Lazy Caturday News and Open Thread

Good Morning All!

The 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in is coming up on June 17. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein published a piece about it in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Today, much more than when we first covered this story as young Washington Post reporters, an abundant record provides unambiguous answers and evidence about Watergate and its meaning. This record has expanded continuously over the decades with the transcription of hundreds of hours of Nixon’s secret tapes, adding detail and context to the hearings in the Senate and House of Representatives; the trials and guilty pleas of some 40 Nixon aides and associates who went to jail; and the memoirs of Nixon and his deputies. Such documentation makes it possible to trace the president’s personal dominance over a massive campaign of political espionage, sabotage and other illegal activities against his real or perceived opponents.

In the course of his five-and-a-half-year presidency, beginning in 1969, Nixon launched and managed five successive and overlapping wars — against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system and, finally, against history itself. All reflected a mind-set and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon’s: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency.

Long before the Watergate break-in, gumshoeing, burglary, wiretapping and political sabotage had become a way of life in the Nixon White House.

What was Watergate? It was Nixon’s five wars.

The Post also provides links to it’s coverage of the Watergate Scandal back in the good old days when the press believed in exposing government corruption. Today, the Post admits that “investigative journalism is at risk.”

Remember this?

The sad thing about Watergate is that if it happened today there wouldn’t be any investigation or arrests. We’d be told to move along, look forward not backward.

To see how things work today, you can read the White House e-mails that detail President Obama’s sellout to the pharmaceutical industry on health care. Apparently this one was leaked by House Republicans. Down With Tyranny has some good commentary.

um…huh? Must have dropped off for a second there. Let’s see what else is happening.

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Jeff Brinkley, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, now a Professor of Journalism at Stanford University finds Mitt Romney’s foreign policy positions deeply disturbing. He thinks it’s highly problematic that Romney has no experience and seemingly no knowledge about foreign policy. Brinkley notes that Obama already had to learn on the job, and now the Republicans have nominated another foreign policy naif who may be even less prepared than Obama was.

Romney…declared a couple of months ago that “Russia is America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe.” What nonsense. The U.S.-Russia relationship is a bit strained, but what about Iran, North Korea, Pakistan? Every one of those states poses a strategic threat that Russia does not.

“Immediately, speculations surfaced that the former governor of Massachusetts continues to live in a Cold War world and has few, if any, insights about American foreign policy,” Klaus Larres, a German American academic, wrote for the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. And former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Romney to use his head and “check the time. It’s now 2012, not the mid-1970s.”

His advice on Afghanistan has been no better. Repeatedly he has called the plan to gradually withdraw forces “misguided” and “an extraordinary admission of failure.”

In the past, Romney has asserted that the United States and NATO need to defeat the Taliban before leaving. That has been the goal for nearly 11 years, and NATO is no closer today. The most recent National Intelligence Estimate asserts that the war is unwinnable as long as the Taliban maintains a safe haven in Pakistan and the Afghan government continues its corrupt, malevolent and counterproductive ways.

I wonder if Romney knows that one-third of the Western forces killed in Afghanistan so far this year died at the hands of Afghan soldiers they were training or leading.

There’s lots more at the link.

Charles Pierce is talking about “PUMA-ism” again, but I’ll forgive him because of this description of Obama’s defensive behavior of late:

In many ways, this president reminds me of the truck drivers in The Wages of Fear, trying to get the nitroglycerine over the mountains with blowing themselves all to hell and gone. In so many ways, he is still outside of things. In so many ways, he is still the flyer the Democratic party took in 2008. In so many ways, the path he has to walk to re-election is similar to the path he has had to walk through his life. It was hard not to notice the subtext present in all those earnest warnings about hurting the fee-fees of our financial titans. The president was stepping out of his place. The president was being uppity again.
This is also the case with what is perhaps the most noxious idea out there: that Barack Obama “failed” in his promise to “bring the country together,” and that he is now — Glorioski! — campaigning like he wants to be president all over again. He is engaging in politics. Mother of mercy, I swear David Brooks is just going to break down and go all to pieces on PBS some evening over the president’s betrayal of his role as the country’s anodyne black man and, of course, his upcoming role as black martyr to incivility and discord. It is his duty, dammit, to be all the things that people like Brooks wanted him to be so that he could lose, nobly, and then the country could go back to its rightful owners.

The Wages of Fear: now that was a great movie!

At Time, Tim Pagett has an excellent piece called The Catholic Contraction.

