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Religious Books -- Not Fundamentalist!
The Fundamentalist Xtians should not be allowed to hijack the language of Christianity. They are at least as much heretics to Christianity as the Arians and Gnostics of early Christian days.
Biblical inerrancy is not possible.
The books both above and below show the limitations of language and the impossibility of Biblical Inerrancy.
How can language be misused? Using General Semantics, this book was Written to explain Nazi propaganda and still used as a textbook
Books - Popular Math, Post Enlightenment & Science
This book explains why the above books on Christian Fundamentalism are politically important in America today.
Modern Society measures risk & predicts possible futures. The book below is a higly readable history of insurance, statistics and modern financial instruments.
Compare this to religion, in which it is presumed that the perfect society was known in the past and all that is necessary to do is to return to that perfect society.
Fascinating, highly readable and fun book on modern mathematics and its limitations. If you are interested in ideas, this is your book!
This is a collection of Hofstader's Scientific American articles. Again, a very fascinationg and highly readable book, requiring no mathematical background. (Buy it used - it is one of the books that will keep disappearing.)
Older, very fascinating book on mathematical ideas. Did you know there are three kinds of infinity?
Bloomberg News reports that if Bush allows "Scooter" Libby to go to prison without pardoning him on his two-and-a-half year sentence then he will face a revolt by his core base. Those are the only support he currently has as President.
But if he does Pardon Libby before his prison sentence starts, then he will "violate Justice Department guidelines, alienate much of the public and run the risk of cover-up charges."
A Cable News Network/Opinion Research survey conducted after Libby's conviction found that 69 percent of respondents opposed a pardon while 18 percent favored it. At the same time, a pro-Libby firestorm is being fanned by self-described conservative bloggers and talk-radio hosts, and many conservative leaders are asking the president to step in. [Snip]
"It tells you what a deep, dark, dank un-spinnable hole Bush is in when he has to pardon a guy to appease 30 percent of the country," said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, a former aide to Vice President Al Gore.
A pardon might also raise fresh questions about whether Libby had been acting at the request of his superiors. "I think he sort of took one for the team," said [Paul] Weyrich, [head of the Washington-based Free Congress Foundation, a small-government educational group.]
Bush already has the lowest poll ratings as President since Nixon the last few weeks before he resigned. Whatever he decides, his polls can only go lower.
Even now Bush was unable to get the Republican Party to get his Immigration Bill through the Congress. His Presidency is over but has 20 months left to run. His legacy will be the unnecessary preemptive invasion and badly botched occupation of Iraq. He still will obstruct whatever he can, though, so the U.S. is in for a long period on Automatic pilot.
Shock! Horror! Fear! There was a bombing attempt near a London West End night club!
Don't believe it? OH! Oh! CNN has the story, and it's not one car bomb. It's TWO! The first one was filled with nails and had two (not one, but two!) canisters of ... gasoline?
Wait a minute! Isn't that a suburban homeowner on the weekend with a carpentry project and the fuel for the lawn mower?
OK. So one Mercedes with nail and gasoline. But there was also a second nearby with propane canisters and nails inside. Coincidence? Well, CNN doesn't want its faithful viewers to think so.
For those of you not yet suspicions that we are hearing another media over-hyped provocation to fear, go check out Larry Johnson at his blog No Quarter.
For starters, gasoline is not a high explosive. If we were talking 50 pounds of Semtex or the Al Qaeda standby, TATP, I would be impressed. Those are real high explosives with a detonation rate in excess of 20,000 feet per second. Gasoline can explode (just ask former owners of a Ford Pinto) but it is first and foremost an incendiary. If the initial reports are true, the clown driving the Mercedes was a rank amateur when it comes to constructing an Improvised Explosive Device aka IED. Unlike a Hollywood flick the 50 gallons of gas would not have shredded the Mercedes into lethal chunks of flying shrapenal.
And you wonder why I treat the so-called news media as delivering a load of really smelly crap? Especially FOX, CNN, and MSNBC.
There is NO TV NEWS that can be trusted. The do not deliver news to their viewers. Lies and over-hyped packaged efforts to manipulate the audiences' emotions? Yeah, that they deliver. But if you want news, turn off the TV.
Here is what even the so-called journalists on MSNBC think about the so-called news on their channels: But the public will get what they ask for, right?
Back in the deep dark days of the Vietnam War "news" reports based on military handouts would tout the number of Viet Cong killed in the latest military operation. After several years, some reporters actually did some reporting and asked the military personnel submitting body counts up the chain of command how they knew the dead bodies were Viet Cong.
The reply? "They are dead, aren't they? What are they going to do? Argue?" When asked how they determined that some were civilians and some were Viet Cong, the reply was "Kill them all and let God sort out the bad guys." Here appears to be a story of this type. 17 killed, reported as al Qaeda by the military. But were they really just a local defense force killed by U.S. aviation as they were themselves attacking a local insurgent stronghold? Sure looks like the "Kill them all and let God sort them" program.
This week Glenn Greenwald makes the point that now the reporters just take the military press handouts in Iraq and print them as truth. I guess they have to. Wouldn't want to lose the propaganda war now, would we? I mean, look what happens when real reporters get loose and start telling that devastating "Truth."
Last week Glenn pointed out that recently every dead Iraqi has become a dead member of al Qaeda. Somehow the minor detail that there are over 20 different militias attacking Americans, both Shiite and Sunni seems to have been lost in the translation. I guess the U.S. government has decided that it is too difficult to specify that one attack on Americans was conducted by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army (Shiite), another by some Sunni local militia, and a third by foreign fighters who have been attracted to Iraq because that's the place to go if you want to kill Americans.
So the Army is doing us all a favor by "simplifying" the news so that even the dumbest or most radical of Americans (*cough* Bush or Cheney *cough*) can tell who is "us" and who is "them." The news media is just going along with the program.
Wouldn't want to be accused of rocking the boat by real reporting, now would they? Just keep it simple for the stupid ignorant public.
What's the old saying? If you can't trust your own government, who can you trust? As the Bush administration has proven, the answer is that you can trust no one. Especially not this Bush administration or the military they have sent to fight the useless war in Iraq. Nor can we trust the media to give us honest news.
But it isn't just our own government and media lying to us. The enemy is doing a better job of propaganda than the Americans. Here is from John Hughes writing June 20, 2007 at the Christian Science Monitor:
Now some US military officers, too, charge that a clever enemy media campaign is gaining traction and that the US is losing the war in information about battlefield operations.
A Marine officer whose credibility I trust cites an operation of success in the Fallujah region earlier this month that was reported as a disaster by US and British media companies. His unit had established a new precinct headquarters for Iraqi police, Army troops, and US Marines to patrol and protect a dedicated area. It was well received by the local populace and almost 200 Iraqis volunteered for police recruitment. Insurgents sought to disrupt it but were routed.
Meanwhile, in a separate firefight at a makeshift suicide vehicle factory, three separate suicide bombers were killed, two suicide trucks were discovered and blown up, and foreign and other fighters were killed or captured. On the defending side, one civilian and one policeman were wounded, with no US or other casualties. "The enemy was killed in his tracks; his best weapon was discovered before it could cause any harm," says the officer, "but Western media reported no enemy killed in these operations, 28 civilians killed, and 50 civilians wounded. We are getting demolished," the Marine officer says, "by nefarious enemy media outlets … 'reporters' or 'sources' for Arab and other news agencies either on insurgent payrolls or who have known sympathies with insurgent operations, and by collective Western media that are often being manipulated by enemy elements. What incredible economy of effort the enemy is afforded when US media is their megaphone. Why spend precious resources on developing your own propaganda machine when you can make your opponent's own news outlets scream your message louder than you could ever have hoped to do independently?"
Clearly the insurgents have taken to heart the message that their war is a war of words as well as arms.
So what is happening? The U.S. military can't get the news media to report anything except spoon-fed propaganda hand-outs, while the insurgents appear to be effectively getting the media to report their handouts while suppressing the real news that might support American efforts. In the meantime, those of us who depend on the media to provide some level of reliable and useful information can't find much of it in the major media sources.
Sure the media is getting manipulated on all sides. That is a problem the media has to solve. They aren't doing much of it, except for McClatchy News.
Glenn Greenwald interview Helen Thomas to find out how she felt about the relationship between the Press and the President. Here is a very revealing part of an excellent interview:
GG: You have covered every President since John Kennedy. I wanted to ask if you could identify how the White House press corps has changed over time, if it has, and what differences are there in terms of how journalists cover presidents?
HT: Well, that's a big order. But I do think that in the good olden days, reporters were really straight reporters. I worked for a wire service, UPI, for 57 years, and I covered the White House for UPI from the 70s onto Bush, and then became a columnist. So I certainly know both sides.
As a wire service reporter, I played it straight, with the facts, which is absolutely required of a wire service reporter. But that doesn't mean I bowed out of the human race. I permitted myself to think, to care, to believe, but it didn't get in my copy.
I did think that tough questions were always very important. With Kennedy, we knew he enjoyed the banter with the press, and he had the first live televised news conferences. And it made a big difference in terms of really capturing the imagination of the public. It was the first time they really saw reporters in action, they saw a witty president that was able to dodge questions as deftly as anyone, and he had great eloquence. That was the first time the American people really became interested in presidential news conferences.
And then Johnson had a love-hate relationship with the press. He couldn't live without us, and yet at the same time, he thought we were hurting him every day. The words "credibility gap" were created in that era.
With Nixon, that is when news management and manipulation really began. Now, every president wants to put his best foot forward, and always be able to manage and manipulate news coverage.
All presidential candidates, especially, vow to run an open administration. But they step foot in the Oval Office and the Iron Curtain slams down. Suddenly, all information that I think belongs in the public domain becomes their private preserve.
The manipulation of the press has become greater and greater. This is the most secretive administration I have ever covered. And they're all secretive.
GG: Has the press corps that covers the White House played a role in why the White House is so manipulative and why they're able to get away with such secrecy?
HT: Very much so. Reporters, after Watergate, realized that we had let so much go by us. They got much tougher when President Ford took over. It wasn't animosity. It was anger that we hadn't asked the right questions. And the press became tougher.
But they really went soft after 9/11. Reporters, I'm assuming, did not want to be called unpatriotic and un-American when we were in a national crisis.
And I don't think the corporate heads exactly wanted anyone to rock the boat at that time.
But I kept asking questions about the validity of going to war against a country that had done nothing to us.
Intimidation works on the Press Corps, too. There are a few exceptions, though. Helen Thomas is one, and the McClatchy News Service is another.
It seems that in January, a young white couple, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, were victims of a brutal crime. They were carjacked, kidnapped and raped. Cleaning fluid was sprayed into Christian's mouth. She was stuffed in a trash can and apparently suffocated. Newsom was shot and set afire. His body was dumped. Five blacks, one a woman, have been arrested.
