START Treaty Overcomes Two Republican Amendments

President Obama and Congressional Democrats hope to ratify the START Treaty Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ) negotiated between the U.S. and Russia back in April, before the 111th Congress breaks for the final time. The 112th Congress with its diminished Democratic majority takes their seats in January; their 58-42 majority was reduced to 53-47 in November.

We have addressed this matter frequently here at PoliticusUSA, and with good reason. Republican opponents have made clear their intention to obstruct passage of the Treaty and in this at least, if not their economic policies, they have been true to their word. I wrote originally about this Republican gamesmanship back on November 17. And as Sarah Jones reported on December 4, and both she and Jason Easley reported again on December 16, the Republicans are guilty of holding our national security hostage.

RMuse reported on December 17 about the Republican attempt to use Christmas as an excuse to ignore important matters of national security. They could apparently impeach President Clinton for Jesus’ birthday but not ratify a treaty. This holiday, they tell us, is all about world peace; but apparently not world peace when it’s sponsored by a Democrat.

The many excuses offered read like a Letterman Top 10 list, and are as unconvincing:

1)      We don’t have time because there is too much else to do

2)      We don’t have time because it’s Baby Jesus’ birthday

3)      We don’t have time because it’s too complex for us to understand

4)      We’ll lose our ability to set up a missile defense system

5)      We want tax cuts for the rich first

6)      We have to modernize our nuclear weapons complex first

The Democrats and the White House have taken note of these many absurd excuses and have been pushing all the buttons they can, and have several cogent arguments to offer:

Wednesday, the Senate voted 66-32 to open debate on the treaty. At that time, nine Republicans voted with 55 Democrats and two independents, including Richard Lugar of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain. Those 66 votes are one short of what would be needed to ratify the treaty.

The Republicans countered with an attempt to amend the terms of the treaty. An amendment by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., failed on Saturday on a 59-37 vote.

The Russians have made clear that any amendment means the treaty is dead. We’d have to go back to start on START, and negotiate an entirely new treaty, which suits Republican purposes well.

On Sunday, that attempt failed on a 32-60 vote. The amendment was put forward by Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho. It would have changed the preamble to the treaty to address the “inter-relationship between non-strategic and strategic offensive arms.

Republicans continue to complain that the preamble would inhibit U.S. development of a missile defense system.

Democrats hope to vote on ratification on Tuesday. Republicans have their hackles up, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed to CNN that “Members are uneasy about it, don’t feel thoroughly familiar with it, and I think we would have been a lot better off to take our time. Rushing it right before Christmas strikes me as trying to jam us. … I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me.”

Of course, a vote on Tuesday would not be rushing it. The Senators have had all year to look at the treaty. It is not as if it was negotiated yesterday.

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, isn’t having any of that. He has pointed out that there had already been several delays to give Kyl and the other Republicans an opportunity to have their concerns addressed. “We kept the door open until we finally are at a point where obviously we had to fish or cut bait.”.

Despite Republican opposition by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz, Fox News reports that “Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a supporter of the treaty, said several Republicans will support ratification and he believes the votes are there.”

Senator Evan Bayh missed the vote but according to an aide would provide the needed 67th vote, offering some hope that Republican efforts will be for naught.

It goes not only against the spirit of Reagan, who proposed the original START Treaty, but the advice of the military (who, after all, ought to be the experts in this area) to obstruct passage of this very important treaty and which makes clear that continued Republican opposition is simply a continuation of their two-year-old effort to block everything President Obama tries to do.

At least Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has given up his attempt to have the document read on the floor of the Senate, a process which would take some fifteen hours given the treaty’s 17 pages plus 339 pages of protocol and annexes, a sign that perhaps he realizes he can’t stop the process at this point as he turns his wrath on the $1.1 trillion government spending bill, should it come up. There are always new battles to fight, after all, and new excuses to invent. Life’s busy for a Republican senator these days.

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Why Sarah Palin Isn’t Abraham Lincoln

Dec 18 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Sarah Palin and Abraham Lincoln

One of more absurd historical comparisons ever made is of Sarah Palin and Abraham Lincoln. Yet absurd as it is, some conservatives have actually made this claim.

It could be countered that anyone who believes Sarah Palin will believe anything and there is something to be said for this.  But Palin also thinks she is somehow another Ronald Reagan, and of course, Reagan and Lincoln could not be more different. Such comparisons become easier, admittedly, when you don’t know anything about either one.

Just consider the rhetoric surrounding the Lincoln comparison. As the Bellingham Herald of Washington writes, while “Some may cringe at that idea” that “some may think it would be the greatest thing since Abraham Lincoln.”

Sarah Palin, savior of the Union?

Isn’t this the woman whose husband had a more than passing familiarity with the Alaska Independence Party (AIP) – a secessionist group?

Gail Fenumiai, director of the Alaska Division of Elections, tells ABC News that…Palin’s husband Todd was a member of the AIP from October 1995 through July 2002, except for a few months in 2000.

Palin herself denies membership but there are those who remember her attending the 1994 AIP convention. You have to wonder, since rather than scolding them for wanting to vote on whether to be part of the Union or not, she praised them in an address:

I sure don’t remember Lincoln praising the Confederate secessionists. No, I’m pretty sure he crushed them. I also don’t remember the secessionists supporting Lincoln for president. In fact, his election was their cue to secede. Yet the AIP supported Palin’s run for city council, as noted by Sarah Jones yesterday. She insists she was a Republican all along. That can only label her the Manchurian Candidate Republicans are always going on about. I guess they would know.

It’s an almost criminal comparison. Yet one conservative blogger wrote back in 2008 in almost rapturous prose that “if there is such a thing as reincarnation, something tells me that President Lincoln would be most pleased to see Sarah Palin being nominated for VP!”

It is difficult to conclude that Lincoln finding any words of praise for her and her husband as secessionists. Pleased? Not by a long shot. He fought to preserve the union, not tear it apart.

She seems to have only a passing familiarity with Lincoln the man, let alone his beliefs. She portrays him as a radical Evangelical fundamentalist like herself, but there is nothing in his writings to suggest this is true.

Famously (or perhaps infamously) she claimed the United States was fighting a holy war against terrorists (which to Sarah Palin appears to be more than just terrorists but Islam itself), and Charles Gibson of ABC news confronted her with the quote:

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

Here’s where things get uncomfortably squirmy for Sarah Palin:

PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln’s words when he said — first, he suggested never presume to know what God’s will is, and I would never presume to know God’s will or to speak God’s words. But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that’s a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God’s side.

That’s what that comment was all about, Charlie.

Of course, that’s not true, and no amount of playing with Lincoln verbiage can make it true. Lincoln never talked about embarking on a holy war against the Confederacy. He did talk about preserving the Union. He had some harsh words for the south, and more than that, he had cannons, and he wasn’t afraid to use them.

