Monday, October 20, 2014

Accepting Money From Lobbyists Is A Form Of Legalistic Bribery— And Everyone Knows It


This week PolitiFact asked a direct, simple question: Does Mitch McConnell receive more money from lobbyists than any other member of Congress?. It was based an the ascertain by Alison Lundergan Grimes on March 27— and disputed by McConnell operatives— that he does. What she said, precisely, is that McConnell is “the number one recipient of contributions from lobbyists this cycle.” There can be little dispute that he is, but that didn’t stop Team Mitch from disputing it. McConnell took $281,301 from lobbyists this cycle and the second most corrupt man in Congress, John Boehner (R-OH), too $2278,380. Politifacts’ verdict: “We rate it True.” Money in… favors done— everyone involved should be in prison— open and shut case. (By the way, the 10th most corrupt member lot Congress is Susan Collins, whose bribery from K Street lobbyists this cycle has amounted to $121,486.)
Lobbyists are people who are hired to persuade members of Congress on a particular issue. They are brought in by many different industries, from private companies like Microsoft or ExxonMobil, to associations representing local governments, to nonprofits focused on hot-button legislation. Some organizations have in-house lobbyists, and others hire large firms that lobby Congress on a variety of topics.

We first checked in with the Lundergan Grimes campaign to see where they got their numbers. They linked us to a report by Open Secrets, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog website run by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The report, titled "Sincere or Strategic, Lobbyists Give Big," looked at trends in donations from federally registered lobbyists. If a company or organization spends a certain amount of money lobbying Congress, they’re required to register with the federal government. Open Secrets checks this database against the campaign finance disclosure reports that candidates file.

Open Secrets found that the 25 lobbyists who have contributed the most money to campaigns this cycle have already donated $1.9 million. Contributions are not party exclusive; five of those 25 gave strictly to Republicans, 11 gave to Democrats and a handful gave to both.

Open Secrets also released a list of the members of Congress who have received the most donations from lobbyists during the campaign cycle (since the start of 2013).

With $281,301 in contributions from lobbyists, McConnell topped the list, followed closely by House Speaker John Boehner at $278,380. McConnell has also received another $50,000 from family members of lobbyists.

…McConnell isn’t just the top congressional recipient of donations from lobbyists. According to his Open Secrets profile, he has also received more money than any other lawmaker since 2013 from a number of industries.

He’s No. 1 in campaign donations from people who work in the fields of— deep breath here— agriculture services, air transportation, auto dealers and manufacturers, building materials, business associations, coal mining, commercial banks, commercial TV and radio stations, electric utilities, food and beverage, food stores, general contractors, health services, home builders, insurance, medical devices and supplies, mining, mortgage bankers and brokers, pharmaceutical and health products, railroads, retirees, steel production and trucking.

When he last ran for re-election in 2008, McConnell, who was minority leader at the time, topped the list in two industries, coal mining and tobacco. He was fourth in contributions from lobbyists.
George Costanza is sick of all this money in politics:

Since 1990, the K Street bribery industry spent $218,631,961 in federal elections, $179,476,017 of which went to incumbents. Removing members who also ran for president-- Hillary (the #1 all-time champion at $2,169,669), McCain, John Kerry, Barack Obama-- and people dead or retired, these are the dozen worst since 1990:
 Harry Reid (D-NV)- $1,741,621
 Miss McConnell (R-KY)- $1,312,771
 Ed Markey (D-MA)- $1,230,608
 Mary Landrieu (D-LA)- $1,165,822
 John Boehner (R-OH)- $1,162,921
 Patty Murray (D-WA)- $1,153,953
 Maria Cantwell (D-WA)- $1,064,696
 Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $1,005,327
 Robert Menendez (D-NJ)- $1,000,062
 Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $972,682
 Orrin Hatch (R-UT)- $965,392
 Bill Nelson (D-FL)- $930,718
And if we just want to look at who the biggest crooks among current House members are, here's the dirty dozen (again, since 1990):
 John Boehner (R-OH)- $1,162,921
 Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $972,682
 Jim Moran (D-VA)- $844,249
 Charlie Rangel (D-NY)- $838,853
 John Dingell (D-MI)- $831,311
 Don Young (R-AK)- $728,932
 Dave Camp (R-MI)- $597,945
 Pete Visclosky (D-IN)- $569,889
 Ed Pastor (D-AZ)- $546,989
 Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)- $509,519
 Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)- $490,940
 Patrick Tiberi (R-OH)- $489,827
You tell me— would America be better off without these people in Congress? And would America be better off if lobbyists who bribe politicians were arrested, tried and punished-- along with the bribe-takers?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Don't be so sure that Pope Francis lost this round of squabbling with the bishops


The pope at the now-concluded Vatican synod on the family.

by Ken

On Friday I poked around the pushback being felt within and without the special synod of bishops gathered in the Vatican to ponder family issues. The synod seems clearly an initiative of Pope Francis to see where the boys in the hierarchi he inherited are standing on his initiatives to imbue Catholic family values with some measure of humanity.

By then the vocal and power-grubbing coterie of scumbag bishops had already begun watering down the draft document circulated on Monday, and the power-grubbers in the hierarchy as well as their power-grubbing movers in the laity were flexing their backward-looking muscles. On Saturday the final document that was released fell a heckuva lot short of that the Holy Father had in mind.

As the Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein reported:
A major meeting Pope Francis convened to help the Catholic Church improve its outreach to diverse modern families ended Saturday with a summary paper that removed earlier, revolutionary language that cited the value of same-sex and divorced families.

Critics of the pope were celebrating Saturday, with conservative Catholics cheering the reaffirmation that God prefers the traditional family.

The two-week meeting in Rome hadn’t been expected to result in changes to traditional doctrine, but the rare sight of cardinals from around the world debating matters such as whether same-sex couples can be called “partners” floored many Catholics. More liberal Catholics said Saturday that it was a victory for the church to even have such conversations, though many expressed disappointment with the paper.
This doesn't sound so bad.

But then we get:
“The language of compromise was eviscerated from Monday’s summary,” said Patrick Hornbeck, chair of theology at Fordham University, a Catholic institution. “The bishops who were more prophetic and progressive have found themselves drowned out by a chorus of hesitation and concern.”

Saturday’s summary reflected deep divisions in the world’s largest Christian church as it tries to reconnect with 21st-century families while sticking to its doctrine. Traditional bishops had spoken publicly and angrily in the past few days against the more open language in Monday’s draft document, saying it was a dangerous betrayal and potentially heretical. Some said the church could eventually be headed for division.
And even this is down-the-middle treatment that's a good deal more generous to the old pope than a lot of the noise being heard from the Catholic right-wing war parties, who seem positively exultant at kneecappping the puling pontiff.

Except that may not be what happened. It was, after all, the pope who pressed the synod to a swift conclusion, denying the bishops the opportunity to stall, obfuscate, and stultify, and it was the pope who insisted that in the interest of transparency, vote totals be released for every section of the proposed document, whether voted up or down -- and bear in mind that a two-thirds vote was required for adoption.

