Saturday, October 31, 2015

Nothing to See Here- Just Move Along

Only two weeks or so after the strongest hurricane ever recorded hit the Pacific coast of Mexico, a tropical cyclone (a.k.a. hurricane) is about to hit the coast of Yemen.  This storm, the strongest ever recorded this far south in the Indian Ocean, and the second strongest overall, is about to dump eight years of rainfall on the coast of Yemen in two days.

And let's not forget Hurricane Joaquin, which turned out to sea, but could have been another Hurricane Sandy striking the East coast, just a few weeks ago, and a couple of "supertyphoons" that have hit Asia.

Nothing to notice here, folks.  These things come and go without reason.  And don't forget that, after Noah's flood, God promised us that he would never do that sort of thing again.

Meanwhile, the nation's richest family is spending millions to stop the spread of solar energy, and we won't even start in on the Koch brothers and their ilk, or the treacherous, lying Exxon Mobil.

Global warming?  Totally false.  It's either an inscrutable con game, or actually a religion, don't you know.  A few more years and we will be having hurricanes in Wisconsin and Siberia, but don't worry.  It won't affect you.  That is, if you are rich enough to hop in your private jet and go somewhere else.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Working the Refs

Well, now that the dust has cleared from the most recent Republican excuse for a debate, it is becoming more clear what they accomplished.  Here's a short list:

1.  Managing to define the totally business-controlled CNBC as a dastardly part of the "liberal press," out to do them harm by asking any question they don't find it convenient to answer.

2.  Finally make it totally legitimate to deal with any question that challenges them in any way, by ignoring it and simply going off on a tirade against the press, accompanied by thunderous applause from their hand-picked audience of ignorant savages.

This method of dealing with things was, of course, raised from an occasional dodge to SOP by Sarah Palin. This is one of the legacies that she left us:  utterly misplaced anger is now a substitute to answering a question.

3.  By canceling the upcoming debate that was to have been run by NBC, they have established that they do not need to have even the pretense that this is a real effort to examine the candidates' beliefs.  They are now free to run these debates as nothing but a cynical political sideshow; a self-awarded freedom they will certainly take advantage of.

4. Surrendering to the candidates the right to determine what sort of questions get asked.  Given the cynical bunch of grifters they have assembled, you can imagine how that will work out.

There has been a decade long (at least) trend among Republican candidates to insist that they not be forced to answer any questions they don't want to, or submit to anything even resembling an impartial interview.  They have turned the right of the public to know who the candidates are, into the right of the candidates to have nothing known about them except their packaged publicity.  This is ideal for Republicans, of course, because their real agenda- stripping the country of its wealth, to give to their rich backers- is hardly likely to have widespread appeal.  In order to win elections, it is vital to them that they prevent any real information about themselves from seeing the light of day.  This newest manipulation of the debate process is one more step toward an election process that is as forthright as a Volkswagen pollution control system.



Update:  I see the following today at Think Progress:

"Top Republicans Seek To End Most Debating, Replace It With Infomercial 

Ben Carson is seeking to rally Republican candidates to end most actual debating at future Republican debates. Instead, candidates would spend most of their time taking turns delivering speeches. 

Carson’s campaign is convening a meeting of various campaigns on Sunday night. The campaigns will discuss Carson’s proposal, which includes “a minimum of five minutes for opening and closing statements with all major declared GOP candidates on stage.” There are currently 14 candidates that have regularly been appearing in debates. Giving them five minutes each for opening and closing statements would take 140 minutes, which is more than the total time for a typical two hour debate."

Pretty much just what I said.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jeb?

The conventional wisdom today, as stated by Digby:

"He’ll almost certainly trudge on for a while, but it’s clear his heart is not in it anymore, if it ever was."

Not that I wish to pick on Digby, because everyone is saying the same thing.  But does anyone think that, after years of preparation and work, Bush suddenly decided he didn't care about being President? Particularly when you consider that all it would have taken was a marginally passable performance; all the big money guys were ready to fall in line behind him, virtually guaranteeing him the Republican nomination.

No, the reason for his failure is not that he suddenly sat down on the side of the road like the hare in the fable, and let all the tortoises pass him by.  The real answer, I suspect, is that this is who he really is- a stodgy, vapid man who felt his family's position entitled him to the Republican nomination; a man who wanted it plenty badly, but didn't really bother to prepare to get it, because he believed it was already his for the asking.

So, it's time to send another spurt of hatred in the direction of the stupid Florida voters who made him Governor, and thereby gave him a national platform.  Not the stupidest they have ever been- after Bush they elected and then re-elected one of the worst corporate criminals in American history.  But let us not forget that these miserable, ignorant Republican voters in Florida put Bush in a position to rig the election that saddled us with his brother as President- by far the worst President in our history.  Jeb! is not just George W's brother; he was a key part of the criminal conspiracy that produced the Iraq war and the supply-side depression.

And still, don't forget that he is not gone.  The money guys are just not going to trust Trump or Carson or Cruz, because they know those three are deeply delusional cranks.  And I don't think they are going to believe that the little weasel Marco Rubio is up to the job of protecting their ownership of the country either.  So, if Bush is sensible, and goes into a political rope-a-dope until the inevitable self-inflicted disintegration of these other candidates, he could emerge again this spring, as still the favorite of his fellow rich guys.  Remember, that at this time in 2008, John McCain was virtually written off, yet he ended up with the nomination, because he was the only one the rich donors really trusted. The same thing happened with Mitt Romney, despite his obvious deficiencies as a candidate. They trust Jeb! too, so don't count him out.  As long as he can shrug off the humiliation of getting abused by right wing cranks at the debates, he may very well be their candidate; at which time the Republican rank and file will, as usual, forget completely what a worthless jerk he is, and decide that he is just the thing to save the country from eight years of Democratic peace and economic growth.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Lakers and the Republicans

Opening night.  The Lakers at home were up by 16 points in the third quarter.  Then they took Kobe out of the game.  And that was that- Good bye Charlie.

The Republicans tonight were just like the Lakers.  Except they didn't have Kobe.  So they were a pack of losers from start to finish.

Maybe it was something astrological.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sometimes The Free Market Does Work

Remember Martin Shkreli, the miserable excuse for a human being who bought the rights to make a pharmaceutical and raised its price from $13.50 a dose to $750?  Well, here is what happened:

"Imprimis Pharmaceuticals is offering a “customizable compounded formulations” of the two main ingredients in Turing Pharmaceuticals’ Daraprim, which is typically used to treat toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. The drug is particularly critical for pregnant women and those infected with immunodeficiency disorders like HIV/AIDS. Their version of the pill will be available for less than a dollar per capsule, according to a press release. A 100-pill bottle will sell for as low at $99, the company said."

Live by the sword, etc.  I have to say that this is one time that the free market system dealt one greedy bastard just what he deserved.  I hope his investment is looking good to him now.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Here's a graphic of some poll results about why people in Iowa like Ben Carson, from MSNBC, via Crooks and Liars.  If you are still not quite sure how utterly deranged the Republican base is, this should pretty well answer the question:

1.  He is ignorant
2.  He is a racist religious fanatic
3.  He is willing to tell any monstrous lie that pops into his head
4.  He is willing to prostitute his own race, and deny healthcare to tens of millions of people, to help large corporations make profits.

That is certainly a list of recommendations, isn't it?  This is how far the Republicans have gone in recent decades to breed a hate-filled, irrational, greedy, ignorant base.  With one of our two parties depending on people like this, we are sunk.  And yet there seems to be no way to break through the impervious barrier of smug, self-satisfied stupidity which allows them to continue to exist.

Well, it's Saturday.  Have a nice day.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Wingnut Wrapup- Special Benghazi Edition

Benghazi is over?  Not likely.  The Republicans cannot leave it at this point, with Hillary having stomped them into the ground and made them look like the dishonest demagogues they are, on national TV for eleven hours.  They were reeling a bit after the end of the hearings, but they have to begin the task of rewriting history to blot out this colossal humiliation.

And remember something I have said before:  the number of people who saw any part of these hearings, or any other political event, is very small compared to the number that will be told by the right wing media what happened.  In the end, their constituency will jump at any chance to believe the worst about Hillary; obviously, without that being true, the Benghazi frenzy could have never existed at all.

