Friday, September 3, 2010

Keith Olbermann: Countdown, Sept. 2: America doesn't miss George Bush

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Democracy Now: Alexander Zaitchik on 'Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance

From Crooks and Liars:

Democracy Now's Juan Gonzalez talked to investigative journalist and author Alexander Zaitchik about Glenn Beck's rise as a "nationwide cultural phenomenon" and how we ended up with someone who described himself as a recovering alcoholic with drug abuse and former shock jock ended up preaching to America from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

This huckster has been doing the same shtick since his days as a radio Morning Zoo shock jock and he's laughing all the way to the bank with his new found fame that he doesn't deserve now and more than he did when most of the places he worked for were firing him left and right.

Zaitchik's book on Beck is titled Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to a deeply polarizing figure who’s been dominating the airwaves. He’s the darling of conservatives and right-wing activists. But to liberals and progressives, he’s a much-reviled object of derision, a demagogue prone to maudlin dramatics. Yes, I’m talking about the right-wing TV and radio host Glenn Beck. He’s also a bestselling author, and his latest venture is a slickly designed blog called "The Blaze."

Last weekend, Glenn Beck organized a much-publicized "Restoring Honor" rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital. It was held on the forty-seventh anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Here’s an excerpt of Glenn Beck’s speech at the rally.

GLENN BECK: Somewhere in this crowd—I know it—I have been looking for the next George Washington. I can’t find him. I know he is in this crowd. He may be eight years old. But this is the moment! This is the moment that he dedicates his life, that he sees giants around him. And twenty-five years from now, he will come not to this stair, but to those stairs, and he can proclaim, "I have a new dream."

Tell the truth. Tell the truth. And it only matters when you tell the truth and you know it’s going hurt you. You know that it’s not going to help your side. Tell the truth. America is crying out for the truth! Tell the truth in your own life and then expect it from others.

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was Fox News broadcaster Glenn Beck. His fans reportedly number in the millions, and Saturday’s rally drew nearly 100,000 supporters.

How did a former Top 40 Radio DJ who describes himself as a recovering alcoholic who struggled with drug abuse become a nationwide cultural phenomenon? Well, investigative journalist Alexander Zaitchik tells this story in his book Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance. He joins me here in our studio.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

ALEXANDER ZAITCHIK: Good to be here.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You were at the rally.


JUAN GONZALEZ: What was it like?

ALEXANDER ZAITCHIK: Well, it certainly didn’t resemble the rally that I read about in the press. It sort of got a pass. People thought this is a softer, kinder, squishier Glenn Beck, a non-political Glenn Beck. But it was a deeply political event, I think. He’s calling for, you know, basically a return to Biblical principles, turning back to God, which is as political as you can get. This is a secular republic the last time I checked. And Beck’s conception of turning back to God and bringing the Constitution back to its, you know, original Biblical kind of base is—you have to see it in light of Beck’s Mormon reading of American history, in which God literally wrote the Constitution and intended its development to stop at around the Tenth Amendment. So when Beck talks about turning back to God, what he’s really talking about is a drastic diminuation of the government as modern Americans know it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Tell us a little bit about his history. How did he get to where he is now, to become this sort of icon of right-wing conservatives?

ALEXANDER ZAITCHIK: It’s an incredibly unlikely story that this guy would end up addressing this many people at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. Just ten years ago, he was still a struggling Top 40 DJ. Basically a failure. Had bottomed out after about twenty years as a Morning Zoo Top 40 guy traveling the country, getting fired from markets pretty quickly for making a lot of enemies and being famous for his mean streak, which is still in abundant evidence. He was really kind of a divisive figure even then, when he was in this clownish, infantile world of Top 40 radio.

And he got a talk show largely through being at the right place at the right time. He was working for Clear Channel when it was still a small company. And then, when it began to take advantage of deregulation, he used his connections to land a job in Tampa, where he was about to get fired, until the recount drama of 2000 put a lot of focus on Florida, where he was working. So he was able to parlay that into ratings, and then he was syndicated. And then 9/11 happened, and he sort of turned overnight into this hard-charging, fire-breathing superpatriot that we know today.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And some of the—you mentioned his propensity to get in trouble for what he says. Some of the statements that you’ve been chronicling over the years now of his?

