Saturday, March 9, 2013

CPAC: The GOP’s Archipelago of Awkward Confederates

Bill Berkowitz

A parade of the usual suspects (Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich), and wannabees (Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan) will grace the stage. NRA President David Keene and its Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre are also scheduled speakers.

The Tea Party’s influence on CPAC will be writ large, according to Devin Burghart, the vice president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. In a piece titled “Tea Party Dominates CPAC 2013 Agenda,” Burghart pointed out that CPAC13 will be dominated by Tea Party leaders, Tea Party organizations, and Tea-Party-supported politicians.

[...] In a recent column, Kincaid supporting the exclusion of GOProud from CPAC, he argued that, “There is no such thing as a ‘gay conservative,’ unless the term ‘conservative’ has lost all meaning. But there is a homosexual movement that has its roots in Marxism and is characterized by anti-Americanism and hatred of Christian values.”

“Rather than debate whether ‘gay conservatives’ exist or ought to have prominent speaking roles, CPAC should be sponsoring a panel on the dangers of the homosexual movement and why some of its members seem prone to violence, terror, and treason,” Kincaid wrote.

And then there’s the case of Pamela Geller, the ever-ready always misunderstood anti-Muslim provocateur that says that for the first time in years will not be attending CPAC. On The Janet Mefferd Show the Atlas Shrugs blogger accused CPAC organizers of enforcing Sharia law against her.

Geller claimed that her attacks against Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, and Suhail Khan, a former Bush political appointee and Senior Fellow for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement, for “refus[ing] to address jihad, sharia, the war on freedom in the West,” as the reason for her exclusion.

Geller’s exclusion from CPAC, according to People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, “represent[s] yet another development in annual conservative gathering’s frequent clashes over Islamophobia. Anti-Muslim activists like Geller, David Horowitz, Frank Gaffney and Robert Spencer claim that the Muslim Brotherhood and its cohorts, namely Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, are trying to infiltrate the conservative movement.”

Islamophobes shouldn’t fret: Right Wing Watch is reporting that several reliably anti-Muslim speakers will have their moments to shine. Former congressman Allen West will speak as will Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton Apparently Fitton believes that the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department “are all working together with radical Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The irrepressible Newt Gingrich, who to the delight of his Sugar Daddy, the billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, “consistently attacked the Muslim community during his presidential campaign and claimed that Muslims in the US are trying to impose Sharia law,” will also perform for the faithful. As will former Pennsylvania Senator, and failed presidential candidate. Rick Santorum. Rounding out the anti-Sharia law warriors is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the closest thing we currently have to the re-embodiment of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
There are times I wish AG Holder hadn't said Obama can't use drone strikes on Americans inside the U.S. They're bunched up at CPAC and we could get 'em all and solve a lot of problems with one round. Drat that pesky Constitution sometimes.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

Published on Feb 15, 2013

EMMYLOU HARRIS performs @ A Tribute To Mike Auldridge at The Birchmere, in Alexandria, Virginia. One of three Emmylou songs recorded. The ninth video of 12 filmed @ A Tribute To Mike Auldridge, master of the dobro, who co-founded The Seldom Scene, the legendary progressive Bluegrass band. Mike died in December, 2012 at the age of 73. The artistes who performed to a capacity audience at The Birchmere, in Alexandria, VA, included, in no particular order: Jerry Douglas, Tom Gray, David Bromberg, Emmylou Harris, Frank Solivan, Rickie Simpkins, Mike Munford, Darren Beachley, Lou Reid, Ron Ickes, Sally Van Meter, Ben Eldridge, John Starling, Chris Luquette, Fred Travers, Jimmy Gaudreau, Danny Booth, Michael Coleman, Eric Brace, and Peter Cooper. The Seldom Scene, and Chesapeake bands also appeared. Recorded on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. [Kristine King]

Thanks to krysia5, Canada.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why the Invasion of Iraq Was the Single Worst Foreign Policy Decision in American History

Let me count the ways...

Today's 'must read' at Truthout

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the invasion of Iraq turned out to be a joke. Not for the Iraqis, of course, and not for American soldiers, and not the ha-ha sort of joke either. And here’s the saddest truth of all: on March 20th as we mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion from hell, we still don’t get it. In case you want to jump to the punch line, though, it’s this: by invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined at the time. And we -- and so many others -- will pay the price for it for a long, long time.
No shit. Go.