So, on the day after the hearings, here's how things stand:

Caleb Howe, Red State:  "Back To The Past: Dems Still Blame A Video For Benghazi"

No they don't.  They stopped doing that about two days after the attack, when they figured out that early reports were wrong.  But that seems to be all the people at Red State could think of to blame Hillary for, so they are running with it.

Bridget Johnson, PJ Media:  "Hillary to Benghazi Committee: You Need to Learn ‘Lesson’ of the YouTube Video"

Again, not one word about the eleven hours of partisan grilling that Hillary withstood; just one more misleading smear designed to trigger the Pavlovian responses of the wingnuts.

And, let's be clear about one thing:  Hillary, learning lessons is not something Republicans do.

Bridget Johnson, PJ Media:  "Clinton to Benghazi Committee: ‘I’ve Lost More Sleep Than All of You Put Together’

Finally, a lie that Hillary told!  Trey Gowdy alone lost more sleep than Hillary, salivating about the chance to make himself a right wing hero by humiliating her in public.

Debra Heine, PJ Media:  "How Democrats Are Politicizing the Benghazi Investigation...Democrats plan to "walk through evidence that is favorable to Clinton"

The horror!  Walking through the evidence!  Surely the Democrats can count on the Republican majority to present the evidence in a non-partisan, even handed way, right?  I mean, the Republicans are only after the truth- they told us so themselves.

Jim Hoft (of course,) Gateway Pundit:  "PATHETIC GOP Forgot to Ask Hillary About These Three DAMNING ITEMS on Benghazi"

And what were the three DAMNING ITEMS?

"1.) Al-Qaeda presence in Benghazi was undeniable."

And?  I guess the Republicans weren't interested in what really happened there, just in whatever they could manufacture to tar Hillary.  Otherwise, maybe they would have brought that up.  But no, Sidney Blumenthal was a far greater threat to the country than Al Qaeda.

"2.) Ambassador Stevens’s final journal entry on the September 11, 2012, was a request for more security."

Of course, that certainly was brought up, but dropped like a hot potato when Hillary started to talk about the $500 million that Congressional Republicans cut from the State Department's funds for embassy and consulate security.

"3.) There is email evidence first reported at Judicial Watch that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton plotted to blame the Benghazi terrorist attack on the “God versus Allah” video by Pastor Jon Courson before they settled on the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video."

They "plotted" to blame the video: i.e. for the first couple of days, they thought the video was a major factor, because that is what our intelligence agents believed.  I.E. they "plotted" to tell the truth; a major crime to Republicans.  And Jim's big conclusion:

"Republicans forgot to ask these questions on Thursday.  And Hillary walks."

After the Republicans' pathetic performance on their big day in the sun, they are lucky that she didn't dance out of the room in a tutu.

And this selection of random posts from Jim:

"CONFIRMED: Hillary Clinton Repeatedly Lied Under Oath During Benghazi Committee Hearing"

"Rudy Giuliani on Hillary’s Benghazi Testimony: This Seals the Case “She’s Lying”

"Benghazi Victim’s Uncle: “Hillary Clinton Is a Serial Liar” – Should Resign from Running for Office"

"SMOKING GUN! FOX Analyst Reports on Bombshell Benghazi Evidence That Sinks Hillary Clinton"

All of this "serial lying" revolves around the White House's initial understanding of what happened, and the famous anti-Muslim video.  Three years, and that- a claim which has been totally discredited a thousand times- is all they came up with.  Good work, guys.  Now, how about giving our $4.7 million dollars back?

And as for you, Jim, isn't repeating a lie once enough?  You have to devote four posts to it?  I guess there's a reason they call you the Stupidest Man on the Internet.

Jim Kouri, Renew America:  "Clinton and news media treat Trey Gowdy like a 'bimbo eruption'

And?  What's your point?

Here's a little more from Jim Koury:

"Unfortunately, thanks to Democratic Party's lock-stepped stonewalling and media-generated tactics, Gowdy and his panel have been attacked and their efforts to getting to the truth labeled a witch hunt by some reporters and pundits...Hillary Clinton is benefiting from an in-house propagenda machine coupled with a news media that would greatly impress Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels..."

Joseph Goebbels.  What else can you expect?  If you've got nothing else, compare your enemies to Nazis.  That's always a good strategy.  And by the way, who could read the list of articles in this one post of mine and not see which party is marching in lockstep?

Brendan Bordelon, National Review:  "Benghazi Committee Bombshell: Clinton Knew ‘Attack Had Nothing to Do with the Film’

Bombshell.  Again, this pathetic lie about the video is all they have.  The facts behind its influence on the situation in Libya have been known for three years, and they do not support the right wing claims.  But I guess you have to go to war with the bombshell you have, not the one you spent millions of dollars and the time of eight committees to find.

And this article from just before the hearings:

Andrew McCarthy, National Review:  "Hillary Clinton has done Trey Gowdy an enormous favor. In anticipation of her testimony on Thursday before the Benghazi select committee he chairs, and with a lot of Republican help, she has framed the committee as a partisan political witch-hunt obsessed with dashing her presidential ambitions. To regain credibility, all Gowdy needs to do is demonstrate that it is not. Meaning: all Gowdy needs to do is focus on why the United States had its officials stationed in Benghazi, one of the world’s most dangerous places for Americans."

Whoops, Andy.  I guess he didn't read your column.  Because instead he focused on Sidney Blumenthal.  How did that work out for him?  Even your normally uncritical supporters in the mainstream press haven't been able to turn yesterday into anything but a rout.

Daniel John Sobieski, American Thinker:  "Hillary and the Video Lie"

And again.  Three years, and this pathetic distortion is all they have.  But it is enough for them.

Patricia McCarthy, American Thinker:  "Ambassador Stevens is Dead, Hillary is Alive, and the Truth is on the Run...We are supposed to believe that the Benghazi hearings are a partisan exercise to bring down Hillary Clinton.   A State Department outpost for which she was responsible was violently attacked by terrorists.  It was a planned attack.  She knew that immediately but lied to the public and even dithered about which YouTube video to blame."

Again.  It is all they've got- a simple lie about what Obama and Hillary did.  Just to add insult to injury, Patricia adds this:

"To this day the Left continues to besmirch George W. Bush for his invasion of Iraq even though every Western intelligence agency agreed that Saddam indeed did have weapons of mass destruction and was likely to use them...And he was a genocidal maniac who had murdered thousands..."

"every Western intelligence agency agreed"... now there really is a lie worth talking about.  And Bush's response to Saddam's having murdered thousands of Iraqis?  Why, to murder hundreds of thousands of them, just to prove who is boss, I guess.  Anyway, there is a shred of truth to what Patricia says:  we don't blame George W. Bush; we blame Bush and Dick Cheney.

"John Nolte, Breitbard:  "Timeline: Gowdy Committee Verifies Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Coverup"

The same thing again.  They are pinning their entire years long smear campaign on a long discredited claim about what was known in the first day after the attack, and claiming a Republican victory in the hearings for having brought it up.

And the most deluded comment of them all:

Thomas Lifson, American Thinker:  "Both sides can claim triumph on Hillary's Benghazi testimony"

You just keep telling yourself that, buddy.

Enough.  I could go on and on with this.  Three years, countless millions of taxpayer dollars stolen, eight "investigations," and all they have found is that, in the first day after the attack, Hillary and Obama thought the anti-Muslim video played a larger part in inciting the Benghazi attack than it actually did; a misperception which they corrected within a couple of days, but is now being trumpeted as some massive, deliberate lie told for partisan purposes (which, of course, they have never been able to explain.)  Certainly, anyone who has followed politics, or school shootings, or much of anything else in the news knows that, immediately after the event, our understanding of what happened is likely to be wrong.  Obama and Hillary wasted no time in correcting their public statements about their understanding of the Benghazi attack.  To adjust your statements in accord with known facts should be an act deserving of praise; but not to Republicans, whose chief virtue seems to rest in telling the same lies year after year; and this is just one more example.

I am confident that, in coming days and weeks, as Conservative shellshock from the drubbing they received in front of the nation wears off, we will hear even more disingenuous, far-fetched explanations of why Hillary deserves to be destroyed.  But even if it stops here, their lies have significantly damaged the public's perception of her, so as disgusting as their behavior is, as Kevin McCarthy accidentally pointed out, it has accomplished their goal.