The story made headlines around Knoxville. It was unnoticed nationally.
That has changed. A constellation of white supremacists and conservative bloggers has pushed the story into the national limelight as illustration of their argument that news media, constrained by political correctness, refuse to report black on white crime while pulling out all the stops when crime is white on black, as in the Duke lacrosse debacle. Me, I would see their Duke case and raise them a Central Park jogger, but what do I know?
Anyway, bloggers like Michael Oliver have chastised the "liberal, biased, Mainstream Media" for missing the Knoxville story. He asked: "Had the roles been reversed, would the media ignore such a horrific crime?"
Truth is, media ignore horrific crimes all the time. Space is limited and growing more so. Which means the story that catches fire usually has some element beyond gruesomeness to sell it. In the Duke case, it was class, privilege, sex and race that did it. [Snip]
And last weekend, white supremacists held -- I kid you not -- a "rally against genocide" in Knoxville.
So the poor victimized White Crackers are angry that the above described horrific crime is not being tried as a "Hate Crime."
As you may know, yours truly has lately been the target of death threats and harassment from the ranks of the not-so-tightly-wrapped.
Digby very kindly points at the column by Kathleen Parker where Parker points out that the real problem is that Hate Crime laws create social divisions.
Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League have insisted that hate crime laws are necessary because crimes that make minority communities fearful "damage the fabric of our society and fragment communities." The Duke and Knoxville cases cast doubts on that premise. It is human nature to resent groups and individuals deemed more special than others.
Signaling through laws (or media treatment) that one group's suffering is more grievous than another's - or that one person's murder is worse than another's - is also likely to fragment communities, as well as to engender the very animosities such laws are meant to deter.
Let me just say that I think this shows that Ms. Parker is a sick, stupid, and historically ignorant bitch who may well be in the pay of the KKK. And those are my kinder thoughts.
She probably agrees with George Will that the Racist Southerners who felt kicked out by the Democratic Party and went with George Wallace in 1968 felt that the were an oppressed minority. Well, so do pedophiles and rapists. They are oppressed for damned good reasons. What they want destroys society. They SHOULD be oppressed. Racists, rapists and pedophiles have no positive value to American society.
Here is a short American History Lesson for those who have forgotten
America is still trying to figure out how to effectively oppress the scary slave Niggers-Negroes-Blacks-African-Americans. America's dirty secret (hidden only from the current White over class) is that America was built to a great extent on the oppression of Black Slaves. That's why they are in the Constitution. They were really important. But the rot of slavery is worse for the oppressors than for the oppressed, because the fear of the slave rebellion never goes away until it is faced, and the White over class will do almost anything to refuse to face their own fear of Blacks.
The White over class fear leads to the oppression of the under class, and that oppression causes anger in those who are oppressed. That is the key to the devastation slavery has had - and still has - on America. But there is no oppression today. The slaves have been freed and segregation is ended, Right?
That is only what the blind wish to see. The history of the oppression of the slaves is more than just legal oppression. A lot more.
The original system of oppression was total warfare on the "Niggers" when they were legally called slaves rather than humans or citizens. Before the Civil War every young White Southern male was trained to defend his Race when the inevitable Great Slave Rebellion occurred. It was even built into the college curriculum. Nothing was every placed in the way of those young White soldiers. No law, no morality, no recognition that the targets of their whips, guns and oppression were even human. Ask the Churches. Even God and the Bible justified the oppression of the slaves. The Southern Baptists only publicly recanted this about two decades ago. And privately?
When the U.S. Constitution was written, this was the social basis of the most powerful states other than Massachusetts.
After the Civil War the scary slaves were given citizenship and access to the courts (lot of good THAT did) and the solution was a new form of oppression. It was a two-pronged attack on Niggers/Negroes. The legal prong was to segregate them. Separate them from their betters, the Whites. The other prong - not legal, but de facto - was to terrorize them if they even poked their heads up and asked to vote or to question why they were not treated like other citizens. The many branches of the KKK were institutions to carry out this illegal oppression. [This was not a conspiracy, planned by a central group of conspirators. It was a reflection of the social fears of the White oppressors, just as the fear of a slave rebellion had been. Given the fears, this reaction was logical.]
It is the second, illegal, prong of repression which is still widely practiced. Intimidation is preferred today because it doesn't get as much bad Press. That wasn't a problem before the Civil Rights Movement. In those days the Press just didn’t bother to report the problems. Today random White-on-Black violence like the Whites who dragged the James Byrd Jr. to death behind a pickup in Jasper, Texas a few years ago is still part of the social system of White oppression of African-Americans. Any dark-skinned American who reads or hears of James Byrd Jr. and doesn't think "That could have been me or one of my children." simply is disconnected from reality. Because it could have been.
The recent story from Jena, Louisiana about "the White Tree" shows exactly how the modern oppression is done. [ h/t to Rick Perlstein ] It starts with young White (usually males) expressing their superiority (That's OUR tree) and then enforcing it with intimidation. (Nooses hung from the tree.)
I get angry when some ignorant cracker tries to intimidate me, and I'm White. Further attempts to intimidate the African-American kids are sure to follow, and when they do, will result in some fights.
So then White Law steps in. The cracker (elected) DA adds to the intimidation of the "Uppity Blacks" by bringing attempted Murder charges against six of them.
I don't know if "Hate" crime is the best name for the laws. But if the law does not somehow recognize the illegal repression and intimidation that goes on in every American ghetto every day even now, then all we have is "Cracker Law."
Without some form of ENFORCED "Hate Crime" legislation, then we are still back at the day after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Southern Crackers (not just in the South, either) are still practicing their control of the scary Black Race through intimidation. That is why it is important to look at the race of the criminal and of the victim and look at the criminal's motive. When the motive is includes Race and the victim is the descendant of slaves (or looks like it) then America as a whole must take special actions to stop those crimes and the criminals need to know that their buddies can't get them off (KKK? Birmingham church bombing? Anyone?)
Ah, but the Civil Rights Movement is over, Segregation is no longer legal, and we are a race-blind society, right?
Nope. That was the first prong of the oppression. The second prong involving intimidation and violence is still alive and very, very well. It is especially appreciated by the Republican Party where it gives them thousands of White Cracker votes in every election.
And while I am ranting about this Racist Cracker society in American (intentionally adopted by Nixon into the Republican Party in 1972 and carefully coddled there), let's not forget the five Opus Dei Catholics on the Supreme Court who are supporting the Southern Crackers by making it generally not legal to measure America's biggest inherent Crime by the only measure that matters, Race. Look away and it's not there, right? Can't see it and there's no Racism. Can't legally measure it, and judges aren't allowed to see it.
Voila! Racism is gone. Just get the DA's to charge a few pesky Black teenage kids who don't like being oppressed and the problem is solved. They aren't oppressed Blacks. They're just criminals who should be imprisoned. Oh, and building more privately owned prisons makes money for the Crackers while holding the "criminals" out of sight.
Anyone who doesn't see the need for effective Hate Crime legislation in this nation - this Nation which was built as much on Race Hatred as any other element - is either blind or a fool. America's Race hatred of Blacks makes this a special case, one that requires special legislation and serious enforcement. It requires what is called "Hate Crimes Legislation" and it requires that those laws be enforced. Otherwise, we act like Bush in Iraq. We just keep kicking the can down the road until someone else has to handle it, and take the blame.
Until then we will all suffer from the fear of the oppressors and the anger of the oppressed. Even those who do not participate in either the fear or the anger are diminished and damaged by the actions of both.
Leila Fadel, Baghdad bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, points to the horror of American troops finding 24 special needs Iraqi orphans chained, naked and starving, in their own excrement in cribs in a government orphanage. The orphans were rescued by American troops who conducted a 2 a.m. raid on the orphanage.
The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mahmoud al Sheikh Radhi, was reported by Iraqi state television to be extremely irate -- at the American soldier who "slandered Iraqi children."
"I believe that those who conducted this raid deserve to be tried," he was quoted in Iraqi news outlets as saying. "Can a reasonable person accept horrifying these sons and putting terror into their souls at such a late time."
He said the boys were naked because of the summer heat. He didn't explain why they had been beaten and starved.
In an interview with state television Ahmed, one of the little boys, tells a reporter that he was beaten and stripped.
"Majed is a dog. He hit me with a stick," he tells the reporter, referring to one of his caretakers. "We didn't do anything. He hit me in my heart, hit me in my heart with a stick."
Yep. Those soldier should be tried. Yeah, sure.
This is a government that can't form an effective Army to protect itself, and the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs is angry because the America soldiers rescued 24 mistreated orphans?
I guess I can see why such news reports would make the Minister angry. They do confirm that there is nothing in Iraq worth spending American lives to try to save.
[Earlier report on the Iraqi orphans with link to transcript from CBS News.]
Congress - in the form of Henry Waxman of the House Judiciary Committee - wants testimony regarding possible crimes from White House employees. The White House has refused to permit them to testify, so the House Judiciary Committee as Subpoenaed them. The White House has refused to comply, citing Executive Privilege. Next step, the Courts.
But the courts, if they respond at all, will respond slowly. The White House "wins" if it makes it to the election of November 2008 without responding. Why would the White House cave on letting his subordinates testify? He doesn't even have an anointed successor who needs his support? As soon as the Primary nominations are over, whoever the Republican nominee for President is will be running from the Bush Presidency like he was on fire.
Bush has lost everything in his Presidency. He has no successes beyond merely being elected twice. He just attempted to push immigration reform through Congress and got shot down by his own Party. His legacy is the invasion of Iraq. He is not going to create a twin legacy of Iraq - first invading, then being the President who admits defeat by withdrawing from Iraq.
Oh, yeah. Iraq. September.
Gen. Petreaus will report that there has been some slight progress, and we just need more time. I don't know the General, or even anything personal about him that hasn't been in the media, but there is no doubt that he is a professional with a great deal of respect from his peers. But he knows better than most what the occupation of Iraq has cost the military and how really well they have performed. Professionals do not quit when there is a possibility of success, especially when they have a heavy emotional investment. How could he continue leading our military in Iraq presently and count the costs in lives and treasure now, then in September come back and say "It can't be won"? Then, in the middle of the maelstrom there will always be indicators that point in every direction. All he has to do is select the indicators that suggest possible success. That will not be difficult. Admitting failure will be extremely difficult, professionally, politically, and very probably personally.
He is going to tell America, Bush and the Congress in September that Iraq can be won but it will take more time and effort. There were probably all kinds of indicators in the defeated South after Reconstruction that allowed predictions that the freed slaves would quickly assimilate into society and that Peace would be restored. Violent terrorism by the KKK and the White majority prevented that from happening for over a century, and it still required violence to end the twin evils of segregation and terrorist repression of the African-American population.
