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September 04, 2011
A better path
Newsweek/Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky on the accumulating, inexpressible boneheadedness of President Obama’s political team:
Believe me, I’d rather be writing positive columns. But if I were a sports columnist at The Washington Post and the Redskins had lost five in a row, I could hardly write, “Hey, gang, everything’s going according to plan.” It ain’t. I have little expectation that they’ll listen to me. I can only hope someone they will listen to breaks through soon, before it becomes too late to turn things around.
I vigorously resist Tomasky & Growing, Inc.’s speculative gloom — “If indeed we are standing there watching as President Perry is sworn in two Januarys from now, and we’re forced to ponder the what ifs …” — since the GOP seems intent on nominating either a feudal populist or a tragic victim of multiple-personality disorder. But there’s little question that Obama’s team is shaving his point-spread; his advisers are obsessed with the perilous notions that only independents will count in 2012, and that all independents are crypto-Tea Partiers on whom a mimetic pseudoconservatism must be lavished.
Obama can likely squeak by, employing this strategy. Yet still, it puzzles. For given his self-wounding opposition, and the tempestuous times, and electoral anger, Obama could win bigger by running as an unapologetic FDR Democrat.
U. Akron Sends Racist Email to It’s Black Male Students
September 3, 2011
A peculiar controversy has erupted at the University of Akron after campus officials sent out an email with a special message for its black male students. The email was sent in response to a rise in crime around the campus, apparently designed to give black male students specific instructions on how to conduct themselves in response to the crime wave. The email has upset many members of the University of Akron community, who argue that the email stinks of racial bias.
The email tells black male students to ensure that they “cooperate with police” when they are stopped. It then goes on to tell them not to use profanity, not to run and to be sure to show ID. It reads as follows:
As you may be aware, a series of robberies have occurred around campus over the last few weeks particularly on the south and east ends of campus. Although, most of these crimes have not been committed by University of Akron students, the primary suspects have been African American Males between the ages of 18-23.
Your safety as well as the safety of all UA students is of utmost concern. As a result of these robberies, The University of Akron Police Department is actively addressing this issue and working to make the campus and the surrounding areas safe for all students.
Furthermore, as African American Male students, it is critical to ensure you that you are not a target based on race and gender. However, to ensure your safety, I advise you to be aware of your surroundings at all times.
In the event that you are stopped by the police, here are a few tips to follow:
Cooperate fully with questions
Identify yourself as a UA student and please carry identification with you at all times
Even if you are angered, refrain from using profanity as you could be charged with disorderly conduct
Do not run from the police as you could be charged with a crime
However, in the event that you believe you have been treated unfairly or in an inappropriate manner, please call (330) 330-972-2911 tel:330-972-2911 to make a formal complaint or feel free to contact my office at (330) 972-8289.”
RACIAL PROFILING. THE.FUCKING.END.
Critics, Get Over Vick’s $100M Eagles Deal
By: Deron Snyder | Posted: September 1, 2011
Aug. 29 was a bad day for Michael Vick haters, who already couldn’t stand the fact that he successfully resurrected his NFL career last year after spending 19 months in jail for running a dogfighting ring. Now, not only that, but the Philadelphia Eagles made matters worse Monday by signing him to a reported six-year, $100 million contract, with $40 million guaranteed.
Never mind that NFL players virtually never receive the total value of their contract. Vick would do well to see $40 million from the deal, as even “guaranteed” money in NFL deals can evaporate a bit. Still, creditors from his bankruptcy case are as happy as anyone about the new contract.
However, there’s no denying Vick’s status as one of the league’s highest-paid players and biggest stars, thanks to an MVP-caliber season last year. That’s a huge change from May 2009, when he was released from federal prison and animal lovers organized protests against him, before the Eagles took a chance on him and before he partnered with the Humane Society in an anti-dogfighting campaign.
It’s not as if all demonstrations against him have ceased. His most ardent critics still make themselves known on sports radio shows, at stadiums and in the comments section under Web stories. To those folks, Vick didn’t pay his debt by serving time in Leavenworth Penitentiary; that was just a down payment on a bill that will never reach a zero balance.
There are performance-related reasons to question the Eagles’ decision to invest so heavily in Vick. His style of play makes him more prone to injury and will grow less effective as he ages. And as exciting as he was in leading the Eagles to a 10-6 record, his statistics declined late in the season as defenses did a better job of adjusting to him.
But the team is convinced Vick can deliver on the field and, thankfully, is paying no attention to his critics off the field.
Surgeon general wrong, black women’s hair not cause of obesity
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org
August 31, 2011 7:08PM
Black women can’t catch a break.
Lately, they’ve been criticized for everything from wearing weaves to weighing more than other racial groups.
Now, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, a black woman, is chiming in about the reason behind the higher obesity rates.
Benjamin, who has been criticized for being overweight herself, recently told the New York Times: “Oftentimes you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet.’ I hate to use the word ‘excuse’ but that’s one of them.”
Benjamin’s insight on this topic is considered credible because her mother was a hairstylist. Also, she is backed up by a study done by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in 2008. The study polled 103 black women in the North Carolina region and found that a third of them mentioned their hair as the reason they shied away from exercise.
Sixty-four of the women had relaxed hair, and half of the participants stated that “they considered changing their hair to make it easier to exercise,” according to a press release detailing the study’s findings.
Hair was definitely a consideration when I was in high school, but I can’t blame my hairstyle for preventing me from developing a regular exercise routine later on in life.
I just never got it until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then, I lay awake night after night regretting every cigarette I had smoked; every cocktail I’d drunk; and every health club membership I had let expire without so much as stepping a foot inside the place after the orientation.
None of this had anything to do with my hair.
In fact, the unruly hair excuse has played out. Today, black women have a lot more alternatives when it comes to maintaining a straight hairstyle. They no longer have to smother their hair with grease and torture it with a hot comb to beat back frizzy or puffy hair.
Because of the widespread acceptance of weaves, extensions and wigs, black women don’t have to deal with their natural hair at all.
When I went for my regular hair appointment on Wednesday, I asked a couple of stylists what they thought.
“I believe it’s true,” said Anna Walton, a stylist at Red Karma Salon at 3523 S. Indiana.
“What happens is clients ask what can they do to prevent their hair from looking a mess. But you can’t prevent your body from sweating,” Walton pointed out.
“I tell them you are either going to be cute and fat or you are going to be slim and you may look a little crazy about the head.”
Lucretia London, also at Red Karma, styles my natural hair. She isn’t convinced that relaxers and other high-maintenance hairstyles are the reason black women are skipping workouts.
“There are still a lot of women with natural hair that are obese,” she told me. “But there are also women who cut their hair off so they can run and swim and do other vigorous exercise.”
London, who works out two to three times a week, wears her own hair in a curly natural style.
“I just think we have a lot of ancestral baggage. We are still broke down from all the things that have happened to us,” she said.
When Benjamin was chosen to stand as the surgeon general, she was ridiculed for being, well, big boned. The extra poundage made her a favorite target of conservative bashers. I’m not joining that chorus, but I think she did a disservice to black women because the hair excuse makes black women look ridiculously shallow.
Yes, there are women whose self-esteem is tied up in their hairstyle, but a lot of women in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods don’t exercise regularly for a variety of reasons, including being unable to afford the high cost of a health club membership.
Additionally, when innocent people are being gunned down in the street, what makes anyone think it is safe for black women to bike, jog or even walk in their neighborhoods?
If the surgeon general wants to help black women get control of their weight, she should challenge the real barriers that are making healthy living a challenge.
Changing the black female obesity rate requires more than a new hairstyle.
It requires a change in lifestyle.
