Exceptional Exceptionalism

January 17, 2013 at 1:59 am | Posted in civil rights, Economy, Foreign Affairs, health, Historical | Leave a comment
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Some of the younger boys working in the Brazos Valley Cotton Mill at West. One, Charlie Lott was thirteen years old according to Family Record, another Norman Vaughn apparently twelve years old was under legal age according to one of the other boys there, Calvin Caughlin who did not appear to be fifteen years old himself. These and two girls that I proved to be under legal age were all working in this small mill. It was an exceptional case, but it it (i.e., is) likely that as the children become tired of school later in the year, there will be many more at work. Location: West, Texas. November 1913. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine

What’s truly exceptional about America, it turns out, is the indifference we show to our compatriots, the absence of the kind of national solidarity more evident in the nations that surpass us on all these lists.

Harold Meyerson, Washington Post

The Hard and Narrow Third Path Won the Day

September 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Foreign Affairs, Historical, International Affairs, Obama!, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Tobruk, Libya. One hour after Tobruk fell, such scenes as this were common. Roofless buildings stand among scattered masonry and wreckage of motor vehicles in a corner of the bomb-torn town which had been one of the main supply ports for Rommel’s army in North Africa. c.1942? (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

I am glad that I won’t have to explain to my own children why the world stood aside, its decision allayed by an American President whom I supported, and allowed a mass genocidal massacre for the second time in almost as many decades.

thereisnospoon@Digby’s Hullabaloo

Elvis Has Left The Building

September 15, 2012 at 11:24 am | Posted in Foreign Affairs, Obama!, politics straight up, Reality Bites, State Department, terrorism | Leave a comment
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When I saw the story teaser — “Why Can’t Muslims Remain Calm?” — I was expecting more “they’re subhuman” bullshit that’s popular again after the killings of Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya, and three members of his staff. The teaser misled me. This is the gist of the author’s argument:

Tombs of the Mamluk Sultanate (photo c1867-1899, courtesy of Library of Congress)

“This week’s events have certainly reminded us that there are Americans who hate Muslims, and there are Muslims who hate Americans. And if friendship between Egypt and the United States is contingent upon no American ever saying anything that will offend the religious sensibilities of Egyptians, then it is time to declare that friendship dead. President Obama can no more control anti-Muslim bigotry in America than President Mohammed Morsi can put a lid on anti-Americanism in his country. But the haters don’t have to win the day. In this, Egyptians (and, more importantly, their political leaders) could take a lesson from the United States.”

While I believe the author is correct that the American government led by President Obama has reacted in a measured way to recent events, he gives Americans too much credit. America only appears to be better behaved.

Just as politicians and political actors in Egypt and Libya are playing on emotions to control power, the Bush/Cheney administration used the emotions of the American people after the attacks of September 11, 2001 to justify what turned out to be an enormously expensive (both in money and lives) yet ultimately failed attempt to move Iraq’s assets into the hands of a small group of people. Americans aren’t marching in the streets, throwing rocks at foreign embassies, but we don’t have to. We outsource the violence. We can — and do — sit comfortably in our Barca loungers while drones drop bombs on the people we hate. Americans are, in the end, no more adult than Egyptians or Libyans. We are just as easily manipulated by those who foment hate as a means to their particular end.

“In your best interest: choose the Liberal People’s Party”

August 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Economy, Education, Foreign Affairs, Historical, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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"Mobilization of liberalism : in your best interest : choose the Liberal People's Party."

(WaPo) Finns have one of the world’s most generous systems of state-funded educational, medical and welfare services, from pregnancy to the end of life. They pay nothing for education at any level, including medical school or law school. Their medical care, which contributes to an infant mortality rate that is half of ours and a life expectancy greater than ours, costs relatively little. (Finns devote 7 percent of gross domestic product to health care; we spend 15 percent.) Finnish senior citizens are well cared for. Unemployment benefits are good and last, in one form or another, indefinitely.

Why is the Obama Administration negotiating with terrorists?

November 17, 2010 at 10:15 am | Posted in Bush, Foreign Affairs, Obama!, politics straight up, Reality Bites, terrorism | Leave a comment
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"Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland. Gas demonstration. Reconditioning gas masks at the gas mask factory." 1942 June. Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)

The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats still don’t understand that Republicans don’t care if they destroy the country, whether it be by foreign or domestic means.

Because a police state is so much better than a nanny state.

Well, better for the terrorists anyway.

Is this really America or a bad dream?

