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Member since: Mon May 28, 2012, 12:11 AM
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Journal Archives

The Boehner Invitation to Japan and His Current Visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel

Walter Rhett: The Boehner Invitation to Japan and His Current Visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel

In the mighty vigilance of the national news media to cover the important stories that shape our world, the events of war and peace, from battles to meetings, big diplomatic stories taking place in the open are sometimes missed.

For example, where in the world is House Speaker John Boehner? How is he spending the Congressional recess? Boehner organized a junket for himself and a few loyal House members on key foreign affairs, military, and defense committees. They hopped a plane and flew off to the Middle East.

But not before, on March 26th, the man third in line for the Presidency continued his international lyceum series by inviting Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to speak to a joint session of Congress on April 29th. Boehner’s office released this statement:

“As the United States continues to strengthen our ties with Japan, we look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Abe to the United States Capitol. His address will provide an opportunity for the American people to hear from one of our closest allies about ways we can expand our cooperation on economic and security priorities. That, of course, includes working together to open markets and encourage more economic growth through free trade. Prime Minister Abe will become the first Japanese leader to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress, and we are proud to host this historic event.”

The third in line is acting like a co-President for foreign policy. Boehner, ever the patriot, is fuzzy on the looming details of another important Abe speech, his carefully watched remarks in August about Japan’s role in World War II regarding the use by Japan of Asian women as sex slaves, as “comfort women” for its troop force. Abe has at times signal he might revise an earlier apology by a former Prime Minister. US veterans groups, including those concerned with prisoners of war, are demanding Abe recant and clarify his views and his controversial earlier statements about Japan’s war role before he speaks to Congress...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/04/01/the-boehner-invitation-to-japan-and-his-current-visit-to-saudi-arabia-and-israel/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Apr 1, 2015, 05:52 PM (0 replies)

Race As National Policy Potpourri

Walter Rhett: Race As National Policy Potpourri

In philosophy, where the ideas and logic that are mental models for appropriate acts and policy reside, a single person and a single idea have driven American elections since 2008—President Barack Obama and race. These two factors have influenced policy, changed political ethics, and revealed a new American challenge: a fight for truth and a new future opposed by bedfellows of special interests, wealth and hate. Conservative voters and candidates speak of freedom but really fight for power: to weaken the Presidency, the executive agenda, and seek to affirm the wrong and rich as the strong.

Votes are justified and driven by anger and fear. Every GOP official trumpets or complains the President’s agenda is driven by race, expense and incompetence. At state and national levels, elected officials claim every idea President Obama proposes is a threat to America and American lives (whether death panels, debt, immigration, Ebola, ISIL, food stamps). Every judgment and pronouncement is distorted by a lens colored with racial prejudice (labels of “buckwheat-in-chief,” posters of bones through Obama’s nose, nasty “nigger” jokes, lynched chairs swinging from nooses strung over tree limbs). The Democratic rearguard retreat in the last election reinforced these jaded reasons by not revealing their ridiculousness.

So political stupidity grew exponentially. In South Carolina, a retired school teacher loudly, publicly accused—in fact was assured and certain—the President attempted to explode Charleston with a nuclear strike during a military training exercise. Because of Obama’s orders, she claimed two generals retired. Rick Santorum stood stoically, listening, when he knew it was all a lie.

The oppositional conditioning is so pervasive that the opposition no longer cites the kinds of examples of myths and mistakes that Ronald Reagan famously employed. Now, officials declare the power of winning as the power to turn back, turn over, turn in, turn out, citing the actions and examples of progress that their change seeks to reverse...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/03/25/race-as-national-policy-potpourri/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 06:35 PM (0 replies)

Eugenics Is No Laughing Matter: Unconstitutional Humor Laughs at Black Death in Ferguson’s Emails

Walter Rhett: Eugenics Is No Laughing Matter: Unconstitutional Humor Laughs at Black Death in Ferguson’s Emails

Somewhere along the way, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, one of a chain of small towns and neighborhoods buried near St. Louis, began to carry out a criminal enterprise. In a short time, that enterprise grew inside-out. It was wildly successful. It set goals and developed guidance; it applauded and defended its corruption. But Ferguson’s malfeasance never managed to get right-side-up.

