Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bachmann Palin Over Time

By Mustang Bobby.

In the last three years, Sarah Palin has become the Paris Hilton of politics; famous for being famous, and the pundits, the political equivalent of the paparazzi, have followed her and her family's antics with the faithful devotion of any fan magazine.  And Ms. Palin has that impressive ability to know how to work the media to her advantage and to get what she wants.

It's not political power.  She had that as the governor of Alaska and found that it's hard work with not a lot of benefits to it: comparatively low pay, long hours, and you don't always get what you want.  Contrast that with being a celebrity: the money rolls in, people hang on your every word, and you don't always have to be right; you just have to be out there.  She doesn't really care if the rest of America comes around to her points of view.  She just wants the attention they bring to her.

It's pretty clear that she will not run for president in 2012.  That would require a level of preparation and focus that she has proved she's neither capable of nor interested in.  It's not that she's not smart enough; it's that her nature and level of maturity isn't up to it.  She proved that when she ran for vice president, which is a job with few responsibilities except to have a pulse.  And besides, she would have to give up the book tours and the TV contracts, and the cost to the business end of her operation makes it impractical for the brand to go that way.

Michele Bachmann, on the other hand, is the real deal when it comes to running for president.  She is not only politically ambitious, she knows what she needs to do and will do the hard work it takes to get there.  She may be as uninformed about the nuances of the United States Constitution and as factually inaccurate about science as Ms. Palin, but she comes by it not out of ignorance but by believing the dogma of the evangelical Christian right wing that believes there is no separation of church and state in the Constitution or that you can be cured of being gay.  When it comes to extremism, be it political, religious or social, Ms. Bachmann is deadly serious about it, and as this article by Michelle Goldberg in The Daily Beast details, she is not afraid of sacrificing friendships and -- ironically -- destroying her relationship with her own family to achieve her vision of a Straight Christian America.

In the broader picture of American politics, the chances that Michele Bachmann will become the next Republican nominee for president are remote at best, and even if by some stunning fluke it happens, she will be blown away in a manner that makes the Goldwater and Mondale defeats look like squeakers.  America, even in times of extreme stress and partisan divides such as the Civil War and the Great Depression, does not elect extremists as president.  Instead, we put them in Congress where they can carry on but accomplish little more than getting on Hannity or Hardball.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take them seriously; if not as candidates for president, than as voices of hatred and intolerance that have always found a way to be heard.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Michele Bachmann, "intelligent design," and the anti-science conservatism of the Republican Party


Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann explained her skepticism of evolution on Friday and said students should be taught the theory of intelligent design.


"I support intelligent design," Bachmann told reporters in New Orleans following her speech to the Republican Leadership Conference. "What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don't think it's a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides."

First, "intelligent design" isn't science, it's creationism dressed up to look like something else. And what Bachmann is proposing is not an equal playing field -- because a silly notion like "intelligent design" would lose, as no serious, self-respecting scientist takes it seriously -- but the imposition of Christianist theocracy.

Second, how are students supposed to "decide"? Students need to be taught the truth, which is evolution. But it is not the sort of absolutist truth that a fundamentalist like Bachmann demands, but rather a scientific theory. Indeed, there is disagreement within the scientific community over the details of evolution -- healthy disagreement that furthers the quest for knowledge. But there is no disagreement over evolution vs. "intelligent design." If you want to teach creationism, fine, but it belongs in a religion class alongside other theological matters, taught comparatively, and not in public schools.

Third, this isn't the government taking sides on a "scentific issue," because, again, "intelligent design" is not science.

Fourth, there is no "reasonable doubt on both sides" There is disagreement within the scientific community over specifics, but "intelligent design" is just creationism. Students can be taught that evolution is not a settled matter, that it is not as simple as 2+2=4, but they certainly should not be taught that "intelligent design" is a legitimate alternative theory. Because it is not.

Fifth, while it is quite evident that Bachmann herself is an extremist, this view is prevalent within the Republican Party and on the right generally, which has become a largely anti-science party in recent years. The assault continues.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Did the Bush White House target professor/blogger/Iraq War critic Juan Cole?

A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him.

Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.

In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted "to get" Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.

Okay, it's just an allegation, but it rings true, doesn't it, given what he know of the Bush White House and how it dealt with critics (see, e.g., Plame, Valerie)? Here's Cole:

It seems to me clear that the Bush White House was upset by my blogging of the Iraq War, in which I was using Arabic and other primary sources, and which contradicted the propaganda efforts of the administration attempting to make the enterprise look like a wild shining success.


