I Talk the Walk

found online by Raymond

From Vincent at A Wayfarer’s Notes:

We must have politics. We must have government, I suppose, and capitalism, because any attempt to alter that would result in—I don’t know what. I don’t think I’ve ever taken part in any activism. Unless there were something happening close to hand, and then conscience might tell me to intervene because I could do something. In lots of ways I feel a stranger to 2016. I admit to having been a stranger to every year that I’ve lived.

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GOP Obamacare Repeal: Death Sentence for Thousands Annually

found online by Raymond

From Jon Perr at PERRspectives:

The ink from President Obama’s signature on the Affordable Care Act wasn’t even dry when then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Republican mantra for the upcoming midterm elections. As he put it on March 23, 2010, “I think the slogan will be “repeal and replace”, “repeal and replace.”

Now, almost seven years later, McConnell and his Republican allies are finding out just how difficult their simplistic Obamacare proposition will really be. With Donald Trump weeks away from defiling the Oval Office, Congressional Republicans are no closer to a replacement plan for the roughly 25 million people they will soon add to the ranks of the uninsured. “Repeal and replace” has become “repeal and delay.”

Meanwhile, worried House and Senate Republicans are getting an earful from almost every corner of the American health care industry.

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Santa’s Bozo of the Year for 2016!

found online by Raymond

From Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post:

So who will get this year’s award? Let’s see who Santa was considering…

DISHONORABLE MENTION goes to that wimpy coward Brock Turner. who actually raped a woman behind a dumpster while she was lying there unconscious. Thankfully, this moron was caught, convicted, and sentenced to time in jail. Santa’s gift to him will be eternal, Viagra-proof impotence.

DISHONORABLE MENTION also goes to Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte, for the disgraceful way he drunkenly trashed a gas station after drinking with friends at a bar and then blamed the incident on a made-up robbery attempt while in Rio during the Olympic games. He then quickly fled the country to avoid arrest and prosecution. Santa’s gift to him will be to turn all of his Olympic medals into dust.

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The Big Idea: Monica Valentinelli

found online by Raymond

From John Scalzi at Whatever:

After reading a flame war about how sloppy tropes and damaging clichés didn’t need to be changed, that Chainmaille Bikinis were just fine the way they were and it didn’t matter if the Black Man Died First, I became increasingly frustrated. Wait a minute, I told myself after a heavy sigh. Surely, these readers wanted stories that were achingly honest and reflective of the people and our world around us? Surely, they didn’t want to read yet another plot detailing how Scientists Cause the Apocalypse or the magic of Talking Animals? Or the Catholic Exorcism? Or the Villain Had a Crappy Childhood?

Surely? Maybe? Hopefully?

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The Electoral College is Not Democratic

found online by Raymond

From Michael Kinsley:

Declaring who won an election on the basis of who got the most votes would seem to be a pretty good way of going about things. But if you can bring yourself to admit that an absolutely precise vote is impossible, the value of the electoral college becomes clear: it turns close elections into solid majorities. It is no more accurate than a coin flip, but it’s no less accurate either. A coin flip is exactly what you need in an election where the room for error is larger than the winner’s margin (or, like this year, when the winner’s margin is actually negative: the loser, Hillary Clinton, got nearly three million more votes than Trump did).

The Electoral College is an artificial device, but it has the fairy dust of history sprinkled on it. It works so well that the nation soon forgets that a majority of voters did not want George W. Bush as president and do not want Donald Trump either.

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Attacking Intelligence

President Kennedy famously threatened to break the CIA into a thousand pieces. He was quoted by the New York Times. There is some dispute about the quote. The late Vincent Bugliosi, by then a famed former prosecutor, researched, but was unable to find any witness who heard those words.

It was no secret that the President was angry at being deliberately misled by his intelligence team. They had been committed to the overthrow of the Castro regime in Cuba. Their reports were a major factor in convincing him to secretly support a group of Cuban exiles who landed at the Bay of Pigs on the shore of Cuba.

Kennedy had, from the first, insisted that overtly assisting the exiled dissidents would endanger US interests and increase the possibility of war. He completely ruled it out and made sure his top planners knew it. He made especially certain the CIA knew it.

No US forces. Period.

As the plan to overthrow Castro unraveled, it became evident to Kennedy that the head of the CIA had his team manufacture false information calculated to force the administration to commit US forces. Operatives had even promised the exiles that Kennedy would do exactly that.

When he didn’t commit US troops or air power, Cuban lives were lost.

The relationship between Washington officials and the intelligence service has often been contentious.

In 1949, State Department intelligence experts predicted the fall of Nationalist China to communist forces led by Mao Zedong. Conservatives didn’t want to hear it.

When Mao actually did take over the largest country on earth, with 20% of the world’s population, conservatives went after the State Department’s “China hands.” Specialists on China were soon purged from the State Department.

Experts in the CIA were lucky, by comparison. The head of the CIA was Allen Dulles, whose anti-communist credentials were unchallenged. He was able to protect his employees from the conservative purges that focused on other parts of government.

But Dulles misled John Kennedy. Breaking up the CIA never happened. But Dulles deserved breaking and he soon lost his position.

Four decades later, the Bush/Cheney administration pushed the CIA to get evidence, by torture if necessary, that might show that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in league with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda. Vice President Cheney was especially determined to show that Iraq has sponsored the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

On the surface, the charge was an absurdity. Hussein was Sunni, as was bin Laden. al Qaeda was dedicated to killing off as many Shiite Muslims as they could. And Hussein treated the Shia in Iraq with remarkable brutality. But the parallels ended there. It would be hard to be more secular than Hussein. The mutual disdain between the Iraqi dictator and the terrorist religious group was intense.

