War Lusters: Why Are Tea-Publicans So Obsessed With War In Ukraine?

For the past few months (years?), the Republican Party has been fixated on a single issue that crowded out any other topic of political conversation. Terrorism, taxes, climate change, abortion, the economy – you name it – was ultimately shoved aside in favor of bashing the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Health care has dominated the news coverage on Fox News on virtually every program. That is, until Vladimir Putin sent his troops into the Ukrainian province of Crimea.

This begs the question: What is it about this matter that supersedes the GOP obsession with ObamaCare? Why is the conflict between a couple of former Soviet states such a powerful draw for America’s Tea Party extremists? After all, not too long ago, Crimea was, in fact, a part of Russia. It was just in 1954 that the Soviet Russian Republic ceded control of Crimea to the Soviet Ukraine Republic via a “Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet” that stated it was…

“…transferring Crimea Province from the Russian Republic to the Ukraine Republic, taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic ties between Crimea Province and the Ukraine Republic, and approving the joint presentation of the Presidium of the Russian Republic Supreme Soviet and the Presidium of the Ukraine Republic Supreme Soviet on the transfer of Crimea Province from the Russian Republic to the Ukraine Republic.”

This is not unlike the transfer of authority for Ellis Island from New York to New Jersey by the Supreme Court. The Soviet leadership certainly did not anticipate that their country would break up and the newly independent Ukraine would scamper off with Crimea. Sixty years later, Crimea is still a predominately Russian community. Seventy-five percent of its population is ethnic Russian. And while the referendum vote last Sunday was rampant with obvious fraud, it is unarguable that a majority of the Crimean residents still associate themselves with Russia. The map below illustrates how segregated the population is. In the blue areas the residents speak Ukrainian. In the red area, virtually all of Crimea, they speak Russian.

Republican War Lust

If there were ever a regional conflict that the United States had little business poking its massive proboscis into, it is this one. It’s fine to take sides rhetorically and even to organize a coalition of nations to advocate on behalf of sovereignty and independence, but rattling the sabers of war over a regional matter that is of no national interest to the U.S. is irresponsible and dangerous. Repeating the mistakes of the previous administration will only cost more American lives without securing anything of value for the loss.

Ron Paul, in a disagreement with his senator son Rand, asked the key question saying “Why does the U.S. care which flag will be hoisted on a small piece of land thousands of miles away?” That question has yet to be answered by the likes of John McCain, Ted Cruz, John Boehner, or any of the squawking heads on Fox News like John Bolton, who take a morbid glee in castigating President Obama as weak and ineffectual because he hasn’t launched World War III yet.

The hypocrites who assert that Obama’s foreign policy is responsible for inviting Putin’s aggression fail to recognize that Putin has never looked to the U.S. for permission to embark on his military misadventures. If that were true, those conservative critics would need to explain what it was about George W. Bush’s foreign policy that invited Putin to invade Georgia. Was he also weak and ineffectual, even after invading and overthrowing the governments of two nations (including Iraq, never did anything to threaten the U.S.)?

So what could possibly be the incentive for so many conservative politicians and pundits to so adamantly excoriate the President and advance the cause of war? The first thing to consider is that Obama’s critics live for chastising him, whether he deserves it or not. They frequently scold him even when he is promoting their ideas. Which is the case with ObamaCare, which was originally a conservative initiative developed by the Heritage Foundation and adopted by folks like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

More importantly, there is a thread of Apocalyptic fervor that runs through the ranks of the right. They have an intensity that is rooted in deep faith and a conviction in infallibility that stems from the same source. They believe that, with God’s help, they will overcome any adversity and that the deadly consequences are not worthy of consideration. And even if they fail, it would be God’s will and that they would be Raptured into Heaven ahead of the Armageddon they so enthusiastically await (and some seek to provoke).

Shameless self-promotion:
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Consequently, military conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia over a border dispute that has no significance for the U.S. becomes an acceptable option. Diplomacy is the Devil’s way and must be rejected at the outset. The military response is always the first one considered by these dedicated Rapturists. And why not? They won’t be around to suffer anyway.