__________________________________________________________________________
Meanwhile, it is helpful to see the right wingers try to blow the death of a single U.S. soldier in a successful rescue of 70 hostages held by ISIS, into the next Benghazi:

Cortney O'Brien, Town Hall:  "US Soldier Killed in Iraq Hostage Raid, Pentagon Calls it an 'Advise-and-assist Mission'

A Soldier died!  No praise for saving 70 people from certain death. No mention of the 5,000 soldiers that Bush and Cheney killed for nothing, or of Bush and Cheney having essentially created ISIS through their political and military incompetence.  AND, the Pentagon calls it by a funny name instead of calling it "Operation Exterminate the Muslims" or something.  That proves that Obama (and Hillary too, I am sure) are lying about something.  Let's spend a few years trying to pin this one on them.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Call Me Crazy

People keep asking, "why are the Republicans so obsessed with Sidney Blumenthal, who had absolutely nothing to do with Benghazi?'

Well, here's the reason, I think:  Blumenthal is a Jewish name.  The miserable, disgusting Republicans, by constantly harping on Blumenthal's advice to Hillary, are sending a dog-whistle message to their hate filled supporters that Hillary Clinton is controlled by the Jews.

Like I said, call me crazy, but that is what I think is going on.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Palestinians Are Now Demonstrably Insane

Or else they are the most cynical pack of liars in the world today.  I guess the latter is more likely.

Let's consider how things have been going there.  We know that Israel has been plagued by a seemingly endless round of knife attacks on Jews, people mowed down by Palestinians driving cars, and on and on.  The stated justification for this, from both the street thugs and the Palestinian leaders, is the utterly baseless claim that Israel is up to some sort of plot to change the agreement under which Muslims have set the rules for the Temple Mount since the 1967 war:

"The wave of violence comes in the wake of tensions related to the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary in Jerusalem. For years, there have been accusations among Palestinians and across the region of a conspiracy by Israel to “Judaize” Jerusalem, particularly when it comes to this shared holy site...

The widespread conspiracy theories about nefarious efforts for Jews to remove Muslims from the site have become a daily feature in the Arab and Muslim world. At the same time, a group of Palestinians formed the Murabitun/Murabitat group, who are supported by the Islamic Movement in Israel, who harass (at times violently) non-Muslims and particularly Jewish visitors to the site. 

In recent weeks tensions have intensified even more...(Abbas) dedicated much of his speech before the U.N. General Assembly to the topic with accusations and misrepresentations of history."


  These rules, which permit only Muslims to pray there, and which allow an unceasing round of stone attacks launched by Muslim men on people below the Temple Mount are certainly so unfair toward non-Muslims that they ought to be changed, but in a conciliatory gesture, and out of fear for the violence that any change would incite, the Israelis have allowed this miserable behavior to continue.

Well, the violence triggered by what they all know are lies would be bad enough, but it only sets the stage for the truly insane element of this.  The Palestinians are now insisting that, not only does the Temple Mount belong to them, but also the Western Wall and its plaza, which lie outside the Temple Mount and never had a thing to do with Muslims, but constitute the most sacred site for Jews, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, occupying the site where Christ is believed to have been crucified, and the holiest site for Christians.  Here is Mr. Abbas, held up far and wide as a moderate Palestinian voice and champion of peace, stating their position clearly, in deliberately crude and hostile terms:

“Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem,” Abbas said in his Ramallah office during a meeting with east Jerusalem activists.
Abbas said the Palestinians were determined to prevent Israel from passing its scheme to “divide” the Aksa Mosque compound
“Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every shahid (martyr) will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded, by Allah’s will.”

Christians, let me stop here and give you a warning:  The "Palestinian" Muslims will not stop with killing the Jews and destroying their history.  This talk of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre shows clearly that you are next.  You'd better deal with that before thinking that even so-called moderate Palestinian leaders are anything but violent, terrorist murderers.

If you are interested, by the way, and if you have a strong stomach, here is a video of Abbas saying part of this:



The insanity of actually doing openly what they falsely accuse Jews of doing is almost too much to believe.  And the notion that their fantasies justify murderous violence, while others are supposed to just stand by and give in to their hatred and their violence is a likely sign that they are all past any hope of wanting to live in peace with anyone else.

The Palestinians just attempted to have UNESCO, whose board (which votes on such things) has a majority of Muslim members, declare that both the Western Wall plaza and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre belong to Muslims to run as they please.  This was only averted at the last minute, but the UNESCO board still passed the rest of a six page Palestinian proposal full of other equally sickening incitements.  And they will be back soon with their attempt to seize the holiest sites of other religions; at the same time screaming and killing over a nonexistent threat that others will do the same to them.

These people do not want peace.  They are determined to have war, endless war until, as they think, the rest of the world will get so tired that they will give in and let them have what they want; at which point they will begin the same process all over again, in India, or the former Ottoman provinces in Europe, or in Spain, or Nigeria.  There is no dealing with them; no negotiating, no good will, no honorable agreements, nothing except endless conflict, in which their massive propaganda operation manages to always portray themselves as the victims.  Resist, and you will find your country turned into Syria.  Acquiesce and you are signing your own death warrant.

A Little Quiz

Suggested by my son.  He wondered how many people can tell who this is:
Care to take a guess?

Joe Caves

After seven years of playing nice old uncle Joe, just about everyone seems to have forgotten that Biden was part of a sort of triumvirate consisting of himself, Dick Gephart and Tom Daschle, who were the effective Senate leaders of the business friendly wing of the Democratic party, and who constantly frustrated efforts to turn the party in a progressive direction.

So, here is my theory about the great hoopla over Biden's now non-existent candidacy for President.  I have to admit that it is just based on my experience of how things work, and not on any smoking gun evidence, but I am pretty confident about this.  The DLC type sellouts in the Democratic party must have been watching in horror as Bernie Sanders' success has pulled Hillary to the left.  Biden would have been a force pulling her back in the pro-business direction they wanted, so they put tremendous pressure on him to run, not to win, but just to neutralize the effect of Bernie.

Well, here's the thing- I don't think Hillary is responding that much to Bernie.  I think she is finding her way bit by bit to a reasonably progressive set of positions which represents the best chance for her to be elected.  I suspect Biden saw this too, and decided that helping out his corporate buddies was not worth the immense antipathy that he would generate by damaging a very smooth Democratic nominating process, which stands in such positive contrast to what is going on with the Republicans.

A big part of the Democrats' appeal in 2016 is going to be that they are adults who deal with issues in a rational faction, as contrasted to a pack of infantile demagogues.  Biden's run would have seriously set back that narrative, so we can all be thankful that he saw the light.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Fears About a Shutdown

Here's something I have been worrying about the last few days:  We see the Republicans doing nothing to avert a government shutdown a few days from now.  I have begun to suspect that they don't want to prevent a shutdown, because they actually want to send the economy into a tailspin.  They have demonstrated that they are willing to damage the country to get what they want, and what I am afraid of now, is that they know it will be a lot easier for them to win the White House if the economy is terrible heading into the election.  In fact, given the pathetic collection of potential candidates they have, it may be their only chance.  So, I'm very afraid that they will be willing to cause any damage they have to in order to win.

Maybe this is just paranoia, but having watched their destructive behavior for so many years, I can't help but suspect that this is what they are up to.  I hope I am wrong, because we've seen how much malicious damage their tampering with the economy can do.  Every time they pull a trick like this they run the risk that things get totally out of their control, and the whole house of cards will come crashing down.  But they just don't seem to care, do they?

In the Tank for Republicans, as Usual

The press, of course.  If you have any doubts about what kind of treatment Hillary Clinton is going to get from the mainstream press between now and the election, this article, published yesterday in the Washington Post, supposedly one of our most respectable newspapers should disabuse you:

"Gowdy’s pleas to keep Benghazi probe above politics have gone unheeded 

Almost from the moment he was named chairman of the House investigation into the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has been insisting that he would keep the probe above the political fray. 

“There are certain things in our culture that have to transcend politics, and I don’t mean to sound naive, but the murder of four fellow Americans and an attack on a facility that is emblematic of our country should transcend politics,” Gowdy said on Fox News Channel the day after he was tapped to lead the Select Committee on Benghazi. 