ALEXANDER ZAITCHIK: Right. Well, his more recent controversies are pretty well known. But even going back to the '80s and ’90s, he was known for a racist, sexist shtick. He famously, or infamously, called up the wife of a competing DJ in Phoenix in the mid-'80s and mocked her for having a miscarriage live on the air. He made fun of a guy named Malik Jones in New Haven, who was an unarmed black man shot by a white police officer, and it was quite a big police brutality case at the time. He went on air that week making fun of Jones, talking about how he used to smoke crack with his grandmother. Stuff like this. So, you know, this Glenn Beck that is so divisive today has been there the whole time. And the idea that he had this, you know, transformative experience when he became a Mormon and became a good guy and is this sort of moral beacon is just ludicrous.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Glenn Beck was on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace discussing his "Restoring Honor" rally and how he plans to, quote, "reclaim the civil rights movement." When Wallace asked him about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision of economic justice, Beck said that's a part of the civil rights leader’s message that he didn’t agree with.

GLENN BECK: Reclaim the civil rights, meaning people of faith that look at equal justice and look at every man the same, that’s who needs to reclaim it, not the politicians, not the parties, not white people or black people.


GLENN BECK: People of faith.

CHRIS WALLACE: But Glenn, the civil rights movement always had an agenda beyond just equality, beyond just, quote, "justice." The full name of the march forty-seven years ago was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


CHRIS WALLACE: One of the speakers at the event was a labor leader, A. Philip Randolph, who talked about the injustice of people who live in poverty. John Lewis, then a student, now a congressman, said this at the event: "We need a bill that will ensure the equality of a maid who earns $5 a week in the home of the family whose total income is $100,000 a year." The civil rights movement was always about an economic agenda.

GLENN BECK: Well, you know what, Chris? I think that is part of it, but that’s a part of it that I don’t agree with. I think the bigger part—the thing that we fail to recognize is that is the racial politics.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And last year, Glenn Beck accused President Obama of being a racist and having a, quote, "deep-seated hatred for white peope." Well, on Sunday, Fox News’s Chris Wallace played that clip for Glenn Beck.

GLENN BECK: This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don’t know what it is. This guy is, I believe, a racist.

CHRIS WALLACE: Question: after that, do you have any credibility talking about reclaiming the civil rights movement?

GLENN BECK: OK, let me go over this again on the reclaiming the civil rights movement. People of faith that believe that you have an equal right to justice, that is the essence. And if it’s not the essence, then we’ve been sold a pack of lies. The essence is, everyone deserves a shot. The content of character, not the color of skin. Now, when—I’ve addressed this comment a million times, and, in fact, I think I amended it this week, that what I didn’t understand at the time was the influences on President Obama. And, you know, the white culture, look—read his own books. He writes about the white culture and how he struggled with it, etc., etc. But I didn’t understand really his theology. He’s—his viewpoints come from liberation theology.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Alexander Zaitchik, your response to those comments of Glenn Beck’s, and especially what the comments on President Obama did to the campaign that developed against him?

ALEXANDER ZAITCHIK: Right. Well, it led to the most successful campaign against Beck, the Color of Change,, campaign to get sponsors to drop his show, and it’s been quite successful. It’s created this narrative out there, which Beck is rightly seen as somewhat freakish. No one recognizes brands from their breakfast table on his show anymore, and that’s as it should be.

As for the comments about Barack Obama’s liberation theology, you know, it’s hard to know where to begin. This is just kind of classic Beck, and it’s part of his larger campaign against social justice, which is, you know, a combination of the sort of classic Beck trifecta of ignorance, provocation and pretty sly racial innuendo, which comes pretty effortlessly to him.

As for Martin Luther King appropriation, he clearly would have put King on is chalkboard, had they been contemporaries. Beck not only would have honed in on King’s connections to real radicals, but he also would have, you know, called him a cockroach for spreading the virus of social justice. This is the kind of language that he engages in on a regular basis, which is what makes him so dangerous. He’s injected this language that is pretty foreign to American political discourse, this sort of pre-Hitlerian, almost, talk about cockroaches, rats, viruses, cancers, dehumanizing your political opponents.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in the little time we have left, his involvement with the Mormon Church, while at the same time trying to curry support among evangelical Christians, who regard—many of whom regard the Mormon Church with disdain, could you talk about that?