It won't be difficult for Gen. Petreaus to report that we can win in just a little more time, since that is the only message Bush is prepared to hear. That's the case for Cheney, too, if he is still in office.
What's left? Impeach Bush? Empty, time-wasting gesture. The Senate will never permit him to be convicted and everything else in Congress would come to a stop for six months to a year. The American people would see such a gesture as what it was - a symptom of Democratic frustration because they can't do anything to get the rat out of his hole.
Except for the Presidential nomination runs this year, the almost inevitable attempt by terrorists to attack America here in the homeland sometime before the next Presidential election, and possibly the third security threat to America predicted around year 2000 [*] - the California earthquake, probably in San Francisco, this looks like an extremely frustrating, even politically barren, year coming up.
The White House stone-masons are hard at work, and why not? They have nothing else to do until after November 2008 and they are in a well protected position. About all we can do is watch.
[*] the three predicted security threats to America were:
A major terrorist attack on a large American city,
A major hurricane hitting New Orleans, and
A major earthquake hitting California, particularly in San Francisco.
The Bush administration did not prepare for any of them, and will express shock if the San Francisco earthquake hits on their watch. Remember Condi Rice saying "No one could have predicted that terrorists would hi-jack commercial aircraft and use them to attack American buildings." Of course, it had been predicted, and she was probably told. Her subordinates certainly were.
Nothing prevents the other two events from occurring again, either. Real life will continue regardless of what the politicians find it possible to do or to blather about.
In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a "whites only" shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn't sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn't care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree....
The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena's black population didn't take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address black students at the school and told them all he could "end their life with a stroke of the pen."
Black students were assaulted at white parties. A white man drew a loaded rifle on three black teens at a local convenience store. (They wrestled it from him and ran away.) Someone tried to burn down the school, and on December 4th, a fight broke out that led to six black students being charged with attempted murder. To his word, the D.A. pushed for maximum charges, which carry sentences of eighty years. Four of the six are being tried as adults (ages 17 & 18) and two are juveniles....
Yep. Illegally tell African American's they can't sit under the "White" tree (it's also Republican, of course) and when they show up, leave nooses hanging from it. This in a country where Blacks have been oppressed for over a century through lynchings and other vicious acts of terrorism.
So the kids who left the nooses get suspended a day or two, get surreptitious pats on the back for their ability to communicate what every damned White Republican in that city wants to say and do, and then the (White) DA gets all terroristic on Blacks for their fully justified reaction to the threat they are under.
How do voters make decisions who to vote for? Drew Weston says his research has one BIG answer. It's not rational.
The vision of mind that has captured the imagination of Democratic campaign strategists for much of the last 40 years -- a dispassionate mind that makes decisions by weighing the evidence and reasoning to the most valid conclusions -- bears no relation to how the mind and brain actually work. When campaign strategists start from this vision of mind, their candidates typically lose.
Democrats typically bombard voters with laundry lists of issues, facts, figures, and policy positions, while Republicans offer them emotionally compelling appeals, whether to their values, principles, or prejudices. As a result, we have seen only one Democrat re-elected to the White House since Franklin Roosevelt -- Bill Clinton, who, like Roosevelt, understood how to connect with voters emotionally -- and only one Republican fail to do so -- George H.W. Bush, who ran like a Democrat and paid for it.
Essentially Drew Westen is suggesting that we choose our politicians based on emotion, then expect them to government based on logic and rationality. That sure would explain why polls show that American voters prefer Democratic positions even though conservatives keep winning election. Or at least, this is an alternative explanation to the one that the conservatives are stealing elections. I may add his explanation to those I consider useful, but I won't discard the clear evidence that "conservative" or "Republican" are just other ways of spelling the word "criminal."
The White House has finally explained why they don't want any transcripts made of testimony by White House staffers. What if two of them disagree? That's a trap! One of them might actually be accused of lying to Congress and accused of perjury!!
See? They aren't going to LIE to Congress. But if they are CAUGHT lying (which requires a transcript of the testimony) then they might be ACCUSED of lying! That's a trap!
I guess its too late for them to avoid committing criminal acts in the first place, then trying to cover them up by lying, isn't it?
Imagine Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy sitting at a discussion table in the Supreme Court building discussing and justifying their vote to each other. They realize that this is their chance to reverse Brown vs. Board of Education, the case every Republican knows was mistakenly decided case in 1954. These are five Justices who live in gated communities, after all. Money has already bought them their segregation, but their Party wants it everywhere. That is why they are on the Supreme Court, after all.
I can just hear the discussions going on in the Supreme Court with the five Catholic Justices as sitting there saying "We don't want those 'Nigras' sending their children to schools with ours. That's why we live in gated communities in the first place. (Thomas is nodding his head, remembering his White wife, and working very hard not to look at the color of his own skin. He is just like his rich friends, not like those low-class 'nigras.')
Someone speaks "Hey! We can resegregate as long as no one is allowed to measure the level of segregation! We can always claim that our schools aren't segregated if we have one or two 'Nigras' attending, and there are a few [sotto voice, so Thomas won't hear - 'Good house Nigras' ]we can depend on. And look! We don't even have to say "Separate but Equal." This way we have 'separate.' Who needs 'Equal?'
Then they all nod in agreement, finish their coffee, stand up and go to vote against desegregation.
Now they can turn their energies to destroying Social Security, kicking the brown-skinned Mexican immigrants out of our White nation and finishing the overturning of Roe Vs. Wade.
Oh, and there may still be opportunities to make the President completely independent of the Congress using Executive Privilege. The Republicans may not need to keep stealing elections and suppressing the votes of African-American voters. A monarch is appointed by God to Rule the lesser beings, and is not to be interfered with by the peons and legislatures. Conservatives want to return to the proper order of things before all the pesky revolutionaries got loose. Remember the Divine Right of Kings? That's got a new name now. It's called "Executive Privilege."
Goes well with segregation, doesn't it? Divine Right of Republican Kings to stick with their own and exclude all others except as temporary servants 'guest' workers. The Germans have been trying to make this work since they invited Turkish guest workers in during the 60's and 70's. No citizenship, even for the children, and they were supposed to go home too. They're dark-skinned, too. Not at all hard to exclude from "better society." It hasn't worked for the Germans. Now our Confederate States-based Republican Party wants to try the same (failed) strategy since the option of slavery is clearly a non-starter. For now.
Segregation is the next step to the future of American internal conflict, and the Republicans are happily embracing it.
The fastest growing minority group of voters is that amorphous group called Hispanic. Karl Rove recognizes that, and so does George W. Bush. If the Hispanic voters tend to vote Republican, then the Republicans can covert from a regional Southern Party to a national one. But they cannot become a national majority party without Hispanic voters, who are expected to go from their 5.5% in 2000 to 6% in 2004 to 10% or more in 2008.
But the core block of Republicans is (the polite term) Nativist. They have recently been depending on that to get out Republican voters.
... in the run-up to last year's midterm elections, Republicans chose to make immigration their lead issue. The GOP leadership in Congress encouraged talk radio and cable news shows to inflate the illegal alien problem, and Republican candidates took a hard-line anti-immigration stance in hopes of turning out GOP voters. It didn't work. Not only did the strategy fail to help Republicans hang on to their majorities in Congress, but support from Hispanic voters fell to 29%, the lowest level this decade. [Wall Street Journal via Kos]
Kos points out that the immigration issue, which several short years ago seemed to be a winning issue for the Republicans, now appears to be splitting the Republicans and alienating the Hispanic vote culturally from Republicans as a reaction to the nasty anti-immigrant attitudes Republican politicians and opinion leaders (like Limbaugh) have displayed.
Unlike African-American voters, Hispanic voters can be wooed by the Republican Party, but Hispanics are also very proud of there heritage. The Hispanic voters have been a growing swing block willing to entertain the Republican message, but as the Republicans began running against immigrants and minorities, the previous increases in Hispanic votes has reversed. In essence, it appears that the Republican anti-immigrant message is pushing the Hispanic voters to the Democratic Party.
If you remember Republican Governor Pete Wilson of California a decade or more ago and his strong anti-immigrant message, the result was a heavily Democratic California electorate. Since the Republicans with national with the message, it is highly possible that the result will also be similar for the Democrats nationally.
This is scary. The National Review has a cruise every so often, and Johann Hari of The New Republic paid his money and went along. Johann has provided a character study of the modern, wealthy and powerful conservatives as they let their hair down among themselves.
TNR unfortunately charges for entry to their website, so we are fortunate that Digby has kindly provided enough from Johann's article to whet the appetite. Her is her conclusion:
They were all there, Kate O'Beirne, Kenny boy Starr, even William B Fuckley himself, dyspeptic as ever, proclaiming victory over communism (again) while trying to sidle away from the modern nazi generation he spawned as quietly as possible.
If there is ever any doubt in your mind as to what truly gets these people up in the morning, this lays it to rest. They are so afraid of dark people they must have a supply of Depends on hand at all times. Dinesh D'Souza, who is quite dark himself, tries awfully hard to be one of the "Real Americans" but he must wonder what they think when they see him out of the corner of their eye when they are alone in a ship's corridor after a few too many martoonis. (If he doesn't, he's an even bigger fool than he seems.)
It nearly impossible to believe that these are the people who have been running the world for the last six years --- and they are. These are Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld's people. We put a bunch of rich, deluded, paranoid racists in charge of the most powerful nation on earth. It's a miracle we're still alive.
If you have wondered if it is true that conservatives are motivated by fear, and if it is true that they will spend every tax dollar they can get hold of and laud every dead American soldier, sailor and Marine for dying to protect them, wonder no more.
EASILY lost, on page 425, in the mass of the CIA's notorious "Family Jewels" files is a short paragraph outlining "potentially embarrassing Agency activities".
"Experiments in influencing human behaviour through the administration of mind- or personality-altering drugs to unwitting subjects."
Of all the heinous acts committed by the CIA in the name of national security, these experiments, done on the agency's behalf by prominent psychiatrists on innocent victims - including children as young as four - may be the darkest. [Snip]
The nature of the experiments, gathered from government documents and testimony in numerous lawsuits brought against the CIA, is shocking, from testing LSD on children to implanting electrodes in victims' brains to deliberately poisoning people with uranium.
"The CIA bought my services from my grandfather in 1952 starting at the tender age of four," wrote Carol Rutz of her experiences.
"Over the next 12 years, I was tested, trained, and used in various ways. Electroshock, drugs, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, and other types of trauma were used to make me complain and split my personality (to create multiple personalities for specific tasks). Each alter or personality was created to respond to a post-hypnotic trigger, then perform an act and (I would) not remember it later.
