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DemocratsForProgress

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Member since: Mon May 28, 2012, 12:11 AM
Number of posts: 504

Journal Archives

Turkey, Sayreville, and Some Democrats Get It Wrong

Walter Rhett: Turkey, Sayreville, and Some Democrats Get It Wrong



I.

Turkey’s actions, however it thinks itself justified by its internal and regional politics, have been outrageous on the international front and strike the wrong balance for a country concerned about its security.

Turkey should have promised aid long ago when the international coalition against ISIL formed. Aid helps promote peace and opens new channels. Aiding the Kurds in the fight against ISIL might further the peace talks with its Kurdish opposition and win support for coexistence within Turkey among its Kurds, 20% of its population and long oppressed. One thing is sure: the act of denying support and access only hardened old tensions and angered the international community and the Kurds at home. Turkey is missing a unique opportunity to forge a new era of cooperation by failing to focus on a dangerous regional enemy and turn a new page.

That missed opportunity—which Turkey is now trying to regain—may prove to be a greater threat to Turkey’s future than the narrow concerns that drove it to launch air attacks early last week on the Kurdish rebels, taking advantage of the Kurdish forces’ engagement with ISIL.

After hitting the Kurds with F-16s, Turkey accused the Kurds of using Kobani support as a “blackmail” tactic for the peace process. In reality, Turkey is using Kobani to further its wrongheaded military aims and as blackmail to compel the US coalition to attack and engage the Assad regime in Syria...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/10/22/turkey-sayreville-and-some-democrats-get-it-wrong/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Oct 22, 2014, 06:23 PM (0 replies)

Democrats Getting My Goat

Grumpy and Ms. Mouse: Democrats Getting My Goat



Grumpy: You know, Mouse, it is usually the Teapublicans that get my goat, but every now and then the Democrats get my grumpy old self going more than any Teapublican ever could. It seems to get worse just before the elections and this year is no different.

Mouse: I hear ya loud and clear, Grumpy. I haven’t been checking my e-mail as often as I should because of all the pleas for money. (BTW: sorry about not getting your e-mails for 3 days because of that… oops…)

Grumpy: The closer we get to this midterm (and very important) election, the more the Democrats seem to go a little bit insane. My e-mail inbox is getting flooded with fundraising pleas. The theme this year seems to be “The Sky is Falling!” We wonder why Democratic turnout is bad in these off-year elections but maybe the answer is in the mirror. Most of our mothers urged us that if we didn’t have anything nice to say then we should not say anything. Democrats should learn to put that rule into effect when talking about ourselves.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about from the doom and gloomers:

• “devastated… (re: Michelle)”
• “6 points down”
• “utterly crushed”
• “devastating defeat”
• “most crushing failure in history:”
• “everything is falling apart, Friends”
• DOOM FOR DEMOCRATS?!?!


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/10/21/democrats-getting-my-goat/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Tue Oct 21, 2014, 04:25 PM (13 replies)

Teapublicans Scarier Than Ebola

Grumpy and Ms. Mouse: Teapublicans Scarier Than Ebola



I read this week that a person — make that an idiot — thought it was a good idea to joke about having Ebola while sitting on an airplane. Why would anyone think this was either funny, at best, or only mildly irritating, at worst? That is gallows humor at its worst. It should be no surprise to anyone that this idiot got taken off the plane by people who aren’t idiots in hazmat suits. Wouldn’t you have loved to have seen the look on his face as those “suits” came up the aisle?

If I was on that plane I’d certainly be grumpy. Probably grumpy enough to punch the guy in the nose, but then he’d start bleeding on me and we’d both be carted off by the “suits.” That would make me as idiotic as that guy.

Well, what’s one idiot, right? There’s always one in every crowd, right? But what if you have a whole crowd of guys like that idiot? Well, unfortunately we have just such a group right here in the good old US of A. I like to call them the Teapublican Party (aka the GOP).

