Day: August 27, 2010

Obama – The Anti-Politician

I have the exact same question.  Where is the “fighter” that I voted for?  Where is the hope and change promised to all Americans?  Let me be clear, I will be voting for Obama in 2012.  Mostly because he needs time to get things right.  Like adding a public option to health care reform.  Also, getting the economy back on track and creating new “green jobs” (as well as restoring the millions of jobs lost to corporations looking for cheap labor overseas.)

I concede that our president walked into a pile of crap a mile wide and ten miles deep.   However, he campaigned on the premise that he would “fix” what ails our country.  Instead, I fear he has become a prototype for what ails our country.  I’m hoping that some wise advisors in his inner circle will convince him that he’s on the wrong track.  The right-wing hates him and will continue to hate him, no matter what.  His Quixotic quest for “bi-partisanship” has become an embarrassment after the way the GOP in both houses have treated him.

The Dems in both houses are just as embarrassing with their wimping out faster than a speeding bullet when the GOP says “boo!”

Mario Piperni

Here’s some food for thought by way of David Ignatius.

…the larger point is that we truly have a leader who keeps doing the wise thing on policy (assuming you agree with him) but the dumb thing on politics.

Politicians often like to brag about how they aren’t really political animals but public servants. It’s almost a political cliche, to accompany a craven decision with the statement: “I’m not doing this to win votes, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

But Obama is different. He truly doesn’t seem to relish politics, in the raw, mix-it-up sense. Most of all, he isn’t needy for public attention in the way our most neurotic and gifted politicians have been — walking outpatients such as Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton. He doesn’t like red-hot; he likes cool and deliberative.

[...]

Maybe Obama, the anti-politician, really doesn’t care if he gets reelected, so long as he’s doing what he thinks is right. Somehow, I can’t imagine this breakthrough president stepping aside to write law-review articles. But to stand a chance in 2012, he’s going to need someone to light a fire under him, someone who can play politics fiercely — and also can bring in some new voters.

Surely it’s obvious that I am describing Obama’s second-term masterstroke: Vice President Hillary Rodham Clinton.

What do you think?

Bloomberg Bashes Park51 Critics On ‘The Daily Show’ (VIDEO)

Huffington Post 

Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the Daily Show last night to speak with host Jon Stewart about the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero. 

Bloomberg has been arguably the most outspoken New York politician in favor of the center. 

“People say well, in Saudi Arabia you can’t build a church,” Bloomberg said. “Yes. That’s the difference between Saudi Arabia and America.” 

He also made the argument that all the fear-mongering surrounding the Park51 project is largely due to politicians trying to score points in an election year. 

“This is plain and simple people trying to stir up things to get publicity and trying to polarize people so that they can get some votes,” Bloomberg said. “And I don’t think that most of these people who are yelling and screaming really care one way or another.”   Watch the entire interview below: 

 

Stewart RIPS Glenn Beck’s Civil Rights Rally: ‘I Have A Scheme’ (VIDEO)

Huffington Post 

“The Daily Show” has a knack for going on vacation when important things happen, so it’s nice to see Jon Stewart proactively “report” on Glenn Beck’s Aug. 28 civil rights rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In a segment dubbed “I Have A Scheme,” Stewart picked apart Beck’s plan to “restore honor” to the republic on the same day and in the same place as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did exactly 47 years ago. 

Beck claims not to have realized the coincidence when planning his “Beckapalooza” and Stewart honestly believed him. “Wow, so Glenn Beck didn’t realize that was an important day in African-American history?” he asked. “I find that… Totally plausible. I find that totally plausible.” 

While Beck will not be standing in the same EXACT spot as Dr. King did on that historic day (he’ll be standing two flights down) Stewart did take issue with Beck’s plan to “reclaim the civil rights movement.” Beck argued that white people can’t praise or support the mission of Dr. King without criticism. 

“Who acts like white people can’t praise Martin Luther King?” Stewart said in disbelief. “Or is it that they don’t want people who called Barack Obama, the first black president, a racist to praise Martin Luther King?” 

 

Frontline on PBS Investigates Post-Katrina Police Shootings

The Nation

Five years ago next week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the body of Henry Glover was found burned in a charred sedan overlooking the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The case was mysterious from the start, but it wasn’t until A.C. Thompson’s 2009 article for The Nation, “Body of Evidence,” that a real investigation began. Under pressure from The Nation, from advocacy groups like ColorofChange.org and from extensive, ground-breaking reporting by investigative journalism non-profit Pro Publica & the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a formal investigation was launched. Earlier this year an indictment was handed down in the case. 

PBS’s FRONTLINE profiles the Glover case—along with five other stories about post-Katrina police shootings—in the hour-long documentary “Law & Disorder.” A collaborative effort between FRONTLINE, Pro Publica and the Times-Picayune, “Law & Disorder” expands the Glover investigation into a multi-year inquiry into the NOPD and post-Katrina violence. You can watch the full episode online here.

You can also watch a Nation on Grit TV interview with A.C. Thompson, now a staff reporter with Pro Publica, here.

