Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Al Franken Declared Winner

Minnesota Court Rules for Al Franken

This afternoon the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously decided that comedian, author, and Minnesota Senate candidate Al Franken should receive the election certificate that would give him a seat in state Legislature--ruling that Franken won the highly-contested race. [...]

Here's the court's ruling: "Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled [under Minnesota law] to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota."

Coleman concedes, Pawlenty to sign election certificate today
In a 15-minute news conference, looking relaxed and upbeat, Norm Coleman congratulated Al Franken, reminisced about his 6-year term and the “longest election in Minnesota history” and didn’t discuss the details of the rejected legal challenge.

“We have reached the point where further litigation damages the unity of our state,” Coleman said. “I congratulate Al Franken in his victory in his election.”

Franken speaks: “It is time to bring this state together.”

Here’s Franken’s prepared statement:
We have a lot of work to do in Washington, but that’s why I signed up for the job in the first place. When we started this campaign way back in February 2007, I said that Americans have never backed away from tough challenges, and Minnesotans have always led the way.

Working with our fantastic senior Senator, Amy Klobuchar, I’m going to fight hard to put people to work, improve education, make Minnesota the epicenter of a new renewable energy economy, and make quality health care accessible and affordable for all Minnesotans.

No matter whether you voted for me, or for Senator Coleman, or for Senator Barkley, or whether you voted at all, I want the people of Minnesota to know that I’m ready to work for all of you, and that I’m committed to being a voice for all Minnesotans in the U.S. Senate.

MN Supreme Court decision: Coleman vs. Franken (pdf)

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Guardian Council Affirms Ahmadinejad

June 29 -- Nico Pitney, Live-Blogging:

6:21 PM ET -- "Allah-o Akbar!" Many reports tonight of people reacting to the evening news of Ahmadinejad's "official" victory by heading to their roofs and chanting. It's "like the stars were calling out Allah-o Akbar," one person told me earlier, relaying a comment from Iran.

3:54 PM ET -- Police out in force in Tehran. ABC's Lara Setrakian reports on Twitter, "Clashes reported in Tehran after people take to the streets protesting the Guardian Council's ruling on #Iranelection."

1:35 PM ET -- Reaction to the Guardian Council's election ruling. Iranians on Twitter say people have begun protesting news that Iran's main election body had affirmed Ahmadinejad's victory. People have "come out on the streets... [they] are in the various city squares," one writes.

1:10 PM ET -- Guardian Council certifies election results. It's official, according to Iran state media. Here's a very rough translation:
The Guardian Council...in a letter to Interior Ministry announced that the council. after studying the presidential election, has confirmed the accuracy of the results. A full statement by the Guardian Council will be released shortly.
10:50 AM -- Adventures in propaganda: Basiji "impostors." From Iran's state media: "Iranian police officials have reportedly arrested the armed imposters [sic] who posed as security forces during post-election violence in the country. Iran's Basij commander, Hossein Taeb, said Monday that the imposters [sic] had worn police and Basij uniforms to infiltrate the rallies and create havoc."

9:20 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad looking for Neda's real killer. Oh brother. "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...asked a top judge Monday to investigate the killing of Neda Agha Soltan, who became an icon of Iran's ragtag opposition after gruesome video of her bleeding to death on a Tehran street was circulated worldwide. Ahmadinejad's Web site said Soltan was slain by 'unknown agents and in a suspicious' way, convincing him that 'enemies of the nation' were responsible."

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150 Years For Madoff

Bernard Madoff Gets 150 Years in Jail for Epic Fraud (Update5)


Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison for masterminding the largest Ponzi scheme in history, a penalty six times longer than those meted out to the chief executives of WorldCom Inc. and Enron Corp. [...]

Madoff pleaded guilty to securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and theft from an employee benefit plan. [...]

Madoff received the maximum sentence on the 11 fraud charges to which he pleaded guilty.

He received 20 years each on counts of securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, two counts of international money laundering, and making a false statement to the SEC.

He got ten years for money laundering and five years each for investment adviser fraud, making a false statement, perjury, and theft from an employee benefit plan.

