What’s Up: October 15, 2012?

To read the entire article click on the title or Story Continued. Enjoy as the world turns.

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· FOX NEWS’ CHRIS WALLACE: I’ve Never Seen A Candidate As Disrespectful As Joe Biden Was Tonight – Fox News anchor Chris Wallace hammered Vice President Joe Biden’s excessive smiling and laughing during the debate, saying that he’s never seen anyone be so disrespectful in a presidential or vice presidential debate.

And Wallace said that he’d seen most of them — all but the first four in 1960. He called his demeanor “unprecedented.”

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a debate in which one participant was as openly disrespectful of the other as Biden was to Paul Ryan tonight,” Wallace said.

He added: “It was openly contemptuous and disrespectful.” Story Continued and to watch the video:

· White House defends Biden’s debate demeanor – If Vice President Joseph R. Biden smiled too much during his debate Thursday night, the White House said the blame lies with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and his position on the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus plan.

Many viewers said Mr. Biden appeared condescending or arrogant by smiling and laughing while Mr. Ryan, the vice presidential nominee from Wisconsin, was speaking during their debate in Danville, Ky. But White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday the vice president likely couldn’t help himself.

“When Congressman Ryan starts attacking the administration over the [stimulus bill] and the split-screen shows the vice president smiling, I can tell you, I can guess why he was smiling,” Mr. Carney said. “Because he knew how hypocritical that was, because he had seen the letters written by Congressman Ryan requesting [stimulus bill] funding, because it would help the economy in Wisconsin.”

Mr. Biden also appeared amused while Mr. Ryan was discussing Iran, Afghanistan and other national security issues. Story Continued:

· ATF Whistleblower Fired in Denny’s Parking Lot For Exposing Corruption – Special Agent Vince Cefalu has worked for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms for more than 25 years. On top of successfully placing dozens of hard criminals behind bars throughout his career, Cefalu has received promotions and consistently positive evaluations. When he started raising his voice about ATF corruption and illegal wiretapping in 2005, things changed. Tuesday evening, Cefalu was asked to meet Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division Joseph Riehl at a Denny’s Restaurant near Lake Tahoe. When he arrived, he was served termination papers in the parking lot. Classy move. The exchange was secretly recorded by a confidential source. David Codrea has more:

The video, shaky at times from being handheld, and with color imbalance streaking happening inadvertently in the uploading to YouTube, was recorded by a confidential source and shows Cefalu approached by two ATF management representatives including Joseph M. Riehl, Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division, which encompasses Northern California and Nevada field offices.

Riehl, seen talking to Cefalu through his Jeep window and reportedly telling him he couldn’t leave because he had to sign papers, had been criticized on the CUATF forum, and Gun Rights Examiner is attempting to track down audit reports to determine what an independent assessment reveals about the allegations there. But the bottom line is, an employee with over 25 years of service who has been a leading spokesman for whistleblowers was unceremoniously canned in a public parking lot by senior division management. Story Continued and to watch the video:

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· The VEEP Debate – Jared Bernstein Fmr. Obama administration economist; CNBC and MSNBC contributor. I understand the Republicans are calling it a draw, which should tell you that Vice President Biden (my former boss, full disclosure) did very well Thursday night against Representative Paul Ryan in their first and only debate.

I did pre- and post-debate commentary on CNBC and before the debate I said the VP needed to clarify the waters that newly moderate Mitt had muddied. And that he did. Especially on the economic and fiscal material, he wouldn’t let Ryan get away with the misleading claims that too often went unanswered in the first debate.

Two examples that stuck out to me were:

– On the stimulus, Ryan tried to argue it was a failure and a waste of taxpayers dollars yet had no coherent response when Biden pointed out that Ryan himself had made various successful requests for stimulus funds (see here).

– On their $5 trillion tax cut, Romney/Ryan really need to either start naming the loopholes they’d close to pay for it or just admit they can’t make it revenue neutral without whacking the middle class. The VP was appropriately relentless on this point. Even I’m starting to feel sorry for them every time someone brings up this little flaw in their plan. I suspect I’m not alone in realizing that this country simply can’t afford to elect people promising a tax cut of this magnitude who, when it comes to paying for it, essentially say “trust us, we’ll find a bipartisan solution.”

