Food for Despots

178px-_Be_Smart_Act_Dumb__-_NARA_-_514912Despots thrive on ignorance. After watching US foreign policy for the past 10 or so years, it is not too far-fetched to say that people get the government they deserve. We have learned this lesson time and time again. First we thought we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq. Then we moved from anti-terrorism to nation building in Afghanistan. Then we cheered on the Arab Spring in Egypt and Libya. In all cases we have discovered that the country post-despot is far more dysfunctional than the country under the despot.  This may sound callous bordering on bigotry but some countries are so full of ignorant people, incapable of self-government that they need a strong-arm to keep things in order. I believe the jury is out on whether the world is better off without Hussein, Mubarek and Gaddafi. Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention knows that Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai is a bad joke. And now what are we doing? We are seriously contemplating a contribution to the demise of Syria’s Assad with zero knowledge of what will follow his departure.

Is the lesson this teaches us here at home limited to foreign policy? No it isn’t. A smart electorate can become a dumb electorate. Dumb people get leaders who end up not acting in their best interests. Dumb people end up losing their freedom. I argue we are becoming a dumb people and I say this in a totally bipartisan way.

In the past week I have watched several exchanges on television that left me very unnerved. Bill Moyers interviewed Glenn Greenwald a journalist who has written about the Obama administration’s crackdown on whistle blowers. The government tactics range from intimidation to criminal prosecution. According to Greenwald, more whistle blowers have been harassed by this administration than any other administration combined. Recent developments suggest that those offering evidence on the Benghazi terrorist attack of 9/11/12 that was contrary to the government account were being shut down. I have spent some time on this blog and in the comments section defending Obama and Hillary Clinton on the Benghazi affair but when a mainstream show like “Face the Nation” this morning reports that the administration knowingly lied or distorted the facts about Benghazi how can there be any more defense? In fact, we risked endangering our relationship with the new President of Libya by essentially calling him a liar when he said the attack on the embassy was planned.

Then a few nights later a PBS “Frontline” report talked about America post-9/11 and painted a picture of a government shrouded in secrecy doing things in “America’s best interest” without their permission. This policy was passed on to the Obama administration and expanded by him. Billions of our e-mails are read every day by folks employed in Homeland Security.

Later in the week HBO’s Bill Maher interviewed Jeremy Scahill, a reporter whose eyes burn with anger when he recounts how we brazenly killed the 16 year old son of Anwar al-Awlaki simply for being the son of a terrorist instigator. Press Secretary at the time, Robert Gibbs, reportedly said this is what happens when your Dad does bad things. Scahill seems to be alone while most liberals turn a blind eye to a liberal administration flushing liberal ideals down the toilet.  Scahill went on to discuss the near indiscriminate killing of Afghan civilians by our special ops forces. As Scahill puts it, if someone steals your goat, you can report them to the Americans as a suspected terrorist and our special ops team will storm their house and kill everyone in it.

Later on that same broadcast an argument broke out, so brief that if you blinked you missed it. Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC uber-liberal, flew off the handle when conservative guest Pete Hegseth launched the old 2nd Amendment defense of an electorate needing to protect itself from government tyranny. O’Donnell said what I have been saying for years … and very recently in the comments section of this very blog, namely that the time for us to be worried about government tyranny is long past. Our well oiled democracy has built-in safeguards that ensure government tyranny would never happen. Along with that is the ironic and contradictory side argument that all of our US militias would never be a match against a government armed with drones and nukes — that same government that would never resort to tyranny. Essentially “they would never be tyrants but if they were you’d be no match for them.”

Well, I’m no longer so sure O’Donnell is right. We saw a militarization in Boston a few weeks ago that should give us all pause. When asked if America would ever drone strike its own people, Attorney General Eric Holder’s initial response was a hypothetical yes. He only backed off after an old-fashioned filibuster by Senator Rand Paul focused attention on it. Combine this with the other stories I watched this week, and we no longer have the liberal ideal of America that I vote for every four years.

But beyond all that, we have a conservative populace with a sizable number of folks who still don’t believe Barack Obama was born in America and a liberal populace too ignorant to understand that universal background checks (which I support) would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy of Sandy Hook. We are, as a nation, getting dumber and dumber. If we don’t turn this around, we will wake up one morning and not recognize the America in which we live. Our ignorance will be the food that one day nourishes a true despot.


