Friday, August 22, 2014

Saturday Satire: Days of Our Lives

Military Planning
Copyright © 2014 Universal Press Syndicate
Conan O'Brien: "Disneyworld has become a popular location for Republican fundraisers. A favorite activity is to ride through It's a Small World and deport most of the dolls."
"Yesterday was Bill Clinton's birthday. Hillary yelled surprise, and out of habit, Bill yelled, 'I can explain."
David Letterman: "Rick Perry, what a good-looking guy he is. As a requirement for being a Republican candidate for president, you have to look good in a mug shot. I hope this doesn't ruin his chances of being our next dumb president from Texas."
Ferguson Police
Cagle Cartoons
Rick Perry Mug Shot
Copyright © 2014 Universal Press Syndicate
Equal Justice
Copyright © 2014 Universal Press Syndicate
Jimmy Fallon: "People are still fighting about immigration. Congress is suing the president. I'm not saying things are bad, but the Middle East just sent diplomats to negotiate peace in OUR country."
"To commemorate the 25th anniversary of 'Field of Dreams,' the Iowa State Fair is displaying a 200-pound butter sculpture of Kevin Costner. Or as Paula Deen put it, 'If you build it . . . I will come.'"

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Did the US Err in Undertaking the ‘Battle for the Heart of the Internet’?

By Yuxiao Li
As the Internet levels the global playing field, let’s hope our thinking process doesn’t also get leveled.
Translated By Dagny Dukach
29 July 2014

Edited by Helaine Schweitzer

China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese)
According to a Russian media report, the U.S. Department of Defense invested at least $20 million to research “Internet content control” in an effort to ultimately influence the attitudes and opinions of netizens. The Department of Defense joined with American Internet companies to implement “content viewing restrictions” that affect more than 700,000 Internet users for a specific period of time. The restrictions would allow one part of the population to receive only good news, and another part of the population to receive only bad news. Some dubbed this the “battle for the heart of the Internet.”
More than a few people were rather shocked that the U.S. Department of Defense would use netizens as lab rats. The experiment was led by the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which, in fact, developed the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, the forerunner to the Internet.
America’s contribution to the Internet has been huge. In 2011, when the U.S. proposed an international cyberspace strategy, and especially when the U.S. proposed to guarantee the free flow of online information worldwide, many people and communities defended this American concept, finding it stunningly re-assuring. There was an unparalleled level of moral certainty! As such, when the U.S. began criticizing Chinese cyberattacks and Internet regulation policies; some countries — especially America’s allies — emerged, sounding a chorus of indignation and injustice in support of the American position, and when China and Russia proposed the notion of Internet sovereignty at the United Nations, it was feared that some nations would interpret this proposal as one meant to isolate the Internet and move backward, and even many domestic scholars protested.
Over the last few years, the Chinese Internet has not been lacking in the number of people with questionable morals, and it is not uncommon to find Thick Darkness* and Human Flesh Search Engines**, yet no one criticizes America because doing so would amount to no more than Internet propaganda, and would strangle the symbol of progress and freedom. Anyone doing so would be abhorred by everyone, but when that American Snowden disclosed proof that the U.S. had long been monitoring the entire world, many were stunned. The Chinese government had actually been right! Those who had originally criticized China discovered that the U.S. government had, in fact, been more thorough, and then were forced to remain silent. Look for yourself.
The U.S. opposes Internet sovereignty, but still declares that the data on the servers of every American company are the property of the government; the U.S. declares that it will protect the free flow of information, and yet, it attempts to control the content seen by netizens; the U.S. claims that the attempted entry of Chinese network equipment companies into America poses a national security threat, and yet, we are constantly hearing about how Apple and other giant American companies have installed "back doors" in their products that enable them to extract information from ordinary users.
How can this be? It seems like people should be indignant about this! But has the U.S. made a mistake? America is protecting its own national interests. While developing Internet technology, it is protecting its own safety. It is ensuring the strength of its control in the face of ever changing global networking applications and innovations. While promoting the Internet’s global contributions, the U.S. also gets all sorts of things in return. Is any of this a mistake? Perhaps, there is a double standard; perhaps, there is hypocrisy, but the crucial point is that we ourselves must see with discerning eyes, and only in this way can we make any clear determination.
The objective of the U.S. Department of Defense's ARPA is to protect America’s global technological superiority while keeping in check the hidden technologies that threaten the United States. It would seem that we still do not have such an institution, and thus, maybe from the U.S. perspective, we have also erred in that we are so convinced and so willing to accept the concepts that others have given us — that we have forgotten what we ought to have. We have forgotten how to protect ourselves and to determine what we should rely on for future development despite our incessant boasting about the thousands of years of our civilization. On the online front, it seems that we are indulging in premature celebration about the production of massive information flow and new innovations. As the Internet levels the global playing field, let’s hope our thinking process doesn’t also get leveled. From the American point of view, the U.S. has not erred, but we must act correctly!
*Translator's note: Refers to the Thick Black Theory proposed by Li Zongwu in 1911, which suggested that politicians would gain power by being thick (thick-skinned, shameless) and black (dark, ruthless).
**Translator's note: Refers to the practice of crowdsourcing via Internet media to identify and expose individuals or government corruption to public humiliation.


Translated at Watching America

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ferguson’s Citizen’s Can Fire The Whole Police Force

From  Walt starr

Although Missouri does not have statewide recall provisions under the law, there are provisions for doing so at the local level.

Missourians do not have the right of statewide recall. However, the right of local recall is available in:

    Cities defined as Class 3 cities. A Class 3 City is defined as a city with a population between 3,000 and 29,999.
    Cities that operate under their own city charter, if the specific city charter allows for recall.

The recall process that applies to Class 3 cities in Missouri is governed by MRS §77.650 and 78.260.


    Recall may not commence during first 6 months in office
    Grounds for recall must be stated, and must include misconduct in office, incompetence, and failure to perform duties prescribed by law.
    60 days is allowed for collecting signatures.
    Signatures equal to 25% of the registered voters in the city must be collected.

The issue of the nearly all white police force is not one without an ability to correct. This is not some issue where the people have no power. In fact, this is a completely political issue and as DailyKos has aptly demonstrated for more than a decade, any political problem has a political solution.

Given the demographics of Ferguson, the people have the power to fire the entire city council, the mayor, the city manager, the chief of police, and to replace them with officers more capable who will fire the entire police force and replace them with individuals interested in serving and protecting the citizenry of Ferguson.

This process can be accomplished entirely within a period of just over six months.

Join me after the Orange Gnochi for the process to get rid of the police force and replace it with a more representative police force.

With a population of about 21,135, Ferguson is a Class 3 city. We must now turn to the Ferguson charter for more information.

First, let's examine the governing body of Ferguson:


Section 3.1 Powers vested

Except as this charter provides otherwise, all powers of the city shall be vested in the council. The council shall provide for the exercise of these powers and the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the city by law.