Conservatives Already Upset Over Sharpton Show
By: Lynette Holloway
Posted: September 1, 2011
It was bound to happen. It was clear that that the vintage and vocal Al Sharpton was going to emerge as soon as he inked a deal with MSNBC.
EURweb is reporting that conservatives are complaining that his show, Politics Nation, is racially biased after he aired a segment about states’ rights.
Since activist Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show “Politics Nation” debuted with a punctuated address regarding states’ rights, BreitbartTV has been in a tizzy, crying racism. They say his thoughts about segregation, when it comes to the issue of states’ rights, are out of line.
BreitbartTV and other conservative websites has decided to enlist a campaign of mockery against Sharpton since it was announced the radio host and long time civil rights leader was replacing the network’s Cenk Uygur.
As Mediaite points out, BreitbartTV has consistently mocked Sharpton’s delivery, and mockingly compared him to NBC News anchors over the years …
Sharpton did premiere his show with his signature in-your-face style, attacking the current crop of GOP candidates, accusing them of wanting to bring America back to the 1960s.
He says they would like to see the US return to a near slave nation and that conservatives have been getting away with too much over the years ..
Go Rev. Al! Haters gonna hate.
Go Rev Al!
Keep up the truth telling! The GOP has shown us who they are!
Pi Nappa Kappa: The Natural Hair Sorority
By: Jenée Desmond-Harris
Posted: September 1, 2011
Leola Anifowoshe, the self-proclaimed authority on natural-hair care, has founded Pi Nappa Kappa (Yes, that’s “Nappa” as in “nappy,” not an actual Greek letter), which she says is a sorority designed to allow natural-hair enthusiasts to support one another. Nearly 600 women have already joined.
But you’re probably not going to see members in a step show on your local college campus anytime soon. Beyond its name, Pi Nappa Kappa has little in common with traditional sororities. It’s not associated with colleges or universities, and the intake process involves no formal ceremonies or hazing. In fact, all that’s required is an electronic signature on the organization’s pledge document, which reads:
As a member of the Pi Nappa Kappa Natural Hair Sorority, I pledge that:
1. I am a smart, special, valuable person!
2. I respect myself and I respect others.
3. My words and actions are kind and honest.
4. I will respect the dignity and essential worth of all individuals.
5.I will promote the diversity of opinions, ideas, hairstyles and backgrounds which is the lifeblood of the sorority.
6. I will promote a culture of respect throughout the natural hair community.
7. I will not tolerate bigotry, discrimination, violence, or intimidation of any kind.
8. I will practice personal integrity and expect it from others.
9. I will always be proud of my natural born hair.
10. I accept only my best in all I do.
I am Proud to be ME!
Still, some members of historically black sororities aren’t signing on to the pledge or even the concept of the group. Their issue isn’t with its mission but with its use of the term “sorority.” One representative commenter on a YouTube video addressing the need for a natural-hair sorority wrote: “As a member of a real sorority, I do not feel this is necessary. Here’s why. Traditional African American fraternities and sororities were founded, [because] we could not belong to white [organizations]. However, we accept anybody regardless of HAIR TYPE! So, is there a need? NO! [This] sends a message that if you have natural hair, that you don’t belong … not true!”
Anifowoshe says there’s no reason she can’t use the word “sorority,” since it simply means “sisterhood.” And let’s be honest — if she just called the group a “natural-hair organization,” we probably wouldn’t be talking about it. When it comes to inspiring dialogue about natural hair and “pledging” 10,000 members by the end of the year, the buzz around the controversial nomenclature for the group certainly isn’t going to hurt.
LOL If I were attending this school, I’d at least check out this group. iIve been happy and nappy for decades. Don’t think I ‘d join though. My hair doesn’t define me, it is however an extention of me.
The Too Black, Too White Presidency
By BRENT STAPLES
Published: September 2, 2011
The next time you see Barack Obama gliding into a White House press conference, take note of that jazzy walk. It is a dead ringer for the strut that was the bearing of choice among inner-city cool guys in the 1960s, when Barry Obama was still a tyke growing up in the exotic precincts of Hawaii and Indonesia. The Obama glide represents his embrace of a black aesthetic that was not his by circumstance of birth. It speaks on an intimate frequency to African-American men, who have been smiling in recognition and rating it for style ever since he stepped into the national spotlight. President Obama is acutely aware of how to deploy the physical self to excellent effect. If we looked back closely at 2008, we would no doubt notice him amping up the glide for black audiences and dialing it back elsewhere.
Every campaign enlists its own meta-language. As Randall Kennedy reminds us in his provocative and richly insightful new book, “The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency,” the Obama forces disseminated several messages intended to soothe the racially freighted fears of the white electorate. On one channel, they reassured voters that he was not an alien, but a normal American patriot. They also made clear that he was a “safe,” conciliatory black man who would never raise his voice in anger or make common cause with people, living or dead, who used race as a platform for grievance. On yet another wavelength, the candidate proffered his bona fides as a black man to African-Americans who were initially wary of his unusual upbringing, his white family ties and his predominantly white political support.
The press viewed this courtship of black voters as largely beside the point for a “post-racial” campaign that had bigger fish to fry on the white side of the street. Kennedy, who teaches law at Harvard, is having none of that. He argues with considerable force that the candidate deliberately set out to blacken himself in the public mind — while taking care not to go too far — and would have lost the election had he not done so. He sees Obama’s courtship of black voters not as tertiary, but as the main event and as the perfect vantage from which to view the campaign and the presidency.
“The Persistence of the Color Line” consists of an introduction and eight interrelated essays that offer a fresh view of events that had prematurely taken on the cast of settled history. One essay, “The Race Card in the Campaign of 2008,” lays out an exacting standard for determining when the charge of race baiting is appropriate and applies it to several statements that were labeled as racist, or at least nearly so, during the last presidential campaign. Kennedy praises the Republican nominee, John McCain (he “imposed upon himself a code of conduct that precluded taking full advantage of his opponent’s racial vulnerability”), and redeems the former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who was run out of the Clinton campaign essentially for saying what was indisputably true: Obama’s blackness mattered to his stature as a candidate. Without it, he would never have appealed so strongly “to the emotions of millions of white Americans who yearned for a moment of racial redemption.”
Another essay is likely to be misunderstood. In it, Kennedy makes something close to common cause with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the bombastic pastor who upended his famous parishioner’s candidacy with fiery sermons (“God damn America!”) that castigated the United States for historical crimes and hubris. Kennedy parallels Wright’s life and rhetoric with that of his own father, a hard-working man who came of age during the era of American apartheid and who was humiliated by racist police officers in front of his family. Deeply (and justifiably) embittered, the elder Kennedy renounced “any sentimental bond with the American government or the American nation” and went so far as to root against the United States in war. Kennedy locates his father and Wright in that venerable vein of black political thought (it includes Malcolm X and W. E. B. Du Bois) whose adherents flatly rejected the “secular scripture” of fundamental American goodness. He sees Wright’s critique of America as excessive, but notes that it is, at bottom, more integral to the African-American worldview than was generally acknowledged during the episode.
The messianic glow that surrounded Obama’s candidacy — Kennedy and others call it “Obamamania” — precluded closer scrutiny of his pronouncements, especially those having to do with race. The widely held notion that the now-famous race speech, “A More Perfect Union,” ranked with the Gettysburg Address or “I Have a Dream” strikes Kennedy as delusional. The speech, he writes, was little more than a carefully calibrated attempt to defuse the public relations crisis precipitated by the Wright affair. Far from frank, it understated the extent of the country’s racial divisions and sought to blame blacks and whites equally for them, when in fact, Kennedy writes, “black America and white America are not equally culpable. White America enslaved and Jim Crowed black America (not the other way around).” The speech was in keeping with the candidate’s wildly successful race strategy, which involved making white voters feel better about themselves whenever possible.