In painful details, with statistics, records, and conversations—with emails that matter—the Justice Department shows Ferguson slipped into a parallel world that went almost unnoticed, as Ferguson openly created a criminal enterprise founded on crime! But Ferguson thought it was doing good by doing bad! What guided Ferguson’s fascinating dance on the wild side was a stern Puritan approach toward the majority of its citizens, easily identified by color. That Puritan judgment became racial bias. In the neighborhoods of Ferguson, two-thirds of its residents made easy pickings for its schemes to fill its coffers and to increase arrests for the city’s public order crimes.

Ferguson acted swiftly to expand its violations of public order; many crimes were added to the city’s legal statures in order to increase revenues despite having no real public safety benefit. Public order crimes were the gateway to a broad labyrinth of administrative fees and fines, and added costs which developed after routine contact with the police and the court.

Public order crimes usually have no victims; they emanate from statures that criminalize certain behaviors and have to be interpreted by the police. “Failure to comply” was a common favorite; so was “manner of walking.” These crimes become an issue when police are out of control and use broad powers to target every slight, real or perceived. Discretion is not only judgment, it is power. In Ferguson, it was only power, a drill abused...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/03/11/eugenics-is-no-laughing-matter-unconstitutional-humor-laughs-at-black-death-in-fergusons-emails/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Mar 11, 2015, 03:09 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 3/9/15

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 3/9/15

Monday, the Department of Justice will begin notifying approximately a million federal workers of their eligibility to join a class action suit against the government for being forced to work without pay during the Republican-engineered shutdown in October 2013. Eligible employees will have 105 days to sign on; voters will have 610 days until the 2016 election to decide that throwing Republicans out of all federal offices is an urgent priority for the health of the nation.

By next weekend, or so, the United States will have again exhausted its ability to borrow money. Fear not, though. Mitch “Old Lightnin'” McConnell promised Face the Nation Sunday that “the debt ceiling will be handled over a period of months.” He added that “hopefully, it might carry some other important legislation that we can agree on in connection with it,” which, on Planet Mitch, presumably means the repeal of Obamacare or the gutting of Social Security. The White House has meanwhile implemented “emergency cash measures” to forestall a possible collision with the debt ceiling.

Speaking of dysfunctionality and debt, the Eurogroup convenes in Brussels tomorrow to “discuss next steps” related to debt assistance for Greece. Tensions ratcheted up considerably today with the threat by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis that Greece could hold an election or a referendum over what those “next steps” might entail.

Too bad Senator Inhofe won’t be in Fairbanks tomorrow for the competitive start of this year’s Iditarod. If he were, he’d learn that 350 dump-trucks’ worth of snow were needed to facilitate Saturday’s ceremonial start in Anchorage, where daytime temperatures flirted with 40 and the only thing falling from the late-winter sky was a thin rain...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/03/08/stormy-monday-3915/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sun Mar 8, 2015, 07:10 PM (0 replies)

The Netanyahu Confessional

Walter Rhett: The Netanyahu Confessional

Netanyahu’s “shrift rift” turned into a confessional with all the hallmarks of dirty politics. First, no one accepts an invitation from a “family” member unless he or she is certain the head of the house approves. Certainly, a national leader does not accept an offer to speak that bypasses the equivalent office he or she holds, when to do so undermines and embarrasses the very relationship on which your security and progress is built. Would it be a “family” issue if President Obama thought it important enough to bypass Netanyahu and take his case directly to the Knesset?

Every dirty political move denies its errors and intent; Netanyahu is doing the same. Every dirty move claims it is demanded by a higher calling: safety, security, liberty, survival are righteous claims. The details of truth that lay in the balance are overlooked because of the attention given to the dirty move—which is being carefully denied! Hence the cycle: it’s denied in order to deflect from the details of truth that disprove its claims.

Finally, the point of political dirt is disruption—and this Boehner/Netanyahu dust-up with Obama is as nasty as it gets—bypassing a head of state to address a national legislature is a collusion never witnessed in US history. (Not Britain, France, China, Russia, or any of the world’s 190+ nations have had the opportunity and disdain and disregard to do so!)