We Are Living in the World Dick Cheney Made

The portrait is riveting because we know what Cheney's ascent led to: our seemingly irrevocable, full-blown security state, with all the attendant risks of constitutional and civil liberties abuses; wholesale destruction and civilian deaths in swaths of Afghanistan and Iraq; more than 6,500 dead and more than 50,000 wounded U.S. soldiers; the rise of remote-control warfare, now embodied by drones; and a relationship with the Arab and Muslim worlds arguably more antagonistic than ever before. The film has the dreadful fascination of a road trip you know ends in a car wreck.
Please pardon me for obsessing on Cheney, but I hate that war criminal coward bastard more than I've hated anyone in my life. I hate that he's allowed to walk the earth a free man as well. Well, not all the earth, just this country. Some of the other nations see things more clearly than we do and have issued arrest warrants for him as the war criminal he is. We're stuck with him.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

McCain Tells Paul To Get Off His Lawn

Raw Story

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tore into Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) “ridiculous” 13-hour filibuster, chastising the junior senator for a speech that was “not helpful” and not in keeping with Republican orthodoxy on the terror war.

McCain specifically objected to Paul saying that a future president as evil as Nazi leader Adolph Hitler could one day come to power and use drones to kill political opponents like actress and peace activist Jane Fonda.
Heh. I actually have no objection to nuking Hanoi Jane but I think it would be more fitting to run her over with a Maybach. But that's just me...

What I think Grampa Walnuts is really pissed off at Paul about is that his filibuster stunt might set a precedent, that GOP obstructionists will actually have to get up and read the phone book instead of "silent filibustering" anonymously while they go to lunch with their big donors like they've gotten used to doing.


Thanks to YubaNet.

2d Amendment spiralling ad absurdum


I want a AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. I am assured that it is the best attack helicopter in the world and if it's not, it's close enough. It can fly 184 miles per hour. It can go 323 miles on a tank of gas. It has a 30mm automatic cannon that can fire 1200 rounds, and it can carry 16 antitank Hellfire missiles. It can also carry 76 unguided 2.75 inch rockets. With this helicopter, I could theoretically destroy 80% of a standard Russian tank battalion in a single sortie. I am firmly convinced that possession of this helicopter will prevent me from ever having to worry about a situation where law and order breaks down because the police can’t travel, there’s no communication. And there are armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods. In fact, the mere possibility of such a breakdown in civilization means that I have an inalterable and inalienable right to this helicopter, because there is nothing so poorly regulated as an armed gang.

At first, I thought that a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle or a double-barrel shotgun would be sufficient, especially if equipped with the correct accouterments. But the more I dwell on Lindsey Graham's dystopian talking points, the more I feel compelled to be on the safe side.

I'm going with the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. Just try and stop me.
And if you can operate the thing with an Xbox controller, you won't even have to get off the couch! Neither will the 2d Lieutenant at Nellis who takes your $18 million ($9M (?) second-hand) Apache out with a cheaper-than-dirt (relatively speaking) AMRAAM which he launched from a latest-gen Predator drone, suitably upgraded for just such upstarts as you, using his Xbox controller without getting up off his couch.

Your money will sprinkle to earth but at least you won't be part of the debris. And the butterbar at Nellis will probably get a medal. Heh.

The Sequester is Good for You, and Other GOP Lies

William Rivers Pitt

Let me see if I have this right.

A generation of GOP trickle-down economic thievery depth-charged the American economy and set the nation trembling on the edge of collapse, combined a decade ago with massive GOP-supported tax cuts and two brutally expensive GOP-supported wars that eviscerated the Clinton budget surplus. This was followed by five years of the GOP filibustering everything and the sink in the men's room in order to thwart any genuine economic recovery, because they did not want the president to get the credit, and be damned to the people. Today, that same GOP has forced the country into this sequester nonsense because, according to their bastard gospel, closing tax loopholes for rich people and corporations in order to curb the debt they accrued makes the Baby Jesus cry.
Yep. You're doing fine so far.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that we have spent $767 billion in Iraq since the invasion. The National Priorities Project, a US-based research firm, puts the number at $811 billion.
I think the actual number will be somewhere north of $3 Trillion.

Make no mistake: Iraq was a Republican war, championed by Republicans, advocated by Republicans, defended by Republicans, which paid out vast sums of taxpayer dollars to corporate friends of Republicans. Anyone who says, "But the Democrats did it, too," fine, OK, please name for me the Democrats umbilically connected to Halliburton and KBR. I'll wait.

