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Freesia. February, 2013.  Photo by joanneleon.

The Gaslight Anthem "Great Expectations"

News and Opinion

A little wonky but a really important interview here.  Austerity policies are based on a flawed analysis.

Does High Public Debt Stifle Economic Growth?

New study refutes Reinhart and Rogoff analysis that underpins austerity policy around the world; shows no relation between debt and lack of growth

Extremely important report.  This DemocracyNow segment shows two of the panel members speaking, and provides a very good introduction and other information.  The main speaker here is a Republican and a former Bush administration official and his openness about this is impressive (though he's pretty awful on other issues).  But the point is that, given how revered the terms "nonpartisan" and "bipartisan" are in Washington, he does hold to that standard well and criticizes his own party and the Republican administration that he was a part of.  This task force was formed two years ago after Pres. Obama said that he would not form a truth commission or investigation, and declared that we should look forward, not back.
After Obama Shuns Probe, Bipartisan Panel Finds "Indisputable" Evidence U.S. Tortured Under Bush - An independent bipartisan task force has concluded that it is "indisputable" the United States engaged in torture and the George W. Bush administration bore responsibility. The 11-member Task Force on Detainee Treatment was convened by The Constitution Project after President Obama chose not to support a national commission to investigate the counterterrorism programs. It was co-chaired by Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas, NRA consultant and undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. The report concludes that never before in U.S. history had there been "the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody." While the report focused largely on the Bush administration after 9/11, it also criticizes a lack of transparency under Obama. We speak with Laura Pitter, counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch.

Go see the chart by ChartGirl!

Margaret Flowers.  Read the article to see the many examples that she cites.  

Women Leading the Way

As is true each week when we report on resistance movements there is a lot going on, too much to report in one summary. One common denominator we noted this week is the prevalence of female leadership on so many fronts.
These are only a few examples among many of women showing great leadership in the culture of resistance that will transform the country. There are many people involved in this movement (see the website for some of the other activists) – all genders, races and ages are part of this growing national movement for a peaceful, just and sustainable future.

Tom Englehart.  Poorly timed, given that it was published on the same day as the attack on the Boston Marathon, but there is a lot of truth in this article.  And then there is the big question.  The trillions that we spend on wars and "Homeland Security", the trashing of the Bill of Rights in the name of security... how effective is it?  The country is being turned into a police state.  All of our electronic communications and god only knows what else, are being hoovered up and stored, and there was no warning for the attack in Boston. The only attacks that seem to be prevented are the ones created by the FBI when they spy on angry young male Muslims and help them acquire the things they need to plan an actual attack, and then foil the attack and arrest them.  Is that what you'd call keeping us safe?
The Enemy-Industrial Complex
How to Turn a World Lacking in Enemies into the Most Threatening Place in the Universe

In the previous century, there were two devastating global wars, which left significant parts of the planet in ruins.  There was also a "cold war" between two superpowers locked in a system of mutual assured destruction (aptly acronymed as MAD) whose nuclear arsenals were capable of destroying the planet many times over.  Had you woken up any morning in the years between December 7, 1941, and December 26, 1991, and been told that the leading international candidate for America's Public Enemy Number One was Kim Jong-un’s ramshackle, comic-opera regime in North Korea, you might have gotten down on your hands and knees and sent thanks to pagan gods.

The same would be true for the other candidates for that number one position since September 11, 2001: the original al-Qaeda (largely decimated), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula located in poverty-stricken areas of poverty-stricken Yemen, the Taliban in poverty-stricken Afghanistan, unnamed jihadis scattered across poverty-stricken areas of North Africa, or Iran, another rickety regional power run by not particularly adept theocrats.

All these years, we’ve been launching wars and pursuing a “global war on terror."  We’ve poured money into national security as if there were no tomorrow.  From our police to our borders, we’ve up-armored everywhere.  We constantly hear about “threats” to us and to the “homeland.”  And yet, when you knock on the door marked “Enemy,” there’s seldom anyone home.

Dr. King’s Righteous Fury

But this view of King as an ardent proponent of American exceptionalism fails to capture a significant part of his thinking, a set of ideas embodied in one of his most famous works, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” What we remember today as a stirring piece about freedom and justice was also a furious reading of American history and an equally indignant attitude toward King’s white contemporaries.

