Monthly Archives: February 2012

Ayn Rand Worshippers Should Face Facts: Blue States Are the Providers, Red State Are the Parasites

By Sara Robinson, AlterNet,2/29/12

There’s only one way to demonstrate who America’s producers and parasites really are. It’s time to go Galt.

Last week, the New York Times published a widely discussed article updating an argument that progressive bloggers noticed a very long time ago. It’s now well-understood that blue states generally export money to the federal government; and red states generally import it.

TPM published a great map showing exactly how this redistribution works:

Progressives believe in the redistribution of wealth, so we’re not usually too upset by this state of affairs. That’s what it means to be one country. E pluribus unum, and all that. We’re happy to help, because we think we’ve got a stake in making sure kids in rural Alabama get educations and seniors in Arizona get healthcare. What’s good for them is good for all of us. We also like to think they’d help us out if our positions were reversed. It’s an investment in making America stronger, and we feel fine about that.

But maybe it’s time to admit that we’re being played for chumps, and that there are people in the rest of the country who are taking way too much advantage of our good nature. After all: it’s now a stone fact that the blue states and cities are the country’s real wealth creators. That’s why we pay more taxes, and are able to send that money to the red states in the first place. We’re working our butts off, being economically productive, going to college, raising good kids, supporting reality-based schools, keeping our marriages together, tending to our busy and diverse cities, and generally Playing By The Rules. And the fates have smiled on us in rough proportion to the degree that we’ve invested in our own common good.

So we’ve got every right to get good and angry about the fact that, by and large, the people who are getting our money are so damned ungrateful — not to mention so ridiculously eager to spend it on stuff we don’t approve of. We didn’t ship them our hard-earned tax dollars to see them squandered on worse-than-useless abstinence-only education, textbooks that teach creationism, crisis-pregnancy misinformation centers, subsidies for GMO crops and oil companies, and so on. And we sure as hell didn’t expect to be rewarded for our productivity and generosity with a rising tide of spittle-flecked insanity about how we’re just a bunch of immoral, godless, drug-soaked, sex-crazed, evil America-hating traitors who can’t wait to hand the country over to the Islamists and the Communists.

Ironically, the conservative movement’s favorite philosopher had some very insightful things to say about this exact situation….

continue reading at AlterNet

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Filed under Economy, Labor, Tax, Progressive movement, Right Wing

CNN Silences War-Skeptical Soldier

Information clearing House, 2/27/12

By obsessing over Iran gaining a nuclear weapon “capability” – even with no actual bomb – while ignoring Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal, the U.S. news media proves the point of its own bias. There’s also the usual hostility toward dissenting voices, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

February 27, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — When CNN interviews a U.S. Army corporal preparing for his third deployment to Afghanistan, should TV viewers be permitted to hear him out on a front-burner issue like Iran’s alleged threat to Israel? For those who might think so, watch what happens when 28-year-old Cpl. Jesse Thorsen touches a neuralgic nerve by suggesting that Israel can take care of itself.

It’s impossible to say exactly what happened to the remote feed that suddenly got lost in transmission back to CNN Central, but the minute-long video is truly worth a thousand words….

continue reading and view the truncated interview at Information clearing House. The CNN program moved on to… Romney HQ

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Filed under Afghanistan, Media

Six questions reporters should ask of anyone advocating military action against Iran

Six questions reporters should ask of anyone advocating military action against Iran

By Reza Marashi & Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council, Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, 2/24/12

Avoiding another war of choice will require a media that digs beyond agenda-driven analysis and prevents the debate from being curtailed, write the authors. It will require a media that doesn’t permit a question of life and death to be framed in a simplistic manner that leaves the U.S. with a false choice of either bombing Iran or accepting an Iranian bomb.

America is once again drifting toward war. Less than ten years after the U.S. invasion (and subsequent occupation) of Iraq, its myriad lessons seem forgotten. A familiar, toxic mix of sloppy politicians and politicized foreign policy experts is telling the American public that an irrational Iranian regime hell-bent on acquiring and using nuclear weapons poses an imminent threat to its safety — despite the highest levels of America’s national security establishment speaking on the record to the contrary.

The ghosts of America’s neoconservative past have successfully shaped the policy around its selling points despite next-to-zero discussion about the consequences of war. Obama administration officials have always been delicate when pushing back against their hawkish counterparts on Iran policy, and election-year considerations have heightened those sensitivities to the point of near-paralysis. Reductionism has focused the debate in America on how the military can stop an Iranian nuclear bomb that is neither in existence nor imminent.

Many Americans who believe this dishonest discourse cannot be blamed for basing their views on the misinformation they receive. A free press that reports with neither passion nor prejudice is part of America’s democratic fabric. And yet, we despair about the credulousness of the U.S. media when it comes to this dangerous saber-rattling vis-à-vis Iran. Rather than learning from sins previously committed in the run up to the Iraq war, most media outlets are sticking to the same formula on Iran. To avoid a disastrous repeat, their questions need to recalibrate the frame of the debate to put it in its proper context.

To that end, the following are six questions reporters should ask of anyone advocating military action against Iran:

Q. America has not had a diplomatic presence in Iran for three decades. As such, much of our knowledge relies on intelligence. Given the controversy over our intelligence on Iraq, how are we factoring in and addressing the uncertainty of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program?…

continue reading at Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University

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Filed under Iran, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War

Back to First Principles on Religious Freedom

By DOROTHY SAMUELS, New York Times, 2/25/12

Catholic bishops, leading Republicans and other social conservatives persist in portraying the Obama administration’s new rule requiring employer health plans to cover birth control without a co-pay as an assault on religious freedom.

Protesting the contraception rule at the White House this month.

But the real departure from the Constitution is their specious claim to a right to impose their religious views on millions of Americans who do not share them. Virtually all American women, including Catholic women, use contraceptives sometime in their lives. In essence, the bishops and their allies are arguing that they are above the law and their beliefs should be elevated over pressing societal interests.

The political ruckus over the issue has tended to obscure a central fact: the legal case against the policy is remarkably weak. The contraception benefit is plainly constitutional and a proper exercise of government power under Supreme Court precedent and a federal law dealing with exercise of religion.

As with other church-state disputes, the starting point is the text of the First Amendment, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The nation’s founders were seeking a protective balance, one that gave wide berth to religious belief but drew a line at government entanglement with religion or favoring one faith over another.

Deciding the proper balance in individual cases can be hard. However, by applying existing law and precedent, judges should have little trouble dismissing the argument that President Obama trampled on the religious freedom of employers like hospitals and universities with religious affiliations by having insurance companies provide free contraceptive coverage to the institutions’ employees.

Insupportable claims of religious infringement are being made in other contexts, too….

continue reading at a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/opinion/sunday/back-to-first-principles-on-religious-freedom.html”>New York Times

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Filed under Religions, Rights, Justice, Law