In the 17 months since, his pleas have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears, deeply complicating Gowdy’s task as he prepares for the most closely scrutinized moment of the investigation: Thursday’s hearing featuring former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton."

The article goes on and on in this vein.  Remember that this was published concurrent with the revelation that Gowdy had criminally altered a document and then leaked it to the press, in order to make Hillary Clinton look guilty of revealing the name of a CIA asset, which he knew was a lie. Here is the Washington Post publishing this disgusting puff piece, which they knew perfectly well to be the complete opposite of the truth.

As I have said over and over again, the Democrats could crush the Republicans without even trying, but they cannot beat the Republicans and the press working together.  Well, this is what we are in store for in the coming year or so.  Remember that the right wing takeover of the press, like the right wing takeover of the Supreme Court, was not an accident, but a systematic, decades long effort, in this case made possible by the "deregulation" of press ownership by the Reagan administration.  This has been obvious all along, but Democrats let it happen out of fear that Republicans would say nasty things about them and hurt their feelings.  So here we are, in a sham democracy, with virtually no hope of going back even to the imperfect democracy we had up until the 1970's.  Welcome to the future.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Wingnut Wrapup

Well, between Trump and Jeb over whether Jeb's brother was President on 9-11, and the Benghazi committee self-destructing in one of the greatest specimens of Republican idiocy in recent times, it's hard for the wingnuts to outdo their leaders, but they are still trying. Let's just start off with a little wingnut reaction to the Democratic debate that took place on another planet than the one that was on CNN recently:

Jay Caruso, Red State:  "The Democrat Debate: As Horrible As You Think It Was...There were plenty of things that came out of the first Democrat debate last night. One of them was the conclusion that I would rather have flaming skewers shoved into my eyes and Mr. Blonde from the ‘Reservoir Dogs’ cut off my ears with a straight razor than have to sit through another one of these spectacles ever again. Forget waterboarding. “Watching Democrats debate” should be listed by the United Nations as one of the most extreme forms of torture ever devised...The event last night was not a “debate.” It was like a really bad variety show skit you might see at the Democratic National Convention: Grandma Moses And The Mosettes"

I'm not going to get into Jay's analysis of the individual candidates, except for this remark about Bernie Sanders:

"Bernie Sanders – I cannot stand Donald Trump, but at least he’s interesting to watch. Bernie Sanders is like Archie Bunker if you took away the bigotry"

Well, yeah, but what's your point?  People loved Archie Bunker except for the fact that he had the same piggish views that all Republicans have today.  Strip them away, and he might have been elected President too.

Leon H. Wolf, Red State:  "Hillary Clinton Was the Tallest Pygmy on Stage Last Night...I turned off the post-debate coverage last night because I simply could not stomach the feting Hillary Clinton was receiving..."

Can't handle the truth, huh, Leon?

Roger Simon, PJ Media:  "The Evil Party and the Stupid Party Debate"

Pretty much sums up Roger's viewpoint.  I'm not sure why it's evil and stupid to talk about the issues and not take cheap shots at each other for three hours, and reading Roger's article didn't really enlighten me.  Quel Surprise, huh?

World Net Daily:  "Hillary unhinged: Rails at GOP in Democratic debate"

Just not, apparently, the one that took place on earth last night.

G. Murphy Donovan, American Thinker:  "The first Democratic Party debate was everything we hoped it would not be: a boring coronation."

Oh well, the Republican debates were everything we thought they would be- a catalogue of various types of lunacy.  Can't wait for more of that.  And just one more right wing comment:

Ben Shapiro, Breitbart:  "Tuesday night’s debate featured a master class on lying from the lying liar who lies about her lies, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton"

So let me end this coverage of the right wing coverage with this historical reminder:  Remember the Bush-Gore debate where the polling immediately afterwards showed that Gore had badly beaten Bush?  That was followed by ten days of endless claims by the press that Bush had won the debate, resulting in the public, the great majority of whom had not heard the debate, deciding that Bush had in fact won.  So, this sort of thing is not just innocent merriment on the right, it is a continuation of their normal behavior, which is to lie about everything on earth, safe in the assumption that every lie they tell convinces some people.

Now, on to some other news items:

So, have you heard the horrible news?  I saw this myself in the supermarket the other day:

Brain cancer, blood clots, MS, strokes AND alcohol abuse.  And cruel Bill forcing her to stay on the campaign trail for some reason. And a bad photoshop job on the picture. The poor woman. And if that isn't bad enough, George dumps Amal!  Sad times we are living in.

Repair Man Jack, Red State:  "The Dark Side of Governor Moonbeam...Jerry Brown The Evil Materialist...Governor Jerry Brown plumbs to a depth of at least six feet under the ground. He has proven his indifference to the sanctity of life in end-of-life issues by signing an assisted suicide bill into law...In a sense, he has to. The ecology of the Post-modern Welfare State requires this."

Better that people at the end of their lives with no hope of anything but pain and suffering should have it prolonged, so Repair Man Jack can bow in obesiance to his evil God, who apparently rejoices at pointless human suffering.

Fox Poll:  "Hillary Trails All Republicans, Remains Strong Democratic Favorite"

Fox poll.  Enough said.

Guy Benson, Town Hall:  "Humiliation: Iran Test Fires Long-Range Missile, Possibly Violating Nuclear Deal"

Translation of the phrase "possibly violating:  "Not violating in any way."  But Republicans have to find a way to make the American people think that this agreement, hailed all over the world, is a miserable failure, so here comes their standard response: lies.  I suppose it is telling that Guy was unable to quote a single person who actually said this, nor did he bother to explain what part of the agreement it supposedly violated.  Still, "possibly" violating the Nuclear deal.  Kind of like, Hillary is "possibly" dying of brain cancer, MS, alcoholism, etc.

Michael Brown, Town Hall:  "Legal Scholars Rise Up Against the Supreme Court’s Judicial Despotism..."

What scholars?

"These scholars, who teach at schools like Princeton and Oxford and Notre Dame and Boston and Boston College and Michigan State and Kansas State and Vanderbilt and Hillsdale and the University of Toronto and the University of Nebraska..."

Curiously, Michael is unable to identify a single one of them by name.   This seems to be somewhat of a theme today.  And here we go again:

Edward Klein, New York Post:  "Hillary’s been having screaming, child-like tantrums that have left staff members in tears and unable to work,” says a campaign aide. “She thought the nomination was hers for the asking, but her mounting problems have been getting to her and she’s become shrill and, at times, even violent.”

Once again, not one single actual name is mentioned as a source for this claim.  Wonder why that might be.

Kurt Schlichter, Town Hall:  "How Marco Rubio Might Win Back Us Conservatives"

By abandoning the few remaining shreds of self-respect he still has left.  In connection with:

Susan M. Goldberg, PJ Media:  "Marco Rubio Blames Obama, Clinton for Upswing in Palestinian Terrorism"

And there he goes- off to a fast start at winning back Conservatives.

Katie Pavlich, Town Hall:  "UPDATE: Guilty; Verdict Reached in Case of American Journalist Obama Left Behind in Iran"

Obama left him behind? What, like, the guy missed his flight on Air Force One?  Obama was the designated driver and failed to bring the guy when he passed out in the bar?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Matt Vespa, Town Hall:  "(Louise) Slaughter is the ranking member of the House Rules committee and initially put forward an amendment on October 6 to dissolve the committee, whose credibility has been undermined thanks to Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) recent comments that its existence is hurting Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers."

An interesting way to put it:  The Democrats want to end the committee because it's hurting their leading Presidential candidate.  How about this, Matt: the Democrats want to end the committee because Kevin McCarthy admitted what we have known all along; that the Benghazi hearings have never ever been anything but a partisan witch hunt fueled by lies and smears.

Joe Cunningham, Red State:  "Salon Truly Believes the NRA Are Mass Murderers"

So do I, for whatever that's worth.

Bridget Johnson, PJ Media:  ‘Another Sham Step in a Sham Process’: Iran Reportedly Convicts WaPo Reporter"

They must have taken lessons from the House Benghazi committee.

Helen Smith, PJ Media:  "Can Your Child Be Taught to Defeat a Gunman at Her School?"

