Here are excerpts from a recent Sunday school lesson taught by Jimmy Carter, the only president in our lifetimes to have taken seriously the Fifth Commandment. Had he been willing to kill in order to free the American hostages in Iran Carter would have been a two-term president.
“The United States is the most warlike nation in the history of the world… Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None, and we have stayed at war… We have wasted, I think, $3 trillion on military spending. It’s more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way…
“And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover. We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong.”
…said this at a dog and pony show in South Carolina for GOP presidential hopefuls:
There’s a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them.
Q: Congressman, you don’t think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?
No. Non-intervention was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years.
We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we’re building an embassy in Iraq that’s bigger than the Vatican. We’re building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)
Q: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?
I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we’re over there because Osama bin Laden has said, “I am glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.” They have already now since that time killed 3,400 of our men, and I don’t think it was necessary.
I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.
They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free.They come and they attack us because we’re over there.
I mean, what would we think if other foreign countries were doing that to us?
This is the only time I can remember that any remotely serious presidential candidate, of either major party, has even posed the basic question that Osama bin Laden once suggested that we ask ourselves: Why didn’t his men attack Stockholm?
Asking it at last was Ron Paul, an obstetrician who at the time — 2007 — was an obscure Texas congressman from Tom DeLay’s old district.
…he is still us:
Lately I have been re-reading the history of my own times, and it turns out to be a discouraging exercise. Even a frightening one.The excerpt below is from a 1968 essay by the great I.F. Stone in the New York Review. Substitute the “War” on Terror, switch the names of the politicians as appropriate and the piece could run almost unchanged today. We’ve come a long way, baby — only in a circle. Stone had the 2016 election figured out a half century ago:The average man approaches the problem of war with simple reactions of anxiety and threatened virility thousands of years old. There is a strong movement for peace, but there is also a strong contingent of cavemen among us, and it is hard to see which is the majority; the same people often belong to both categories. Reagan and Wallace speak for large constituencies, too. In Vietnam as in Korea the Democrats have kept the wars limited while Reagan, like MacArthur before him, speaks for a Republican right wing which thinks the whole business can be ended in no more time than it takes to go from the 17th to the 18th hole by dropping a bomb on Peking and another on Moscow.
The two urgent issues are the Vietnamese war and the black revolt. Both require solutions for which we are poorly conditioned. One is to give way in Vietnam to a communist, though also nationalist, tide. The other is to deal with the aspiration of the blacks, the other poor, which can only be met by fundamental changes, a real redistribution of income from haves to have-nots, and an intervention of the state deeper and more far-reaching than anything America has ever known before. The only party less prepared for this than the Democrats, though not much less so, is the Republican Party.
The issues, however, are beyond that unspoken ideological consensus within which the two-party system operates. The Democratic Party, unlike the Republican, has some legitimate claim to being the party of “the people.” But the people for whom it speaks turn out on closer examination to be middle-class owners of property, white-collar workers, or the organized working class.
The urban and rural poor, and all but the thin upper strata of the blacks and our other “colored” minorities, are not really a part of its constituency. They are outside “the people” in whose name it claims to speak. Unfortunately for revolutionary theorists, the more fortunate, those with something to lose, are the overwhelming majority. The poor, white and black, are but a lower fifth of the population. Should the Democratic Party move too far in the direction of taking them in, and serving their interests, it is likely to lose much of its white skilled worker followers to the Republican party. It is this which makes the Democratic Party look so unsatisfactory to the black radicals and the new left, purveyor of half measures rather than fundamental change. But in this the party faithfully reflects a majority constituency, and in this sense it is truly representative.
The new radicals generally are unwilling to face up to this reality. They prefer to believe that there is something wrong with the party, or with something called “the system,” or that society is sick, rather than admit that what they are revolting against is the majority itself. To admit that would be too difficult and too untactful a break with the dominant ideology of democracy. Black nationalist separatism is fantasy based on despair but in one respect is more realistic than the New Left, for in proposing separation it recognizes that what it is combating is the white majority and not some clique, conspiracy, or perverse ruling elite which has somehow led “the people” astray.
In a democratic society it is always assumed that the people are good, as in theology it is always assumed that God is good. Evil is an accident, or the work of the devil. When large numbers of ordinary men commit some outrage against humanity, it is tacitly assumed that somehow they are not part of “the people." That myth, the Common Man, is the theoretical sovereign of democratic society, and when he turns up in a racist mob or a typical veterans organization, ideology literally turns off our vision. Democratic political stereotypes remain stalwartly non- and pre-Freudian because you can't win elections by telling voters that they themselves are at fault. It is easier to let them off the hook by blaming some abstraction. Adam’s sins are still attributed to some serpent which crept into the garden.
