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Normalizing with Cuba as Russian Economy Collapses

After the “War on Drugs” the American shunning of Cuba, as if they aren’t right there 90 miles from Florida, has to be the stupidest, least effective and most childish foreign policy initiative we have pursued watched as it fails miserably.

It was time to end it 40 years ago but now’s as good a time as any.

It’s the kind of big, welcome, turning the battleship around, kind of news the Obama Admin, has been generating lately as the GOP takes control of D.C., the President slinks into irrelevancy and the media completely changes focus to the Jeb Bush vs. Hilary Clinton ultra-death match of 2016.

Waiting for the conservative meltdown about ending the failed policy in 3…2…1.

Meanwhile over in Russia, Sarah Palin’s best friend, “Shirtless” Vlad Putin, is suffering from the sanctions imposed after his impetuous Ukrainian adventure and the nose dive of global oil.

Putin, like most nationalist reptiles is never that easy to predict, and he could always use his formidable rhetorical bombast to turn these turns of events into further rallying cries against the west. But it’s hard to look back now at the RWNJ embrace of Putin over Ukraine (they said Obama was weak for not bombing Russia as they were extolling Putin’s virtues as a great bear wrestling leader) and the Obama-led sanctions as less than a quite successful foreign policy of restraint. Once again Obama is right and his detractors were incredibly wrong. Now wait for them to take credit for it.

What Tomasky Said, Um, Sort Of

Michael Tomasky says Dems should say good riddance to the South and let it go.

I think maybe the Founding Fathers were right when they thought the slave problem absolutely unsolvable, so they cut a deal and hoped for the best, kicking that horrific can down the road until nothing less than Civil War was necessary. My only question for Lincoln would have been “do we need the South, would we miss it?”

I am still a believer in the 50 state strategy, but not if we’re going to become Republican lite (“less filling, more hate”) like Mary Landrieu and compromise our core beliefs just to hold onto a few seats in the Old Confederacy.

But it’s not just a question of numbers. The main point is this: Trying to win Southern seats is not worth the ideological cost for Democrats. As Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen recently told my colleague Ben Jacobs, the Democratic Party cannot (and I’d say should not) try to calibrate its positions to placate Southern mores: “It’s come to pass, and really a lot of white Southerners vote on gays and guns and God, and we’re not going to ever be too good on gays and guns and God.”

Cohen thinks maybe some economic populism could work, and that could be true in limited circumstances. But I think even that is out the window now. In the old days, drenched in racism as the South was, it was economically populist. Glass and Steagall, those eponymous bank regulators, were both Southern members of Congress. But today, as we learned in Sunday’s Times, state attorneys general, many in the South, are colluding with energy companies to fight federal regulation of energy plants.

Yeah, populism could work! If it doesn’t go along with a sell out women and minorities and the crucial secular values we’ve come to understand as America. That part’s kinda key.

Just How Full of it is Chris Christie? We Now Know

His veto of the gestational crate bill is such craven political opportunism flying in the face of both the wishes of the people of NJ, and Christie’s own clearly bullshit statements that he’s all about the people of NJ first.

Mark Bittman makes the case gently.

Jon Stewart was less gentle

Conservatives Just Need to Be IGNORED

For the health and benefit of the country, nigh the world, we have to learn (and that means teach, as well) that today’s conservatives just need to be IGNORED, and ridiculed.

They constantly assert their legitimacy in the national debate despite being wrong (you name it they’ve been wrong about it, a short recent list includes Obamacare, hyper-inflation, Iraq, Ebola, stop and frisk, chaos at the borders, my god you name it they’ve been wrong about it for fucking ever!)

Just because it is noteworthy – let’s include fluoride is a Communist plot, interracial marriage is a Communist plot, Social Security, Medicare – all Communist plots! Think that’s just fringe stuff, not mainstream GOP conservative thinking? Ronald Reagan warns against Medicare in 1961 and the right unpacks it as if it’s relevant against Obamacare 50 years later.

As we’ll discuss later climate change is… you guessed it. The absurdity is legion and such absurd beliefs are at the heart of the entire conservative movement today. Everything people need is a threat to FREEDOM. Everything business needs IS FREEDOM.

