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

In the Fight Against ISIL, Going Beyond Either/Or

Walter Rhett: In the Fight Against ISIL, Going Beyond Either/Or

A big part of the American legacy is to reduce things to a simple either/or. It creates the illusion of being willing to make tough choices, of moving forward with decisive shows of strength while leaving piddling details unexamined.

Often this preferred way turns out be a stumbling block; America trips over details and consequences patience would have allowed the nation to foresee. Barack Obama’s mighty effort to restore the nation to the security and values of patience has been met at every turn with resistance that insists on immediate either/ors. But his patience is not incompetence, as America is soon to find out in the fight against ISIL.

Rush in, says John McCain. Despite being the Senate’s senior war hawk, his state’s Republican Party voted last January to censure their senior Senator for a voting record insufficiently conservative. Send troops, “think of an American city in flames,” Lindsey Graham cries. The terrorists have already occupied space in his mind.

But the criticisms of the President continue, this time from sources who attended a recent off-the-record press meeting and a White House invitational dinner. At both, the President reportedly said he would not rush to war. He would be deliberate. “I do not make apologies for being careful in these areas, even if it doesn’t make for good theater,” sources quote him as saying...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/09/17/in-the-fight-against-isil-going-beyond-eitheror/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Thu Sep 18, 2014, 12:46 AM (3 replies)

Stormy Monday, 9/15/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 9/15/14

Fresh from hastily scheduled trips to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, John Kerry begins the week in Cairo, where the Secretary of State hopes to get more countries onside with efforts to fight Islamic State extremists. In case Kerry doesn’t get his fill of truculence, skepticism and outright intransigence overseas, he has a backup plan: he’s returning to Washington to testify Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The President will be in Atlanta Tuesday for a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he’ll receive a detailed briefing on both the West African Ebola epidemic and the enterovirus-related respiratory disease outbreak in the US Midwest. The visit comes several days after a direct appeal for US assistance from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Watch for Republican demands this week that both viruses be bombed into submission and the operation paid for with a Social Security benefits clawback.

Thursday, Scots go to the polls for a historic vote on independence from the United Kingdom. Well over four million people have registered to vote, while another 800,000 or so have signed up to vote by mail. That represents roughly 97% of eligible voters, a percentage the Democratic and Republican Parties alike can only view wistfully just weeks ahead of the typically anemic midterm electoral turnout stateside. Recent polls suggest momentum building for the “No” faction, but it’s likely to be close whichever way it goes.

Wednesday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi holds its, uh, long-awaited first hearing. Think they’ll discuss the August 1 report by the House Intelligence Committee, which found absolutely zero malfeasance by the Obama Administration? Neither do I...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/09/14/stormy-monday-91514/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Sep 15, 2014, 12:29 AM (1 replies)

Who Is Our Neighbor?

Walter Rhett: Who Is Our Neighbor?

The story of the Jericho Road is well-known to many; a man traveling down the dangerous 17-mile old world passage that climbs between Jericho and Jerusalem; it is winding, steep, remote. Historically known as the Bloody Pass; in the one biblical story from the Gospels, a man is jumped by a gang of marauders and falls injured, unable to help himself. Several men of supposed good will—including a priest—pass him without offering aid. They see him and ignore him. Who knows why? One thing is clear: the victim is not their neighbor.

Not only in the sense of a person who is not of their community or one whose identity is unknown, but also in the sense of ethical action—a willingness to offer a hand to someone in need in times when danger threatens even good intent.

The ethical will which fails or is abandoned has a political and social side. Ethical choices have powerful consequences that quickly grow complicated and cover a broad range of actions. Immediate reflection shows the idea of the neighbor is at the center of our domestic politics. And the idea of the neighbor and ethical action is a paired “who and what” that underscores the immigration crisis that carried tens of thousands of children to our borders, our school lunch programs and the fight against obesity, the school-prison pipeline (middle school children in handcuffs taken out of school), our support for affordable healthcare (ethical actions of costs, coverage and value) and violence against women (perpetrator and societal victim blaming). The answer to “who” identifies the persons and communities, the victims we are ethically tasked to love and help, to take risks ourselves in order to render aid, to challenge the inherent dangers by our actions. As our national resolve weakens or gives in to hate and fear, the list of ”who” grows short.

