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Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Daily Drift

Editor's Note: We will be lecturing at a seminar on Tuesday June 2nd, so we will be taking what other's have termed a 'Blogcation' for that day with no posts for the day but will return to our regular posting on Wednesday June 3rd.
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The Islamic State – Other People’s Business?

Republicans like to blame Obama, but Bush had already created ISIL, and Obama cannot un-create them, because Obama cannot un-invade Iraq…
ISIL captured the ancient caravan city of Palmyra, and as when cities fell in the ancient world, the killings began. The vision of ISIL standing amid Palymra’s magnificent ruins is enough to chill any antiquarian’s blood.
That it should be the city from which one of history’s most remarkable women, Zenobia, stood against the might of Rome and one of that empire’s greatest generals, only adds to the poignancy of the moment, for in ISIL’s Palmyra, no more woman will ever be more than a slave.
There is no doubt that as Robert D. Kaplan wrote at Foreign Policy the other day , “Middle Eastern chaos demonstrates that the region has still not found a solution to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.” He may or may not be right about the need to “bring imperialism back to the Middle East,” but one thing is for certain: the current system is not working.
What is America to do about it? What can American do about it? We have gotten so used to an America that always “does something about it” even when people don’t want America to do something about it, that we all expect America to do something about it. But should America, simply because it can (perhaps) do something about it, do something about it?
These are not questions easily answered. For one thing, President Obama does not operate in a vacuum. He operates in the post-Bush Middle East, where America’s cachet is just south of bankrupt.
Arguably, White Star Lines’ reputation was on more solid ground after the sinking of the Titanic.
This is not all Bush’s fault. America has a long history of malignant interference in the Middle East, from overthrowing the Iranian government in 1953 – the 28 Mordad coup – onward. An unabashed devotion to Israel since 1948, at the expense of every Islamic state you care to mention, did not help America’s reputation. But Bush’s prolonged plundering expedition in Iraq is what is hurting America, and the Middle East, the most right now.
David Rothkopf wrote last week at Foreign Policy in criticism of Obama’s alternative to Bush’s foreign policy. Rothkopf, cynically, I think, calls this alternative “Other People’s Armies” (OPA), “encouraging other countries to fight or help fight those conflicts we might have waded into alone or largely alone in the past.”
A better term might be “Other People’s Business.” It is easy for Westerners to talk about the merits of imperialism. Westerners have never been the beneficiaries of other people’s imperialism. We have dished it out for centuries. Middle Easterners might feel differently about it. They were certainly eager to shake off the yoke of the Ottoman Empire.
If the West intends to interfere in the Middle East at this point, it must ensure first and foremost that it is on sure footing. In other words, “Why?” To protect Israel, as Republicans claim? Well, Israel is not under attack. When Israel is attacked – if Israel is attacked, we can talk about that. To protect ruins? Much as it pains me to say it, nobody wants to die for ruins, and in any event, we can’t liberate them without destroying them.
To shore up an Iraqi regime which really doesn’t seem to want to defend itself, and worse, has a population that really doesn’t want to defend its regime, seems a dubious inducement to intervention. We saw how that sort of deal goes down in South Vietnam.
South Vietnam’s incredibly corrupt and collective shrug to the communist threat was heard loud and clear by Americans. Do we really want to ally ourselves again with people who seem to feel they have no vested interest in the battle, who fight only because we want them to fight? It is the duty of young men and women in America to die for a cause that even Iraqis refuse to die for?
