Obama is clearly NOT a socialist. If he was even mildly socialist, he would have used his considerable political capital to push for the much simpler and superior single-payer healthcare option, instead of a mishmash “reform” that may end up enriching the insurance companies and big Pharma.

So why do the right-wingers continue to call Obama a “socialist”? It’s simply because they have enough self-awareness to know that they can’t use the word “Nigger” nowadays. So whenever you hear a right-wing nutbag scream about “socialism”, just remember to internally translate to their real meaning so you can figure out where they’re really coming from.

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Today is August 6, 2009. It’s the 64th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima – a date that will never be forgotten. Whatever the merits of the argument that the Bomb ended the war sooner and potentially saved hundreds of thousands of lives, the deployment of this terrible new weapon is something that we should commemorate with a sobering look at its destructive capabilities.

August 6 is another anniversary worthy of remembrance: It’s the eighth anniversary of the day that George W. B*sh was briefed about the upcoming al Qaeda attacks on U.S. soil.

In his book, The Assault on Reason, Al Gore says that a Presidential Daily Briefing like this would have been treated like a five-alarm fire during the Clinton Administration. High-level security meetings would have been held, the available intelligence would have been coordinated, there would have been an effort to connect the dots.

Not so with Dubya and company. When the CIA agent finished his briefing, Dubya dismissed him with “you covered your ass, now. You can go.” Rather than assemble his security team to assess the threat and respond to it, B*sh chose to go golfing that afternoon. No high-level security meeting was scheduled until… September 10.

This is what we need to remember when we hear the right-wing propaganda about B*sh “keeping us safe”. He did NOT keep the U.S. safe in the summer of 2001, despite the warnings.

No one knows if a putative Gore administration would have been able to stop the 9/11 attacks, but it’s hard to imagine that Gore would have laughed off the CIA warning and spent so much time on vacation after hearing it. With a concerted effort at the top, it’s conceivable that the information held by various intelligence agencies could have uncovered the plot. This is one of the tragic effects of the theft of the Presidency by B*sh and his Daddy’s cronies on the Supreme Court. 532 votes in Florida could have made all the difference between life and death for those who perished on 9/11.

The B*sh regime was simply not concerned with the threat of Islamic fundamentalist attacks. When she was told by her predecessor that her number one priority would be Islamist terrorism, Condoleeza Rice accused the Clinton administration of being “obsessed” with bin Laden.

The tragedy of B*sh and his coterie ignoring the August 6 PDB goes beyond the approximately 3,000 innocent people who were murdered on September 11, 2001. It’s at the root of the series of blunders, mistakes, and crimes which the B*sh regime committed subsequent to the attacks, including the disastrous and unnecessary invasion of Iraq, which resulted in the needless deaths of over 4,400 U.S. troops and hundreds of thousands of civilians.

This, along with the Hiroshima bombing, is the reason why August 6 should never be forgotten. The date coincides with presidential action (Truman’s) and inaction (B*sh’s) that ultimately sacrificed hundreds of thousands of human lives.

George W. B*sh is the stupidest man ever to set foot in the Oval Office, and yet Sarah Palin makes him look like a genius and a statesman.

This seems to be the pattern with Republicans. They keep lowering the bar as to what they consider to be an acceptable intellect in their leaders. Ronald Reagan was a dim-witted ideologue, and yet compared to George W. B*sh he was wise and prudent. George Bush (the Elected) was mediocre at best, and yet his idiot son makes him look like a successful President.

I thought that Dubya’s failure in domestic and foreign policy (in everything he touched, really) would make people reject the model of the genial idiot as a recipe for an ideal leader. I thought that never again in our lifetime would we see Americans eager to entrust the highest office in the land to an abject moron.

But along came Sarah Palin. B*sh with lipstick, with possibly an even more tenuous grasp on reality and the issues than the 43rd “President”. I cannot believe that anyone who witnessed this intellectual train wreck could possibly continue to support her: the disastrous Couric interview should have been enough to convince anyone that she was a lightweight incapable of a coherent or mature thought. The nasty way she divided the United States into “patriotic, pro-American” parts of the country and others that are, well, not. The ridiculous way she was pranked by French-Canadian radio hosts into thinking she was speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy should have cemented the impression of her stupidity for all time.

And yet she had (still has) legions of fans who somehow – incredibly – believe that she is qualified to become the President of the United States. What is WRONG with these people?

After that bizarre, rambling speech where she quit her post as the Governor in Alaska before even having completed one term, she is still giving signals that she intends to pursue a career in national politics. Everyone was caught by surprise: why did she resign on a Friday afternoon before the July 4th weekend? Many people have speculated that a major scandal was about to burst, but what could be so bad that would overshadow all the tawdry details of her political and personal life that we have seen before?

