Serendipity SOUL | Monday Open Thread

Happy Monday & SPRING, Everybody.  Hola, Brazil!

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78 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Monday Open Thread

  1. Sarah Palin Stays Mostly Out Of Sight In Israel

    JERUSALEM — Sarah Palin stayed out of sight Monday during her first trip to Israel, dodging paparazzi staking out hotels and holy sites in hopes of getting a glimpse of the former Alaska governor who might run for president.

    A visit to Israel, a key U.S. ally, has become almost a rite of passage for potential Republican candidates at a time of strained relations between the U.S. and Israeli governments. Israel is a key American ally in a volatile region and a top concern for Jewish voters and pro-Israel Christian groups in the U.S.

    Palin’s two-day private visit follows similar stops by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, all potential candidates for president in 2012.

    Both Barack Obama and John McCain made stops in Israel ahead of the 2008 election. Obama has not returned since he was elected.

  2. Obama to make his first trip to Poland in May

    SANTIAGO, Chile — President Barack Obama will travel to Poland in May, his first trip there as president.

    Obama’s visit will be part of a larger European trip May 23-28 that includes a state visit to Britain, an economic summit in France and a stop in Ireland.

    Obama had planned to go to Poland last year to attend the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, who were killed in a plane crash. However, the trip was canceled due to safety concerns over a massive volcanic ash cloud over much of Europe.

    Obama is currently traveling in Latin America, his first foreign trip of the year.

  3. Ametia says:

    March 21, 2011 03:05 PM
    Bill Kristol gets a war BONER
    By Brad Reed

    One of the many depressing aspects of Obama’s horrific decision to start a third simultaneous war with a Muslim-majority nation is that it’s providing endless pangs of pleasure to Bill Kristol. After all, America’s Chickenhawk-in-Chief hasn’t been able to watch other people risk their asses invading a sovereign country since 2003 and he’s just as thrilled and excited about this latest adventure as you’d expect him to be:

    And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him.

    No, seriously. That’s how Kristol actually starts out his column. Read it again:

    And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him.

    It’s hard for most of us to comprehend the sort of vile vampiric scumbag who relishes the thought of having his country go to war in three different countries at the same time, but that’s pretty much how Bill Kristol rolls. I wonder what would happen if America successfully invaded the entire world — whatever would Kristol do to pleasure himself? Perhaps he’d recommend sending our entire army into the depths of the Pacific Ocean to launch a long-overdue war against the lost city of Atlantis. Those shifty Mermen have had it coming for a long time, after all.


    The president didn’t want this. He’s been so unhappy about such a possibility—so fearful of such an eventuality—that first he tied himself in knots trying to do nothing. Then he decided that, if he had to act, it would be good to boast that he was merely following the Arab League and subordinating American action to the U.N. Security Council. After all, nothing—nothing!—could be worse than the perception that the United States was “invading” another Muslim country.

    Yeah, where the hell did we get this stigma about “invading” Muslim countries from? It’s not like anyone’s ever died from such “invasions” before. Why, you’d think it was as bad as trying to give people health insurance!

    In all seriousness, Kristol is just happy to be starting another war, since apparently the Afghanistan conflict has gotten so BOE-RING! The one downer for him is that Obama bothered to get the UN’s permission to attack Libya rather than going all in and giving other countries the finger like Bush did. Kristol is at his absolute happiest when our country is both at war and defying the will of the international community. But he’ll happily take the war all the same.

    Rubbish. Our “invasions” have in fact been liberations.

    They have liberated many people from their lives, yes.

    We have shed blood and expended treasure in Kuwait in 1991, in the Balkans later in the 1990s, and in Afghanistan and Iraq—in our own national interest, of course, but also to protect Muslim peoples and help them free themselves. Libya will be America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation.

    It’s amazing that after five glorious wars, the Middle East isn’t yet a mecca of sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and everything that’s wonderful that I feel when we’re together. But of course, there’s always the option of starting a sixth war, which I’m sure will make everything better.

    [T]he Reagan tradition—indeed, the Reagan-Bush-Dole-Bush-McCain tradition—in foreign policy isn’t a burden to be borne. It’s a tradition to be proud of. It’s rare that a political party gets to stand for more than a partial interest, for more than a limited point of view. It’s rare that a political party gets to stand for the national interest, for national greatness, for the exceptional American role in the liberation of peoples around the globe.

    I’m amazed that Kristol can’t type this crap without God coming down from the heavens, striking Kristol down with all manner of lightning and saying, “I didst err when I made thee, vile spawn of darkness!” In case Bill hasn’t noticed, we’re facing massive cuts to public education, to social safety net programs and even to services as basic as public street lights. And yet Kristol thinks we should sacrifice all of these things on his bloody altar of permanent warfare.

    Thanks for aiding his agenda, Obama!

  4. Ametia says:

    State seeks OK to appeal Judge Sumi’s ruling
    Posted: Monday, March 21, 2011 2:00

    The state attorney general’s office launched its appeal Monday morning of a judge’s decision on Friday blocking the implementation of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, which would end most collective bargaining for a majority of state workers.

    The AG’s filing, which seeks permission to file an appeal in the still-pending case, also asks that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi’s order be stopped immediately while the appeal is under way.

    The appeal request asks the court to consider several questions, most challenging Sumi’s authority under the state constitution to stop the bill and declare it void because of an alleged violation of the state open meetings law at a March 9 legislative conference committee meeting.

    At that meeting, the committee approved a version of the bill without fiscal items and sent it on to the Assembly and the Senate for passage. Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill two days later.

    Sumi’s order on Friday temporarily barred Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the bill as planned on March 25.

    “Judge Sumi erroneously exercised her discretion in granting the (temporary restraining order),” the attorney general’s petition states.

    Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, who filed the open meetings complaint that led to Sumi’s decision, has two weeks to file a response to the attorney general’s petition. However, the petition, filed by assistant attorneys general Maria Lazar and Steven Kilpatrick, seeks an immediate order stopping Sumi’s order from taking effect.

    The state’s lawyers wrote that Sumi’s order impedes La Follette from doing his ministerial duty of publishing the bill by March 25, the last day of a 10-day period for publication allowed under the state constitution.

    The appeal request will be considered by a three-judge panel of the state’s Fourth District Court of Appeals. Court spokesman Tom Sheehan said he did not know yet how the court planned to proceed.

    Ozanne filed the open meetings complaint last week against four Republican legislative leaders and La Follette, seeking to bar La Follette from publishing the budget repair bill into law, as he had planned to do on March 25.

    The state’s lawyers argue that the legislative leaders — Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon; Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford; Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau; and Senate President Mike Ellis, R-Neenah — are not subject to civil process because they enjoy legislative immunity for 15 days before and after the end or regular sessions.

    They also argue that La Follette is immune to lawsuits under a doctrine called sovereign immunity.

    Sumi also has no authority to inject herself into the legislative process, the state wrote.

    “There is absolutely no authority for the broad, overreaching step taken,” the lawyers wrote. “In the interests of the administration of justice it is necessary — nay, it is imperative — that this court step forward and undo this inappropriate act.”

    Until the bill is published into law, the state argued, it is still undergoing the legislative process.

    The state also challenged the allegation that the conference committee meeting on March 9 violated the state open meetings law.

    Legislative rules conflict with the notice requirements of the open meetings law, the state’s lawyers wrote, “and thus are not subject to those generally applicable rules.”

    And even if the conference committee had violated the open meetings law, they wrote, Sumi can only void the action of that committee and not the votes taken by the Assembly and the Senate.

  5. Ametia says:

    This bish thought that she could just roll all up into the city of Jerusleum

    Sarah Palin aborts visit to Bethlehem

    Sarah Palin has emerged at the centre of a potentially embarrassing mystery when she abruptly aborted a visit to Bethlehem just yards from an Israeli checkpoint guarding the entrance to the city of Christ’s birth.