As Michelle Boorstein reports:
The Vatican on Saturday released the vote tallies for each section of the report, and [the international traditionalist conglomeration] Voice of the Family noted that the most contentious sections — encouraging a more welcoming attitude toward families who don’t conform to orthodox norms — weren’t overwhelmingly defeated.

“The voting numbers reveal that most Synod Fathers remain open to proposals contrary to Catholic teaching,” the statement said. “There has been much talk about ‘welcoming’ and ‘accompanying’ people, but this is impossible without the clarity of the truth.”
And of course it's the Inquisitionaries who are in sole possession of "the truth," and the clarity thereof.

Of course individual votes weren't made public, but everyone who participated in the voting is now answerable for his vote. (Isn't it handy that we don't have to worry about inserting gender-inclusive formulations like "his or her vote"?) Now I can't claim to speak for the pope, but a few things seem fairly clear:

• The pope has a lot of power, but he really can't take the Church anywhere it doesn't want to go, and he can hardly be unaware that the hierarchy isn't exactly the most enlightened. After all, for almost 35 unbroken years, his vile predecessors, the fake-saintly autocrat John Paul II and his even more unspeakable henchman, Cardinal Ratguts, later Pope Cardinal Ratguts, exercised total and ruthless control over hierarchical promotions, meaning that the whole shebang is now made up with their dregs -- a combination of reactionary power-grubbers and self-promoting toadies. As our friend John Puma pointed out in a comment on my Friday post, that very day one of the bulwarks of Catholic reaction, Cardinal Raymond Burke, was squealing like a pig about having been forced out of his high-level Vatican post.

• It's going to be some time, though, before Francis can have any significant impact on the overall makeup of the hierachy, and he doesn't know how much time he has. He has to be aware of the example of his great predecessor John XXIII, who was elevated to the papacy with a mandate to die soon but didn't, and caused all manner of trouble. Eventually he did die, though, and while it took the traditionalists decades to move the theological clock back, eventually they managed it. Both Francis and his enemies know that time can be a powerful obstacle to any meaningful reform.

So maybe it's time for the current pope to shake things up, to get people talking, and to make sure those people are aware that other people are listening.


is the take of the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart ("Pope Francis and gays will win by losing this round on synod draft"), which begins:

Headlines called it a “setback” for Pope Francis that the initial draft of the synod of bishops released last week that spoke of “welcoming homosexual persons” was silent on them in the final document. But I don’t see it that way at all. The pope let the genie out of the bottle. And, as we all know, it’s difficult to put him back in once released.
And Jonathan concludes:
I’m not saying the church or the pope will become a champion of LGBT rights. And I’m definitely not saying they are going to support marriage equality. What I am saying is that by talking about the humanity of gay and lesbian Catholics and worrying about their place in the church, Pope Francis is openly recognizing them as children of God. After centuries of demonization, that’s a revolutionary act that can’t be undone.

Labels: , ,

Whoever Wins In Mississippi, It Will Be A Victory For The NRA And For Anti-Choice, Anti-Immigrant And Anti-Gay Fanatics


The bitterly divisive Republican Party primary in Kansas has endangered the Republicans’ ability to hold that red, red state’s Senate seat. The Republican Party primary in Mississippi was even more bitter and more divisive. But Thad Cochran, the senile 76 year old incumbent who was first sent to Washington in 1973 (as a congressman) and who has been in the Senate since 1978, is probably going to hold on. He spent almost $6,000,000 in the primary and squeaked by teabagger Chris McDaniel 157,733 to 156,315 in the first round and 194,932 to 187,265 in the runoff.

Two weeks from tomorrow he’ll face off against reactionary Blue Dog Travis Childers, before he was defeated in the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010, one of the 3 most right-wing Democrats in the House. His platform in this race has basically been to appeal to disenchanted McDaniel supporters by bragging how he voted against Obamacare and reiterating that he’s a big NRA supporter and an opponent of women’s right to Choice, LGBT equality and immigrants. The most recent public poll, released by YouGov for CBS News on October 5, shows Cochran at 46% and Childers at 35% (when you include leaners). That is a loot of undecided voters— but 35% is nothing to write home about. Last time Cochran ran (2008), the Democrat, Erik Fleming, took 39%. In 2012 the other Republican Senator, Roger Wicker, beat Democrat Albert Gore 57-41% and Republican Governor Phil Bryant was elected in 2011 against Democrat Johnny DuPee 61-39%. Even President Obama did better than Childers’ 35%. He took 44% against Mitt Romney.

The DSCC hasn’t gotten involved in Childers’ long-shot bid and national Democratic groups have written the race off. As of the June 30 FEC filing deadline Childers had raised $178,621 and was holding just $34,895 cash-on-hand to Cochran’s $714,290 cash-on-hand. Although over $11 million was spent by outside groups during the primary— the Chamber of Commerce defending Cochran with $1,200,000 and Club for Growth attacking him with $3,140,012 for example— no outside money has been spent by anyone for the general. Childers isn’t getting any money from traditional Democratic sources, although the Blue Dog’s so-called Moderate Democrats PAC gave him $10,000 and conservative Democratic allies like Blue Dog Joe Donnelly ($5,000), Kirsten Gillibrand, a “former” Blue Dog herself, ($5,000), Mark Begich ($5,000), Steny Hoyer ($2,500), and Tom Carper ($2,500) have contributed through their own PACs.

Yesterday’s Clarion-Ledger did a profile of candidate Childers and what they call his “wild card” chance to win: angry teabaggers.
Many McDaniel supporters are spitting mad. They believe Cochran stole the Republican runoff through dirty tricks, race baiting and otherwise urging Democrats to raid the GOP primary.

Many have vowed to vote for Childers, sit out the general election or write in McDaniel (which would spoil their ballots). All of the above would help Childers in what is otherwise a very long shot. He faces a well-funded, six-term incumbent Republican in a very red state.

Will Republican voters really cross over in numbers and vote for the Democrat as they've vowed on social media?

"I take folks at their word," said Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole. "If they're committed enough to put it out there on Facebook or Twitter, I believe they will."

Recent polling shows the race has tightened somewhat, with Childers at 35 percent, Cochran stuck below 50, at 46 percent. A large tea party crossover or sit-out could tip the scales.

But Childers has to walk a very fine line. He needs some tea party crossover, but he can't risk losing any Democratic base. Cochran has enjoyed healthy support from Democrats, not just in his runoff hail Mary, but in general elections for most of his career.

Childers is guarded when asked about tea party support.

"I hear from all kinds of folks," Childers said while on his recent Jackson-Morton-Forest trip, mirroring earlier comments. "Since I started my career, I've always had great support from my fellow Democrats. I have always attracted a large independent vote … I have always had some Republican support."

But Childers has made two platform pitches to tea party voters.

