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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

West's Religious Bigotry

Allen West apparently believes our foreign policy should mimic that of the leaders of the crusades. In a bizarre weekly address this week (read about it on SaintPetersblog), he seems to suggest having leaders like Mubarak and Gaddafi in charge was the only thing stopping the rise of a new Ottoman Empire.

This is bizarre on so many levels, and it is scary this man has a seat in Congress instead of a corner in a mental institution.

Let's make this more clear than West's raving statements. He supports military dictatorships because he finds Muslims scary. Plain and simple.

Don't believe these right-wing douchebags when they say support religious expression. It is a lie.

Don't believe when they say they have the interests of the United States at heart with their foreign policy. That too is a lie.

West and his ilk want to have a Holy American Empire, a foreign superpower which imposes a religious belief. He supports a cause more nefarious than even the oil companies. His fantasy worldview envisions one where Muslims are either dead or kept at bay by power-hungry dictators who toss the opposition is political prisons. And should men like West grow in political stature within the United States, expect nothing short of that to become common practice here.

The only saving grace is that this latest rant from West is unlikely to find much traction in a world where few people get scared by the thought of the Ottomans coming back. That is a lousy boogeyman. But this sort of dogwhistle politicking will find an audience among bigots and xenophobes who dream of nothing short of genocide and ethnic cleansing when it comes to setting American foreign policy.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Funny the order with which these transition emails become public.

For example, the emails released Friday evening, a notorious time for politicians to release news they want lost in the shuffle, shows that Jeb Bush, the patron saint of Florida Republicans, was upset with how Gov. Rick Scott did business from the get-go.

Via HuffPo:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was disappointed that Gov. Rick Scott fired the mother of an Army soldier who had just been killed in Afghanistan as well as others who worked in the governor's office, newly released emails show...

Bush followed her comment with another email in which he notes that other people, including Carolyn "Freda" King were let go. King, who first went to work for the governor's office when Bush was there, worked in the external affairs office of the governor. King's son, Army Pfc. Brandon King, was killed in Afghanistan in July 2010.

"All three are African American, non-political and good workers," Bush wrote to Wiles.

Yes, the people trying to find these lost emails are working very hard to get them released as soon as possible. It is just coincidence that emails of a staunch conservative chiding this idiot governor and suggesting his transition team is a bunch of racists didn't get released until everybody was pro-occupied with their weekend plans.

But we know the email scourers are releasing this stuff as soon as they get it. For example, Bush had also emailed Scott before encouraging the new governor to "veto stupid bills" and to slash spending, and also letting the fellow Republican know he held "a desire for you to succeed."

That email was released early last week, guaranteeing it would get a lot of play in major papers across the state. It had the sort of contents that made you wonder why Rick Scott's people weren't blasting all this email out. Nothing in the email was politically hurtful to the governor. In fact, it had a popular former governor advising Scott to embark on some of the most controversial actions he has taken since being sworn in.

But predictably, the more embarrassing emails are the ones that seem the hardest to find, and which get released after most reporters are halfway to Disney World with their kids.

I am sure that is just a coincidence.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why Republicans Should Hate Birthers

No, it isn't because they are crazy people who embarrass the entire party. You can't ever really shake that type of thing. Like the wasps that keep forming hives on my awning, destroying one nest doesn't stop the next one from forming a week later.

The big problem with ignoring birthers is that they won't stop with attacking a president you don't like very much for reasons that have nothing to do with his place of birth. Florida's own Sen. Marco Rubio is learning about that now. Via the Daily Caller:

There is already a movement afoot (led by some on the fringe) to disqualify him from serving as president (which would presumably disqualify him from serving as vice president). That’s right — some are arguing that Rubio is not eligible because he is not a “natural born citizen.”

Here’s how the logic works (according to World Net Daily’s Joe Kovacs): “While the Constitution does not define ‘natural-born citizen,’ there is strong evidence that the Founding Fathers understood it to mean someone born of two American citizens.”

Read more:

Unlike predecessor Mel Martinez, Rubio was actually born on American soil, so when people ask Rubio about his ambitions for the presidency or vice presidency, he can't so easily dismiss the suggestion. But birthers who have expended so much energy trying to discredit Obama's eligibility are now eating conservatives just to make a point.

World Net Daily, a guilty pleasure of mine when I really want to laugh at the stupidest people on the other side of the aisle, has never been content to simply allege Obama's birth documentation is all a bunch of forgeries. They have also regularly planted what you would think was a non issue to them, that even if the docs are real, Obama is still ineligible because his father was not American. And since Rubio is the son of immigrants, this warped logic leads to his ineligibility as well.