John Boehner is willing to risk our national security while embracing a war hawk who wants the US to be his pocketbook and national proxy; in Israel, some call him the Republican senator from Jerusalem, or is that Netanyahu?

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/03/04/the-netanyahu-confessional/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Mar 4, 2015, 08:50 PM (4 replies)

Barack Obama: The Man of Zen

Walter Rhett: Barack Obama: The Man of Zen

I am one of the few who has made the argument that the President’s style is a classic example of the practice of the high art of Zen, one prescribed by its greatest masters and rooted in the classic book of wisdom, the I Ching.

It’s an easy case to make! Zen focuses on inner strength, not outer conflict. It is a quiet and presence of mind that sees both the short and long term by a presence of heart that is calm and reserved; it values wisdom above force.

The comparisons and the parallels with Zen never come up in the media. After hundreds of microphone sound checks by top analysts and thinkers, the Zen meme, in plain sight, is without a peep. It reveals how terribly and narrowly one-sided American thought presented by media has become: they claim insights on world traditions, but they established a multi-channeled agenda to build an intellectual frame, with Obama’s image as the poster of misgovernance.

Zen, by definition, is smart action, wisdom deftly applied. For deep, contextual reasons of power and privilege, Obama was a threat to all a circle of special interests cherished, and they needed desperately to portray him to their followers and to America as dumb...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/02/25/barack-obama-the-man-of-zen/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Feb 25, 2015, 07:24 PM (2 replies)

Stormy Monday, 2/23/15

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 2/23/15

Is it that time already? Sadly, yes. CPAC’s 2015 edition gets underway Wednesday at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center just outside DC. This year’s roster of speakers looks remarkably similar to that of previous years, a cavalcade of crabbed conservative know-nothings preaching ignorance to the ignorant and hate to the hateful. Among them will be Rand Paul, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, Sarah Palin, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Sean Hannity, Bobby Jindal, and of course the Rick twins, Perry and Santorum.

In a clear sign that the world has slipped its moorings, debate continues to heat up over Bill O’Reilly’s credibility, which implies, fallaciously, that he ever had any to begin with. If nothing else, this all might provide a nice diversion for fellow liar Brian Williams as his suspension continues. In O’Reilly’s case, the issue is apparently him claiming to have single-handedly won the Falklands War with a falafel. Or something; I really can’t bring myself to care.

Speaking of liars, Chris Christie presents his sixth budget address to the New Jersey Legislature on Tuesday, with a court decision still pending as to whether he violated a 2011 deal on the public pensions he’ll apparently spend a lot of his address bleating about. Christie is still considering, apparently, whether he wants to try moving up to lying to people in all 50 states or whether he’ll content himself with just lying to New Jerseyans.

Chicago voters go to the polls Tuesday, with incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel campaigning hard to avoid a possible April 7 runoff. The strongest of Emanuel’s four challengers, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, said over the weekend that he expects “a major upset.” If Emanuel does end up with a runoff on his hands, or loses outright, “major upset” won’t even begin to describe the tantrum he’ll throw...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/02/22/stormy-monday-22315/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sun Feb 22, 2015, 08:01 PM (1 replies)

The Will to Kill

Walter Rhett: The Will to Kill

Which of the two holds the greater attraction: helping an organized rebel group under attack by an international coalition to establish a caliphate governed by Sharia law, or the right to kill without consequences far-ranging straw populations turned into enemies? This is the divide which reflects the debate about the global attraction of ISIL. But it’s really a choice that represents the same side: help establish the caliphate and kill; kill and help establish the caliphate.

The two realities are married. The caliphate is a process, a goal to be pursued; its outlines measured in captive cities and mapped territories. The other is a reality shared daily, like the rites of morning prayer or tea. ISIL’s rituals of death are displayed, taped and broadcast across the globe. The images include fire fights with irregular troops and the defeat of national armies, but more often with a solemn horror, the bodies of civilians—women, children, men and boys, in uniform or out, laying dead, still, scattered in the streets. Or as short and long lines of captives made to kneel as they are executed, their heads whacked with knives or blown away with guns. To an amazed global audience, there are those who want to participate in the killing, drawn to wielding the evil pleasure of meting out death as a witness or by their own hands.