What alarms me most of all in the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes is that I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House. After the Valerie Plame affair, it seemed clear that there was nothing those people wouldn’t stoop to. You wonder how many critics were effectively "destroyed." It is sad that a politics of personal destruction was the response by the Bush White House to an attempt of a citizen to reason in public about a matter of great public interest. They have brought great shame upon the traditions of the White House, which go back to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, who had hoped that checks and balances would forestall such abuses of power.

They brought such shame in many ways. This is but the latest revelation -- though an awfully serious one, a Nixonian one. As Steve Benen notes, "[i]f Carle’s revelations are true, using the CIA to spy on Americans for partisan gain is a felony."

And there must indeed be an investigation.

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Mitt Romney insults every single unemployed person in America

Campaigning in Florida yesterday, supposed Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney had this to say about himself:

I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed.

He meant it as a joke and the people at the table with him, all unemployed, also laughed.

Oh... so... hilarious.

Is this really his shtick, and is he really trying to break the ice on umemployment by telling this stupidly unfunny joke?

Is it his multi-millionaire way of connecting with the suffering, struggling American people? He made his money mostly by destroying jobs. He has no idea what it means to be unemployed, to suffer through genuinely hard times, to struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table. And yet he makes a joke like this as a way to seem like he's actually in touch?

I'm sorry, but evidently he's an asshole.


I would also note, following Jon Chait, that Romney is hardly as moderate/sensible/reasonable as he is being made out to be.

Responding to Romney's claim that Obama is some sort of un-American Europhile, Chait calls him "an ignorant demagogue," very much in line with other Republicans "exploiting cheap sentiment and playing upon fears of Obama as foreign, un-American, and working to undermine free enterprise," all of which, of course, it utterly baseless. Chait sums Romney up nicely:

I agree that somewhere, in his heart of hearts, Romney is an intelligent technocrat who's better than his campaign. But the plain fact is that the Mitt Romney who's running for president is sane and rational only by the standards of his crazed opposition -- which is to say, he isn't one.

Don't let him fool you. And don't let the media play along with his fooling.

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Weiner resigns, hypocrisy reigns

It's a shame that it had to come to this, but there was really no other way it could end, not after the lies, not after so much more came out, not after his own party abandoned him, including Pelosi and Obama. (Though I would stress that it's the right, far more than the left, which is generally far more understanding of human frailty and certainly far less hypocritically moralizing, that tries to exploit such scandals for partisan gain, and that was evident throughout "Weinergate.")

Is there a double standard at work here? Of course. Weiner gets nailed for meeting women online, and essentially for behaving stupidly, while Republicans like Newt Gingrich and David Vitter -- despicable, hurtful hypocrites hiding behind their "family values" self-righteousness -- get away with far worse philandering and remain respected public figures, or respected at least by the media. How is it that Weiner has to resign while Gingrich is regarded as a leading conservative with Meet the Press as a frequent venue, as if he must of course be taken seriously, making millions and now running for president?

Not to excuse Weiner's stupidity, but that's what really pisses me off here.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Huntsman the Formidable

It is being reported that former Utah Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will enter the Republican race for president as early as next Tuesday.

I have described him before as an incredibly formidable figure, the Republican Obama should be worried about, or would be if it were, say, 1996 instead of 2012 and if the Republican Party hadn't become an increasingly extremist right-wing party that has essentially left the likes of Huntsman behind.

Here's what I wrote about him back in May '09:

I tend to agree with Obama campaign guru David Plouffe that Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (who makes Plouffe a "wee bit queasy") could be a formidable Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Bucking the rightward shift of his party, and avoiding its drive for ideological purification, Huntsman is actually something of an independent-minded figure, a moderate, relatively speaking (that is, by Utah standards), with potentially broad appeal beyond Dear Leader Rush and the right-wing echo chamber. (I have previously posted on his admirable support for gay civil unions and his admirable dismissal of Congressional Republicans.)

But I also wrote this:

Huntsman may make us all a little queasy, but, thankfully, Republicans are just too stupid to know what's good for them.