One final revealing point on this: In our post-debate discussion on CNBC, Larry Kudlow and I had a friendly argument about the following (we strongly disagree, but I respect and like Larry a great deal). He claimed, correctly, that you could offset the full cost of the Romney cuts by cutting tax expenditures (i.e., loopholes, base broadeners) because the Treasury forgoes about $1 trillion per year in these measures (while their tax cut costs $5 trillion over 10 years).

But, as I pointed out, Gov. Romney has already taken capital gains and dividends-for example-off the table. Now, here’s the revealing part: Larry said, and I know many in the investment community, including Mitt, feel exactly the same way, “I don’t consider those loopholes.”

And therein lies the problem. First, the $1 trillion includes these very tax expenditures, so you can’t say that amount is available to offset the tax cut and in the same breath take a chunk off the table. Second, to the investment community, this isn’t a loophole at all — it’s a job-and-growth-creating incentive. To the housing industry — and many in the middle class — the mortgage interest deduction isn’t a loophole: It’s a ticket to the American dream of home-ownership (and, in fact, as quoted here, Mitt alludes to protecting the mortgage interest and charitable deductions as well).

Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan may want to keep these waters as muddy as they can in order to sell yet another massive tax cut we don’t need and can’t afford. Moreover, they want to sell in a way that seems costless. But VP Biden was having none of it tonight and as a result, the electorate is better informed.

And somewhere in those 90 minutes, I suspect he also re-energized a bunch of recently dispirited Democrats.

A fine day’s work, Mr Vice-President. Story Continued:

· The Final Word on Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan – Mitt Romney’s campaign says I’m full of it. I said Romney’s tax plan is mathematically impossible: he can’t simultaneously keep his pledges to cut tax rates 20 percent and repeal the estate tax and alternative minimum tax; broaden the tax base enough to avoid growing the deficit; and not raise taxes on the middle class. They say they have six independent studies — six! — that “have confirmed the soundness of the Governor’s tax plan,” and so I should stop whining. Let’s take a tour of those studies and see how they measure up.

The Romney campaign sent over a list of the studies, but they are perhaps more accurately described as “analyses,” since four of them are blog posts or op-eds. I’m not hating — I blog for a living — but I don’t generally describe my posts as “studies.”

None of the analyses do what Romney’s campaign says: show that his tax plan is sound. I’m going to walk through them individually, but first I want to make a broad point.

The Tax Policy Center paper that sparked this discussion found that Romney’s plan couldn’t work because his tax rate cuts would provide $86 billion more in tax relief to people making over $200,000 than Romney could recoup by eliminating tax expenditures for that group. That means his plan is necessarily a tax cut for the rich, so if Romney keeps his promise not to grow the deficit, he’ll have to raise taxes on the middle class.

Various analyses have adjusted TPC’s assumptions in an effort to bring down that $86 billion deficit. But getting from $86 billion down to $0 is not enough to make Romney’s proposal work. For Romney’s math to add up, he actually needs a substantial surplus of a high-income base broadening above the cost of his high-income rate cuts.

This is for two reasons. First, TPC’s thought experiment — eliminate as many deductions as possible at the top while holding those below $200,000 harmless from tax increases — was not only exceedingly generous in granting Romney’s assumptions. It was impossibly generous. Under the terms analyzed by the TPC study, a taxpayer earning $199,999 would face a drastically higher tax bill for earning $1 more in income. That doesn’t happen in the real world.

Instead you would need to phase in restrictions in deductions on the wealthy, which would reduce the amount of revenue those restrictions generated. Harvard Professor Martin Feldstein, in one of the analyses cited by the Romney campaign, makes a rough estimate that a phase-in would cost about $15 billion. My back-of-the-envelope calculations roughly match that.

There is a second reason Romney needs a big surplus for his plan to work. When asked why he won’t lay out a specific plan to eliminate tax expenditures, Romney consistently says it’s because he can’t dictate a plan to Congress and will work with legislators from a menu of options. As he said in last week’s debate:

I’m going to work together with Congress to say, OK, what are the various ways we could bring down deductions, for instance?. . . . There are alternatives to accomplish the objective I have, which is to bring down rates, broaden the base, simplify the code and create incentives for growth.