"This Manchurian Candidate program was just one of the operational uses of the mind-control scenario by the CIA. [Snip]
Some conspiratorial theorists believe the CIA completed its goal, initially outlined in the early 1950s, of altering a personality and having someone "perform an action contrary to an individual's basic moral principles".
The attorney for Sirhan Sirhan, Lawrence Teeter, has said his client was programmed to assassinate Robert Kennedy in 1968.
Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, volunteered to take part in CIA mind-control experiments when he was a student at Harvard University in the late 50s.
I have never seen in the press any explanation for what motivated Sirhan Sirhan to assassinate Robert F. Kennedy. Nor am I saying that a CIA program caused it. I don't rule it out, however.
Similarly, I was unaware that Ted Kaczynski had been part of the CIA mind-control experiment.
If there ever was any real evidence, it was certainly weeded out before these documents were released.
Glenn Greenwald [*] has a story today of an individual that a government considered to be an enemy. That person was
Captured by military forces,
imprisoned for life (indeterminate time, no sentence) with no charges,
allegedly tortured and mistreated while in captivity
the government refused to let outside agencies evaluate claims that the prisoner was tortured and mistreated in captivity,
Then the government finally agreed to let the individual go after five years provided he
signed a statement "stipulating" he was treated properly and
vowed to remain silent about the mistreatment to which he was subjected.
But what's new? We have all heard such stories of prisoners of Argentina, Franco's Spain, Communist China, North Vietnam, the USSR, Cuba, and North Korea just to name a few. Such stories have been a staple of the "Readers Digest" since the 1950's.
It's what we expect from a government run as a tyranny by a small groups in order to impose their ideology on their nation and sometimes others. There is no rule of law, just rule of the whim of the tyrant in these cases. It is the very opposite of what a democracy does.
There have been a lot of such stories which have come out of various tyrannies in the last sixty years. Some such stories have been clearly verified, but most have been taken from statements by the captives and their families and supporters. When the governments speak to counter those stories, we usually discount what the governments have to say. We suspect we know who to believe, since the governments of Argentina, Franco's Spain, Communist China, North Vietnam, the USSR, Cuba, and North Korea are all vicious tyrannies and cannot be trusted to tell the Truth.
Still, how do we really know that the prisoners themselves are telling the Truth and the governments are not? The governments refuse to let independent agencies, non-government organizations (NGO's) or the Press investigate these stories. The surviving prisoners are trying to tell their stories, while the governments are trying to stop them. If the governments were telling the Truth, all they needed to do was let independent investigators verify which was telling the the Truth. It is the government cover-up in every case which confirms the allegations of the prisoners.
Sadly, this story is one of an Australian, David Hicks, picked up by the U.S. forces in Afghanistan and imprisoned first in Afghanistan and then Guantanamo. Except for the fact that we know that the U.S. government is not a vicious ideologically based tyranny, the rest of the pattern is the same. Especially the efforts to cover up what really happened.
The patterns of behavior by the Bush administration are those of guilty tyrants, not of Americans representing the government of the oldest Republic in the World.
[*] Suffer with the day-pass. It's a quick ad and Greenwald is worth it.
Ordinarily I do not bother with Andrew Sullivan since in my experience his blog was light writing on a black background. Since that is essentially unreadable (appropriate for most conservatives, but sometime Sullivan finds an acorn) I don't bother. But Atrios offered an interesting comment, so I went to look.
Surprise, surprise. Sullivan must be getting desperate, so he offered his potential readers the langniappe of readability.
Snark aside, I find Sullivan's analysis of the reasons for Bush's drop to never before seen poll levels interesting.
It's relatively simple, I think. The president's basic rationale for the war in Iraq was debunked within a few weeks of the invasion. His second rationale, democracy, is much further away now than it was three years ago. He has, in effect, no rationale now, except preventing an even worse catastrophe, which simply reminds Americans of what a colossal misjudgment he has made. 26 percent is far too generous., I'd say. Bush asked to have his presidency judged on how he waged the war in Iraq. He has got his wish.
That's all the Bush administration has left. Avoiding Impeachment for Bush and being able to say "We didn't leave Iraq, so we didn't fail there. The Democrats left, so they failed!"
Bush and the Republicans are perfectly willing to put up with the deaths of a hundred or so Americans per month and at least ten times that many severe casualties from now until 2009 just to maintain this talking point for the future.
I see no reason for Bush to make any effort to pull out of Iraq before the end of his term. He is resigned to the fact of the final pull-out, and only if he does not take any actions towards that pull-out himself is there any possibility that even the sad, sick positive element of an election attack line against Democrats can be won in what is otherwise a disaster that is already recognized widely as the worst foreign policy blunder in American history.
In the legislature the Republicans are on their own. Any Senator or Congressman who tries to run with Bush will face almost certain defeat, even in the strongest "red" states and districts. This will become even more clear after September when Gen. Petreaus comes back and says "We haven't won yet, but there are indications that we can win with more troops and more time."
He will say that. Count on it. It translates very closely to "There is light at the end of the tunnel." If he says "We aren't winning and we can't win." then he is fired and replaced by Bush. If he says "We are winning." it'll be less than 10 seconds later that the otherwise supine American press will be asking "Where is the evidence?" and there will be none.
The really scary part of this is the situation is like a close football game that one side is losing and does not have time to really make an effort to win. It is "Hail Mary" time. All that is really left under the control of the Bush Presidency is to start another war.
But wars cause the American people to rally around the President, and as we have seen in recent years, the utter lack of honesty and competence of the President is almost irrelevant.
Digby channels Sidney Blumenthal in describing how the central paradigm of this administration has been discredited, even to those who first proposed and used it.
The Imperial Presidency? Gone. The Unitary Executive? Forget it. Bush's War Presidency? Inoperative. Francis Fukuyama has disowned the NeoConservatism of which he was a major supporter. The Federal Courts have essentially declared the Presidents' military commissions as an alternative to the Geneva Conventions or legal courts 'inoperative.' What has killed all these really really bad ideas? The one really good idea that even many of the power hungry Republicans could not bring themselves to abandon. The Rule of Law. As Emptywheel pointed out, even a lot of Republicans will not abandon the Rule of Law
The entire set of ideas that were to drive the Bush administration have failed or been otherwise discredited. So what's left? The War in Iraq. That's it.
So why does Bush refuse to recognize the total failure of the War in Iraq? Because that is all that is left of his eight years in office. If he can just hang on without discussing the American evacuation from his disaster, then when the next President comes in that is a job he or she will have to do.
That sets up the Democrats for the traditional Republican attacks of "The Democrats Lost XxxxxxX." [Enter the name of a country or war of choice.]
That's all the Bush administration has left. Avoiding Impeachment for Bush and being able to say "We didn't leave Iraq, so we didn't fail there. The Democrats left, so they failed!"
Bush and the Republicans are perfectly willing to put up with the deaths of a hundred or so Americans per month and at least ten times that many severe casualties from now until 2009 just to maintain this talking point for the future.
Republicans are masters of the soft bigotry of low (self-)expectations, aren't they?
Meteor Blades reminds those of us who love the ideals of America that on Jun 21, 1964, three young men were murdered by members of the KKK in Mississippi because they dared to try to register African Americans as voters.
The Black slaves had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War and their freedom was enshrined into the Constitution in the 13th Amendment in 1865. Then the 15th amendment, passed in 1870, guaranteed that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
Nearly a century later the White over-class, represented by the KKK, was murdering individuals who tried to exercise that Constitutional Right or help others to do so. This was only eight months after the Church bombing in Birmingham in which four teenage girls died for the "crime" of being Black. The killers hid behind the twin veils of secrecy and intimidation of witnesses for decades, as right-wingers usually do.
It was these killers, the southern KKK in its many versions, together with the angry frightened white supporters who were being forced to share power with people their families had owned as property (like dogs and horses) a century earlier who were taken wholesale into the Republican Party in Nixon's and Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy of 1972.
Dick Cheney and the Southerners in the American Republican Party are the direct familial and ideological descendants of these frightened, vicious people. They deny it, saying that they do not approve of such terroristic tactics and of the KKK. But the fact is, the two incidents mentioned here proved counter productive. They brought down more heat than could be dealt with, and in fact encouraged a lot more people to work to share the Civil Rights all Americans were supposed to have with African-Americans. The change in the attitudes of the Southern racists was not because terrorism was immoral (illegal had never bothered them) but was because it had quit being a successful strategy -- nearly a century after the Civil War.
I was in college in 1964, so I guess that Meteor Blades and I are about the same age. I suspect he grew up in the North and saw from a distance how bad this terrorism and intimidation was. I grew up in east Texas, and it was so normal that I only realized that I was attending an all-white segregated High School because my parents made sure I was aware of Brown vs. Board of Education and because I watched TV clips of the National Guard trying to keep the peace and get the Black students safely into the Arkansas schools in the late 50's under Eisenhower. The very few incidents that made it into the news (the local editor did not want to lose subscriptions - or have his building burned down) don't touch on the violence and anger of that period.
It is somewhat better now. That is largely because the worst of the racists and terrorists have died off or gotten too old to be very active. I had thought that our kids were getting better, and that the right-wing American terrorists were becoming extinct, but the American conservative movement has either resurrected them or created a new set of terrorists with which we have to deal. Race is less the issue than it was, but now Class has come to the fore in ways not seen since the late 19th and early twentieth century, and war is still an acceptable tool to them to use for little more than just getting wealthier. And the only reason personal terrorism has declined in America is that the upper classes and wealthy have decided that it is no longer an effective tool to use to keep and augment their positions. In many ways, centralized ownership and control of the mass media has replaced much of the retail level terrorism of earlier years.
I guess that is a little better but it, too, has to be dealt with.
In the meantime, let's remember that the three murdered members of the Congress of Racial Equality died to give us many of the things that are better about America now. Those of us here now need to try to clean our nation up even more, so that we can hand it off even more improved to our children.
God! I must either be getting old or I'm in a preachy mood this morning! Or both.
Is bush really religious, or is it a role he plays to bring in the Republican religious right? Glenn Greenwald has one opinion, and booman has another.
Booman thinks it is a scam, one that Shrub took on the help his father get elected President. Glenn thinks that Bush is serious, that he has really needed the "belief in a higher power" to escape from alcohol.
I come down decisively in the middle. I think they are both correct. I suspect that Shrub originally did take on the job of Liaison to the religious right for his father, and he also was trying to quit alcohol at the same time. I think he did the typical addicts' game of talking to please his audience, and used his alcohol problems as an excuse to explain why he had suddenly found God. Then I think it grew on him. Not the religion, but the feeling that he belonged and was accepted.
Then I think he tried to get serious about quitting alcohol and getting back together with his wife. His problem with the twins suggests that it didn't happen early enough in their lives, though. His rather miraculous rise to first Governor of Texas and then to President may have convinced him that God had to be handing him those jobs, because Shrub sure knows that he didn't earn them. What more proof could he ask of God's existence?