Now these same Republicans have delivered us into this sequester because they say we can't afford things like Medicare, Social Security, clean air, safe food, the Post Office, staffed control towers, jobs, and adequate hospital care.

The greed frenzy of trickle-down nonsense. Two massive tax cuts, and two wars. Rampant war profiteering. Comprehensive obstructionism in Congress when presented with any effective proposals for salvaging the economy. Now, the sequester, all brought to you by your friends in the GOP, who tell us that we're broke, and can't afford nice things anymore...but whatever you do, don't look at all the ways we throw billions at our friends through the money laundering process of warfare and militarization.

Yeah, I have this right.
Yes, yes you do.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I'll Kill You for This Column

If it's Wednesday it must be Morford, coming to you today from HuffPo, on the deaths of journalists in Mexico.

I've won a few wonderful awards and accolades for my work so far. I've been, in turns, hugely proud and quickly humbled, honored beyond belief, thrilled when someone tells me my work has inspired change or induced a profound realization. In my line, this is all you can really ask for.

I've also been reviled by the Christian right, called the anti-Christ more times than I can count; I've been verbally spat upon by extreme right-wing knuckle draggers, threatened with lawsuit by Mormonism and Scientology, had the head of SF's Catholic archdiocese complain, multiple times, to Chronicle HQ about my ongoing and enthusiastic condemnation of the church. High badges of honor, all.

And yes, I've even had a couple straight-up death threats, but they came from neck-deep in the heartland muck, from sub-humans who are, I'm convinced, far too terrified to come anywhere near San Francisco lest they turn instantly liberal or gay. So it's never been a serious concern.

But then again, I've never been involved in the kind of reportage that has you dodging bullets while interviewing surviving family members of a decapitated police captain, or that has you hiding out in a cave to write your report on the Chinese military beating monks in Tibet, all for little pay, for the sheer need to get the story out to a numb and wary world that doesn't really want to hear it much anymore.

Of course, I also realize it's nothing new. War zones and deadly hotspots the world over are famously attractive to thrill-seeking writers and photojournalists exactly for their high-adrenaline, death-wish risks. But it's one thing to knowingly incite the fundamentalist clods in Iraq or Pakistan, quite another to face death in a fast-developing first world democracy, a land of ravishing beauty and fine arts, intellectual power and tremendous urban development.

This is, perhaps, the most harrowing aspect of the killing of journalists in Mexico (now second only to Iraq as the most dangerous place in the world to be a reporter): We are not that far removed. Despite America's "maturity," despite all our supposed First Amendment protections and moral righteousness, we are but a few small steps away from Mexico's brutish violence and ingrained political dishonesty.

It also begets a strange and tragic irony: I recall a study not long ago from an American Ph.D. student who examined terrorists the world over and found something rather surprising.

All those sophisticated, calculating, evil masterminds orchestrating vast, intricate networks of educated rebels in the art of fear and violence? They don't really exist. There are no smarmy, highly-educated James Bond villains, no evil Die Hard-type Russian masterminds trying to hack the mainframe of international conglomerates, no evil genius sitting in a leather armchair, arming nukes while stroking a hairless cat on his lap.

There is no Scarface. There is no Tony Soprano. There was no Wild West. With rare exception, the romantic American notion of shrewd drug kingpin, sly mastermind terrorist, suave nightclub gangster is pure violence porn, just dumb Hollywood fantasy.

The truth is far more banal...
And it will kill you just as dead and for real.

Just Die, Dick

MoDo gets it right for once in a long time.

In a documentary soon to appear on Showtime, “The World According to Dick Cheney,” America’s most powerful and destructive vice president woos history by growling yet again that he was right and everyone else was wrong.
Yeah, like a military marching formation, everybody was outta step but him. Asshole doesn't begin to cover it.

Talking to Cutler in his deep headmaster’s monotone, Cheney dispenses with the fig leaf of “we.” He no longer feigns deference to W., whom he now disdains for favoring Condi over him in the second term, and for not pardoning “Cheney’s Cheney,” Scooter Libby.
"Feigns deference to W." That was his M.O. the whole time. We know who was in charge, and it wasn't the Chimp.

He was always goosing up W.’s insecurities so he could take advantage of them. To make his crazy and appallingly costly detour from Osama to Saddam, and cherry-pick his fake case for invading Iraq, he played on W.’s fear of being lampooned as a wimp, as his father had been.

