Despatch From The City Of Chaos (forty-second)

September 14, 2012 · Posted in 9-11, These Our Parlous Times · 3 Comments 

I should be commenting on the outcome of last night’s Green Bay Packers-Chicago Bears game, but some things are even more important than football:

The current crisis in the Middle East, for example.

Romney, Limbaugh, Hannity–all have made the case that the recent  attacks on U.S. embassies are a sign that President Obama’s attempt to hear what non-Isreali persons of the Middle East have to say is a sign of American weakness. The argument is that Obama apologizes for America’s policies, and, therefore, terrorist Muslim factions are empowered by our weakness. These pundits and presidential candidate all keep saying the same mantra: Obama is weak, and, therefore, unrest in the Middle East grows. And, of course, they are shocked, SHOCKED! that any president could be so ineffectual, so naive, so unpresidential as to allow an attack on U.S. embassies.

I don’t know what Hannity, Limbaugh and Romney expect President Obama to say or do. There’s also Reince Priebus and his infamous tweet: Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic. (Priebus, by the way, is to 21st century Wisconsin what Joe McCarthy was to 20th century Wisconsin: a sweaty, mendacious demagogue–and I say that with all due respect.) What Obama has done is nothing close to an apology. Here’s his statement issued Wednesday morning:

I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.

I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.

On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.

The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward. 

Here’s a good article that sets some things in perspective: Kagan. Even John McCain defends U.S. foreign policy to the ever hyperbolic Sean Hannity: click here.  Hannity, of course, cannot brook disagreement and dispatches McCain to the trash.

In any case, what has happened under Obama’s watch–though big and important–is small when compared to the 271 U.S. Marines killed in Lebanon under Reagan’s watch. (I mean no disrespect to the friends and family of those who were murdered in the U.S. embassy in Libya.) The U.S. response to the bombing in Lebanon is explained on Wikipedia in the following words:

In retaliation for the attacks, France launched an airstrike in the Bekaa Valley against alleged Islamic Revolutionary Guards positions. President Reagan assembled his national security team and planned to target the Sheik Abdullah barracks in Baalbek, Lebanon, which housed Iranian Revolutionary Guards believed to be training Hezbollah militants. A joint American-French air assault on the camp where the bombing was planned was also approved by Reagan and Mitterrand. Defense Secretary Weinberger lobbied successfully against the mission, because at the time it was not certain that Iran was behind the attack.

There was no serious retaliation for the Beirut bombing from the Americans, besides a few shellings. In December 1983, U.S. aircraft from the USS John F. Kennedy and USS Independence battle groups attacked Syrian targets in Lebanon, but this was ostensibly in response to Syrian missile attacks on American warplanes.

And, of course, this says nothing of what happened to 63 Americans in Beirut not long after.

My point, finally, is that Obama’s Middle East policies are not to blame for the attacks on U.S. embassies. Nor is the absurd, incompetently made film Innocence of Muslims. What is responsible is a fundamentalist minority of obsessed Muslims who hate the West and the 1000 years in which the West, in their tainted view, has mistreated the followers of Allah. They are a minority.

Blaming Obama is like blaming Abraham Lincoln for the Civil War.

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Despatch From The City Of Chaos (forty-first)

The City of Chaos, perhaps, should be enlarged to the Land of Chaos now, as we head into November’s election.

What’s a progressive liberal to do?

We have a standing president who has not kept much of his expected agenda although we must congratulate him on Obamacare and his executive order for the school children of immigrants. The economy is poor, but better than it was in 2008. But what about GitMo? What about killer drones?

I’m especially disappointed in Barack’s not keeping his promise to march side by side with unions if an attack on unions materialized. Well, the attack came, and on the battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Ohio, the Commander in Chief was missing in action. I’m also quite disappointed in the national Democratic leadership, who entered the Recall Election very, very late.

Then, of course, we have the Romney-Ryan ticket. No global warming? Oil rigs in national parks? Tax breaks for the wealthiest to spur on the economy? Dismemberment of welfare services to the needy? The destruction of Planned Parenthood? College loans and Pell grants?

Well, it’s obvious what a liberal progressive must do. That is, everything legal to prevent Koch-appointed, NRA-approved, Rove-backed talking puppets to ever get near the White House. The Nation called Ryan “Dick Cheney with good hair.”

