The Moderate Voice http://themoderatevoice.com An Internet hub with domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, indies, centrists, moderates, and right Sun, 24 May 2015 12:14:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Fruitvale Station: Heartbreakingly Brilliant http://themoderatevoice.com/205319/fruitvale-station-heartbreakingly-brilliant/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205319/fruitvale-station-heartbreakingly-brilliant/#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 12:14:54 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205319 Here is a snippet of my blog about one of the most heartbreaking and powerful films I have ever seen. Fruitvale Station probably packs more of a punch today than it did during the time it was released. Anyway, check it out. … I remember hearing about the Oscar Grant case in 2009 and shrugging [...]

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Here is a snippet of my blog about one of the most heartbreaking and powerful films I have ever seen. Fruitvale Station probably packs more of a punch today than it did during the time it was released.

Anyway, check it out.

I remember hearing about the Oscar Grant case in 2009 and shrugging my shoulders. Unfortunately, there was nothing shocking about what happened to that young man. Worse still, there was nothing at all shocking about how America, and in particular, the media reacted. There are a lot of things I admire about the United States, but its gun culture simply isn’t one of them – nor its record on race relations. One of my favourite rappers, Killer Mike, said in an interview not too long ago that people across the world are envious of America’s rights – especially the right to bear arms. If he’s talking about the United Kingdom, then he is talking absolute bollocks. But I digress…

Check out the rest on my blog, Chocolate Films.

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Sipping On Chamomile Tea Helps Women Live Better, Longer http://themoderatevoice.com/205317/sipping-on-chamomile-tea-helps-women-live-better-longer/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205317/sipping-on-chamomile-tea-helps-women-live-better-longer/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 21:03:48 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205317 In the search for the fountain of youth, our culture has become obsessed with anti-aging supplements and fad diets touted for boosting longevity. However, the secret to a long and healthy life has been around for thousands of years in an herbal brew. According a recent study published in the journal The Gerontologist, drinking chamomile [...]

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In the search for the fountain of youth, our culture has become obsessed with anti-aging supplements and fad diets touted for boosting longevity. However, the secret to a long and healthy life has been around for thousands of years in an herbal brew. According a recent study published in the journal The Gerontologist, drinking chamomile tea…

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Debate Dilemma: How to Cull the Republican Herd (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/205313/debate-dilemma-how-to-cull-the-republican-herd-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205313/debate-dilemma-how-to-cull-the-republican-herd-guest-voice/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 20:48:48 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205313 Debate Dilemma: How to Cull the Republican Herd By Dick Polman This is more daunting than a Rubik’s cube: How in the world do you fit as many as 18 Republican candidates on one debate stage? The GOP has no clue how to do it. At a party confab last weekend, a top official said, [...]

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Debate Dilemma: How to Cull the Republican Herd
By Dick Polman

This is more daunting than a Rubik’s cube: How in the world do you fit as many as 18 Republican candidates on one debate stage?

The GOP has no clue how to do it. At a party confab last weekend, a top official said, “I think there’s a consensus to cap it between nine and 12,” but another official quickly insisted, “There’s no cap,” thus closing the cap gap. Problem is, if they bar Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina (on the grounds that neither has a prayer of winning), they’ll be called racist and sexist.

The first debate is slated for Aug. 6. Steve Duprey, the party guy in charge of debate planning, says, “The goal is to have as many credible candidates on stage as possible,” but it looks like they’ll have to share that stage with assorted charlatans, delusional dreamers, and wearers of pinwheel hats. National GOP chairman Reince Priebus recently vowed, “We’re not going to have a circus,” but we’d all be wise to stock up on popcorn.

Clearly, the debate planners need help. I am here to offer it. I believe the herd can be culled in March Madness fashion, with various early matchups. For instance:

The blasphemy bracket. In front of a right-wing audience pre-selected by Fox News, Jeb Bush will repeat his 2014 claim that when immigrant families cross the American border, “it’s not a felony, it’s an act of love.” Then Ohio Gov. John Kasich will defend his state’s expansion of Medicaid coverage via Obamacare. Then Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will again explain why he doesn’t care about social issues like gay marriage (“I don’t talk about it at all”). Then Rick Perry will defend his Texas policy of giving in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. The candidates who get booed the loudest will be eliminated.

The batty bracket. Ben Carson will explain his belief that Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery, Rick Santorum will elaborate on the slippery slope that links gay marriage to man-on-dog sex, Mike Huckabee will pitch his cure-diabetes snake oil and quote from his recent email that advertised a Bible cure for cancer, and Ted Cruz will again voice his support for the folks who think that Barack Obama is poised to invade Texas. The candidates who get cheered the least will be eliminated.

The bloodlust bracket. Who’s most eager to unleash the dogs of war? Lindsey Graham will repeat his recent vow, “If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al Qaeda or ISIL – anybody thinking about that? I’m not gonna call a judge. I’m gonna call in a drone and we’re gonna kill you.” But Marco Rubio will repeat his recent remark, “We will look for you. We will find you. And we will kill you.” The candidate who inspires the fewest gun sales will be eliminated.

The quack bracket. Chris Christie will defend his apparent belief that kids should not necessarily be vaccinated against disease. He’ll face off with Rand Paul, who will explain why he doesn’t need proof for his recent statement, “I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” The winner will be chosen by Michele Bachmann, who says that a popular kids’ vaccine causes mental retardation.

The chutzpah bracket. Bobby Jindal will explain why he deserves to be president, despite a Louisiana budget that’s $1.6 billion in the red, the deepest cuts to higher education of virtually any state, and projected cuts to health care approaching $1 billion. Fiorina will explain why she’s deserving, despite a Hewlett-Packard tenure where she laid off 30,000 workers, saw the stock value slashed in half, and prompted the board of directors to kick her out. Donald Trump will explain why he’s deserving, because Donald Trump. The competition to lose this bracket is seriously fierce.

The random bracket. No podiums for this one, just a police lineup. Random people wearing suits and ties are coaxed off the street to stand with Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, and Bob Ehrlich. The audience is tasked with correctly identifying the former governors of Virginia, New York, and Maryland. In all likelihood, all three will be be overlooked. So that’s three fewer debaters right there.

Under my system, only a manageable handful will make it to debate night. Then it gets easy. The moderator can merely ask them why, and how fervently, they worship Ronald Reagan. The candidate who triggers the most audience tears is the winner.

——-

Copyright 2015 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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Cartoon: Irish Four Leaf Clover http://themoderatevoice.com/205311/cartoon-irish-four-leaf-clover/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205311/cartoon-irish-four-leaf-clover/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 20:45:11 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205311 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com
Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons

Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons

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Kung fu superstar Chan launches film and television academy http://themoderatevoice.com/205309/kung-fu-superstar-chan-launches-film-and-television-academy/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205309/kung-fu-superstar-chan-launches-film-and-television-academy/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 20:41:54 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205309 Action star Jackie Chan (center), actress Xu Fan (left) and actor Zhang Guoli attend the launch of the Jackie Chan Film and Television Academy in Wuhan, Hubei province on May 20. [Photo/Chinanews.com] China’s kung fu superstar Jackie Chan has the new title of dean after launching his first school, the Jackie Chan Film and Television [...]

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Action star Jackie Chan (center), actress Xu Fan (left) and actor Zhang Guoli attend the launch of the Jackie Chan Film and Television Academy in Wuhan, Hubei province on May 20. [Photo/Chinanews.com] China’s kung fu superstar Jackie Chan has the new title of dean after launching his first school, the Jackie Chan Film and Television Academy,…

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Fox News Doesn’t Want to Lose the White House Again http://themoderatevoice.com/205305/fox-news-doesnt-want-to-lose-the-white-house-again/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205305/fox-news-doesnt-want-to-lose-the-white-house-again/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 18:43:36 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205305 I don’t often concern myself with the “small d” democratic integrity of the Republican Party but I was more than a little shocked to read Fox News will be assuming the role of making the first GOP presidential debate more manageable and, I would have to think, make the ultimate winner more electable. This week [...]

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FOx electI don’t often concern myself with the “small d” democratic integrity of the Republican Party but I was more than a little shocked to read Fox News will be assuming the role of making the first GOP presidential debate more manageable and, I would have to think, make the ultimate winner more electable.

This week the network announced that for the first Republican debate in August, they’re going to limit the participants to 10 — despite the fact that the number of actual candidates (official or otherwise) could be 15 or even 20. If you haven’t scored high enough in a set of recent polls Fox chooses, then you’re out of luck.

We frequently hear the liberal case that Fox News is the “house organ” of the Republican Party but, as Paul Waldman at The Week writes, “in the 2016 election, the network is becoming something more: a kind of stern boss, setting the agenda, plotting the group’s course, and weeding out the weak performers.”

Again, I’m stretching myself to care about a bunch of Republican candidates who may not be allowed on stage by the movers and shakers at Fox. But it’s the principle, isn’t it?

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m going to quote Rick Santorum approvingly:

“The idea that a national poll has any relationship to the viability of a candidate — ask Rudy Giuliani that, ask Phil Gramm that,” the former Pennsylvania senator told National Journal after a speech at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City. “You can go on down the list of folks who were doing real well in national polls and didn’t win a single state and were not a viable candidate.”

According to Politico, Santorum currently ranks tenth among the GOP hopefuls based on the RealClearPolitics aggregate. On that measures, Ohio Gov. Kasich is just behind Santorum and would presumably be left out, though we don’t know yet what polls Fox News intends to use, but you get the point.

Beside the fact that I don’t love that a corporate media beast like Fox, which always has its own agenda, is making a decision of such importance, I’ve got to think there is a better way to decide who gets in.

Whatever once thinks of Santorum, he gave Romney a run for his money in 2012. Kasich is the governor of Ohio, and we all know what that means in presidential politics. Lindsey Graham, though a long shot, is a hell of a lot more important to the national political debate than Donald Trump. And, not that I’m in the business of advising Republicans, but do they really want to exclude the only female candidate from the debates in a year when the Democratic candidate is likely to be a woman? Same with Ben Carson, who may be in at the moment, but would they really want to exclude him? And on and on and on.