I think she’s a delusional woman who thinks that she can quit as Alaska’s governor and still maintain a national profile based solely on her rabid fan base. She fails to realize that Governor Sarah Palin has far more inherent credibility than private citizen Sarah Palin who couldn’t complete one term in a statewide office.

Now she seems to be blaming the media for misrepresenting her resignation. They speculate about a political or personal scandal. What are they supposed to do, since she failed to give an intelligible reason during her disjointed press conference on Friday? The media assumes that there must be a logical reason for her to make this astounding gesture, but with Sarah Palin, assumptions based on logic are not necessarily relevant.

I think she continues to have national ambitions, and she does not realize that resigning as governor almost certainly sabotaged these aspirations. She is probably getting bad advice from someone, but ultimately she is responsible for this ridiculous decision. She shouldn’t blame the press for commenting on it.

I’m ambivalent about what this means for the future. it was useful for Democrats to have a laughable figure like Sarah Palin front and center as a poster girl for the Republican Party. Her lunatic fans think that Democrats are “scared” of her candidacy. Well, of course, any sane person should be scared of the unthinkable possibility that Sarah Palin could become President, but fortunately we have enough faith in the intelligence of the American people to realize that this could never actually happen.

Unless there’s some kind of accident. After all, the previous record-holder for lowest IQ, George W. B*sh, did manage to get himself “elected”, sort of.

Now that Sarah Palin’s political career lies in a shambles of her own making, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. It was fun while it lasted.

The troubles in Iran are due to the fact that the Iranian regime doesn’t know how to steal elections in a believable way.

If they had reported results that Ahmadinejad had won by 51% to 54%, there would have been some grumbling about a fixed election but it would have been plausible enough. It’s doubtful that thousands of demonstrators would have taken to the streets.

But the Supreme Leadership gave Ahmadinejad a decisive victory that was obviously fraudulent. They probably believed that a wide margin of victory would have conferred widespread legitimacy to Ahmadinejad’s election. The opposite was the case: the results were so obviously false that people right away were convinced that they wuz robbed. If the leaders who fixed the election had been smart they would at least have let Mousavi win his home province. Again, this was probably a clumsy attempt to show that Ahmadinejad’s support was widespread, even in his opponent’s constituency. It backfired on them big time.

They should have taken the American example. Dubya didn’t even win the popular vote in 2000, and he “won” Florida by the slimmest possible margin – less than one hundredth of a percentage point. The Republicans didn’t claim to have won a solidly blue state like California. (Though, to the eternal chagrin of those who needlessly died in unnecessary war of choice in Iraq, B*sh DID win Gore’s home state of Tennessee fair and square.)

The Republicans stole only exactly the number of votes they needed to steal. Neither more nor less.

The Iranian hardliners didn’t get any pointers from Karl Rove, however, and now they have a huge mess of anger on their hands. I don’t think the reformist opposition has the power to overthrow the clerics and accomplish a new Iranian Revolution, but they may be able to force a re-vote.

I must admit that when I first heard about a museum devoted to the Nazi Holocaust opening in Washington D.C. I was a bit skeptical about its relevance. What did the Nazi Holocaust have to do with Washington, or the U.S., for that matter? Of course, there are tangents, there always are. Millions of Americans fought in the war to liberate Europe from the Nazis. A dwindling number of Americans are refugees from the Nazi regime, and thousands of their descendants live, though they would have died or never been born if the Nazis had triumphed.

But I thought such a museum should be in Germany, or Poland, near the sites of these monstrous crimes. Why D.C.? It seemed out of place, somehow.

My thinking has changed since then. I evolved the thought that it’s precisely in a place like D.C. that we need such a museum: the powerful capital of the most powerful nation on earth can always use a sobering reminder of what power can do when it is held by hateful, inhuman, fanatical ideologues.

That place was attacked this week, by someone who carried the same political, ideological, and spiritual disease that afflicted so many Germans so many years ago. He chose the holocaust Museum as a target because of what it represents – the complete and utter rejection of the anti-semitic cancer that devoured Europe in the mid 20th-Century, and that gnawed at his own hate-twisted soul.

He came to kill Jews. He knew that this was a place where he would find Jews. Like his ideological forebears, he would deliberately single out members of that particular ethnic-religious group for annihilation.

But he didn’t end up killing any Jews. Instead, the man (I refuse to name him) killed Steven Tyrone Johns, a museum guard. Steven Tyrone Johns died so that others might live. He is a hero.

