doing worse. In inflation-adjusted terms, that is up a mere 0.3 percent from 2012. If you’re counting, that’s an extra $180 in annual real income for a middle-income American family. Don’t spend your extra $3.46 a week all in one place.

Going back a little further, the numbers are even gloomier. The 2013 median income remained a whopping 8 percent — about $4,500 per year — below where it was in 2007. The 2008 recession depressed wages for middle-income Americans, and they haven’t recovered in any meaningful way. And 2007 household incomes were actually below the 1999 peak.

But hey, it's nothing a little war won't fix, amirite? That is our preferred way of stimulating the economy after all. Keeps us from getting soft.

On the other hand we had a little incident in 2001 and a subsequent war and look at that chart. It doesn't seem to be working anymore.


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QOTD: John Boehner

by digby

“You might notice I have a few knuckleheads in my conference.”

Everyone knows this is a negotiating tool as much as anything, right? Boehner *says to the Democrats, "Hey, I'd love to help you out here. We want the same things. But the knuckleheads in my caucus just won't stand for it. I can't control them, you know that. And I've got a lot of good people in these deep conservative districts who could be targeted if they don't toe the line. If you need our votes you're going to have to give a lot more than you've given or we just can't get there. What can I do?"



Update: *Note:  to be clear this is how I am guessing it works when they are behind closed doors. The quote linked above saying "you might notice ...." he did say today however.
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Old warhorses

by Tom Sullivan

Hear that melody? Sen. Lindsey Graham is conducting the Village Symphony Orchestra in one of Republicans' favorite warhorses. You've heard it before. You'll hear it again.

"Republicans mount their warhorses" sits atop the WaPo's online Opinion section this morning. (If you arrived late, music lovers, the VSO just began the ISIS movement.)

The sudden desire for a ground war is a bit suspect, both because many Republicans adopted this view only after Obama came around to their previous view and because many Republicans oppose even the modest funding Obama has requested to train Syrian fighters. (Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she opposed “giving even more money to the so-called vetted moderates who aren’t moderate at all.”)

It may be that Republicans embraced the boots-on-the-ground position because Obama rejected it. Whatever the cause, the militancy is spreading — even though polls indicate that while Americans favor military action against the Islamic State, they aren’t keen on ground troops.

Of course, whatever the Kenyan Pretender wants is not enough for Graham and the VSO. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) wants "all-out-war." Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) doesn't want another "half-pregnant war." As Dana Milbank observes, the rest of the VSO (or is it the Very Serious Orchestra?) oppose anything less than a new ground war in the Middle East. And soon, because they want to hurry back to their districts to campaign for reelection wearing new campaign ribbons. And hoping war hysteria might distract voters from quizzing them on what they haven't done in Washington to earn their paychecks.


Maybe I missed the act of war ISIS committed against the United States of America that justifies the war into which (with their new trailer) ISIS wants to goad us. Or has America just gone so far down the rabbit hole that we'll launch another war because -- when in doubt -- it's the one thing this aging empire does by default? Like the clueless civilian Buster Keaton plays in "The General," who, finding himself in the middle of a Civil War battle, brandishes a discarded saber to rally troops whenever he doesn't know what else to do?


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

 
Imagine

by digby

 Yes it's all one big assault on our freedoms. Like making insurance pay for contraception. Or firing those Duck Dynasty guys.

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You haven't seen me in a while. Here's why.

by David Atkins

It's been a humbling and awesome experience writing here at Hullabaloo for the last three years. You haven't seen me around for the last little while, and I just wanted to explain why. I'll be back after Election Day, but now for the first time in over three years I'm taking a sabbatical from writing, because I'm plowing 14 hours a day into the biggest fight against Big Oil in the entire country, as campaign manager for Measure P in Santa Barbara County. I've managed and been field director on a bunch of campaigns before, including a recent hotly contested supervisor race, an Assembly race, and a bunch of local races. But none of them have had the wide-reaching national consequences of this one.

As you may know, California is sitting on some of the nastiest, dirtiest oil deposits in the country. The only way to get at them is by fracking them, acidizing them, or pumping billions of gallons of steam into them (cyclic steam injection). These techniques waste and pollute huge amounts of water during a drought, put human health and the environment at risk, and generate massive carbon emissions.