Mr. Waldman writes:

And make no mistake, being excluded from that first debate could be a major blow to a candidate’s campaign. Media attention, money, and poll results influence each other in a constant cycle during the primary. If a candidate isn’t on stage with the big boys at the first major gathering, the news media may decide he (or she) isn’t worth wasting time on, voters will subsequently focus on only the candidates they think have a chance to win, and the candidate will then have an even harder time raising money and will languish in the low single digits. Which means they could be excluded from the next debate, and the cycle will spin them downward to the point where continuing to run seems pointless.

So, I’m going to agree with Rick Santorum and say that polls don’t always tell the whole story.

I’m sure it’s already a done deal, but may I suggest they could have considered hastily putting together a committee consisting of representatives from other conservative media outlets, conservative journalists, academics, uncommitted politicians past and present, etc., which would have been asked to design somewhat more nuanced criteria and then make choices about who participates based on that?

If 15 or 20 on stage is unmanageable, maybe they could have two groupings in each round in which each group is determined by lot, which would change from round to round.

Maybe someone else has a better idea, but giving Rogers Ailes even greater ability to determine what voters are allowed to hear and see and even choose is a bad idea. I’m pretty sure about that.

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Number Of Self-Identified Social Liberals Ties Social Conservatives http://themoderatevoice.com/205304/number-of-self-identified-social-liberals-ties-social-conservatives/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205304/number-of-self-identified-social-liberals-ties-social-conservatives/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 17:40:27 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205304 I tend to minimize the importance of Gallup polls on self-identification by label as they are largely influenced by the effects of the right to demonize the word liberal. Polls based on specific political positions have typically showed more people taking liberal positions than calling themselves liberal. It is of interest that a new Gallup [...]

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Gallup Social Liberals

I tend to minimize the importance of Gallup polls on self-identification by label as they are largely influenced by the effects of the right to demonize the word liberal. Polls based on specific political positions have typically showed more people taking liberal positions than calling themselves liberal. It is of interest that a new Gallup poll shows that the number of those who call themselves liberal on social issues matches those who call themselves socially conservative, both tied at 31 percent. The trend can be seen in the graph above.

Gallup has this observation, which reinforces my greatest fears about the Democratic Party:

The newfound parity on social ideology is a result of changes in the way both Democrats and Republicans describe their social views. The May 6-10 Gallup poll finds a new high of 53% of Democrats, including Democratic-leaning independents, describing their views on social issues as liberal.

That might partially explain how someone as socially conservative as Hillary Clinton can have such a strong lead in the Democratic race. Of course it is likely that many Democrats are not even aware of what Salon recently called her bizarre alliance with the Christian right.

The Gallup poll continues to show more people identifying as conservative on economic issues although polls on specific economic issues tend to show Americans as more liberal despite how they self-identify themselves.

The results showing an increase in social liberals is consistent with another recent poll on same-sex marriage, which actually shows a far more liberal result. Gallup found that a record high of 60 percent support same-sex marriage. This leaves the Republican candidates out of the mainstream, but as Republicans tend to be less likely to support same-sex marriage this might remain the more politically expedient position for those seeking the GOP nomination. Hillary Clinton appears to have read the polls correctly as she dropped her position of last year favoring leaving the matter to the states.

The trend towards greater support of same-sex marriage is also present in much of the world with Ireland, one of the more socially conservative countries in Europe voted on the issue yesterday. Both sides are now saying that the referendum to legalize same-sex marriage has passed in Ireland, making them the first country in the western world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. All major political parties supported passage, which shows how out of touch with the times our Republican Party is.

One liberal is doing better in the polls. Barack Obama’s favorability rating is up to the highest level since September 2013, increasing four points to 53 percent compared to last month.

Updated from a post at Liberal Values

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A weekend picture http://themoderatevoice.com/205301/a-weekend-picture/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205301/a-weekend-picture/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 16:02:20 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205301 I haven’t been posting pictures that much recently in part because of for the first time in a few months I have actually been posting content and opinions.  So here is a picture.  It’s that time of year when the Iris is in bloom.

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I haven’t been posting pictures that much recently in part because of for the first time in a few months I have actually been posting content and opinions.  So here is a picture.  It’s that time of year when the Iris is in bloom.

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A Holiday Weekend Of Whine And Roses http://themoderatevoice.com/205299/a-holiday-weekend-of-whine-and-roses/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205299/a-holiday-weekend-of-whine-and-roses/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 14:35:23 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205299 It is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. The holiday originally was called Decoration Day and was a day of remembrance for Union soldiers who died in the American Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to include soldiers who died in any war. As always, I’ve hung an American flag outside of [...]

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It is Memorial Day weekend in the U.S.

The holiday originally was called Decoration Day and was a day of remembrance for Union soldiers who died in the American Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to include soldiers who died in any war.

As always, I’ve hung an American flag outside of Kiko’s House.

As always, I will keep the weekend simple. Perhaps we’ll take the dogs for a swim in the creek near our mountain home. Jack is slowly going blind, but we recently bought him a day-glo ball, which he loves to fetch when we throw it in the water. Then we’ll make a big batch of a Tuscan seafood risotto with porcini mushrooms. (What could be more American?)

As always, I will remember that freedom of speech is not protected by journalists like myself but by the men and women who have given their lives to defend American values — the values we cherish, not the ones politicians spout. That flag, you see, hung outside a farmhouse in rural Minnesota for decades as the forebears of the Dear Friend & Conscience went off to defend those freedoms.

As always, I will feel a sadness over loved ones and friends who will not be with us this Memorial Day weekend because of their sacrifices: Nick Tuke, Chuck Callanan, Jim Mullen, Mike Tames and Bob Layton. And Nancy Willing’s brother, Ed, who remains MIA nearly 50 years after he was gobbled up by the jungles of Vietnam.

But besides being sad, I also am angry — a slow burn, I suppose — over the mess that we’ve made of our once great country. Can we do better for those loved ones and friends? Absolutely.

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White Fragility http://themoderatevoice.com/205116/white-fragility/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205116/white-fragility/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 12:23:54 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205116 Aurin Squire discusses “white fragility” on Talking Points Memo. The most dangerous uprising that’s threatening America’s stability isn’t black protests in places like Ferguson or Baltimore. It’s taking place among an aging white majority that is losing its bearing on reality and destroying the gears of government, media and public welfare. At its center is [...]

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Aurin Squire discusses “white fragility” on Talking Points Memo.

The most dangerous uprising that’s threatening America’s stability isn’t black protests in places like Ferguson or Baltimore. It’s taking place among an aging white majority that is losing its bearing on reality and destroying the gears of government, media and public welfare. At its center is an inexplicable, illogical and dangerous fear that some sociologists are now defining as white fragility. I have witnessed this strange phenomenon intensifying over the last several years, but I first became aware of it immediately after the election of Barack Obama.

 

White fragility is a termed coined by Robin DiAngelo, an associate professor of education at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. In her 2011 academic pedagogical analysis titled “White Fragility,” DiAngelo goes into a detailed explanation of how white people in North America live in insulated social and media spaces that protect them from any race-based stress. This privileged fragility leaves them unable to tolerate any schism or challenge to a universally accepted belief system. Any shift away from that (like a biracial African-American president) triggers a deep and sustaining panic. Racial segregation, disproportionate representation in the media, and many other factors serve as the columns that support white fragility.

 

“Part of white fragility is to assume that when we talk about racism, we are calling someone out as being individually a racist,” he (Tim Wise) said. “So if you say we’re going to talk about racism, white people think you’re going to call them a name. But for most people of color it’s a system. And we’re talking about dealing with a structure so the real problem is the system.”

 

When separate groups of people are using the same word with different implied meanings then problems will persist. When it comes to racism and increased segregation, both Wise and DiAngelo noted that there seems to be this rigid unwillingness to address any inequality, because it would upset the very people who are both benefiting from the injustice and refusing to acknowledge its existence. The fear is that if someone seeks to define and fix racism, many white people feel like they’re being directly attacked. So instead of waiting for the attack, white fragility promotes protection by putting punitive restrictions on “the others.”

 

The Obama era has been an interesting petri dish of white fragility. On the heels of a moderate economic recovery, we’ve seen sweeping new state laws aimed at social issues: voting rights restrictions, defunding of Planned Parenthood, anti-gay legislation, Stand Your Ground bills, and restrictive union laws to weaken their bargaining power. These laws have resulted in a rollback of rights for minorities, women, the LGBT movement, and the working class.

 

The marketing angle used for many of these legislations is that the white, straight, Christian status quo is threatened. New voter restrictions have been enacted in over 20 states to address fraud issues that did not and do not exist. But the restrictive laws will hurt minority communities. Stand Your Ground was an NRA boilerplate bill aimed encouraging a shoot-first cowboy mentality of murdering another person simply on the appearance of a threat. Anti-gay marriage amendments are passed to “protect traditional marriage.” The goal of defunding Planned Parenthood is to “protect life.”

 

What do you say to a state like Indiana that rolls back Planned Parenthood for political points based in white fragility and then watches as HIV infection rates explode in the community? What can be said of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and the legislators who knowingly bankrupt the state’s treasury to promote an economic philosophy of tax cuts to the wealthy that result in fewer services, broken infrastructure, suffering in schools, and—in the long run—more deaths? These are not rational decisions. These are fear-based politics that create avoidable disasters in which all suffer. This new wave of segregation fear is surging across the country. In response to the continued white fragility panic of 2008, conservative political movements are set to capitalize on the cycles of manufactured hysteria.

 

“We are watching the repeal of the 20th century,” Wise said.