The cornerstone essay, “Obama Courts Black America,” is a breath of fresh air on many counts, not least of all because it offers a fully realized portrait of the black political opinion — left, right, center, high and low — that was brought to bear during the campaign. This is the most comprehensive document I’ve yet read on the near street fight that erupted over the question of how Obama should identify himself racially. There were those who viewed him as “too white” to be legitimately seen as black; those who had no problem with his origins; those who viewed the attempt to portray him as “mixed race” as a way of trying to “whiten” him for popular consumption; and those who accused Obama of throwing his white mother under the bus when it became clear that he regarded himself as African-American.
Tallying votes, Kennedy reckons that it would have been political suicide for Obama to identify himself as anything other than black. This would have undermined his standing among African-Americans, whose overwhelming support he needed to win, and gained him nothing among those whites who were determined to punish him for his skin color, no matter how he described himself.
Like many others, Kennedy is disappointed in Obama’s failure to fight harder for progressive causes and his habit of unilaterally ceding ground to the right during negotiations like those that played out recently over the debt ceiling. But two things should be clear by now. The president is by no means as liberal as the Eastern elites seemed to think he was in 2008. And two-fistedness is not his nature. He would never have been elected had he run as, say, a brown-skinned version of the leg breaker Lyndon Johnson. The white electorate might one day be ready for a black president like that, but not yet.
It seems to me everyone else is in a conundrum about PBO’s race identity, except for PBO.
Board Rejects Pardon for Kelley Williams-Bolar
By: Lynette Holloway | Posted: September 3, 2011
The Associated Press is reporting that an Ohio parole board has recommended that the governor refuse to pardon Kelley Williams-Bolar, who was jailed for using her father’s address to enroll her children in a neighboring school district.
The board said Williams-Bolar could have solved her schooling situation legitimately and was dishonest before and after her conviction.
“Ms. Williams-Bolar was faced with a no more difficult situation than any other working parent who must ensure that their children are safe during, before and after school hours in their absence,” it said in its unanimous ruling. “Most parents find legitimate and legal options to address this issue. Ms. Williams-Bolar’s only response was to be deceitful.”
The board also rejected Williams-Bolar’s arguments that her conviction harmed her future plans, noting that she has hardly made the efforts necessary to obtain a degree to teach.
Williams-Bolar had told the parole board in July that she was remorseful for lying and would do things differently if given the chance.
“I love my kids and I would have done anything for my children,” an emotional Williams-Bolar told the board.
Maybe Williams-Bolar could have made wiser choices, but it’s silly for officials to continue with this charade of a crime.
Gutting Unions Hurts the Black Middle Class
The push to eliminate the power of public unions to bargain collectively, as the GOP is trying to do in Wisconsin, can disproportionately affect black workers. Here’s why.
By: Lynette Holloway | Posted: March 11, 2011 at 12:59 AM
We’re republishing this article, which originally ran on March 10, 2011, in honor of Labor Day.
“The Fabulous 14.”
That’s what Rozalia Harris and other members of the Milwaukee teachers union call the renegade Democratic state senators who fled Wisconsin on Feb. 17 to stop a vote on a proposed spending plan that includes restrictions on collective bargaining by public workers. “We are grateful to the Fabulous 14 because their willingness to put their jobs on the line has helped raise awareness of the problem of the proposed collective bargaining restrictions,” Harris, a third-grade teacher and vice president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, the largest in Wisconsin, told The Root. “Without them, it might have sailed through the Legislature and no one would have been the wiser until it was time to sit at the bargaining table.”
Unfortunately, the Fabulous 14’s flight wasn’t enough to stop the Wisconsin Legislature from passing the bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for most public workers. The state Senate found a way to pass the bill without the Democratic senators Wednesday night, and the state Assembly voted in favor of the measure on Thursday. Gov. Scott Walker has vowed to sign the measure.
The fight in Wisconsin has drawn international attention to a trend that Democrats say is a push by Republicans to dismantle public unions. The move is alarming to African-American leaders such as Harris and the NAACP because a disproportionate number of public-union members are African American.
“It’s quite significant that 25 percent of African-American college graduates work in the public sector and are represented by public-sector unions,” Hilary O. Shelton, the NAACP’s Washington-bureau director and senior vice president for advocacy, told The Root. In support of workers, last weekend celebrities and other attendees of the NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles wore red-white-and-blue ribbons.
“Wisconsin is just the tip of the iceberg,” Shelton continued. “We’re seeing there are plans being made in about two dozen states across the country to limit collective bargaining rights of workers in some capacity, including in Ohio. Quite frankly, the political dynamic is one that would support this fight. Republican legislators believe they can get something like this through. People have to organize and continue to fight for what they’ve gained.”
Blacks in Public Unions: A Path to the Middle Class
Last year, African-American workers were more likely than whites, Asians and Hispanics to be public-union members, making up 15 percent of the membership, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The membership of black workers remains high even as the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions overall shrank by 612,000 between 2009 and 2010 to 14.7 million. In 2010 the union-membership rate — the percentage of wage and salary workers who were members of a union — was 11.9 percent, down from 20.1 percent in 1983.
good afternoon everyone!! happy labor day!!
Hi Dannie; happy LABOR Day. Did you know I’m gonna be a first time grandma next January?
St. Michaels: The New Martha’s Vineyard?
This former fishing village on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is attracting a new wave of affluent blacks.
By: Kristi Riggs | Posted: September 4, 2011 at 12:02 AM
African Americans have had a tradition of summering in coastal resort towns since the 19th century. Areas such as Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and Sag Harbor, N.Y., have been attracting black families for more than a century. The primary reason blacks flocked to certain areas was that they were barred from or made unwelcome in other places.
In our modern, “postracial” times, many blacks have the freedom, money or clout to vacation wherever they choose. Like their white counterparts, affluent black families have acquired second homes that are used for more than a summer respite.
One town creating buzz among East Coast buppies and black boomers today is St. Michaels, Md. Historically a waterman and shipbuilding town, St. Michaels has evolved into an elegant yet quaint getaway for the Washington, D.C., power elite. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have homes there, and the late Michael Jackson reportedly looked at property in St. Michaels before his death.
Only 90 minutes outside of Washington, the exclusive waterside community is an ideal alternative to traveling a longer distance to popular northern destinations. Proximity, however, is not the only quality that is attracting the attention of black Washingtonians. “Some of the best antiquing around” and “that old-town feel” are what attracted Timothy Hill to purchase a time-share in St. Michaels.
It possesses a kind of dressed-down ease while maintaining a sense of luxury that today’s movers and shakers crave when escaping the pressures of urban life. “Everyone wants to live the dream,” says Laton Palmer, a financial executive and longtime visitor to St. Michaels.
“Hip and historic” is how Marianne Yost, owner of Rupert’s London Bar and Tea Room, describes St. Michaels. Her description couldn’t be more accurate. Mixed in with historic Victorian and Federal homes are fabulous new waterfront estates straight out of Architectural Digest. Alongside 19th-century inns are boutique bed-and-breakfasts and luxury resorts complete with state-of-the-art spas. Talbot Street, the main drag, is a mixture of fashionable boutiques, antique shops and stylish cafés amid old-world architecture.
I fell in love with the long, tree-lined driveways, the fresh seafood and most of all the friendliness of the residents and shop owners. St. Michaels was everything that I love about the intimacy of a small town, with all the accoutrements of fine modern living.