Palin supporters have tried to argue that Palin did manage to capture the essence of what Lincoln said but you won’t find “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God” anywhere in Lincoln’s writings, nor his speeches. You can dig as deep as you want but you won’t find any evidence that Lincoln thought holy wars were a good idea.

It’s not even clear he believed in God as Sarah Palin believes in God. It is true, as historian James M. McPherson writes that the King James Bible “offered him maxims for life as well as a model for the poetic prose that characterized the best of his later writings” but Thomas Jefferson was able to admire Jesus’ precepts without believing in Jesus the God. Admiration is not belief.

I have searched in vain the collected works of Abraham Lincoln for even a single instance of the word “Jesus” or “Ten Commandments” and found only one reference to the “Holy Spirit” – that in the Proclamation for Thanksgiving modern fundamentalists like to use to portray him as one of their kind of evangelicals. Palin can barely breathe without uttering all these words. As Lincoln well knew, “our fathers” brought forth this nation – not God.

Author Stephen Mansfield, in one of the most patently ridiculous comparisons ever made, wants us to believe Palin is like Lincoln because she stacked wood at a young age. He appeared on Hannity’s show in October to say so, and to draw other parallels between the two, including her “frontier upbringing.”

I wasn’t aware Wasilla was a frontier town; it’s the fourth largest city in Alaska, which might not be saying much by Lower 48-standards but it’s part of the Anchorage metropolitan area – which had an estimated population of 364,701 in 2008 – more people than live in my city.

Lincoln was born in a log cabin. On a real frontier. And stacking wood? Lots of kids stack wood but apparently in Alaska it’s some kind of holy undertaking. My little boy has stacked wood. He’s six years old. I haven’t compared him to Abraham Lincoln yet; I haven’t compared the circumstances of their lives. It would be ridiculous to do so, as Mansfield well knows. But he’s eulogizing, not writing a scholarly treatment. That’s why he was being interviewed on FOX News and not a legitimate news channel.

In 1832, Lincoln ran for State Legislature and won. He didn’t quit halfway through his term. In 1836, 1838, and 1840, he ran and won again. He didn’t quit any of those times either. That’s eight years of political office. He served through every day of it.

Sarah Palin quit her governor’s job half-way through.

Lincoln actually retired from politics in 1841 to work as a lawyer, rather than quitting halfway through a term he had been elected to serve by people who counted on him to represent their interests to the best of their ability, rather than to worry for his own pocketbook, which was never as full as Sarah Palin’s.

In 1846, Lincoln ran for Congress and won. He served both years of his term – again not quitting halfway through.

When he ran, he was accused by his opponent of not being a member of a church.  Palin’s taunts of Obama are eerily similar. How would she have treated Lincoln had she been alive in 1846? Given the evidence of her rhetoric it’s impossible to believe she would not have roundly condemned him as an atheist.

Lincoln opposed the Mexican War of 1846. Unlike Sarah Palin, he wasn’t anxious to attack everybody, let alone declare it a holy war.

In 1854, Lincoln ran for the legislature again and won. Lincoln resigned that position so that he could stand for U.S. senator – to better oppose the evil of slavery and to preserve the Union. Not, like Grifterella, to line his pockets with speaking engagements, reality shows, and books.

Lincoln even debated Stephen Douglas, and unlike Sarah Palin, he knew what he was talking about. And as James McPherson writes, “In retrospect Lincoln was the real winner of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.” Only in Republican wet dreams did Palin win her debate with Joe Biden. Half the time, she couldn’t even be bothered to address the issues.

Lincoln ran for president, and won. Palin ran for governor. She won. And quit.

Sarah Palin says that unfair treatment of her was her reason for resigning as governor. Few Presidents (until Barack Obama) have put up with the abuse Abraham Lincoln endured as President. And he had to fight a war to preserve the Union at the same time. He had opposition not only from outside his party, but from within his party. But he did not quit. He soldiered on and he ran for re-election in 1864.

Palin announced she would not be running for re-election but then she couldn’t even be bothered to finish out her first term.

With regards to secession, with regards to the idea that a minority have the right to do as they please, Lincoln wrote in 1861, “The central idea pervading this struggle is the necessity that is upon us, of proving that popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose.” Secession, he said, “is the essence of anarchy.”

Hard to find anywhere in the public record that Sarah Palin agrees with this. Her husband was, after all, a secessionist, and she did praise the Alaskan secessionist movement as a welcome ingredient to Alaska politics.

And Lincoln was eloquent, nearly a poet. Read his Gettysburg Address. Sarah Palin could not write that if she labored a hundred years at the task. She hasn’t even demonstrated a proficiency in the English language.

It is difficult, indeed, all but impossible, to find a single point of comparison between the two. And Sarah Palin will always be a quitter; Abraham Lincoln had no quit in him. It took a bullet in the head to get him out of office.

Sources:

The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Kindle edition

Abraham Lincoln, James M. McPherson (Oxford, 2009).

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President Obama’s Tax Compromise Passed by Congress

President Obama and Republican Leaders

On Thursday, the unthinkable (to many progressives) happened: Congress passed the tax cuts, a compromise deal which includes an $801 billion package of tax cuts and $57 billion for extended unemployment benefits. The bill will extend the Bush tax cuts for two years (all of the tax cuts) and provide for a one-year payroll tax cut for most American workers.The extends for two years all of the Bush-era tax rates and provides a one-year payroll tax cut for most American workers.

As FOX News relates,

Workers’ Social Security taxes would be cut by nearly a third, going from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, for 2011. A worker making $50,000 in wages would save $1,000; one making $100,000 would save $2,000.

Many progressives see this as a betrayal. The Republicans, rightly or wrongly, have been accused of holding unemployment benefits and taxes for the Middle Class hostage in exchange for helping out their rich friends. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for example, leveled the accusation that Democrats were forced “to pay a king’s ransom in order to help the middle class.” Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) said it was “craziness” and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said “This legislation creates too few jobs and too much debt.”

The final vote?  277 to 14 with nearly identical numbers of Republicans and Democrats voting “aye”: 139 Democrats and 138 Republicans. The Senate had previously approved the package 81 to 19 on Wednesday.

There was an attempt to change an estate-tax provision in the bill (one that Obama had previously agreed to in his negotiations with the Republicans) but even after that failed, 139 Democrats voted for it as opposed to 112 against.

Two years, of course, will bring us right to 2012, when the future of the tax cuts will become more important than ever in the midst of a presidential election. This is not the last we will hear of the matter by any means. Some Republicans would like to see the tax cuts made permanent. Since tax cuts for the rich demonstrably do not create jobs, this position will be a tough sell for Republicans, particularly if the groundswell of opposition swings the other way at the end of the next two years, and it is the Republicans who find themselves under attack for perceived failings.

It is obvious to many people that the economic stability of our nation is at stake and that this deal is not going to fix those problems. It is no more than a finger in the dyke.

For now, the New York Times reports that administration officials say President Obama will sign the bill into law today.