 

Despite these social rollbacks, economic doomsday predictions under an Obama administration has turned into a fairly strong recovery. The stock market is soaring, unemployment rates are falling, and gas prices are down. The United States stands as one of the few countries to have not only recovered from the Great Recession, but to be somewhat thriving. It would seem like now would be the perfect moment to push the issue of white privilege and fragility forward. After the Ferguson movement and videotapes of countless unarmed black men and women being murdered by police, it seems like this nation might be headed toward some moment of truth: the start of a movement toward greater justice for all.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2015/05/white-fragility.html

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Ireland Has Voted to Legalize Gay Marriage http://themoderatevoice.com/205295/ireland-has-voted-to-legalize-gay-marriage/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205295/ireland-has-voted-to-legalize-gay-marriage/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 11:35:27 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205295 In a country that was once the womb of the Catholic Church, incubating incredibly young Irish men into celibate priests, and then exporting them to the USA and other parts of the world… In a country wherein the Head of the Irish nation publicly condemned the Catholic church’s coverups of sexual abuse of children and [...]

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In a country that was once the womb of the Catholic Church, incubating incredibly young Irish men into celibate priests, and then exporting them to the USA and other parts of the world…

In a country wherein the Head of the Irish nation publicly condemned the Catholic church’s coverups of sexual abuse of children and women in Ireland and environs, shaming the powers that be in the cossetted Vatican of John Paul II and Ratzinger’s time, as well as Ratzinger-Benedict.

In a nation that gave the USA some of the best of her kith and kin in immigrations during famine as well as times otherwise…

today… it could be said, the Vatican doctrinists who have made literally millions of books and bulls and encyclicals forbidding, condemning many different groups, and in words and ‘doctrines’ and ‘infallible teachings’ that Jesus the Christ never once uttered. Not once. Today it would be said, that the doctinists lost again. But then stripping others of dignity and freedom and love and care, usually does net zero in power and a panorama of doctrinal indecency, immediately or eventually.

“Fianna Fail party leader Michael Martin, whose party is traditionally closest to the Catholic Church but like all other parties campaigned to legalize gay marriage, said it “looks like an emphatic win for the yes side.” Voters in his native Cork were being recorded by observers as more than 60 percent yes.

“John Lyons, one of the four openly gay lawmakers in Ireland’s 166-member parliament, said he was surprised by how many older voters he met on the campaign trail who were voting yes. But he paid special credit to the mobilization of younger voters, many of whom traveled home from work or studies abroad to vote.

“Most of the young people I canvassed with have never knocked on a door in their lives,” said Lyons, who represents northwest Dublin in parliament. “This says something about modern Ireland. Let’s never underestimate the electorate or what they think.”

read more here at WaPo

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Will social media ever be the primary driver in electing a president? http://themoderatevoice.com/205291/will-social-media-ever-be-the-primary-driver-in-electing-a-president/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205291/will-social-media-ever-be-the-primary-driver-in-electing-a-president/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 02:47:04 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205291 A piece by Ryan Cooper in The Week raises an interesting, if overstated, point that 2016 could be the first election in which the political press is sidelined. He argues that politicians are becoming so adept at using social media that they can effectively get their messages out unaided by the reporters who typically follow [...]

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Screen-Shot-2015-04-12-at-2.36.23-PMA piece by Ryan Cooper in The Week raises an interesting, if overstated, point that 2016 could be the first election in which the political press is sidelined. He argues that politicians are becoming so adept at using social media that they can effectively get their messages out unaided by the reporters who typically follow them around, literally and metaphorically.

He adds that “no journalist has the kind of media celebrity and cultural credibility (as Tim Russert used to have) that once made interviews mandatory for aspiring presidents.”

On this view, political stars can be neither made nor broken by a handful of powerful people.

One sign, he writes, that politicians are starting to understand this is that Hillary Clinton is in no hurry to engage reporters as a way to sell herself to the voting public, hence the complaint that she hasn’t taken many direct questions.

Mr. Cooper’s argument leads him to the conclusion that campaign reporters do little good because candidates are disinclined to answer tough questions, and reporters are, in any case, more interested in “inane questions about process, the horse race, or gaffes.”

In what he calls “gaffe-centric media coverage . . . the slightest misstep or embarrassing picture can lead to a days-long Internet firestorm.”

Following the logic of the argument, in the days when engaging political reporters was an absolutely necessary way for a candidate to push his or her message and raise their profile, there was always a risk that something untoward would be said or done by the candidate and that the reporter or reporters in the scrum or at the event or somewhere on the campaign trail would get their gotcha moment.

But if candidates can communicate directly with voters through Twitter, Facebook, websites, web ads, etc., why would they risk putting themselves in the position of being unable to control how they are perceived?

They wouldn’t, which makes Mr. Cooper think reporters should mostly leave candidates alone and go off and write “more interesting and substantive articles using public communications, polling, policy documents, and so forth.”

I’m all for more substantive articles.

The general point that social media may allow candidates to pay less attention to mainstream media has, no doubt, some validity. And there may well come a time when social media is powerful enough to elect a president, but we are not there yet.

I think what this means is that we are in a transition period in which candidates are trying to gauge how well they can control their own message through social media, understanding, despite Mr. Cooper’s argument, that mainstream political reporting is not dead yet, and it still has to be engaged in a significant sense.

Obviously it’s not an either/or proposition, it’s a matter of proportion between the influence of the relatively anarchic realm of social media and the centralized power of major media conglomerates, and the reporters who work for them.

It’s also worth noting that social media and corporate media are not entirely separate entities. I’m reminded of the fact that the first time I saw Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement web video was on CNN. And my guess is that those reporters Mr. Cooper thinks will play a diminishing role campaigns can actually do a lot to promote or bury a given candidate’s social media profile. Again, not either/or.

I recall something I once heard on an episode of the West Wing, which is that one ought “never argue with a man who buys [printer's] ink by the barrel.” The political press still buys the stuff by the barrel and I don’t think we will see them sidelined by 2016, and I wouldn’t suggest pissing them off for all the Tweets in the world.

But I look forward to a time when the balance shifts, when candidates won’t have to be vetted and approved by a centralized corporate media, when there will be a way around them, although I suspect in the end corporate media will simply find more effective ways of controlling social media.

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Republican Governors http://themoderatevoice.com/205288/republican-governors/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205288/republican-governors/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 20:23:18 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205288 Popular Republican governors were thought to be the Republicans best hope in 2016.  But a funny thing happened, those Republican governors are no longer all that popular in their own states as TPMs Tierney Sneed points out: All four of the GOP governors with 2016 ambitions are facing budget shortfalls back home that their critics [...]

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pkfsm6fe6nksk0wwo94zPopular Republican governors were thought to be the Republicans best hope in 2016.  But a funny thing happened, those Republican governors are no longer all that popular in their own states as TPMs Tierney Sneed points out:

All four of the GOP governors with 2016 ambitions are facing budget shortfalls back home that their critics would argue are disasters of their own doing. It puts them in a politically difficult position: consider tax increases that put their fiscal conservative credentials on the line, or move forward with ugly cuts that risk high-profile showdowns with their legislative counterparts.

Complicating matters, three of the four — Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich — have signed the anti-tax pledge heralded by conservative activist Grover Norquist, while New Jersey’s Chris Christie has verbally promised to not raise taxes. That limits their options to address revenues that have fallen short of expectations.

“Post-Tea Party there are new requirements for being a successful candidate if you’re a Republican,” Norquist told TPM. “And that includes reining spending more than some are willing to do.”

It should be noted that all four are now have negative approval ratings in their own states. I think we can all agree that Chris Christie is toast for several reasons and  religious right panderer, Bobby Jindal, never had much of a chance.  But Scott walker and John Kasich also have problems.

Bobby Jindal: Jindal may have earned conservative accolades and a solid “B” grade in the libertarian Cato Institute’s annual report. But his agenda of cutting taxes six times — one of which was the largest income tax cut in state history — has culminated in a $1.6 billion budget shortfall (which Jindal blames on declines in oil revenues). Jindal’s solution is to cut up to some $600 million from higher education — or 82 percent of state funding, according to school officials — in addition to proposed cuts to state healthcare programs, rather than consider a tax increase to close the gap.
Jindal’s efforts are drawing pushback even from members of his own party — including U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) who called Jindal’s fiscal policy “broken” — and lawmakers in the statehouse are pushing budget legislation that would increase taxes on cigarettes while scaling back other tax breaks, despite Jindal’s objections to any tax hikes that would amount to new net revenue.

Scott Walker: Walker has become a conservative mascot for his willingness to take on unions. But like Jindal’s economic strategy, Walker’s $541 million in tax cuts last year had not produced the economic growth Republicans in the state had hoped would have offset that loss in revenue.
His state now faces a projected $2 billion budget gap, to which Walker has responded with his most austere budget yet. His proposal would cut $300 million from higher education, and also includes slashes to social services and K-12 education. It also
includes some tax increases, often in the form of “fees.” Yet Walker’s budget also maintains big industry tax breaks and $220 million in debt coverage for a Milwaukee Bucks basketball arena.
Chris Christie: Chris Christie’s calling card is that he has been able to pursue a tough, no-tax-hike economic agenda while working with a Democratic legislature in a blue state. However, Christie’s plunging popularity — in part due to scandals like Bridgegate — has changed the dynamics of his relationship with the statehouse, where the Senate president is thought to be eyeing the governorship. Now Democrats appear ready to make some demands in this year’s budget.
“As he faces a significant budget shortfall, there is the possibility that the Democrats will essentially go to war with the Christie administration and shut down state government,” said Brigid Harrison, political science professor at Montclair State University. Democratic state lawmakers were willing to shut down the government in 2006 over a budget showdown with Jon Corzine, a governor from their own party.
Christie’s main problem is the state’s pension fund, where his $1.57 billion in cuts have been struck down by a Superior Court judge. To make up for the shortfall, Democrats want to raise taxes on high-income earners, while Christie continues to vow no new taxes.
John Kasich: Unlike his Republican rivals, Kasich is catching flack from the right for his approach to the state budget. The Cato Institute gave him a “D” on its most recent report, as they say he took the wrong approach, despite his cuts to income taxes, as spending also increased.
His latest proposal would make up for expected shortfalls due to previous income tax breaks by raising sales taxes, and taxes on cigarettes and fracking.
“The legislature doesn’t think it’s a good idea to do the tax increase, nor do I. I don’t know why he wants to do that,” Norquist said, though since Kasich’s proposal is overall revenue neutral, Norqiust said it does not break the pledge.
Republicans in the statehouse have rejected the cigarette and fracking tax, and even the local Chamber of Commerce groups are pushing back on Kasich’s attempt to shift the burden from income taxes to sales taxes.

