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


29 Comments on “Lazy Caturday News and Open Thread”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    Once upon a time I believed that Richard M. Nixon was the most dastardly, evil man who managed to rise to power in the U.S. For me, he was the epitome, the apex of Badness in the U.S. Now, I look back & think those were the good old days. He is chump change compared to the Forces of Evil we are fighting against today.

    How have I lived my cat-centric life and missed that Heinlein quote? THANK YOU, bb, it made my day. IMHO, the world would be a better place if all of us lived by this motto. It’s just that simple.

    PS, on the Hamlet video that Ralph posted last night. Check out Colbert’s take on it from Thursday night – too funny. He has the number on the Repugs talent for twisting everything around & around: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/415000/june-07-2012/a-teacup-pig-s-partisan-politics

    • bostonboomer says:

      Reagan was much worse than Nixon, IMHO.

      • RalphB says:

        Yep and a lot more damaging.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Let me try this again. During the Nixon years & the Watergate crimes, I thought Nixon was the epitome of evil & betrayal of the public trust. I didn’t think anything done by a president could ever be any worse. Naive? Stupid? Foolish? Yeah, and much, much younger. It’s been pretty much downhill since the Nixon years. Have we reached the abyss yet? At this rate, probably not. Hate to keep beating the same drum, but Soylent Green seems to be on the horizon. Hell, with all of the cannibalism lately, it may already be here.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I was agreeing with you, Connie.

      • BB — Raygun was da Gov when I was in college. He was inept & yes worse than Nixon.

        His aim was to destroy the colleges both in CA & the USA. Yet even he isn’t as corrupt as those that followed.

        New book — 2052 – predictions for the next 40 years. Referring to the MIT project 40 years ago using computer projections. Choice points arrive & consistently the wrong choice has been made. Now another computer driven prediction for the next 40 years.

    • jawbone says:

      And under this administration, Ellsberg would probably have been jailed and tried as DOJ is threatening to do to Assange.

      So, who’s the worst president ever?

      Think of all the assaults on civil liberties which are now normalized. I sometimes can’t believe this has happened in this country. I never dreamed it would happen, so soon and under a Democratic president. Wow.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    The South never recovered from the passage of the civil rights policy signed into law by LBJ and Watergate showed just how far the GOP was willing to go to put its stamp on future governance. Spying and break ins set the stage for all that was to follow beginning with the Moral Majority, Irangate, and the impeachment of Clinton led by Newt Gingrich. Politics has never been the same.

    The only difference is that Watergate proved that solid, investigative reporting led to hearings which allowed the public a glimpse of what was taken place behind the scenes. With the exception of a few authentic journalists today, that reporting has all but disappeared. Had it not, perhaps the war in Iran, trumped up by Bush and allies, may have never taken place.

    Teddy Roosevelt broke up the monopolies. Today they are commonplace and judged “too big to fail”. No one is held accountable and Wall Street has as much of a grip on the nation as never before. Once in awhile something “slips out”, enjoys a 24 hour news cycle, and we move on.

    The most recent expose has been the influence of ALEC on state legislatures but it is doubtful that more than a few of us have ever heard of it. The Koch Brothers are able to infuse the electorate with money and their ties to the John Birch Society is known by us news junkies but beyond that it gets “fuzzy”.

    Because most news organizations are owned or closely allied with corporations, the necessity for investigations has been diluted if not outright banned.

    That, coupled with the fact that most people really do not want to think for themselves is why the propaganda machine is allowed to pump out the bilge by pretending to stand behind a “fair and balanced doctrine” that is neither.

    Tracing the path of the current GOP over the last 40 years is not that difficult to pursue. And the one thing that can be credited is their determination to return this nation to pre FDR days where collective bargaining, civil rights, women’s issues, and accessible healthcare were non existent until government stepped up its role and changed the landscape.

    Karl Rove’s vision of a “one party nation” is closer to reality than we could ever have imagined thanks to a lazy press, an uninformed electorate, and the determination of those who saw the “gilded age” as preferable to living in a democracy.

    Obama’s desire to “turn the page” alongside Nancy Pelosi’s declaration to “take impeachment off the table” has done nothing more than to solidfy these efforts by the GOP to continue to dismantle the Constitution and democracy in the quest for power above all.

    Had some light been shed on the previous administrations criminal tactics we may have been looking at much different landscape than what we are forced to live with now.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      A friend whose main issues are anti-abortion & Christianity (convert due to AA) but is relatively reasonable for someone on the Right is convinced that George Soros is equatable with the wealth of gajillionaires on the Right. I can’t seem to convince her that he is one person, and that the Right has the Koch Bros, those crazy a$$ Texans, and all of the big multi-national corporations on their side. But Soros + The Unions have as much wealth & power & control in her mind. When you’re operating on faith (and “feelings” as she recently said), how does one counteract that? It seems to me that the majority of those who vote for the Repugs/Tea Partiers have been mind-wiped. They are the real zombies.