The sentences, which are the maximum on each count, are to be served consecutively, totaling 150 years. [...]

Prosecutors are probing whether his subordinates helped him swindle investors. A central issue is whether employees knew of the fraud. Madoff’s accountant, David Friehling, has been indicted on federal charges of lying to Madoff investors about whether he audited the firm.

No one else at the firm has been charged, and Madoff has not publicly implicated others. His sons Andrew and Mark Madoff ran the proprietary trading operations at Madoff’s firm. They turned their father in to authorities on Dec. 10 after he confessed to them, their attorney, Martin Flumenbaum, has said.

There has been a burst of civil litigation as well. Stephen Harbeck, president of the Securities Investor Protection Corp., which works with Picard and is liquidating Madoff Securities, said in May that it may take longer than 10 years to finish locating the company’s assets and paying back victims. [...]

“The sentenced imposed today recognizes the significance of Bernard Madoff’s crimes,” Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin, whose office led the prosecution, said in a statement. “While today’s sentence is an important milestone, the investigation is continuing.”

The case is U.S. v. Madoff, 09-cr-00213, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Republican view of marriage

Conservative view of marriage:

Marriage is between one man and one woman.

Plus, maybe some sex on the side between the man and somebody else.

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Farrah and Michael, Gone Too Soon

Farrah Fawcett
February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson
August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Violence In Iran

Ayatollah Khamenei: Iran Won't Give In To Pressure

June 24, 2009 02:30 PM EST

Riot police in Iran's capital fired tear gas and bullets in the air Wednesday in clashes with protesters who converged on a square near the parliament building in defiance of government orders to halt demonstrations demanding a new presidential election, witnesses said.

Security forces _ who vastly outnumbered the small group of demonstrators _ beat the protesters gathered on Tehran's Baharestan Square with batons and fired tear gas canisters and rounds of ammunition into the air, witnesses told The Associated Press. [...]

Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a former university dean who campaigned beside him, said on another of his Web sites that his followers had the constitutional right to protest and the government should not deal with them "as if martial law has been imposed in the streets." [...]

Khamenei has ordered protests to end, leaving Mousavi with the choice of restraining followers or continuing to directly challenge the country's ultimate authority despite threats of escalating force.

"On the current situation, I was insisting and will insist on implementation of the law. That means, we will not go one step beyond the law," Khamenei said on state television. "For sure, neither the system nor the people will yield to pressure at any price." He used language that indicated he was referring to domestic pressures.

He told opposition supporters once again to halt their protests and accused the U.S., Britain and other foreign powers of fomenting days of unprecedented street protests over the vote.

Meanwhile Wednesday, a conservative candidate in the disputed presidential election said he was withdrawing his complaints about voting fraud for the sake of the country, state television reported.

The announcement by Mohsen Rezaie, a former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, moved the cleric-led government one step closer to a final declaration of victory for Ahmadinejad. State TV reported that Ahmadinejad would be sworn in sometime between July 26 and Aug. 19.

The Swan Song of the Islamic Republic

June 22, 2009 10:22 PM
Whatever happens from this point on, nothing will ever be the same in Tehran.

Whatever happens, if the protest gains momentum or loses steam, if it ends up prevailing or if the regime succeeds in terrorizing it, he who should now only be called president-non-elect Ahmadinejad will only be an ersatz, illegitimate, weakened president. [...]

Whatever happens, and beyond these internal conflicts, the people will be dissociated from an anemic and fatally wounded regime.

Whatever happens, young people, who were believed to be enthralled by the principles of political Islam and who a month ago, upon Ahmadinejad's return from Geneva, had supposedly planned a triumphal reception for the president-non-elect, will have said, loud and proud, with an audacity matched only by their political intelligence, that this president shamed them.

Whatever happens, there will be in Tehran, Tabriz, Ispahan, Zahedan, and Ardebil, millions of young people who in a matter of a few days will have become, like the timid Mousavi, in a sense larger than themselves--and will have understood that they could, with their bare hands, without provocation or violence, keep a power at bay. [...]

Whatever happens, the people know, from this point on, that they are the people and that there is not a regime on earth that can remain in power against the people.