ALEXANDER ZAITCHIK: Sure, sure. This is, I think, the most interesting fault line that’s developed lately. It’s not so much between Beck and his liberal critics—we all know about that—but it’s between his evangelical fan base, those who are a little bit put off by his posturing as a Christian leader, as a divine medium, when in fact he belongs to what most evangelicals belong to—consider a cult. So it’s a little strange also that he would be throwing stones at other people’s Christianity, when he himself is in a pretty big glass house when it comes to, at least as his fans understand, his faith.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Is there any sense, in your research on him, that he has political aspirations? Of course, the talk a couple of years ago was more about Lou Dobbs running for president. But what about Glenn Beck?

ALEXANDER ZAITCHIK: Yeah, no, I think Beck is smart enough to know there’s too many skeletons that’ll be dragged out if he ever tried to run for office. And also, frankly, there’s too much longevity and money in what he’s doing building himself up as a sort of movement leader that’s above the fray, or at least pretends to be above the fray, but in fact is not.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But he’s had a lot of influence, obviously, in terms of the campaign against Van Jones and then against ACORN. He was very influential in helping to destroy those figures.

ALEXANDER ZAITCHIK: Sure, sure. He’s a potent political force, absolutely. I don’t think you can understand what happened on Saturday without reference to what’s going to happen two Saturdays from now with the FreedomWorks-organized march. Taxpayers March, they’re calling it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, thanks very much for being with us, Alexander Zaitchik, an investigative reporter and the author of the Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance.

That dissonance you hear is Newt "the Grinch" Gingrich

This comes from an article by Steve Benen at AlterNet, a post which appeared originally at the Political Animal.

It has to do with "great" thoughts thought by Newt "the Grinch" Gingrich about what to do with that proposed "mosque" at Ground Zero.

I think you can see where this is going.

Good ol' Newt, always full of bullshit ideas. He "now believes Congress can designate Ground Zero as 'a national battlefield memorial because [he thinks] we should think of the World Trade Center as a battlefield site."

Ol' Newt must have been smoking something stronger than tobacco. The community center or mosque or whatever the hell it's being called now is NOT at Ground Zero.'s where Newt's train of thought really jumps the tracks for a Repugnican, tea-partier, right wing, christianist, small government advocate. Ol' Newt wants the guv'mint to step in and do something to keep them damn Islamists from building a center for community and prayer.

So, he thinks New York's Attorney General could "slow it down for decades if he wants to."

Of, if the feds don't get involved, and the state guv'mint declines to mess with it, the mayor of NYC should do what he can to stop the developer...

Government intervention, says Newt is the answer! Yessir! Gingrich said, "There are a number of different steps what could be taken. There's no reason this has to occur and whether it's city, state, or federal there are plenty of ways for America to stop it."

Please think about this statement. Newt, a proponent of small government, states rights, blah, blah, blah, who goes about mouthing all the inane Republican and teapot crackpot talking points wants the BIG OLD GOVERNMENT to get involved in a city's private property issue when the city has already issued the appropriate go-aheads and at the same time would deny American citizens their Constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion!

There seems to be no low point for this man! Just when you think he's hit bottom, he dives deeper into the muck!

Read Benen's entire article here.

God is not necessary for Creation

[Photo of Victor J. Stenger]

In his book "A Brief History of Time," published back in 1988, Stephen Hawking, the physicist and mathematician, gave the impression that he believed there was a possibility a god created the universe.

In 2010, he has changed his mind. His new book, "The Grand Design," co-authored by fellow physicist Leonard Mlodinow, argues that a god is not necessary to understand the creation of the universe.

Physics, says Hawking, provides an explanation of creation and there is no necessity to posit a "benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit."

It all hinges on the law of gravity. "Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. [...] ... Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the universe going."

Well, this is all well and good and I'm glad that Hawking is on board as he is one of the real geniuses of our time.