If it had stopped there, I have no doubt that Bush would be a seriously religious person. Then came 9/11.
OK. That could just have been the challenge that God placed him into the Presidency to deal with. But then he listened to Cheney and the NeoCons as though they were speaking the words of God for him to follow.
The continued failures since then very likely have shaken whatever there was of his Faith. I really doubt that much is left now.
So I guess I am cynical enough to go with Booman mostly. Just not completely.
Tristero over at Digby discusses what the real fight over abortion is all about. Here are a few key excerpts:
I fail to see how, by any stretch of the imagination, proactively denying adequate medical care to poor women is morally defensible.
This issue is not about, and never has been about, "when does a human life begin?" That simply is not an appropriate question for a government to answer; indeed, to answer it "officially" is tantamount to a religious establishment. And clearly, these are decisions which are quite rightly left to the individuals involved. [Snip]
...the moral issue is really quite simple. A woman has the right to control her body. No one, and certainly no government, should ever force her to have, or not have, children. How she chooses, what she chooses, when she chooses, are private choices.
He also uses some rather inflammatory language, certainly not that of measured and rational discussion, when he calls the Christianist opponents of legalized abortions "pro-coathanger."
Regular readers of my publication may notice that I, too, have stopped pretending that I think the "Christianists" and conservatives who are taking over America and trying to destroy our Constitutional democracy are actually "honorable opponents with whom honest discussion is possible." They aren't. James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Dick Cheney, Michael Ledeen, Norman Podheretz, Alberto Gonzales, William Kristol, "Scooter" Libby and Josh Bolton to name just a few are not listening, nor do that have defense of the Constitution and of America in mind when they conduct their extremely nasty politics.
These and many, many other so-called conservatives are enemies of America. They do not discuss values or issues. They use emotionalized language, money and lies to develop isses that can be used to attack the basic structure of America. Their purpose is to conduct a coup, much as in July 1936 Francisco Franco conducted a coup against the legitimate elected government of Spain. At the most extreme conservatives use and support the use of violence to destabilize the government they don't control. This is exactly the same set of tactics as are used by Islamists against legitimate (and less than legitimate) governments in the Middle East.
...the issue is not abortion but government regulation of abortion. The fact that so many of us see this differently is precisely at the heart of the fight against the right.
They, not Democrats and liberals, want this country to see the issue in black and white. The effect, if they win, will be catastrophic. And the catastrophe will fall predominantly on poor women. [Snip]
Again, to be clear, this is not about personal opinions about terminating or completing pregnancies. This about [the radical extremist right-wingers] demanding the government regulate pregnancy and reproduction in accordance with one specific ideology.
Possibly no one feels the same as another about abortion itself. But that is not the issue. It's the extreme right forcing people to adhere to their, and only their, morality that is the issue.
As usual, Tristero and Digby clarify the real issue and present it understandably.
It is my conclusion that the extremist right-wingers are well on the way to taking over America and destroying Constitutional democracy under the Rule of Law. America now consists of the radical right-wing extremists [RRWE], currently in control of the federal government, a bunch of people who don't care who is in charge and don't want to hear about it, and those of us who realize that we are being attacked by the ignorant Yahoos and Bankers that run the Republican Party. The RRWE's aren't listening to me, and really wish I would shut up and go away. The "don't cares and don't listens [DCDL]" have blocked out the entire set of conflicts, hoping it will all go away. Finally there are those of us who want America back.
The DCDLs aren't going to respond to rational and moderate discussion (don't care) and really really object to any indication of conflict (don't listen.) They, like the RRWEs just want the conflict and me to go away. But they, also like the RRWEs will not respond in any way to moderate, rational and unemotional discussion. It just allows them to feel that they are correct that the conflicts don't matter so they can continue to ignore them.
If my blunt and less than moderate language prods them into any reaction at all, they and America will be better for it. Otherwise, this conflict will go away like the Spanish Civil War did. Franco took over in 1936 and was the unquestioned authoritarian leader until his death in 1975. Spain had Peace, but little else, until Franco died. It also had the Civil War, Guernica and a massive exodus of many of the finest members of society. Nothing Franco ever did for Spain was worth what he cost that nation. But that is the nature of right-wing extremists, NeoCons, and conservatives. It is inherent in their ignorance, intolerance and authoritarianism.
I, too, am becoming intolerant. I will no longer tolerate the efforts of the Christianists and the extremist radical right to impose their prejudices and idiocies on the rest of us. If they have anything to offer below the level of their enforced idiocies (Creation Science?> Gimme a break!)then I can't find it through their lies and falsehoods, and I see no reason to bother trying.
They should go to Hell in their own way and let the rest of us alone. But they won't. They will have to be stopped, like roaches and termites.
The CIA will declassify hundreds of pages of long-secret records detailing some of the intelligence agency's worst illegal abuses -- the so-called "family jewels" documenting a quarter-century of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying, kidnapping and infiltration of leftist groups from the 1950s to the 1970s, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday.
The documents, to be publicly released next week, also include accounts of break-ins and theft, the agency's opening of private mail to and from China and the Soviet Union, wiretaps and surveillance of journalists, and a series of "unwitting" tests on U.S. civilians, including the use of drugs.
"Most of it is unflattering, but it is CIA's history," Hayden said in a speech to a conference of foreign policy historians.
Some of it has come out over the years, of course. This should make the agency somewhat more transparent for control purposes.
On the opposite side of the issue, no major nation can afford to try to operate without an effective Intelligence Agency. This is going to be ancient history, not anything current. That in my opinion is as it should be. You don't want to give away current sources and methods, but you don't want the people in the bureaucracy of the CIA to believe that their decisions will never be known, either. This should provide that transparency so that we Americans know what has being done in our name. With luck, the historical research that will result will lead to more effective Intelligence gathering and analysis methods.
For example, I'd bet this will permit the first outside review of what happened when the CIA tried to focus almost entirely on technical Intelligence gathering and supplemented that with Human Intelligence from allied nation Intelligence agencies.
If nothing else, it is going to be interesting.
Side note: I wonder if this is designed to take some heat off the Bush administration as the news is filled with events that happened decades in the past?
Yeah, it is more of the same. The Alabama legislature passed an ethics bill unanimously. That means The Senate voted for it 30 to 0 and the House voted 101 to 0. All the Republicans and all the Democrats agreed to pass it and that it was needed. So Republican Governor Bob Riley 'pocket vetoed' the bill. He did not object to its passage, and had no known complaints with the bill. He simply vetoed it out of the blue, after the Legislature had adjourned.
Well, it did expand the definition of lobbyists who were required to register with the State Ethics Commission. People who attempt to influence the awarding of state contracts that are issued without the requirement for competitive bidding were covered under the new bill. It is rumored that his own children lobby Gov. Riley for contracts that don't require competitive bidding. I'm sure that the good people of Alabama wouldn't want to see an ethic bill passed that took payments out of the pockets of the Governor's children, payments they worked really hard for by lobbying their father, would they?
Have I mentioned that the Republican Party is inherently corrupt and that Republican consider the government to belong to them as property? Ask them. Government isn't for the people. It is designed to tax the people so that the money can be given to Republicans, allowing them to become more wealthy.
Hey, if the people are real nice about it, the Republicans might even build an occasional road or building for them. It allows the Republicans to reward their friends, skim even more money out of the government (privatization of toll roads, anyone?) But toll roads are preferred. Otherwise there is a danger that a runaway legislature might actually tax one of the wealthy friends of the Republicans.
Toll roads are almost the perfect scam. No taxes, and the toll road operators actually collect their own graft, while increasing tolls so that the Republicans can't be blamed.
But I digress. Governor Riley just wants to make sure that he leaves his children wealthier than he is, that's all. Surely the people of Alabama can support their leader in that. They do belong to him, don't they?
I have had it with CBS News. They took leave of their senses when they hired Katie Couric, although I have had to wonder recently how much they had in the way of "senses" to take leave of. So here is the letter I sent to suggest a news story that Ms. Couric might be able to handle. June 21, 2007
CBS News Attn: Katie Couric 555 West 57th Street New York, NY 10019
Re: Proposed news story for Ms. Couric
Dear Ms. Couric,
Since I recognize that you are struggling with the needs to establish yourself as a news anchor and editor, I noticed a story possibility that might display all your best talents to their fullest.
Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty testified before the Senate today about the way the Department of Justice fired a large number of U.S. Attorneys last December. His testimony is, of course, already on the Internet, and viewing it raises the burning question – how much did he pay to have his hair done for that testimony?
As for the importance of the story, you may recall that the TV news media went all gaa-gaa over that same issue with respect to Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards earlier this Spring. So we know how important the issue is, and Deputy AG McNulty does have a really good head of hair. Just view the testimony. Viewers really need to know what it cost him.
When you get the story you could tuck it in right after the latest on Paris Hilton, Hey, maybe you could even interview Paris Hilton for her opinion. Two stories, combined! You might be able to tell someone to do all that, then speak soothingly in your honeyed voice about it as you introduce the story.
Think you can handle that, Ms. Couric? Better ask someone with journalistic experience and news judgment, though. Then get an acting coach and especially a voice coach to help you present an appropriate demeanor for the story.
Just a suggestion.
Of course, a better suggestion than attempting to train Ms. Couric to do the job she is clearly unsuited for would really be to replace her with someone who could to the job. I wouldn't expect that of CBS News, however. That would be publicly admitting that they screwed up by hiring her in the first place.
This is from Glenn Greenwald quoting and comment on statements by Norman Podheretz, Godfather to the NeoCon movement and still a central spokesperson for the extremist right-wingers we call NeoConservatives:
an interview elaborating on why he "hopes and prays" that we bomb Iran and how he envisions the bombings. Though he generously acknowledges that such an action would likely "unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world that will make the anti-Americanism we've experienced so far look like a lovefest" -- consequences to which he is transparently (and revealingly) indifferent -- he goes on to suggest that Europeans and even the Muslim world might be grateful for our attack; the bombs will be greeted as Bombs of Liberation and Protection:
It's entirely possible that many countries, particularly in the Middle East -- the Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, who are very worried about Iranian influence and power --would at least secretly applaud us. And I think it's possible that other countries in Europe, for example, and elsewhere, would be relieved to see the Iranians entirely deprived of the capability to build nuclear weapons, or at least have that ability retarded for five or 10 years or more.
As Think Progress notes, not only would a bombing campaign fail to stop the Iranian nuclear program, it would be far more likely to accelerate it, just as the Israeli attack on the Iraqi program did. And a military bombing campaign, guaranteed to kill untold numbers of Iranian civilians, would obviously unite Iranians in anti-American hatred and generate unified support for the most militant political elements in that country.
