Thom Hartmann writes on The Smirking Chimp: "If Bill Clinton - or, presumably, Al Gore (or even Ralph Nader) - had been President in 2001, the Ft. Hood massacre almost certainly wouldn't have happened. Because George W. Bush was president, it did. Here's why it's Bush's fault: One of the first lessons aspiring novelists and screenwriters learn is that the goodness of a hero is defined by a single quality - the evil of his opponent. From Superman's Lex Luthor to Batman's Joker to Indiana Jones' Nazis to Luke Skywalker's Darth Vader, for a hero to be perceived as larger than life, he must have a larger than life enemy."
Afghanistan's Sham Army
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "Success in Afghanistan is measured in Washington by the ability to create an indigenous army that will battle the Taliban, provide security and stability for Afghan civilians and remain loyal to the puppet government of Hamid Karzai. A similar task eluded the Red Army, although the Soviets spent a decade attempting to pacify the country. It eluded the British a century earlier. And the United States, too, will fail."
A Morally Bankrupt Military: When Soldiers and Their Families Become Expendable
Dahr Jamail comments for Truthout: "The military operates through indoctrination. Soldiers are programmed to develop a mindset that resists any acknowledgment of injury and sickness, be it physical or psychological. As a consequence, tens of thousands of soldiers continue to serve, even being deployed to combat zones like Iraq and/or Afghanistan, despite persistent injuries. According to military records, over 43,000 troops classified as 'nondeployable for medical reasons' have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan nevertheless."
Scahill: Obama May Be Afraid of Blackwater
David Edwards and Daniel Tencer report for The Raw Story: "Despite news reports that the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has seen its contracts dry up and its influence wane, the company continues to do brisk business in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and the Obama administration may be too afraid of the firm to do anything about it, says investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill."
Denying Responsiblity for the Wars One Cheers on
Glenn Greenwald writes for Salon.com: "David Brooks' column today perfectly illustrates what lies at the core of our political discourse: namely, self-loving tribalistic blindness laced with a pathological refusal to accept responsibility for one's actions. Brooks claims there is a unique evil that one finds in the 'fringes of the Muslim world':"
Drone Race to a Known Future: Why Military Dreams Fail -- and Why It Doesn't Matter
Tom Engelhardt writes for TOmDispatch: "For drone freaks (and these days Washington seems full of them), here's the good news: Drones are hot! Not long ago -- 2006 to be exact -- the Air Force could barely get a few armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the air at once; now, the number is 38; by 2011, it will reputedly be 50, and beyond that, in every sense, the sky's the limit."
Where's the Jobs Stimulus?
Rev. Jesse Jackson writes on CounterPunch: "nemployment has soared above 10 percent, but that figure doesn't count those forced to work part-time, those who have given up in despair, young people who were never able to get hired. There are now 25 million people unemployed. For African Americans, it is worse. African Americans are experiencing a silent depression. Unemployment is more than 18 percent; underemployment even higher. And among black teens, unemployment is more than 40 percent.
Where Have All The Good Jobs Gone?
David Moberg writes for In These Times: "People don’t just want a job. They want a good job. And over the past three decades the American economy has increasingly failed to deliver enough good jobs. What is a good job? According Algernon Austin, an Economic Policy Institute economist and author of the brand-new report 'Getting Good Jobs to America’s People of Color,' a good job provides an above-poverty wage, health insurance and adequate retirement income."
The Tea Party's Takeover of the GOP
Stephanie Mencimer writes for Mother Jones: "You have to hand it to Michele Bachmann: She has succeeded in turning the GOP into one big Tea Party. This past weekend, the Minnesota Republican went on Fox News and called on viewers to show up on the Capitol lawn on Thursday at noon for a press conference and a last ditch attempt to kill health care reform. The gathering that resulted was marked by the now-routine extremism of the Tea Party conservatives. 'I'm a bitter gun owner who votes,' read one sign. Others questioned President Obama’s citizenship, portrayed him as Sambo, or called him a traitor. One said, 'Obama takes his orders from the Rothschilds.' Old ladies wore red T-shirts decrying 'Obamao care.' The crowd also took spirited swipes at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At one point someone yelled, 'Put down your Botox and show yourself.'"
When Voters Disrupt the Tea Party
E. J. Donne writes for Truthdig: "Here’s a story you may have missed because it flies in the face of the dreary conventional wisdom: When advocates of public programs take on the right-wing anti-government crowd directly, the government-haters lose. This is what happened in two statewide referendums last week that got buried under all of the attention paid to the governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey. In Maine, voters rejected a tax-limitation measure by a walloping 60 percent to 40 percent. In Washington state, a similar measure went down, 57-43."
The Dark Side of the Bright Side
Anis Shivani writes for In These Times: "In her new book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (Metropolitan/Holt, October 2009), Barbara Ehrenreich traces the origins of contemporary optimism from nineteenth-century healers to twentieth-century pushers of consumerism. She explores how that culture of optimism prevents us from holding to account both corporate heads and elected officials."