So, that's what it comes to in Right Wing Solutions to our Problems:  Teaching third graders to attack armed terrorists.  That is a great alternative to cutting into gun manufacturers' profits, what with Freedom and all.

Rob Kackley, PJ Media:  "Alabama Officials Say Democrats Blowing DMV Closures Out of Proportion"

In case you didn't hear this story, Alabama's Republican legislature passed a law requiring a driver's license to vote, and then shut the DMV's in every district that had a black population of 75% or above.  Well, of course, liberals are blowing that out of proportion, because who cares if black people can't vote?  How are we going to elect any more guys like George W. Bush if black people just go ahead and vote?

Mark Levin, Talk Radio Schmuck:  "I’m going to tell you, Obama is going to use an executive order again to change the Second Amendment, and I’ve had enough of this. We need to use the I-Word, we need to say it’s an impeachable offense, and we need to start laying down barriers now. Enough is enough."

He's GOING TO DO THIS!!!!!!  He's going to CHANGE THE SECOND AMENDMENT!!!!!!!  Being accused by a right wing idiot of something is enough to impeach him RIGHT NOW!!!!!   ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!

A comment on Mark's demand:

"Undoubtedly, the Republican and Democrat elites and their friends in the mainstream media will pretend that Levin is going too far. I can hear them scream now — “It’s insane, he’s a radical, an extremist!” — but that’s not even almost true."

Well, in the sense that absolutely true is not "almost true."

And now a lesson in believing impossible things before breakfast:

Rick Moran, PJ Media:  "Study: Democrats Moving Left Faster than GOP Moving Right"

If you believe that, well, just go look at some more pictures of cats.  You're hopeless.

Jay Michaels, American Thinker:  "The Mask of Sanity: Psychopath-in-Chief?"

That would be the obvious crazy guy, Obama.  The characteristics that identify Obama as a psychopath, according to Jay?

“Poverty of emotional feelings, lack of remorse or shame, superficial charm, pathological lying, egocentricity, a lack of insight, absence of nervousness, an inability to love, impulsive antisocial acts, failure to learn from experience.”

Sounds just like the Obama we have seen over the last eight years, doesn't it?  Let's just look at this list in conjunction with a former high government "employee," Dick Cheney:

“Poverty of emotional feelings, check
lack of remorse or shame, check
superficial charm, well, he misses out on that one
pathological lying, check
egocentricity, check
a lack of insight, check
absence of nervousness, check
an inability to love, check
impulsive antisocial acts, check
failure to learn from experience check.

So ol' Dick scores a clear 9 out of 10.  Of course, if you compare this human monster to a psychopath, the right will shout you down pretty damned fast, but then as I have said before, so much of the seemingly insane charges they make about Obama are nothing but an attempt to argue away the grotesque inadequacy of Bush and Cheney by suggesting that the next President was just as bad.

Silvio Canto, American Thinker:  "Our next president will have to reverse the Obama way in the Middle East"

I.e. start a couple more wars.  Because what fun is life without American Boots On The Ground?

"It doesn't matter whether it's Sanders or Carson, Bush, or Clinton; we will be going back into the Middle East in 2017."

If Silvio and his friends have their way, anyhow.  That will be a great thing, I am sure you agree.  Just like last time.

Ken Blackwell, Town Hall:  "Most liberals and even some conservatives are arguing that Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis must either issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or quit her post. Where you stand on this issue too often comes down to a case of where you stand on the question of whether same-sex nuptials are now the law of the land because Justice Tony Kennedy and four of his black-robed cohorts say so."

It is.  End of discussion.

Doug Giles, Town Hall:  "Dear Europe & America: Those 'Poor Refugees' Sure Look And Act Like Radical Muslims To Me"

Of course they do.  Everyone with brown skin looks like a radical Muslim to you, unless their skin is too dark brown, in which case they are a black thug.

Alexander Hendrie, Town Hall:  "Congress Must Get to Bottom of Obamacare State Exchange Failures"

Now that the Benghazi hearings have been revealed to be a total fraud, House Republicans have to find something to lie about.  And Obamacare is such a time-tested victim.

Calvin Beisner, Town Hall:  "What Threatens Liberty and Increases Abortion, Human Trafficking, Government Debt, and Poverty?"

Why, doing anything about climate change, of course.  It also causes tooth decay and ill behaved pets.  Of course, not doing anything about climate change is going to cause the extinction of the human race, but that won't happen for decades, so who cares?

Tony Lee, Breitbart:  "HILLARY CACKLING ABOUT EMAIL SCANDAL ‘IS WHAT MAKES HER SO DARN UNLIKEABLE’

The Republicans are all subversive lunatics, but Hillary has a funny laugh.  The answer?  Vote Republican- keep your eyes on the important things.

Liam Deacon, Breitbart:  "HUGE ANNIVERSARY PEGIDA MARCH TONIGHT, AS GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA ATTEMPTS TO LINK GROUP TO VIOLENCE"

Influential American right wing website is ecstatic about an anti-Muslim hate group in Germany.  Breitbart was even willing, in an act of staggering lack of self-awareness, to include the following sentence in the article:

"PEGIDA experienced a slump in support after a photo surfaced of founding leader Lutz Bachmann dressed as a Nazi in January 2015."

Really, can't you liberals take a joke?

Was George W. Bush President On 9/11?

If you haven't seen this, I think you will be amused by Judd Legum's fact checking article about this question, at Think Progress.

You Knew It Was Coming

We learn the following, which anyone could have predicted:

"If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) wants to impeach her on day one.
"In my judgement, with respect to Hillary Clinton, she will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November," he added. "Because the day she's sworn in is the day that she's subject to impeachment because she has committed high crimes and misdemeanors."

I truly believe that Obama had a chance, when he was first elected, to crush the Republican party out of existence, but he didn't do it because of his delusion that they were a decent bunch of people who cared about the welfare of the country.  And this is the result. I think it is pretty clear at this point that the United States has exactly zero chance of avoiding complete collapse as long as the Republican party continues to exist.  Otherwise, we will never see an end to this evil, disloyal, traitorous behavior.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Final Death of the Republican Benghazi Travesty

Or just one more Republican abomination that the mainstream press will simply ignore?

The following stunning news from Daily Kos:

"Rep Cummings: Gowdy altered documents in order to make false allegations against Clinton...

"Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), the ranking member of the Benhazi committee,, makes a startling charge against Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Chairman of the Benghazi committee:

"To further inflate your claim, you placed your own redactions over the name of the individual with the words, “redacted due to sources and methods.”  To be clear, these redactions were not made, and these words were not added, by any agency of the federal government responsible for enforcing classification guidelines.

Contrary to your claims, the CIA yesterday informed both the Republican and Democratic staffs of the Select Committee that they do not consider the information you highlighted in your letter to be classified.  Specifically, the CIA confirmed that “the State Department consulted with the CIA on this production, the CIA reviewed these documents, and the CIA made no redactions to protect classified information.”

Predictably, commentators began repeating your accusations in even more extreme terms, suggesting in headlines for example that “Clinton Burns CIA Libya Contact.”

Gowdy is now admitting to this crime (and it is a crime- the misuse of  Congressional resources to conduct a lying partisan attack,) although of course he's producing some nonsensical rationalization for his behavior.  I will not dignify his self-justification by even considering it seriously here- we all know what is going on.

So here is the truth:  The Republican chairman of the Benghazi committee has now been caught fabricating evidence that Hillary Clinton did something wrong.  Is there a person in the country that cannot see that the problem here is not what Hillary did, but that the Republican party has been reduced to Stalinesque distortion of history to indict its enemies?

Well, unfortunately, here is the answer to my question:  Yes, there are tens of millions of American voters who will continue to believe the patently false claim that this committee is about investigating American security procedures, or that the Republicans are doing anything here but attempting to win an election based on lies and smears.  That is because the mainstream press is going to carefully see that this information is kept from them, lest it disturb their goal of seeing to it that the Republican party is never portrayed as the pack of seditious, corrupt traitors that it is.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Life in The Greatest Country On Earth

Here is some very depressing, but unfortunately all too predictable information about what has happened to the middle class in this country, since we have allowed voodoo economics to rule us.  It's from a piece at Daily Kos, based on an article at the Washington Post.  I'll quote Kos rather than the Post because, in true mainstream press fashion, the post shies away from the truly horrible conclusions of its own data:

"The United States has the world's poorest middle class...The Washington Post is out with some important charts incorporating data from the Credit Suisse Research Institute, which releases an annual report on global wealth. 

