Friday Reads

meijishowa 1872Good Morning!!

I’ve found some interesting links for you this morning.  Some of them are fun and some are rather shocking.  Drink your coffee and settle in for a little bit of this and that.  Oh, you may want to hold off on food or make sure it’s completely digested before you read a few of these.  For some reason, I’ve found a lot of stories that don’t seem to contribute to holding food down.

I’m not sure if any of you have seen Zero Dark Thirty yet.  I’m still trying to decide if I should live through the first few minutes and embrace the controversy.  Here’s an interesting panel of Ex-CIA officials that were supposed to discuss the film that went elsewhere instead.  It’s a compelling and disturbing read via Slate.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden led the panel. He was joined by Jose Rodriguez, who ran the agency’s National Clandestine Service, and John Rizzo, who served as the CIA’s chief legal officer. The stories they told, and the reasons they offered, shook up my assumptions about the interrogation program. They might shake up yours, too. Here’s what they said.

1. The detention program was a human library. The panelists didn’t use that term, but it reflects what they described. After detainees were interrogated, the CIA kept them around for future inquiries and to monitor their communications. Sometimes this yielded a nugget, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s message to his fellow detainees: “Do not say a word about the courier.” Rodriguez said this incident shows “the importance of having a place like a black site to take these individuals, because we could use that type of communication. We could use them as background information to check a name.”

2. EITs were used to break the will to resist, not to extract information directly. Hayden acknowledged that prisoners might say anything to stop their suffering. (Like the other panelists, he insisted EITs weren’t torture.) That’s why “we never asked anybody anything we didn’t know the answer to, while they were undergoing the enhanced interrogation techniques. The techniques were not designed to elicit truth in the moment.” Instead, EITs were used in a controlled setting, in which interrogators knew the answers and could be sure they were inflicting misery only when the prisoner said something false. The point was to create an illusion of godlike omniscience and omnipotence so that the prisoner would infer, falsely, that his captors always knew when he was lying or withholding information. More broadly, said Hayden, the goal was “to take someone who had come into our custody absolutely defiant and move them into a state or a zone of cooperation” by convincing them that “you are no longer in control of your destiny. You are in our hands.” Thereafter, the prisoner would cooperate without need for EITs. Rodriguez explained: “Once you got through the enhanced interrogation process, then the real interrogation began. … The knowledge base was so good that these people knew that we actually were not going to be fooled. It was an essential tool to validate that the people were being truthful. “

3. The human library was part of the will-breaking process. “Because we had other prisoners in our black sites, we would be able to check information against others. And they [detainees] knew that,” said Rodriguez. In this way, simply holding detainees in opaque confinement gave interrogators leverage.

4. We had tested EITs on ourselves. Rodriguez said he quickly accepted the use of EITs in part because “I knew that many of these procedures were applied to our own servicemen. Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers had gone through this.” If these methods were safe and moral to use on Americans, weren’t they safe and moral to use on our enemies?

5. Freelancing was forbidden. Rizzo outlined some rules for EITs: No interrogator was allowed to use a waterboard without first submitting written justification, and only the CIA director could approve it. So, for what it’s worth, there were internal checks on the practice, at least because the CIA would be politically accountable for what its interrogators did.

6. Rules were a weakness, and ambiguity was leverage. While citing the program’s rules as a moral defense, the panelists also groused that the rules cost them leverage. KSM, for instance, noticed a time limit on waterboarding. “Pretty quickly, he recognized that within 10 seconds we would stop pouring water,” said Rodriguez. “He started to count with his fingers, up to 10, just to let us know that the time was up.” Hayden said that when the incoming Obama administration ruled out EITs, he requested a caveat: “unless otherwise authorized by the president.” This, he explained, would create “ambiguity” so that anyone captured in the future couldn’t be “quite sure what would happen” to them.

7. EITs were useful as an implicit threat. Hayden said only a third of the detainees required EITs.  But he acknowledged that “the existence of the option may have influenced” the rest.