September 28, 2010 at 9:19 am | Posted in Economy, Pirates!, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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According to Stuart Varney and his conservative friends, it is immoral for those who have benefited most to pay higher taxes than those who are scraping by.

(WaPo) The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession.

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

[snip]

Rea Hederman Jr., a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, agreed that census data show families of all income levels had tepid earnings in 2009, with poorer Americans taking a larger hit. “It’s certainly going to take a while for people to recover,” he said.

Is this really the kind of morality American stands for?

(CAP) The “Pledge to America” budget would mean $11.1 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years. By 2020, the federal budget deficit would be 6.3 percent of gross domestic product, the federal debt would exceed 93 percent of GDP, and interest payments on the debt would be more than $1 trillion a year. The budget deficit would be about $200 billion larger in 2020 under the “Pledge to America” plan than it would be under President Barack Obama’s budget, and over the next 10 years deficits would be $1.5 trillion higher than under the president’s budget.

The substantial increase in deficits under the “Pledge to America” budget are due to the significant tax cuts that come from extending all expiring tax provisions and the implementation of several new tax cuts.

Voting Republican in November will guarantee that your life — unless you are one of the super rich — continues to be worse every year.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias points us to a chart showing actual distribution of wealth, what people think the distribution of wealth is (“estimated”) and what people believe to be the ideal breakdown. Is it any wonder that economic policy in this country is so heavily weighted toward those who own the most?

Hey, Mr. President, you were wondering why there’s an “enthusiasm gap”?

June 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Posted in civil rights, Foreign Affairs, Obama!, politics straight up, Reality Bites, terrorism | Leave a comment
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This is not what I voted for.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Following Rules of War American style: Shoot first, lie about it later.

April 5, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Department of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Reality Bites, terrorism, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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On July 12, 2007 Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh and nine others, including two children, were killed by a U.S. helicopter strike in Baghdad. The American military authorities claimed they were armed insurgents.

“There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force,” said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad.

WikiLeaks, their Freedom of Information Act request stonewalled by the Defense Department, has obtained video from unnamed military sources that clearly shows that the people targeted and killed in cold blood were not carrying, and certainly not firing, AK-47s or RPGs.

I can only hope that the people who committed this atrocity are haunted by their crime because they will certainly never be held accountable.

UPDATE: If you don’t believe your lying eyes and think that this film was edited in some way to make the US military look bad, go here to see the full, unedited video.

UPDATE: Josh Stieber, a former US Army solider, deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008 as a member ofBravo Company 2-16 — the same Company as the infantry ground soldiers involved in the Apache helicopter attack — spoke with Glenn Greenwald about the video and “compellingly explains how the incident depicted there — from the initial killing of the Reuters journalist to the shooting of unarmed rescuers to the language used by the pilots — was anything but rare; it was extremely common.”

War: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

March 27, 2010 at 3:23 am | Posted in environment, Foreign Affairs, Historical, Obama!, politics straight up, senate | Leave a comment
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President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have agreed to sign a new nuclear arms treaty on April 8 in Prague, Czech Republic. Great news, right?

Well, it should be, except that it requires ratification by 67 out of 100 United States senators. It can take some time.

(NYT) According to the White House, the agreement would require both Russia and the United States to reduce their long-range warheads to 1,500. This is 74% lower that the START number in 1991 and 30% lower than the limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty.

START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) I was signed by President George H. W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin on July 31, 1991.  The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty on October 1, 1992.  START II took a bit longer.  Signed by Bush and Yeltsin on January 3, 1993, it was not ratified until January 26, 1996. In other words, let’s not get our panties in a twist if the new treaty is not ratified this year.

That being said, there are very good reasons why the United States should embrace this treaty and renew its commitment to reducing its nuclear weapons arsenal. Here is a short film to demonstrate how absurdly overstocked we are with weapons that benefit no one.

Chilcot Hearings on Iraq War

January 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Posted in Bush, Foreign Affairs, Historical, terrorism, torture | Leave a comment
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Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Arsacids and of the Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia, now Iraq. c1932 (Library of Congress)

Wufnik at Scholars and Rogues has been doing regular posts on the goings on at the Chilcot hearings on the Iraq war that are well worth a read.

The first post in which Wufnik talks about the inquiry is Christmas music (9)–Best English folk/indie/whatever Christmas album, then Stout Denial, More Chilcot, Blogging Blair and Blogging Blair (2).

The British Government has a website for the Iraq Inquiry that has video, transcripts and background documents.

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