Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekly Roundup, February 21-27, 2011

By Blueberry Tart

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Part 2: FOX News’ Silent Partner, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal

Nomadic Joe's guest post on Prince Al-Waleed portrays a complex man who uses his wealth charitably as well as to gain influence. His laudable charitable endeavors include improving the lot of disabled children in Eritrea and of women in Saudi Arabia, and supporting tsunami relief efforts. He also made a generous donation to the George H.W. Bush scholarship fund at Phillips Andover Academy and a major gift to Harvard University. Then there is the campaign to pay blood money to families of suicide bombers who attack Israelis. Hmm, that doesn’t sound very noble, does it? On its face, this is remarkably similar to Saddam Hussein paying $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers – action which was roundly and deservedly condemned across the world. However, the Prince’s practice of rewarding the families of suicide bombers has been met with silence regarding this inconvenient truth. This post suggests that the Prince is astute and strategic in many ways, including public relations. Perhaps he has outfoxed FOX; as part-owner, he has an effective inroad to potentially neutralize criticism from a news outlet that is often Islamophobic, but that certainly supports much of the Big Oil agenda that he also represents. A complex and strategic man, it seems.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scott Walker, the Koch Brothers’ Tool

graphic by flyinureye, with H/T to sunnyjane

Kathleen helps expose Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as the tool of the Koch Brothers. Frankly, he seems almost like a cartoon-caricature (as flyinureye so cleverly shows, above). This post includes the now infamous recording of Walker’s (punked) telephone call with “David Koch,” in which they chat amiably about tactics to bust the union protests taking place in Wisconsin. These include planting agents provacateurs to stir up trouble in the crowd and trying to trick the Democratic Senators into returning so that they could obtain the quorum. (Ironically, this type of trickery played out a few days later in the Assembly, as reported below.) What I found funny was how much Walker talked – the guy portraying Koch hardly had to say anything because Walker couldn’t shut up. He was so full of himself, bragging about how smart he was, with his dirty tricks to try to stop the unions and the Democrats. Hopefully, people will be disgusted by his underhanded, undemocratic politics. But make no mistake: he is in the vanguard in the next stage of battle for America’s political soul.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maddie’s Mom’s Wonderful Adventure

RFK Jr with cruise attendees (from cruise website)

Maddie’s Mom has done it! She had posted several comments over the past few months about this “progressive cruise” she was planning to go on. Now, we get to share! The cruise was with leading progressives, including Robert Kennedy, Jr, Alan Grayson, Hal Sparks, Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder and others. She regales us with tales of her wonderful experience, enjoying their good company, engaging conversation, wisdom, wit and humor, and tantalizing us (at least those of us who have been buried for months under piles of snow) with beautiful photos of Caribbean isles. Oooooh, how enticing! Our hats are off to MM for her gumption in doing this, and many thanks for letting us share a bit of this great experience, along with much beauty and fun. Wow!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Economic Indicators: the Foundation of America’s Political Discontent

Patrick's post explores economic roots of political anxiety in the U.S. He reviews a German bank’s study of economic trends, focusing on what is happening in the U.S. In the big picture, some economic indicators are stabilizing, but the unemployment rate continues to threaten our recovery and thus presents fertile ground for political upheaval. Unemployment is both the result and (now) a cause of economic stagnation. Not only is the unemployment rate stuck above 9%, but the long-term unemployment rate is almost double that of any prior recession since 1950; this sets the stage for discontent and potential political exploitation of the situation. Another graph shows that high unemployment dampens wage increases. The huge amount of commercial mortgage debt about to come due appears to be another ticking time bomb for the economy. Patrick points out that President Obama did not create these problems; he inherited them and has made progress in stabilizing the economy. However, progress is slow; many people are impatient, and some are desperate, to see more progress. Solutions are urgently needed, but further large-scale government spending is not likely amidst the political gridlock that often dominates Washington. This “continues to open the path for political pied pipers” like Sarah Palin, who, regardless of having no solutions whatsoever, could tap into the country’s fears and discontent.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Right-Wing Attack on Unions

Patrick’s next post covers the Republicans’ increasingly brazen effort to destroy labor unions. Joe Biden, in an impassioned 2007 speech, pointed out that the reason we have a strong middle class is because of unions, and reminded us that Republicans are always ready to make any event into an opportunity to weaken the hard-earned gains of labor. Next, the post covers the travesty that took place this week in the Wisconsin state legislature, when Republicans staged a sneak vote on the controversial bill to strip public worker unions’ collective bargaining rights and to sell public energy infrastructure in a no-bid process. The Repubs announced the vote without prior warning and held it open for only about 20 seconds. The footage shows some of the Republicans who were obviously forewarned that this was the strategy, literally diving to vote as soon as the vote was opened, while the Dems, unaware of the trick, rushed to try to vote within the few seconds that the vote was open. We can only hope that Americans will see this and reject such vile, anti-democratic shenanigans. The events in Wisconsin this week make clear that the new governor is a union-busting tool of the Koch Brothers.