They constantly assert their legitimacy in the national debate despite being hyperbolic.

They constantly assert their legitimacy in the national debate despite flat out lying about history a brief list of outrageous nonsense: the founding fathers were Christian Conservatives, like them, The New Deal made the Great Depression worse, black people were better off because of slavery, etc. etc. you get the picture.

They constantly assert their legitimacy in the national debate despite being racist. And OMG here at the Heritage Foundation

They constantly assert their legitimacy in the national debate despite being almost maliciously rockheaded in thought and deed or electing rockheads to office (again too numerous, see Tea Party, see Bachman, Gohmert, Steve King, Steve Stockman, Virginia Foxx, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Renee Elmers, an almost endless list of stupid statements, stupid legislation, stupid assertions, stupid reasoning, stupid actions and stupid inactions on local, state and national levels). They’re turning us into a nation of stupid.

They constantly assert their legitimacy in the national debate despite being pigheadedly against science, math and facts (97% of climate scientists around the world are on the take but those in the employ of extraction industries are scrupulously honest).

And this is really the big one because global climate change is by far the biggest, most alarming red lights flashing issue we have ever faced as a species. Their intransigence on this issue is holding worldwide society back from addressing catastrophic changes that will devastate communities in the near term and could make the planet unlivable in the long term. And amazingly, the easy question they cannot answer is “what if you’re wrong?” Their misguided faith in either (a) a deity that wouldn’t allow devastation to happen (“God is up there” – Sen. Imhofe), (b) man’s ability to devise technology to fix it if it does happen, or (c) that it is indeed a complete hoax, a worldwide conspiracy concocted to bring about worldwide socialism (yes, they really believe that), makes them hold their breath and just say “no” to any reasonable, rational action to stay disaster. They are more afraid of any possible economic costs of dealing with the problem rather than the rising seas, acid oceans, droughts, floods, storms, extinctions, etc.

Conservative think tanks make up the entire campaign against global climate change action, create all the talking points to feed to the Right Wing Noise Machine, lobby all the GOP politicians on those talking points. And have cowed the media into diminishing coverage of the issues because it’s “political.”

It’s a breathtaking display of head in the sandism that is absolutely holding us back from the actions we need to take as a society. And only because somehow, someway, they are taken seriously enough despite being consistently WRONG that they get away with their latest boneheaded reasoning and shit flinging outrage.

Smart People, Steep Learning Curve

Dems did not learn from 2000.

They did not learn from 2010. They said they did, but they didn’t.

You cannot run away from your values and assets. One shouldn’t have to write that sentence. It’s like saying “you cannot run away from oxygen.” Why would you want to?

Dems do run away from their values and assets because they don’t trust them and they believe they have to play “smart” political games. How’s that working for you?

This is actually remarkably simple.

If you rely on simple nostrums, platitudes, primal fears, greed and ignorance then you can formulate very basic messages and play all sorts of mind fuck games with the public.

But if you want to appeal to the better angels of people’s nature, logic, rationality, facts, science, math, etc. then you better damn well be willing to stand up straight and stand for those values 100% and do not be afraid to be pedantic about it. Be a thought leader that drives the debate. DANCING AND PLAYING ‘SMART’ POLITICAL GAMES WILL NOT WORK FOR YOU!

Boiling it Down

You can either have capitalism regulated by democracy or democracy run by capitalism. You can’t have both unfettered capitalism and democracy because the unfettered capitalists won’t allow it. Money is speech, don’t you know?

Our entire history has been one where the moneyed interests pretty much run the show lock, stock and gold plated barrel. Occasionally, when they run things into the ground — ’cause shit happens — and for their own preservation by the way, they will permit certain enlightened conservatives to enact very limited progressive policies to mollify the public. See Andrew Jackson, both Roosevelts, not all that much else actually.

Many of us recognize that capitalism regulated by, balanced by, and working with government works really well for the greater numbers of people when its been done. It’s a bottom up approach. It’s a mixed economy, stupid. It’s also pretty much what every other industrialized economy does with not so much controversy.

But one of our major political parties has taken as an article of almost evangelical faith the most hard core economic creed that the capitalists are always right and the economy is always top down.

