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 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:51:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 NYC Dr. Craig Spencer Tests Positive for Ebola Virus After Treating Patients in Guinea http://themoderatevoice.com/199744/nyc-dr-craig-spencer-tests-positive-ebola-virus-treating-patients-guinea/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199744/nyc-dr-craig-spencer-tests-positive-ebola-virus-treating-patients-guinea/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:26:32 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199744 Dr. Craig Spencer, who returned from Guinea ten days ago after treating Ebola patients, has tested positive for the deadly virus after initial tests were conducted. Spencer, 33, a Doctors Without Borders physician, is the fourth case of Ebola in the U.S. and is the first case in New York City. His girlfriend has been quarantined. A [...]

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Dr. Craig Spencer, who returned from Guinea ten days ago after treating Ebola patients, has tested positive for the deadly virus after initial tests were conducted.

Spencer, 33, a Doctors Without Borders physician, is the fourth case of Ebola in the U.S. and is the first case in New York City. His girlfriend has been quarantined.

A doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea tested positive for the Ebola virus Thursday, becoming the city’s first diagnosed case.

The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital on Thursday and placed in isolation while health care workers spread out across the city to trace anyone he might have come into contact with in recent days. A further test will be conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control to confirm the initial test.

[…]

Dr. Spencer had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, treating Ebola patients, before returning to New York City on Oct. 14, according to a city official.

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

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How to Blow An Election You Ought to Win (part iii) http://themoderatevoice.com/199742/blow-election-win-part-iii/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199742/blow-election-win-part-iii/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:37:13 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199742 Seriously, who told these idiots that playing Chicken Little was how you motivate a successful team?

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flag day

This illustration is in the Public Domain


Synchronicity:

Political Polarization & Media Habits
Journalism.org

When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds.  There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust.  And whether discussing politics online or with friends …

This isn’t actually news. It’s been known for some time, but it’s a good entrée into part iii.

In Part i. I talked about the ascendance of the political consultant and the conservatism of the shopkeeper that keeps candidates from focusing on any race but their own, and playing it safe as milk even in that. (e.g. “spinelessness.)

In Part ii. I talked about the track record of internet destruction (trolling) that has been historically used to advance the GOP agenda and candidates by relentlessly and mercilessly destroying all discussion, especially things like oh, “Obama has been a good president with a good track record. (They’re STILL trolling the Rolling Stone story by Paul Krugman a week after publication.)

In Part iii, I’m going to talk about how the Democratic Leadership has been aiding and abetting this behavior. And how to turn that idiocy around into intelligent messaging. 

buntinng

I received my latest love letter from Spam Central, Nancy Pelosi Division:

from: Team Pelosi
to: Hart Williams <hartoon@gmail.com>
date: Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 3:11 PM
subject: Epic fail

Gee. I already am disgustipated. But, as reported here a week or so ago, this is nothing new. They are always losing, always desperate, always begging. The latest?

We need $200,000 by October 31st. Otherwise, we won’t be able to fund our grassroots efforts.

Right now we’re not there yet. We’ve got a long way to go if we’re going to raise this money.

Hart — 15 days from an election, missing this goal would be an epic failure. We really need your help.

Can you make a contribution [prices and details ...]

Between the Koch brothers, Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups, and all the other outside interests — hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent against Democrats this year.

Nancy is doing everything she can to support Democrats this year. But fighting against that deluge is a tall order — and she can’t do it all alone.

We HAVE to hit this goal. And we need your help to do it. Give what you can — right now — to help us reach $2OO,OOO.

Thanks!

Team Pelosi

Yeah? I call BS.

Seriously, who told these idiots that playing Chicken Little was how you motivate a successful team?

I can just see it now:

Knut Rockne: We had a player, a wonderful player, and his name was George Gipp.

And when George was dying, he said to me: Coach, football is BS. We ought to be happy just to be alive and not worried about losing some stupid football game. 

And then Gipp died horribly. But I felt that it was really sad, and maybe, in h0nor of him, or maybe just to not embarrass ourselves, maybe we could try to not lose this one for the Gipper?

From the ficti0nal movie, Knut Rockne, Alternate Universe Loser.

You see, in this election cycle, the “realists” of the Democratic leadership have not focused on winning. Instead, they have focused, perhaps fatally, on NOT LOSING.

The gulf between these two seemingly-synonymous coinages is as vast as the legendary gulf between heaven and hell.

I shouldn’t have to say another word here.

KNOWING that the GOP strategy is to intimidate, bully, “psych out” and otherwise depress their opponents, WHY have the Progressives SWALLOWED this swill?

Let me contrast those two opposing universes with actual proposals:

Ted Cruz in USA TOADY (sic) proposes the alternate Universe priorities:

First, embrace a big pro-jobs, growth agenda.
Second, pursue all means possible to repeal Obamacare.
Third, secure the border and stop illegal amnesty.
Fourth, hold government accountable and rein in judicial activism.
Fifth, stop the culture of corruption.*
(* Seriously, you have to READ this nonsense on what he calls “corruption” to believe it!)
Sixth, pass fundamental tax reform, making taxes flatter, simpler, and fairer.
Seventh, audit the Federal Reserve.
Eighth, pass a strong balanced budget amendment.
Ninth, repeal Common Core
Tenth, deal seriously with the twin threats of ISIL and a nuclear Iran.

I’ve stripped out the explanations of this almost universally oxymoronic list. You know “rein in judicial activism”?

SERIOUSLY? The GOPs spent a generation installing KKKonservative Judges to stop “activist judges” and created the Alter Boys, the most ACTIVIST COURT IN AMERICAN HISTORY!!!!

If this were another column, I’d take the three seconds it would take to point out that virtually every one of these proposals is internally contradictory or based on nonsensical premises.

I mean back to the “balanced budget amendment” when there’s a long history of not only its impossibility, but ALSO its potentiality for disaster (as in every war we’ve ever fought, whether declared under the War Department or undeclared under the Orwellian-retitled Department of Defense.)

No. Now let’s create false ‘clash’ with actual issues the Democrats ought to be running on. From Forward Progressives‘ “7 Facts Republicans Hope Conservative Voters Never Think About,” by Alan Clifton (again, explanations stripped, save for #5):

1) Republicans are purposely sabotaging our government
2) Republicans want our country to fail
3) Conservatives are always on the wrong side of history
4) Nine of our last ten economic recessions occurred while a Republican was in the White House
5) The Republican party is owned by big oil: Just think about it, what benefits big oil the most?

• Deregulating the EPA
• More domestic drilling
• Opening up national parks for drilling
• The belief that climate change is fake
• Ensuring that we have poor public transportation systems
• Opposition to green energy alternatives

And guess which side of every one of those issues the Republican party supports…

6) The truth about Ronald Reagan is very different from the lies Republicans tell about him
7) Tax rates have almost nothing to do with job creation or wages

OK: THERE are two sides of issues that voters ought to have a chance to debate and decide on, rather than this endless rhetorical “chaff” that the GOPs and the Pundits and the reactive (and never proactive) Democrats keep gumming up the works with.

An actual debate* using those seventeen charges would inform us all, and could be followed even by as dim a population as American voters.

[* But not right here right now, please. The Cruz proposals would take about thirty seconds to demolish, yes, but this is about the debate itself, it is not that debate. Thanks. -- HW]

And then we’d have a REASON to vote.

spel free ur die

Illustration by author from clipart licensed TO author. ©

But, as I have established very carefully here*, the amygdala, the “reptile brain” the “fight or flight” instinctual brain, the id, whatever you want to call it, is now used to market candidates just the way that products are.

[* And here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.]

Example: in the post-War era when TV was just starting, Dentyne® chewing gum would tell you how it was great if you couldn’t brush, and that it freshened your breath, and that 18 out of 19 dentists surveyed recommended it, with caveats, etcetera.

They were giving you a REASON to buy Dentyne®.

Now, for Dentyne “ICE”® they just show a hot chick getting kissed. There is no rational explantion. Just: Chew Dentyne and y0u’ll get laid. Pavlov cheers!*

[* Classic Pavlovian Conditioning = Stimulus: Hot Chick. Response: Erection. Stimulus + conditioner: Hot chick + gum. Response: Erection. Remove "hot chick" and the classic Pavlov = Stimulus: Gum. Response: Erection. Shades of Baby Tyrone!]

We have done the EXACT SAME THING WITH OUR CANDIDATES. (I won’t extend the simile, since that could get icky.)

The Reptile Brain running elections, makes as much sense as putting a coked-out amoral hedonist in charge of the treasury. (What do you want to bet that an audit would be traumatic, guaranteed?)

The irony in all of this is that through entirely rational and scientific means, we have developed a campaign machinery that focuses exclusively on the irrational and magical thinking of the pre-conscious brain.

Aaaargh.

Back to Knut Rockne:

Napoleon said that esprit de corps was as one to three. (i.e. a motivated and happy soldier was worth three NON-motivated soldiers).

This is not anything new. The Spartans famously found out how motivated a free man can be when fighting for hearth and home when the Athenian hoplites emerged from the besieged city of Athens, and kicked Sparta’s ASS on the open battlefield. The Spartans — thought by all to be the “Greatest Warriors in the Known World™” — were so completely mind-bogglingly freaked out about this that they went back to their city, locked the gates and didn’t emerge for TWO YEARS.

This is the REASON for the totems and the pride of patriotism. Every government since has understood and exploited that irrational power of identification and faux-sacred relics like, say, the Liberty Bell — which is more a symbol than anything else. A cracked bell whose only claim to fame is ringing when something important happened once?

But don’t pretend that the Liberty Bell isn’t a powerful symbol.

That symbol can turn a properly motivated soldier into Napoleon’s three to one supersoldier.

But it also works at the reptile brain level. (Why else do you expect that foreigner Rupert Murdoch makes sure his Faux Nooz channel slathers itself in patriotic symbolism and imagery, even down to its predominant red, white and blue design motif?)

The battle is being waged on the reptile brain level ONLY because that’s the only level the GOPs can win on. This is what Ronald Reagan brought to American politics. Well, Ronnie and Roger Ailes, who went from Nixon media adviser to Reagan media adviser to running Faux Nooz™.

This is old history.

The point is that Newt and the Republicans figured out HOW to unify an off-year national election to a national platform, focus on a message and take over Congress. This is a lesson that the Democratic Party has NEVER learned.

As I’ve pointed out over and over and over and over again, RHETORIC is the only political tool in the box when it comes to politics, and yet the Democratic Party has, almost universally, discounted the effectiveness of the written and spoken word.

Let me say that again: politics is ONLY words. Words of speeches and words of laws and lies of lawbreakers and so on and so forth. ONLY in language does politics exist, even though many a miswording then takes on the force of law with unforeseen and disastrous results.

WORDS not only matter, but are, in literal fact, the ONLY matter.

Stop pretending that effective words grow on trees. They don’t. *

[* And note that I have demonstrated in this blog, time after time, how my words, my CAPTIONS affect your viewing of the image I've presented to you. Words are so important to our species that they warp and mold our very perception of actual physical evidence. Or, put another way my secret motto from when I was paid to write all the month's captions at ADAM, A good caption can fix anything.]

If people don’t know what to stand for, it’s because no one has ARTICULATED why they should vote Democratic.

If you’re on Facebook, look at the liberal memes: WHY the GOPs are so awful, the terrible things they’ve done, voted against women, children, veterans, etc.

But nowhere is there a catchy bumper sticker language set of memes why you SHOULD vote Democratic!

VOTE AGAINST THEM (they’re bad!)

But not

VOTE FOR US (we’re good!) and WHY.

The message from the Democratic Spam Machine (and yes, I have received Obama spam from the moment I donated back during the primaries in  spring 2008) is to despair.

To NOT lose. What a DISASTER it would be to lose.

And pounding that message in EACH AND EVERY DAY.

Twice a day in many cases.

Look, future politicians: If you spam anyone every day, no matter who you are and how important it is, people are eventually going to tune you out. They like you, so they don’t opt out. But they stop reading you. And, when the important stuff shows up, they never see the notice.

Which is counterproductive for YOU.

The ONLY message most Democrats are getting is in the SUBJECT line, and that’s right before archiving or trashing the spam. NO ONE has time to read and digest the daily spam, kids. Take note.

But most of all, remember what any coach worth his salt is going to do at halftime of any game:

He is going to exhort the troops. He is going to raise their spirits. He is going to use dead George Gipp (a speech famous enough that it became indelibly associated with Ronald Reagan for playing Gipp in a so-so movie) or anything else to get the BEST performance from his tro0ps. He is going to convince them that they can BEAT the Spartans, even though it seems impossible. Or, as at Agincourt, according to Willie the Shakes, “A little touch of Harry in the night.”

Said coach will NOT browbeat, belittle, bash, etcetera without then BUILDING the team’s sense of themselves, whether stinging their pride, appealing to dead George Gipp’s ghost or whatever else. But he will NOT end his speech with “EPIC FAIL.”

Not if that coach wants to win, she doesn’t.

Stop reacting to Rightie World® (which has no interface with your audience to begin with) and start forcing Rightie World® to react to YOU. If you cede the rhetorical ground, Sun Tzu tells you, and fight on ground of THEIR choosing, whether it be Gettysburg or Reince Priebus, you’ve already half lost.

Fight on rhetorical ground of YOUR choosing.

Take the initiative. Don’t let Karl Rove’s fax machine dictate the day’s debate every day, as you did for the entire EIGHT YEARS of the Bush Usurpation.

And quit talking defeat.

Talk victory, dummies.

Ignore the trash-talking that “Liberalism is a mental disorder,” and other childish nonsense. (Seriously, a party that INTENTIONALLY insults the other party by gleefully calling it the “Democrat” party, as though they hadn’t gotten the memo in the 193 years since Andrew Jackson formally organized what has evolved into the oldest political party in the world. Good lord.)

Focus on YOUR game. On YOUR rhetorical agenda. Kill ‘em with class, but don’t be afraid to pull out the brass knuckles… rhetorically, I mean. Remember what Harry Truman said:

When a bunch of Republican reactionaries are in control of the Congress, then the people get reactionary laws. The only way you can get the kind of government you need is by going to the polls and voting the straight Democratic ticket on November 2. Then you will get a Democratic Congress, and I will get a Congress that will work with me. Then we will get good housing at prices we can afford to pay; and repeal of that vicious Taft-Hartley Act; and more Social Security coverage; and prices that will be fair to everybody; and we can go on and keep sixty-one million people at work; we can have an income of more than $217 billion, and that income will be distributed so that the farmer, the workingman, the white collar worker, and the businessman get their fair share of that income.

That is what I stand for.

That is what the Democratic party stands for.

Vote for that, and you will be safe.

Any moderately competent coach at the lowliest volunteer sports league in America (or at any military institution in the world) would know that.

Why don’t you?

The worst Congress in American history is about to be re-elected because nobody thought it prudent to bring up that they are the WORST CONGRESS IN AMERICAN HISTORY?

That ONE YEAR AGO they shut down the US government so that I might not get health insurance?

Good ghod.

Get a grip. Or don’t come whining to me when you lose.

You visualized it. You talked about it.  You campaigned on it. You oughtn’t be surprised if you achieve it.

Then again, think what might have happened if you’d banded together and engaged in a unified rhetorical campaign of WINNING?

