Monday, May 31, 2010

Liz Cheney, Again, Shut the F*ck Up & Go Home


Liz Cheney appeared on Fox this past Sunday outraged that Rahm Emanuel brought in Bill Clinton as a "cut-out" (oooh, love that 'spy' talk) to try to convince Joe Sestak not to run against Specter in Pennsylvania. She of course sees this as a major crime, never mind that President Reagan did the same thing with Senator Hayakawa, and as Juan Williams pointed out later, it is a normal part of politics - ambassadorships for example. But to Liz, if the Obama Administration does it, it's bad. if Daddy did it, it's good. So, if President Obama does something that the Bush Administration did not do or that contradicts what they did, then nothing for it but for Liz to make the rounds being outraged, which is really all she knows how to do. Seriously. Why does she get the air?

Juan Williams who is usually a total Fox apologist actually scored a few points with me by taking on not just Liz but Bill Kristol.

@Fred Thompson tweeted "Re: Clinton & Sestak: the point man on this credibility issue is only President in history to have been impeached for perjury." which is such a lovely thing for a Republican to say, considering the sexual peccadilloes of members of that party that we have been exposed to in the past year. Somehow, the most investigated couple in the history of this country, including every action taken prior to their political life, was concluded with the finding that the President lied about a question that we had not right to ask in the first place. Now, how many of those House managers had their own sexual scandals? Not wise to focus attention on sex when attacking, even Clinton.

And Liz, let's talk about perjury. Al Qaeda, Iraq, yellowcake, Niger, Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame, torture, enhanced interrogation, rendition, Guantanamo, Jay Bybee, John Yoo, Scooter Libby, I can't recall, defying Congress because I'm VP and therefore the 4th co-equal branch of government, sending you out to shill for him. Your Daddy is a piece of work and if you look up perjury in the dictionary, his picture is there. Right next to his boss. If anyone needs to have a special prosecutor appointed, it's your Dad.

So, how about you pack it in and go away and when your Dad and his boss are ready to talk about things, under oath, to Democrats, then maybe you can criticize President Obama. Until then, you need to go home and practice your presentation and learn how to participate in discussions with other people (it's considered appropriate to wait until someone has finished their comment before talking) and how to research your 'facts' before spouting off on the national tv machine. It's been real nice not having you around for awhile and I think I speak for many others when I say that it would be nice not having you around for awhile more.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gulf Spill NOT Obama's Katrina, and Action We Can Take

The GOP and others on the right, ever seeking to find something to use to attack President Obama, have been calling the Gulf oil spill "Obama's Katrina." In The New Republic, Yuval Levin in The Corner wrote:
 "I think it’s actually right to say that the BP oil spill is something like Obama’s Katrina, but not in the sense in which most critics seem to mean it.

It’s like Katrina in that many people's attitudes regarding the response to it reveal completely unreasonable expectations of government. The fact is, accidents (not to mention storms) happen. We can work to prepare for them, we can have various preventive rules and measures in place. We can build the capacity for response and recovery in advance. But these things happen, and sometimes they happen on a scale that is just too great to be easily addressed. It is totally unreasonable to expect the government to be able to easily address them—and the kind of government that would be capable of that is not the kind of government that we should want.

Let’s say a major hurricane hits a large and densely populated American city with five hundred thousand inhabitants. Much of the city is below sea level, and the flood-waters that follow in the wake of the storm quickly overrun it, filling nearly every street with water, in many places fifteen feet in depth. The magnitude of human suffering and destruction of property is mind-boggling. But within six days, everyone is out of the city and in total approximately one thousand people—one in five hundred residents—lost their lives in the calamity. Hour by hour, the government response was messy and ugly—it could hardly be otherwise given the magnitude of the disaster. But looked at with a little perspective, is that really a story of a failure of government response, or is it an example of how to contend with an immense natural disaster in a densely populated urban center? Is it a model of incompetence, or the most effective mass evacuation in human history?"