    By Adrian Blomfield, Jerusalem 7:11PM GMT 21 Mar 2011
    Mrs Palin, whose trip to the Holy Land is being seen as an attempt to burnish her foreign policy credentials ahead of a possible presidential bid, had been planning to tour Christian sites before holding evening talks with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

    Bethlehem was supposed to be her first stop of the day, according to a leaked copy of her schedule.

    But, after an uneventful drive from her hotel in nearby Jerusalem, her car stopped just short of the main Israeli military checkpoint outside Bethlehem, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, appeared to hesitate and then performed a u-turn.

    Israeli military officials declined to comment on why Mrs Palin may have turned back, but the country’s defence ministry confirmed that she had made no formal request to visit the occupied West Bank – standard protocol for any foreign dignitary.

    The oversight could prove embarrassing for Mrs Palin’s advisers, who are unused to planning for foreign visits and have a reputation for being poorly organised.

  6. rikyrah says:

    this KNEEGROW is a straight up CLOWN

    March 21, 2011
    QUOTE OF THE DAY…. As developments unfold in Libya, there’s no shortage of opinions, analyses, warnings, and predictions. That’s a good thing — military interventions should be subjected to intense scrutiny and debate.

    But when it comes criticism of the administration, I think Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) deserves some kind of award for offering the single dumbest commentary available to date.

    “The world is going to hell. And I don’t know any other way to say it. When you look at what’s happening in Libya, I don’t care what anyone says; you can’t win away from 30,000 feet. I’ve been on the battle field before. I don’t know why we’re shooting $567,000 a piece Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya. You know, back two or three weeks ago, we could have taken care of this situation if we had done the exact same thing that Ronald Reagan did back in the early 80’s to Muammar Gaddafi, when he dropped the bomb in his back yard. Muammar Gaddafi didn’t say a word for the next 30 years.”


    First, when West boasts about having been “on the battle field,” it’s worth noting that during his service in Iraq, he was forced to retire from the Army for engaging in abusive interrogation techniques. His military tenure scandalous, not the kind of record that lends a politician credibility.

    Second, West says he doesn’t know why U.S. forces are firing into Libya. He doesn’t? It’s really not complicated — we’re part of a coalition enforcing a United Nations Security Council resolution. There’s ample reason to think it’s a bad idea, but the reason for the offensive isn’t exactly a mystery.

    And as for the misplaced Reagan worship, in 1986 — not “the early 80s” — U.S. forces launched airstrikes against multiple targets in Libya after the Gadhafi regime was linked to a terrorist attack in Germany. Reagan did not drop “the bomb,” but rather, used conventional weapons.

    But the notion that Gadhafi, following the 1986 strikes, “didn’t say a word for the next 30 years” is ridiculous. Walid Zafar explained, Gadhafi soon after declared his intention to become emperor of Africa; his government orchestrated the Lockerbie bombing two years later; and Gadhafi’s interest in a nuclear program only grew in the wake of the Reagan administration’s efforts.

    In other words, Allen West has no idea what he’s talking about, and he’s addressing what he considers his area of expertise. Indeed, House Republicans recently put him on the House Armed Services Committee because of his knowledgeable background on military matters.

    The mind reels.

    —Steve Benen 4:55 PM

    • Ametia says:

      West is an INSANE SLAVE-CATCHING COON! Quoting the antics of Ronald Reagan, who would never hesitate to bomb a nigga’s ass in a heartbeat.

  7. Ametia says:

    SANTIAGO | Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:06pm EDT

    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Monday the United States expects to transfer the lead military role in Libya to other allies in a matter of days.

    At a news conference with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Obama said the military objective in Libya is to guard civilians from attacks by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, not oust him from power.

    However, he said, U.S. policy is that Gaddafi “needs to go.”

    Of the transfer in operations, Obama said: “We anticipate this transition to take place in a matter of days and not in a matter of weeks.”

  8. rikyrah says:

    Saturday, March 19, 2011
    gentrification involves more than the gentry
    This piece in the Washington City Paper by Shani O. Hilton about gentrification and race in DC has been generating a lot of positive vibes. It’s a very fraught and deeply important topic; the recent Jalen Rose/Grant Hill affair has hit home once again that the relationship between the advancement of black interests and ideas of black authenticity is a tangled and often contentious one. I will echo the praise for what is present in the article, as it is indeed insightful and honest, but I have a very major reservation.

    Where are the interviews with poor people?

    This is a several-thousand word article on the relationship between race and socioeconomic class, and about the tensions between old and new residents and poor and rich residents of a city and a neighborhood. Yet in those thousands of words there isn’t a single interview with a poor, long-term, black resident. It’s a glaring omission.

    I don’t mean to come down too hard on Hilton, who really has done yeoman’s work with a lot of the reporting for the piece. The problem is that she’s so unexceptional in this omission: elite media consistently and systematically excludes the voices of the worst off. I don’t think that this is intentional; I think it’s a result of a confluence of factors involving visibility, accessibility, fear of appearing condescending, and worry about being in physical danger in poor neighborhoods. If we’re going to confront these questions responsibly and fairly, the journalistic class has to overcome that.

    • Ametia says:

      THIS: ” The problem is that she’s so unexceptional in this omission: elite media consistently and systematically excludes the voices of the worst off. I don’t think that this is intentional; I think it’s a result of a confluence of factors involving visibility, accessibility, fear of appearing condescending, and worry about being in physical danger in poor neighborhoods. If we’re going to confront these questions responsibly and fairly, the journalistic class has to overcome that.”


  9. rikyrah says:

    March 21, 2011
    CLEAR MAJORITY SUPPORTS ADMINISTRATION LINE ON LIBYA…. International military efforts in Libya are still quite new — intervention began in earnest just Saturday — but so far, the policy appears to enjoy the support of most Americans.

    Seven in ten Americans support military action by the U.S. and other countries to establish a no-fly zone in Libya, a 14-point increase since last week, according to a new national poll.

    But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates there is less among the public for air strikes that directly target Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s troops who are fighting opposition forces, and only one in four want to send ground forces into the conflict.

    A 70% majority support the establishment of a no-fly zone, up from 56% a week ago. A much smaller majority wants air strikes target Libyan troops,

    Just as important, 70% also oppose the deployment of U.S. ground forces, a step President Obama has repeatedly ruled out.

    Also of interest, the partisan divide — about half the country supports the president’s handling the situation in Libya, which seems low given the 70% who express support for the larger mission. So what’s keeping Obama’s numbers low? Republicans are the most likely to support the White House policy, but only 27% approve of the president for having a policy in line with their own preferences.

    For the record, had the pollster called me as a participant, I’m not sure how I’d respond to the questions, and I find myself skeptical but generally unsure of the mission’s value. Indeed, I found myself nodding quite bit while reading Matt Yglesias’ item this afternoon: “I … feel like this is just one of those weeks when it’s really bad to be a general purpose political pundit who’s supposed to write a high-volume blog. I can hardly just ignore Libya, but I don’t have strong convictions one way or the other about it or a strong knowledge base. Had this not gotten UNSCR authorization, I’d be clearly opposed and I’d have lengthy and well-considered reasons for that opposition, but that’s not the case.”

    I’ve already noted in previous posts the unanswered questions surrounding this policy, and those doubts remain. James Fallows offers a helpful summary of the relevant question marks: “But after this spectacular first stage of air war, what happens then? If the airstrikes persuade Qaddafi and his forces just to quit, great! But what if they don’t? What happens when a bomb lands in the ‘wrong’ place? As one inevitably will. When Arab League supporters of the effort see emerging ‘flaws’ and ‘abuses’ in its execution? As they will. When the fighting goes on and the casualties mount up and a commitment meant to be ‘days, not weeks’ cannot ‘decently’ be abandoned, after mere days, with so many lives newly at stake? When the French, the Brits, and other allies reach the end of their military resources — or their domestic support — and more of the work naturally shifts to the country with more weapons than the rest of the world combined?”

