Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day 2010 NYC

By Creature

Not TeaBaggers.


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Palin's experience

By J. Thomas Duffy

"Sarah Palin is back! The keeper of the light! All hail Sarah Palin! All hail Sarah Palin! Oh Sarah Palin can you see by the dawn's early light..."

Grand Central Station Locker Creatures.

It's a good thing I hadn't had my first morning cup of coffee when I caught this, otherwise I would have spewed it all over the computer as I fell to the floor in a fit of laughter.

It should be no surprise that The Wasilla Whiz Kid would call for, on her Policy Think Tank Facebook Page, continued drilling: 

All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen. No human endeavor is ever without risk – whether it’s sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization. I repeat the slogan “drill here, drill now” not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills – my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. How could I still believe in drilling America’s domestic supply of energy after having seen the devastation of the Exxon-Valdez spill? I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation. 

No, actually, "increased domestic oil production" will not make us more secure and prosperous (well, it will make the oil industry companies very prosperous).

It will continue to destroy our environment and strain state and federal budgets, cleaning up, for years to decades, those "accidents with the strictest oversight" while underfunding the development of alternative, safe, renewable energy sources.

But that is not what would have had coffee shooting out of my nose.

Rather it was the Flying Monkey sycophants over at Conservatives4Palin.

Latching on to anything, anything, with Herculean powers, anything that could possibly make Mommy Moose look like a thoughtful, competent leader, they go to the source, the beryllium sphere, Ms. Ya'Bet'cha's book, to highlight "her experience" in dealing with oil spills.

Palin's Experience With Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Governor Palin wrote earlier today about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As the governor mentioned in her Facebook posting, she's experienced the effects of an oil spill first-hand. The following is an excerpt from Going Rogue about the Exxon Valdez spill (pages 59-62):

On Good Friday, March 24, 1989, I baked a cake for Dad’s fifty-first birthday. It started out a great day, but turned into one of those “where were you when ...” moments. When Ronald Reagan was shot, I heard about it over the intercom upstairs in the library at Wasilla High; when the space shuttle Challenger exploded, I was watching it on TV while standing in my dorm room at UI. 

On this day, I was in my apartment on Peck Street in Wasilla when the phone rang.

“Sarah, turn on the TV!” It was Blanche. The intensity of her voice did not spell good news.


When the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef, I was a young mother-to-be with a blue-collar husband headed up to the Slope. I hadn’t yet envisioned running for elected office. But looking back, I can see that the tragedy planted a seed in me: If I ever had a chance to serve my fellow citizens, I would do so, and I’d work for the ordinary, hardworking people—like everyone who was a part of my ordinary, hardworking world. 

Well ...

Not exactly.

It was more like she'd work for about a half term for those "ordinary, hardworking people" before bailing out and jumping on the Money Train.

Meanwhile, back in reality:

Leaked report: Government fears Deepwater Horizon well could become unchecked gusher

The worst-case scenario for the broken and leaking well pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico would be the loss of the wellhead and kinked piping currently restricting the flow to 5,000 barrels -- or 210,000 gallons -- per day. 

If the wellhead is lost, oil could leave the well at a much greater rate.


Gouget said the loss of a wellhead is totally unprecedented.

Maybe she can go down there and wink at it.

Bonus Links

Andrew Sullivan: Tweet Of The Day

Laura Conaway: Palin feels Gulf's pain, but accidents happen, OK? As proved by 2nd rig collapse

Cheney, Baby Cheney ...

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Friday, April 30, 2010

It's not just BP's fault

By Creature

Rush Limbaugh would like to blame eco-terrorists for the heartbreaking disaster unfolding in the Gulf, but really he should look a bit closer to home (and his wallet). Can you say, Halliburton? I don't think Rush can.

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National ID

By Creature

Um, no:

But Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), who has worked on the proposal and helped unveil it at a press conference Thursday, predicted the public has become more comfortable with the idea of a national identification card.

“The biometric identification card is a critical element here,” Durbin said. “For a long time it was resisted by many groups, but now we live in a world where we take off our shoes at the airport and pull out our identification.

Atrios: "Durbin's reasoning - hey, we've embraced other stupid identity verification schemes so we'll embrace another! - is just idiotic. It won't actually solve any problems. People will hate it regardless of ideology."

We should be stepping back from hysterics, not piling on. Ugh.

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Making sense in the City of Angels

Hopefully this is the start of a broader movement to isolate Arizona:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday that he supports a boycott of Arizona by the city of Los Angeles, and he called that state's newly passed immigration law "unpatriotic and unconstitutional."

"No person should be treated differently in the eyes of the law," he said at a news conference.

The mayor said boycotts have worked in the past and cited the city's divestiture from South Africa in the 1980s to protest apartheid.

It's never good to be compared to apartheid South Africa, but... if the shoe fits...

Okay, Arizona isn't quite at that level, but I think Councilman Jose Huizar is right: "If you look like me, you should be concerned about traveling to the state of Arizona."

That's not a place with which one should want to do business.

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Consider the source

By Capt. Fogg

So how long did you think it would take? Actually I'm surprised that Chairman Rush took so long to blame the oil rig disaster on "hardcore environmentalist wackos." He couldn't have been waiting for some evidence before making accusations of murder and terrorism since there hasn't been any and he's never let that bother him before. Besides he isn't actually making any accusations in the first place:
"I'm just, I'm just noting the timing here."