Actually, I do the idiot on the plane a disservice comparing him to the Teapublicans. He only thought he was making a lame joke. The Teapublicans, on the other hand, are taking what is already a scary disease and trying to make political hay out of it. With the midterm elections just around the corner, it looks like they are trying to turn Ebola into this cycle’s October Surprise...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/10/16/teapublicans-scarier-than-ebola/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Thu Oct 16, 2014, 08:48 PM (0 replies)

Police Bullets Kill People and Truth

Walter Rhett: Police Bullets Kill People and Truth



A cop’s strongest weapon is the truth. Honesty is more powerful than his or her bullets. I can sense doubts, objections and disclaimers rushing forward. Honesty won’t save you from physical threats, from people armed with guns! True, but is the prime strength of policing the biggest capacity for violence? It’s a dangerous world! True, but is strength measured by who’s quicker to the trigger?

An irony of violence is it loses its strength when it is applied for the wrong reasons or when it serves the wrong purpose. When state violence steps outside of the law, or only serves itself, it is illegal. It violates the social order it cunningly claims it protects.

More and more, violence is embraced by individual police officers, who cite a person’s actions as “threatening” to their own safety and welfare. This assertion is not made on behalf of public safety, but officer safety: the state is making the claim on behalf of its right of enforcement that officer safety, no matter the degree of doubt about the claims of “threat,” is paramount, above all public good and order. It asserts the police decision is supreme. This is a meta-legal process. It argues I have to kill to protect my right to kill and to protect my person, and my judgement is sufficient alone to determine the threat.

The last group of renegades who acted on these self-granted claims of violence and power were the Confederate Cavalry under “Fightin’” Major General Joe Wheeler, who pillaged and sacked Southern plantations, looted their treasures and supplies, and raped their women (to maintain morale), in support of the cause...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/10/15/police-bullets-kill-people-and-truth/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Oct 15, 2014, 06:54 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 10/13/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 10/13/14



Liberian nurses and physician’s assistants intend to go on strike Monday over insufficient hazard pay, an action that could deal a terrible setback to the country’s efforts to get on top of the Ebola epidemic. During a weekend tour of treatment facilities in Monrovia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf personally appealed to health care workers to stay on the job.

Now that a Texas health care worker, despite wearing protective gear, has tested positive for Ebola after “extensive contact” with victim Thomas Duncan before his death last Wednesday, the mainstream media can really get to work fanning the doomsday hysteria with even less regard for scientific accuracy or pesky fact-based caveats such as CDC Director Tom Frieden’s insistence that the new case resulted from “a breach in protocol.”

And if End Times Ebolamania doesn’t gain traction with the audience, at least the media has ISILW (Islamic State in, Like, Wherever) to fall back on. Sunday’s announcement by Defense Department officials that Turkey will make bases available to US and coalition forces conducting air strikes against Islamic State forces is sure to set off another wave of talking heads eager to explain how this move is a complete vindication of the President’s surefooted IS policy, or how it’s sad confirmation of a flailing, rudderless White House.

John McCain, meanwhile, is getting increasingly shrill in his calls for ground troops to be deployed against IS. Scoff if you must, but after destroying five planes himself, the Senator is at least something of an expert on aircraft vulnerability...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/10/12/stormy-monday-101314/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sun Oct 12, 2014, 11:51 PM (2 replies)

What Is Happening to the Children

Walter Rhett: What Is Happening to the Children



What’s happening to the children? I bet your first thought is which children? The kidnapped girls in Nigeria who captured the interest of the world, gaining commitments from international governments to send troops to pursue their return—but suddenly vanished from our imaginations, or at least our television screens and social media accounts? Or the 40,000 children massed along the US southern border with Mexico, whose 1,000-mile pilgrimages were met with protests, demanding their immediate return to countries and communities where they would be met by death and rape, the violence of promised threats from criminal gangs? Or maybe the uncounted and silent thousands of children who suffer from hunger because food assistance was cut by the Congress to “help” the balance sheet of federal deficits driven by Wall Street and tax giveaways to corporations, who are leaving the country in a huff because they want more even as we give the children less.