    But despite all of this, I’m hardly an expert on U.S. policy towards Libya, or even Libya itself. What would I have done had the decision fallen to me? It’s unsatisfying in blogging/punditry, but I don’t know.

    —Steve Benen 3:05 PM

  10. Ametia says:

    Abbeville mayor apologizes for 1944 rape of black woman by white men

    Published: Monday, March 21, 2011, 12:43 PM

    ABBEVILLE, Alabama — The mayor of a southeast Alabama town and a state legislator are apologizing to relatives of a black woman raped in 1944 by a gang of white men.
    Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock expressed his sorrow to relatives of Recy Taylor during a news conference today. The woman’s brother and several other relatives attended.
    Now 91 years old, Taylor was 24 and living in her native Henry County when she was gang-raped in Abbeville in 1944. The married woman was walking home from church when she was abducted, assaulted and left on the side of the road in an isolated area.
    Two all-white, all-male grand juries declined to bring charges. State Rep. Dexter Grimsley of Newville says police bungled the investigation and harassed Taylor.

  11. Ametia says:

    ABC May Be Ready To Trim Its Daytime Drama Lineup: Will ‘All My Children’ Go?
    By NELLIE ANDREEVA | Monday March 21, 2011 @ 3:00am PDT

    In the past couple of years, three daytime dramas bit the dust: CBS’ The Guiding Light and As the World Turns and NBC’s Passions. Despite constant rumors, ABC has been the only network not to pare down its daytime soap lineup, currently running 3 series, General Hospital, One Life to Live and All My Children, as many as CBS and NBC combined. It tested the waters a couple of times, including piloting a potential Aisha Tyler daytime talk show 2 years ago.

    Now ABC seems ready to join CBS and NBC in cutting the number of its daytime dramas. All My Children appears to be the most vulnerable for cancellation, and there is speculation that it may be replaced by a a talk show in the fall. All My Children, which is in its 41st year on the air, recently posted two weeks of back-to-back all-time lows in the key Women 18-49 demographic, in which it is dead last among the 6 daytime dramas on the air, drawing paltry 463,000 for the week of March 7, down 34% vs. last year. For the same week, All My Children was also last in total viewers, averaging 2.32 million. (ABC’s One Life to Live did only marginally better with 2.36 million.) One reason for ABC to keep its 3 daytime dramas on the air was the fact that they were getting a second window on sibling cable channel SOAPnet. But with SOAPnet changing its format to the preschool-centered Disney Junior next year, Disney-ABC is clearly scaling back on its commitment to soaps, and the daytime lineup on the broadcast network will probably be next. All My Children’s most recognizable star is Susan Lucci, who has been on the show since the very beginning, playing Erica Kane, dubbed the most famous daytime soap character of all time. After 18 nominations, Lucci finally won a Daytime Emmy for her role in 1999. Notable All My Children alums include Josh Duhamel, Amanda Seyfried, Melissa Leo, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Christian Slater and Kelly Ripa.

  12. Ametia says:

    Egypt approves reforms in historic referendum

    By Reuters
    Sunday, March 20th, 2011 — 5:03 pm

    CAIRO (Reuters) – A big majority of Egyptians approved amendments to the constitution in a referendum, results showed, opening the door to early elections seen as favoring Islamists and figures affiliated with the old ruling party.

    Decades of oppression under Hosni Mubarak crushed Egypt’s political life and secular activists who mobilized to oust him from the presidency say more time is needed before elections that may now come as early as September.

    Saturday’s vote was the first in living memory whose outcome was not a foregone conclusion and 77 percent voted for the changes, many of them saying they hoped a ‘yes’ vote would help restore stability after weeks of upheaval.

    “Egyptians came forward to have their say in the future of the country,” said Mohammed Ahmed Attiyah, the head of the judicial oversight committee, announcing a 41 percent turnout.

    Turnout was always very low for elections which were routinely rigged under Mubarak.

    The amendments were drawn up by a judicial panel appointed by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The military says it wants to relinquish authority to an elected government as quickly as possible.

    One of the changes prevents a president serving more than eight years, making Egypt one of few Arab republics to set such a restriction. Mubarak, ousted by a popular uprising on February 11, had ruled for three decades.

  13. Ametia says:

    Kucinich: Obama could be impeached for attacking Libya

    By David Edwards
    Monday, March 21st, 2011 — 10:34 am
    Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) says President Barack Obama did not have the constitutional authority to order U.S. forces to participate in an attack on Libya.

    In a conference call with other liberal lawmakers Saturday, Kucinich asked why the U.S. missile strikes were not impeachable offenses, according to two Democratic lawmakers who spoke to Politico.

    The U.S. unleashed a barrage of strikes against the Libyan regime’s air defenses over the weekend, but ruled out using ground troops in what Obama called a “limited military action.”

    After taking a cautious stance on armed intervention in Libya’s civil war, Obama ordered the attacks citing the threat posed to civilians by Moamer Kadhafi’s forces and a UN-mandated no-fly zone endorsed by Arab countries.

    “We must be clear: actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced,” Obama told reporters while on an official visit to Brazil Saturday.

    “We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world,” he said, stressing that Washington was acting in concert “with a broad coalition.”

    Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Mike Capuano (D-MA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) “all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions” during the conference call, a source told Politico.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Dorothy Pomerantz
    Show Me The Money
    TV’s Biggest Moneymakers
    Mar. 16 2011 – 6:08 pm

    When it comes to selling ads, it’s pretty hard to beat American Idol. Every year, three times per week, the show attracts millions of fans who sit glued to their televisions, watching and judging in real time. This isn’t the kind of show you can watch two days later.

    And that’s why it earns the big bucks. In 2010, American Idol brought in $7.11 million for News Corp.’s Fox network every half hour. That was actually down 12% from 2009, but it was enough to land the show at the top of our annual list of TV’s Biggest Moneymakers, way ahead of the closest competition.

    2. Two and A Half Men
    3. Desperate Housewives
    4. Grey’s Anatomy
    5. Dancing With The Stars
    6. Lost
    7. Big Bang Theory
    8. 24
    9. Private Practice
    10. Mike & Molly

  15. rikyrah says:

    like I said….the Arab League had NO intention of this NO-FLY ZONE passing….when it did….they’re trying to weasel out….to which, I continue to say HELL NO


    The UAE Balks
    21 Mar 2011 01:00 pm AJE:

    The United Arab Emirates said on Monday that its involvement in Libya is limited to humanitarian assistance, after reports that it would send warplanes to patrol a UN-backed no-fly zone.

    More frays in the East-West “coalition”:

    NATO is ready to support the international coalition intervening in Libya within “a few days,” Alain Juppe, the French Foreign Minister, said on Monday. … Sharp divisions prevented NATO from adopting a plan on Monday for military airstrikes against Libya, as Turkish opposition blocked the alliance from approving a strategy.

    • Ametia says:

      Yes, you called it, rikyrah. So now the Arabsthink they are done playing chicken? This is all a game to them, peoples lives, other Arabs lives? Naw son, you play, you pay. GTFOH

  16. rikyrah says:



    March 21, 2011
    WITH FOOD PRICES RISING, CONGRESS OFFERS THE WRONG ANSWER…. The price of food has gone up considerably, and a growing number of Americans — nearly one in five — have said they’re struggling to feed their families.

    Following up on an item from last week, Tim Fernholz reports that several House members, nearly all Republicans, are responding with the wrong answer.

    The House Agriculture Committee endorsed a letter this week to Budget Chairman Paul Ryan arguing that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income Americans purchase food, would make a better target for cuts than automatic subsidies to farms.

    The move comes as food prices are rising — the Department of Agriculture expects overall food prices to rise 3 percent to 4 percent this year — making it harder for the beneficiaries of SNAP to stretch their existing benefits, even as farmers profit from the tightening market. Critics across the political spectrum have called agricultural subsidies wasteful and unnecessary, and they question the logic of maintaining them as lawmakers hunt for budget cuts.

    Those critics from across the political spectrum are right.

