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Fri Dec 12, 2014 at 09:12 PM PST

What Aboutism (Chris Hayes)

by tequilamockingbird

Chris Hayes tonight had a section entitled "What About ..." where he discussed what he called "what aboutism." In Cold War days, when the West accused the Soviet Union of one atrocity or another, the response was "Well, what about Jim Crow?" Or "What about the Vietnam war?" Hayes says that the correct response would be to admit America's failings regarding Jim Crow and Vietnam, but that that does not let the Soviet Union off the hook for its crimes: "These things aren't mutually exclusive. The moral universe is not zero sum," he said.

Hayes then went on to discuss the present-day "what aboutism" being practiced by proponents of the torture regime -- What About Drones? How can you be outraged by mistreatment of prisoners when the Obama administration rains down missiles that target militant jihadists, but which cause "collateral damage" of civilian deaths? His argument is to admit the immorality of drone attacks, but to shift the focus back to torture. He condemns the drone attacks as well, but rightly says that the torture argument is a separate and discrete issue: "These things aren't mutually exclusive. The moral universe is not zero sum."

So far so good. It's the argument I myself would make if a torture apologist said "What about drones?" But what came next gave me pause for thought.

He presented a montage of torture apologists making the argument -- some Fox bozo, then one of the $81 million torture psychologists, then Dennis Miller -- but he included video of a journalist (I think it's Fox News's Ed Henry) asking the question of President Obama's press secretary, Josh Earnest: "Can you explain how the President believes that it's un-American to use these techniques, but it was okay to ramp up the drone policy and basically thousands of people around the world, innocent civilians, killed?" That was followed by another torture apologist, and then Henry again: "What's the moral equivalency there? How do you have moral authority when innocent civilians are killed by drones?"

Hayes's response is kind of mealy-mouthed: "Now, the appropriate response to this new 'what-aboutism' is twofold. First, as a basic matter of both law and moral principle, killing enemies in combat is sometimes permissible. Torturing them, however, never is."

Excuse me, Chris, but I thought we were talking about drones; that's not "killing enemies in combat" in the sense that you're in a firefight where that enemy fighter is shooting at you. It's playing a video game while you're sitting in an office in Tampa, launching a drone and then going on your coffee break.

But what really gave me pause for reflection was the fact that Ed Henry's question of Josh Earnest struck me as quite legitimate. My response to that question would be, "Yes, I agree that killing even a legitimate target -- plus any innocent civilians who might be in the immediate area -- is wrong." Josh Earnest, however, cannot give that response. The President's press secretary can't very well say "Yes, we've killed innocent people with drones, and it's reprehensible, but nevertheless it's a policy that we're continuing."

I like Chris Hayes a lot, the torture revelations sicken me, and I have serious misgivings about the morality of the drone program. But if you're a wholehearted supporter of the drone program -- as the President's press secretary must be -- how can you claim the moral high ground?


Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 07:25 PM PST

Message From The Politburo

by tequilamockingbird

Date: December 1940
To: The People of the Glorious Soviet Union


It is with regret that we announce that under the directions of our beloved Comrade Josef Stalin, 22,000 Polish nationals were murdered in the Katyn Forest, Poland, in April and May of this year. While we were told by Comrade Stalin's spokesmen that the Poles were invited into the forest for interviews, with tea and muffins, it turns out that we were misled.

Please read on for details.

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Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 06:41 PM PST

Is Tweety A Complete Idiot?

by tequilamockingbird

Today on Hardball, Chris Matthews was interviewing Joan Walsh and a surprisingly feisty Michael Steele on the torture report when he apparently rebuked Joan and remarked: "... if anybody thinks us not torturing people is going to stop Al Quaeda people from torturing people, you're living in a crazy world."


Was there ever a man created out of a bigger pile of straw? Who in hell ever said that? Please, Tweety, let us know.

Oh, and the right-wing blogs are posting this clip, pretending that Joan or someone else actually tried to make this point.


Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:10 PM PDT

Rule By The Elites

by tequilamockingbird

AlterNetClick here for an article by Tim Donovan at AlterNet entitled "Clueless Rich Kids on the Rise: How Millennial Aristocrats Will Destroy Our Future."