      • RalphB says:

        Mind-wiped is right. Facts and data don’t matter one bit, it’s all about the “feelings”. Wingnut propaganda must be a powerful thing to the weaker among us.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Obama’s “gaffe” and Republican word games:

    Before Republicans get too wrapped up in the quote, though, I’d suggest they first take a look in the mirror, and then at the record of the last GOP president.

    After all, everything Obama said about the relative strengths of the private and public sectors is true. Both Republican and Democratic mayors and governors have been forced to make cuts, but Republicans have taken a much larger bite out of public-sector employment. Republicans have blocked more federal aid to state and local governments. And Republican governors have cut government services to make room for tax cuts for businesses and the wealthiest residents, with barely any effect on job growth.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Focus groups show that Bain image is hurting Romney.

    I guess the Villagers (including Bill Clinton) are wrong again.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Mittens just “tore Obama a new one” by saying that Obama wants to introduce a new stimulus package that would hire more teachers, fireman, and police. The audacity of Obama!

    Teachers are being laid off while the classrooms are now more crowded than ever. The police, who put their lives at risk are being downsized. The firemen are facing layoffs which reduces the respond time on calls and Obama has the nerve to suggest we hire more!

    Meanwhile, our property taxes are threatened with more hikes to make up for the deficits suffered by the states with reductions in federal spending. Tell me how that is supposed to be a good thing for the economy? You can’t because it isn’t.

    Try traveling outside your own neighborhood and feast your eyes on cracked road surfaces, rusting bridges, and broken water main systems that are being repaired with bandaids. The infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes and our safety is being placed in jeopardy by these ridiculous “austerity measures”.

    Here in MA the taxpayers are about to be offered another hike to cover the atrocity of the Big Dig Tunnel that is falling apart in places due to poor management, shoddy materials, and a taste of corruption that put money into the hands of those closest to the project who were the only ones who benefited from the cost overrides and years it took to reach completion.

    Mitt Romney is an ass!

  6. Oh wow BB, what a post!

    Some great links, and pictures too…

    You are so right about the press, and the lack of investigating stories like the email connected Obama and Pharma. Though it seems hypocritical for the GOP to be leaking those emails, especially with all the special interest relationships the republicans have. It is a shame that story is not investigated deeper than what the NYT has reported on.

    I just got back from Dr. My husband has the same thing the kids have, and the dr put me on some kind of antiviral thing to help prevent me from getting it too. Ughhhhh!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Noooooooooo! Geez, I hope you don’t get it too.

    • Seriously says:

      Did you ever see that movie with Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, about crusading MSM journalists determined to expose public corruption? It’s a classic story, and at this point in time, so unrealistic, it’s laughable. You just sit there the whole time, that’s absurd, give me a break, that would never happen. It’s sad that we’ve gotten to this place, and doubly sad that in an ironic twist, Woodward himself could be the poster child for a lot that’s wrong in modern journalism.

  7. Well, this is no surprise: In push to cut spending, U.S. House spares itself – chicagotribune.com

    After seeking to impose substantial spending cuts on a wide range of non-defense programs this year, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to keep its own administrative budget unchanged.

    House lawmakers then left Washington for a week-long recess.

    And BB, it looks like someone is taking your advice about the Obama statement on Private Sector:

    National – Robert Wright – Maybe the Private Sector IS Doing Fine – The Atlantic

    • Krugman said – during a BBC debate was two Brits who were pushing austerity — that private business is fine. THE problem is that FEW people have the MONEY TO BUY what they can produce.

      I’ve seen his BBC debate linked several places — he used real simple words so the politician & Venture capitalist could understand that 2 plus 2 equal 4. The economy can’t grow until people have a bit more money. Logical to us but not two sticks up their butts Brits representing the 1%.

      This is probably what 0 was saying about US business being fine. Those Brits didn’t when people buy stuff that puts other. people to work making more stuff that the new workers can buy. Generally there is a lag in increased buying — workers have to pay bills etc.

      This explaination from Krugman & Dr DAK makes sense to me.

      The video is worth a look — just to see the upper class UK 1% on display.

  8. jawbone says:

    The kitten on the laptop photo is soooo wonderful. Thanks much!

  9. quixote says:

    (Very tangential, but … great idea to color the headings! Makes it much easier to find one’s way through the post. I’d highly recommend we all do it all the time.)