8. The library rationale withered. The detainees’ value as constantly accessible sources didn’t mean they could be kept forever. They were human beings, too, and this created political and international problems. Over time, their intelligence value sank below the PR cost of keeping them at black sites. “When I became director in 2006, I concluded that, number one, we are not the nation’s jailers,” said Hayden. “We are the nation’s intelligence service. And so there just can’t be an endless detention program.” Accordingly, he transferred a dozen detainees out of CIA custody, “not because their intelligence value had become zero … but because the intelligence value of most of them had edged off to a point that other factors were becoming more dominant in the equation.”

9. The library became less necessary as we developed other sources. Hayden said he re-evaluated the program in 2006 based in part on the declining need for it: “How much more did we know about al-Qaida now? How many more human and other intelligence penetrations of al-Qaida did we now have, compared to where we were, almost in extremis, in 2002?” There was less need to keep the human books on the shelf, now that the CIA could download information through other channels.

10. EITs liberated detainees from religious bondage. Rodriguez said Abu Zubaydah eventually “told us that we should use waterboarding … on all the brothers,” because

the brothers needed to have religious justification to talk, to provide information. However, they would not be expected by Allah to go beyond their capabilities [of] resistance. So once they felt that they were there, they would then become compliant and provide information. So he basically recommended to us that we needed to submit the brothers to this type of procedure. … As a matter of fact, it would help them reach the level where they would become compliant and provide information.

Hayden said the Abu Zubaydah story “was important for my own soul-searching on this.”

There’s more at the link.  The article was written by William Saletan. I have to admit it makes my skin crawl. old man reading paper

We’ve had a number of celebrities talk about running for public office and we’ve had a number of them dive in.  Well, here’s a celeb talking about running for the senate that will make you think twice about celebrity and gravity.  If the story on torture didn’t make your tummy a bit queasy, maybe the thought of Senator Geraldo Rivera will.

On his radio show this afternoon, Geraldo Rivera announced he might run for Senate in his home state of New Jersey.

“Fasten your seatbelt,” he told his audience and Judge Andrew Napolitano. “I am and have been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker in New Jersey.”

Napolitano praised Rivera’s potential decision, saying he’d do everything within the limits of his Fox News contract to support the campaign because he is “a rare understander of the nature of human freedom and the role of government in our lives.”

“I figure, at my age, if I’m going to do it, I’ve got to do it,” Rivera added. He praised Newark Mayor and rumored 2014 Senate candidate Cory Booker but noted that there doesn’t seem to be a formidable GOP member lined up for a challenge.

Later in the show, Rivera said that his desire to nationalize New York’s “stop-and-frisk” policy could be part of his platform. As a national police program, he said, it would decrease the chances for the policy’s controversial racial profiling.

So, my senator, also known as Diaper Dave, has evidently gone on Mark Rubio’s list of nutterz.  Whoa!  Imagine that!

Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) associates, furious about fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) calling the Floridian “nuts” and “naïve” over his immigration reform efforts, are hitting Vitter where it hurts.

“David Vitter has done some nuttier things in his life,” a source close to Rubio wrote in an unsolicited email to POLITICO.

That’s a not-at-all subtle reference to Vitter’s 2007 admission that his phone number appeared on a client list of a Washington, D.C. madam. A New Orleans-based prostitute and madam have also, separately, accused Vitter of being a client, but he has denied those charges.

Asked for comment about the jab, Vitter’s press secretary didn’t respond to two emails. A receptionist at Vitter’s Washington office said the press staffer “must be away from his desk.”

Vitter’s attack on Rubio, on conservative Laura Ingraham’s talk show Wednesday, came as he steps up his public profile in advance of a potential 2015 gubernatorial bid. Vitter is moving to re-establish his conservative and populist bona fides.

My suggestion to Rubio is to look for bombs under his car. He should probably also hire a body guard that specializes in preventing murders by suicide.  Hey, you can never be safe enough, right?

