Monday, February 29, 2016

Turkish President Erdogan Vows to Disobey Constitutional Court's Decision on Press Freedom

by Nomad

The Turkish president sends an unmistakable signal about his feelings on the Constitutional Court's ruling about freedom of the press.


In what would appear to be the clearest sign yet of leadership problems in NATO-member Turkey. the nation's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly declared his opposition to a ruling by the Constitutional Court.

The high court's decision- which functions as a Turkish Supreme Court- was related to two well-known journalists who were arrested in November. They were charged with publicizing top secret information about arms shipments to rebels in Northern Syria

The journalists, independent newspaper Cumhuriyet's editor-in-chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül were accused of revealing state secrets "for espionage purposes” and for seeking to “violently” overthrow the Turkish government. They were also charged with aiding an “armed terrorist organization.” 

A UK Guardian report noted that both Erdoğan and the head of the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), Hakan Fidan were named as plaintiffs in the 473-page indictment. Turkish government prosecutors had demanded life terms, "penal servitude for life" for the two men. 

Suffice to say, these were very serious charges indeed.

The Heavy Price of Reporting News in Turkey

The timing of the Cumhuriyet news reports could hardly have been more unwelcome, coming just 10 days before the June 7 elections. 

The stakes of the elections were high. Held in all 85 electoral districts of Turkey, the elections were to decide the party composition of the 550 members to the Grand National Assembly. The ruling party, the AK, had had a majority in parliament for years, effectively allowing the president to rule by decree. 

The news proved to be a major embarrassment for the administration who at the time were denying all existence of arms shipments.

Trump's Texas: Where the Republican Party Will Soon Become an Elephant Graveyard

by Nomad

Texas has always been good for a few eye-rolls and bitter laughs when it comes to politics. In the last few years, the barrel's bottom went bottomless.
Yet, we may soon find that Texas holds all the cards when it comes to the results of the next election. And, that's really bad news for Republicans.


It must have been a daunting task for ProgressTexas to narrow the list of worst Texans down to only ten. Texas takes a lot of bad press for the Far Right politicians it has produced. Some of them have been extraordinarily embarrassing.


The list includes such people as Cecil Bell, Jr.- named by Texas Monthly as one of 2015’s worst legislators.
Bell became famous mainly for two things, wearing a cowboy hat and filing bills to prevent gay marriage in Texas. Of the 20 anti-LGBTQ bills Bell and other Texas Republicans introduced in the legislature, all of them failed to pass.
Not only a complete waste of time but a neglect of other more important responsibilities that did not entail depriving anybody of any rights.

There's Will Hurd from Texas' 23rd congressional district. He earned his place on the 2015 list for having "voted to cut education, health care, veteran benefits and, most recently, to let terror list suspects buy guns."
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick qualifies too.
The moment he took over the Texas Senate, he changed a decades-long rule to give himself and his Tea Party buddies more power to pass his horrendous priority legislation. You can thank Patrick for open carry and campus carry. He further abused his power to wade in on repealing equal rights in Houston — so much for local control — and he’s got big plans to cut health care for the most needy Texans and to legislate discrimination under the false banner of “religious liberty.”
As I said, ten is far too small a number to capture the full scope of the political recklessness found in Austin but it's a good start. Wait til you see who ranks top on the list.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Powerful Can Do as They Please

by Nomad


Of Foolishness and Evil: Why the Life and Words of Bonhoeffer are Important for Today

by Nomad

Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote

The life and words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer underscore a fundamental truth: silence in the face of evil is a form of complicity and foolishness is a greater species of evil.

A Form of Liberation

When the Flossenbürg concentration camp was liberated by soldiers from the United States 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions in mid-April of 1945, they arrived too late to save the 39-year-old Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

 As the Allied troops advanced, the SS authority overseeing the camps attempted one last desperate and insane measure. They forced the evacuation of prisoners to other camps under German control. 

In its final hours, the Nazi machine was folding in on itself tighter and tighter, trying in vain to cover up the atrocities it had committed.

According to one prisoner, "one man was left for dead for every 10 yards along the 125-mile evacuation route from Flossenburg south to the village of Posing."