The Iraqi army has reportedly shown little desire to do more than run away wherever the ISIL shows itself, as witnessed by their handing over to ISIL Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. With the fall of Ramadi, argued Hassan Hassan last week in Foreign Policy, “In Washington, it should be clear that the current U.S. strategy to fight the Islamic State has failed.”
But are those reports true? Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Sunday’s edition of State of the Union announced that “We have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.” American equipment was left behind, a big no-no, meaning the United States is arming ISIL via the Iraqi army as a middleman. But Iraq said they had no air support from U.S. forces, even though they are stationed in the same province.
In fact, Iraq announced Tuesday that they are launching a counterattack in Anbar province. No doubt ISIL has Internet too, so maybe this is not the best way to go about fighting a war. On the other hand, ISIL probably expects a counterattack.
So the question is, who is letting whom down, here?
What is important to realize is that this is not America’s war. This is other people’s business and we are helping them out. This is not an American war, directed by the United States and fought with U.S. troops.
Our allies are a disparate group including the Iraqi army, Iranian volunteers, militias, a few U.S. units and air support, and a whole lot of American equipment – on both sides.
Americans are not eager to go back into Iraq, and who can blame them? It was a hot mess. Thanks to Bush’s early blunders, an unwinnable hot mess. Republicans like to blame Obama now but the damage was done by the time Obama became president. Bush had already created ISIL. It was beyond Obama’s capability to un-create them, because Obama could not un-invade Iraq.
So if we can’t un-invade, we re-invade?
Is that really the argument being advanced here? Because if it is, it is a non-starter for anyone but Republican chickenhawks, who because they are privileged white men, won’t have to fight themselves. Should another generation of young men and women have to die for the mistakes of old white men who will never take a bullet for their alleged beliefs?
How about the base? They don’t plan to wield AR-15s in anything but restaurants, malls, and down American streets. The only people who are going to be shooting members of the gun lobby are other members of the gun lobby – and their wives – and their children, of course. You don’t see these super patriots forming up to go overseas like another generation did to fight fascist aggression in Spain.
How badly are we wanted? And who will be shooting at us if we go back? ISIL certainly, but will they be the only ones? For nearly a decade we brutalized the Iraqi people we were supposed to be freeing from oppression. Does anyone really expect them to welcome us back as liberators?
Kaplan concluded that, “The challenge now is less to establish democracy than to reestablish order. For without order, there is no freedom for anyone,” but of course, empires are not big on freedom either. America insists on freedom, as though it is not oxymoronic – or even effective – to push freedom at the point of a bayonet.
Rothkopft speaks of “the president’s impulse to avoid the mistakes of the Bush years,” but he does not speak of Obama’s inability to do certain things because of the mistakes of the Bush years. There is no support in America for another war. For putting American ground forces in ISIL’s path.
It would be great if we could, but we can’t go back in time and undo Bush’s mistakes, un-create ISIL, or a more American-friendly Middle East. It is not a question only of what you want to do, but what you can do.
Because we are losing, or so we are told, John McCain asserts that “There is no strategy.” But is there no strategy or is the strategy we are using simply not working, and if it is not working, is there an option besides committing U.S. ground forces to a war nobody but Republicans want to fight?
I mean, the last invasion worked so well it created ISIL.
The past casts a long shadow, and the biggest mistake any of us can make now is to try to answer the question of ISIL outside of its proper context. And that is a mistake most pundits are making today.
In any case, fortunately, this is not a case where pundits will make the hard choices. That will be left to our elected officials, for better or – because they got us into this mess in the first place – for worse. We just have to hope that this time around, hard facts are heard louder than hunches or ideology – or as in 1953 and 2003, simple greed.

