Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last Call

I don't reference too many things from Big Orange, but this diary from Conceptual Guerilla is a keeper.

We don't live in a democracy . . . we live in a capitalist oligarchy, with some democratic representation.  In fact, we have enough democratic representation, it turns out, to occasionally get some things we want.  Have you ever heard of Social Security, Medicare, rural electrification, the minimum wage, or labor unions?  The capitalist oligarchy didn't want those reforms . . . but they were forced to accept them.

As long as you think that the President is some wholly independent political force, who can just do any old thing that strikes his fancy, you're going to be disappointed . . . no matter who gets elected.  It has always been this way . . . every President you think of as "progressive" was every bit as cautious and slow moving as Obama  JFK?  He dragged his feet before going along with desegregation and civil rights.  He also put "advisers" in Vietnam, and was rumored to want out AFTER the 1964 election.  Seems he didn't want to anger hawkish factions of the capitalist oligarchy a/k/a "the establishment."

President Obama . . . like every President since the Civil War . . . must make important compromises with "the establishment" if he hopes to accomplish anything . . . and if he hopes to keep his job.  You need to understand and get over this fact of life . . . and learn how to deal with it.  Because you need to understand another key and ugly fact of life . . .

If Obama loses, you can kiss Social Security and Medicare goodbye.  You're already seeing it in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida.  If Obama loses the tea party will step right into the power vacuum, and do their level best to bring back what Grover Norquist calls "the McKinley era, without the protectionism."

Does "the Establishment" want this?  They're probably indifferent . . . which means they'll put up with it, if the tea party forces them too.

Do read the whole damn thing this evening, it's a refreshingly good piece.

Re-Birther Of The Uncool

Remember how I said several months ago that hardcore Birthers obsessed with President Obama being "born in Kenya" would never believe his birth certificate because birtherism is a proxy for racism?

But this is one of those situations where all the logic in the world won't help:  racist assholes will get their dog whistle "He's not one of us and you'll never convince me otherwise" issue no matter what Obama releases, and our stupid, irresponsible media will continue to treat their "concerns" about the President's past as a "real story that real Americans care about" rather than admit it's nothing more than idiotic, racist bullshit...because doing so would mean the Village press would have to admit their complicity in selling it to millions of Americans.

Well, guess what?

Welcome back to the birther debate, courtesy of Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI).

Walberg took questions about Obama's long-form certificate at town hall in Adrian, MI last Thursday. From the Adrian Daily Telegram (emphasis added):

Responding to two questioners who brought up the issue of Obama's birth place, Walberg did not tell the questioners that the issue had been settled by Obama when he released his birth certificate in April. 
"Regardless of whether the license that he showed is true or fake, I've not seen it other than what was portrayed in the news. The House is controlled by the majority party being the Republicans, the Senate by the Democrats, the attorney general by the Democrats. That's the answer. One and a half years. One and a half years. That's when we do the do-over," Walberg said.
That sounds like he's suggesting a Republican-led Dept. of Justice would treat the Obama birth certificate issue differently than the current one, and suggests he thinks the there's still more investigating to be done. Walberg's office did not respond to a request for clarification from TPM Tuesday.

Let me repeat this:  the birther nonsense will almost certainly continue into 2012.  The excuse of "We have to get rid of the Democrats because they're covering for the President's obviously fake birth certificate!" will be used pretty much in every marginally competitive effort to unseat a Democratic incumbent in 2012.  If you honestly thought that by releasing it that it would be the end of the birthers, we've all got another thing coming.

Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il, Part 2

Yesterday I talked about Rick Perry's controversial decision to mandate a vaccine for HPV for schoolgirls in Texas, to prevent cervical cancer among other things (and to line the pockets of his friends).  He was attacked by the left for his uncomfortable relationship with vaccine maker Merck, but he was attacked even harder by the right who screamed that girls in Texas didn't need the vaccine because all good girls are celibate until marriage, and that there was no need for it unless Perry was pushing Texas's nubile young daughters into teen sex.

Perry used the argument that preventing cancer was good.  That was up until yesterday, that is, when he completely reversed himself and ran away from his own record.

A few hours after unveiling his campaign for president, Perry began walking back from one of the most controversial decisions of his more-than-10-year reign as Texas governor. Speaking to voters at a backyard party in New Hampshire, Perry said he was ill-informed when he issued his executive order, in February 2007, mandating the HPV vaccine for all girls entering sixth grade, unless their parents completed a conscientious-objection affidavit form.

Yes, because preventing cancer among women the way we prevent whooping cough or measles is an "ill-informed" decision.  Steve Benen:

Social conservatives have long been opposed to initiatives to combat the human papillomavirus (HPV), which increases a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer. Merck developed a vaccine that immunizes against HPV infection, and it was approved by the FDA, which led the religious right to fight for restrictions. As the Family Research Council said a while back, the vaccine “could be potentially harmful” to women “because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.”

