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Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 03:36 PM PDT

What's Past Is Prologue . . .

by billmon

“We have not yet made a decision.”
Barack Obama
August 28, 2013

“I've not made up our mind about military action.”
George W. Bush
March 6, 2003
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Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 03:00 PM PDT

Help! Police!

by billmon

Two women, as shown in a Texas state trooper’s dash cam recording, are probed in their vaginas and rectums by a glove-wearing female officer after a routine traffic stop near Dallas.

A few days later, a second video surfaced. It was an eerily similar scenario, but this time the traffic stop was just outside Houston, and with different troopers. Two women, pulled over for allegedly speeding, are subjected to body cavity searches by a female officer summoned to the scene by a male trooper.

Yells can be heard as the female trooper shoves her gloved finger inside one woman. In both invasive incidents, the female troopers don't change gloves between probes, according to the horrified victims.

Texas state troopers caught on camera probing women's privates aren't isolated incidents: lawyers
New York Daily News
August 2, 2013

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Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:14 AM PDT

Taking the Pledge

by billmon

Good morning. My name is [name redacted] and I'm from the extremely beautiful state of South Carolina. I intern for Republican Senator Tim Scott. I've had the pleasure of coming into different offices to meet the staff and interns from different states. Yes, we are all different and are working on different agendas but at the end of the day, we're all citizens of the greatest country on earth, known as the United States of America. Now I've only been here for 8 days but I can tell that something is wrong, (in my opinion). We have American flags in front of every room, but I’ve never seen anyone take the time to proudly say the Pledge of Allegiance. Truly ask yourself, when was the last time you put your hand on your heart and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, I’m not attacking anybody because it’s your freedom and right to not say it but I’m assuming everyone that’s working up here loves this awesome country. Are we that busy that we can’t take a minute to show some pride and respect for our country? I say it every morning before I walk in because America’s always on my mind. I truly care about this country and I refuse to let this country fall. I know saying the pledge isn’t going to straighten out this economy we are in, but I believe it’s the little things that will take us far in life. We’re living in a truly blessed country and our generation has a great opportunity to be the greatest generation this country has ever had. I have a ton of faith in our generation because we will get America back on track! We all have to work together, so we can keep that American Dream alive for future generations. Now, I would love to say the pledge with the different offices before 9am (because that’s when I start work). All I want is for our generation to show that we’re united and that we’re going to stand together. We’ll always be One Nation, Under God. I hope you’ll see my words as kind and respectful because I’m truly not attacking anybody. I just truly care about this country and I want to work with everybody. Overwhelm People with Kindness and May God Bless the United States of America.

P.S. Please share my message to your staff and interns or other offices that I didn’t reach, if you would like. Also if any events are happening, please let me know I would love to come.

GOP Hill Intern Just Wants To Share His Love Of The Pledge Of Allegiance (Is Also Interested In Party Invites)
Huffington Post
July 17, 2013

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“Under Andropov, the KGB grew noticeably in political power, in personnel, and even in the number of buildings its occupied . . . Andropov was probably not deliberately pursuing any evil goals and was not attempting to create a police state; more likely, his actions were simply a question of gaining administrative turf . . . However, nothing constructive could have come out of this. Growing bureaucratic structures always search out activities to occupy their energies, and when they don’t find them, they invent them.”

Georgi Arbatov
The System: An Insider’s Life in Soviet Politics

Please follow me below the fold to read analysis of this week's Washington Post story on General Keith Alexander.
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In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

Linchpin for Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven
McClatchy News Service
July 10, 2013

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Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 07:47 PM PDT

Mea Culpa

by billmon

U.S. Marine Capt. Jill A. Leyden of Easton, Maryland, touches the grave of her friend Major Megan M. McClung at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Veterans Day, November 11, 2010. ..McClung was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom on December 6,
Now that we’ve reached the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, it seems only fit and proper that those of us who opposed the war from the very beginning explain how our errors in judgment led us to be so catastrophically wrong about America’s signature foreign policy achievement of the 21st century.

In particular, I think we should extend a heartfelt apology to the war’s supporters (not least, the many fine pundits at our nation’s leading opinion journals) for the pain and suffering we inflicted with our frequent attacks on their intelligence, humanity, and sanity—and, at times, I’m ashamed to admit, even their patriotism.

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Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner stands at President Barack Obama's side along with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew as President Obama nominates Lew to be his new Treasury Secretary.
“As a reward for a quarter-century of patiently fulfilling their duties, career bureaucrats may expect a second career as . . . an executive of a large firm or bank. Their delayed rewards as amakudari (“descent from heaven”) bureaucrats usually include at least a doubling of income and sometimes much influence and handsome fringe benefits.”

Karel van Wolferen
The Enigma of Japanese Power

A clinical dissection of the Soviet system, in which a group of managers and bureaucrats . . . are engaged in ceaseless political maneuvering among themselves while maintaining total power, as a privileged class, over all the others.

John C. Campbell
Review of Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class, by Michael Voslensky
Foreign Affairs
Winter 1984/85

(Continue reading below the fold.)
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Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 09:34 AM PST


by billmon

Collage of pictures of John Boehner crying.
Died, after long struggle with infectious reality, Hastert Rule:
For the second time this month, Boehner broke the Hastert Rule. The issue was Hurricane Sandy relief, a follow-up vote to a smaller package approved earlier this month. It passed, but the important thing is how it passed:

Yeas: 241 (192 Democrats, 49 Republicans)
Nays: 180 (Rep. Jim Cooper + 179 Republicans)

That is to say, with a minority of the majority. The first time was on the fiscal cliff, and now it's happened on hurricane relief.