Some of us have been trying to get a statewide fracking ban passed, but without success so far. So activists in a few counties are taking it upon themselves to try to pass local bans, including in Santa Barbara County--where local oil companies are planning to drill over 7,700 new wells, generating a million cars' a year worth of carbon emissions just to drill the wells alone. Big Oil knows that if they can stop these local fracking bans, they'll have a much better chance of blunting momentum toward a statewide moratorium on fracking in California and elsewhere.

That's why Chevron and other oil companies have already dumped almost $2 million into the campaign to defeat Measure P. This is the same Chevron that was responsible for the famous 1969 oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast that many credit as the birth of the environmental movement.

The oil companies are telling the same lies they always do in these sorts of campaigns: that banning fracking and acidizing will stop all oil production everywhere, that thousands of jobs will be lost, that the county will be at risk of lawsuits, etc. None of it is true, of course, but the truth doesn't matter. The press dutifully stenographs the arguments of each side, and because Chevron and their pals have the money, they have the megaphone. They've got the slick TV ads, the paid social media, the gigantic mail campaign. All so they can keep on fracking and acidizing without even paying an extraction tax.

What we have is people power. Using a lean and mean campaign operation that pays no consultant commissions, we've already made over 100,000 phone calls and knocked on over 5,000 doors. We've got a fantastic and inexpensive mail program, and a great comms team handling earned media. We've got a good Facebook team. But unless something changes we're still probably going to be outspent by almost 20 to 1 by Big Oil.

Every poll and all our field numbers tell us that the race will be incredibly close. So we're putting everything we've got into our field efforts. I'm just worried it won't be enough. Right now we don't have the money for bilingual mail pieces or Spanish-language radio to the very communities who will be most affected by toxic dumping of drilling byproducts. We don't have the money for local cable buys on TV. To do all of that would take another $50,000 we just don't have.

Big Oil is counting on low voter turnout and apathy, and they're counting us being outgunned. I'm doing all I can to stretch every cent, but I could sure use your help.

We need folks to help with remote phonebanks (we have an awesome predictive dialer you can run from home), and we above all need money. We don't need the millions of dollars other campaigns do, but even just a few thousand more would make the difference between being able to reach various communities where they live, get our message out and respond to their lies, and not being able to.

Thanks, and I'll be seeing you around the blogs when this crucial election is all over.
 
No such thing as an undue burden?

by digby

Jeffrey Toobin has written an informative piece in the New Yorker about the disappearing "undue burden" standard for access to abortion in the federal courts.  He gives a useful recent history of cases that have challenged the concept all the way up to the most recent in Texas in which is looks as thought the conservative 5th Circuit will whittle it away to nothing.  As he writes:

[T]he members of the Fifth Circuit panel seem to believe that anything short of a nationwide ban on abortion does not amount to an undue burden on women’s rights. This is the argument that will soon be heading to the Supreme Court. Will the Court’s conservatives—who appear to have, with the addition of Anthony Kennedy, a one-vote majority on this issue—define the “undue burden” test into meaninglessness? Or will they junk the test altogether and give states an even freer hand to restrict abortion rights?

The good news is that liberals are winning the culture war so I'm quite sure this could never happen. Right? After all, once a right has been secured --- as reproductive rights have been for the past 40 years --- there's no going back.

