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Member since: Mon May 28, 2012, 12:11 AM
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The Killing of America’s Social Promise

Walter Rhett: The Killing of America’s Social Promise

It’s amazing how lies persist. It’s mind-boggling how widely they are believed. It’s baffling how far and frequently lies are distributed. Lies kill the usefulness and benefits of truth, destroy its purpose. Lies take a large, tragic toll. Yet on they roll—spread and framed; applauded by people without shame. It’s astonishing how many people openly embrace their damage.

Many of the great temples and statues of Asia, marvels of human ingenuity and indefatigability, an awe-inspiring celebration of great common works, were pulled down in our times and destroyed by lies. Stone faces carved by hands thousands of years ago were smashed. Their rubble litters the courtyards that were once grand entrances of power or prayer. In Iraq, antiquities were looted. In Egypt, the artifacts of a vaunted history were stolen.

But lies don’t smash or loot—yes, they do! They guide the hands that do. They encourage and justify the actions.

Now lies have come home to kill.

An old man who spent 20 years in military service sworn to protect America has murdered three of the country’s own innocents—a 14-year-old child and his 69-year-old grandfather, a 53-year-old woman visiting her mother—and then yelled a repugnant salute of one of history’s leaders of genocide from the police car where he sat handcuffed. He pulled the trigger, but the murders were committed by lies...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/04/16/the-killing-of-americas-social-promise/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Apr 16, 2014, 05:00 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 4/14/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 4/14/14

You’re no doubt delighted that your hardworking Congressional representatives have begun their desperately needed two-week break to recharge their batteries, get a little spring sun on their overwhelmingly white and male faces, and mull over “new” legislative ideas that haven’t a prayer of becoming law (which of course is, mostly, a good thing). On the brighter side, Virginia Democrat Jim Moran’s notion of adding a new housing stipend to Congressional remuneration appears to be a non-starter, so at least they’ll be lollygagging at their existing undeserved rate of pay.

Meanwhile, 2.4 million unemployed Americans will spend the same two weeks tearing their hair out over unpaid bills, wondering how they’re going to feed their kids, and continuing not to matter worth a damn to Republicans.

John Boehner kicked off his spring break today with a surprise visit to Afghanistan, accompanied by seven senior House Republicans. He’s expected to hug anyone in uniform he sees, lurch aimlessly around the streets of Kabul in search of happy hour, and top off the junket with a tear-stained tribute to whatever the hell it is American troops are supposed to be accomplishing there.

Following the Bureau of Land Management’s weekend return of 400 confiscated head of cattle back to deadbeat Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the ludicrous confrontation between the government and Bundy’s creepy nitwit militia buddies appears to be over, at least until the BLM attempts to pursue other remedies against the scofflaw and the nitwits get all riled up again. Stay tuned...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/04/14/stormy-monday-41414/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Apr 14, 2014, 12:14 PM (0 replies)

Life After the One Percent

Walter Rhett: Life After the One Percent

I don’t know any members of the one percent, but my daughter does. She’s my eyes and ears in their camp. She’s been trained since birth to observe, synthesize and project at multiple levels, with the virtue and creativity of the human experience at the center of her assessments. We complain about the violations of privacy via our phones and e-mails, but the massive collection of our electronic imprint has no meaning without the hands and minds of people—and we should be focused on their intent along their methods.

History shows that the end game matters. And the goals of the game. I have always been less concerned about surveillance round-ups and wrongful prosecutions than I have about willful prosecutions—the kind I see in Florida and other states, where often those in the cross-hairs don’t reach the courtrooms.

Every police department now has the firepower—and mentality—of a paramilitary unit on rogue missions with a wink and little oversight from the state. New York City had the widest net, but other cities occupied neighborhoods in the name of crime which never seemed to drop. And when it did, it was rarely related to the local version of stop-and-frisk. Neighborhoods don’t require mass round-ups or the concentration camps supposedly being built somewhere in the northwest. Local rogue missions hide behind a screen of local crime and stereotypes; it parallels the gangs; it spirals until communities in the cities are isolated, targeted by legal and illegal operators until they spin out of control and the mechanisms of group actions required for safety and safe passage are broken down. Recording these cell phone calls didn’t improve security or domestic tranquility for many older working neighborhoods in urban areas.

In fact, I wish Florida had an accessible electronic database of calls in the case of Trayvon Martin. A quick check would have shown calls to his father, who lived in the complex where he was walking, and that he was talking to a friend about the usual teenage things. Maybe electronic surveillance would have exonerated him...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/04/09/life-after-the-one-percent/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Apr 9, 2014, 05:21 PM (0 replies)

“Free Speech Wins Big” in McCutcheon Ruling? It’s FALSE NEWS!

Sandy Todd: “Free Speech Wins Big” in McCutcheon Ruling? It’s FALSE NEWS!