But Victor J. Stenger said much the same thing in his book, "God The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist," which was published in 2007. Stenger notes that not only is their no evidence for a creator god, "but scientific observations actually point to his nonexistence. Life on Earth looks just as it should look if it were not designed, and indeed, the universe operates just as it should if it appeared spontaneously from nothing."

None of this will make any difference to those who insist that ancient tracts written thousands of years ago by ignorant men hold the "truth" about human life and the deities. Too much energy and investment has been placed in these old myths and superstitions. The livelihood of the priests, pastors and their churches depend on ensuring that their flocks continue to believe, and so their main objective necessarily must include denying science and keeping believers in a state of confusion and fear, a state which, they proclaim, can be mitigated only by the ministrations of the religious institutions to which they give their allegiance.

Now you know

Please click on cartoon to embiggen.

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

The real Gaza - Photo #8

Alan Simpson steps in "it" again

More on Alan Simpson.

Why President Obama keeps this clown on the his fiscal reform commission is beyond all understanding. He's a nasty, nogoodnik Repugnican who belongs in a Wyoming barnyard shoveling cow shit instead of shoveling his Republican shit in Washington!

You'll remember he's the asshat who wants to privatize Social Security, calling the salvatory program (salvatory for many Americans) "a cow with 310 million tits."

Now this dumbass has decided that the financial stress currently being felt in the United States is due to some of our military veterans who dare use the programs set up to help them recover from their war "wounds."

Yup. Joan Walsh tells all about it in an article, "More taunts to the Democratic base" in Salon. She explains that "...on Wednesday [Sept. 1] Simpson complained that American military veterans exposed to Agent Orange are hurting the country by using the program established to help them with health troubles related to the wanton use of that defoliant in Vietnam." Here's what he said:

"The irony (is) that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess."

Mr. Obama: Please give this awful excuse for a human being a one-way ticket west!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Countdown - Worst person in the World

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Republicans across our country just don't seem to get this separation of church and state thing - you know where the Constitution forbids a national church or a religious test for public office!

Sharron Angle - "One Nation Under God Not Under...

If you can stomach her for 11 minutes, you can watch the whole video. Angle is one of those christianists baptized in lies and hate and ferocious venom which she uses to preach her version of God and goodness, which leaves no room for "liberals" or Democrats or progressives, but only fanatical Repugnicans infected with filthy lucre who work not for the people but for the corporations.

Angle is not running for the people of Nevada. Look at the banner behind her. Americans for Prosperity is a front group for the Koch brothers. The Koch brothers are the third wealthiest people in the world...only Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch have more money. The Koch brothers are reprobates of the worst order, willing to destroy our planet and our government and our democracy to ensure their coffers keep overflowing.

Angle is running for the plutocracy! If there were a god, she would have been struck down the first time she stuck a mike in front of her face and began telling lies and smearing everyone who doesn't agree with her!

Thanks to A World Quite Mad for the can read her rant on Sharron Angle here.

Tough times ahead?

A plethora of pundits are predicting that the Repugs will win control of the House of Representatives come November.

Weepy Boehner, in gleeful anticipation, is busily planning Repug strategy which includes repeal of health reform legislation and extending Bush's tax cuts for the rich, among other things.

Meanwhile, life goes on in the good old US of A. It's not going well, though, the decline beginning in 1994 when Gingrich and DeLay, among others, decided hostility, hatred and noncooperation were to be the underpinnings of the Republican Party. And now, of course, we are experiencing an economic collapse not seen since 1929, courtesy of these same Republicans.

The economic collapse, with its roots reaching all the way back to Reagan and his "voodoo" economics, but entering free-fall during Bush Jr.'s presidency what with his illegal war mongering, and tax cuts for the wealthy, has torn asunder our country, essentially putting the middle-class out of business, while enormously enriching a chosen few.

The extent of this economic collapse has yet to be determined. But there are many signs of said collapse rearing their ugly heads, the destruction of the housing market being one of most pervasive and deadly.

Glenn Greenwald, in a Salon article a few weeks ago, titled "What collapsing empire looks like," provides additional examples, some of which some of us have first-hand knowledge.

The U.S., says Greenwald, is a collapsing empire. While numerous governments and businesses have had to let people go this year, Hawaii let their children go! "Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation."

