Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

If one were only paying attention to Faux News and Congress, one would think that Benghazi was and is a scandal of monumental proportions without precedence of any kind.  So much so that many Republicans routinely say they will use it as evidence for impeachment.  They also use it as a wonderful distraction from things that remain unresolved such as our plan to drop bombs on ISIS, Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, Immigration Reform, and our slow moving economy.  Not that it isn’t important–it is and the causes that lead to the breakdown in security at our Benghazi Consulate have since been corrected.

What is most important about Benghazi is how Republicans are using it as a political football by saying it is unique and something that should be laid exclusively at President Obama’s feet.  In reality there have been no less than thirteen, yes I said 13, previous attacks on U.S. Consulates, Embassies and their associated staff and troops abroad during the Bush Presidency from 2002 until 2008 before President Obama was elected.  Bob Cesca over The Daily Banner  has the complete list.  If we want to go further back, there are plenty more.  I distinctly remember the bombing of our marine barracks in Beirut back in 1983 under yet another Republican president, good ol Ronnie Raygun.

When those incidents occurred what did we hear?  Did we see Dems attacking those Presidents?  Or did we see everyone understand that those are dangerous jobs in dangerous places doing important work for our country?   There were no calls for impeachment, no endless investigations that failed to find anything, no scandals, nothing.  Because shit happens overseas in dangerous regions.  But the fact that there’s nothing there to find with Benghazi doesn’t matter to Republicans.  They keep beating that dead horse (just like they did with ACORN).

The GOP propaganda machine has realized that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.   And it doesn’t hurt that the majority of the news media in the U.S. is owned by a very small group of rich conservative white males and their monopolistic corporations. Fortunately for Americans (and my sanity) they can’t change history or hide reality so long as liberal bloggers like Bob, media watchdogs like Media Matters, and individual bloggers like myself keep up the good fight.  So here’s your daily dose of truth–Benghazi was tragic and has been appropriately addressed.  The rate of these kinds of attacks have actually been less under President Obama.  It was not unique or evidence of wrongdoing constituting impeachable offenses.  If it were, then all thirteen of the attacks Bob listed would have been as well.

The following news stories actually make me not only wonder if our species will survive for much longer but also if we deserve to survive our own stupidity and neglect.

  • The City of Detroit found 11,000 rape kits that were abandoned and never tested.  After testing less than 7% of them they identified 100 serial rapists and 10 convicted rapists.  So if that pattern holds and they test the rest of them, they can expect to discover several hundred more of these scumbag.  ht mistermix at Balloon Juice
  • The AZ legislature is pushing a bill that would allow people to carry guns into building even if it’s forbidden (if they don’t have lockers available you can ignore the ban).  They’ve also advanced the idea that some gun owners can carry even if there are lockers and ban.  And to make it truly impossible for local governments to forbid guns in their government buildings, they’ve approved and forwarded a bill that says any local government who enforces local ordinance over state law can be fined.  This is like the trifecta of stupid.  They’re begging for someone to go into government buildings and commit mass murder.  I certainly will be avoiding those buildings like the plague if this crap passes.  ht JM Ashby at Bob Cesca
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, back when he was a prosecutor, let a child slaver off easy so that he could take down a political rival.
  • Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, told a woman that having cancer was her own fault for not forgiving her abusive father.  Okaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy
  • A new law went into effect in Michigan that says businesses and individuals who purchase private insurance must take out a separate rider to cover abortion care.  Essentially, if a woman needs an abortion for ANY reason and if she doesn’t have  a separate rider for it, she will have to pay out of pocket for the cost of that care.  So if I lived there, had a miscarriage and needed a D&C to shorten the process  and suffering so I could get back on my feet sooner, I would have to pay completely out of pocket for it.  Likewise for women who have become pregnant as a result of incest and rape.  That’s insane.  The real kicker is that there is not a single private insurance provider in the marketplace that provides this insurance.  This could not only bankrupt women and their families, it in effect nullifies Roe v. Wade, and will force women to seek out cheaper and more dangerous care for such things.  I hope the women in Michigan enjoy being second class citizens because it looks like the state is on target to vote the same politicians who’ve created these laws back into office.
  • Billionaires in the 1% are getting their panties in a twist and crying lots of salty tears because the rest of us are tired of having the economy manipulated while they gamble with our money and take what little wealth Americans have managed to accumulate over the last few decades.  The 99% have had the temerity to exercise their Freedom of Speech and the Right to Vote in more progressive candidates.  However, so far as I know there have been no lynch mobs or guillotine lines nor any proposed by anyone of significance in any “likely to happen” fashion.  The 99% are simply using the peaceful system of governance and the wonderful mechanisms given to us by the Founding Fathers.  However, reading some of the recent comments by the 1% (here’s a few examples here and here) might make one think that we are in the midst of a communist peasant uprising (or fascist style takeover depending on which historical example they erroneously choose).  Truth is, if we were in such a state, their heads would already be on pikes.  In reality nothing is happening to them and that’s the stupid thing.  We should be curtailing their almost godlike power over our economy and our elected officials. Their message gets broadcast loud and clear.  We hear about their perspective 24/7 on Fox News, read their whining on major websites and news sources (in addition to reading about their phenomenally ignorant take on history), and suffer under the vagaries of the worldwide economy which they essentially control.  As Jon Stewart said the other day, they make money regardless of how the economy fares.  So why should they give a crap about us? They don’t and the majority of Americans haven’t yet grasped this fact and what it will mean for this country, and indeed the world, in the long run.  Until Americans decide to stand up and pull up our pants, they’ll be back there having their way with us and complaining that its hard, nay dangerous, to be a billionaire.