People are figuring out that Republican tax cut policy doesn’t work.  The experiments on the state level have failed.

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Jeb Bush Set to Become an Instant Foreign Policy Wonk (Updated) http://themoderatevoice.com/205285/jeb-bush-set-to-become-an-instant-foreign-policy-wonk/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205285/jeb-bush-set-to-become-an-instant-foreign-policy-wonk/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 18:14:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205285 Update: Should Bobby Jindal be fancying another fatuous foray into far-flung foreign fiefdoms to flaunt his fledgling foreign flair, he will first have to feud with some fastidious fellows in his legislature: Louisiana legislators clipped Gov. Bobby Jindal’s wings Thursday by inserting wording into the state budget that would require the governor’s office to pay [...]

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Update:

Should Bobby Jindal be fancying another fatuous foray into far-flung foreign fiefdoms to flaunt his fledgling foreign flair, he will first have to feud with some fastidious fellows in his legislature:

Louisiana legislators clipped Gov. Bobby Jindal’s wings Thursday by inserting wording into the state budget that would require the governor’s office to pay the out-of-state travel expenses of his security detail.
.
Jindal spent almost 45 percent of 2014 outside Louisiana attending political events. He has kept up the pace so far in 2015 and since forming a presidential exploratory committee early this week, is likely to continue his aggressive travel schedule.
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The amendment would move $2.5 million from Jindal’s office to the State Police, thereby requiring the governor to cut his office budget to offset the loss of that money.

Apparently, “When the governor gets on a plane or stays in a hotel, the state police officers that protect him have to do so as well. In January, state police spent $73,000 on travel just for Jindal’s 10-day trade mission to Europe.”

Original Post:

It looks like Jeb Bush will take part in what has become a traditional GOP pilgrimage abroad around elections time and will visit Europe soon to “bolster his foreign policy credentials ahead of his official announcement.

CDANews.com calls this trip “a chance for Jeb Bush to distinguish himself on foreign policy”

Of course this three or four-day foreign policy total immersion trip will more than trump the knowledge and experience his potential rival for the presidency amassed in her four years as Secretary of State.

As mentioned, Jeb is not the first GOP candidate to attempt to become an expert in foreign policy, international relations and diplomacy in a single whirlwind visit abroad.

I remember New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s trip to the United Kingdom last year when his attendance of a soccer match, a trip to the theater and especially his “detour into the science and politics of vaccines” certainly burnt burnished his foreign policy credentials.

We all remember Mitt Romney’s trip to the United Kingdom and Israel during his 2012 presidential campaign where he showed his vast diplomatic tact and prowess. While in the U.K. he questioned that country’s preparations for and readiness to host the upcoming Olympic Games and while in Israel Romney suggested, “Cultural differences between Israelis and Palestinians were important factors as to why Israel is so much more economically successful than the Palestinians.”

And how can we forget Bobby Jindal’s January 2015 foray into foreign affairs when he laid out his foreign policy vision by telling the British people and Europeans — to their surprise — that they had “no-go” zones in their cities where “non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home,” according to prepared remarks.

I also remember a slew of Republican legislators taking one-day trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and returning as experts not only in Middle East foreign policy, but also in warfare and telling the commander-in-chief and his generals how to run a war — how to have more boots on the ground, how to put more of our men and women into harm’s way, how to bomb-bomb-bomb the hell out of country X and how to stay for one hundred years in country Y.

But hey, if nothing else, such trips have given and will give Republican politicians the patriotic opportunity to bash the president of the United States from foreign soil.

I should not be overly critical, however.

Several years ago, I had a great time in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, and at the same time beefed-up my Asia-Pacific foreign policy credentials.

We visit Cancun, Mexico, often. That should boost my Pan-American foreign policy credentials at least a little bit.

Hanging around a few bars in Copenhagen during my formative years should also count for something. No?

Lead image: www.shutterstock.com

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Mike Huckabee Backs Josh Duggar Calls Child Molestation “Inexcusable” but “Forgivable” http://themoderatevoice.com/205284/mike-huckabee-backs-josh-duggar-calls-child-molestation-inexcusable-but-forgivable/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205284/mike-huckabee-backs-josh-duggar-calls-child-molestation-inexcusable-but-forgivable/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 17:32:08 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205284 Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is in full hypocrite mode, affirming support for Josh Duggar, saying the child molestation incidents a “regrettable.” Huckabee wrote on Facebook:  “No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and [...]

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Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is in full hypocrite mode, affirming support for Josh Duggar, saying the child molestation incidents a “regrettable.”

Huckabee wrote on Facebook:  “No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.”

Here’s Huckabee’s full statement on Josh Duggar:

Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family. Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities. No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story.

Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things. The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today’s blood-thirsty media does not understand — that being a minor means that one’s judgement is not mature. No one needs to defend Josh’s actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family’s authenticity and humility.

Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed — not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims. Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of HIS perfection.

It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God’s love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support.

Duggar resigned Thursday from his job at the Family Research Council. In a statement, he said: “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends.”

Molesting others, including your own sisters isn’t regrettable. It’s a crime. Plain and simple. It’s ironic that Huckabee is so forgiving of Josh Duggar, yet so against the LGBT community. Mike Huckabee may have scored some points with a sliver of the electorate by backing Duggar, but that won’t be enough to help him become the Republican presidential nominee.

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com

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How David Letterman Taught the World to Sing http://themoderatevoice.com/205281/how-david-letterman-taught-the-world-to-sing/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205281/how-david-letterman-taught-the-world-to-sing/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 15:23:30 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205281 I have watched Wednesday night’s Late Show With David Letterman finale three times already, and I am still not sure if Dave went on to create that iconic Coca-Cola ad campaign or not… Letterman ended his 33-year run in late-night television in much the same manner in which he began it: with wit, self-deprecation, absurdity, [...]

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I have watched Wednesday night’s Late Show With David Letterman finale three times already, and I am still not sure if Dave went on to create that iconic Coca-Cola ad campaign or not… Letterman ended his 33-year run in late-night television in much the same manner in which he began it: with wit, self-deprecation, absurdity, sincerity,…

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Large Houses http://themoderatevoice.com/205265/large-houses/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205265/large-houses/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 15:22:48 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205265 My X-wife and I raised two sons in a 1300 square foot 3 bedroom 2 bath house with a large yard.  We got along really well in spite of the fact both of our sons were well over 6 feet tall when they graduated from high school.  We had plenty of room, A kitchen, dinning [...]

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shutterstock_260799134My X-wife and I raised two sons in a 1300 square foot 3 bedroom 2 bath house with a large yard.  We got along really well in spite of the fact both of our sons were well over 6 feet tall when they graduated from high school.  We had plenty of room, A kitchen, dinning room, living room and a large family room.  About a block from me a lovely 2000 square foot house on about on acre of land  was torn down and a road was cut through the middle of the acre.  They are in the process of building multiple 4 to 5 thousand square foot houses which will ultimately be purchased and occupied by couples with zero or one child.  In some cases it may actually be individuals.  Am I alone in thinking the logic of this makes no sense?  Most of the house will be unused but it will still have to be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer.

I live in a 1200 square foot 2 bedroom 2 bath condo which is far more than I need since I live alone.  There are some who are revolting against the McManasions, It’s called the tiny house movement.

What are Tiny Houses? The Tiny House Movement? Tiny Living?

Simply put it is a social movement where people are downsizing the space that they live in. The typical American home is around 2600 square feet, while the typical small or tiny house is around 100-400 square feet. Tiny Houses come in all shapes, sizes and forms but they focus on smaller spaces and simplified living.

People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons are because of environmental concerns, financial concerns and seeking more time and freedom.  For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; This translates to 15 years of working over your life time just to pay for it and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

So what is the alternative?  One might be to live smaller.  While we don’t think tiny houses are for everyone, there are lessons to be learned and applied to escape the cycle of debt where almost 70% of Americans are trapped in right now.

The obstacle the tiny house movement is up against is local zoning restrictions.  In my area you can build a 3, 4 or 5 thousand square foot house but you can’t build a more practical tiny house.  In this era when energy conservation is becoming more and more important and land is becoming scarcer this makes no sense what so ever.  This is mostly the result of the power of the home building industry and yes the ego of those who want a bigger house than their neighbor.

Is this a silly rant?  Perhaps!  But does it make some sense?  I think so.

Image via shutterstock.

 

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Mike Peters Guest Cartoon: David Letterman Retires http://themoderatevoice.com/205279/mike-peters-guest-cartoon-david-letterman-retires/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205279/mike-peters-guest-cartoon-david-letterman-retires/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 15:10:40 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205279 David Letterman Retires by Mike Peters OR RELATED INTEREST: Letterman retires with trademark cranky gags David Letterman retires in world where stupid pet tricks are now the norm On 2016 Republican presidential candidates and climate change Republicans Denounce Obama Speech Calling Climate Change Threat to National Security Mike Peters is recognized as one of our [...]

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David Letterman Retires
by Mike Peters

unnamed

OR RELATED INTEREST:
Letterman retires with trademark cranky gags
David Letterman retires in world where stupid pet tricks are now the norm
On 2016 Republican presidential candidates and climate change
Republicans Denounce Obama Speech Calling Climate Change Threat to National Security

Mike Peters is recognized as one of our nation’s most prominent cartoon artists for his outstanding work as both a political and comic strip cartoonist. His favorite expression “WHAT A HOOT” certainly sums up his outlook on his life and work which are inexorably entwined. Mike’s warm, easygoing and zany demeanor is evidence that his personality matches his creative talents. As so eloquently phrased by a colleague — “Mike is the Peter Pan of the cartooning world; he’s boyishly charming, good with a rapier and doesn’t spend a lot of time on the ground. And he doesn’t seem to want to grow up”.