Section 3.2 Composition, Eligibility, Election and Terms

3.2.1 Composition

The council shall consist of seven persons. One, known as Mayor, shall be elected by the qualified voters of the city as a whole. The remaining six, known as Council Members, shall be elected by the qualified voters of their respective wards as provided in Article VII.

So, the city council and the mayor are the top governing body, but there's another important position we need to examine:

Section 4.1 Qualifications: Term of Office

The city manager shall be chosen by the council on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications with special reference to experience in or knowledge of municipal administration. The city manager may or may not be a resident of the city or the state at the time of selection, but shall reside within the city during the tenure of office. The city manager shall be appointed for an indefinite term, subject to removal as herein provided, and shall devote full time to the duties of the office, except with special permission by council. The city manager may reside outside the city while in office only with the approval of the council.

So this position is defined under the City Charter of Ferguson, MO. Why is this position so important to us here? What's the big deal?
Section 4.4 Powers and Duties

The city manager shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the city and shall be responsible to the council for the proper administration of the affairs of the city. To that end, the city manager shall have power and be required to:

a) Appoint, and when necessary for the good of the service, remove all officers and employees of the city, except as otherwise provided in this charter and except as the manager may authorize the head of a department or office to appoint and remove subordinates in the department or office; provided, however, that the City Council may remove the City Attorney upon the affirmative vote of five members of the Council. Preference shall be given in making appointments to residents of the City of Ferguson when their qualifications are at least equal to those of any other applicant.

That's a hell of a lot of power for one appointed position, and there are even more powers given this appointee. How do we get rid of such a powerful person and put somebody in who will hire the right people to serve the community?
Section 4.5 Procedure for Removal

The city manager may be suspended by a resolution which has received an affirmative vote of a majority of all the members of the council. This resolution shall set forth the reasons for the manager's suspension and proposed removal and may suspend the city manager for a period not exceeding forty-five days. A copy of such resolution shall be served immediately upon the city manager. The city manager shall have fifteen days in which to reply in writing, and if so requested in the reply, shall be afforded a public hearing not earlier than ten days nor later than fifteen days after the hearing is requested; the resolution for suspension shall be made public ten days prior to the hearing.

After the public hearing is requested, and after full consideration, the council by majority vote of its members may adopt a final resolution of removal. The manager shall continue to receive salary and benefits until the effective date of a final resolution of removal or other termination date as subject to contractual agreement.

The action of the council in suspending or removing the manager shall not be subject to review by any court or agency.

So we're right back to that governing body, the city council and the mayor. And we know they do not represent the interests of the majority or the people of Ferguson.

Now let's look at one more position...


Sec. 33-16. Created; commanding officer.

There is hereby created a department of the city government to be known as the police department, the commanding officer of which shall be the chief of police.

That's the guy. How does he get there?

Sec. 2-251. Police department; director; officers.

(a) The director of the police department shall be chief of police. The chief of police shall be appointed by the city manager on the basis of his administrative abilities and his qualifications as a law enforcement officer.

So according to the City Charter, the city manager has the power to fire and hire the Chief of Police who is solely responsible for hiring and firing police officers.

So to get the proper Chief of Police, the people of Ferguson need the proper City Manager.

And to get the proper City Manager, the people of Ferguson needs the proper City Council and Mayor.

Which gets back to the point from the opening of this diary.

In the last Ferguson city council election, turnout was 12%. Amongst African Americans, that number was 6%.

Is it any wonder there's a single African American on the city council?

So what does the Ferguson City Charter say is the power to reverse this?


8.1.3 Recall

The qualified voters of the city shall have the power to initiate the recall of any appointed or elected council member or elected mayor and to dismiss or retain such council member or mayor by a city election. No council member or mayor shall be subject to recall within six months of induction into office nor during the last six months of the term. If retained in office by a recall election, the council member or mayor shall not be subject to recall within a period of six months thereafter.

The people of Ferguson have the absolute power to remove the ENTIRE city council and the mayor, and to do so within six months. They can then put into place a city council that will appoint a city manager who will fire the Chief of Police and replace that Chief with a Chief of Police who will replace the ENTIRE FORCE.

And they have more than enough numbers to make it all happen.

They just have to organize, register, and sign the petitions for recall.

The people have all the power in this. They just don't realize it.


Original Posting To Daily Kos on Tuesday, August 19,2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday Night In Ferguson

Police officers react to the movements of a rowdy group of demonstrators during protests in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown near Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters in Ferguson, Missouri on M

Overnight, violence once again erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, as protests over the police killing of an unarmed teenager continued. And here's how it's being reported across America:

An evening of peaceful demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday against the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown descended into another night of chaos with police coming "under heavy gunfire" and leading to the arrest of more than two dozen people.
And to be sure, among the thousands who have protested the killing of Michael Brown, there have been a few who are there for less than noble purposes. But the fact is, over and over it was clearly shown that there were instances of massive, disproportionate responses from the police. And too often, the media was not—could not—tell that story:
Officials established a media zone — an area designated by crime-scene tape — on West Florissant Avenue near the turmoil last week. The “pen” is designed to enable journalists to view officials’ response to the protesters and rioters, and to offer a central spot for news updates. Reporters were told they risked arrest if they left the designated area.

So, how is that official response reporting working out?

#Ferguson Capt Johnson just said to @JakeTapper 'we didnt use tear gas, just smokebombs'.Tapper: 'Yes you did,we got gassed'.Capt: ok we did

So, called out on lying once, but ...

Step outside of the media zone for some on the spot reporting from a residential neighborhood outside the protest area by TWiB's Elon James White, as he and his group are pinned down by police as tear gas and rubber bullets are flying. Says White:

Doesn't even look they're aiming it at protesters … they're just gassing neighborhoods ... It was like they were trying to exterminate roaches ... If they see a human being, they throw a gas canister.
You won't be reading that in USA Today.

Bottom line?

#Ferguson cops think everyone except for them is the problem. First protesters, then "outside agitators," now the media.

  Posted by Daily Kos Editors on Tue Aug 19, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ferguson: When The Police Become The Military

By Joan McCarter 

Screenshot of tweet from Brendan Friedman

If the photographs emerging from Ferguson, Missouri, look like some foreign war zone to you, you're not alone. Plenty of former soldiers are seeing it, too.

I don't know how it was in IRQ and AFG, but in Bosnia we had less firepower while on patrol than the cops in #Ferguson

FWIW I led foot patrols in downtown Baquba, #Iraq in 2005-06 w/less firepower than #Ferguson PD (excl fire spt) @CaptainAwwsum @AthertonKD

Paul Szoldra compares his experience in Afghanistan to what he's seeing out of Ferguson:

While serving as a U.S. Marine on patrol in Afghanistan, we wore desert camouflage to blend in with our surroundings, carried rifles to shoot back when under enemy attack, and drove around in armored vehicles to ward off roadside bombs.

We looked intimidating, but all of our vehicles and equipment had a clear purpose for combat against enemy forces. So why is this same gear being used on our city streets? […]

In Afghanistan, we patrolled in big, armored trucks. We wore uniforms that conveyed the message, "We are a military force, and we are in control right now." Many Afghans saw us as occupiers.