There are only meaningful “alternatives” to discuss with Congress if Romney can pick and choose from a pool of tax preferences for the wealthy that far exceeds the $250 billion annual cost of his rate cuts for them. If the pool of available base broadeners is just large enough to finance his tax cuts, then Romney actually is dictating a plan to Congress: if they don’t eliminate exactly the set of preferences he proposes, his plan will either have to raise taxes on the middle class or grow the deficit.

TPC finds that Romney’s rate cuts, plus elimination of the estate tax and Alternative Minimum Tax, would cost the Treasury about $250 billion in revenue from high earners. If he could somehow find, say, $300 billion in base broadeners from the wealthy, $15 billion of which would have to go to a phaseout, that wouldn’t leave a lot of “alternatives” on the table. Yet there aren’t enough base broadeners for Romney to reach the $300 billion level, let alone exceed it.

Now, on to the six studies.

1. The strongest of the six analyses is actually one of the shortest: An October 1 blog post from Alex Brill at the American Enterprise Institute. Brill chips away at the $86 billion figure by raising three objections to the TPC study. Story Continued:

· Biden Bails Water, Now It’s Up To The Captain – Howard Fineman -Summoning a lifetime of passion, skill, knowledge, blarney and blindingly perfect teeth, Vice President Joe Biden last night managed to right the listing U.S.S. Barack Obama.

But Biden’s success at rallying the Democratic base managed to beg the puzzling question of whether, when and how the captain himself will show up with the kind of gusto and focus that Biden (and former President Bill Clinton) have shown in defending the administration and attacking its Republican foes.

Ryan and Biden helped clarify the key issues: taxes, Medicare, jobs, and irreconcilable visions of the roles of government and markets.

Carefully schooled if sometimes a little frantic, Biden managed in his 90-minute debate with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to tick off a long list of defense and attack points that the president himself had failed to mention in his first debate last week with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Smiling, smirking, and shaking his head –- doing everything but turning over the chairs –- the vice president dominated the debate, though not always in a good way. But his antic overreach was just what the Democratic base wanted as a corrective.

Ryan, admonished by handlers to keep his cool, matched Biden’s at times eerie grins (Can you believe this guy?) with the pitying stare of a young man indulging the eccentricities of the crank next door.

The two men, who interrupted each other and cross-talked with moderator Martha Raddatz, were seated at the same table but essentially speaking to two entirely different audiences: Biden to dispirited Democratic loyalists; Ryan to “soft” Democrats and independents who want to believe that Romney and Ryan are mainstream, sympathetic figures not in thrall to right-wing ideology.

Obama’s task now is to take Biden’s substantive game plan, cool it down a little, and hit Romney with it at Hofstra University next week. But the president also has to show what Biden showed –- sometimes to almost comic excess –- which is a genuine concern for the lives and labors of average working people in this country.

In that sense, Biden’s modest win on points last night is a challenge to the president.

All of the helpful cheerleading that the president has received from Clinton and now Biden can work two ways: it can instruct and inspire Obama; or it can make him look bad if he can’t connect the way he was able to on the campaign trail four years ago. Story Continued:

· AS ELECTION DAY NEARS, ROMNEY CROWDS ARE SURGING – The crowds tell the story. As Election Day nears, Mitt Romney is drawing large and excited throngs.

Look to dusty Iowa cornfields, rain-soaked Virginia parks, the muddy fields of the Shelby County Fairgrounds, where a crowd of 9,500 – almost half of this western Ohio town – gathered among the barns and stables on a frigid October evening this week to glimpse the Republican presidential contender.

“Where else would we want to be?” said one of the shivering faithful, Judy Cartwright, a 71-year-old nurse from Sidney. “I want to see the next president of the United States.”

Romney’s debate performance against President Barack Obama last week – and his energetic appearances following it up – have fueled a rise in enthusiasm on the campaign trail. Whether or not it will translate into votes, polls do suggest that Republicans are fired up. It’s a welcome development for the Republican businessman, who is hardly a natural politician and has long struggled to match Obama’s ability to inspire excitement.

In Virginia, for example, Republican leaning counties appear to be getting the fastest start on absentee voting ahead of Election Day. State Board of Elections data analyzed by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit and nonpartisan tracker of money in state politics, shows that of the 25 localities where absentee voting is busiest, 21 voted Republican in the 2008 presidential race. And of the 25 localities where absentee balloting is the slowest so far, 16 supported Obama.