It sounds almost reasonable, and if someone had no understanding of the actual role of the federal government, particularly in regard to hurricane preparedness and disaster relief, the above makes some sense. Kind of.

Kevin Drum in his column in Mother Jones, responds. What he says, in part: [emphasis added]
"This conflates two very different things. Katrina was an example of the type of disaster that the federal government is specifically tasked with handling. And for most of the 90s, it was very good at handling them. But when George Bush became president and Joe Allbaugh became director of FEMA, everything changed. Allbaugh neither knew nor cared about disaster preparedness. For ideological reasons, FEMA was downsized and much of its work outsourced. When Allbaugh left after less than two years on the job, he was replaced by the hapless Michael Brown and the agency was downgraded and broken up yet again. By the time Katrina hit, the upper levels of FEMA were populated largely with political appointees with no disaster preparedness experience and the agency was simply not up to the job of dealing with a huge storm anymore.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion is almost the exact opposite. There is no federal expertise in capping oil blowouts. There is no federal agency tasked specifically with repairing broken well pipes. There is no expectation that the federal government should be able to respond instantly to a disaster like this. There never has been. For better or worse, it's simply not something that's ever been considered the responsibility of the federal government."

I respect President Obama claiming that "the buck stops with me" and that he is ultimately responsible for the disaster in the Gulf. I know that he is remembering the response to President Bush after his mishandling of Katrina and, especially in an election year which historically should bring the loss of Democratic seats, is trying to show that he is the anti-Bush, but I'm not sure that he is making the right move.

Yes, the federal government must be involved and hold BP, Deepwater, and Haliburton responsible. I think the government should have taken control over BP sooner, however, it is not his responsibility. It is his responsibility to ensure that BP is held accountable in a way that Exxon was able to avoid, and it is his responsibility to ensure that the MMS is either dissolved, or restructured, but this is in no way the fault of his administration except in the sense that his Secretary of the Interior Salazar did not move fast enough to clean up the mess that he inherited.

It won't be much longer before the public gets tired of this story--we can only take so much disaster before we need to turn away--and the media directs its attention elsewhere. As citizens, it is up to us to continue to put pressure on our representatives to keep this on top of the news and to support the legislation that will remove the limits on BP's liability, and ensure that BP does not get to have all future court hearings before the judge of their choice. Ask your representatives to make sure that all hearings related to this disaster are heard in the Gulf states, not in Houston before BP's handpicked judge. Make sure that those most harmed can participate in the process and will not be limited in the damages that they can seek.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Today's Theme: Sarah Misinterprets, Again, As Does Peggy Noonan

PHOTO: Louis Page
Sarah Palin:
"And you know what they say about "fences make for good neighbors"? Well, we'll get started on that tall fence tomorrow, and I'll try to keep Trig's squeals down to a quiet giggle so we don't disturb your peaceful summer. Enjoy!"
The poet Robert Frost actually began the poem she references with this line:
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall"
The whole point of the poem is a man wondering why he and his neighbor must rebuild their wall each spring.
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.

Frost asks: 'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'
 Once again, Sarah Googles a quote and misses the point. Hugely.

Continuing with today's theme.

Peggy Noonan wrote of President Bush after Hurricane Katrina and the projected impact on his presidency:
"Is the Bush Era over? No, no, no. It has three more years. That’s a long time. History turns on a dime. There is much ahead, and potential for progress."
Of President Obama and the BP oil disaster in the Gulf?
"I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill."
She continues:
"I wonder if the president knows what a disaster this is not only for him but for his political assumptions. His philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. But in a way, and inevitably, this is always boiled down to a promise: "Trust us here in Washington, we will prove worthy of your trust." Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet need, in fact seemed faraway and incapable: "We pay so much for the government and it can't cap an undersea oil well!"
She does have a point. After all, Bush never promised a government that would hold a powerful place in America--confronting its problems of needs, injustice, inequality...He just demanded that we trust him.