It is the nature of the white majority, and of man, that brings the two-party system to the verge of breakdown when faced with the need to swallow a military defeat and to tax the whites for the benefit of blacks. The danger is that the white majority may choose instead to follow a simplistic demagogy which advocates as the way out a get-tough policy at home and abroad. Against that darkening a backdrop, McCarthy is a wan hope.
“Little Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff,” Trump said, prompting boos from the crowd. “He has the smallest, thinnest neck I have ever seen. He is not a long-ball hitter. But I saw him today — ‘well, we don’t really know, there could still have been some Russia collusion.’ Sick. Sick. These are sick people.”
From Beard’s Basic History of the United States, on the election of the Republican Herbert Hoover in 1928:
Gross inequalities in the distribution of wealth, long the subject of populist, progressive, and socialistic criticism, Hoover had frankly faced, to the alarm of conservatives, and he proposed to attack them by the use of the inheritance tax. The inheritance tax, he declared in 1919, “does redistribute overswollen fortunes. It does make for equality of opportunity by freeing from the dead hand control of our tools of production. It reduces extravagance in the next generation and sends them to productive service.” To Republicans who had assailed the income tax of 1894 as communistic that must have sounded like treason to the Grand Old Party; and to scholastic economists, a foolish flouting of “natural law.”
…Trump plagiarized after his crushing 2020 defeat.
William Holden in Sunset Boulevard:
“You're Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.”
“I am big! It's the pictures that got small."
Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) told WKCT radio on Tuesday that he opposes mandating vaccines to send children to school — and as evidence that there are alternatives, explained that he had deliberately infected his children with chickenpox.
Bevin, who has nine kids including four who were adopted, explained that after contracting the virus, they were “miserable for a few days” but “they all turned out fine.”
Found in my files, but timeless:
August 8, 1997, Washington Post story on medicare fraud... Billions are taken, all by prosperous and (to take a wild guess) Republican folks. Dwarfing not only all welfare fraud but, perhaps, all welfare. Turns out it was childishly easy to defraud Medicare. No doubt investigation would show that the Republicans and Republicrats were behind efforts to cut enforcement in this area, as in so many others.
Conservatives are hell on wheels for law enforcement in those areas where the laws are broken by the poor, such as dope and street crime. But they consistently oppose hiring more cops when the request comes from HHS, IRS, EPA, NLRB, SEC, and so forth. Which is to say in those much more lucrative areas of crimes which are largely committed by Republicrats themselves. In those cases it becomes not law enforcement but government interference.
Graft, Corruption and Malfeasance | Regulation for the Benefit of Public Health, Safety and Welfare | Republicans
From Jill Lapore’s excellent history of the United States, These Truths:
Hoover set to work with his customary businessman’s briskness. He had a telephone installed on his desk in the Oval Office. He scheduled his appointments at eight-minute intervals. He began reorganizing the federal government. “Back to the mines,” he’d say, after a 15-minute lunch break.
…his mouth was open. From Axios:
Republican donors in attendance called it one of Trump's weirdest lies ever. On Friday night, under a tent erected over the pool at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, President Trump claimed the media were spreading "fake news" when they said he called the CEO of Apple "Tim Apple."
Trump told the donors that he actually said "Tim Cook Apple" really fast, and the "Cook" part of the sentence was soft. But all you heard from the "fake news," he said, was "Tim Apple."
Two donors who were there told me they couldn't understand why the president would make such a claim given the whole thing is captured on video. Nobody cared, they said, and Tim Cook took it in good humor by changing his Twitter profile to Tim Apple.
"I just thought, why would you lie about that," one of the donors told me.
From the Institute for Policy Studies, the full transcript of remarks the GOP is using to demonstrate Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s hideous anti-semitism. Enjoy.I know that I have a huge Jewish constituency, and you know, every time I meet with them they share stories of [the] safety and sanctuary that they would love for the people of Israel, and most of the time when we’re having the conversation, there is no actual relative that they speak of, and there still is lots of emotion that comes through because it’s family, right? Like my children still speak of Somalia with passion and compassion even though they don’t have a family member there.