So I was over at The Daily Banter commenting and reading a satirical piece on how white women have appropriated belly dancing from the Arabs (it makes fun of’s weird penchant for fainting over really stupid shit).  Anyway, that’s when I stumbled across this little gem of a comment:

Stupid, racist comment

Stupid, racist comment

My initial reply:

My not so friendly reply

My not so friendly reply

Another bigot anonymously decides to join the party and support the first comment:

2nd asshole chimes in

2nd asshole chimes in

I just can’t stand it anymore and I unload:

My last reply

My last reply

My work is done

George Orwell, author of 1984, has been rolling in his grave for nigh on 20 years now because the modern conservative movement in the US have become so masterful at using “doublespeak“.  I was trying to write a post about immigration reform when I stumbled across a Fox News article (WARNING:  clicking and reading Fox News may be hazardous to your health) about a group that wants to build a wall all the way across the U.S./Mexican border–all 2,000 miles of it.  Not only is that impractical in both terms of construction costs and the nightmare of logistics in maintenance, it’s not who we should be as a nation.  Anyway, the name of the group advocating the fence?  “Let Freedom Ring, Inc”.  Is it just me or does a wall represent anything but freedom.  Walls force people to stay in and stay out.  It forces someone in authority to monitor that situation and restrict the flow of people through it.  That’s not freedom, it’s increased governmental control.  It’s authoritarianism.

These thoughts prompted me to create a list of my all time favorite “doublespeak” phrases from the GOP and their true meaning.

  • “No Child Left Behind” is really “Every Child Left Behind”–it was a resounding failure and until it was recently reformed, and now it’s only mildly failing.
  • “Compassionate Conservatism” is really “Fuck you, I’ve got mine but I might occasionally donate privately to non-governmental charities so long as I can claim it on my taxes”
  • “Clearing the market” is really “Foreclose on those houses and get it done, quickly so we can get back to making profits”
  • “Class warfare” is really “Any challenge, legitimate or not, against the rich”
  • “All of the Above Energy Policy” is really “No policy, no plan, no diversity, just drill”
  • “Activist Judges” is really “Any judge that makes a decision that doesn’t follow a literal interpretation of the Constitution unless the judge is a conservative, then he/she can do whatever they want”
  • “Patriot Act” is really “The government can spy on you and violate your civil rights and if you don’t like it, you’re not a patriot”
  • “Discovery Institute” is a conservative think-tank.   One might think from the name that they are scientific, looking into new and exciting things that would better society or exploring new frontiers.  Nope.  Their primary purpose is to force Christianity further down the throats of their fellow Americans by advocating for Creationism in Science classes, instructing conservative voters how to vote as God would, etc, etc.  That’s the opposite of discovery.
  • “American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research”  You might think that the term Enterprise refers to Capitalism, so you might expect that their main focus is economic policy.  Nope.  You might expect to see research coming out about what policies worked and what didn’t and then recommendations on what policies the public should implement.  Nope.  See research (in the Social Sciences and Public Policy) is where you start out with a hypothesis, then you do a survey of what’s been implemented and the results, to see if that hypothesis is true or not.   Then you base your recommendations off of that study.  Example Hypothesis:  Alternative sentencing by Drug Courts reduces the rates of incarceration and recidivism (i.e., re-offending).  Example Survey:  There are tons of states who have tried this over the years and in most cases, they found that yes, Drug Courts were helpful in getting drug users out of the system because they increase the odds of the person getting treatment and not just punishment alone.  Example Conclusion:  Drug Courts are recommended and here are some best practices to follow.  The Enterprise Institute does the EXACT opposite. They start with a premise:  defend conservative principles like capitalism and limited government.  So they go out and find examples that support that premise and ignore the ones that don’t.  If they can’t find anything to support their premise, they make stuff up or lie about what they find.  So, no research and no real enterprise.
  • “PEPFAR – President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief” – A G.W. Bush-era law that provided $15 billion to African nations for the relief of AIDS.  What most people don’t know is that there were three VERY big impediments built into the law.  First, the law barred funding for organizations that operate programs overseas but do not have a blanket policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.  On the face that seems reasonable.  But NGO’s (like the Red Cross) don’t have policies like this because those statements alienate the people they are trying to help and gets in the way.  For example, in Africa one of the primary means of HIV transmission was through prostitution.  Such policies would be like setting up a Red Cross tent and then putting a neon sign out front that says, “we hate prostitutes”.  Not too many prostitutes would come to them for medication or counseling and the source of the problem would not be addressed.*  Second, the law required that one-third of all the monies be directed toward abstinence-until-marriage programs and excluded comprehensive approaches, i.e., the NGO’s couldn’t discuss male and female condoms.  Why was this a problem?  Again, it’s societal.  In Africa one of the primary ways that AIDS/HIV was spread was through heterosexual intercourse (this is not true in most other parts of the world).  Not offering condoms and counseling on those methods and telling the average male to simply abstain in most cases means that man will have sex, contract HIV and will pass it on.  Third, the law did not provide any funding for needle exchange programs.  This is a BIG deal and is one the key strategies to preventing the spread of HIV.   So, in essence there was very little actual relief going on and a whole lot of imposition of American Christianist** religious values.  In the end, this law did little to actually help prevent the spread of HIV in Africa and most likely has resulted in more people dying as a result.  Probably should have just called it “PEPFSA – President’s Emergency Plan for Spreading AIDS”.
  • “Mission accomplished” in May 2003, was……do I need to spell it out for ya?