Who we see as our neighbor positions us on the political spectrum. It often determines the laws we support and social action we engage in (California communities illegally stopping government buses of immigrants from entering government facilities weren’t met with militarized policing as has been seen in protests elsewhere). Who we see as our neighbor often shapes the attitudes that are the milieu of society and define the bottom line of survival. It determines who we look up to and down on, the level of anger and respect we have for individuals and institutions. It separates us into friends and enemies...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/09/10/who-is-our-neighbor/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Sep 10, 2014, 05:51 PM (3 replies)

All in the Family Values

Jeff Rosenzweig: All in the Family Values

If members of any political party can lay legitimate claim to the ill-defined moral high ground represented by wooly catchphrases like “personal responsibility” and “family values,” they sure as hell aren’t Republicans.

Amid all the cataclysm and calamity of this summer’s news, the spectacle of the Bob and Maureen McDonnell trial has stood out garishly. Good God, I hate being embarrassed for Republicans, but it’s impossible to read coverage of Virginia’s former First Couple having their turgid day in court without blushing on their behalf. The trial has been a cavalcade of cringing.

Maureen was described by her chief of staff, under oath, as a “screamer” and a “nutbag,” who once accused the chef at the Executive Mansion of sabotaging Christmas with “bad shrimp.” Bob, once considered a future Republican presidential contender, has been portrayed by his defense team as a well-meaning but hapless boob who couldn’t have conspired with his wife to do anything because, darn it all, she only spoke to him when he pissed her off, so he mostly kept his mouth shut to avoid ugly scenes. An e-mail from the then-Governor to his wife in September 2011 was trotted out in court to bolster this narrative:

I know I am a sinner and keep trying to do better. But I am completely at a loss as to how to handle the fiery anger and hate from you that has become more and more frequent. You told me again yesterday that you would wreck my things and how bad I am. It hurt me to my core… I admit that I do keep away from you sometimes and don’t talk to you about important things or problems to avoid confrontation.

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/09/03/all-in-the-family-values/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Sep 3, 2014, 08:08 PM (0 replies)

How to Exalt the Deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff

Walter Rhett: How to Exalt the Deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff

It takes an unbelievable arrogance to believe the God of your faith demands and applauds the slaughter of innocents. It takes hatred and blindness and a stupidity beyond redemption to believe that God praises the killing of human sacrifices as just and right and will reward those who killed for specious claims with mercy. The ISIL killings are evidence of a malicious design that heralds the destruction of those who falsely believe themselves to be the persecutors of God. Of their open wickedness, God has taken notice; their bitter words are like the wind, and punishment, both human and divine, shall answer their sins. For in God’s wrath, unlike human wrath, there is justice. There will be justice for American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

But human justice can be propelled by rage and unleash a rabid desire to tear their killers, individually and collectively, into a bloody porridge fed to dogs, then poured into the dirt, then left to turn putrid in the sun. Barring their becoming dog food, many are calling for war. Because of our habitual reliance on war as a tool of justice and punishment, we feel weak and impotent when the drums are not beating; we want to attack and kill.

At the moment in the attack when virtue gives way to thrill, we need courage. Not to confront the enemy but ourselves. Courage finds its power in inner strength, in restraint and patience that adds truth to its case. Truth must always replace anger as a motive and source for restoring justice through good works—where the taking of a life is rendered as a virtue applied to the guilty, cloaked in sorrow and not vengeance covered with boasting and new provocations and threats.

