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Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:59 PM PST

Is Obama a "Foreigner?"

by Beartooth Bronsky

Many Republicans are so obsessed with trying to paint Barack Obama as the 'other,' an 'outsider,' and a Kenyan they sometimes forget (are you reading this Dinesh D'Sousa?) that Obama's mother's family trace their lineage in America back to colonial days, well before the Revolutionary War.  As is true with just about every family that can trace their roots back to the mid-1700s or earlier, the list of Obama's direct ancestors and collateral relatives is rather astonishing.  In 2008, from an official genealogy [source now forgotten], I wrote down the names of some of the famous people related either directly or collaterally to Obama.  BTW, Obama and George W. Bush are directly related to each other through Samuel Hinkley, 12 generations back.  In fact, since Obama's first ancestors arrived here in the 1630s and Bush's around the early-middle 18th century, their genealogies have a surprising number of common relatives.  Okay, here goes - just a few relatives of Barack H. Obama through his mother:

Lyndon Baines Johnson,  Park Overall (actress), Penelope Tree (model), Margaux and Murial Hemingway, Charles Addams, John Steinbeck, Christopher Reeve, Alfred Kinsey, Harold MacMillan (former PM of UK), The First Earl of Stockton, Howard Dean, Sarah Palin, Jimmy Carter, Katherine Hepburn, Ken Kesey, John Waters (Bush is related to Edie the Egg Lady from Waters' movies), Harry Truman, Dick Cheney (another common relative with Bush), Robert Duval, Robert Byrd, John Pierpoint Morgan, Dorothy Walker Bush (wife of Prescott Bush), George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Gordon Hinkley (recently deceased President of the Church of the Latter Day Saints - Mormons), Louden Wainright I, II, & III, Birch Bayh Jr. and III, JonBenet Ramsey, Gerald Ford, John Glenn, Lon Cheney Sr. and Jr., Winston Churchill, James Madison, Lighthorse Harry Lee, Robert E. Lee, Woodrow Wilson, Buster Crabbe, and King William I (the Lion King of Scotland in the early 13th Century).
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Crossposted from

I'm amazed that, in both parties, there are so many people who believe that our financial crisis was caused by debt and the deficit (which has shrunk in each of the last 3 years and is projected by the CBO to shrink even more in 2013).

You don't try to pay down debt and the deficit when the economy is weak. This is basic Economics 101 - like the first day at airline pilot's school when the instructor tells the students "Don't shut off the engines while you are still in the air!"

As England, Ireland, and other European countries are learning to their great pain, austerity has only deepened their recessions, lowered their GDP, and heightened joblessness. Austerity causes economic contraction and recession, and the only force that can cushion that contraction is monetary policy support from the FED. Given that interest rates are now, for all intents and purposes, zero, the FED has no room to maneuver to stave off the destructive consequences of austerity.

Basic economic theory (as opposed to the fringe Austrian School, a heterodox economic philosophy that was considered pretty much a joke among economists until Ronald Reagan and succeeding Republicans embraced it) says that the ONLY way to strengthen a weak economy is to spend money on job creation and other investments in the future. Only when the economy is strong enough to withstand the negative effects of debt and deficit reduction should these LONG-TERM problems be addressed.

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The reactionary Right in America are fanatical about the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, or at least their own interpretation of it as an absolute right (even though it  is the only Amendment in the Bill of Rights that begins with a qualifier).  If you were to parse it into today's English from the convoluted 18th Century Noah Websterish phrasing, it would read something like:

As long as a well-regulated militia is considered to be necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
The primary reason for the Second Amendment (for you Strict Constructionists and Original Intenters) is that the Founding Fathers did not want to have a standing army (its why Congress can only fund the Army for 2 years at a time). As an alternative to a standing professional army, they envisioned state "militias" the structure of which would be defined by Congress (Article I, Section 8) and could be called out in case of invasion and TO PUT DOWN SEDITIOUS INSURGENCIES (not to arm loonies to start a seditious insurgency).  In national emergencies, the President as Commander-in-Chief has ultimate command of the militias (today known as state National Guard units) and can order them into battle against an outside aggressor or a seditious revolution.

Despite its stated purpose in the Amendment and the additional detail in the first 2 Articles of the Constitution itself, there is a significant group of deluded and paranoid conspiracy theorists who have been convinced for decades that our democratically elected government is, behind the scenes, an evil conspiracy working to destroy American values and freedoms, enslave the "real" Americans (those who also believe in the conspiracy), and hand American sovereignty over to the United Nations and/or the Muslim Brotherhood.  Essentially, a group of right-wing lunatics have believed in this conspiracy for the entire history of the country (only the evil mastermind changes in each generation (Illuminati, Freemasons, Mormons, Jesuits, the "Pope of Rome," internationa bankers (code for Jews), Communists, and now one-worlders and Muslims trying to force Shari'ah down Americans' throats.

These people believe that, in order to accomplish their dastardly mission, the evil satanic powers masquerading as ordinary politicians, media, and educators, must disarm the people before they can be rounded up and put into re-education or detention camps.  Thus, they arm themselves to the hilt with the closest thing to military weapons they can find, create survivalist groups, build bunkers, and are ever vigilant for ANYTHING that they can interpret as part of the massive plot to disarm them (some recently have actually said that the Newtown massacre was perpetrated by the Obama administration as the opening move in gun confiscation).  They are always manning the barricades, on the verge of violent revolution against their own government.

BTW, even more than the thousands of gun deaths each year through crimes, suicides, accidents, home disputes, and unbalanced spree killers, I think that this army of perhaps hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of wack jobs, already armed to the teeth, are the most serious threat that gun ownership poses - and all of their weapons will be grandfathered in under any new gun laws.  Millions of already owned guns, including semi-automatic assault weapons (as well as high-capacity clips) will still be in the hands of unbalanced paranoids.

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In order to talk reasonably intelligently about assault weapons and assault weapon bans, it is helpful to understand why a Bushmaster-style semi-automatic rifle is legitimately categorized as an assault weapon.

It is a widely-spread falsehood by the NRA and assault weapon supporters that the AR-15 civilian versions of the M-16 are not "military-style assault weapons" because they are semi-automatic (you have to pull the trigger for each single round), while military versions support full automatic fire.  In fact, M-14s, Most versions of M-16s, and several versions of the newer M-4, do NOT support full automatic fire.

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Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 02:23 PM PST

La Rive Gauche

by Beartooth Bronsky

This is a political blog that endeavors to view today's political, economic, and social issues from a left-wing, yet (I hope) original and unconventional point of view.

This is essentially an extension of my own political blog at The Left Bank. Please feel free to check it out for more commentary than appears here.

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