Rick Perry Vows to Defund Planned Parenthood
—By Tim Murphy
| Wed Aug. 24, 2011 10:55 AM PDT
Pledges, if you haven’t heard, are all the rage in the Republican party, so now that he’s squarely in the running for the GOP presidential nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry has some catching up to do. On Wednesday, Perry became the sixth candidate to sign an anti-abortion pledge from the Susan B. Anthony List that commits him to a set of radical anti-abortion measures if elected president. The Dallas Morning-News has the nuts and bolts:
The pledge has four parts:
* a promise only to pick federal judges who adhere to the strict “original meaning of the Constitution,”
* to “select only pro-life appointees” for attorney general and assorted posts at the National Institutes of Health, Justice Department and Department of Health & Human Services.
* to defund Planned Parenthood and any other organization that performs or funds abortions and to end all taxpayer funding of abortion, domestically or overseas and
* to sign into law the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” to ban abortion based on the premise that fetuses can feel pain.
The fetal pain measure, for the unfamiliar, is part of a trend at the state level. At least a dozen states have considered prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, relying on some pretty suspect science. As my colleague Kate Sheppard reported in May, summarizing recent research on the subject, “there is no conclusive evidence that fetuses can feel pain at that point in gestation, nor are they considered viable.” But the larger goal is procedural: to bait opponents into challenging the laws in court.
By signing the pledge, Perry joins a list that includes Reps. Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Thaddeus McCotter; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and former Sen. Rick Santorum. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, has not signed the pledge—a position that’s put him at odds with many social conservatives, who never really trusted him to begin with. (Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has also abstained, but that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given his current aversion to the GOP base.)
Rick Perry Pledges to Investigate Intimidation of Gay Marriage Foes
—By Tim Murphy
| Fri Aug. 26, 2011 11:47 AM PDT
On Wednesday, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a pledge to defund Planned Parenthood if elected President. On Thursday, he promised never to vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. On Friday, he kept the streak alive by signing another pledge—this one from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM)—to support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. But the pledge actually goes much further than that, committing signees to a “appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters,” among other things. Here’s what’s in it:
Support and send to the states a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman,
Defend DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] in court,
Appoint judges and an attorney general who will respect the original meaning of the Constitution,
Appoint a presidential commission to investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters,
Support legislation that would return to the people of D.C. their right to vote for marriage.
Really sweet of Perry to keep Washington, D.C. in his thoughts, one day after he called the city “seedy.” As I noted before, Perry’s two top rivals, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, have alread signed the pledge. Perry has faced criticism from the right—notably from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum—for initially calling gay marriage a Tenth Amendment issue that should be settled by the states, before quickly backtracking. Perry has also suggested gay people should live a life of celibacy, and supported a law that would make it a misdemeanor for gay couples to have sex.
Rick Perry: Transparency Is Good—Except When I’m in Charge
—By Andy Kroll
| Mon Aug. 29, 2011 6:55 AM PDT
In a visit to New Hampshire earlier this month, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now the frontrunner in the GOP presidential field, urged the Federal Reserve to open up its books to the public and “be transparent so that the people of the United States know what they are doing and how they are doing.” If only Perry would do the same for his decade as the governor of Texas.
Despite paying lip service to transparency and open government, Perry has gone out of his way to mask his activities in the Texas governor’s office. As the Houston Chronicle reported, Perry is unlikely to hand over the kind of information—travel and meeting records, schedules, donor contacts, and more—that George W. Bush provided, more than 3,000 pages in all, when he left the Texas governor’s mansion for the White House. “He has been governor longer than anyone in Texas history,” the Chronicle said, “but there is a lot the public does not know about Rick Perry.”
Perry and his administration have withheld information in 100 public-records requests during his time in Austin, and on occasion failed to respond on time to other records requests as required by state law. His administration has also refused to hand over notes and records about how the state’s two honeypots for economic growth, the Emerging Technology Fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund, decided to dole out grant money, including on one occasion to a company owned by a Perry donor. The Chronicle went so far as to sue the Perry administration for refusing to hand over notes on its decision not to grant clemency to Cameron Todd Willingham, a man who was executed in 2004 after being convicted of multiple murders on the basis of flawed arson pseudoscience.
Perry also closely guards records of his own travel as governor:
In contrast to Bush’s extensive appointments records, Perry has left the country without it being reflected on his public schedule. Reporters learned that he took a 2004 trip to the Bahamas with San Antonio businessman James Leininger, a Perry campaign donor, and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist after being spotted scuba-diving by a tourist. The trip did not appear on his schedule released under the state Public Information Act. At the time, press secretary Kathy Walt acknowledged that Perry had begun releasing a far less complete report of his time after hiring a new scheduler. She also noted that “the Open Meetings Act and the Public Information Act have certain exemptions.”
Most of Perry’s travel is paid by campaign funds and detailed reports are not required to be disclosed. After the Bahamas trip, newspapers requested and got copies of the expenses paid for Perry’s Department of Public Safety security detail—and noted that the state picked up the tab for scuba equipment to accompany the governor. Since then, Perry has blocked public viewing of his security detail’s travel expense reports.
The Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News have sued for the records. Two lower court rulings favored the newspapers, but the Texas Supreme Court in June agreed with Perry that his personal safety concerns were grounds for withholding the information.
Before that ruling was announced, proposed legislation keeping the governor’s travel security expenses private drew controversy in the Texas Legislature. The bill died in a Senate committee after lawmakers objected that the public should know if a state official misused a travel security detail.
Perry leaned on lawmakers to include language in a school finance bill passed in the Legislature’s special session that would keep secret for 18 months the travel vouchers of his security team. Until then, the public would be able to view only summary reports that disclose a trip’s destination, but not specific businesses visited or the names of family members accompanying the governor.
From Craig Hickman:
Sunday, September 04, 2011
For I Was Hungry And You Gave Me Food
ON AUGUST 22, 2011, the day of my 13th wedding anniversary, a couple of elders walked up to the farm stand. I recognized the woman from the soup kitchen so I figured the two had come to the farm to use our fresh food bank. Turns out they were doing just fine with food, thank the Lord, but they wanted to know if I had any hope that the Winthrop Hot Meal Kitchen over at St. Francis Parish Hall would re-open in time for the school year, as it has every year since 1984.
“There’s always hope,” I assured them.
The business manager of the diocese that oversees the parish is asking $400 per month in order for us to remain there. $400 is way too steep and the board of directors has not agreed to pay it. As far as I’m aware, the soup kitchen has never paid rent before and we simply cannot afford it now. Such an expense would put us in the untenable position that many struggling families face every day – do we choose to buy food or pay the rent?
“If you think there’s hope that it’ll re-open, then I have something for you.”
The gentleman reached into the left chest pocket of his blue shirt and pulled out two folded $50 bills.
“This is from an anonymous donor. You may have it for the soup kitchen if you promise me none of it goes to the church.”
Back when I was a kid in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, our family struggled to make ends meet. My father worked the first shift at Pabst Blue Ribbon Company in the mail room. A World War II veteran with little education, he was basically the company mailman. My mother held a string of part-time jobs to help put food on the table for their two children. As hard as they both worked, and they worked hard, we needed food stamps in order to survive. Still, my parents made clear in both word and deed that no matter how little we had, someone else had less and we needed to help them however we could.
I’ll never forget the day. I was about three or four years old when a young girl who smelled of dried urine knocked on our door. My father was at work, my sister at school. My mother let the girl in and escorted her to the bathroom where she drew a bath for the girl, who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old. After bathing her, my mother gave her a blouse and a pair of pants and sat her down at the kitchen table for a steaming bowl of Cream of Wheat, bacon and toast. I couldn’t believe how fast the girl devoured it all. It was an image that stuck with me, like good preaching. She ate another bowl of cereal and then my mother let her take a nap on the couch. Later, when it was time for her to leave, my mother handed the girl a brown paper bag with a change of clothes and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich inside.
