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Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 01:50 PM PDT

Obama, Snowden and Heroes

by Beetwasher

What is a hero? What constitutes heroism? Who is worthy of the label?  I suppose it's all relative.  People tend to have heroes who reflect those values that they themselves hold.

Ghandi, MLK, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson pretty much undisputed heroes. People who unquestioningly took big risks to accomplish big goals. People who may have been flawed and necessarily imperfect and human, but who nonetheless risked life and limb to make a statement, to achieve progress, to elevate an ideal.

I think motivation matters in who I consider a hero. But that's me.

And then we have the curious case of Snowden.  A man whom we know little about. A man who's background and motivations are questionable or at the very least, unclear and muddled, who did something that may or may not have been heroic. Personally, I'm undecided about it at this point. But what I find interesting is the rush of certain people to immediatley seize upon this man and lionize him as some incredible hero.  This man who we know very, very little about.

And yet there seems to be a pretty clear correlation (at least on this site) between the group that lionizes Snowden and the group of people who seem to be the most upset with our Government and in particular our President.

I've been accused of being an "Obamabot" or a cheerleader and frankly it's never bothered me.  I don't really care about those labels. I'm more than willing to admit I like Obama and admire him a great deal. In fact, I'd even be willing to go as far as to consider him a personal hero of mine.

When I was kid my dad used to tell me about Jackie Robinson. He had a picture of Robinson above his desk. Robinson was a big hero of my dad's and one day I asked him why? And he explained to me what it was like for Robinson. The courage and the poise it took for him to play baseball in those days. The level of hate and vitriol that he had to endure.  When I was younger, while I understood the words my father told me I didn't really "get it" and it wasn't until Obama became President that I got it. Boy did I get it.

And so I see in Obama that same courage, that same poise, that same steadfast determination in the face of extreme hate. That's heroic to me. Furthermore, I know the man's history. His humble beginnings, his hard work and dedication, his helping his community, his commitment to service and of course his brilliant and unprecedented political success.

These are admirable accomplishments, IMO. A life that is filled with service, dedication and resolve. Is it perfect? Of course not, far from it. No one is. But personally, it is the WHOLE  of a person that I think should be used to judge their character. Not a slice, not a moment, but their life taken in totality. Obama's life, we know a great deal about, or at least I feel I know enough about to view him as a heroic figure.

Now Snowden on the other hand, aside from this one act, which can arguably (though debatedly) be called heroic, what else do we know? How can we measure his character? I guess I just find this rush to lionization odd. It's so quick, so rash, IMO that it seems more reaction that deliberative. More emotional than reasoned. It's odd to me to latch on to a hero so quickly having so little information about the person who is being lionoized.

And for the record, this is not to distract or muddy any argument about NSA surveillance. I find that discussion healthy and important. I'm just fascinated with this psychosocial dynamic of "heroism" and the totems we choose to represent it.

Discuss

Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:46 AM PDT

World War ZOP

by Beetwasher

H.P. Lovecraft circa 1936:
 

"As for the Republicans — how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical 'American heritage'…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead."
  Letter to C.L. Moore (August 1936), quoted in "H.P. Lovecraft, a Life" by S.T. Joshi, p. 574
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Snowden's Secret:

Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollable. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all."
From Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

From Business insider:

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has told a Hong Kong newspaper that the U.S. government has been hacking Hong Kong and Chinese networks for at least four years.

The comments were made as part of the South China Morning Post's exclusive interview with Snowden — his first since revealing himself on Sunday.

Snowden reportedly showed reporter Lana Lam documents that showed the NSA had been hacking computers in Hong Kong and on the mainland since 2009. He estimated there were hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and mainland China, including the Chinese University of Hong Kong. None of the documents revealed any information about Chinese military systems, Snowden said.

“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” Snowden told Lam.

http://www.businessinsider.com/...

Not sure what to make of all this.  The thought of a vast surveillance network bothers me, though it's certainly old news. But this information about what he's revealing to China certainly puts the whole thing in a new light if true.  There are manipulations within manipulations within manipulations and schemes within schemes.  Don't believe half of what you hear and none of what you see.

Discuss

Fri May 17, 2013 at 01:35 PM PDT

SCANDALGATE!!!

by Beetwasher

Appears to be fizzling.

I mean, come on now! How long are we going to continue to be duped by the GOP and their phony manufactured scandals, aided and abetted by their willing accomplices in the Corporate Controlled Traditional Media?  How many times must we see this play out?

You'd think the political saavy types around here would be used to it by now.  But one by one, each of these "hair on fire!" outrageous "scandals" has essentially turned out to be a real, manufactured dud.

Just like the myriad that came before them.

It's almost like there's some conspiracy afoot to deliberately destroy this President by any means necessary. Nahhhh, it's all just a coincidence that these "scandals" that amount to nothing keep popping up all over and are consistently pushed by the same cast of characters (and yes, that includes shitheels like Bob Woodward and the douchnozzles over at Politico, I don't even think I have to mention the "F" word either).