This is an argument that has no basis in reality and for which there is no rebuttal. You simply can’t convince someone who believes that he is the Lord’s messenger that the voice he hears is coming from his own dementia – or from a Fox News chicken-hawk.

Getting Ugly: Down To The Wire For The Iowa Caucus

I’ve been saying all along that Willard Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee for president. I said it when Bachmann was the frontrunner; when Trump was the frontrunner; when Perry was the frontrunner; when Cain was the frontrunner; when Gingrich was the frontrunner; when Santorum was the frontrunner. I stand by my prediction.

However, the roller-coaster ride that the Republicans have provided has been enormous fun. And it has also provided a truck-load full of material for the Democrats to use during the general election. Including these headlines from Fox Nation this morning:

Fox Nation Disgusting Liars

Here we have the four current leaders of the Republican primary campaign slamming one another mercilessly. Gingrich calls Romney a liar. Santorum calls Paul disgusting. Perhaps it would be easier if we just called the whole bunch of them disgusting liars.

The problem for the GOP is that they are looking for a vestal conservative, but can’t find one that was immaculately conceived. And the Tea Party right is adamant about not tolerating the flip-flopping moderate, Romney. In the end they will surrender and accept the inevitable: Romney will be their nominee. Then look for the commencement of a half-hearted campaign featuring their new rallying cry: Settle For Mitt, 2012.

Lowlights From The Republican Debate

Thank goodness the President’s speech before congress was put off until Thursday. I would not have wanted America to miss this spectacle of GOP brilliance.

Setting aside the predictable skirmishes and automatic spewing of stump speech sound bites, there were some classic moments of insight that can only be attributed to the chronic psychosis of Republicanism. So without further ado…

Biggest Whopper of the Night:

Rick Perry on Obama saying that the border is safer than ever: “Either he has some of the poorest intel in the history of this country or he is an abject liar.”
However, violent crime rates along the U.S.-Mexico border have been falling for years and border cities of all sizes have maintained crime rates below the national average.

Comic Relief (which is pretty much everything else):

Perry flubbed his grasp of border security by calling for patrols with unmanned drones, apparently unaware that such patrols have been in use since 2009, including in Texas.

Michele Bachmann wants to make sure that immigrants seeking citizenship have a basic knowledge of American history. I assume that’s so she’ll have someone to teach her.

To illustrate how unreliable science is with regard to Global Warming, Perry cited Galileo as an example of a scientist who was disputed by fellow scientists. The problem with that is that Galileo was disputed by fundamentalist Christian authorities, not other scientists. You know, the kind of non-scientist, fundamentalists Perry hangs out with.

Ron Paul expressed his dismay with border fences because, instead of keeping foreigners out, they could be used to keep Americans in. He may be the only candidate speaking out in support of expatriates fleeing to Mexico.

Newt Gingrich complained that the debate moderators were trying to foment disagreement between the participants. And as we know, political debates are supposed to be completely free of any disagreements between the candidates.

Herman Cain advocates for the Chilean model of retirement programs. Chile essentially has a program wherein people pay in to private accounts. In other words, Cain wants to privatize Social Security. Which is marginally better than Perry’s plan to abolish the whole Ponzi scheme.

Perry praised Michael Dukakis’ job creation record as governor of Massachusetts saying that he “created jobs three times faster than” Mitt Romney. Romney didn’t disagree.

Bachmann again spoke of her five biological children and 23 foster kids. This time it was to shore up the child labor vote by asserting that what kids need today are jobs. Makes you wonder what she was doing with all those foster kids.

This was great television. I can’t wait for the next debate. We have a couple of promising events on the schedule. One with CNN and their co-host, Tea Party Express. And another by Fox News with questions submitted via Google. What I wouldn’t give for a debate co-sponsored by Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment and the National Rifle Association, with their moderators Ted Nugent and Victoria Jackson. And a special half-time tribute to Ann Coulter.

Fox Nation’s (Non) Coverage Of Hurricane Irene

It’s midday Saturday, August 27, 2011, and Hurricane Irene has already come ashore in North Carolina. Fox Nation presently has this featured at the top of their page:

Fox Nation Hurricane Irene

What’s interesting about that is that there isn’t one single update to follow on the web site. Not one story about Hurricane Irene today.