Romney seems to be feeding off the energy pumping through his now-sprawling crowds, even as aides downplay the newfound momentum among the GOP base.

“I’m overwhelmed by the number of people here,” he exulted while scanning the sea of supporters packed beyond the fairgrounds fences here. “There are even people out there – that’s another county over there.”

Romney’s growing crowds come as new polls suggest he has erased Obama’s advantage in voter support nationally. Races have tightened in a handful of battleground states, too.

The president’s challenge on the campaign trail this year has been to match the high excitement bar he set in 2008. For Romney, it has been to exceed low expectations.

But recent polling suggests the “enthusiasm gap,” long thought to lean toward Obama, has leveled off.

The Pew Research Center poll this week found that 68 percent of registered voters who back Obama support him strongly. Some 67 percent of Romney voters are strongly behind him. That’s the first time Pew’s poll has found the two candidates even on this measure. Story Continued:

· Biden Claims He Voted Against Afghanistan, Iraq Wars – Vice President Joe Biden accused Rep. Paul Ryan of putting two wars on the “credit card,” and then suggested he voted against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“By the way, they talk about this great recession like it fell out of the sky–like, ‘Oh my goodness, where did it come from?’” Biden said. “It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, at the same time, put a prescription drug plan on the credit card, a trillion dollar tax cut for the very wealthy.”

“I was there, I voted against them,” Biden continued. “I said, no, we can’t afford that.”

Then Sen. Biden voted for the Afghanistan resolution on Sept. 14, 2001 which authorized “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

And on Oct. 11, 2002, Biden voted for a resolution authorizing unilateral military action in Iraq, according to the Washington Post. Story Continued and to watch the video:

· U.S. intelligence set back when Libya base was abandoned

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U.S. intelligence efforts in Libya have suffered a significant setback due to the abandonment and exposure of a facility in Benghazi, Libya identified by a newspaper as a “CIA base” following a congressional hearing this week, according to U.S. government sources.

The intelligence post, located 1.2 miles from the U.S. mission that was targeted by militants in a September 11 attack, was evacuated of Americans after the assault that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Three other Americans died in the attacks on U.S.-occupied buildings, including two who were hit in a mortar blast at the secret compound.

The publication of satellite photos showing the site’s location and layout have made it difficult, if not impossible, for intelligence agencies to reoccupy the site, according to government sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The post had been a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles, the sources said. Its security features, including some fortifications, sensors and cameras, were more advanced than those at rented villa where Stevens died, they said.

The sources said intelligence agencies will find other ways to collect information in Libya in the aftermath of last year’s toppling of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“Benghazi played a critical role in the emergence of the new Libya and will continue to do so. It makes sense that we would return there to continue to build relationships,” one U.S. official said.

Public discussion of the top-secret location began with a contentious Wednesday hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which was investigating whether security lapses put Americans at risk.

The State Department displayed a satellite photograph showing two locations – the rented villa that served as a special diplomatic mission and the compound that officials had cryptically described as an “annex” or “safe house” for diplomatic personnel.

Both compounds were attacked by militants believed to be tied to al Qaeda. After the diplomatic complex was overrun, U.S. and Libyan personnel rushed by car to the second site, where they fought off two more waves of assaults, officials said.

Charlene Lamb, a top official in the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, told lawmakers that the secret compound took “as many as three direct hits.”

Two U.S. security officials, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed there in what U.S. officials described as an unlucky mortar strike. As many as 37 people eventually escaped to Benghazi’s airport.

When the satellite photo was displayed, a senior committee Republican, Representative Jason Chaffetz, complained that the discussion was drifting into “classified issues that deal with sources and methods,” and the photo was removed from public display. No one at the hearing used the term “CIA base” to describe the facility.

‘BONEHEADED QUESTIONING’

The next morning, Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist, wrote that the committee’s “boneheaded questioning” of State Department witnesses left little doubt that the compound in the pictures was a “CIA base.”

The Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank with ties to the Obama White House, followed up with a blog post accusing Republicans of revealing the “Location Of Secret CIA Base.”

On Friday, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, accused Republicans of mishandling secret information.

Spokespeople for the State Department and White House had no comment. The CIA also had no comment.