But we never really allow space for the stories of Palestinians seeking safety and sanctuary to be uplifted. And to me, it is the dehumanization and the silencing of a particular pain and suffering of people, should not be ok and normal. And you can’t be in the practice of humanizing and uplifting the suffering of one, if you’re not willing to do that for everyone. And so for me I know that when I hear my Jewish constituents or friends or colleagues speak about Palestinians who don’t want safety, or Palestinians who aren’t deserving I stay focused on the actual debate about what that process should look like. I never go to the dark place of saying “here’s a Jewish person, they’re talking about Palestinians, Palestinians are Muslim, maybe they’re Islamophobic.” I never allow myself to go there because I don’t have to.…Read on
Andrew Sullivan has an equally useful (and convincing) piece on the whole overblown “anti-semitic” battle of words referenced in my previous post.
Go read it here. Please.
Here, from FlaglerLive, is a sample from the best and most informative piece on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s “anti-semitism” that I’ve come across:
Like most American Jewish youth, I grew up knowing Israel. During holidays, I sang prayers about Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. In Hebrew school, I learned about the country’s culture, its cities, its past prime ministers. At my Jewish summer camp, we started every day with the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah.
My image of Israel was a rosy one. When I finally visited it in college, I was spellbound by the lush landscapes and sparkling cities, certain I would one day move to this golden ancestral home myself…
I haven’t been paying close enough attention to see if Trump is one of them, but many successful politicians say things like, “Bob Dole doesn’t run negative campaigns.” This peculiar use of the Royal He is also common among serial killers. The Boston Strangler and Ted Bundy habitually used the third person when describing their murders to police. They saw themselves as witnesses to their crimes, as uninvolved observers. Spectators rather than actors, and how can you blame the audience for the play?
…explains The New York Times today. I found this paragraph deeply disturbing:
Trump is an entertainer and an agitator, which Graham says he can relate to, in a way. “The point with Trump is, he’s in on the joke,” Graham said. I asked Graham if he is in on the joke, too. “Oh, 100 percent, 100 percent.” He laughed. “Oh, people have no idea.” I asked him to explain the joke to me. “If you could go to dinner with us. … ” he said, shaking his head.This seems to mean that Trump knows perfectly well, for example, that his “wall” is useless and impossible. He and Graham giggle privately over the thought that anybody could be so stupid as to swallow such nonsense: Jesus, Lindsey, all you got to do is holler nigger and spic loud enough and you can make these morons believe any shit you want.
Somehow, and I know how irrational this is, I’d feel better if I thought that Graham and Trump believed their own shit.
From The Associated Press:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The ecstatic sailor shown kissing a woman in Times Square celebrating the end of World War II died Sunday. George Mendonsa was 95…
Friedman said in a 2005 interview with the Veterans History Project that it wasn’t her choice to be kissed. “The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed,” she told the Library of Congress…“It was just somebody really celebrating. But it wasn’t a romantic event.”
The other day our so-called “president” lurched from his customary verbal ramblings down into total, baffling incoherence. He seemed to have poured those “best words” of his into a pot and stirred the resulting mess with his eyes closed. You’ve heard snippets on TV (one is below), but I urge you to puzzle your way through the whole transcript. And be afraid. Be very afraid.
They say walls don’t work. Walls work 100 percent. Whether it’s El Paso — I really was smiling, because the other night I was in El Paso — we had a tremendous crowd, and — tremendous crowd. And I asked the people — many of whom were from El Paso, but they came from all over Texas. And I asked them. I said, “Let me ask you, as a crowd: When the wall went up, was it better?” You were there, some of you. It was not only better; it was like 100 percent better. You know what they did.
But that’s only one example. There are so many examples. In El Paso, they have close to 2,000 murders right on the other side of the wall. And they had 23 murders. It’s a lot of murders, but it’s not close to 2,000 murders right on the other side of the wall, in Mexico.
So everyone knows that walls work. And there are better examples than El Paso, frankly. You just take a look. Almost everywhere. Take a look at Israel. They’re building another wall. Their wall is 99.9 percent effective, they told me — 99.9 percent. That’s what it would be with us, too.
The only weakness is they go to a wall and then they go around the wall. They go around the wall and in. Okay? That’s what it is. It’s very simple. And a big majority of the big drugs — the big drug loads — don’t go through ports of entry. They can’t go through ports of entry. You can’t take big loads because you have people — we have some very capable people; the Border Patrol, law enforcement — looking.
You can’t take human traffic — women and girls — you can’t take them through ports of entry. You can’t have them tied up in the backseat of a car or a truck or a van. They open the door. They look. They can’t see three women with tape on their mouth or three women whose hands are tied.