At this summer's Neshoba County Fair, he pledged in his stump speech to vote for a balanced budget amendment, saying, "The tea party says we cannot sustain $17 trillion in debt. They're right."

More recently, Childers became the first Democrat to sign the Federation for American Immigration Reform anti-amnesty pledge.

Childers said this was not red meat for the tea party and "not aimed at anybody." But it drew accolades from some tea party leaders. The blowback from Democrats so far has been minimal.

…"I haven't always had the best relationship with Washington," Childers said. "It seemed when I was up there, I never did fall in line. I voted my genuinely held beliefs, what I thought best.

"I was fiscally conservative on money issues," Childers said. "I consider myself a moderate. I never got hung up on labels. I knew what my politics were. I really believe my politics fit the mode of the average Mississippian, and the average working Mississippian."

Childers said he voted against the Affordable Care Act because, "I just thought we could have done so much better." He said health care reform was needed, "because the insurance companies were running health care, and still do, to some extent.”
Childers claims he hasn’t switched to the GOP (yet) because he’s proud to be a Democrat. He favors increasing the minimum wage and attacks Cochran for voting against the Paycheck Fairness Act. Perhaps because he’s such a staunch anti-Choice fanatic, there is no gender gap working in his favor so far. 29% of Mississippi women say they will vote for him and 31% say they will vote for Cochran. With leaners they’re tied at 35-35%.

Equally bad news for Childers, especially in light of the NY Times report yesterday on Black voting, is that Childers isn't inspiring Blacks. Many remember what a conservative he was and don't plan to bother going to the polls to vote for him. Why should they? Only 58% of African-American voters say they’ll vote for him— which compares badly to African American support for other conservative southern Democrats like Mary Ladrieu (76%), Mark Pryor (76%), Michelle Nunn (77%), Kay Hagan (83%), Mark Warner (83%) and Alison Lundergan Grimes (92%).

The confidential memo from a former pollster for President Obama contained a blunt warning for Democrats. Written this month with an eye toward Election Day, it predicted “crushing Democratic losses across the country” if the party did not do more to get black voters to the polls.

“African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014,” Cornell Belcher, the pollster, wrote in the memo, dated Oct. 1. “In fact, over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.”

...[S]ophisticated targeting, church visits, high-profile surrogates and even direct appeals by the president may go only so far, some Democrats said, when candidates are running away from a politician black voters adore. Ms. Grimes is but one example.

In Louisiana, Ms. Landrieu ran an ad calling the president’s policies “simply wrong when it comes to oil and gas production.” In Georgia, Michelle Nunn, the Democratic Senate nominee, has refused to say if she would have voted for the Affordable Care Act-- Mr. Obama’s signature domestic initiative.
None of this sounds good for Childers. In 2008, while only 11% of wjite Mississippians backed President Obama's election, 98% of Blacks voted for him. Elijah Cummings of Maryland sums it up like this: "People understand that you have to walk a thin line," describing Democratic candidates’ dilemma. "But African-Americans do not want you denying any affiliation with the president, because they love this president. He is like a son to them."

Labels: , , , , ,

The Impeachment Of Barack Obama Is On The Ballot November 4


Republicans aren’t campaigning on it— and there are certainly some Republicans who want nothing to do with it— but radical right Republicans in the House have every intention of trying to impeach President Obama after the midterms, particularly if the GOP manages to get control of the Senate. After the1998 midterms, Gingrich pushed forward with impeachment against President Clinton during the lame duck session. The first article of impeachment (perjury) passed the House 228-206 on December 19. Although all 5 Democrats who voted for it were subsequently defeated or driven to join the Republican Party, many Republican impeachers are still in Congress— and several are now in the Senate:
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Richard Burr (R-NC)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Lindsay Graham (R-SC)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
John Thune (R-SD)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Among the Republican senators who voted guilty— to remove Clinton from office— and who are still in the Senate are Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL). Everyone of of these will certainly jump at the opportunity to vote to remove the first African-American president from office after the elections. The bolded names are senators up for reelection 2 weeks from tomorrow. They voted to convict Clinton; they will certainly vote to convict Obama— eagerly.

Yesterday, the National Memo highlighted and excerpted a new book by historian Lewis Gould, The Republicans: A History of the Grand Old Party. Let’s go to the the miscalculation the Republicans made in regard to the Clinton impeachment.
Gingrich and the House Republican leadership saw the autumn of 1998 as the chance to increase their slim majority, since the voters would punish the Democrats for their loyalty to Clinton. That did not happen. The partisanship of the GOP, including the release of a salacious report on Clinton’s sexual misdeeds, backfired. The Democrats gained five seats in the House and cut the Republican majority to 221 over the Democrats’ 211. The Senate alignment remained unchanged. The unexpected outcome of the election sealed the fate of Newt Gingrich. Restive Republicans now saw Gingrich as a liability. After a false start with one leading candidate, the majority settled on Dennis Hastert of Illinois as Gingrich’s successor. Gingrich resigned his seat, ending one of the most fascinating legislative careers in American history. He was not done with American politics, however.

In spite of the election result, the Republicans pressed ahead with the impeachment of Clinton in December 1998. The writing of four articles of impeachment and the eventual adoption of two of them took place in a partisan atmosphere with only a handful of Democratic votes. By the time the trial opened in the Senate in January 1999, any chance of obtaining the dozen Democratic votes needed for conviction had long since disappeared. Republicans complained that Democrats had not displayed bipartisan statesmanship such as the GOP had shown during the Watergate controversy. Yet the Republicans in 1998 had forgotten to seek the votes of the Democrats if they really meant to oust Clinton. The Senate proceedings were anticlimactic and Clinton was acquitted on both counts. The Senate Republicans did not achieve a majority of senators voting for conviction on either count.

In a preview of 6 years of political cowardice to come, Alison Lundergan Grimes won’t even admit she voted for Obama. However, we already know how sociopath Mitch McConnell will vote on impeachment— will lead on impeachment— so it probably behooves Democrats too hold their noses and vote for Grimes. That’s the same reason to vote for Orman in Kansas and possibly— although who even knows how he’d vote— Childers in Mississippi. There can be no doubt that right-wing partisan Republicans Tom Cotton (AR), Joni Ernst (IA), Cory Gardner (CO), Thom Tillis (NC), Mike Rounds (SD), Steve Daines (MT), Mike McFadden (MN), Dan Sullivan (AK), Bill Cassidy (LA), Ben Sasse (NE), and Terry Lynn Land (MI) are also sure guilty votes, no matter who sketchy and crackpot the impeachment case that the House makes is. Unless you want to see Obama impeached, that one calculation is enough reason to vote for the Democrats running against this mob of monsters.