I couldn’t count how many girls came knocking on our door over the next months, but they came nonetheless. My mother cared for each of them in almost the exact same way, like ritual. Our home was a stop on an underground railroad for throwaway girls.
When you walk into the parish hall at St. Francis, a collage of old photographs hanging on the wall to the left catches your eye. Emblazoned on plaques amidst the images of days gone by are the words “Feed the Hungry” and “Clothe the Naked.” For more than 25 years, volunteers have served thousands in the hall who need the food and the fellowship they receive there to survive. Is there anything more nurturing and sustaining than sitting down around a table and breaking bread with people?
Now, the food and fellowship needed by many families in our community are threatened because church representatives say the church cannot afford or does not want to continue to host a soup kitchen on its premises without expensive “help” from the volunteer organization that fulfills an essential part of the church’s mission. The business manager made it as clear as silver striking crystal.
“Don’t you people have anywhere else you can go?”
She looked me directly in my face at our last board meeting and asked that question.
Read the rest of the story at the link
Great essay. “Don’t you people have anywhere else you can go?” Ain’t this something for folks in church to ask? SMGDH. Craig, you did good, and I don’t think I’d donate diddly to this church. Nothing like taking your own hard-earned money and giving directly to worthwile causes and people in need. Yes, and sometimes it is good to actually know how folks are benefiting from our giving efforts.
What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama
By JONATHAN CHAIT
Published: September 2, 2011
This has been the summer that liberal discontent with Obama has finally crystallized. The frustration has been simmering for a while — through centrist appointments, bank bailouts and the defeat of the public option, to name a few examples. But it has taken the debt-ceiling standoff and the threat of a double-dip recession to create a leftist critique of the president that stuck.
Obama’s image as a weakling and sellout on domestic issues now centers on his alleged resistance, from the very first days of his presidency, to do whatever was necessary to heal the economy. “The truly decisive move that broke the arc of history,” wrote the Emory professor Drew Westen in this newspaper, “was his handling of the stimulus.” Just as the conservative repudiation of George W. Bush boiled down to “he spent too much,” the liberal repudiation of Obama has settled on “he didn’t spend enough.”
There’s truth in that. President Obama underestimated the depth of the crisis in 2009 and left himself with bad options in the event the economy failed to recover as quickly as he hoped. And yet the wave of criticism from the left over the stimulus is fundamentally flawed: it ignores the real choices Obama faced (and the progressive decisions he made) and wishes away any constraints upon his power.
The most common hallmark of the left’s magical thinking is a failure to recognize that Congress is a separate, coequal branch of government consisting of members whose goals may differ from the president’s. Congressional Republicans pursued a strategy of denying Obama support for any major element of his agenda, on the correct assumption that this would make it less popular and help the party win the 2010 elections. Only for roughly four months during Obama’s term did Democrats have the 60 Senate votes they needed to overcome a filibuster. Moreover, Republican opposition has proved immune even to persistent and successful attempts by Obama to mobilize public opinion. Americans overwhelmingly favor deficit reduction that includes both spending and taxes and favor higher taxes on the rich in particular. Obama even made a series of crusading speeches on this theme. The result? Nada.
That kind of analysis, however, just feels wrong to liberals, who remember Bush steamrolling his agenda through Congress with no such complaints about obstructionism. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald recently invoked “the panoply of domestic legislation — including Bush tax cuts, No Child Left Behind and the Medicare Part D prescription drug entitlement — that Bush pushed through Congress in his first term.”
Yes, Bush passed his tax cuts — by using a method called reconciliation, which can avoid a filibuster but can be used only on budget issues. On No Child Left Behind and Medicare, he cut deals expanding government, which the right-wing equivalents of Greenwald denounced as a massive sellout. Bush did have one episode where he tried to force through a major domestic reform against a Senate filibuster: his crusade to privatize Social Security. Just as liberals urge Obama to do today, Bush barnstormed the country, pounding his message and pressuring Democrats, whom he cast as obstructionists. The result? Nada, beyond the collapse of Bush’s popularity.
Perhaps the oddest feature of the liberal indictment of Obama is its conclusion that Obama should have focused all his political capital on economic recovery. “He could likely have passed many small follow-up stimulative laws in 2009,” Jon Walker of the popular blog Firedoglake wrote last month. “Instead, he pivoted away from the economic crisis because he wrongly ignored those who warned the crisis was going to get worse.”
It’s worth recalling that several weeks before Obama proposed an $800 billion stimulus, House Democrats had floated a $500 billion stimulus. (Oddly, this never resulted in liberals portraying Nancy Pelosi as a congenitally timid right-wing enabler.) At the time, Obama’s $800 billion stimulus was seen by Congress, pundits and business leaders — that is to say, just about everybody who mattered — as mind-bogglingly large. News reports invariably described it as “huge,” “massive” or other terms suggesting it was unrealistically large, even kind of pornographic. The favored cliché used to describe the reaction in Congress was “sticker shock.”
Compounding the problem, Obama proposed his stimulus shortly after the Congressional Budget Office predicted deficits topping a trillion dollars. Even before Obama took office, and for months afterward, “everybody who mattered” insisted that the crisis required Obama to scale back the domestic initiatives he campaigned on, especially health care reform, but also cap-and-trade, financial regulation and so on. Colin Powell, a reliable barometer of elite opinion, warned in July of 2009: “I think one of the cautions that has to be given to the president — and I’ve talked to some of his people about this — is that you can’t have so many things on the table that you can’t absorb it all. And we can’t pay for it all.”
Rather than deploy every ounce of his leverage to force moderate Republicans, whose votes he needed, to swallow a larger stimulus than they wanted, Obama clearly husbanded some of his political capital. Why? Because in the position of choosing between the agenda he came into office hoping to enact and the short-term imperative of economic rescue, he picked the former. At the time, this was the course liberals wanted and centrists opposed.
On two subsequent occasions, Obama faced this same choice. Last December, he could have refused to extend any of the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000. Republicans vowed to let all the tax cuts expire if he did so. If Obama let this happen, it would have almost fully solved the long-term deficit problem, while at the same time setting back the recovery by raising taxes on middle-class and low-income workers. Obama decided to make a deal, extending all the Bush tax cuts and also securing a progressive payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment benefits, both forms of stimulus that Republicans would never have allowed without an extension of upper-bracket tax cuts in return.
There is a decent argument that the president should have refused this deal. But if you make that argument, you have to accept the likelihood that nearly a million fewer jobs would have been created and that we would have been at risk of a double-dip recession back then. Yet the liberal critics most exercised about Obama’s failure to secure more stimulus were, for the most part, enraged when he did exactly that. Take Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor under President Clinton. Last November, Reich pleaded for an extension of unemployment benefits, calling the plight of the jobless our “single newest and biggest social problem.” When Obama made his bargain, Reich called it “an abomination,” complaining that “the bits and pieces the president got in return” — including the unemployment benefits previously deemed vital — amounted to “peanuts.”
And then, this summer, Obama let the G.O.P. hold the debt-ceiling vote hostage to extract spending cuts. I think he should have called the Republicans’ bluff and let them accept the risk of a financial meltdown. But the reason Obama chose to cut a deal is that calling their bluff might have resulted in catastrophe. And Obama made a point of back-loading the G.O.P.’s budget cuts so as not to contract the economy. He may have chosen wrongly, but he chose exactly the priorities liberals now insist he ignored — favoring economic recovery over long-term goals.
Liberal critics of Obama, just like conservative critics of Republican presidents, generally want both maximal partisan conflict and maximal legislative achievement. In the real world, those two things are often at odds. Hence the allure of magical thinking.