First, the United States has a lot of very rich people.  At the same time, it has a large middle class that likes to think its the most prosperous in the world. 

But, well, this isn't true...not only is the U.S. middle class -- in relative terms -- quite poor, but also that it benefits from almost zero public goods present in other advanced countries, like free-at-use health care, subsidized (or free) college tuition, reliable public transit, or subsidized child care."

Here's a chart illustrating this:

So much for the jingoistic liars who shout down anyone who tries to tell us that we do not have the richest middle class on earth.  In fact, the exact opposite is true.  Thanks to Reaganomics, we now have the poorest middle class on earth, and rich psychopaths like the Koch Brothers and the Waltons are going to do every thing they can to keep it that way.

I just want to point out that Thomas Piketty, in his now legendary economics book, has calculated that, by the year 2030, the United States will have the most unequal distribution of wealth of any country in the known history of the world.  This is what the many people of the United States who bought into the Republican politics of anger and greed and the absurd lie of American exceptionalism have brought us.  This is a sickening story of national decline that didn't have to happen, but there is probably no way to stop it now.

Friday, October 16, 2015

No One at the Party

They gave a party in Washington, and nobody came.  The House "Benghazi" committee interviewed Huma Abedin, an assistant to Hillary Clinton who had essentially nothing to do with Benghazi, today.  It was to be a proud moment, giving the Republicans another great chance to pound their lying narrative about Benghazi down the throats of the American people.  But a funny thing happened: practically all of the Republicans, including ringmaster Trey Gowdy, didn't bother to show up!

Well, the Benghazi hearings have turned from a walk in the park for the Republicans to something like the Battle of Passchendaele, where one wrong step sends you sinking eternally into a sea of mud and dead bodies.  Evidence of their perfidy and disloyalty to the nation has become so clear that even our miserable excuse for a mainstream press can't cover it up.  So, instead of waiting breathlessly for the latest "revelations" of the horrible behavior of Hillary, people are now waiting to see what more in the way of outrageous lies the Republicans can produce.  Disaster lurks at every step!  The answer, just don't show up and hope nobody notices the whole thing.  Well, this may work with Huma Abedin, but their interview with Hillary is coming up soon, and if they think they can get people to ignore that, they are very mistaken.  Hillary doesn't seem to be willing to take their behavior any more, so her hearing should provide a good time for all, except the Republicans, who have spent three years pinning their electoral hopes on a massive lie.

Just let me add that you should not take this as a sign that the press has changed its ways, and is planning on being honest this election cycle.  Things just got too clear to deny on this issue, but believe me, by the time that most people tune in to the elections, they will be back collaborating with the Republican party to bring the country one step closer to oblivion.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Debate

I really try not to waste people's time by saying things that everybody else is saying too, but I guess I agree with most of the opinions about last night's debate.  The reality-based opinions, anyway- the others I will leave for the next Wingnut Wrapup.  Hillary did exactly what she had to do- present herself as a reasonable, pleasant person well-versed on the issues and with a massive amount of relevant experience; that is to say, exactly what she is, despite twenty years of Republican smears to the contrary.  Bernie was exactly the person I have heard every week on the Thom Hartmann show- a serious, if a little humorless, politician, who tells the truth and who advocates policies which would help the vast majority of Americans.  The other three were window dressing, although Martin O'Malley did come off like a good Vice President.

And of course, this is the moment that everyone will remember from the debate; an act of decency showing that candidates do not have to treat each other as if they were petty criminals:



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Green Eagle Enters a Contest

Usually, Green Eagle would never enter a contest, but this one sounded too good to pass up.

If Green Eagle wins, that will be a really special occasion, don't you think?

Hey, Ben, How About This Idea?

So Ben Carson, who is proving himself to be a thoroughly nauseating excuse for a human being, has now taken to repeating the idiotic right wing mantra that Germany's Jews would have saved themselves if only they were heavily armed.

Well, here's a thought for you, Ben?  How about if neither the Jews nor the Nazis had been allowed to have weapons?  How much of a holocaust would there have been then?

If you really want to prevent right wing monsters from taking over a country and running a regime of terror, which would work better- arming their potential victims, or not letting the monsters have guns themselves?

The logical conclusion of Ben's position is that we are really only safe if no one has guns.  After all, you have to go back to before Oda Nobunaga or so to find someone winning a war with knives and axes. So I'm going with Ben's argument here and suggesting that any civilian caught with a gun outside of his or her own house be thrown in prison for a really long time.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oligarchy

Or just plain old fascism?  From the New York Times:

"Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House. 

They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy. 

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found."

And note that 87% of this money goes to Republicans.

This may be self-congratulatory, but I want to say that, for the entire 8 year history of this blog, through all of the Occupy talk about the 99%, and the rest of it, I have insisted that the danger in this country is not that we are headed toward the ruling of our country by the rich, but by nothing but a couple hundred hyper-rich psychopaths, and their families.

Well, here it is.  Hope you enjoy it, all you "both-siders," and all of you lovers of the free market, and all of you who thought that it is just fine to have the majority of the Supreme Court be corrupt, bought and purchased right wing servants of the rich.

The Abominable Becomes Tolerable

Paul Ryan.  Now, they are supposedly begging Paul Ryan to become the third highest official in the United States government, a position which he claims he doesn't want.

Remember three years ago when Paul Ryan was revealed to be not the great conservative intellectual that the country was yearning for, but just one more dishonest, mean spirited Republican lackey of the rich?  By the end of the 2012 election, the Republicans were having to hide him in a closet to try to salvage their doomed Presidential campaign, because everybody could see what a vicious jerk he was, in spite of the mainstream press doing everything they could to pretend he was the nation's savior.

Well, all that is forgotten again, and the press is back to pretending that this miserable excuse for a human being can ever do anything but dig the country's hole deeper.  It looks like we are going to get him, two heartbeats away from being the President, whether we like it or not.  There is not one second that Republicans or the press think about what is right or true, and this is just one more move they will make to bring ruin on us all.
Remember this?  Paul Ryan pretending to wash dishes that were already washed.  
Strange, really, since restaurant dishwasher is one of the few jobs he might be really qualified to do.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Syria

I think it is fair to say that, at the present time there is no such country as Syria any more.  I thought it would be interesting to look back at a very long history and see where this country came from, and how much of a country it ever was.  It's hard to even give a sense of this in a blog post, but I was so interested in Syria's five thousand year record of violence and disruption that I thought I would at least try to skim over the main points.  Sorry, it's long and pretty repetitive, but I hope some people will find it interesting.

For convenience, I have included a map of the early Middle East, showing a number of the important cities from the period before 1000 BC.


Let's start with Ebla, a civilization that grew up in the area of Aleppo, around 3,000 BC.  It didn't exist long in peace; around 2700 it began a hundred years war with Mari, another city-state in the area.  Mari won, but was soon defeated itself by a king whose rule proved very short lived.  The battles between Ebla and Mari continued until, around 2300 BC, Ebla was conquered by the Akkadians.  Ebla continued to exist as a city, subject to the same sort of violence, until about 1800 BC.

Meanwhile, other parts of what is today Syria, were  dominated by the Hurrians and the Amorites. Also, large parts of the land was occupied by the Assyrians and by the Babylonian Empire.

Then, in around 1600 BC, the Hittites pretty much wiped all of this out,  precipitating a period of about four hundred years where Syria was essentially a battleground between several foreign empires.  This ended around 1200 BC with the ascendency of the Assyrians, who, however, managed to remain in control for only about a century before Assyria fell apart, and most of its former territory in Syria fell into the hands of the Arameans, a semitic people from western and southern Syria who never had a unified government, but were a collection of city states.  These guys, in their turn were subjugated by a new Assyrian empire around 900 BC, which ruled brutally until around 600 BC, when, devastated by a series of violent civil wars.  they were swept away and the area again became a battleground among a whole host of foreign invaders.  The Babylonians emerged victorious, only to be ousted a few years later by Persians, who themselves were conquered by Greeks, who first applied the name Syria to this country, although they included other areas in Iraq under that name.  So, the country passed from the Greeks to the Romans to the Byzantines.