Labels: , ,

Sheldon Adelson Sneak Attack Comes To Los Angeles House Race


Garbage politics comes to Los Angeles, financed by the Mob

Vegas-Macau gambling kingpin Sheldon Adelson, who fronts for organized crime and launders money from China into America's politics, has decided to try to win Henry Waxman’s congressional seat on Los Angeles’ west side— from Malibu down through Santa Monica, Venice, El Segundo and Manhattan Beach to Redondo Beach, Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes and Harbor City— for a Republican stooge he can easily control, Elan Carr. First the good news: the last publicly-available polling— by Democratic firm, GarinHartYang Research— showed Lieu, the state senator from most of the district, leading Carr 55-36%, nearly 20 points. Party registration in the district is 44% Democrat, 33% Republican and Obama beat Romney 61-37%. The PVI is D+11.

“Ted Lieu,” writes Garin, “maintains a healthy lead over Elan Carr in the initial trial heat and Senator Lieu’s support expands slightly, even after we assume attacks from our opponent. Senator Lieu’s strong position in the race is due to his legislative experience, better alignment with the values and priorities in this district, AND the tarnished GOP brand.”

They no longer have to “assume” attacks. Carr’s biggest, supporter, the Sheldon Adelson family and his crooked circle, came roaring into the district Friday with 4 mailers, one of which is an ugly racist piece trying to paint Lieu as not sufficiently pro-Israel— and appeal to the district’s huge Jewish population. And now Bold Agenda PAC, the Adelson front for Carr, has reserved several hundred thousand dollars on broadcast TV to saturate the airwaves with anti-Lieu smears. [UPDATE: the new PAC was started by Aldelson crony, winery owner and right-wing multimillionaire donor John Jordan.]

Blue America is the only group coming to Ted’s aid— and we need help. Our independent expenditure committee is running ads in South Dakota’s Senate race, Maine’s Senate race, the Michigan congressional race pitting Paul Clements against Fred Upton and now Ted Lieu’s race. This is Digby’s and John’s home district and we’re finishing up a full page ad for the Los Angeles Times that emphasizes 4 examples of national leadership by Ted:
the first successful bill to protect consumers from predatory mortgage bankers

the first successful legislation to end conversion therapy for LGBT minors

the first successful bill to take serious statewide action against Global Warming

the first successful bill to end state cooperation with the CIA, NSA and any other federal agencies engaging in unconstitutional domestic spying
Ted Lieu isn’t just another politician making sweet-sounding promises. He’s running on a solid platform of accomplishments and leadership. And, on these issues, the 3 other candidates our I.E. Committee is trying to boost— Paul Clements, Shenna Bellows and Rick Weiland— all agree 100%. Every cent contributed on our Independent Expenditure Committee page between now and election day will go right into these 4 campaigns. Please help us make Congress more progressive, more productive and more responsive to the needs of ordinary working families. Every dollar counts.

Ted Lieu told us he's running for Congress, first and foremost, to deal with the dangers of Climate Change-- for his children and for all of our children

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Are Democratic Elected Officials Selling Out Monterey County?


Scott 'n Walt
Shenanigans abound in a central California Sheriff’s race. Beautiful Monterey County, otherwise known as the salad bowl for it’s 4 billion dollar a year Agriculture Industry is also the youth homicide capital of California. For several years Monterey has led the State in youth homicides and violence. Most people say it is those pesky “gangs.” But by using the word “gangs” they are really saying ‘who cares it is just brown kids killing brown kids.’

Dems like Jerry Brown, Bill Monning, and Luis Alejo are backing the current Sheriff, Scott Miller against Deputy Steve Bernal. So this Miller guy must be good right? I mean he has the backing of all these stand up Dems.

Maybe he is tough on drugs? His son was arrested June 2011 after a search of the apartment he lived in behind his father's home. In addition to possessing methamphetamine for sale, he was charged with possession of hydrocodone without a prescription, possession of fireworks and possession of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana. Last year he was arrested again and convicted again.

Ouch; his own son was selling meth out of the back of the Sheriff’s house? Tough on crime? Miller spoke to the The Herald shortly after about the arrest. What he did not mention is the woman arrested— 21-year old Alison Davi— had once lived in his home and that on one occasion he had helped her retrieve her impounded car. Miller said he didn't disclose that because, "No one asked me," he said Monday afternoon, "and I haven't seen her in three years."

Maybe he is a good manager with his staff? Read what the head of the DSA had to say:
I’m hoping this will open the eyes of the public as to the inner workings of the department and what's actually going on behind closed doors," he said. "It's pretty significant for a union to have never held a vote of no-confidence and then for the first time ever to hold a vote of no-confidence and to have it pass overwhelmingly.”
Wait is this guy even a Democrat? Turns out he is a NPP and used to be registered as a Republican but was even too extreme for them. Take a look at his campaign manager Gregory D Lee’s writings. Lee is a friend of 35 years with Miller and was forced to fire him after numerous editorials and a letter by Latino Democrats. "It is not easily understandable why Sheriff Miller would choose such a such an individual to be a policy advisory, confidant and hold the most trusted position in his re-election campaign as his campaign [spokesman]," they wrote. "Worse is the possibility Gregory Lee could shape law enforcement policy as part of Sheriff Miller's Leadership Team.”
”People judge politicians not just by their records, their deeds or what they say but also by the company they keep.

That's why many recently were shocked to learn of the ultra right wing background of Gregory D. Lee— who says he is Sheriff Scott Miller's official campaign spokesman.

For those who didn't catch some of the coverage earlier in the week, a coalition of Latino Democrats put out a press release with some links to Lee's political writings.

The ones I saw were both bigoted and downright ugly.

Here's some of the titles:

"Los Angeles Should Stop Hugging Illegal Aliens"

"It's the NAACP That's Racist, By Definition"

"Obama and Holder Want To Empty Federal Prisons"

"Why do homosexuals want to serve in the military? For sex of course"

Well maybe we shouldn’t judge him too much on other people’s actions but instead look at his own? The complaints aren’t the first Miller has faced. In his time as Pacific Grove police chief, Miller dealt with discrimination and retaliation complaints from Rhonda Ramey and Darrin Smolinski. Both were LGBT officers.

11 EEOC complaints in his first two years? When Miller took office the Sheriff’s department had a female Unersheriff and several Latino Commanders. All since have been replaced by his close friends, white men. When asked by a reporter during a forum how many Latino’s he has promoted to leadership positions, Miller couldn’t name one.

Well look, a good Sheriff runs a good jail:
"Severe overcrowding, outdated facilities and chronic under-staffing have created dangerous conditions in the jail, placing prisoners and staff at serious risk of injury and death," the complaint reads.
Among the allegations described in the suit:

Delays in medical treatment.

One of the plaintiffs, Jesse Hernandez, said he waited eight months to have surgery to reverse his colostomy and ended up with intestinal swelling, bleeding, fevers and obstructed bowels. Another man who was waiting for a colostomy bag showed up in court "leaking feces all over his body" and was immediately ordered to a hospital by the judge, the complaint says.

Deficient mental health care.

Inadequate suicide prevention measures.

Failure to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities.

Failure to protect prisoners from violence.