September 04, 2011 11:15 AM
Mike Lofgren leaves ‘the cult’
By Steve Benen
Before this morning, I’d never heard of Mike Lofgren. But James Fallows explained that Lofgren recently retired from a lengthy career as an esteemed Capitol Hill staffer. Fallows characterized him as a respected, knowledgeable figure.
And with this in mind, it was rather striking to read the lengthy piece Lofgren wrote for Truth Out, published yesterday with this headline: “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult.”
To be sure, this Republican aide is not at all a fan of Democrats. But he also believes “nothing … quite matches the modern GOP.”
To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics…. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy. […]
It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe.
Let’s just note, again, that this isn’t the assessment of some wild-eyed lefty. The author is a long-time Republican aide, respected by those who’ve worked with him, who’s worked for nearly three decades with GOP policymakers.
And he’s convinced Republicans have succumbed to madness.
Also note Lofgren’s take on the contemporary Senate.
The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a “high functioning” institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights.
Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself. […]
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner…. Undermining Americans’ belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy [emphasis added]
Have I mentioned that Lofgren is a veteran Republican staffer who knows exactly what GOP policymakers are thinking because he’s worked with them closely every day for 28 years?
There is one great overwhelming dilemma that dominates American politics in this early part of the 21st century. It is not the extent to which President Obama has failed to meet the expectations of the progressive base, though this matters. It is not the lazy, negligent, and incompetent establishment media, though this matters, too. The issue that should dominate the landscape is the radicalization of the modern Republican Party and the effects of having one of two major political parties descend into madness.
For much of the American mainstream, there’s very likely an assumption that voters can choose between a center-left party and a center-right party, because this assumption was generally accurate for several generations. It’s past time for the mainstream to realize this is simply no longer true. Those who have any doubts should apparently talk to Mike Lofgren.
Ametia, I love This little Light of Mine! Sounds so good to me this morning!
Thanks for posting!
You’re welcome, SG2. It’s precious; we used to sing this song in Sunday school.
Liberal Wis. Justices: Gableman Assault Never Happened
Eric Kleefeld | September 2, 2011, 5:20PM
The members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s liberal minority have been firing back at conservative Justice Michael Gableman, regarding his allegation that liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley — who recently accused conservative Justice David Prosser of grabbing her neck in an altercation — had hit him in the head either two or three years ago.
On Thursday, news emerged that the original date Gableman had given, September 18, 2008, came at the early part of a two-week period when the court did not meet at all. Gableman then released a statement saying that he had remembered the date of September 18, — his birthday — but the year had been 2009, not 2008: “In any event, the incident happened exactly as I related it to the officers and as it was set forth in the report. While Justice Bradley might not be able to recall it, I certainly do.”
On Friday, the two other liberal justices chimed in to further deny Gableman’s newer story. Justice Patrick Crooks, along with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, released this statement:
I am emailing the following statement on behalf of myself and the Chief Justice.
As stated previously, no incident as described by Justice Gableman, and no similar incident, ever occurred in our presence.
Justice Patrick Crooks
Wisconsin Supreme Court
On Thursday evening, Bradley also released a statement, which said in part: “Whether it is Justice Gableman’s original version or his new version, his described event simply did not happen. I did not strike him on the head in 2008, 2009, or ever.”
Gableman made the allegation during the investigation of a physical altercation in June, in which Bradley accused Justice David Prosser, the leader of the court’s conservatives, of grabbing her neck in a “chokehold.” Prosser replied to investigators that Bradley charged at him, and he reflexively put up his hands to block her, accidentally making contact with her neck. Ultimately, no charges were filed.
Jon Huntsman’s Rocky Road to a Very Narrow Horizon
September 4, 2011
By Hrafnkell Haraldsson
By nobody’s estimation is Jon Huntsman anything but a long-shot for the Republican presidential nomination. He lags far behind such big names as Rick Perry, who is number one in the polls, Mitt Romney, who is number two, and Michele Bachmann, coming in at third. By comparison, Huntsman barely registers. If you look at the Republican-friendly Rasmussen poll of September 1 you’ll see that Huntsman ranks just below the abysmally hopeless Rick Santorum, and losing to President Obama 44 percent to 28 percent.
If you look at RealClearPolitics, you see Huntsman barely registering. This guy is nearly flatlined. Gallup doesn’t add any hope to Huntsman’s bleak outlook. His “positive intensity score” is below all other Republican hopefuls, including (again) Santorum. Nobody knows who the former Utah governor is. He’s got the same image problem as Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, who already recognized the writing on the wall and dropped out after the Iowa Straw Poll. Huntsman, for his part, isn’t even competing in Iowa. He recognizes that his stance on ethanol makes him unpopular there.
Gallup shows Huntsman is not as polarizing a figure as say, Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich, but that won’t help if nobody knows who he is and he has the lowest recognition number among all Republican contenders.
Sarah Palin 97
Rudy Giuliani 91
Mitt Romney 88
Michele Bachmann 85
Newt Gingrich 85
Ron Paul 78
Rick Perry 75
Rick Santorum 52
Herman Cain 50
Jon Huntsman 43
He is not terribly controversial and most of his agitating remarks have been directed so far at his fellow Republican hopefuls. On Thursday, for example, appearing on NBC’s Today Show, Huntsman took shots at Romney, Perry, and Bachmann saying of them that “we’re getting drama but not solutions.”
A candidate needs something to set them apart – this is a problem for all Republican candidates who are selling more of the same. Huntsman unveiled his “jobs plan” in New Hampshire on Wednesday and it’s pretty standard fare, including elimination of taxes on capital gains and dividends, lowering business taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent and cutting the tax rate for the richest Americans by more than a third. He wants to cut just about everything that benefits all but the rich and corporations. He also said he would eliminate “Obamacare” and the Dodd-Frank oversight bill, and of course, took the obligatory shots at the EPA. If this is moderation, we can do without it. The Wall Street Journal gushed positive in an editorial about Huntsman’s jobs plan Thursday but it’s difficult to see where it really sets him apart from any other nihilistic GOP economic platform.
A FOX News poll conducted at the end of August isn’t any more helpful. This shows Rick Perry at the top with 26 percent, Mitt Romney second with 18 percent, and Jon Huntsman with 1 percent, after the almost universally unwanted Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rudy Giuliani, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum. If you pare the list down to just the announced candidates (excluding Palin and Giuliani for example) it doesn’t get any better: Huntsman is still at the bottom of the heap. It’s pathetic. I mentioned above that he is not polarizing, and the FOX News poll confirms this, putting Bachmann at the top of the list, followed by Perry and Palin and Ron Paul in that order, with Jon Huntsman at the bottom.
It’s beginning to look as though Huntsman’s best bet may have been to stay on as Ambassador to China, serving Obama rather than trying to topple him. Back in April you could already see the writing on the wall. As the New York Times reported, 5 percent viewed him favorably, 1 percent unfavorably, and 90 percent had nothing to say because they had “not yet formed an opinion about him.” Ouch.
An IBOPE Zogby presidential poll from July 25, before Perry tossed his hat into the ring, put Huntsman at the bottom, topping only the nearly moribund Newt Gingrich, who is about to lose his only fundamentalist backer to Rick Perry, getting 3 percent to Gingrich’s 1 percent and lagging far behind frontrunner Michele Bachmann (25 percent). You can’t even say Perry killed Huntsman’s hopes – he simply never had any – not a one.
Oscar Wilde said the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Rick Santorum might disagree (at least where Google is concerned) but nobody is talking about Jon Huntsman and that is likely to be his doom.