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It's getting hot in here

by digby

I realize that we often have heat waves in LA at this time of year.  But this one is way worse than usual:
Following an excessive heat warning, the Los Angeles Unified School District cancelled outdoor sporting activities for Monday and Tuesday, while over 100 schools in San Diego had shortened days to protect students from high temperatures. Around 120 schools in the San Diego Unified School District do not have fully implemented air conditioning. The LAUSD’s decision to cancel all outdoor athletics could continue into Wednesday. [...] 
San Diego does not usually have a need for air conditioning. Neither does Santa Monica. But I have sure wished I had some this past week.
These decisions are the result of a heat wave that has gripped Southern California since last week. Due to high levels of humidity, Tuesday’s heat value index is between 100 and 110 degrees. Over the weekend, temperatures in Los Angeles reached the high 90s and went up to the low 100s in the surrounding San Fernando Valley, while temperatures in the San Diego area also reached into the 100s. 
On Monday, the temperature in the San Fernando Valley hit 106, while downtown Los Angeles and San Diego were 93 and 97 degrees, respectively. The average temperature for September in Los Angeles is around 73 degrees. 
On Monday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said that consumers set a record for energy use and are expecting the record to be broken again today. The previous largest energy demand on a single day in Los Angeles was in September 2010 when temperatures in downtown Los Angeles reached 113 degrees. On Monday, temperatures only reached 98 degrees. Through Sunday and Monday, the LADWP said that over 6,000 residents lost power, due to overheated equipment. The LADWP general manager, Marcie Edwards, said that consumers need to conserve their energy use through actions like avoiding the use of large appliances and setting air conditioning to 78 degrees. 
Brett Albright, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said that the current temperatures in Los Angeles are about 15 degrees higher than average. He said that autumn heat waves are not unheard of in the region; temperatures in October and November have reached 100 degrees in the past. While heat waves are common in Los Angeles, temperatures throughout the state have been climbing. 
Earlier this week, climate scientists announced that January-August 2014 were California’s warmest first eight months of a year since data collection began in 1895. The average temperature for the 8 month period, 62.6 degrees, was four degrees warmer than the 20th century average for the same span of time. California’s increased temperatures, and the drought that has been accompanying them, have been linked to global warming. 
Climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck said that higher temperatures could cause more and longer droughts, including possibly a decade-long “megadrought.”
About that drought --- it's not just about me sweltering while I blog.  Everyone will be affected:


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Toon 'o the week

by digby


Yes.  But not to worry, that's all over now.

Well, maybe not.

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Going past the VSPs

by digby

Dean Baker gave a talk the other day.  And it was a scathing take-down of all the Very Serious People (especially deficit hawks) who nobody should listen to. But what is sure to make them very angry is the fact that people went around them and thwarted their plans by taking the issue directly to ... average citizens.

If people working outside of the mainstream of the profession are going to have any impact on economic policy debates in the United States it is essential that they understand the forum in which the debate is taking place. This is not a contest of ideas where the best arguments and evidence win out. If we are talking about a debate within the economics profession, think of debating the morality of abortion with the pope in front of the College of Cardinals. That is pretty much what it is like to try to challenge any of the main precepts of economics within the economics profession.

The route for making progress is to get outside of the profession. For this it is necessary to appeal to people in policy positions, to reporters, to the general public, or to people who might follow economic debates, but don’t have extensive backgrounds in economics. And it is important to recognize what you are asking these people to do. You are asking these people to accept your claims over the claims of the most prominent economists in the profession.

Read the whole thing to see the examples he provides. You won't be sorry.





 

Astro-Fracking North Carolina

by Tom Sullivan

Courtesy of its GOP-led legislature, the great state of North Carolina is exploring fracking Triassic Basin shale deposits in the center of the state. Gov. Pat McCrory this summer lifted the moratorium on the practice in place since 2012. The bill he signed also made revealing the chemical components of fracking fluids a misdemeanor (an earlier draft made it a felony). A friend already has a T-shirt listing fracking chemicals on the back. The front reads, "This T-shirt is illegal in North Carolina."

The Mining and Energy Commission is taking public comment on fracking in the state, naturally. Last week, they held their last public meeting in the mountains at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. About 550 people attended. Opponents, mostly, and a few astroturf fracking supporters.

Few pro-fracking supporters made themselves visible. People favoring the drilling technology were booed and hissed at during previous fracking hearings. There were some, however. Three or four from America’s Energy Forum and N.C. Energy Forum, groups that receive financial support from American Petroleum Institute. And there was Winston-Salem resident Christian Bradshaw, who said he made the three-hour trip to support “energy-creating jobs” for North Carolina.

According to news reports (and friends who were there), about 18 men arrived wearing “Shale Yes” T-shirts, but seemed unaware of what fracking is. At least one had come from a Winston-Salem homeless shelter because "he had been told it would help the environment." As a friend described it, once the Army veteran realized he'd been duped, he couldn't believe he'd sold out for a sandwich.