If you want some perspective on just how benighted the Roman Catholic Church looks today on the subject of women, consider Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard was a German Benedictine nun in the 12th century and a leading feminist writer of her time. But even though that time was the 1100s, the Vatican rarely hassled her for asserting that men and women are equal — that God’s true nature, in fact, is maternal — or that nonprocreative sexual pleasure is O.K.

In the 21st century, however, Hildegard would no doubt receive the same censure that Sister Margaret Farley is facing this week after the Vatican denounced her book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. Farley, a Sisters of Mercy nun, a retired Yale divinity professor and a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, condones practices that have been morally acceptable to most U.S. and European Catholics for quite a while, including divorce, homosexuality, nonprocreative intercourse and masturbation. But Rome’s doctrinal bulldogs are sternly reminding her that those acts are “disordered,” “deviant” and “depraved.”

Sadly, it’s the church that’s looking unhinged these days. The Vatican was apparently just warming up in 2010 when it declared, astonishingly, that ordaining females into the all-male Catholic priesthood would be a “grave sin” on par with even pedophilia. Since then, as if scapegoating women for the escalating dissent among Catholics toward its hoary dogma, the church seems to have embarked on a misogynist’s crusade. Its legal assault on the Obama Administration’s requirement that Catholic institutions like colleges and hospitals make contraception available to female employees as part of their health coverage is, ultimately, less about religious freedom than about women’s freedom. Then there’s the U.S. bishops’ absurd probe of whether the Girl Scouts are selling feminist theology as well as fattening thin mints — and Rome’s accusation of “radical feminism” within the Leadership Conference on Women Religious (LCWR), which represents most of the U.S. nuns doing genuinely Christ-inspired work with the poor and the sick.

In science news,

NASA has discovered "a massive algae bloom under the slowly diminishing Arctic ice."

The same year that NASA researchers launched the Icescape expedition to the Arctic — the project that resulted in NASA’s astounding new discovery — there was a dire report on the world’s phytoplankton.

A Canadian team said in the journal Nature, as The Times reported in July 2010, that the world’s phytoplankton had been disappearing at a rate of about 1% a year for the previous 100 years.

“A global decline of this magnitude? It’s quite shocking,” Daniel Boyce, Dalhousie University marine scientist and lead author of the 2010 study, told The Times.

Phytoplankton — the basis of the marine food chain — “are key to the whole ecosystem,” he said. “In terms of climate changes, the effect on fisheries, we don’t know exactly what these effects will be.”

Could his latest discovery of a mass of phytoplankton in the Arctic signal a turnaround for this crucial organism?

The jury’s out. But it’s a question scientists will be pursuing, according to Paula Bontempi, NASA’s ocean biology and biogeochemistry program manager in Washington.

I think I need another little break.

Okay, back. Wouldn’t you know it? Addicting Info: Koch Brothers Linked To Florida Voter Purge

Former Secretary of State Kurt Browning worked with [Gov. Rick] Scott on the purge. Just before Scott selected Browning as Secretary in 2011, Browning led a group, Protect Your Vote Inc., which was created to oppose fair redistricting. One of the biggest checks that Browning’s organization received for $100,000 in 2010 was from the Center To Protect Patients’ Rights. At the time of the donation, the source of the money was cloaked in secrecy.

Last month, Republic Report exclusively reported that Center To Protect Patients’ Rights is part of a collection of front groups funded by David and Charles Koch as well as other billionaires as part of an election-influencing effort. The Koch Brothers plan to use these front groups to finance $400 million of a $1 billion campaign in outside money to defeat President Obama as well as defeating congressional Democrats. Mitt Romney’s Super Pac and many other nonprofits run by Karl Rove will supply the other $600 million needed to accomplish their goal.

Here’s Here’s something I missed this week: 

Pranksters ‘Jiggly Puff,’ ‘Weedlord Bonerhitler’ sign anti-’Obamacare’ petition.

When the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) set about thinking how to engage the Internet in new and unique ways, it probably did not occur to them that sometimes, the Internet tends to engage you right back.

That misunderstanding apparently led to an NRCC petition drive this week seeking to trump up the number of people who want to see “Obamacare” repealed. Unfortunately for them, it all went horribly, hilariously awry on Thursday night after they hooked an office printer up to the Twitter hashtag #IWantRepeal, then turned on a live video stream.

It was not long before NRCC staff completely lost control and were forced to pull the plug.

In almost no time at all, their printer was spitting out pages of petitions signed by “Weedlord Bonerhitler,” “Jiggly Puff,” “Boner Junkmonkey,” “Pointless Empty Gesture,” “Turd Sniffer,” “Like 20 more boners” and “HelpI’mStuckInThisPrinter,” among many, many others. Screen shots of this Twitter debacle and links to the live video began circulating almost immediately.