Have I mentioned that people like Norman Poderheretz are typical of the American extreme right-wing, the very people who are running out government today? Sure I have.
If you vote Republican, I hope you enjoy paying for wars and sending your children to die in strange parts of the world.
Let's remember back to the days of yore - Spring and Summer of 2006. Then Sen. Joe Lieberman, the guy Al Gore had chosen to run with him in 2000 as the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, was running for reelection as a Pro-War, anti-abortion, anti-birth control for rape victims Democrat. Fortunately the Connecticut Democrats were suspicious of Joe and to his great surprise forced him to run in a primary. Then Joe lost the Democratic Primary.
Remember that? The Republican candidate, Alan Schlesinger, was even more incompetent than most Republicans which made it look like an easy pickup the Senate Seat for the Democratic candidate.
Joe did not like that. If he lost his Senate seat he would have to stop palling around with all the rich and powerful in Washington, D.C. where he really preferred to be anyway, so apparently he promised the Republicans that he would become a Republican if they financed his reelection. but since the Republican Party in Connecticut was a recognized joke, he had to stay as a nominal Democrat in order to win reelection over the real Democratic candidate, Ned Lamont.
Since the Republicans (as well as everyone else) thought they only had six weak Senate seats and the Democrats would have to sweep them all to win control of the Senate, it was extremely unlikely that the Republicans would lose the Senate and it would be helpful to them to have a Democrat in name only to help them. They could finance Lieberman's campaign, freeze out their own candidate Alan Schlesinger who wasn't going to win anyway, and have some help from Joe when they passed more legislation to screw the American people and nation over. So that's what they did. They financed Joe instead of the Republican and he carried enough nominal Democrats to squeak back into the Senate for six more years. It all worked as planned, although the Democrats almost swept those Senate races in contention, with the single exception that the Democratic Candidate Harold Ford lost the Senate race in Tennessee.
What no one had counted on was that the Democratic Senate candidate, James H. Webb ran an especially strong race while the incumbent Republican Virginia Senator George Allen self-destructed by exposing his strong racism in front of a camera. The exposure was immediately placed on the Internet had suddenly, the Democrats had control of the Senate as well as the House. At least, as long as Joe Lieberman did not switch parties.
Switch parties? Joe? What could the Republican party offer him that would make him as important as the single swing Senator? Nothing, really. So Joe remains a Republican-talking and -voting self-labeled Independent Democratic Senator who caucuses with the Democrats but votes Republican.
So why am I rehashing all this ancient history? Because Joe is continuing to be Joe. All smiles and "Glad-to-see-you" up front with his well-practiced back-stabbing hand right behind every Democrat he can get near.
Thursday night (tonight) Joe is co-hosting a fund-raiser for the incumbent Senator of Maine. And the problem? The Senator he wants reelected from Maine is Republican Senator Susan Collins.
CNN reports that this kind of perfidy is not going unnoticed.
In an e-mail sent to supporters, the anti-war group MoveOn.org called tonight’s event “absurd,” labeling it “Joe Lieberman’s Republican fundraiser.” The event, which will be held in Washington, is being co-hosted by Lieberman and Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
MoveOn.org is working to counter Lieberman’s efforts by raising money for Collins’ 2008 Senate opponent, Democratic congressman Tom Allen. As of Thursday afternoon, MoveOn had raised over $200,000 for Allen in just over 48 hours. Allen’s campaign said it welcomed the support.
Moveon.org could use some money to work against these Republicans. Go on over there as consider how much you can contribute.
Removing Susan Collins from the Senate in 2008 will take a lot of the power that Joe Lieberman currently has in that body. That will be of benefit to every American who is not stealing the government blind and who is opposed to letting others do it.
Being retired, I don't have a lot of money to spend on political campaigns. However, the only blogger that I send any money at all to is Digby. Her writing (and that of Tristero) are worth it.
This speech shows why. And why voices like hers are important.
Wish I could write the way she does. Go read her blog and kick in a few dollars every so often. It's worth a lot more than NPR or PBS. And a whole lot more that CBS News, as my rather disgusted posts about Katie Couric should demonstrate.
Want to know how a professional Republican lies to Congress and refused to take responsibility for decisions he would allow no one else to make? In terms of purely professional, low-down bamboozlement (have I yet mentioned lying?) and absolutely unethical behavior from someone who screwed up, doesn't want to take responsibility for his screw-up and who would happily, even proudly, do it again no matter how many people his actions hurt, go watch this clip of James Connaughton testifying to Congress about why he deleted warnings regarding the dangers of asbestos and other pollutants in the air in New York City shortly after 9/11 and sent out a Press Release telling residents it was safe to move back home when it wasn't.
This is your Republican government at work. It's not smaller government. it's not useful government. It is dishonest and dangerous government. It's Republican government, and the Republicans cannot be trusted. They order that their whims and fantasies be carried out, regardless of who get hurt. Then the rest of them get together and cover up their screw ups.
We are now getting out the information about how badly the Bush administration cocked up the rescue response to 9/11 (Shades of New Orleans!!) nearly six years later. Who knows how many lives and health problems they created? Show me a Republican - officeholder or voter - who even cares what Connaughton did?
Are the Republicans who refused to hold any Hearings on this murderous behavior by the Bush administration, murderous behavior which can be blamed directly on clearly guilty individuals like James Connaughton, any less guilty than Connaughton himself? What about the people who appointed him to the office he misused and supervised his work there?
Connaughton is clearly wrong. Bush was wrong to put him in his office, and wrong to cover up his actions (and that's assuming that Bush didn't DIRECT those Press Reports be scrubbed of warning before they were released.) Bush was wrong. The the Republican Congress covered it up. They were wrong - every Republican in Congress. Finally, the voters who voted to place these lying, murderous people into office to misgovernment the country and then cover up their errors - every damned Republican who voted for these criminals is guilty of their actions. Connaughton is the poster boy for the Republican Party. Connaughton IS the Republican Party.
The Bush administration was already doing America a bad disservice with its behavior in office. That is one Republican problem. Then it has consistently lied or ignored the problems - a cover up. That is Republican problem number two. But then the Republican leadership of the Senate (under Bill Frist) and of the House (Denny Hastert and his boss, Tom DeLay) concealed what their murderous Republican brethren had done. That is Republican problem number three.
And this all came from the first fracking year of the Bush administration! Before Iraq. Before Katrina/Rita.
When Eisenhower was elected President in 1952 he also came in to office with control of the House and Senate (83rd Congress ). That lasted two years, and the Democrats took Congress back in the midterm elections of 1954 (84th congress.) Before the Bush administration was that was the last time the American voters ever let the Republicans steal gain control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency at the same time. The last six years have demonstrated the wisdom of not letting the Republicans have control of government. Connaughton's testimony is just one more example of why they can't be trusted with power.
Go back and look at the history of the Republicans in control, in power, and attempting to regain power since 1929 in my previous post Why did LBJ escalate Viet Nam in 1965?. Little has changed since the days of the Robber Barons and since the 1920's.
Rick Perlstein was at a conference in which members of the media attempted to defend themselves for their poor performance, and blamed the liberal blogosphere for countering the right-wing noise machine attack on the media by creating a similar conspiracy of noisy attacks on the media from the left.
One could write media criticisms for the next several years and not come close to capturing the essence of our Beltway media the way [Richard] Cohen [Washington Post] did in this single paragraph:
With the sentencing of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald has apparently finished his work, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, to make a mountain out of a molehill. At the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times), he was appointed to look into a run-of-the-mill leak and wound up prosecuting not the leaker -- Richard Armitage of the State Department -- but Libby, convicted in the end of lying. This is not an entirely trivial matter since government officials should not lie to grand juries, but neither should they be called to account for practicing the dark art of politics. As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off.
That really is the central belief of our Beltway press, captured so brilliantly by Cohen in this perfect nutshell. When it comes to the behavior of our highest and most powerful government officials, our Beltway media preaches, "it is often best to keep the lights off." If that isn't the perfect motto for our bold, intrepid, hard-nosed political press, then nothing is.
That is the motto that should be inscribed at the top of Fred Hiatt's Editorial Page in pretty calligraphy. And let us acknowledge what a truly superb job they have been doing in keeping the lights off.
A better example of what the old statement "Keep them in the Dark and Feed them Bullshit" means could not be written.
The "them" in that statement is, of course, the American public. You. Me. Ambiance is "Dark." Menu is "Bullshit." In the past this was the only restaurant in town, and we were expected to pay for what we could get and leave quietly. The pundits even got to where they expected a Tip for their service.
What has happened is that the politicians - the denizens of Washington, D.C. on who the pundits started their careers as reporters describing and reporting on, are also the people who the reporters and pundits talk to. Those "denizens" operate in the murky realms of politics where much of what is done really is, to say the least, highly unsavory. Those "denizens" operate based on the idea that their murky doings are best not revealed.
The reporters and pundits are, in theory, in the business of revealing and reporting those murky dealings to us - to the American public. But here is the problem. While they are supposedly being paid to report to us, they don't listen to us! Never have, and that is the way they like it. They listen instead to the politicians on whom they are supposed to report, and those politicians really, really don't like being investigated and reported on. They want someone supposedly reporting on them to actually be speaking for them.
That's what Richard Cohen is doing. He is speaking for the politicians, not reporting on the politicians. Want examples? Go read Eric Boehlert at (the blog, natch) Huffington Post (via .)
Gee. It should not come as a surprise that the politician spokespersons who call themselves reporters and who have spent their full career speaking for politicians feel put upon when some of their mere audience stand up on their hind legs and tell them You are failing to do your jobs as reporters!
That is the basis of the "reporter/pundit" put-downs of bloggers. Many Bloggers are telling the most experienced old hands in the D.C. pundit corps that they have spent their professional lives as so-called reporters living a lie.
Uh, oh. Some of the bullshit is being exposed to the light, and the professional bullshit artists (pundits - Cohen, Hiatt, Klein, etc.) are reacting like spiders who have lived their lives in the dark do when a spot light is shined on them. We are watching them react with high anxiety as the D.C. pundit/reporters scramble to find their comfortable, dark niches so that they can again be comfortable.
There are still things that the "Spiderhole Restaurant" have on the menu that can't be found in any of the newer, alternative restaurants. But I'm damned sure not going to Tip for what I now find is and has been really rotten service. I don't care how anxious it makes the pundits. Their anxiety and refusal to face the new environment is not MY problem. They will just have to adapt.
I have always enjoyed shining lights on spiders in the dark and watching them scramble. As a blogger, I have a new flashlight. The D.C. pundit spiders will just have to learn that they are now a part of my entertainment.
Bwahahahaha. Run, spiders, run! And thanks, Glenn.
