Thursday, May 26, 2016


We read today that Bernie Sanders has announced his appointments to the Platform Committee of the Democratic National Convention, including James Zogby and infamous Princeton University Professor Cornel West.

This Cornel West?

Yup, that guy.  Leaving aside his insane hatred of President Barack Obama, whom most would regard as the head of the Democratic Party whose platform Professor West will help write, it's even harder to overlook his equally cracked hatred of Jews, as expressed by his support for the so-called BDS movement, which is nothing more than the old Arab boycott intended to destroy Israel dressed up with a web site and credulous British students.

We haven't forgotten Zogby either.  He too is a big fan of the BDS economic war on Israel.

Now we would be the last to demand that Sanders's appointees agree with the Likud Party position on all matters related to U.S. Israel policy.  But there's a wide gap between criticizing Bibi Netanyahu's policy of eternal conflict and occupation and advocating the destruction of the State of Israel.  That gap is in fact as wide as J Street, no fan of the current Israeli government.  Here's what they had to say about the BDS movement:
J Street is on the front lines fighting against BDS, particularly on campus where we confront resolutions that often serve as thinly veiled attempts to delegitimize Israel. The most effective way to counter the BDS movement is to take steps to end the occupation and to reach a two-state solution to the conflict.
Apparently Bernie Sanders either can't distinguish legitimate concerns about Israeli policy from anti-Semitism or he's so eager to embarrass Hillary Clinton that he doesn't much care.  In either case, Sanders's idiotic appointments to the Platform Committee are like the proverbial thirteenth tick of the clock: not only are they absurd in themselves, but they call everything that came before them into question.

The Editors

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hot off the Trail: Saving Kelly "Profile in Courage" Ayotte

By David Bloviator
Political Editor

One of the many joys of living in Boston is the ability to enjoy political advertising aimed at the wilderness to our north, otherwise known as New Hampshire.  Most N.H. voters get Boston local stations on their cable, so well-heeled political types buy expensive Boston TV time to reach a small minority of viewers up in Black Fly Country.

Running now are ads from the loathsome U.S. Chamber of Commerce, desperate to prop up incumbent Senator Kelly “Profile in Courage” Ayotte.  Eager to distract voters from parsing Sen. Ayotte's bizarre linguistic effort to “support,” but not “endorse” the tangerine-faced clown in the fright wig who is also her party's nominee for President (thanks in large part to New Hampshire voters), the U.S. Chamber has launched an attack ad on Sen. Ayotte's opponent, Gov. Maggie Hassan.

The U.S. Chamber spot accuses Gov. Hassan of at various times in her long political career supporting $1 billion in spending “for her.”  Did Maggie Hassan really vote to divert a billion dollars from the New Hampshire Treasury into her own pocket?  If so that would be quite the story.

Normally, we'd search this on Google, but since Google supports the U.S. Chamber and its muck-spreading, we think we'll follow up elsewhere and tell Google to go bing themselves.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Contagion and brain damage: GOP House shrugs off Zika

By Vincent Boom Batz, M.D.
Health Correspondent with
David Bloviator in Washington

Americans, used to thinking that the nation's number one public health menace was Charlie Sheen, are now confronting the imminent specter of mosquito-borne Zika viruses spreading into any parts of the nation where mosquitoes can be found.

Fortunately, the House Republican caucus is on the job.  Yesterday it authorized an inadequate amount of money to protect Americans from Zika.  The prospect of widespread birth defects paled in their minds when compared to their overriding priorities: saying no to anything put forward by President Obama, and screwing the poor.

Vermin, parasites threatening public health
Not only is the total amount laughably inadequate but it also must be offset by budget cuts elsewhere, unlike multi-trillion-dollar GOP tax cuts for the rich.  This is known in the Republican caucus as “fiscal responsibility.”

The threat is greatest in hot, swampy, heavily populated areas like east Texas.  So of course local Republicans like human fly Louis Gohmert (R – Crazytown), voted, wait for it, against adequate funding to protect constituents from the grim effects of Zika.  He's still an overwhelming favorite for re-election.