Arrested on April 12, 1963, during an epic struggle to desegregate Birmingham, Ala., King was in jail when he read the statement of eight white moderate clergymen who criticized the demonstrations as “untimely,” branded King “extreme” and chided the protesters for precipitating violence.
Later, King offered reasoned justifications for civil disobedience and rarefied nods to the theologians Martin Buber and Paul Tillich. And he evoked universalism with the proclamation, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. That’s a beautiful creed,” King told his crowd. It is easy to read such sentences in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and other works by King and leave it at that. But it is vital to read what he said next: “America has never lived up to it.”

The Definition of Insanity: Democrats Working to Undermine Financial Regulation
A group of 21 House lawmakers—including eight Democrats—is pushing seven separate bills that would dramatically scale back financial reform. [...]
Reps. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), both of whom are members of the lefty House progressive caucus, [my emphasis] cosponsored the Inter-Affiliate Swap Clarification Act along with two Republicans. Moore and Fudge’s bill would allow certain derivatives that are traded among a corporation’s various affiliates to be exempt from almost all new Dodd-Frank regulations. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a major Wall Street regulator, just issued its final rule on these products on Monday, and although the rule includes many exemptions, reform advocates say it is still stronger than what Fudge and Moore’s legislation proposes.

Fudge advocated for the bill “because it came at request of corporations and businesses in our district,” says Belinda Prinz, a spokeswoman for the congresswoman.

This is all bad policy and bad politics.  But it strikes me that this episode gives us a window into the larger problem.  To run a typical campaign, members need money. In certain moments, people are mobilized, watching them, and members will be more likely to do the right thing. But we tend to focus too much on formal decision-making, especially on legislation, and we miss that decisions are just a moment within a larger political process.  But the powerful make no such mistake. And they are the ones those member must rely on the fund their campaigns.  No doubt it’s easy to convince themselves that what they are doing does not undermine reform.
Article about the drug war and political propaganda technique, gaslighting, from 2008.
Book Review—State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind

Gaslighting induces a state of confusion in people’s minds with the expectation that they will withdraw from their emotionally troubling perplexity into a less complex world of their own creation or someone else’s.  Once in their comfortable little world, they’re no longer expected to disentangle the contradictory messages received from those in power.  Anxieties are reduced.

In politics, gaslighted people are otherwise upstanding citizens who’ve been effectively neutralized.  They have given up.  Their neutralization is one of many goals a gaslighter might achieve while pursuing and profiting from the politics of fear.  Gaslighted victims may go on to accept absolute rule by a gaslighting authority, even if the ruler happens to be a tyrant.

At the end of this article, the author suggests ways of dealing with gaslighters, in this case phony leftists from the anti-choice movement.
Anti-Choicers Are Gaslighting The Media and The Public

No big surprise that right wingers are excellent at deploying a psychological technique that is commonly associated with abusive relationships.

The links above detail the two main forms of gaslighting going on here: False accusations of “hiding” something and distorting the way that conservative policies created a situation where Gosnell flourished. One of the things that are making the campaign of lying so frustrating is that many of the lies are bundled within other lies. They know that the most egregious lie they’re telling is so egregious that they can’t say it outright without opening themselves up to slander and libel accusations and possibly even lawsuits (basically, the insinuation that pro-choicers supported Gosnell—so easy to disprove that they won’t say it outright, but will insinuate it heavily), so instead they tell a more diffuse lie—that pro-choicers “ignored” the Gosnell story—with the hope that what they’re insinuating will be filled in by the audience. Accusing someone of hiding something is kind of a brilliant form of lying, because it allows the audience to figure out what you’re accusing them of hiding—also a lie—without coming out and saying it. It’s also a strategy that depends on timing. I explained at Sulia how this works: [...]

This is also done to whistleblowers sometimes.
Call Me Crazy: The Subtle Power of Gaslighting

Gaslighting may also occur at the hands of those who have a vested interest in protecting potential offenders, or protecting themselves from acknowledging a disturbing reality. For example, CNN recently reported that a number of women in the U.S. military were diagnosed with personality disorders and discharged when they came forward with allegations of sexual assault. Veterans advocate Anu Bhagwati told CNN, "It's extremely convenient to slap a false diagnosis on a young woman... and then just get rid of them so you don't have to deal with that problem in your unit." Unfortunately, this "blame the victim" mentality compounds the trauma of assault, making victims feel even more alone and ashamed. It is important to note that this problem is not specific to the military (nor is it the experience of every woman in the military)–it can happen in a range of contexts.


#NOKXL Blogathon: April 12 - April 22, 2013

Climate Change SOS Group  (Click the link for the group blog to find the blogathon diaries)

h/t to Agathena

#NOKXL Blogathon: April 12 - April 22, 2013

860,000 Comments Submitted!