The problem with Noonan's piece is that:
  1. Bush knew ahead of time what would happen and how to prevent it
  2. He avoided New Orleans afterward
  3. He claimed that everything that could be done was being done (heck of a job, Brownie)
  4. Bush to this day accepts no responsibility, none, for any mistakes that were made
  5. President Obama was in the Gulf on May 2
  6. He has already acknowledged the mistakes made
  7. Rather than trying to evade responsibility in an off-year election year, he is trying to ensure that the American people know what is happening and that ultimately, it is his responsibility for the failures of the MMS even though it was the Bush Administration that made the decisions resulting in this disaster
Another GOPher apologist spouting the party line. Get in line. That woman is an idiot.

Thanks for stopping by.  Come back soon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mississippi Clinic Needs Our Help - Perhaps a Donation in Our (not) Favorite Politician's Name?

This morning, I received the following from Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Once again, a minority of Americans have decided that they get to decide how the rest of us live. Regardless of how you or I personally feel about abortion, the majority of American's still believe that it is a decision best left up to a woman and her doctor. Extremists would have you believe that wanting to allow women that choice automatically means you support that choice, conflating an extremely complex issue into a black and white, either/or question that is typical of the ignorance of the radical fringe of the extremist right.

The lives of doctors and clinic employees at Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi, are being threatened. This is the only abortion provider in the entire state of Mississippi. Extremists are trying to shut down this vital women's clinic. This clinic and its doctors need our help now.

One year ago Dr. George Tiller was brutally murdered. His killer, Scott Roeder, has been sentenced to life in prison, but the extremists have not been deterred.

The leading anti-abortion extremist in Jackson is an advocate of Justifiable Homicide - or the belief that justifies the murder of doctors who perform abortions. The clinic and its doctors have been repeatedly threatened.

The clinic needs immediate help to pursue legal strategies and to enhance its security system.

Our National Clinic Access Project legal coordinator has just traveled to Jackson to assist the clinic. She met with clinic staff and community pro-choice supporters to discuss ways to improve security, to assess legal needs and to devise new ways for the local community to support this critically needed health facility. We are determined to do everything we can to keep Jackson Women's Health Organization open and its patients, doctors and staff safe.

Help the doctors, health care workers, and patients of Jackson Women's Health Organization today by making an emergency, tax-deductible contribution. Half your contribution will go directly to the clinic to help pay for enhanced security measures.

The other half of your emergency contribution will help support our National Clinic Access Project's work to keep this clinic and other besieged clinics across the country safe and open. The demand for our work is dramatically increasing.

As I write this, we are working with Dr. Carhart and his clinic in Nebraska. Dr. Carhart, who had worked with Dr. Tiller, and his clinic were immediately targeted by Wichita-based Operation Rescue after the murder of Dr. Tiller. This group had harrassed Dr. Tiller for seven years.

And we are also working very closely with Family Reproductive Health in Charlotte, NC under siege by Operation Save America/Operation Rescue. Recently, anti-abortion extremists published the photographs of and information about the clinic's doctors in a WANTED poster. Similar posters appeared before the brutal murders of two doctors in Pensacola, Florida.

Without doctors and clinic to provide safe, legal abortions and access to birth control, there can be no choice for women. Please make an emergency contribution today to help Jackson Women's Health Organization and our National Clinic Access Project.

Together we are making a difference.
If you are able to contribute, please do so here.

Just as a belief that war is wrong or that our presence in Iraq or Afghanistan means you are against the troops--that for almost all of us could not be more wrong--the GOPhers and others on the right continue to narrow the issues into sound bites and buzz words that trigger an emotional response. Once that emotional response is triggered, room for rational thought is lessened and the individual is easily manipulated in the direction that is desired. Politicians, marketing firms, and "commentators" are very aware of how easily this is done. The attack on our freedoms is well-coordinated and well-orchestrated. Witness the immediate response to Rand Paul's interview with Rachel Maddow and the immediate attacks on Rachel, not on the incoherent response to her questions. Issues are not addressed, rather the individual raising the issue becomes the issue in Tea Party land.