So Obama hasn’t been all that we had hoped, but if anyone tells you that all pols are the same, deny it with all your might.

What worries me most is that the campaign isn’t being framed properly. It’s not the economy, stupid. It’s not foreign policy, kiddo. The real divide here is what this nation thinks about women. Equal pay for equal work? Reproductive rights? Definitions of rape? Medical services for poor mothers and their children? Definitions of what a marriage is and who can partake of it?

Obama won four years ago because he brought a new energy to the electorate; that won’t work this time.

This time, women have to defend themselves against reactionary measures, and men must help them defend themselves.



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Unfinished-Limerick Contest (N.S. #1) Winners!

The winners are in the order of  Win, Place and Show

America’s Curse

We live under an American curse:

Our cand’dates just get worse and worse.

There’s Herman and Rick

who’ll lie, cheat and trick

And Mitt is even more perverse!




America’s Curse

We live under an American curse:

Our cand’dates just get worse and worse.

There’s Herman and Rick

who’ll lie, cheat and trick

And Barack who can’t close the purse.



America’s Curse

We live under an American curse:

Our cand’dates just get worse and worse.

There’s Herman and Rick

who’ll lie, cheat and trick

And Newt, the Master of Reverse!



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O Wisconsin! O America!

August 10, 2011 · Posted in These Our Parlous Times · 6 Comments 

Not long ago, I humorously posted some of the ads against the Republicans in the Recall Elections. But I wasn’t being completely honest. The ads were funny in a way, but the political race was not.
I have been holding my tongue, keeping my place in the peaceable kingdom. But the difficulties we face as a nation now seem insurmountable since yesterday’s recall elections have proven beyond a doubt that voters in America (not just in Wisconsin though Wisconsin provides the handy example) are as blind as doorknobs.

Blind as voters can be, the blinder crowd is the Democratic party, which seems incapable of creating a coherent vision. President Obama and John Boehner played automobile chicken with the economic security of our nation. Obama turned the wheel away a split second before the crash, but he should have kept straight at Boehner and the Republicans. So now we have a president who promised us a progressive administration, but who now acts like a Tea Party member who agrees to cuts in social programs and agrees not to tax the wealthiest citizens and corporations in America.

As for Wisconsin, well, the Dems had a lock on the recall election. And they played almost entirely to the unions and the teachers. What about the seniors who are getting robbed by the Walker administration? What about the poor people whose earned tax credits are being swiped away little by little?

What about honest, good citizens who have relatives and friends in jail who now cannot get out on early release programs? I’m not talking about hardened criminals. Does it make sense to incarcerate a man for failing to make child support payments? Are his chances of making them improved by sitting in jail?

Take a look at this following issue.

The Republicans in Wisconsin have touted the 40, 000 jobs created here since January 2011 as their success story. Here’s a quote from a Tea Party site:

For the short time Gov Walker has been in office, he’s created 40, 000 jobs (private sector), putting Wisconsin up as one of the best in job creation. And Walker’s plan is still working as Wisconsin is creating new jobs each day–9,000 in June alone!

If one does a little fact checking, Doyle claimed to have created 40, 000 jobs in May 2010. Here are the figures as reported by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development:

Wisconsin added 40,200 jobs in May, including 6,500 construction jobs and 3,300 manufacturing jobs,
without seasonal adjustment.  Approximately 29,900 jobs were gained in service sectors including trade,
transportation, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services

Consider these figures posted by the same Department of Workforce Development on July 27, 2010:

All 12 metro experienced increases in their unemployment rate from May to June. Madison had the lowest rate at
6.0 percent, followed by 6.7 percent in La Crosse and 7.3 percent in Oshkosh-Neenah. Janesville had the highest
rate at 10.1 percent, but posted the largest one-year drop (-1.1 percent) from 11.2 percent in June 2010.
All 31 municipalities with at least 25,000 residents experienced increases in their unemployment rates, including
23 with increases of less than 1.0 percent. Compared to a year ago, 23 had lower rates with Beloit showing the
biggest decrease, a drop of 2.8 percent from a year ago. Caledonia had the lowest rate at 4.7 percent.  