It happened on Earth Day of course. It's always so easy to say "case closed" when there isn't any case so I won't even hint that Halliburton, the recipient of unholy amounts of government subsidies, grants and contracts and with strong ties to Dick Cheney is handling the capping of the well. I'll just note who's getting rich from it.

It didn't take long either, for the "government can't be trusted" set to pledge their trust to the Arizona police never to define their "reasonable suspicion" in a way that lets them stop and harass American citizens of Hispanic origin or Hispanics with legal work papers. They don't have to worry at all, though they should be sure to have witnesses standing by, to never go out of the house without proof of citizenship and to be very, very polite to Sheriff Arpaio when he demands they stand and deliver.

There's simply no reason to worry about abuse except that the recently signed bill seems to have been drafted by Kris Kobach who is a lawyer from the Federation for American Immigration Reform , which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as an anti-immigrant hate group since 2007 and who was former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s top immigration adviser. Hey, I'm not suggesting anything, but Ashcroft isn't known for respecting the niceties of Constitutional law in matters concerning the Bill of Rights. So maybe it's constitutional, maybe it's not, maybe it's going to be hell for Hispanics in Arizona, maybe not, but I'll simply consider the source.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Iran selected for U.N. Commission on the Status of Women

This is where I don't mind quoting Fox News, because it was right to focus on this appalling development:

Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged "immodest."

Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is "dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women," according to its website.

Buried 2,000 words deep in a U.N. press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of "vacancies in subsidiary bodies," was the stark announcement: Iran, along with representatives from 10 other nations, was "elected by acclamation," meaning that no open vote was requested or required by any member states -- including the United States.

I'm not anti-U.N., I'm really not, but is it any wonder it has a credibility problem? And is it any wonder so many people, in particular in the U.S., consider it a joke, if not something far more malevolent?

How can it possibly justify putting Iran on this commission? Did some countries go along with this because it further undermines the U.N? Or is it just that too many countries don't care? Or that too many countries are, like Iran, anything but liberal and democratic and respectful of women's rights?

Whatever the case, all the U.N. has accomplished with this asinine move is to provide yet more ammunition to its critics.

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Palin (hearts) Beck

There's really no point commenting on Sarah Palin's short piece on Glenn Beck for Time's "Leaders" feature, but humour me while I post a few quotes:

"Glenn's like the high school government teacher so many wish they'd had, charting and connecting ideas with chalk-dusted fingers -- kicking it old school..."

-- Kicking it old school? Did Palin outsource this piece to a 14-year old? And if Beck's a teacher, he'd fit in best at a Cambodian re-education camp, I think. We remember Jon Stewart's utter dismantling of Beck and his chalkboard, do we not?

"Glenn, 46, tackles topics other news shows would regard as arcane."

-- You know, like from when people thought the earth was flat. And of course he does it all with an ignorance one can only call medieval.

"Consider his desire to teach Americans about the history of the progressive movement: he's doing to progressive what Ronald Reagan did to liberal -- explaining that it's a damaged brand."

-- If Palin dislikes progressivism so much, she should give up her right to vote and send her kids off to work 16-hour days at a factory in Manchester.

"His love of the Founding Fathers inspires others to learn and respect our nation's history."

-- This is where I wish I could pull in the Founding Fathers and have them give Beck and Palin a smackdown, like Woody Allen did in Annie Hall with Marshall McLuhan.

"Best of all, Glenn delights in driving the self-proclaimed powers-that-be crazy."

-- Sure, because it's impossible to engage rationally with him. And how are you supposed to have any sort of meaningful interaction with someone who essentially denies reason?

"Even his critics (whom he annihilates in ratings) have to admire his amazing ability to galvanize everyday Americans to better themselves and peacefully engage their government."

-- Well, he does do very well, that's true, but there's nothing I admire about him. Galvanizing people by adding to their abject ignorance and bigotry isn't anything admirable. 

And that goes for Palin, too.

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Smartest Republican of the Day: Connie Mack

We don't hand out an SRD all that often -- I mean, it's not like there are all that many candidates on any given day -- but let's give some credit today to Rep. Connie Mack of Florida:

Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) ripped into the new Arizona immigration law today, comparing it to Nazi Germany.

"This law of 'frontier justice' – where law enforcement officials are required to stop anyone based on 'reasonable suspicion' that they may be in the country illegally – is reminiscent of a time during World War II when the Gestapo in Germany stopped people on the street and asked for their papers without probable cause," Mack said in a statement.

"This is not the America I grew up in and believe in, and it’s not the America I want my children to grow up in," he added.

Very well put. And so un-Republican of him (which makes him our SRD).

Yes, other Republicans have spoken out, if far more mildly, against the Arizona law. As I blogged the other day, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Karl Rove, three fairly high-profile Republicans, all have problems with it. But the overwhelming reaction among Republicans and conservatives, including Bill Kristol and George Will, is full and enthusiastic support for it.

Suffice it to say that Mack's statement is a breath of fresh air, a defence of freedom against fascism, and just the sort of responsible, intelligent comment one finds so rarely these days in the GOP.

(Of course, Mack may have had an ulterior motive. He needs the Hispanic vote if he wants to win state-wide office in Florida, and this is a good way to appeal to Hispanics. But I suspect that he is nonetheless sincere in his criticism of the Arizona law, as it generally fits in with his opposition to Latin American dictators like Hugo Chavez. Freedom is freedom, after all, here or there.)