Let that one roll around in your brain for a moment. A vaccine that prevents deadly diseases is, among some on the right, more harmful because sex is, you know, bad.

Women and daughters should simply submit to their fathers and not have sex.  No sex, no HPV.  Science and medicine that prevent sexually transmitted cancer-causing viruses is for bad girls in Governor Goodhair's Inconsequential America.

At least since he's running for President, that is.

Smoking Stupidity

Cigarettes are bad for you.  This is not a shock, even to the smokers who consume them at the risk of a long and ugly death.  But the government now requires cigarette companies to print images that "intended to elicit loathing, disgust and repulsion."

Why?  Do they think the problem is that people don't know it will kill them?  They know.  I knew when I started smoking, and I was only twelve.  I've quit for five years now, but I know both sides of the coin. Still, this is petty and demeaning, to the companies and the people who buy the legal product:

And after all the decades of warnings, the CDC reports, there is this statistic:
Every day of the year approximately 2,200 adults -- who presumably have heard about the health hazards their entire lives -- begin, for the first time, to smoke cigarettes on a daily basis.

I think that says enough.

Skinny White Lie

Kate Middleton has a divine figure, and she wore The Dress as much as it wore her for adornment.  However, a recent magazine article is drawing fire for "inadvertently" manipulating an image and the effect just happened to further slim Middleton to the point of looking ridiculous.

The cover quickly drew public outrage and a complaint about the inaccuracy of the photo was registered with Britain’s Press Complaints Commission. After an investigation (we're imagining they just looked at the photos!), the commission ruled that the magazine had in fact doctored the image. According to MSNBC, Grazia has confirmed the allegations.

A spokesperson at the magazine explained that the re-touching SNAFU all started after the Grazia staff were unable to locate a solo shot of Middleton in her wedding dress. Magazine editors had trouble finding an image of the Duchess where she wasn’t linked arm-in-arm with William. (You’ll notice her arm is reaching up in the photo on the left). So they decided to create something that wasn’t there. “This involved mirroring one of the duchess’s arms and an inadvertent result of the change was the slimming of her waist,” the Complaints Commission reported.

I'm glad to see they came clean (how could they hope to deny it?) but the picture is a little gross.  They did her no favors, but I do not know what the lines are in photographs in reporting.  At what point does a touch-up become a change, and at what point are magazines required to disclose the depth of their editing? 

Dr. Doom Gets His Apocalypse On, Or We're Out Of Rabbits, Rocky

Nouriel Roubini is depressing today even for Nouriel Roubini.

The massive volatility and sharp equity-price correction now hitting global financial markets signal that most advanced economies are on the brink of a double-dip recession. A financial and economic crisis caused by too much private-sector debt and leverage led to a massive re-leveraging of the public sector in order to prevent Great Depression 2.0. But the subsequent recovery has been anemic and sub-par in most advanced economies given painful deleveraging.

Now a combination of high oil and commodity prices, turmoil in the Middle East, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, eurozone debt crises, and America’s fiscal problems (and now its rating downgrade) have led to a massive increase in risk aversion. Economically, the United States, the eurozone, the United Kingdom, and Japan are all idling. Even fast-growing emerging markets (China, emerging Asia, and Latin America), and export-oriented economies that rely on these markets (Germany and resource-rich Australia), are experiencing sharp slowdowns.

Until last year, policymakers could always produce a new rabbit from their hat to reflate asset prices and trigger economic recovery. Fiscal stimulus, near-zero interest rates, two rounds of “quantitative easing,” ring-fencing of bad debt, and trillions of dollars in bailouts and liquidity provision for banks and financial institutions: officials tried them all. Now they have run out of rabbits.

Roubini basically goes on to predict the death of capitalism -- as we know it, anyway.   But he has a solution:

The right balance today requires creating jobs partly through additional fiscal stimulus aimed at productive infrastructure investment. It also requires more progressive taxation; more short-term fiscal stimulus with medium- and long-term fiscal discipline; lender-of-last-resort support by monetary authorities to prevent ruinous runs on banks; reduction of the debt burden for insolvent households and other distressed economic agents; and stricter supervision and regulation of a financial system run amok; breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and oligopolistic trusts.

That would be a beautiful thing if it came to pass.  Unfortunately, the entire Republican party and more than a few Democrats will do everything they can to make sure something like this never, ever happens.

If this sounds familiar, it's good ol' Roubini Plan N I was strongly suggesting we do two and a half years back:  N for Nationalize the damn banks.  Won't happen, and we're all the poorer for it.  Literally.