One source provides more details: 
At approximately 10:30 hours on April 23, 1945, the first U.S. troops of the 90th Infantry Division arrived at Flossenburg KZ,. They were horrified at the sight of some 2,000 weak and extremely ill prisoners remaining in the camp and of the SS still forcibly evacuating those fit to endure the trek south. Elements of the 90th Division spotted those ragged columns of prisoners and their SS guards. The guards panicked and opened fire on many of the prisoners, killing about 200, in a desperate attempt to effect a road block of human bodies. American tanks opened fire on the Germans as they fled into the woods, reportedly killing over 100 SS troops.
Only two weeks earlier, on 8 April 1945, SS judge Otto Thorbeck had condemned Pastor Bonhoeffer to death by hanging. Without any mercy or objection, the death sentence was carried out the following dawn.
The order for the execution of a man of God had come from the highest levels of the Nazi command.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Land Grab Scam: How Ted Cruz May Have Found One Issue that Can Unite Both Parties.. Against Him

by Nomad



It's a rare and beautiful thing when the American people come together, forget their differences and agree on something.
GOP candidate Ted Cruz may have stumbled on that very issue. It's too bad for him that a study shows bipartisan public opinion, (including Independents) is overwhelmingly against him.


Under the Hammer

As loyal Nomadic Politics readers know, we have lately had a couple of posts (here and here) on Senator Ted Cruz and his support for a state-level Koch-brothers' initiative to force the federal government to turn over federally-protected lands, including national parks.
Well, it mainly operates at a state-level but as we have seen there are some Congressmen in Washington who are in on the scam.

To summarize (as far as humanly possible), it's part of a three-step arrangement that would also entail states taking on the financial burdens for expensive public land maintenance that they clearly cannot afford. The reason for that somewhat bizarre idea is to justify the auctioning off of protected land to the highest bidder.

But there's some bad news in store for Ted Cruz.

This American Life: Anatomy of the Atypical Trump Supporter

by Nomad


This American Life has another fascinating podcast related to this year's election. Not about the candidates but about one person who is an electrified supporter of Donald Trump.
Sex, Boyhood and Politics in South Carolina- Act One of the two-part podcast- deals with a young Trump fanatic named Alex Chalgren, the South Carolina director for Students for Trump.

One of the producers of the podcast, Zoe Chace says Alex was "one of those kids that adults adore." Why not? He immediately comes across as a bright, articulate, and exudes a positive self-assured quality.
And he is African American.
Perhaps not the usual demographic one automatically thinks of when they imagine a Trump supporter.

Added to that, Alex is openly gay in a state that isn't exactly as open-minded as New York or tolerant as Miami or Los Angeles. In fact, Alex's main reason for supporting Trump is his stand on same-sex marriage. (Not a position Trump particularly promotes on the campaign trail.)
Chace points out that Alex "fits into no known category of voter. All the ways that reporters and political consultants slice up populations, they don't apply to him."

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A World on the Brink? Some Essential Questions for Serious People in Very Serious Times

by Nomad

Surreal

With the US elections months away, and problems around the world causing many to wonder and worry, it's time we asked a few crucial questions about where we are headed.


The other day, the UK Guardian had a not-so-cheerful op-ed piece that is worth noting. 
In the piece, entitled Is The World Drifting Towards Disaster? Maybe, writer Michael White expresses a gloomy fear that things seem to be headed towards something as dark as anything we have yet seen
A lot of bad things are coalescing all over the place and no one seems to be in charge. A combination of opportunist ambition, of myriad weaknesses, systemic and personal, and of profound global power shifts put us all in danger.
We have been here before.
You must have read with alarm, or watched flickering black and white newsreels, how imperial Europe, rich and complacent, drifted towards fatal civil war in 1914. Schoolchildren are taught how 25 years later it all happened again, this time after self-deluding efforts to duck unpleasant realities ended in Hitler’s war.
“How could they be so blind?” we wonder as we read the latest history book or watch those TV documentaries.
Yet look at us.
A perfunctory tour of our troubled world backs up White's observation. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Leader or Party Hack? How Marco Rubio's Support for Veterans took a Back Seat to Budget Austerity

by Nomad

Marco RubioWith the Alabama primary approaching, Candidate Rubio suddenly remembered US veterans. He makes a lot of fine promises and may have fooled a few people. But let's take a look at his record when it comes to supporting the troops.