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Andrea Mitchell, ignoramus extraordinaire

Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe yesterday, Alan Greenspan's wife called Nick Clegg, the leader of Britain's Liberal Democratic Party, "very anti-American on the subject of Iraq, Afghanistan, and engagement." She also claimed that he opposes Britain's "special relationship" with the U.S. and is a Euroskeptic.

Thankfully, former NSA Zbigniew Brzezinski was there to refute her ignorant (or intentionally misleading) comments. Clegg may be anti-war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but so are many Americans. Far from opposing the "special relationship," he desires, as Think Progress explains, "a positive, strong and even uniquely warm relationship with the United States." And he's not a Euroskeptic at all, as he supports Britain's close engagement with "a strong Europe." Indeed, if anyone's a Euroskeptic, it's David Cameron, leader of the Conservatives.

Now, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, clinging to power by a thread, has also called Clegg anti-American, but we can write that off as political desperation (and the usual sort of political campaign dishonesty), I think. With Mitchell, one cannot help but wonder if her smears of Clegg derive from her right-leaning tendencies, if I may put it nicely.

Actually, no. There's really no need to wonder at all.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crist and convenience (according to Rubio)

You're right, Marco Rubio, to a point. It is indeed "political convenience" that has driven Charlie Crist from the GOP, compelling him to run against you as an independent in this year's Senate race.

But it's also much more than that, and this is where you're wrong. Ideas, principles, and ideology do come into play. Why, after all, is it now convenient for Crist not to run as a Republican? Because the Republican Party has been taken over by extremists like you and your teabagging pals, because you, and those like you, have effectively driven Crist, and those like him, from your party.

Look, I have no love for Crist. I'd welcome him as a Democrat, I suppose, and there are many Democrats like him in the party, but, for the most part, I do not share his views and prefer that Democrats choose real Democrats, broadly speaking, to run as Democrats.

But it's pretty clear that Crist has no place in today's Republican Party, which now occupies a narrow ideological sliver on the right. Sure, that means he had no chance of beating you, and so it was convenient for him, a politician who wants to win, to leave to run as an independent, but it is also pretty clear, and I suspect it is to Crist, that the party doesn't want him, and those like him, in its ranks anymore.

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Desert Cross

By Capt. Fogg

"The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion's role in society"

said Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. The Cross may be an affirmation of Christian beliefs but it's also used to "honor and respect heroism." The cross he refers to of course is the one erected 75 years ago in the Mojave Desert to "honor" the dead of the First World War, including those without Christian beliefs; those whose own beliefs were inimitable to and lives diminished by those with Christian beliefs. Yes, Tony, there are and were atheists in foxholes: Jews, Muslims, animists, Unitarians and others -- and no Tony, that cross doesn't salute them be they heroes or clerk-typists: it salutes you and your religion at their expense and mine. It doesn't acknowledge that there are religious people in America, it tells you they're the ones who count most.

"Here, one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten"

continued Kennedy hoping apparently that in the passionate flaunting of murky emotional tropes we will forget that the most moving of war memorials contains nothing but names: hoping apparently that you've never been to one of those cemeteries in Europe and seen the graves marked by the Star of David and memorializing bones than didn't fight for or die to uphold Christianity or an allegedly Christian nation. The Desert Cross isn't designed to help us remember anyone but to remember Jesus of the Gospels. Waving a cross in their dead faces isn't designed to be a memento of them, but a proud rebuke toward others and another bit of puffed-up braggadocio in the same fashion as our traditional bully-boy patriotism. We're number one -- and that's because we're Christian.

What Judge Tony is saying here is that they don't matter, they don't deserve to matter; don't deserve the dignity of being buried without alien iconography. What America is hearing is that we can't spare a dime for Public TV but putting up and maintaining Christian symbols on public property is public duty because the United States of America would really be the Christian States of America God wants it to be if we hadn't allowed those people in.

"The cross is not a universal symbol of sacrifice. It is the symbol of one particular sacrifice, and that sacrifice carries deeply significant meaning for those who adhere to the Christian faith"

states Justice Steven's dissenting, and historically correct opinion, an opinion soon to retire from the bench. The symbol does not represent the United States, it does not represent all of us or describe what we're about. It does not remind us of the unnecessary and pointless slaughter of the Great War conducted by the Christian kings of Christian nations asserting Christian values. It does not remind us that we have a secular government and we designed it and maintain it to protect our individual beliefs and our right to practice our creeds and sects and religions without government interference and coercion, be it subtle or overt.

Once again we have been made aware of how precarious is our freedom of conscience, our freedom from interference in our private beliefs and our right to be included as Americans in a state that is under relentless religious pressure to be exclusive. We have a Court willing, it seems, to reevaluate and revisit many things we thought were decided and that would be a great many things indeed if next year's Court leaned more heavily toward giving our government a more religious stance when it comes to matters of morality. We can expect some serious fervor surrounding the next appointment. If you value religious freedom and indeed if you value religion itself, maybe now's the time to pray.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Blaming Bush

Chris Cillizza reports on an extremely promising poll result:

A new Washington Post/ABC poll suggests that most Americans continue to blame the sluggish economy on former President George W. Bush, a development that could complicate Republican efforts to lay it at President Barack Obama's feet this fall.

Nearly six in ten (59 percent) of those polled said that Bush was to blame for the current state of the economy while 25 percent put the blame on Obama.

Credit where credit is due. Kudos to the American people for getting it. Obama has pulled the economy back from the brink. It was Bush who sent it towards the abyss.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Duncan Hunter

The crazy keeps coming.