You might that the likelihood of infants born with serious brain damage due to pre-natal Zika exposure would be a matter of some concern to First District voters, but apparently in that part of the fever swamp that is Texas, brain damage isn't a public health crisis, it's a qualification for elective office.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rewriting history, consensus edition

By Douglas MacArthur
National Security Correspondent

We always like to hear what our old Ec. 10 section mates are up to, so we read with some interest Eliot Cohen's '77 op-ed column in today's New York Times, in which he accuses one Donald Trump of threatening the “two-generation-old American foreign policy consensus” that has brought this country to the happy situation it finds itself in today, immersed in no fewer than seven foreign wars.

This puts the tangerine-faced clown on the opposite side of the consensus represented by Eliot, and other stalwarts of bipartisan U.S. foreign policy like George W. Bush and U.S. National Security Adviser Bibi Netanyahu.  Now we hold no brief for said clown, whose foreign policy of cozying up to dictators who flatter him and shunning democratic allies who wound him is best thought of as the strategy of a middle-school girl trying to decide whom she should sit with at lunch.

Eliot Cohen '77, shown here explaining how close we are to
victory in Iraq.
But we wondered a little about Eliot's precious “consensus” to which he attaches such importance.  Keep in mind that Eliot represents the virulent strain of neocon warmongering that led to disaster in Iraq, not to mention certain misadventures two generations ago in a place called Vietnam.  We remember only a little about those days, but it didn't feel to us much like consensus.

Speaking of consensus, here's what Eliot had to say in 2003, after it became clear to the meanest intelligence that Bush, advised by Eliot's gang of armchair warriors, had launched an unnecessary war of choice and thereby blundered into the quagmire in Iraq that has bedeviled us ever since:
To some of Mr. Bush's admirers, like Eliot A. Cohen, a military expert at Johns Hopkins University, tonight's speech was ''an overdue explaining of the case -- he has a sophisticated argument to make about changing Iraq and making it a decent place and a role model for the Mideast, but he doesn't make it often enough,'' or in enough detail. ''I'm struck by the fact that the view of elites, Democrats and Republicans, is that this has to be made to work, and the argument is over how.''  (The New York Times, Sept. 8, 2003).
By the way, here's how the Iraqi consensus was regarded in the same article:
To his critics -- including most of the Democratic presidential aspirants, who believe that Mr. Bush's initial go-it-alone instincts have become his biggest political vulnerability -- the president is wrongly blending the war against terrorism with the effort to build a stable Iraq.
''I think it bears little to no resemblance to the war on terrorism,'' said James Steinberg, who served as President Clinton's deputy national security adviser and is now a scholar at the Brookings Institution. ''There was a theory in this White House that if you were just tough, and knocked Saddam and those like him off, people would not mess with you anymore,'' he said tonight. ''They would no longer regard you as weak.
''Now there is a risk that our muscularity, if not used in a smart way, could make us more vulnerable, not less.'' 
Ya think?

But flash forward to 2016, and the brutal controversy over Iraq has vanished down a memory hole at Johns Hopkins University.  It's been replaced by trade agreements that give to drug and tobacco companies dispute-resolution rights denied to union members and ordinary citizens and promotion of “American values,” such as overthrowing foreign leaders just to show we can without regard to the dangerous power vacuum that invariably ensued and outsourcing U.S.-Iran relations to the Likud Party.
The tangerine-faced clown's foreign policy may be ridiculous, but it doesn't scare us half as much as the recrudescence of neocon drum-beating, the results of which can be seen in Veteran's Administration hospitals and outpatient clinics across the land.

As for Eliot's efforts to bury the disastrous consequences of the foreign policies he fought so hard for from his bunker on Massachusetts Avenue NW, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, doesn't he know that there's an Internet?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It Can't Happen Here

“In England [in 1936], as in the United States, millions were jobless. . . .Meanwhile, the demagogic Sir Oswald Mosley led an increasingly aggressive British Union of Fascists, its militants dressed in black tunics, black trousers, and wide black leather belts with brass buckles.  Whenever Mosley was heckled at one of his rallies, he stopping speaking and searchlights focused on the heckler as jackbooted men beat him and then threw him out of the hall.”