I gave her a chance. Her background was against her, no journalism. She is supposedly an entertainer. But who knew? Maybe she had unsuspected depths or the capacity to learn.
No such luck.
She has no sense of journalism at all. Her judgment regarding what should be reported is an entertainers judgment. At least Dan Rather never bugged us with OJ, and he would not have put Paris Hilton on. Not so with the Couric. She wasted my news-watching time with Hilton, probably 10% of her show one night. And she's not learning.
Then there's her voice. Not too bad, until she wants to sooth the audience. Then she turns on the syrup. It is frankly sickening. My only question is who she is or was sleeping with to get the job.
Not that I object to a woman. Lara Logan would be an ideal anchor. When she reads the news on TV, it is real news. Or Christine Amanpour. She's a superb journalist.
Or if CBS has to get away from the old man journalist and hire a good looking woman just for her looks, what's wrong with Jessica Alba? She is bright, verbal, and a really good looking woman. And unlike Couric, I think she could learn the job.
But now we have Couric.
She's got to go. Soon. I've already switched to another of the networks. I'd go back for any of my three suggestions. Couric is killing CBS news - faster than it was dying anyway.
Those of us old enough to have personal memories of LBJ and the Vietnam War still have a lot of questions regarding why the U.S. sharply escalated the numbers of American troops up to half a million in 1965.
The question lingers, because it is clear that LBJ knew that the U.S. could not "win" in Vietnam. Whatever "win" might mean, it obviously did not include pulling the U.S. troops out and turning South Vietnam over to the North Vietnamese government in Hanoi. It had also been perfectly clear to Eisenhower in 1956 when he prevented the Vietnamese elections on reunification because the Communist would win them that a win based on American military action was not possible.
By 1965 there had been the coup in Saigon and a lot of spilled blood and newspaper ink, but still nothing had changed. We still weren't going to "win" in Vietnam unless Ho Chi Minh and the Communists decided to turn their government over to the government of South Vietnam, and of the two governments, the Communist government of the north had the better reputation for lack of corruption and for working for the people. Our military presence in the South could not change that. As long as China threatened to go to war with us if we invaded the North and we did not think we could win a war with China on the Asian mainland, we could not win by military means.
I was not a disinterested observer. My first Presidential vote ever was for LBJ, largely because what I knew of him was that he was an extremely bright and capable man who strongly favored Civil Rights and because Goldwater and the Republicans were (and remain today) absolutely wrong on Civil Rights.
I already belonged to the military. I transfered from the Army Reserves where I had late in 1964 just been promoted to Sp4 in an Artillery headquarters Battery to join advanced ROTC to become a Second Lieutenant, and it griped me that the Army would not let me draw both my Reserve Pay (about $42 a month) and also the $40 a month as a ROTC cadet at the same time. I had a stake in the pending troop increase, but did not know about it yet.
Politically I gave LBJ very high marks for the Civil Rights Bill and for Medicare. I didn't see the value of American troops in South Vietnam, though. Still, I did and still do have high respect for LBJ. The prevailing "wisdom" in the national news did not agree with me, but I knew people who knew him personally, and the news was wrong. Francis Bator (.pdf) now offers an explanation that does not require me to accept that LBJ was an uneducated country hick from Texas who was intimidated by the high-brow easterners with Harvard degrees who accompanied JFK when I remember how LBJ had literally twisted the Senate, and with it the Congress, around his finger and made it dance to his tune. The media-inspired fiction that LBJ was an uneducated country hick intimidated by high-powered eastern educated JFK advisers has led to a lot of mistaken explanations for the problem that the media called "Guns and Butter." I knew enough to not give any of those explanations much credence.
The explanation Bator offers for the sharp troop increase and the rather strange way it was handled (no reserves used, no taxes increased to pay for the escalation, no getting Congress behind the escalation) centers on America's social paralysis, brought on by the right-wing financial Republicans and the racist Dixiecrats who had worked together to prevent any social or economic progress in American society from 1938 on.
[The following is not in Bator’s paper. It is from my own study. I think it illuminates the source of America's problems, though.]
The American economic and social collapse between 1929 and 1933 occurred because of international financial problems stemming from the tremendous costs of WW I, the mishandling of German reparations in the Versailles Treaty at the end of WW I and the international effort to return to the Gold Standard after WW I, compounded by America's unregulated independent banks, inadequate accounting standards, an unregulated money supply and the refusal of Republicans and bankers to take any actions to correct the problems.
The requirement to stay on the Gold Standard exported the American financial disaster to the rest of the world and by the panicky attempt by Congress to erect barriers to the rest of the world using the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. The American trade barriers were quickly copied around the world. Much of this could have been ameliorated by quick government actions to maintain the American money supply be protecting and regulating banks, by using the government to maintain employment, and by separating international exchange rates from the straight-jacket of the Gold Standard. Conservative Republicans fought every such measure tooth-and-nail for four years as the disaster of the Depression continued to get worse.
FDR came in to office and took actions highly unpopular with Bankers and Republicans, but they were actions that worked to bring the American economy into the early twentieth century. Bank Insurance and the associated federal inspections allowed the money supply to begin to recover. Labor legislation allowed unions to form and use their power to prevent big businesses and banks from dumping their financial problems all onto labor and small business. Elimination of the Gold Standard allowed international trade to begin again. The CCC camps put young people to work, and Unemployment Insurance protected a part of labor’s income when businesses had to let them go. But the Bankers, businessmen and Republicans hated this, and used the very conservative U.S. Supreme Court to stop and even roll back a lot of the progress. 1938 is about when the right-wingers recovered enough power to hold America down.
America’s economic progress for the next three decades was a result of the first five years of the Roosevelt Presidency and of the government takeover of the economy during WW II.
Truman's election in 1948 frightened the Republicans and right-wingers badly. It showed them that they had not recovered the all power and control they had lost because of the Depression. So in their fear they attacked Truman like rabid dogs with every weapon in their arsenal, building the threat of a war-devastated and land-locked USSR and the (mostly) fantasy of world-wide Communism into tools of fear and hate to use against Truman and the Democrats.
The conservatives and Republicans had lost a lot to the Depression, both economically and in terms of power and prestige, and they wanted it back. All of it. And they saw no reason to share with labor or society in general, since they never had done that before. As they saw it, leaders build a nation and an economy, not the workers or the other lower classes. The majority of Americans clearly did not agree with them. So the only way to recover their power was to sell fear.
The takeover of China by Mao Tse Tung's Communist party was a gift to them. Although the real problems China suffered that allowed Chairman Mao to run Chiang Kai-sheck off the continent to Taiwan stemmed from the globalization of Western trade in the 19th century and the Japanese invasion in the 1930's, those problems were compounded by the corruption and autocratic rule of the Kuomintang (KMT). The leaders of the KMT were mostly like the American conservative Republicans, in it for themselves. The Chinese peasants were nothing to them. Never had been anything important and never would be. Mao built his Communist Party on those disregarded peasants and promised to give China to them. With the assistance of the immensely corrupt KMT, Mao succeeded. This gave the American right-wingers (often financed by the KMT) the cry "Who lost China?" to attack Truman, which they used very successfully.
Most of the following is from Bator, to which I have added a bit of mostly military history and some history of Douglas MacArthur to supplement that Bator provides.
When the North Koreans invaded South Korea, Truman quickly organized the defense of South Korea through the UN, unfortunately placing it under Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur's brilliant counter attack with the amphibious landing at Inchon which rolled the North Korean Army up and left them open to further attack towards the Yalu Rive. Since this appeared to be an opportunity to unify Korea under Syngman Rhee, Douglas MacArthur attacked north towards the Yalu River.
Either unaware of or ignoring warnings that the Chinese sent through neutral parties that they would consider it a threat to China for the Americans to approach the Yalu River, MacArthur did exactly that. When the American and ROK Armies got close to the Yalu, in November 1950 the Chinese, as they had warned, attacked across the river and pushed the war back to the 38th Parallel, roughly where it had started. It remained there, chewing up American and ROK troops until April of 1953 when the new President, Eisenhower, negotiated a truce that ended hostilities.
Since the U.S. was not going to war with China, a repeated invasion of North Korea was not an option. At the same time, it was perfectly clear that the U.S. was not going to let North Korea conquer South Korea and had the troops in place to prevent it. So why did the Korean War drag on from the Spring of 1951 until April 1953? A major reason was that the on-going Korean War was the the major tool the American Republicans had with which to defeat Harry Truman and the Democrats in the Presidential election of 1952.
Douglas MacArthur publicly criticized President Truman's handling of the Korean War as not being sufficiently aggressive. This criticism made it almost impossible for Truman to stop the hostilities, and was very likely part of an effort by MacArthur to set himself up for a run for President [my opinion here, not Bator's. But there is no one who doubts that MacArthur thought he should have been President, and that he could have done a better job than the Haberdasher from Missouri.]
It worked, but Eisenhower was much better thought of than was MacArthur, so he got the benefit of the Republican right-wing maneuvers to win the American Presidency.
This was the background that allowed "Tail gunner" Joe McCarthy to become so famous spreading the "Red Scare" threats of a Communist take-over. Eisenhower was not in a position to stop McCarthy, particularly since the John Birch Society was even then accusing Ike of being a Communist himself. All of this was connected to the right-wing Republican efforts to regain the power they had lost because of the Depression that their individual greed and lack of system, thought or social concern had caused.
Remember. According to conservatives society and the economy exist by and for the leaders. This is their first and foremost creed. Everything else they do and say follows logically.
Now, back to Bator again, with a little bit of non-controversial history added.
All of this was the set-up for the problem in American politics caused by the conflict in South Viet Nam which remained when the French pulled out after their military defeat at Dien Bien Phu. The inevitable takeover of South Vietnam by the Communists was always going to be a tool for American right-wing extremists to use to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt in the electorate before offering themselves as protection from the grave threat they warned of.
The state of Vietnam was established by the Geneva Accords of 1954 with unification awaiting on free elections to be held in July 1956. Backed by the U.S., Ngo Dinh Diem quashed the planned elections. Since the Communist Party of Ho Chi Minh would clearly have won the election and since Eisenhower was running for reelection in November 1956, there was no effective pressure to hold the elections at all. For reasons of American domestic politics Ike was not going to change anything.
The problem in South Viet Nam was not the domino theory. It was the political fear Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson all had of being attacked by the American domestic right-wing for letting that piss-ant little country fall to the Communists - which is where the majority of the Vietnamese, both Southern and Northern, wanted it to go. Vietnam essentially ran on autopilot [*] for the remainder of the Eisenhower administration and it got passed off - with all the domestic American politics problems - to John F. Kennedy.