Rubio's Recruits

In the lead-up to Alabama's March 1 primary, Republican Candidate Marco Rubio is pulling out his big guns in an attempt to recruit Alabama veterans. He will soon roll out the unimaginatively entitled "Alabama Veterans for Marco" according to a local paper.
Said a regional spokesman for the Rubio campaign:
"Our campaign is honored to have earned the support of these brave individuals who selflessly served our country...Throughout this campaign, Marco has not only highlighted what he has done on behalf of veterans, but stressed that we must improve the care that we offer them. We are proud that these heroic service-members will be a part of Marco's team to spread that message across Alabama."
Howard Koplowitz, writing for AL.com, pointed out that Rubio has enlisted a lot of brass too. Twenty-one Alabama veterans are reporting for duty, he writes, to boost Marco Rubio's presidential campaign.  
One group member and chairman of the group,  Marine Cpl. Don Fisher of Montgomery, cited Rubio's promise to reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) which has come under fire for the poor state of its hospitals.

However, one website, CorrecttheRecord, calls into question the image of Rubio as a defender of American veterans. When it comes to Republicans in the Senate, Rubio has been much more of a follower than a leader. And overall, the GOP's record on support for veterans isn't exactly a pretty thing to behold. 

VA Reform or Sell-Off?

When it came to Rubio's campaign promises to reform the VA, there's more than meets the eye. What he seems to be advocating is a form of privatization of the VA and then, turning around and calling it reform.
As often happens in Washington, it is quite  possible to reform an agency without improving it and it is possible to make matters worse. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Great Fire Sale of our National Heritage: Ted Cruz's Role in an Unconstitutional Land-Grab Scheme

 by Nomad



Did a top-dollar campaign donation from a pair of evangelical brothers have anything to do with Ted Cruz attempt to sneak in a historic land-grab? What do Bundy's and the Oregon occupiers have to do with the corporate takeover of public lands?

Back in July 2015, Republican candidate Ted Cruz's run for the White House was given a boost with a  contribution of $15 million, which was, at that point, the largest known donation to the 2016 presidential campaign. The donor of this campaign life-saver was a pair of billionaire brothers.
Surprisingly, the surname here is not Koch.
However, in many ways, the successful, blue-collar and religious Wilks brothers are a knockoff copy of the Koch brothers. The agenda is similar at the very least. Furthermore, both pairs of brothers have no problem working together if the prize is worth the taking. 

According to Forbes, they are called "undercover billionaires." Farris and Dan Wilks made their sizable fortunes through the fracking industry with the sale of their company Frac Tech to a group of investors led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund for $3.5 billion in May 2011. The Wall Street Journal provides some more info on the company.
Frac Tech employs hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to crack shale rocks for Exxon Mobil Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and other big companies in their search for oil and natural gas.
At the time of the sale, Frac Tech reported 2010 profit of $368.7 million on $1.29 billion in revenue. The Wilks’ took in about $3.2 billion of the total $3.5 billion sale as reported by Forbes. The brothers reportedly owned 68% of the company so they are now wealthy -but not fabulously so, by Texas standards. Their estimated personal worth is $1.4 billion. Each. 
Or to put it another way, they are the small fry of the 1%, but they have more than enough green stuff to build a Christian empire with.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Judge Not: JEB Makes A Blunder About Questioning Another Person's Christian Faith

by Nomad

Although JEB's campaign has careened from mistake to mistake, this most recent one might have slipped past you. When it comes to judging other people's faith, JEB is now decidedly against it. However, that's not what he said only a few months ago. 


We are getting used to the Himalayan levels of Republican hypocrisy in this election. Sometimes it has been hard to keep track of every instance. 

Last night, I caught yet another one from the mouth of JEB. Or maybe it was just a typical Bush blunder. 

As you might have heard, Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Pope Francis got into a pointless and politically hazardous spat in the past two days. Always eager to avoid serious issues, the press pounced on it. Perhaps they were all hoping the big moment of Donald Trump's downfall had finally arrived. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Income Inequality and North Carolina Health Care: A Tale of Two Extremes

by Nomad

Without the Medicaid expansion, health care for the poor of North Carolina has become a real problem.  Of course, you'd never know it by the looks of salaries paid to CEOs of  non-profit healthcare organizations. 


To put it bluntly, If you are poor in North Carolina, don't even think about getting sick.
  
