Month: August 2010

Late Night Blog Roundup

President Obama declares end to combat mission in Iraq
Tonight, President Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office to mark the offic..

Orrin Hatch’s defense of Park51
Adam Serwer of the American Prospect is guest blogging on The Plum Line this week. A..

Underestimating the American Taliban’s violent tendencies
Andrew Sullivan : The difference is in equating them directly with the Taliban and a..

Koch Industries Applies For Federal Funds From Health Care Law It Oppo..
Fred Koch Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the “fi..

9/11 Victims’ Families Group: Sept. 11 Mosque Protests ‘Disrespe..
One of the chief arguments critics have employed against the construction of the pro..

19 Unintentionally Terrifying Children’s Album Covers (PHOTOS)
It’s true that the world looks more innocent through a child’s eyes. But album cover..

Republicans Eye McCain’s Millions Unspent In 2008
Sen. John McCain’s victory in the Aug. 24 Arizona Republican primary was fueled part..

California Death Penalty: Officials Move To Resume State Executions
SAN FRANCISCO — Death row inmate Albert Greenwood Brown on Tuesday morning was..

 

White Fright

First, I’d like to give the author of this article, Mr. Christopher Hitchens, my sincere wish that he becomes a survivor of the cancer he is suffering from.  Secondly, I have not seen an article like this written anywhere.  It’s a must read:

Slate - By Christopher Hitchens

Glenn Beck’s rally was large, vague, moist, and undirected—the Waterworld of white self-pity.

One crucial element of the American subconscious is about to become salient and explicit and highly volatile. It is the realization that white America is within thinkable distance of a moment when it will no longer be the majority. This awareness already exists in places like New York and Texas and California, and there have even been projections of the time(s) at which it will occur and when different nonwhite populations will collectively outnumber the former white majority. But it also exerts a strong subliminal effect in states like Alaska that have an overwhelming white preponderance.

Until recently, the tendency has been to think of this rather than to speak of it—or to speak of it very delicately, lest the hard-won ideal of diversity be imperiled. But nobody with any feeling for the zeitgeist can avoid noticing the symptoms of white unease and the additionally uneasy forms that its expression is beginning to take.

For example, so strong is the moral stature of the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement that even the white right prefers to pretend to emulate it. (This smarmy tactic long predates Glenn Beck, by the way: I remember Ralph Reed trying it when he ran the Christian Coalition more than 10 years ago and announced that he wanted to remodel the organization along the lines of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.) Thus, it is really quite rare to hear slurs against President Barack Obama that are based purely on the color of his skin. Even Beck himself has tried to back away from the smears of that kind that he has spread in the past. But it is increasingly common to hear allegations that Obama is either foreign-born or a Muslim. And these insinuations are perfectly emblematic of the two main fears of the old majority: that it will be submerged by an influx from beyond the borders and that it will be challenged in its traditional ways and faiths by an alien and largely Third World religion.

This summer, then, has been the perfect register of the new anxiety, beginning with the fracas over Arizona’s immigration law, gaining in intensity with the proposal by some Republicans to amend the 14th Amendment so as to de-naturalize “anchor babies,” cresting with the continuing row over the so-called “Ground Zero” mosque, and culminating, at least symbolically, with a quasi-educated Mormon broadcaster calling for a Christian religious revival from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

At the last “Tea Party” rally I attended, earlier this year at the Washington Monument, some in the crowd made at least an attempt to look fierce and minatory. I stood behind signs that read: “We left our guns at home—this time” and “We invoke the First Amendment today—the Second Amendment tomorrow.” But Beck’s event was tepid by comparison: a call to sink to the knees rather than rise from them. It was clever of him not to overbill it as a “Million”-type march (though Rep. Michele Bachmann was tempted to claim that magic figure). The numbers were impressive enough on their own, but the overall effect was large, vague, moist, and undirected: the Waterworld of white self-pity.

Continue reading…

Ohio Tea Party Survey To Candidates: Reject Gay Rights, Let God Deal With Climate Change

Dear God!  What is wrong with these people?”

Think Progress

Yesterday, after soliciting input from the GOP base, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) announced that “the long-awaited Republican manifesto” will be released after lawmakers return to Washington in September. One part of that base that has been particularly vocal and influential is the Tea Party. But while some Republicans view the Tea Party as toxic to the GOP, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has fully embraced the Tea Party’s input, stating that members “represent the same values, concerns” of “tens of millions of other Americans” and that “we should listen to them, we should work with them and we should walk amongst them.”