Judge orders NC sheriff to stop interfering with attempts to call witnesses in lawsuit over brutal arrest

Sheriff Tracy Carter (Facebook)
A North Carolina sheriff called on his deputies to arrest a man trying to serve him with a subpoena to testify in a federal lawsuit filed by a man who suffered broken bones and other injuries during an arrest.

Racist Gets The Shit Smacked Out Of Her For Calling Black Man Nigger On Camera

Racist Gets The Sh*t Smacked Out Of Her For Calling Black Man N*gger On Camera (NSFW VIDEO)
This is your “post-racial” America, folks. Watch it and weep.
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Bernie Sanders Storms CNBC and Slams The Sick Greed Of Wall Street

sanders-cnbcBernie Sanders did something that no other politician does. The Democratic presidential candidate went on CNBC and criticized the sick greed of Wall Street.
In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Sen. Sanders responded to Wall Street’s comparison of regulations to Hitler hunting down the Jews.
Sanders said, “I think it’s sick, and I think these people are so greedy. They’re so out of touch with reality, and they think they own the world, and the idea that me or anybody else are challenging them and saying maybe, just maybe, there’s something wrong with 99% of all new income going to the top 1%. Oh, this is Hitlerism to suggest that? What a disgusting remark. If you’ve seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the top one ten of one percent, in our view, you ought to transfer that back. When radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, I think the highest marginal tax rate was ninety percent or something like that.”
Harwood asked if Sen. Sanders thought that ninety percent was too high. The Democratic presidential candidate answered, “No. What I think is obscene, and what frightens me is again when you have the top one-tenth of one percent owning as much as the bottom ninety. Does anyone think that this is the kind of economy that this country should have? Do they think it’s moral? We got people working one job, two jobs, three jobs. People scared to death about what happens tomorrow. Half the people in America have less than ten thousand dollars in savings.”
This interview perfectly captured why so many Americans support Bernie Sanders. Sen. Sanders is real. He gives real answers. Bernie Sanders delivered what he viewed as the truth without the burden of calculating to constituencies.
It is unheard of for any political figure to go on CNBC and bluntly criticize the greed of Wall Street. If one spends any time watching the business news networks, criticism of Wall Street beyond stock performance is blasphemy.
Bernie Sanders went into the belly of the beast and spoke the truth about the unchecked greed of Wall Street.
Sen. Sanders isn’t afraid of Wall Street, but Wall Street is terrified of the movement building around Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton Uses Her Campaign Store To Strike A Blow Against Republicans

CF784i5VAAAThV_Fancy yourself some shattered glass ceilings? Look no further.
2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton just launched her campaign store on Tuesday, where you can purchase things like the American-made and union printed $30 “Everyday Pantsuit Tee” (see above), complete with a Hillary branded suit in front and “Pantsuit Up” in back. Please note, the bottoms are not included.
Or some union made in America shattered glass ceilings for you:
“Progress pint glass — Cheers to making history. Made from 100% shattered glass ceilings. Union Made in America.”
CF78D9WXIAAkxWoThe store has an American-made cross-stitch pillow with “A Woman’s Place is in the White House” for $55 (wish they had this in a chevron print, but the world is not perfect yet), which the store describes as, “The perfect touch for any home, whether it’s 1600 Pennsylvania Ave or simply Pennsylvania.”
From onesies to classic “H” crewnecks to “Think Tanks”, the campaign store has it covered.
HFA-Apparel-02-Future_Voter_Onesie-A_grandeMany of the items posted are a bit tongue-in-cheek at digs Republicans have made toward the former Secretary of State. They have had a super hard time with her pantsuits, after all. And it looks like she’s not retiring the pantsuits any time soon, so they’re going to have to get used to it.
The HRC store is alive with who Clinton is and what she has always stood for, whereas the Jeb Bush (R-FLA) store is, at least right now, a snooze-fest. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) store is fun and youthful, selling paranoid, hip and cynical chic to the adolescent suburban set.
Clinton’s store offers women and girls who don’t even support her something to aspire to and something to believe in.

Twitter wingnuts rage after Kelly Clarkson calls Hillary Clinton a ‘badass

Bill Clinton photobombs Kelly Clarkson at the Gloden Globes award ceremony in 2013 (Screenshot/Twitter)
The pop star said, “I’m a fan of Hillary. She’s badass. I don’t just want a woman to win, I want the right person. And I think she’s also that.”

Media Executives Salivate Over Big Billionaire Election Bucks

Media Executives Salivate Over Big Billionaire Election Bucks
"Thank dog, the rancor has already begun."
~ Les Moonves

How Rush Limbaugh (Yes, Rush Limbaugh) Could Help Liberals Kill TPP

How Rush Limbaugh (Yes, Rush Limbaugh) Could Help Liberals Kill TPP (VIDEO)Could Obama once again be playing chess while Republicans are playing checkers?