So it appears the Deputies Union might have some legitimate complaints about being forced to work 16 hour shifts day after day and citing unsafe working conditions. In fact 2 brand new cadets from the graduating class of 13 new Deputies, quit on the first day after walking into the jail. One of them was the valedictorian of the class.

Steve Bernal who is running against the Sheriff and the establishment has the audacity to be a union member. Bernal is a member of Operating Engineers Local 3 and the Deputy Sheriff’s Association. Steve has received the endorsement of OE3, PORAC, Latino Police Officers Association former Chapter President, and the DSA of Santa Cruz, San Mateo, and Monterey. He has received the endorsement of the last four former Sheriff’s in Monterey and several retired Sheriff’s from nearby counties. Lastly, Nancy Cuffney the last undersheriff who spent 33 years in the department has also endorsed Bernal.

Miller has zero union endorsements. How do these upstanding Dems explain this and why would they be putting their name next to this guy?


This line from "Ever Decreasing Circles" almost made me feel sorry for brain-locked right-wingers


Until eerily close to air time, the show didn't have theme music, or even a name. Then somebody, or probably somebodies, thought of (a) Ever Decreasing Circles and (b) No. 15 of Shostakovich's 24 Preludes for Piano, Op. 34 (played by pianist Ronnie Lane). In Part 1 of the pilot episode, "The New Neighbour" (Part 2 is here), Richard Briars is Martin Bryce; Penelope Wilton is Ann Bryce; Peter Egan is Paul Ryman, the new neighbour; and Stanley Lebor is old neighbor Howard Hughes (no, a different Howard Hughes).

"No, no, what we mustn't do, Martin, is deprive ourselves of the sheer excitement of not knowing what we might end up with."
-- Paul Ryman (Peter Egan), in "House to Let," Episode 3 of
Series 3 (aired September 1986) of Ever Decreasing Circles

by Ken

I love that phrase "the sheer excitement of not knowing what we might end up with." I can't tell you who exactly wrote the line, because Ever Decreasing Circles was written by one of the great TV writing teams, John Esmonde and Bob Larbey. In one of the DVD audio commentaries, recorded some 20 years after the series (1985-87, plus a 1989 special) finished, the actors recall Esmonde as a "dark" writer and Larbey as contrastingly "light," one of the things that, obviously, made them such a good team. In case you don't instantly recall the names, they had written the classic series The Good Life -- which we in the U.S. got as Good Neighbors, for some name-conflict reason -- with the great team of Richard Briars, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, and Paul Edding. (The DVDs were released in 2007, at which time, by great good fortune, Richard Briars, Penelope Wilton, and Paul Egan were all still available and eager to participate. The audio commentaries are spectacular.)

To illustrate the brilliance of Esmonde and Larbey: After they've concocted that wonderful line about "depriv[ing] ourselves of the sheer excitement of not knowing what we might end up with," the writers have "what we might end up with" turn out to be the Danbys, the tenants Paul has found for the the house he's bought, as an investment, in the close where he and the Bryces live. Martin is deeply concerned about the effect of a new tenant on the perfect equilibrium of the neighborhood. (Of course what Martin fears most of all is another Paul.)

Dan Danby -- borderline nuts?
As it turns out, Dan Danby is, well, borderline nuts, or perhaps over-the-border. Since his nuttiness is in the service of absolute social orthodoxy, Martin loves him, while both Paul and Martin's wife Ann are horrified. Sometimes what we end up with, after all that excitement of now knowing, turns out to be our worst nightmare. (Ann guesses correctly that what Martin assumes was an intensive search for just the right people was in fact Paul signing up the first people who looked at the place.)

The point here is that nobody could be less interested than Martin in the sheer excitement of not knowing what we might end up with, or in ending up with anything other than exactly what he expects, and approves of. The key to Ever Decreasing Circles, of course, was Richard Briars, who was one of the few actors (if there have ever been that many) who could make a character like Martin anything other than unbearable. He had spent his estimable career charming the pants off of audiences, and the show's creators reckoned that he could make Martin not only bearable but likable, but likable only in his utter impossibility. In one of the DVD commentaries, Penelope Wilton -- now best known to us as Downton Abbey's Isobel Crawley, mother of the unexpected heir to Downton, the now-late Matthew Crawley -- mentions that she used to get letters from viewers asking how she could be married to that man.

This is where comedic genius, in both the writing and the acting, comes into play. I always think of Seinfeld and the character of Kramer. Sometimes it has been pointed out to me that our Kramer, Cosmo K, was ripped out of the real-life existence of Larry David's and Jerry Seinfeld's old acquaintance Kenny Kramer, and certainly Kenny Kramer felt ripped off. But I ask the obvious question: Does anyone suppose that anyone ever found the real-life Kenny Kramer funny? I have a strong hunch that he drove acquaintances stark staring crazy, and probably night unto unbearable, about as far from amusing as you can get. The genius of the Seinfeld team, it struck me, was to have made their Kramer both hilarious and deep-down charming.

So it must have been with Ever Decreasing Circles's Martin Bryce. Martin is almost limitlessly exasperating, and the viewer often wonders, as those correspondents of Penelope Wilton's wrote her, how her character could have remained married to Martin. But, almost incredibly, the team of writers Esmonde and Larbey and actor Briars made Martin both entertaining and, infuriating as he is, sympathetic. He means so well, after all, and after all what could have produced a person so deeply damaged?

So maybe it was because of this context, the context of Martin's hopeless befuddlement, that I was able to hear Paul's line -- the line about "the sheer excitement of not knowing what we might end up with" -- so vividly. And heard it as something like a textbook description of the far-right-wing mind. For the adherents of right-wing orthodoxy, what matters more than never having to be uncertain about what to expect, and that what they expect is all their old certainties.

And suddenly I found myself feeling sorry, almost, for all those right-wingers who have been denied, or have denied themselves, the saving human grace of curiosity, of looking at the world around them with a passion to understand and explain -- and to reserve for themselves the sheer excitement of not knowing what they might end up with.

Ironically, they can't ever get their wish to always know what they're going to end up with, because reality doesn't allow it. Reality insists on behaving according to its own rules, showing hardly any respect for the protocols of institutionalized hokum.

There's a lot more to talk about in this connection, but for now let me just feel a little bad for those people who deny this fundamental aspect of their humanity, the deep-rooted need to explore and try to understand.

Labels: ,

Satan’s Man In The Vatican— Demoted Again


American fascist Raymond Burke, the satanic cardinal, loses his power over Church law

We’ve been covering slimy little neo-Nazi Raymond Cardinal Burke for years. He’s the far right’s and Satan’s representative in the Vatican and, before Pope Francis came along, seemed destined to turn the hands of time back on the Catholic Church to the 15th Century, which is where his worldview comes from. He’s the Ayn Rand of Catholicism, just more primitive and more partisan. Pope Francis has finally tossed him out on his ass.

