From the AP, via Huffington Post – I think this article is as thorough and fair a summary of the NY mosque controversy as I’ve seen to date.
“The center’s location, in a former Burlington Coat Factory store, is already used by the cleric for worship, drawing a spillover from the imam’s former main place for prayers, the al-Farah mosque. That mosque, at 245 West Broadway, is about a dozen blocks north of the World Trade Center grounds. Another, the Manhattan Mosque, stands five blocks from the northeast corner of the World Trade Center site.”
That says to me that the locality objection is made up and has no merit.
“But he’s made provocative statements about America, too, calling it an “accessory” to the 9/11 attacks and attributing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to the U.S.-led sanctions in the years before the invasion. In a July 2005 speech at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Center in Adelaide, Australia, Rauf said, according to the center’s transcript: “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.” While calling terrorism unjustified, he said the U.S. has supported authoritarian regimes with heinous human rights records”
I would add that countless Christian and Jewish clergy as well as the Dahli Lama and others have said the very same things. The Pope loudly condemned the US invasion of Iraq.
I don’t care much about religion, I don’t feel one way or another about this imam, I have no doubt that millions of Americans are sincere in their objections (not Gingrich though). For me, this is about only one thing and that is the American tradition of inclusion and tolerance about which we brag to the rest of the world – and rightly so. We often don’t do it right at first, but we always get there. And we never stop trying to get there.
But that may not be fair to the crock pot, an essential tool when the cook gets lazy.
The Majoritiy Leader of the United States Senate is joining the likes of Newt Gingrich in his disdain for the Bill of Rights.
A tidbit from EJ Dionne in his column today pointing to one of many things that are out of whack:
“When our republic was created, the population ratio between the largest and smallest state was 13 to 1. Now, it’s 68 to 1. Because of the abuse of the filibuster, 41 senators representing less than 11 percent of the nation’s population can, in principle, block action supported by 59 senators representing more than 89 percent of our population. And you wonder why it’s so hard to get anything done in Washington?”
Whenever I hear anyone go all rhapsodic about ‘middle america’ and ‘coastal elites’ and ‘real americans’ or when I hear talkers rail against the power of those big states . . . to them, either it doesn’t occur (most likely) or it doesn’t matter that those cities are where a majority of Americans live; those big States are where a majority of Americans live. Just like this Presdident and this congress are who the majority of Americans voted for.
Long ago and far away and why were we all squinting?
Friend Jim sent me a link to today’s Tom Friedman column. He often makes my teeth hurt – Friedman, not Jim! – (anyone remember the Friedman Unit?). But this installment is rich with stuff I didn’t know before. Like:
“Look, if you had told me that we had just arrested 11 Finns who were spying on our schools, then I’d really have felt good — since Finland’s public schools always score at the top of the world education tables. If you had told me that 11 Singaporeans were arrested spying on how our government works, then I’d really have felt good — since Singapore has one of the cleanest, well-run bureaucracies in the world and pays its cabinet ministers $1 million-plus a year. If you had told me that 11 Hong Kong Chinese had been arrested studying how we regulate our financial markets, then I’d really have felt good — since that is something Hong Kong excels at. And if you had told me that 11 South Koreans were arrested studying our high-speed bandwidth penetration, then I’d really have felt good — because we’ve been lagging them for a long time.”
Singapore pays its ministers a million a year? Holy Elvis!
I’ve dropped a few comments into a thread over at The Center Square touching on the matter of income inequality. So it’s somewhat serendipitous that I just saw new data on the subject:
The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
New data show that the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest parts of the population in 2007 was the highest it’s been in 80 years, while the share of income going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level ever.
At Crooks and Liars, I picked up this chart from the published CBPP report. It’s stunning really. It only measures one decade, but the direction is pretty clear. And this is before the Bush tax cuts that mostly benefitted the top 1%. (I’m sure they thought that was really decent of him!)
Robert Byrd was a man of his times and as the times changed so did he. Byrd experienced and contributed to the entire canvas that was 20th century America.
As a young man he was a member of the Klu Klux Klan and carried his Southern racism into the Senate. In 1964 he voted against the Civil Rights Act. That was Robert Byrd.
But he moved on; he grew with the century and with the country (his attitude toward race parallels a journey taken by my own father).