5 Despicable Wingnut Moments You Might Not Have Heard About

You'll never guess who's really to blame for ISIL's recruiting success.
Rachel Campos-Duffy  
1. Fox Newsian:  American schools teaching multi-culturalism is why ISIS is so good at recruiting.
The only thing “Outnumbered” on Fox’s “Outnumbered” is sanity, which appears to have plain old vacated the building. On Thursday, co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy connected two seemingly unconnectable dots: American schools teaching and embracing diversity and the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s success at recruiting foreign fighters. And by connecting, we mean blaming the first thing for the second.
Campos-Duffy’s made this absurd connection while commenting on a story about FBI agents and local police warning U.S. high schoolers against joining ISIS. According to the report, ISIS recruitment videos have become increasingly sophisticated at manipulating young minds.
Apparently, the reason young minds are susceptible to this manipulation is that we no longer teach kids that America never does anything wrong, that it is exceptional and that it's our way or the highway. How horrible. We need to start re-brainwashing these kids immediately, especially the immigrant ones. Or as Campos-Duffy so eloquently puts it:
“I think that what’s happening is that, you know, think about, there’s not very much assimilation, and then once kids go to school, we have removed any kind of positive celebration of our culture, of our founders. And so there’s this vacuum. […] These kids from elementary to secondary to college… they’re buying into this multicultural “we’re the imperialists, we’re the bad guys,” and so we have created a system that doesn’t reinforce and make people feel like they belong to this country."
Campos-Duffy may have taken her lead from GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson who similarly claimed that students who take AP U.S. history classes are “ready to go sign up for ISIS” because Americans are “crucifying ourselves” and stressing “how evil we are.”
To sum up: Receiving an education that leads you to question things is obviously the first step to signing up for a rigidly authoritarian group that tolerates no diversity in thought or appearance.
2. The Kansas Legislature: Poor people need to have harder lives, so let’s limit their cash withdrawals.
The Kansas legislature has figured out a way to lather on more shame, hardship and humiliation to poor people’s lives. This week, the legislature voted to limit the size of withdrawals that welfare recipients can make from their own bank accounts. Beginning in July, the maximum ATM withdrawal per day will be $25.
So, no government over-reach there.
All sensible people realize that this will end up costing the poor even more money, since having to make more frequent but smaller withdrawals will incur fees, as well as travel expenses for multiple trips to the bank. As Crooks and Liars puts it:
"It's hard to overstate the significance of this action. Many households without enough money to maintain a minimum balance in a conventional checking account will pay their rent and their utility bills in cash. A single mother with two children seeking to withdraw just $200 in cash could incur $30 or more in fees, which is a big chunk of the roughly $400 such a family would receive under the program in Kansas."
There's also the fact that most ATMs don't dispense $5 bills, so the limit is in effect $20. Let's all try that, shall we. Withdrawing just $20 and paying our bills with that.
In Kansas, it' a Sam Brownback world; all those poor people are merely trapped in it.
3. Glenn Beck: President Obama’s not demilitarizing the police; he’s plotting to burn our cities down with the help of  liberal groups.
Well, loony-old Glenn Beck got it half right. President Obama’s executive order this week depriving local police forces of tanks, grenade launchers, bayonets and 50 caliber weapons did not go nearly far enough.
“We’re worried about the M-16s, and the flash grenades that you can just throw in, the Humvees,” Beck said. “They’ll still get all the stuff that they have. Just no tanks.”
“Could we also throw in there that they shouldn’t have nuclear weapons,” he quipped.
Good one, Glenn.
But the real worry is that Commandante Obama is also setting up more federal oversight of local police forces. And that is very ominous indeed when you are Glenn Beck and you believe in things like the Jade Helm Conspiracy, for starters.
“This is a show by the president,” Beck frothed. “He’s taking more control. Expect to see more protests continue. Expect to see more of the usual suspects. Expect sometime between now and I don't when, these groups (New Black Panthers, MoveOn.org, Code Pink, Colour of Change) will be setting our cities on fire. Getting us to tear each other apart. Getting us to cry out, Somebody’s gonna have to do it. The president will be happy to do it with centralized control of police and a national police force.”
There it is, ladies and gentleman. It’s not just Texas that the federal government is planning to invade and take over. It’s the whole dang country.
4. Fox Business guy, Charles Gasparino: Men have become women, and that’s, you guessed it, liberals’ fault.
On Fox’s Outnumbered, this week, the outnumbered man, Fox’s own Charles Gasparino sat in the hot seat, and was asked to respond to a new study revealing that men look at their own reflections far more than women do. It seems that the “stronger” sex is also the vainer sex. Apparently, men look at their reflection an average of 23 times a day, compared to women who check themselves out 16 times per day. Men and women also differ in their motivation for their frequent self regard.  Whereas, women are generally making sure nothing is out of place, men report checking themselves out just to gaze admiringly at their favorite body part. Guns, legs, smile, hair. In that order.
So, vanity, thy name is . . . man?
After admiring his own guns, Gasparino had a perfectly logical explanation for this surge in male vanity. Liberals!
“There’s a serious answer to this,” Gasparino said. He needed to inject a note of seriousness with all those cackling female co-hosts. “Men have been feminized over the last 20 years. The attacks on the male persona that we’re too macho, that we’re too hormone driven, the overt feminization of our culture has created a situation where men have become women.”
Wait! Has the Rock heard? He’s going to be pissed.
5. Pat Robertson has an excellent idea for treating eating disorders.
Anorexics everywhere will be relieved to learn that TV evangelical Pat Robertson has weighed in on the subject of eating disorders. In his professional medical opinion it’s the devil making people starve themselves.
Phew, and here we were worried that eating disorders were hard to treat. After a brief discussion about Karen Carpenter, her nice singing voice, and the fact that she starved herself to death, Robertson offered this helpful perspective: “This can be treated as a demonic possession thing,” Robertson said. “It is like a demon and it needs to be rebuked and cast out.”
There you go. Rebuke, cast out, repeat.
He continued: “It’s not something you can just pat ‘em on the back and say ‘well, hey hey, why don’t you eat? I’ve got you a nice steak.'”
Hey, hey, no. That doesn’t work at all. Casting the devil out. Now, that works, every time.