And now we see some of our police officers in this same way. "The militarization of law enforcement is counter-productive to domestic policing and needs to stop," tweeted Andrew Exum, a former Army infantry officer.

The same gear is being used on American streets because a monster was created in the defense industry and the monster must be fed. Since 1996, "the Department of Defense has transferred $4.3 billion in military equipment to local and state police through the 1033 program." Then the equipment was intended to help fight the war on drugs. With that much firepower in the hands of local police, it was only a matter of time before they began to be used in such obscene excess against Americans.

7:59 AM PT:

@joanmccarter My troops were never as well equipped, nor as poorly trained or disciplined as they are. This is something else.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Aug 14, 2014
Also republished by Daily Kos.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

See Rick Scott Run

  I am still working on new blogging software so this is basically a test. It appears that my videos are now loading, which is a good thing.

   I put up a ad with Florida Governor Rick Scott in it because this piece of crap does not need to be our governor for another 4 years.

  It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Mr. Scott would plead the 5th with reporters if he could, since he does not know how to answer a question when asked to define his positions on anything.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ferguson Chief Releases Shooter's Name, Begins Smearing of Michael Brown

    Michael Brown's killer has been identified for the press and the public. But in the press conference conducted by Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, there was scant information about the actual shooting and its immediate aftermath, and an awful lot about Michael Brown being a suspected thug who had allegedly participated in a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store, stealing cigars.

The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery confirms that no information about the shooting was included in the information packets provided to the media.

Info handed out ONLY about alleged robbery. NO info included about interaction with Officer Wilson, the shooting.

Not handed out: a use of force report, any police report written by Officer Wilson, any narrative of shooting

The fact that Ferguson cop Darren Wilson was the shooter was almost an afterthought in this press conference. The main point was to say that Brown stole cigars before the shooting, and that Wilson was apparently on the look-out for him. What also should have been communicated to police from the 911 dispatches, however, was that the cigar store robbery was not an armed robbery. Wilson, who ultimately found and killed Brown, should have known—even if he was apprehending Brown as the robbery suspect—that he was unarmed. He certainly knew he was unarmed when he shot Brown, according to witness accounts. Brown's empty hands were in the air when he was fatally shot.

The alleged robbery is a red herring. At issue is why Brown was fatally shot.  Even if he was a robbery suspect, that doesn't mean it was legal for Wilson to shoot him as he was surrendering.

  Originally posted by Joan McCarter for Daily Kos on Friday, August 15,2014

Friday Funny’s: Robin Williams Funniest Quotes On Politics and Life

"Politics: 'Poli', a Latin word meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'."

"You could talk about same-sex marriage, but people who have been married say, ‘It’s the same sex all the time.’ "

On Canada: "You are a big country. You are the kindest country in the world. You are like a really nice apartment over a meth lab."

"A woman would never make a nuclear bomb. They would never make a weapon that kills. They’d make a weapon that makes you feel bad for a while."

"Where did they get Sarah Palin? . . . Did Ronald Reagan have a kid with Posh Spice? It’s like she came from some reality show — ‘Project Running Mate.’"

On George W. Bush: "People say satire is dead. It's not dead; it's alive and living in the White House."

On the end of the George Bush presidency: "It’s the end of the reign of George the Second. The reign of error is over. America is officially out of rehab."

On the American economy: "And you can’t blame the economy on [George W. Bush]. They say the economy is essentially sound because people are considering buying things. That’s like saying fat people are healthy because they might exercise."

On Osama bin Laden: "We can't find him, but he's a 6-foot-5 Arab on dialysis. Call me crazy, but look for a guy connected to his luggage."

"When the media ask George W. Bush a question, he answers, "Can I use a lifeline?"
"You'll notice that Bush never speaks when Cheney is drinking water."

"Having George W. Bush giving a lecture on business ethics is like having a leper give you a facial, it just doesn't work!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ferguson protestors see police not as protectors, but as an occupying force.

Hunter on Thursday,  August 14, 2014

Why did this take this long?

St. Louis County police will be withdrawn from Ferguson, Mo., Gov. Jay Nixon will announce Thursday, in a law enforcement shift for a town where anger over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager have sparked violent protests.
This may have been the most visibly incompetent police response in a decade, and yes—it can all be chalked up to the apparent desire or need for local police departments to kit themselves out in Iraq-era military gear that makes them look like they're about to storm Fallujah. The protests were—are—about excessive police force that in this case led to what to witnesses are describing as an outright murder, and the response has been to systemically prove the residents right.

When you have television reporters being attacked with tear gas so that their camera equipment can then be disassembled by "police," how must residents be treated when reporters are not there? If a national reporter can get handcuffed and have his head slammed into a window by an officer for being in McDonalds when the authorities don't want him to be, what has been going on while the cameras were not watching? When you've got seventy-plus officers in full military garb, wearing not police uniforms but infantry gear, sitting on the top of armored vehicles and pointing sniper rifles at a daytime crowd of people of people singing, is that the act of a protecting force, or an occupying one?

When residents are protesting the violence of your police force, maybe don't point sniper rifles at them while they're singing. There's not a damn non-sociopathic person alive who you can point a gun at and have them like you more. When you point rifles at reporters asking for directions away from town, you've made it perfectly clear how much contempt you have for any American who isn't sitting in the same armored vehicle as you are. This has been a clusterfuck of staggering proportions. It seems crafted precisely to demonstrate that residents do not, in fact, have the "rights" other police forces might grant their citizens. The people of Ferguson are, unmistakably, being treated like animals.

Right now Ferguson residents are protesting because they don't trust their own police force. They see them not as protectors of the community, but as occupiers. Looking at the pictures, they're not wrong.

  Original DailyKos

Robin Williams - When a Suicide is a Cause to Celebrate Courage

   I can relate the this story and I am sure that many of you can, so I am reposting it from Dailykos. It is well worth the read.

   By Anti Fanatic on Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Suicide has touched my life personally through friends and acquaintances - and through my own attempts at suicide.  I have often heard the discussion in the aftermath of how suicide is cowardly, and selfish because of the hurt it leaves for survivors. 

Yes, it does leave hurt in the aftermath.  But sometimes, such as in the death of Robin Williams, I think we should look beyond the immediate fact of the suicide and celebrate the courage of the person who fought for so long before succumbing to the forces that drove him to suicide.

I am bi-polar, and believed when I first wrote this diary that Robin Williams had admitted to having the same condition.  After further research, I know he was believed to be bi-polar, but may never have stated that.  It really makes no difference to my views on his death.  He suffered from bi-polar or depressive disorder. I am writing in admiration of the courage it took for him to battle his condition for probably 50 years before he finally lost the battle.

This will be personal, because the struggles to deal with the bi-polar condition are personal to me.  I didn't write immediately after news of Robin Williams' suicide because it took time to organize my thoughts and feelings.