That's right, however formidable he may be, or could be on the national stage, he just isn't what Republicans are looking for these days, which is someone well to his right, someone rigidly ideological. As Hot Air's Allahpundit put it a while back, dismissing Huntsman altogether, "he's going to try to be an even more sensible 'sensible centrist' alternative to Romney, Daniels, and the rest of the moderates in the field." Yes, to conservatives, Huntsman, like Romney, is moderate and therefore un-Republican. And it's much worse in Huntsman's case because he actually worked for Obama. No matter that he's appealing and electable, and hardly a liberal, and working hard to show us all his conservative bona fides.

It's hard to imagine he'll make much of a dent in the current field. But you never know. Maybe there's room for him, maybe he runs a great campaign, maybe he emerges as (and surpasses Pawlenty as) the candidate who can potentially unite the party, something Romney can't do, something an extremist like Bachmann can't do. Or maybe he just has too much baggage and too much of an independent mind, and maybe his unorthodox record, his dissent from the current Republican mainstream line, proves too much to overcome -- after all, it's hard to see the right-wing Bolsheviks who run the party now forgiving him his various sins.

But, again, there's no denying he's an awfully impressive man. I might even go so far as to say he could very well be Reagan 2.0, or if not that, given how transformative Reagan was for movement conservatism, at least a leading Republican in the Reagan mold. He just seems to have it all, even the somewhat more tolerant and even liberal positions on some social issues that show him to be a man of the times, not a man against the times, a conservative who is open to progress and change while remaining committed to his fundamental beliefs. Perhaps he could be zeitgeist conservative, the forward-looking proponent of conservatism at a time of massive global change. But not likely, not in today's Republican Party, which would likely rather expel him that have him as its leader.

Yes, Republicans really are too stupid to know what's good for them. Which is good for us, but not good for Huntsman, who will have to wait until 2016, or forever, to make his mark in a party that has abandoned him and all those like him.


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The extremism of Michele Bachmann

If anyone "won" the self-regarding lovefest that was the Republican presidential debate in New Hamphire the other night, it was likely Mitt Romney, even if that was only because no one really wanted to take him on.

But if anyone truly exceeded expectations, which is how the media usually define winning, it was Michele Bachmann, who announced that she was filing her papers for a run and then "won" the debate mainly by showing that she can actually speak publicly without her head spinning 'round and vomit spewing from her mouth. If you've seen her on the talk-show circuit, you know she can do that, and some of us actually think she has somewhat impressive political/media skills, but it's nonetheless something of a revelation when she acts, well, normal. (Just as so many are amazed when Palin strings a coherent thought together. And, yes, that is amazing.)

But don't let that performance -- don't let her -- fool you. She's a dangerous right-wing extremist. You can learn all about her "bizarro world" here. I also recommend Michelle Goldberg's piece at The Daily Beast. Here's a taste:

Her anti-gay platform has alienated parts of her family. A mentor she described as a "great influence" has a history of addresses to white supremacists. A book she collaborated on advocates theocracy. Rep. Michele Bachmann's impressive performance at Monday's debate has catapulted her near the front of the GOP pack, but the radical roots of her ideology remain poorly understood.

Can she win? It seems unlikely, but maybe, especially if no one else emerges on the right (e.g., Rick Perry), if Romney fails to win sufficient conservative support, and if Tim Pawlenty or some other "bridge" candidate (i.e., able to link the GOP's more moderate establishment with the Tea Party and other right-wing elements) fails to break through. And she'll certainly have some key support of her own:

[N]o other candidate in the race is so completely a product of the evangelical right as Bachmann; she could easily become the Christian conservative alternative to the comparatively moderate Mormon Mitt Romney. "Michele Bachmann's a complete package," says Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition wunderkind who now runs the Faith and Freedom Coalition. "She's got charisma, she's got an authentic faith testimony, she's a proven fighter for conservative values, and she's well known." She's also great at raising money -- in the 2010 cycle, she amassed a record $13.2 million in donations.

She's certainly a package. Make sure to read the whole piece.

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Leave the Weiners alone

Weinergate just won't stop:

Rep. Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, returned to Washington early Wednesday from a trip abroad, setting off a new round of speculation that the New York Democrat's resignation could come soon.

Friends of Weiner have said he would not make a decision on whether to quit until he had a chance to talk to Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who returned to the United States from a trip to Africa with Clinton that began early last week.

Weiner and Abedin are expected to meet on Wednesday, and she was spotted driving into the garage alone at their northwest D.C. apartment building in the early morning hours. She has not yet been seen leaving the building.

