Language is Important

by lestro

You’d think the guy who as a candidate ran such a successful media campaign based around the words ‘change’ and ‘hope’ would recognize the importance of language and phrasing, but sometimes I wonder about this guy.

For example, I am reading over the text of the president’s labor day speech from yesterday and this jumped out at me:

And everywhere I went while I was running for this office, I met folks who felt their economic security slipping away, men and women who were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat.  And that was even before the economic crisis hit, and that just made things even harder.

The problem is not that it isn’t true, the problem is that it makes it sound as though the ‘economic crisis’ hit on his watch, when the FACT is that it did not.

By telling people that when he was a candidate times were hard, but that’s nothing compared to what happened since, he is essentially telling people “no, you are not better off than you were when I was elected.”

and that is NO way to keep the White House.

I mean, I agree with much of what he said – and a lot of it is good, important stuff – but if I were him, I would still be constantly reminding people that he is still trying to clean up someone else’s mess, instead of essentially telling them – reminding them “yeah, it’s only gotten worse since you gave me the keys…”

The public generally still blames the Republicans – especially President Bush – for the current mess, yet the Republicans are still pushing the exact same plans that got us into this mess as the solutions to get us out.

That’s Dumb.

But what’s even Dumber is that the president doesn’t seem to be trying to counter them by saying things like “and that was before we recognized the depth of economic troubles were were in” or “when I started running for office I met people who felt security slipping away, and by the time I took office, things were even harder thanks to the economic policies of the right wing…”

I mean give me something here, Mr. President.  Don’t just roll over and take it.

It’s like the president has Stockholm Syndrome or something.

Advertisements

maybe someday we’ll elect a democrat

by lestro

We did?  Who?

Certainly you can’t mean President Obama:

President Obama abruptly pulled back proposed new national smog standards Friday morning, overruling the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to compel states and communities nationwide to reduce local air pollution in the coming years or face federal penalties.

The move represented a win for the business community, which had lobbied to postpone new restrictions on ground-level ozone — known as smog — until 2013 in light of the economic downturn. It also raised questions about the fate of several other air quality regulations the EPA is preparing to finalize this year.

Well there has to be a good reason, right?  Surely it can’t be that same old bullshit about how investing in the environment has to wait for financial reasons, especially at a time when corporate profits are literally at record highs, right? Let’s go right to the source, the White House press release:

At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.

goddammit.

Ozone, for the record, is a greenhouse gas (which means that even if you don’t believe in such things it traps heat in atmosphere, warming the planet) that is the principal component in smog formation. It harms lungs, causes respiratory distress and is linked to asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks and premature death.

And how can you be sure this is a terrible, terrible move?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) identified several of these regulations as targets for a regulatory rollback the House will vote on this month, and House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel hailed Obama’s decision Friday as “a good first step.”

“If you’re serious about a jobs agenda, the last thing you want to be doing is adding tens of billions of dollars in costs every year,” said Upton, who added that under stricter smog standards communities in his district and across the nation “will lose these jobs, and they will never come back.”

But maybe I am overreacting.  I admit, it happens.  I am a hot head sometimes.  Maybe I am seeing this wrong.

“Obama utterly caved,” said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity, an advocacy group.

Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said, “It’s unfortunate that the administration is siding with big oil over the health of children, seniors, and the infirm.”

Nope, I’m dead on.  So let’s be very clear, this is the Democratic president once again choosing business interests over people.

According to the EPA, depending on what standard it adopted, the compliance costs for industry could range from $19 billion to $90 billion a year by 2020. The tougher standard would yield health benefits worth $13 billion to $100 billion, the agency said.

Did you catch that?  The health benefits would save us more money than this would cost industry (which, again, is seeing record profits again this year).

Now let’s take a look at the 2008 Democratic Platform, the one that got Obama elected with a huge majority and gave him supermajorities in both houses of Congress:

Read more of this post

What Tyranny Actually Means

by lestro

Dear Tea Party,

I couldn’t help but notice that you spend a  lot of time and energy making lots and lots of misspelled signs talking about tyranny, with little to no regard for what the word actually means or whether it could even be remotely applicable to a government made up of elected representatives making votes on potential laws and then having to face voters again, including this year.