There is a time when activities leap forward to create new forms, and the old thinking is slow to catch up. From where I watch, the old thinking is tied to a conflict narrative of political ideology that misses the new motives. Evidence—the old thinking misses the new evidence. And because it does, it is unable to contain a force whose spread will consume civilization. The caliphate will be a rogue organization with stateless boundaries through which random terror will threaten and disrupt the world order of global societies. The caliphate’s only purpose will be to provide the resources and safety to serve death again and again until fear and grief shut freedom and liberty down.

ISIL is a death cult. It attracts those fascinated with killing. Its main activity is murder. Its survival and media is giving similar-minded groups the will to copy its blood trails. It is swiftly attracting recruits...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/02/18/the-will-to-kill/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Feb 18, 2015, 03:18 PM (0 replies)

Take Five (Well, Shut My Mouth edition)

Jeff Rosenzweig: Take Five (Well, Shut My Mouth edition)

ONE: Vinny Laughs Last

With NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and his career hanging by a thread, it’s been fascinating to contemplate his attempts at apology and explanation for his Iraq tall tale. He claimed he “would not have chosen to make this mistake,” which begs the peculiar question of which mistake he might have opted for instead. He went on to note that he “ know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” Elsewhere, he implied he does know, ascribing his “mistake” to what he termed “the fog of memory.”

The fog bank apparently stretched across many months, all the way to New Orleans, where Williams’s recollections of armed gangs, dysentery, and bodies floating outside the Ritz-Carlton are now receiving some Category 5 scrutiny. As are other instances of Williams and the truth not being on the same page; the list will likely be augmented as his suspension continues. His very public humiliation is especially striking set against his remarks to an audience at New York University back in 2007:

“You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe. All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t left the efficiency apartment in two years.”

Well, of course he hasn’t left that apartment, Brian. Who the hell wants to risk getting hit by an RPG crossing Jerome Avenue?

It’s worth noting that the credentials Williams has spent all his life developing began with his very first job, busing tables at a Perkins. Good thing he has a fallback career. Efficiency apartments, even in the Bronx, don’t come cheap these days...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/02/12/take-five-well-shut-my-mouth-edition/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Thu Feb 12, 2015, 06:31 PM (0 replies)

Hillary Clinton: Will Her Economic Policies Follow Best Global Practices?

Walter Rhett: Hillary Clinton: Will Her Economic Policies Follow Best Global Practices?

Hillary Clinton’s search for an economic policy seems to forget the phrase used to caution investors: “Past results are not indicators of future success.” The world of her husband’s administration is long gone. The great goods of all economies are now commodities; volume produces wealth and flatlines jobs and wages. Apple, Monsanto (80% of world corn seed), American Water Supply (the largest water utility), Pepsico and Google are diverse examples of commodity enterprises operating in global markets that increase capital wealth with little increase in jobs; yet they are vital to economic growth.

Clinton’s advisers don’t seem to get this paradox: the modern economy is built on essential commodities that transfer wealth without the traditional means of adding value through labor and large workforces. In fact, work itself is becoming a commodity, priced by industry and region, in the same way as good and services.

Clinton economic panels ignore this reality. Yet the US economy is deeply entwined with monopolies by companies and by regions (China’s Pearl River zone, Foxconn; Vietnam, Indonesia, clothing; Brazil, agriculture; the big banks, cell, music and cable services; et al.). Working around the economic margins through taxes and fees will not restructure a system designed to vacuum up cash and maintain rock-bottom wages while the private sector shifts social costs to government.

But more importantly, her panels of economists overlook global best practices and opportunities! They agree and disagree about the wrong things! Models in several countries have successfully produced rapid growth and gains for the middle class in the last two decades (interrupted by the global recession) and continue to do so!

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/02/11/hillary-clinton-will-her-economic-policies-follow-best-global-practices/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Feb 11, 2015, 06:34 PM (9 replies)
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