Poster from National Archives


A GOP Delusion: The Radical Obama

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve argued with some wingnut about how radical President Barack Obama is (or in reality isn’t), I’d be a very rich man. It’s cool to find someone who can summarize the points neatly with a bit of snarky humor thrown in for good measure.

In Bill Maher’s latest rant on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”, Maher lays out the case for the GOP delusion of a radical Obama. For starters, since Maher is a standup comic, he tours America all the time. He sees “real” Americans every day. And guess what? Nothing has changed. It’s the same damn America it was under Bush. People work, go to church, go to the mall and buy Justin Bieber tickets. With Bill’s help, let’s look at the things Obama hasn’t done that might have classified him as radical.


  1. Pulled the troops out of Afghanistan.
  2. Medicare for all.
  3. Ended the war on drugs.
  4. Cut the defense budget in half.
  5. Turned Dick Cheney over to the Hague.

Now let’s look at some of the radical things he has done:

  1. Cut taxes and spending — how radical!
  2. He didn’t break up the too big to fail banks.
  3. More oil drilling under Obama than ever.
  4. Dow 7949 to 12000 with record profits for corporations … how socialist!!

As Maher says, the GOP needs to paint the picture of Obama that justifies their hatred. The fact that it is based in fiction seems beside the point.

So the choice this November, my friends, is between a moderate liberal and moderate conservative pretending to be a right-wing nut job. Have fun at the polls but don’t be deluded.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

Enough PC Talk About Working Women

With “Rosengate” virtually gone from public discourse, as I knew it would be, there remains one related item that still gnaws at me. On HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”, Maher, a blunt, rude, confrontational SOB if there ever was one, made the following comment:

What she [Rosen] meant to say, I think, was that Ann Romney has never gotten her ass out of the house to work.

No one is denying that being a mother is a tough job. I remember that I was a handful. Okay, but there is a big difference in being a mother, and that tough job, and getting your ass out of the door at 7am when it’s cold, having to deal with the boss, being in a workplace, and even if you’re unhappy you can’t show it for 8 hours, that is a different kind of tough thing.

via Maher’s comments on Ann Romney spark outrage –

Now, I won’t get into whether or not Maher’s (or Hillary Rosen’s) comments actually apply to Ann Romney. I don’t know enough about Ann Romney to discuss her work history. But if we take Ann out of the picture, what Maher said is 100% dead on accurate.

As this debate about “working” women has gone back and forth there has been a politically correct bit of foolishness that has bothered the crap out of me.

Work in common parlance is defined as an effort that is rewarded with remuneration from another party, typically called an employer or a boss. By that definition women who earn money doing something at home, work at home. My wife works at home. Women who are not compensated for what they do at home, do not work at home. Do they expend lots of effort? Sure they do. Is raising kids, cooking and keeping a house clean hard “work”? Of course it is. But it ain’t a job and it doesn’t pay the rent and no amount of politically correct talk will make it any different.

So why do we tie ourselves in knots talking about what used to be called housewives, working at home? The feminist movement is largely to blame for this. They fought for equal access to the workplace and equal pay, both lofty and righteous goals, but along the way they passed judgment on women who did not want to enter the “rat race”. By the way, that is a concise way of describing the world Bill Maher referred to. It’s the rat race. Women who chose to stay at home and devote most of their effort toward raising children and “keeping house” were judged sell-outs, or not living up to their potential. This of course, is nonsense. Being a housewife is as valid a choice as sitting in the corner office sixty hours per week.

So now, when housewives hear that they don’t work, it is equivalent to hearing that they don’t contribute and that understandably gets them angry. Well let’s set the record straight. Housewives don’t work, in the sense of earning a living. They do contribute beyond measure. In fact I think it’s high time the old-fashioned word housewife returned to its former prominence. Women who steer the family ship deserve a title that rightly distinguishes them.

Working women and housewives are not the same. One is not better than the other. They are simply different. Why can’t we acknowledge that difference without a volcano of debate erupting?

Postscript: We won’t even touch the fact that most working women must pick up the housewife role at the end of the work day, adding to the complexity and resentment attached to these issues. That is for another post on another day.


Image: Stuart Miles / Political Blogger Alliance