You know that austerity doesn’t work and hasn’t worked.  Here’s a great post on that by Pat Garofalo.  It’s also a good reason to question Paul Ryan’s understanding of simple math.

Most of the recent economic data out of Europe has been exceedingly grim. A record high number of workers across the Eurozone are unemployed. Economies are shrinking. Debts are rising.

The anecdotes, though, are even worse. Hospitals are asking patients to supply their own syringes due to lack of funds. Trees on public land are being cut down by workers desperate for firewood to warm their homes. An entire generation of young workers is going to experience lower wages for the rest of their lives, due to years of being unemployed while in their 20s.

At this point, it’s safe to say that Europe’s response to the financial crisis of 2008 and its ensuing recession has failed. Austerity packages that were meant to jumpstart business investment and reduce what were viewed as unsustainable debt loads have instead crippled growth and caused untold amounts of human misery.

America, meanwhile, eschewed austerity for stimulus in the wake of the ’08 crisis. The result has been a return to slow, steady, if not overwhelming growth. But for Republicans in Congress, who constantly warn about the menace of the European social safety net, European austerity is a model to be emulated. And their insistence on cutting government spending no matter its effect on growth is bad news for the fragile economic recovery.

With the so-called fiscal “cliff” firmly behind them and debt ceiling sufficiently punted away for a few months, House Republicans are turning their attention back to the federal budget process. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), fresh off his failed run for the vice-presidency, plans to release a budget that will balance in 10 years. Such a move, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, will require cutting one-sixth to one-third of most of the federal government, depending on how Ryan structures it.

But in the shorter term, congressional Republicans are planning to use a few pending deadlines to secure deep cuts in government spending. For instance, the current round of funding for the federal government expires in March, giving Republicans leverage to push for reductions. “The CR [Continuing Resolution]– it’s one of the areas where there is indeed an absolute deadline. Washington and Congress respond to crises and deadlines, and we need to address the spending side of the equation,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).

Ryan himself has also said that the $1.2 billion in spending cuts known as the “sequester” are going to go into effect that same month. “I think the sequester’s going to happen, because that $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, we can’t lose those spending cuts,” Ryan said. The sequester will knock 0.7 percent off of economic growth in 2013, according to MacroEconomic Advisers.

Well, just when you thought you knew everything about all those priests and child sexual assaults along comes this story from Los Angeles.  LA Archbishop Gomez has found files covered up by Cardinal Mahoney and is taking action.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Thursday night that he has relieved retired Cardinal Roger Mahony of his remaining duties and a former top aide to Mahony has stepped down from his current post, on the same night the church released thousands of pages of personnel files of priests accused of sexual abuse.

“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” Gomez said in a statement, referring to the newly released files made public by the church Thursday night just hours after a judge’s order. “The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children.”

Gomez announced that he has “informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties.”

Mahony, who retired in 2011 after more than a quarter-century at the helm of the archdiocese, has publicly apologized for mistakes he made in dealing with priests who molested children.

Gomez also said Thomas Curry, former vicar of the clergy under Mahony who was the cardinal’s point person in dealing with priests accused of molestation, has stepped down from his current job as auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese’s Santa Barbara region. Curry also issued an apology earlier this month.

Earlier Thursday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias ordered the diocese to turn over some 30,000 pages from the confidential files of priests accused of child molestation without blacking out the names of top church officials who were responsible for handling priests accused of abuse.

The judge gave the archdiocese until Feb. 22 to turn over the files to attorneys for the alleged victims, but they were released almost immediately.

The archdiocese, the nation’s largest, had planned to black out the names of members of the church hierarchy who were mary pickfordresponsible for the priests, and instead provide a cover sheet for each priest’s file, listing the names of top officials who handled that case. The church reversed course Wednesday after The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and plaintiff attorneys objected in court.

A record-breaking $660 million settlement in 2007 with more than 500 alleged victims paved the way for the ultimate disclosure of the tens of thousands of pages, but the archdiocese and individual priests fought to keep them secret for more than five years.