Now it turns out, reports the New York Times Caucus blog, Huntsman has shaken up his New Hampshire campaign, firing his state director there (the Union Leader, which broke the story calls it a firing – Huntsman’s campaign calls it an amicable parting). The Huntsman campaign may act like this is no big deal but he’s already switched campaign managers and lost two aids as a result of the shakeup. The latest Quinnipiac poll has Huntsman dead last and I’d say he is on a rocky road to a very narrow horizon, one that is very likely to set on him sooner rather than later.
September 04, 2011
It’s political reporting like this, from the NY Times .
[Palin] aides have quietly pushed back against the conventional wisdom that she was considering endorsing Gov. Rick Perry of Texas,
or this, from Politico .
In what could be seen subtly contrasting herself against the announced candidates in the Republican field — especially Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann … — she slung an attack at the Republican candidates who raise mammoth amounts of cash,”
that lends credence to the theory of parallel universes.
Palin aides are “quietly [pushing] back” the idea of endorsing Perry? — and her speech “could be seen” as a subtle contrast with the guy? Are these some sort of sick, inside jokes? Or just otherworldly?
Although with characteristic scorn she uttered his name frequently, Palin wasn’t attacking Obama. From beginning to end of her schoolyard screed she was attacking Perry. (One may dismiss Politico’s reference to Bachmann, who’s toast, and who knows it, as does Palin). Her slanders of “Obama” were only those against a proxy. Hell, Palin wants Obama to win reelection, so she can go on collecting Fox paychecks as an opposition “analyst” and pretend to be leading said opposition.
Ideal for Palin would be a Romney nomination. With both Perry and Bachmann humiliated in the primaries, Palin — in 2013, still standing unscorched — would be in a far better position to hoist a formalized Tea Party’s standard in a 2014 midterm charge, to be followed by an equally disastrous, third-party Palin run at the White House.
All of which, says my and Jon Huntsman’s crystal ball, will sober up the GOP establishment, drag it back to the center-right, and leave the former ambassador sitting pretty. The Tea Partiers will be no more; they will have vaporized in the ephemeral nothingness of third-party oblivion.
Religious Leaders Are Not Banned From The Ceremony At Ground Zero
September 4, 2011
At America’s founding, the Constitution’s framers made sure the government would never establish a state religion in the future because they knew the inclination of Christians was to force their beliefs on a population, and thankfully they had the foresight to protect future generations from religious tyranny. Although plutocracy and corporatism are a clear and present danger to America, they pale in comparison to Dominionists who are the greatest threat to our democracy. Despite the Constitution’s prohibition on religious interference in government, Christian entitlement to rule America is creeping into every aspect of society.
The latest installment of the religious right’s entitlement agenda is the 10th anniversary commemoration of the terrorist’s attacks on 9/11. It is not surprising that Christian conservatives are condemning Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to bar clergy-led prayer at the ceremony, but their assertion that religious groups played a central role in the response to the tragedy informs their self-gratifying importance syndrome that without religion, New Yorkers and America could not have recovered from the attacks. No-one disputes the important assistance various churches provided to rescue workers, but at the time, all Americans were offering some type of assistance whether it was moral support, monetary help, or ordinary citizens around the country lining up to donate blood.
The leader of the nation’s largest Protestant group, Rev. Richard Land of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “Nobody was turning religious leaders away from the scene 10 years ago. Why are they being banded from the 10th anniversary?” First, religious leaders are not banned from the 10th anniversary commemoration; they are banned from standing at a podium and offering their brand of prayer as if they represent all Americans. That is the heart of the issue and the Christian conservatives are insulted because they feel entitled to control the program. Bloomberg said it would be impossible to include everyone who would like to participate so he took the only option available and barred all religious interference in the program. Bloomberg said the event was to focus attention on relatives of the victims, and that there have never been clergy invocations at the event. However, that is not good enough for religious leaders.
There is nothing whatsoever that says Christians or any religion gets to have a say in New York’s commemorative program. In fact, if any public funds are used for the memorial, religious leaders are forbidden from participating by the 1st Amendment. The Religious Right does not recognize the Constitution as the law of the land and they are not alone in their beliefs. Texas governor Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and a bevy of conservative Christian extremists are part of a Dominionist plot to take over the government and install theocratic rule in America.
In Rick Perry’s book, “Fed Up”, he accuses the A.C.L.U. of leading a campaign against religion in public life and he accuses “a small minority of atheists” of trying to sanitize our civil dialogue. Perry also writes that, “It’s as if the mere mention of a Creator is too powerful an idea for their own Godless ideology to withstand.” Perry is wrong. The Founding Fathers initiated the campaign against religion in public life and to make certain their intentions could never be misinterpreted, they were quite blunt in their wording in the 1st Amendment. No-one disputes that Christians have a right to exist or worship as they see fit, but the Constitution is very clear that Christians are not allowed to push their archaic superstitions on the rest of the country; that includes the anniversary of the terror attacks.
September 04, 2011 8:40 AM
The media sure does love Mr. One Percent
By Steve Benen
CBS’s “Face the Nation” has two presidential contenders on this morning. One of them is even competitive.
Bob Schieffer previews this Sunday’s “Face the Nation” with two Republican presidential candidates — Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman
Seeing Huntsman’s name on the schedule got me thinking: haven’t we seen quite a bit of him lately?
On Friday, Huntsman was on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report.” On Thursday, he was on Fox News’ “On The Record with Greta Van Susteren.” On Wednesday, he was CNN’s “John King, USA.” Last week, Huntsman was on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” and was scheduled to be on NBC’s “Meet the Press” (though the latter was canceled due to hurricane coverage).
I realize the presidential campaign is effectively in full swing right now, so it’s hardly a surprise that candidates will be making plenty of media appearance on broadcast television.
But in all sincerity, when was the last time we saw a candidate with this little support generating quite this much media love?
It’s hard to overstate how poorly Huntsman is doing. Among Republican voters nationwide, the latest Fox News poll shows him running last with 1% support. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows him running last with 1% support. The latest CNN poll shows him running last with 1% support. The latest Gallup poll shows him running last with 1% support.
There seems to be a pattern here.
And yet, Huntsman has been booked for three Sunday shows in three weeks, and is all over the media.
I’m trying to think of a comparable situation, but nothing comes to mind. It’s tempting to compare this to the media showering Dennis Kucinich with this much attention, but in reality, that’s unfair to Kucinich — at this point in 2008, Gallup showed him with about 2% support among Democrats nationwide, while a CNN poll showed Kucinich with 3% support. But if memory serves, the Sunday shows never booked Kucinich to three Sunday shows in three weeks.
Perhaps the better recent comparison would be the media giving tons of airtime in 2008 to Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter, who were polling at or slightly above Huntsman’s level of support at this point four years ago. Of course, that didn’t happen, either — producers/bookers probably didn’t see any point, since they weren’t competitive enough to bother.
The question then becomes why Huntsman, Mr. One Percent, is getting special treatment.
LMBAO@ “Mr. One Precent.”
September 04, 2011 8:00 AM
The worst possible idea at the worst possible time
By Steve Benen
Unemployment is at 9.1%; the jobs report released Friday was awful; economic growth is anemic, and Americans are desperate for policymakers to take this crisis seriously. Yesterday, just 24 hours after we learned the economy didn’t generate any jobs at all in August, the Republican Party delivered a weekly address on the message the GOP wants the public to hear.
Republicans want President Barack Obama to demand a balanced budget amendment in his upcoming jobs speech to Congress.
“This would ensure spending cuts made today don’t easily disappear tomorrow,” said Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte in the GOP weekly address Saturday. “That doesn’t just mean a fiscal house in order; it also means more certainty for the private sector and a better environment for job creation.”
If anyone was looking for a reminder as to why dealing with congressional Republicans on economic policy is practically impossible, the party’s weekly address certainly offered one.