As an aside, during the 2008 campaign, many individuals contributed to the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund which at that time, included a stuffed wolf as a free gift with a donation. Many people had their free stuffed animal delivered to Sarah Palin. Unfortunately, they no longer offer incentive gifts, but there is always the acknowledgment card... Personally, I donated to Planned Parenthood at that time, in her name, and asked that the thank you card be sent to her and I know of a number of others who followed suit. After all, she had told Katie Couric that she was a feminist, so I know that Sarah Palin would, of course, appreciate the donation in her name...

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thurgood Marshall Fund Responds to Limbaugh Hissy Fit About Kagan. CORRECTED

Climbing onto his high horse yet again, Rush Limbaugh is having a hissy fit over the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court claiming, among other reasons, that statements made by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall about the Constitution, whom Limbaugh states that she idolizes, (idolizes? do we all 'idolize' our mentors?) disqualify her.

Limbaugh quotes Marshall as saying that;
"The Constitution as originally drafted and conceived was defective..."
Limbaugh continues by relating Marshall's comments about how it was only over the course of the next 200 years after the signing of the original Constitution that the people on the Supreme Court had made it worth anything. To Limbaugh, of course, this meant that Marshall was referring only to himself, because that is what he would do as everything is apparently all about him.He is outraged that anyone, particularly a Supreme Court Justice would question the Constitution. Hello? Does anyone want to tell him what the Court is for? Because it is not a perfect document, it needs people to interpret it and apply it to everyday life - thus the Supreme Court.

Has Rush ever actual read the Constitution? Does he understand that in the original, the Founders were referring only to white men, and landowning white men at that? That when they said that, "All men are created equal," they meant exactly that? Women in this country, with the exception of some individual states, were not granted full suffrage by Constitutional right until 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment.

How about the Bill of Rights, Rush? Not included in the original Constitution. Those 1st through 10th Constitutional rights all the teabaggers get excited about are actually amendments. Including that pesky 2nd Amendment about the right to keep and bear arms, and the 10th that you Republicans love so much about states rights.

I know all you Republicans wish some of the more recent Supreme Court decisions like Brown v Board of Education (the one Marshall is most famous for, actually), and Roe v Wade had never happened, but you have to admit, if we still had just the original Constitution (which, by the way is amended because the Founders knew they were imperfect human beings and thus allowed in its creation for the amendment process to occur) our country would look very, very different. A lot like an elitist-run, no opportunity country they claim to love. Imagine that.

In a statement released today by the Thurgood Marshall Fund regarding Limbaugh's attacks, they said that;
"The story of Brown vs. The Board of Education is one of hope and courage. May 17, 1954 was a truly historic day for our nation as the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark unanimous decision striking down Plessy v. Ferguson, a holding that, since 1896, made “Separate But Equal” the law of the land and kept our nation’s schools segregated. The Brown decision not only integrated our public schools, but it ultimately opened up so many doors of opportunity wrongfully closed to people just because of the color of their skin. Thurgood Marshall, the lead attorney in the Brown case, became our nation’s first African-American Solicitor General and later the first African-American Supreme Court Justice."

"The Late Justice Marshall challenged America to continue to “Knock down the fences that divide, tear apart the walls that imprison, and reach out, for freedom lies just on the other side...”

Slavery and gender inequality were embedded in our Constitution. The Founders could not have known the changes that would occur in our world in the time since this nation was created, however, they had the vision to understand that without change, this nation would die, and thus produced a living document. A document that has embedded in its foundation that process for change.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tasers Again, Prayer Warriors, and Sarah Palin's Advocacy of Violence UPDATED

I have discussed the increasing use of tasers in our society here, here, and here. As a sociologist, I am concerned about the increasing violence and the consequences, and as a counselor, I am concerned about the effects of that violence. This past weekend, Sarah Palin spoke at the Women of Joy Conference and referenced the Prayer Warriors, admitting again her connection to that group whose admitted aim is the destruction of the demons that are destroying our society. Warriors. Violence. I guess anything goes if you achieve your goals.