    The problem here is that the Agriculture Committee is dominated not only by a Republican majority, but farm-state lawmakers where constituents rely heavily on agriculture subsidies from the government. We’re talking about folks who are desperate to cut spending, but are equally desperate to protect wasteful and unnecessary agricultural subsidies.

    As a result, since slashing something is apparently mandatory, they’re cutting SNAP, the program that helps struggling families eat, and which has become an even more important refuge for low-income Americans during a struggling economy with rising food prices.

    What’s more, as Pat Garofalo explained, making agriculture subsidies off limits is absurd: “At the moment, 61 percent of the subsidies that the U.S. provides for agriculture go to just ten percent of recipients. Though some restrictions on rich farmers receiving subsidies were placed into the 2008 farm bill, they were mostly ineffective. And entrenched lawmakers on the agriculture committee help to keep it that way.”

    —Steve Benen 12:30 PM

    • Ametia says:

      Of course continue to starve the vulnerable and poor… yes, let’s KILL them off, and continue feeding those subsidies to thefarms- In the END IT’S THE CORPORATIONS who will GAIN THE MOST BENEFITS!

      These are some EVIL MOFOS.

  17. WI Sup. Ct.: GOP Justice Calls Fellow Judge a ‘Bitch,’ Vows to ‘Destroy’ Her,-Vows-to-Destroy-Her

    I don’t want to bury the lede, so just check this out from Republican Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser:

    As the deeply divided state Supreme Court wrestled over whether to force one member off criminal cases last year, Justice David Prosser exploded at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson behind closed doors, calling her a “bitch” and threatening to “destroy” her. …

    “In a fit of temper, you were screaming at the chief; calling her a ‘bitch,’ threatening her with ‘…I will destroy you’; and describing the means of destruction as a war against her ‘and it won’t be a ground war,'” [Justice Ann Walsh] Bradley wrote in a Feb. 18, 2010, e-mail to Prosser and others.

    Prosser acknowledged his outburst, but said he was justified—and then proceeded to blame it on the woman he had verbally assaulted:

    “I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted…. They (Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing.”

    • Ametia says:

      What a fucking BULLY. Judge Prosser is akin to a rapist, who blames the woman whom he’s raped, because ya know she wore a short skirt or some such bullshit…. and she was begging for it!”

      These GOP nutcases are just DESPICABLE!

  18. rikyrah says:

    An Imminent End In Yemen?
    21 Mar 2011 11:36 am

    Al Jazeera reports:

    Several top Yemeni army commanders have declared their support for anti-government protesters seeking the resignation of the country’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Major General Ali Mohsen Saleh, the head of the north western military zone and the head of the first armoured division, said on Monday that he had deployed army units to protect the protesters. …

    Several ministers resigned from the government after Friday’s violence. Abdullah Alsaidi, Yemen’s ambassador to the United Nations, also quit in protest over the killings.

    The leader of Yemen’s most powerful tribe – the tribe of President Saleh – has also called for his exit. Enduring America is tracking the rapidly changing news:

    1452 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that Hakim Al Masmari, editor in chief of the Yemen Post to Al Jazeera, has stated that he does not expect the regime to last another 24 hours.

    1511 GMT: Al Jazeera: French foreign minister has declared that Yemeni President Ali Saleh’s departure is imminent. The live video of the people celebrating in the streets is breathtaking. The president and his closest advisors are meeting right now, and Yemen’s defence minister is expected to make an update in a few moments.

  19. rikyrah says:

    The Right’s New Meme
    21 Mar 2011 11:44 am

    Most of the GOP leadership is playing it mum or playing it vicious on the Libya madness. Surprise! Obama cannot win because his un-Bush style of intervention is so … liberal. Palin is the most vacuous, of course. Her criticism is entirely of style, not substance: there would be more “decisiveness” under a Queen Esther. What does that mean? If it were anyone serious, it might be worth inquiring. Gingrich returns to the 1990s:

    <i<“Iran and North Korea are vastly bigger threats. [Zimbabwe dictator Robert] Mugabe has killed more people, the Sudanese dictatorship has killed more people, there are a lot of bad dictators doing bad things.”

    But now, Obama will also feel the force of the neocons, having tasted a smidgen of blood. They will now push for regime change and claim it as vindication for their vision of a world dominated by virtuous American arms. And sure enough, across the the horizon, the sound of little feet running towards us. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, here comes Max Boot:

    The only way this crisis will end—the only way we and our allies can achieve our objectives in Libya—is to remove Qaddafi from power. Containment won’t suffice. We must make “rollback” the international strategy.

    Such a goal is not compelled, but is permitted, under U.N. Security Council resolution 1973. That resolution “stresses the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people” and which leads to “a peaceful and sustainable solution.” The Obama administration should argue that the only “peaceful and sustainable solution” would be for Qaddafi to abdicate power … Now we need to muster the will and the resources to oust the dictator.

    Hugh Hewitt wants the full Rummy:

    Hope that Secretaries Clinton and Gates persuaded the force-averse president that winning with special forces on the ground is preferable to a stalemate enforced from the skies.

    I swear I remain in disbelief that we are where we are. President Obama – calm, judicious, even-tempered president Obama – jumped into this lose-lose mess in one Tuesday meeting. And the most significant gain – avoiding a massacre in Benghazi – has already been achieved.

  20. rikyrah says:

    Palin Flops in India
    With due respect to aficionados of the emerging India-US alliance, it is difficult to see how New Delhi qualifies as an appropriate destination for a potential presidential candidate to enunciate her “vision of America.” That was the theme of Sarah Palin’s speech at the India Today Conclave, a major media talkfest, in Delhi earlier today. Palin’s rambling and incoherent performance suggested two possibilities. First, the generous reason: perhaps the theme was too restrictive, like those school exercises which require students to construct whole essays around a key theme, such as rain or forests or the railways. Students often try to overcome this challenge by resorting to an old technique: write lengthy, unconnected passages and sprinkle them with the keywords. So in a dense essay about nothing, you’ll find repeated references to rain or forests or the railways. Palin borrowed that technique, holding together a suffocatingly vacuous speech by invoking, from time to time, the theme. So she would interrupt herself from time to time, pause for a second, and say, “my vision for America.”

    The second possibility: Palin was out of her depth. It’s appalling enough that a contender for the American presidency, the putative leader of a popular anti-government movement, cannot conjure up a compelling vision for her country. But the speech also confirmed Palin’s illiteracy in foreign affairs. Talking about energy – the centerpiece, apparently, of her “vision” for America — Palin had no words to assuage Indian anxieties about nuclear energy in the wake of the tragedy at Fukushima in Japan. Energy-starved India is likely to be one of the world’s biggest markets for American nuclear technology, but Palin was content with empty platitudes: there was repeated praise of free-trade, condemnations of government spending, and even a mention of the moose her daughters had recently spotted outside their house in Alaska. Standing in the capital of the world’s largest democracy, she said nothing in her speech about the pro-democracy uprisings in India’s neighborhood. When prompted, she repudiated President Obama’s approach, but offered only a vague alternative of her own. What’s the biggest security challenge facing the world right now? The “evil dictator” of Iran (or, as she put it, “eye-ran”) and his nuclear program. Fair enough. How would she stop him? She seemed lost, suggesting economic sanctions and then military action. How will the pro-democracy movement in the Middle East affect Iran? Can India, which has strong relations with Iran, mediate? On China, she was refreshing, unafraid to sound the tocsin: India and the US should be partners in containing China, she suggested straightforwardly. And yet, for someone seeking the presidency, Palin seemed astonishingly unimaginative.

    The world once marveled at Sarah Palin. In a very dull sport, the gun-tottin’, straight-speakin’ Alaskan was a refreshing star. But as we become acquainted with the dangers of reducing politics and policy to sport, how embarrassingly obsolete Sarah Palin looks.

  21. rikyrah says:

    March 21, 2011
    THE LIMITS OF ‘LEADERSHIP’…. For Republicans who’ve been clamoring for a military confrontation with Libya, the new challenge is coming up with a rationale for why they’re still not happy.