The Fox Nationalists do have a couple of stories from yesterday that are tangentially about the hurricane, but are more political than anything else. Both promote the typically cold-hearted perspective of Republican leaders. Here are the headlines:

Eric Cantor: Hurricane Relief Spending Means Cuts Need to Happen Elsewhere.

Ron Paul: No FEMA Response Necessary.

And that’s it. No updates. No alerts. No precautionary announcements. No guidance to assistance providers. Nothing but affirmation of the Randian philosophy that you’re on your own, pal – good luck.

Small Government – Small Hearts: The GOP Response To Hurricane Irene

There is a storm advancing on the east coast of the United States of historic proportions. Hurricane Irene has resulted in the first ever mandatory evacuation of New York City due to a natural disaster. It is expected to cause billions of dollars of damage from North Carolina to Maine, but the human toll will not be known until the storm has passed. And the response by Republican leaders typically expresses their disdain for the unfortunates who not are a part of their elitist, country club caste.

Small Government

The GOP has long had an obsession with dismantling government. Grover Norquist famously stated that he wanted to “reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” More recently, Eric Cantor, the Republican Leader of the House, said that he would only support federal disaster aid if the expense was offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget. In effect, he is holding emergency relief hostage to partisan deficit reduction.

Right-wing icon Ron Paul goes even further. In an interview with NBC News he essentially advocated repealing a century of progress in critical response to national tragedies saying, literally, that “We should be like 1900.”

Paul cited as an example the response to a devastating hurricane in Galveston, TX, in 1900. It is still the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, taking the lives of between 10,000 and 12,000 people. Paul proudly boasted that the community did not require federal aid to rebuild the city. That, however, is patently false. Galveston did request and receive federal aid, without which it could not have rebuilt. Glenn Beck also falsely cited Galveston in an attempt to argue that the federal government’s role in disaster relief was unnecessary.

The modern Republican Party is making a predictable progression from George Bush’s phony “compassionate conservatism” to the heartlessness of the Tea Pity Party. At this foreboding time, when American lives and property are at risk, we should take care to remember the results of the anti-federalist policies that produced the cataclysm of Katrina and resolve to never allow that to happen again.

Ron Paul’s CPAC Poll Victory: What Does It Mean?

A lot of jaws dropped yesterday when the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference announced the results of their presidential straw poll (pdf).

In a surprise victory, Ron Paul far outpaced his GOP rivals with 31%. Mitt Romney, who has won in several previous CPAC polls came in second with 22%. Sarah Palin, a presumed conservative favorite, trailed badly with only 7%.

So what might have contributed to these unexpected results? For one thing, it is not possible to make general representations about the CPAC attendees. Only 2,395 of them (out of approximately 10,000) voted in the poll. That means that 70% abstained. And there was no effort to develop representative sampling, so the results can’t be extrapolated to the attendees at large.

Ron Paul has fired up a certain segment of conservatives with his independent streak and appeal to anti-government types. But he is also 74 years old (a year older than John McCain) and a plurality of CPAC voters (48%) were students. Apparently that demographic split didn’t hurt Paul. It may, in fact, point to the more anarchistic bent of youth, while older establishment conservatives lean toward the comfort food candidacy of Mitt Romney.

Some analysts have attributed Palin’s poor showing to her not showing. She announced weeks ago that she would not be attending CPAC in favor of the Tea Baggers Ball in Nashville. Of course there was nothing stopping her from going to both – except that the Tea Baggers paid her a hundred grand and CPAC is a gratis affair. Also, presidential hopefuls Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee all showed up, gave warmly received speeches, and finished below no-show Palin.

Some other questions posed in the poll may shed light on the presidential numbers. For instance, most voters (53%) were unsatisfied with the current crop of candidates. An overwhelming majority cite smaller government, a key Paul issue, as their main goal. Issues championed by Palin, like traditional values (9%) and national security (7%), were far less important to this crowd. And bombast seems to be out of favor judging by the high negatives of Glenn Beck (27%) and Rush Limbaugh (27%). You would think that number would get more attention. Nearly a third of CPACers have a negative view of their most prominent spokesmen. For some reason, Palin was not included in the favorability question. Not to worry. Perhaps that’s for the best as a recent poll showed that she is not particularly welcome in the 2012 race anyway. 71% said they did not want her to run. That included 56% of Republicans, 65% of Independents, and even 58% of conservatives.