This Is What I'm Talking About

President Obama smacked the GOP upside the head with a big, big metal gauntlet in Iowa yesterday:

In response to a question at a town hall in Decorah, Iowa, Monday evening, President Obama said that when Congress returns in September, "I'll be putting forward...a very specific plan to boost the economy, to create jobs and to control our deficit. And my attitude is get it done.

"And if they don't get it done," he continued, "then we'll be running against a Congress that isn't doing anything for the American people and the choice will be very stark and very clear."

This is exactly what the President and Democrats need to be doing:  put a concrete jobs bill on the table and dare the GOP to block it. Then when they do -- because they absolutely will block it --  tell the truth: that the GOP would rather make sure the economy continues to falter so they can attack the President rather than help the tens of millions of unemployed.

This, this, a thousand times this.

Onward Christian Dominionist Soldiers

A pretty good Michelle Goldberg piece in the Daily Beast covers the growing notion that if the Republicans don't nominate Mitt Romney, they will nominate a Christian Dominionist like Bachmann or Perry.  The truth behind the movement is even worse than it sounds:

In many ways, Dominionism is more a political phenomenon than a theological one. It cuts across Christian denominations, from stern, austere sects to the signs-and-wonders culture of modern megachurches. Think of it like political Islamism, which shapes the activism of a number of antagonistic fundamentalist movements, from Sunni Wahabis in the Arab world to Shiite fundamentalists in Iran.
Dominionism derives from a small fringe sect called Christian Reconstructionism, founded by a Calvinist theologian named R. J. Rushdoony in the 1960s. Christian Reconstructionism openly advocates replacing American law with the strictures of the Old Testament, replete with the death penalty for homosexuality, abortion, and even apostasy. The appeal of Christian Reconstructionism is, obviously, limited, and mainstream Christian right figures like Ralph Reed have denounced it.

Yeah, pause, rewind.  We're talking about people so far down the religious whacko scale of Christianity that Ralph Reed thinks they're nuts.

For believers in Dominionism, rule by non-Christians is a sort of sacrilege—which explains, in part, the theological fury that has accompanied the election of our last two Democratic presidents. “Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ—to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness,” wrote George Grant, the former executive director of Coral Ridge Ministries, which has since changed its name to Truth in Action Ministries. “But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice ... It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time ... World conquest.”

Dominionism is not just theocracy, but total and complete control of all aspects of social behavior by Christians...and particular Christian individuals who are "worthy".  It combines the worst aspects of theological domination of the state and crony capitalism into the worst sort of neo-conservative Divine Right of Kings.  And of course, Michele Bachmann is right at the top of the movement.

One could go on and on listing the Dominionist influences on Bachmann’s thinking. She often cites Francis Schaeffer, the godfather of the anti-abortion movement, who held seminars on Rushdoony’s work and helped disseminate his ideas to a larger evangelical audience. John Eidsmoe, an Oral Roberts University professor who, she’s said, “had a great influence on me,” is a Christian Reconstructionist. She often praises the Christian nationalist historian David Barton, who is intimately associated with the Christian Reconstructionist movement; an article about slavery on the website of his organization, Wallbuilders, defends the institution’s biblical basis, with extensive citations of Rushdoony. (“God's laws concerning slavery provided parameters for treatment of slaves, which were for the benefit of all involved,” it says.)

Yeah, think about that statement.  Slavery was cool because true Christians treated their slaves well.  Hey look, that brings us right back to Divine Right of Kings and serfs.  Basically Dominionism says "If God wanted you to be rich and powerful, He would make you so in order to take over the country.  If you have wealth and power, God gave it to you because you're the best suited in order to exert its influence."  Dig?

Oh, but Governor Goodhair's deep into this mess as well, if not even more than Bachmann.

According to Wilder, members of the New Apostolic Reformation see Perry as their vehicle to claim the “mountain” of government. Some have told Perry that Texas is a “prophet state,” destined, with his leadership, to bring America back to God. The movement was deeply involved in The Response, the massive prayer rally that Perry hosted in Houston earlier this month. “Eight members of The Response ‘leadership team’ are affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation movement,” wrote Wilder. “The long list of The Response’s official endorses—posted on the event’s website—reads like a Who’s Who of the apostolic-prophetic crowd, including movement founder C. Peter Wagner.”

Yeah, terrified yet?  I know I often refer to Bachmann and Perry as entertaining nutjobs, but these two in particular would be the end of America's religious freedom as we know it.  They are outright threats to America and must be treated as such.  And by treated as such, I mean spread the word to as many people as possible.  Behind the folksy humor and the charisma is a dangerous movement that means to take over every aspect of the country and control it through theocratic means.

These folks?  Yeah, they really are the American Taliban.


Related Posts with Thumbnails