A first round of 14 priest files made public in Los Angeles nearly two weeks ago showed that Mahony and other top officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners in the dark about sexual abuse in their parishes. Those documents, released as part of an unrelated civil lawsuit, were not redacted and provided a glimpse of what could be contained in the larger release.

The files, some of them dating back decades, contain letters among top church officials, accused priests and archdiocese attorneys, complaints from parents, medical and psychological records and — in some cases — correspondence with the Vatican.

You have to hope that more church leaders like Gomez decide to do the right thing.

I hope you have found some stories to share!  Some times, you just have to let what the evil men do just flow over you so you can beg the universe for justice.  Then, you eat, pray, meditate, drink and hope the greater ethos takes care of them eventually.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Oh, and that last photo there is a celebrity. Can you guess who she is?

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56 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    Great post dak. Seems like Machiavelli lives on, especially in the CIA & the Catholic Church.

    I’m guessing the photo is of Mary Pickford, simply based on her ringlets.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The NYT had a disturbing story on Obamacare yesterday: Federal Rule Limits Aid to Families Who Can’t Afford Employers’ Health Coverage

    The Obama administration adopted a strict definition of affordable health insurance on Wednesday that will deny federal financial assistance to millions of Americans with modest incomes who cannot afford family coverage offered by employers.

    In deciding whether an employer’s health plan is affordable, the Internal Revenue Service said it would look at the cost of coverage only for an individual employee, not for a family. Family coverage might be prohibitively expensive, but federal subsidies would not be available to help buy insurance for children in the family.

    But the IRS won’t make the family pay the fine for not having health insurance. So kids will go without health care and the consolation prize is no penalty. Thanks, Obama.

    • bostonboomer says:

      “This is bad news for kids,” said Jocelyn A. Guyer, an executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University. “We can see kids falling through the cracks. They will lack access to affordable employer-based family coverage and still be locked out of tax credits to help them buy coverage for their kids in the marketplaces, or exchanges, being established in every state.”

      In 2012, according to an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, total premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance averaged $5,615 a year for single coverage and $15,745 for family coverage. The employee’s share of the premium averaged $951 for individual coverage and more than four times as much, $4,316, for family coverage.

      Under the I.R.S. rule, such costs would be considered affordable for a family making $35,000 a year, even though the family would have to spend 12 percent of its income for full coverage under the employer’s plan.

      • roofingbird says:

        I get your point, but a readdressing of what constitutes a living wage for a family of four wouldn’t hurt either. The minimum wage categories have been depressed since Reaganomics.

        I spend around $2000 in my house for two for food. Now granted that included in this amount that I have pets to feed and I additionally package food supplies for my gluten intolerant daughter to get her through her late night board meetings. Still, we don’t eat out much. So, $24,000 a year for 2, times 2, equals $48,000

        Most folks, I think, are lucky to survive at all on $35,000

        to further my point, even with all the backyard gardening revival, most folks, 98% now live in cities, or nearby. Our population no longer resides on farms or small rural communities where they can even grow their own food. And it isn’t just a matter of buying seeds. Rural ag water was always cheap. City water, especially in drought conditions, can cost a lot, if even available to use in your yard.

    • RalphB says:

      I read about this yesterday. The problem is a screw-up in the legal language that the administration can’t work around without a change by legislation. Thanks should more properly go to some Max Baucus staffer or whoever drafted the language for that section.

  3. Delphyne says:

    O/T – Ed Koch passed away this morning of congestive heart failure – he was 88.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-obit-koch-20130201,0,7453906.story

    Geraldo running for Senator in the State of NJ? That man is delusional at best.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Geraldo Rivera has been married at least 6 times: he certainly knows how to stretch a budget when it comes to paying child support. I lost count of the number of kids he has had over the years. A wonderful candidate for those “family values”.

    The picture I believe is Mary Pickford once known as “America’s Sweetheart”.