So what does it all mean? The Hell if I know. The only thing that I come away from this with is the certainty that the roster of also-rans in this poll will shortly be adopting more of Ron Paul’s policies and rhetoric.

The Fox Nation Makes (Up) The News

Over at Rupert Murdoch’s Internet propaganda outlet, The Fox Nation, they are stridently pushing forward on their mission to mis- and dis-inform their readers and the world. Here are some examples of this week’s outrageous departures from honesty, decency, and journalistic ethics:

1) The Fox Nationalists see fit to juxtapose an image of the burning World Trade Center towers with that of President Obama, as if he had something to do with it. Apparently they object to September 11 being designated a Day of National Service, because who would ever want our memory of that tragedy being tarnished by Americans coming together to make their country better?

Also note that Sen. Kennedy’s passing was the second most important story according to Fox Nation.

2) This one will piss off Ron Paul supporters. A survey conducted by US News and World Report asked a dozen GOP and conservative leaders to come up with a top 10 list of people who would be the leaders of the “town hallers” (or should that be howlers?). The image posted by the Fox Nationalists shows those who came in second through fifth. Ron Paul came in first, but somehow his photo got lost.

I want to go on record as casting my vote for Sarah Palin – A Howler leader if there ever was one.

3) Here is a revealing graphic that I thought should be noted for the blatant association of Obama with a famous fictional crime family. What provoked this visual editorializing? It was Obama saying that he liked the movie “The Godfather.” If everyone who likes that movie was alleged to be a Goodfellow, it would mean most of the free world are criminals.

4) Another story featured on Fox nation was titled, “Griff Jenkins Confronts Howard Dean at Town Hall.” But if you click on the link you will see a five minute video that contains a ten second exchange with Dr. Dean and four minutes and fifty seconds of tea baggers. Some confrontation.

5) In addition to the Fox Nationalists opposing Americans participating in a Day of Service, they are also opposed to Organizing for America offering internships to young Americans. I wonder if they would also object to these internships offered by Fox News.

6) And just to get that awful taste of patriotism and public service out of our mouths, Fox Nation celebrates Town Howlers who threaten to incite “An Uprising That’s Going to Make the Boston Tea Party Look Like a Picnic!” Now that’s the sort of wholesome activity that Fox can support for America’s youth.

That’s all for today. Stay tuned for more flagrant and asinine propaganda from the Fox Nationalists.

America Is Uniting – Against Fox News

Any fair-minded observer of American media is well aware of the intrinsic bias of Fox News. It is a bias that is recognized by journalists and scholars, analysts and amateurs. Even Fox no longer tries to pawn the euphemistic “fair and balanced” nonsense off on their viewers. They now cast themselves as “the most powerful name in news.” That slogan should provoke an obvious question: Is “power” something that is desirable in a news network?

Many divergent camps in politics and media are answering that question with a resounding “NO!” Those camps may now be coalescing into a united front that shares a healthy disrespect for Fox News.

It hardly needs mentioning that progressives view Fox as a festering boil that serves only to stain the otherwise honorable pursuit of journalism. Democrats like John Edwards and Barack Obama decline to appear on the network. As a result, the network has escalated their already derogatory coverage, going so far as to refer to them as fools for having the temerity to steer clear of Fox’s venom.

Having alienated the Left, Fox has now set its sights on estranging their natural allies on the Right. This approach began with the exclusion of Ron Paul from a Fox debate co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Republican Party. Not surprisingly, Paul’s supporters were aghast, along with others who saw the blatantly prejudicial intent on the part of Fox News. Paul commented on the affair saying…

“They are scared of me and don’t want my message to get out, but it will. They are propagandists for this war and I challenge them on the notion that they are conservative.”

Paul may have something there. While it is plain that everything Rupert Murdoch touches reeks of rightist propaganda, Fox viewers actually appear to be more loyal to Fox than to Republicans or conservatism (see The Cult Of Foxonalityâ„¢). The New Hampshire debate went on without Paul and without the state Republican Party who withdrew their sponsorship in protest of Fox’s candidate exclusions.