The Comic Strip Mother Goose & Grimm appears in over 800 newspapers worldwide and consistently places in the top 10 most popular ratings. Licensees distribute Grimmy products all over the world, and the Grimmy TV show continues to air in several countries. Mother Goose & Grimm is included in the Toon Lagoon theme park at Universal Studios that opened in July 1999.

This copyrighted cartoon is licensed to be run on TMV and is from his website. Reproduction elsewhere is strictly prohibited.

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Is Iraq winning? http://themoderatevoice.com/205273/is-iraq-winning/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205273/is-iraq-winning/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 14:39:10 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205273 Is Iraq winning? Believe someone who works for peace? Frankly, he should shut up about war, right? I’m just saying even Americans can be tolerant of the peaceniks polluting our robustitude. Here’s a guy who says ISIS isn’t winning. He believes Iraq is doing okay and Obama’s policy is wise… Go figure. Even after the [...]

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Is Iraq winning?

Believe someone who works for peace? Frankly, he should shut up about war, right?

I’m just saying even Americans can be tolerant of the peaceniks polluting our robustitude. Here’s a guy who says ISIS isn’t winning. He believes Iraq is doing okay and Obama’s policy is wise…

Go figure. Even after the loss of Palmyra.

America should help Mr. Abadi mobilize the Sunni tribes by mediating between them and the Iraqi government, to overcome mutual distrust. Washington must continue to bolster Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces while providing air support, improved intelligence, reconnaissance, weapons and training. The United States should also seek to limit any fallout from the operations of Iranian-backed Shiite armed groups in Anbar. Local authorities voted to allow for the deployment of these groups, but that does not guarantee success. Their cooperation with the Sunni tribes will be decisive in expelling the Islamic State from Ramadi.

The propaganda war could be even more important. The Islamic State is now using Ramadi to re-energize its supporters by broadcasting images of blitzkrieg. It has published photos of seized Iraqi equipment and ammunition and of public executions, and images of its black flags over government buildings have been widely shared. For the Islamic State, social media is as effective a weapon as advanced military technology. The United States should continue to target the group’s social media propaganda and its effort to rebuild the cracked aura of invincibility.

Thankfully, the Obama administration seems to recognize that beating the Islamic State on the ground is an Iraqi responsibility. There is enough manpower in Iraq. America and its allies must not overreact to the setback in Ramadi; they should limit their engagement to aerial support and military advisers. …AhmedAli,NYT

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Scientist: Aliens will be bear-sized http://themoderatevoice.com/205271/scientist-aliens-will-be-bear-sized/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205271/scientist-aliens-will-be-bear-sized/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:57:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205271 Shayne Jacopian for redOrbit.com – @ShayneJacopian In a universe with countless planets, there’s a good chance that some of them can, and do, support life. Scientists aren’t sure what any of these aliens will look like, but a Univerity of Barcelona scientist makes a statistical argument that most will weigh about 700 pounds. That means [...]

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Shayne Jacopian for redOrbit.com – @ShayneJacopian In a universe with countless planets, there’s a good chance that some of them can, and do, support life. Scientists aren’t sure what any of these aliens will look like, but a Univerity of Barcelona scientist makes a statistical argument that most will weigh about 700 pounds. That means they’ll…

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Administration Huffs & Puffs Over Bin Laden Exposé But Doesn’t Blow Sy Hersh’s House Down http://themoderatevoice.com/205234/administration-huffs-puffs-over-bin-laden-expose-but-doesnt-blow-sy-hershs-house-down/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205234/administration-huffs-puffs-over-bin-laden-expose-but-doesnt-blow-sy-hershs-house-down/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 10:33:37 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205234 VIDEO SEIZED DURING MAY 2011 RAID SHOWS BIN LADEN WATCHING TELEVISION Official Washington ramped up its pushback against investigative reporter Seymour Hersh’s recent exposé? with the release this week of nearly 80 previously classified documents and books and other materials seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound during the raid by Navy Seals in May 2011, [...]

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VIDEO SEIZED DURING MAY 2011 RAID SHOWS BIN LADEN WATCHING TELEVISION

Official Washington ramped up its pushback against investigative reporter Seymour Hersh’s recent exposé? with the release this week of nearly 80 previously classified documents and books and other materials seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound during the raid by Navy Seals in May 2011, but the alleged treasure trove did nothing to debunk Hersh’s assertion that virtually nothing the Obama administration has said about the assassination of the 9/11 mastermind is true. And the ever dutiful news media distorted or plain got wrong what Hersh has written about the documents.

Predictably, a list of the books seized from bin Laden’s library — ranging from Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward to The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy to The 9/11 Commission Report — got most of the attention, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence cleverly promoted the list on a web page titled “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf.”

The Obama administration claimed that the document dump had nothing to do with the publication of Hersh’s exposé in the London Review of Books, but coming as it did out of the blue a mere 10 days after Hersh dropped his 10,300-word bombshell begs credulity and reinforces my view that Hersh touched a nerve in the hypersensitive White House and got a lot more right than wrong — notably that the Pakistani intelligence service assisted the U.S. in carrying out the raid on the compound in Abbottabad and that the documents seized were of marginal value.

“The material offers the deepest look yet into bin Laden’s final years, much of which he appears to have spent sending missives to his subordinates, seeking to direct a terror network that appeared to have grown far beyond his control, and working his way through a pile of books that ranged from sober works of history and current affairs to wild conspiracy theories spun by anti-Semites,” reported The New York Times.

True enough, but that falls far short of the administration’s claim following the raid that it produced a “treasure trove . . . the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever,” which would provide vital insights into Al Qaeda’s plans. An unnamed official told reporters five days after the raid the material showed that bin Laden “remained an active leader in Al Qaeda, providing strategic, operational and tactical instructions to the group . . . He was far from a figurehead [and] continued to direct even tactical details of the group’s management and to encourage plotting’ from what was described as a command-and-control center in Abbottabad.”

Many of the documents seized remain classified, but if the documents that were released are the best the White House could muster to make the case bin Laden remained a — if not the — mastermind, then Hersh’s assertion in his exposé that “These claims were fabrications [because] there wasn’t much activity for bin Laden to exercise command and control over” has withstood the Obama administration’s counteroffensive.

Hersh’s main source — indeed virtually his only source, something that I and others have criticized — is a retired senior U.S. intelligence official.

In asserting that the documents were not a treasure trove, Hersh writes that the CIA’s internal reporting showed that since bin Laden moved to Abbottabad in 2006, only a handful of terrorist attacks could be linked to the remnants of Al Qaeda. “We were told at first,” the retired official is quoted as saying, “that the Seals produced garbage bags of stuff and that the community is generating daily intelligence reports out of this stuff. And then we were told that the community is gathering everything together and needs to translate it. But nothing has come of it. Every single thing they have created turns out not to be true. It’s a great hoax – like the Piltdown man.”

The retired official told Hersh that most of the materials from Abbottabad were not seized in the raid but later turned over to the U.S. by the Pakistanis, who then razed the building. The Pakistani intelligence service, which Hersh states helped the U.S. set up the raid after corroborating bin Laden’s whereabouts, took responsibility for the wives and children of bin Laden, none of whom was made available to the U.S. for questioning.

The blowback from the pundit class over the bin Laden story has been especially ferocious, which reinforces my view that, as I wrote, at the very least Hersh has again exposed the soft underbelly of a news media content to chew its self-important cud without the bother of questioning, let alone being ever so slightly skeptical, of what our presidents and corporatocratic leaders tell us.

National Public Radio dutifully led the disinformation charge after the document release.

NPR first claimed in an on-the-hour newscasr that Hersh had written there were no documents, then NPR reporter David Welna got it mostly wrong in stating ” . . . there’s also the fact that these documents are coming out the week after investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published a story alleging that the U.S. fabricated the documents it claims to have seized during the raid.”

What Hersh said, of course is that the claims that the documents were dynamite were fabrications, not the documents themselves.

Writes Shamus Cooke at globalresearch.org:

“Asking probing questions is of course a key part of journalism. If only the media had been so eager to ask similar questions of the Obama administration’s version of bin Laden’s death. . . .

“The gaping holes of logic in the official story were there from the beginning. Hersh actually asked questions and explored them while the rest of the media were content with regurgitating White House press releases. And when the White House’s narrative became an Oscar winning movie [Dark Zero Thirty] — made with help from the CIA — the myth was cemented in popular culture. Until Hersh shattered it.”


Photograph from the Department of Defense

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Book Review: The Great Lester: Ventriloquism’s Renaissance Man: by David Erskine Foreword by Jeff Dunham http://themoderatevoice.com/205269/book-review-the-great-lester-ventriloquisms-renaissance-man-by-david-erskine-foreword-by-jeff-dunham-2/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205269/book-review-the-great-lester-ventriloquisms-renaissance-man-by-david-erskine-foreword-by-jeff-dunham-2/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 04:14:01 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205269 Who was “The Great Lester,” why was he “great” and why is it that probably 95 percent of the American public never heard of him and his story? David Erskine’s “The Great Lester: Ventriloquism’s Renaissance Man” (with a foreward by highly popular ventriloquist Jeff Dunham) tells the bittersweet tale — a tale at times so [...]

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Who was “The Great Lester,” why was he “great” and why is it that probably 95 percent of the American public never heard of him and his story? David Erskine’s “The Great Lester: Ventriloquism’s Renaissance Man” (with a foreward by highly popular ventriloquist Jeff Dunham) tells the bittersweet tale — a tale at times so dramatic, joyous and ultimately sad that it just begs to be made into a movie.

And no. NO — as Dan Quayle would say “N-o-e, NO!” — this is NOT just a book of interest to ventriloquists. Absolutamente NOT!

“The Great Lester” is the story about an era of show business — or, rather, several eras, using as its centerpiece a first person narrative told by “The Great Lester” himself. Except it’s Erskine writing in a highly compelling, you-can’t-put-it-down style. Erskine bases this fictional narrative account on solid facts culled from extensive interviews and painstaking research of published materials and never-released private letters and communications. If he quotes from a letter received or sent, then it’s the real deal that’s quoted.