Robin Williams and I were born only a few months apart.  Bi-polar symptoms usually occur with adolescence.  I was about 13 when the voices started, and Robin Williams was probably about the same age.  That means he successfully battled his condition for 50 years.  FIFTY YEARS.  That is a very long time to fight.

Those who are not bi-polar, or afflicted with pure depression, probably can't understand what was happening in those 50 years.  I have heard family members, spouses, or friends tell me, or my family members who are in the depressive phase of our disease to just "snap out of it" or "stop moping around."  They have absolutely no idea that what they are advising is physically impossible.  A bi-polar family member once described it to me as waking up each morning of the depression and saying, "Oh, God!  Why did you let me wake up for another day just to hurt like this?"

To someone on the outside, we may have everything to live for.  From the inside of the maelstrom of the depressive episode, however, there is nothing to live for and no end in sight.  No, we are not "sane" in those periods in the sense of being able to accurately evaluate our lives.  That's why it is called mental illness.  It just hurts.  Sometimes it hurts too much to bear.

To some on the outside, such as those posting cruel comments about Robin Williams being just another druggie, our behavior may seem self-indulgent at times.  However, one of the diagnostic symptoms of the bi-polar condition is overindulgence in pleasurable activities such as sex, alcohol or drugs.  We self-medicate.  We drink to come down.  We take drugs to go up.  No, it is not the best way to cope, but sometimes it seems the only way.  And so, we struggle, as Robin Williams did, to overcome the addictions that come from those activities even as we struggle with our mental health condition.

The courage it takes to keep going, even with the overwhelming pain, even with our mind telling us that the pain will never end, is tremendous.  It is not one day at a time, or one hour at a time.  It is minute by minute.

I have always watched Robin Williams with the knowledge of his condition and a great appreciation of how he had the talent, and willingness, to take his condition and transform it into comedy and drama we enjoyed.  I don't mean that he always was manic when he performed comedy or depressed when he performed dark drama, although I'm sure he was at times.   I mean that I could see the "thinking too fast to process it all" manic energy which we have in the manic phase in his brilliant comedy.  I think he was an intelligent, self-aware man who used his experiences to craft his performances.

Of course, not all bi-polars can do anything like the brilliant performances of Robin Williams, and not all comics are bi-polar (though many others, such as Jim Carrey, are).   But, I could see Robin Williams using both his tremendous talent, and what would otherwise be seen as an affliction, and combining them to produce something extraordinary.

As I watched Robin Williams' career, I often thought of the toll it must take on him.  As bi-polars, our condition is easily affected by disruptions in our sleep patterns and stress.  Even those of us who are very stable on our medications can be thrown completely into manic or depressive swings by sleep disruption and/or stress.  All those years, he managed the long hours necessary for television or movie production.  He traveled around the country giving live shows, hopping time zones.  All of those things were additional strains on his condition.

So, I'm back to where I started.  I'm writing this in admiration for a brilliant man who had the courage to fight his condition for approximately 50 years before he lost the fight.  I'm writing in admiration of a man who did things to allow him to share his brilliant performances with us, even those things would likely aggregate his condition.

I wish he could have continued to hold off his personal demons longer.  I wish we could have had more years to enjoy him.  I wish so much that his children could have had more years with their father.  But, I recognize that he fought a good and courageous fight.

Originally posted to Anti Fanatic on Wed Aug 13, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Non-Expanding States Will Lose $423.6 Billion In Medicaid Funding

  A public service announcement from the  Daily Kos Staff

The 24 states that have refused to expand Medicaid are losing out on some $423.6 billion between now and 2022, according to a new study [pdf] from the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Using that data, Jonathon Cohn created an interactive map (click here to see the map actually interacting) to show how much each denying state was missing out on.

Over the next ten years Florida will lose $66.1 billion. Texas, $65.6 billion. North Carolina, $39.6 billion. Even states with small populations, like Idaho ($3.3 billion) and Wyoming ($1.4 billion) are foregoing huge amounts of funding relative to state budgets. Most of the states argue that the eventual costs of expansion will be far too high, so they are being fiscally prudent in rejecting it. This study puts that argument to rest. Here's an example from Cohn.

The Urban Institute researchers have made projections for just how much money each state is implicitly giving up by refusing to expand Medicaid. Georgia is a good example. According to the Urban report, Georgia would have to spend an additional $2.5 billion over the course of a decade in order to finance its share of the Medicaid expansion. But the state is giving up more than ten times that—$33.5 billion—in federal funds.

There's plenty else the states are missing out on, besides having a potentially healthier population. In 2015 alone, these 24 states could create 172,400 jobs and their hospitals would receive $168 billion in new reimbursements. The economic shot in the arm from Medicaid expansion could do wonders for some of these struggling states. But it's far more important to most of these Republican legislatures and governors to fight Obama.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sarah Palin: Idiot At Large?

   Sarah Palin is not an idiot. What she is is the typical Conservative mouthpiece out to make as much money from the Tea Party/Republican voters, aka "Group of Stupid)  as she can, while she can.

   That being said, have you by any chance had the weak moment to check out her newest money for nothing website? Watch the video and then try to figure out if she was drunk or high, or both.





Time For Real Journalists To Hold McCain's Feet To The Fire

Retroactive Genius on Monday, August 11, 2014

The spiteful and embittered old sack of bile that is John McCain was on the box on Sunday, as he is every damn Sunday, attacking President Obama. The irresponsible old fool who gave us Caibou Barbie and enabled the Tea Party was, as usual, questioning the President's judgement.

On CNN's "State of the Union," McCain blamed the deteriorating situation in Iraq on America's failure to leave forces behind in Iraq.
It was at this point that Candy Crowley should have jumped in and said:
"Evidently, Senator, you need to be reminded that it was President George W. Bush who negotiated and signed the Status of Forces Agreement in December 2008 that legally obliged the US to withdraw its forces by 2011. The Obama administration tried to renegotiate those terms to keep US forces on the ground for longer but the Iraqi government refused to grant immunity to our troops, so no agreement could be reached. The Iraqi government wanted us gone, Senator."
But McCain was allowed to get away with his contemptible revising of history. McCain went on to tell Crowley:
“I predicted what was going to happen in Iraq," he said."

He certainly did. Let's do what Crowley should have done and what Chris Hayes did do last month and revisit McCain's 'predictions':

John McCain predictions

  For whatever reason, the video would not load, so a link is the best that I can do. Sorry about that. 

Look, you either hold this unprincipled and mendacious old buffoon to account or stop asking the fool for his worthless opinions: either way, do your goddamned job, journalists.

   Original Daily Kos posting

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Using Your Cat To Hack Your Neighbor's Wi-Fi

   I thought that you might like to see what kind of crap people like us can come up with when we get bored.

  By Retroactive Genius

As someone who is in the employ of 3 cats, I understand that it's a quid pro quo arrangement: I provide food, a home, visits to the vet and household items to destroy;  the cats provide me, my family (and the dog) with endless pleasure, affection, amusement and a (less desirable) supply of dead mice, rats and birds.