VoteToday

Illustration by author from clipart licensed TO author. ©

Courage.

[Note: this concludes the series.]

Entire series:

========================

 Mr. Williams has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

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Canada PM Vows Crackdown After Capital Shocked by Fatal Attacks http://themoderatevoice.com/199740/canada-pm-vows-crackdown-capital-shocked-fatal-attacks/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199740/canada-pm-vows-crackdown-capital-shocked-fatal-attacks/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:17:06 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199740 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to redouble the country’s fight against “terrorist organizations” abroad after a reported convert to Islam rampaged through parliament, shocking the usually tranquil capital city. Shortly after a gunman shot dead a soldier at the National War Memorial in central Ottawa on Wednesday morning, a man armed with a shotgun [...]

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to redouble the country’s fight against “terrorist organizations” abroad after a reported convert to Islam rampaged through parliament, shocking the usually tranquil capital city. Shortly after a gunman shot dead a soldier at the National War Memorial in central Ottawa on Wednesday morning, a man armed with a shotgun burst…

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Bruce Bartlett Argues That Obama Is A Republican http://themoderatevoice.com/199735/bruce-bartlett-argues-obama-republican/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199735/bruce-bartlett-argues-obama-republican/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:44:32 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199735 There’s nothing really new here, but it will be interesting to see conservative response to Bruce Bartlett’s article in The American Conservative entitled, Obama Is A Republican. The article is a rehash of how Obama’s record is actually quite conservative, clashing with the conservative myth that he is a socialist. He started with mentioning other [...]

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There’s nothing really new here, but it will be interesting to see conservative response to Bruce Bartlett’s article in The American Conservative entitled, Obama Is A Republican. The article is a rehash of how Obama’s record is actually quite conservative, clashing with the conservative myth that he is a socialist. He started with mentioning other Republicans who supported Obama’s election, and next discussed foreign policy:

One of Obama’s first decisions after the election was to keep national-security policy essentially on automatic pilot from the Bush administration. He signaled this by announcing on November 25, 2008, that he planned to keep Robert M. Gates on as secretary of defense. Arguably, Gates had more to do with determining Republican policy on foreign and defense policy between the two Bush presidents than any other individual, serving successively as deputy national security adviser in the White House, director of Central Intelligence, and secretary of defense.

Another early indication of Obama’s hawkishness was naming his rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state. During the campaign, Clinton ran well to his right on foreign policy, so much so that she earned the grudging endorsement of prominent neoconservatives such as Bill Kristol and David Brooks.

After further discission of foreign policy, he went on to discuss economic policy and the deficit. The most important point is how the deficit has fallen under Obama and how fiscally conservative Obama has been:

With the economy collapsing, the first major issue confronting Obama in 2009 was some sort of economic stimulus. Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, whose academic work at the University of California, Berkeley, frequently focused on the Great Depression, estimated that the stimulus needed to be in the range of $1.8 trillion, according to Noam Scheiber’s book The Escape Artists.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted in February 2009 with a gross cost of $816 billion. Although this legislation was passed without a single Republican vote, it is foolish to assume that the election of McCain would have resulted in savings of $816 billion. There is no doubt that he would have put forward a stimulus plan of roughly the same order of magnitude, but tilted more toward Republican priorities.

A Republican stimulus would undoubtedly have had more tax cuts and less spending, even though every serious study has shown that tax cuts are the least effective method of economic stimulus in a recession. Even so, tax cuts made up 35 percent of the budgetary cost of the stimulus bill—$291 billion—despite an estimate from Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers that tax cuts barely raised the gross domestic product $1 for every $1 of tax cut. By contrast, $1 of government purchases raised GDP $1.55 for every $1 spent. Obama also extended the Bush tax cuts for two years in 2010.

It’s worth remembering as well that Bush did not exactly bequeath Obama a good fiscal hand. Fiscal year 2009 began on October 1, 2008, and one third of it was baked in the cake the day Obama took the oath of office. On January 7, 2009, the Congressional Budget Office projected significant deficits without considering any Obama initiatives. It estimated a deficit of $1.186 trillion for 2009 with no change in policy. The Office of Management and Budget estimated in November of that year that Bush-era policies, such as Medicare Part D, were responsible for more than half of projected deficits over the next decade.

Republicans give no credit to Obama for the significant deficit reduction that has occurred on his watch—just as they ignore the fact that Bush inherited an projected budget surplus of $5.6 trillion over the following decade, which he turned into an actual deficit of $6.1 trillion, according to a CBO study—but the improvement is real.

Screenshot 2014-10-20 12.59.16

Republicans would have us believe that their tight-fisted approach to spending is what brought down the deficit. But in fact, Obama has been very conservative, fiscally, since day one, to the consternation of his own party. According to reporting by the Washington Post and New York Times, Obama actually endorsed much deeper cuts in spending and the deficit than did the Republicans during the 2011 budget negotiations, but Republicans walked away.

Obama’s economic conservatism extends to monetary policy as well. His Federal Reserve appointments have all been moderate to conservative, well within the economic mainstream. He even reappointed Republican Ben Bernanke as chairman in 2009. Many liberals have faulted Obama for not appointing board members willing to be more aggressive in using monetary policy to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment.

Obama’s other economic appointments, such as Larry Summers at the National Economic Council and Tim Geithner at Treasury, were also moderate to conservative. Summers served on the Council of Economic Advisers staff in Reagan’s White House. Geithner joined the Treasury during the Reagan administration and served throughout the George H.W. Bush administration.

There is certainly nothing new. Forbes pointed out a couple of years ago how Obama has been the most fiscally conservative president since Eisenhower.It is worth repeating considering how many people have been fooled by the Republican line that Obama and other Democrats, as opposed to the Republicans, are responsible for the size of the deficit.

Bartlett next discussed how Obamacare is based upon old Republican policies proposed by the Heritage Foundation and later Mitt Romney. He discussed at length how the individual mandate was originally an idea which was strongly promoted by Republicans. While Bartlett concentrated on Romney, many other Republicans shared this view.

Bartlett than had briefer discussions of several other issues–drugs, national-security leaks, race, gay marriage, and corporate profits. His argument for Obama being a Republican is weaker on social issues. While Obama took “two long years to speak out on the subject and only after being pressured to do so,” there remains a big difference between Obama keeping quiet on the issue and Republicans who actively promoted bans on same-sex marriage and Obama.

Bartlett concluded with:

I think Cornell West nailed it when he recently charged that Obama has never been a real progressive in the first place. “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit,” West said. “We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency.”

I don’t expect any conservatives to recognize the truth of Obama’s fundamental conservatism for at least a couple of decades—perhaps only after a real progressive presidency. In any case, today they are too invested in painting him as the devil incarnate in order to frighten grassroots Republicans into voting to keep Obama from confiscating all their guns, throwing them into FEMA re-education camps, and other nonsense that is believed by many Republicans. But just as they eventually came to appreciate Bill Clinton’s core conservatism, Republicans will someday see that Obama was no less conservative.

There is considerable truth to what Bartlett wrote, especially if social issues are ignored. However to be less progressive than Cornell West desires is not sufficient to prove someone is a Republican. Anyone who saw Obama as a candidate of the far left, as opposed to being more centrist, just wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying. Of course there is room for disappointment in some of these areas from the left, especially on drug policy and aspects of his foreign policy.

If Obama is said to be governing like a Republican, the key point which would need to be stressed is he is governing as a moderate Republican from the past–something which no longer exists. Obama certainly would not fit in with the Republican Party of today, which has moved to the extreme right. Bartlett is viewing Republicans from the perspective of his days as an adviser to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The reality is that today neither Reagan nor Bush would be sufficiently conservative to survive in the Republican Party. Therefore, while it is ludicrous to consider Obama to be a socialist, or even from the far left, those who share the extreme views of current Republicans are correct in not seeing Obama as one of their own.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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My beef with Training Day http://themoderatevoice.com/199732/beef-training-day/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199732/beef-training-day/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:45:32 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199732 I have extremely conflicting feelings about Training Day. A part of me loves this film, while another hates everything it represents. That is a rare feat for a film to achieve. On the bonus disc of Brian De Palma’s Scarface, there is a documentary about the impact of the 1983 film on popular culture. I [...]

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denzel-washtington-training-day

I have extremely conflicting feelings about Training Day. A part of me loves this film, while another hates everything it represents. That is a rare feat for a film to achieve.

On the bonus disc of Brian De Palma’s Scarface, there is a documentary about the impact of the 1983 film on popular culture. I remember this short doc clearly because it was pretty much filled with hip-hoppers who were passionate about Scarface. It feels obvious now, but a lot of early 2000′s hip-hop music and imagery was clearly inspired by Scarface. The film’s influence on hip-hop goes even further back, the most famous example I can give is Biggie’s 10 Crack Commandments. The fashion, the sharp suits, the cigar smoke – these hip-hop tropes are all inspired by that film.

Slowly but surely, I see Training Day growing in the same vein as Scarface – especially in the hip-hop community. I am starting to see a lot of Alonzo Harris avatars on hip-hop forum sites and the ‘my nigga’ quote has been slowly cropping up on Twitter and appearing on Memes everywhere.

On one level, Training Day is a hell of a film. It’s tough to grumble about it on a technical level – yes there are examples of shoddy acting (I’m looking at you Dr Dre) but it isn’t enough to pull you away from this grim world of corrupt police officers.

And, as always, Denzel Washington represents almost everything that is great about the film. Washington’s performance as Harris is absolutely worthy of the Best Actor Oscar he received for it. The ‘corrupt cop’ is nothing new in cinema, but the way Washington presents this familiar trope is something else entirely. Yes Alonzo Harris is bad, and evil, and manipulative, but he is also laugh-out-loud funny, extremely charming and seductive. Much like Tony Montana, as an audience member you get totally taken in by this absolute mad-man and you do end up cheering for him.

And for me, that is the issue. Washington is a bit too good at being bad. And yes, this is one of those being black thing. I just hate the message Alonzo Harris sends out about, well, black people. I know we are living in a world where the most powerful man is black, but this fact hides that there is still a sad dearth of positive black male role models. I’m talking good old fashion members of society such as doctors, teachers and … police officers.

When I talk to relatively young black lads these days they all still want to be rappers and words like ‘gangster’, ‘money’ and ‘hoes’ still roll off their tongue as easily as it did when I was in my early 20s. This image of the ‘gangster’ black male is reinforced by Washington’s Harris and, whether I like it or not, Alonzo Harris is going to continue to influence a lot of young people, just like Al Pacino’s Tony Montana did to folks of my generation.

And on top of everything, it just pisses me off that Denzel won as Oscar for playing Harris but didn’t for playing Malcolm X. For me that says a lot.

With that said, this film is dope. It is an enjoyable and thrilling ride. But no matter how many times I try, this film always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Peace.

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Most/Least Trusted News Sources, Ctd. http://themoderatevoice.com/199717/mostleast-trusted-news-sources-ctd/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199717/mostleast-trusted-news-sources-ctd/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:41:44 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199717 Politifact.com offers a comment from its archives on the Pew study of most and least trusted news sources. PunditFact is tracking the accuracy of claims made on the five major networks using our network scorecards. By that measure, 61 percent of the claims fact-checked on Fox News have been rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire, [...]

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Politifact.com offers a comment from its archives on the Pew study of most and least trusted news sources.

PunditFact is tracking the accuracy of claims made on the five major networks using our network scorecards. By that measure, 61 percent of the claims fact-checked on Fox News have been rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire, the most among any of the major networks.

 

As for the rest:

• 45 percent of the claims made on NBC and MSNBC rate Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire;
• 38 percent of the claims made on CBS rate Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire;
• 36 percent of the claims made on ABC rate Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire;
• 22 percent of the claims made on CNN rate Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.

 

For the record, 82 percent of the claims we’ve checked from Limbaugh have been rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2014/10/mostleast-trusted-ctd.html

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When ‘Springtime for Hitler’ Became Serious Opera http://themoderatevoice.com/199728/springtime-hitler-became-serious-opera/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199728/springtime-hitler-became-serious-opera/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:12:49 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199728 Is Mel Brooks smiling? Brooks’ 1968 comedy “The Producers” dealt with an outrageous, fictitious Broadway musical called “Springtime for Hitler” that trivialized Nazism and became a surprise hit. The New York Metropolitan Opera is now presenting “The Death of Klinghoffer,” which tries to explain the point of view of PLF members who hijacked the cruise [...]

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Is Mel Brooks smiling?

Brooks’ 1968 comedy “The Producers” dealt with an outrageous, fictitious Broadway musical called “Springtime for Hitler” that trivialized Nazism and became a surprise hit. The New York Metropolitan Opera is now presenting “The Death of Klinghoffer,” which tries to explain the point of view of PLF members who hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, shot elderly American Jewish businessman Leon Klinghoffer, and threw him overboard in his wheelchair.

The opera’s composer, John Adams, was quoted as explaining that “pro Israel lobbies” had power in Congress, while Palestinians were “forever scolded or ridiculed for their violence.” His opera is a critical hit — and a monster controversy due to its depiction of Israel and anti-Semitic lyrics like this sung by a hijacker: “America is one big Jew.” Or terrorists singing that it’s an “action of liberation” and they’re “men of ideals.” Jewish groups protested, but theater goers included prominent Jews. New York newspapers ran columns and op-eds denouncing and defending its right to be seen.

The Metropolitan Opera scuttled plans to air it on radio, and ran Klinghoffer’s daughters’ dissenting statement in the opera’s program: “Terrorism is irrational,” they wrote. “It should never be explained away or justified. Nor should the death of innocent civilians be misunderstood as an acceptable means for drawing attention to perceived political grievances. Unfortunately, ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ does all of this and sullies the memory of our father in the process.”

Yes, there are issues here about free speech and the freedom to create and display art . And there’s precedent for eyebrow-raising definitions. “Piss Christ,” artist Andre Serrano’s 1987 photo of a small plastic crucifix in a glass of urine, won the Southwestern Center for Contemporary Art’s “Awards in the Visual Arts Competition.” Finger paintings by the late Cheetah the Chimp, the simian scene-stealer in Tarzan films, sold at auctions for some $20,000.

Art is in the mind of the beholder, isn’t it? As humorist David Sedaris noted, just call it “a piece.” Crass plebeians may find a photo of a cross in a glass of pee gross, but only the truly ENLIGHTENED understand it’s a work of breathtaking genius. But there’s another issue being missed in the furor over the opera’s anti-Semitic overtones and its attempt to show that the monsters who murdered an ill, disabled man in a wheelchair and hurled him overboard somehow had their reasons.

This is the 21st century, where notoriety and outrageousness sells.

It’s the century where loudness, crudeness and rudeness are considered intelligence and talent, where left and right ideologues make mega-bucks attacking one political party to the cheers of like-minded partisans, and the eager nods of their media corporation bosses raking in big bucks. Controversy means free social media, book deals, audience share, ticket sales — and lots and lots of money.

If it shocks, it financially rocks, and if it divides, it REALLY rides. The Daily Beast’s John Avlon writes that “our fellow citizens are self-segregating themselves into separate political realities.”

So what next? If “The Death of Klinghoffer” is a hit, does this mean within a few years we’ll see an opera about American Airlines Flight 11 with terrorist tenors singing as they slit stewardesses throats on 9/11, and Al Qaeda members warbling how they love flowers, but since the American military dominated the Middle East and killed Middle East kids, thousands of Americans must die?