Perhaps you’re a fan of one of the mega-famous, mega-talented ventriloquists such as Jeff Dunham, or loved experiencing a top-rate corporate-motivational-speaker ventriloquist, or enjoyed one of the lesser known but still very busy “vents” out there. If so, a large chunk of what you see, how a ventriloquist performs or the kind of character he or she will use partially stems from Polish-born vaudeville star Maryan Czajkowski (1878 – 1956), who adopted the stage name Harry Lester. He became “The Great Lester” and some of his vaudeville promo declared himself “The World’s Best Ventriloquist.”

Vaudeville, radio, movie-star Al Jolson would do the same, calling himself “The World’s Greatest Entertainer,” even though there was no vote or poll declaring him that. It was Jolson himself — an incredible live peformer with huge charisma that couldn’t be effectively captured on records, radio or on the screen — who promoted use of that title and by its repetitive use he created an aura. Jolson’s legacy has came under fire since his 1950 death due to his often performing in black face, and because his voice and style are badly dated for modern audiences. But even a rare film of him performing a song live in front of an audience a year before his death displays his incredible charisma that made him one of the best.

Harry Lester had it all — and pretty much lost almost all of it, partially due to entertainment trends, unscrupulous fellow entertainers, his prima donna attitude and his inability to let others help him due to his own not tiny ego and self-destructive pride.

He became “big B.O.” (which means “big box office,” not the kind of B.O. associated with our politicians) in the days of vaudeville. Those were the days when there weren’t sound systems, and someone “throwing” their voice truly created the illusion it was coming from the puppet. But, unlike many others, he developed a highly detailed (almost anal-retentive) system of learning ventriloquism. He awed American audiences as he drank water or smoked while his “dummy” talked. He perfected a “distant voice” trick to make it seem like he was talking on a phone to heaven and hell. Many ventriloquists then used big casts of puppet and dummy characters but he settled on one and thus set the template for many “vent” acts to come.

He became famous in vaudeville and a top act. Vaudeville was all the rage in entertainment in the U.S. and Canada in the late 1880s through the early 30s. Audiences could go to shows at theaters in most cities and see acts routed on “circuits.” The most prestigious were called “the big time.” Audiences could see hours and hours of variety acts and oftentimes producers would slate a truly dreadful act at the end, to help clear the audience out. People doing vaudeville could hone and shape their acts and do the same act for years. Silent movies began to hurt vaudeville and radio and sound pictures were its death knell.

Erskine details how Lester seemingly had it made as a huge star in vaudeville — when suddenly his act and style were copied by others. This kind of theft continues to this day at the annual ventriloquist’s convention where some audience members lift jokes or routines they see others do. Big chunks of acts posted on You Tube are today virtual invitations for others to lift an act as mercilessly and smugly as all those who steal jokes and shamelessly claim “there are no new jokes” or smilingly try to spin joke or act theft by lamely saying “Milton Berle did it!”

Lester’s act soon fizzled: he would go seriously over his allotted time — which infuriated the people putting on a show (which always has a time limit). And he did it more than once. Going over your allotted time is a no no in show biz. (I once was hired to replace as emcee a ventriloquist in a variety show because the year before he had made the whole show run 45 minutes over by insisting to do his entire act). Bookers felt he was too much a Pain in the A Factor.

As Lester lost his major bookings, he went through periods where he had few or no performances, worked other jobs, worked smaller ventriloquism gigs — and then turned to teach others his highly detailed system on ventriloquism and puppet manipulation. Once he met a fan who was an aspiring ventriloquist, named Edgar Bergen. He taught the younger Bergen (yes there was a time when Bergen didn’t move his lips) and encouraged and occasionally mentored him. Bergen later reignited interest in the sagging art form by becoming a huge hit on early 1930s radio and in films with his wooden better half Charlie McCarthy. (Young people today can’t figure out why Bergen was a top ventriloquist since in filmed performances he has terrible lip control. They won’t overlook his lack of technique just because older people tell them he was a great ventriloquist.)

Erskine’s fact-based narrator Lester is a supremely proud man, a genius as he expanded and perfected performance technique (even virtually animating the dummy’s body with his own careful body movements), an artist whose work was emulated and ripped off by countless ventriloquists of his day and beyond. But Erskine’s Lester also considers himself the perpetual victim. Erskine shows how Lester would not so subtly suggest living with others while he worked when he was broke or short of funds. Lester insisted his detailed lessons needed to be published and taught exactly his way (so Bergen and others could never help him out even though they wanted to since what they saw looked chaotic and hard to market).

“The Great Lester” story not only takes you through the heyday and death of vaudeville and into the radio years but it gives you fascinating glimpses (from Lester’s point of view) of Edgar Bergen, iconic figure maker (the word for dummy maker) Frank Marshall, and many others. It then takes you through the years of movies and early live television when Lester watched to see a whole host of ventriloquists inspired by Bergen — Jimmy Nelson, Paul Winchell — became Baby Boomer favorites.

And, all the while, The Great Lester lived in great obscurity.

One of these vents who was inspired by Bergen who had been inspired by Lester is Jimmy Nelson (just watch him in action HERE), who has inspired many ventriloquists you see on TV, in comedy clubs, and in concerts today (including lesser ones such as this one) to go into it full-time. Nelson today lives in Florida.

In the end there was no glorious second act, no Hollywood-esq comeback for The Great Lester in terms of national fame or recognition beyond the narrow field of ventriloquism. And while he’d believe it was due to bad luck, or ungrateful people he taught or helped become vents, a good part of his sad ending was that he was utterly convinced of his own professional greatness and infallibility.

Today, there are many ventriloquists and magicians who declare themselves “The World’s Best” or “The Greatest” or among “The Worlds Top” 10 or 20 or whatever ventriloquists. Fair enough; all power to them. But exactly when did the world hold this vote? Who and how many people created those lists? The reality? ? It’s all marketing, like Lester’s and Jolson’s.

Take it from me Joe Gandelman: The Universe’s Greatest Entertainer, The World’s Greatest Pizza Lover, The Globe’s Best Blogger, The Sexiest Five Foot One Connecticut Jew Alive, This Century’s Best Family Show Entertainer, The World’s Greatest Bellybutton Lint Producer, North America’s Greatest Cat Lover, California’s Greatest Cook (except for my nephew Alex who’s an actual pro), The Idol of Kids Show Audiences Everywhere, The Most Talented Survivor of The Heartbreak of Psoriasis, The Most Popular Family Attraction at Fairs, The Wittiest Writer of the Last Two Centuries, North America’s Most Idolized School Show Performer, The American More Popular in Canada Than Tim Horton’s Coffee, The World’s Most Modest Person Even If I Call Myself Great and If You Don’t Like It Then Tough Take a Hike Because This Is My Marketing So There.

But The Great Lester WAS great.

TRULY “great.”

He was great — because he pioneered and fine tuned much of what you see in ventriloquism today and showed how far someone could go in taking a big wooden doll on his lap, filling it with pizazz and seeming physical life, or using his voice to make it seem like it came from a phone.

In his day, he was truly that overused word: AWESOME.

Erskine’s The Great Lester reads like a well-crafted novel about a onetime star whose decline was due to his own flaws of ego and pride. It’s about a long-gone era of show biz before You Tubes when live entertainment was king, and then demoted to prince due to the emergence of radio and sound movies. It’s a book for anyone interested in fiction or nonfiction about show biz.

You do NOT have to be a ventriloquist to love David Erskine’s The Great Lester. Want to put yourself into a time machine and re-live a different show biz era? Read — and savor — David Erskine’s The Great Lester.

You can read it without moving your lips.

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Progressive frenemies http://themoderatevoice.com/205266/progressive-frenemies/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205266/progressive-frenemies/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 04:00:47 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205266 WASHINGTON — You probably think there is a big struggle over the Democratic Party’s soul and the meaning of progressivism. After all, that’s what the media talk about incessantly, often with a lot of help from the parties involved in the rumble. Earlier this month, Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, a proud Democratic centrist, published [...]

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WASHINGTON — You probably think there is a big struggle over the Democratic Party’s soul and the meaning of progressivism. After all, that’s what the media talk about incessantly, often with a lot of help from the parties involved in the rumble.

Earlier this month, Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware, a proud Democratic centrist, published a thoughtful essay on The Atlantic’s website under a very polemical headline: “Americans Need Jobs, Not Populism.” Take that, Elizabeth Warren.

The Massachusetts Democrat is clearly unpersuaded. In a powerful speech to the California Democratic Convention last weekend, she used variations on the word “fight” 21 times. “This country isn’t working for working people,” Warren declared. “It’s working only for those at the top.” If populism is a problem, Warren has not received the message.

There’s other grist for this narrative. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was re-elected earlier this year only after a spirited battle during which his opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, labeled him “Mayor 1 Percent.” And every other day, it seems, there’s a report about Hillary Clinton being under pressure either to “move left” or to resist doing so.

A story line doesn’t develop such a deep hold without some basis in fact. There are real dividing lines within the center-left around issues such as the right way to reform public education and the best approach to public employee pension costs. There’s also trade, a matter that has so vexed Democrats that for many years, its presidential candidates have tried to hedge the issue — usually during the primaries but sometimes until after the election.

But the us-vs.-them frame on this debate has two major problems. The first affects the center-left itself, something shrewd Democrats have started to notice. A post on The Democratic Strategist website in March argued that “slinging essentially vacuous stereotypes like ‘corporate centrists’ and ‘left wing populists’” inevitably leads to “a vicious downward spiral of mutual recrimination.”

The larger difficulty is that the epithets exaggerate the differences between two sides that in fact need each other. There is political energy in the populist critique because rising inequality and concentrated wealth really are an outrage. But the centrists offer remedies that, in most cases, the populists accept.

Both Markell and Warren, for example, have emphasized the importance of business growth and job creation. In her California speech, Warren described the need for policies that foster prosperity while “bending it toward more opportunity for everyone.” Her priorities were not far from those Markell outlined in his article.