“The energy industry keeps claiming that there is support for fracking in WNC. What they fail to mention is that they have to bus the clueless ‘supporters’ in,” said Betsy Ashby, who helped organize Jackson County Coalition Against Fracking.
One of the men apologized to Ashby, saying "I didn't know they were trying to do this to me." Another indicated he had just done it for the money.

"They're being exploited seven ways to Sunday," Ashby told reporters.

Whether the issue is women's health, school funding, Medicaid expansion, or preserving voting rights and the environment -- the Moral Monday Movement's fusion agenda -- that's pretty much how it goes. Among the tens of thousands of Moral Monday protesters, a thousand were willing to be arrested to oppose the NCGOP's radical agenda. The Koch brothers, Art Pope, and the rest of the Midas cult have to buy support. Boy howdy, can they afford to. And even then, they are exploiting people.

(h/t Ashevegas)


Monday, September 15, 2014

 
What if everybody misses?

by digby

I love hearing Americans moralize about barbarism among people in other cuntries.  Because we are so civilized.For instance, in Wyoming they just voted to bring back the firing squad due to all the unpleasantness surrounding killing people with lethal injection lately.  Here's an example of the superior moral framework we operate under here in the US:
State Rep. Stephen Watt (R) was one of the lawmakers who voted against the firing squad bill last week. He was shot and seriously wounded while serving with the Wyoming Highway Patrol and said his opposition was based on his personal experience. 
"We're all operating under the assumption that this is going to be instantaneous death," Watt said, according to the AP. "What happens if everybody misses?"
It could be very messy. Of course, it would be very messy anyway with the bullets tearing into the person's flesh and pieces of their body flying all over the place and all that blood. But hey, here in American we're used to that. Gunfire is actually pretty common and the carnage it creates is considered to be the price we pay for our freedom to carry deadly weapons anywhere we choose.

Honestly, if the big question about the death penalty by firing squad is "what if everybody misses" I'm pretty sure everybody has already missed the point.,

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"He didn't drop one tear"

by digby

Oh dear lord, this makes me feel like crying:


There are pictures of this little boy at the link --- he's a baby really, only 4 years old --- with bloody cuts all over his thighs.

Adrian Peterson released a statement saying that he is not a child abuser. But it's quite clear from that text message in which he is proud that his horrible beating did not produce any tears from his tiny little son (as well as the somewhat depraved act of forcing leaves into his son's mouth as he whipped him with a piece of wood) show that he is, even if he's never thought to define himself that way. It's a sick power trip that would make a 6'1 inch 220 pound professional athlete draw blood on a 4 year old as a punishment, regardless of how he rationalizes his intention.

I understand that there's a chance he's so damaged himself that he truly didn't know any better. But that doesn't mitigate the essential cruelty of his act or his attitude about it.

That poor little guy couldn't even let himself cry.

Update:  This by Will Saletan


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Just don't call them a rubber stamp

by digby

So here's our grand congressional debate and respect for the separation of powers that everyone's been clamoring for. I'm sure you'll be shocked to know that they'll ok the operation, after all. They just want the president to file some reports on a regular basis to keep them in the loop:
House Republicans expect to unveil legislation Monday evening that would give President Obama the authority to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels, but with some limits on that authority.

The House Armed Services Committee is drafting the bill in consultation with the administration. It is expected to take the form of an amendment to a stopgap-spending bill that would keep the government funded through Dec. 11, according to a senior committee aide.

Votes on the spending bill and the Syrian aid could come as soon as Wednesday.

The measure includes several provisions intended to satisfy Republicans and Democrats worried about giving the administration blanket authority to arm and train rebel groups, who would be used in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

It would require Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to submit the administration's plan for training the moderate opposition 15 days before the commencement of any such activities, the aide said. That requirement was put forward by the administration, the aide added.

After that, Hagel would have to submit an update to lawmakers every 90 days.

Members want to “keep tabs” on the number of Syrian rebel troops trained and deployed, as well as how effective they are on the battlefield and what's happened to the equipment they've used, the aide explained.

I guess they told the president what was what. Glad we have the congress fully engaged on this important matter of war and peace.