Discuss

If I were Obama, I'd be goading them into it.

They're not doing anything anyway, so they might as well be proving how utterly batshit insane and extreme they really are as we go into '14.

Honestly, I only see upside for Dems.  It would remind everyone that they did it to Clinton too.  It would cement the idea about how reckless and irresponsible they are.

I dunno, I'm kinda warming up to the idea, and we might as well since its almost certainly inevitable.

Discuss

And did he then try to frame someone else for doing it?

Former GOP Candidate Reacts After Man He Allegedly Framed For Ricin Poisoning Is Released

A former Republican candidate for Mississippi’s House of Representatives named J. Everett Dutschke expressed disbelief and dismay Tuesday shortly after a man he was accused of framing for mailing letters that tested positive for the poison ricin to President Barack Obama and other officials was released from jail. Dutschke has not been charged in the ricin case and has denied any involvement.

--snip--

On Monday, Curtis’ lawyer, Christi McCoy, said she believed Dutschke could have been responsible for mailing the letters noting he had argued with Curtis over email.

--snip--

This is not Dutschke’s first brush with the law. Earlier this year, Dutschke, who operates a taekwondo studio in Tupelo, Miss., was charged with one count of child molestation for a case involving a 7-year-old female. He was then released on bond. TPM attempted to speak with his attorney in that case, Lori Nail Basham, but her office said she was in court and unavailable to speak with us. Basham’s office would not comment about whether she was representing Dutschke in the ricin investigation.

--snip--

Along with President Obama, ricin-tainted letters were sent to a local judge named Sadie Holland and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). Judge Holland is the mother of the man who defeated Dutschke in his 2007 campaign.

--snip--

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This doesn't seem to me to be a party that has it's act together, or a party that was supposedly just given everything it ever wanted by Obama's offer of CCPI in his budget.

Shouldn't they be jumping at the chance to take advantage of their "gift"?

In fact, it's the Democrats pushing the debate on the budget. Why would they do this if Obama fucked them over so royally and put them in a bad position? They don't seem like they are negotiating from a bad position to me. They seem eager for this debate.

Boehner Explains Why GOP Got Cold Feet On Budget Negotiations With Dems

At his weekly Capitol briefing Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner explained why he and other GOP principals are reluctant to return to budget negotiations with Senate Democrats via traditional legislative channels.

As we noted yesterday, it comes down in part to wanting to avoid opening the House floor to votes on politically contentious Democratic legislative measures.

--snip--

“[W]e’re overdue,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “House Democratic Leadership has sent a letter to Speaker Boehner asking him to appoint conferees. The time has come; it’s long overdue. We want a full, open, transparent discussion of priorities, that allows the public to make a judgement about whose priorities they prefer.”

But Democrats also sense that Republicans are attempting to slow walk the budget process so that they can link it to some separate but immovable deadline. If the 2009 timeline mentioned above is any guide, that could mean we’ll be waiting until May — which happens to be when the government will hit the debt limit once again.

Discuss

The NRA's influence has reached it's high water mark, this is the best, most effective they will ever be. This is it. From now on their impact will only diminish.

Savor the moment NRA/GOP. It only gets worse for you from here on out.

See, here's the thing; you underestimate our determination, our perseverance, our passion.

Savor your moment of "victory". It will taste like ashes soon enough.

You can't help yourselves. Your gloating. Your victory laps. You behave as if the fight is over. You think we will now realize just how powerful you are and that perhaps we shouldn't engage in this fight.

Well let me tell you something. You are right about one thing. Yes, you have proven you are powerful, that only hardens our resolve to fight you harder. It convinces us that we have much work to do, and we are just starting.

And I probably shouldn't tell you this, but since you are incapable of self reflection or growth you will ignore it; your hubris will be your undoing.  Your victory dance, your facebook posts, your supporters crowing about how they won. This does not help you.

This "victory" through the lens of the rearview mirror, will turn out to have been a severe tactical error on your part. But you couldn't help yourselves. It is your nature to behave this way. And you can't change your nature. A scorpion stings.

But it it is a tactical error. You could have accepted this legislation as watered down as it was. Appeared reasonable. But you chose a different path. And now you choose to gloat over your "victory". It would have been smarter to just accept it and shut up, but you have to have your dance, right? Again. Your nature.

Close to 90% of the country supports this legislation.  You are only proving to them how unserious you are and why you must be stopped. You are rubbing your defiance of the will of the people in the people's face. Not smart.

And there is an election coming up quickly and we now have the tols like we've never had before to expose you and your callousness and your selfishness.  And we now have powerful allies who are willing to spend lot's of money against you. And we are coalescing, and learning, and we are just getting started.

And oh, we have the numbers. Yes we do.