    Mission NOT Accomplished

    Mission NOT Accomplished



*Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down this provision of the law by a vote of 6-2 in June 2013.

**I’m going to start referring to the conservative Christian movement in the US as either Christianist or the US Taliban, because they certainly not real Christians.  There are multiple instances in the Bible where Jesus helped someone first without questioning their moral choices in life.  He also looked at people as humans capable of great love and not as just a bundle of past sins that predict future behavior.  We’re all so much more than our past failings, thank goodness!  One of my favorite stories is the time he had dinner with a Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50) where a prostitute attended Jesus by washing his feet and anointing him with oil, doing him great honor, whereas the Pharisee did nothing.  Jesus concludes:

“Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”  Luke 7:47

NOTE:  If you don’t like cussing, don’t read this post.  I drop the F-bomb several times. I’m sorry but it’s the best way I know how to express my feelings in this instance.

Well, I can’t resist. I just can’t.  You’ve probably heard in the news that women are finally being allowed to join the elite special forces like the Navy Seals, Army Rangers, etc.    The predictable testosterone fueled outcry began immediately.   Our local Fox station decided to read online posts in reaction to the news.  One of them, a man, suggested that if women are allowed to enter the special forces that they have their own separate teams.

Even I was surprised by my immediate and visceral reaction to the comment.  My thoughts went like this [paraphrasing], ‘You did not just fucking say that.  Have we not been through this shit before with African Americans?!  Are you really going to fucking tell me that you are going to force women who meet the same physical and mental standards as their male counterparts and still put them in “separate” groups?!?!  REALLY!!!!!!!!! Holy Mother of God, that makes me angry’.

Let me spell it out because apparently a lot of men and some women just don’t get it.

1.  Standards for women and men will NOT be different.  Nor would any woman worth her salt want them to be.  If a woman can do it, she should be allowed.  Some will say only a few women can do it.  You are correct.  Only a few men can do it as well. Not every person can be elite.  Why would it be any different for women?  We don’t want to be special, we want to be given the same chance.  Which leads to the next point.

2.  Women have been functioning in combat roles since the beginning of time and continue to do so in modern nations.  In fact, women have not only ruled their clan/tribe/kingdom/nation, but they were also soldiers and some pretty bad ass motherfuckers.  In fact one of the most famous, Boudica, led an army of 100,000 Celts in a revolt against occupying Roman forces in Britain.  She destroyed early London (then called Londinium) and several other Roman colonies.  She was one of the few people in all of Europe to defeat Roman forces and her name was so famous that Tacitus himself recorded the tale.  Furthermore, medical studies have proven that women, in many cases, can actually handle certain types of prolonged pain much better than men (There’s a reason why we’re the ones who squeeze out children the size of watermelons–we can handle it.)  Don’t let the headlines fool you.  Our paternalistic press will title their news stories that “men handle pain better” but when you read the fine print (or heaven forfend you read the actual study) you find out that men handle intense sudden pain better but women can handle pain that lasts a long time.  Guess what?  In a combat role, soldiers experience both kinds of pain.   The truth is that both sexes face their own unique set of physical and mental challenges.  Mentally, I give the advantage to women.  Overall (again, all comparisons are overall across the entire species) women’s ability and tendency to communicate emotion gives them a greater ability to work through grief, anger, etc.  Any mental health professional will tell you that talking about a problem is  crucial to being mentally healthy, regardless of whether you serve in the military or not.  Culturally we do men an incredible disservice and make them vulnerable to mental illness as a result of combat precisely because we don’t do a good enough job teaching and encouraging them to communicate their emotions.