This moment marks both a way forward and signals a lack of progress. Cooperation and compromise are essential facets of government in a modern liberal Democracy like ours and the willingness of Republicans to compromise at last should take center stage over what is seen as President Obama’s capitulation to Republican demands. The President has governed as a centrist and he did what a responsible president would do. Rather than stand on principle and make people suffer, he made a deal.

Rather like the framers of the Constitution back in 1787, none of whom got everything out of that deal they wanted and the New York Times tells us “The White House and Republicans hailed the deal as a rare bipartisan achievement and a prototype for future hard-bargained compromises in the new era of divided government.”

FOX News called it “a remarkable show of bipartisanship.” Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), called it “a bipartisan moment of clarity.”

And so it is.

Progressives, like their Republican opponents, seem of late to have forgotten that lesson. To stand on ideological purity and refuse compromise while the country crumbles around you is not an admirable thing, however they frame it. Government needs to continue to govern. In a sense, a politician hasn’t the luxury of principles, and that includes the president.

Ideological purity is for dictatorships.

For the first time in two years we have seen government function as it should. And if nobody got everything they wanted out of it, so be it. That’s how it works. That is how it has always worked. Sometimes one side gets more, sometimes the other. As House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said, “There probably is nobody on this floor who likes this bill. The judgment is, is it better than doing nothing? Some of the business groups believe it will help. I hope they’re right.”

In this case, most Republican opposition centered around the creation of additional federal debt, but most of them voted for it anyway. Of course, Republicans did not get everything they wanted either.

Political reality suddenly meant something again to the arrogant GOP, as Eric Cantor (R-VA) was forced to remind his colleagues:

“We could try to hold out an pass a different tax bill, but there is no reason to believe the Senate would pass it or the president would sign it if this fight spills into next year.”

It remains to be seen if Democrats and Republicans can find other ways to work together, other areas in which compromise is a possibility, such as repeal of DADT and the DREAM Act, an amnesty program for illegal aliens who came to the United States as minors. There are things the Republicans will want and things the Democrats will want and the current balance of power does not grant to either the ability to pass that legislation without regard for the opinions of the other.

If anything at all is to get done for the next two years, this will not be the only compromise. In the end, both the achievement of bipartisanship in the face of ideological purity and the continuing problems (and its root causes) must be underscored. Fingers in dykes won’t make the flood on the other side of the wall go away. That deluge remains, waiting to sweep us all away. The question is, can our two major political parties stop their bickering long enough to fix it?

4 responses so far

Christofascist Organization Lays Claim to “Gay” Rainbow

Dec 16 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

A rainbow for LGBT rights

Rainbows mean many things to many people. For a Heathen like me, a rainbow stands for Bifrost, the bridge that spans this earth we live on – Midgard, or Middle Earth – and Asgard, the abode of the gods in the heavens. According to Gylfaginning 12, it was erected by the gods between the heavens and earth and the Aesir ride over it every day. It is guarded by the god Heimdall (below) and will be destroyed at Ragnarok. It’s not only lovely, but it’s functional, and not at all symbolic of covenants except perhaps as a commitment from the gods to their children. That’s my practical-minded ancestors for you.

Bifrost: A rainbow for Heathen folk

Other ancient cultures had explanations for the rainbow of course. The Greeks also saw the rainbow as a path between Earth and Heaven; the Chinese as a “slit” in the sky which was sealed using stones of five different colors; and the pre-Islamic Pagan Arabs saw it as Qaus Quzaħ in Arabic, or the war bow of the god Quzaħ. I could go on and on.

A rainbow for the Inca

Rainbows are as old as earth’s atmosphere, and doubtless there were tales told of it we will never know, from the time before history came to be written down.

Of course, scientifically speaking, a rainbow is, as Wikipedia tells us,

an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines on to droplets of moisture in the Earth’s atmosphere. It takes the form of a multicoloured arc, with red on the outer part of the arc and violet on the inner section.” It “spans a continuous spectrum of colours; the distinct bands are an artifact of human colour vision.

And obviously, nobody can own a rainbow. I mean, you just can’t. You can’t touch it. You can’t even see it unless you are standing in the right place. To claim you have a right to use a rainbow and nobody else does is absurd, given how many people have found ways in which to use on in their advertising and packaging.

Unless you’re the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), that is. This Christofascist organization has other ideas. They say the nasty old gay rights people have stolen it – from them. Yes, it’s rightfully a Christian symbol, apparently. Maybe this would be a good time to ask for the cross back, since it far predates Christianity – back to the Stone Age, in fact. Think they’ll bite?

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, head of the Ruth Institute, a San Marcos, California-based organization and “a project of the National Organization for Marriage” says they ought to have the rainbow, not “the gay lobby” because “the rainbow is a sign of God’s covenant with man.

“Proposition 8 was passed by a great grassroots coalition that included people from all across the religious traditions, and also people of every race and color,” Morse recognizes. “We are the real rainbow coalition. The gay lobby does not own the rainbow.”

I imagine she is talking about the part where God promised Noah not to destroy the earth with another flood in Genesis 9:13–17, rather than the more famous covenant with Moses.

Of course, as I have pointed out above, the rainbow is actually many things to many people, and meant important things to people long before the covenant of which the good doctor speaks. For example, in the far older (2150-2000 BCE) Epic of Gilgamesh (Tablet 11) the rainbow is the “jeweled necklace of the Great Mother Ishtar” that she lifts into the sky as a promise that she “will never forget these days of the great flood” that destroyed her children. It goes without saying we can’t privilege one “historical” record over another so we have to accept that the Epic of Gilgamesh tells it like it is:

Then Ishtar arrived. She lifted up the necklace of great jewels that her father, Anu, had created to please her and said, “Heavenly gods, as surely as this jeweled necklace hangs upon my neck, I will never forget these days of the great flood. Let all of the gods except Enlil come to the offering. Enlil may not come, for without reason he brought forth the flood that destroyed my people.”

And yes, of course, the flood is much older than Judaism as well. Just as Christianity “borrowed” from the Paganisms that came before it, so did Judaism from those of previous eras. There is nothing new under the sun – including the rainbow.

We could pursue this course endlessly but it’s really rather silly isn’t it?

Dr. Morse the rainbow was “appropriated” by the LGBT community.

Look at all the uses to which rainbows have been put over the years:

A rainbow for Lucky Charms!

Lots of people use rainbows these days. Leprechauns live at the end of them and Lucky Charms cereal comes immediately to mind. Should General Mills give their rainbow back as well and maybe the Leprechaun along with it for good measure?

Appropriated by the LGBT community, Dr. Morse? Seriously? Seems to me a lot of people have been using the rainbow over the centuries. I begin to suspect that like most fundamentalists, she has not bothered with her history lessons, certainly not with Religion 101. If we’re going to start giving back what’s been taking the list is going to get quite long, and I’m afraid I’m going to be insisting on that cross.

“We can’t simply let that go by. Families put rainbows in their children’s nurseries. Little Christian preschools will have rainbows…Noah’s Ark and all the animals…. Those are great Christian symbols, great Jewish symbols.”