Will we see a musical displaying ISIS members tap dancing to the sounds of bloody heads rhythmically plopping on the floor after being sawed off, plus a scene where a chorus line of young ISIS recruits sing about how Americans have killed Muslim kids in bombings, so they’re on the lamb defending Islam?

If this sounds ridiculous, it would have been crazy in 1968 to seriously suggest that the Met would proudly slate, and therefore tacitly endorse, an opera that would polarize people and raise widespread charges of anti-Semitism. It will likely lose some patrons and donors, but I’m sure they’ll pick up new ones — from certain countries in the Middle East.

The bottom line? Mel Brooks is a visionary.


Copyright 2014 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

TMV BONUS: In answer to some email inquiries after initial posting of this syndicated weekly column, here are some additional links for those who want to explore this on their own to make their own decisions:

Springtime for Hitler as performed in the original 1968 movie:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Springtme for Hitler as performed from the 2005 movie of the the Broadway musical version:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Original Broadway Cast cd of “The Producers” (more complete score than film):

Trailer previewing the 2014-2015 Met production of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

“The Death of Klingohoffer” musical score on CD:

There is a DVD of the opera (highly praised by Amazon reviewers):

And there’s one highly expensive copy left of the vocal score which the one reviewer pans as anti-Semitic

Notable story: City Journal on the controversy, from June 2014

Wikipedia on Leon Klinghoffer (bio)

Jewish Virtual Library: Hijacking of the Achille Lauro

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UPDATE: War memorial soldier murdered/ gunman dead, Canadian Parliment Locked down http://themoderatevoice.com/199720/war-memorial-soldier-murdered-gunman-dead-canadian-parliment-locked/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199720/war-memorial-soldier-murdered-gunman-dead-canadian-parliment-locked/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:34:53 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199720 UPDATE: The Parliment Buildings are no longer on lockdown in Ottawa. Soldier murdered appears to have been shot in the back. He was Corp Nathan Cerillo, a father of a young kindergarden aged son. The long gunfire in the parliment building which has cathedral ceilings was hugely amplified and terrifying to those in the building. [...]

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800px-Unknown_Soldier

UPDATE: The Parliment Buildings are no longer on lockdown in Ottawa. Soldier murdered appears to have been shot in the back. He was Corp Nathan Cerillo, a father of a young kindergarden aged son.

The long gunfire in the parliment building which has cathedral ceilings was hugely amplified and terrifying to those in the building. Four others were injured and taken to the hospital, one a security guard.

The top security officer of the Parliment, Kevin Vickers, who killed the gunman in the Parliment building, is a white haired man, who appeared usually and formally in the Parliment, dressed in the white multi-cravats and black longcoat looks a bit like a judge rather than a police officer.

Reports from CNN re Ottawa are that police and soldiers are actively hunting for two other shooters around the Parliment area. We do not know if this is anecdotal witness material, or eyewitness from reliable witnesses.

—————————————
Ottawa, dateline, 1:25 PM MST Lockdown of Parliment ongoing now. The buildings were full for today is Caucus day, meaning all MPs and others were in gatherings, full house.

Two incidents of shootings…

Though I doubt we will know for certain what unfolded until more hours have passed, it appears a gunman ambushed and killed a soldier on duty who was ‘honor walking’ the perimeters of the fallen soldier war memorial –and then the gunman entered the Canadian Parliment building where several dozen gunshots were heard… many Parlimentarians [MPs and others} and staff and visitors are still trapped in the lockdown and some were able to escape by breaking windows and climbing down scaffolding with the aid of others outside.

Kevin Vickers is Sgt at Arms of Parliment, that is, top cop on Hill, He is in charge of unarmed security guards and armed guards, and apparently Kevin, also with his years in Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is the man who in the language of enforcement, 'neutralized the threat.'

Not clear if there is more than one gunman, lone jackal or more than one. Motive not yet clear.

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The FBI in the US is alerted and there is extra security put in place in the Capitol, including Arlington National Cemetery, considered sacred ground with the Tomb of the Unknown[s] Soldier[s].

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Political Polarization–How The Left and Right Follow Different Sources For News http://themoderatevoice.com/199718/political-polarization-left-right-follow-different-sources-news/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199718/political-polarization-left-right-follow-different-sources-news/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:49:41 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199718 The Pew Research Center has released a study on Political Polarization and Media Habits. Most of their findings, summarized below, are as would be predicted: Overall, the study finds that consistent conservatives: Are tightly clustered around a single news source, far more than any other group in the survey, with 47% citing Fox News as [...]

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The Pew Research Center has released a study on Political Polarization and Media Habits. Most of their findings, summarized below, are as would be predicted:

Overall, the study finds that consistent conservatives:

  • Are tightly clustered around a single news source, far more than any other group in the survey, with 47% citing Fox News as their main source for news about government and politics.
  • Express greater distrust than trust of 24 of the 36 news sources measured in the survey. At the same time, fully 88% of consistent conservatives trust Fox News.
  • Are, when on Facebook, more likely than those in other ideological groups to hear political opinions that are in line with their own views.
  • Are more likely to have friends who share their own political views. Two-thirds (66%) say most of their close friends share their views on government and politics.

By contrast, those with consistently liberal views:

  • Are less unified in their media loyalty; they rely on a greater range of news outlets, including some – like NPR and the New York Times– that others use far less.
  • Express more trust than distrust of 28 of the 36 news outlets in the survey. NPR, PBS and the BBC are the most trusted news sources for consistent liberals.
  • Are more likely than those in other ideological groups to block or “defriend” someone on a social network – as well as to end a personal friendship – because of politics.
  • Are more likely to follow issue-based groups, rather than political parties or candidates, in their Facebook feeds.

It certainly comes as no surprise that conservatives are likely to follow Fox, which essentially means they are receiving the talking points of the Republican Party, with little regard for facts. While only 47 percent specifically cite Fox, I often find that conservatives are reciting the exact same talking points even if they deny watching Fox. Most likely they are following other conservative media which repeats the exact same message.

It also is no surprise that liberals are more interested in finding objective information and turn to a variety of sources such as NPR and The New York Times. Conservatives distrust media which doesn’t echo their viewpoints (even though, as Stephen Colbert has explained, “reality has a well-known liberal bias”). It is also not surprising that, while conservatives follow outlets with more overt political propaganda, liberals do not show as high an interest in MSNBC, and paid even less attention to Air America before it went out of business. This is not to say they are a mirror of Fox. MSNBC is far more factual when presenting liberal views. The point is that liberals are much more likley to seek an objective news source as opposed to listening to opinion.

When media outlets are examined by the ideology of viewers and readers, MSNBC’s audience is barely more liberal than the audience for CNN and the broadcast networks. Conservative outlets such as Politico and The Economist have a more liberal following than MSNBC. This might be because, while we generally think of MSNBC’s liberal evening shows, the network carries more objective news during the day. In the morning it runs a show hosted by conservative Joe Scarborough and, until he moved to Meet The Press, Scarborough was followed by another conservative, Chuck Todd. MSNBC’s overall audience is presumably different from their evening audience.

Buzzfeed is the least trusted source, but I suspect that this is because of not being well-known, or perhaps not being taken as seriously, as opposed to an ideological divide. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck follow as the least trusted, and Ed Schultz’s show is the least trusted liberal program.

As the Republican Party is now an ideological conservative party, it is also expected that conservatives are more likely than liberals to follow a political party. The authoritarian mind set which is common on the right might also make them more likely to follow a party, although conservatives have never been shy about complaining when they think the GOP is not conservative enough. Lacking a consistent liberal party in this country, it is expected that liberals are more likely to follow issues as opposed to the Democratic Party.

Initially I was surprised to see that liberals are more likely to defriend based upon ideology, but it makes sense as I think about my own experiences. I have some conservative Facebook friends who I have no reason to consider defriending, but have defriended other conservatives (along with some on the left). While I have certainly run into some on the left who are every bit as obnoxious as those on the right, ideologues on the right are often more likely to attempt to spread their views with a religious fervor. Arguments coming from the right are less likely to rely on facts or logical arguments, and much more likely to resort to insults.

This difference extends to the real world. While I have never ended a true friendship over politics, there are neighbors who I could never be friends with due to politics. I certainly have no use personally for those neighbors who have told my wife that she would go to Hell for having a Kerry sign in our front yard, or who have harassed my daughter in parking lots due to the Darwin Fish sticker on her car. While the experience of others might differ, I don’t see this type of fanaticism from liberals.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Beinart on US Isolationism http://themoderatevoice.com/199698/beinart-us-isolationism/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199698/beinart-us-isolationism/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:36:22 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199698 Peter Beinart on the myth of American Isolationism in The National Journal. Given the overwhelming evidence, both from politicians and the public, that isolationism in America today is virtually nonexistent, why do so many high-profile commentators and politicians depict it as a grave threat? One clue lies in a word that these Cassandras use as [...]

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Peter Beinart on the myth of American Isolationism in The National Journal.

Given the overwhelming evidence, both from politicians and the public, that isolationism in America today is virtually nonexistent, why do so many high-profile commentators and politicians depict it as a grave threat? One clue lies in a word that these Cassandras use as a virtual synonym for isolationism: “retreat.” If the subtitle of Bret Stephens’s forthcoming book is The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder, its title is America in Retreat. In their op-ed warning of a new “cycle of American isolationism,” (Senator Joe) Lieberman and ((Senator Jon) Kyl employ variations of “retreat” or “retrench” six times.

But “isolationism” and “retreat” are entirely different things. Isolationism has a fixed meaning: avoiding contact with other nations. Retreat, by contrast, only gains meaning relatively. The mere fact that a country is retreating tells you nothing about the extent of its interactions overseas. You need to know the position it is retreating from.   Herein lies the rub. In general, the isolationism-slayers are far more comfortable bemoaning American retreat than defending the military frontiers from which America is retreating. That’s because those frontiers, which reached their apex under George W. Bush, were both historically unprecedented and historically calamitous.

To realize how historically unprecedented they were, it’s worth remembering how much more circumscribed America’s military ambitions were under Ronald Reagan. He could not have imagined sending ground troops to invade Afghanistan or Iraq. For one thing, both countries were clients of the Soviet Union. For another, the bitter legacy of Vietnam made sending hundreds of thousands of troops to overthrow a government half a world away inconceivable. During his eight years in office, Reagan invaded only one foreign country: Grenada, whose army boasted 600 troops. In his final year in the White House, when some administration hawks suggested he invade Panama, Reagan adamantly refused. The idea struck him as far too risky.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2014/10/beinart-on-us-isolationism.html

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Jack Vance http://themoderatevoice.com/199716/jack-vance/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199716/jack-vance/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:52:58 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199716  I read with great zeal the works of Asimov and Heinlein. But my favorite was always the works of the late great Jack Vance.  I am re-reading the Caldwal trilogy. Science Fiction at it’s best but also literature . [Ed note: A 2009 profile in The New York Times Magazine described Vance as "one of [...]

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 Jack_Vance_Boat_SkipperI read with great zeal the works of Asimov and Heinlein. But my favorite was always the works of the late great Jack Vance.  I am re-reading the Caldwal trilogy. Science Fiction at it’s best but also literature .

[Ed note: A 2009 profile in The New York Times Magazine described Vance as "one of American literature's most distinctive and undervalued voices". He died at his home in Oakland, California on May 26, 2013, aged 96.

Autobiography: This Is Me, Jack Vance! (Subterranean Press, 2009) (won the 2010 Hugo Award, Best Related Book)]

Other Sci Fi books by Vance
The Dying Earth[edit]
Main article: Dying Earth series
The Dying Earth (author’s preferred title: Mazirian the Magician, collection of linked stories, 1950)
The Eyes of the Overworld (author’s preferred title: Cugel the Clever, novel 1966)
Cugel’s Saga (author’s preferred title: Cugel: The Skybreak Spatterlight, novel, 1983)
The Laughing Magician (Omnibus containing The Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel’s Saga, 2007)
Rhialto the Marvellous (collection of linked stories, 1984)
Lyonesse[edit]
Main article: Lyonesse Trilogy
Lyonesse: Suldrun’s Garden (1983) (also titled Lyonesse and Suldrun’s Garden)
Lyonesse: The Green Pearl (1985) (also titled The Green Pearl)
Lyonesse: Madouc (1989) (also titled Madouc)
Science fiction[edit]
The Demon Princes Series[edit]
Main article: Demon Princes
The Star King (1964)
The Killing Machine (1964)
The Palace of Love (1967)
The Face (1979)
The Book of Dreams (1981)
The Cadwal Chronicles[edit]
Main article: Cadwal Chronicles
Araminta Station (1987)
Ecce and Old Earth (1991)
Throy (1992)
Alastor[edit]
Main article: Alastor Cluster
Trullion: Alastor 2262 (1973)
Marune: Alastor 933 (1975)
Wyst: Alastor 1716 (1978)
Durdane[edit]
Main article: Durdane series
The Anome (alternate title: The Faceless Man, 1973)
The Brave Free Men (1973)
The Asutra (1974)
Tschai[edit]
Main article: Planet of Adventure
City of the Chasch (author’s preferred title: The Chasch. 1968)
Servants of the Wankh (reissue title: The Wannek, 1969)
The Dirdir (1969)
The Pnume (1970)

The image of Jack Vance picture was taken by en:David M. Alexander in the early 1980s on Jack Vance’s boat in San Francisco Bay. Public domain, as noted.

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Extremist-Inspired Attack Raises Canada’s Terror Threat Level http://themoderatevoice.com/199714/extremist-inspired-attack-raises-canadas-terror-threat-level/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199714/extremist-inspired-attack-raises-canadas-terror-threat-level/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:05:11 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199714 Canada raised its terrorist attack threat level from “low” to “medium” on Tuesday. The change came a day after a Quebec man, who had previously attempted to leave Canada for Turkey, carried out a fatal hit-and-run attack on two Canadian military men. Suspect Martin Couture-Rouleau was one of 90 Canadians being monitored by the Royal [...]

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Canada raised its terrorist attack threat level from “low” to “medium” on Tuesday. The change came a day after a Quebec man, who had previously attempted to leave Canada for Turkey, carried out a fatal hit-and-run attack on two Canadian military men. Suspect Martin Couture-Rouleau was one of 90 Canadians being monitored by the Royal Canadian…

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Cartoon: Turkey takes action http://themoderatevoice.com/199712/cartoon-turkey-takes-action/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199712/cartoon-turkey-takes-action/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:59:23 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199712 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 Share on Tumblr

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Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons


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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Why are Americans So Czar-Struck? (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/199708/americans-czar-struck-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199708/americans-czar-struck-guest-voice/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 04:00:30 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199708 Why are Americans So Czar-Struck? By Dick Polman Let’s take a break from our Ebola freakout and debate something a bit more benign – like word usage. For instance, why do we keep using czar? Last Friday, seemingly within seconds of Ron Klain’s ascent to the new post of Ebola response coordinator, the press headlines [...]

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Why are Americans So Czar-Struck?
By Dick Polman

Let’s take a break from our Ebola freakout and debate something a bit more benign – like word usage. For instance, why do we keep using czar?