This area was conquered by Alexander the Great, but remained in Greek control for little more than a generation, when it passed to the Seleucid empire.  Seleucus was a Greek, thought to be a general, who took control of the area, and established what was, for Syria, a relatively stable government, aided by Greeks, who left the overpopulate Greek peninsula to settle there.

It was the Greeks who first applied the term Syria to their conquered areas in the Middle East.  To quote Wikipedia:  "During its existence, the population of Syria Palaestina in the north consisted of a mixed Polytheistic population of Phoenicians, Arameans and Jews which formed the majority, as well as what remained of Greek colonists, Arab societies of Itureans, and later also the Ghassanids."  None of the main groups were Arabs; and it should be noted that Greek "Syria " included a great deal more territory than current Syria.

The Romans took over in 64 B.C.  After a Jewish revolt, the name of the province was changed to "Syria-Palestina,"  the first mention of the term Palestine, which at the time was largely inhabited by Jews.

When Rome split, this area fell under Byzantine control.  I want to quote a little from Wikipedia to give you a feeling for the state of things at this point:

"Throughout the Middle Ages, Byzantine Greeks self-identified as Romaioi or Romioi (Greek: Ῥωμαῖοι, Ρωμιοί, meaning "Romans") and Graikoi (Γραικοῖ, meaning "Greeks”). Linguistically, they spoke Byzantine or Medieval Greek, known as “Romaic” which is situated between the Hellenistic (Koine), and modern phases of the language.  Byzantines, perceived themselves as the descendants of classical Greece, the political heirs of imperial Rome, and followers of the Apostles. Thus, their sense of "Romanity" was different from that of their contemporaries in the West. "Romaic" was the name of the vulgar Greek language, as opposed to "Hellenic" which was its literary or doctrinal form"

Note here that no one seems to have seen themselves as "Syrian," or have even felt that a country named Syria even existed.

Well, let's move ahead to the Muslim period in Syria's history.  This is, significantly, the first time that any large number of Arabs lived there.  By Arabs, incidentally, I am using their own definition of descendants of nomadic tribes from Northern Saudi Arabia.

In 640, Syria was conquered by Arabs, who shortly thereafter established the first Muslim dynasty, the Umayyads, who established their capital in Damascus.  This led to the first great cultural flowering of Islamic culture; unfortunately, in the fashion of Syrian governments since time immemorial, their corruption and despotism swiftly resulted in a series of rebellions that destroyed the Umayyad dynasty by the middle of the 700's, only a century after its founding.

The Umayyad dynasty was then replaced by another Arab dynasty, the Abbasids, who, in perhaps one of their most sensible moves, transferred their capital out of Syria, to Baghdad.
The Abbassids managed to hold on slightly longer than a hundred years, before being replaced with an Egyptian dynasty, following which there were several overthrows of the government.  During this period, parts of the country were controlled by others, such as the Assassins, and various groups of crusaders.

Thus, things hobbled on until 1185, when the great warlord Saladin conquered the area, and shortly thereafter established the Ayyubid dynasty.  Things were not entirely peaceful, however; less than a century later, Mongols took control of Aleppo and Damascus.  Shortly thereafter, the Mamluks arrived and drove the Mongols out.  This was not the end of enemies from the East, however.  A couple of centuries later, Tamurlane invaded and conquered a large part of this area, and engaged in large scale slaughter of the population.

In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered this area, bringing in an era of relative peace, lasting until 1831,  when Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt seized the country; he could only hold on until 1840, when the Ottomans pushed him out.  I want to show you a map of "Syria," from the Ottoman period:


You will notice that it is by no means confined to its current borders.  In this map and others like it, "Syria" extends from below Gaza up to Turkey, and includes modern Israel, Lebanon, and large parts of Jordan and Iraq.

By this time, of course, the Ottoman Empire was already entering a period of steep decline, culminating in its elimination after World War I.  As a result, control of most of the Middle East fell into the hands of Britain and France, who manipulated the area to their own benefit, with essentially no regard for the welfare or wishes of the inhabitants.  It was only after World War I, after five thousand years of history,  that a country was created having the current borders of Syria, and with that name; a country created, as was the case with Greek Syria, by foreign conquerors.

In 1920, a so-called Kingdom of Syria was established by the European mandatory powers.  This lasted, in true Syrian fashion,  for five years, when it was overthrown by an indigenous revolt that was eventually put down by masses of French troops brought in from other countries.

Syria and France negotiated an independence treaty in 1936, but it was never ratified by the French legislature, and things dragged on until World War II, when it became a battleground between the British and the Vichy French government.

After World War II, Syria established a supposedly democratic government, which precipitated an endless series of coups and rebellions, with as many as three happening in the space of one year.  After one of the coups, the leaders eliminated all other parties, but they themselves didn't last a year more.

In 1958, under the influence of Nasserism, Syria tried merging with Egypt.  This lasted for about three years, until another coup put an end to it.  By 1963, a Baathist military junta had seized control of the country, leading to Hafez al Assad, one of the junta leaders, pushing the others aside and becoming the dictator, starting yet one more Syrian dynasty, which in typical Syrian fashion has yet to demonstrate that it can survive beyond the second generation.

Well, enough of this.  I must add that I have kept it as brief as I could, while maintaining a feeling of the nature of Syrian history, but I could have easily doubled or tripled what I have written here, going into many more coups, invasions and other instabilities that marked this 5,000 year history.

Now, I want to talk about what all of this might mean.  Here are a few facts about "Syria:"

First of all, it has virtually no existence as an actual country within its current borders.  The time since World War I is a blink of an eye by Syrian standards.  There is actually good reason for us to not even regard Syria as a real country; but rather an area defined by outsiders, whose populace has never had much interest in what conquerors have to say.

Second, its history is an almost unbroken record of internal political instability and attack by conquerors.

And most depressingly, the current state of utter chaos in Syria, which is seen in the West as a temporary breakdown of government, is actually far closer to what has gone on during most of Syria's five thousand year history, leading me to suspect that this area, after attempts to force a stable government on them, is now permanently reverting to its natural state as an endless factional battleground.

I suspect that the world may just have to learn to live with this never ending series of Bashir al Assads, and an endless succession of Al Qaidas and ISIS fanatics, because that is just what Syria seems to be about.  And after 5,000 years of this, believing that any outside forces can change things may be a dream of fools.  A depressing thought, but isolation and containment may be the most we can hope for.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bye Bye Kevin

Sentenced to death, for the one unforgivable sin a Republican can commit- telling the truth.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Wingnut Wrapup

Today's Wingnut Wrapup is respectfully dedicated to Jim Hoft, the famous Stupidest Man On The Internet, for the following post, which has since been deleted without comment (the image capture from Little Green Footballs.)



Is it even necessary to say that CNN never did any such thing?  Jim seemingly found this picture on some sort of neo-Nazi website, and just took it for granted that it was real.  He took it down, but not before numerous other wingnuts picked it up and sent it out into the ether, where it will remain to snag the gullible forever.

Now, to demonstrate how afraid wingnuts and their rich paymasters are of the tide turning on guns in our society, I'd like to show how many opinion pieces one website, Town Hall featured, in one day recently.  And don't forget, this isn't just about gun control.  Once people win a battle with gun companies, they might just get a taste for regulation, and then all bets are off.  And recent victories on gay rights and marijuana have shown them just how fast these changes can come.

Doug Giles, Town Hall:  "Dear 'Gun Free Zone' Campus Wizards: Nine Kids Died Because Of Your Stupid Policy"

Dear Doug Giles:  More Americans have been killed by guns since 1968 than in all of the wars this country has ever fought.  That's because of your stupid and vicious policy.  The number would be 1,516,863, as of August.  So, if we are apportioning responsibility for gun deaths, you are ahead by a million and a half to nine.  Don't think we are going to be catching up any time soon, even if your disgusting claim were true.

Matt Barber, Town Hall:  "The Facts About Pope’s Meeting With Kim Davis"

Facts? Town Hall? Don't make me laugh.

Kevin McdCulloch, Town Hall:  "The lying President of the United States said this, “We know that the states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not born out by the evidence.”