Color of Change Launches “Turn Off Fox” Campaign

Now this is something I’ve been doing for a while, long before I read about Color of Change’s campaign. 

When I see Fox News on at my doctor’s office, the pharmacy, dentist, etc.  I politely ask if they could please turn to a more unbiased station like CNN or C-Span.  (Although lately, CNN has been trying to emulate Fox News on certain programs.)   I’ve been fairly successful thus far.  Most of the receptionists in those places of business agree that there is a certain “bias” on Fox and said they get a few complaints here and there, and if enough complaints come in, they do change the station…permanently.

News Hounds

Color of Change, the group that cost the Glenn Beck Show over 100 sponsors at home and abroad with their Boycott Beck campaign, have just launched another broadside against Fox News Channel. The latest campaign, Turn Off Fox, calls on individuals to do exactly that, and to sign a petition which will ask businesses and other public establishments across the United States to join them in changing the channel. But will displaying the free sticker that Color of Change will send you as thanks for signing the petition be like wearing a target on your back?

According to the Color of Change website, volunteers will approach neighborhood businesses with copies of the signed petition, along with fact sheets and supporting documents, in the hope that those establishments will realize that supporting Fox will lose them customers. The petition reads,

I won’t play Fox News in my home, and I’m calling on businesses and other public establishments to stop playing Fox. I don’t want Fox spreading hate, lies, and division in my community, and I want to support businesses that are Fox-free.

In other words, boycott Fox or we boycott you.

When I read that volunteers will be going into Fox-force-feeding establishments and asking them to tune the teevee to, oh, maybe SpongeBob or Oprah, visions of earnest young men and women hurtling through the air followed closely by flying beer bottles and barstools danced in my head. However, they’re far more likely to be chased with zimmer frames and flying dentures, since the median age of the Fox day and primetime audience is over 65

Not much to worry about there, but I’m not sure I can say the same, in the current hate-filled climate, when it comes to the safety of those of us who might put Color of Change’s free sticker on our cars.

Jim Clyburn Won’t Vote For Fellow S.C. Democrat Alvin Greene

Huffington Post

COLUMBIA, S.C. — House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is saying that he will not be voting for his party’s nominee for U.S. Senate because the candidate has been indicted on a felony charge.

Clyburn said Wednesday that a vote for fellow Democrat Alvin Greene would be an insult to his three daughters and granddaughter. Greene is accused of showing pornographic images to a female University of South Carolina student.

Greene is a political unknown and unemployed military veteran who unexpectedly won the nomination. He faces Republican incumbent Jim DeMint and Green Party candidate Tom Clements in November.

Clyburn plans to vote for write-in candidate Mazie Ferguson, a longtime Democratic Party activist from Sumter.

Phones messages left for Greene were not returned.

Fox News Ignores Ken Mehlman’s Coming Out, Runs Zero Segments On Story

Think Progress

When Judge Vaughn Walker struck down Proposition 8, Fox News barely mentioned the story and its most prominent conservative commentators ignored it entirely. Yesterday, after the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reported that former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman — who had orchestrated President Bush’s gay-bating 2004 re-election campaign — was coming out as gay, Fox News remained similarly mum and as of this posting has yet to run a single segment on the story.

A Wonk Room review of Critical Mention reveals that CNN mentioned the name “Mehlman” 19 times, MSNBC reported on it 12 times (searches for “gay” and “Ken” produced similar results, with Fox News stuck at 0):

It’s unclear why Fox News ignored the story, since some Republicans have embraced Mehlman’s coming out. The Wonk Room argues that Fox has a history of ignoring stories that undermine conservative causes.

Rick Scott Insists He Took ‘Responsibility’ For Largest Medicare Fraud In History

Think Progress

Last night, during an appearance on CNN, Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott defended his stewardship of Columbia/HCA, a large for-profit hospital chain that pled guilty to 14 felonies and paid $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines for defrauding Medicare.  Scott explained that he invested his life savings in the business to “built the largest health provider in the world” and stressed that he “took responsibility for what went wrong”:

SCOTT: And what I tell people is, you know, when you’re in business, anything that goes wrong, you should take responsibility if you’re the CEO. I do. The difference is let’s think about where we are in the state. We have the highest unemployment on record. We have almost 50 percent of our home owns under water on their mortgages. We’re walking into a five-plus billion dollar deficit. Has any politician in the state taken responsibility for putting us in this position? No. What I tell people all the time is I’m a business person. I know, you know, you put up your money, you try to build your companies and you take responsibility for what goes wrong. I do. When I’m governor, I hope nothing goes wrong. If it does, I’ll show up, I’ll take responsibility and I’ll fix it.

Watch:

Scott may certainly be sorry for what happened, but it seems that the only thing he took was “a $9.88 million severance package, along with 10 million shares of stock worth up to $300 million at the time” after he was ousted from the Columbia/HCA board in 1997. In fact, as the Wonk Room explains, during a deposition Scott gave in 2000 about his time as head of Columbia/HCA, “he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times.”