Last Friday, seemingly within seconds of Ron Klain’s ascent to the new post of Ebola response coordinator, the press headlines were dubbing him the “Ebola Czar.” Which I suppose was to be expected, given the fact that, during the past five decades we’ve referred to dozens of White House aides as drug czars, energy czars, science czars, climate czars, terrorism czars…you name it. At one point the Obama administration had an auto bailout specialist, and that was fun, because everybody got to call him the car czar.

But seriously, let’s think about this. Why have we allegedly civilized Americans appropriated a word that dates back to despotic imperial Russia (its original spelling, tsar), a word that was synonymous with tyrannical rule?

If we want to be exotic, why not use pasha or sultan? Does anyone know anymore what the czars were really like? Ivan the Terrible burned down the city of Novgorod and killed all its inhabitants in an effort to halt the spread of bubonic plague (which made him a lousy Plague Czar). Peter the Great ordered the torturous execution of his own son, and was reputedly fond of beheading people. And the 19th-century czars were particularly gifted at launching murderous pogroms against the Jews.

And yet, the word somehow came westward. It popped up, apparently for the first time, back in 1832, when President Andrew Jackson’s allies denigrated banker Nicholas Biddle by calling him “Czar Nicholas” (this was during the Russian reign of Nicholas I). It surfaced again in 1866, when a political humorist denigrated President Andrew Johnson by dubbing him “Czar of all the Americas.” And again at the turn of the 20th century, when a copy editor at The New York Times sought a synonym for the word autocratic in order to describe House Speaker Thomas Reed. He settled on czar.

That sounds about right. Czar is a handy media label that fits snugly in a headline.

Real czars had the power of life and death over their humble subjects, whereas American czars are powerless coordinators who must cajole and coax recalcitrant agencies into getting along, but no matter: Once a foreign word enters the language, it tends to lose its true meaning. Which is what happened five decades ago, during the 1973 oil embargo, when Richard Nixon tapped a guy named John Love to tackle the crisis – and Love was quickly dubbed the “energy czar.” As was his more prominent successor, William Simon. Simon’s aides delighted in calling him “your czarship.” That’s when the term really took off.

I guess things could be worse, like calling Ron Klain the Ebola Lord or Ebola Khan or Ebola Ayatollah. And it’s quicker and niftier to say czar instead of calling him what he really is, the Ebola interagency implementation manager. Just like it’s facile to say that Liz Sherwood-Randall is Obama’s WMD czar – as opposed to what she really is, the White House coordinator for defense policy, countering weapons of mass destruction and arms control. No harm done, I suppose, as long as Klain’s czar tag doesn’t prompt Americans to assume that he can merely wave a scepter and keep the death toll at one.

But since we’re so willing to indulge in exotic nomenclature, I’ll confess that I’ve long been partial to wizard. And if a future president taps someone special to honcho the cleanup of toxic waste dumps, I’m staking a claim right now. I want to be the first to dub that person The Wizard of Ooze.

——-

Copyright 2014 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a “Writer in Residence” at the University of Philadelphia. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies http://themoderatevoice.com/199706/former-washington-post-editor-ben-bradlee-dies/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199706/former-washington-post-editor-ben-bradlee-dies/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 02:55:07 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199706 WASHINGTON – Ben Bradlee, the hard-charging editor who guided The Washington Post through its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Watergate scandal and invigorated its newsroom for more than two decades, died Tuesday. He was 93. Mr. Bradlee died at his home of natural causes, the Post reported. As managing editor first and later as executive [...]

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WASHINGTON – Ben Bradlee, the hard-charging editor who guided The Washington Post through its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Watergate scandal and invigorated its newsroom for more than two decades, died Tuesday. He was 93. Mr. Bradlee died at his home of natural causes, the Post reported. As managing editor first and later as executive editor,…

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies

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How to Blow An Election You Ought to Win (part ii) http://themoderatevoice.com/199702/blow-election-win-part-ii/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199702/blow-election-win-part-ii/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 23:42:48 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199702 You destroy "news" by creating a narrative (and this is straight out of Psy-Ops tactics in WAR). You silence critics. You stifle protests by destroying threads and trolling.

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twain-sm

A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.  — Mark Twain (attributed)

Let me open with the follow-up to yesterday’s post:

UPDATE 10:40AM 20 Oct 2014:

Even though Drudge featured the Reuters report (which seems increasingly slanted, ideologically) and the Righties with Magic Eyes™ “saw” the same thing in blog after blog, oddly, the CBS affiliate saw something entirely different:

… the rally drew a huge crowd of thousands waiting to see the president.

There were so many people at the rally that some of them couldn’t even get in. As expected, the president said Anthony Brown was the right man for the job in a rally that was all about revving up energy for the Democrat’s campaign.

They waited for hours in long lines. Nearly 8,000 people packed an Upper Marlboro high school auditorium for a rally in support of Anthony Brown’s bid to become governor….

Karl Rove/Donald Segretti-style dirty tricks?  (Or, perhaps a time limit on parking?)

buntinng

At this point, and given the GOP’s track record, it seems entirely likely.

Either way, the “heckler” referred to in the Reuters story turned out to be a protester for Immigration Reform.

Obama noted that he agreed with the heckler and suggested that he heckle the people blocking reform.

President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail here Sunday, vouching for his law school classmate and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Anthony Brown, even after he was interrupted by a pro-immigration reform protester.

“The problem is, I’m actually for immigration reform,” Obama said at Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School here, after a young man holding a handwritten sign reading “#Not1More” shouted out. “Of course, he should be protesting the folks who are blocking it, but that’s OK.”

The focus of Obama’s remarks, though, was on encouraging the predominantly African-American crowd of 8,000 that filled the high school’s massive gym and a smaller runoff room to get out and vote…

~from POLITICO, no friend to accurate reportage.

ODD, that this little “nuance” was entirely absent from the Reuters “report.” As was the report on the “positive” fanaticism of a crowd waiting hours to pack a gym. Hmmm.

Because, then, you know, it wouldn’t SEEM like the public was “turning their back” on the President — a “fact” that would EXACTLY “confirm” the Right Wing narrative.

Something smells rotten, and it’s closer than Denmark.

Hmmm.

Boop boop be doop.

Oh. And this from the POLITICO story, clearly anathema to the Reuters “reporter”:

Before Obama took the stage, the crowd cheered at an invocation noting that the slaves who built the White House would be proud to see a fellow African-American as president, and that Obama would prove “the pundits” wrong and eventually be seen as the country’s greatest presidents.

Somebody’s “goosing” the narrative. Are we surprised?

The lie made its way halfway ’round the world:

Crowds WALK OUT during President Barack Obama’s speech in Maryland
Daily Mail [UK]

The president had shown up at the Democratic rally in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, near Washington, to support Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who is running for governor. With Obama’s approval levels hovering around record lows, many candidates …

AND …

Crowd walks out as President Barack Obama makes rare appearance on …
By Rosa Prince, and Reuters
3:50AM BST 20 Oct 2014

Telegraph.co.uk

And

President Obama’s Rare Campaign Trail Appearance Leads To Heckling And …
Headlines & Global News – ?47 minutes ago

President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail for two Democratic candidates on Sunday, Reuters reported. But the early departure of crowd members in Maryland during Obama’s speech proved to be yet another souring proof of the president’s growing unpopularity.

Really? You could tell all that from the Reuters story and are NOT simply parroting the narrative? If you doubt that, take this abortion of a paragraph later down:

But given his low approval rates and sagging popularity thanks in part to a mediocre economy, the war with ISIS terrorists and anxiety over the Ebola outbreak, most Democratic candidates are choosing to keep a distance from the president while they campaign this season, according to a Wall Street Journal blog.

Oh. A Wall Street Journal blog? THAT’S credible. Here’s the salient paragraph:

Perhaps underscoring some of Mr. Obama’s unpopularity, though, he was heckled by one protestor and others at the Maryland rally started leaving the event as the president spoke.

And this “narrative”:

In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, only 42% of the public approves of the job Mr. Obama is doing his job.

As a result, candidates have been wary of too closely associating with him. At the extreme, some aren’t even saying if they voted for the president in 2008 and 2012.

You mean Allison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky running against Mitch McConnell? Everyone knows about the story. Why are you hiding the name and then pretending to elevate an anecdote into a movement? Oh wait. NARRATIVE, right. Gotcha.

Rupert thanks you.

Notice how the misguided heckler is almost UNIVERSALLY stripped of context and literally FORCED into ‘supporting’ the narrative? No: this is not news reporting. It is propaganda masquerading as “news” and cherry-picked facts in support of a DESIRED “conclusion.”  (Creationist “science” works just the same way, as does global warming denialism, so don’t pretend it doesn’t exist or is unusual in any way.)

And many many more. Notice the “narrative” taking hold from the questionable “objectivity” of the Reuters reporter?

Just ask yourself the ONLY important question here: WHOM does this “story” and its “conclusions” serve?

It doesn’t matter IF it’s true, or whether there were unexplained circumstances (e.g. the gym had turned into a hotbox after hours of waiting, a potentiality I’ve personally experienced many times before). All that matters is that the echo chamber picks it up and runs with it.

No truth will ever be able to catch up with this “story” – no matter what kind of shoes it puts on.

What matters to the Rightie blogswarm and Drudge is the imputation that Obama “turned off” the attendees. Keeping up the narrative that Americans now hate him, etc. etc. etc. A “souring proof” in a deliberately slanted phrase NEVER used in professional, actual reporting of facts.

memeorandum  people leave early  Jeff Mason Reuters

Click pic for original page with links.

Narrative, not facts, propel this story.

To a PARTISAN end.

And that’s our thesis for the second installment in what SHOULD be a three part series:

HOW the election is being driven by partisan propaganda to create a false impression, and to divide and conquer the Democrats and Progressives. We have seen this before.

OK:

Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when “criticizing a sitting president in time of war” was tantamount to treason. When all US troops overseas were perfect choirboys and girls, and when protesting the illegal war in Iraq was made impossible or ridiculous in the USA.

And Dubya went to Merrie Old England.

And antiwar protesters actually GOT TO PROTEST the Usurper-In-Chief (something denied us mere US Citizens).

Except….

It started with a post on Free Republic dot Com (since pulled, but rescued by Democratic Underground):

Edited on Thu Nov-20-03 03:21 PM by Wonk
FreeRepublic.com “A Conservative News Forum”

BUSH PROTESTORS ARE USING EMAIL TO TRACK HIM – LET’S SLAM THAT ADDRESS :)

Posted on 11/19/2003 4:17 PM MST by Martyboy1
Hey guys/gals. The protestors trying to scream their goofy comments at Bush during his England trip are going to use email and instant/text messaging on cell phones and so on to tell each other where Bush might be at any particular time…so as to organise their efforts. WELL, look at the source URL I provided. It has a photo of the poster with the email address. I suggest that we find the address they are planning on using (I can’t make it out from that photo) and we can suggest to the protestors where Bush is, if you know what I mean ;) Maybe they’ll get a little more mail than they can handle, thereby making their idiotic plan useless :) Sounds good to me. If someone gets that email address, I’d love to know what it is!

And they found it. The thread goes on for a long ways. Read if if you need convincing that radical Right Wing thugs decided to attack the websites and servers of British Antiwar protesters, because these “patriots” had decided that all protests must be silenced. (How “Second Amendment” of them!) Here’s from a little further down in the thread:

posted on 11/19/2003 5:24 PM MST by Freemeorkillme
To: Martyboy1

Thank goodness these protestors are getting the truth out…lol (sarcasm) Why does it always see to be the maggot-infested, granola-smoking hippie types that we see at these protests? Where are all the ‘regular’ folks? Oh, that’s right…they’re at work earning a living. They don’t have time to protest something in the streets every other day :) Some of these photos are really funny…

And further down …

To: Martyboy1
Keep watching the site as the email address may change soon. Note also it’s shown on the site as a GIF image, not as text the spam harvesters could use.
Create a throwaway email address to send from, like “leftists-stink@yahoo.com “. If you use our own address they will probably retaliate.

Etcetera.

Northwest journalist David Niewert traces it back all the way to the “disputed” Florida results in 2000:

What is also clear, however, is that Bush and his cohorts have not the least compunction about allying themselves with the thuggish and potentially violent component of the extremist elements that have now been subsumed by the Republican Party. This became abundantly clear in the 2000 election, and particularly in the post-election fight in Florida. Don Black’s Stormfront people were there providing bodies for the pro-Bush protests, and his Web site proudly announced their participation. And as the Village Voice reported at the time:

On November 13, Black helped an angry crowd drive Reverend Jesse Jackson off a West Palm Beach stage with taunts and jeers. “He wasn’t being physically threatened,” Black says, in a later interview.25

No one from the Bush camp ever denounced the participation of Black and his crew or even distanced themselves from this bunch, or for that matter any of the thuggery that arose during the post-election drama. Indeed, Bush himself later feted a crew of “Freeper” thugs who had shut down one of the recounts in Florida, while others terrorized his opponent, Al Gore, and his family by staging loud protests outside the Vice President’s residence during the Florida struggle.

These failures were symptomatic of a campaign that made multiple gestures of conciliation to a variety of extreme right-wing groups. These ranged from the neo-Confederates to whom Bush’s campaign made its most obvious appeals in the South Carolina primary to his speaking appearance at Bob Jones University. Bush and his GOP cohorts continued to make a whole host of other gestures to other extremist components: attacking affirmative action, kneecapping the United Nations, and gutting hate-crimes laws.

Sound familiar to you?

I am holding out the Freepers as a SYMPTOM, so a third example will suffice to show you one group that we KNOW is engaging in internet terrorism to further the radical GOP agenda by spreading harmful misinformation and slander:

The band Dixie Chicks and lead singer Natalie Maines claim that Free Republic was instrumental in fueling a nationwide boycott of their music, which was organized by some former fans and radio stations after Maines made anti-Bush comments in 2003. In their 2006 documentary Shut Up and Sing as well as in interviews, the Dixie Chicks have often mentioned Free Republic in reference to the boycott, which sharply reduced sales of their CDs and concert tickets.

Maines was quoted as saying: “It’s scary how much power they do have. They can take down someone single-handedly and I don’t think Americans are aware of that.”[42] “And I think it was originally started by the Free Republic. And they were very organized in calling radio stations across the country and telling them that they would never listen to their station, when they didn’t even live in that town.”

Awww.

So: I’ve tracked six years of intentional “trolling” attacks as a POTENT political weapon by just ONE group. Does anyone doubt that there are others?

This is what I’m talking about:

You destroy “news” by creating a narrative (and this is straight out of Psy-Ops tactics in WAR). You silence critics. You stifle protests by destroying threads and trolling. Perhaps the best contemporary example is in last week’s Rolling Stone feature story on what President Obama has accomplished and is noteworthy as a president FOR.  “In Defense of Obama.”

The trolling is incredible, but RS readers keep catching it and throwing it back in the trolls’ faces. This is from HOURS ago (the trolling has been going on for DAYS!):

Tyler2Colorado • 2 hours ago
Obama’s goal isn’t to improve the country. It is to spread his liberal agenda across this nation. He had to lie to get the votes for his agenda (like telling us health premiums would go DOWN by $2500/yr when they actually went UP $2500/yr… or telling us we could keep our plans PERIOD.)
He knows the country doesn’t like his agenda. Why else does he make parts take effect just AFTER the elections?
We need a LEADER in the White House.