Revisiting a Turning Point: Jimmy Carter’s 1979 Speech

Nomadic Joe goes back in time to 1979, when Jimmy Carter was President and Iran was experiencing major unrest and upheaval. America’s long-time ally, the Shah, was deposed; during the turmoil, Iran’s oil production declined and oil and gas prices rose sharply. U.S. citizens were taken hostage and Carter ordered a boycott of Iranian goods in response, contributing to further oil price increases and fomenting anger in the U.S., directed at both Iran and Carter. Against this backdrop, Carter delivered a serious speech acknowledging that Americans’ faith in government was undermined by the traumas of assassination and scandal. He called on Americans to rebuild our faith in each other and to rededicate ourselves to a common purpose, instead of pursuing a path of materialism, fragmentation and self-interest. Although the immediate reaction to his speech was very positive, Republicans soon successfully re-characterized it as an expression of gloom and doom, which contrasted sharply with the “sunny optimisim” of Ronald Reagan and his portrayal of America as the “shining city on a hill.” The rest is history.

Some Comments and Links:

Stoppalin46: I don't know if anyone is following the story of the hacked HBgray emails released by Anonymous, but they contain plans by the right to do precisely what is happening at MF. It's also interesting that the division at MF is orchestrated by the same individual actors that caused the breakup of Palingates. The plan is to divide and conquer…with a mission to stir up shit within the progressive community.

TruthSeeker: Boy, this whole Bailey book leakage situation sure smells of a palinesque strategy: Palin likes to discredit everybody in order to spread confusion (and make herself look good, since she is an empty shell and has nothing positive nor constructive to contribute to society)...My deepest disappointment is that it seems no author will broach Wild Ride & Babygate. This too, among her many other offensive actions, is a despicable part of Palin’s legacy – why ignore it?

Karenw729: FOX News: Bringing You All The Lies That Are Fit To Print.

Wooljunkie: Game Theory might be at the bottom of this leak business…Game Theory works to predict the probability of how successful a certain strategy might work. I think this letter sent out from this so called PROFESSIONAL LAW CORPORATION is nothing but a strategy to feel out the players…The deliberate strategy to sabotage the opponent is also psychological ploy to force Joe McGinniss, and others, to say something in retaliation that will show their hand. The result is a game change. I hope Joe M. does nothing and says nothing. All he needs to do is wait until his book comes out. The book will say it all. Then the blogs will follow. Then Sarah Palin will be done in, at long last.

465janedoeseeker: has Palindora's box just been opened??????? [And later] I have been thinking about the republican positions on abortion, homosexuality, and unions, and how similar they are to Hitler's positions on these things…Sure hope I'm wrong on this one, but I do see a lot of similarities.

Wesinoregon: I think it will be over soon. With this damage no one is going to ask her to speak again. She will become toxic and too controversial. Some hard core groups maybe, but not mainstream groups. She is EXPOSED.

mrs. doubtpalin: What's happening in WI has reawakened us and it's time to move on and support all the efforts to overcome the influence of Fox/Koch/wingnuts/TPs and ensure that liberal/progressive ideals and women's rights are protected and thrive.

HelenNPN: The strategy: muddy the waters, make no official response, sit tight and hopefully it will all blow over in a week or two. Continue to enjoy favors and patronage from Palin & cronies as usual.

JCos: If Walker prefers a state without unions, worker benefits, rights, protection - perhaps he should run for office in China.

BfromC: [Bailey] could certainly spare us all the references to God, prayer and his faith. It just illustrates perfectly how people cloak themselves in their hypocritical Christian faith, while proceeding with all the dirty deeds necessary to advance themselves.

Conscious at last! AREN'T THOSE WORKERS DEMONSTRATING IN WISCONSIN TERRIFIC?? Their actions are essential for maintaining a decent life for working class and middle class folks. Let's support them. Let's also support ourselves by making intelligent decisions about our own limited resources…let's not waste our energy being afraid of the right wing, the Tea Baggers, or even a Palin presidency. Let's just do all of what we already do and more to shine the light on their nonsense.

Samantha had an excellent long comment; here is part: Protests from our side die down quicker, are squelched by police, and are not covered by maintream media. Remember the anti-war protests? The police were out in force and the media portrayed them as dangerous traitors. Remember the anti-globalism protests? The unions were cornered by police into a tiny protest zone, and harrassed. Meanwhile, the teabagger movement was covered daily by the MSM, and portrayed as some kind of patriotic uprising, not a band of kooks and racists who were funded by the GOP and marching against their own interests. So you've got to look at that and see we have no media on our side and it's fundamental to our problems.

There are certain things your need on your side to be a free country. You need a free press. You need organized labor. You need public schools. You need freedom for women. You need a secular infrastructure free of the dominance of religion. You need a police workforce which is locally organized and funded, not funded or influenced by any kind of dept of homeland security. You need a military which serves to protect our foreign interests but plays no role in the internal culture.

Cheeriogirl alerted us to the comment by Home Depot's founder, who said that retailers who did not actively support Republicans should be shot. How do you spell BOYCOTT HOME DEPOT?

Aview999 linked to Andrew Sullivan on the Bailey Book. [This turned out to be one of several AS posts.] Aview also pointed this out from Wikipedia: “Trade unions were abolished, as well as collective bargaining and the right to strike. ”Economy of Nazi Germany"

Sallyngarland,tx linked to twitter/blogsofwar, which has tweets about unrest around the world.

newsOne and BfromC linked to Lawrence O’Donnell’s report on the Bailey memoir.

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