Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Visit to Monticello

by Larry Simons
October 20, 2012

The past two days I was in Charlottesville, Virginia to visit Monticello, the home of my favorite President, Thomas Jefferson. Although it rained during a portion of the trip, the day I actually visited the house, it was rather nice out. Here are a few of the pictures I captured.

Me on the west front of Monticello
Reflection of Monticello on fish holding pool
West front
Jefferson's grave
View of west front through trees
A clock on the wall [in rear], which shows only
 an hour hand because Jefferson thought
 this was accurate enough for outside workers.
 On top is a wind plate connected to a weather
 vane, showing the direction of the wind.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

50 Shades of Bill O' Reilly: 'We Should Not Have Gone to Iraq'

Wingnut conservative Bill O' Reilly actually admits during his debate with The Daily Show host Jon Stewart "we should not have gone to Iraq" in which Stewart mockingly shouts "somebody better live tweet that! Bill O' Reilly..'we should not have gone to Iraq!'"

by Larry Simons
October 7, 2012

In yesterdays much anticipated internet debate between Fox News' Bill O' Reilly and The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, a number of topics were discussed, such as the role of government, immigration, foreign policy, terrorism and O' Reilly's ficticious 'war on Christmas'.

When it came to the topic of military service, Stewart stated he favored the idea of a draft and compulsory military or public service for at least one year for kids [which I do not]. After O' Reilly stated that he does not favor a draft, he said this:

"We got to do everything we can for military people. To make sure they're rewarded when they come home. Because they had a really rough go at it in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was in both places. Awful, terrible theatres. We should not have gone to Iraq. Afghanistan we had to.."

At this, Stewart shouted, "Somebody better live tweet that mother fuckers, come on! Live tweet that! Bill O' Reilly: We should not have gone to Iraq!"

The obvious reason for the shouting was because O' Reilly has continually supported the invasion of Iraq since day one.

Here are just a few instances where O' Reilly's stance on Iraq was crystal clear:

from 2005 with Phil Donahue

from 2004 with Michael Moore

O' Reilly defending being in Iraq to David Letterman even after he admits there were no WMD

In 2007 defending the Iraq war with an Iraq war vet against the Iraq war

I could post 100 more, but did I even have to post more than one?

Overall, it was clear that Stewart won the debate. My answer is based simply on the substance of what was discussed in the debate, not on any pre-existing bias for either participant.

Friday, October 5, 2012

16 Critical Economic Issues That Obama And Romney Avoided During The Debate

Michael Snyder
The Economic Collapse
October 5, 2012

Did you watch the presidential debate on Wednesday night?  It is absolutely amazing how they can have an hour and a half debate about the economy and say so little.  It seemed like both candidates were falling all over each other wanting to talk about how much they value education, but will more education really solve our problems?  After all, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed in 2011.  

So perhaps they should just both agree that education is a good thing and start talking about how to create more jobs for all of us.  If you want to grade the debate from a technical standpoint, clearly Romney was the winner of the debate.  Romney was full of energy and was generally sharp with his answers.  Obama looked like he had just popped a couple of antidepressants and was ready for nap time.  As a result, this might have been the worst blowout in the history of presidential debates.  

A CNN/ORC International poll that was taken right after the debate found that 67 percent of all Americans that had watched the debate thought that Romney was the winner.  Never before had any presidential candidate crossed the 60 percent mark in the history of their post-debate polling.  So Romney definitely had a big night.  But the reality is that both candidates were telling the American people what they want to hear.  If either Obama or Romney told the truth about what we are facing they would lose votes, and in a race this tight both of them really want to avoid doing that.  

Obama and Romney both desperately want to win this election, and the words that are coming out of their mouths have been carefully crafted to appeal to the “undecided voters” in the swing states.  If you actually believe that they can deliver on everything that they are promising, then you must not have been paying much attention to U.S. politics over the past several decades.

Perhaps the biggest failure on Wednesday night was debate moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS.  His questions were about as far from “hard hitting” as you could get.

The hour and a half debate was almost entirely about the economy, and yet almost all of the critical economic issues were ignored.