If Boehner “walked among” Tea Party members in Erie County, OH, they may provide interesting insight for his new “manifesto.” As the Guardian’s Leo Hickman reports, a local Ohio newspaper the Sandusky Register obtained an email sent out last week by a local Tea party group called The Freedom Institute of Erie County. According to the email, the Tea Party group is creating a “Conservative voter guide” on the positions of candidates seeking office in upcoming elections in order to “rate, recommend, and endorse candidates” based on how they answer 15 questions. While such surveys may be fairly “mundane,” it’s the questions outlining the group’s priorities that provide, as Hickman puts it, “a hearty serving of insight with a side order of jaw drop”:

Now let’s hear those 15 questions. (The document states that the respondents should give one of the following answers: A = Agree; D = Disagree; U = Undecided; A* = Pro-life with exceptions of Rape or Incest, * = Added comments; NR = No Response; CR = Incumbents Conservative Rating.)

1. The Right to Life is a Constitutional right, therefore innocent human beings should have legal protection from conception until natural death. If you hold any exceptions please state them.
2. The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to God and not government and I oppose all measures of Cap and Trade as well as the teaching of global warming theory in our schools.
3. Marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, any other type of Union is not marriage.
4. Children should not be placed into foster homes where the parents are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.
5. Parental consent should be required for sex education that teaches more than direct abstinence.
6. The second Amendment to the Constitution [the right to keep and bear arms] should not be weakened in any way.
7. Only US citizens should be allowed to vote and a photo ID should always be required to vote. (The Mexican government requires a photo ID and fingerprint).
8. I oppose Ohio’s State Income Tax.
9. I oppose the Obama Health Care Reform and would like to see more affordable healthcare through a competitive, open, and transparent system.
10. I oppose the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy of the military and believe that all same sex partners should be banned from combat duty in the military because of the propensity to transmit blood-borne diseases in the theatre of battle.
11. I support a law that will allow the people to place on a ballot all collective bargaining agreements of all government associations, unions, and guilds, for their expressed approval. Defeat of such an agreement would mean government workers would not be immune from the free market system.
12. I oppose card check for voting to implement a Union as this could give unions an unfair intimidation tactic to implement unionisation.
13. I am not an economic pacifist. I believe that we need to protect our economic borders in order to ensure free and fair trade. Tariffs should be used to stop the wealth and jobs of Americans from leaving her borders.
14. The Federal Reserve as it is currently conceived needs to be abolished or at the very least audited.
15. I advocated moving our currency to a debt-free supply-side labour-based currency.

The email’s author, the Freedom Institute Steering Committee member Jon P. Morrow, tells candidates to “please keep it short sweet and simple” as their answers will “reach 1,000+ Republicans and at least 4.000+ Independents that have a history of voting conservatively.”

According to its website, the Freedom Institute’s purpose is to act as the government’s watchdog and to “raise funds to advocate, advertise, educate, and inform the public on constitutionally conservative positions and conservative candidates we endorse.” Membership only requires taking “the Patriots Oath” constructed by Iran Contra operative Oliver North and right-wing Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson. But ab endorsement, it seems, requires a rejection of LGBT rights and that environmental regulation be “left to God.”

While Boehner has not outright endorsed the group’s principles listed in the survey, significant bastions of the conservative establishment, including the Heritage Foundation and the Koch-funded Cato Institute, are listed as “partners” of the group. President Obama, however, gets his own separate tab and title: “the enemy.”

Clear Majority of Americans Favor Federal Spending to Create Jobs, Letting Bush Tax Cuts Expire

Firedoglake - By Blue Texan

I’m not sure who Team Obama and the DNC is listening to, but if they listen to the American people, maybe their prospects wouldn’t look so bleak in November.

Check out these results from the latest Newsweek poll (h/t Walker).

15. Which ONE of the following do you think should have the higher priority for policy-makers in Washington RIGHT NOW ?

  • 37 Reducing the federal budget deficit (or)
  • 57 Federal spending to create jobs (or)
  • Don’t know

16. Do you think Congress should allow the Bush tax cuts for persons in the top two percent income category to EXPIRE in 2011, or should Congress pass legislation to EXTEND the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent?

  • 52 Allow Bush tax cuts to expire
  • 38 Extend Bush tax cuts
  • 10 Don’t know

I know I’m not a fancy political consultant, but – isn’t running on popular measures smart? And similarly, if the GOP favors unpopular measures, well, that’s helpful too, right?

Am I missing something?