Speaking at a teabagger rally (aka "tea party") over the weekend, California Rep. Duncan Hunter agreed with a questioner that the children of illegal immigrants who are American citizens should be deported:

You can look and say, "You're a mean guy. That's a mean thing to do. That's not a humanitarian thing to do." We simply cannot afford what we're doing right now.

It's not just mean, it's despicable. What Hunter is saying is that American citizens born in the U.S. should be deported. No matter that it's hardly their fault that their parents were/are in the country illegally. And no matter that they themselves are legally American who likely have never lived anywhere else.

And just for the record, Hunter thinks the draconian Arizona immigration law is "a fantastic starting point." But to what end? Are racial/ethnic profiling and the establishment of a police state not enough?

All the more reason to keep these increasingly crazy Republicans out of power.


In response to Hunter, Paul Krugman is right on the money:

So Rep. Duncan Hunter wants to deport people born in America -- if their parents were illegal immigrants.
As everyone who knows anything about the Constitution knows, this would be unconstitutional: if you were born here, you're a citizen, no matter who your parents were.

But it's not just a matter of the letter of the law: it's about who we are as a nation. What America means to me is a land in which you are judged for yourself -- not by your race, your ethnic origins, or what your parents do. Saying that citizenship depends on whether your parents were here legally crosses a fundamental line; it's not far from there to making all kinds of rights hereditary rather than inherent in the simple fact that you were born in the USA.

It fits in, of course, with the idea that people can be arrested if they aren’t carrying the right papers -- or be implanted involuntarily with microchips.

Anti-immigration fever is deeply un-American -- at least as I understand America.

That's true, and do think these Republicans deserve the un-American tag, but such fever, such nativist zeal, plays very well in Republican America, and there's way too much of that for comfort.

I would also note that for all their supposed fidelity to the original intent of the Founders (as they define it), conservatives certainly like to play fast and loose not just with the spirit of the Constitution but with its very letter. Ultimately, they don't really give a damn. Talking up "original intent" is just a political ploy, a way to come across as fundamentally American (according to their gross misinterpretation of what it means to be American). What they want is power, and, with power, to be able to impose their "America" on America. And that would be an "America" that is deeply un-American, an "America" that is simultaneously libertarian (for the ruling oligarchy) and theocratic (to keep the masses down).

(For more on the microchipping craziness, see my CRD post from yesterday.)

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Standing up to Wall Street and the GOP on financial reform

From our friends at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee:

Senate Democrats Are on Your Side: Standing Up to Republican Obstructionism on Wall Street Reform

Republicans have yet again put their political interests ahead of the well-being of the American people. By refusing to allow debate on Wall Street reform, they have sent a clear message: Senate Republicans are on the side of big banks and Wall Street CEOs. This disingenuous, obstructionist attitude was set in motion last month after Senate Republicans met behind closed doors with the CEOs of big banks. They returned and promptly started trying to water down legislation that would rein in corporate greed and excess on Wall Street.

Senate Democrats want to restore accountability and transparency to Wall Street, and have brought forward historic reform legislation to protect American consumers, investors and businesses from the greed and recklessness that brought our economy to the brink of collapse. The Restoring American Financial Stability Act puts in place the strongest consumer financial protections ever and will help put a stop to the reckless behavior that cost Americans over 8 million jobs and trillions of dollars in savings. 

By choosing to side with Wall Street over the American people, Republicans have voted against legislation that will:

·     End Taxpayer Bailouts.  As long as giant financial firms believe the government will bail them out if they get into trouble, they only have the incentive to get larger and take bigger risks. This bill guarantees that taxpayers will never again be forced to bail out reckless Wall Street firms by creating a safe orderly liquidation mechanism for the FDIC to unwind failing significant financial companies; shareholders and unsecured creditors will bear losses; and management will be removed.

·     End "Too Big To Fail." The bill provides for strict new capital, leverage, liquidity, risk management and other requirements as companies grow in size and complexity, with significant requirements on companies that pose risks to the financial system. The Federal Reserve will be authorized, as a last resort, to require a large complex company, to divest some of its holdings if it poses a grave threat to the financial stability of the United States. 

·    Put a New Cop on The Beat. The bill establishes the Financial Stability Oversight Council to focus on identifying, monitoring and addressing systemic risks posed by large, complex financial firms as well as products and activities that spread risk across firms. 

·    Bring Sunlight and Transparency to Shadowy Markets. The legislation eliminates loopholes that allow risky and abusive practices to go unnoticed and unregulated – including loopholes for over-the-counter derivatives, asset-backed securities, hedge funds, mortgage brokers and payday lenders.

·    Guarantee Clear Information in Plain English. The bill creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will have the sole job of protecting American consumers from unfair, deceptive and abusive financial products and practices and will ensure people get the clear information they need on loans and other financial products from credit card companies, mortgage brokers, banks and others.

·    Protect Against Bernie Madoff-Type Scams. The SEC has failed to perform aggressive oversight and is unable to understand some of the very companies it is supposed to regulate. This bill creates a program within the SEC to encourage people to report securities violations and mandates an annual assessment of the SEC's internal supervisory controls. The bill also establishes a new Office of Credit Rating Agencies at the SEC to strengthen regulation of credit rating agencies, many of which failed in the past to warn people about risks hidden throughout layers of complex structures.

MJWS: It's good for the American people, good for the American economy, and good for anything and everything other than the Wall Street oligarchy. No wonder Republicans are against it.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Pat Bertroche

This is the third CRD post in two days. Overkill? Hardly. Republicans are providing us with an astonishing amount of material, and it's not that there are too many of these posts, it's that there are too few. What can I say? It's tough to keep up.