Yes, Obama and Romney have slight differences when it comes to tax rates and regulations, but those small differences are not going to do much to change the direction of this country one way or another.
Meanwhile, there were some really huge issues about the economy that were not addressed at all last night….
1 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the Federal Reserve was not mentioned a single time.
2 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, Ben Bernanke was not mentioned a single time.
3 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, quantitative easing was not mentioned a single time.
4 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the term “derivatives” was not used a single time.  Considering the fact that derivatives could bring down our financial system at any moment, this is an issue that should be talked about.
5 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of the millions of jobs that have been shipped out of the country.  Considering the fact that both Obama and Romney have played a role in this, it is probably a topic they both want to avoid.  Overall, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
6 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate mentioned that the velocity of money has plunged to a post-World War II low.
7 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the fact that the rest of the world is beginning to reject the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency was not mentioned a single time, but this has enormous implications for our economy in the years ahead.
8 – The fact that the Social Security system is headed for massive trouble was only briefly touched on during the debate.  At the moment, there are approximately 56 million Americans that are collecting Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to grow to an astounding 91 million.  Overall, the Social Security system is facing a134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.  When are our politicians going to honestly address this massive problem?
9 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the nightmarish drought the country is experiencing right now was not mentioned a single time.
10 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the financial meltdown in Europe was basically totally ignored.  But considering the fact that Europe has a larger economy and a much larger banking system than we do, perhaps someone should have asked Obama and Romney what they plan to do when the financial system of Europe implodes.
11 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the student loan debt bubble was only briefly mentioned.
12 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was not a single word about the fact that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is now larger than it has been at any point since the Great Depression.
13 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of TARP (which they both supported at the time).  Would they both bail out the big banks if another financial crisis erupted?
14 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of the economic stimulus packages (which they both supported at the time).  Would they both want more “economic stimulus” if we entered another recession?
15 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate talked about the fact that most of the jobs our economy is producing now are low income jobs.  In fact, since the end of the last recession, 58 percent of the jobs that have been created are low paying jobs.
16 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate mentioned that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government or that more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government.  I can’t blame Romney for avoiding this point though – he probably wanted to avoid the phrase “47 percent” at all costs.
Is this really the best that America can do?
Tens of millions of Americans tuned in hoping to become more informed about the candidates, and instead what they got was an hour and a half of tap dancing as Obama and Romney constantly tossed out buzzwords such as “education”, “energy independent” and “middle class”.
I honestly don’t know how you can possibly have a debate about the economy without talking about the Federal Reserve, quantitative easing, the trade deficit, Europe or the decline of the U.S. dollar.
But it just happened right in front of our eyes.
I don’t think that I can ever remember another presidential debate that lacked substance as much as this one did.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

That Spielberg Movie About Lincoln

by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
October 4, 2012

[Article from September 15, 2012]

Thanks to the dozens of emailers who have sent me a link to the "trailer" for Steven Spielberg's upcoming movie about Lincoln (Out Nov.16). The trailer says the book is based on the book by the confessed plagiarist Doris Kearns-Goodwin. I reviewed the book here several years ago. From all indications the movie will be the typical extraordinarily misinformational whitewash. That's how I would describe the other sycophantic books Goodwin has written about Lyndon Johnson and the Kennedys. She is essentially a museum-quality specimen of a "court historian." Her book Team of Rivals, on which the movie is said to be based, is the usual lame-excuse-for-everything treatment of Dishonest Abe. Like almost all other books on the subject, it reads like a defense lawyer's brief for The War Crimes Trial of Abraham Lincoln.