Steven Tyrone Johns was African-American, a member of another ethnic group that the shooter hated.

American Jews and American Blacks have had a long and often problematic relationship. There were Jewish slave-owners, but also many Jewish abolitionists. There is no doubt that the Biblical story of the Jews’ deliverance from slavery gave hope to those who toiled in captivity. Their sprirituals still echo with the yearning for freedom inspired from the Book of Exodus.

Jews were prominent in the struggle for Civil Rights. Segregation was offensive to the humanitarian and egalitarian strain of Judaism. Black and Jews marched together, desegregated lunch counters together, and, in Mississippi, died together.

But in recent decades the relationship has become strained. Blacks began to lump Jews in with the white oppressor. Many looked to Islam as a way to separate from the religious and cultural traditions that were imposed by the white majority. In so doing, they often acquired the anti-Semitic attitudes fomented by the leaders of the Nation of Islam, particularly Louis B. Farrakhan. Another African-American leader, Jesse Jackson, has used anti-Jewish epithets such as “Hymietown” to describe New York City. Jews, in their turn, have sometimes exhibited racist attitudes, using the unflattering term “schwartzkes”, and generally seeming to treat Blacks with contempt.

The incident at the Holocaust Museum is, in perspective, a small one. Another murder in a city that sees hundreds of murders every year. One more gun-related death out of tens of thousands in the United States every year. But somehow the cast of characters makes this significant. The shooter is symptomatic of the rising tide of right-wing violence we’ve seen since the election of the first African-American President. The place, established in memory of millions of murdered Jews, becomes the site of a hate crime, the place where an ordinary African-American working stiff draws his last breath in a heroic act of confrontation with a violent racist. It’s not some kind of parable: someone actually died. And yet if we look at the symbolism, it might be one sorrowful sigh that becomes a mighty wind of reconciliation.

Read this account by Mark Blumenthal.

One of the most intellectually dishonest ploys that have crept up from the Right after the Holocaust Memorial shooting is the desperate, shallow attempt to portray the racist, right-wing, anti-semitic neo-Nazi shooter as a “leftist”.

How could that be even remotely true? Just because the right-wing extremist was apparently also angry at conservative politicians and pundits doesn’t make him a “leftist”. It simply means that he felt they weren’t fascist enough for him.

The whole meme of the Right, popularized by Jonah Goldberg, that there is such a thing as “liberal fascism” is an Orwellian lie. Liberalism is antithetical to fascism. Liberalism is based on tolerance of other’s differences and embracing diversity. It is the polar opposite of the enforced conformity that fascism promotes.

The “evidence” that the right-wingers present to state their case is paper-thin. They argue that the Nazis were socialist because their party name includes the word “socialist”. That makes about as much sense as saying that the Republican party has ties with the terrorist Irish Republican Army, or Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard, because of their names.

How anyone can believe, without a brain-numbing cognitive dissonance, that a hateful genocidal war criminal like Hitler is a “leftist”, just like a tree-hugging, granola-chewing anti-war peacenik hippie, is beyond me.

What’s disturbing is that the Right gets defensive whenever the phrase “right-wing extremist” is used. Instead of condemning right-wing extremist violence, they are desperate to project the fascist label on their opponents. Some, like Big Hollywood’s Andrew Breitbart, seem to feel that to describe the Holocaust Museum shooter as a right-wing extremist is a personal attack against him and his ideology. Does he react so defensively because he secretly approves of neo-Nazi violence?

They are either lying or delusional. I think that they have crossed a line into such depths of intellectual dishonesty that it will be difficult for them to climb out of. They have decided that their hate for their liberal opponents is more important than making common cause against fascist extremism. It’s a sad, pathetic place to be.

I stumbled across an online book on the phenomenon of right-wing authoritarianism by a social scientist named Bob Altemeyer, at the University of Manitoba. It’s pretty interesting, and written in a light, breezy, accessible style. Do yourself a favor, and read at least the introduction.

One thing that struck me is the test in Chapter One to determine your level of authoritarian tendencies. The lowest possible score is 20, the highest 180. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be an authoritarian follower: essentially, a goose-stepping, armband-wearing fascist. Predictably, I scored very low: 30. What I find surprising is that the average score of people taking the test is 90.

I can’t even imagine agreeing with some of the extreme right-wing statements there, such as “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.” That’s almost comically exaggerated.

Or conversely, it’s hard to imagine disagreeing with the common-sense liberal positions described in other questions.

So for the average to be 90, many people obviously agree with the cartoonesque Mussolini attitude. That’s sobering, and disquieting.