    Don’t get me started on the most recent cover up of child molesters and the Catholic Church. I’m waiting for Bill Donohue and the Catholic League to protest another “attack” against religion.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Hillary tells AP that Benghazi critics don’t live in an “evidence-based world.”

    • ANonOMouse says:

      It will be good to have Hillary back into the mainstream where her political voice and her ability to counter her attackers isn’t silenced by her job.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    White House looks to be throwing Hagel under the bus.

    White House officials told CBS’ Major Garrett that they’re disappointed with defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s performance at his confirmation hearing before the Senate on Thursday.

    One of the most damaging exchanges during the hearing came from Hagel’s onetime ally, Sen. John McCain, over Hagel’s opposition to the Iraq troop surge.

    CBS News’ Chief Washington correspondent and host of “Face the Nation,” Bob Schieffer, said the heated round of questioning was one of the most surprising details to emerge from the hearing.

    “Let’s not forget, Chuck Hagel was the co-chairman of John McCain’s presidential campaign when John McCain ran the first time. This is stunning.”

    WTF?! Obama WH giving this to Major Garrett?! Bob Schieffer?!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Schieffer:

      Typically, when a nominee comes under fire during a hearing, Schieffer explained, “The White House will come back and stoutly defend the guy and … [yesterday] they started leaking all these reports, they’re disappointed.”

      I must be completely clueless. McCain made a complete ass of himself. Even Morning Joe people said the questioning was ridiculous. Why’d Obama nominate Hagel if he wasn’t going to stand up for him?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Ed Kilgore says the chances of Hagel not being confirmed are infinitesimal.

        http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_01/hagels_first_steps_to_confirma042742.php

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I thought Hagel spent the day on his heels. I don’t know whether he was ill-prepared or just caught off guard by the viciousness of his attackers. He seemed to have trouble articulating his points and sometimes made bad points or perhaps a better word would be confusing points in defense of himself. I think he’d likely make an excellent SOD because of his knowledge of the our military, our government and world issues, but I don’t think he’s a great communicator. After watch Hillary kick ass the other during the Benghazi hearings, everyone else pales by comparison.

        As fpr McCain, he came off as a spiteful, hateful, jealous, petty asshole as did Graham and Cruz, and I don’t think anything they said or any question they asked had an effect on Hagel’s nomination. I don’t know whether anyone else noticed, but Lady Lindsey was unable to look at Hagel while he was questioning him, I wonder what that means? Probably afraid he’d pee his pants.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        The thing I found most compelling in Hagel’s favor was his self-control and calm demeanor. I think that speaks volumes about his nature. No one wants another hot head SOD. John McCain on the other hand looked and sounded like a raving maniac fool. I don’t think I could have taken that BS from McCain. Fortunately for Hagel & McCain most folks are not the political gymrats that we are and didn’t see, nor do they care about, what happened in yesterdays hearing.

      • RalphB says:

        Why’d Obama nominate Hagel if he wasn’t going to stand up for him?

        That’s the big question. If he doesn’t stand up for him, he’s a weasel!

      • dakinikat says:

        I think Republican journalists now feel free to spin the news whatever way they see fit. I think Fox has given them permission to just put stuff out that they wish would happen as news. I’m sure Hagel will get through the process and they all knew he would take some punches. The SOD isn’t exactly a high profile cabinet position most of the time anyway. What matters is that the pentagon people take him seriously.

      • RalphB says:

        I remember Hagel well from the past and his performance in front of that committee was very much not like him. He was very deferential and softpedalled his positions. I’ve never seen him do that before. It’s like he was coached to be be that way, instead of his normal self.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The National Journal and CBS News aren’t the same as Fox News. If they are putting stuff out that didn’t come from the WH, where are the denials?