For example, when she mentions that Lincoln was never a Christian, instead of pointing out the gigantic hypocrisy of his nevertheless quoting Scripture in his political speeches to dupe the public into thinking that God was somehow on his side, all Goodwin says is that we should feel even more sorry for poor old Abe than we do since he didn't believe in an afterlife. When Goodwin discusses how it was Lincoln who orchestrated the passage through the U.S. Senate of the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution that would have forbidden the government from ever interfering with Southern slavery, instead of stating the obvious — that Lincoln was obviously willing to enshrine slavery explicitly in the Constitution and should be morally condemned for it — she praises him for it since it "held the Republican Party together." Yea. That, in fact, is the theme of the whole book — what a slick, conniving, lying, manipulating politician Lincoln was. Goodwin just can't praise Lincoln enough for these traits, which are the gold standard of behavior for successful Washington politicians and their ideological hacks.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wingnut John Hagee Says Lincoln's Day of Prayer in 1863 brought the Civil War to and End...Two Years Later in 1865

So desperate to link God in with the involvement of human events, religious buffoons like that of John Hagee simply make things up to carry out their agenda

by Larry Simons
October 1, 2012

Recently, pastor and Christian wingnut John Hagee appeared on fellow wingnut Glenn Beck's internet program BlazeTV and shared his rewrite of Civil War history. Hagee, ever so eager to link God into the course of human events and attempt to portray Abraham Lincoln as a Christian [or even a godly man, which he was not], simply just makes things up out of thin air to accomplish his religious agenda.

Hagee says this to Beck:

"The thing that brought the Civil War, in my mind, to an end, was that Abraham Lincoln called for a day of fasting and prayer for the whole nation… and it was approved by the Senate and there was a specific day that he called all of the people of America to pray…

The nation was ripped apart by hatred as brother fought brother and father fought son but, when this man, this godly man, this man whose speeches are laced with bible verses, got down and asked our nation to pray, suddenly, things began to happen that brought the Union together and Robert E. Lee had the grace to surrender a battle that couldn’t be won, and the Union was preserved."

There are so many glaring errors and flat out lies in these short sentences, I am not sure where to begin, but I will try.

First, Hagee credits Lincoln with calling on a day of prayer, which he claims subsequently led to the end of the Civil War, but fails to explain why the war lasted another two years. Lincoln's day of prayer was on April 30, 1863, and Lee's surrender occurred on April 9, 1865. Either Lincoln's God is slow to act or Hagee is using the same logic that one would use in saying that FDR's opening prayer before his declaration of war in Congress on December 8, 1941 ultimately ended War World II on September 2, 1945 [thank you Jonathan Turley for that analogy].

Second, what gives Hagee [or anyone else] the idea that Lincoln was godly? According to Thomas DiLorenzo, in his book "Lincoln Unmasked", Lincoln never became a Christian. He also adds, "He never joined a church, and rarely stepped foot in one, despite his skilled use of religious rhetoric in political speeches. When he ran for President, almost every one of the ministers in Springfield, Illinois, opposed him." At best, Lincoln was either an agnostic or an atheist, but Lincoln cultists such as Hagee and Beck are forced to deify Lincoln because the actual facts about him tell us otherwise.

Thirdly, most, if not all, famous quotes attributed to Lincoln are fake. In other words, he never said them. As said above, Lincoln often inserted religious rhetoric in his speeches, but Lincoln himself believed not one word of it. For Hagee to make his case that Lincoln's speeches were "laced with bible verses" is like making the case that Charles Manson's use of religious rhetoric makes him godly as well.

Hagee completely omits the fact that Lincoln is the one who started the war. This is perhaps the best proof that Lincoln did not believe his own religious rhetoric. How is it fathomable that Lincoln would consider himself godly and deeply religious, while sending hundreds of thousands of troops into other states [treason, according to Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution] to murder, rape and pillage its citizens?

Lincoln could have prevented every single death of the Civil War simply by not going to war in the first place over an issue that the Constitution permits, secession. At the very least, he could have ended the war at any time. He did not. Does it make any sense to any rational person that one would call on God to put and end to something that they alone could stop at any given point? Not for one moment it does not.

The lies about Lincoln will persist as long as the American people allow them to. Lies have to be told about Lincoln to protect him from the cold truth about himself. Hagee and Beck are known as "gatekeepers' of the Lincoln myth.

If Lincoln were the saint and champion of the Constitution that many believe he was, not one single lie concerning him would be required to be told. Also, consider the source of the Lincoln myths. Hagee is the same man who once said that God sent Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans because it was planning a gay rally. Hagee also once said that all atheists should leave America. Unless you are a religious lunatic like Hagee, is he a reliable source on ANY subject?

watch the clip