Mr. Rule, caretaker at the House GOP Asylum for the Criminally Insane, is remembered by all who knew him—Democrats in particular—as an emotionally distant father, abusive husband, and hostile, litigious neighbor. However, he is also widely credited with keeping his asylum under tight control for many years, although some observers attribute much of Mr. Rule's success to his long-time pharmaceutical assistant, Nurse Ratched.

More recently, Mr. Rule’s growing health problems left him largely incapacitated, making him a figure of ridicule even among the asylum’s inmates. As his mental faculties deteriorated, Mr. Rule’s increasingly bizarre orders (such as his recent call for the utter destruction of the federal government and the global financial markets) were largely ignored by his staff, including head janitor John Boehner.

Mr. Rule is survived by his close “companion,” former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and by his children, the 49 members of the House Tea Party Caucus.

Mr. DeLay, currently facing a lengthy prison sentence in Texas, declined comment. Tea Party Caucus members could not be reached, as most are under heavy sedation and/or physical restraint, or are currently undergoing electro-shock therapy.

Services will not be held for Mr. Rule, as his remains have already been cremated and secretly buried in an undisclosed location. In lieu of flowers, mourners are requested to make donations to the Michele Bachmann Legal Defense Fund, to be formed shortly.

Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles
By now I'm sure you’ve probably heard more than you want to know about the platinum coin—although if you like learning fancy new words, you have to admit, “seignorage” is a pretty cool one.

But I want to take a few minutes to explain why I think minting a $1 trillion quarter and then having the Treasury secretary pretend to yank it out of Ben Bernanke’s ear is not such a good idea—and might be a really stupid one politically.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

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President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton appear together in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House for statements and to answer questions from the media, December 10, 2010.
I think it’s fair to say that the outcome of the latest battle in America’s endless fiscal war hasn’t done anything to improve President Obama’s image with what Paul Wellstone used to call the Democratic Party wing of the Democratic Party.

Progressives of all stripes have roundly condemned the POTUS for signing a deal that preserves 82 percent of the Bush tax cuts (even though Obama said, all along, that he wanted to extend something like 75 percent of them).

Depending on who’s talking, this amounts to either a total surrender of the hard-fought progressive gains of Clinton’s first term in office, or the bid of a sociopath (yes, the word was used) to overthrow what remains of the New Deal.

Now I have to admit: Up until now I had not realized that the Clinton years were the Progressive Golden Age. Nor was I aware that the president who pushed through, at great political cost, national health care coverage (an admittedly half-assed version, but still), expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, and gave us the largest peacetime Keynesian stimulus package in U.S. history, was actually Paul Ryan in drag.

But if I’m not here to bury Obama, I’m also not here to praise him. I’ve got my own alphabetical list of betrayals—beginning with drone strikes, continuing through extraordinary renditions (i.e. kidnapping), Gitmo, and Palestine, and ending with warrantless wiretapping. As far as the dirty war (a.k.a. the war on terror) is concerned, the Obama presidency looks to me to be basically Bush’s third and fourth terms—albeit with less torture and more competency.

Given how bad the Bush years were, maybe I should be thankful for that much.

However, despite the round-the-clock Twitter agonizing, I’m finding it hard to feel the burn over the tax deal. Call me a running dog reactionary (these days, it’s probably true) or maybe I just expected to be sold out, but this just doesn’t strike me as worth all the progressive anguish.

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If it wasn’t already obvious, the past few weeks surely have made it so: The House of Representatives has collapsed.

Sure, the buildings are still there: The chamber in the right-hand wing of the Capitol, those dumpy offices across Independence Ave. And the buildings are still filled with representatives and their staff—or will be, once they all get back to town.

But as far as acting as a functioning branch of the federal government, those people might just as well be the walking dead (although that could be a little unfair to flesh-eating zombies).

The House GOP leadership—or what now passes for it—can't even schedule a vote to stop taxes from rising for millions of Americans on New Year's Day, much less come up with a constructive bill for members to vote on.

The speaker of the House, a man just two heartbeats from the presidency, has been reduced to a cipher, watching passively as the Senate (the Senate!) tries to take the lead in finding a way out of a fiscal crisis.  

The once mighty Republican machine, which twice in living memory (1995 and 2011) vowed to roll over the White House like an M1 tank, sits paralyzed—rusted frozen, like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz.

The upshot of all this is that the House of Representatives—one of the two heads on the shoulders of our bicameral congressional beast—has been rendered largely irrelevant. The GOP majority can’t even negotiate with itself, much less with anyone else.

How did we reach this point? And can a broken House be put back into some kind of working order in time to head off a fiscal disaster? I have serious doubts.

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“It’s no secret that women are now engaging in hunting and the shooting sports in record numbers. My wife Susan and I are especially excited about the immediate success of the NRA Women’s Network,” commented NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

NRA Women’s Network Now Presented by Smith & Wesson
National Rifle Association Press Release
December 6, 2012

Nancy Lanza, 52, was “a big, big gun fan” who went target shooting with her children, according to friends. "She said she would often go target shooting with her kids," Dan Holmes, owner of the landscaping firm Holmes Fine Gardens, told Reuters.

[Adam] Lanza, 20, killed his mother at the home they shared, shooting her in the face with her own gun, before driving three miles to the school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Connecticut school massacre: Gunman's mother taught him to shoot
The Telegraph
December 15, 2012

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