Dan Daniels • 5 hours ago

Indefinite Detention
Warrantless Wiretapping
Extraordinary Rendition
Overspending
Drones
Kill Lists
Gun Bans
Wall Street Accountability
$olyndra
VA deaths
IRS “targets” conservative groups
HHS “Fundraising”
Fast and Furious
Secret E-Mail Addresses
DOJ spies on the Associated Press
NSA spies on YOU

“Change has come to America” – Barack Obama”

Chaz Jones Dan Daniels • 4 hours ago
Lol, nice try with that photo which you stole. You fool no one, if you’re black, I’m Chinese and I haven’t been Chinese lately, lolol. You’re just another r*d neck b*got pretending to be black to give your phony list of phony scandals (aka talking points) legitimacy which no one is buying. Buzz off loser…

Dan Daniels Chaz Jones • an hour ago
Please prove your assertion. Thanks.

Tyler2Colorado Chaz Jones • 3 hours ago

The only one trying to fool someone is our president, (and possibly you too.)
Dan isn’t being a bigot, those aren’t phony scandals, and those aren’t talking points. Those are disturbing FACTS about our president.
You are clearly an ideologue who chooses to ignore the facts.

Chaz Jones Tyler2Colorado • 2 hours ago
Try these: running two UNFUNDED wars costing 4,400 Americans lives on the pretense of WMDs in Iraq which were never found, not to mention the untold numbers of innocent Iraqi lives lost; Drones vs boots on the ground–a no brainer; extending Medicare, not paid for; cut taxes for Millionaires and Billionaires causing a short fall of Fed. funds needed to adequately pay for goods and services we ALL need and use, esp. infrastructure upgrades; running up massive debt to the tune of $11 TRILLION and leaving a $1.5 TRILLION deficit for the next president to deal with which he’s still trying to clean up with no help from the GOP ( Grand Obstructionist Party of NO); VA deaths, a real scandal and long term problem which existed long before this president (BHO) came to power and was covered up before it finally came to this president’s attn.; IRS targeted conservatives, a RW myth; F&F started under GWB and ended under BHO; NSA spying on Americans, another myth, the fact is: surveillance of suspected terrorists ONLY to protect the country from another terr. attack; secret e-mails, another made-up lie; warrantless wiretaps were approved under GWB by the FISA Court after 911 and continued under BHO when necessary to protect the country; kill list another lie; gun bans, lol (where’s the evidence??), another baldface lie and I could go on, but I think I’ve proved my points. You clearly lost the argument, so try again.

Tyler2Colorado Chaz Jones • an hour ago
Funny how someone makes an attack on the president.
You can’t defend him because the facts are AGAINST him.

Tyler2Colorado Chaz Jones • an hour ago

I didn’t lose the argument. It was about Obama’s failures. You went into a long rant about why you don’t like Bush.
Bush was a bad president.
Obama is EVEN WORSE!
The only way you liberals can think you win an argument is to completely change the subject.
Obama is failing us as a president.

Notice the “polite” assertion and “skepticism” that the troll who is challenged comes up with? PROVE your assertion. If it were turned back on him, he’d be hard pressed to live up to his own challenge.

And then his tag team partner*, the “brave” anonymous Tyler2Colorado uses the old “if you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, baffle ‘em with BS” shotgun approach, throwing up so much unsubstantiated crap that NO ONE would ever have time to refute it, even though it’s crap, hypocrisy and distortion all the way.

[* Tag-teaming is becoming more and more prevalent. Attack one troll, another magically appears as the "closer" as though they were selling cheap cars to rubes.]

(But, to be fair, that IS his rhetorical Universe, divorced from reality, as the GOP MUST divorce their record. Or, should I say: NON-record of NON-accomplishment and proactive secession by intentional inaction, blockage and, yes, filbuster.)

I didn’t have to look very hard to find that thread among the tapestry of Evil that is the subterranean – but very real and very clearly coordinated – Troll corps.

In fact, I barely looked at all. I had thought I’d have to go back, and it’s STILL being quashed by Right Wing ideologues who DO NOT READ ROLLING STONE! Got that? It’s the Freeper attacks all over again.

But, remember, it’s WORKED.

That is one arm of the octopus –or should I say, Kochtopus?

It IS a tactic, and it IS being used. Right now. Today.

My friend Mike Finnegan (who founded Mike’s Blog Roundup for Crooks and Liars) noticed it when he posted something on Facebook about being trolled, and then his thread was ENDLESSLY trolled by trolls claiming that he was HALLUCINATING it, and there WERE no such trolls.

But Mission Accomplished: the Rolling Stone Trolls have managed to shut down discussion and keep people from accepting the harsh truth that Obama is the best single president of my lifetime (since Ike) by objective and normative standards!

And then they shut down Mike’s discussion about trolls even as they proved it was true. Progressives didn’t want to be “unpleasant” and the thread and conversation was shut down.

You see, even if you recognize the tactic, it still often works. This is no longer in doubt. It is coordinated and probably compensated. It has become especially dilatory and omnipresent on Facebook since Labor Day, indicating by inference that it IS for the election.

This has been replicated million-fold throughout the land, along with the “granny” viral emails that you get from your crazy grandma or aunt, who think that since some brain-damaged friend they like sent this toxic Goebbelsian propaganda (akin to the phony “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” used to justify Antisemitism) it MUST be true.

Space does not permit my inclusion of any of it here. There is FAR TOO MUCH of it to begin to analyze without losing the thread of this friendly post about hostile posting on threads.

You know it’s true.

This was what the  phony “Tea Party” narrative did to the 2010 election (and, note, policy and governance were intentionally SHUT DOWN after that election, and REMAIN SO, even as the trolls suggest you should vote for teatards because the inaction was OBAMA’s fault. Shameless, these liars).

 The Right Wing controls the media, and attempts to control all discourse. They chivvy and harass everyone from your grandma to the Dixie Chicks, who deserve no First Amendment rights because, well, the corporate-funded trolls SAY SO.

THAT is why there is no discussion of issues, of problems, of solutions. No debate on what to do about our human-caused weather extremes, no discussion of the desperate state of our infrastructure — especially desperate as we’ve lost the glaciers that moderated water cycles in the American West and dilapidated dams now have to weather flooding that they were not designed to handle, EVEN WHEN they were new, and especially now that they have D grades from at least one major Civil Engineers’ society.

That is why, with the economy sluggish, no one can raise a voice to blame the Do Nothing Congress for KEEPING us in darkness and despair, in keeping us unemployed and keeping the economy niggardly and strangled.

The public square has been taken over by internet Brownshirts. There is no better descriptive term for it. Dissent is silenced (see Rolling Stone and the Dixie Chicks) and outright thuggery is seen as the keys to the kingdom (see the Florida protests installing the idiot-king and his Mayberry Machiavelli in the White House).

That is part two of the equation. Divide and dispirit.

And it’s working to a tee.

freeper

Freepers: Our American Taliban.

Tomorrow: how the Democrats aid and abet their tormentors.

Courage.

UPDATE: Karoli handles the phony “people walk out on president” story at Crooks and Liars.  Really worth a read.

========================

 Mr. Williams has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

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(Updated) The Fight for Kobani Continues http://themoderatevoice.com/199699/fight-kobani-continues/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199699/fight-kobani-continues/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 22:40:28 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199699 Update: The Pentagon confirmed today that one of the 28 bundles of weapons and medical supplies airdropped by U.S. forces to Kurdish fighters in Syria “most likely” fell into enemy hands, but that a majority “reached their intended recipients. “One bundle worth of equipment is not enough equipment to give the enemy any type of [...]

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C-130 air drop

Update:

The Pentagon confirmed today that one of the 28 bundles of weapons and medical supplies airdropped by U.S. forces to Kurdish fighters in Syria “most likely” fell into enemy hands, but that a majority “reached their intended recipients.

“One bundle worth of equipment is not enough equipment to give the enemy any type of advantage at all,” Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Steve Warren told reporters. “It’s a relatively small amount of supplies. This is stuff ISIL already has.”

A second airdropped bundle with similar contents also went off course, Warren said, but it was destroyed by fighter aircraft soon after it hit the ground. It’s possible that wind could have driven the packages off course, he said.

Original Post:

Airdropping arms and ammunition in and around the heavily contested town of Kobani has always been a tricky operation given the risk that they could fall into the wrong hands, such as into the hands of the ISIL terrorists in and around the beleaguered town.

Apparently such has just happened.

The Stars and Stripes reports that, after a video surfaced on YouTube seemingly showing ISIL terrorists rummaging through boxes of weapons that were airdropped by U.S. C-130 aircraft, one or more bundles of weapons intended for Kurdish forces may have ended up in the hands of the terrorist group.

The Stars and Stripes:

On Sunday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that it had airdropped small arms, ammunition and medical supplies to resupply beleaguered Kurdish forces who have been defending Kobani.
.
[..]
.
Officials have said they’re only aware of one bundle of the 28 dropped that didn’t make it to the Kurds. On Monday, CENTCOM said it had destroyed that bundle in an airstrike to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.
.
On Tuesday, Kirby said the Pentagon is “pretty confident” that no other bundles went off target, but couldn’t rule out the possibility, or that the Islamic State recovered the one that missed the mark.

Just a short time ago, the Stars and Stripes reported that the video appears authentic, according to Associate Press sources:

State group fighters seized at least one cache of weapons airdropped by U.S.-led coalition forces that were meant to supply Kurdish militiamen battling the extremist group in a border town, activists said Tuesday.
.
The cache of weapons included hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to a video uploaded by a media group loyal to the Islamic State group.

However, the report adds, “But the lost weapons drop was more an embarrassment than a great strategic loss. The Islamic State militants already possess millions of dollars-worth of U.S. weaponry that they captured from fleeing Iraqi soldiers when the group seized swaths of Iraq in a sudden sweep in June.”

In the meantime, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today that Kurdish forces are in control of the majority of the Syrian city of Kobani despite efforts by the ISIL to take the town:

“ISIL forces continue to threaten [Kobani],” Kirby said. “We’re continuing to hit targets in and around there to help the Kurdish forces as they continue to fight against ISIL. So it’s still a very mixed, contested environment.”

.
Kirby gave credit to the Kurdish forces that have fought ISIL to a standstill.
.
ISIL is presenting more targets to coalition aircraft and to Iraqi forces, Kirby said. Coalition forces launched seven airstrikes yesterday, and with the weather in the region improving, Kirby said he expects more attacks on the terror group in the coming days. With better weather, “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms are able to fly a little bit more now,” he explained.

Lead photo: C-130 airdrop. DOD file photo.

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Most/Least Trusted News Sources http://themoderatevoice.com/199668/mostleast-trusted-news-sources/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199668/mostleast-trusted-news-sources/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:02:45 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199668 Christopher Ingraham notes the most and least trusted news sources from a Pew study in The Washington Post. Overall, four of the top five least-trusted news outlets have a strong conservative lean: Limbaugh, Fox News, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. MSNBC rounds out the list. The most trusted news outlets, on the other hand, tend to [...]

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Christopher Ingraham notes the most and least trusted news sources from a Pew study in The Washington Post.

Overall, four of the top five least-trusted news outlets have a strong conservative lean: Limbaugh, Fox News, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. MSNBC rounds out the list. The most trusted news outlets, on the other hand, tend to be major TV networks: CNN, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, with Fox at No. 5.

 

The Pew Study notes that “liberals, overall, trust a much larger mix of news outlets than others do. Of the 36 different outlets considered, 28 are more trusted than distrusted by consistent liberals.” By contrast, among conservatives “there are 24 sources that draw more distrust than trust.”

 

This widespread distrust of the media is one of the factors behind the so-called conservative echo chamber, whereby conservative Americans get their news primarily from sources that reinforce their already existing beliefs. There’s something of an echo chamber effect among liberal Americans, too, but the Pew numbers show that it’s nowhere near as powerful.

limbaugh-rush-fat (1)
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2014/10/mostleast-trusted-news-sources.html

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Beware Of Those Politicians Who Spread Fear–We Have No Reason To Fear Ebola As Long As We Respond Sensibly http://themoderatevoice.com/199696/beware-politicians-spread-fear-reason-fear-ebola-long-respond-sensibly/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199696/beware-politicians-spread-fear-reason-fear-ebola-long-respond-sensibly/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:43:37 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199696 A mood of fear is engulfing the country which might very well affect the midterm elections. Hopefully people will react rationally and reject the Republicans who promote unwarranted fears, play politics, and advocate for counterproductive responses such as travel bans. Unfortunately but this is not the probable response. As I discussed last week, even citing [...]

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shutterstock_125620952 (1)

A mood of fear is engulfing the country which might very well affect the midterm elections. Hopefully people will react rationally and reject the Republicans who promote unwarranted fears, play politics, and advocate for counterproductive responses such as travel bans. Unfortunately but this is not the probable response.

As I discussed last week, even citing a report on Fox, we have no need to fear Ebola as long as proper precautions are taken.

There is no need to panic, or initiate measures which would be counterproductive such as a travel ban at this time. There is no meaningful problem with Ebola in this country and the biology of the virus makes it unlikely we will have a problem in the future. The nature of Ebola makes it a serious problem in countries without a Public Health infrastructure, but not in countries like the United States.

To date we have had exactly one patient with Ebola come into the country beyond medical personnel transported back here. Despite some serious mistakes being made, he did not infect a single person in the general population. The spread was limited to two nurses who cared for him at the most infectious stage, but before this stage the viral load is very low and Ebola is not likely to spread. This is also why, despite people who did come into contact with him having traveled, not a single other person has contracted Ebola.

Ebola is a serious problem in countries without sufficient infrastructure to deal with it, and if we are ever to be at serious risk it would be due to more widespread infection outside of the United States first. Our major focus must be on eradicating Ebola in West Africa, and anything which hinders this will make this more difficult and be counterproductive.

We also must closely track those who have been exposed, and a travel ban would also make this far more difficult. One of the major reasons for Ebola spreading in West Africa is an atmosphere which causes people who have been exposed to hide this until they are very sick and courageous. We must avoid an atmosphere such as this in the United States if we are going to prevent spread here.

We see in Nigeria that Ebola can be beaten, with the country now being free of the disease. Among the measures cited for eradicating Ebola are avoiding fear and keeping the borders open:

Nigeria has not closed its borders to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, saying the move would be counterproductive. “Closing borders tends to reinforce panic and the notion of helplessness,” Shuaib said. “When you close the legal points of entry, then you potentially drive people to use illegal passages, thus compounding the problem.” Shuaib said that if public health strategies are implemented, outbreaks can be controlled, and that closing borders would only stifle commercial activities in the countries whose economies are already struggling due to Ebola.

Similarly, Republicans are playing on exaggerated fears of terrorism and unfounded claims that the Affordable Care Act will cause increases in premiums when insurance companies are actually reporting plans for lower premium increases than were the norm prior to Obamacare.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

graphic via shutterstock.com

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A Perplexing Political Puzzle http://themoderatevoice.com/199694/perplexing-political-puzzle/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199694/perplexing-political-puzzle/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:39:15 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199694 Public approval ratings for Congress have remained consistently low for a number of years, though recently they have reached depths not previously seen. Americans seem to overwhelmingly agree that members of Congress are doing a terrible job, yet incumbents keep getting repeatedly reelected. Are citizens lying in response to the pollsters’ questions, or is something [...]