This is where the buzzer sounds – and it sounds an awful lot like a raspberry.  It’s a great symbol period, use by many people for many thousands of years, and in origin, it is no more Christian than the Christmas tree. Dr. Morse, do not collect go, do not collect $200. I don’t think your grubby, bigoted mitts should be allowed to sully a beautiful rainbow.

16 responses so far

The 2010 Beck Apocalypse: A Year of Lies in Review

Glenn Beck Sells the Apocalypse

With the year drawing to a close, Media Matters remembered some of Glenn Beck’s low points for 2010. They’re pretty low; after all, Beck was Media Matters’ “Misinformer of the Year” for 2009. Unfortunately, he seemed more than equal to the task:

  • Asserting that “violence will come. And violence will come from the left. Violence is part of the plan.” He accused the Left of “setting up another Oklahoma City” and claimed that progressives support “armed insurrection.”
  • Claiming that “We are headed towards a thugocracy.” Glenn Beck has likened the Obama administration and progressives to Mussolini, Stalin, Nazis, Al Qaeda, and vampires. He insists that a cabal of radicals who hate the country is operating out of the White House.
  • Equating unions for TSA employees to a “private army” for Obama. Beck also said unions have “raped” police and fire fighters, and that violence is a “self-fulfilling prophecy” of labor unions.
  • Describing progressive policies as murderous, apocalyptic and conspiratorial. Beck called a proposed food safety bill a “perfect storm” that was about “control and eventually starvation.” He called net neutrality a “hostile takeover” and said health care reform amounted to “pulling the plug” on seniors.

They started me thinking, these absurdist claims.

  • Violence is in the rhetoric of the right-wing, in Tea Party and the Republican Party. It is notably absent in left-wing rhetoric. It is the conservatives who are pro-gun, pro-secession, armed, and forming militia units and talking about asserting Second Amendment rights. The allusion to Oklahoma City is especially ironical since that terrorist act was the work of a right-wing bomber, not a progressive.
  • Thugocracy, if this charge can be taken seriously at all, thugocracy came about when Bush won in 2001, immediately setting about plundering not only the United States but Iraq when it was conquered. Halliburton is only the tip of the iceberg. The real threat at this point is from theocracy, which Republicans, Tea Partiers and Beck all seem to support. Of course, this theocracy will support a right-wing thugocracy as a matter of course, especially if in the control of Grifterella herself, Sarah Palin.
  • The TSA reference is fascinating, since it is Republicans who want to outsource the TSA’s job to some private firm, which would make it a private army in the same way Blackwater became a private army for President Bush. But they won’t just peek through you clothes, they will rape you, and you won’t have a right to complain. We’ve seen how Republican-sponsored private security firms behave.
  • Progressive policies are murderous, apocalyptic and conspiratorial? Yes, Glenn, and your Christian fundamentalism is not at all apocalyptic, or don’t you share the beliefs of your close friend Sarah Palin? Fundamentalist Christianity is all about the apocalypse. And murderous? It was a Republican administration that invaded Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and brutalized and tortured others in violation of International Law and the Constitution. And conspiratorial? Really? It’s the corporations who want to take over the Internet, Glenn, not the government.

And Glenn won’t tell you how he’s profiting from selling the Glenn Beck apocalypse:

Glenn has taken everything conservatives have done and want to do (publicly) and leveled them at the door of the left. It isn’t the work of a few minutes to show what he has done. Google or Bing it, and see for yourself.

There is no more substance to Beck’s rants than there were to Coulter’s. And what’s going on anyway, has there been some passing of the torch? Or did they agree that Coulter would condemn liberals while Beck took care of progressives? Whatever happened, they are both consistently and diligently avoiding facts in their nasty, fantastic narratives.

Beck is a purveyor of fiction, and poor fiction at that. Good fiction, at least is believable. But Beck can’t offer us anything of the sort. His blackboard can’t conjure anything remotely believable. He invents things, yet constantly complains that nobody is talking about it. “Why isn’t anyone talking about it?” he shrieks.

There is nobody talking about it because it is untrue, Glenn. You made it up. Until you lied about it on your show today, nobody had even heard of it. You might as well start your show by saying a dragon ate your underwear. Why isn’t anyone talking about that?

Oh that’s right: it didn’t happen.

Sadly, all too many people do believe Glenn, including people who go on to murder others, inspired to do so by his lies. People gather around the radio to eagerly take in his most salacious gossip, all too willing to believe it because it feeds their fear and their suspicions. This is how Hitler worked too, sowing doubt and fear, feeding paranoia and suspicion and xenophobia and homophobia. Little separates them in terms of what they say and how they say it. And that’s not Godwin’s Law; it’s a fact.

Sadly, Glenn Beck is living proof that dishonesty pays. There is such a thing as a perfect crime, and Glenn Beck is committing it.

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The Right’s False Patriotism: American ≠ Israeli

Dec 14 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Confused some?

I’m an American. A citizen of the United States. When I sing, “My country ‘tis of thee…” I’m singing about that country. When I “pledge allegiance to the flag…” the flag I am talking about has thirteen red and white stripes and a blue rectangle with fifty little white stars. It does not have a blue Star of David on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes. My national anthem speaks to the American flag in glorious poetry, composed when it was under attack by an invader: “O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Notice that it was not an Israeli flag flying over Fort McHenry that day.

I’m an American. Like most people, I love my country. And like most people, I’m willing to complain about it when things don’t seem quite right. When my leaders make mistakes or break laws. “My country right or wrong” is true only in a sense, that sense being that I would not betray my country simply because it did something I don’t approve of, say like invading a sovereign nation for no legitimate reason whatsoever, but rather for political gain. My country made a mistake, but I still love my country.

I can criticize my country when it does wrong; I can also apologize for it when it does wrong, as it did repeatedly for eight years of the Bush administration. I’m not sure I can ever apologize enough for that.

American Exceptionalism is the poisonously radical nationalism of the 19th century all over again. It identifies my country with the god of a specific pantheon and credits not only its creation but it’s survival and prosperity with that god, and so of course, any complaining or criticism is taken as an attack not only on the country (really, the country’s policies) but on that god. It’s that same old ancient trick used in the days of state-sponsored religion known as the divine right of kings. If the king is chosen by god he can’t possibly ever be wrong, can he? Well, neither, it seems, can a country chosen by god.

But I’m here to tell you: if God chose Bush, he made a mistake. I mean, he blew it big time. Let’s make no bones about it.

All this might seem bad enough, but I want to get back to the issue of the flag here for a minute. As I said, there is no Star of David on my flag. I owe no pledge of allegiance to that flag, any more than I do the Union Jack or the tricolor. I don’t sing about their flags in my national anthem. I don’t pay them taxes. They supply me with no essential services. Their soldiers do not stand on a wall to ensure that I can sleep safely at night.

