Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
If you didn’t get to see the first half of Ken Burns’ documentary on the Dust Bowl last night on PBS, please be sure to watch it when you can. It was outstanding, although very painful to watch at times. I watched it with my mom. It brought back lots of memories for her, as she grew up in North Dakota in the Dust Bowl days. Toward the end of the show last night there was film of FDR visiting North Dakota to survey the damage. Most of the archival footage is from Oklahoma and Kansas, with lesser amounts from Colorado, Kansas, and Texas.
The second part of the documentary will be on tonight. I’m guessing this part will be less agonizing because it will cover Roosevelt’s efforts to deal with the greatest man-made ecological disaster in history. I hope it will cover the creation of the CCC and how the government supervised planting of lines of trees for windbreaks. You can still see them all over the Midwest. There are lots in Indiana. There must have been other scientific improvements to farming that I don’t know about.
I highly recommend watching the second part tonight if you can. I don’t think you need to watch them in order necessarily.
I’m so happy that Charlie Pierce is back from his interminable week-long vacation! He has some great pieces up today already.
This morning he weighed in on the Susan Rice witchhunt on yesterday’s Sunday talk shows.
Then he recommended that Ross Douthat and other who missed the ’60s
drop some brown acid, listen to the first Quicksilver album, or at least read more than two books before they start telling the rest of us how everything they would have loved about America, had they been alive then, went to hell in a handbasket the first time Ken Kesey sat down at a typewriter.
He gave us a title for the Petraeus scandal and some great nicknames for John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Well, not much happened while we were gone. The entire national-security apparatus got together and decided to produce a remake of the famous 1989 Helen Mirren vehicle, The Cook, The Thief, The Wife, Her Lover, The General, His Wife, The Other Woman, The Other Other Woman, The Other General, and The Lovesick Shirtless FBI Guy. In the other half of the double feature, we have Senator Grumpy and his sidekick, Huckleberry Closetcase, yelling about Benghazi while Harry Reid contemplates turning a garden hose on them to cool them down.
And then he beat up on Maureen Dowd for her nasty Sunday column on Susan Rice.
let’s pause for a moment and mark the return of airy dementia to the prose of one M. Dowd, of The New York Times, who decided to unlimber herself on the Bigger-Than-Watergate-Teapot Dome-Crédit Mobilier-The-Combined scandal surrounding what the gnomes in John McCain’s head think happened in Benghazi. Notably piquant is this passage in which Ms. Dowd wonders whether or not the president and his staff are as shallow and muddleheaded about politics as she is.
And MoDo will absolutely hate the photo that accompanies the post. I’m sooooo glad Pierce is back!
I have to admit, I’d like to stretch out the Mittenfreude, so I have a few Romney links for you.
TMZ caught Mitt and Ann going to see teen chick flick Breaking Dawn yesterday. I knew those two were immature, but I guess I didn’t realize how immature.
NBC News has a piece about what Romney and Ryan would have been doing this week if they hadn’t been beaten in a landslide on November 7.
If Mitt Romney had won the presidential election, insiders say, it’s not hard to imagine what he and his number two, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, would have been tackling on this very day.
An extensive preparation plan dubbed the “Romney Readiness Project,” pulled together by the GOP nominee’s team and no longer of any use, offers detailed insight into how ready he was to take the reins, the sources told NBC News.
Romney and Ryan each had office space set aside for them at a transition office in southwest Washington, D.C., where former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt led a team of hundreds of advisers tasked with crafting an ambitious agenda for the Republican’s first 200 days in office.
Insiders describe a well-prepared transition that was ready to hit the ground running on Nov. 7, and begin the work of fashioning a Romney government.
Hahahahahahahahahaha!! I’m sure glad we dodged that bullet!
Finally, Kevin Drum calls Romney “Officially the Most Hated Man in America,” and all because the articulated what most Republicans believe–that about half of the American people are worthless layabouts who don’t deserve to eat, live indoors, or have health care when they get sick.
What are you reading and/or hearing?
In a super-snotty, smirky interview with Fox News’ Carl Cameron, Mitt Shady attempted to control the damage caused by his gaffe-tastic speech in Israel by telling a few of his trademarked bald faced lies. He claims that he:
“did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy.”…..“That is an interesting topic that perhaps can deserve scholarly analysis but I actually didn’t address that,” Romney said. “I Certainly don’t intend to address that during my campaign. Instead I will point out that the choices a society makes have a profound impact on the economy and the vitality of that society.”
Romney’s insistence that he was not addressing Palestinian culture seems at odds with his lengthy and detailed speech at a fundraiser in which he offered up a direct comparison between the per capita GDP of Israel and the Palestinian territories before launching into an explanation of why he thinks culture and perhaps a little divine help are so important to the stronger Israeli economy.
“I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries,” Romney said at the time. “As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.”
Romney grossly overstated the Palestinian per capita GDP (it’s about $1,500) while underestimating the per capita Israeli GDP (about $31,000), but the juxtaposition was clear as he segued into an explanation of his “perceptions about differences between countries” based on a Harvard history professor’s book.
“Culture makes all the difference,” Romney said. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.” One of the additional factors he cited was “the hand of providence.”
Palestinian officials said Romney’s remarks were offensive not only because they implied the Israelis were inherently superior as a people, but because they ignored that the Palestinian territories have been under military occupation for decades and residents face major restrictions on their movement and ability to conduct trade.
Before you laugh hysterically, go over and read Charlie Pierce’s latest Romney post. Here’s the gist:
Romney continues to stubbornly refuse, in the face of a general outcry from within his own party, to release more than two years of his tax returns. He is the most easily mockable candidate in decades. (By contrast, it took real work, and a lot of money, to make John Kerry look ridiculous.) And, most spectacularly of all, only four years after the excesses of unregulated vulture capitalism nearly ate the world, stealing everything it could steal and wrecking what was left behind, with 25 million Americans either underemployed, unemployed, or vanished from the statistics entirely, the Republicans not only have chosen as their nominee a guy who made almost every dime of his money in the legalized freebooting that passed for a business community over the past 30 years, but also they have decided to run him as the guy who will fix the broken middle class, and return the country to full employment, by re-instituting all the policies that created the disaster in the first place.
And, by and large, it’s working.
As should be clear by now, the forces that make Romney a formidable candidate are far stronger than the forces that make him a ridiculous man. Nothing he does to embarrass himself in public is bad enough to overwhelm the power of what a truly remarkable liar he has become. No misstep is bad enough that it cannot be disappeared from our collective mind by a few dozen more commercials. The memory hole in this election is located in Sheldon Adelson’s wallet. His is the most purely cynical campaign in recent memory, selling to a battered economy the very policies that battered it in the first place, and doing so confident in the knowledge that the country has forgotten, or has become completely confused, about what was done to it. And cynicism sells best to the cynical.
Please let him be wrong!!
This is an open thread.
Good Morning All!
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.”
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:
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.