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shutterstock_103487231Public approval ratings for Congress have remained consistently low for a number of years, though recently they have reached depths not previously seen. Americans seem to overwhelmingly agree that members of Congress are doing a terrible job, yet incumbents keep getting repeatedly reelected. Are citizens lying in response to the pollsters’ questions, or is something being missed by either those taking the surveys or the political scientists who are interpreting them.

A Gallop Poll last week reported that only 14 percent of Americans were satisfied with the performance of Congress. This is only five percentage points above the all-time low of 9 percent in November of 2013. Among other questions that were asked, 63 percent of respondents said that reelecting the current members of Congress would be bad for the country and 78 percent believed that Congress would be better if all the incumbents were replaced with new members. In addition, 81 percent of the public felt that most members of Congress were out of touch with the average American, 69 percent thought that most members of Congress focused on the needs of the special interests, and 54 percent felt that most members of Congress were corrupt.

How does one explain the disconnect? The vast majority of citizens are unhappy with Congress and its incumbent members, and still sitting Congressmen and women are reelected over and over again. Another paradoxical bit of information that doesn’t jibe with the rest of the Gallop Poll’s statistics is that large numbers of Americans (though far from a majority) say they are content with their own member of Congress even though they are dissatisfied with Congress as a whole and believe most members of Congress are out of touch, help special interests, and are corrupt. Does that make any sense?

Could it have to do with voters’ name recognition of their own members of Congress instead of considering anonymous politicians who make up the entire body of Congress? A percentage of citizens in each district have some familiarity with their own Congressmen and women. In fact, they may have even voted for that individual. So instead of familiarity breeding contempt, a modicum of familiarity may make that person more likeable, or at least acceptable, to the voters of his or her district than the faceless mass of Congressmen and women.

However, maybe the divergence between Americans’ perceptions of Congress as a whole and each citizen’s view of his or her member of Congress is partially the result of ignorance. Americans know that Congress is doing a poor job, so members of Congress overall have a tarnished reputation. But if you’ve voted for, or had contact with someone, or he or she is a neighbor of sorts (from your district), you don’t want to think badly of that person. Thus, if you’re unaware of your member of Congress’s legislative work, or his or her stance on important issues, you give him or her a free pass and don’t tar that individual with Congress’s reputation. It’s your lack of knowledge that has made him or her seem better than the rest of the body of Congress, when actually there’s little difference. After all, he or she is first and foremost a politician.

American politicians will do or say virtually anything to get elected or reelected, spending more time raising funds and campaigning, then taking care of the country’s business. The low level of regard Americans have for Congress is well deserved, but it should also extend to its individual members. Throw the bums (incumbents) out, particularly those who have refused to compromise and do their jobs legislating for the good of the country.

(photo by Shutterstock)

Resurrecting Democracy

www.robertlevinebooks.com

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Fun With Electoral College Math http://themoderatevoice.com/199692/199692/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199692/199692/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:41:34 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199692 Fun with Electoral College Math by Fig So I think the Electoral College is a bad system for a number of reasons, but I want to focus on one major reason in this article. For starters, it really seems to give the wrong impression about how divided this nation is, and how Presidents score a [...]

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Fun with Electoral College Math
by Fig

So I think the Electoral College is a bad system for a number of reasons, but I want to focus on one major reason in this article. For starters, it really seems to give the wrong impression about how divided this nation is, and how Presidents score a “mandate” because of electoral college numbers that look like a landslide when the popular vote is anything but, essentially it can totally misrepresent the will of the people on what is by far the most important election vote we cast. Take the 2012 numbers. Obama had a convincing Electoral College win, but the actual popular vote was a mere 3.5 million voters in his favor. Out of a nation of 330 million, that is a pretty slim margin if you ask me, yet people seem to think he crushed Romney, and clearly it was close. Very close.

So I wanted to take it a step further and see how far we could make the numbers produce absurd results. What I did was look at how many votes a state was won by, totaling those “excess” votes. For instance, Texas was carried by 1,261,359 votes, which were not needed to secure the state’s electoral total. What I did was add up all those “excess votes” for states that went for Romney, and I came up with just over 6.7 million Romney votes that were over what was needed to secure those particular states for him.

Now without changing who anyone voted for, we are going to wave a magic wand and move those excess votes to states that went to Obama by slim margins. We are going to sprinkle those votes around the nation as if those people merely lived in other states to see how best they can move a state from Blue to Red, and go down the list until we run out of those 6.7 million extra Romney votes. How much can we skew things in Romney’s favor electorally without adjusting the popular vote at all? Turns out we can skew it pretty heavily to a very dominant Romney victory.

In fact, what that little game of moving voters to other states does is give Romney every state except for CA and NY, for a “landslide” Romney win of 461 electoral votes to 84 while losing the popular vote by 3.5 million in a 2 way race. And again because I can’t stress this enough, we haven’t changed who anyone voted for, just where they live.

This shows me that the system has some serious theoretical issues, which anyone constructing large scale systems knows mean there are some serious issues. If this was a software program, this would be flagged as a bug, a serious one. We have changed our voting system over the years, which is why I always roll my eyes when I hear the usual defense along the lines of this is how the Founding Fathers wanted it. Which of course isn’t true because apparently at one point they wanted only land owning white guys to vote and black people counted for 3/5ths of a vote, so things change. This is one thing that should also change.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Please Politicize Ebola (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/199689/199689/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199689/199689/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:15:49 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199689 Please Politicize Ebola By Tina Dupuy “Politicize” is a jab meaning the other side is trying to capitalize on a news topic. “The Republicans have tried to politicize the border crisis,” says Nancy Pelosi. Reince Priebus says Democrats are trying to politicize Benghazi. Jay Carney says Republicans are trying to politicize Benghazi. Steny Hoyer says [...]

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Please Politicize Ebola
By Tina Dupuy

“Politicize” is a jab meaning the other side is trying to capitalize on a news topic. “The Republicans have tried to politicize the border crisis,” says Nancy Pelosi. Reince Priebus says Democrats are trying to politicize Benghazi. Jay Carney says Republicans are trying to politicize Benghazi. Steny Hoyer says Republicans are trying to politicize the VA scandal. Rush Limbaugh says Democrats politicize EVERYTHING.

You get the picture. People who work in politics use politicization as a pejorative. Like a chef sneering at all the cooking going on in the (gasp) kitchen!

Also saying your opponent is politicizing something is what to say when you hope to politicize something. It’s a “you spot it, you got it” attack.

Put down your hollow barbs, people. We live in a nation where small town police departments immediately use tanks and sound cannons for demonstrations and hospitals hesitate before using hazmat suits for Ebola. We have a problem.

So yes, let’s politicize Ebola. With abandon. With the same kind of passion we normally reserve for football or Pumpkin Spice Oreos.

Why should we do the thing both increasingly identical sides chide so much? We should politicize Ebola because the outbreak is a perfect example of why government dysfunction is needlessly hazardous to our health. And also because when we talk about other deadly pathogens—like the flu which kills thousands of Americans every year—it doesn’t become a trending topic on Twitter for a month. Ebola has people’s attention. So here’s an opportunity:

We don’t have a Surgeon General. Why? Because the GOP doesn’t like to let Obama fill key positions in the government. So when the president nominates ANYONE, by the sheer fact the candidate was nominated by Obama, the Republicans have a problem with said nominee. The man tapped to be America’s Next Top Doctor, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, was opposed by the NRA (also spelled GOP) because he had the gall to suggest guns—which kill tens of thousands of Americans every year—are a health issue.

We don’t have a vaccine for Ebola. Why? Because the GOP reflexively gets into a size-instead-of-function argument when it comes to government. Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said a decade of budget cuts and—his word—stagnation are the reasons why a vaccine hasn’t been developed yet. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s emergency preparedness budget has been cut in half over that same time. By whom, you ask? The Grand Old Party.

And the (grrr) Democrats, for their part, are horrible at making the case why we need to fund the government. They can’t seem to make the argument to convince the general public that bloodletting government agencies isn’t an awesome idea. Cutting government jobs in a recession with record unemployment? We did that with bipartisan support! #headdesk

So let’s politicize Ebola. Obamacare is the political hot button of the decade. Universal coverage was the goal with Obamacare. We want everyone to be covered. Why? Because it’s healthier for everyone when sick people get care. Period. And nothing demonstrates that better than an Ebola on our shores.

Unfortunately we don’t politicize everything. We stopped politicizing war. Now it’s something everyone in Washington just agrees is a priority. We signed a deal with Afghanistan to have 10,000 troops on the ground for the next decade. There will be children old enough to buy beer who’ve never known an America not at war.

We’re waging wars again on two fronts (if you can call 30,000 ISIS fighters a front, and apparently we do) and Mitch McConnell, who could be the next Senate Majority Leader, gleefully talks about how he’ll shut down the government to force the president to sign shrunken spending bills. If war were politicized, that would be ghastly and abhorrent. But it’s not, so McConnell can just keep his cushy government job.

Part of politicizing is holding people accountable for stupid ideas and decisions.

That’s why some things are and should be politicized. And how our government plans to contain a highly communicable disease is one of them.

This is the moment to ask to properly fund the CDC’s public health emergency preparedness and the NIH’s research.

Politicized!

—–

© Copyright 2014 TinaDupuy.com, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Tina Dupuy is a nationally syndicated op-ed columnist, investigative journalist, award-winning writer, stand-up comic, on-air commentator and wedge issue fan. Tina can be reached at tinadupuy@yahoo.com.

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Warren makes the case http://themoderatevoice.com/199686/warren-makes-case/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199686/warren-makes-case/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:22:17 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199686 WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she isn’t running for president. At this rate, however, she may have to. The Massachusetts Democrat has become the brightest ideological and rhetorical light in a party whose prospects are dimmed by — to use a word Jimmy Carter never uttered — malaise. Her weekend swing through Colorado, Minnesota [...]

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399px-Elizabeth_Warren_Nov_2_2012 (1) WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she isn’t running for president. At this rate, however, she may have to.

The Massachusetts Democrat has become the brightest ideological and rhetorical light in a party whose prospects are dimmed by — to use a word Jimmy Carter never uttered — malaise. Her weekend swing through Colorado, Minnesota and Iowa to rally the faithful displayed something no other potential contender for the 2016 presidential nomination, including Hillary Clinton, seems able to present: a message.

“We can go through the list over and over, but at the end of every line is this: Republicans believe this country should work for those who are rich, those who are powerful, those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers,” she said Friday in Englewood, Colo. “I will tell you we can whimper about it, we can whine about it or we can fight back. I’m here with [Sen.] Mark Udall so we can fight back.”

Warren was making her second visit to the state in two months because Udall’s re-election race against Republican Cory Gardner is what Dan Rather used to call “tight as a tick.” If Democrats are to keep their majority in the Senate, the party’s base must break with form and turn out in large numbers for a midterm election. Voters won’t do this unless somebody gives them a reason.

Warren may be that somebody. Her grand theme is economic inequality and her critique, both populist and progressive, includes a searing indictment of Wall Street. Liberals eat it up.

“The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it,” she said Saturday at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. The line drew a huge ovation — as did mention of legislation she has sponsored to allow students to refinance their student loans.

Later, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. — a rare Democratic incumbent who is expected to cruise to re-election next month — gave a heartfelt, if less-than-original, assessment of Warren’s performance: “She’s a rock star.”

In these appearances, Warren talks about comprehensive immigration reform, support for same-sex marriage, the need to raise the minimum wage, abortion rights and contraception — a list of red-button issues at which she jabs and pokes with enthusiasm.

The centerpiece, though, is her progressive analysis of how bad decisions in Washington have allowed powerful interests to re-engineer the financial system so that it serves the wealthy and well-connected, not the middle class.

On Sunday, Warren was in Des Moines, Iowa, campaigning for Democrat Bruce Braley, who faces Republican Joni Ernst in another of those tick-tight Senate races. It may be sheer coincidence that Warren chose the first-in-the-nation nominating caucus state to deliver what The Des Moines Register called a “passion-filled liberal stemwinder.”

There once was consensus on the need for government investment in areas such as education and infrastructure that produced long-term dividends, she said. “Here’s the amazing thing: It worked. It absolutely worked.”

But starting in the 1980s, she said, Republicans took the country in a different direction, beginning with the decision to “fire the cops on Wall Street.”

“They called it deregulation,” Warren said, “but what it really meant was: Have at ‘em, boys. They were saying, in effect, to the biggest financial institutions, any way you can trick or trap or fool anybody into signing anything, man, you can just rake in the profits.”

She went on to say that “Republicans, man, they ought to be wearing a T-shirt. … The T-shirt should say, ‘I got mine. The rest of you are on your own.’”

The core issue in all the Senate races, she said, is this: “Who does the government work for? Does it work just for millionaires, just for the billionaires, just for those who have armies of lobbyists and lawyers, or does it work for the people?”

So far this year, Warren has published a memoir, “A Fighting Chance,” that tells of her working-class roots, her family’s economic struggles, her rise to become a Harvard Law School professor and a U.S. senator, and, yes, her distant Native American ancestry. She has emerged as her party’s go-to speaker for connecting with young voters. She has honed a stump speech with a clear and focused message, a host of applause lines and a stirring call to action.

She’s not running for president apparently because everyone assumes the nomination is Clinton’s. But everyone was making that same assumption eight years ago, and we know what happened. If the choice is between inspiration and inevitability, Warren may be forced to change her plans.

Eugene Robinson’s email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com (c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group

photo via Wikimedia Commons

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Keep Portland Weird http://themoderatevoice.com/199682/keep-portland-weird/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199682/keep-portland-weird/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 02:07:41 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199682 I grew up in Portland but have not actually lived there for decades. I do still  live a few miles from Portland and I’m proud of it.  Can “Keep Portland Weird” be a winning strategy? Apparently so! From across the country, Portland looms as this place where everything comes in quirkier, locally produced, more artisanal [...]

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skyline1horizontalI grew up in Portland but have not actually lived there for decades. I do still  live a few miles from Portland and I’m proud of it.  Can “Keep Portland Weird” be a winning strategy? Apparently so!

From across the country, Portland looms as this place where everything comes in quirkier, locally produced, more artisanal versions of what the rest of us have. And then when you come out here, it turns out that all of these things are actually true. The Portland of public imagination is, in fact, Portland in reality.

So is this good news for Portland? The answer is yes!

These attributes are helping Portland win a fierce competition among cities for young college grads — Americans in their 20s and early 30s – who have been flooding the downtown-ish neighborhoods of decently big metros like Portland over the past decade.

By 2012, metro Portland had 34,545 more 25-to-34 year-olds with bachelor’s degrees than it did in 2000, according to American Community Survey data that Cortright just analyzed for the research site City Observatory. That’s an increase, of about 37 percent, that’s outpaced similar gains in New York (25 percent), Los Angeles (30 percent) and even — barely — metropolitan Washington, D.C. (36 percent).

Portland is succeeding in large part because the long-term direction of the city happens to align with what these young people prize today. The college grads decamping for Portland probably don’t say “I’d like to live somewhere with an urban growth boundary!” But that policy is partly responsible for producing the things about Portland that now draw them here: the compact living, the easy access to nature, the possibility that a farm might actually be near your table, the emphasis on communal assets — parks, public transit, tool shares (people kept telling me about the tool shares) — over individual ownership.