…and Dick Cheney, of course, is free at the moment. From the New York Times:
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka, intent on reviving the death penalty after a 42-year moratorium, first has to find a hangman.
To that end, the government has placed advertisements in local newspapers, seeking male candidates between 18 and 45 years old with “excellent moral character” and “a very good mind and mental strength.”
This piece of mine ran in the New York Times of Sept. 20, 1973. Change a name or two ––Yemen for Cambodia, say –– and it could run tomorrow. After all, we still bother:
WEST CORNWALL, Conn. — The Pentagon's most recent lies about bombing Cambodia bring back a question that often occurred to me when I was press attaché at the American Embassy in Vientiane, Laos.
Why did we bother to lie?
When I first arrived in Laos, I was instructed to answer all press questions about our massive and merciless bombing campaign in that tiny country with: “At the request of the Royal Laotian Government, the United States Is conducting unarmed reconnaissance flights accompanied by armed escorts who have the right to return fire if fired upon.”
This was a lie. Every reporter to whom I told it knew it was a lie. The Communist Pathet Lao knew it was a lie. Hanoi knew it was a lie. The International Control Commission knew it was a lie. Every interested Congressman and newspaper reader knew it was a lie.....
This from Truthout:
In 1920, Davenport wrote to Madison Grant, a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, and a fellow eugenicist: “Can we build a wall high enough around this country … so as to keep out these cheaper races, or will it be a feeble dam … leaving it to our descendants to abandon the country to the blacks, browns and yellows.”
Such a remark needs to be understood within the history of eugenics. Davenport’s suggestion here wasn’t merely a comment about a physical structure. It was a suggestion that stemmed from a eugenic worldview that the “unfit” were taking over the nation and putting in jeopardy the survival of the “fit.” Immigration policy wasn’t enough. Even forcefully sterilizing thousands wasn’t enough. To keep out the “unfit,” the nation needed a structure that signified that “defectives” from “shit-hole countries” were not welcome.
In our present moment, Trump’s perpetual insistence to build a wall mirrors these ideas. Indeed, according to this mindset, a wall must be built to “keep out these cheaper races,” lest the country be abandoned “to the blacks, browns, and yellows.” To understand the gravitas of such a claim, we must place Trump’s xenophobia in the context of a nation that, for decades, advocated for similar policies while sterilizing those deemed “unfit” within its borders.
From These Truths, by Jill Lepore:
Before the Civil War, however, the federal government raised revenue and regulated commerce almost exclusively through tariffs … tariffs appeared to place the burden of taxation on merchants, which appealed to Jefferson. “We are are all the more reconciled to the tax on importations,” Jefferson explained, “because it falls exclusively on the rich.” The promise of America, Jefferson thought, was that “the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone.”
I really just don’t care about the Super Bowl. I don’t care about it any more than I care that Testiculus Maximus beat Biggest Dickus in the Roman Coliseum in 90 A.D. It’s just one more empty reality TV show, and it’s so sickeningly drenched in commercialism and military worship you feel like you need to take a shower afterwards.
Go on YouTube and find clips from any Super Bowl from, say, the seventies and eighties, and compare them to the hypertrophied cartoon spectacle you’ll see today. They’re low-key and down-to-earth. They’re actually about the game, not the effing Tostidos commercial at half time or the tedious personal mini-dramas involving this or that player. The announcers, for the most part, didn’t come across like the three loudest, most obnoxious salesmen on the lot, jostling and elbowing past each other to get in the last word. The screen wasn’t cluttered with graphics. It was just a football game, a big one, but just a game. Go figure.
P.S. I’ve been living in self-imposed exile in the Arctic for the last seven months, hence my silence on the blogs. I wanted to get as far away from civilization as I could while remaining in the United States. I wound up in Barrow, Alaska, where I teach U.S. government to indifferent Eskimo kids. Oh, well. It’s a living, a weird one, but a living (teachers do quite well up here because of the, uh, challenges of the job, to put it mildly.) I’ll provide the gritty details in a future post. Do tell your climate denying friends that while its freakishly cold down there, it’s unusually warm here. The average temperature in Barrow, Alaska in February is minus 30. Last Monday it was 28 degrees. Today it is 15, and the highs are forecast to be above zero all week.