Predictably, Burke had gone against the Pope at the Synod, claiming Pope Francis was trying to “weaken the church’s teaching and practice.”
“According to my understanding of the church’s teaching and discipline, no, it wouldn’t be correct,” Burke said, saying the pope had “done a lot of harm” by not stating “openly what his position is.” Burke said the Pope had given the impression that he endorses some of the most controversial parts of the Relatio, especially on questions of divorce, because of a German cardinal who gave an important speech suggesting a path to allowing people who had divorced and remarried to receive communion, Cardinal Walter Kasper, to open the synod’s discussion.

“The pope, more than anyone else as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth,” Burke said. “The pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”

Burke has publicly clashed with the pope since Francis took office in 2013, and he has come to represent the sidelining of culture warriors elevated by Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict and as the top doctrinal official under Pope John Paul II. Burke, who caused controversy while bishop of St. Louis by saying Catholics who voted for politicians supportive of abortion rights should not receive communion, went on Catholic television in 2013 to rebut remarks Pope Francis made to an interviewer that the church had become “obsessed” with abortion and sexuality to the exclusion of other issues, saying, “We can never talk enough about that as long as in our society innocent and defenseless human life is being attacked in the most savage way,” Burke said. While Francis famously responded to a question about homosexuality in 2013 by asking, “Who am I to judge?” Burke described homosexual “acts” as “always and everywhere wrong [and] evil” during an interview last week.

In the interview with BuzzFeed News, Burke confirmed publicly for the first time the rumors that he had been told Francis intended to demote him from the church’s chief guardian of canon law to a minor post as patron to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

“I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it,” Burke said, explaining that he hadn’t yet received a formal notice of transfer. “On the other hand, in the church as priests, we always have to be ready to accept whatever assignment we’re given. And so I trust, by accepting this assignment, I trust that God will bless me, and that’s what’s in the end most important.”

When the pope first took office, his pivot away from an emphasis on questions of sexuality were more a matter of personal tone rather than changes in church policy or personnel. There were rumors that he was trying to oust the man chosen by Pope Benedict to head the church’s office responsible for doctrine, Gerhard Müller, but last winter he instead elevated him from archbishop to cardinal. When word that Burke was on his way out began circulating last month, it signaled that Francis would take major steps to reshape the church. It coincided with the selection of a new archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, whom Catholic progressives celebrated for positions like breaking with the American church hierarchy when it withheld its support for President Obama’s health reform law over questions of abortion and contraception.

Internal discontent among conservatives inside church leadership began to simmer over in the weeks leading up to the synod. Just before it began, Burke, Müller, and other senior cardinals published a book in several languages attacking the ideas laid out by Cardinal Walter Kasper on allowing those who had divorced and remarried to receive communion in a speech heartily praised by Pope Francis. It broke into open revolt at the midpoint of the synod, following publication of a document presented as a summary of discussions but that conservatives said misrepresented the debate by including passages on “welcoming homosexual persons” and discussing some of Kasper’s proposal on divorce. The backlash appeared to have been especially strong from the English-speaking world, which includes a large number of African and American bishops; in an apparent attempt to mollify anglophone conservatives, the Vatican released a new translation of the report that changed the phrase “welcoming homosexual persons” to “providing for homosexual persons” and made other small changes, while leaving the versions in all other languages unchanged.

The report is now being revised with feedback from small-group discussions held this week, and a final version is scheduled to be voted on on Saturday. Burke said he hoped that the committee writing the new report will produce a “worthy document,” but said his “trust is a little bit shaken” by the language in the interim draft he said lacks “a good foundation either in the sacred scriptures or in the church’s perennial teachings.”

But there seems to be little middle ground between Pope Francis’ worldview and Burke’s. Francis was president of the Argentinian bishops conference when that country passed a marriage equality bill in 2010 and reportedly tried to convince his colleagues to support a civil union proposal instead. He lost the internal battle and gave voice to the hard-line consensus that the law was “sent by the devil.” The fight over the bill left the church appearing out of step with the beliefs of many in Argentina, a country where 76% identify as Catholic but only 38.2% went to church in 2005, per the most recent data available from the Association of Religious Data Archives. While Francis has shown no sign he supports overhauling the church’s teachings that homosexuality is sinful, he seems to have taken from this experience a desire to downplay conflicts over sexuality in order to broaden the church’s message.
Burke isn’t being exiled to Malta and the Pope is keeping him in Rome where he can be watched. His job will be to head an organization charged with assisting the elderly, handicapped, children, homeless, those with terminal illness and leprosy in all parts of the world, as well as refugees and victims of natural disasters, epidemics and armed conflicts without distinction of race or religion.

Labels: ,

Food, glorious food -- or maybe not so glorious in Bob Mankoff's cartoon world


"Well, pay me! He ate it."

by Ken

First off, let me confess that I added the comma after "well" in the above cartoon caption. Sorry, I just couldn't read it without the comma.

Okay, that said, let me explain that New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff offers this cartoon as the first in a series of three he says sums up a piece he happened to reread recently, Anthony Bourdain's April 1999 "Don't Eat Before Reading This," which "detail[s] the unsavory behind-the-scenes restaurant practices that foist crummy cuisine on a credulous clientele."

All of which apparently came to mind because Bob was thinking about a familiar phrase: "Like watching sausage getting made."
The idea being that you may like how sausage tastes, but that if you saw how sausage was made, you would find it a lot less appealing. The idiom applies not just to sausages but to the unsavory activities that are the backdrop for what we enjoy or admire, from law to medicine to politics to whatever.
The Bourdain piece, Bob says, "brings the sausage metaphor home to its source -- food." And here are the other specimens that for Bob "sum up his piece in a few cartoons."

"Push the salmon with dill sauce."

"Is there anyone here who specializes in stress management?"


And it's of restaurant quality. Perhaps not surprisingly, I can't resisting this gem from the great Carl Barsotti:

"The chef said all the regular stuff is
as special as it's going to get today."

Okay, maybe one more. You can check out the classier offerings for yourself. I offer you this cautionary tale from the great Jack Ziegler:

"That's the food biz. Celebrity chef one day,
graveyard shift hash jockey the next."

Labels: , ,

Thinking Of Running For Congress? Only The Rich And The Corporate Whores Need Apply?


Mark Warner, not really homeless

The two richest Members of Congress are both House Republicans, career criminal Darrell Isis (net worth: $357 million) and Texas wing nut Michael McCaul, who got rich by marrying the daughter of Hate Talk radio empire Clear Channel (net worth at least $117.5). When it comes to the Senate, though, the richest members are Democrats. Once Rockefeller retires in January, the richest senator will be venture capitalist and Virginia centrist Mark Warner (net worth $95 million). A former Virginia Governor, Warner won an overwhelming victory against a former Republican governor, Jim Gilmore, 65-34%. Obama won Virginia as well that same day, besting McCain by a far less impressive 53-46%. Virginians like the moderately conservative Warner as governor and they’ve liked him as senator. His 75.38 ProgressivePunch crucial vote score puts him down towards the bottom of the Democrats, a little better than fellow corporatists and right-wing Dems Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) but worse than cautious moderates Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). A Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders of Tammy Baldwin he’s never going to be.