      • dakinikat says:

        The ‘we’re disappointed’ part probably came from the white house … who wouldn’t be after all that craziness yesterday but the ‘withdrawing from Hagel’ seems a bit more along the lines of wishful thinking … I could be wrong but I don’t think they’re going to not back him through this since it seems he can win the confirmation

  7. janicen says:

    I haven’t had a chance to finish the post but I wanted to say that I have seen Zero Dark Thirty and it is a great film. Please someone else see it because I want to find out if anyone else feels the way I do. Yes, there are graphic torture scenes at the beginning that are disturbing to watch but hey, that’s the truth, that’s what we did. However I don’t agree with the criticism that the film glorifies or is an endorsement of torture. On the contrary, info necessary for the location of Bin Laden was obtained using other much simpler methods which to me, showed that torture is not the way to go. The film does show that we would never have found Bin Laden were it not for the persistence and incredible hard work of a woman. Had we followed what the men wanted to do we would have failed. As well, the film has a female director so I can’t help but think that there is sexism involved in the criticism of the film. I highly recommend this film.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I’m glad you give it a thumbs up. My daughter saw it and she enjoyed it. I’ve been thinking about going to see it and your evaluation gives me even more incentive to do so. Thanks.

      • janicen says:

        Two thumbs up. Hubby and I have a tradition (well, this is the second year we’ve done it now that we have empty-nester time on our hands) we call “Oscar Blitz” where we go out and see as many nominated films as we can before the Oscars. Zero Dark Thirty ranks very high in my estimation, but there is stiff competition. Argo is also great and Silver Linings Playbook is just plain awesome. I found Silver Linings Playbook difficult to watch at first because the depiction of bipolar disorder is so damned accurate. I felt the same helplessness I have felt in the past when someone I loved suffered from it. It was so real I considered leaving the theater but I’m so glad I stuck it out. There are some great movies out there.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I try to do the same thing, but I’m off to a very slow start. I was sick much of the fall with episodes of severe vertigo. Movies were definitely out of the question. I’ve only seen Lincoln from the list of nominated movies and acting categories. Have you seen The Sessions? I love Helen Hunt and she’s nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

      • janicen says:

        Have not seen The Sessions yet, but thanks for the reminder. I think Life Of Pi is next on our list. We planned on going tonight but I found out last night that my brother was hospitalized and I’m waiting to get an update on his condition. I might go out of town for a couple days but if not, we will continue Oscar Blitz this weekend.

      • RalphB says:

        If you get a chance I highly recommend Beasts of the Southern Wild. It’s great!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Thanks. I have some matinees to catch up on and some videos to rent. I think the Oscars are awarded on Feb 24. I better get with it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m sure it’s a good movie, and I have no problem with anyone enjoying it.

      It’s just not my cup of tea. I wasn’t obsessed with the hunt for bin Laden, and I didn’t think he should have been murdered any more than I approved of what happened to Saddam Hussein. I’m just not into war period. I couldn’t bring myself to see any of the Vietnam movies until very recently, and I still don’t really like them.

  8. RalphB says:

    Miami Herald: Long before FBI raid, Sen. Menendez tried to help donor’s Dominican Republic business

    This seems like the type of ‘corruption’ that is normal everyday business in Congress. Apparently, there is no evidence for the prostitution charges except for right wing media and an anonymous tipster who won’t contact the FBI.

  9. RalphB says:

    Tiger Beat: Obama administration changes contraception rules

    For the second time in a year, the Obama administration has backtracked on its requirement to make religious institutions pay for contraception.

    A new policy announced Friday further expanded the exemption to Obamacare: Women will still be able to get the same health benefits, but certain religious employers won’t have to pay for them. Instead, institutions that insure themselves can use a third-party to find a separate health insurance plan to pay for and provide the contraceptives.

    Weasel? Sure appears so to me.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It still won’t satisfy the fetus fetishists.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Nothing will sastify them. The U.S. Bishops gave some non-statement response like (paraphrasing) “we’ll look it over and get back to ya”. A bunch of celibate old men making decisions for millions of female employees, most of them non-catholic, makes me sick.

      • RalphB says:

        Yep, weaseling won’t help at all. Just makes you look weak and they want more more more.

  10. RalphB says:

    Jeez, I love Paul Krugman.