Why did Sarah Palin keep an Israeli flag in her governor’s office in Juneau? She needed an American flag and an Alaskan flag. Didn’t her governor’s obligations stop there?

Why is it that Americans are expected to express loyalty to another country? You can see how bonds of friendship, such as those which exist between the U.S. and Great Britain might be a good thing for both, and none have been tighter since the Second World War, but nobody is expecting me to say, “Great Britain right or wrong!” But that is precisely what they want me to do for Israel.

Israel right or wrong?

In case you hadn’t clued in yet, I’m an American.

Not only do I have the right to criticize my own country, but I have the right to criticize others.

The problem, while frustrating enough for me, a Pagan, is far worse for American Jews. Roger Cohen wrote in the New York Times about ‘[t]he view that American Jews supportive of Israel but critical of its policies are not “real Jews”.’ As he points out,

Israel-right-or-wrong continues to be the core approach of major U.S. Jewish organizations, from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Cohen writes that Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the progressively-oriented organization called J Street, told him:  “These organizations’ view remains essentially that any time you engage in an activity critical of Israel you are trying to destroy the state of Israel.” Fundamentalist Christians take the same attitude in this country, that to criticize Israel is to seek its destruction, simple criticism labeling you a “terrorist” or “terrorist supporter.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We non-Jewish Americans have heard all that and had it directed at us, often enough when criticizing Republican policies.

Christian fundamentalists (Christofascists) have criticized Obama for not being “Christian enough” – a euphemism for “not being the right kind of Christian” (their kind) and they have criticized him for not defending Israel enough, missing somehow the point that Obama was elected president of the United States to defend Americans – like me. I didn’t vote for him to put my interests – my safety – behind those of another country.

And we are two different countries. I can understand being torn if you have dual citizenship, but 99.99% of Americans don’t have Israeli citizenship. I damn sure have a right to criticize Israel’s policies and I’m not going to lose any sleep doing so. But the problem is a real one and it has the potential to affect millions of lives. As Cohen points out,

President Barack Obama had virtually no domestic constituency for his attempt to denounce the continued growth of settlements as unacceptable and as undermining a two-state peace at its core: land.

Obama was left dangling, more so after the midterms, and had to retreat. This is not merely a failure of the parties. It is a failure of U.S. politics and the way those politics are straitjacketed by an Israel-right-or-wrong mantra that leads inexorably, over time, to one state with more Arabs in it than Jews.

Israel, it seems, is more important to some Americans than America is.

Cohen relates how Ira Strup, a Columbia graduate who experienced the effects of this mantra while performing a one-year fellowship based in Tel Aviv, asked, “Why is it poisoning minds to encourage them to think critically about the actions of the Israeli government?”

Why indeed? The real poison is not the willingness to criticize, but ideology that suppresses all questioning, the poison of nationalism – the poison of a twisted American or Zionist Exceptionalism that demands utter and unquestioning devotion. That might be a reasonable request in a theocracy, or even within a religion, but it has no place in the diversity and pluralism of a modern liberal democracy such as the United States, or, supposedly, Israel. It might have a place in the Old Testament, but it has no place in the Constitution. And the Constitution, not the Old Testament, is the founding document of the country I love, the country I am free to criticize.

The Constitution nowhere demands a religious test. It nowhere demands loyalty to any country other than the United States.

I would cordially suggest, therefore, to those who hold to that mantra that they emigrate to Israel, where they can “rah rah” all they want to a flag with a blue Star of David on a white field between two horizontal blue stripes, kibbutzing with radical Zionists on the West Bank. I, meanwhile, will live in my country under my flag with thirteen red and white stripes and a blue rectangle with fifty little white stars.

I will continue to be critical of, but continue express my love for – just as I would my own children – its actions when they are disappointing. For that is real love; not the “right or wrong” type of devotion that has become not love, but a twisted obsession.

18 responses so far

Michele Bachmann and the Truth About Republican Spending

Tea Party Caucus leader Michele Bachmann

“All Real Republicans Love the Sting of Spending.” That isn’t exactly what General Patton said; he was talking about the sting of battle. But the way Republicans (and for purposes of discussion I’m including Tea Partiers when I say Republicans) spend, you’d think it was a battle and they the most gung-ho ultra, soldiers in the world. These folks are in earnest. I mean, they’re serious shop-a-holics – über-spenders.

Is it any surprise, given the history of the past half-century, that some folks are, to say the least, a bit suspicious about the new round of Republic anti-spending rhetoric?

They have a right to be. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a few not-so eye-openers for people, a celebration of sorts of the non-change the victorious GOP has brought to Washington:

Meet Your New (Old) GOP

They’re not even sworn in yet and the incoming House Republican Freshmen class is already looking a lot like the same old GOP that voters fired in 2006. Here is a quick recap of the incoming Republican House Committee Chairman:

  • Representative Hal “Prince of Pork” Rogers to chair the House Appropriations Committee, who pushed through 135 earmarks at a cost of $246 million in the past two years alone.
  • Representative Dave Camp, someone best known for protecting tax loopholes that reward big corporations for shipping American jobs overseas, to Chair the Ways and Means Committee.
  • Representative Spencer Bachus, chief Republican negotiator of the tea-party hated TARP bailout to lead the House Financial Services Committee.

Impressive, huh? Bet you’re glad you voted these guys in, America. Yeah, they promised us “real” change. But “at least nine incoming Republican Freshmen have hired K Street lobbyists as their top aides.”

I’m floored by their commitment, are you? Because nothing says NO SPENDING! like a lobbyist!

Grifters, the lot of them. Raping America – again.  Palin’s mouth must be watering, eyeing that calendar. She wants to cash in like the last Republican administration. She’s making money, sure, but its small change compared to having your own Haliburton and virtual immunity for your criminal behavior. She knows she can find a country to invade – Iran maybe, and invest in some “infrastructure spending” there, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

At the end of November, the Senate voted down a Republican-sponsored measure to ban earmark spending (House Republicans had earlier placed a ban on earmarks). FOX News was able to joyously report the following (can you sense their gleeful anticipation?):

The 39-56 tally, however, was a better showing for earmark opponents, who lost a 29-68 vote earlier this year. Any votes next year should be closer because a band of anti-earmark Republicans is joining the Senate.

