Thursday, August 22, 2013

George Who?

By Capt. Fogg

Here's a history quiz for you.  Which President of the United States do we see on the left, telling the incompetent Mr. Brown he's doing a "heckuva" job responding to hurricane Katrina?  

29% of Louisiana Republicans said in response to a TPM poll that it was Barack Obama - still only an obscure freshman senator from Illinois who bears most of the blame.  44% weren't sure just who was responsible for the poor response to the devastating hurricane. George who?

These people vote.  These people say Liberals are retarded. These people are happy to lecture you about history and science and laugh at your education. George who?

I credit Libby at The Impolitic for bringing this to my attention, but I wish she hadn't.  Of course, being a Floridian, I'm glad for evidence for the argument that Florida isn't the Stupidest State as long as we have Louisiana, but none the less; how can I not feel despair at reading a poll showing, as she says, that "73% of Louisiana Republicans don't remember who was president when Katrina hit NOLA."

(Cross posted from Human Voices) 

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Who cares about Ted Cruz and his citizenship?

So right-wing mouth-frother Ted Cruz, senator from the not-so-great state of Texas, has released his birth certificate. And, yes, he was born in Calgary -- that is, not in the U.S. -- and is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. (given that he was born in Canada to an American mother). Which, yes, means he likely can be president, as he is a "natural born" American, unlike, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger, though there may be some lingering dispute as to the meaning of "natural born." But the facts of his birth will continue to hound him politically:

The circumstances of Cruz's birth have fueled a simmering debate over his eligibility to run for president. Knowingly or not, dual citizenship is an apparent if inconvenient truth for the tea party firebrand, who shows every sign he’s angling for the White House.

"Senator Cruz became a U.S. citizen at birth, and he never had to go through a naturalization process after birth to become a U.S. citizen," said spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. "To our knowledge, he never had Canadian citizenship."

Well, apparently he still has it, whether he likes it or not, and so he'd have to go through the formal process of renouncing it.

As a Canadian, I'd welcome any such renouncing. Cruz being a Canadian citizen, even unwillingly, or unwittingly, makes this country worse.

While I loathe him, though, and while I understand that a political leader -- particularly one with presidential ambitions -- needs avoid not just the reality but even the perception of conflicted loyalty, this is all quite ridiculous.

It's abundantly clear that Cruz is an American. He may have dual citizenship, like a lot of people do (including me), but in this case one of his citizenships is merely a technicality. (I'm Canadian and British. I'd say I'm overwhelmingly Canadian, but I have close family in England and have voted in the U.K. and so have more of a connection there. Indeed, I would say that I'm far more American, as I'm one-quarter American, than Cruz is Canadian.) There's no good reason why the location of his birth should automatically disqualify him from the presidency. (I would even say that the "natural born" rule should be removed from the Constitution.)

It's either opportunism or jingoism that is fueling this "birther" controversy, and of course it's also the latter that will come in to play if he's criticized for holding dual citizenship.

But, fine, let him recounce his Canadian citizenship if he must. The key fact about Cruz isn't his birthplace or the extent to which he's a Canadian but rather his political views: he's a Tea Party extremist out on the fringe even of the extremist Republican Party, a faux right-wing populist with a crazy right-wing anti-government agenda.

It's those views -- what he is politically, what he stands for, what he would do in office -- that truly should disqualify him from the presidency.

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Police state intimidation: British authorities detain Glenn Greenwald's partner at Heathrow Airport

Honestly, the surveillance state apologists all across the spectrum, on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world, can go fuck themselves.

Because this is how their beloved "democratic" governments operate, this is what they do when you dare challenge their undemocratic rule, their regime of secrecy and surveillance:

The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London's Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.

Miranda was released, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.


"This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process," Greenwald said. "To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ. The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere.

"But the last thing it will do is intimidate or deter us in any way from doing our job as journalists. Quite the contrary: it will only embolden us more to continue to report aggressively."

It is indeed such a profound attack, and I hope that Greenwald and others, undeterred and indeed strengthened by this appalling incident, continue to expose the illegal and/or at the very least deeply troubling activities that in the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere are corroding the core elements of a free society, undermining the democratic principles that are the essence of enlightened self-governance, and eating away in very real terms at the basic rights that we all supposedly hold so dear and for which, over the centuries, so much blood was spilled.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Even Krazier Bill Kristol says Palin can "resurrect herself" with Senate run

You have to wonder.

Krazy Bill Kristol has a long history of the Krazy. And it's not just partisan Republican or ideological neocon. Sometimes it's just batshit insanity, "analysis" that is so Krazy it makes you wonder if he's serious in his Kraziness or just throwing around bullshit to see what sticks. I used to think he was a fairly bright fellow, if terribly misguided, and so my sense used to suggest the latter. But now I'm not so sure.

The Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol was one of Sarah Palin’s earliest supporters to be picked as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and now he says she can “resurrect herself” by running to be a senator from Alaska.

In an interview on Sunday, ABC's Benjamin Bell asked Kristol if Palin had disappointed him after he pushed so hard for her to be on the 2008 ticket.

"I was for taking the gamble of putting her on the ticket, I don't think it hurt the ticket in 2008," Kristol explained. "I think her stepping down as governor of Alaska was a big problem. People don't like to see a candidate, a governor, an executive — absent some medical reason or whatever — just leave office early. And she had been a good governor — incidentally — of Alaska until then. So, I think that is something, I think, she has to recover from in terms of being a serious leader in the party. Still has a lot of loyalty, still can shape the debate, she still has a great political touch."

"I think the way Palin would possibly resurrect herself — if that's the right word or rehabilitate herself, I think is a better way of putting it — run for Senate in Alaska in 2014," he continued. "I'm not urging that. I'm just saying, if I were her adviser, I would say, 'Take on the incumbent, you have to win a primary, then you have to beat an incumbent Democrat, it's not easy.'" 

Yeah, except that she embarrassed herself in ridiculous fashion during the '08 campaign and certainly did hurt McCain. And that she did step down as governor because she didn't give a shit or something, or because she wanted to pursue fame, fortune, and glory on the right-wing national media stage and, you know, by being a reality TV celebrity. And that she'll never be considered a serious leader of her party except by those on the moron fringe who hang on her every gargle of nonsense. And that many Republicans, including in the leadership ranks, see her as a massive liability. And that there's no way she can shape the debate given her lack of policy ability, not to mention rationality. And that she's shown zero interest in actually being a serious political actor. And that her "political touch," such as it is, is limited to Facebook and Fox News assaults on anyone and everyone she doesn't like, anyone and everyone who doesn't share her wacko right-wing views. And that... well, and that she's Sarah Palin, a huge national joke.

No, Krazy Kristol isn't advising her, isn't urging her, but he sort of is, isn't he? He was her champion well before most anyone had ever heard of her, and it was he and his neocon rabble who got her onto McCain's ticket. He was wrong then, as he is generally, and he's wrong now, the Krazy even Krazier than usual.

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