Digby writes frequently about tasers as well and discusses here the recent tasering of a baseball fan at a Phillies Cardinals game for the heinous crime of running onto the field. Her point? We have truly sunk as low as we can get. The included comments posted to the YouTube video attached.

Randalrister thanks for postin the video, only thing us cards fans got to see was closeup video of molina laughing at him. 53 minutes ago
rustytrombone1027 Tazed his ass! Nice. 20 minutes ago

r1rav3n me and my boy were in sec 145 left field front row seats to the action. this was the greatest thing we ever seen 27 minutes ago

SavageJon123 Only a Btown kid. lol go Steve 35 minutes ago

DallasWillAlwaysSuck phuckin' hilarious, CBP rules!!!!! 45 minutes ago

StLouisKing05 this was the funniest thing i have ever seen! i sat in section 307 so i saw him hop over the wall and start running!! 49 minutes ago

CheetoSantana The smile on Molina's face was awesome 54 minutes ago

MatthewMitchell3434 I go to school with the kid hes 17
As she goes on to say;

She goes on to comment on the attitudes displayed by those making these comments;

"Real Americans don little tri-corner hats and carry on about "freedom" and "the constitution"
In my opinion, they listen to Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and other looney toons right-wing extremists and as Digby says;
"They are paranoid about a non-existent invasion of killer immigrants and are freaking out about a non-existent plan to send gun owners to Fema camps. They threaten to kill census workers who ask them how many times they flush their toilets."

I watch the news and see them at their Tea Parties and their marches as their tens of hundreds march in Washington as they strap on their guns, wave their "Don't Tread On Me" flags, threaten to water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants (of course, never their own) when they clearly have no understanding of what they are talking about. Digby continues;
"But torture? Not a problem. Whether it's administered by the CIA or some minimum wage security guard, they seem to think electric shock, waterboarding or any other sick form of coercion worthy of the worst low rent dictator in the world is just ducky..."
This past weekend, Sarah Palin spoke at a Women of Joy Conference and referenced Prayer Warriors, something she has done in the past, including thanking their (fortunately failed) intercession during her vice-presidential campaign. The Christian religion, particularly the evangelical branch, has always had violent tendencies, rooted as it is in the Old Testament, regardless of its constant calls to praise Jesus. Evangelicals love to cite the passages that support their strong law and order tendencies (an eye for an eye as an example) and the patriarchal family structure, ignoring those passages that do not suit their modern lifestyle (only prostitutes wear red [Sarah?] and eating pork is bad...wonder what they would have said about moose meat? and the laws of usury in the Old Testament...).

Anyway, I bring this up to make the link between the increasing use of tasers, the acceptance by our culture of same, and the rise of the law and order movement alongside the Christianisation of our political system. People turn to religion in troubled times as a way to cede responsibility to someone/something else. Let God take care of you and you do not have to take care of yourself. If it is all determined by God, then you have no responsibility for your own life. Lose your job? Your home? It is God's will. (Lose an election? It is a conspiracy led by the Devil, however).

The Old Testament is full of violence and a retributive god--as opposed to the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus who taught us to love our neighbor as ourself and to turn the other cheek. It was Jesus who said that if someone steals your coat, offer them your shirt. I wonder what he would think of tasering someone for bad attitude? Just saying.

At her conference the other day, Sarah Palin said;
"I beg you, Women of Joy, to bring light and be involved, loving America and praying for her. Really, it is our solemn duty. Praying for true spiritual awakening to overcome deterioration. That is where God wants us to be. Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers. [unfortunately, Sarah, they just were not believers in what you want them to be believers in] And George Washington, he saw faith in God as basic to life." [h/t Crooks and Liars]
Who are the Prayer Warriors? Just their name evokes images of violence, warriors, a group fighting for their cause - which is to take control of nations through an apostolic reformation. This is a group which has maps delineating where the demons are that cause all the ills of society. Through a global network of prayer chains, the warriors hope to overturn healthcare reform, maintain Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and were significant players in overturning California's Proposition 8. This group includes members of Congress, leaders in business, and where even 10 years ago might have been laughed off the front pages by media, is referenced in speeches by Sarah Palin without anyone questioning it.