Of course there is a downside, the middle class neighborhood I grew up in is now an upper class neighborhood.  The new demographics and priorities have made “gentrification” inevitable.

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Cartoon: Ebola Cable News http://themoderatevoice.com/199680/cartoon-ebola-cable-news/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199680/cartoon-ebola-cable-news/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 00:32:37 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199680 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 Share on Tumblr

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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

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As Boardwalk Empire comes to an end, it still hasn’t figured out its main character http://themoderatevoice.com/199678/boardwalk-empire-comes-end-still-hasnt-figured-main-character/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199678/boardwalk-empire-comes-end-still-hasnt-figured-main-character/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 00:24:49 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199678 They decapitated Deadwood and they’ve foreshortened Boardwalk Empire. HBO seems to have it in for ambitious drama series with recent historical settings. The death of Deadwood was a cultural crime. That new look at the old West had a rhythm and flavour all its own; it belonged in the same bracket of achievement as The [...]

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They decapitated Deadwood and they’ve foreshortened Boardwalk Empire. HBO seems to have it in for ambitious drama series with recent historical settings. The death of Deadwood was a cultural crime. That new look at the old West had a rhythm and flavour all its own; it belonged in the same bracket of achievement as The Sopranos…

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How to Blow An Election You Ought to Win (Part 1) UPDATED http://themoderatevoice.com/199677/blow-election-win-part/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199677/blow-election-win-part/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:08:10 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199677 politicians are now guided to whatever people like most, want to hear most, what they fear most about the opponent, all as scientific as Pavlov's dogs.

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UPDATED BELOW

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Obama makes rare campaign trail appearance, people leave early

Jeff Mason / Reuters
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity….

Ah, the agit-prop campaign is working: divide and dispirit Democrats. If you watched it in 2010 you’re probably an idiot not to recognize the SAME media propaganda campaign. But don’t feel bad, bucko, you’re in pretty good company: the entire Democratic party and its allies!

Let’s leave aside the fact that modern Democrats are invertebrates who capitulate to the thugs and bullies of the Right at the drop of a sound bite.’Wussies R Us‘ continues into another blighted campaign season.

I want to talk to you about three crazy ideas that are lying out in plain sight, but nobody’s paying any attention to. And why they OUGHT to.

First up: WHY it APPEARS that Democrats are spineless in this election.

buntinng

This hearkens back to the beginning of this blog, about WHY this blog exists and WHY I began this quest ten years ago.*

[* Look for a major announcement about the future of this blog on or after November 5, BTW.]

You see, I spent almost a decade in the trenches of the local/state party (after watching grass roots politics in six other Western states I’ve lived in) but there was a disconnect that I just could not explain.

Then, as now, Democrats spent ALL their time fighting with each other and almost no time fighting with Republicans — whether from stupidity or from cowardice, I could never quite divine and in either case, the outcome was the same — and all of our elections suffered from that cardinal sin I used to constantly harp on when I was a debate judge, and used to see constantly when I was a debater:

LACK. OF. CLASH.

What does that mean?

It means that, say, you and I are debating whether or not a social safety net is a necessity. I say that it is.

You say that people are starving in Asia.

I say that we can train people, but that won’t guarantee jobs, which is why we need a safety net.

You say that those starving Asians are undercutting our economy, and American jobs are going overseas because we can’t compete anymore.

Notice anything?

We are arguing TWO DIFFERENT arguments. We are not debating each other, we are debating AT each other, and that’s an entirely different thing. It is as though we are in a war, and we are shooting sort of in the DIRECTION of one another, but not really close enough to hit anything, and we aren’t even sure that we want to.

In this case, come November, one side or the other ‘wins’ the war, without our ever having participated in any real disagreement.

This was, and remains, endemic in the current politics, even to the point that we have two separate (but equal?) realities, neither of which is compatible with debate, since we are in a sense engaged in a debate on two unconnected TV channels in two separate halls to two entirely divorced audiences.

Divorced from reality, I mean.

But that isn’t the REASON that Democrats look like spineless wimps.

No.

This is the reason this blog was founded: as a campaign blog for a campaign so that I could figure out WHY the “party” was relegated to meaninglessness come campaign season and election.

Why I, as a Precinct Committeeman, was NOT ALLOWED TO WALK MY OWN GOSH-DARNED PRECINCT, even though I was biannually officially and legally ELECTED as the Democratic ward heeler for my precinct*. You know, the OLD way we organized retail politics?

[* A precinct was formerly an organic unit -- like most human standards. Formerly one precinct person could, theoretically, go door to door in their precinct. A few years back, the precincts were reorganized by the county clerk to make it easier for her, and now we exist in super-precincts that are as meaningless as our former titles were. Technically, "Precinct Committee Person,"  or PCP, which OUGHT to be an elephant tranquilizer, but the ballot still said "-man" and "-woman" so I was, legally, a "Democratic Precinct Committeeman" a rare instance in which bureaucratic inertia overcomes political correctness by sheer weight.]

This seemed insane to me, but I did get to walk several of the worst neighborhoods in town, and it was an invaluable education. If not one having a damned thing to do with what I’d entered the ORGANIZED party politics to engage in.

And what I discovered is that politics has been outsourced.

Yes. Political consultants run campaigns, using tried and true “methods” (polling based, naturally) that essentially “guarantee” the best outcome for the candidate, while destroying any real chance at politics or debate as most of us would think of it.

This is what happens in race after race: the political consultant is hired. The playbook is followed, most importantly using political polling.

And, what you see most is a lack of clash. There are no opposing views on the Great Issues of the Day. No. There are pictures of kissing babies and hugging spouses, and listening intently to “normal” people, and barbeques, school buses, football games, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. All a continuum.

But debate? Actual politics?

For those of you who know what game theory is, they’re minimaxing it (which is, in my experience, minimizing chances of winning, while maximizing spinelessness).

Let me explain. Or, rather, let Wikipedia do so [emphasis added]:

Game theory is a study of strategic decision making. Specifically, it is “the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers”. An alternative term suggested “as a more descriptive name for the discipline” is interactive decision theory. Game theory is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology, as well as logic, computer science, and biology. The subject first addressed zero-sum games, such that one person’s gains exactly equal net losses of the other participant or participants. Today, however, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and has developed into an umbrella term for the logical side of decision science, including both humans and non-humans (e.g. computers, insects/animals)….

That’s all we really need from them.

The game theory here is to take the statistical polling methods to determine what the people LIKE and what they DON’T LIKE. A campaign is designed to maximize LIKE and minimize DON’T LIKE, and a tightly scripted, play-it-safe campaign is constructed by the campaign consultant.

Game theory and statistics now dictate the politics, and professionals run that, and they’re called Campaign consultants.

Like I said: I ran for office to understand what the hell was wrong with our “politics” when it was clear that something was missing. Something was ICEBERG missing, with 7/8ths under water.

And then I attended a fall meeting of the Democratic Party of Lane County at venerable old Harris Hall downtown.

And that’s where I first sighted him: the Political Consultant.

His name was Michael Grossman – who I would NOT have known about had I not run for office – had a virtual FRANCHISE on Oregon legislative races, as I understood only AFTER sitting at a County Democratic Party Meeting and watching politician after politician (including my opponent) head to the back of the room to “kiss the ring” of the fellow in the trenchcoat who’d showed up.

WHO was this guy?

Remember, I’d been an Oregon Delegate to the 2000 National Democratic Convention in LA, had been state webmaster, publicity chair, had been a delegate to the state and 4th congressional district and on the state party executive committee. So how come I had never heard of this guy?

I wrote about this for Bruce Anderson’s short-lived AVA OREGON! in an article entitled “Oregon’s Karl Rove” (December 9, 2004):

… This wasn’t the first time that winter that Michael Grossman/Fifty Plus One worked on a campaign aimed at savaging a Democratic politician, though. In the waning months of 2003, in his current “hometown” of Seattle, Grossman ran a precedent-shatteringly expensive campaign for a mild-mannered United Way worker that some characterized as the dirtiest and costliest city council campaign that Seattle had ever seen.

The incumbent, Heidi Wells, was characterized as “a young, rising Democratic Party star and the best-funded candidate in Seattle history.”  Wells was also a staunch environmentalist, even by “green” Seattle standards. But Wells didn’t have “Michael Grossman, Della’s political consultant and the principal architect of his cutthroat campaign,” noted Erica C. Barnett in Seattle’s large circulation alternative newspaper THE STRANGER.

Grossman’s client, David Della, wrote the Seattle POST-INTELLIGENCER, “turned his attention to Councilwoman Heidi Wills, unleashing a bare-knuckles campaign that includes billboards showing people screaming as they read their utility bills.”

To be fair, Wills had troubles of her own, involving a local media firestorm called “Strippergate” wherein several City Council members admitted breaking rules in rezoning “Rick’s” strip club for eight additional parking spaces, and accepting campaign contributions from the club’s owner. On August 11, the chastened council reversed itself and unzoned the menacing parking spaces, but the media clamor continued. Seattle was in high moral dudgeon.

But, Della/Grossman’s strategy — aside from “Strippergate” — was primarily to saddle Wills with the unappealing sobriquet “Rate Hike Heidi” and blame her for the spiraling electric rates following the Enron/et al energy deregulation debacle that occurred while Wells was Chair of Seattle’s local “City Light” public utilities oversight body.

An infamous billboard appeared, along with mailings, showing a woman looking at her electric bill and screaming. The caption read something like “Blame Rate Hike Heidi!”

This correspondent traveled to Seattle to talk to reporters who covered the campaign. According to the Seattle WEEKLY’s political editor, George Howland, Jr. “My sense? Della: A nice quiet guy. I thought, this is Michael [Grossman]!” Howland denies the charge of a dirty campaign: the billboard campaign had a “kind of a comic, almost cartoonish-style presentation,” he says. “It was kind of funny, and splashy.” Howland has never met Grossman, but talks to him “on the phone a lot.”

He characterizes Grossman as a “smart, hyper, I would say, moderate Democrat. He’s a little different from some consultants in that he tends to take on fewer clients and focus on them heavily.”

A reporter for one of Seattle’s largest media outlets, speaking on condition of anonymity is less charitable. Grossman is “sort of a wiseass. He thinks he’s really funny.”

While the reporter didn’t feel the campaign was “terribly dirty,” the “Rate Hike Heidi,” tag “was not really fair.” The deregulation price gouging wasn’t anything that City Light had much control over. Howland agrees: the “city got hammered and had to raise rates.”

The source recalls that Grossman ran the unsuccessful mayoral campaign of City Attorney Mark Sidran four years earlier. Grossman briefed the Seattle media, showing a new “kinder, gentler” ad that the campaign was unveiling, while mentioning not a word about a negative attack ad that would run at the same time. “I was completely infuriated,” the reporter says, “I’ve never trusted him since.” But, the reporter admits, Grossman is “a good tactician who does pretty good mailings.”

Still, the Della campaign was mostly negative, “all about how Heidi was bad. Not much about Della.” …

Well you already know: he is a political consultant, and that’s a BUSINESS. My article concerned itself with the utter AMORALITY of this particular consultant, but he’s not unusual.

Get this straight: AFTER almost a decade in the party, I had NO IDEA who actually ran the campaigns. In point of fact, we poor dumb rubes who licked the envelopes and debated the platforms, and attended the meetings and that stuff, were just CANNON fodder, as far as the election chiefs were concerned.

No WONDER I couldn’t walk my own precinct. My neighbors and I were merely pawns in a larger chess game, and it didn’t really matter WHO dropped off the propaganda, as long as it was efficiently dropped off, according to the demographic breakdowns.

Michael Grossman, who I would NOT have known about had I not run for office had a virtual FRANCHISE on Oregon legislative races, as I understood only AFTER sitting at a County Democratic Party Meeting that autumn and watching politician after politician (including my opponent) head to the back of the room to “kiss the ring” of the fellow in the trenchcoat who’d showed up.

WHO was this guy?

He is a shopkeeper. A political shopkeeper, and as petit bourgeois as the pettiest of the boojwah.

You see: our politics is now a RETAIL operation, run by merchants, like Grossman, and, on a purely campaign level, they are CONSERVATIVE —  BUSINESS conservative, that is.

Remember: Whatever their POLITICS, they are, first and foremost, shopkeepers, not politicians.

The politician deals in power. The shopkeeper deals in dollars. They have no desire for the power, but will happily construct their Rube Goldberg machines to guarantee the politician continued and even increased power.

But the shopkeeper’s priorities are always subtly different than the politician’s.

Because the most tender, most delicate nerve in the shopkeeper’s body is the WALLET nerve, and even the loss of IMAGINARY dollars makes it throb intensely. (Think of how much I COULD have made …)

Peggy Noonan, that evil word-witch/collaborator with Reynaldo Ray-Gun to wreck this society, to re-entrench the forces of segregation and plutocracy, Peggy Noonan in her dotage, sinecured with the Wall Street Journal and other soul-purchasing franchises like Faux Nooz actually said something that I completely agree with her about, and we come at it from opposite poles … she said [*I have the exact quote on another hard drive and it's very close to this at any rate]: Political consultants have destroyed politics.

Yes. Because politicians are now guided to whatever people like most, want to hear most, what they fear most about the opponent, all as scientific as Pavlov’s dogs.

But the serpent bites its tail. The notion of a “vision” or a concept of progress has become a bridge being built from the middle to both shores.

And what we end up is a resonance feedback loop, as any young sound engineer learns to do by looping the “silence” of an empty room back on itself over and over. Which pretty much describes national policy of late.

And the system mitigates to blandness, to dispassion.

Oh, there are the red meat appeals to the entrenched constituency on the deep red and deep blue, but in action, as bloodless and cool as a brain surgeon. Which is why they hire their technocrats to dice and slice the electorate, to identify pressure points and to apply marketing pressure to those points.

To sausage-link commercials, two to a candidate this year from whomever is running their campaigns …

The being a family guy, the being a tough guy, the being an Oregon raised feller in Western clothes, the finest cowboy that South Eugene High School (The Axemen) ever produced. To the fellow who used to have a mustache, the Family guy pouring milk for his kids.

One good commercial, one mean commercial, carpet bomb your opponent with as much media as you can buy. Track its effect. Make new commercials if need be. Poll. Constantly listen to the resonance of the empty room.

And the other being an attack ad on the opponent.

Ditto the other side.

And the same silent monies back the equally Hollywood commercials FOR and AGAINST all our our ballot measures, including one that we voted down almost 2 to 1 in 2008, that just got a kick in the wallet from Michael Bloomberg, to the tune of a million bucks … so we’ll be seeing THOSE commercials … sorry, THAT commercial MORE times.

But in a primary season in which there were virtually no contested races statewide, and all ballot measures and candidates have been reduced to ONE thirty second “I’m a great guy/gal” caricature of governance, and a debate that few watch, the Shopkeepers are licking their chops in anticipation of electing THEIR client.

And NOTHING can upset the apple cart. No politician is going to, you know, take a stand on a ballot measure that would destroy the party system in our state, and allow two Republicans or two Democrats to face each other in the fall elections.

Nope. No clash. Just avoid clash.

And that’s just in Oregon. Nosiree. The campaigns are the campaigns of shopkeepers, and tidy ones, at that.