Whatever happens, a body politic has been formed in the heat of peaceful protests--and even if it gets winded and loses steam, even if the murderers think they can declare victory, there is a new actor onstage, without whom the rest of this country's story will not be written.

Whatever happens, the beautiful face of Neda Soltan, killed at point-blank range last Saturday by a Bassidj henchman, the images of kids beaten to death by the attack squadron and motorcycle infantry of the guardians of the revolution, the videos of the enormous protests, impressively calm and dignified, will have, via Twitter, circled both the cyberplanet and the planet.

Whatever happens, the emperor has no clothes.

Whatever happens, the regime of the ayatollahs is, in the greater or lesser long term, condemned to compromise or disappear.

Iran protest updates by: Nico Pitney and Andrew Sullivan

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Monday, June 22, 2009

They Killed Neda

Stuck in traffic and getting too warm, they got out of the car and watched the demonstrators and then:

Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot dead Saturday evening...

"She was a person full of joy," said her music teacher and close friend Hamid Panahi, who was among the mourners at her family home on Sunday, awaiting word of her burial. "She was a beam of light. I'm so sorry. I was so hopeful for this woman." [...]

Her friends say Panahi, Neda and two others were stuck in traffic on Karegar Street, east of Tehran's Azadi Square, on their way to the demonstration sometime after 6:30 p.m. After stepping out of the car to get some fresh air and crane their necks over the jumble of cars, Panahi heard a crack from the distance. Within a blink of the eye, he realized Neda had collapsed to the ground.

"We were stuck in traffic and we got out and stood to watch, and without her throwing a rock or anything they shot her," he said. "It was just one bullet."
_ _ _ _ _

6:55 PM ET -- A bit more on Neda. A blogger apparently in touch with Neda's family members offers some new details (translated by reader Nima): she was born in 1982, apparently her full name was Neda Agha-Soltan, and she was at the protest with one her professors and several other students. She was, they said, shot by a basiji riding by on a motorcycle. Also, she was apparently buried today at a large cemetery in the south of Tehran. ABC News' Lara Setrakian writes, "Hearing reports Neda was buried in Behesht Zahra cemetery earlier today, memorial service cancelled on orders from authorities."

1:03 PM ET -- An interview with Neda's fiance. As I noted earlier, BBC Persia today aired an interview with Neda's fiance. Several readers graciously volunteered English translations. I'm posting the full transcript below -- it's long but very interesting.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Credibility Hypocrisy

Talk about lost credibility:

Ensign resigns from GOP leadership after affair


A former campaign aide to Sen. John Ensign confirmed her involvement Wednesday in an extramarital affair with the conservative Republican, lamented his decision to "air this very personal matter" and said she eventually would tell her side of the story.

An attorney for Cindy Hampton and her husband, Doug, issued a statement on their behalf as Ensign phoned in his resignation as a member of the Senate GOP leadership. The senator's aides refused to return phone calls seeking additional details about a dalliance that pushed the 51-year-old Nevada lawmaker's political career to the brink of disaster. [...]

Ensign told a hastily arranged news briefing on Tuesday he had an extramarital affair with a woman on his campaign payroll, and it lasted several months, ending last August.

The disclosure resurrected questions about a two-week period in 2002, when Ensign abruptly dropped from public view. A person familiar with that episode, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Tuesday the senator told a close associate the absence followed an earlier affair.

Fox, Coburn knew about affair before Ensign's admission

Jed Lewison:
A week before John Ensign's admission that he'd carried on an affair with a former political aide, her husband wrote a letter to Fox anchor Megyn Kelly detailing the affair and appealing to Kelly and Fox for help. [...]

So now we know that Fox News knew about the affair before Senator Ensign's admission, which raises another question: did Fox News tell Senator Ensign about Doug Hampton's letter to Megyn Kelly?

Recall that initially Ensign's office claimed he was disclosing the affair to thwart a blackmail attempt. This letter obviously shreds that claim to bits, however.