Right…

Only in the mind of Barack Obama."

Well, only in the real world, Kevin.  In your lying mind, whatever you want to believe is true.  But that is such an old phenomenon, and it is so hopeless to do anything about it, that who cares any more?

John Hawkins, Town Hall:  "Liberals Trash Christianity Non-Stop, Then Blame The 2nd Amendment When Someone Murders Christians"

Of course, Conservatives spend their whole lives fomenting violence against Liberals, and then blame "mental illness" when a right wing neo-Nazi kills a bunch of college students, like happened this week.  Didn't know that the guy was a neo-Nazi?  Funny, the press isn't bothering to mention that.

______________________________________________________________________
Now, on to a few more miscellaneous items:

Town Hall:  "US Economy Adds Only 142,000 Jobs"

What a miserable performance compared to the last administration.  Why, by the end of their two terms, the economy was...wait a minute, it was losing 850,000 jobs a month.  Oh well, just forget we brought the subject up.

Andre Walker, Town Hall:  "Clinton Knew Blair Warned Gaddafi To 'Find Safe Place' As Regime Fell"

I'm guessing that this has something to do with Benghazi!!!!!! although I can't exactly say what.

Tim Dunkin, Renew America:  "The un-Christian immorality of socialist Pope Francis"

The Pope.  Un-Christian.  What a concept.  Funny, no one accused the previous Pope of being un-Christian for tolerating mass child rape in the church.  Actually taking the words of Jesus seriously, that is grossly un-Christian.

Newsmax:  "2 Convicted of Murdering Border Agent With 'Fast and Furious' Guns"

Funny, Obama is at fault for these guns falling into the wrong hands, but right wingers bear no blame for seeing to it that the country is now infested with 300,000,000 guns, which, as I mentioned above, are responsible for 1.5 million American deaths in the last half century.

Charles Battig, American Thinker:  "New Climate Regulations Will Save Lots of Imaginary People"

That is, if their deaths will  happen in the future, they are only imaginary people:

"I...feel better for all the theoretical lives that will be saved, according to EPA sponsored studies such as this one.  However, my joy is tempered by the realization that  those are not real lives saved – rather, they are "estimated deaths saved"

Scientific estimates being nothing but fantasy, I guess.

Ed Straker, American Thinker:  "Does Hillary personally identify with transgenderism?"

Nudge, nudge, say no more.

Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit:  "Muslim Migrants Demand Sex"

Easy for them to say.  Say, maybe they could move in with the Duggars.

Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit:  "Donald Trump: 99% of the People Would Be in Jail for What Hillary Did"

Sorry to break it to you, Jim, but there isn't room in jail for 99% of the people.

Ed Lasky, American Thinker:  "Hillary Clinton's Multiple Personality Disorder...Most politicians change their positions for political purposes. Only one national politician routinely changes her own identity -- her accents, her name, her personality and even her height"

Definite proof that she IS one of those shapeshifting lizard people right wingers are so worried about.

Mike Ford, American Thinker:  "Obama Is Going to Get a U.S. Pilot Killed"

Well then, he'll only have about 5,000 to go to catch up to Bush and Cheney.  I guess it's like Stalin once said:  "kill a person and it's a murder; kill ten thousand and it's a statistic."  Or in Republicans' case, just collateral damage- the price we just have to pay for the honor of waging a war that killed a million of them.  And you know who I mean by "them."

Jeffrrey T. Brown, American Thinker:  "Gun Control' Is Actually Conservative Control"

If only it were true- the best argument for gun control I've ever heard.

Thomas Lifson, American Thinker:  "How to make a progressive's head explode"

What a useless article.  Every Conservative knows how they want to make progressives' heads explode- with an AR-15.

Pamela Geller, Barb Wire:  "On Wednesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced at the United Nations that her office would be working in several American cities to form what she called the Strong Cities Network (SCN), a law enforcement initiative that would encompass the globe. 

This amounts to nothing less than the overriding of American laws, up to and including the United States Constitution, in favor of United Nations laws that would henceforth be implemented in the United States itself – without any consultation of Congress at all. 

The United Nations is a sharia-compliant world body, and Obama, speaking there just days ago, insisted that “violent extremism” is not exclusive to Islam (which it is)."

These guys, for example, were apparently Muslims:



Of course, people like Pam Geller have been telling versions of this same lie as long as I have been writing this blog, and they intend to go on telling it.  And who knows, a few more people may still fall for it.

A. J. Castellito, Barb Wire:  "The Direct Link Between Demonology and Death"

The direct link between demonology and all consuming stupidity.  Unless you really believe that a few puerile teenage "satanists" are going to take over the world any time in the near future.

And, let me interrupt my maundering for a SPECIAL CONTEST:

Can anyone figure out what is supposed to be funny about this cartoon?

Newsmax:  "Read Ben Carson's Letter on 'Muslim' President"

No thanks.

Newsmax:  "Reports: Jeb Urged to Bring in George W. to Campaign in SC"

George Washington?  Man, that would help Jeb out.  Washington has not endorsed a candidate in years.  Oh wait, we're talking about his brother?  Idi Amin could stir up more votes than him.

Mark Antonio Wright, Breitbart:  "Australia’s 1996 Gun Confiscation Didn’t Work – And it Wouldn’t Work in America"

Well, it didn't work except that they haven't had a single mass shooting in Australia since then, while we have about one a week here in The Greatest Country on Earth.  But then, we're special.  God has granted us FREEDOM that no other country has ever known!

Alexis Levinson, Breitbart:  "Can Bobby Jindal Catch Fire from Iowa?"

Bobby Jindal couldn't catch fire in the middle of a volcano.

And now, how about a bit more Hillary bashing?

Katie Pavlich, Town Hall:  "Sorry Hillary, The NRA Is More Popular Than You"

Luckily for us, despite corporations now being persons, the NRA can't run for President.  This article featured at the top of Town Hall's website presumably to induce its right wing readers to forget that all of their human candidates are getting whipped in the polls by Hillary.

John Hawkins, Town Hall:  "John Hawkins: Hillary Is About as Qualified To Be President as Paris Hilton"

Paris Hilton having distinguished herself as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.  You remember that, right?  John makes this point:

" is a woman who’s widely acknowledged to be in the most dysfunctional marriage in the country really someone we should be considering for President of the United States?"

The most dysfunctional marriage in the country. Right.  You know who really has the most dysfunctional marriage in the country?  The Duggars.  Or maybe Kim Davis, now on her third or fourth marriage, after having gotten pregnant with one guy while married to another one. Or maybe Newt Gingrich, now on his fourth.  Or maybe David Vitter, who supplemented his marriage with wearing diapers and having sex with prostitutes.  At least the Clintons haven't deliberately raised any children with such contempt for women that they think it's fine to rape their own sisters. And a little more:

" Given Hillary’s complete lack of ethics, she’s certainly not hanging in there because of any moral convictions. That means she either secretly has terrible self-esteem and doesn’t think she can do any better or she’s such a power-hungry monster that she doesn’t care if her husband likes to take trips to Orgy Island "

She can't do any better than a wildly popular two term President of the United States. She sure settled.

Man, they will tell any lie (or at least the same one over and over again) to get rid of her.  They are really afraid, aren't they?

Debra Heine, PJ Media:  "Hillary Clinton Is a Nasty Piece of Work"

Intelligent campaign rhetoric from the right.  At this rate, by the time the election comes around, we can expect headlines like "Hillary revealed to actually be Adolf Hitler without the mustache, which got bitten off when she was having sex with a donkey in Times Square."

Donald Lambro, Town Hall:  "Democrats Remain Silent as Obama Economy Kills Jobs"

Bush administration job "growth:"  1.3 million in eight years
Obama administration job growth:  13 million in seven years.

Talk about telling the same lies over and over again.  Donald's column was motivated by the fact that only 143,000 jobs were generated last month, or over a tenth as many as Bush generated in eight years.  Shocking.

And, since we started with Jim Hoft, why not end with him.  I'm sorry to subject you to this, but here's something from Jim's website that really shows just how low Conservatives, who scream in terror every time a liberal says anything negative about them, will go to degrade their opponents:

There really is no limit to their disgusting behavior.

Well, I certainly think that's enough for one day.