Yesterday it was Leo Berman and Kristia Cavere. Today it's Pat Bertroche. To be fair, these three are hardly household names. Only Berman is a political officeholder, a state representative in Texas. Cavere, a Tea Party favorrite, is running for the GOP nomination in NY-19, and Bertroche is doing the same in Iowa's 3rd.

But even if they don't have the stature of, say, a Mitch McConnell or a John Boehner, they're still Republicans and they're still incredibly crazy.

Here's what Bertroche, a doctor, said recently at a Republican forum in Tama County, Iowa:

I think we should catch 'em, we should document 'em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going. I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can't I microchip an illegal? That's not a popular thing to say, but it's a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under.

Read that again, just you catch the full impact.

That's right, Bertroche is saying that illegal immigrants -- men, women, children -- should be microchipped like dogs. No, that's certainly not a popular thing to say, but it's something a Republican can get away with. 

These days, as you know, the Party of (Hell) No likes to think of itself as the Party of Freedom, promoting unrestrained liberty (for the rich and privileged). What it is really, it would seem, is the Party of Fascism, the party of draconian anti-immigrant laws, the party of nativism, the party of freedom for the select few (like the guys who run Goldman Sachs) and obedience for the rest, the party of a sort of laissez faire capitalist police state.

No, Bertroche doesn't speak for the party, and I suspect that many Republicans would find his fascist-like extremism (even by their standards) unpalatable, if not downright offensive. But, again, this is the party of a law in Arizona, supported by the likes of Bill Kristol (a Jew who should know better, given what happened back in the '30s and '40s in Germany and elsewhere, and what has happened to Jews throughout history), that will allow police to target (even vaguely) suspected illegal immigrants through racial and ethnic profiling, that will require even legal immigrants (and even American citizens) to carry identification papers.

So it is really all that surprising that a Republican has called for microchipping human beings? It's a reductio ad absurdum approach to the Republican war on (illegal) immigration, but it can hardly seem absurd to the increasingly extremist, and increasingly crazy, Republican Party.

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GOP ready for FinReg cave

By Creature

It may not be today, but it will be soon. Kudos to Harry Reid for forcing these votes. Now, I can't help but think if the Dems had forced votes on health care reform last summer the ugly over the bill would never had time to percolate. Oh well, live and learn.

Update: The cave is today. Wow. Let the debate begin.

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Arizona follows up draconian immigration law with draconian abortion law

It's not just Oklahoma. These days, Arizona seems to be the state taking the lead pushing a far-right, hard-right agenda: Here's TP's Igor Volsky with the ugly details:

The nation is rightly focused on Arizona's draconian new immigration law, but Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) -- who is running for her first full term in office this year -- has just signed another regressive bill that could severely restrict women's access to abortion coverage.

On Saturday, "at the Center for Arizona Policy Family dinner before 1600 guests," Brewer signed SB 1305, the first-in-the nation bill that would prohibit insurers in the state-run health care exchange "from providing coverage for abortions unless the coverage is offered as a separate optional rider for which an additional insurance premium is charged."

The new Arizona law is a radical mini Stupak. It prevents insurers from offering abortion services, except under the most extreme circumstances, even if only private money were used to pay for those services. Most if not all women in the exchange would only be able to purchase coverage through an impractical, separate abortion "rider" or leave the exchange entirely and find coverage in the shrinking individual health insurance market. Since it's unlikely that many insurers will offer abortion riders or that women will purchase them in anticipation of needing an abortion -- in fact, "in the five states where abortion riders are currently required, no insurance company offers them" -- the Arizona law will severely disadvantage poorer women who would likely have to pay out of pocket for abortion services. 

Many other states are considering similar bans, but only Arizona has the distinction of leading the nation in adopting the most conservative social policies.

Oh, and you can carry concealed weapons without a permit (like in Alaska and, oddly enough, Vermont). More and more, Arizona is making states like Oklahoma look sane -- and that's a state that has the crazy combo of Inhofe and Coburn in the Senate.

Next up? Book burnings in Glendale!

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Quote of the Day: Linda Greenhouse on Arizona's new immigration law

From the "Opinionator" blog at the Times:

I'm glad I've already seen the Grand Canyon.

Because I'm not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last week has turned it into.


The intent of the new Arizona law, according to the State Legislature, is "attrition through enforcement." Breathing while undocumented, without a civil liberties lawyer at hand, is now a perilous activity anywhere in Arizona.

I've never been to Arizona and, alas, I've never seen the Grand Canyon. I'd really like to someday, but I'm in no great rush and, more to the point, have no desire to visit what has become, under Brewer and her Republican ilk, a good ol' right-wing paradise simmering in its own venomous bile.

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Apple validates our scoop on the iSqueal!

By J. Thomas Duffy

Who knew we would be so prophetic?

On multiple fronts.

First there was the minor fun we had, with the Little Lost iPhone last week, in our 'The iPhone That Knew Too Much', running a wisp of a thread of the classic Hitchcock film in it.

After dismissing that "Redwood City (California) will never, ever, ever be mistaken for in Marrakesh", we had this breaking news;

Police Seize Jason Chen's Computers

Last Friday night, California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen's home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers. They did so using a warrant by Judge of Superior Court of San Mateo. According to Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gawker Media LLC, the search warrant to remove these computers was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.