In fact Ensign's office has subsequently renounced the blackmail claim. Yesterday, they disclosed that they knew that Hampton had contacted a major television network before Ensign's admission:
"Mr. Hampton first approached the media," Ensign’s spokesman said by e-mail. "He approached a major television news channel before Tuesday. We learned of this fact before the press conference."
So apparently, not only did Fox News know about the affair, but they also tipped off Ensign to the fact that Hampton had told them about it.

Moreover, they knew that according to Hampton, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma -- Ensign's roommate in DC -- was aware of the philandering. [...]

Fox says they were contacted about 24 hours before Ensign's news conference, but that they dismissed Hampton's claims as "not credible."

Speaking of not credible, according to their own timeline, Fox was (a) the first cable channel to know about the affair and (b) the last cable channel to report on it. Meanwhile, Ensign's office says he came forward after learning that Hampton contacted a national television network, which we now know is Fox.

Tom Coburn has got some explaining to do

Jed Lewison:
From a letter written on June 11 by Doug Hampton, the husband of the political aide with whom John Ensign had an affair:
The unethical behavior and immoral choice of Senator Ensign has been confronted by me and others on a number of occasions over this past year. In fact one of the confrontations took place in February 2008 at his home in Washington DC (sic) with a group of his peers. One of the attendee’s (sic) was Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma as well as several other men who are close to the Senator.
...So Tom Coburn, who is Ensign's roommate in DC, is begging forgiveness for Ensign and hailing Ensign for having "fessed up." But Coburn himself had known about the affair for 18 months, and Ensign only "fessed up" after Hampton approached Fox News.

If Ensign and Coburn weren't such outspoken crusaders for moral rectitude none of this would be anybody's business except insofar as Ensign's actions constituted sexual harassment or involved public resources.

But both Ensign and Coburn have built a political career on passing moral judgment on others. There's an expression about stones and glass houses that they might have considered before trying to foist their own hypocritical moral code on the rest of the country.

John Ensign Wins BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award for His Doubletalk on the Sanctity of Marriage

It's almost a given that a guy who wastes time on the Senate floor blustering about the sanctity of marriage would have an affair with a married woman. So when news broke earlier this week that Sen. John Ensign would be coming clean about his infidelity, we weren't all that surprised.

We did figure he'd step down though, if only because he loves the word "resign." He called on Sen. Larry Craig to resign after his wide-stance problem was revealed. He also called on Bill Clinton to resign when the president's cigar issue became known. Ensign even said that if he was in the same -- ahem -- "position" as Craig, that he would resign. Ensign has also said that he thinks that "we need people who are in office who will hold themselves to a little higher standard."

Well, apparently he wasn't talking about his own higher standards. Ensign merely gave up his leadership position in the Senate, which makes some sense. After all, how can you have seniority when you're such a big baby? Anyway, it would be kind of bizarre if Ensign got all upset and called on himself to resign.

Ensign is also a member of the Christian group the Promise Keepers, begging the question of what promises he's kept.

Hypocrisy Bites, Eh, John?

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ensign won't resign but he deserves to be called a hypocrite

After admitting an affair yesterday, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) resigned his leadership position as Chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee (the number four spot in the house GOP leadership) but declined to resign from the Senate.

As a matter of fact, I will say that I support his decision not to resign. That's because it is up to the voters of Nevada to decide whether they feel that whatever he may have done in his personal life disqualifies him from serving. I'm not endorsing his affair, but let's be honest here-- if all the adulterers in Congress were caught and resigned, it would be sort of like baseball without steroid users; the number of faces that'd be missing would likely be massive. However, I've never felt that what people do in their personal life has, or should have, any affect on how well they do their job. I disagree with almost everything that Senator Ensign stands for but that's a completely separate issue from his personal life.

However, where he does deserve a box on the ears for this is in the personal hypocrisy department. In fact, (as Nate Silver points out) Ensign has in the past called for Bill Clinton and Larry Craig to resign after they got in trouble for their sexual exploits.