Long-time conservative icon, Richard Viguerie had this to say about Fox:

“While Fox has ended the Democratic monopoly in TV news, it is becoming disturbingly clear that it is perpetuating the pro-Big Government monopoly in TV news.”

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson is peeved at Fox’s coverage of him which he thinks is excessively negative:

“This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth. […] for you to highlight nothing but the negatives in terms of the polls and then put on your own guys who have been predicting for four months, really, that I couldn’t do it, kind of skew things a little bit. There’s a lot of other opinion out there.”

NewsBusters (the right’s lame answer to MediaMatters) doesn’t think Fox’s conservative bona fides are worth much:

“Even the allegedly “conservative” Fox News gave the New York Senator a softball interview.”

The freakin’ John Birch Society is weighing in with criticism of Fox and their in-house pollster (and serial dissembler) Frank Luntz:

“Whatever Luntz is doing on Fox with his ‘focus groups,’ its not science and its not even social science. Instead, it is an example of yellow journalism and nearly undisguised political propaganda designed to be misleading and manipulative.”

So Ron Paul, Richard Viguerie, Fred Thompson, NewsBusters, the Republican Party, and the John Birch Society have come together in recognition that, whatever it is that Fox does, it isn’t news. They are now in an uneasy harmony with most of the progressive end of the political spectrum. Perhaps now they will join us in shunning the network that is more focused on its own welfare than on the ethical practice of their craft.

A network consumed with bias, that revels in its own “power,” is dangerous to all of its potential subjects and to democracy itself. The state of journalism, and of the union, is greatly enhanced by this unity against media corruption. And our nation could only benefit if we can all get together and expel Fox News from the body politic. On that count we may owe Fox a debt of gratitude for uniting such far flung elements of society behind a frothing opposition to Fox itself. Thanks.

Fox News Is Scared Of Ron Paul

Fox canceledA Republican presidential primary forum in New Hampshire is set to proceed on January 8, two days before the New Hampshire primary, without the participation of Ron Paul. Paul’s exclusion has understandably infuriated his supporters but it has also revealed a(nother) gaping hypocrisy at Fox News.

Never mind for the moment that Paul is polling ahead of Fred Thompson, who has been invited to participate. And set aside the fact that Paul has broken fund raising records, accumulating over $19 million dollars in the last quarter.

The part of this story that I find noteworthy is that Fox News, who has lambasted Democrats for declining to appear in Fox-sponsored debates, is now using questionable criteria to decide whom they will permit to grace their debate stage. Fox thinks it’s inexcusable for Democrats to voluntarily refuse to subject themselves to the abuse of a network that has been overtly hostile to them, but that it’s perfectly swell for the network to involuntarily refuse to allow viable candidates to take part in their supposedly public forums.

Fox News, and their disciples, has said that Democrats are just scared to appear on the network. Now Paul has accused the network of being scared of him:

“They are scared of me and don’t want my message to get out, but it will. They are propagandists for this war and I challenge them on the notion that they are conservative.”

Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, will be the moderator of the New Hampshire forum. But he and Fox News have declined to comment on the Paul controversy. Wallace didn’t have any such hesitation when called upon to comment on the Democrats:

“I think the Democrats are damn fools [for] not coming on Fox News.”

Well, Ron Paul wants to come on Fox News but Fox won’t let him. This is a thorough vindication of the Democrat’s decision to shun Fox. Now it’s the Republicans turn to suffer the prejudices practiced by Murdoch, Ailes, Wallace, etc. It serves them right. Perhaps now they will realize that a network that traffics in propaganda and bias is not beneficial even it is slanted your favor. If Republicans were interested in doing the right thing (for once), they would join the Democrats’ embargo on Fox and steer their candidates away. [For more on why all Democrats and progressives should stay the Hell off of Fox, read Starve The Beast]

Now, I’m no disciple of Ron Paul. In fact, I regard him as a dangerous political anachronism who would roll back gains in civil rights, foreign affairs, economic justice, and more. He advocates a deregulation agenda that would permit corporations to run roughshod over public interests including abandoning Net Neutrality. But Republican voters have made him a contender in their primary process and it isn’t up to Fox News to weed him out.