Day: July 8, 2010

Michael Steele Refuses To Resign: ‘I Ain’t Going Anywhere’

I think Steele has the GOP and RNC between a rock and a hard place…

Huffington Post

Let’s talk about Michael Steele for a moment, shall we? Has anyone had more calls for their resignation in a shorter period of time in the history of America?

Actually, Tony Hayward probably outpaces him.

But still, when the GOP targets one of their own for the plank, it’s not a John Ensign or a David Vitter. Rather, it’s Michael Steele, who essentially exists in a strange, lame-duck holding pattern days after he made a bunch of comments about how the war in Afghanistan was “not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”

For what it’s worth, Steele responded to these calls today:

“Every time something happens, people say ‘he should step down,’ ” Steele said in his first public comments since the controversy.
“The reality is that’s not happening, so stop the noise on that. You don’t need the distraction. We’re focused on winning,” he said at an appearance with the Colorado Republican Party. “I ain’t going anywhere. I’m here, I’m here. Look, we have too much work to do.”

In the wake of Steele’s Afghanistan remarks, many observers seemed to feel that Steele was offering some sort of brave critique of the war. If I could, I’d like to disabuse you of this notion.

It’s hard to do, because Steele did manage to actually string together these words — “If [Obama's] such a student of history, has he not understood that that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?” — in precisely the sort of order that a cogent war-critic might. But this should be viewed as an extraordinary rhetorical accident, not as the product of any formal cognitive process.  Continue reading…

Video

Gay rights group warns service members not to take ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ survey

The Washington Post – Federal Eye

A gay rights group pushing for a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is warning gay and lesbian service members not to participate in a Defense Department survey distributed this week to active-duty and reserve troops.

The Pentagon is studying the potential impact of repealing the gay ban and on Wednesday began e-mailing troops a link to a survey with more than 100 questions. The survey will be included in a final report due to President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen by Dec. 1.

But the nonpartisan Servicemembers Legal Defense Network reminded gay and lesbian service members on Thursday that the military is still enforcing the gay ban and that completing the survey could result in a discharge.

About 200,000 active-duty troops and 200,000 reserve troops will receive the survey, which should take no more than 30 minutes to complete, the Pentagon said. Troops have until Aug. 15 to complete it. Another 150,000 family members of troops will receive a separate survey in early August.

The survey asks service members about their general experiences in the military, about past experiences serving with people they believe are gay or lesbian and for opinions on how repealing the gay ban might impact retention, referrals, unit cohesion, privacy and military family life, the Pentagon said.

SLDN said it worried gay and lesbian service members could be outed by the survey.

“While the surveys are apparently designed to protect the individual’s privacy, there is no guarantee of privacy and DOD has not agreed to provide immunity to service members whose privacy may be inadvertently violated or who inadvertently outs himself or herself,” SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement. “If a service member still wishes to participate, he or she should only do so in a manner that does not reveal sexual orientation.”

After a service member completes the survey, he or she can provide extended comments to a “confidential online dialogue” established by the Defense Department. Service members will be given a PIN code to access the program, which is being operated by independent research firm Westat.

“This PIN code has no personally identifying data associated with it,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “Westat moderators will not ask individuals for any personally identifying information. If a service member shares his/her name with the Westat moderator, that information will be held in confidence, deleted from the Westat files, and not shared with anyone – including DoD.”

Troops who do not receive a survey can provide comments to the online dialogue at www.defense.gov/DADT.

The White House in May brokered a deal between lawmakers and gay rights groups that would repeal the Clinton-era policy by ensuring that any change would not take effect until after the Pentagon completes its study. The House approved the measure as part of the annual defense spending bill and the Senate is expected approve it later this year.

Republican lawmakers said passing a repeal before completion of the Pentagon study would deter service members and their families from participating. Gates provided only tepid support of the agreement and later reminded troops that repeal is still months away.

But a federal court case could end the policy sooner. A California federal judge on Tuesday issued a written order denying a government request to dismiss a suit filed by the Log Cabin Republicans that challenges the constitutionality of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The case is set to start next Tuesday in Riverside, Calif.

Me And Glenn Down By The Schoolyard: TPM Enrolls At Glenn Beck’s ‘University’

I’m glad TPM enrolled in Glenn Beck’s online university.  I am curious to see how this “university” will rip-off thousands of gullible “BeckBots”.   On the other end of the spectrum, I’m curious to see and hear about its curriculum and if in fact it’s a legitimate enterprise after all.