It is interesting to see these people cling to the notion that our founding fathers, who revolted and established a government with no monarchy, that the lineage of leaders would be of such importance to determining someone's eligibility for the White House. But I digress.

Rubio isn't the first conservative the birthers have targeted just to make a point. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, once on the gossip list as a possible presidential contender, has also suffered because of birther zeal. (Of note, that link goes to a site which asks what Rubio, Jindal and Obama have in common. I would suggest an unlisted similarity is that all have skin a good bit darker than the poster.)

Of course, most of America long ago determined birthers were nuts. But enough members of the Republican voter base fall into that category that many GOP leaders have played too nice. Back when birther zeal was at its highest pitch, John Boehner was refusing to criticize birthers. And a number of members of Congress, including Florida's Bill Posey, have coddled or endorsed the birther position.

Short-term, this is bad news for Marco Rubio, and long-term, this is terrible news for the GOP. Birthers make it very difficult for people of color to rise to prominence in the Republican party, even as party leaders desperately seek for stars that provide diversity. While I am tempted to revel in the irony, this is also bad for the nation as a whole. When minorities, regardless of their personal values and philosophies, can only find electoral success in one party of a two-party government, and only get elected from gerrymandered districts, that limits minorities on a grand scale, which is bad news all around.

While I find many of his positions deplorable, Rubio deserves respect for beating the odds and becoming a leader of his party despite history and demographics being stacked against him. The recent assault from birthers should incite him to take a vocal and high-profile stance against this racist-driven movement within the conservative ranks. Honestly, it is a stance Republican leaders should have taken a long time ago.

Monday, August 22, 2011

They Will Never Grant Respect

Republican candidates for president have little or nothing to say about the end of Gaddafi's regime in Libya. I guess I can't completely blame them. Some refused to back this bloodless (or rather, US-casualty-less) war, apparently only finding themselves capable of supporting wars that bear tremendous human cost to America. But even the ones who acknowledge deposing Gaddafi is a good think refuse to give any credit to this administration.

Via Politico:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry called the end of Qadhafi’s “violent, repressive dictatorship” a “cause for cautious celebration.” But his ginger, forward-looking statement didn’t offer a larger view of the action in Libya and didn’t mention either President Obama or NATO.

Read more:

But hey, you can't blame politicians for being political. I mean, there is a presidential election going on. Certainly, the Democrats weren't so anxious to credit George W. Bush when he captured Saddam Hussein as the Dems were fighting it out in Iowa for the nomination in 2004. Right?

From Signals Vs. Noise:
I was particularly impressed with the level of maturity and respect offered by Dean:
This is a great day of pride in the American military, a great day for the Iraqis, a great day for the American people and, frankly, a great day for the administration. This is a day to celebrate the fact that Saddam’s been caught. We’ll have to wait to see what happens to the campaign later.


I guess I can't say much. Dean showed respect but lost the nomination, ironically because people thought he was too much of a screaming firebrand. I just find it interest that warmongering Republicans who were so anxious to support a full-scale invasion of Iraq are so squeamish about praising the disposition of a despot when it was a Democratic president who had a role in the effort.

Double standards. Hypocrisy. A refusal to even say congratulations to the other side.

These are the values the modern GOP wants to restore in the White House, folks.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Bright Side to the ObamaCare Ruling

An appeals court today ruled that the individual health mandate is unconstitutional. That's ridiculous. But i am sure Bill McCollum is feeling vindicated to see his politically-driven lawsuit filed on behalf of us, the Florida taxpayers, result in some embarrassment for the White House.

I wonder, though, how he feels that the greatest political damage this will cause is likely to Mitt Romney. I expect the hit county on video of the ex-Massachusetts governor proclaiming "I like mandates" is soaring as we speak.

But this, of course, is a matter of law, and I can't help but wonder what the long-term ramifications will be with the courts ruling the government can't tell citizens to buy insurance. Personally, I am waiting to see if state AG Pam Bondi will now tell lawmakers in Tallahassee to drop a requirement for Floridians to own car insurance. Considering Florida has long held that all children should have health insurance with the state even if parents didn't buy it for themselves, I wonder if the state will find itself arguing a "compelling reason" to at least apply the concept of health mandates to minors.

This ruling, of course, is a disappointment to me, but I must say there is some schadenfreude to experience knowing how complicated this will make things for the right. Even though conservatives have long cried about the mandate as the worst part of this bill, that was never what really drove them crazy. Actually, the mandate is what was used to appease insurance companies. The judge in this case ruled that the mandate could be ruled unconstitutional without tossing ObamaCare completely, so this in some ways is a terrible outcome for Republicans, and especially for insurance companies. The ruling essentially says that all the reforms in ObamaCare are legal and sound, and that only a requirement to buy insurance crosses the line.