Not that Ensign is the first Republican to engage in this kind of hypocrisy of course. Remember that the impeachment charge against Bill Clinton was led in the House by Speaker Newt Gingrich and pit-bull hatchet man Dan Burton. As we now know, both Gingrich and Burton were covering up their own affairs at the same time they were moralizing about Bill Clinton's. And let's not forget Republicans like Larry Craig and David Vitter who got where they were precisely by preaching about morality.

Yes, Democrat Eliot Spitzer became Governor of New York the same way, but he got what he had coming-- Spitzer could have ridden out getting caught doing a one-night stand with a prostitute but the hypocrisy of a guy who had run on his record as a prosecutor of sending other people to prison for the same thing pretty much guaranteed that he had no other option than to resign.

Ensign hasn't sent anyone to prison but he has certainly preached about morality and for that he deserves to be branded as a hypocrite.

Say what you will about Bill Clinton, but at least he never criticized anyone else's sex life.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nico Pitney On Iranian Election

Nico Pitney Discusses Covering The Iranian Election With Rachel Maddow (VIDEO)


Rachel Maddow talks with Nico Pitney, national editor for the Huffington Post who has been tirelessly liveblogging the protests in Iran. Pitney shares insights on where he gets information and how he assesses what he finds."

You can follow Nico's ongoing coverage here.

Previous articles by Nico Pitney @ HuffPo


Saturday, June 13, 2009

War Crimes Accountability And Justice

Judgment at Nuremberg and American Torture

Michael Zucker:

"There are those in our own country who today speak of the protection of country, of survival. A decision must be made in the life of every nation ... when it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy to rest survival upon what is expedient."
That's lead Judge Dan Haywood, played by Spencer Tracy, in the powerful 1961 film "Judgment at Nuremberg", speaking for the panel that tried the film's four fictional defendants who had been high level judges in Hitler's Germany. Those judges had subverted the rule of law by rendering decisions based on what served the political ends of the Nazi regime. "A country (is) what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult," Haywood says in summation.

The film has particular relevance today since we've been engaged in the issue of the legality, morality, and efficacy of using our past enemies' inhumane interrogation methods against our current enemies. As the Stanley Kramer production examined the soul of the German people that emerged from its dark days under Hitler, the discussion in America in 2009 goes to the heart of who we are as a people.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Abby Mann's primary message was that the rule of law presumes that humans charged with its interpretation and administration owe their allegiance to it and not to government officials. That message resonates in the conclusions of the Senate Armed Services Committee Detainee Treatment Report that was released in April.

The report discloses that while interrogating detainees, we adopted techniques that were used by the Chinese Communists during the Korean War to elicit FALSE confessions from American prisoners. […]

The legal structure that the use of these techniques violated includes our signing (under President Reagan) the Convention Against Torture; Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War that was unanimously ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1955 and that specifically prohibits torture; and two additional covenants joined by the United States in 1992 and 1994.

The War Crimes Act (1996) that criminalizes torture and other grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, the Torture Act (2000), and laws enacted during the Bush/Cheney years reinforce the legal underpinning.

In 2006, the sitting judge advocates of our military services unanimously told the Senate Judiciary Committee that waterboarding was inhumane and illegal. In November 2007, four retired military judge advocates wrote to Senator Patrick Leahy that "cruelty and torture is neither justified nor legal in any circumstance", that "Abu Ghraib and other notorious examples of detainee abuse have been the product...of a self-serving and destructive disregard for the well-established legal principles applicable to this issue", and that "waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise ... (is) an affront to the law and the core values of our nation."

Mr. Levin's committee concluded that when Justice Department officials John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Alberto Gonzales argued in 2002 that torturing prisoners was not against the law, they "distorted the meaning and intent of anti-torture laws (and) rationalized the abuse of detainees..." and that a GTMO legal review justifying a GTMO command request to use aggressive techniques similar to those in SERE training was "profoundly in error and legally insufficient."

"Judgment's" Dan Haywood said, "Under a national crisis ... even extra-ordinary men can delude themselves into the commission of crimes so vast and heinous that they beggar the imagination." That delusion is exemplified by Bush Administration people having directed American practice of torture in order to pursue political objectives. For example, on May 14, former NBC investigative producer Bob Windrem told MSNBC that a trail leading out of Dick Cheney's office carried the "suggestion" to the field in Iraq that interrogators should waterboard an Iraqi intelligence officer to elicit information about a non-existent link between al-Qaeda and Baghdad, even though that officer had already become cooperative under normal interrogation methods.