Enlightened conservatives they are NOT! They do not even accept the few ameliorating adaptations we’ve made for the greater good. They merely tolerate Social Security, Medicare, public schools, public anything, etc. while working to undermine them under the radar. They had unions forced on them for a period but always worked to beat them back and finally won.

How we got to such a place in the 21st century where a very 19th century version of America could be espoused is a heluva story. They really still believe that America was better off when courts denied government the ability to regulate business and, theoretically, everybody was free to engage in whatever contract they saw fit – which in reality left most of the population really no better off than indentured slaves to a fabulously wealthy overclass. It’s an undemocratic vision of economics that has never, ever worked, which is why we needed the amelioration – and of course, we still do!

But that reality, that one of the major political parties has adopted an extreme and dangerous advocacy of unfettered economic elitism without the public really being aware and alarmed is perhaps the even bigger story.

It All Went to Hell When the Hippies Took Over

When Peter Thiel is interviewed by Glenn Beck no good can come from it.

Eccentric billionaire Thiel said something that I’m sure conservatives will nod their heads and think, “yeah, that’s right.” But the rest of us will facepalm.

I think one of the … you know, the countercultural in the ’60s was the hippies. You know, we landed on the moon in July of 1969. Woodstock started three weeks later, and with the benefit of hindsight, that’s when progress ended, and the hippies took over the country.

Today the counterculture is to believe in science and technology. You know, our society, the dominant culture doesn’t like science. It doesn’t like technology. You just look at the science-fiction movies that come out of Hollywood — Terminator, Matrix, Avatar, Elysium. I watched the Gravity movie the other day. It’s like you would never want to go into outer space. You would just want to be back on some muddy island. And so I think we’re in a world where actually believing that a better future is possible that you can have agency and work towards a better future, that is actually radically countercultural.

Yeah, iPhones, Tesla, solar power, they don’t exist.

Furthermore, this is from people who back the party that denies science on climate and reproduction and they’re calling liberals Luddites? Just ridiculous.

BUT, here’s where it gets real:

Conservatives actually think that the 60’s counterculture did take over America when it really had about 5 minutes in the sun and then got railroaded by the Reagan Revolution.

Reading Rick Perlstein’s “The Invisible Bridge” about that time between Watergate and Reagan has helped me to put into words the frustration with that period and conservatives in general. It was right then, that moment in time when America could have woken up from its slumber and opened its eyes. Could have matured into a country ready to examine itself honestly. But the right wing backlash to Watergate, Roe v. Wade, the Pentagon Papers, the humiliation of Vietnam, etc. “shut that whole thing down” to quote the great Todd Akin. Half the country was ready to move forward: grant women equality under the ERA, take responsibility for our foreign adventures, clamp down on the excesses of our clandestine services, embrace more openness in government and private life – change the channel from Lawrence Welk to Saturday Night Live.

But no. That was too much change, too fast for some. And we’re still living with the consequences of that backlash today.

Instead the regressives took over almost immediately. Activists protested busing and school books while “law and order” politicians exploited the fear of a changing world citing the evils of crime, inflation, oil embargoes, abortion, sexual freedom. They conflated all change both good and bad, with the new permissiveness. It’s no coincidence that the 70’s brought a flurry of nostalgia for the 50s. And Republican conservative operatives and their benefactors exploited all of it to nudge the country back into the pre-Watergate/Vietnam box.

So we were cheated out of the country we could have had.

The perfect analogy for the squelching of progress in this period (and the answer for Thiel’s nonsense) is the technical and policy sob story that Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House in 1976 and Reagan tore them down. I reiterate, where would we be today if the energy policy of the Carter Administration had not been ripped out root and branch by the carbon loving dinosaurs of the Reagan Administration?

How is it possible that in 2014 women are not constitutionally equal with men?

How are we still fighting over reproductive rights?

The Hippies didn’t take anything except the culture, that which Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan could not reverse. They couldn’t make George Carlin shave his beard and put a suit back on, but they kept the pressure on so that you still can’t say the 7 words you can’t say on TV on TV. Except now we have cable and streaming.

Peter Thiel can suck it!

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