    With that in mind, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went on quite a little tirade on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, complaining that President is acting as if “leading the free world is an inconvenience.”

    For the White House, one of the key points of emphasis is that the United States is only the “leading edge” of the coalition’s effort, and the U.S. will gladly scale back its role quickly. For Graham, that’s not good news at all — the U.S., the senator argued, must take “a leadership role,” not a “back seat.” Indeed, as far as Graham is concerned, Obama’s limited mission is itself a problem, since the senator wants to the U.S. to “replace a tyrannical leader.”

    Adam Serwer’s take on this struck me as just right.

    Most of the arguments for why the U.S. should be seen as “taking the lead” seem to hinge on little more than the fact that so doing would be emotionally satisfying to those who have been agitating for intervention in Libya since hostilities began. Ross Douthat, for instance, argues that the U.S. multilateral approach facilitates a “caution that shades into tactical incompetence.” Since the U.S. is still extricating itself President George W. Bush’s unilateral invasion of Iraq which didn’t exactly amount to “tactical competence,” this is less than persuasive.

    There are several reasons why the U.S. shouldn’t be seen as taking the lead. For one thing, the U.S. is already occupied with the aftermath of one war in Iraq and attempting to bring a more than decade-long operation in Afghanistan to its conclusion. The U.S. does not have unlimited military resources, and other countries that demanded intervention should take responsibility and offer contributions rather than free-riding off of the United States. The statements from the Arab League — which asked for intervention but then wavered when operations started — suggest that there really is a short shelf-life for the legitimacy for this operation in the Arab world, even though intervention initially had global support. If the operation goes badly, or takes far longer than advertised, it’s frankly in the U.S. interest not to be seen as having led the attack on a third Muslim country.

    For Graham and those who share his ideology, having the U.S. military “take the lead” is necessarily good, regardless of the costs or burdens, because “taking the lead” is good. Leaving heavy lifting to allies, who aren’t overstretched with two other wars, is bad, because, well, it just is.

    That’s not a foreign policy, it’s a chest-thumping bumper sticker.

    —Steve Benen 11:30 AM

  22. rikyrah says:

    Here’s the thing. There are THREE branches of government. This President actually understands this, and respects this. The President got involved in the healthcare debate, only to be stabbed in the back by a whole lotta folks in his own party, let alone the GOP. They have SIXTY-FOUR folks, then guess what, they need to do their fucking jobs. Guess what, they need to step out there and be all big and bad. What they want is for the President to GIVE THEM COVER, and to that I say f-that. They should stand on their own.


    March 21, 2011
    THE ‘GANG OF 64’ NEEDS SOME HELP…. Late Friday, shortly before the Senate recessed and its members left town, a group of 64 senators sent a letter to President Obama, seeking some help on fiscal issues.

    The group was organized by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), and was deliberately perfect in its bipartisan qualities — it was co-signed by 32 Democrats and 32 Republicans, all of whom want the White House to back a “comprehensive” package to tackle the “critical” issue of deficit reduction. (One can apparently only dream of such an interest in job creation.)

    Keep in mind, the Gang of 64 didn’t make any kind of policy recommendations. The letter seemed provocative by virtue of its endorsees, but the request of the president was itself bland and generic. The bipartisan senators want “a broad approach,” which helps reach “consensus,” and believes a White House endorsement of such an effort would send a “strong signal.”

    This reflects a group of powerful lawmakers who agree with some vague goal, but nothing more.

    Ezra Klein had a good item on the “theory of legislative action” that underscores the letter, which necessarily makes it “odd.”

    In this letter, 64 senators manage to sound like an interest group begging the White House for support rather than a supermajority of the United States Senate — which is to say, a coalition of men and women who could, on their own, draft and pass the very legislation they’re talking about. Which raises the question: Why are they writing this letter rather than the legislation this letter claims to want?

    If vague statements about “a broad approach to solving the problem” could solve the problem, the problem would be solved…. There are a lot of letters and statements about deficit reduction flying around, but precious little legislation. If the 64 senators who signed this letter wanted to write and vote for a bill, that’d be a pretty “strong signal.”

    We see this fairly often, and it’s puzzling every time. I can appreciate the unique role the President of the United States plays as a sole chief executive, but Congress is its own branch of government. Senators, especially a massive, bipartisan group of 64, have the power to sit down, negotiate, and craft a policy that would achieve the goal these members ostensibly want to reach. If a consensus could be reached, it’d be filibuster-proof.

    But instead of choosing to work on their desired outcome, they chose to write a letter, asking President Obama to endorse work on their desired outcome.

    Presumably, the next step will be calls for additional “leadership,” from those who aren’t interested in demonstrating any leadership.

    The president has already said he’d welcome progress on this issue, and is “prepared to work with Democrats and Republicans to start dealing with” with fiscal issues “in a serious way.” So, what is it, exactly, these 64 are waiting for? The White House to do their homework for them? Obama to flash a thumbs-up at them, saying, “Sounds good; get to work”?

    —Steve Benen 8:45 AM

  23. President Obama leaving Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for Santiago, Chile

  24. rikyrah says:

    March 21, 2011
    MANCHIN’S CONFUSION…. I can appreciate the fact that Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia represents a conservative state. He won a special election late last year, but he’ll be on the ballot again in 2012, and support for the Democratic president in this state will likely be pretty low.

    But that’s really not much of an excuse for silly grandstanding like this.

    Saying that “we must get our fiscal house in order,” Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he’ll vote against raising the nation’s debt ceiling unless it’s married to a plan that addresses the nation’s broader fiscal problems. […]

    “In the coming weeks, we will face many difficult budget decisions. I know it will not be easy. I know that it will take compromise. I know it will be partisan and difficult. I know that everyone will have to give up something and no one will want to relinquish anything. But we cannot ignore the fiscal Titanic of our national debt and deficit,” Manchin will say.

    According to the released text of the speech he’ll deliver later today, Manchin will vow to “vote against raising the debt ceiling unless the vote is linked to a real budget plan that begins to fix our fiscal mess.”

    It’s seems likely Manchin has no idea what he’s talking about. There’s no exact date just yet, but by some estimates, the federal government will reach its debt limit in less than a month. During that time, policymakers hope to strike some kind of compromise on a budget that will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. Almost immediately once that gets done — if it gets done — those same policymakers will have to agree to extend the debt limit, or face potentially catastrophic economic consequences.

    Manchin believes he should deliberately create a global economic catastrophe, unless, over the course of a few weeks, some remarkable plan somehow comes together.

    In other words, the center-right Democrat wants to hold the full faith and credit of the United States government hostage until his vague concerns about a “fiscal mess” are addressed to his satisfaction.

    Keep in mind, Manchin isn’t making any specific recommendations about what he’d like to see in this budget plan, only that he’d like others to do the work that makes him happy. If not, he apparently has his infamous rifle pointed not only at cap-and-trade, but also at our entire economy.

    Update: Of course, it’s also worth noting that massive spending cuts, along the lines that would apparently make Manchin happy, wouldn’t do any favors for his constituents. West Virginia is a fairly low-income state, and would be harder hit than most by the kind of reductions Manchin seems to want.

    —Steve Benen 9:20 AM

  25. rikyrah says:

    March 21, 2011
    THE CONGRESSMAN FROM KOCH INDUSTRIES…. When we last checked in with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) of Kansas, he was trying to kill a consumer-product-safety database, allowing Americans to go online and access free information about the safety records of household products. The measure was easily approved with bipartisan support, but the freshman Republican perceived it as anti-business.

    After all, if consumers are made aware of potentially dangerous products, Americans might not buy them. How can the manufacturers of those products make a profit under conditions like that?

    As it turned out, the Koch brothers were the ones who wanted the online consumer-product-safety database scuttled, and Pompeo was happy to do their bidding — he represents the district where Koch Industries is located, and the Koch brothers and their political action committee were his most generous campaign contributors.