In May 2007, General David Petraeus told us "Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they are frequently neither useful nor necessary... What the (detainee) says may be of questionable value..." On May 30 on Fox, in a coincidental echo of Judge Haywood, he said "I don't think we should be afraid to live our values. That's what we're fighting for, it's what we stand for..."

Just how far we have strayed from those values should be disclosed over the next few days when the CIA releases previously redacted information about Al-Qaeda detainee statements that say they were mistreated. According to a June 9 statement by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who has had access to the interrogation program, "The record is bad; we've been misled about nearly every aspect of this program; ...the story line that we have been sold is false in every one of its dimensions."

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sticks and stones-- the sequel

Several days ago I published a post titled sticks and stones about the rising tide of violence from the far right.

And sure enough, today we had another such episode, a gunman who attacked the Holocaust Museum in Washington and killed a security guard.

The gunman is identified as James von Brunn, a well-known white supremicist who has claimed that the Federal Reserve is part of a conspiracy run by Jews to control the world's wealth. In 1981, von Brunn tried to arrest the entire Federal Reserve Board.
Besides denying the Holocaust, von Brunn is also a 'birther,' one who claims that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

The attack highlights the increasing willingness of those on the far right to use violence. And just as Scott Roeder, Dr. Tiller's murderer, was once an anti-tax protester, so too von Brunn has ties to several facets of the extreme right.

I've found that there is in fact a shadowland out there consisting of extreme anti-tax, anti-government fanatics who are also tied in with single issue fanatics (such as abortion and anti-immigration fanatics). Some, but not all are also white supremicists and members of other hate groups, but even among those who are not it is easy for conspiracy theories to gain a foothold (be it 'birthers,' who deny Obama is a U.S. citizen, 'truthers,' who think the government planned and carried out 9/11 or whatever.) They meet up through networking, and have clearinghouse websites like American Patriot Friends Network with links to whatever nutty right wing idea you are looking for.

Where possible they try to influence public policy by getting members ('true friends' as they call them) elected to public office. But increasingly they seem to be turning to violence-- and yes, they are almost always well-armed.

This is not to suggest that many, or even more than a small minority-- of conservatives who hold strong views on topics like taxation, immigration or abortion, are members of this shadowland (though the dividing line between conservatism and 'off the deep end' does at times seem like a very fine one.) But their numbers are hard to define (just like any such organization they seem to have a core of true believers, then layers of people they want to draw in but who may run the gamut from hardcore converts to casual contacts.) What we do know is that they are dangerous and becoming more so.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Classless Conservative Pundits

The Ed Show:

Socialist cars?

June 9: MSNBC’s Ed Schultz expresses his outrage over conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt’s call for a boycott of GM and Chrysler cars. Lansing, Michigan Mayor Virg Bernero joins the show to discuss.



Monday, June 08, 2009

Newt's latest attack on Sotomayor: Same as the last one, except with an appeal to nazis and klansmen

Last week Newt Gingrich referred to Judge Sotomayor as a racist. That didn't sit very well with his fellow Republicans, so he took the word back.

Then yesterday on CBS's 'Face the Nation,' Newt added an extra syllable.

He called her a 'racialist,' apparently having read an anti-Sotomayor article in the right-wing National Review by Kathryn Jean Lopez that appeared last Wednesday.

To the uninformed it might have sounded like he was calling her a racist again, and in fact he was, but with a clear message by using a coded term for it.

If you look into the word, 'racialist,' it isn't just a mispronunciation (though its origin is that it is the British term for the word, 'racist.')

If you go to various white supremacist sites you'll see that they've been using the term as an alternative to 'racist' for years, such as on this neo-Nazi website or this transcript of an interview from 'the Klan Show' on White Pride TV.

Among committed white supremacists the term 'racialist' is used and recognized by each other as meaning, 'racist' and in particular 'white nationalist' but being in less common usage (though Newt seems to want to change that) it is more specific to the extreme right.