Now, security researcher Gene Bransfield has developed a way to get your cats to bring home more than dead mice, rats, birds and other forms of wildlife that were too slow. Bransfield has created a 'WarKitteh' collar equipped with:

...a Spark Core chip loaded with his custom-coded firmware, a Wi-Fi card, a tiny GPS module and a battery—everything necessary to map all the networks in the neighborhood that would be vulnerable to any intruder or Wi-Fi mooch with, at most, some simple crypto-cracking tools.

First, there was wardialling, cycling through phone numbers with a modem to find vulnerable computers; we all remember WarGames, right?

Then came Wi-Fi and 'wardialling' became 'wardriving', which involved driving (or even walking) through a neighborhood with a good antenna/receiver to find vulnerable networks.

Wardriving led to 'warchalking',  a 'code' that would be chalked up on the side of a building to indicate an open or weakly encrypted Wi-Fi network (in much the same way that hobos used chalk marks to indicate a place where people were generous or not).

Bransfield has taken the next logical step and attached his hacked collar to his wife’s grandmother’s cat, Coco. The 'upgraded' cat, wearing the 'Warkitteh' collar, would roam and detect vulnerable Wi-Fi setups. Bransfield made the 'Warkitteh' collar for less than $100.

Initially, said Bransfield, he’d outfitted the Wi-Fi hacking cat as sort of a cute stunt. The security engineer thought it would make for an amusing topic to entertain the hacker-filled audience at this year's DEF Con; but he said he was surprised at the experiment’s success.

Bransfield told Wired Magazine:

“My intent was not to show people where to get free Wi-Fi. I put some technology on a cat and let it roam around because the idea amused me. But the result of this cat research was that there were a lot more open and WEP-encrypted hot spots out there than there should be in 2014.”

Over three hours, Coco, the Wi-Fi hacking cat, found 23 Wi-Fi hotspots and over a third of them were unsecured or used easily hackable WEP instead of the more secure WPA encryption.

WEP encryption has been laughably easy to crack for years, which is why people were urged to switch to WPA or WPA2 encryption. But even the latter two, if not properly configured, can be cracked relatively easily by a linux tool called Reaver. Reaver is even available for Android smartphones (if your phone has the right wireless chip).

Bransfield says that although he came up with the weaponized cat experiment (he admits the term weaponized is tongue-in-cheek) for fun, he like to think that the results will alert more people to the importance of Wi-Fi security.

“Cats are more interesting to people than information security. If people realize that a cat can pick up on their open Wi-Fi hotspot, maybe that’s a good thing.”

Kittehs, God love 'em: can it be long before they're hacking into your credit card account and ordering tuna and catnip by the pallet-load?

Originally posted to Retroactive Genius on Sat Aug 09, 2014

Friday, August 08, 2014

Saturday Satire

 "Craig Ferguson: It is our president's birthday. It's also the birthday of NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon. Jeff Gordon and President Obama are very different, of course. One's a guy who spent his whole life turning left and is hated by NASCAR fans. And the other one? Jeff Gordon." 

Daniel Kurtzman

 Wishful Thinking

July 2014 Cartoons     Copyright © 2014 Creators Syndicate
CartoonsArts International"

U.S. Border Goalie

By Daniel Kurtzman
U.S. Border Goalie
Copyright © 2014 Universal Press Syndicate
 Seth Meyers: "Congress wanted to surprise President Obama on his birthday so they passed a bill."
Jimmy Fallon: "Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to sue President Obama for abusing his executive powers. Experts are calling this a meaningless political stunt that's a huge waste of taxpayer money, while Congress is saying, 'Yep. That's what we do.'"
"The House voted 225-201 to sue President Obama. That's the bad news. The good news is that Congress actually passed something."
Stephen Colbert: "I have always been a huge fan of Sarah Palin. She's a strong leader with a proven history of selflessness. I mean, in the midst of her 2008 campaign, she took the time to help out a struggling senior with severely impaired judgment."

By Daniel Kurtzman
CartoonsArts International"

Darth Vader and Cheney

By Daniel Kurtzman
Darth Vader and Cheney

Copyright © 2014 Creators Syndicate

Poor Poor Hillary

By Daniel Kurtzman
Poor Poor Hillary
Cagle Cartoons

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Only 31 Incidences Of Voter-ID Preventable Fraud In 14 Years

Wed Aug 06, 2014

We've got a new number on just how extensive America's voter fraud problem really is. Hold on to your hats, folks, because that number is: 31.

I’ve been tracking allegations of fraud for years now, including the fraud ID laws are designed to stop. In 2008, when the Supreme Court weighed in on voter ID, I looked at every single allegation put before the Court. And since then, I’ve been following reports wherever they crop up.

To be clear, I’m not just talking about prosecutions. I track any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix.

So far, I’ve found about 31 different incidents (some of which involve multiple ballots) since 2000, anywhere in the country.

That's not 31 proven incidents in the last 14 years, that's 31 possible incidents—some or most of them could be the result of clerical errors, like people signing the poll books on the wrong lines. That's what the conservative obsession with voter ID laws seeks to tamp down on. Having politicians pay people to vote, or having "charity" organizations be front organizations for political operations, or having candidates funded wholesale by corporate lobbies, all of that pales in comparison to making sure those 31 people (maybe) get what's coming to them.

That, or it's a transparent attempt to make voting more difficult for minorities and the poor, backed by the same people who have a long history of trying to make voting more difficult for minorities and the poor. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

  By  Hunter at Daily Kos

Friday, March 07, 2014

Paul Ryan’s ‘Brown Bag Lunch’ Story Was Stolen From A Homeless Child

Author: Shannon Argueta March 7, 2014

Paul Ryan’s “brown bag” story at the CPAC was stolen from a book. And now Ryan looks like and even bigger fool as information about the author is revealed.

On Thursday we brought you a story about Paul Ryan (R-Dufusville) telling a tall tale at the  Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The story was about a young boy from a very poor family who didn’t want free school lunch because it made him feel unloved. Paul Ryan’s “Brown Bag” story was supposed to demonstrate how out of touch Democrats are. Well, it turns out, Ryan’s story was actually not his own. Instead it was written by a woman who…wait for it….campaigns to end child hunger through free programs in schools. Seriously, we can’t make this stuff up.

Ryan’s “Brown Bag” story was quite a doozy.

Anyone listening to Paul Ryan’s story about the brown bag could immediately pick up that it was bull. He was merely trying to gain support for attacking the school lunch program from the uber conservative asshats at CPAC. He talked about a poor boy from a really poor family who told Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Director Eloise Anderson that he didn’t want free school lunch.

“He didn’t want a free lunch,” Paul Ryan insisted. “He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown paper bag, just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”

Because in the world of Paul Ryan, a small child would choose to starve if he didn’t get a brown bag lunch. Also, parents who do not provide their kids with brown bag lunches don’t really love them. We are neglectful, unloving jerks. That is quite a doozy.