Keep in mind, a month ago, the House GOP leadership told its members that “the best thing they could do during the August recess” was to sell their constituents on the idea of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
This is just madness. Even if we put aside the fact that there are real problems that require immediate attention, and even if we ignore the proposal’s legislative prospects, the Republicans’ Balanced Budget Amendment is one of the worst ideas in the history of bad ideas. That congressional Republicans managed to create a BBA this year that was even worse than the previous version is a testament to their creativity, but it also reflects a degree of economic illiteracy that should disqualify them from any adult conversation on public policy.
What sensible policymakers should be doing is dismissing this “pathetic joke” of a proposal as quickly as possible.
That this is at the top of the priority list for congressional Republicans is a reminder of just how far gone they really are.
The RETHUGS can call for a balanced budget amendment when they regain the White House in say the 12th of NEVER.
September 04, 2011 9:55 AM The limited value of recent history
By Steve Benen
CNN’s Candy Crowley made a noteworthy comment on the air last night, and we’ve heard similar remarks from other media figures quite a bit lately. The subject was President Obama’s prospects for a second term.
“He has to buck history, number one, a president with that kind of high unemployment rate has never been re-elected at 9 percent.”
At first blush, the observation is plainly false. Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a second term when unemployment was at 17%.
In fairness, though, Crowley probably just misspoke, and meant to refer to the post-Depression era. But even if we give her the benefit of the doubt here, the observation is largely pointless.
As a factual matter, it’s true that every president since FDR who’s won re-election has seen an unemployment rate below 7.2%. Will the unemployment rate fall below 7.2% by Election Day 2012? No one, anywhere, believes this is even remotely realistic.
But the context matters, and the media routinely pretends it doesn’t exist. No president since FDR has won with a high unemployment rate because no president since FDR has had to govern at a time of a global economic crisis like the Great Depression or the Great Recession. The U.S. has seen plenty of downturns over the last eight decades, but financial collapses are fairly rare, produce far more severe conditions, and take much longer to recover from.
Of course the unemployment rate won’t be below 7.2%. Under the circumstances and given the calamity Obama inherited, that’s impossible.
The more relevant question is what Americans are willing to tolerate and consider in context. In 1934, during FDR’s first midterms, the unemployment rate was about 22%. The public was thrilled — not because a 22% unemployment rate is good news, but because it had come down considerably from 1932. By 1936, when FDR was seeking re-eleciotn, the unemployment rate was about 17%. How can an incumbent president win re-election with a 17% unemployment rate? Because things were getting better, not worse.
That’s obviously the challenge for President Obama. The numerical thresholds are largely irrelevant — comparing the current economic circumstances to what other modern presidents have dealt with is silly. The more relevant metric is directional — are things better or getting worse by the time voters head to the polls, and if worse, who gets the blame.
What’s more, let’s also not lose sight of sample sizes. CNN’s Crowley made it seem as if no American president has ever won a second term with this high an unemployment rate. But even if we limit the analysis to the post-FDR era, as Dana Houle explained a couple of months ago, “Since FDR only Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and the two Bush’s have been elected president and then sought reelection. It’s hard to draw big conclusions from a sample of seven.”
If the media is preoccupied with this metric, it will shape the public’s perceptions and help drive the campaign. Here’s hoping news outlets come to realize how incomplete this picture is.
Candy “Carbo” addict Crowley is another CNN snake who slitthers around the set with FORKED-TONGUE.
Wanker of the Day: Holy Joe Lieberman
Sat Sep 3rd, 2011 at 11:38:19 PM EST
Every time Joe Lieberman opens his mouth, the whole world gets a little stupider. The president not only did something Lieberman’s buddies Bush and McCain could never have done in killing Usama bin-Laden, but he’s expanded the war on al-Qaeda exponentially and laid waste to their organization. I’m all for hunting down anyone who plots to kill Americans, but even I am troubled by how expansive and aggressive this president has been. In Obama’s first year in office he killed as many people in drone attacks as Bush did in eight years. In 2010, there were a reported 118 drone attacks that killed somewhere between 600-1000 people. We have special forces hunting down these bastards every single day. We’re building runways in Saudi Arabia so we can blast people in Yemen and Somalia to Kingdom Come. If you are an Islamic terrorist, there are no truly save havens anymore because we’ll invade almost anybody’s sovereignty to hunt them down. And despite this unprecedented strategy of extreme aggression, Lieberman is giving us semantic nitpicking.
The Obama administration’s fear of offending Muslims will hurt the U.S. war against terrorism, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Thursday in a speech blasting the president’s new counterterrorism strategy…
…The four-term senator and one-time presidential candidate said one of the key problems with the Obama administration’s strategy was that it continues to call terrorism that aims to harm the U.S., “violent extremism” instead of “violent Islamist extremism.”
The man has transformed the CIA into a killing machine ‘one hell of an operational tool.’
“You’ve taken an agency that was chugging along and turned it into one hell of a killing machine,” said the former official, who, like many people interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters. Blanching at his choice of words, he quickly offered a revision: “Instead, say ‘one hell of an operational tool.’ ”
And Lieberman has the gall to claim his policy is weak because he doesn’t scapegoat an entire religion for the sake of a few extremists?
I cannot wait for this man to retire. I’d rather have Sen. Chris Shays. Honestly.
September 03, 2011 8:40 AM
The right and wrong side of a consensus
By Steve Benen
haven’t paid too much attention lately to the cable-news chatter, but Josh Marshall noted yesterday some of the recent talk about President Obama’s upcoming economic speech.
If you listen to the establishment press the president’s speech will determine whether the president listens to “liberals” and ditches the move toward economic austerity or “moderates” and Republicans and sticks to budget cutting.
Really? That’s what the establishment press has been telling mainstream news consumers lately?
It’s important to realize how wrong this kind of media coverage is.
Economists and the financial industry want policymakers to boost the economy. The bond market wants the government to be aggressive in creating jobs. Wells Fargo lowered its growth projections recently, and said conditions will get worse “without policy intervention.” The conservative Financial Times argued the other day, “In broad terms, the needed elements are plain: further short-term stimulus combined with credible longer-term fiscal restraint.”
The pushback against the Republican austerity agenda is arguably even more intense. Jamison Foser explained recently:
J.P. Morgan says “fiscal tightening” will worsen the “negative feedback loop” hindering economic growth. Greg Ip notes, “A shift toward fiscal and monetary austerity in the United States in 1937 helped prolong the depression. Fiscal tightening helped push Japan back into recession in 1997.” Jared Bernstein argues for more stimulus. Larry Summers, too. Bruce Bartlett, a policy advisor to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, writes, “the important thing is for policy makers to stop obsessing about debt and focus instead on raising aggregate demand.”
And this doesn’t even include warnings from the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office that aggressive spending cuts would weaken an already fragile economy.
We’re approaching an economic consensus among those who know what they’re talking about. If President Obama pushes an ambitious jobs agenda, he’ll be siding with economists, the financial industry, business leaders, and even the Fed, not just those rascally “liberals.” Republicans won’t like it, and apparently the establishment media won’t either, but that’s the reality of the situation.
Enjoy your Holiday Weekend, too. Hoping for a HINT of rain, here in Texas, today. But, won’t complain, as the Temperature is in the 70’s right now. Surely beats those TRIPLE digits.
Take good care,
Good Morning, treetop45 & Everyone! :-)
Good Morning, Everyone at 3CHICS!!!
Good Morning, Treetop, Ametia, Rikyrah & 3Chics! Happy Sunday!
Just came in from drinking a cup of coffee on the patio & it feels wonderful! We have a breeze! You can actually breath! Whoo Hoo!