Oversight committee spokesman Frederick Hill said committee Democrats made matters worse by asking questions about the satellite photos. “Even after Republicans objected, Democrats continued to ask questions that led State officials to put even more sensitive information about who worked there into the public realm,” Hill said.

The dispute over who was responsible for identifying the base is the latest case in which intelligence agencies – particularly the CIA – have been dragged into a political fray over the Benghazi attack.

The Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi attacks has become fodder for criticism from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan ahead of the November 6 election. Story Continued:

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· DO BLACK PEOPLE SUPPORT OBAMA BECAUSE HE’S BLACK? – Surviving slavery, segregation and discrimination has forged a special pride in African-Americans. Now some are saying this hard-earned pride has become prejudice in the form of blind loyalty to President Barack Obama.

Are black people supporting Obama mainly because he’s black? If race is just one factor in blacks’ support of Obama, does that make them racist? Can blacks’ support for Obama be compared with white voters who may favor his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, because he’s white?

These questions have long animated conservatives who are frustrated by claims that white people who oppose Obama’s policies are racist. This week, when a black actress who tweeted an endorsement of Romney was subjected to a stream of abuse from other African-Americans, the politics of racial accusation came full circle once again.

Stacey Dash, who also has Mexican heritage, is best known for the 1995 film “Clueless” and the recent cable-TV drama “Single Ladies.” On Twitter, she was called “jigaboo,” “traitor,” “house nigger” and worse after posting, “Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future.”

The theme of the insults: A black woman would have to be stupid, subservient or both to choose a white Republican over the first black president.

Russell Simmons, the hip-hop mogul and Obama backer, called Dash’s experience “racism.” Said Barbara Walters on “The View”: “If she were white, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Twitter users are by no means representative of America, and many black Obama supporters quickly denounced the attacks. But for people like Art Gary, an information technology professional, the reason Dash was attacked is simple: She is a black woman supporting a white candidate over a black one.

“It goes both ways,” said Gary, who is white. “There is racial bias amongst whites, and there is racial bias amongst blacks. But as far as the press is concerned, it only goes one way.”

Antonio Luckett, a sales representative in Milwaukee who is black, called the attacks on Dash unfair. But when people speak out against a symbol of black progress like Obama, he said, “African-Americans tend to be internally hurt by that.”

“We still have a civil rights (era) mentality, but we’re not living in a civil rights-based world anymore,” he said. “We want to say, `You’re black, you need to stand behind black people.'”

Luckett said one reason he voted for Obama in the 2008 primary against Hillary Clinton was because Obama is black: “Yes, I will admit that.”

Is that racism? Not in Luckett’s mind. “It’s voting for someone who would understand your side of the coin a lot better.”

Such logic runs into trouble when applied to a white person voting for Romney because he understands whiteness better. Ron Christie, a black conservative who worked for former President George W. Bush, finds both sides of that coin unacceptable.

“It’s not the vision that our leaders in the civil rights movement would have envisioned and be proud of in the era of the first African-American president,” Christie said.

Martin Luther King Jr. fought Jim Crow laws, which deprived blacks of political rights after Reconstruction, upheld by Southern Democrats. But black voters switched after Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the 1960s civil rights legislation and Republicans successfully pursued the votes of white people who disliked the civil rights agenda.

Since then, Democrats have persistently wooed black voters with programs and platforms that African-Americans favor, and the party has been rewarded every four years.

Clinton got 83 percent of the black vote in 1992 and 84 percent in 1996; the third-party candidate Ross Perot probably sliced away some of Clinton’s black support. Al Gore got 90 percent in 2000; John Kerry got 88 percent in 2004. Obama captured 95 percent in 2008, and 2 million more black people voted than in the previous election.

Christie says he, too, shares the sense of pride in Obama smashing what for blacks is the ultimate glass ceiling. He understands that black pride springs from a shared history of being treated as less than human, while the history of pride in whiteness has a racist context.

But he still sees black people voting for Obama out of a “straitjacket solidarity.”

Christie sees it in his barbershop, where black men shifted from calling candidate Obama “half-white” and “not one of us” to demanding that Christie stop opposing the first black president. Story Continued:

· Barack Obama’s presidency ‘has not helped cause of black people in US’ – Far from ushering in a new post-racial age, say studies, historic election did not lead to advancement of civil rights.