Okay, I’ll sign off with this:

“How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven.” – Robert A. Heinlein


One Person One Vote Died a Year Ago today

222px-Black_Ribbon.svgIn an important landmark case Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964), the Supreme Court established one of the most significant voting rights rulings impacting our Republic since the enfranchisement of woman and the election of U.S. senators by popular vote. Both of these occurred earlier in the century.  Basically, Reynolds v Sims established the means to ensure  that the United States was a truly representative form of government.  It provided a legal way to enforce the idea that legislatures are those instruments of government elected directly by and directly as representatives of the people. Because of this, all elected officials should be elected in a free and unimpaired fashion. One Person one vote is a bedrock of our political system.

That was until one year ago today, when the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee declared the voters of Michigan and Florida to be one half of a person. This decision, done in a closed room behind close doors, was done in the name of party unity and led to the famous “party unity my ass” uttered at The Confluence that led to the PUMA movement. It led to spontaneous outrage across the country.

What began as a Democratic Party initiative to change the caucus and primary schedule to appease some special interest groups, wound up as a means to disenfranchise two states as Florida and Michigan were selectively punished for their decisions to change the dates of their primary caucuses. While other states similarly changed their dates, these two states were singled out for retribution. This was a stinging indictment of our entire political system for those of us that supported Hillary Clinton and were still stinging from the earlier disenfranchisement of Florida under the Bush v. Gore ruling that essentially gave us a President who mostly likely did not win the election. Every one knows how well that worked out.

080530-vote-florida-hmed-1p.h2Here are some reports from the day. This one is from MSNBC’s Chuck Todd called Nothing is fair about Florida and Michigan. Here was his suggestion for the situation at the time.

Why not consider punishing the party leaders and not the voters? Couldn’t the committee take away the states’ superdelegate votes? After all, it wasn’t the voters who demanded the states break party rules, but rather the leaders of the respective state parties.

Of course, this is too logical. The likely ruling on Saturday will probably highlight the party’s inability or reluctance to punish the superdelegates. There is a challenge from a Florida superdelegate claiming the party violated its own charter by stripping the state of both pledged delegates and superdelegates. Most members of the Rules Committee I’ve talked to indicate that he may be right. Keep in mind members of the Rules committee are all superdelegates themselves.

The Golden Rule could apply: Do unto other superdelegates as you would want done unto you.

The second idea the committee should be considering but isn’t reflects everything we’ve learned throughout this long primary season.

As many have noted, census data for each state have been remarkably determinative of results since Super Tuesday. In fact, the support groups for the two candidates have been incredibly stable. Why not apply what we’ve learned about the support groups of both candidates and split the delegates accordingly?

Of course, we found out soon enough that the party leaders did have their agenda and it was to ensure that we had their Candidate. We’re still unraveling the reasons for this travesty. We endured sexism, misogyny, and race-baiting through out the entire election cycle. We will be paying for this most undemocratic of decisions for years to come. We could have had a President that supports Abortion Rights and Universal Health Care. We could have had a President that refused to vote for FISA. We could have had a President that wasn’t controlled by lobbyists, Wall Street Fat Cats, and was a policy wonk extraordinaire. Instead, as Ted Ralls of Common Dreams, puts it, we got this:

We expected broken promises. But the gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama’s inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory …From healthcare to torture to the economy to war, Obama has reneged on pledges real and implied …Obama is useless. Worse than that, he’s dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now–before he drags us further into the abyss.

I don’t know about you, but I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS DAY OF INFAMY.puma-head


PUMA forward

puma-paw2You think it’s too late to plan some kind of commemorative/commiserative event for the 5.31 rules committee meeting that led to the birth of PUMA? Maybe make it net/blog based? Any interest?

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The “Incompetence Crisis”

rassie-pollAll last year,  ALL  I heard was how experience didn’t matter.  I heard that being ‘ready on day one’  was a meaningless campaign slogan.  I was told that what mattered was perceived good judgment, intelligence, and speaking skills.  I remember watching the first Democratic Debates and thinking, this guy isn’t ready to be dogcatcher, let alone President. There were no wonky answers on economics or foreign policy.  There was never a show of any detailed plan.  There was always just a nice speech read from a teleprompter with a preacher’s patois, incredible (somewhat contradictory) promises, and messages that could have come from a motivational seminar instead of a political campaign.  I never got on the bandwagon.