Oh, and by the way, if there's one thing on which these congressional over-seers do disagree with the president it's his unwillingness to put boots on the ground.

Republicans like war.  Most Democrats do too. If the polls say the people are for it you had better bet they will be too.

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It sure is a good thing we're past all that messy race stuff

by digby

This is depressing but not unexpected when you consider what we've found out about the political and law enforcement system in the area:

A new public opinion survey of St. Louis County residents shows the public perception of the death 18-year-old Michael Brown and its aftermath is sharply divided along racial lines.

The survey, released Monday morning by the Kansas City-based Remington Research Group, found that 65 percent of African-American county residents believe that Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson acted unjustly when he ended Brown's life Aug. 9 on a Ferguson street.

Conversely, 62 percent of the white residents surveyed by Remington believe the shooting death of Brown was justified.

The fissure broke even wider when surveyors asked if Wilson should be "arrested and charged with a crime" with 71 percent of African American residents responding "yes" opposed to the 71 percent of white survey-takers who believe the police officer should not be held liable.

This is, naturally, a result that proves African Americans are reverse racists.

It's disillusioning to see this since the media has been all over this story and has exposed a lot of the systemic racial biases in the county. I can see how decent people in their everyday lives might not have been aware of it before. But they should be now.

But then it's probable that the numbers were even more starkly divided before ...

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Kris Kobach: a man with a mission

by digby

My piece for Salon today tackles yet another "vote fraud" fraud --- the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach:
Following up on my post on Friday about the long illustrious history of conservative vote suppression it’s interesting that one of the nation’s foremost activists in the field should be in the spotlight going into the November election. Indeed, he’s right in the middle of one of the most interesting races in the country.

I’m referring to Kris Kobach, the Republican Kansas Secretary of State who was sued last week by the former Democratic candidate for the Senate who dropped out of the race in favor of an independent. If you haven’t heard about this wild turn of events, in a nutshell, the Kansas GOP is imploding under the disastrous leadership of the ultra-conservative Governor Sam Brownback. It’s so bad that GOP leaders in the state are defecting from the party and it looks as though a former Democrat-turned-independent may just unseat long term Republican incumbent Pat Roberts. Seeing the opening for an upset, the Democrats in the state persuaded their candidate to drop out and he agreed to do it. He followed all the rules for withdrawal but Kobach’s office says no dice: you’re staying on the ballot whether you want to run or not.

Koback is a real piece of work --- the guy who helped the notorious Russell Pierce draft Arizona's AB 1070. Needless to say he's doing everything in his power to insure that the Kansas GOP's rebellion isn't successful. He's just the kin of Republican a lot of these folks are getting tired of.

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Looks like Rand Paul's a thumbs up on war

by digby

But he's adamant, damn it, that the congress should vote to keep it going more often than it has in the past. Here's the king of the process dodge brushing over the fact that he's going to vote for war by pretending that it's more important that he insures that the congress keeps rubber stamping it:

Appearing on CBS “This Morning,” the Kentucky Republican conceded that he has shifted his views in some areas, including on what is an appropriate U.S. response to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. “As world events change, obviously you change your analysis. Five years ago, ISIS wasn’t a threat,” he said, using an alternate name for the terrorist group that has mobilized across much of northern and central Iraq.

Paul acknowledged that his thought process on ISIL has been “influenced” by ISIL’s recent beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.
[...]
Paul said on Fox News on Monday that because opinions change over time, depending on circumstances, if a vote of whether to go to war against ISIL would make it to Congress, he would vote to “limit the authorization to a time period.”

“I would try to sunset the provision,” Paul said. “I’ve been upset that we voted 15 years ago and people are still using a vote from 15 years ago, so I think if we authorize force or declare war, it should sunset at the end of the year and we should vote again, because I don’t like the idea that one generation can vote to bind another generation to war forever.”

Notice he doesn't say he will vote against it. Indeed, it's fairly clear that he's on board. You see, the really upsetting part of the 15 year war we've been waging is the authorization procedures. The war itself? Not a problem, apparently.

Oh well, there's always Justin Amash.


*It must be pointed out that the DNC is portraying Paul's wavering as proof that he's insufficiently hawkish, so he has that going for him.

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