Well, in typical Republican fashion, Ryan and his cronies stole someone else’s words and distorted them to fit his agenda.

Where did Paul Ryan’s brown bag story come from?

In 1986 author Laura Schroff met a young panhandler named Maurice. The two end up meeting every week for the next four years and she wrote a book about their relationship. In her book, An Invisible Thread, Laura recounts telling Maurice that she could either give him money for a week or buy him enough food to last that long. The following exchange bears a striking resemblance to the story supposedly told to Ryan.

“If you make me lunch,” he said, “will you put it in a brown paper bag?”

I didn’t really understand the question. “Do you want it in a brown paper bag?” I asked. “Or how would you prefer it?”

“Miss Laura,” he said, “I don’t want your money. I want my lunch in a brown paper bag.”

“Okay, sure. But why do you want it in a bag?”

“Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, that means someone cares about them. Miss Laura, can I please have my lunch in a paper bag?” [Source]

So Paul Ryan pulled a Rand Paul and plagiarized a story for his speech. This is especially ironic since Ryan said liberals are all out of ideas during his CPAC speech as well. I don’t see Democrats stealing their speech ideas from other people. Just another demonstration of how out of touch Ryan and the rest of the crazy Republicans at the CPAC are.

Paul Ryan Apologizes on Facebook.

Paul Ryan took to Facebook last night and apologized to his sheep for not verifying the original brown bag story. In other words, he realized that he was about to be called out and had to damage control really fast.

Today at CPAC, I shared a story I heard from Eloise Anderson, the secretary for children and families for the state of Wisconsin. She mentioned it in her testimony for a House Budget Committee hearing last year. I have just learned that Secretary Anderson misspoke, and that the story she told was improperly sourced. I regret failing to verify the original source of the story, but I appreciate her taking the time to share her insights.

Notice how he managed to apologize AND blame it all on someone else in the same post?

More Irony brought to us courtesy of the Tea Party.

Perhaps the funniest thing of all, Ryan and Anderson likely originally heard the story about Maurice and Laura Schroff on  Mike Huckabee’s show in 2013. Schroff and Maurice were guests on the show to promote the Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign. The campaign’s mission statement completely undercuts the reason Ryan used the story to begin with.

We’re ending childhood hunger by connecting kids to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals.

To sum it up: Paul Ryan and associates stole the brown bag story as a way to demonstrate how damaging the free lunch program is. But the story was taken from a woman whose mission is to end childhood hunger by implementing additional free food programs in schools. Omigosh it really doesn’t get any funnier than this. No wait….it does.

In March 2013, the campaign released a statement speaking out against Paul Ryan’s infamous budget. You know, the budget that would decimate the SNAP program.

A recently-released budget proposal in the House of Representatives – often referred to as the Ryan budget – would be devastating to SNAP. The proposal would lead to up to $125 billion in cuts to the program and would lead to millions of families and children losing access to the program entirely.

So here are some friendly words of advice for Republicans before they plagiarize: Research, research, research. Otherwise you look like more of a fool than you already are. Also, before you claim that Democrats are out of ideas, you may want to get some original ones of your own.

Creative Commins License

Thursday, March 06, 2014

American authoritarians loves them some Putin-style strong men

In a great piece over at The New Republic, Issac Chotiner surveys how American conservatives increasingly fail to disguise their lust for strong authority figures up to and past Vladimir Putin. Chotiner records how "1984" author George Orwell once noticed this effect way back in the post-WWII era, observing the behavior of James Burnham, a leading conservative voice and ostensible anti-communist who couldn't seem to stop gushing out loud over the power and strength of strongmen like, well, Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Orwell detected a strong flavor of authoritarianism and impatience in too many political philosophers like Burnham who sneered at the inherently "weak" democratic form of government, with all its tiresome checks and balances.

Read Chotiner's piece over here  to see how deftly he updates Orwell with regard to today's conservatives, more than a few of whom are all agog over Putin's "bold" action in the Ukraine (hmmm, now what other world leader of recent vintage did they regard as "bold"? I can think of one, a man whose initials are GWB).

Chotiner's piece reminded me of other evidence of this effect, which in turn reminded me of an old routine by the late George Carlin. Start with the funny: The comedian noticed how in American culture, ideas are often politically malleable. "Lenin had a beard!" Carlin proclaimed. "But Gabby Hayes had...whiskers!"

The top shark (or barracuda) jumper of the day in this regard is Sarah Palin, who in a diatribe against our supposedly failed, failed, incompetent, helpless president told Sean Hannity at Fox that Obama is to blame for Putin's action because:

.. especially under the commander-in-chief that we have today because Obama's -- the perception of him and his potency across the world is one of such weakness. And you know, look, people are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.
... said the would-be bloviator-in-chief herself. So there you have it in a nutshell.

Ronald Reagan wore cowboy jeans while riding on his ranch and blasting Grenadans without mercy!

George W. Bush wore wrangler jeans while clearing brush and leveling Baghdad!

But Barack Obama? Oooooh, he wears mom jeans! Presumably, he takes his daughters to soccer practice, too.

And that, Palin informs us, is precisely why US foreign policy is in the toilet. Says, at least, the woman whom if you believe her could see it all coming from her front porch in Alaska.

My only question here: Did Reagan wear "mom jeans" when he bailed out of Lebanon after more than 200 US Marines there were blown up in their barracks while asleep? And did Bush wear "mom jeans" when in 2008 he played tiddly winks while Russia ran military incursions into another of its former Baltic satrapies, Georgia? Inquiring denim lovers demand to know!

Originally posted to Ron Legro on Wed Mar 05, 2014

Monday, March 03, 2014

Turmoil In Ukraine? What The Neocons Desire

What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis

by Robert Parry Via Consortium News on Monday, March 3, 2014

President Barack Obama has been trying, mostly in secret, to craft a new foreign policy that relies heavily on cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin to tamp down confrontations in hotspots such as Iran and Syria. But Obama’s timidity about publicly explaining this strategy has left it open to attack from powerful elements of Official Washington, including well-placed neocons and people in his own administration.

The gravest threat to this Obama-Putin collaboration has now emerged in Ukraine, where a coalition of U.S. neocon operatives and neocon holdovers within the State Department fanned the flames of unrest in Ukraine, contributing to the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych and now to a military intervention by Russian troops in the Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine that historically was part of Russia.

Though I’m told the Ukraine crisis caught Obama and Putin by surprise, the neocon determination to drive a wedge between the two leaders has been apparent for months, especially after Putin brokered a deal to head off U.S. military strikes against Syria last summer and helped get Iran to negotiate concessions on its nuclear program, both moves upsetting the neocons who had favored heightened confrontations.

Putin also is reported to have verbally dressed down Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan over what Putin considered their provocative actions regarding the Syrian civil war. So, by disrupting neocon plans and offending Netanyahu and Bandar, the Russian president found himself squarely in the crosshairs of some very powerful people.