Torture is not a good method at finding truth. Too many false leads come from desperate pain. But torture can be remarkably effective in producing confessions. A thousand years of the use of torture has convicted the innocent of everything from witchcraft to war crimes.

In this case, even torture could not produce the evidence conservatives wanted. At least not evidence of Iraq’s involvement in using aircraft filled with innocent passengers to bring down buildings filled with innocent occupants.

But the head of the CIA at the time, George Tenet, promised that he could make the case that Iraq was about to get nuclear weapons. He called it a “slam dunk.” Connecting the image of falling towers in New York City with Saddam Hussein in Iraq turned out not to be convincing. But the image of a possible mushroom cloud over New York could be compelling.

The administration scattered misinformation like pixie dust throughout American media sources. The illusion of corroboration was effective. Mushroom clouds were on everyone’s mind.

When a former Ambassador did his own research and found the mushroom cloud theory to be full of falsehoods, the Bush/Cheney administration went on the attack. His wife was a vulnerable secret operative working for the CIA in other countries without the protection of any diplomatic cover. The administration blew the secret cover of Valerie Plame, exposing everyone in other countries who had ever helped her. The warning to other CIA personnel was clear. Cooperate or be exposed.

But contentious as the relationship has sometimes been, the role of intelligence has been essential. How often CIA intelligence has helped American Presidents avoid nuclear war is not knowable.

…presidents from Harry Truman to George H. W. Bush have been advised by military commanders to use nuclear weapons, but presidents have refused.

Joseph Cirincione, Ploughshares Fund

During the 1962 missile crisis, President Kennedy found the CIA to be an invaluable resource, determining how much time he had to pressure the Soviet Union into getting nuclear weapons out of Cuba.

When Presidents refuse to hear the information gathered by intelligence services, the results can be tragic.

In early August 2001, the daily intelligence briefing provided to George W. Bush was dismissed by the President. The item on terrorism was entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The reaction of President Bush was derisive. “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now.” The next month America was under attack.

Current events continue the pattern. Officials in the Trump campaign team have attacked the CIA for revealing how Russia had assisted his Presidential campaign with a program of computer hacks and disinformation.

These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Statement from the Transition Team, December 9, 2016

Separately, he has refused to sit through most of the daily intelligence briefings that have been compiled and summarized for him.

I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.

Donald Trump, December 11, 2016

We begin the administration with a President who believes an intelligence briefing is intended to make him intelligent.

The CIA has been assailed by liberals and denounced by conservatives. But the equivalence ends there. Liberals have criticized intelligence operations for their failures, and for allowing themselves to be used to misinform the American public. Kennedy’s anger in 1961 at being misled parallels liberal reaction after the invasion of Iraq.

Conservative attacks have been ideological. From the anti-China purges of 1949 through the Valerie Plame affair to the Trump campaign, they have disparaged intelligence operations for revealing what conservatives deeply feel ought not to be true.

Liberals have attacked US intelligence for being wrong, and for doing wrong.

Conservatives attack US intelligence for being right.

Mr. Trump attacks US intelligence as unneeded, because he is intelligent enough already.

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Exceptional Interference?

found online by Raymond

From Iron Knee at Political Irony:

Why is it so difficult for some people to believe that the Russians deliberately influenced the outcome of the US presidential election?

First of all, they have the technology to do it, they have done it in other countries, and they would have every incentive to do it. Whether it is just trying to lessen American power in the world or elect someone who would favor them, of course they would do everything they could to throw a US election.

Even more ironic is the fact that the US has been meddling in the elections of other countries for a long time. That includes orchestrating coups, and even assassinating elected leaders we don’t like.

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Making Russia Great Again

found online by Raymond

From Manifesto Joe at Texas Blues:

Each day seems to bring new confusion. I’ve never been a fan of the CIA. As an organization, it doesn’t appear to understand the simple concept of “blowback,” instead embracing myopic “U.S. interests” that see ahead as far as about a couple of days rather than a couple of decades.

But to have a “president-elect” pick a fight with them before even taking office? Not smart.

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The Republicans’ Game — Down the Constitutional Rabbit Hole

found online by Raymond

From Infidel753:

Some Congressional Republicans — not many yet, but the list is growing — are signing on to the view that Russian interference in the election merits investigation or is at least a serious scandal. Trying to look at the Trump problem as they must see it, I’m beginning to get an idea of what their game is.

Even to guys like Ryan and McConnell, it must be obvious that a Trump Presidency would be intolerably dangerous. He’s not even in office yet and he’s already created an international incident with China, he’s blatantly kowtowing to Russia, he refuses to take intelligence briefings, and in general he’s randomly blundering in ways which, continued over four years with the full power of the Presidency, would inevitably mean disaster. He’s also blithely tossed a number of right-wing sacred cows in the dump, such as free trade.

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How Would Evangelicals Respond if Atheists Acted Like David Grisham?

found online by Raymond

From The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser:

Recently, David Grisham, an Evangelical preacher affiliated with Repent Amarillo and Last Frontier Evangelism, went to the Westgate Mall in Amarillo so he could let children standing in line to see Santa Claus know that Santa is a myth and Jesus is not. Here’s a video of Grisham’s verbal assault:

This video was previously published here.

Grisham has been roundly criticized for his behavior, but some Evangelicals are lauding him as bold warrior for Jesus who told the children and their parents the T‑R‑U‑T‑H! Never mind the fact that Grisham went on private property to do what he did.

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