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DemocratsForProgress

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Member since: Mon May 28, 2012, 12:11 AM
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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)

Stormy Monday, 2/9/15

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 2/9/15



Frantic efforts by the College Republicans chapter at Texas Tech continue as the little dweebs try to thwart Thursday’s scheduled speech by counterculture icon Angela Davis. The group has helpfully offered up alternative names like Condi Rice, Gwen Ifill and Mia Love. After all, they all look alike, right, College Republicans?

David Letterman’s producers are hunting down a fill-in for Thursday’s show following the announcement that scheduled guest Brian Williams has canceled. Williams previously shared with the Late Show audience his fanciful tale of taking ground fire while in a helicopter in Iraq, but of course is now taking time off from his NBC Nightly News gig to spend more time with the truth.

Nigeria’s presidential election was originally scheduled for next Saturday, but has been postponed until March 28 by the nation’s Independent National Electoral Commission, which cited security concerns over continuing Boko Haram violence. John Kerry described the US government as “deeply disappointed” by the postponement.

The marriage license obtained last year by star-crossed lovebirds Charles Manson and Afton Elaine Burton expired last week, but cheer up, fans of true romance. According to James McGrath, a photo editor who knows Burton, she’s intending to apply for a 90-day license and will make a husband out of Charlie yet. Manson is eligible for parole once again in 2027, by which time he’ll be a mere 723 years old...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/02/08/stormy-monday-2915/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sun Feb 8, 2015, 09:01 PM (0 replies)

In Politics and Public Life, Do the Odds Favor the Cynics?

Walter Rhett: In Politics and Public Life, Do the Odds Favor the Cynics?



A cross-section of ideas and acts, global, national and local, haunt the negative and positive spaces of our lives, influencing our decisions and thoughts, our choices, our feelings about progress or defeat.

A good deal of America is engaged in cynicism, reducing complex issues to a short list that squares with a wish list of beliefs and desires.

Michelle Obama often is an object of choice by cynics, who find it easy to shave off the responsibilities she has as a mother and as a public figure married to the President from her duty to share her authentic self, which often flows into a space beyond what many expect. When disappointed, they assume an attitude of “I told you so” (smug about never mentioning what was told!) and then assume the imagined gross error that exists in their minds speaks for itself. Thus they retain in their hearts what they really wanted to believe in the first place—and forever more.

One common cause of cynical angst is First Family travel. Its critics make the small large, pride themselves as spending sentinels, pat themselves on the back with the shared disgust of those who feel being black and having a family and being President is just too much for anyone to accept. After all, if it were not for those 62 million votes, Barack Obama might well be unemployed and certainly not a world leader of note and renown...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/02/04/in-politics-and-public-life-do-the-odds-favor-the-cynics/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Feb 4, 2015, 05:39 PM (0 replies)

They’ll Need a Bigger Clown Car

Grumpy and Ms. Mouse: They’ll Need a Bigger Clown Car



Grumpy: Well Mouse, like it or not, here we are only days into 2015 and the 2016 presidential election is already underway with Teapublican wannabes already busily making fools of themselves. Iowa has seen the clown car come and go already and the Koch network of secret donors has already been busy auditioning and grooming their favorites in Palm Springs, California. Palm Springs? Nothing says outreach to the unwashed masses like confabs in Palm Springs, I guess. But I digress.

Ordinarily these early (dare I say infantile) days of the four-year election cycle leave me absolutely grumpy, but this year I am actually giddy. I feel like a kid watching in awe as the circus parades into town. Of course no circus parade would be complete without a packed-to-the-roof clown car, and this year’s clown car is absolutely overstuffed. Some of the names are familiar, even infamous, while others send one running to the Google machine.

Comedians must be absolutely over the moon at the prospects ahead. The list of wannabes and potential wannabes is staggeringly large. Just look at the list of current and former governors who are currently thought to be lusting for top job in the US of A: Bush, Walker, Christie, Ehrlich, Gilmore, Palin, Kasich, Jindal, Huckabee, Pataki, Pence, Romney, Perry, Daniels, Scott, Snyder and Martinez. That’s 17 already packing the clown car even before we get to the likes of Herman (Pizza Godfather) Cain or John (The Stache) Bolton and Carly Fiorina, who have never been elected to any public office.

That brings us to a nice round number of 20 stuffed into that car. Surely that is enough, right? Wrong! The list goes on with the likes of Carson, Graham, Bachmann, Corker, Cruz, King, Paul, Trump, Rubio and Santorum...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/01/31/theyll-need-a-bigger-clown-car-3/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Sat Jan 31, 2015, 09:15 PM (3 replies)

Media’s Direct Reporting Omits Deep Background

Walter Rhett: Media’s Direct Reporting Omits Deep Background



Growing frustration exists about the role of global media in sharing the truth and facts about politics. Even the media’s cherished idea of balance has taken a slant. The American media’s direct reporting omits deep backgrounds. In print and broadcast, anonymous sources are assigned the duty of representing an ideology and attacking those who disagree. In live reports, face time is more important than oral intelligence. And no news broadcast is complete without a YouTube clip.

What recent stories has the media missed and how have the omissions affected the country?

The biggest missing story is about the media itself: it has abandoned analysis. Instead of being shaped by insights and history, or by conflict and values, stories are “blocked.” They are packaged for immediacy rather than viable information, and immediacy has come to mean any story which zooms in on a crisis in the social order, a threat to well-being or life.

Blocking a story means it will be limited to reviewing events without examining causes; limited by sensationalism that ignores the mainstream; limited by the next big story without any follow-up on the previous big story. But the story’s limits always include speculation, no-rules chatter about what happens next. Speculation, and its inaccurate prophecies, unleashed fears and violations of logic and common sense, is featured without critical review. By offering speculation, media abandons the idea of wrong or right; its stories are blocked to show who is for and who is against...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/01/28/medias-direct-reporting-omits-deep-background/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Jan 28, 2015, 03:51 PM (1 replies)

Stormy Monday, 1/26/15

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 1/26/15



The President wants to extend wilderness designation and concomitant environmental protections to millions more acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a move opposed by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and other Republicans, who would prefer to drill the crap out of ANWR. Showcasing her famed policy chops and keen intellect, Murkowski commented, “I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska.”

Speaking of negotiations with Iran, Republicans are hell-bent on screwing those up too. Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will conduct what it risibly describes as a “hearing” on the status of the negotiations. As Congress lurches toward additional sanctions, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned the other day that such a move would “kill the joint plan of action that we adopted last year in Geneva.” In another odd development, Zarif has been summoned to explain to his nation’s parliament why he went for a “15-minute walk” with John Kerry in Geneva on January 14. Uh-oh…

“Winter Storm Juno” is bearing down on the Northeast, with blizzard conditions expected to affect up to 28 million people. Juno’s worst impact will last from Monday evening into Tuesday, with snowfall rates of two to four inches an hour and total accumulations of two feet or more forecast for some areas of New England. The suspiciously enthusiastic Henry Margusity, an Accuweather meteorologist, took to Twitter to announce, “It will be like a tidal wave of snow into New England tonight into Tuesday.”

Tuesday, the President will pass up a planned trip to the Taj Mahal and cut short his stay in India to head for Saudi Arabia for a meeting with its new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, our latest staunch ally and wonderful, not at all duplicitous partner in the Middle East. Salman succeeds his recently deceased brother Adbullah, our previous staunch ally and wonderful, not at all duplicitous partner in the Middle East...


More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2015/01/26/stormy-monday-12615/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Jan 26, 2015, 02:36 PM (1 replies)
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