If not for Putin, the neocons – along with Israel and Saudi Arabia – had hoped that Obama would launch military strikes on Syria and Iran that could open the door to more “regime change” across the Middle East, a dream at the center of neocon geopolitical strategy since the 1990s. This neocon strategy took shape after the display of U.S. high-tech warfare against Iraq in 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union later that year. U.S. neocons began believing in a new paradigm of a uni-polar world where U.S. edicts were law.

The neocons felt this paradigm shift also meant that Israel would no longer need to put up with frustrating negotiations with the Palestinians. Rather than haggling over a two-state solution, U.S. neocons simply pressed for “regime change” in hostile Muslim countries that were assisting the Palestinians or Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Iraq was first on the neocon hit list, but next came Syria and Iran. The overriding idea was that once the regimes assisting the Palestinians and Hezbollah were removed or neutralized, then Israel could dictate peace terms to the Palestinians who would have no choice but to accept what was on the table.

U.S. neocons working on Netanyahu’s campaign team in 1996, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, even formalized their bold new plan, which they outlined in a strategy paper, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The paper argued that only “regime change” in hostile Muslim countries could achieve the necessary “clean break” from the diplomatic standoffs that had followed inconclusive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

In 1998, the neocon Project for the New American Century called for a U.S. invasion of Iraq, but President Bill Clinton refused to go along. The situation changed, however, when President George W. Bush took office and after the 9/11 attacks. Suddenly, the neocons had a Commander in Chief who agreed with the need to eliminate Iraq’s Saddam Hussein — and a stunned and angry U.S. public could be easily persuaded. [See’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

So, Bush invaded Iraq, ousting Hussein but failing to subdue the country. The U.S. death toll of nearly 4,500 soldiers and the staggering costs, estimated to exceed $1 trillion, made the American people and even Bush unwilling to fulfill the full-scale neocon vision, which was expressed in one of their favorite jokes of 2003 about where to attack next, Iran or Syria, with the punch line: “Real men go to Tehran!”

Though hawks like Vice President Dick Cheney pushed the neocon/Israeli case for having the U.S. military bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities – with the hope that the attacks also might spark a “regime change” in Tehran – Bush decided that he couldn’t risk the move, especially after the U.S. intelligence community assessed in 2007 that Iran had stopped work on a bomb four years earlier.

The Rise of Obama

The neocons were dealt another setback in 2008 when Barack Obama defeated a neocon favorite, Sen. John McCain. But Obama then made one of the fateful decisions of his presidency, deciding to staff key foreign-policy positions with “a team of rivals,” i.e. keeping Republican operative Robert Gates at the Defense Department and recruiting Hillary Clinton, a neocon-lite, to head the State Department.

Obama also retained Bush’s high command, most significantly the media-darling Gen. David Petraeus. That meant that Obama didn’t take control over his own foreign policy.

Gates and Petraeus were themselves deeply influenced by the neocons, particularly Frederick Kagan, who had been a major advocate for the 2007 “surge” escalation in Iraq, which was hailed by the U.S. mainstream media as a great “success” but never achieved its principal goal of a unified Iraq. At the cost of nearly 1,000 U.S. dead, it only bought time for an orderly withdrawal that spared Bush and the neocons the embarrassment of an obvious defeat.

So, instead of a major personnel shakeup in the wake of the catastrophic Iraq War, Obama presided over what looked more like continuity with the Bush war policies, albeit with a firmer commitment to draw down troops in Iraq and eventually in Afghanistan.

From the start, however, Obama was opposed by key elements of his own administration, especially at State and Defense, and by the still-influential neocons of Official Washington. According to various accounts, including Gates’s new memoir Duty, Obama was maneuvered into supporting a troop “surge” in Afghanistan, as advocated by neocon Frederick Kagan and pushed by Gates, Petraeus and Clinton.

Gates wrote that Kagan persuaded him to recommend the Afghan “surge” and that Obama grudgingly went along although Gates concluded that Obama didn’t believe in the “mission” and wanted to reverse course more quickly than Gates, Petraeus and their side wanted.

Faced with this resistance from his own bureaucracy, Obama began to rely on a small inner circle built around Vice President Joe Biden and a few White House advisers with the analytical support of some CIA officials, including CIA Director Leon Panetta.

Obama also found a surprising ally in Putin after he regained the Russian presidency in 2012. A Putin adviser told me that the Russian president personally liked Obama and genuinely wanted to help him resolve dangerous disputes, especially crises with Iran and Syria.

In other words, what evolved out of Obama’s early “team of rivals” misjudgment was an extraordinary presidential foreign policy style, in which Obama developed and implemented much of his approach to the world outside the view of his secretaries of State and Defense (except when Panetta moved briefly to the Pentagon).

Even after the eventual departures of Gates in 2011, Petraeus as CIA director after a sex scandal in late 2012, and Clinton in early 2013, Obama’s peculiar approach didn’t particularly change. I’m told that he has a distant relationship with Secretary of State John Kerry, who never joined Obama’s inner foreign policy circle.

Though Obama’s taciturn protectiveness of his “real” foreign policy may be understandable given the continued neocon “tough-guy-ism” that dominates Official Washington, Obama’s freelancing approach gave space to hawkish elements of his own administration.

For instance, Secretary of State Kerry came close to announcing a U.S. war against Syria in a bellicose speech on Aug. 30, 2013, only to see Obama pull the rug out from under him as the President worked with Putin to defuse the crisis sparked by a disputed chemical weapons attack outside Damascus. [See’s “How War on Syria Lost Its Way.”]

Similarly, Obama and Putin hammered out the structure for an interim deal with Iran on how to constrain its nuclear program. But when Kerry was sent to seal that agreement in Geneva, he instead inserted new demands from the French (who were carrying water for the Saudis) and nearly screwed it all up. After getting called on the carpet by the White House, Kerry returned to Geneva and finalized the arrangements.[See’s “A Saudi-Israel Defeat on Iran Deal.”]

Unorthodox Foreign Policy

Obama’s unorthodox foreign policy – essentially working in tandem with the Russian president and sometimes at odds with his own foreign policy bureaucracy – has forced Obama into faux outrage when he’s faced with some perceived affront from Russia, such as its agreement to give temporary asylum to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

For the record, Obama had to express strong disapproval of Snowden’s asylum, though in many ways Putin was doing Obama a favor by sparing Obama from having to prosecute Snowden with the attendant complications for U.S. national security and the damaging political repercussions from Obama’s liberal base.

Putin’s unforced errors also complicated the relationship, such as when he defended Russian hostility toward gays and cracked down on dissent before the Sochi Olympics. Putin became an easy target for U.S. commentators and comedians.

But Obama’s hesitancy to explain the degree of his strategic cooperation with Putin has enabled Official Washington’s still influential neocons, including holdovers within the State Department bureaucracy, to drive more substantive wedges between Obama and Putin. The neocons came to recognize that the Obama-Putin tandem had become a major impediment to their strategic vision.

Without doubt, the neocons’ most dramatic – and potentially most dangerous – counter-move has been Ukraine, where they have lent their political and financial support to opposition forces who sought to break Ukraine away from its Russian neighbor.