The article is about the increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, and mostly the spiralling trend of inherited wealth. It refers to a recent survey:

    The survey, which polled 680 Americans holding at least $3 million in investable assets, unearthed a troubling trend — the birth of a new American aristocracy. As the survey notes, “Nearly three-quarters of those over 69, and 61% of Baby Boomers, were the first generation to accumulate significant wealth. Among the younger Millennial generation, inherited wealth is more common. About two-thirds are from families in which they are the second, third or fourth generation to be wealthy.”

Click here for an article by Luisa Kroll in Forbes entitled "America's Richest Families: 185 Clans With Billion Dollar Fortunes."

The top three are the Walton family (Wal-Mart), with $165 billion; the Koch family (Koch Industries), with $89 billion; and the Mars family, with $60 billion -- Mars bars, Snickers, M&Ms, but also Uncle Ben's rice and pet food brands Pedigree and Whiskas.

But what about the concentration of political power in family dynasties?

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RedState is an (unfortunately) influential right-wing blog hosted by Erick Erickson, a prominent conservative mouthpiece, well known for having called U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat fucking child molester."  A front-page article by a regular contributor named Bill S told the story that Bill, on a Thanksgiving weekend roadtrip, reports as follows:

"... we cruised down to the local McDonalds to grab breakfast and take a bio break, which meant we had to (gasp) go INSIDE to order our food."

[No explanation as to why actually going inside a McDonald's elicits gasps, but I get the idea that Bill's not a regular Mickey D's patron, and that his bio don't stink.]

Long story short, he orders a breakfast sandwich and is flabbergasted and dumbfounded, and hugely offended and outraged, when he runs into some problems with his order. He wants his sandwich with egg whites and white cheddar.

After browbeating the counter worker, he demands to speak to the manager, who responds in deer-in-headlights fashion by not saying anything. When he gets his order (apparently an egg white sandwich with white cheddar, something I would never on God's green earth expect a McDonald's counter worker to provide me with), after making a sarcastic remark to the counter worker, who does not respond, he walks out the door -- but first turns around and says "You people are pathetic."

Then he complains bitterly that these people working for minimum wage have the temerity to ask that McDonald's pay them more money. How can people who are so incompetent they can't provide an outlandish custom order they've never run into before -- and will never run into again -- with a smile, a "yassuh," and serve him as fast as they serve the Egg McMuffin customers behind him -- how can they ask for more money? They're obviously subhuman dolts who aren't worth the minimum wage they're being paid. No criticism of McDonald's, he says: They recognize there's a problem and are trying to deal with it. But what can they do when their minimum-wage employees don't jump, smiling, to solve a customer's problem, the way a good Republican entrepreneur would?

As he says:

... it occurred to me that these folks typify the very bunch of fools who are now DEMANDING a $15.00/hour pay rate – for working fast food.  FIFTEEN.  I wouldn’t pay the employees at the Butler McDonalds fifteen CENTS an hour.
The relevant part of Bill S's RedState post is below the orange squiggle.
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Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 06:23 AM PDT

I'm Just a Bill?

by tequilamockingbird

When I was young -- lo, these many years ago -- I used to think that legislation was enacted in something like the way presented in the cartoon, "I'm Just A Bill." I imagined an idealistic young congressman, newly elected, who wanted to help his constituents and do some good in Washington. He would focus on some issue important to the people in his district and his state -- oil, for instance, in an oil-producing state -- and have his assistants research and draft a bill that would improve oil policy. After several months of working with his talented staffers, after hours and hours of spirited discussion, after challenges and compromises, he would have a bill to introduce on the floor of the House.

I've come to believe that the process is much different.


Which is closer to the truth?

0%0 votes
100%7 votes

| 7 votes | Vote | Results

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John Kerry, Secretary of State, was on his yacht when the Egyptian revolution struck? Oh, no! Can you believe it? That has to be the worst thing that has happened in the history of the world -- or at least since Hilary Clinton killed those people in Benghazi.

... time moves back into the mists
... of the past

It's 2005, and Hurricane Katrina is roiling its way up the Gulf of Mexico

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Very early Sunday morning, Nicole Belle publishes "Sunday Morning Bobblehead Thread" at Crooks & Liars, listing all the distinguished luminaries who will be appearing that day on the political talk shows.

For years I watched as many of those shows as I could, especially NBC's highly rated Meet The Press. (I used to like the late Tim Russert, whom I thought was one of the more courageous interviewers; today's David Gregory, not so much.) I thought I was staying well-informed by watching the latest political controversies being debated by prominent, influential people who could offer some valuable insight.