The Tarheel State is one of 20 states that rejected Obamacare's optional Medicaid expansion. Governor Patrick Lloyd "Pat" McCrory and a Republican-majority legislature left healthcare coverage as it stood, covering some 1.9 million residents, around only a fifth of the state's population. 

Surviving in the Gap
Not everybody was happy with the arrangement. Advocates of the expansion claimed that another 500,000 people might have been added to the rolls, including tens of thousands of childless nondisabled adults.  
USNews reported last October that there was a good reason for this dissatisfaction. The states' Medicaid program is broken.
Bureaucratically antiquated and growing faster than state revenues, it has gone over budget in three of the past four years, and its taxpayer cost and total enrollment have both doubled over the past decade. Last year, it cost North Carolina taxpayers $15 billion, nearly a third of the budget and more than twice what the state spent in 2003.
At the end of 2015, Gov. McCrory signed into law a bill to reform North Carolina's overgrown and out of control Medicaid program.
However, this reform will take, by the official estimate, around four years to become fully implemented. Supporters claim that it will reduce existing spending by 2%, saving hundreds of millions every year. 
How accurate that is is anybody's guess. But one thing is clear, until then, the uninsured poor in the state are going to have to live with things as they are. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Here's Why Mitch McConnell's Blanket Rejection of all SCOTUS Nominees is such a Dangerous Gamble

by Nomad

The decision by Senate Majority Leader McConnell to block each and every nominee submitted by President Obama could be a very dangerous misjudgment with devastating consequences in November. 


Leader of the Majority in the Senate Mitch McConnell's announcement to stall any SCOTUS candidate President Obama put forward came hours after the news of Justice Scalia's death. McConnell claimed that the matter could not too important to be decided in an election year.
Under McConnell's order, anybody nominated by President Barack will not succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. The confirmation process will be stalled until nearly a year from now after a new president is sworn in. As reported by USAToday, Mcconnell said:
"The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President." 
Democrats pointed out that the American people already had a voice in the selection. It was called the Senate. Their representatives in Congress- democratically-elected- have been designated by the Constitution to act as a Vox populi. Surely McConnell knows his own job description.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Poem for Donald: Mending Wall by Robert Frost

by Nomad

Donald Trump's answer to America's immigration problem is to build a wall at the Sothern border. It may not be quite as easy or effective solution.
Trump's grand plan to cure immigration woes calls to mind a poem by Robert Frost.



The Great Wall of Trump
Republican candidate Donald Trump doesn't like to go into too many of the mundane details of his future policies as president.
Rather surprisingly, his supporters don't seem to mind too much. They just like to hear him speak and it appears the more unrealistic and offensive he is, the more they fawn over him.

One of the ideas he has proposed is the building of a wall on the Southern border to stem the flow of illegal migrants, from Mexico, Central, and South America.
Mark my words, Mr. Trump told his cheering crowds:
"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border.  
These are the same types that actually believed Reagan would cut government spending, that read George H.W. Bush's lips about no new taxes, and roared when George W. promised to hunt Bin Laden down, come hell or high water.
Until he lost interest. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Power of the Beat

by Nomad

Never ever underestimate the power of the beat.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Kentucky Lawmaker Wants Viagra Available Only to Married Faithful Men and Only with Wives' Approval

by Nomad

If it is good for the goose, the old saying goes, it should be good for the gander. In Kentucky, the government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens just took a step toward equality. 


According to a recent article from WDRB.com, if one Kentucky lawmaker has her way, men will have to swear on a Bible to be good little boys if they wish to enjoy the life-changing pharmaceuticals for erectile dysfunction. 
Democratic Rep. Mary Lou Marzian has introduced a bill in the Kenturky legislature wich would require men to be married and to have two office visits with a healthcare practitioner before getting a prescription for an erectile dysfunction drug such as Viagra or Cialis.
Single men would be out of luck. Horn-dawgs will just have to suck it up. They ought to feel relief that there was no mention of a mandatory prostate probe.
But there were other provisions to the draft bill.
Marzian’s bill would also require a man seeking an erectile dysfunction drug to get a signed and dated letter of approval from his spouse and to “make a sworn statement with his hand on a Bible that he will only use a prescription for a drug for erectile dysfunction when having sexual relations with his current spouse.”
As outrageous as it might sound, Marizan has a point to make. House Bill 396 is not exactly what it seems. Marizan explained in an interview that she wondered exactly how men might feel about the government injecting itself into their private medical decisions.