Consider this revolting bit of news from Pro Publica:
Not content with billions of dollars in profits from the potent painkiller OxyContin, its maker explored expanding into an “attractive market” fueled by the drug’s popularity — treatment of opioid addiction, according to previously secret passages in a court document filed by the state of Massachusetts.…which calls to mind a filthy old poem of the people, slightly adapted here:
In internal correspondence beginning in 2014, Purdue Pharma executives discussed how the sale of opioids and the treatment of opioid addiction are “naturally linked” and that the company should expand across “the pain and addiction spectrum,” according to redacted sections of the lawsuit by the Massachusetts attorney general. A member of the billionaire Sackler family, which founded and controls the privately held company, joined in those discussions and urged staff in an email to give “immediate attention” to this business opportunity, the complaint alleges.
There once was a whore named Purdue
Who filled her vagina with glue.
Said she with a grin,
“They paid to get in,
And they’ll pay to get out again too.”
Back when the world was young and Jimmy Carter was president I was chief of public affairs for the Federal Aviation Administration. Once I gave a talk to a classroom full of air traffic control trainees at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, for reasons that escape my memory. What I do remember, though, is that each desk was equipped with a small button.
What gives? Well, I was told, if a student doesn’t understand something you just said, he hits his private button and that little light on your podium there tells you to go over it again. Couldn’t the student just raise his hand, though? Well, no, he might be afraid of looking stupid or maybe he’s shy. Whatever. The point is that every single trainee has got to understand every single thing we’re trying to teach him. Up in that tower they only give out two grades. Zero or 100.
The so-called “president” might want to think of that before he dumps any more shit on our unpaid air traffic controllers.
Just when you thought good news had vanished from the face of the earth, along comes this from The Associated Press:
The Kilauea volcano eruption did not critically damage sea turtle populations on the Big Island, according to a survey conducted by a Hawaii wildlife conservation group.
The Hawaii Wildlife Fund determined this month that lava did not harm turtle populations despite the persistence of unsubstantiated claims warning of turtle deaths during the eruption that began in May, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.
The wildlife organization conducted two helicopter flights above the lava-impacted coastline, observing 50 live turtles and other sea life. Turtle experts also were consulted for the survey, who agreed that sea turtles were likely able to escape lava en masse, said Kallie Barnes, the organization’s education coordinator.
From my frontal lobe, Wikipedia:
Under the separation of powers created by the United States Constitution, the United States Congress has the sole power of the purse and responsibility for appropriating government funds. Like other bills, appropriations must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Upon passage of a final version by both houses, they go to the President of the United States. If the President signs the bills, they become law. If instead the President vetoes them, they go back to Congress, where the veto can (in rare instances) be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses.
Just ran across a 1993 New York Times story quoting Norman Ture, head of the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation and a Treasury official in the Reagan administration. It fits nicely with yesterday’s post:
"The top 1 percent are the most productive people in the country. If you think this will have no effect on their contribution to the economy’s progress, then you have to assume they are very peculiar human beings.”Most productive? Their contribution, if it goes beyond spending inherited money, amounts to manipulating other people’s energy for their own profit. A few of the one-percenters may, like Bill Gates, produce something. Most will be parasites like Ross Perot, taxing the flow of paper and dollar instruments produced by the 99 percent.
There’s hardly a millionaire CEO in the country who wouldn’t argue that high wages are necessary to attract the very best type of CEO, such as his own self. Paying less would leave the stockholders at the mercy of a less competent and less efficient steward entirely.
But not a one of these CEOs, obscenely overpaid or merely grossly so, would extend that argument to the workers on his shop floor. Only a fool would think that higher wages might attract better employees, more efficient, diligent and reliable. Somehow the laboring classes do not respond to the motivation of larger paychecks, while managers would hardly exist without it.
Jan 9, 2019 09:36:05 AM the leader of the free world tweeted:
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest fires that, with proper Forrest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!
Jan 9, 2019 10:25:43 AM the leader of the free world tweeted:
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!Can you spot the difference? Who did?
From the so-called “president’s” ghost-written effusion, The Art of the Deal:
Mayor Koch has achieved something quite miraculous. He’s presided over an administration that is both pervasively corrupt and totally incompetent . . . . No fewer than a dozen Koch appointees and cohorts have been indicted on charges of bribery, perjury, and accepting kickbacks, or have been forced to resign in disgrace after admitting ethical transgressions . . . . The irony is that Koch made his reputation by boasting about his integrity and incorruptibility. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that if the people he appoints prove to be corrupt, then in the end he must take the responsibility. To the contrary, at the first hint that any of his friends might be in trouble, Koch can’t run fast enough the other way.