Eventually, though, I came to realize I kept seeing the same fat cats telling the same lies, bobbing and weaving in completely predictable fashion, without any pushback from the same compliant hosts. I reached a point where I couldn't stand it any more; I haven't watched a Sunday talk show for a long time.

Speaking of fat cats, several years ago I was watching an episode of Fox & Friends (I know, I know) when guest Geraldo Rivera was discussing a proposed tax bill that would only affect those with an income of more than $400,000 a year, an amount that seemed pretty damned high to me. Said Rivera to Doocy, Kilmeade and whoever that blonde is: "Let's face it, all of us make a lot more than $400,000 a year."

I nearly fell out of my chair. Like it or not, whether he deserves it or not, Geraldo Rivera has been a controversial and notorious media star for decades (H/T to Homer Simpson of the B-Sharps: "There was nothing in Al Capone's vault, But it wasn't Geraldo's fault -- d'oh!'). Learning that he made "a lot more than $400,000 a year" did not come as a surprise -- but those third-rate hacks on the Fox couch? Outrageous!

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Santorum won Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama; Gingrich won Georgia and South Carolina. Romney won a whole bunch of states where his victory is irrelevant, because those states will vote Democratic in the general.

The South -- the Republican heartland -- has no love for Romney. Huge numbers of voters there will vote for Romney because he has an (R) behind his name, but they won't knock on doors for him; they won't man the phones for him; they won't donate money to him.  And on election day, they may not even work up enough enthusiasm to go to the polling station and vote for him.


Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 10:36 PM PDT

President Gingrich?

by tequilamockingbird

Fox News polled 70,000 Fox viewers after the Fox/Google Republican debate. After a few hours, they pulled the results off their website, apparently because they weren't too happy with the results:

Ron Paul: 39%
Mitt Romney: 23%
Rick Perry: 13%
Herman Cain: 11%
Newt Gingrich: 7%
Michele Bachmann: 2.25%
Gary Johnson: 1.95%
Jon Huntsman: 1.59%
Rick Santorum: 1.44%

Herman Cain subsequently won a meaningless straw poll in Florida with 37%, far outpacing Perry (15%) and Romney (14%).

Well, the Republican race is heating up (melting down?).

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Wed Jul 20, 2011 at 10:11 PM PDT

Debt Ceiling For Dummies

by tequilamockingbird

I think it's important that the debt ceiling situation be explained to people in simple, clear, understandable terms. Here is my layman's perception of the artificial "crisis" the Republicans are forcing on the nation. If you have any corrections or suggestions as to how to better explain the situation in simple terms, I'd appreciate it.

The debt ceiling is a limit on the amount of debt the United States can incur. U.S. debt has been rapidly increasing since the Reagan administration, when the country went from being the world's biggest creditor to the world's biggest debtor. Nevertheless, the country has honored its debt and made its payments every year. It makes those payments out of the tax revenues it receives, and any shortfall is covered by the sale of Treasury bonds, to individuals and to foreign countries. As long as U.S. Treasuries are seen as a safe investment, the government will be able to pay its debts.

If the debt ceiling is not raised, the U.S. will lose the ability to pay its debts to bondholders and simultaneously keep the federal government running at its present level. No one knows what would happen, because such a situation has never arisen before. But one thing is sure: Whatever happens, it's going to be bad.

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Have any of you read posts by "The Relentless Conservative" featured on Huffington Post? If not, you're in luck.

I've seen five of his pieces. In his first column, he purported to be offering an olive branch to "intelligent liberals"; by his second, he was spewing nonsense and insults. He would not be out of place as a feature writer on RedState or Atlas Shrugs.

I read HuffPo all the time. Since reading TRC's third column, I have written a protesting comment each time, urging they remove this guy as a contributor. (HuffPo, of course, censors a lot; I don't think my comments are published.) But from now on I intend to read HuffPo only until I reach this guy's column; at that point, I'll write a comment in protest and leave the site.

I urge fellow Kossacks to join me; if you read HuffPo, please leave a protesting comment to TRC's posts. The occasional article from such as Erickson, Breitbart, or Tony Blankley is one thing; a regular feature from a right-wing mudslinger that has no wit, no insight, and nothing important to say is something else entirely.

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