As of today, around 860,000 comments have been submitted so far and forwarded by our coalition partners to the United States Department of State. Please help us reach and, even, exceed our goal of one million comments opposing this pipeline.  

The deadline for submission of public comments is April 22, 2013.

You Can Make a Difference

The Daily Kos Blogathon Team is working with a coalition of environmental organizations in a campaign to obtain one million public comments in opposition to the XL Tar Sands pipeline.  We hope that this blogathon will make submission of public comments easier.

This effort is being coordinated with Bill McKibben of and in coalition with the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, and Bold Nebraska.

We have an exciting line up of prominent lawmakers, environmental activists, and Daily Kos diarists.  Each one of them will be posting a diary in opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline.  Some guests will be including a brief "sample comment" that readers can customize into their own voice. This is important because government reviews the unique and substantive comments and dismisses comments that appear to be form letters.

Please submit your comments at one of these 3 sites rather than the State Department, which is not providing transparency in this public comment process:

  • "A Million Comments Against Keystone XL" - will deliver your comments directly to the State Department and has a system set up so that you can customize your comment.
  • "Tell President Obama: Reject Keystone XL!" - Sierra Club has a sample public comment that allows you to personalize your message.
  • "Tell the State Department: #NoKXL" - Oil Change International has a very helpful template to formulate your comments.

The deadline for submission of public comments is April 22, 2013.

Let your voice be heard.  Our Daily Kos community organizers are Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, boatsie, rb137, JekyllnHyde, Onomastic, citisven, peregrine kate, DWG, and John Crapper, with Meteor Blades as the group's adviser.

Diary Schedule - All Times Pacific

More helpful details are in this diary - DK Blogathon Hosts Eco Coalition in #NOKXL Public Comment Campaign by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.  Use hashtag #NOKXL to tweet all diaries posted during this blogathon.

  • Friday, April 12

1:00 pm: #NOKXL Blogathon: Your voice on the Keystone XL pipeline matters by DWG.
3:00 pm: Daniel Kessler, Media Campaigner for (will be rescheduled)

  • Saturday, April 13

11:00 am: Keystone XL: a pipeline THROUGH the US, not to it by dturnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International.
1:00 pm: #NOKXL: Dilbit in the Pipeline by Agathena.

  • Sunday, April 14

11:00 am: Keystone XL: Wildlife in the Crosshairs by Target Global Warming, Peter LaFontaine is the Energy Policy Advocate for the National Wildlife Federation.
1:00 pm: #NoKXL: The Future Is In Our Hands; Say No To The XL Pipeline Disaster by beach babe in fl.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL: Guess What's NOT in POTUS' Budget! (Rhymes with Shnipeline) by ericlewis0.

  • Monday, April 15

Note: All diaries for this day were rescheduled due to the Boston Marathon bombings.

  • Tuesday, April 16

8:00 am: KXL will carry as much carbon as all the cars on the West Coast, plus Michigan, NY, and Florida. by Bill McKibben, Founder of
12:00 pm: #NoKXL: InsideClimate News Wins Pulitzer for Coverage of Kalamazoo River Dilbit Spill in 2010 by peregrine kate.
2:00 pm: Reject Keystone XL; Our Focus Should Be on Investing in a Sustainable Energy Future by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Member of the United States House of Representatives.
2:00 pm: #NoKXL: (un)Ethical Pipeline? by A Siegel.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL — The Pipeline To Oblivion: Memes From The Climate Letter Project by WarrenS.

  • Wednesday, April 17

11:00 am: My government doesn't believe in climate change by Tzeporah Berman, Canadian Environmentalist and Co-Founder of Forest Ethics.
1:00 pm: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Member of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. (will be rescheduled)
3:00 pm: #NoKXL ?? The Keystone XL Pipeline, Deep Time, and the Nature of Humanity by gregladen.

  • Thursday, April 18

11:00 am: Kelly Rigg, Executive Director of the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA).
1:00 pm: Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska, Live Blogging While Attending the Final KXL Pipeline Public Hearing in Nebraska.
3:00 pm: Roger Fox.

Photograph Credit: Fast For The Earth.  A victim of the recent tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, the above oily bird says it all.  Please remember to republish these diaries to your Daily Kos Groups.  You can also follow all postings by clicking this link for the Climate Change SOS Blogathon Group. Then, click 'Follow' and that will make all postings show up in 'My Stream' of your Daily Kos page.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

The Evening Blues - 4-16-13

The Gaslight Anthem "Bring It On"
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