Here is a tip: It’s not tyranny. It’s not taxation without representation. It’s absolutely nothing like the circumstances that prompted the original Boston Tea Party, whose name and legacy you are constantly maligning with your idiocy.

I realize that you have no use for history and a total contempt for any facts that might possibly cause you to question or challenge the bullshit, half-truths and lies that Fox News feeds you, content in the knowledge that you will just accept what they say without checking it or even doing a simple Google search to see if it makes any damn sense at all.

Luckily (for our purposes), there is still actual tyranny in the world we can compare our situation to. This is what it looks like.

First, power is consolidated, usually in a non-elected executive position.

Taking the unusual step of limiting its own authority, Iran’s parliament on Wednesday adopted a law that would curb its ability to review regulations issued by the most powerful, un-elected institutions of the state.

It was not immediately clear what forces propelled the parliament to adopt a measure that would formally undermine powers granted to it under the constitution. But the decision seemed to acknowledge the reality that the elected parliament was often blocked from fulfilling its role as a watchdog over the elected and appointed institutions of state.

The legislation did, however, appear another to represent another step in the political evolution of Iran to a state where appointed officials and allies of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wield far more authority than do the elected institutions. That tension between appointed and elected branches has existed since the founding of the Islamic Republic, but the balance lately has tipped steeply in the favor of the Supreme Leader and the appointed institutions.

Next, political opponents are maligned as being unpatriotic and traitorous:

Their regulations now will not be subject to parliamentary oversight but will have to go through another committee — the Supreme Council for Revising Laws — made up of several allies of the leader, as well as the speaker of the parliament.

Since Iran’s disputed presidential election in June, Ayatollah Khamenei and his allies have labeled those who challenge their decisions as enemies of the state. By voting to limit their own powers, members of parliament might have been signaling a desire to avoid confrontation with Ayatollah Khamenei.

Finally, political dissent is outlawed.

Which, as you can tell by the large group of fellow poor spelling demonstrators around you, is not happening at all here.

Now that you know what tyranny is, you can watch for it.   To find further examples, you could begin digging through the past decade worth of bullshit.  Perhaps you’ll be surprised as to what sort of undemocratic and potentially tyrannical bits you might find in the guy the vast majority of you blindly supported for eight years…

Any questions?

Good.

Love and kisses,

Lestro

The old ways are the best ways

by lestro

On June 17, 1972, five guys working for then-president Richard Nixon’s political henchmen (known as “the Plumbers” because they “plugged leaks”) broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. and fix the taps the Republicans had put on the Democrats’ phones during a previous break-in. The burglars were wearing blue surgical gloves and had their pockets stuffed with hundreds…

This time, however, a security guard noticed the tape the burglars had put across the latches of the locks on the doors and called the police.

The resulting scandal eventually forced Nixon to resign the presidency and slink back to California bathed in the stench of shame and flagrant assholery. It also gave rise to the now ubiquitous “-gate” ending for any and every political scandal and reinforced the journalist’s role as a watchdog for the people (thank you Woodward and Bernstein).

So?

Well, here we are 37 years later and the right wing still hasn’t learned a goddamn thing:

Four people were arrested on Monday for allegedly posing as telephone technicians and trying to tap the phones of Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, in her New Orleans office.  […]

All four of the people arrested in New Orleans were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony. At least two of the four people were dressed in telephone company work clothes and construction hats when they were arrested.

go team! I guess those who fail to learn from history ARE doomed to repeat it.

Among those arrested was James O’Keefe, most known for his law-breaking, vigilante-style videos at offices of the organization formerly known as ACORN, with himself dressed as a pimp trying to get some financial advice with one of his whores (Hannah Giles) and appearing to depict ACORN workers “giving advice about tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution.”

His disguise in the first video was definitely better though.

Read more of this post

The final frontier

by lestro

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Apollo 11 mission, the absolute apex of the human scientific and engineering experience, the 20th century and American achievement all rolled into one.