Has Sarah Palin advocated the use of tasers? I do not know. Has she advocated the use of violence? Yes, indirectly. Anyone who thinks that her comment to not retreat, but reload was used metaphorically should contact me about purchasing some fairy dust. Our culture is morally bankrupt when on the one hand our citizens protest against taxes and the loss of freedom over a bill to provide healthcare to those in need, and believe that spilling blood in freedom's cause is totally acceptable, then turn around and actually ignore the Constitution (torture, denial of the 1st Amendment, 14th Amendment, suggestions to deport children of undocumented workers [remember that little part of the Constitution about anyone born in the United States...?]) and it is totally okay.

Sarah Palin and her ilk haven't got a clue. George Washington and the other Founding Fathers were deists, a fact that is well-known. No matter how many times someone says something, it is still not going to make it true. This is not, and never was, a Christian nation. The Founding Fathers were very specifically opposed to making it one. The part of the Constitution about separation of church and state was not an accident. It was included for a reason (anyone with even a basic understanding of United States history knows why this country was formed - religious freedom anyone?).

The media has given a disproportionate amount of time to reporting on the Tea Parties, Sarah Palin, and other right-wing radicals. Huge marches occur protesting immigration problems, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Proposition 8, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and receive minimal media coverage. A few thousand Tea Partiers march in Washington and the airwaves and newspapers cover it as if it were the event of the decade.

Sarah Palin claims membership in a group that believes in demons and witches, that is connected to another group supporting a bill in Uganda that would execute homosexuals, and it is barely a blip on the radar. Christian groups rant against violence on television and in the movies and try to censor what we read and see and hear, but see nothing wrong with carrying handguns into bars or national parks (what a great combination, guns and alcohol - as someone who has worked extensively with domestic violence victims and substance abuse clients, I can safely tell you that you almost never see a DV case without the involvement of alcohol).

Right-wing extremists and Christianists blame teh liberals for the moral decay of our society, yet rape the environment (drill, baby, drill anyone?), let their constituents freeze and starve (Emmonak and Nunum Iqua just to name two) then take Franklin Graham to another village entirely and deliver  cookies.

So, taser a 17-year-old boy for running onto the baseball field? Go for it. He deserves it. After all, he interrupted the national pastime! I would bet that the majority of those posting those comments would call themselves Christians, most likely Republicans, carry guns, and probably include a number of proud Tea Party Sarah Palin fans. Do I say this just because I don't like Sarah Palin? No. I say this because the Republican Party, the Tea Partiers, and Sarah Palin, (and yes, I generalize here) are people who seem to be selfish and out for whatever they can get with no thought for others or the future. They see no connection between calling themselves prayer warriors, laughing about "targeting" Democrats with gun sight maps, and a total desensitization to tasering children, the disabled, the aged, and those who are ill.

We are truly not only financially bankrupt, but morally bankrupt as well. If Sarah Palin and her followers are successful in their endeavors, then we get what we deserve.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

UPDATE 05/04/10 2:10p.m: Speaking of Constitutional Rights, John McCain was on Imus today, and declared that Faisal Shahzad, just arrested for the attempted bombing in Times Square should not have been given the Miranda Warning and that "...there are probably about 350 charges he's guilty of - attempted acts of terror against the United States..." ignoring, of course, that Shahzad is a United States citizen and even if not, entitled to Constitutional protections while in the United States. sigh. Read about it here

Additional sources include:
Crooks and Liars - Sarah Palin's Speech Women of Joy
Heads Up: Prayer Warriors and Sarah Palin are Organizing Spiritual Warfare to Take Over America
Photos: GOP Clown Collage