I finally found a home over here in the Pumasphere with people of similar thought after being treated like a scourge by other sites (blog or MSM) that had gone over to the hope side.  I’ve been getting used to my role as pariah. I was thinking I’d have to live with it for at least a year.  I figured I’d start getting the you were so right calls sometime in the fall.

Boy, was I wrong!

I figured that because of my experience during the early calls for the Iraq war.  I was the one saying “Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11.  Iraq is a different agenda.  Iraq is a bad idea.”   I actually had some one get up in a restaurant to tell me what a lousy, unpatriotic American I was that didn’t deserve to live in the US. I became a the scourge of all true American patriots.  I’ve been thinking that my 9/11 protest was just a character building experience that would serve me well during the Obama fascination period and that it would probably take a few years of, yet again, being a scourge to all true American patriots before the worm would turn.  Luckily, I found a other like minded out in the Pumasphere so I don’t have to be quite alone as I was with my opinion on the Iraq Invasion.

I think I can honestly speak for a number of us around here.  We didn’t expect to be proven so right so quickly.  At least I didn’t. I was hoping that maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as my gut and head had deduced.  So many of my friends said, he’s not Dubya, so he’s got to be better, you’ll see.   After all, we’d get rid of a lot of really evil signing statements that restrict women’s reproductive choices, the right of all people to love and marry whom they wish, and we’d move ahead on science again.  I’ve said this before, but nearly any democrat would have done any of those things–including Joe Lieberman. Lieberman is one of those folks that I consider marginally a democrat, but even he would have done those things if he were POTUS.  We certainly wouldn’t see any nasty supreme court appointments either.  These were marginal hopes and small changes that I could cling to while knowing that eventually, I would be proven right.  I just didn’t even imagine it would wind up quite like this, quite so fast.

So, if I haven’t made myself clear here, Rush Limbaugh and Governor Jindal may be cheering for a failure.  I’m not in that camp at all.  I’ve just been quietly sitting here telling myself that with all the beautiful things written into the constitution as well as the resiliency of the American people, that perhaps it won’t be quite as bad as I thought it would be.   After all, we survived the incompetency of George Bush and the lunacy of Dick Cheney. Things can’t fall apart that fast!

Boy, was I wrong!

Pumas are the new Cassandras.  Our warnings, unheeded, demonized, and marginalized, are now the stuff of MSM op ed pieces.  I’d like to point you to a few that are searing Obama with legitimate criticisms.   I would think they came from one of the edgier Puma sites but they don’t.  One is from CNN. The other from the UK’s Prospect.  I also have two from the NY Times.  These comments are simply alarming.

Read the rest of this entry »


Astronauts for a Flat Earth vs. The Barbarian Hordes

barbariansburnbuildingThere are many things I’ve read in history that show how an unruly mob can change the direction of things.  The blogosphere is watching an unruly mob in action right now as Wonkette is trying to stack the WebBlog awards against all things PUMA.  I’ve started reading some of the threads coming in to The Confluence (example: here) and there’s a sense among some of the other folks in the other categories that they are the innocent victims of an unruly mob.  I’m sure that’s how the other Hun tribes felt when Attila assimilated them.

All you have to do is take a look back at the entire dark ages and the crusades and get a pretty good answer as to how this type of thing gets its start .  It basically starts with some ‘character’ who may or may not exist who gets an incredible amount of buzz placed around them that is clearly not based in history or fact or anything.   Thus, a mythical hero is born.  Some one to rape and pillage for … some one to use to justify an attack on other tribes, other religions, any other. It just builds and builds until you get a Spanish Inquisition or something similar.  

The King Arthur legends come to mind also.  A tribal king who may or may not exist turns into the great fictional hero just because tons of unruly mobs need some kind of  legend to mob around.  All kinds of morality plays develop to show that our legendary hero is just that mythical, legendary, and grounded more in a game of rumor than history and reality.  I know I just gave some examples of things way back when.  Why would I think that in an age of  ‘information’ we could possibly see the same kind of history repeat itself?

While many of the blogs are now upset that they’ve been caught up in the raping and pillaging which was no fault of their own, they too, now have been caught up in the creating the legends that turn the truth into a nice mythical legend that gets WAY out of hand.  In my first case, about 2000 years way out of hand.

MYTH NUMBER ONE:  It’s all about Hillary losing.  PUMAs just won’t get over it.  They are like Astronauts for a Flat Earth or WW2 Japanese Soldiers trapped up in the Hills refusing to believe the Emperor gave in.