    The Washington Post had an interesting piece over the weekend, noting that Pompeo is now also trying to gut an EPA registry of greenhouse-gas polluters — another Koch Bros’ goal — and has hired a former Koch Industries lawyer as his chief of staff.

    “It’s the same old story — a member of Congress carrying water for his biggest campaign contributor,” said Mary Boyle of Common Cause, a liberal-leaning group that has spearheaded protests against the Kochs. “I don’t know how you make the argument to your constituents that it’s in their interests to defund the EPA or a consumer database.”

    Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political science professor, added, “I’m sure he would vigorously dispute this, but it’s hard not to characterize him as the congressman from Koch.”

    That pretty much sums it up. We’re talking about a dynamic in which a congressman appears to be an employee of the Koch brothers.

    This just isn’t healthy.

    —Steve Benen 10:00 AM

    • Ametia says:

      The Koch boys reach knows NO BOUNDS. Meanwhile Eat up! Those pesky 3oo million Americans don’t need any safety regs imposed on their food.

  26. Nancy Pelosi Hospitalized

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was hospitalized during a trip to Rome, Italy on Monday, AFP reports.

    According to Italian news outlets, the ranking Democrat was reportedly admitted to Umberto I hospital after feeling “slightly unwell” and is undergoing tests.
    Pelosi and a small group of House members arrived in Italy on Friday to meet with Italian president Giorgio Napolitano as well as U.S. troops stationed in the country.

    Get well soon, Nancy! Praying for you!

  27. rikyrah says:

    March 21, 2011
    AND THEN THERE WAS ONE…. We’re about 10 months from Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses, and about two months from the first scheduled GOP debate for the 2012 presidential field. Now all we need is some candidates.

    Yes, I realize former pizza company executive Herman Cain and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer have already begun campaigning, but the field of credible, likely-to-be-competitive Republican hopefuls is surprisingly sparse. Which is to say, there is no field. Given all the GOP clamoring, it was hard to predict last year that we’d have exactly zero top-tier Republican candidates as late as March 21.

    By all indications, that will change today.

    Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will file paperwork today to organize his bid for the White House, he told supporters on a conference call today.

    The bid, to be announced on Facebook later today, will be headquartered in the Twin Cities.

    An aide, Phil Musser, asked donors to wait until April 1 to contribute to Pawlenty’s campaign, in order to avoid the impression that he’d tried and failed to raise much money in his first quarter.

    The formal announcement will reportedly come on Facebook later this afternoon. Pawlenty won’t formally launch a campaign, but will instead create an exploratory committee — the move that comes before the actual campaign.

    I suspect much of the punditry surrounding the news will focus on the fact that Pawlenty is a dull and uninspiring character, who’ll enter the race with very little support in the polls. That analysis will be true. Others will likely note that Pawlenty has a very thin record for a two-term governor; he isn’t well liked in his own state; he was a moderate who’s now dressing up in right-wing clothing; he has no meaningful areas of expertise in any subject; and he’s even begun pretending to have a Southern accent as part of a bizarre effort to appear folksy.

    All of this will be true, too.

    And yet, as hard as it may seem to take Tim Pawlenty seriously as a presidential candidate, the notion of him actually winning the GOP nomination is not, on its face, ridiculous. The rest of the likely field is so deeply flawed, it’s plausible to think Pawlenty may simply find himself as the last one standing.

    There are several Republicans contingents and constituencies, and Pawlenty may very well prove to be just inoffensive enough to satisfy all of them.

    —Steve Benen 10:45 AM

  28. Ametia says:

    U.S. Supreme Court
    Alito More ‘a Feelings Justice’ than a Grand Vision Type

    Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s dissents in two First Amendment cases has led to a cluster of classifications in articles describing his judging style.

    A law professor writing in the Washington Post called Alito “America’s privacy cop,” while a doctoral student deemed him “the face of empathy” in a Huffington Post essay.

    Now the New York Times is weighing in with a magazine story that calls Alito “the closest thing conservatives have to a feelings justice.”

    Republicans protested when President Obama said before his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court that he was looking for a justice who has empathy for others and their struggles. But those critics are silent about Alito, who “expresses feelings mostly for people who are a lot like him,” the Times story says.

    The Huffington Post highlights two Alito dissents. In Snyder v. Phelps, Alito expressed sympathy with the grieving father of a slain Marine who sued anti-gay funeral protesters for emotional distress. And in United States v. Stevens, Alito defended a law banning animal crush videos, writing about the “excruciating pain” felt by the animals as they are crushed to death.

    The Times notes a concurrence by Alito in Ricci v. DeStefano, a decision that sided with white firefighters challenging a decision to throw out a promotional exam because no blacks got top scores. Alito wrote about the personal sacrifices of the white firefighters who studied hard for the test.

    That kind of empathy is lacking, the Times says, when Alito considers the rights of criminal defendants or when he cast the deciding vote against Lilly Ledbetter, a worker who missed a deadline to sue over 20 years of unequal pay.

    Says the Times, “Instead of the pizzazz of [Antonin] Scalia or the polish of [Chief Justice John] Roberts, Alito makes his mark by getting to the outcomes conservatives favor with whatever tool is at hand and with even more predictability.”

  29. rikyrah says:

    Strikes In Libya Divides GOP, Puts Boehner In A Bind
    Susan Crabtree | March 21, 2011, 10:34AM

    Freshmen House Republicans are already putting House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in a bind over the budget, with a contingent of Tea Party-backed fiscal conservatives refusing to vote for any more continuing resolutions. Now a group of libertarian-leaning Republicans are balking at President Obama’s missile strikes in Libya.

    Republican Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Ron Paul (R-TX) and Justin Amash (R-MI) over the weekend objected to the President’s decision to use military force to contain Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, with some questioning the constitutionality of the operation and others opposing U.S military intervention in another Arab country because they aren’t convinced that the U.S. has a clear national interest in the action.

    “Unless there’s a clear and present danger to the United States of America, I don’t think you use U.S. forces in North Africa in what is the equivalent of a civil war,’ Chaffetz told the Deseret News.

    Amash called on the congressional leadership to come back to reconvene in Washington to consider a vote on declaring war or authorizing military action.

    ”The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” he wrote on Facebook. “The U.S. must halt all strikes against Libya. I call on congressional leadership to reconvene so we can vote on whether to authorize military action.”

    Paul outlined the “unintended consequences” of the military action in Libya in video available on YouTube, in which he called Obama’s decision to seek international authorization for the use of military force at the United Nations last week “annoying.” The attack occurred on the eight-year anniversary of the beginning of U.S. assault on Iraq, which was supposed to be short-lived but became a bloody clash and civil war that lingered for years without resolution, he said.

    “So how long might this last in Libya?” he warned.

    For years Paul has broadly opposed U.S. involvement in international conflicts, but the split in the GOP conference has Boehner and the rest of the Republican leadership walking a fine line.

    On Sunday Boehner called on Obama to “do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved” before any further action is taken.

    “The president is the commander-in-chief. But the administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress and our troops, what the mission in Libya is,” Boehner said in a statement.

    But Boehner hedged his criticism, also acknowledging that the United States has a “moral obligation to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression and self-government for their people.”

    During the last few weeks as the Obama administration struggled to seek international support from NATO and the U.N. Security Council for a no-fly zone and military strikes, the conflict in Libya cut across normal ideological lines and party divisions.

    The vocal group of Republicans urging caution joined liberals who fumed about the lack of congressional coordination and approval before the attack and worried that it could lead to yet another U.S.-led war in the Middle East despite the President’s promise not to employ boots on the ground.

    • Ametia says:

      Here’s the deal, the rethugs can scream all they want about what the president should/shouldn’t do. He’s not a rebub, so he’s not going in all GW Bush/Cheney style.