[Never fear, though. Hawaii's political leaders are mostly born-again Christians with a goal of turning Hawaii into Jesus' own fiefdom. That's the most important thing, they believe, even as their state sinks into the beautiful, the beautiful sea!]

Clayton County, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, "shut down its entire public bus system ... stranding 8,400 daily riders."

Colorado Springs, Colorado "switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters."

Greenwald references a Wall St. Journal article "with a subheadline warning: 'Back to Stone Age' - which describes how 'paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue.' Utah is seriously considering eliminating the 12th grade, or making it optional. And it was announced this week that 'Camden [New Jersey] is preparing to permanently shut its library system by the end of the year, potentially leaving residents of the impoverished city among the few in the United States unable to borrow a library book free.'"

Tea party crackpots and Repugnicans (they seem to be the same these days) have no answers with the exception of their notion that lower taxes will solve all of our problems. They want lower taxes (in spite of the fact that the great majority of Americans paid less taxes last year than they did under Bush!) and less governmental interference in their lives. Governmental regulation is bad, bad, bad!


Sierra magazine explains why that might not be the best road to walk. For example, right now the products we use every single day are infested with deadly chemicals and we have no clue what damage they are causing. "Of the 82,000 industrial chemicals registered for use in the United States, fewer than 500 have been evaluated for human safety by the EPA. That's because under the 1976 federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), industrial chemicals are presumed safe unless proved otherwise. And the standard of proof is pretty high: Since the law passed, the EPA has banned only five chemicals."

There is new legislation being proposed by three Democratic congresspersons that would "reverse that burden of proof." Needless to say, "The chemical industry is expected to strongly oppose the legislation." And what do you think will happen if the Repugs take control of the House of Representatives?

There's more. The EPA and the Dept. of Transportation are currently engaged in setting emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which at present get about six miles per gallon, a stat that hasn't changed in 40 years! You can expect the Repugs will shut this down, too.

How about this one: "The Supreme Court LIFTS A BAN ON MONSANTO'S GENETICALLY MODIFIED ALFALFA, ruling that a lower court 'abused its discretion' by requiring a full study of the pesticide-resistant seeds' environment impact.'" The Supreme Court is controlled by "conservatives."

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Repugnican from Alaska, will not be heading back to Congress after being beaten by a nogoodnik who is even further off the wall than she is in the Repugnican primary, but she represents most Repugnicans these days when she lead "an effort to STRIP THE EPA OF THE AUTHORITY TO LIMIT EMISSION of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The measure [was] defeated 53 to 47, with ALL [my emphasis] Republican senators and six Democrats voting in favor."

Here's another example of Repugnican chicanery: "A move to raise the liability cap for offshore-oil-drilling accidents from $75 million to $10 billion is blocked by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who argues that DRILLING SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO COMPANIES LARGE ENOUGH TO AFFORD THE HIGHER FIGURE."

Speaking of drilling and Repugnicans like the quitter ex-governor from Alaska, S. Palin who continue to cry, "Drill, baby, drill," "The amount of oil available through offshore drilling is a drop in the bucket; shutting down all offshore drilling would cause no appreciable decline in global supply. America consumes 7.1 billion barrels of oil a year; the amount of U.S. offshore oil thought to be conventionally recoverable is 18 billion barrels - total. Even if we could extract it all at once, we'd exhaust it in 27 months."

We'll conclude this section by noting that if the Repugs gain control of the House, the corporations will be given free rein to do whatever they wish with very few, if any, controls or regulations.

Everyone will suffer and our environment - the environment that makes our life possible - will become even more damaged, perhaps irreparably!

All of the above, however, is just a portion of the nastiness we can expect if John Boehner and his party of NO march into what they seem to feel is their preordained destiny to rule over the rest of us.

Paul Krugman, writing in The New York Times, warns we can expect the same kind of "nonstop witch hunt" against President Obama that we suffered through when Bill Clinton sat in the White House. Krugman reminds us that "once Republicans took control of Congress [1994], they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment -- at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list."

Krugman refers us to the creepy and very nasty extreme right exemplified by Rush Limbaugh who not long ago whined that "Imam Hussein Obama is probably the best anti-American president we've ever had." What's worse, as Krugman says, is that Limbaugh is "an utterly mainstream figure with the Republican Party."