Now, I can understand how Newt recognizes that the Republican Party's base of old, white conservative fundamentalists is declining and he needs to reach out beyond the party's collapsing tent and bring some new people inside, but I don't think he will save the GOP if the people he's reaching out to are skinheads, nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Remembering Bobby

Robert F. Kennedy
November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968

Tribute By Senator Edward M. Kennedy

St. Patrick's Cathedral
NYC – June 8, 1968
"The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society.

"Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."
This is the way he lived. My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Psycho Dick

The Ed Show:

9/11 blame game

June 2 — Psycho talk: In Sunday's Washington Post, former Counter-Terrorism Chief Richard Clark took aim at former Vice President Dick Cheney, writing "top officials ignored warnings from the CIA and the NSC staff that urgent action was needed to preempt a major al-Qaida attack." Cheney then turned around and place that blame on Clark.


The Daily Show:
Dick (Uncut)

June 3, 2009 — Dick Cheney doesn't recall Richard Clarke warning the White House of an imminent terrorist attack months before 9/11, but he hasn't read his book.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sticks and Stones

Remember just a few weeks ago when Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano was pooh-poohed for a memo in which she cited intelligence reports that there was a growing threat of violence from the far right, especially violent opponents of abortion?

As Sunday's events tragically showed however, her memo was accurate.

In a sort of a pre-emptive move, Bill O'Reilly, who often singled out Dr. George Tiller as a 'mass murderer,' made a defensive statement yesterday in which he attempted to turn the blame back on anyone who would dare accuse the right for the actions of a lone nut.

And if this was the only lone nut that had ever done something like this he might have a point.

However, here is a list of 'lone nuts' from the far right who have committed politically or ideologically motivated murder over the past couple of decades:

1. Michael Griffin
2. Paul Hill
3. John Salvi
4. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols
5. Eric Robert Rudolph
6. James Kopp
7. Jim David Adkisson
8. Thomas Destories
9. Scott Roeder

Maybe they acted alone (or in a small group in the case of the OKC bombers) but this list is starting to grow too long to explain away as 'isolated incidents' (and note I'm not even getting into racially, homophobic, anti-semitic, anti-muslim or otherwise motivated hate crimes here, nor the many crimes like this that did not result in homicide-- if I did that this list would scroll down several pages).

What about from the far left? You'd have to go back to the 1970's (SLA/Weathermen era) to find any examples. Even the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, who wasn't caught until 1996, got his start during the 1970's.)

What is more troubling is that Adkisson, Destories and now Roeder have acted just within this past year.

What is more troubling is the ease with which some on the right seem to have murderous fantasies just roll blithely off their tongues. For example, if we begin with O'Reilly let's not forget that he is on record as saying, that we should allow Al-Qaeda to bomb San Francisco and that George Soros should be hanged. But that is mild compared to what others on the right have said, up to and including advocating the death of all liberals. here is a pretty good site that catalogues a lot of it, including people who have publically advocated the killing of elected leaders, others on the left and anyone who speaks out against the policies of the (then-Bush) administration.

Now, do I support banning anyone's first amendment right to say whatever they want to say?

No, I don't. Even if it is national talk show hosts like O'Reilly that can cause a mentally unstable person like Scott Roeder to go off the edge and murder someone, or local Phoenix talk show hosts that can do the same for a local problem like Destories, I don't suggest that we take away anyone's right to say what they want.

But just as Sheikh Omar-Abdul Rahman was put on trial after his anti-American diatribes (delivered in a mosque, no less) were cited as inciting the bombers in the First World Trade Center bombing to act, and just as Oliver Wendell Holmes argued more than a century ago that if someone yells, "fire" in a crowded theater the First Amendment offers no recusal from responsibility for any deaths that may be the result of such speech, we should make it clear that whoever may have incited Roeder (and Destories, and the rest of them) to act, bears responsibility for whatever the consequences of their inflammatory rhetoric may have been.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Below The Bottom Of The Barrel

Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome

Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court has revealed the ugly side of the Republican Party.