The news hit the political front with the expected clash of ideologies. The left was appalled at yet another blow that would flood the political process with a tidal wave of cash. The right hailed their newfound “freedom” to extend their political reach with that tidal wave reaching across the entire nation.

While most of the media plainly state the ruling as striking down limits on campaign contributions, few are willing to challenge the Roberts Court claim that these limits “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise ‘the most fundamental First Amendment activities’”.

Is the real purpose of campaign finance caps, as Investor’s Business Daily states, an unjustified means of “trying to prevent people financing their own political speech”?

Fact: McCutcheon v. FEC ends over 100 years of battling corruption through limits on campaign spending.

The 1800s were rife with accusations of individuals buying their appointments to the US Senate through the state legislators. One of the more notorious incidents involved William Clark, the “Copper King” of Montana. His bribery of state legislators was so blatant that the Senate refused to seat him after his first campaign, prompting this bombast from Mark Twain: “no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a chain and ball on his legs.”

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/04/06/free-speech-wins-big-in-mccutcheon-ruling-its-false-news/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sun Apr 6, 2014, 01:12 PM (2 replies)

Democrats: Speak Up!

Walter Rhett: Democrats: Speak Up!

Small-time Republicans and big-time media money have been able to change the political messaging in this country by openly calling for an agenda of false rebellion in the name of freedom that actually exerts greater control and is more expensive. Many people hear the previous sentence as: “Republicans have changed the political agenda in the name of freedom.” One of the ways Republicans are successful is they offer a complicated subterfuge and dissemble pieces a few at a time. Democrats respond by talking among themselves (as this piece does!) instead of to the country.

Messages that dissemble or only speak to insiders create a disconnect, but only one of these disconnects has leverage with voters, and it is the Republican choice. Republicans confine truth to the background and focus on the places where logic has become disconnected—the places where things terribly wrong can be easily examined, using lies and blame.

In the global pop news of the moment, the Russia seizure of Crimea, a preposterous event in the modern world where respect for the sanctity of borders is the first principle of international relations, Republicans avoid this first principle and the details of Russia’s energy exports being controlled by a state-owned corporation (which means its revenues are paid to the state not the private sector). Republicans avoid the analysis of how important the massive spider-work of Ukraine’s pipelines is to Russia’s efficient transmission of gas and oil to Europe. They avoid the fears Russia has internally of becoming a country influenced by its Muslim population in its southern regions (14 percent of its population).

Instead, Republicans have created a public narrative which comes close to defending Putin’s actions by blaming Obama for not defending America’s imperialism. It is circulating as if Russia is ideologically free of imperialist tendencies. In essence, it seeks to elevate the false illusion of Russian “strength”—which is its criminality—over the policy of President Obama to allow each country to find its internal stability with a minimum of big power influence...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/04/02/democrats-speak-up/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Apr 2, 2014, 08:53 PM (0 replies)

Obama’s Ukraine Affair

Walter Rhett: Obama’s Ukraine Affair

President Obama faced his own Ukraine affair last week. He ordered military action against foreign assets controlled by an unstable interim government facing its own domestic factional opposition after deposing a former corrupt leader. Without NATO approval, the President took action on local officials’ requests. The short-term action was successful. The US military didn’t fire a shot.

Did you know about it? I didn’t.

A continual subtheme of “Digging Deeper” is the media’s tragic fail: at a time when news and information really counts, the media has collectively decided to abandon journalism for sensationalism. The media collective pursues profits and revenue as its main purpose; stories rise and fall with the sun. Ratings and rants count for more than facts or the public’s interest. So much so that the media collectively ignored a dramatic use of force in the Mediterranean Sea by a US President already faced with a military crisis in the same geopolitical theatre, albeit further east.

To me, that’s news...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/03/26/obamas-ukraine-affair/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Mar 26, 2014, 07:03 PM (0 replies)

Russia’s Cold War Makes Crimea a Hot Spot

Walter Rhett: Russia’s Cold War Makes Crimea a Hot Spot

Vladimir Putin is an authentic throwback. No country, not China or North Korea—or the US—has made the bold move he accomplished in under a month. As the head of state of Russia’s government, he ordered and executed the grab of another state’s sovereignty by passive force of arms, using a series of sham excuses and a phony plebiscite to install Russian hegemony over a territory that a week ago belonged to Ukraine.