Those who grieve and tremble in rage at the sight of those who seek to find holy pleasure in self-pronounced vengeance, the killing and death of innocent captives, must also remember in the darkness of death is the birth of fear. We must find strength to honor and celebrate the lives of those who have died. Their lives were pure. We should not corrupt the pure. Celebrate their lives in joy. We should stand in awe of their sacrifices and the lives they lived...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/09/03/how-to-exalt-the-deaths-of-james-foley-and-steven-sotloff/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Sep 3, 2014, 05:43 PM (1 replies)

Stormy Monday, 9/1/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 9/1/14

Labor Day in an election year. Enjoy it, because tomorrow the gloves come off. Hammer time. Time for the excrement to plot a course for the fan. Time for September call-ups of every last little shred of dubious opposition research that campaigns big and small, Democratic and Republican alike, focus-grouped unsuccessfully all summer. Time for pollsters – good, bad, indifferent, biased or unbiased – to line their spreadsheets up against the wall. Time for the kitchen sink and all who sail in her. Ain’t democracy grand? New season notwithstanding, this might be a very good time to turn off the TV.

Jurors in the trial of Smilin’ Bob McDonnell, who used to be Governor of Virginia, and his wife Maureen, who used to be its First Lady, will receive instruction from Judge James R. Spencer and begin deliberations this week. Jury morale has been kept admirably confidential, but I don’t see how the jurors can feel anything but relief at not having to listen to any more testimony from either of the accused.

On Wednesday, Vice President Biden heads to – gasp!New Hampshire. He’s going as part of a continuing White House series of speeches and events focused on the economy, but the mainstream media will be crafting its own narrative for the visit. Expect 24 to 48 hours of asinine headlines like “Biden: Serious About ’16?” or “Veep Reads Granite State Tea Leaves” or “Clinton/Biden?” or “Biden/Clinton?” or “Hey, Who’s the Old Guy?” At some point midweek, I predict Wolf Blitzer will wet himself on the air, and he might not be the only one.

Tuesday in Corpus Christi, Texas’ voter ID law (or, more accurately described, Texas’ transparent attempt to suppress probable votes for Democrats by raising the bugaboo of “voter fraud” and invoking phony concern for “confidence in the system”) will go to court. One election law expert interviewed for the piece at the link believes the case could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Which, in these days of modern times, as the Firesign Theatre once put it, could be very unfortunate if that’s how things unfold...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/09/01/stormy-monday-9114/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Sep 1, 2014, 01:35 PM (1 replies)

Exploring Our Paradoxes

Walter Rhett: Exploring Our Paradoxes

There is a convergence of paradoxes no one seems to understand. There is an outward motion that is taking unusual turns and twists, and politicians are using these unique circumstances and unfamiliar challenges to offer and project blame.

But blame obscures our paradoxes. It’s a pretense to an easy answer that misses the real point. One main point is itself a paradox: the point that paradoxes are often missed. They are confusing and confounding. Paradoxes challenge not only our identity and legacy, the missions we have “accomplished,” the “hope” at the center of our faith and courage—and our voting—they challenge the zeitgeist we cherish—paradoxes challenge the spirit of the age. All around us, paradoxes are redefining our times. Our response is we fuss, surrender, complain or turn mean.

One major American institution, driven by greed and ego, has been taken over by its own self-created paradox: the media that is to inform us often conceals and shades from us the most important facts it purports are its reason to exist. Too often, its reporting offers no analysis. Its experts spend too much time on politics and prophecy—answering the unanswerable, “what happens next?” Seldom does it answer what happened before.

The news, intended to inform us, is a tabula rasa (an erased tablet) and instead is shaped by its thrill factor, be it warmth or fear. Warmth: YouTube pets parade through the networks; cute, cuddly, silly; American. Fear, horror: any GOP sound bite, any battlefield; any natural disaster or crime scene or courtroom...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/27/exploring-our-paradoxes/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Aug 27, 2014, 06:11 PM (0 replies)

Stormy Monday, 8/25/14

Jeff Rosenzweig: Stormy Monday, 8/25/14

Michael Brown’s funeral will be held at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis on Monday. Brown’s father Michael Sr. has appealed to protesters to suspend their activities temporarily. “We just want a moment of silence that whole day. Just out of respect for our son,” he told hip-hop station Hot 104.1 FM. Along with planned memorial services and vigils across the country, a protest is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. outside the White House.