William Rivers Pitt:

Last week, the malady mutated into a whole new thing - Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome - and boy, but it's a doozy. Ranting incoherence, brazen racism and suicidal ideation swept through the ranks of the far right after Judge Sotomayor was nominated to replace Justice Souter on the high court, symptoms that became worse by orders of magnitude as the week wore on. By the weekend, those suffering from Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome had not only struck the bottom of the barrel in their attempts to tear the Sotomayor nomination down, but had plowed right through the wood and burrowed deep into the slime and ooze beneath. [...]

"After a week of escalating race and gender rhetoric from the right over the Sotomayor nomination, it's now looking like some in the Republican Party - those concerned with actually getting elected - have become alarmed by the political damage the more extreme members of their party may be doing and are moving to rein in the vitriol," reported Eric Kleefield of Talking Points Memo on Friday. "It's the starkest example yet of an interesting division within the right, one that has been apparent for some time, but which the Sotomayor nomination has not only crystallized but accelerated: the right-wing bomb-throwers obsessed with ideological purity versus the right-wing pragmatists who want the party to actually win election again some day."

By the end of last weekend, Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome had blown this rift within the GOP wide open. Establishment conservatives are now directly pitted against the vocal ideologues on their right flank and a GOP base that seems to be avidly listening to them. For a party already traumatized by arguments over immigration, two decisive routs in a row at the polls, and an absolute absence of any real leadership, the advent of this newest intra-party bloodbath is the worst possible situation.

Stay tuned.

Empathy, Sotomayor, and Democracy: The Conservative Stealth Strategy

George Lakoff:
The Sotomayor nomination has given radical conservatives new life. They have launched an attack that is nominally aimed at Judge Sotomayor. But it is really a coordinated stealth attack - on President Obama's central vision, on progressive thought itself, and on Republicans who might stray from the conservative hard line. [...]

Actually, something sneakier and possibly dangerous is going on.

Let's start with the attack on empathy. Why empathy? Isn't empathy a good thing?

Empathy is at the heart of progressive thought. It is the capacity to put oneself in the shoes of others - not just individuals, but whole categories of people: one's countrymen, those in other countries, other living beings, especially those who are in some way oppressed, threatened, or harmed. Empathy is the capacity to care, to feel what others feel, to understand what others are facing and what their lives are like. Empathy extends well beyond feeling to understanding, and it extends beyond individuals to groups, communities, peoples, even species. Empathy is at the heart of real rationality, because it goes to the heart of our values, which are the basis of our sense of justice.

Progressives care about others as well as themselves. They have a moral obligation to act on their empathy - a social responsibility in addition to personal responsibility, a responsibility to make the world better by making themselves better. This leads to a view of a government that cares about its citizens and has a moral obligation to protect and empower them. Protection includes worker, consumer, and environmental protection as well as safety nets and health care. Empowerment includes what is in the president's stimulus plan: infrastructure, education, communication, energy, the availability of credit from banks, a stock market that works. No one can earn anything at all in this country without protection and empowerment by the government. All progressive legislation is made on this basis. [...]

Empathy in this sense is a threat to conservatism, which features individual, not social, responsibility and a strict, punitive form of "justice." It is no surprise that empathy would be a major conservative target in the Sotomayor evaluation.

But the target is not empathy as it really exists. Instead, the conservatives are reframing empathy to make it attackable. [...]

Taken together, the attacks on Sotomayor work as attacks on Obama and progressive thought. They are also attacks on "moderate" conservatives, who think with progressives on many issues. [...]

How should Democrats respond?

Democrats should go on offense. They need to rally behind empathy- real empathy, not empathy reframed as emotion and personal feeling. They need to speak regularly about empathy as being the basis of our democracy. They need to point out that empathy leads one to notice real social and systemic causes of our troubles and to notice when and how judicial decisions and legislation can harm the most vulnerable of our countrymen. And finally that empathy is the reason that we have the principles of freedom and fairness - which are necessary components of justice.

Above all, Democrats should be aware that the attack on Sotomayor is not just about Sotomayor. It is an attack on the basis of our democracy and must be answered.

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