There was nothing exotically left-wing about Warren’s call for “education for our kids, roads and bridges and power so businesses could grow and get their goods to market and build good jobs here in America, research so we would have a giant pipeline of ideas that would permit our children and grandchildren to build a world we could only dream about.”

For his part, Markell freely acknowledged that “the altered economic terrain is preventing new wealth from being broadly shared,” that “income inequality is growing worse,” and that “a huge number of Americans are economically insecure.” Growth is “necessary, but not sufficient,” and he made the case for “a decent minimum wage,” “affordable and quality health care,” and support for a dignified retirement.

Sen. Warren and Gov. Markell, would you kindly give each other a call?

As for Emanuel, his inaugural address on Monday was devoted to the single subject of “preventing another lost generation of our city’s youth.” It was a powerful and unstinting look at how easy it is for the rest of society to turn its back on those for whom “their school is the street and their teachers are the gangs.”

“The truth is that years of silence and inaction have walled off a portion of our city,” he said. “It is time to stop turning our heads and turning the channel. … We cannot abandon our most vulnerable children to the gang and the gun.” If “centrists” and “populists” can’t come together on this cause, they might as well pack it in.

Yes, the populists and centrists need to fight out real differences, and that’s what we will see in the coming weeks on trade. But they would do well to remember the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s observation that it’s always wise to seek the truth in our opponents’ error, and the error in our own truth.

And as it happens, to win the presidency, one of Hillary Clinton’s central tasks will be to move both sides in the progressive argument to embrace Niebuhr’s counsel.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.(c) 2015, Washington Post Writers Group

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Taylor Marsh’s Take on the Blumenthal Benghazi E-Mails http://themoderatevoice.com/205262/taylor-marshs-take-on-the-blumenthal-benghazi-e-mails/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205262/taylor-marshs-take-on-the-blumenthal-benghazi-e-mails/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 22:27:18 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205262 While Fox News and other right wing sources have immediately jumped on Hillary Clinton after the partial release of e-mails by the New York Times dealing with the Benghazi consulate attack, one source believes the e-mails vindicate Clinton. Taylor Marsh starts a piece examining the Times’ comments on the released e-mails by saying, “The correspondence [...]

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While Fox News and other right wing sources have immediately jumped on Hillary Clinton after the partial release of e-mails by the New York Times dealing with the Benghazi consulate attack, one source believes the e-mails vindicate Clinton.

Taylor Marsh starts a piece examining the Times’ comments on the released e-mails by saying, “The correspondence reveals that not only did Clinton share evidence of terrorist involvement in the 9/11/11 Libya attack with the Obama administration, but that long before the fatal tragedy Ambassador Christopher Stevens was thinking of leaving Benghazi…” [Author's note: the latter part is somewhat confusing]

Commenting on the Times’ “Nearly a year and a half before the attacks in Benghazi, Mr. Stevens, then an American envoy to the rebels, considered leaving Benghazi citing deteriorating security, according to an email to Mrs. Clinton marked ‘SBU.’”[Sensitive but Unclassified], Marsh says:

From the moment FNC [Fox News Channel] began hurling unproven factoids after the Benghazi attack, I’ve constantly stressed that Ambassador Stevens knew the dangers and was so committed to helping the Libyan people, who adored him, that he chose to stay against great odds and danger. Danger is often the nature of diplomatic postings.
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Ask former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose own tenure in Iraq had him at one point putting a noose around his own neck to prove his commitment, saying, “If the choice is to allow American citizens to be taken hostage or to be executed, I will bring my own fucking rope.”

On the claim that the “Second Memo Provides Detailed Account of Benghazi,” i.e. that the next day Blumenthal sent Clinton “extensive detail about the episode, saying that the siege had been set off by members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan terrorist group…[who] had ties to Al Qaeda, had planned the attacks for a month…” Marsh says:

The email descriptions in the Times also point to a forwarded “left-leaning” site article about the political perils of Libya to President Obama. It’s possible that Blumenthal was citing a Salon piece, “GOP’s October Surprise,” which details a “Jimmy Carter Strategy,” to which Blumenthal refers.

.

Forwarding articles important to read that either reveal a GOP strategy or a hit piece on Clinton is something that Sidney Blumenthal has done regularly. I’ve received innumerable links to articles since 2007, trading emails back and for with Blumenthal many times, though this practice diminished during Clinton’s State tenure. The little I know of Blumenthal has no resemblance to the “grassy knoll” character depicted in the media.
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It’s been reported by Michael Schmidt that Sidney Blumenthal was in the throes of making business arrangements in Libya, none of which came to fruition. I don’t see any difference in this strategy than what usually goes on when the U.S. becomes involved in military intervention, hoping to put in place a more stable country, which begins with American investments. You may not like this economic aspect of our foreign policy, but it’s done by both Republicans and Democrats, as we’ve seen over decades, so it’s hardly unique.

She emphasizes:

What’s clear is that Secretary Clinton quickly informed the Obama administration of everything she was receiving and knew as to the developments inside Libya as soon as she received updates from Blumenthal, who cited “sensitive sources” inside Libya.

She concludes with another excerpt from the New York Times, without commenting:

The emails also show that Mrs. Clinton was circulating information about the attacks in Benghazi that contradicted the Obama administration’s initial narrative of what occurred, and that she was concerned about how Republicans could use the incidents to undermine President Obama. [New York Times]

“Taylor Marsh is an author and speaker, political writer, and relationship expert. Marsh was profiled in the Washington Post and the New Republic, which led to her second book, The Hillary Effect, that chronicles Clinton’s rise and the sexism she faced during the 2008 campaign. Her latest book, The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen – Relationship Secrets from the Trenches chronicles over ten years inside the dating, sex and relationship worlds, where Marsh demystifies the challenges women face, from career and relationship demands, to finding personal fulfillment, offering solutions, as well as finally answering whether women can ‘have it all.’”

Note:

Marsh is also known as a “die hard Clintonite.

Lead image: www.shutterstock.com

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Jeb Bush Jumps the Shark: Questions Science Climate Change Belief as “Arrogance” http://themoderatevoice.com/205260/jeb-bush-jumps-the-shark-questions-science-climate-change-belief-as-arrogance/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205260/jeb-bush-jumps-the-shark-questions-science-climate-change-belief-as-arrogance/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 18:29:37 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205260 Buh bye Jeb Bush. You’ve just disqualified yourself from being President. The former Florida Governor had a bad week doing the politico limbo on whether invading Iraq was a good idea. That brought him under fire not just from Democrats but from many Republicans. Now, perhaps in a move to get back into the good [...]

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Buh bye Jeb Bush.

You’ve just disqualified yourself from being President.

The former Florida Governor had a bad week doing the politico limbo on whether invading Iraq was a good idea. That brought him under fire not just from Democrats but from many Republicans. Now, perhaps in a move to get back into the good graces of the party’s dominant conservative primary voters, he is questioning climate change — something the previous incarnation of Jeb Bush would not have done.

So if the GOP nominates Jeb, once again it’ll have a candidate that many Americans who are not enamored of the Democrats or their likely candidate (Hillary you-know-who) will likely vote FOR because a party nominee just can’t find the good, old fashioned buts to stand up to his party’s Twlight Zoners or its talk show political culture:

Jeb Bush hit back against President Obama’s claim that climate change runs an immediate risk, saying Wednesday that while it shouldn’t be ignored, it’s still not “the highest priority.”

As he has before, Bush acknowledged “the climate is changing” but stressed that it’s unknown why. “I don’t think the science is clear of what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted,” he said at a house party in Bedford, New Hampshire.

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he continued.
“It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even. The climate is changing. We need to adapt to that reality.”

Actually, its the political gutlessness of Mr. Bush that is a bit surprising to those who followed him for years and felt he was a person who stood on principle and would offer voters a candidate more in line with a)21st century thinking, b)how younger voters perceive reality versus how Rush, Sean, and Fox & Friends perceive it.

Most independent voters, moderates and centrists DO believe science’s take on global warming, so he has basically said they’re all full of Cheney (I won’t use the actual word on this family friendly site, so I used a substitute word that means the same thing).

Earlier Wednesday, Obama warned in a commencement speech to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy that climate change “constitutes a serious threat to global security (and) an immediate risk to our national security.”

The DNC (correctly) had this answer:

The Democratic National Committee was quick to respond to Bush’s comments Wednesday night.

“Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that human activity has led to climate change. Ninety-seven percent. But Jeb Bush thinks they’re wrong. Who’s being intellectually arrogant now?” said Holly Shulman, DNC spokeswoman, in a written statement.

I hate to use the word but:

Ditto.




















For more reaction from blogs GO HERE.

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Is The World Better Off Without Saddam Hussein? http://themoderatevoice.com/205258/is-the-world-better-off-without-saddam-hussein/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205258/is-the-world-better-off-without-saddam-hussein/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 16:47:33 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205258 The go to guy on foreign policy issues has to be Daniel Larison of the American Conservative.  Today he makes it clear that the Iraq war dead enders are wrong when they claim the Middle East and the world  are better off without Saddam Hussein in power. The hawkish argument that “the world is better [...]

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shutterstock_276106019The go to guy on foreign policy issues has to be Daniel Larison of the American Conservative.  Today he makes it clear that the Iraq war dead enders are wrong when they claim the Middle East and the world  are better off without Saddam Hussein in power.

The hawkish argument that “the world is better off” because of the Iraq war isn’t just obviously false, but it’s the sort of desperate ends-justify-the means claim that only ideologues and propagandists find compelling. If we take Iraq war dead-enders at their word that they think the world is better off, this just confirms that they have no understanding of the consequences of the war they supported. More than decade of conflict in Iraq has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, injured countless more, displaced millions, driven millions more into exile, and has brought about the complete ruination of an entire country. The war empowered sectarians and jihadists, and exposed the country’s religious minorities to an unending nightmare of persecution. Only a fanatic could look at the devastation wrought by the Iraq war and its aftermath and conclude that the world is better place because of it.