Knowing is Not Enough

by Nomad


Friday, February 12, 2016

You Say You Want A Revolution? More Evidence Trump is Pranking the GOP

by Nomad

It took me a long time to take Donald Trump seriously. Just about the time, I became convinced he was a genuine candidate, he goes and opens new doubts.


Believe it or Not?

After quite a bit of deliberation on the subject, I was finally persuaded that Donald Trump was actually a serious candidate. 
It wasn't easy to accept this. 
Just by his appearance alone, he cuts a somewhat comical figure. That's not his fault, okay. I get it. Sometimes bad hair days can last decades.

Whatever you think about him personally, you have to admit, he makes his liabilities work to his advantage. Being an unorthodox candidate- not carefully groomed by handlers or by professional stylists- is doubtless one of his main selling points. 
He is who he is and he doesn't give a frick what other people think. He owes his position to nobody but his people. Only a billionaire can think like that nowadays.

There's a hitch, however.
That might work for a celebrity or a private citizen. But as a candidate for the highest office in the nation, most voters require a tad more than what Trump is selling. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Anti-Terrorism Software Has Become a Threat to Human Rights and Democracy

by Nomad

One hacker's explosive information leak revealed the dark side of surveillance software and companies that sell them.  It sends a warning about authoritarian regimes using anti-terrorism software to target opposition and human right activists.  


In early July last year, a hacker who went by the name of Phineas Fisher claimed responsibility for an astounding information dump. 

The Hacking Team Dump

In all,  500 GB of client files, contracts, financial documents, and internal emails of Milan-based surveillance company called Hacking Team were made available to the public. 
The company sells sophisticated computer surveillance software to countries around the world, some nations with very doubtful human rights records.
It’s unclear exactly how much the hackers got their hands on, but judging from the size of the files, it’s certainly a large collection of internal files. A source who asked to speak anonymously due to the sensitivity of the issue, told me that based on the file names and folders in the leak, the hackers who hit Hacking Team "got everything."
So basically, a hacker hacked the Hacking Team. In doing so, he walked away with vital and incriminating information including emails between employees, a list of customers, which included the FBI. 
He or she also managed to find the source code of the surveillance software itself. The whole kit and caboodle.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Michigan Laws and the Less-Discussed Sins of Sodom

by Nomad

Despite a host of serious problems in the state, the minds of the Republicans in the Michigan Senate were focused on passing a dubious anti-sodomy law. But what is the truth behind the Biblical story of Sodom? Who are the real Sodomites?


Michigan and SB219
With so many things going wrong in that state, you'd think Michigan legislators would have their hands full. You'd think they would have no problem finding serious issues to tackle. 
However, you'd be wildly incorrect.  

Last week, legislators decided that it was much more concerned with the sex practices of its citizens than with those boring issues. The state Senate passed SB 219 that, as one critic says, "effectively reaffirms the state's unconstitutional law making sodomy a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison."
If the person is already a sex offender, violations are punishable by life in prison. 
Michigan is one of more than a dozen states that still have sodomy bans on the books, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas declaring them unconstitutional.
The Court's decision in the Texas case ruled that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the 14th Amendment. As Wikipedia explains: 
Lawrence invalidated similar laws throughout the United States that criminalized sodomy between consenting adults acting in private, whatever the sex of the participants.
Nobody told the Michigan legislators, it seems.  
While most people see this as primarily directed at gay couples, the laws criminalizing oral and anal sex can apply to both same-sex or different-sex couples. 
   
This law was deceptively attached to laws protecting animals from abuse. It should be mentioned that one progressive blog, Eclectablog, claims that this isn't an anti-sodomy law at all but a law designed to "prohibit convicted animal abusers from adopting another animal for five years." In that case, it is merely a badly-written law. Here's the sentence that has raised objections:
A person who commits the abominable and detestable crime against nature either with mankind or with any animal IS guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for. not more than 15 years
The rather old-fashioned phrase, "the abominable and detestable crime against nature" in this context would certainly be a sexual crime presumably with an animal. In short, the crime of bestiality.