Sharron Angle’s Plan For Education: Eliminate All Of It

Think Progress

Speaking at a forum for the right-wing Steamboat Institute last week, Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle effectively declared that public schools should cease to exist. Early in her speech, Angle reiterated her belief that America should abolish the federal Department of Education because education is “better taken care of at the state level.” Yet, in response to an audience member’s question, Angle also highlighted her work to de-fund Nevada’s public schools:

We had a two-thirds rule in our constitution, that the people passed not once, but twice, saying that it would take a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature to pass a tax increase.  We had 15 strong assemblymen . . . of which I was the whip.  And I began to do what you do as a whip, and that was to say to these guys, “guys, we need to hold strong against this tax increase.  We cannot stand a big tax increase like this. …”

During that time, the governor sued the legislature to make us raise taxes by a simple majority and the supreme court went along with it.  At my own expense, I hired a fellow out of Claremont Institute, Dr. John Eastman, to take this case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, to fight for our Constitution.

Watch it:

Angle’s tale of her bold battle against taxes is only half of the story. In 2003, the Nevada legislature enacted a budget which did not include education funding, on the theory that they would take up a second bill which ensured that the public schools could remain open when the school year began. Because the Nevada Constitution requires both a balanced budget and the state to fund education, this second bill would include a combination of tax increases and education spending.

The two bill strategy broke down, however, when a minority of the state Assembly — led by Sharron Angle — refused to enact any bill which raised the new revenue required to reopen the public schools. Because a two-thirds majority is necessary to enact any tax increases, Angle’s minority was on the verge of shutting down all public education in the state of Nevada.

Eventually, the Nevada Supreme Court thwarted Angle’s plans. The court case which Angle refers to, Guinn v. Legislature of the State of Nevada, waived the two-thirds supermajority requirement in order to ensure that the state met its constitutional obligation to provide public schools. So when Angle says that she appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court “to fight for our Constitution,” she really was fighting against the Nevada Constitution’s requirement that all children have the opportunity to obtain a public education.

In other words, Angle supports a two-step process to reform education in the United States:

  • Phase One: Eliminate all federal funding of education.
  • Phase Two: Eliminate all other funding of education.

Bush White House willfully left Plamegate leaker’s emails unrestored: watchdog

Raw Story

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington might not really be composed of superheroes but many agree that — through the years — CREW has done a kickass job exposing corruption by both Democrats and Republicans, despite often being derided as partisan.

“Top aides to President George W. Bush seemed unconcerned amid multiple warnings as early as 2002 that the White House risked losing millions of e-mails that federal law required them to preserve, according to an extensive review of records set for release Monday,” Ed O’Keefe reported for The Washington Post Sunday night.

The review, conducted by the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, follows a settlement reached last December between President Obama’s administration, CREW and the National Security Archive, a George Washington University research institute. The groups sued the Bush White House in 2007, alleging it violated federal law by not preserving millions of e-mails sent between 2003 and 2005.

The settlement resulted in the restoration of 94 days worth of e-mail and the release of documents detailing when the Bush White House learned of the missing e-mails and how it responded. The restored e-mails are part of the National Archives and Records Administration’s historic record of the Bush administration, but presidential historians and others seeking information in the coming decades about the major decisions of Bush’s presidency likely will be starved of key details, including messages sent between White House officials and drafts of final policy decisions, according to CREW.

“The net effect of this is we’ve probably lost some truly valuable records that would have provided insight” into the administration’s decision-making process on several policy issues, said CREW Chief Counsel Anne L. Weismann, who led the review.

The cover for the report (pdf link), “THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE EMAILS,” sports an illustration of a CREW member — perhaps Executive Director Melanie Sloan — garbed like a superhero as she attempts to bring the missing emails to the light.

The deeper import of Beck’s rally: Wedding the Tea Parties and the Religious Right

Let me repeat the most important part of the headline in this post:   “Wedding the Tea parties and the Religious Right…”

While most progressive pundits are complaining that Beck “sounded like a televangelist, and that Beck’s crowd didn’t reach over 90,000 people, it appears they are missing the root cause or purpose of the rally. 

Bush “won” the evangelical vote in the 2004 election and thus, claimed victory for a second term.  Of course that result can be argued ad infinitum, that the election was stolen, etc.  The fact is, the Christian Right came out in substantive numbers which overshadowed the muted complaints of voter suppression, voter intimidation and voter disenfranchisement.  After all, the people complaining were “minorities”…so the Bush machine quelled the “voter suppression noise” with we are at war, and we all should rally around the President, type rhetoric.