    NYT: Looking for Mister Goodpain

    In recent columns, I’ve argued that worries about the deficit are, in fact, greatly exaggerated — and have documented the increasingly desperate efforts of the deficit scolds to keep fear alive. Today, however, I’d like to talk about a different but related kind of desperation: the frantic effort to find some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded. For the advocates of fiscal austerity — the austerians — made promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert crisis and lead to prosperity.

    And let nobody accuse the austerians of lacking a sense of romance; in fact, they’ve spent years looking for Mr. Goodpain.

  11. RalphB says:

    TPM: Reports: Scott Brown To Pass On Run In Special Election

    Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) will not run in the Massachusetts special election to fill the seat vacated by newly confirmed Secretary of State John Kerry, according to various reports on Friday.

    This is nice. Let’s see if it holds up.

  12. RalphB says:

    balloon-juice: Sir, Frank Luntz on line 4. He says it’s urgent.

    Among the few redeeming qualities that grace our current crop of conservative believers, my personal fave must be how their info bubble prevents any effective filter between brain and mouth. Take for example PA House majority leader Mike Turzai (please). Or you could cite Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert, justifying his draconian new abortion bill on Wednesday:

    We’re going to take this country back for the Lord. We’re going to try to take this country back for conservatism. And we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in!

    Damn, maybe he could be more offensive but I’m not sure how.

  13. RalphB says:

    USNews: GOP Megadonor to Cities: Drop Dead

    Votes from “center cities” should be discounted when considering who won a mandate in last November’s elections, according to GOP megadonor Foster Friess. Apparently urban votes are insufficiently in tune with the pro free market movement which is sweeping the country and, in his view, handed the GOP a mandate in the 2012 elections … even though they took national losses across the board.

    An enlightening look at another delusional billionaire.

    • RalphB says:

      Another great Pierce piece…

      Charles Pierce: Why We Like The President

      The president is more popular than he’s been for a long time. The president is more popular than a lot of presidents ever have been. You can attribute it to a lingering bounce from his re-election. You can attribute it to a newer bounce from his vigorous defense of himself and his ideas in his inaugural address. It is probably both of those things. But I think the primary reason that the president’s numbers are heading into puppies-and-fluffy-bunnies territory lies in his ongoing campaign — by means both explicit and implicit — to delegitimize the Republican party as a credible opposition party.

      • dakinikat says:

        Now, if some one other than Rachel Maddow would report in the press what crazy republicans have been doing all around the country we might get more traction on delegitimizing them forever.

  14. RalphB says:

    OK, so I have no class but this post made me LOL!

    TBogg: Bill Kristol Now Double-Dog Daring Liberals To Be As Wrong As Him

    Thing that you find floating in a bus station toilet and unctuous twat Bill Kristol is looking for a few good men and women to enlist in his latest war; but this is not like all of Bill Kristol’s other wars where good men and women go off to fight for the greater good of Israel America while Bill sits in a chair on the set of Fox News and smiles his sickly smile while other people die. No, this is a war to stop the existential threat that is Chuck Hagel who is just like a Hitler, but a Hitler who doesn’t like war the way Bill Kristol likes war.

    Which is to say: a lot.
    […]
    After all, Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, the frat boys at the Free Beacon, Embittered President in Exile John McCain, and Huckleberry Closetcase can’t do all of the heavy lifting. Although Lindsey Graham has been known to inveigle a strapping young man to stop by his bachelor flat and bust up a chifforobe from time to time when the moon is high and the nights are balmy and Lindsey’s sap is rising, if y’all know what I mean…

  15. ecocatwoman says:

    bb, here’s a critique of the Killer Cats so-called study: http://www.voxfelina.com/2013/02/garbage-in-garbage-out/ Peter Wolf of Vox Felina really knows his stuff & has gone through all the studies & articles with a fine tooth comb. The demonizing of cats by scientists is just another case of incestuous amplification. The sad part is these scientists have snookered the media.