Thousands of children are refugees, displaced by conflict violence, whose only hope is to abandon their homes with their families and flee into the unknown. They live on the edge of civilization, marginalized as temporaries, their lives suspended from education and the security of a society rooting for them to find a future of success. As refugees, they live in a world in which hope is denied.

What’s happening to the education of US children? Why are states and communities resisting a national standard that allows any methodology and curriculum to meet the new standard?

Why is there a virus that suddenly emerges in 47 states that is sending hundreds of children to hospitals and has registered more US deaths than Ebola, with only miniscule public outcry?


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/10/08/what-is-happening-to-the-children/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Oct 8, 2014, 07:03 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 10/6/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 10/6/14



Existing inventories of Styrofoam food and beverage containers are now being exhausted as the House of Representatives begins transitioning to paper containers following last week’s official announcement. Rest assured that despite this modest green initiative, the House will continue to be a hotbed of climate change deniers, science-averse throwbacks and assorted bullet-headed regressive Tea Party know-nothings. Fun fact: under Nancy Pelosi’s speakership, the House had already switched to “compostable, corn-based products” as part of the “Green the Capitol Initiative,” before Republicans regained the majority and un-greened everything.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will, I suppose, wow ‘em at the American Enterprise Institute Monday morning, when he’ll take the podium for an hour to “{present} a plan to rebuild America’s military strength and reaffirm the United States as a force for freedom and stability around the world.” Meaning he’ll be mouthing a raft of stale clichés about the crying need to reverse every sensible foreign policy direction the Obama Administration has pursued and double down on those that weren’t very sensible. Emboldened by the worthlessness of his possible 2016 primary rivals, the worthless Jindal will repeat his speech the next day at the Citadel in South Carolina, something Republican presidential hopefuls do before moving on to obscurity.

Gregory Holt, a Muslim incarcerated in an Arkansas prison, might be allowed to grow a beard if the Supreme Court finds in his favor. Had Holt thought to commit his offenses (which included stabbing his girlfriend in the chest and cutting her throat) in any of 44 other state jurisdictions, or federally, he could already have grown one. Argument in the case begins Monday.

Has Thomas Duncan infected anyone else in the United States with the Ebola virus? Whether he has or not, US mainstream media will continue a torrent of poorly informed, embarrassingly hyperbolic, offensively America-centric coverage this week, even as it mostly ignores the situation in western Africa, where urgent efforts to staunch the epidemic continue. Among other recent developments, successful containment strategies in Nigeria and Senegal are now being studied for application in other countries...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/10/06/stormy-monday-10614/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Oct 6, 2014, 02:53 AM (1 replies)

The Secret Service’s Open Secrets

Walter Rhett: The Secret Service’s Open Secrets



It was clear she had been a dedicated agent and administrator, but Secret Service Director Julia Pierson was in over her head. She spent her years in the Service as a field agent in Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida, and except for four years from 1988 to 1992, she was never directly involved in Presidential Protections or White House duty except for oversight...

Did her resumé really prepare her for a laser focus on carrying out the policies and standard of the performance, training and conduct of the Secret Service’s Presidential Protection Division?

One Congress member at Tuesday’s House hearing pointed out that protection detail agents had received no training in 2013 and only one class the year before. Pierson acknowledged different segments of the Service can’t communicate because they use different radio frequencies. But most telling was an inspector general’s report that indicated the rank and file had little trust (less than 50%!) in the bosses, a vital tell that signaled the problems that kept reoccurring and the reasons why they are not fixed.