However, lawmakers inexplicably added the phrase "either with mankind or animal" which then changes the meaning to unnatural sexual acts, the classic definition of sodomy. If the state had repealed its old sodomy laws, it would be much easier to dismiss this as just a poorly-written law.

Since 2014, the Republicans in Michigan have held a strong majority in the State House and Senate. They can do whatever they want without much opposition.
Pandering to the Christian Right has now, critics say, devolved into enforcing baby-making sexual practices at a state level. Strictly speaking, every other form of sex could be considered "unnatural." (Even sex using contraceptive is technically unnatural.)

But if sodomy is the thing that really captures the imagination of the Michigan Republicans, then perhaps they should delve a little deeper in the story of the Sodomites and why, according to the Bible, God decided to destroy them.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Irrespective of Circumstances: Pro-Life Rubio Thinks Abortion Shouldn't be an Option for Rape Victims

by Nomad

GOP establishment might be banking on Marco Rubio but his total-restriction views on abortions actually represent a mere 19% of the American people.  


No Exceptions Marco


Last year a Gallup poll suggested that a narrow majority of Americans (51%) felt that abortion should remain legal under certain circumstances. Twenty-nine percent, however, said that abortion should be legal under all circumstances. 
The lowest percentage of the respondents (19%) said that abortion should be illegal under any and all circumstance. Ordinarily, this absolute limit refers to conditions where the mother's life is in danger or pregnancy following a rape or incest. 

That absolutist restrictive poition has always been the extremes of the pro-life movement. In fact, the SCOTUS' Roe vs. Wade decision originated from a rape case. (The ruling, however, did not revolve around that particular circumstance.)

On Sunday, the GOP establishment's latest hope, Marco Rubio revealed that, if elected- he would only very reluctantly sign a anti-abortion bill that provided an exception for rape and incest cases. 
His position pits the candidate against a full 81% of the American electorate.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rejecting Stagnation: Why a Progressive Ideology is Really What America's All About

by Nomad

In a world impatient for change and for development, what's so wrong about a progressive superpower?


Candidate JEB expressed a complaint commonly heard among the conservatives about the progressive mentality.
The progressive and liberal mindset believes that to every problem there is a Washington, D.C. solution.
Unlike a lot of rubbish endelessly repeated in the Republican ranks, JEB's remark is not entirely untrue. Too often too much faith is put in government to resolve all problems and immediately.
But is the alternative- of doing nothing and ignoring a problem- really any better? 

The Cancer that Ate America?
It strange to hear conservatives use the idea of progress as a kind of insult. Easily outraged Glenn Beck, back when he still had his gig at Fox News, once called JEB's brother and former President George W. Bush a progressive. (The nerve!) 
And yet, George Bush thought of himself as a “compassionate conservative." So perhaps the label is based more on one's perspective.

In the twisted mind of Glenn Beck, progressive ideology is a "cancer that's eating at America" and anybody who might think differently is "evil." Progressives are little better than Nazis, These are things he has actually claimed, at least.

The term progressive is often associated with change of a "radical" kind. As we all know, a radical is a dangerous person. Radicals blow up buildings and call for the overthrow of governments. A radical ideology is one that cannot be argued with. Compromise is not possible with radicals because a radical is not willing to respect anybody with a different opinion.

Of course, what could be more radical a policy than cutting health care for millions of Americans, eliminating environmental regulations that ensure clean air and clean water? What could be more radical than privatizing or cutting Social Security for seniors who depend on this assistance for their survival?
Shutting down the government solely on the basis of a ideological principle seems pretty radical to me. 

Beck wouldn't be the first person on the Right to use the term progressive in such a way. For quite some time now, according to conservative media, a progressive has been a very very bad thing to be.
Yet that view seems to run counter to so many ideas that America was actually built upon.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Why GOP Complaints about Pharma Price-Gouging of Vets is a Hypocritical Smokescreen

by Nomad

One Republican complaints against a drugmaker's price-gouging may be applaudable. As long as you have only half of the facts. 

In yet another example of mainstream media failing to properly inform the public, we can point to CNN and its posting of US Rep. Jeff Miller's op-ed piece. The article demonstrates how, when critical information is left out of a story, the news becomes nothing less than a lie.