  30. Ametia says:

    Why Libya 2011 is not Iraq 2003By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst
    March 21, 2011 — Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)

    CNN) — A critique of the U.S. involvement in the military intervention in Libya that will no doubt be common in coming days is that the Obama administration is making a large error by embarking on a war with a third Muslim country, as if reversing Moammar Gadhafi’s momentum against the rebels will be a rerun of the debacle of the war against Saddam Hussein.

    A further element of this view is that — whatever the outcome of the Libyan intervention — the United States’ standing in the Islamic world will once again be severely damaged by an attack on a Muslim nation.

    There are, of course, some real similarities between Hussein and Gadhafi — both ruthless and erratic dictators of oil-rich regimes who fought bloody wars with their neighbors, brutalized their own populations, sought weapons of mass destruction, and sired some equally unattractive sons and heirs.

    The déjà vu quality of the Libyan situation may help account for recent polls taken before the intervention which found that while Americans were either split or slightly in favor of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, most were opposed to stronger U.S. military action.

    But the military intervention that President Obama authorized against Libya on Saturday — eight years to the day after President George W. Bush announced the commencement of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” — is a quite different operation than the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    Beyond the obvious difference that Obama has not authorized the use of U.S. ground forces in Libya, there are several other differences to consider:

    First, the Obama administration was handed a gift by the Arab League, which in its more than six-decade history has garnered a well-earned reputation as a feckless talking shop, but unusually took a stand one week ago by endorsing a no-fly zone over Libya.

    That endorsement put the Arab League way out in front of the Obama administration, which was then dithering about whether to do anything of substance to help the rebels fighting Gadhafi.

    The unexpected action by the Arab League gave the administration the impetus and diplomatic cover to then go to the United Nations Security Council to secure a broad resolution endorsing not only a no-fly zone, but also allowing member states to “take all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.
    This U.N. resolution is reminiscent of the one that President George H.W. Bush secured in November 1990, which gave Iraq six weeks to withdraw from Kuwait following Hussein’s invasion of that country. The U.N. resolution in 1990 similarly empowered states to use “all necessary means” to force Iraq out of Kuwait if Hussein ignored the deadline.

    The similarities do not end there. The coalition that massed to drive Hussein out of Kuwait involved significant forces from major Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. So too the Libyan no-fly zone will be enforced by Qatar, along with western powers such as France and the U.K.

    This is all quite in contrast to George W. Bush’s ineffectual attempts to gather international support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. There was no U.N. resolution explicitly authorizing the use of military force against Hussein, and no Muslim countries participated in the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Indeed, before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Turkish parliament voted against allowing American troops passage across Turkey to invade northern Iraq, which put a wrench in U.S. military planning.

    Underlining the fact that the Iraq War was widely viewed as illegitimate by Muslim countries, the same year that Turkey voted against allowing American soldiers to use its soil to attack Iraq, Turkish soldiers were also leading the International Security Assistance Force helping to keep the peace in post-Taliban Afghanistan, a military operation that was also authorized by the United Nations and was not seen as illegitimate by much of the Muslim world.

    The Bush administration’s largely unilateral decision to go to war in Iraq (the U.K. and a few other nations provided troops) undermined America’s standing in Islamic countries. A poll taken a few months after the 2003 invasion found that Indonesians, Jordanians, Turks, and Moroccans all expressed more “confidence” that Osama bin Laden would “do the right thing” than that Bush would.

    According to a poll four years later, America’s favorability rating stood at 9% in Turkey (down from 52% before September 11, 2001) and 29% in Indonesia (down from 75% before September 11).

    Finally, another key difference between the Iraq war and the Libyan operation is that the casus belli for Iraq was based on highly classified intelligence accessible to few people — later proved to be wrong — that Saddam Hussein continued to maintain a weapons of mass destruction program. By contrast, the Libyan intervention was caused by the real time evidence provided by the world’s leading media organizations — including, of course, Al Jazeera — that Gadhafi is massacring his own people.

    The high level of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world that was generated by the Iraq War is unlikely to be replicated by U.S. military action against Libya, because Gadhafi is widely reviled in the Arab world. His antics on the world stage have earned him the enmity of even his fellow autocrats — who will not be welcoming him if he chooses to “retire” to Saudi Arabia as other murderous dictators of his ilk have in the past (think Idi Amin).

    And the fact that both the Arab League and the United Nations have endorsed a military action against Gadhafi strongly suggests that the Libyan intervention will not generate a renewed wave of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world.

    Instead, it underlines a striking feature of the protests that have roiled the Middle East in the past several weeks: Strikingly absent from those protests has been the ritualized burning of American flags, something that hitherto was largely pro forma in that part of the world. That’s because Arabs have finally been able to express publicly that their biggest enemy is not the United States, but their own rulers.

  31. rikyrah says:

    Oversight Committee Vet: Issa Could Be Headed For Trouble

    Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been off to a shaky start since taking over as chairman of the House Oversight Committee this year, firing his prominent spokesman Kurt Bardella this month after he was revealed to have shared reporters’ emails with a New York Times reporter working on a book.

    In his first interview since losing his job, Bardella told the North County Times over the weekend that he had made mistakes. “I did lose my way a little bit,” Bardella said. “Certainly, in this case, what I did left people in the reporting community uncomfortable.”

    David Bossie has plenty of sympathy for Bardella after having held a similar position as an aide to then-chairman Dan Burton (R-IN) during the committee’s years-long investigations into President Clinton back in the ’90s. Known for his friendliness with the press, Bossie says he had the same role as Bardella in all but title in addition to his duties as an investigator. Like Bardella, Bossie left his position in scandal, resigning after tapes of interviews conducted as part of Burton’s Whitewater investigation were found to have been selectively edited to incriminate the Clintons.

    Bossie is now the president of Citizens United, the conservative activist group whose anti-Hillary Clinton ad in 2008 — Hillary: The Movie — ultimately led to the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United ruling dramatically weakening the campaign finance restrictions on corporations. Still, the comparisons between Burton’s war on the Clintons and Issa’s investigations of the Obama Administration only go so far, Bossie told TPM in an interview.

    “We were attacked because of our effectiveness and because the Clinton White House was afraid of us — they kept a constant assault on us,” he said. “This guy … he wasn’t there long enough to be effective. He really was his own undoing.”

    While Bossie told TPM that Issa ultimately would rise and fall on his own merit and that Bardella’s troubles were his own, he sounded a note of concern that the early stumbles could put new constraints on the chairman from within his party.

    “His problem now — and this was Chairman Burton’s problem as well — is the conference starts to ask you questions,” he said. “And now, just by reading reports, there are people wondering what’s going on over there. That’s not healthy — when you don’t have the confidence of the members of your conference, it gets dicey.”

    Issa has been hesitant to associate himself with the Burton-era investigations, which dogged Clinton for years but ultimately ended with a failed impeachment and a number of proposed conspiracy theories that never panned out. In an interview with the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, the Congressman said that he would have avoided investigations into Clinton’s pre-White House past had he been in charge at the time.

    Bossie has certainly noticed the dynamic.

    “It might be why we never got a phone call,” he said with a smirk.

  32. rikyrah says:

    Key Yemeni general backs democracy protesters

    Mohamed Sudam and Cynthia Johnston
    Reuters US Online Report Top News
    Mar 21, 2011 07:21 EDT

    SANAA (Reuters) – A top general threw his support behind protesters on Monday and warned Yemen could slip into civil war, after snipers shot dead dozens of demonstrators.

    General Ali Mohsen, a powerful figure close to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, expressed support for pro-democracy protesters but stopped short of resigning or demanding that Saleh bring his 32-year rule to an immediate end.

    “We announce our peaceful support for the peaceful revolution of the youth and their demands and we carry out our duty … in ensuring security and stability in the capital,” Mohsen, commander of the northwest military zone, said on Al Jazeera television.

    Friday’s killings of 52 anti-government protesters by rooftop snipers in Sanaa prompted Saleh to declare a state of emergency for 30 days that restricts freedom of movement and the right to gather and gives police more powers to make arrests.