Here is Robert Byrd’s journey from 1944 to 2003:
||I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side… Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.
|— Robert C. Byrd, in a letter to Sen. Theodore Bilbo (D-MS), 1944, [12
In the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People‘s (NAACP) Congressional Report Card for the 108th Congress (spanning the 2003–2004 congressional session), Byrd was awarded with an approval rating of 100 percent for favoring the NAACP’s position in all 33 bills presented to the United States Senate regarding issues of their concern.
He served way too long in the Senate of course but that guaranteed his place in the history books by virtue of longevity alone.
Byrd was known as the parliamentarian of the Senate, an unofficial title conferred because no one knew the arcane convoluted rules of that body better than he did. And long before Newt Gingrich turned it into a political gimmick, Byrd carried his copy of the Constitution in his breast pocket and consulted it often while on the floor of the Senate.
He gave one of the most honorable speeches of his career in 2003 – a very underreported speech. His voice echoed around a nearly empty chamber as he – a man who’d lived through two world wars – appealed to President Bush to tamp down his zeal for a war of aggression.
He’d overstayed his time certainly and we still need his voice.
The 2003 speech:
from something called DemRapidResponse (part of DNC?).
Last night, my brother was here for dinner. He’s a professor of philosophy, and we were having an interesting discussion. He tossed out the idea that a logical conclusion of the Tea Party movement would be to define the current US Federal Government as the new ‘British’. Which could eventually – if kept up – lead to an overthrow.
Look what’s just appeared. Presented without further comment.
In his Vanity Fair blog, Fallows has a word today about Sen. Mitch McConnell who is once again holding up 80+ federal nominees because he is pissed about one of them.
Fallows says: In the short run, the power of public embarrassment needs to be used against individual politicians who recognize so little check on their personal power.
I think Obama is getting terrible advice. He’s apparently scheduled a meeting with Hayward, the CEO of BP. Why in the world should a Head of State sit down with a disgraced CEO?? It’s as if George Bush invited Ken Lay in to chat. And worse, I just heard that the meeting will be in the Oval Office.
Mr. President, if you must meet with this guy fer god’s sake, do NOT invite him into the Oval Office. Meet the guy in a conference room down the hall or something. I don’t want to see Hayward sitting on the couches.
(This thing looks to be a PR move and if so, it’s 10 days too late. And not the first time that Obama has bowed to media pressure to do the wrong thing.)
Lookee here – yet another turn we took in the 1980’s. This was a sharp departure from our former practices in place since 1880. Tell me again that there are liberals anywhere in government? (h/t Andrew Sullivan)
Just realized that as this nation-at-war kicks off Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of summer . . . the Cost of War clock is about to turn to ONE TRILLION DOLLARS – perhaps before the weekend is out. That’s $1,000,000,000.00 $1,000,000,000,000.oo. One trillion dollars.
I wonder what we’d be fueling our homes and vehicles with if we’d spent a trillion dollars on R&D over the last decade, instead of . . . well, instead of what exactly?
What did we spend that trillion dollars on? Killing our own? Killing Iraqis and Afghans? Guns? Ammo? Helicopters that crashed? Making enemies? Hardening hatred?
We blew it. We wasted it. And we got nothing for it. Shame on us.
Now go have a beer and a burger and don’t worry, be happy.
The Republican National Committee is developing a platform. Isn’t that nice? Except they don’t know what to put in it. So they opened a kewl new website – all interactive and stuff – and invited real Republicans to write ideas of what the party should stand for. And then the readers could vote! Isn’t that just the most civic minded thing you just ever evah heard of??? Like, isn’t it just dreamy? Oh, and they named “America Speaking Out” – absolute cutting edge stuff.
So I went over. And I signed up for an account (activation email went into my junk email which is I think an omen). And just now I started to play and vote on stuff. And got an immediate busy signal. Tried again – more ‘sorry’ messages. More ‘so many Americans are using this site right now . . . “.
The actual message reads:
A very high volume of Americans are speaking out right now. Please wait a moment and try again.
Idiots. They can’t even run a website. They were ready to elect an old man with cancer and a half term governor beauty queen to the White House and they can’t run a website. And they want to govern me. I’m tired.