Holy Handcuffs Batman!

Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team?

Do they actually have lightening-quick robots that go out, paralyze people, that drag them back to Apple HQ for an under-the-burning LED interrogation?

Apple asked for 'lost' iPhone criminal probe

The criminal investigation into the purported theft of an apparent iPhone prototype came at the request of Apple Inc., officials said Tuesday.


Wagstaffe said that an outside counsel for Apple, along with Apple engineer Powell, called the District Attorney’s office on Wednesday or Thursday of last week to report a theft had occurred and they wanted it investigated. The District Attorney’s office then referred them to the Rapid Enforcement and Allied Computer Team, or REACT, a multi-jurisdictional, high-tech crime task force that operates under the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office.

REACT then sought out the warrant that was served on the home of Gizmodo writer Jason Chen, seizing several computers, a server and external hard drives, as well as copies of Chen’s paystubs and his American Express bill. The warrant was served on April 23 while Chen and his wife were out of the house, leading investigators to break down his door and conduct the search.


Apple is on the steering committee of REACT along with 24 other Silicon Valley companies including Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Symantec Corp., KLA-Tencor Inc., Applied Materials Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. The committee acts as a liaison between the region’s tech industry and law enforcement


When we said "Apple is, notoriously like The Yakuza, we had no idea they had a man on the inside.

Katie Marsal has more on that end of things.

Now, we have a cavalcade of legal circus acts to play out.

And this peaked our interest;

Apple May Have Traced iPhone to Finder’s Address

People identifying themselves as representing Apple last week visited and sought permission to search the Silicon Valley address of the college-age man who came into possession of a next-generation iPhone prototype, according to a person involved with the find.

“Someone came to [the finder's] house and knocked on his door,” the source told, speaking on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation by the police. A roommate answered, but wouldn’t let them in.

Hmmm ...

How did they know where to go?

Could they really trace it, and/or, did they get a tip?

That brings us square into a scoop we had, way back, in March of 2005;

Apple will also set up a special hotline - iSqueal - for people to phone or email in tips as to who may be leaking, or disparaging Apple or any Apple products.

Changes will be coming with iTunes as well. The purchase price will remain at .99, for those willing to sign a contract that they will not badmouth Apple. Otherwise, the purchase of a tune will cost $99 and Apple will create a dossier on that purchaser and monitor there actions and communications.

Ipods will now be outfitted with special senors to detect a batch of keywords related to dissent about Apple. If any of these keywords are used, the iPod shuts down, and sends a signal - much like a Lojack - for Apple to dispatch a lawyer to serve the iPod owner with a lawsuit.

Apple, unofficially, has validated the iSqueal!

We'll have to wait and see what else breaks with this case.

In the meantime, we'll let Andrew Leonard, of Salon, close us out, from his 'Steve Jobs' iPhone police state';

No one ends up looking good in this mess. Steve Jobs is a control freak with police powers. Apple employees don't know how to take care of super-secret prototypes! Finders of lost iPhones are perfectly happy to sell them to on-the-make media outlets. And the pursuit of the page-view jackpot turns reporters into black market entrepreneurs. It's a wonderful world.

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Just how insane and extremist is Arizona's new immigration law?

Right-wing favourite and presumptive Florida GOP Senate nominee Marco Rubio has "concerns," which is saying a lot.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush thinks it "creates unintended consequences" and isn't "the proper approach."

George W. Bush "brain" and "turd blossom" Karl Rove predicts there are "going to be some constitutional problems with the bill."

In contrast, many others on the right, such as Bill Kristol and George Will, are behind Arizona all the way and think it's a great and necessary move, and so it's not like conservative opposition to the law is widespread. Indeed, even the opposition to it has generally been muted, carefully crafted to express disappointment while not taking issue with the Republican approach to immigration generally.

It is rather hypocritical, not to mention downright appalling, that a party and a movement that smear Obama with socialist and fascist labels and claim to be defending freedom are in fact interested only in freedom for a select few, or more broadly for their own kind. A few high-profile exceptions notwithstanding, their enthusiastic support for what amounts to an American form of fascism is telling.

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Drop that Chalupa, Pedro

By Capt. Fogg

When those cold war movies I grew up on wanted to let you know the scene was not in the land of the free, we were furnished with Angst ridden scenes where the protagonist was asked for his papers by someone in a leather trench coat on some dark street corner. Maybe his accent was showing, the cut of his clothes -- maybe it was just routine, but we were all grateful that back here, in "freedom" we could go about our business without worry and the government was on our side.

The strangest thing about Arizona's new knee jerk immigration law is that Arizona is the spiritual home of small-government libertarianism and the feeling that Government is a necessary evil; perhaps more evil than necessary. They don't want the government telling them when and where or if they can keep and bear and conceal weapons, what they can eat, smoke or drink or what they can do on their property. They don't trust public education or public radio and they sure as hell don't want to pay for them. I suspect they'd raise holy hell if the police were to stop them at random looking for contraband or illegal weapons or even a drivers license, yet they're apparently quite happy to demand that anyone "suspicious" in that state must keep proof of citizenship on their person at all times, display such proof to any cop that feels like demanding it, or face serious consequences. Of course, if you're white, you're probably all right, so never mind.

To any unbiased observer this alone would more than hint of a police state and unconstitutional government interference in private life.