Anthony Weiner is a public figure, behaved idiotically, and deserves the public scrutiny that comes with the job. But I refuse to excuse the media, salivating profusely, for its lascivious and sensationalistic coverage of what is essentially a sad, if not tragic, story.

Will he resign or won't he? Okay, it's fine to speculate. It's also fine to talk about what he did. But staking out his apartment, pulling his wife into it (as if she doesn't have enough to deal with), and trying to publicize what is, and what must be, inherently private? Disgusting, even if it's what the media always do.

No, invasive reports like this aren't as bad as the moralistic bullshit spewed by the likes of Andrea Peyser and other right-wing smearmongers, but they're nonetheless deeply irresponsible.

Leave the Weiners alone. Let them deal with their relationship in private. We'll know soon enough what the Congressman plans to do.

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Canuck suck

I'm not a Canucks fan, and I don't automatically root for any Canadian team no matter what, but I was certainly rooting for the Canucks against the detestable, thuggish Bruins.

But... alas.

Boston hoisted the Cup tonight, and they deserved it. Vancouver may have had too many injuries to overcome, but when it came down to it they just didn't show up when it mattered, notably their best players (where were the Sedins exactly?), losing badly three times in Boston and then being completely outmatched tonight in Game 7.

Though I continue to note that Montreal really should have beaten them in the first round, going up 2-0 with two wins in Boston and ultimately losing three games in OT. I hate the Bruins enough already. But to see them with the Cup after the Canadiens let it slip away... Ugh.

Anyway, it's been a great time for hockey in this country. The Canucks' loss takes nothing away from that. But it would have been nice.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WARNING: GOP presidential candidates cause brain damage, coma & media-assisted suicide during CNN debate

What an embarrassing performance by the Republican presidential candidates during the CNN debate Monday evening. 

The voting public's general lack of enthusiasm for any one candidate was reinforced by their anti-Obama bandwagon harping – blaming him for everything from Bush's bailout to the price of tea in China (it's cheaper) – and their hollow promises to right every alleged wrong that this country has ever seen. They offered nothing but clichéd, tired, and overly rehearsed talking points about how much they love our troops, how much they sympathize with those effected by the recession, how much they worry about their children and grandchildren, and how much of a better job they would do if they were president.


We are no closer to a Republican candidate than we were yesterday, and if the debates continue to provide no more than political platitudes and make-believe prescriptions for solving the country’s problems – if the candidates can't go beyond promising blanket repeals of everything Obama has done – then they are securing their own fate as uninspiring, unelectable, and unqualified talking heads. This was a waste of time.  

I'm sure I am not alone in feeling dumber for having tuned in to this poor excuse for a debate. 

My reactions to the debate, in reverse order, via Twitter:

@MuddyPolitics: Bachmann is using multi-syllable words during CNN debate: "vital," then falls back on "the," to," "it," "I."

@MuddyPolitics:Pawlenty, in answering question about bringing home U.S. troops from Afghanistan: I just want to say thank you…

@MuddyPolitics: Coming up: withdrawal or don't withdrawal troops from Afghanistan? expect mass anti-Obama lectures. 

@MuddyPolitics: Santorum's only chance in 2012 was to have a presence at the debates. He doesn't. He's done.

@MuddyPolitics: Summary of #CNNDebate #GOPdebate : get rid of the courts, the federal government & Congress – that is, the U.S. government. Problem solved.

@MuddyPolitics: Cain doesn't believe in the 14th Amendment. Must have consulted Palin on that answer. #GOPfail 

@MuddyPolitics This is weird to say, but Ron Paul is the most sane, most realistic of the bunch. I know...I know... #oxymoron 

@MuddyPolitics: Ron Paul: protect our borders, not those between Iraq and Afghanistan. 

@MuddyPolitics: Bachmann stands for life, and gets a round of applause. No pro-death candidates so far... 

@MuddyPolitics: Bachman: I've fucked up 5 of my own children, 23 foster children. Poor bastards. 

@MuddyPolitics Santorum: we need 2 look @ the authenticity of a candidate – throws Romney under the bus, & for good reason. #abortion

@MuddyPolitics: Bachmann would consult "commanders in chief" over DADT. Past presidents?

@MuddyPolitics: Pawlenty says, "I was in a union." He just lost all his chances of winning the nomination. 