Legal experts dispute claims that a crime was committed
Bush ethics lawyer calls claim that a job offer is a bribe “difficult to support.” In a post on the Legal Ethics Forum blog, former Bush administration chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter wrote: “The allegation that the job offer was somehow a ‘bribe’ in return for Sestak not running in the primary is difficult to support.” Painter also wrote:
The job offer may have been a way of getting Sestak out of Specter’s way, but this also is nothing new. Many candidates for top Administration appointments are politically active in the President’s political party. Many are candidates or are considering candidacy in primaries. White House political operatives don’t like contentious fights in their own party primaries and sometimes suggest jobs in the Administration for persons who otherwise would be contenders. For the White House, this is usually a “win-win” situation, giving the Administration politically savvy appointees in the Executive Branch and fewer contentious primaries for the Legislative Branch. This may not be best for voters who have less choice as a result, and Sestak thus should be commended for saying “no”. The job offer, however, is hardly a “bribe” when it is one of two alternatives that are mutually exclusive.
h/t Media Matters
As Congress once again tips its timid toe into the DADT stew, it remains deaf to the reality. Even among active military, the majority support repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (probably the silliest and most blatantly hollow policy of all times). I don’t know who the damn congress critters are afraid of.
This one is a no brainer. The country is ready. The military is ready. Why isn’t Congress ready?
“A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that 78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the military, with one in five opposed.
“Support is widespread, even among Republicans. Nearly six in ten Republicans favor allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “There is a gender gap, with 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men favoring the change, but support remains high among both groups.”
Among my oldest friends in the world are a gay couple who’ve been together nearly 40 years. They both served honorably. One of them did his time in Vietnam. Anyone who opposes allowing gays to openly serve in the military may tell it to them.
Or go to Afghanistan and ask the gay men and women who are no doubt carrying weapons right now as they engage on this 229th day of the ninth year of the War there.
There’s a story in the NY Times this morning about Gov. Jindal of Louisiana threatening that if the Feds don’t make more progress protecting his State from the leaking oil in the Gulf, Louisiana will take matters into its own hands. (Exactly what that could mean from a State as poor as Louisiana is a little fuzzy.)
How different is this from Arizona’s actions re immigration? Both result from inadequate Federal response to national problems. Both are usurpations of Federal authority, where law clearly assigns that authority to the Federal government?
Bernie Sanders is right. Again. He, the unlikely bedfellow of Ron Paul, was just on Dylan Ratigan’s show. Ratigan as usual was getting very worked up over the beating the American taxpayer has been taking from the ‘banksters’ and other corporations enjoying all sorts of corporate welfare.
They were talking about restoring usury laws (Imagine having to do that? Imagine a country that lifted those laws in the first place? How much do you think the credit cards industry spends on lobbying?)
And Bernie said important things: The middle class in this country is collapsing. We are no longer a democracy; we have become an oligarchy. Time to stop pretending that the million dollars or more a day spent lobbying JUST ONE BILL (of many) doesn’t profoundly affect the way we are governed.
Government is working all right – just not for the American nation. He’s right.
While in a correspondence with an acquaintance from long, long ago (about a dear old friend who is on his way to Hospice care), we discovered that we share an interest in campaign finance reform. I talk about it. He did something about it.
My old Connecticut home
A 2004 citizens’ initiative of which Dewey was a part resulted in one of the best State law supporting public financing. Go read what they did. The group has wound down since their success, and the site is out of date but the story is here. A model perhaps.
Dewey said of their success, “Quite a good feeling.” I’ll bet. Good for him and his fellow Connecticut civic minded folks at CFER.
From Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish today:
24 Apr 2010 05:21 pm
“Trust is the prime constituent of the social atmosphere. It is as urgent not to damage that atmosphere by contributing to the erosion of trust as it is to prevent and attempt to reverse damage to our natural atmosphere. Both forms of damage are cumulative; both are hard to reverse.
To be sure, a measure of distrust is indispensable in most human interaction. Pure trust is no more conducive to survival in the social environment than is pure oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.
But too high a level of distrust stifles cooperation as much as the lack of oxygen threatens life,” – Sissela Bok, Common Values, 1995.
This brings up a serious question for me re talk radio. Their stock in trade is not advocacy but scorn and they use very destructive language when targeting a person, a political party, a cultural institution or a government. All about naming people in particular as the enemy of the talker’s audience.
The talk radio world is conservative, but much more significant is their anti-Democrat, anti-liberal narrative, and because it is so focused, it’s bearing negative fruit. To pretend they don’t play an enormous role in the current state of political dialogue is nonsense.
(I wonder if Sissela Bok knew about American talk-radio?)
My census form came in the mail Wednesday I”m scared to death. I feel so violated!