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Barack Obama’s election win in 2008 was hailed by some as ushering in a post-racial age in the US. However, recent books and surveys have shown that black American progress has often either halted or declined.

From increasing segregation in the workplace, to hundreds of thousands of young black men in prison, to stuttering levels of black voting and a black middle class sent into reverse by the recession, the election of America’s first black president – and his fight to win a second term – seem to have had little impact on any of this.

Some of the most shocking revelations are detailed in a new book called Invisible Men by sociology professor Becky Pettit from the University of Washington. Pettit realised that many surveys conducted by government agencies exclude people in the prison population from their research and findings. When Pettit added them in, she found that it dramatically altered the picture of the status of black America, as the number of black Americans in jail is disproportionately high. About half of the 2.3 million people in US prisons are black.

The results of Pettit’s work, some argue, have exploded what she calls “the myth of black progress” since the civil rights era of the 1960s.

“This work dispels the notion that we live in a post-racial society. It not only deconstructs the myth of black progress, but also the myth of American progress overall,” said Inimai Chettiar, a director at the Brennan Centre for Justice at New York University’s school of law.

For example, adding the prison population to the voting statistics shows that black voter turnout in 2008 – believed to have been a historic high as Obama was elected – was overestimated by 13%. A greater percentage of young black high school dropouts turned out to vote in the 1980 election, when Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, than when Obama beat John McCain in 2008.

When prisoners are included, the employment rate for young black men who have dropped out of school sinks from an already low 42% to 26%. Far from advancing over the past half-century since Martin Luther King championed the civil rights struggle, the picture being painted is one of troubled decline. “We have developed a distorted view of how black Americans are faring in our society,” Pettit said. The reason given for this in Pettit’s work is the high rate of incarceration of black Americans. The rate is so steep that government estimates suggest that eventually one in three of all black male adults will spend some time in prison if current trends continue.

In the 1930s, blacks were three times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, but the figure now is seven times more likely. Some experts put this down to the “war on drugs”, which has affected black communities far more than others, seeing increased arrests of blacks, often for non-violent offences. “There is no evidence that drug use is dramatically different by race or ethnicity, but the pattern of arrests is very different,” said Ernest Drucker, author of a recent book, A Plague of Prisons.

The recession, too, has taken a huge swipe at what gains the black middle class may have made. A swath of recent data has revealed a major reverse. The Pew Charitable Trust showed that 68% of middle-class Americans are predicted to see their economic status decline in the next generation. The National Urban League civil rights group also showed that from 2005 to 2009 the average black household’s wealth fell by more than half. Nor has economic decline stopped. From 2009 to 2012, median annual household income for blacks fell by 11.1%, compared with a drop of 5.2% for whites and 4.1% for Hispanics. The current black unemployment rate of 14% is roughly double that of the white jobless. However, it is not just recent economic turmoil that has dampened black progress in America.

Another new book, Documenting Desegregation, has examined racial equality in the workplace since the 1960s and found that progress largely halted in 1980 and has gone into reverse in some industries since then. Racial segregation between white and black men is increasing in one in six industries.

In fact, far from painting a picture of black progress, the book’s examination of more than five million private sector workplaces revealed that it is white men who have gained access to managerial jobs since the 1960s.

Documenting Desegregation has a grim but simple conclusion that stands in stark contrast to the general perception of a racial breakthrough that accompanied the election of Obama as the country’s first black president. “The United States is no longer on the path to equal employment opportunity,” it says. Story Continued:

· The Predictable Consequence of Lesser Evilism On Wasting Your Vote – by M. G. PIETY – A disturbing number of Americans are going to end up wasting their votes in this next election. They’re unhappy with the status quo, but instead of changing it, they’re only going to reinforce it. I’m not talking about democrats who are so unhappy with Obama that they’re planning to vote third-party. I’m talking about democrats who are unhappy with Obama, but who are so afraid of Romney that they’re going to vote for Obama anyway and justify that vote by invoking “the lesser of the two evils” argument. It’s about time someone pointed out that it’s the invocation of that argument to defend otherwise indefensible political choices that has driven us relentlessly into our current position between a rock and a hard place.

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said that the greatest invention in human history was compound interest. I beg to differ. I think it’s the “lesser of two evils” argument. It’s brilliant. Give people two options, neither of which they find appealing, convince them that a third option, a genuinely attractive one, is just not practicable and that they must thus choose between the bad and the worse, and you’ll be able to get them to choose something they would never otherwise choose.