In addition, the corrupt right-wing Cuban government of Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, supported by a number of Florida-based American mafiosi who helped Batista stay in power, set up the conditions for another revolution in Cuba. Fidel Castro was able to succeed removing Batista and the Mafiosa by January 1, 1959. This, too, was handed off by Eisenhower to JFK, along with the disaster that became the Bay of Pigs invasion. The biggest problem from the Cuban Revolution was the right-wing extremist Cuban exiles who took up residence in South Florida. And that problem was what?
Not any real danger to America since the unified Communist threat never existed. The real problem was that the right-wing extremist Cuban exiles were able to shift Florida's votes in the electoral college to a Presidential candidate who they approved of. This set of domestic problems led to the farce of the Cuban Missile Crisis. As someone sensible asked - what was the difference between a missile coming from Cuba and one coming from Poland? We couldn't stop either one. But JFK was able to use the opportunity of the Cuban Missile Crisis to appear strong, and to pay off the Cuban Exile community to some extent. All he had to do was what Ike had done for one term - let Vietnam ride on automatic pilot and look tough against Castro. Then he could run for reelection in 1964, and enact the domestic program of Civil Rights and what was later called "The Great Society Programs" in his second term. Oh, and JFK would have been able to pull out of Vietnam after those were passed.
Someone may have thought he could pull it off. November 22, 1963 changed a whole lot of things. Including who was President.
Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) faced much the same limitations as JFK had, and like JFK he wanted to enact a domestic program that continued the progress made by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the program that had been stalled by the right-wingers after 1938. There were some differences, though.
In the Depression the first set of problems had been economic. Job creation was no longer a the major problem, but access to health care was. There was no health insurance for anyone over age 65. When a person reached age 65, their health insurance was canceled and there was none available. Then, Civil Rights had moved past the economic problems to become first priority. In spite of greater public pressure to open society to all of its citizens, the right-wingers (Republicans and Dixiecrats) were able to continue to disenfranchise 13% of the American citizens. But that wasn't all. Distribution of food to the poor was a major problem. The Army was rejecting a large number of draftees because of malnutrition, and the problem was especially widespread in ghettos and the countryside.
JFK had been unable to move solutions for these things through the Congress against the combination of Dixiecrats and Republican economic conservatives. These and similar problems would make up LBJ's Great Society Program. First, though, LBJ had to defeat Goldwater in 1964. Before he won the election of 1964 though, LBJ appointed William Westmoreland to the command of MACV. LBJ, as we know, won big in 1964. Unfortunately, the choice of Westmoreland led to the a major part of his new problem.
Like Eisenhower and JFK, Lyndon would have been happy to let Vietnam remain on autopilot. Unfortunately, Westmoreland was not willing to do that. He intended to win in Vietnam, which set up the same problem for LBJ as MacArthur handed to Truman.
Leaving Vietnam would hand South Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh. That was no more politically [possible for LBJ than it had been for Eisenhower or JFK because the Republican domestic American right-wing would use that action to paralyze the Presidency. So how was LBJ to get Civil Rights legislation and the Great Society through Congress? LBJ had to keep Vietnam from torpedoing his domestic program.
This is the core of Francis Bator's argument. Rather than allowing VietNam to run on autopilot, Westmoreland started by requesting in increase of 16,000 troops when he reached took over MACV. Troops had been increased to 535,000 by the time Westy was promoted out in 1968, and Westmoreland was certain that the increased troop levels could be used in Search and Destroy missions in the jungle to destroy the Viet Cong. Westy also chose the disastrous strategy of fighting a war of attrition with the Viet Cong using search and destroy missions based on American troops. He didn't trust Vietnamese troops to do the job, probably with very good reason. Unfortunately for LBJ, a total commitment to the Vietnamese War would also torpedo his domestic agenda.
LBj knew that the U.S. military could not win in Vietnam, and he also knew that the South Vietnamese government would not be able to get its stuff together and defeat the Viet Cong. The South Vietnamese government was at least as corrupt as Chaing Kai-sheck's KMT had been in China. [I am aware that the Saigon Police Force, the White Mice, so called because of their white uniforms, were totally controlled by a criminal family that dominated the delta region of the Mekong River, for example.]
LBJ also knew that he had two years after the 1964 election to get his great Society and Civil Rights programs through Congress -- unless the extremist right-wingers would be able to start screaming that LBJ was giving Vietnam to the Communists. If LBJ didn't provide the support Westmoreland was requesting, those screams would derail his Great Society and Civil Rights legislation through Congress.
So Lyndon Johnson provided the additional troops Westmoreland had asked for - without calling up the Reserves, without increasing taxes and without permitting an invasion of North Vietnam as Westy and much of the top Pentagon brass wanted. [China was no more going to accept an invasion of North Vietnam than they did the invasion of North Korea in 1950.]
If LBJ hadn't appeared to support the requests of the commander on the ground. But a full support, total war, would have also killed the domestic program in Congress. Then there would have been no Great Society, no Medicare and no Civil Rights Law. The result was that Johnson permitted the increase of American troops up to half-a-million. It was the price he had to pay to keep the extremist right-wing Republicans from torpedoing his real program.
This was the nutshell version. The Bator paper provides a lot of interesting details as well as references.
The Bator paper placed a lot of twentieth century American political history into context for me. The rest of what is written below is my speculation, based on what I presented above and on Bator's paper. Francis Bator is in no way responsible for my speculations and conclusions here.
The political situation that Bator describes seems to be pattern. The American right-wing wants control of America, and wants no interference from the peons, plebians and miscellanous other lower classes - oh, and no immigrants unless they'll take jobs that are too unsafe to work, work at ridiculously low pay, just disappear of they get injured on the job, then go home to somewhere else and leave no dark-skinned children behind. This is what the conservatives want now, just as it was what the monarchists wanted at the time of the French Revolution, just as General Franco wanted in Spain when he overthrew the elected government in the 1930's, as General Pinochet wanted in Chile, as Chiang Kai-sheck wanted in China, and as Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar wanted in Cuba.
Am I suggesting a secret right-wing conspiracy to control the world or something like that? No. I just think that bankers, top business persons (like Ken Lay), Generals, and a lot of inheritors of wealth (Richard Mellon Scaife) all want to closely control society so that they don't lose what they have to start with. They all see the common classes as enemies out to take what they have away from them, and they take similar political actions to control those they consider threats and prevent them from gaining enough power to become bigger threats. Trust, empathy and negotiation do not provide as much certainty as police and prisons do. It's not a conspiracy. It is what frightened people with wealth and power do.
The right-wingers also seem to have no hesitation to start wars to get what they want, and have no interest in negotiating with those they oppose. The latter characteristic makes the wars more likely.
To do all this, the right-wing extremists need to get elected to gain the power they want so badly. But they are a minority. To get elected they trade on lies and high fear levels. It's a form of extortion. The scream "There is ______ out there to fear, and if you give up your demands for fair wages, health care and your children's education we'll protect you from those monsters." If the so-called threat (the monsters) quit and go elsewhere, there is always another fake threat to gin up to create more fear. Communists quit fighting back, so now there is this strange "Global War on Terror." No nation. No fixed organization. Most importantly, unlike a nuclear-armed USSR, the Terrorists present no existential threat to America. They are a lot less dangerous than drug traffickers or highway accidents. Their face today is al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, which is probably why Osama bin Laden was permitted to escape Tora Bora and why he has been seen or captured since.
It is to the mutual benefit of the leaders of al Qaeda and to the American right-wing extremists that Osama bin Laden never again appear in public. If he ever did get caught, be found, or be proven dead, then much of the fear, uncertainty and doubt that is the mainstay of Republican voters would vanish. Poof. Similarly, the apparent power of al Qaeda in terrorist circles would disappear as quickly as did the reputation of Carlos the Jackal when he was caught and imprisoned by the French.
The real threats inside America have always been right-wingers. The right-wing Christian extremists have their Paul Hill, Shelly Shannon, James Kopp and Eric Rudolph.
Lee Harvey Oswald may not have been a right-winger, but he was certainly some one's dupe. Jack Ruby shut him up before he ever got a word out. Jack Ruby was connected to gangsters at the same time a lot of gangsters were angry about being kicked out of Cuba. He certainly made a lot of right-wingers happy.
Timothy McVeigh has a lot of history that hasn't surfaced yet, much of that because the FBI either didn't investigate it or refused to permit it to surface. For some reason, American assassins don't seem to go after right-wingers. There is a pattern here. If there is a real conspiracy here, they are good enough to eliminate the connecting links. If there is not a conspiracy here, then the pattern is an amazingly unlikely series of coincidences, much as can be said for the JFK and RFK assassinations.
Another such strange coincidences is that American political assassinations (or suspicious deaths) almost always happed to left-wingers, not right-wingers. The right-wingers are always the ones calling for someone's assassination, though. (*cough* Pat Robertson calling for Hugo Chavez' assassination. *cough*)
Whatever, the biggest threat America seems to face is our own, domestic right-wingers.
But that is just my set of speculations. For a much more fact-based view, stick with the Bator paper.
[*] Colombia is a similar low-level conflict that has been allowed to run on autopilot for nearly two decades now because the American right-wing extremists prefer to use the American government to fund ever greater military expenditures to protect the Colombian government from the drug-trade financed FARC and the similarly drug-trade financed Paramilitary groups. The threat of the drug trade is a major American right-wing extremist campaign issue used to sow fear in the voting public. That fear allows them to extort voters into voting for them, so that they can "protect" the voters from the threat fo drugs. The protection consists of building more prisons, extending prison sentences, building more and larger police forces, and especially it consists of repressing American African-Americans and minority groups.
Not only does the "fear, uncertainty and doubt" the politicians use the Drug trade for gain them votes (Liberals are "Soft on Drugs."), the drug users who are caught and imprisoned are mostly minority groups who otherwise would vote Democratic and support such things as drug rehabilitation programs.
A major program that reduced the demand for drugs would reduce the funding of the Colombian FARC and paramilitary organizations. If that happened, then the American contractors like DynCorp who get a lot of money providing aircraft, weapons and training to the Colombian government (paid for by the U.S. taxpayers) would not be needed and would lose a lot of revenue.
The American right-wing extremists wouldn't want that to happen. They would lose both electoral power and a lot of money, so we get no effective drug rehabilitation programs large enough to do much good and the civil war in Colombia, funded on one side by American drug users and on the other side by American taxpayers, continues on autopilot. A more rational set of solutions would be a lot more productive in both America and Colombia, but while society and the economies would gain from such a rational approach, the American right-wingers and the drug supplier organizations would lose massive amounts of money and power.
This is the normal approach used by the American right-wing. When you consider my speculations on assassination as a tool of politics by the American right-wing, keep this in mind. As Norman Podheretz and Pat Robertson have proven in recent public statements, it is the way they normally think. It is the language they use when speaking among themselves.