    Saleh has said he will not run for reelection in 2013 and proposed political reforms including a new constitution in an effort to end weeks of protests. He fired his cabinet on Sunday.

    “Yemen today faces a serious crisis … as a result of unconstitutional and illegal practices by the authorities, a policy of marginalizations and absence of justice,” Mohsen said.

    “Repressing peaceful demonstrators in public areas around the country has led to a cycle of crises which is getting more complicated each day and pushing the country toward civil war.”

    Mohsen is a kinsman of Saleh from the influential al-Ahmar tribe, whose members hold many key positions in the state.


    Two other generals announced their support for the protesters, according to Al Jazeera — Mohammed Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, commander of the eastern military section, and Hamid al-Qosheibi, commander of the Amran region.

  33. rikyrah says:

    The Logic of the Alert Alaskan

    by digby

    Now this is just funny:

    The former GOP vice presidential candidate was being interviewed on February 23rd on national television by Sean Hannity on a range of issues. On the Libya crisis, she proposed a no-fly zone to protect the armed and un-armed opposition to the Qaddafi regime. Mrs. Palin’s formulation had been blogged about for nearly a week when it was echoed by the man who, before the Iraq war, had led the Iraq democratic movement in exile, Ahmed Chalabi.

    Now that’s an endorsement worth having.

    It goes on to correctly point out that many of the problems in the middle east are a result of US energy policy but let’s just say that Palin doesn’t havewhat you’d call a sophisticated grasp of how to deal with it:

    In a critique of Mr. Obama’s energy policies published yesterday at about the same time the Arab League was adopting her prescription for a Libya no-fly zone, Mrs. Palin laid out how the president’s “war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump, endangered our already sluggish economic recovery, and threatened our national security.” Nor is Gov. Palin’s insight into complex international issues limited to areas of her immediate expertise.

    Yeah, he said “expertise”. It goes on to glowingly report that Palin criticized Obama’s Israeli policies and perspicaciously predicted that “more and more people will be flocking to Israel.” Then he praises her speech called “What America Means to Me” at the “annual India Today Conclave”:

    More broadly, Mrs. Palin’s address in India will be another step in the growing outline of what might be called The Palin Doctrine. It contrasts sharply with the foreign policy being conducted, if that is the word, by President Obama, who is perplexing not only the Arab world, to which he reached out in his Cairo speech at the start of his presidency, but even his own supporters in the liberal camp, and many in between, who are upset by what might be called his propensity for inaction. It’s an inaction that suggests the Arab League won’t be the only institution that might find itself surprised by the logic of the alert Alaskan.

    Is there anyone on the planet who isn’t surprised (perhaps stunned and shocked) at the “logic” of the alert Alaskan?

    I may be a little bit cynical about the motives of American foreign policy, but I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the idea of a Palin Doctrine which apparently consists of doing the opposite of whatever she thinks Obama does and screaming bomb, bomb, bomb and drill, baby,drill. You have to wonder how she’s going to react now that he’s signed on to “her advice” on the no-fly zone.

    Actually, when you think about it, it’s pretty standard GOP foreign policy boiler plate …


  34. rikyrah says:

    Good morning, everyone :)

  35. Ametia says:

    EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Tiger Woods Has New Girlfriend & She’s An Elin Look-Alike

    Tiger Woods has a new girlfriend, has learned. Her name is Alyse Lahti Johnston, and the news was broken by the sports website

    EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Alyse Lahti Johnston Is Tiger Woods’ New Girlfriend

    A stunning blonde is a dead ringer for Woods’ ex-wife Elin Nordegren.

    At just 22, she is 13 years younger than the golfing superstar.

    PHOTOS: Tiger Woods Cleans Up His Act

    Alyse was recently spotted on Tiger’s yacht, and a well-placed source told that the two have been seeing each other for a few months.

    She is the daughter of an executive at IMG, the giant sports agency that represents Woods. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio — where IMG has one of its offices — she is now living in Florida. She’s reportedly attending the Ohio-based Northwood University, which also has a campus in West Palm Beach, Florida

  36. Ametia says:

    Op-Ed Columnist
    A Very Liberal InterventionBy ROSS DOUTHAT
    Published: March 20, 2011

    In its month-long crab walk toward a military confrontation with Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Obama administration has delivered a clinic in the liberal way of war.

    Just a week ago, as the tide began to turn against the anti-Qaddafi rebellion, President Obama seemed determined to keep the United States out of Libya’s civil strife. But it turns out the president was willing to commit America to intervention all along. He just wanted to make sure we were doing it in the most multilateral, least cowboyish fashion imaginable.

    That much his administration has achieved. In its opening phase, at least, our war in Libya looks like the beau ideal of a liberal internationalist intervention. It was blessed by the United Nations Security Council. It was endorsed by the Arab League. It was pushed by the diplomats at Hillary Clinton’s State Department, rather than the military men at Robert Gates’s Pentagon. Its humanitarian purpose is much clearer than its connection to American national security. And it was initiated not by the U.S. Marines or the Air Force, but by the fighter jets of the French Republic.

    This is an intervention straight from Bill Clinton’s 1990s playbook, in other words, and a stark departure from the Bush administration’s more unilateralist methods. There are no “coalitions of the willing” here, no dismissive references to “Old Europe,” no “you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Instead, the Obama White House has shown exquisite deference to the very international institutions and foreign governments that the Bush administration either steamrolled or ignored.

    This way of war has obvious advantages. It spreads the burden of military action, sustains rather than weakens our alliances, and takes the edge off the world’s instinctive anti-Americanism. Best of all, it encourages the European powers to shoulder their share of responsibility for maintaining global order, instead of just carping at the United States from the sidelines.

    Read more

    • rikyrah says:

      My blood pressure is already up this morning. Made the mistake of listening to the local Black talk radio station, and who did they have on, but one of the Ungawa ungawa Black Power people this morning. Oh, he hit all the buttons on Libya. How this was ‘ neo-colonial’, and the ‘ harsh condemning statement from the African Union.’ The local host knows little about international politics, so basically, he let the Black Power dude talk on and on. NO mention of the Arab League being the first ones to ask for the NO-FLY ZONE. He mentions Moammar’s ties with African Nations, all the while not mentioning that Moammar has imported African mercenaries to come and kill his own people. What good is a condemnation from the African Union, when they won’t open up their mumbling mouths about the situation on the Ivory Coast. You don’t even have to ask about if he was bashing the President or not, and, just had to include in there, that, he hoped Black people weren’t being ‘converted to a neo-colonial viewpoint because THIS President was involved in this. ‘ I was pissed by the time I got to work this morning. I’m going to get some chamomile tea to try and calm down.

  37. Ametia says:

    Posted at 06:08 PM ET, 03/18/2011
    How to cut the deficit by doing nothing
    By Ezra Klein
    There are two major takeaways from the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the president’s proposed 2012 budget. The first is that the CBO doesn’t believe it will save as much money as the White House says it will. The second is that doing nothing — yes, nothing — would do more to cut the deficit than anything that the Obama White House proposed or than the GOP is likely to propose.

    On the question of the president’s budget itself, CBO projects that public debt would increase to 87 percent of GDP over the next 10 years. The Obama administration’s projections put that at 77 percent. The difference appears to be that the CBO is more pessimistic about the economic outlook over the next decade — a pessimism that matters enormously for deficit projections.

    Who’s right? Well, predictions are hard. As Jon Chait details, there was a similar dispute in the 1990s where the Clinton White House was using more optimistic projections than the CBO — and the Clinton White House not only proved closer than the CBO, but even their relatively optimistic projection proved overly pessimistic. This time, of course, things might not turn out as rosy. But that’s a guessing game. What’s not a guessing game is that the Obama budget increases the deficit versus a policy of doing nothing, as a policy of doing nothing means that all the Bush tax cuts expire in full while the Obama budget keeps all of them, aside from the tax cuts for the rich.

  38. Ametia says:

    Happy Mun-dane, Everybody: :-)

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