Savor your moment NRA/GOP. They will soon become fewer and farther between.

Discuss

Competent enough pull off being for SS cuts while pretending they are protecting SS?

Does this seem like an organization that has really gamed things out and is thinking strategically and long term?

Why Republicans Suddenly Became Afraid Of Their Own Budget Shadow

--snip--

But now that they’ve gotten their way, and the Senate has passed a budget, suddenly they’re the ones squeamish about “regular order.” Instead of promptly appointing negotiators to convene a so-called conference committee and iron out the differences between the wildly different House and Senate budgets, House Republicans are eager to either return to the smoke-filled back rooms of legend, or kill the budget process altogether.
--snip--
Outside of the formal conference negotiations, the budget process creates other problems for the GOP.

If they can’t put a unified budget together easily and quickly, they are subject to “motions to instruct” in both the House and the Senate.

That would put House Republicans in effectively the same position Senate Democrats faced during their budget “votearama” — forced to vote, for the first time in quite a while, on politically charged measures open to members of both parties.

Not only would House Democrats enjoy a rare opportunity to force Republicans to vote on controversial issues — from Chained CPI to Medicare privatization — Republicans would face intramural fights if right-leaning members forced votes on wildly out-of-the-mainstream measures of their own.

Republicans could avoid that headache by pulling the plug on the budget debate altogether. But that will reinforce a growing sense among elite opinion makers that Republicans are the obstacle to a budget deal that puts the era of fiscal brinksmanship behind us.

--snip--
Discuss

Damnit!"

Think about the political dynamics coming into '14.

What are the dominant themes so far?

Immigration? GOP lose.
Equality? GOP lose
Guns? GOP lose

Now, thanks to Obama including CCPI in his budget, we're talking the future of SS as well.

Do you think the GOP WANTS to be having that discussion? At all? EVER? Really?

If you're GOP rep "Loony Baloony" in "Bumfuck Wherever", what exactly will be your platform? Will you be running on saving SS? Or will you be running on cutting it? Would you ever even have considered DISCUSSING it at all if Obama hadn't started the conversation?

And remember, THIS is what it boils down to in '14. The LOCAL elections.

Obama ain't runnin' for nuthin'.

Just imagine, the GOP GULPS down Obama's bait, backs "his" SS cuts going into '14 (how could they possibly NOT do this? It's their opportunity to DESTROY HIM!), and Obama, who ain't runnin' for nuthin' no mo', decides to have one of his ol' "evolushuns" on something, because his dawsh gone ol' base told him they weren't have nun of it....

Just imagine...

Discuss

Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:03 PM PDT

Feelin' All RILED Up, Are Ya?

by Beetwasher

GOOD!

Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals:

There's another reason for working inside the system. Dostoevski said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution. To bring on this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the 40 per cent of American families – more than seventy million people – whose income range from $5,000 to $10,000 a year [in 1971]. They cannot be dismissed by labeling them blue collar or hard hat. They will not continue to be relatively passive and slightly challenging. If we fail to communicate with them, if we don't encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right. Maybe they will anyway, but let's not let it happen by default.[2]
More on his methodology:
For Alinsky, organizing is the process of highlighting whatever he believed to be wrong and convincing people they can actually do something about it. The two are linked. If people feel they don’t have the power to change a situation, they stop thinking about it.

According to Alinsky, the organizer — especially a paid organizer from outside — must first overcome suspicion and establish credibility. Next the organizer must begin the task of agitating: rubbing resentments, fanning hostilities, and searching out controversy. This is necessary to get people to participate. An organizer has to attack apathy and disturb the prevailing patterns of complacent community life where people have simply come to accept a situation. Alinsky would say, "The first step in community organization is community disorganization."

Through a process combining hope and resentment, the organizer tries to create a "mass army" that brings in as many recruits as possible from local organizations, churches, services groups, labor unions, corner gangs, and individuals.

According to Alinsky, the main job of the organizer is to bait an opponent into reacting. "The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength."[2]

Saul Alinsky

Rules for Radicals

Discuss

Without touching the "third rail"?

Is it possible to discuss a "third rail" without touching it?

What constitutes "touching" the "third rail"?

Has anyone agreed upon these parameters?

Is it important to agree upon these parameters?

Is debate healthy for a Democratic society?

How would we accomplish an honest debate on the topic of "The Third Rail"?

Does having a GOP controlled branch of the legislature make cuts to SS ("The Third Rail") more or less likely?

Would the GOP debate the topic honestly?

Would the GOP even broach the debate?

Do you think a debate about the sanctity of SS is a good thing or a bad thing in the run up to the mid-term elections?

Should we have left it up to the GOP to start that debate?

Should we have left it up to them to set the terms of the debate?

Do you think it is a good thing to set the terms of a debate?

Do you think discussing SS in the run up to the mid-terms has potential to be a net gain for Dems?

Just askin'.

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