You can get people to do anything that way. You start by offering them a choice between something that is just marginally unpleasant and something that is really repellent. Once you’ve gotten them to choose the marginally unpleasant, you raise the bar (just a little mind you, you don’t want them to catch on to what you’re doing). Now you offer them a choice between something to which they have really strong objections and something that is deeply offensive. Most people, of course, will choose the former, if they think it’s either that or the latter. Now you offer people who’ve become inured to living under objectionable conditions a choice between even worse conditions and something that is truly unthinkable. It’s not mystery what they will choose.

There’s been a lot of angry posturing from Americans who think of themselves as progressive about how the purported political center in this country has been moving inexorably to the right, yet it’s these very people who are directly responsible for the shift. If you vote for a candidate whose farther right than you would prefer, well, then you’re shifting the political “center” to the right. Republicans aren’t responsible for the increasingly conservative face of the democratic party. Democrats are responsible for it. Democrats keep racing to the polls like lemmings being chased by the boogeyman.

“This is not the election to vote for real change” runs the democratic refrain. We’re in a crisis! We must do whatever it takes to ensure that the republicans don’t get in office even if that means voting for a democrat whose policies we don’t really like and which are only marginally distinguishable from those of the republican candidate. That “margin” is important, we’re reminded again and again. That little difference is going to make all the difference.

Even if that were true, which it ought to be clear by now it is not (see Bart Gruzalski’s “Jill Stein and the 99 Percent”), it would still offer a very poor justification for voting for a candidate one doesn’t really like. Why? Because it is an expression of short-term thinking. Thomas Hobbes argued that privileging short-term over long-term goals was irrational, and yet that’s what we’ve been doing in this country for as long as I can remember. Americans are notoriously short-term oriented. As Luc Sante noted in a piece in the New York Review of Books, America is “the country of the perpetual present tense.” Perhaps that’s part of the anti-intellectualism that Richard Hofstadter wrote about. “Just keep the republicans out of office for this election!” we’re always commanded. “We can worry about real change later!”

Of course anyone who stopped to think about it ought to realize that that mythical “later” is never going to come. Our choices are getting worse not better, and if we keep invoking the “lesser of the two evils” to justify them, we are in effect, digging our own graves.

God is not going to deliver to us from the clouds the candidate of our dreams, the candidate who despite his (or perhaps her) wildly populist views somehow manages to win over the corporate powers we have allowed, through our own incorrigible stupidity, to control the political process in this country. If we are ever going to see real political change of the sort progressives purport to want, then we are going to have to be brave enough to risk losing an election. Which shouldn’t require all that much bravery when one thinks about it, because real progressives have been losing elections for as long as anyone can remember in that the democrats haven’t been genuinely progressive for as long as anyone can remember. Story Continued:

· Contradictions and Hypocrisy, Professor Obama Lectures the Muslim World – by ESAM AL-AMIN – On Sept. 25, Professor-turned President Barack Obama lectured the Muslim World and world leaders during his annual address before the United Nations.

The beautifully crafted speech of the Nobel peace laureate would have been believed – and better received—had it simply been genuine. The president’s appeal for rejecting violence, spreading peace among nations, while emphasizing the vital use of diplomacy in international relations, as well as his call for respecting the rule of law, due process, and cultural understanding were remarkable. But unfortunately, they were simply not credible.

In his speech, the president admonished the Muslim World by underscoring the important belief that people must “resolve their differences peacefully” and that “diplomacy” should take “the place of war.” Laudable words, but only if America practiced what it preaches.

In his seminal work “A Century of U.S. Interventions,” based on the Congressional Records and the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Services, Zoltan Grossman chronicled 133 U.S. military interventions by the most active military in the history of the world, between 1890 and 2001. Similarly, William Blum’s study “A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” covered 67 interventions between 1945 and 2000 that, according to him, resulted in the deaths of 13-17 million people. In his book “The Fall of the U.S. Empire – And Then What?,” European intellectual Johan Galtung listed 161 incidents of American overt political violence between 1945 and 2001, including 67 military interventions, 25 bombings, 35 political assassinations (or attempted ones), 11 foreign countries that were assisted with torture, and 23 interferences with elections or the political process abroad. And all that was before the 9/11 attacks.