TPM LiveWire

Pencil? Check. Horn-rimmed glasses? Check. History textbook generously amended to give due credit to religious figures in American history?

Knew we forgot something…

As we’d reported, Glenn Beck kicked off his “Beck University” online lecture series last night, and the first topic was “Faith 101.” We signed up for the $9.95/month “university.” Last night’s class was subtitled “Black-Robed Regiment,” and “Professor” and right-wing historian David Barton talked for half an hour about happier times in American history, when clergy were a welcome and influential part of American politics.

The lecture, which was followed by an interactive Q&A session, had only a short intermission — cartoon Glenn Beck showed up to give viewers a pop quiz on Barton’s class. But don’t worry, cartoon Beck assured us. Pop quizzes were never his thing either.

So what did Barton talk about? As Beck said in his introduction, our nation’s idea of the separation of church and state is “not what you’ve been sold.”

Barton elaborated. He began by talking about Alexis de Tocqueville’s concept of “American Exceptionalism,” noting that “there’s gotta be a reason we’re different” from other democracies. That’s where the “Black-Robed Regiment” comes in. These, according to Barton, were the preachers who influenced the bulk of the Declaration of Independence:

The Declaration of Independence is nothing more than a listing of all of the sermons that folks had been hearing in church in the decades leading up to the American Revolution.

He described how state legislature sessions would be kicked off with a visit from a preacher, and how the scriptures were accepted as a means of “guidance” for legislators. In 1822 there was even a sermon given to Congress.

The founders didn’t want the church running the government, Barton said, and they didn’t want the government running the church, but they did “want the influence in there.”

During the Constitutional Convention, the drafters took a three day “church break” when things got too heated, Barton said, and one delegate described how “the whole tone had changed” when they returned.

He also said that when the delegates returned to their states to get the Constitution ratified, the ratifications “didn’t happen at government buildings, they happened at churches.”

Barton concluded: “Hey, guess what? You take the preachers out, you don’t have the same result” for our nation.

“Today we don’t hear this part of our history anymore,” he added.

And if last night’s Beta Theta Pi mixer precluded you from attending the class, Barton has previously filmed a video called “Is America A Christian Nation?”, which is basically the same lecture condensed to eleven minutes.

Ah, CliffsNotes!

2010 – The year of ‘no comment’

It’s amazing what politicians can get away with these days…

Politico

Nevada Republican Sharron Angle was in no mood for conversation last month as she darted to her car at the end of a campaign event. When a Las Vegas reporter tried to ask the Senate candidate a question anyway, an Angle supporter called him an “idiot.”

 In Illinois, another Senate candidate, GOP Rep. Mark Kirk, also has been getting aerobic workouts by trying to stay a step ahead of the press. He virtually sprinted out the back of a Chicago hotel last month to avoid reporters who wanted to ask him about exaggerated resume claims.

 And in Kentucky, Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul told local reporters who approached him after an event that they ought to submit their questions in writing.

 These are snapshots of scenes playing out among skittish politicians across the land this election cycle: 2010 has become the year of “no comment.”

 It’s a surprising twist in the revolution in media.

 Not long ago, optimists thought the convergence of YouTube, blogs and all manner of other democratizing social-media technologies would lead to a renaissance of authenticity in politics. Liberated from the filter of mainstream news reporters, armed with new tools to reach voters, candidates could shed artifice and bring back spontaneity to the campaign trail.

 The actual result, however, is something like the opposite: A proliferation of cameras and microphones — and the knowledge that an indelible blunder can occur in virtually any setting — has caused politicians in both parties to button up and hunker down.

 “The irony is that in an political environment in which voters are demanding authenticity, candidates find themselves in a technological environment that exploits authenticity,” lamented Mark McKinnon, a longtime political strategist and top adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain. “So rather than show more of themselves as voters want, candidates are showing less of themselves for fear of revealing too much.”

In fact, 2010 has yielded some gems when it comes to unscripted politics. But most of them have been moments the politicians dearly wish they could take back.

 There was Carly Fiorina’s hot mic incident, in which she was cattily critiquing the media strategy of fellow Republican Meg Whitman and the hair of Sen. Barbara Boxer, the Democrat she is trying to defeat in this year’s race. And there was North Carolina Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge’s physical clash with young men wielding a flip cam, which also became a YouTube sensation.

And for an unvarnished glimpse at what a politician really thinks, it’s hard to improve on California Democrat Jerry Brown’s famous comparison of his Republican opponent in the governor’s race to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.      Continue reading…