Rage is "flourishing," and it isn't just because Mr. Obama is a black man or has this Muslim-sounding name. "We we learned from the Clinton years is that a significant number of Americans just don't consider government by liberals -- even very moderate liberals - legitimate."

And, says Krugman, this isn't the feeling expressed merely by the "excluded and dispossessed. ... Wall Street has turned on Mr. Obama with a vengeance: last month Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman of the Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, compared proposals to end tax loopholes for hedge fund managers with the Nazi invasion of Poland."

Mr. Krugman asks the question, what can we expect if the Repubs gain control of the House of Representatives? "We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they're gearing up for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a 'wave of committee investigations' -- several of them over supposed scandals that we already know are completely phony. We can expect the G.O.P. to play chicken over the federal budget, too; I'd put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown sometime over the next couple of years.

"It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. ..."

Yes, tough times loom if the Republicans achieve the gains they are already crowing about.

Actually, "tough" doesn't really describe the possible scenario. "Catastrophic" is the more correct term.

The Real Gaza - Photo #7

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

What the Stimulus hath wrought vs. a conservative oligarchy

Listening to Republicans and teapot crackpots one might get the impression that The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the Stimulus), a $787 billion attempt to right our economy after the Bush/Cheney debacle, was a massive failure. First of all, the Repubs and others of that ilk, claim it hasn't created enough jobs but has increased the deficit exponentially.

It is very interesting that the same people whining about the deficit were nowhere in sight nor were they heard from when Bush/Cheney were gleefully destroying the surplus left them by the Clinton administration, cutting taxes on the rich, engaging in illegal and unnecessary warfare, all of which has led to the very deficit the Republicans decry.

As usual, it all depends on whose ox is being gored.

But the Republicans don't give a damn about the deficit. Their belabored wailing is merely a smokescreen to bring down the president. Everything they've done over the past two years has served that nefarious purpose. Furthermore, I've read at least one economist who claims that the deficit could be erased pronto just by letting Bush's tax cuts wither and die.

As we shall see momentarily, the welfare of the nation is not part of the Republican agenda.

Michael Grunwald, in a fascinating Time magazine article titled, "How the Stimulus Is Changing America," notes that Republicans charge that the Stimulus is a "Big Government boondoggle," a failure.

Here are some of the things it has accomplished thus far:

"...[It] has cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, bailed out every state, hustled record amounts of unemployment benefits and other aid to struggling families and funded more than 100,000 projects to upgrade roads, subways, schools, airports, military bases and much more."

I personally know several people who were able to purchase new or older homes because of government stimulus money!

As a number of economists have noted, the economy "would have been much worse without the stimulus."

However, that's only part of what has happened and what will happen. The Obama administration has a firm eye on the future and intends to do what it can to meet the challenges we face now and the challenges we will face in just a short time.

Grunwald says about 1/6th of the Stimulus money is involved in "an all-out effort to exploit the crisis to make green energy, green building and green transportation real; launch green manufacturing industries; computerize a pen-and-paper health system; promote data-driven school reforms; and ramp up the research of the future.

Please read the entire article here to get a sense of the massive changes being wrought for the benefit of our commonwealth.

Obama has fulfilled his promise to bring about change - big time! One major problem has been, as Grunwald notes, the president "has spent most of his first term trying to clean up messes--in the Gulf of Mexico, Iraq and Afghanistan, on Wall Street and Main Street ... " He had NO choice, of course!

Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is the Republican Party and to some extent, a cabal of Democrats (notably the so-called "Blue-Dogs") which not only offer no solutions but refuse to work with the Obama administration in meeting the needs of the nation. The Republican Party has rightfully been labeled the party of "NO!"

Walking hand-in-hand with the Republicans, and in many cases writing the script for the Republicans to follow are people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and hundreds of other media types who spread lies and misinformation for the sole purpose of destroying the Obama presidency so they can retake power in the nation's capitol.

Have you heard any sane, concrete proposals from any Republican legislator or teapot crackpot or conservative media cokehead over the past two years? Privatizing Social Security, demolishing Medicare and Medicaid, repealing health-care reform are not "sane, concrete proposals" but rather illustrate the poverty of the so-called conservative movement in this country.