The Stupka Stupor
Emily Douglas writes for The Nation: "We know that the House healthcare reform bill passed after an eleventh-hour compromise (you might say betrayal) on abortion access. We know the compromise, the Stupak-Pitts amendment, is bad. But do we know exactly how it's bad for women (and their partners)? Here's a quick primer on what the amendment actually means for any woman accessing healthcare through the newly-created health insurance exchange."
The Price of Health Care Reform: Abortion Rights?
Rachel Morris writes for Mother Jones: "Will health care reform come at the expense of abortion rights? The Democrats’ historic health care bill squeaked through the House on Saturday only after pro-life forces scored a major victory. Despite months of wrangling over the public option and the price tag, in the end the legislation’s fate turned on an eleventh-hour push by conservative Democrats to broaden the bill's existing limits on government funding of abortion, in the form of an amendment authored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.). Here’s what happened and what it means:"
Will the Stupak Amendment Affect Insurance Coverage for Miscarriages? I Think So
Robin Marty writes for RH Reality Check: "This weekend, a group of male pro-life Democrats gambled with women's health, and women lost. By broadly writing in that insurers can chose whether or not to cover abortion services, pro-life amendments don't just affect their intended victims - women seeking a way out of an unwanted or medically harmful pregnancy. They also affect another group of victims - women whose pregnancies have already ended but have not yet miscarried."
Education Reform: Wrong Diagnosis, So Wrong Cure
Marion Bradly writes for Truthout: "Sooner or later, a reluctant Congress is going to have to do something about replacing No Child Left Behind. If senators and representatives will listen, they'll learn why Education Secretary Arne Duncan's "Race to the Top" initiative is a really bad idea, and why thoughtful educators think politicians, business leaders and wealthy philanthropists are bulls in the education china shop."
A Helping Hand
The Editors at the Columbia Journalism Review writes: "When in September President Obama said he would be “happy to look” at congressional proposals designed to help the beleaguered newspaper industry, the president’s throwaway line provoked a flurry of articles about how government help for newspapers would compromise editorial integrity and stifle innovation and competition rising from the digital frontier—and wouldn’t save the doomed newsrooms anyway. Even the Newspaper Association of America said it wasn’t looking for 'a specific handout, bailout, financial assistance, what have you.'"
Fort Hood Cover-up: A Dozen Tales of Disinformation
Mark Ames comments for The Exiled: "I don’t want to go too deep down the Fort Hood Rabbit Hole Of Weirdness, so I’m just going to get off my chest some of the incredibly weird shit that’s being thrown around in the media to confuse us or throw us off. It’s looking pretty clearly like there’s a cover-up in progress, and not a very professional cover-up either. But the sad thing is that all the confusion and bullshit thrown our way will probably succeed in its goal of steering the public away from whatever it is the military doesn’t want us to find out about the shooting massacre."
Public Media and the Decommodification of News
Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting: "There have been various proposals to “save journalism” from the crisis brought on by digitalization. But by and large these ideas have less to do with meeting the information needs of a democratic society than with preserving the profit potential of existing media outlets.Take the various suggestions as to how to get news outlets to stop giving away their content for free. Among others, Walter Isaacson (formerly of Time), Steven Brill (formerly of Content) and Rupert Murdoch (formerly of Australia) have all offered suggestions for how newspapers can be saved by putting their content behind pay walls (Time, 2/5/09; PoynterOnline, 2/9/09; L.A. Times, 8/21/09)."
Feds Consolidate Last Two Broadband Stimulus Funding Windows into One
Andy Opsahl writes for Government Technology: "Agencies seeking broadband stimulus money now have only one more opportunity to apply because the two remaining funding windows have been consolidated into one, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the two federal agencies tasked with distributing $7.2 billion set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for broadband projects. This may surprise some, given the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the two agencies were being overwhelmed by the application process in late October."
Free Press Asks White House for a "Knight 2.0" Commission
Karen Everhart write for Current.com: "There’s been more than enough talk about restructuring public broadcasting as digital public media. The time to start walking the walk has arrived. So says Josh Silver, executive director and co-founder of Free Press, the media reform group that has had a seat at the table in talks about redefining public broadcasting as public media."
Does Murdoch Agree with Glenn Beck or Not?
James Rucker writes for the Huffington Post: "Rupert Murdoch is now trying to backpedal after saying in an interview with Sky News that Glenn Beck was right when he called President Obama a "racist." Now that he's been called out and the spotlight is squarely on him, Murdoch says he doesn't agree with Beck, but he won't explain what he meant or denounce Beck's rhetoric either."
The GOP's Looming (Media) Civil War
Eric Boehlert writes for Media Matters: "It's not easy to flip a congressional district that's been Republican since the late 1800s, but after being willingly hijacked by the right-wing media -- after getting steamrolled by Fox News' embrace of third-party candidate Doug Hoffman -- Republicans managed to hand Upstate New York's 23rd District to Democrats last week. And they did it just in time for the newly elected Democrat to help (barely) push health care reform through the House of Representatives during Saturday night's historic vote."