To celebrate the event, the NY Times has a long, but exceptional article written by the man who covered the space race the first time around, John Noble Wilford, including details of the run-up to Apollo 11 and what it meant to the country and world, as well as the explanation for how he arrived at one of the single most perfect ledes in the history of print:

I get up and read the articles I have written about the mission up to now. Reporters may feel impelled to write of the next day’s events as the culmination of the space race, the achievement of an ambitious national goal, a historic triumph. I swear to myself that I will not use “historic” in my top paragraph.

I reach for my notebook and try several opening sentences. They must be put on a strict diet. I cross out adjectives. I eliminate clauses that are superfluous and sound too much like heavy music for a movie soundtrack. I begin again: “American astronauts landed.” No, too restrictive and chauvinistic; it will be clear soon enough that the astronauts are American and the goal of a decade has been achieved.

I finally get to the irreducible essence in one short sentence: “Men have landed and walked on the moon.”

Literally, the entire world watched and shared in the joy as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to set foot on a planetary body that was not our own.

Read more of this post

This Memorial Day, why don’t we honor the Nazi dead while we’re at it?

by lestro

UPDATED! SEE BELOW!

There’s a column in Sunday’s Washington Post about something I am afraid to admit I did not know existed.

Apparently, somewhere in Arlington National Cemetery, there is a monument honoring the dead of the Confederate States of America. The monument was dedicated in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson and according to the article, presidents  have since honored the Confederacy’s dead along with those of the United States by sending a wreath on Memorial Day.

The question in the column is whether President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, will and should continue the tradition honoring a nation whose very founding was based on keeping blacks as subservient slaves.

Although it is tough to tell exactly where the author stands on the main issue of honoring Confederates, he expects the president to send a wreath because it is tradition:

Many of my colleagues in academia are urging President Obama to pull the plug on this tradition. I doubt that he will, for the simple reason that the men buried around the Confederate memorial sacrificed, suffered and died just as the black and white soldiers of the Union did. Most of the descendants of those Confederates, whatever their political stripe today, would be loath to deny their ancestors a simple gesture of recognition.

The author goes on to say that the president should send a wreath to the memorial as well as one to the African American Civil War Memorial as a sort of reconciliation.

But I disagree. The president should under no circumstances feel pressure to honor the dead of the enemies of the United States on the holiday designed to honor those who gave their lives for this great nation.

It is also important to note that this is NOT a tradition that goes all the way back. According to the Arlington Cemetery Web site,  (warning: music will play when the page opens. the player is all the way at the bottom of the page) the first President Bush ended said tradition in 1990 and it was not re-instated until the second President Bush started sending wreaths again.

Therefore, President Obama should feel no pressure in having to honor these traitors. It is shameful that President Bush restarted this tradition in the first place.

Read more of this post

Negative attention is still attention

by lestro

Well, the GOP’s 2012 VP nominee-in-waiting, Newt Gingrich, is out waving his arms and and yelling at the top of his lungs, hoping to draw the spotlight of relevance back to himself.

This time, he is attacking the Speaker of the House, his old post, as a “trivial politician” and saying she has disqualified herself from the office she holds.

But I am not quite sure how. Dig:

“She charged that the CIA, deliberately and as a matter of policy, violated the law by lying to Congress,” Gingrich writes in the column. “And with that allegation, Speaker Pelosi disqualified herself from the office she holds.”

“Speaker Pelosi has damaged America’s safety,” Gingrich also writes. “She’s made America less secure by sending a signal to the men and women defending our country that they can’t count on their leaders to defend them.”

The second graph is the same old bullshit song and dance the Republicans have been doing since they ran out of ideas (and hasn’t worked at all in the past two election cycles, by the way), but the first doesn’t even make sense.

I mean, if the CIA did deliberately and a matter of policy lie to Congress – and frankly, it looks like they did. Repeatedly. At the behest of the Bush Administration, which deliberately and as a matter of policy lied not only to Congress but the American people and even each other.  – then Pelosi did her duty (albeit late) in informing the public of said lies.

The problem here is not that she is accusing them of lying, but THAT THEY LIED ABOUT TORTURING PEOPLE.

Read more of this post