Though this crisis also stems from the historical division of Ukraine – between its more European-oriented west and the Russian-ethnic east and south – neocon operatives, with financing from the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. sources, played key roles in destabilizing and overthrowing the democratically elected president.

NED, a $100 million-a-year agency created by the Reagan administration in 1983 to promote political action and psychological warfare against targeted states, lists 65 projects that it supports financially inside Ukraine, including training activists, supporting “journalists” and promoting business groups, effectively creating a full-service structure primed and ready to destabilize a government in the name of promoting “democracy.” [See’s “A Shadow US Foreign Policy.”]

State Department neocons also put their shoulders into shoving Ukraine away from Russia. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan and the sister-in-law of the Gates-Petraeus adviser Frederick Kagan, advocated strenuously for Ukraine’s reorientation toward Europe.

Last December, Nuland reminded Ukrainian business leaders that, to help Ukraine achieve “its European aspirations, we have invested more than $5 billion.” She said the U.S. goal was to take “Ukraine into the future that it deserves,” by which she meant into the West’s orbit and away from Russia’s.

But President Yanukovych rejected a European Union plan that would have imposed harsh austerity on the already impoverished Ukraine. He accepted a more generous $15 billion loan from Russia, which also has propped up Ukraine’s economy with discounted natural gas. Yanukovych’s decision sparked anti-Russian street protests in Kiev, located in the country’s western and more pro-European region.

Nuland was soon at work planning for “regime change,” encouraging disruptive street protests by personally passing out cookies to the anti-government demonstrators. She didn’t seem to notice or mind that the protesters in Kiev’s Maidan square had hoisted a large banner honoring Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.

By late January, Nuland was discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt who should be allowed in the new government.

“Yats is the guy,” Nuland said in a phone call to Pyatt that was intercepted and posted online. “He’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the guy you know.” By “Yats,” Nuland was referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had served as head of the central bank, foreign minister and economic minister — and who was committed to harsh austerity.

As Assistant Secretary Nuland and Sen. McCain cheered the demonstrators on, the street protests turned violent. Police clashed with neo-Nazi bands, the ideological descendants of Bandera’s anti-Russian Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazi SS during World War II.

With the crisis escalating and scores of people killed in the street fighting, Yanukovych agreed to a E.U.-brokered deal that called for moving up scheduled elections and having the police stand down. The neo-Nazi storm troopers then seized the opening to occupy government buildings and force Yanukovych and many of his aides to flee for their lives.

With these neo-Nazis providing “security,” the remaining parliamentarians agreed in a series of unanimous or near unanimous votes to establish a new government and seek Yanukovych’s arrest for mass murder. Nuland’s choice, Yatsenyuk, emerged as interim prime minister.

Yet, the violent ouster of Yanukovych provoked popular resistance to the coup from the Russian-ethnic south and east. After seeking refuge in Russia, Yanukovych appealed to Putin for help. Putin then dispatched Russian troops to secure control of the Crimea. [For more on this history, see’s “Cheering a ‘Democratic’ Coup in Ukraine.”]

Separating Obama from Putin

The Ukraine crisis has given Official Washington’s neocons another wedge to drive between Obama and Putin. For instance, the neocon flagship Washington Post editorialized on Saturday that Obama was responding “with phone calls” when something much more threatening than “condemnation” was needed.

It’s always stunning when the Post, which so energetically lobbied for the U.S. invasion of Iraq under the false pretense of eliminating its (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction, gets its ire up about another country acting in response to a genuine security threat on its own borders, not half a world away.

But the Post’s editors have never been deterred by their own hypocrisy. They wrote, “Mr. Putin’s likely objective was not difficult to figure. He appears to be responding to Ukraine’s overthrow of a pro-Kremlin government last week with an old and ugly Russian tactic: provoking a separatist rebellion in a neighboring state, using its own troops when necessary.”

The reality, however, appears to have been that neocon elements from within the U.S. government encouraged the overthrow of the elected president of Ukraine via a coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi storm troopers who then terrorized lawmakers as the parliament passed draconian laws, including some intended to punish the Russian-oriented regions which favor Yanukovych.

Yet, besides baiting Obama over his tempered words about the crisis, the Post declared that “Mr. Obama and European leaders must act quickly to prevent Ukraine’s dismemberment. Missing from the president’s statement was a necessary first step: a demand that all Russian forces – regular and irregular – be withdrawn … and that Moscow recognize the authority of the new Kiev government. … If Mr. Putin does not comply, Western leaders should make clear that Russia will pay a heavy price.”

The Post editors are fond of calling for ultimatums against various countries, especially Syria and Iran, with the implication that if they don’t comply with some U.S. demand that harsh actions, including military reprisals, will follow.

But now the neocons, in their single-minded pursuit of endless “regime change” in countries that get in their way, have taken their ambitions to a dangerous new level, confronting nuclear-armed Russia with ultimatums.

By Sunday, the Post’s neocon editors were “spelling out the consequences” for Putin and Russia, essentially proposing a new Cold War. The Post mocked Obama for alleged softness toward Russia and suggested that the next “regime change” must come in Moscow.

“Many in the West did not believe Mr. Putin would dare attempt a military intervention in Ukraine because of the steep potential consequences,” the Post wrote. “That the Russian ruler plunged ahead shows that he doubts Western leaders will respond forcefully. If he does not quickly retreat, the United States must prove him wrong.”

The madness of the neocons has long been indicated by their extraordinary arrogance and their contempt for other nations’ interests. They assume that U.S. military might and other coercive means must be brought to bear on any nation that doesn’t bow before U.S. ultimatums or that resists U.S.-orchestrated coups.

Whenever the neocons meet resistance, they don’t rethink their strategy; they simply take it to the next level. Angered by Russia’s role in heading off U.S. military attacks against Syria and Iran, the neocons escalated their geopolitical conflict by taking it to Russia’s own border, by egging on the violent ouster of Ukraine’s elected president.

The idea was to give Putin an embarrassing black eye as punishment for his interference in the neocons’ dream of “regime change” across the Middle East. Now, with Putin’s countermove, his dispatch of Russian troops to secure control of the Crimea, the neocons want Obama to further escalate the crisis by going after Putin.

Some leading neocons even see ousting Putin as a crucial step toward reestablishing the preeminence of their agenda. NED president Carl Gershman wrote in the Washington Post, “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents.  … Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

At minimum, the neocons hope that they can neutralize Putin as Obama’s ally in trying to tamp down tensions with Syria and Iran – and thus put American military strikes against those two countries back under active consideration.

As events spin out of control, it appears way past time for President Obama to explain to the American people why he has collaborated with President Putin in trying to resolve some of the world’s thorniest problems.

That, however, would require him to belatedly take control of his own administration, to purge the neocon holdovers who have worked to sabotage his actual foreign policy, and to put an end to neocon-controlled organizations, like the National Endowment for Democracy, that use U.S. taxpayers’ money to stir up trouble abroad. That would require real political courage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.