The subject of Miller's piece is price-gouging by pharma companies, particularly when it comes to medication for veterans. The company in question, Gilead Sciences, has been scrutinized on several occasions in this blog. (here, here and here)

In his article, the Congressman for Florida's First district writes:
If not for the service and sacrifice of those who have worn the uniform, the United States would not be the extraordinary place it is today. Unfortunately, this concept seems lost on the people at drugmaker Gilead Sciences.
Whenever we try to qualify patients by who "deserves" life-saving treatments more, we run into ethical questions. It is all in keeping with Republican efforts to be percieved as actually caring about veterans.
The record tells a different story. In fact, the GOP has a fairly dismal record when it comes to veterans. Last year, the House Appropriations removed more than $1.4 billion from President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget. As one source notes:
As a result of the cuts, it was estimated that 70,000 fewer veterans would be able to receive needed care.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Capital Punishment: Another Example of How Ted Cruz is On the Wrong Side of Public Opinion

by Nomad

Ted CruzCandidate Cruz's long-held support for capital punishment may have helped build his career but today, given the shift in public attitudes, it could be the kiss of death in the general election.


Since the time he was a Supreme Court clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist, Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has been an ardent supporter of the death penalty. The adjective may actually be an understatement.

In some ways, Supreme Court clerks have the power of life and death in their hands. They are charged with evaluating death row petitions and issuing memos about the cases. Such memos normally consist of a brief review of the facts and then a dispassionate legal analysis as to whether the court should hear the case.

Cruz took that responsibility seriously. From what you read, his determination to justify the death penalty in the cases before him was a bit unseemly. Many who worked with Ted Cruz as a clerk, felt that he took a personal interest in highlighting the most gruesome aspect of each case.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Borrowing from Obama: Marco Rubio's Not-So-Victorious Victory Speech

by Nomad

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then Marco Rubio's speech is an homage to President Obama.


As we know, Barack Obama has long been the target of conservatives for the last 8 years. He has been castigated by the Republicans every step of the way. 
And yet, when it comes to campaigning and political style, at least, one of the candidates must secretly admire Obama. 

AddictingInfo has an interesting scoop about Republican candidate and Senator Marco Rubio's Iowa "victory" speech. Coming in third is a victory in the Republican party. Rubio told his cheering supporters;
“So this is the moment they said would never happen. For months, for months they told us we had no chance. For months they told us because we offer too much optimism in a time of anger, we had no chance. For months they told us because we didn’t have the right endorsements or the right political connections, we had no chance. They told me that we have no chance because my hair wasn’t gray enough and my boots were too high.”
Somebody should have told him that the bronze medal is a poor substitute for the gold one.
And yet, it sounded so familiar.

Economics and Cookies

by Nomad


If there's no animation to this image, just click to open it in a new window and it should play. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Forgotten Memorials: The Conscience of Viola Liuzzo and the "Heroism" of the KKK

by Nomad

One state representative in Georgia has drafted legislation calling for the eternal preservation of Confederate monuments, as a testimony to those who "suffered and died for the cause."
Who we select to honor and who becomes our source of pride says so much about who we are as a people.



Cultural Terrorism

The other day I was struck to read about Georgia State Rep. Tommy Benton's proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution. One of the two amendment aims at protecting the Confederate monuments at Stone Mountain.  The bill salutes the heroes of the Confederacy like Lee and Davis. Monuments dedicated to such heroes of the South, the bill demands, shall never be 
"altered, removed, concealed or obscured in any fashion and shall be preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause.”
What cause is he talking about? Nothing less than the overthrow of the federal government.

Republican Benton has called the movement to remove Confederate symbols in the South a form of "cultural terrorism."
Our source tells us:
“That’s no better than what ISIS is doing, destroying museums and monuments,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). “I feel very strongly about this. I think it has gone far enough. There is some idea out there that certain parts of history out there don’t matter anymore and that’s a bunch of bunk.”
It is a big deal in the South and remembering the Confederate past and the fallen warriors is considered part of the South's cultural heritage. It was literally all the South had left after the crushing defeat.

The problem is, contrary to what Benton says, many in the South would prefer to remember a warped version of their history. A history without shame or misjudgment and effectively free of facts. 
(And not just the long past history, but, as we shall see, the more recent times too.)
For a person that talks about remembering history, Benton seems to forget that it was foolishness of the proud and rather stupid politicians in Georgia and the other rebelling states that kicked off America's greatest and most pointless war. 

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