Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Tidbits - #2

Mississippi is the poorest state in the country. Thus, it seems fair in the scheme of things that the state receives the most money from the federal government in return for the taxes that it pays. For every one dollar sent to Washington, Mississippi receives $2.73 in benefits back to the state. Here's the chart from Talking Points Memo that shows the ratio that each state receives.
United States map showing ratio of federal benefits received and federal taxes paid, by state

As you may have heard, Mississippi is in the middle of an election campaign to decide who will represent it in the Senate. For the past 42 years, one of those people has been Thad Cochran, a Republican. But this year, he was challenged in the primary by a tea partier named Chris McDaniel and McDaniel got more votes than he did. Neither of them got enough to win outright and so there is a runoff coming up, and, frankly, it looks from here as if Cochran is on his way out. The fact that he has been responsible for ensuring much of the largesse that Mississippi has received over the years does not seem a strong enough factor to save him.

We were on the road in Mississippi last week visiting friends and relatives there, and, in our conversations with people, it seemed that this whole election campaign was not even on their radar. There just didn't seem to be much interest one way or the other. Driving through the countryside, one seldom saw political signs in yards or on street corners. It was a curiously subdued atmosphere considering the amount of attention that the race has received outside of the state. Now, I am sure that there are people in the state who are passionate about the election, but they didn't show up in the sample of people with whom I was visiting.

Some pundits have ventured to speculate that if McDaniel does win the runoff and becomes the Republican candidate, there is just a chance that Travis Childers, the Democrat, might sneak by in the general election. I know Childers slightly - or at least I did a long time ago - and he seems like a good guy. It doesn't seem very likely to me that he would be able to win a statewide election in solid red Mississippi, but stranger things have happened. Just ask Eric Cantor.

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So, things are, predictably, heating up in Iraq again and, just as predictably, our mainstream media outlets are once again turning to the Gang That Can't Shoot Straight (in fact, the gang that has mostly never shot anything except their mouths - or some innocent animal or hunting companion) to explain to them and us WHAT MUST BE DONE!

Yes, it is 2002 and 2003 all over again. Wolfowitz, Cheney, Feith, Bremer, Graham, McCain (of course - was there ever a time that he didn't want to use our military?) and all the rest of the bloodthirsty (as long as it isn't their or their children's blood) neocons are ready to jump back into Iraq with both feet. In fact, they think we never should have left at all. We should have stayed there forever.

The question is, why is anyone listening to these guys? Why are journalists seeking their opinion? They've been wrong on everything about Iraq for the last thirteen years. What makes media think they've got it right now?

To put it another way, as Katrina vanden Heuvel did, "How Many Times Do the Neocons Get to Be Wrong Before We Stop Asking Them What to Do in Iraq?"      

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We got word earlier this week that a special forces operation, which had trained for a year for just that mission went into Libya and extracted the believed mastermind of the attack against our consulate in Benghazi in 2012. They did so without firing a shot!

The man, Ahmed Abu Khattala, is now in United States custody and on his way to this country to be tried for the crimes of which he is accused. That's the way our justice system is supposed to work, so everybody who has been screaming for the past eighteen months or so for the Obama administration to DO SOMETHING about the murder of our personnel in Benghazi is now pleased and happy and singing the praises of the president and his dogged pursuit of international criminals.

Oh...what's that you say? That's not the way it works? But how could it be that all those who have been demanding this action could turn on a dime and start criticizing the action when it is taken? Surely no one could be that cynical. Or that silly.  

No, the lesson that we all should have learned in the last six years is that there is no good thing that can happen on President Obama's watch for which Republicans are willing to give him credit. As David Horsey writes in the Los Angeles Times, "In a partisan political world, of course, it is perfectly normal for the opposition party to be grudging in praise, but, with their frantic rush to find something bad to say about Khattala’s capture, Republicans have gone far beyond serious skepticism and have attained a state of perfect silliness." (My emphasis.)

Exactly.

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