Since then, the U.S. military has been extremely busy, invading Iraq in 2003 under false pretenses and causing hundreds of thousands of casualties while creating millions of refugees. Before that, it invaded Afghanistan in 2001, causing tens of thousands of casualties in the longest war in U.S. history while still maintaining to this date over 70,000 soldiers on the ground. The U.S. has also been waging open warfare with the whole world as its theater of operations in the so-called “war on terror.” This endless war allowed the U.S. military to engage in undeclared military operations, violating the sovereignty of many countries in Asia and Africa including Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti, and numerous Sub-Saharan and West African countries. So much for peaceful conflict resolution and mutual respect between nations.

During that period, the Bush administration allowed (and the Obama administration has since refused to prosecute) the CIA to violate the sovereignty of allied countries including in Europe by authorizing the use of prison black sites, rendition, and torture. In one case, Italy tried and convicted in absentia twenty-three CIA operatives who violated its sovereignty when they kidnapped and rendered an Egyptian cleric to be tortured by the former Egyptian regime. Likewise, Germany condemned the U.S. intelligence agency for kidnapping and torturing one of its citizens of Lebanese descent. While Canada regretted and apologized for its role in rendering one of its citizens of Syrian descent, the U.S. – the country that actually carried out the rendition knowing that the subject would be tortured by the Syrian regime that it now enthusiastically condemns- still refuses to acknowledge its role, let alone apologize for the gross violation of its human rights obligations under international treaties.

Moreover, no American senior officials were ever held accountable for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and torture in Iraq, or for waterboarding and other “harsh interrogation techniques” (read: torture) used against Muslim prisoners (the overwhelming number of whom were innocent bystanders according to legal and human rights organizations) at Guantanamo, Bagram, or elsewhere. Story Continued:

· OBAMA WITCH DOCTOR TO STAY, CREATOR VOWS: Business owner draws flack for Halloween-themed window display – The calendar is flipping toward two big late-fall events: Halloween and the presidential election.

A business owner has married the two in his New Jersey storefront. His anti-Obama, Halloween-themed window displays the president as a witch doctor.

Expression of free speech? Maybe. But also a bad business decision, apparently.

The voodoo storefront has evoked outrage in the beachfront community of Spring Lake, N.J. But Bill Skuby, 66, owner of the local men’s store, Skuby & Co. Lifestyle Clothing, insists that the display is not political. … “It’s personal.” Story Continued:

· Florida Passes Plan For Racially-Based Academic Goals – Palm Beach, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) – The Florida State Board of Education passed a plan that sets goals for students in math and reading based upon their race.

On Tuesday, the board passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids to be proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent. It also measures by other groupings, such as poverty and disabilities, reported the Palm Beach Post.

The plan has infuriated many community activists in Palm Beach County and across the state.

“To expect less from one demographic and more from another is just a little off-base,” Juan Lopez, magnet coordinator at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Riviera Beach, told the Palm Beach Post.

JFK Middle has a black student population of about 88 percent.

“Our kids, although they come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, they still have the ability to learn,” Lopez said. “To dumb down the expectations for one group, that seems a little unfair.”

Others in the community agreed with Lopez’s assessment. But the Florida Department of Education said the goals recognize that not every group is starting from the same point and are meant to be ambitious but realistic.

As an example, the percentage of white students scoring at or above grade level (as measured by whether they scored a 3 or higher on the reading FCAT) was 69 percent in 2011-2012, according to the state. For black students, it was 38 percent, and for Hispanics, it was 53 percent.

In addition, State Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan said that setting goals for different subgroups was needed to comply with terms of a waiver that Florida and 32 other states have from some provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. These waivers were used to make the states independent from some federal regulations.

“We have set a very high goal for all students to reach in Florida,” Shanahan said.

But Palm Beach County School Board vice-chairwoman Debra Robinson isn’t buying the rationale.

“I’m somewhere between complete and utter disgust and anger and disappointment with humanity,” Robinson told the Post. She said she has been receiving complaints from upset black and Hispanic parents since the state board took its action this week.

Robinson called the state board’s actions essentially “proclaiming racism” and said she wants Palm Beach County to continue to educate every child with the same expectations, regardless of race. Story Continued:

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