While Hillary Clinton eventually wound up to be the candidate of choice for me, one year ago I had no preference.  What really drove me to the PUMA realization wasn’t Hillary loosing, it was HOW she lost or rather HOW the DNC went around constructing an OBAMA win.   If anything PUMA is about holding the DNC accountable for cheating that occurred in caucuses, how the distributions of delegates was determined, how lopsided the punishment of Florida and Michigan was compared to other states that moved their primaries up also against DNC ‘rules’, and the railroading of the democratic convention process.  If you think all of this is just one big conspiracy theory on the part of PUMAS either do some research or take up residency in the bat cave with Cheney.  I’m not certain he’s turning that over to Biden even though I know the Obama administration will want to lock him up there eventually. So that’s it, it’s not about HILLARY losing it’s about HOW Obama  “won”.  Yes, the “win”  (sic) is in quotes.

MYTH NUMBER TWO:  All Pumas are conspiracy theorists.  In every population there’s the average and there’s the extremes and outliers.  Yes, you can find the folks that went searching for that Holy Whitey Tape and the Kenyan Birth certificate, but the majority of the PUMA sites (especially The Confluence)  never jumped on to the wingnut stories. Again, I’ll go back to the basic reason PUMAs exist and that is how positively fucked up the primaries and caucuses were and how they were completely mishandled by the DNC and the DRC.

MYTH NUMBER THREE:  ALL Pumas are Racists and just can’t deal with the idea of a Black Man being president.  I’ll again point to the Bell Curve.  Of course there are Pumas that are racists but the majority are not.  The problems that PUMAs have with Obama has to do with his extremely small level of accomplishments and his overblown and now mythic intelligence and academic records (which by the way, the public has never seen).  It’s been debunked that he was the first black on the Harvard Review by Harvard themselves although mysteriously in Obama’s senate site there was a resume that said that he was.  It was  sitting there for the two years he pretended to be the Senator from Illinois.  The man has never been in an election where extremely weird things haven’t happened–like getting all your opponents thrown out on technicalities, having sealed divorce records of your opponents magically show up in public, or having the delegates to your caucuses in places like Texas leave the process with tons of forms in their arms.  I’ve looked and as far as I can tell, the man has never even had a full time job.  There are PUMAs of color. It’s not his skin color.  It’s his Chicago political career and his appalling lack of experience. For me it was, oh no, not another person who got into Harvard as a legacy.  I’m frankly tired of legacy Ivy Leaguers.  The hardest thing about the Ivy Leagues is getting in there if you’re anything but a legacy.  Getting out is nearly guaranteed.  Think DUBYA.

MYTH NUMBER FOUR:  PUMAS are bitter old white women who find sexism everywhere.  Considering the number of times during 2008 racism was found EVERYWHERE,  I just gasp at the total lack of awareness on the part of people on the obvious sexism.   If some one stood up  in a room and asked Obama if he’d shine their shoes, that would be such obvious racism that I doubt the KKK would rise to debate.  If every where he went there were folks wearing t-shirts with the N word emblazoned across them, there would have been riots.  If effigies of Obama hanging from trees on Halloween or  Little Black Sambo dolls were being manufactured with his face on them, the outrage from every where would have been swift and justified.  These things happened to the two women candidates in the white house races using language from sexist instead of racist tomes.  The outrage was nonexistent.

Side myth to this:  ALL Pumas are uneducated.  Just having spent time on any of the PUMA sites, I have to say this is really not true.  If anything, especially at the Confluence, there are a large number of PUMAS with advanced educations.  Not that this really matters because having worked for universities for years I can attest that there are some miserably stupid people out there with Phds.  I really get tired of the elitist meme.  Believe me, some times I really wish I was kat the plumber instead of kat the economist.  Last week would have been a perfect time for that in my house.

MYTH NUMBER FIVE:  PUMAS voted enthusiastically for Mcain and Palin, were basically Republicans all along and were just spoilers.   All you have to do is go back to The Confluence’s voting strategy series to see that there were very few PUMAS that fell into the enthusiastic Republican voters categories.  Yes, there were folks who eventually decided they felt more at home as Republicans.  Many decided to re-register independent.  But most of the PUMAS I’ve met are still your basic democrat with no party home any more because they feel the party has abandoned its root principles including, most importantly the ONE man ONE vote principle.  Most PUMAs I know disagreed with everything Sarah except for the fact that as a sitting governor, she didn’t deserve to be treated like a bimbo.

Now you can continue to rewrite history out there in the blogosphere, much like Constantine the high priest of the Sun God decided to invent Christianity, create the Jesus myth, and control slaves, women, pagans, children, barbarians and other Roman property or you can sit back and use the Internet to find the facts.  This is after all, the information age or have  you decided to ignore science and just restart the Spanish inquisition?