3.  Women deserve to have our autonomy respected.   Women will die as a result of combat–as soldiers or as non-combatants–no matter what.  Would you prefer that they passively sit and wait for the enemy to come to them?  Why do men get to tell women to stay home (and as is so often portrayed in Hollywood, be the last line of defense)?  Not all men go to war and not all women will either.  But each one should have the choice–WE get to choose our battlefields dammit.  See, this is about respecting women’s right to autonomy and all of the implied agency that men are automatically given.   Women are not passive victims because we have vaginas, boobs and ovaries.  Women are victims because they accept what men tell them and men tell them that they should be protected because women are special because of those same body parts. They also tell us that they will want to protect us because they think we are weaker or they want us sexually or because they love us.  As if women don’t love men, want men and yes, think of men as weaker, as much as men do.  What utter horseshit.

To put a finer point on it……Where do men get the authority to tell a QUALIFIED woman that she doesn’t have the right to fight for the country she loves because HE can’t handle her being in the trenches next to him.  Soldiers have every right to kick out the unqualified, I don’t care if they have a dick or not.  Here’s what people are missing in their discussions about it.  If women are truly equals to men (legally we’re supposed to be and ethically we absolutely have the same value) then HE has the problem, not her.  So HE had better get over it.  This is like a man back in the 1940’s who would say, ‘I won’t serve with black people’.  Note many of the same excuses used against women were used against African Americans (they’re not as smart, strong, tough, organized, obedient, etc, etc).  The only one that is different now is that men say ‘they would feel too protective of the woman to do their duty’.  My answer to that is, if a man can’t handle a woman fighting next to him, if he can’t bring himself to focus on the mission at hand and do his duty for whatever reason, then he should be deemed mentally unfit to serve in a combat role.  If you can’t handle another human being dying next to you, regardless of their sexual organs, you need to find another job.

4.  Sex won’t be a problem if soldiers are trained properly and the code of conduct is enforced.  Here’s another news flash.  Sex will occur no matter what.  Men and women in the military now have sex.  Men have sex with female non-combatants.  American soldiers have littered the world with their bastards (via both consensual and non-consensual sex) and wreaked all kinds of havoc as a result.  Yep, sex happens.  Even normally heterosexual men will sometimes engage in homosexual behavior in the military.  This is a proven fact.   If it is interfering now, then military leadership is not doing it’s job to punish those that let it get in the way.  Again, the problem is on THEIR part.  They need to fix their rules and/or their procedures.  They need to improve training.  See, sexual behavior is no different than any other instinctual behavior.  The military teaches men to curb their most basic instincts.  For example, one of the most important things a soldier must come out of basic training with is the ability to be obedient even when their life is in jeopardy.  It doesn’t get any more basic than that.  So men who say that they won’t be able to control themselves sexually or will be distracted sexually, have impulse control problems and should wash out of basic.  If a man would put sexual interest ahead of his life and the life of his fellow soldiers, he’s not fit to serve.  If you can stand and take fire even though every fiber of your being is screaming to run and protect yourself, then you should be able to keep your dick in your pants, your hands to yourself, your thoughts private and your mind on task.

In conclusion, consider the quote below.  The meaning of “past is prologue” is not as simple as ‘what has happened in the past affects our present’.  At this point in The Tempest, the character, Antonio, is trying to encourage Sebastian to kill his sleeping father and become king.  He is also reminding him of those who failed to act in the past and paid for it.  He’s reminding him to learn from the past.  LEARN from the past.  You can’t have a group of people distinguished by something they get no say in, something they get from birth like color or gender but has no bearing on whether they can meet elite standards as “separate but equal”.  It isn’t legal.  It isn’t ethical.  It isn’t and cannot be, by it’s very definition, equal.  It is, however, incredibly fucking insulting.

She that is queen of Tunis; she that dwells
Ten leagues beyond man’s life; she that from Naples
Can have no note, unless the sun were post–
The man i’ the moon’s too slow–till new-born chins
Be rough and razorable; she that–from whom?
We all were sea-swallow’d, though some cast again,
And by that destiny to perform an act
Whereof what’s past is prologue, what to come
In yours and my discharge.
–William Shakespeare, The Tempest