@MuddyPolitics: Cain doesn't know what "right to work" is.

@MuddyPolitics: Newt's second accusation of Obama policy being "stupid"

@MuddyPolitics: Pawlenty's only valid quote of the night: "We live in the United States of America." True...true... 

@MuddyPolitics: Santorum mentions "trickle down." #GOPfail

@MuddyPolitics: Bachmann uses her hands a lot when talking. Especially when talking about liberals. #CrazyArmCircles

@MuddyPolitics: Paul: I have no uplifting metaphors, just boring details. Hence my popularity.

@MuddyPolitics: Bachmann "We're going to win...President Obama is a one-term president!" 

@MuddyPolitics: Bachmann: Tea Party is a group of "disaffected Democrats." hahahahahaha

@MuddyPolitics: Newt cites Heritage Foundation. Bravo! 

@MuddyPolitics: Romney: "I can't wait to debate him." Declares he's the GOP's nominee!!! 

@MuddyPolitics: I think American Idol is more stimulating than this. 

@MuddyPolitics: Ohhh... #Obamneycare comes up. Mitt says he'll overturn #Obamacare. Goes on defensive about Romneycare. Hilarious.

@MuddyPolitics: Bachmann "will not rest" until she overturns #Obamacare ... 

@MuddyPolitics: These aren't candidates, they're candidebts. Intellectually speaking. 

@MuddyPolitics: Ron Paul says Federal Reserve caused the financial bubble. Government's fault. Duh. & people don't understand. Duh. 

@MuddyPolitics: Ron Paul can't think of anything Obama has done to boost the economy... wow... 

@MuddyPolitics: Bachmann says: "I filed my paperwork today to seek the office of the president today." Today she did that. 

@MuddyPolitics: Newt: "They ought to start creating jobs." Great details so far in this debate.

@MuddyPolitics: Romney pulls "Pelosi/Reid" card in demagoguing Obama." FUCKING ORIGINAL!

@MuddyPolitics: Romney gives kudos to Pawlenty for recognizing that the president needs to go. BRILLIANT! 

@MuddyPolitics: CNN asks, where were the jobs after Bush's tax cuts? Pawlenty doesn't answer, but talks to time limit.

@MuddyPolitics: Santorum says "I'm...uh...not...uhh...wait...what was the question?"

(Cross-posted at Muddy Politics.)

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Rand Paul's thug has his day in court

By Richard K. Barry 

Here's an interesting update on a post I wrote back in October. You may recall that a Rand Paul campaign worker stomped on the head of liberal activist Lauren Valle, who was engaged in a bit of peaceful political theatre at a campaign event during the Kentucky senate race, which, of course, Paul eventually won.

It seems the perpetrator of the violence, some jerk by the name of Tim Proffit, will serve probation and pay medical expenses stemming from the assault.

According to a piece in Roll Call:

Profitt acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to win a conviction but he didn't admit guilt, according to Assistant Fayette County Attorney Jackie Alexander. He will undergo unsupervised probation for a year and pay $600 for Valle's medical bills.

Valle was posing outside the debate as a representative of RubliCorp, a fake company invented by the liberal group to criticize Republican ties to corporate America. She had been trying to give Paul a RepubliCorp employee of the month "award" when she was confronted.

It seems to me that Mr. Proffit got off easy. The right is all for law and order as long it doesn't involve their transgressions, I suppose.

I don't intend to rank the significance of various forms of violence, but there is little that pisses me off more than violence committed against people engaged in non-violent political speech. There is no way that the punishment here is appropriate considering the actions of this bastard.

Give me a break.

To refresh your memory, here's some footage from the incident:

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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On The One Hand...

By Carl
Pakistan continues to be a conundrum wrapped in an enigma:

Pakistani intelligence has detained five alleged CIA informants who spied on Osama bin Laden in the months before the al-Qaida chief was killed in a special forces raid, US and Pakistani officials have said.

The Pakistani informants noted the details of vehicles visiting Bin Laden's house in Abbottabad, 35 miles north of Islamabad, and helped run a nearby house from which CIA spies watched the al-Qaida leader.

A Pakistani official said the owner of the CIA hideout had been arrested along with several other people.

A military spokesman denied a New York Times report that a serving army major had also been detained. The arrests highlight continuing tensions between the US and Pakistan in the wake of Bin Laden's death. They are likely to intensify pressure from senior Washington politicians to cut Pakistan's $2bn annual aid package.