Is that right…? More Republicans are going to equal less spending? Because it’s those bad ole Democrats who do all the spending! And we know how much FOX News LOVES the Tea Party, those rugged populists fighting against government spending at every turn…

Gosh, speaking of the Tea Party…You’ve probably seen the news about the Tea Party and earmarks (“member-directed spending” is the euphemism they use on “the Hill”). Here’s a list to illustrate Tea Party opposition to earmarks (these are all 52 members of the Tea Party Caucus):

Aderholt (R-AL) – 69 – $78,263,000
Akin (R-MO) – 9 – $14,709,000
Alexander (R-LA) – 41 $65,395,000
Bachmann (R-MN) – 0 – 0
Barton (R-TX) -14 – $12,269,400
Bartlett (R-MD) – 19 – $43,060,650
Bilirakis (R-FL) – 14 – $13,600,000
R. Bishop (R-UT) – 47 – $93,980,000
Burgess (R-TX) – 15 – $15,804,400
Broun (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Burton (R-IN) – 0 – 0
Carter (R-TX) – 26 – $42,232,000
Coble (R-NC) – 19 – $18,755,000
Coffman (R-CO) – 0 – 0
Crenshaw (R-FL) – 37 – $54,424,000
Culberson (R-TX) – 22 – $33,792,000
Fleming (R-LA) – 10 – $31,489,000
Franks (R-AZ) – 8 – $14,300,000
Gingrey (R-GA) – 19 – $16,100,000
Gohmert (R-TX) – 15 – $7,099,000
S. Graves (R-MO) – 11 – $8,331,000
R. Hall (R-TX) – 16 – $12,232,000
Harper (R-MS) – 25 – $80,402,000
Herger (R-CA) – 5 – $5,946,000
Hoekstra (R-MI) – 9 – $6,392,000
Jenkins (R-KS) – 12 – $24,628,000
S. King (R-IA) – 13 – $6,650,000
Lamborn (R-CO) – 6 – $16,020,000
Luetkemeyer (R-MO) – 0 – 0
Lummis (R-WY) – 0 – 0
Marchant (R-TX) – 0 – 0
McClintock (R-CA) – 0 – 0
Gary Miller (R-CA) – 15 – $19,627,500
Jerry Moran (R-KS) – 22 – $19,400,000
Myrick (R-NC) – 0 – 0
Neugebauer (R-TX) – 0 – 0
Pence (R-IN) – 0 -0
Poe (R-TX) – 12 – $7,913,000
T. Price (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Rehberg (R-MT) – 88 – $100,514,200
Roe (R-TN) – 0 – 0
Royce (R-CA) – 7 – $6,545,000
Scalise (R-LA) – 20 – $17,388,000
P. Sessions (R-TX) – 0 – 0
Shadegg (R-AZ) – 0 – 0
Adrian Smith (R-NE) – 1 – $350,000
L. Smith (R-TX) – 18 – $14,078,000
Stearns (R-FL) – 17 – $15,472,000
Tiahrt (R-KS) – 39 – $63,400,000
Wamp (R-TN) – 14 – $34,544,000
Westmoreland (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Wilson (R-SC) – 15 – $23,334,000

TOTAL – 764 – $1,049,783,150

Drill baby drill; spend baby spend. You can see the depth of their commitment to…er, spending earmarks. You’d think conservatives would be, well…conservative about such things but they seem to spend, if you’ll pardon the expression, liberally.

In April, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released their 2010 Congressional Pig Book, in their own words “the group’s 20th anniversary exposé of pork-barrel spending.”  This edition of the Pig Book enumerated 9,129 earmarks worth $16.5 billion.

$16.5 billion is a tiny fraction of the federal budget. Let’s face it: eliminating earmarks entirely won’t fix the federal budget. But it’s an issue that gets people riled up because of the profligacy of some of the spending. Even if it’s important to the state or community in question, others are left lifting their eyebrows and wondering…why?

CAGW lists some examples:

  • $465,000,000 for the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter;
  • $5,000,000 for the Presidio Heritage Center in California;
  • $1,000,000 for Portsmouth Music Hall in New Hampshire;
  • $400,000 for the USA Swimming Foundation in New Jersey;
  • $300,000 for Carnegie Hall in New York City;
  • $250,000 for the Monroe County Farmer’s Market in Kentucky;
  • $200,000 for the Washington National Opera in the District of Columbia; and
  • $206,000 for wool research in Montana, Texas, and Wyoming.

As you saw above, spending is a problem the Tea Party shares with the Republican Party (they share many things, of course). Michele Bachmann, leader of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, wants to “redefine” earmarks. Bush was big about redefining things too. He’d redefine problems right out of existence. That’s what Bachman wants to do. If you change the definition, do a little tweaking here and there, you can keep spending wantonly yet still present yourself as a fiscal conservative.

Of course, you can also redefine problems out of existence in another way, by saying any Tea Partier who requested earmarks isn’t really a Tea Partier after all – because they requested earmarks. Michele Bachmann didn’t (though she requested $3.7 Million In Earmarks In 2008) – but she’s thinking about that potentially rickety bridge connection her home town of Stillwater to all those potential antique buyers on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix.

Bachmann’s 2008 earmarks? Here’s just a few:

  • $94,000 for Sheriffs Youth Program of MN
  • $335,000 for Equipment Acquisition for Northland Medical Center
  • $803,000 for Replacement Small Buses, St. Cloud Metro Bus

That GOP ban we spoke of above? As Fox News says, it “would have effectively forbidden the Senate from considering legislation containing earmarks like road and bridge projects, community development funding, grants to local police departments and special-interest tax breaks.”

Yeah, no bridge over the St. Croix, Michele. Sorry.

The Tea Party backed itself into a corner with their anti-earmark rant. Earmarks are used for infrastructure support in this country. To fix bridges, in point of fact, among other things. Bachmann knows this. She knows that bridge is important. She knows that money to fix that bridge will come – has to come – from earmarks. Republicans, after all, hated the idea fielded by President Obama of spending stimulus money on infrastructure projects.

The solution is, for Bachmann, redefining some earmark spending as non-pork. According to the Pioneer Press,

Bachmann says Congress should exempt “roads, bridges and interchanges” and recommends that if a town, city, county or state approves a project, a lawmaker in Washington should be able to submit a request — a practice she says she has followed. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, says Congress should earn back the public’s trust before considering a new definition but concedes the earmark ban will bring about “unintended consequences.”

It’s a tight spot they find themselves in. Tea Partiers like Bachmann sure don’t want the government controlling infrastructure spending, or transportation dollars.

It’s not big government they’re against. It’s not spending they’re against. They love both. They have proven it again and again that the only earmark spending they’re against is Democratic-member-directed-spending – they love their own and the more the better – and yet people keep voting for them…again. Makes you wonder if Republican voters are easily fooled or if they’re part of the scam, the eternal bait and switch of American conservatism, about as real as John McCain’s maverick-ism.

Yeah, that’s change you can believe in. Though to give John credit, he did turn himself to a raving Tea Partier. That’s change, isn’t it? With John McCain you can say, as many states do about their weather, that if you don’t like it, just wait awhile. But you can’t say that about Republican spending, unfortunately. There the more things change, the more they stay the same.

9 responses so far

Iowa Case Shows GOP Doesn’t Really Believe in States’ Rights

James Bopp, Jr of Indiana wants to force Iowa to pass Republican Purity Standards

The Republican Party is host to the tenther movement – extreme form of “populist” outrage that says the Constitutionally ordained federal government is, well…unconstitutional. Somehow, and in some way, the federal government that was established to run the country in the post-Articles of Confederation world, has no legitimate right to run the country.