The polling indicates that, despite a big name Republican opponent, lobbyist and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, Warner never had a serious challenge. Every poll has shown him ahead— and by a lot. In fact, not a single poll— not even by laughable Republican polling firms like Harper and Rasmussen who always try to show Republicans winning— has Gillespie breaking 40%. Several have him mired in the 20s unable to even get a third of the vote. The most recent CBS News/NY Times poll by YouGov (released the first week of October) shows Warner beating Gillespie 49-36%, 51-39% if you factor in “leaners.” Among self-described “moderates,” Warner is ahead 56-21%.

This week, Gillespie waved the white flag and admitted he has no chance. The way you do that 2 weeks before election day is to stop spending money. Though Gillespie had reported raising $4,164,818 on his FEC forms June 30— and had $3,111,992 cash-on-hand— he’s now pulled his TV advertising. CBS News reported this week that “political operatives who track television advertising said Thursday that Gillespie does not have ads reserved in the final push toward the Nov. 4 elections.”
The financial struggles of Gillespie's campaign are something of a surprise. He was the Republican National Committee chairman, served in President George W. Bush's administration as a top adviser and was a top lieutenant to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

That pedigree, however, has not translated to extraordinary fundraising. And that has left Gillespie at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to advertising.

Following a report by The Associated Press about the drop-off in advertising, the Gillespie campaign said Thursday it would launch new rounds of TV ads on Saturday— but it did not specify when or where the ads would run, or at what cost. The campaign also announced it had banked $2 million for the final push to Election Day.

That's about a quarter of what his Democratic rival, first-term Sen. Mark Warner, has on hand.

Warner's campaign on Wednesday announced it had more than $8 million to spend in the race's final days. Warner is currently blanketing the state with TV.

Gillispie has struggled to keep pace in fundraising and advertising. He loaned his campaign $65,000 over the summer.

The non-partisan Center for Public Integrity shows Warner has spent $4.4 million on ads and the liberal Virginia Progress PAC has spent another $2 million.

Gillispie has spent $3.5 million on ads, but a scant $174,000 has come from outside groups.

…[B]uying television time to reach voters in population-heavy northern Virginia requires spending in the Washington, D.C., media market, where ads can cost more than $1 million each week.

Airtime always becomes more expensive as Election Day nears and more candidates are clamoring for more spots. Last-minute efforts to buy ads put the campaigns at the mercy of station owners who can demand premium prices that put cash-strapped campaigns at a disadvantage.

Campaigning for Senator Al Franken, Governor Mark Dayton and state Senator Mike Obermueller at Carleton College in Northfield this week, Elizabeth Warren told the crowd that "The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it." The crowd agreed. Today’s she’s in Iowa, campaigning for Bruce Braley with the same message.

I hope you already read yesterday’s post about how the very wealthy have come to control our democracy. As Noam Chomsky explained in the video at the bottom of the post, candidates are “vetted by corporate interests.” If the very rich don’t get behind you, you don’t have the finances it takes to run for office. There are very few exceptions. And corporate interests, while having no problem with Gillespie, of course, are perfectly happy seeing Mark Warner rise in national prominence and work for them inside the Senate Democratic caucus to counter pro-working family tendencies pushed by people like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, Jeff Merkley and Tammy Baldwin. And, of course, that’s why the South Dakota Senate race is suddenly such a big deal. All the momentum belongs to independent-minded populist/progressive Rick Weiland who is on the verge of beating two corporate Establshment darlings, former Republican Governor Mike Rounds and former Republican Senator Larry Pressler. If you want to help beat the plutocrats and corporate predators… you can do it here, on the Blue America Act Blue Senate page.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Eichmann Was Completely Unrepentant About The Extermination Of The Jews


Adolph Eichmann, like Mitt Romney, started off as an advocate of self-deportation

I never understood Roland’s interest in Jews-in-exotic-places but whenever we travel to off-the-beaten path countries, he always wants to visit synagogues— in places where you wouldn’t expect Jews, like Singapore, Yangon, and India. We still haven’t visited Madagascar but there’s even a small Jewish community there. Until Hitler decided to invade Russia, it looked like there was going to be a really big Jewish community in Madagascar. Franz Rademacher, head of the Jewish Department of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, proposed that Germany take over the French colony of Madagascar and resettle Europe’s Jews there (originally an idea that Poland’s right-wing government came up with in the late ‘30s. Half of Germany’s Jews had, in Mitt Romney’s timeless words, “self-deported” (to the U.S., Palestine, the U.K., Argentina and Brazil) in the 6 years after the Nazis took power. Hitler liked the Madagascar plan and Adolph Eichmann released a memorandum on 15 August 1940— Reichssicherheitshauptamt: Madagaskar Projekt calling for the resettlement of a million Jews per year for four years. His plan was to put the SS in charge of the island. In the end though, the Nazis got too busy with a two-front war and chose direct extermination over deportation. No European Jews were forced to resettle on Madagascar.

The plan was touched on by Bettina Stangneth in her new book, Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer, reviewed yesterday by Richard Evans for The Guardian. The book covers Eichmann’s years in exile after the Holocaust and the Nazi defeat and before he was kipnapped in Argentina (1960) and brought to Israel to be hanged in 1962.
So what kind of a man was Adolf Eichmann? How and why did he become a mass murderer? The first and still the most famous and influential attempt to answer these questions came from the German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt, who attended the trial as a correspondent for the New Yorker, subsequently publishing her articles in a revised book-length version as Eichmann in Jerusalem. The book stirred up a storm of criticism, particularly though not exclusively from Jewish intellectuals in the United States. There were many reasons for this. Reflecting what was known at the time, and in common with other early historians of the Nazis' genocide of the Jews, Arendt was highly critical both of the passivity of the great majority of European Jews in the face of persecution and extermination, and of the collaborationist administration of the Jewish Councils in the ghettos, whose tragic and impossible situation failed to arouse her sympathy. [She wouldn’t be a fan of gay Republicans like Aaron Schock, Lindsey Graham, Carl DeMaio and Richard Tisei today.]

The judgments she offers in Eichmann in Jerusalem are utterly independent and totally unsparing. Time and again she raises questions that provoke and disturb. The abduction of Eichmann from Argentina was illegal; the trial was a show-trial; Israel's marriage laws were similar to the racist Nuremberg laws of the Nazis; Eichmann's crimes were crimes against humanity, so international law should have dealt with the case. Arendt's independence of mind is one of the most impressive features of her reporting. She writes as a detached philosophical inquirer, not as the representative of any particular group or political tendency.