– A. Hochschild, Spain in Their Hearts at 94.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Empathy on Capitol Hill: A Beginner's Guide

By Tommy Corcoran
Capitol Hill Correspondent

It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by today's New York Times story on Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – Bay of Pigs) and her realization that hatred and bigotry directed at trans people are in fact hatred and bigotry.  Unlike most of the rest of us, who were able to tease out this conclusion from our general views about human dignity, she reached this unremarkable conclusion because she has a trans child whom she loves.

How nice.

Now that she has seen the light on equal treatment for trans individuals, perhaps her personal journey of growth will take a few more steps.  We might suggest:

1.  Meet a 12-year-old girl who was impregnated following a rape by a relative.  If she did, maybe she wouldn't consistently vote against access to safe, legal abortion and for defunding Planned Parenthood, a vital source of health services to women.

2.  Meet a hungry family.  Maybe then she wouldn't have voted to cut food stamp funding.

3.  Meet a part-time worker with a sick child.  Then maybe she wouldn't have voted to increase the threshold for employer-provided health insurance to 40 hours a week, thereby allowing Wal-Mart to evade the requirement to provide health insurance to its employees.

4.  Meet a child poisoned by polluted water.  Then maybe she wouldn't have voted to strip EPA of the power to regulate the discharge of dangerous pesticides into the water supply.

5.  Meet an unemployed worker.  Then maybe she wouldn't have voted against infrastructure spending that would have provided tens of thousands of good jobs for unemployed or underemployed factory workers or miners.

Yes, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's journey to empathy looks like a long one, perhaps even longer than her dream of restoring plutocracy to Cuba.  Wish her (and us) luck.

Information about her voting record extracted from NARAL and ADA records.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why We Fight, Chapter 38,769

After years of failed overtures, representatives of Mr. Hekmatyar, whose location is unknown, are now said to be finalizing a peace agreement with the struggling government of President Ashraf Ghani, according to representatives from both sides.

. . . .

Many fear Mr. Hekmatyar, known for his habit of breaking alliances, could be a larger political headache in Kabul than he is a military one in the battlefield, at a time when Mr. Ghani’s coalition administration is already bogged down with infighting. Although forces loyal to Mr. Hekmatyar have attacked sporadically — including a 2013 car bombing that killed 16 people, including six American advisers — they have never been considered as serious a threat as the Taliban or the Haqqani network.

Still, Mr. Hekmatyar is exceptionally divisive. He is accused of causing the deaths of thousands during the civil war, including the indiscriminate shelling of Kabul — much like rival warlords who are now allied with the government or have positions within it. After receiving copious cash and weaponry from the Americans during the war against the Soviets, he threw in his lot with remnants of the Communist government, then briefly with Taliban, and then Al Qaeda. In July last year, he was even rumored to have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, though his aides later denied it.

Through it all, he has remained a prolific writer. He frequently sends letters to his commanders and has published dozens of books on political and religious matters, with titles including “Afghanistan – Another Vietnam for America,” “Dreams and Interpretations,” and “Bush, the King of Liars.” [Hard to argue with that one – Ed.] More recently, he has also taken to recorded video messages, modulating his voice like a state-TV anchor as he recites long lectures and answers recorded questions.

 . . . .

According to officials on both sides of the negotiation, some of the last points of disagreement were 
the timing of removing Mr. Hekmatyar and the Hezb-i-Islami militant wing from American and United Nations terrorism lists, and whether Mr. Hekmatyar is willing to renounce relations with extremist groups outside Afghanistan.

Mr. Hekmatyar’s group is demanding to be taken off the terrorism lists before signing the agreement, while American officials have said the process takes time and can happen only after a formal request from the Afghan government when the agreement is signed  . . . .

The New York Times, May 11, 2016

The climate changes

It's funny how when it's an SEC liability document, even an oil company has to admit that climate change represents a risk, not necessarily to you or me, but to it.  Here's what Phillips 66 said in its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K: