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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Among the bellwethers of right-wing politics in western Washington state is a popular and iconic billboard perched next to the northbound lanes of Interstate 5, almost exactly halfway between Portland and Seattle, featuring a cartoon image of Uncle Sam pointing his finger at the reader, while the crude block letters next to him form not-infrequently-misspelled messages proclaiming the cause of the moment. Not so long ago, that sign – like a number of right-wing pundits and politicians whose tweets along similar lines have been swiftly deleted – was denouncing President Obama for his ostensible failure to secure the release of then-prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from his Taliban captors in Afghanistan.

“The Uncle Sam billboard,” as it is known, featured the message: “No Soldier Left Behind? What About Bowe Bergdahl?” for a duration of at least a month last spring. I saw it there on March 3 during a drive from Portland, while another photographer shot the image above on April 3.

The billboard is well known to drivers in the state, especially those who make the trip on I-5 regularly (it’s estimated that more than 50,000 drivers use that stretch every day). It has been there since the early 1960s, when the owner of the land on which it sits, a farmer named Alfred Hamilton, erected it and began posting his iconoclastic messages.  Always of an arch-conservative bent, they frequently wobbled into Bircherite conspiracism, especially on the subject of the United Nations.

Before Al Hamilton retired in the 1990s, the messages were changed weekly; ever since then, however, they have changed monthly. The elder Hamilton died in 2004, but one of his sons has continued the tradition and posts fresh messages monthly.

So far, there’s no word on whether the Uncle Sam billboard will change its tune about Bergdahl, since the old message is no longer operative in conservative circles – which are now loudly denouncing Obama for negotiating Bergdahl’s release.

Image © Alex Milan Tracy/Demotix/Corbis

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  • elw

    I have said this before, I will say it again. The Conservatives would have yelled if the President had ignored their requests to help Bowe Bergdahl and they now yell because he did. It does not matter what President Obama does or says – they will find a reason to take the opposite stand. To them it is bad enough that he is a Democrat, worse because he is Black, and more horrible that he has succeeded in spite of their multiple attempts to undermine him. Shame on them and shame on anyone who takes them seriously and votes for them.

    • All it demonstrates is what most of us have known from the start: That the G.O.P. has no actual agenda whatsoever and literally cannot have an opinion on ANYTHING until the Democrats have spoken first.

      The Democrats should put these morons to the test and take a firm stand against drinking bleach. I guarantee you at least a dozen of these party-before-country d-bags will do it.

      • elw

        I have no doubt of that.

    • docb
      • elw

        Thanks for the sources. Appreciated.

    • angryspittle

      Catch 22 Commander in Chief.

      • elw

        Which means what????????

        • angryspittle

          No matter what he does it is wrong. Catch 22, get it now?

          • elw

            Yes, thank you

          • Allan Richardson

            Today’s GOP makes the satirical world of Heller’s novel seem downright sane by comparison!

    • 1EdMeadows83

      You’ve said that before and I’ve said this before, Name 1 (one) thing a conservative administration has done that benefited the common man. No responses as yet. I do admit that Eisenhower gave us the Interstate Highway system but, by today’s standards, Ike was a flaming Liberal!

      • elw

        You are right they would not let Eisenhower in their club.

      • And they never will respond, because the last Republican who did anything besides take the money and run was one of the many G.O.P. Presidents they’re trying to deny the existence of: Richard Nixon.

    • nana4gj

      And they will sacrifice anyone else and anything else in their game. Frankly, I don’t know if they are all just defaulting to opposition because of what you say, which I agree is how it all started, or if they are just dumb and have no knowledge and deny or disbelief experts on subject matter of the issues that come before them, or just degenerates, in general. I think it’s a lot of all of the above.

      Whatever it is, however, has rendered them incompetent. There is not one statesman in the bunch. Not one in whom I would have any confidence to serve as President and they certainly do not belong in the US Congress. The only time any of the more tenured ones left contributed any meaningful legislation was when they co-sponsored it with the late Sen Ted Kennedy, who probably invited them out of friendship and bi-partisan and they went along for the ride to burnish their own credentials. They have been unable, or unwilling, to do it on their own.

  • Sven Johannson

    soon it’ll say . IMPEACH OBAMA .. he traded hostages better than Reagan Did…. oh ahh how about IMPEACH OBAMA his Muslim upbringing trades hostages for POWs Like we’ve done many times before.. damn it’s really hard to be a RIghtwing WINGNUT and stay true to the facts ..and this is still true today if Obama cured cancer this RightWing group would threaten impeachment because he didn’t notify congress.. .

  • howa4x

    What is missing from the press questions to republicans is: What would you do? who would you trade? how would you have handled the situation? What made you flip flop on the issue?
    The press gives republicans a free ride on accountability every time

  • ExRadioGuy15

    Has anyone noticed that FRWNJ talking points/conspiracy theories have become easier to debunk these days? Instead of it taking weeks, months or a few years to debunk them, it only takes hours or days, perhaps a couple of weeks. This means that the FRWNJ’s Fascist “gaslighting” propaganda campaign is not working as well as it used to…

  • Wemble

    The theme song of the GOP, the Party of No, courtesy of Groucho from “Horsefeathers”:

    “I don’t know what they have to say
    It makes no difference anyway
    Whatever it is, I’m against it!
    No matter what it is
    Or who commenced it
    I’m against it!

    Your proposition may be good
    But let’s have one thing understood
    Whatever it is, I’m against it!
    And even when you’ve changed it
    Or condensed it
    I’m against it!”

    Whatever Obama or Democrats say, propose, or do, Republicans must automatically be against it. Can you imagine if Obama were to say that gravity was good, what would Republicans do then? Probably claim that gravity is a Liberal conspiracy.

  • Mikey7a

    Reading all your comments, I must say, that I agree with most of you. If you have remembered many of my posts, I am a moderate. I have longed for a balance, back toward the middle. Today, with all that has transpired, and the never ending hatred for ANYTHING our President wants to do for our country, I must take a new course.

    As much as it makes me ill to say it, I yearn for any Democrats in power, to take a hard stand against the Right. Where are our champions? Are they bought off by Corporate Pac money? Are they afraid that ANY resistance to these evil bastards who are selling our Rights away, will cost them their cushy jobs? WHY does it seem that The Left has no backbone?

    It just seems really sad, that only the likes of Bill Maher, and Stephen Cobert, are taking up the fight, as they can hide behind satire, and humor. I want our President, and The Democrats in both the Congress, and the House, to get damn mad. When one of these flip-floppy bullshit situations appear, slap them down hard, and fast. Do NOT let something like this rescue fester into a political (stop everything that really needs to be dealt with) fight. Just tell them NO, not this time. Someone start banging a shoe, or throwing a punch, or at the very least, just tell the Right Wing Nutjob of the moment, to “sit down, and shut up, you crazy S.O.B!”

  • nana4gj

    They now have fresh meat to gnaw on in their Gladiator Games.

    “Repealing Obamacare”, chewing on millions of people’s access to healthcare, had gotten spoiled and stale before they discovered that it was making themselves sick.

    There’s still a bit on the Benghazi bone, but not much, because now the only thing that would have addressed what was needed to prevent those deaths, arming and teaching everyone in high risk outposts, is in place, no thanks to Congress.

    Now, a young soldier who enlisted in the military, was captured in a combat zone, and released in exchange for 5 what-ever-we-call-them in Gitmo, is being eaten alive by thiese Lions of Legislature. They are feasting on this one soldier with the same frenzy they did on the masses with “Obamacare”, and, this time, it is inexcusable on so many points.

    In the same way they opposed “Obamacare”, and everything else, the opposition and debate is not based on principle, logic, or even common sense, and, with the same lack of knowledge of the subject matter, they stir up the masses to a mob mentality to exploit for political gain, as if we are all fresh meat to feed their insatiable appetites.

    Defaulting to slander, accusations, name calling, scapegoating, and visceral attacks on the masses, the President, and on an individual in this case, makes it strictly personal, not business, Doing it all on the basis of yet unproven allegations, and implying that the captive soldier was not worthy enough based on their personal criteria, not “sick enough” based on health assessment via a video, and assuming he does not deserve to avail himself of the right to due process or to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, is not something we should expect from Legislators sworn to uphold the Constitution, rule of law, and the rights of everyone for those protections.