Wisconsin's Supreme Court Is A Hot Mess, Thanks To Scott Walker's Cronies

Wisconsin's Supreme Court Is A Hot Mess, Thanks To Scott Walker's CroniesNow that the wingnuts have taken over the court, an internal war is being waged.

Contrary To McConnell’s Election Promises, Republican Senate Majority Proves To Be Dysfunctional

mcconnell busted
Just over six months after winning back control of the U.S. Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, Mitch McConnell’s GOP majority is proving to be more dysfunctional than ever. During the 2014 election season, Kentucky GOP Senator Mitch McConnell promised that if his party were given control of the U.S. Senate, he would instill more discipline, and allow bills to undergo a “strong and robust” bipartisan amendment process. However, the Senate fell into disarray over the Memorial Day weekend, with Senators rushing off to catch flights while much critical Senate business remained unfinished.
McConnell has been perplexed by his inability to control members of his own party. The Senate Majority Leader has not even been able to reign in fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. The junior Senator from Kentucky refused to grant an extension to the government’s phone data collection program for even a single day. Unable to outmaneuver the junior Senator from his own state, McConnell had to settle for requesting that the Senate vote next Sunday, in order to prevent the phone data collection provisions from expiring.
Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman at The New York Times noted the irony of McConnell’s conundrum. They observed:
As senators raced for the airport on Saturday after a six-week session that ended in disarray, they left behind a wreck of promises made by Mr. McConnell on how a renewed Senate would operate. Mr. McConnell has found himself vexed by Democratic delaying tactics he honed in the minority, five presidential aspirants with their own agendas and a new crop of conservative firebrands demanding their say.
It was easy on the campaign trail for McConnell to argue that a Republican majority could govern better than Harry Reid and the Democrats. However, McConnell has been unable to demonstrate that the Republicans can govern in practice. Talk is cheap, but when it comes to action, McConnell has been confounded by the personal agendas of grandstanding members of his own party. He has also been thwarted by Democrats turning the tactics he used while he was Minority Leader against him, now that he is in the majority.
Voters are learning that Mitch McConnell is unable to successfully lead the U.S. Senate as Majority Leader. In 2016, they will have the opportunity to remove him from the Majority Leader position, by voting Democrats back into the Senate majority. Given McConnell’s poor performance as Senate Majority Leader, voters should capitalize on the chance to oust him from that position, and to put the Democrats back in charge.