That basket of facts alone is worthy of sharper focus and penetrating discussions, but US politicians, Russian specialists, and media keep talking around it. The story wanders away to ask what Putin will do next. (Will he invade Ukraine—ignoring that he already has!) Those who see news as prophecy ask how will Europe and the US respond—all without any real sense of the gravity of what Putin has already done. His announcement that Crimea is now under Russian political and military control, and his signing an agreement to annex a territory that a week ago had only local officials without sovereign power to enter into an agreement to turn its territory and governance over to another country, is monumental...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/03/19/russias-cold-war-makes-crimea-a-hot-spot/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Mar 19, 2014, 06:22 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 3/17/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 3/17/14

Even before yesterday’s secession “referendum” in Crimea, Washington and the European Union had declared that the process didn’t pass the smell test. Sure as dammit, there was an off-putting spoor to exit polls suggesting 93% support for breaking away from Ukraine and joining Russia. European foreign ministers gather today in Brussels to discuss freezing Russian assets, with a Thursday conclave of EU leaders also scheduled.

Stateside, John Kerry has been spending a lot of time on the phone with Russian foreign minister Lavrov, much as Secretary Kerry’s boss has been chatting a lot with Lavrov’s. In Congress, bipartisan pressure continues to build for sanctions against Russia; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared a sanctions bill last week that also guarantees $1 billion in loans to Ukraine. Just back from a meaningless but self-aggrandizing Ukraine junket, and ever the bilge – er, bridge over troubled water, John McCain yesterday unhelpfully described Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country.” Hmm. What with “that one” in the White House for a second term, poor Senator McCain is running out of wars. Shill, baby, shill.

Fred Phelps, former capo of the Westboro Baptist church, reportedly begins the week “close to death.” Which would be a shame, except that he’s Fred Phelps.

Cyberspace could be in for a rude shock this week if Republicans make good on their excited bleating about deploying some spanking new “.gop” websites. Wow! Talk about seismic shifts: same stale, dim, destructive ideas, totally new domain!

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/03/17/stormy-monday-31714/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Mar 17, 2014, 02:18 AM (1 replies)

Sharyl Atkkisson Victim of ‘Liberal Bias’? It’s FALSE NEWS!

Sandy Todd: Sharyl Atkkisson Victim of ‘Liberal Bias’? It’s FALSE NEWS!

Sharyl Atkkisson has been portrayed by the conservative media as the “latest victim” in Obama’s “War on Freedom of the Press.” She recently resigned her position after complaining relentlessly to her superiors that she was stymied in her reporting, and that CBS has a “lack of dedication to investigative reporting.” That’s right. The home of 60 Minutes. The home of Harry Reasoner, Harold Dow, Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, Dan Rather, Roger Mudd and Charles Kuralt. The home of Walter Cronkite, for crying out loud. Sharyl Atkkisson would have us believe that the stalwart of American news is hurdling down the rabbit hole into a land of hippies and commies.

There is no question that Sharyl Atkkisson is an accomplished journalist. She has received some of the highest honors that journalism bestows on its colleagues, an Edward R Murrow Award, I.R.E. Award, an Investigative Emmy, several team Emmys, as well as several nominations.

She has also been responsible for more “False News” in the last 10 years than I would have thought possible from a CBS reporter. Her stories have run the gamut from Red Cross “mismanagement” to Solyndra to Benghazi to Fast & Furious. Notice a pattern?

It has been widely reported that Fox News viewers are less likely to have accurate information on the events of the day. I wonder how that survey would turn out if respondents were given the choice of individual journalists, rather than networks as a whole. I also wonder how surveys rate credible news. Do they take it at face value that green energy is “Going Red,” just because Sharyl Attkisson says so? Do they repeat her claim of an Administration “Information Clamp,” when she applies a White House press corps photojournalist complaint to the press corps as a whole? One only need remember the May 2009 cover of The Washingtonian to understand why this White House is a bit more controlling of photography than past administrations...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/03/14/sharyl-atkkisson-victim-of-liberal-bias-its-false-news/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Fri Mar 14, 2014, 09:26 PM (1 replies)

Try It Out!

Walter Rhett: Try It Out!

I spent the week watering the well. Drinking coffee from five Ethiopian regions, feeling a link to the small family farms that depend on the income from the sales of beans, thankful to have a good relationship with a coffee seller in DC who provides me the 15 to 20 pounds my daughter sends me every two or three months.

But I can’t get my friends to try it! The corporate brands have them dialed in. So this morning’s Sumatra brings an old question: how do you get people to change? Why is change resisted?

In part the questions explain the Republican attraction: People don’t have to give up very much except government to be Republican. It’s a safe default for the risk-averse, even when in sight of something better.

I also spent the week anticipating the visit of friends I haven’t seen in 40 years. That energy was a celebration of passage; how vision grows out of change. Vision pushes away fear and brings hope. That why Sarah Palin sneered at “that hopey thing”—it give a freedom found on the inside, a freedom to grow; not just a freedom to fight government. Friends bring collective energy, a unique group experience that in politics is called the public good...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/03/12/try-it-out/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Mar 12, 2014, 02:20 PM (0 replies)
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