On the one hand, Pakistan swears they are assisting the US in its efforts to contain terrorism and in particular, Al Qaeda. On the decide.

This development comes on the heels of the hectoring given by Pakistani security officials to CIA chief Leon Panetta last week about covert activities in Pakistan.

This, despite the fact that Panetta had all but accused the Pakistani security forces of aiding and abetting militants by showing them a video of a bomb factory in Waziristan (note, not even in Pakistan) evacuating after the US had notified the Pakistanis they were aware of the activity.

Not even about to launch a raid, just that they knew it was there.

One can only assume the CIA have knowledge of activities inside Pakistan and will not reveal this to the military.

On Pakistan's part, they raise a legitimate concern...legitimate, to a degree: if the US had foreign agents acting on its soil, they'd be well within their rights to roll up any citizens who are cooperating with those agents, no matter how "friendly" that nation may be or how aligned their interests may be (ex. Jonathan Pollard.)
Still, Israel isn't about to commit a terrorist act on American soil (unless you want to count the JDL, but that was decades ago,) whereas Al Qaeda and other Muslim extremists would do so in a heartbeat. Pakistan ought to step back from this concern and focus on the larger issues involved, most notably their precarious standing in the world when compared to other nations in the region and other global issues.
Pakistan is essentially the country going up for seconds at a barbecue and then cutting the line to get thirds, even tho they are a "plus one" at the do. Musharraf was asked not so politely to step aside and one suspects that the military does not have the stranglehold it once had on the nation.
In fact, if I was Panetta, I'd be looking to push this guy further up the food chain:

A senior Pakistani official said the dispute represented a clash between "Pakistani hyper-nationalism and American arrogance".

That about sums it up, on both hands.

(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Herman Cain may be an anti-Muslim bigot, but he's also a fairly mainstream Republican

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf: "Herman Cain's Anti-Muslim Bigotry Should Be Disqualifying."

Um, sure, and Friedersdorf rightly picks apart Cain's reprehensible loyalty test proposal, but this is the Republican Party we're talking about here, the party of bigots like Pete King and Allen West.

I hardly think being an anti-Muslim bigot disqualifies you from being a Republican, and even a very popular one.

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Pawlenty: Unfortunately, Bush tax cuts didn't completely screw America

According to Tim Pawlenty, whose budget plan is almost unfathomably ridiculous, the Bush tax cuts "didn't fully serve their intended purposes."

Which were to starve the federal government into annihilation, dismantle democracy, and turn the country fully over to a Hobbesian plutocracy of wealth-makes-right in the state of nature of conservatives' dreams. 

Not fully, but almost. And of course Republicans like Pawlenty aren't giving up the fight.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Rick Perry

How just crazy is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who might very well jump in the race for president as the dream-candidate of many conservatives?

For the past week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has been roundly criticized by religious and LGBT groups alike for inviting other governors to join him at an anti-gay prayer event hosted by stridently bigoted American Family Association. Not only has Perry courted the radical wing of the religious right for years, he has a history of bucking responsibility for tough problems by invoking God. For instance, while Texas was facing a historic drought and rash of wildfires, Gov. Perry extolled Texans to "pray for rain," as he tried to cut funding for the agency battling the wildfires.

As Perry is poised to sign the most draconian state budget in recent history that slashes essential services for the poor and middle class while potentially laying off 100,000 teachers, Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch Kyle digs up this gem of an interview from May in which the governor sheds some light on his motivations. During an appearance on James Robison's Life Today television program, Perry says he sees a silver lining to the devastating recession that has cost millions of families their jobs, homes, and livelihoods: it will return America to "Biblical principles" and free us from the slavery of big government.

That's right. Fucking crazy. Here's what he actually said:

I think in America from time to time we have to go through some difficult times — and I think we're going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don't spend all the money. You work hard for those six years and you put up that seventh year in the warehouse to take you through the hard times. And not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it's slavery. We become slaves to government.

Right, it's all been (his) God's work, or something. Nothing to do with predatory lenders or Wall Street or those companies slashing jobs while they pay their executives massive salaries or the decline of America's manufacturing base or a consumerist culture completely out of control or the very anti-government right-wing policies people like Perry support. No, not at all.