And though the teapot crackpots rail against "big" government but there is no substance to their complaint. They just don't like "welfare queens," illegal immigrants, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, or visiting those in prison. Some are even arguing that we must jettison our Constitution in favor of the Christian Bible and then take instruction from the Hebrew Bible as to how we are to establish our laws - such as executing adulterers and homosexuals! Many of the people who attended the Glenn Beck "honor" rally hold such views, and go even further with demands that this country become a "Christian" nation - as they define such, which at the least means that Christianity be the recognized religion and their understanding of Christian precepts be enshrined in our legal system, and that all other religions be relegated to second-class or worse status.

These teapot crackpots are said to be "angry" and some, including President Obama, think they have a "right" to be angry; supposedly because they are suffering more than others in these bad times. But that's hogwash. Most teapot crackpots are middle-class and are not suffering in any real sense. As Paul Krugman said in a recent article in The New York Times, "Tea Partiers are relatively affluent, and nobody is angrier these days than the very, very rich." The entire teapot crackpot movement is the wet-dream of people like the Koch brothers whose organizations have constructed and continue to drive the "movement." With two exceptions, you can't get any richer than the Koch brothers!

The teapot crackpots are angry for a variety of reasons, the main one being that we have a "black" man in the White House and the Democrats are in control. In their racist world-view, such things are simply unacceptable. They pretend they're angry about taxes, but their taxes went down last year!!! (It's the Koch brothers who don't want to pay any taxes!) They pretend to be angry about the "bailouts," but it is certainly arguable that the bailouts helped stabilize an economy that was going down the toilet.

Truth and integrity simply do not play a part in the roles played by teapot crackpots and Republicans and various news outlets along with Fox News. While not a conspiracy, each of these groups live with one goal - to destroy the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama! Consider (again from Mr. Krugman) Rush Limbaugh's comment: "Imam Hussein Obama is probably the best anti-American president we've ever had." Or the comment from the Ben Quayle in Arizona that Obama is the worst president ever and he [Quayle] should be elected to Congress so he can "knock the hell out of Washington."

What's really scary is that Ben Quayle is not the dumbest or the worst of the people running for seats in the House and the Senate.

In his book, Moyers On America, Bill Moyers, the famed journalist, takes us back to the presidency of George W. Bush, c. 2003-2004. Karl Rove, who was the mastermind behind Bush Jr., thought the period after the Civil War when modern industrialism "combined into trusts capable of making minions of both politics and government," a time characterized by a "maldistribution of wealth, status, and opportunity" was one of the greatest times in our history. Rove "cherished" this period.

Moyers says, "From his own public comments and my reading of the record, it is apparent that Karl Rove has modeled the Bush presidency on that of William McKinley ... and modeled himself on Mark Hanna [Hanna's the one who "created William McKinley] ... . Hanna had one consummate passion: to serve corporate and imperial power. He believed without compunction, according to a critic, that 'the state of Ohio [his home state] existed for property. It had no other function. . . .Great wealth was to be gained through monopoly, through using the State for private ends; it was axiomatic therefore that businessmen should run the government and run it for personal profit."

And that's exactly what happened under Bush, Jr. The conservative agenda for our nation "is to strip from government all its functions except those that reward their rich and privileged benefactors. ... The [Bush] White House pursues the same homicidal dream without saying so. Instead of shrinking the government, they're filling the bathtub with so much debt that it floods the house, waterlogs the economy, and washes away services that for decades have lifted millions of Americans out of destitution and into the middle class. And what happens once the public's property has been flooded? Privatize it. Sell it at a discounted rate to their corporate cronies."

Tada! That's where the deficit came from. George W. Bush! It is the height of irresponsibility and hypocrisy to lay the blame for the deficit at the feet of President Obama!

The dream of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all is fading into a sunset traumatized colorless and invisible by conservative and corporate pollution. The BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico may or may not have been "accidental," but certainly serves as a metaphor to show how very vulnerable we ordinary citizens are to our corporate overlords who own and operate our government through their paid representatives sitting in the halls of Congress.

That's what the teapot crackpots ought to be angry about!

The real Gaza - Photo #4

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