Here’s Proof Rand Paul’s ‘Filibusters’ Are All About Selling His New Book

Fear Of The Black President Reaches A Paranoid Zenith Among Texas Republicans

obama cowboy hat
Paranoid Fox News and hate speech radio fed fear of the nation’s first black president has reached a fever pitch, as some Texas Republicans are completely out of control.
Here are some quotes from recent Boston Globe article about the paranoia that has gripped some Texas Republicans:
One of those who began to grow increasingly worried was Terry Wareham, a local Tea Party leader.

“Probably a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t even be concerned,”Terry Wareham, a local Tea Party leader, said. “But with the federal government the way it is right now, I’m really concerned about the military coming here and doing this kind of training.”

“What comes home in the conservative consciousness is: The government is hostile to me,” said, Albert Ellison, the chairman of the Bastrop County Republican Party. “And if he’s already unleashed the IRS on us, is it a big leap to think he’d unleash the military?”
Why is it not reasonable for me to see this as absolute training for a domestic rendition program?” one man asked.
“Our freedom is under attack,” said Jim Dillon, a 60-year-old contractor. “This is one little incremental step in a long-term plan to not only exercise more control but to gain more control.”
“I don’t know that I would say this is the big one where they sneak in under the guise of a training exercise and clamp down on civil liberties in Texas. It’s too early for that,” Dillon said. “But it’s conditioning. It’s getting people accustomed to having heavily armed, camouflaged soldiers on the city streets, ranches, farms, public roads.”

“We have the potential like Nazi Germany did, to go really bad,” he said. “And if we don’t nip this stuff in the bud — once it gets its head under the tent, it’s there.”
The quotes above reflect a collective crazed state of paranoia that has no basis in fact. What is happening in Texas is the logical byproduct of years of conservative media hate and fearmongering against President Obama. Republicans have spent so long inside their media bubble where they have been told daily to fear this president that they are extremely susceptible to conspiracy theories.
The talk of military takeovers and Nazi Germany sounds just like vintage Fox News era Glenn Beck and conservative talk radio. This sect of Republicans wants to believe that they are special. In their hearts, they know that President Obama is after them. They have been told by Fox News that they are the enlightened ones who know the real truth.
As the rest of the nation looks on in disbelief at the level of crazy among some Republicans in Texas, it needs to be understood that the insanity over Jade Helm is not unique to Texas. The Republican Party has been gripped by paranoia. Republicans are paranoid, and they elect candidates who legitimize and indulge their taste for conspiracies.
This dynamic is why House Republicans investigated the IRS. It is also why the nation is suffering its eighth investigation into Benghazi. Republicans benefit by playing to the paranoia.
What Jade Helm teaches us all is that Republican fear of the nation’s first black president is getting stronger even though his time in office is winding down.
Even after President Obama is going, Republican paranoia is likely to linger on.

Jeb Bush’s Favorite Author Rejects Democracy, Says The Hyper-Rich Should Seize Power

Assuming Every Woman Is A Minor And Other Ways Texas Plans To Restrict Abortion Access

Life in Alabama

This Is How The ‘christian’ wingnuts Have Held jesus Hostage To Fuel Corrupt Capitalism

This Is How The ‘Christian’ Right Has Held Jesus Hostage To Fuel Corrupt Capitalism
What made Republicans rely on Jesus to win elections?
Read more

Christian Minister Sentenced To Jail In The Name Of Religio-Wingut's ‘Religious Freedom’

Featured image credit: video screen capture via David Pakman Show on youtubeThe Reverend Anne Susan DiPrizio was arrested in February while attempting to perform a completely legal same-sex marriage ceremony in Alabama. This week she was sentenced to jail.

Wingnut Bishop Says Women Are Sinning By Doing Yoga Exercises

image by www.localfitness.com.au. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yoga_at_a_Gym.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Yoga_at_a_Gym.JPGSeriously, what the hell is wrong with these anti-yoga wingnuts?
A wingnut catholic bishop in Nebraska has issued a warning to women claiming...