Eichmann in Jerusalem bore the subtitle "A Study in the Banality of Evil.” What she meant by this was not that Eichmann was a mere bureaucrat, a conscienceless pen-pusher who was only obeying orders. On the contrary, she argued, he was an ideological antisemite, a man of overweening ambition who wanted not only power but also fame. He had a compulsion to "talk big,” she observed, and indeed "bragging was the vice that was Eichmann's undoing.” Not a particularly intelligent man, he assimilated the ideology and behaviour of the evil system within which he sought to achieve distinction. He admired the Third Reich not least because it allowed men from a humble background like his own— or Hitler's, for that matter— to climb to the top. He was under no compulsion to act as he did: he could have opted out at any time; all his actions were voluntary. He deserved to die because he had failed, or refused, to exercise the kind of moral judgment Arendt herself showed in her book. His crimes were the crimes of a system, even a nation; as the psychologists who examined him in prison concluded, he was not a psychopath or a sociopath, though, as Arendt points out, he was most certainly, and frequently, a liar and a deceiver. This was the "banality of evil.”

In Argentina, Arendt notes, Eichmann did not go underground but occupied himself with "talking endlessly with members of the large Nazi colony, to whom he readily admitted his identity.” These conversations were recorded by a Dutch ex‑member of the SS, Willem Sassen, and edited extracts were published anonymously, though there could be little doubt about the identity of the principal participant. The existence of the original tapes and transcripts has long been known, but up to now their poor quality has defied systematic investigation. The German philosopher and historian Bettina Stangneth has now performed the invaluable service of deciphering them, putting them together with other, often little-known source material, and delivering a full analysis of Eichmann's ideas as he expounded them to his friends and former colleagues in exile.

In the conversations he had with Sassen and others, Eichmann was completely unrepentant about the extermination of the Jews, which he saw as historically necessary, a policy he was proud to have carried out in the interests of Germany. The cynicism, inhumanity, lack of pity and moral self‑deception of the conversations are breathtaking. This is a very disturbing book, and every now and then, as you read it, you have to pause in disbelief. Ten years and more after the war's end, Eichmann's lack of realism, typical for a political exile, even persuaded him that he could make a comeback, or that nazism could be rehabilitated, and he planned to launch a public defense of what he saw as its achievements.

In one of the conversations, Eichmann described himself as a "cautious bureaucrat" but also "a fanatical warrior, fighting for the freedom of my blood.” Stangneth dissents from Arendt's belief that Eichmann was unintelligent, and points out that he calculatedly presented himself only as the cautious bureaucrat during his trial, deliberately concealing his "fanatical" side. But his clumsy attempt to present himself as pursuing a Kantian "categorical imperative" does not show that he was in any way an intellectual; and his mendacious self-presentation as a mere pen-pusher did not convince anyone, least of all Arendt. What he lacked was moral intelligence, the ability to judge the system he worked for and whose ideology he assimilated so completely.

Stangneth's absorbing account of his years in exile, which is translated by Ruth Martin, adds considerably to our knowledge of Eichmann, but it is not a "total reassessment of the man", as the publishers claim, nor is it true to claim that the book "permanently undermines Hannah Arendt's notion of the 'banality of evil'." Half a century after it was written, Arendt's book, despite the fact that it has been overtaken in many of its details by research, remains a classic that everyone interested in the crimes of nazism has to confront.

Labels: , , ,

Time again to test our geographic mettle with those fiends from National Geographic (Zombies? Zombies??? Gimme a break!)


Zombies, eh?

by Ken

We haven't done this in a while, and when I saw the new issue of National Geographic in the mailbox this evening when I got home from today's urban gadding (first a visit to NYC Transit's Bergen Sign Shop out in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, then a Historic Districts Council walk up in Harlem and even farther up in Mott Haven, the Bronx, focusing on three still-in-use Carnegie-paid-for public libraries, with a drive-by of a third on the bus en route to the Bronx), I thought, you know, we haven't done this in a while!

So here it is, direct from the address insert in this month's subscription mailing:
1  Izmir, Adana, and Bursa are major cities in what country?

2  The Strait of Malacca links the South China Sea with which ocean?

3  Name the largest city in Scotland, which is located on the Clyde River.

4  The Corfu Channel separates the Greek island of Corfu from which neighboring country?

5  What country north of Ghana, formerly known as Upper Volta, won independence from France in 1960?



Okay, okay, I got three right, and two others maybe not quite as right. I'm frankly a little dubious about (4), the answer to which seems hardly worth concerning ourselves with. So maybe I don't know exactly where Corfu is. Am I expected to keep track of every last Greek island? Hey, there are, uh, millions of them. And then --


Now just a doggone minute! When did [name withheld] become Scotland's largest city? Everybody knows that [name withheld] is the capital and Edinburgh the largest city. Okay, Edinburgh isn't on the Clyde (it's on the Firth of Forth, as I was reminded when I looked it up), and I should have remembered that (besides, shouldn't that be "the River Clyde," not "the Clyde River"?), but it hardly mattered since I knew perfectly well what the largest city in Scotland is -- I've got this! And in any case I can hardly be expected to keep track of every confounded river in the world.


Never mind.

Labels: ,

How Do They Define Treason In Missouri These Days? Meet Debbie Dunnegan, Republican Jefferson County Recorder Of Deeds


Jefferson County includes many of St Louis’ southern suburbs. It’s well-off, very white, kind of centrist… a very Hillary Clinton kind of area— and not a very Barack Obama kind of area. Of the 10 elected county-wide officials, 8 are Democrats and only two are Republicans, County Commissioner Ken Waller and County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan Waters. She expected an easy ride to reelection next month. A Facebook posting calling for a military coup against President Obama is causing her a little problem.

Chances are, no one outside of eastern Missouri would have ever heard of Debbie had she not crossed over into treason on her Facebook page this week. “I have a question for all my friends who have served or are currently serving in our military,” she wrote, “having not put on a uniform nor taken any type military oath, there has to be something that I am just not aware of. But I cannot and do not understand why no action is being taken against our domestic enemy. I know he is supposedly the commander in chief, but the Constitution gives you the authority. What am I missing?”

Dunnegan is upset that her words have been twisted, she says. “Something innocent and simple got twisted into a disaster because it’s an election.” She just wanted to know about the oath the soldiers take. That’s all. “I meant no ill intent toward the president. I meant no ill intent toward anybody,” she said. She worries her remarks could hurt her reelection chances as much as they will help her. Because, sure, among certain Republicans calling for a military coup on Facebook does help, especially when the president is an African-American fighting to bring health care to working families.

I wonder if Dunnegan will be invited to address the Republican National Convention— maybe put Ted Cruz’s name in nomination to be president. Or will Democrat Mike Bone defeat her in 2 and a half weeks at the polls?

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Up In South Dakota

No one is accusing former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds of treason, per se. He’s just an old fashioned crook, looking for ways to line his pockets. His administration was selling EB-5 visas to wealthy foreigners— and everyone in South Dakota knows it. Bloomberg News was out in South Dakota for a few days this week covering the race. The video below is their report and it. paints Rick in a very positive light. Take a look, think about Debbie Dunnegan. Think about Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell and all the other GOP crackpots and, if you can, please consider contributing to Rick Weiland’s Get Out The Vote efforts.

Labels: ,