Now that the Iberia Parish, Louisiana Coroner’s Office has released information flatly contradicting outlandish police claims that Victor White III fatally shot himself while handcuffed with his hands behind his back as he sat in a patrol car last March, his death can be expected to resonate anew.

Protests against yet another example of police violence are likely to continue on Staten Island this week after a large Saturday rally led by Al Sharpton over the July 17 death by chokehold of an unarmed African American, Eric Garner, while in custody.

This week, the administration undertakes a review of federal funding and provision of surplus military-grade weaponry to police departments, practices that, like so many other foolish, wasteful and counterproductive policy decisions, were instituted soon after September 11, 2001...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/24/stormy-monday-82514/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Mon Aug 25, 2014, 12:12 AM (1 replies)

‘Police are deeply saddened by this tragic event’

Jeff Rosenzweig: ‘Police are deeply saddened by this tragic event’

The most sobering thing I’ve read in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri didn’t focus on Brown, his uniformed killer, or Ferguson at all. It was a news item from last December about an incident in Iceland.

On December 2, police shot a man to death in Reykjavik, the first such shooting in Iceland’s history as far as anyone knows. He was reportedly firing a shotgun in his home for reasons not disclosed, and fired at police as they entered the building after an unsuccessful attempt to subdue him with teargas. The chief of police held a press conference the same day, describing the shooting as “without precedent” and noting “police are deeply saddened by this tragic event and would like to extend their condolences to the family of the individual in question.”

As the Guardian article linked above points out, Iceland is by no means a gun-free society. GunPolicy.org estimates its citizen gun ownership to be 30.3 per 100 people, ranking Iceland 15th in the world on a per-capita basis (the United States tops the list with a rate roughly three times higher). They also estimate that Icelandic police have an arsenal of 1,039 guns, though police officers on “routine patrol” do not carry firearms.

Iceland’s population of about 326,000 is very close to that of St. Louis, with about 318,000. Yet in 2011 alone, police in St. Louis shot 11 people, three of them fatally, according to statistics compiled by crime writer and former FBI agent Jim Fisher. (Ferguson, eight miles away, is part of the Greater St. Louis area, but has its own police force, however dysfunctional.)

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/22/police-are-deeply-saddened-by-this-tragic-event/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Fri Aug 22, 2014, 08:15 PM (1 replies)

Drowning in Pain and Anger

Walter Rhett: Drowning in Pain and Anger

There are times when words aren’t heard; their sense is lost, drowned in pain and anger. In our deafness, we only know how to blame. We have forgotten how to heal. We are no longer able to hear. The Sisyphean landslide has burnished and buried our ears’ common sense.

What should we be listening to? In America, the police and many citizens should be listening because American communities are not war zones; the police mission has no inherent right to kill in order to protect. Petty crimes should not involve the loss of life and should not be turned into confrontations and threats that lead to deaths.

Somebody should have been listening to a collective national consciousness of grief and anger that began to break through on the national stage with the death of Trayvon Martin; the death of the unarmed teen Jordan Davis, who never got out of the car through which the bullets entered as the car was speeding away; the death of Eric Garner in front of a Long Island store, whose death was ruled a homicide by the New York City Medical Examiner’s office. There are other cases, lesser known, but well known in local communities.

There are grievances that are historic. In Ferguson, the Justice Department has been told of a 2009 beating by police in which the beating victim was charged with destruction of government property—because his blood spattered onto police uniforms...

More at: http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2014/08/20/drowning-in-pain-and-anger/
Posted by DemocratsForProgress | Wed Aug 20, 2014, 09:15 PM (1 replies)
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