Fast forward to 2010…

Crooks & Liars

Philip Elliott of the AP is convinced that this past weekend’s GlennBeckapalooza in D.C. is a sure sign of trouble for Democrats — though his evidence for that is almost based purely on the crowd size — and a lot of bad presumptions about just how this is going to play with the broader electorate.

Hell, even the crowd size is far from a certain thing: There have been wildly conflicting reports, ranging from Michele Bachmann’s nutso assertion that there were at least a million people there, to the far more credible and scientific estimate from CBS News that put it at about 87,000, give or take a few thousand. (Be sure to read Jed Lewison’s take on it, too.

I can tell you this: Having been at the pro-immigration reform March for America last spring, where the crowd was at least twice the size of the one that was on the mall Saturday — it was considerably more dense a crowd, and it ate up more than twice the amount of acreage (the final estimate was 200,000) — the Beck people really haven’t got a lot to brag about.

Which raises a question: How can a rally that was endlessly promoted on the most popular cable network and discussed throughout the news, yet only drew less than a hundred thousand in the end, actually indicate a more significant trend than a march that received NO advance promotion or news discussion and yet drew a crowd twice the size of Beck’s?

However, given the content of Beck’s rally, something significant did happen Saturday, and it will affect our discourse going forward: Beck officially and publicly married the Tea Party movement to the Religious Right.

Previously, most of the Tea Party debate focused on secular matters — taxes, health care, immigration. As Digby points out, the religious elements were always present as an undercurrent, but they had been mostly suppressed as the movement initially attempted to sell itself as a “spontaneous” and secular response to Obama’s policies. Now, they’re out in the open.

That is a deeply disturbing development, and one that will bear heavily on the direction this metastasizing madness takes.

Peter Montgomery at AlterNet has much more

Democracy, Corrupted

Crooks & Liars

In Tennessee, ten candidates file suit after discovering widespread voter disenfranchisement in the August 5th primary.

 In Houston, 10,000 voting machines and associated data spontaneously combusts, incinerating the machines and tapes, and leaving a right-wing Republican’s allegations of voter fraud standing with nothing to prove or disprove them.

In South Carolina, ES&S voting machines are used to nominate an unknown and non-viable Democratic candidate to run against Jim DeMint.

In Alaska, tea party candidate Joe Miller alleges vote tampering by the Murkowski campaign.

These are only a few of the stories we’re not seeing about voting machines and their role in shaping government and politics, particularly in areas with heavy Latino and African-American populations. It could almost be called a pattern — one that threatens to undermine the fundamental pillar of our democracy: one person, one vote.

Continue reading »

AP IMPACT: US wasted billions in rebuilding Iraq

Raw Story

AP IMPACT: Hundreds of abandoned, incomplete projects as US hands off to Iraqis.

A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children’s hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets.

As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds has been wasted on these projects — more than 10 percent of the $53.7 billion the US has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.

That amount is likely an underestimate, based on an analysis of more than 300 reports by auditors with the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And it does not take into account security costs, which have run almost 17 percent for some projects.

There are success stories. Hundreds of police stations, border forts and government buildings have been built, Iraqi security forces have improved after years of training, and a deepwater port at the southern oil hub of Umm Qasr has been restored.

Continue reading…

When will Park51 opponents denounce anti-mosque mania?

Washington Post -The Plumline

You’d think that opponents of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero who want to avoid accusations of Islamophobia might want to further their credibility by speaking out against the disturbing number of recent anti-Muslim incidents elsewhere in the country.

On Saturday, there was an attempted arson at the construction site of an Islamic center in Tennessee. There have been acts of anti-Islamic vandalism in California and Queens and protests against proposed mosques and community centers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky and California. Last week, a Muslim cabbie in New York was stabbed by a passenger who asked if he was Muslim. Meanwhile, a church in Florida is organizing a “Burn The Koran” day.

Yet Park51 opponents have been remarkably quiet about these incidents. Consider that Washington Post editorial writer Charles Krauthammer has written three columns on the New York mosque without mentioning any of the protests against mosques far from Ground Zero.

Why the silence? Either Park51 opponents don’t care about the larger anti-Muslim backlash, or they don’t want to be seen defending American Muslims in any context. Of course, the only way to sustain opposition to the Park51 project is by, on some level, holding all Muslims responsible for the acts of al-Qaeda, which is also the only rationale that supports opposing the construction of mosques anywhere in the United States. Arguing that opposition to Park51 has nothing to do with Islamophobia becomes harder once the larger anti-mosque backlash is taken into account.