Update - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who has called and congratulated Scott on his victory, says he still has questions about Scott’s past at Columbia/HCA: “I still have serious questions … about issues with his character, his integrity, his honestly, things that go back to Columbia/HCA and I have not had the occasion to really actually even get acquainted with him,” McCollum said.

 

Mario Piperni: A Gay Hypocrite Finds His Way (Sort Of)

This information about Ken Mehlman being gay was well known to most progressives since 2004 and maybe earlier.  I believe it was Bill Maher and many bloggers who  knew this clown was gay a few years ago. 

His egregious acts against gays in the form of planning and supporting anti-gay legislation and his treatment minorities at voting polls  and the phone jamming scandal is simply despicable, in my view.  I am most definitely not, nor will I ever be a fan of such an evil, manipulative person.

Mario Piperni

Well, well.

Ken Mehlman, President Bush’s campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay. [...]

Mehlman is the most powerful Republican in history to identify as gay.

Because his tenure as RNC chairman and his time at the center of the Bush political machine coincided with the Republican Party’s attempts to exploit anti-gay prejudices and cement the allegiance of social conservatives, his declaration to the world is at once a personal act and an act of political speech.

“I wish I was where I am today 20 years ago. The process of not being able to say who I am in public life was very difficult. No one else knew this except me. My family didn’t know. My friends didn’t know. Anyone who watched me knew I was a guy who was clearly uncomfortable with the topic,” he said.

I can only imagine what it is like to feel compelled to have to hide one’s sexual orientation. It can’t be pretty. Even uglier, I would think, is being gay and a high ranking member of a political party that actively pursued (and still does) an anti-gay agenda.

Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus. He was aware that Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief strategic adviser, had been working with Republicans to make sure that anti-gay initiatives and referenda would appear on November ballots in 2004 and 2006 to help Republicans.
Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.

“It’s a legitimate question and one I understand,” Mehlman said. “I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally.” He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: “If they can’t offer support, at least offer understanding.”

The truth is that if Mehlman had declared his sexuality at the time, he would have been forced out of the chairman’s position. There is no possible way that Republicans would have allowed an openly gay man to be head of the RNC. Mehlman knew this and went along with promoting the GOP’s anti-gay agenda. Any way you wish to parse it, Mehlman’s actions make him a hypocrite of the worst kind.  But he’s come around, a bit late, and I’ll give him credit for having done so.

As for this part…

He said that he plans to be an advocate for gay rights within the GOP, that he remains proud to be a Republican, and that his political identity is not defined by any one issue.

“What I will try to do is to persuade people, when I have conversations with them, that it is consistent with our party’s philosophy, whether it’s the principle of individual freedom, or limited government, or encouraging adults who love each other and who want to make a lifelong committment to each other to get married.”

“I hope that we, as a party, would welcome gay and lesbian supporters. I also think there needs to be, in the gay community, robust and bipartisan support [for] marriage rights.”

…good luck with that although I have no idea what he thinks his party has done in the last decade to make him proud.  The Republican party has allowed itself to be defined by it’s southern, white conservative base but having someone working from the inside to try to enlighten these bigoted, narrow-minded jackasses can’t hurt.

Koran-Burning Pastor: We Want To Send ‘A Clear, Radical Message’

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. ~ Mohandas Ghandi

It’s my feeling that this planned act of insanity and sacrilege by a so-called clergyman, Terry Jones,  of the Dove World Outreach Center (a charismatic church of dubious credibility, according to TPM) is  equivelant to falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater.   Islam is not the horrific religion that Jones, right-wing politicians, the right-wing media and a totally afraid mass of hysterical Americans seem to think it is.   Simply put, Jones, et al are presenting a false argument about Islam and it should stop before it gets out of hand. 

Publicly burning the Qur’an, a sacred book for over a billion  people of the Islamic faith, is not a fundamental right of freedom of expression. Similarly,  publicly burning the Bible, Torah,  Bhagavad Gita,  Taoist Texts and so forth, is not, as well. 

In my opinion, doing so can pose a real political and global problem for this country.  What will be the response if “Pastor” Terry Jones has his way?  Has this Terry Jones character even considered the ramifications of such an action? 

This is not the Christianity I knew. 

Beliefnet - Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

Is it appropriate to simply right him off as a kook? Can we afford to stand silently by? The answers to those questions have nothing to do with how one feels about Islam in general, or about the proposed cultural center and mosque to be situated a few blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center.

Whether one opposes the mosque or not, this proposed Koran burning is obscene. Tragically and ironically, this is an expression of Christianity which parallels the parts of Islam which represent a genuine threat to the human race. I guess it’s an irony Pastor Jones misses, but reminds us all that it’s not the faith which kills; it’s the fanatical attachment to it.

Before deciding what you think is the appropriate response, think for a minute about the response you would hope for, if it were bibles that someone proposed to burn? What would be the appropriate response to a religious leader calling for the public burning of a Torah scroll?

We cannot call for a vocal response from Muslims when Muslims engage in hateful acts towards the followers of other faiths unless we, who cherish those other faiths, speak out when our religious leaders behave hatefully. Ultimately, this moment is not a test of Pastor Jones, but for the rest of us. I hope we pass. I guess we’ll see.