And that is the real reason that no politician in the land can be seen BACKING their own president! WELCOMING their own president.  Why?

No political consultant in America would let you do that.

Avoid clash.

And that’s not debate, finally. It’s not even politics. It is only MARKETING.

N0. A negro has walked into the Seven Eleven of America, and everybody’s now been made to feel  nervous. Most of all, the shopkeeper.

That Reuters story?

Most candidates from his party have been wary of appearing with him during their election races because of his sagging popularity.

Not so Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is running for governor, and Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, who is running for re-election. Obama plans to appear at an event for Quinn later in the evening.

“You’ve got to vote,” Obama repeated over and over at a rally for Brown in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, near Washington.

Democrats have a history of not turning up to vote in midterm elections.

“There are no excuses. The future is up to us,” Obama said.

A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke, however, and a heckler interrupted his remarks…

We OUGHT to be ashamed that the first Black president of these United States of America is shunned by the play-it-safe shopkeepers who actually run our campaigns.

But hell, we don’t even know about them.

Courage.

GO STRAIGHT ON TO PART II. (Update is included)

UPDATE 10:40AM 20 Oct 2014:

Even though Drudge featured the Reuters report (which seems increasingly slanted, ideologically) and the Righties with Magic Eyes™ “saw” the same thing in blog after blog, oddly, the CBS affiliate saw something entirely different:

… the rally drew a huge crowd of thousands waiting to see the president.

There were so many people at the rally that some of them couldn’t even get in. As expected, the president said Anthony Brown was the right man for the job in a rally that was all about revving up energy for the Democrat’s campaign.

They waited for hours in long lines. Nearly 8,000 people packed an Upper Marlboro high school auditorium for a rally in support of Anthony Brown’s bid to become governor….

Karl Rove/Donald Segretti-style dirty tricks?  (Or, perhaps a time limit on parking?)

At this point, and given the GOP’s track record, it seems entirely likely.

Either way, the “heckler” referred to in the Reuters story turned out to be a protester for Immigration Reform.

Obama noted that he agreed with the heckler and suggested that he heckle the people blocking reform.

President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail here Sunday, vouching for his law school classmate and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Anthony Brown, even after he was interrupted by a pro-immigration reform protester.

“The problem is, I’m actually for immigration reform,” Obama said at Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School here, after a young man holding a handwritten sign reading “#Not1More” shouted out. “Of course, he should be protesting the folks who are blocking it, but that’s OK.”

The focus of Obama’s remarks, though, was on encouraging the predominantly African-American crowd of 8,000 that filled the high school’s massive gym and a smaller runoff room to get out and vote.

~from POLITICO, no friend to accurate reportage.

ODD, that this little “nuance” was entirely absent from the Reuters “report.” As was the report on the “positive” fanaticism of a crowd waiting hours to pack a gym. Hmmm.

Because, then, you know, it wouldn’t SEEM like the public was “turning their back” on the President — a “fact” that would EXACTLY “confirm” the Right Wing narrative.

Something smells rotten, and it’s closer than Denmark.

Hmmm.

Boop boop be doop.

========================

 Mr. Williams has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

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After U.S. airdrop, Turkey agrees to let Iraqi Kurds cross to fight at Kobani http://themoderatevoice.com/199675/u-s-airdrop-turkey-agrees-let-iraqi-kurds-cross-fight-kobani/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199675/u-s-airdrop-turkey-agrees-let-iraqi-kurds-cross-fight-kobani/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:31:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199675 ISTANBUL — In a dramatic policy shift, Turkey agreed Monday to allow fighters from Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region to cross its territory to help save the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Kobani from Islamist radicals, the Turkish foreign minister said. “We are helping peshmerga forces to cross into Kobani,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara. He [...]

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ISTANBUL — In a dramatic policy shift, Turkey agreed Monday to allow fighters from Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region to cross its territory to help save the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Kobani from Islamist radicals, the Turkish foreign minister said. “We are helping peshmerga forces to cross into Kobani,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara. He spoke…

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Of Oil and Ethnic Cleansing: Allow Me to Explain the Turks (La Stampa, Italy) http://themoderatevoice.com/199662/oil-ethnic-cleansing-allow-explain-turks-la-stampa-italy/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199662/oil-ethnic-cleansing-allow-explain-turks-la-stampa-italy/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:25:30 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199662 Despite Turkey’s attempts to explain why it’s 400,000 man NATO military stands by passively as the Islamic State commits murder and mayhem a stone’s throw away – the world remains baffled. Is Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insane? Is he in cahoots with the terrorists? And why such an obsession about opposing the long-suffering, nation-deprived [...]

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Despite Turkey’s attempts to explain why it’s 400,000 man NATO military stands by passively as the Islamic State commits murder and mayhem a stone’s throw away – the world remains baffled. Is Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insane? Is he in cahoots with the terrorists? And why such an obsession about opposing the long-suffering, nation-deprived Kurds? Answering these questions in an amazing walk through history and the oil markets, La Stampa columnist Mimmo Cándito ties the present difficulty to two major issues: The policy of ethnic cleansing of non-Turks by that nation’s founder Kemal Pasha Ataturk, and the fact that to permit an independent Kurdistan would spark a world war of over energy.

For La Stampa, Explaining Turkey’s apparently apparently bottomless dislike for the Kurds, Mimmo Cándito writes in part:

Modern Turkey, heir to the Ottoman Empire which was defeated and dismembered in the First World War, was born in the 1920s with a very strict ideological stamp dictated by the leader of a group of young rebel officers, Kemal Pasha Ataturk. Ataturk, father of the Turks and an admirer of Europe who had passionately studied the Peace of Westphalia, wanted his new nation free of the stigmas that, according to him, had led to the defeat of the Sublime Porte [the Ottoman Empire] – two in particular: an uncontrollable excess of ethnic nationalism within a vast imperial geography that ran from the Atlantic almost to China; and a theocracy that inextricably mingled religious and political power, which rendered it lumberous, cumbersome and indefensible, and making effective management of a country faced with a modernity that was changing the face of the world impossible.

 

Therefore: the new Turkey would be comprised only of “Turks.” As for political power, he himself – Kemal Pasha – would have nothing to do with the old Sultanate of Topkapi. The first act, “Turkey for the Turks,” involved the ethnic cleansing and extermination of every other nationality remaining inside the new state, with the consequent genocide of the Armenians, the exile of Greeks from Asia Minor and condemnation of the Kurds (soon to become unadulterated obligations under the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Treaty of Sevres and Lausanne, which also recognized in some measure Armenian and Kurdish nationalities).

 

And as for the break with the past, Kemal erased all traces of public Islamism, abolished the fez, the veil, even the letters and numbers of the Arabic alphabet, replacing them with Latin, and introduced a legal code that ignored Sharia law and was based on that of the European states – above all the Italian and French.

 

So if today, the Peshmergas of Kobani are fighting heroically and asking for help from the world, they also may eventually contaminate the ethnic cleansing imposed on the “Turks” a century ago, so therefore, let them die as well. So the tanks, the guns and the soldiers watch with binoculars from nearby hills and won’t move an inch from where we, struck dumb and disconcerted, photograph them.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR ITALIAN, OR READ MORE GLOBAL COVERAGE OF THE IRAQ-SYRIA CRISIS AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

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Cartoon: Fear http://themoderatevoice.com/199670/cartoon-fear/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199670/cartoon-fear/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:08:38 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199670 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 Share on Tumblr

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Tom Janssen, The Netherlands

Tom Janssen, The Netherlands


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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Republicans Attack Ebola Czar While Blocking Surgeon General Nomination http://themoderatevoice.com/199648/republicans-attack-ebola-czar-blocking-surgeon-general-nomination/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199648/republicans-attack-ebola-czar-blocking-surgeon-general-nomination/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:39:59 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199648 On the surface, Republicans have been all over the place regarding the idea of a government official to coordinate handling of Ebola. For example, there’s John McCain. Back in 2009 he attacked Obama over having too many czars: Obama has more czars than the Romanovs – who ruled Russia for 3 centuries. Romanovs 18, cyberczar [...]

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On the surface, Republicans have been all over the place regarding the idea of a government official to coordinate handling of Ebola. For example, there’s John McCain. Back in 2009 he attacked Obama over having too many czars:

Then McCain demanded an Ebola czar:

“From spending time here in Arizona, my constituents are not comforted,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told State of the Union host Candy Crowley Sunday morning. “There has to be more reassurance given to them. I would say that we don’t know exactly who’s in charge. There has to be some kind of czar.”

So Obama appointed an Ebola czar. Ezra Klein explained why Ron Klain is an excellent choice:

Today, the White House will announce that Klain is being named “Ebola czar.” It’s a good choice because it shows a healthy respect for how hard the bureaucratic job of coordinating the Ebola response really is.

The Ebola response involves various arms of the Department of Health and Human Services (particularly, though not solely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Pentagon, the State Department, the National Security Council, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, President Obama’s office, private stakeholders, and many, many more.

The “czar” position requires someone who knows how these different agencies and institutions work, who’s got the stature to corral their efforts, who knows who to call when something unusual is needed, who can keep the policy straight…

Actual government experience is badly underrated in Washington. Politicians run for office promising that they know how to run businesses, not Senate offices. “Bureaucrat” is often lobbed as an insult. But in processes like this one, government experience really matters. Nominating Klain suggests the White House is thinking about this correctly: as an effort that requires the coordination of already ample resources, where the danger is that the federal government will be too slow in sharing information across agencies and getting the resources where they need to go.

John McCain’s reaction to the appointment of an Ebola czar was to again attack Obama for doing what he recommended:

“Frankly, I don’t think Mr. Klain fits the bill, as a partisan Democrat, certainly not in any effort to address this issue in a bipartisan fashion,” McCain said Friday evening on Fox News.

“He has no experience or knowledge or background in medicine,” he added.

McCain is hardly the only Republican with irrational attacks. For example, Steven Taylor has looked at even more irrational attacks from Mike Huckabee. Peggy Noonan plays on these fears in The Wall Street Journal. The only common thread to Republican response appears to be a knee jerk opposition to whatever Obama does.

The duties of an Ebola czar are exactly the bureaucratic skills which Klain has, not being a medial expert. Of course there is a position in government which should have a background in medicine, and work closely with the Ebola czar. That would be the Surgeon General–a nomination which Republicans have blocked as Obama’s nominee has shown concern for gun violence. Now Democrats are demanding that the Senate vote for approval of the Surgeon General nominee:

More than two dozen House Democrats are calling on the Senate to swiftly approve Vivek Murthy’s nomination to serve as surgeon general to help combat the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the U.S.

Murthy’s nomination got sidelined after Republicans and vulnerable Senate Democrats voiced reservations about the Harvard Medical School physician’s outspoken views on gun violence and public health. But the House Democrats, in a letter set to be released next week, argue that the Obama administration needs a top official in place to help with the Ebola response.

“The American public would benefit from having a Surgeon General to disseminate information that is desperately needed,” the Democrats wrote. “The Surgeon General can also work to amplify the Center for Disease Control’s actions, reassure the American people, and combat misinformation here at home.”

We have around 30,000 deaths due to guns a year in this country, but Republicans would rather ignore this problem, while playing politics and creating hysteria with a disease which so far has resulted in exactly one death in this country.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

graphic via shutterstock.com

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The blue-collar imperative http://themoderatevoice.com/199667/blue-collar-imperative/ http://themoderatevoice.com/199667/blue-collar-imperative/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:12:41 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=199667 WASHINGTON — In Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn is giving Republicans a real scare in a Senate race the GOP thought it had put away. Some of her new momentum comes from a sustained attack on David Perdue, her businessman foe, for his work shipping American jobs overseas. One ad includes a quotation from Perdue about [...]

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WASHINGTON — In Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn is giving Republicans a real scare in a Senate race the GOP thought it had put away. Some of her new momentum comes from a sustained attack on David Perdue, her businessman foe, for his work shipping American jobs overseas.

One ad includes a quotation from Perdue about his outsourcing past: “Defend it? I’m proud of it.” The tagline: “David Perdue, he’s not for you.”

Meanwhile in Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes, trailing in the polls against Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, has refused to say whether she voted for President Obama. But when Hillary Clinton came to the state to campaign for her last week, Grimes was proud to call herself “a Clinton Democrat.”

This is no accident: In Kentucky’s 2008 presidential primary, Clinton defeated Obama 65 percent to 30 percent. Coal country in Eastern Kentucky is a battleground in the Senate contest, and Clinton swept the region six years ago. In Magoffin County, Clinton received 93 percent of the vote.

Finally, consider a speech Clinton’s husband made in New Hampshire last Thursday, campaigning on behalf of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the rest of the Democratic ticket. “I feel like an old racehorse in a stable,” former President Bill Clinton told a crowd of about 1,200 at a fundraiser to appreciative laughter, “and people just take me out and put me on the track and slap me on the rear to see if I can run around one more time.”

But his message about the Republicans was dead serious. “They want you to cast resentment votes,” he declared. “Resentment against the president. Resentment against the Affordable Care Act. Resentment against the last bad thing that happened.”

The elections in Georgia and Kentucky are different in important ways, but one lesson from both is that Democrats can’t win without a sufficient share of the white working-class vote. Nunn, on offense, and Grimes, on defense, are both trying to secure ballots from the sorts of voters who were once central to the Democratic coalition.

And Bill Clinton’s comments reflected what his party is up against: Republicans have been quite effective at turning the anger that working-class whites feel about being left behind in the new economy against liberals, Democrats and especially the president. The Democrats’ worries were nicely captured in a headline on Matthew Cooper’s recent Newsweek article: “Why Working-Class White Men Make Democrats Nervous.”

There is no reason to be dainty or evasive in saying that racism and racial resentment are part of the equation, and it’s not just that Obama is our first African-American president. Racial politics has been helping Republicans since the 1960s when much of the white South realigned toward the GOP in reaction to the Democrats’ embrace of civil rights.

This year, it’s not hard to see coded messages in Republican advertisements blanketing the airwaves tying the Islamic State and even Ebola fears to immigration and border security, or ads in gubernatorial campaigns in Maine and Massachusetts about welfare.

Yet race is not the only thing going on. Andrew Levison, the author of “The White Working Class Today,” says it’s important to distinguish between racial feelings today and those of a half-century ago. “It’s not 1950s racism,” he told me. “It’s more a sense of aggrievement — that Democrats care about other groups but not about the white working class.”

Complicating matters, but also giving Democrats hope, is the fact that younger members of the white working are more culturally liberal than their elders. They are also more open to a stronger government role in the economy, as Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin of the Center for American Progress have shown.

Perdue’s problems on outsourcing, like Mitt Romney’s 2012 troubles related to his own business background, reveal the major soft spot in the GOP’s white working-class armor: that many blue-collar Americans combine a mistrust of Democrats with a deep skepticism about the corporate world. Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, says this points the way toward arguments that progressives need to make in the future.

“We have to expose the unholy alliance between money and politics,” she says. “Concern about inequality is unifying, it’s cross-partisan, and it’s not ideological.”

This will play some this year but may loom larger in 2016. For now, vulnerable Democrats seem eager to have the old racehorse on the track, and Arkansas and Louisiana were the next stops on Bill Clinton’s schedule. He’s trying to bring home voters who once saw his party as the working man’s best friend.


E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne (c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group

graphic via shuttestock.com

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