Sure, if the Arizona police were perfect human beings there would be little concern, but they're far from that. Still, those self-styled Libertarians seem quite happy to give unprecedented and perhaps unconstitutional power to Law enforcement to stop people and demand papers. It's pretty hard to maintain the pose of strict constitutional limits on government when the power reserved for the judicial branch is given to a cop on the beat. The various issues surrounding protecting citizens from government powers of search and seizure were a cornerstone of our rebellion against British rule -- as I shouldn't have to remind anyone.

Dare I speculate that the Libertarian label might, for a great many people, sometimes be only the phony ID that authoritarianism carries?

Evidently fear of aliens overrides high principle and what Arizona really wants is a government that cuts a swath through the law to root out what they want rooted out -- and the Constitution be damned. What they want is a government that lays it's fingers heavily on people they don't like and lays completely off anything that stands between them and whatever they please. Sorry cowboy; when you add in the racist element, this situational Libertarianism is too much like Fascism to make it worth trying to find a difference.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oklahoma Legisture overrides veto, enacts restrictive anti-abortion measures

If you're a woman in Oklahoma, your choice about what to do with your own body, to the extent that you have any choice at all, will now be manipulated to the point where you don't really have any at all. Here's the NYT:

The Oklahoma Legislature voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to override vetoes of two highly restrictive abortion measures, one making it a law that women undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before having an abortion.

Though other states have passed similar measures forcing women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma's law goes further, requiring a doctor or technician to set up the monitor where the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.

The second measure passed into law Tuesday protects doctors from malpractice suits if they decide not to inform the parents of a unborn baby that the fetus has birth defects. The intent of the bill is to prevent parents from later suing doctors who withhold information to try to influence them against having an abortion.

Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, vetoed both bills last week. The ultrasound law, he said, was flawed because it did not exempt rape and incest victims and was an unconstitutional intrusion into a woman’s privacy. He painted the other measure as immoral.

Gov. Henry is right, but he didn't go far enough. The first bill isn't just flawed, it's downright reprehensible. Its intent is not to provide women with more information, it's to guilt them into not having an abortion, to restrict their choice through outright manipulation. As for the second bill, it's awful as well. It basically allows doctors to lie to their patients. Somewhere, Hippocrates is not amused.

I certainly agree that women (and men, to an extent) should have the information to made an informed choice. This is an extremely difficult issue, and decisions with respect to whether or not to get an abortion are nothing if not agonizing in many cases. Of course, it bothers me a great deal that some take the decision lightly. Like many others who are pro-choice, I would prefer that abortion were rare, and rarely necessary -- safe, legal, and rare, as Bill Clinton put it -- and not simply a matter of convenience that can be taken advantage of again and again.

But what Oklahoma is doing is staking the deck against choice, pushing women against abortion, without any regard for context (e.g., rape, incest, health concerns) when what they really need is support and compassion and understanding. And respect -- respect that they can make an informed decision without being told by the state what to do with their bodies, without being manipulated into doing what others want them to do.

It's funny, in a not terribly amusing way, that conservatives these days talk up liberty so much while doing their utmost to deny liberty to those they disagree with, including with respect to abortion.

"Republicans are now becoming a direct threat to your health if you are a woman," writes John Cole. I'd say they've been a threat for long time already. This is just more of the same. And it must be stopped.

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A stopped clock

By J. Thomas Duffy

In our best tongue-in-cheek Gomer Pyle...

Surprise, Surprise!

From Crooks and Liars:

David Duke defends the Tea Parties from charges of racism: Why, they're just like him

Duke: Tea Party people are called racist because the vast majority wants to stop the massive non-European immigration that will turn America into a crumbling tower of Babel. Most Tea Partiers believe that we in America have the right to preserve our heritage, language, and culture, just as every nation has that human right. The vast majority of Tea Party activists oppose affirmative action and diversity, which are nothing more than programs of racist discrimination against white people. The vast majority of Tea Party enthusiasts despise Hollywood and the mass media.

You know, the unelected media bosses have far more power than any senator or congressman, and are far more alien to America than the British were at the time of the American Revolution. At least the British were of our own, Christian cultural heritage, while the non-Christian ethno-religious minority who dominates Hollywood sees itself as very distinct from the 98 percent of the rest of us.

Tea Party activists are true populists who see the powers that control international finance and the Federal Reserve as the biggest threats to American prosperity and freedom.

...The Tea Party movement is made up of American people who have watched in silent anger while the nation of our forefathers has been destroyed. The Tea Party movement, as the original Tea Party, is about preserving our heritage and our freedom.

Where's Orval Faubus when you really need him?

David Neiwert adds: 

See, when David Duke whines that "pro white" organizations don't get treated the same as "pro black" organizations, he's ignoring a critical difference: "Pro black" organizations (think the NAACP) are all about lifting up people of their own color. "Pro white" organizations are all about tearing down people of other colors. That's why they call them "hate groups." 

The Tea Partiers probably don't want Duke's endorsement. But he's basically right: The Tea Partiers argue from exactly the same kind of appeals that Duke and his fellow white nationalist have used for years, particularly the appeals to the "Founding Fathers" -- most of whom were, after all, white supremacists themselves.

Indeed, the Tea Party movement is nothing less than the manifestation of the agenda Duke has been pushing for years. We appreciate him pointing that out for public consumption. 

As Anomaly100 at Freakout Nation reminds us: 

Many years ago in New Orleans, Duke was running for political office. He explained away his past by saying, it was his past. He said he was no longer a racist. Now, he’s a lying racist. 

I don't know ...

I feel a Sarah Palin Facebook Lame-Street-Media-Love-Hug-to-Duke post coming up ...