Many of the 2011 Republican-created jobs are the same as  many of the 2010 Democratic-created jobs. It’s called tourism, but Wisconsin voters bought the Republican mis-information program hook, line and sinker. How can unemployment figures go up and employment figures go up at the same time? Answer: compare apples and oranges.

Why didn’t the Dems talk about these figures?

What about the repeal of the Homestead Tax, which was put in place to aid seniors? The Republicans cut it entirely. Was that an issue on the Dems’ platform? Maybe, but where was it verbalized? Where’s the outrage that, along with  disarming BadgerCare, the Republicans are consistently attacking the old and poor? Yes, the public  unions are suffering, but they were not the only issue.

We have a Supreme Court justice who “allegedly” assaulted (read choked) another Supreme Court justice. Why haven’t the Dems linked this thug to Walker and the Senators in recall?

The Republicans even stole the education narrative, by presenting “success” stories of towns that, now without teacher unions, have been able to get an alternative insurance for their employees and are now saving monies in their budgets. Why haven’t the Dems tallied every teacher job that has been lost since January?

The $800 million that has been cut from education is going to have very specific effects; why haven’t the Dems shown those effects in graphic detail instead of merely mentioning the cuts. Most voters are going to be duped into thinking these cuts are being managed carefully and judiciously. Not bloody likely.

Why haven’t the Dems shown photos and videos of the physical state of many schools? According to one state representative on the floor of the Assembly, there are Parent Choice shools that have missing floor boards. Students have to literally practice tight-rope-walking manoeuvres. Do we really want to encourage this form of private enterprise? There are Parent Choice schools that have 0% of students who can read or cipher at their grades level. The Republicans say these Parent Choice schools (read Voucher) are a happy alternative to our public education. 0% profiency! Really? Read the facts!

What about the Republicans raisng the cut-off income for parents who want to get vouchers for Choice schools and other private schools? Now, Wisconsin is giving money to pay the tuition of people who can easily afford tuition. Is this a good thing? Unlike our public schools, these Parent Choice schools are unregulated, with no accountability whatsoever. If you live in a wealthy community, the Parent Choice school does well; if you live elsewhere, the school makes a tidy profit. (One cheer for education!)

Where are the Democrats on this issue? I never once heard it mentioned during the campaigns.

The Dems, I regret, almost deserved to lose here, in Wisconsin, and there, everywhere else. They have no leadership and no vision. Unfortunately, most of us do not deserve to be ruled and abused by the Republicans who would sell their own children into slavery if some corporation wanted them to.

I am disgusted.

On the night Bush won his second term, I hit rock bottom. How could America do such a thing to itself? That administration would later  dupe us into an unjust, immoral war that is partly responsible for our  huge economic woes. The loss of lives caused by Cheney and Bush (and don’t forget Colin Powell in front of the U.N. lending his name to fraud) is absolutely fiendish. That the Dems were duped into allowing the Iraq War to go forward is to their everlasting lasting shame.

When David The Choker Prosser was re-elected, I felt the same sense of our hitting rock bottom. Now that our state Senate shall remain Republican controlled, I realize that I and my fellow citizens will be at rock bottom for a long time. What’s more worrisome, however, is that, at the dark nadir of this abyss, we can no longer see a light above us.

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Despatch From The City Of Chaos. (eleventh)

I received a news item on my Facebook from a friend’s Facebook page. A Texas NBC station was asking its viewers if acceptance of gays will be the ‘downfall of America’? My friend’s response, of course, was a call to action against NBC. The action was to sign a petition, which unfortunately contains a silly dangling modifier. Worse than the question itself (and the radio host’s lead in to it) are the bizarre responses from the radio station’s listeners. Very serious stuff. Fortunately, some listeners on the station presented a few reasonable views.

To listen to the radio show and the responses and to sign the petition, click here.

But I was quietly amused by the response of one of the respondents to my friend’s news item. He wrote the following to her and gave me permission to copy and paste it here:

That’s ridiculous. The downfall of America was the election of a Kenyan socialist Nazi elitist gangsta Ivy League ghetto snooty professor smooth-talking Teleprompter-dependent Wall-Street-loving communist warmongering pacifist. It was announced at the last Tea Party meeting.

His parody is even wittier than the controversial New Yorker cover.

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