It is no surprise that tenthers have found their happy spot in the Republican ranks. The Republican Party has traditionally been the party of “smaller government” and Republican discourse in general has become ever shriller on the issue of federal interference in our lives, and in the “state business” of individual states. Even those Republicans who don’t drone on incessantly about states’ rights rail against big federal government and about being told what to do by that government.

The “tenthers” are crazy about the 10th Amendment (thus the name). The Tenth Amendment deals with states rights – that is, in a Constitutional sense – those rights which are not retained for the federal government. What is left over belongs to the states.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The tenthers seem to think that pretty much everything is left over to the states. They take a very “minimalist” approach to the Constitution, one that seems a bit at odds with the ideas of some of the important authors of that document, including James Madison, who was very concerned about the threat to liberty posed by state legislatures.

Apparently, he was right to worry.

Though to be fair, even if he had managed to get the phrase “The states have no rights” into the Constitution, Republicans today would be interpreting that to mean the “federal government has no rights.”

Those pesky facts again.

It interests me that a group – I’m speaking of the Republicans a a whole here and not just tenthers – who are so interested in stripping down the powers of the federal government (and that is general Republican rhetoric since a black man was elected to be president) are so anxious and willing to interfere in the rights of other states.

Take California and Proposition 8. That’s supposed to be the business of California and of Californians if this whole states rights thing has any meaning at all, isn’t it? But conservatives shipped support INTO California to ensure that a segment of the population that they did not like was stripped of their constitutional rights. And in so doing – by their interpretation at any rate – stripped Californians of theirs.  I’m thinking about all those Mormons, for example, and all that Mormon money – from Utah.

What does Utah have to do with California?

We might ask too, what do out-of-state Republican interests have to do with Iowa? Well, they don’t like Iowa’s judiciary. They say it fails THEIR purity test. It has to go, they say. They want Iowa to toe the line.

Where’s the tenther outrage? Or is it outrageous only if a black Democrat – who happens to head the Executive Branch of the constitutionally established federal government – wants the states to follow the constitution? The states have no rights if its something the Republicans want? Is that how this works?

The Iowa Independent reports that

James Bopp, Jr. — the Republican National Committeeman behind failed “Purity Test” and “Socialist” resolutions — filed a federal lawsuit this week in hopes of changing the judicial selection process in Iowa.  The suit, filed on behalf of four state residents, charges that attorneys have too much influence in the selection process.

I don’t know…I just want to throw this thought out there…bounce it off the wall so to speak…but isn’t it IOWA’S business how they nominate their judiciary?

It’s not as if the system is a violation of the Constitution – national or state – it’s simply that Republicans don’t like that the system doesn’t force Iowans to nominate the kinds of judges they want.

In Bopp’s opinion, the nearly 50-year-old Iowa system provides “attorneys a stranglehold on the judiciary” while denying “ordinary voters” an equal voice.

My kingdom for populist outrage! Round up for locals and sue on their behalf.  But do four Iowans rounded up for the purpose amount in any legitimate sense to “populist outrage” among Iowa voters over how the system is handled?

It seems to work pretty well for Iowans.

You all might remember Mr. Bopp

Bopp, who has also worked in Iowa on behalf of a state affiliate of a national anti-abortion group and a national anti-gay organization, is hardly a newcomer to politics or lawsuits in relation to election law. A key supporter of and advisor for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during the 2008 presidential cycle, Bopp was also a key architect of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, which led to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down limits on corporate spending in elections.

Bopp has represented anti-gay groups in Iowa, California and Maine, “petitioning that laws which require the groups to form Political Action Committees (PACs) and disclose their donors are unconstitutional.”

It doesn’t seem to matter that Bopp himself isn’t a citizen of any of the states he interferes with. He is, I am ashamed to say, a Hoosier, a Terre Haute, Indiana resident. Shouldn’t he be concerning himself with Indiana’s affairs? I mean, if the chief executive of the United States has no business worrying about what happens in say, Kentucky, what right does an Indiana lawyer have saying Iowa lawyers have no right to what happens in Iowa?

In point of fact, Republicans are more than happy to interfere in affairs of states not their own and they’re happy to have the federal government interfere as well if they can push their socially conservative agenda, and that is the business of James Bopp, Jr, who has served as general counsel for National Right to Life since 1978 and as the special counsel for Focus on the Family since 2004.

Yeah, I think you smell what I’m cooking here. Don’t be fooled. None of these people, the Republican Party as a whole or the tenthers as a group really want the federal government stripped of its powers – specifically its power to force states to toe the line – if that happened, a conservative-controlled federal government would have no ability to ram a socially conservative agenda down your throats. States Rights are only an issue because a black man – a Democrat – was elected president. Like the Tea Party, there was no Tenther movement before the Republicans were kicked out of office in 2008. Some states’ rights advocates like to claim as a genesis of their movement opposition to Bush’s unconstitutional attacks on individual freedoms after 9/11 but if so, they have been subsumed and their rhetoric along with them, by the Republican Party and its icons like Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle.

The Republican Pledge of America said,

We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Like the Tea Party, the tenther movement has become – however it originated – a reaction to Republican loss of control, a counter-revolutionary socially conservative force and not a radical revolutionary force, and one that pays no mind to the rights of states when it comes to standards of Republican purity.

5 responses so far

Michele Bachmann to Teach Ignorance of the Constitution

Dec 10 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Republicans hate history. Have I mentioned that before? I’m pretty certain I have. They also hate the Constitution. How else to explain their utter inability to understand what it is, what it says, and what its purpose is? We are left to conclude that they are either stupid (which I can’t rule out on empirical grounds) or that they oppose and therefore deliberately misrepresent it. Take your pick, I suppose; one isn’t really better than another when it comes to the health of the nation and its people.

Michele Bachmann is a Republican (that’s not her above – it’s the Spanish Infanta, but you’ll understand the photo by the end of this article). Like Sarah Palin she has been touted as a Constitutional expert (by Andrew Napolitano). She has also been touted as a defender of the Constitution (by Bill Kristol). But a problem that emerges is that Bachman doesn’t understand the Constitution (I did say she is a Republican, remember).

She doesn’t know what is in it…

Bachmann: “What provision in the Constitution could you point to to give authority for the actions that have been taken by the Treasury since March of ’08?”

Geithner: “Well, the Congress legislated in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act a range of very important new authorities.”

Bachmann: “What in the Constitution could you point to to give authority to the Treasury’s extraordinary actions that have been taken?”

Geithner: “Every action that the Treasury and the Fed and the FDIC has been using authority granted by this body, the Congress.”

Bachmann: “In the Constitution, what could you point to?”

Geithner: “Under the laws of the land, of course.”

Geithner and Fed Chairman Bernanke’s answers were simple: The Constitution in Article I, Section I grants Congress the right to legislate, and the TARP funds were legislated to give authority to the Treasury.