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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(Another) Craziest Republican of the Day: Kristia Cavere

You've probably never heard of Ms. Cavere. I hadn't either, until this.

She's a Republican candidate (and Tea Party favourite) for New York's 19th Congressional District, currently held by Democrat John Hall. On Twitter, she describes herself as a "Proud American, Christian, Conservative, Republican, Writer, Equestrian." Good times.

Basically, she's just the sort of ignorant teabagging extremist we've come to expect from the GOP. And, it would appear, she's a moron. As The Albany Project reported over the weekend, she recently said this:

The Republicans are the ones who liberated Europe in World War II.

Interesting. I had no idea that FDR was a Republican, and that the Republican Party wasn't a party of isolationism (and fascism), a party that, in wanting to stay out of the war (or to side with Germany), appeased Hitler (among other anti-freedom types), and that all those who landed on the beaches, all those who gaves their lives, were Republican.

Thanks for clearing that up, Ms. Cavere. Now please crawl back under that rock whence you came. Those of us who live in the real world have no need for your truth-denying nonsense (which, of course, makes you a great fit in the GOP).

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Leo Berman

There are so many crazy conservatives to choose from in Texas, starting at the top with Gov. Rick Perry, neo-secessionist, but let's go with state Rep. Leo Berman, who at an up-with-Glenn Beck event over the weekend (attended by the governor), said this:

I believe that Barack Obama is God's punishment on us today, but in 2012, we are going to make Obama a one-term president.

Now, there's nothing wrong, I suppose, with trying to make Obama a one-term president. That's Republican partisanship for you. But how exactly is Obama "God's punishment on us"? Who's "us"? And what did "we" do to deserve punishment?

Perhaps for civil rights, or for being an open and tolerant society (in general, if not so much in Texas)?

Let's just say that Berman has an ugly history of racism and nativism. As Raw Story reports, he has "built a track record of controversial comments. Last year, activists launched a now-defunct Web site,, after Berman told a Chinese-American lawyer to 'kiss his ass' and 'go home,' presumably to China." And in 2007 he "delivered what one blogger called a 'hate-filled speech' in which he claimed that 'illegal immigrants were bringing Polio, the plague, leprosy, tuberculosis, malaria, Chagas Disease and Dengue Fever to the United States in alarming numbers."

Charming... and, these days, oh-so-Republican.

Because however extreme his views, he's more than welcome, it would seem, in the Republican mainstream, particularly in Texas, where craziness, like everything else there, comes in huge sizes.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Ben Nelson votes with GOP on FinReg

By Creature

It's shit like this that pisses me off to no end about Democrats. If you going to put a (D) after your name then there are times when you must vote with your party. This vote was procedural. It was supposed to keep the GOP off balance. Now, not so much. Suddenly blocking FinReg is a bipartisan affair. Way to go.

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Graham crackers

Life is strange. Franklin Graham got himself into trouble by bragging about how moral we Christian Americans are as opposed to "these other countries":

You can't beat your wife, you cannot murder your children if you think they've committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries.

Of course, there's some truth to it. Such practices do go on, but that they don't go on too often in the US, is hard for me to attribute to the ennobling influence of fundamentalist fire-and-brimstone Christianity of the Franklin sort. You've seen the statistics about the so-called Bible Belt, and I think they show that such crimes are bred by ignorance and poverty and alcohol, not by Sunday Sermons. I would challenge anyone to show that atheists, for instance, are more likely to murder their daughters -- or anyone for that matter.

Nonetheless, Franklin missed the opportunity to teach about the brotherhood of man and our universal failings and frailties as well, and chose instead the traditional tribal posture of moral superiority in an attempt to rally the Christian faithful by riling the Muslim faithful. He also missed the opportunity to speak at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer -- when the Bill of Rights goes into hiding and we pretend we're back in George II's Merry Old Christian England, being told when, how, and to whom to pray -- just like old Tom Jefferson wanted.

Some might find that puzzling since Billy Graham, famous for agreeing in a taped conversation with Richard Nixon about how "the Jews" were ruining the country, that "the Jews" had a stranglehold on the American media, seems still to be in favor amongst presidents needing to show how Christian they are, including Mr. Obama and the randy Mr. Clinton. The Elder Graham did of course do a great deal of grovelling and talking about his record of not trying to convert Jews and being a friend of Israel, and it seems to have worked. I'd have to take exception to the former claim, however, since I've met him and still have vivid memories of one of his associates pummeling me on the chest and insisting most sincerely that what I felt was Jesus trying to enter my heart. I'm not sure either that his "friendship" with Israel means anything but a thirst for the actualization of ancient political propaganda and I'm not sure he doesn't approve of the kind of theocratic Israeli politics I despise.

Anyway, this is the USA, where things are felt first and rationalized later, and Billy is still one of the most admired men in the country, and Mr. Obama apparently seems to feel the need to be seen praying with the wealthy country gentleman. Maybe they make needles with camel-size eyes these days.

Perhaps that need is real since the viral, Republican generated e-mail hoax insisting that he's canceled the National Day of Prayer has achieved orbital velocity and doesn't seem to be slowing down even after colliding with the facts. We can't forget just how many Republicans and takers of tea insist he's a Muslim fundamentalist. I guess he needs to be seen on his knees with the right someone, grovelling to no one and not bending over too far to shake hands with non-Christian foreign dignitaries half his height. Frankly, Mr. Franklin, I hate to see a president on his knees for any reason.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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