But after Vice kept W. out of the loop on the Justice Department’s rebellion against Cheney’s illegal warrantless domestic spying program, the relationship was ruptured. It was too late to rein in the feverish vice president, except to tell him he couldn’t bomb a nuclear plant in the Syrian desert.

“I don’t lie awake at night thinking, gee, what are they going to say about me?” he sums up.

They’re going to say you were a misguided powermonger who, in a paranoid spasm, led this nation into an unthinkable calamity. Sleep on that.
And don't bother waking up. This nation has unfortunately, or maybe cowardly, given him the greatest gift of his misbegotten life - the ability to die a free man instead of in prison or Gitmo like he ought to.

Note to the Dick: Take advantage of that gift and die, motherfucker. Today would be just fine.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Headline of the Day

Why Jeb Bush will never be president
Note to Jeb: Your father wasn't the worst President in U.S. history, but your brother WAS and the Bush name is mud is the real reason you'll never be President. Maybe in ten generations or so, when everybody alive today is dead and the lessons of history have been forgotten once again.

FAQ the Pope

Will Durst

Q. When was the last time a pope retired?

A. Thursday.

Q. No, before that.

A. July 4, 1415. Gregory XII stepped down to head off on a hot weekend with his brother- in- law’s sister’s seamstress’ pool boy in Sardinia.

Q. Is it true the Catholic Church is fast tracking the election process?

A. Yes, they’ve thrown themselves into a frenzy of hyperactivity. Which means accelerating all the way past erosion right up to snail’s pace. For instance they have yet to meet to decide when to convene.

Q. Who gets to vote for the new Pope?

A. All Cardinals under the age of 80 not currently under indictment are allowed to vote.

Q. How does this vote work?

A. For the first seven rounds, a 2/3rds majority if required, after that just 50% plus one. In the past, the College of Cardinals have been deadlocked for up to three years. which would make a great mini-series. NBC should jump on this.

Q. What’s the deal with the smoke?

A. After each vote, the ballots are burned. If no winner is picked, a chemical is added to make the smoke black. If there is a winner, no chemical added- smoke remains white. Green smoke is just some priest encouraging Romans to recycle.

Q. What kind of shot do Americans have?

A. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Really, does it always have to be about us?
Q. Who the fuck cares?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

State Dept. Approves Keystone Pipeline
Dept. of Energy approves arming Syrian rebels.

Supreme Court Seems Poised To Strike Down Major Provision Of Voting Rights Act
By a vote of 4 3/5 to 4.

Arizona Senate Approves Gold, Silver as Legal Tender
Beefs up stagecoach security.

Supreme Court Shields Gov’t Secret Surveillance Because Evidence Proving It Would Be Secret
Majority opinion written by Joseph Heller, with concurring opinion by Lewis Carroll.
Heh 22.

There ain't enough lipstick in the fuckin' world...

Daddy Frank's latest feature piece. Long, many links, good read.

Lipstick on an Elephant

Deep behind a tangle of denial and rebranding initiatives, a GOP resuscitation plan emerges.
I'm down wid "Do Not Resuscitate", but that's just me.

Pops goes through Repug Plans A to C and then explains why they won't work:

The GOP’s problem isn’t bad messaging; it’s that its message has been, if anything, all too readily understood.

He then compares the GOP's problems today with virtually the same problem they had in '64 with Goldwater and the Reagan resurgence which is what we see ending today, thank you Jesus. He then offers probably the only solution that will work for them:

These days, the GOP has no new Reagan as yet waiting in the wings. It faces a demographic cliff that may take far longer than two years to scale, no matter how many blind mountain climbers deliver pep talks—especially if Republicans in Congress can’t even mobilize on immigration reform this year. But the party controls far more of American governance, federal and local, than it did after Goldwater’s defeat. It has continued to push the country—and both the current and previous Democratic president—incrementally to the right. Whatever the acronym stands for, the GOP remains nothing if not true to itself. It could not be rebranded even if it wanted to change—and it does not want to. A cosmetic face-lift would fool no one. Its current leaders are more faithful than ever—more faithful than Nixon, Ford, and both George Bushes ever were—to the principles laid down by Goldwater and Reagan. In the end, the party’s best bet may be not to do something but just stand there until history cycles back to it once more.
That'll work. I'll be dead and gone and I plan to live a whole lot longer than them if just to spite them.