…or not in it:

From a Washington Times interview (listen to it here ):

“Now ACORN has been named one of the national partners, which will be a recipient again of federal money,” Bachmann said. “And they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public. This is very concerning because the motherload of all data information will be from the Census. And, of course, we think of the Census as just counting how many people live in your home. Unfortunately, the Census data has become very intricate, very personal (with) a lot of the questions that are asked.

“And I know for my family the only question that we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”

What the Constitution actually says is this:

“Representation and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers … the actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.”

In other words, Bachmann’s supposed Constitutional “requirement” DOES NOT EXIST. In other words, Congress decides what questions will be asked on the census. And in fact, the very first census ever taken, ordained by Congress, asked for more than Bachmann claims could have legally been in there. Dontcha think the Founding Fathers would have known what they put in the Constitution they had just finished writing and ratifying? (here’s where we come back to the Republican hatred of history).

As PolitiFact tells us,

[T]he 1790 Census specifically asked about the number of free white males age 16 and over in order to assess the country’s military and industrial potential. That first Census also asked for the race and gender of household residents, and whether they were free or enslaved.

But none of this has stopped her from saying that she is going to offer classes on the Constitution to members of Congress. She has named who she wants as teachers:

Sean Hannity – a college dropout

David Barton – a “professor” at Glenn Beck University (he has a bachelor’s degree)

Andrew Napolitano – former New Jersey judge and lawyer

None of these people are Constitutional experts. Napolitano thinks that the Census is unconstitutional. He had previously claimed that “the 17th Amendment is the only part of the Constitution that is unconstitutional.” Barton says the interstate system is unconstitutional and apparently is unaware of the First Amendment and freedom of the press (or doesn’t like it on…constitutional grounds?) because he wants more controls placed on the press.

Of course, as we will see below, the census is constitutional. It’s in there.  But it’s no surprise, is it?

The Constitution isn’t very big or very long. It doesn’t use any impossibly difficult words. Is it possible she has never read it? I have. I have a copy here on my desk. I know conservative organizations give copies away as symbols of whatever it is the Republican party is supposed to represent. But it apparently goes unread.

So we are left with this depressing reality. One person who knows nothing about the Constitution (Andrew Napolitano) says that another person who knows nothing about the Constitution (Michele Bachmann) is a Constitutional expert, and the second person (Michele Bachmann) recruits the first person (Andrew Napolitano) as a Constitutional expert to teach members of Congress about something he knows nothing about.

For me, the whole thing is as informative (in a non-informative way) as the infamous discussion about the Spanish Infanta and the Blue Stone of Galveston:

Percy: You know, they do say that the Infanta’s eyes are more beautiful than the famous Stone of Galveston.
Edmund: Mm! … What?
Percy: The famous Stone of Galveston, My Lord.
Edmund: And what’s that, exactly?
Percy: Well, it’s a famous blue stone, and it comes … from Galveston.
Edmund: I see. And what about it?
Percy: Well, My Lord, the Infanta’s eyes are bluer than it, for a start.
Edmund: I see. And have you ever seen this stone?
Percy: (nods) No, not as such, My Lord, but I know a couple of people who have, and they say it’s very very blue indeed.
Edmund: And have these people seen the Infanta’s eyes?
Percy: No, I shouldn’t think so, My Lord.
Edmund: And neither have you, presumably.
Percy: No, My Lord.
Edmund: So, what you’re telling me, Percy, is that something you have never seen is slightly less blue than something else you have never seen.

(From Blackadder I, The Queen of Spain’s Beard, Season 1 Episode 4, 6 July 1983)

This is what we can expert from Michele Bachmann’s Congressional Tea Party Caucus. It’s funny in a British sitcom; not so much in the halls of Congress.

6 responses so far

Sarah Palin’s Hunting Fiasco

Dec 09 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

The Great White Huntress

Sarah Palin’s folksy outdoor image has taken a hit in light of her obvious shortcomings as a modern-day Jim Bridger, ironically while exercising her Second Amendment rights. It’s one thing to lie to the Lower 48 about being a wilderness scout in larger-than-life Alaska, but when you put it on TV for everyone to see, the mystique wears off pretty quickly.

People aren’t complete idiots, even people naturally disposed to like Sarah Palin – like hunters and conservatives.

And that’s just what Sarah Palin did. The former governor of Alaska brought a TV crew on weekend-long trip to the Arctic tundra to do some shooting for her Sarah Palin’s Alaska show on TLC (The Learning Channel) and her shortcomings became evident immediately. Among her errors:

  • She shot 4-5 times at a wandering caribou and missed
  • When she shot the first time and missed, she panicked and shot at it as it moved, apparently thinking it would be easier to hit that way than when standing still
  • She took no practice shots
  • She didn’t check the sites (they were off)
  • She didn’t carry her own rifle; she let her father and his friend carry it for her (her father is 72-years-old to Palin’s sprightly 46)
  • She let her father load the rifle
  • When the rifle was passed to her, MamaGrizzly “moved her finger inside its trigger guard, a breach of basic safety rules” as one website noted
  • “On leaving her hunting camp one morning, Ms Palin pointed to the horizon and declared ‘Let’s go west.’ There followed an awkward pause. “That’s east,” noted her father.”
  • She was under-armed (her father called her weapon a “varmint rifle” yet she expressed concern that it might have a kick)

The problem for Sarah Palin fans is how to reconcile her obvious phoniness with her claims. Republicans have shown a breath-taking ability to put facts aside for the sake of ideology, “what should be” for “what is” but can they do it when it’s blaring in their faces on their big screen HD TVs?

The reaction from liberals has been more predictable. Aaron Sorkin, who created West Wing, told Huffington Post that she had made a “snuff film”  and called her a “phony Pioneer girl” and a “witless bully.” Animal rights groups and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have also complained.

Sarah Palin’s witty Facebook response?

“Unless you’ve never worn leather shoes, sat upon a leather chair or eaten meat, save your condemnation.”

At least she used Facebook rather than treating the English language the way she treated that caribou on Twitter.

That’s scant justification for putting herself, her crew, her father and his friend, and the animals she is shooting at in danger through inept handling of firearms. There are reasons people take lessons in handling those things, Wannabe Huntress-in-Chief.

Sorkin’s response was typically witty and scathingly to the point:

I don’t think I will save my condemnation, you phony pioneer girl. (I’m in film and television, Cruella, and there was an insert close-up of your manicure while you were roughing it in God’s country. I know exactly how many feet off camera your hair and make-up trailer was.)

Palin isn’t likely to care what Hollywood thinks, or what leftist elites like PETA think, but she should care about what her supporters and potential supporters think, and she’s just misfired on that front. Imagine hiring a guide to take you over the Rockies only to discover he’d never been out of the city himself? That’s what Republicans are doing when they put their trust in a savvy-common sense politicians only to discover that she’s simply a self-promoting grifter who has no idea what she’s talking about.

She’d be a fish out of water in the White House, as out of water as she has been hunting and fishing on her self-promotional TV show. She’s a fake and a phony and it has never been more obvious. Take note, America, especially you Republicans.

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