The breach of the White House and the other recent failures in protection and agent misconduct begin with the loss of personal and professional integrity, apparently widespread among the Protection Division, according to an earlier Inspector General report. That 2012 report reviewed agents soliciting sex workers in Cartagena, Columbia ahead of a Presidential visit, and noted such incidents were numerous...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/10/01/the-secret-services-open-secrets/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Oct 1, 2014, 04:51 PM (0 replies)

A Good Year for the Poses

Jeff Rosenzweig: A Good Year for the Poses



The 2014 Values Voter Summit wrapped up Sunday in Washington, and Omni Shoreham Hotel staff must be working hard to expunge the building of the heavy stench of gunpowder and cliché. Like previous editions, this year’s version was a consummate freak show with a gaggle of grotesques worthy of Todd Browning, but even speakers making their second, third or fourth appearance seemed to bring a little extra Republican bile, guile and vile to the festivities this time around.

The theme this year was “Defending the Dream, Defining the Future,” a phrase so vague it could be used for a corporate training seminar, a high school valedictory address, or a Shriners convention. But VVS organizers know what they’re defending and defining; they proudly state their intention is to “inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong.”

Yes, that’s right. The same snake oil they’ve been peddling since the first iteration of the conclave back in 2006. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s terse description of the VVS really summarizes it much better: “An annual political conference bringing together some of the most extreme groups on the religious right.” That includes host organization and lead sponsor, the Family Research Council (which the SPLC calls a hate group), along with other America-hating organizations like Liberty Counsel (shouldn’t that be “council”?) and the American Family Association (which wants to destroy your family, if you’re gay).

But of course the real, ahem, elephant in the room is, as always, the Republican Party, which coyly maintains no “official” connection to the VVS even as elected Republicans madly stampede to its podium year after year to pander, preen and pose. Why, there’s even a presidential straw poll conducted, which purulent demagogue Ted Cruz topped for a second consecutive year, with up-and-coming conservative clod Ben Carson a close second and perennial pious pseudo-Christian Mike Huckabee a distant third...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/09/30/a-good-year-for-the-poses/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Tue Sep 30, 2014, 06:38 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 9/29/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 9/29/14



A new round of baleful partisan bickering – business as usual, in other words – could get underway this week if the Obama Administration follows through on a trial balloon floated Friday by White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Earnest suggested a Senate confirmation vote to replace outgoing AG Eric Holder could be called in the upcoming lame duck session. If that doesn’t come to pass, I reckon it’ll take Republicans about three and a half minutes to find something else to be hyperbolically indignant about.

Deficit hawks will applaud the timing of this week’s visit to Washington by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In addition to an Oval Office summit focused on trade, energy and climate change, Modi is scheduled to have supper with the President and lunch with the Vice President, but he won’t be eating anything because he’s in the middle of a nine-day fast for Navratri, a religious festival honoring the goddess Durga. I don’t know if there’s some sort of penance aspect to Navratri, but I can’t think of any other reason why Modi will also be meeting with John Boehner. The Speaker’s office has commented that Modi will be offered “beverages.” Presumably, the PM’s polite “No, thank you” will be followed by a hearty “More for me, then” from Boehner, especially if the “beverages” have a measurable alcohol content.

Afghanistan’s new President, Ashraf Ghani, will be sworn in Monday, while his former electoral nemesis Abdullah Abdullah will become the country’s first “chief executive officer.” The two take office just days after the Afghan government’s announcement that thousands of civil servants will have to wait for their paychecks this month because the cupboard is bare, a sure sign that Afghanistan is moving from failed state to red state, American-style. John Podesta leads the US delegation at the inauguration.

One of Ghani’s first orders of business, at least as far as the White House is concerned, is to sign the new “Bilateral Security Agreement,” which outgoing Afghan President Karzai had refused to ratify. The agreement would permit 12,000 US and NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014. To what end, ultimately, I’m afraid I have no idea...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/09/28/stormy-monday-92914/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sun Sep 28, 2014, 09:15 PM (0 replies)
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