Hawks like to pose as clear-eyed moralists, but give little or no thought to the practical effects of the policies they support. They mouth phrases about rights and freedom, and help turn other countries into lawless killing fields. Hawks tend to assume that by smashing a bad regime that the U.S. is doing the targeted country and the world a favor, but by ushering in only more violence and destruction wars for regime change wreck the country and expose the world to dangers that would not otherwise exist.

No, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and not a nice guy but you can certainly say the same about our “friends” the House of Saud who are currently in the process of destroying Yemen and have job openings for 8 sword wheeling executioners. The invasion and occupation of Iraq did accomplish a few things including:

  • Further destabilizing an already unstable region.
  • Directly made possible the growth of ISIS.
  • Further empowering the Iranians.

This was all predicable and in fact was predicated by many.   The fact that anyone is still willing to listen to these Iraq war dead enders is shocking.  That Jeb Bush has employed these dead enders as foreign policy advisers eliminates him from any consideration to be the President of the United States.

Natalia Davidovich / Shutterstock.com

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ISIS Now Controls Half Of Syria http://themoderatevoice.com/205256/isis-now-controls-half-of-syria/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205256/isis-now-controls-half-of-syria/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 15:14:36 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205256 The Islamic State group holds power over half of Syrian territory after its seizure of the ancient city of Palmyra, according to a monitor. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights warned that ISIS had consolidated its control over the city on Wednesday by capturing its airfield and prison. “There are no forces to stop [...]

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The Islamic State group holds power over half of Syrian territory after its seizure of the ancient city of Palmyra, according to a monitor. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights warned that ISIS had consolidated its control over the city on Wednesday by capturing its airfield and prison. “There are no forces to stop them…

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The Governor in the Tin Foil Hat http://themoderatevoice.com/205252/the-governor-in-the-tin-foil-hat/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205252/the-governor-in-the-tin-foil-hat/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 14:59:01 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205252 The Governor in the Tin Foil Hat By Jason Stanford Operation Jade Helm has inspired a million jokes, and some of them have even been funny. But as much as comedians might jump on Greg Abbott for sending the Texas State Guard to monitor military exercises as the latest excuse to mock the reactionary rubes [...]

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The Governor in the Tin Foil Hat
By Jason Stanford

Operation Jade Helm has inspired a million jokes, and some of them have even been funny. But as much as comedians might jump on Greg Abbott for sending the Texas State Guard to monitor military exercises as the latest excuse to mock the reactionary rubes south of the Red River, Texas now faces an existential crisis: Is the Governor really this crazy?

From a distance, Gov. Abbott indulging the paranoid delusion that a special operations training exercise in Bastrop County is a precursor to an invasion looks absolutely crazypants. Oh, look at the Texans, they say, they’ve gone and done it. They’re being Texans again.

Said HBO’s Bill Maher to Texas, “You are the White Somalia,” which probably makes sense and might even be funny in context.

Rachel Maddow, checking in from the liberal flagship at MSNBC, said the “panicked, paranoid conspiracy” is one big joke. “Fearful Texas GOP base amuses nation with conspiracy panic,” blared a headline. Even for those inclined to agree with Maddow, the smugness was unbearable.

Too many are using the paranoia as a joke that never pays off. The problem is that the set up is all “you gotta be kidding me,” but the payoff is simply, “Nope.” Just because something is ludicrous and embarrassing doesn’t make it funny. Otherwise, I would have been more popular in high school.

Once you get past the regional bias underlying most of the “jokes” about Jade Helm, what you find is actually frightening: Greg Abbott either truly does not trust the United States military and the commander-in-chief to respect the sovereignty of Texas, or he’s pandering to his slightly seditious and extremely paranoid base. Sadly, it’s not clear which sin we need to forgive here.

Obviously, Barack Obama does not want to invade Texas and place it under martial law. This is silly. What is not silly is that the Governor may have taken this idea seriously. So now Texas, by all rights a home to millions of reasonable and good people as well as many others, has to ponder whether it elected a Governor who keeps an eye peeled for black helicopters.

I’m not remotely someone who would ever vote for Abbott, but even I would like to believe that he’s pandering. The evidence to the contrary, however, is worrisome.

For starters, when it comes to campaigns he’s no smooth criminal. His huge margin of victory masked a ham-handed operation. His campaign spent two weeks flubbing the equal pay question, which was before or after he got bogged down in questions about Ted Nugent. There was also that awkward period when he waited too long to disavow “retard Barbie.” And who could forget the time he said Texans just needed to “drive around” to find out which warehouses contained chemicals that could explode?

If Abbott were a peanut butter he’d be chunky because he is not and never will be smooth.

Admittedly, there is recent evidence of him trimming his sails to capture the prevailing wind. When he went from insisting on a cut in property taxes to simply demanding a tax cut, he looked like a politician who knew which way the wind blows. That’s the kind of politician clever enough to pander to his base even when he doesn’t necessarily agree with it.

Abbott is more consistent as an ideologue. He famously described his job as attorney general thusly: “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.”

Keep in mind that Abbott is Ted Cruz’s mentor. And while Texas’ very junior senator bears all the tell-tale signs of having no core beliefs, there’s not much in the way of evidence that Abbott is as calculating.

I would rather believe that I merely disagree with Gov. Abbott and not that he is so disagreeable as to think Texas faces a threat of invasion from a country it is, it should be said, already a part of. But whether Abbott believes that Jade Helm is the tip of the spear for martial law or whether he’s merely pretending to might, in the final analysis, not matter.

If the tin foil hat fits, wear it.

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© Copyright 2015 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Jason Stanford is a regular contributor to the Austin American-Statesman, a Democratic consultant and a Truman National Security Project partner. You can email him at stanford@oppresearch.com and follow him on Twitter @JasStanford.

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Cartoon: Baltimore Study http://themoderatevoice.com/205250/cartoon-baltimore-study/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205250/cartoon-baltimore-study/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 14:51:32 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205250 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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 Want to Publish this? Buy A License! Title COLOR Baltimore study Artist  David Fitzsimmons Attribution David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star


Want to Publish this?
Buy A License!
Title
COLOR Baltimore study
Artist
David Fitzsimmons
Attribution
David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

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Gallup Poll: Obama Favorable Rating Up, Best Since September 2013 http://themoderatevoice.com/205247/gallup-poll-obama-favorable-rating-up-best-since-september-2013/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205247/gallup-poll-obama-favorable-rating-up-best-since-september-2013/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 14:46:57 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205247 A new Gallup Poll finds President Obama’s favorability rating is now the highest it has been since September of 2013: 53%. Americans’ favorable ratings of President Barack Obama now stand at 53%, up four points from March. This comes after a year in which these ratings were mostly below 50% and marks the president’s highest [...]

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A new Gallup Poll finds President Obama’s favorability rating is now the highest it has been since September of 2013: 53%.

Americans’ favorable ratings of President Barack Obama now stand at 53%, up four points from March. This comes after a year in which these ratings were mostly below 50% and marks the president’s highest score since September 2013.
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A president’s favorable ratings are distinct from approval of his performance; job approval ratings generally tend to be lower. For the Obama presidency, Gallup trends show the two measures have changed largely in tandem. As Obama’s approval rating has rebounded nine percentage points from a low of 37% last fall, his favorable rating has increased 11 points from 42%. The resulting seven-point gap between Obama’s current 46% approval rating and his 53% favorable rating is slightly larger than the average five-point gap between these ratings for Obama since he took office.

The gap between job approval and favorable ratings over the course of Obama’s presidency has been as wide as eight points, and as narrow as two points. The latter took place just after Obama was re-elected, in November 2012, when his favorable rating was 58% and his job approval was 56%.

The key to his poll improvement? He’s regaining the support of independent voters:

Obama’s favorable rating in the May 6-10 poll reflects increases compared with November 2014 among Democrats (90%) and independents (52%). Republicans, on the other hand, continue to be chilly toward the president; their favorable ratings of Obama have been largely flat at low levels since last fall.
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If this keeps up, Gallup says, Obama could wind up being seen in a favorable historical light compared two some other recent Presidents:

Americans in general are more inclined to give Obama a favorable personal rating than they are to approve of the job he is doing. Obama’s favorable and job approval ratings have each improved this year, and his current 53% favorable rating is the highest since late 2013.

The recent increase in how Americans view Obama, and likely also his performance, might have something to do with his attempts to bridge various communities in recent months — such as police and racial minorities; Cuba and the U.S.; and members of Congress from both parties who are pro- and anti-trade.

As he serves out his seventh year in office, Obama’s favorability is higher than it was in his sixth year, when he received a record-low rating after the 2014 midterm elections. Excluding his first year, when his favorable ratings averaged 62%, his favorables have been fairly steady — as have his job approval ratings.

Depending on how the final 20 months of his presidency go, Obama’s relatively buoyant favorability might stand in stark contrast to that of his two predecessors — President Bill Clinton, whose yearly averages peaked in his fifth year and dipped thereafter; and President George W. Bush, whose favorable ratings spiked early on in his presidency and descended rapidly in his second term.

And it’s clear the block he can never win over are conservative Republicans. Read Bruce Bartlett take on that HERE.

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Cartoon: David Letterman http://themoderatevoice.com/205245/cartoon-david-letterman/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205245/cartoon-david-letterman/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 14:34:37 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205245 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

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How To Best Cope With Death, According To Science http://themoderatevoice.com/205243/how-to-best-cope-with-death-according-to-science/ http://themoderatevoice.com/205243/how-to-best-cope-with-death-according-to-science/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 14:31:45 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=205243 It’s a natural part of life, yet death can still often leave us feeling confused, shocked, and deeply saddened. We all go through it at some point or another, and everyone handles grief differently — some falling into depression, and others remaining buoyant — but it is possible to get past it, according to research. [...]

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It’s a natural part of life, yet death can still often leave us feeling confused, shocked, and deeply saddened. We all go through it at some point or another, and everyone handles grief differently — some falling into depression, and others remaining buoyant — but it is possible to get past it, according to research. For…

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