So when Gov. Scott is next caught beaming about how he was right about ObamaCare all along, ask yourself whether this former healthcare CEO was really bothered by a requirement for Americans to be insured, something which guarantees people are using hospitals more often, or if the problem he and his lobby always had was with the regulations intended to stop insurance companies from screwing patients. Because those parts of ObamaCare still stand.

And remember, if reasonable leaders can get back to Washington, changes can always be made to legislation. Maybe this ruling will embolden leaders in Washington to push for true universal health care and avoid the entire mandate argument in the first place. This ruling is a knock on Obama, for sure, but is no defeat for true health care reform.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Surprising and Lame

I thought Dan Webster had thicker skin than this. Welcome to the big leagues.

Via HuffPo:
Staffers of at least one Congressional office, Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), distributed "homework" to Congressional town hall attendees in the form of a "watch list" that features photographs, personal information and pointed questions about six activists who are constituents of Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), each of whom was openly critical of Webster at his town halls earlier this year.

Read the full article and be amazed at the level of paranoia. It is pathetic that Webster not only presumed people who challenged him in a town hall were not his own constituents (it is a swing district), but stunning that he never even looked up their address before warning Congressmen in adjoining states to watch out for these scary, scary liberals.

This is crap. Pure and simple.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Grayson's Re-Entry

A Daily Kos diary by Alan Grayson shows most of all that he is doing his homework on what it will take for Democrats to win in Florida in 2012. Without an actual Congressional district to run in as of yet, that's the most we can expect.

Here is the line most people are latching onto:
In 2010, my district and everywhere else in Florida, Republican turnout was in the sixties. Democratic turnout was in the forties. Republican turnout was close to what it was in 2008; Democratic turnout was barely half of what it had been. In 2010, I could have won every Democratic vote (and almost did), plus every Independent vote, and I still would have lost. When I saw those numbers, I said on MSNBC, “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.”

A good lesson.

What is the biggest takeaway to me? He doesn't ever say the word Webster.

I have noted before, the Florida Legislature is going to be good to Rep. Webster. As much of a radical right-winger as the man seems to the progressive blogosphere, Webster has extraordinary constituent relationships and a legendary ability to make friends with people on both sides of the aisle, no matter how far apart they may sit philosophically. If his adoration as the Grayson slayer isn't enough to win him friends in the GOP-filled state capitol, just his reputation as a fair state House speaker and state senator will lead to a GOP-leaning district which includes Webster's strongholds.

I don't care if Grayson ends up still living in Webster's district when the lines are drawn. There is going to be a left-leaning new district in Central Florida. That is where Grayson should run. The man will serve us well when he returns to Congress. Although most of us always liked that Grayson seemed unfettered by political consequence, we can likely trust to see an even more confident progressive head to Washington if he is representing a safe Democratic seat.

I very badly want to see Grayson return to Congress. He needs to run next year in an open seat if that goal is to be accomplished.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cutting Spending Cuts Jobs

I don't if I can say it any better than Joe Nocera did today, but it is getting extremely tiring to hear the far right in this country suggest cutting government spending will do anything but cost us jobs. I wonder sometimes if the current Tea Party crowd is simply anti-government or if they are opposed to any form of society whatsoever.

The fact we have even been talking about "debt ceiling" negotiations as opposed to budget talks shows how far off course the public conversation has gotten in the last few months. Cutting spending means taking money out of Americans pockets and putting more people on the unemployment lines. It is that simple. I understand how the very rich can have no problem with this. They have no shortage of money and do not fear a loss of work. But how regular middle- and low-class Americans can so thoroughly buy the line that any of the spending cuts in Washington will do anything short-term but hurt the economy shows a blindness to fact.

Of course, I don't comprehend how the Democrats can hold the White House and the Senate but continue to always get the short end of the stick on all of this. Personally, I suspect the Democratic establishment will benefit politically from how everything played out, and believe that became clear when Boehner's inability to control his own chamber was exposed.

But as Nocera notes in his NYT piece, that shouldn't matter. Growth is slowing, and it was already moving at a painfully inadequate rate. Now the party which is supposedly pro-business is doing what it can to ensure growth stops altogether. Meanwhile, unemployment remains high.

Everyone in Washington needs to understand that until the jobs problem is fixed, nothing will get better. If they don't see merit to that in and of itself, then they should consider voters can throw everybody out if we want come the next election. Does a struggling economy hurt the president? Sure. But even if the Republicans economic suicide leads to Obama's ouster, it could also lead to their own.

And if there is one thing the right should be able to comprehend, it is self-interest.