I'm sure this makes all those people who lost jobs and who are having trouble paying their bills and putting food on the table and take care of their children feel so much better.

Hey, it's all for a purpose.

Fuck you, Rick Perry.

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Turn up the crazy, Michele Bachmann's running for president

Who cares what happened at Monday evening's crazy Republican debate in New Hampshire? The big news is that Michele Bachmann is running!

She may very well be the savior of the GOP. And she's about as Republican as it gets, what with her Tea Party bona fides, her ridiculous conspiracy theorizing, her self-focused faux feminism, and her general right-wing craziness.

I wish her all the best. (I'm not being facetious. Not at all.)

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Anthony Weiner should go now

By Richard K. Barry 

(Update: Apparently President Obama also thinks Weiner should go. And Weiner himself is apparently in "despair" and "on the fence" about resigning. -- MJWS)

I was away from my computer for a few days and am just now catching up on the latest news, which still seems to be dominated by Anthony Weiner stories leading me to what is, I think, an obvious conclusion.

Weiner should resign because he knew the rules of the game when he decided to run for office. We can talk about the morality of what he did in a context that has nothing to do with politics, which some people seem to think is the point. It isn't.

This is about politics. This is about winning elections and passing legislation and moving the yardsticks for your side as deliberately as you can. Thanks to Congressman Weiner, that is all marginally more difficult now for Democrats.

Maybe it's too bad the media pays way too much attention to this kind of thing. In fact, I am sure it's too bad. But Weiner has been, much of the time, a smart politician, and he knows that the risks he took would, if found out, hurt his party and hurt progressive causes.

He took a really stupid chance and got caught. End of story. 

Again, it doesn't matter if this kind of behaviour is or should in any way be okay outside of politics. That's not where it happened. There is no margin for error here. The other side will always make sure of that. 

Politics should be conducted differently, you say? Yeah, well, not this week.

When this thing broke, I had hoped that things would not develop as they have, but that was then.

He should go. 

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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This day in history - June 13, 1997: Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is sentenced to death

On this day in 1997, a jury sentenced Timothy McVeigh to death for his part in the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

I guess extremism in the defence of some screwed-up anti-government understanding of liberty is a vice after all.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Pobre Hijastro

By Carl
Yesterday was Puerto Rican Day in NYC.
I suppose that since Puerto Ricans-- Los Boricuas-- have had such a big influence on my life and my city, I lose sight of the fact they really are second-class citizens in our nation.
This was driven home by the startling realization that President Obama's visit to the island tomorrow will be the first official visit by a sitting President since 1961, although Gerald Ford did host a G-7 summit there in 1976.
For us, it is really a momentous occasion that the president is making an official visit," Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, who is scheduled to meet with Obama, told POLITICO. "It will allow us the opportunity to discuss with the president important issues - just as the governor of Florida or Delaware would do if the president were to visit their state - and showcase what Puerto Rico is all about."
Now, it's true that Puerto Rico has, by its own hand, chosen to live in a limbo between statehood and independence. Citizens there cannot vote in American presidential elections, although they can hold primaries. They don't have official representation in Congress, but they can be drafted to fight and die for our country.
If Puerto Rico was a state, its GDP would rank it about 40th, ahead of New Hampshire, Idaho, Maine...and Alaska.
Now, Puerto Ricans have been accepted as US citizens since 1917. You don't need a passport to travel there, and of course, the US Dollar is the accepted currency.
It is, by all accounts, an island with a rich heritage and history, and of remarkable beauty. And it has a shrinking economy and high unemployment.
These dichotomies make it all the more mystifying to me why Presidential visits seem to be so far and few between. For the 1961 visit, the cynic in me suggests that this was a move by JFK to solidify Puerto Rico's ties to the mainland in the face of the unrest posed by the Castro regime in Cuba which probably gave rise to the FALN, a terrorist organization that was particularly busy in the 1970s.
Ford clearly threw the island a bone by holding the G-7 summit there. And then...nothing until 2011?
Very odd. Economic development on the island would go a long way to resolving the statehood question in either direction, to be sure, and yet no one's given this that level of thought? Economic development would stem the draining population, too, allowing more people to stay in their ancestral homeland.
Economic development would go a long way to helping the nation get up off the mat. It has enormous resources, a hard-working population, and a literacy rate that would make many US states proud.
And yet we deign to acknowledge it twice a century.
Pretty shameful, if you ask me.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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