    Running around like Chicken Little, screaming about the implications to safety and security the exchange of 5 Gitmos for this soldier of dubious worth, in their opinion, has created, with the same amount of outrage and angst they expressed on the use of intelligence gathering resources that have identified, interrupted, apprehended, tried, incarcerated, and decimated terrorists and would-be terrorists over the past 5 years while these 5 have been in Gitmo, is senseless.

    They have had, as individuals and as a body of legislaors in the US Congress, over 10 years to come to grips with the fact that terrorists and terrorism is the new norm of the 21st century and learning how to address it, other than screaming in fear of it like the rest of the population, is part of their job, and that throwing around useless platitudes and keeping Gitmo “guests” in perpetuity, does not do anything for security.

    They can deny or pretend that the Administration’s use of intelligence gathering, knowing how to interpret it, and using 21st century technology and highly skilled special resources in a smart way, has been effective. But it is not missed by those who negotiated in this deal, impressed that even their highest level “family members” were reached by the “long arm of the US” and taken down. It’s one reason they agreed to one of the conditions of restricted travel, which was a concern early in negotiations for Gates and Hillary and others.

    They can bemoan the fact that the Administration talked with and “negotiated with terrorists”, but many experts in the field of psychology and national security and on the dynamics of terrorism, disagree. If terrorism is the new enemy of the 21st century, we are advised to have the systems and resources in place for vigilance and force, and the ability to have the ability to communicate with at least some of the leaders of some of the factions, claiming that the vigilance and force is influential and effective in the outcome of communications, as we have seen in this case.

    If ordinary people can attempt to educate themselves with research and reading, I expect it to be a job requirement of those serving in Congress to do the same on this and any other issue that comes before them.. I understand that politics is the avenue to governance, but I do not accept that politics should replace governance and I expect that if you expect to be invited to the table to participate, you should know all you need to know about the subject matter so that your contributions can be based on fact, realism, principles, reason, and logic and some appreciation and respect for what those who may know more than you know about every single topic and issue, have to say. When the stuff hits the fan, the hard decisions need to be made on something other than politics, and if, in highly sensitive matters you cannot control your animal impulses, expect not to be included in them.

    Clearly, this President did not do what was “politically correct” and I, for one, am relieved he did not. There is no “political correctness” anymore, anyway. When hard decisions need to be made, politics of any kind have no place in the process for a conscientious and responsible President. That President, whomever he/she may be, should rely only on principle, tenets, rule of law, justice, and how to employ them to achieve an outcome for successful and effective short term and long term goals.

    The Rose Garden press release announced the release of a captive son and soldier from captivity, a good thing to hear. He is free to come home and avail himself of his Constitutional rights and experience due process, and that is something to celebrate, since this is America, after all.

    He is home; feed him; give him medical, emotional are; and question him in the appropriate forum and by the appropriate people. All, based on principle, rule of law, and due process.

    Conviction by allegations made by dubious sources, even by Taliban sources when Congress and others do not trust Taliban on anything else, is not based on principle or law or due process. Performing medical examinations via video of anyone, much less a soldier held captive for 5 years, and pronouncing him “physically healthy” or “drugged”, by a physician who is a senator, is incompetence and arrogant; by a senator who is not a physician, albeit a sleazy physician, is dumb. In any other situation, it may be grounds for legal action, but these actors are protected and surely do enjoy those protections for themselves and abuse them.

    The Gladiator Games we have witnessed for the past 5 years have been an embarrassing display of embarrassing, demeaning, and disgusting politics and the height of ignorance, classless overdosing on Ignorance.
    This time, they have reached their nadir of total and complete demoralization.

    None of them is fit to serve.

    • Billie

      Wow! I’ll go along with what you said.

  • Lynda Groom

    Adios and the hell with ‘leaving nobody behind.’ The GOP will decide the who and the when of exchanges, not the commander-in-chief. Seriously? Congress can’t find a way to come up with the funding of fixing pot-holes. Disgusting grand standing by backbenchers.