1790 census questions (apparently written by James Madison)
- Name of head of family
- Number of free white males 16 and up, including heads of families
- Number of free white males under 16
- Number of free white females including heads of families
- Number of all other free persons, except Indians not taxed
- Number of slaves
2010 census questions
- head of household?
- number of persons in house?
I’m guessing the six questions in 1790 were designed to gather the info government needed in those days to do their job. And I”m guessing the six questions in 2010 are designed to gather the info government needs to do its job.
UPDATE: Reading my own post again, I am struck by how closely aligned these two sets of questions are after 220 years. A monument of sorts to our stability – and, may I say, strict adherence to “the intentions of the founders” as those on the right claim for themselves. Looking at the 2010 census questions, would someone please tell me what the fuss is all about?
Just found this letter to the editor of the NY Times from a few weeks ago:
To the Editor:
In the 1950’s my grandmother served in the Connecticut legislature. When she was in her late 80’s, I brought a friend to meet her. As I made the introductions, I mentioned that she had been in politics. She drew herself up straight and rather starchily said: “Government, dear, I was in government.”
Very cool letter.
If it were up to you, which of these outcomes would you chose in the event of a terrorist attack on the United States?
- A bomb destroys the venerable Capital building in Washington DC. The dome collapses into the ruins. An American architectural masterpiece is gone along with a huge chunk of our history. One hundred die.
- A bomb destroys an office park in suburban Pennsylvania. Two hundred people die with the attendant suffering of families and loved ones.
CNN is on the teevee telling me that as of last week, Laredo TX, a city of a quarter million people, has no bookstores.
Access to books – an essential ingredient of a free society. Maybe they’ll get a book store when the troops come back from Afghanistan, where it is the 108th day of the War there.
After all, George Bush told us we were fighting for our freedom.
We won't need heatlh care when we grow up. So it's okay!
Andrew Sullivan today (and David Leonhardt at the NY Times) get it about right.
David Leonhardt explains why the rage against a “leftist” Obama is baloney:
The current versions of health reform are the product of decades of debate between Republicans and Democrats. The bills are more conservative than Bill Clinton’s 1993 proposal. For that matter, they’re more conservative than Richard Nixon’s 1971 plan, which would have had the federal government provide insurance to people who didn’t get it through their job.
More conservative than Nixon or Clinton – and yet it’s a threat to the meaning of America. This is claptrap. Hooey. Hysteria. And wrong. If the Democrats give into this FNC/RNC campaign to smear Obama as something he is not, they will miss the only chance of real, imperfect but meaningful reform. They will have blinked after being psyched out.
Pass the Senate bill and then defend it loudly, strongly, proudly. And call the opponents’ bluff.
Posted in Civics, Congress critters, Current Events, health care, insurance reform, Media, Politics, The President-who-is-not-Bush
Tagged Civics, health care, Obama, Politics
These long excerpts are lifted directly from Eric Alterman’s CAP column this week. He addresses the crookedness of our privatized campaign financing system and the dreadful legislation it produces – while burying legislation in the public interest, but not the interest of those corporate sponsors of our congress. He says it better than I ever could:
While most in the media prefer to focus on personalities of these influential “consensus builders,” “moderates,” and “conservatives,” they would be wiser to obey that old Watergate adage and “follow the money.” For it is the manner in which we finance our elections—rather than the courage or cowardice of any given individual—that determines the shape of the legislation the “system” produces. . .
He gives us some examples:
Two of the top three donors to Olympia Snowe’s (R-ME) 2006 campaign, who voted against the legislation, were Aetna Inc. and New York Life Insurance. Overall, the insurance industry made the largest percentage of donations to her campaign. In June, Sam Stein wrote about Snowe’s relationship with the insurance industry when Democrats were still courting the senator to support reform.
The top two donors to Committee Chairman Max Baucus’s (D-MT) 2008 campaign were Schering-Plough and New York Life Insurance. The combined donations to Baucus’s campaign and his congressional leadership PAC from health professionals and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries totaled $2,488,139 from 2003 to 2008.
Baucus, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) all serve on the Senate Finance Committee and have all played vocal roles in the debate taking strong positions against the public option. These four senators and their political action committees have received a combined $201,403 from Blue Cross/Blue Shield since 2005. . . In July, Mike Ross (D-AR) led a bloc of seven Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a fight to weaken funding to a public health insurance bill.. . the [same] Blue Dogs had raised $1.1 million for their PAC, a majority of which came from health, insurance, and financial sectors. Bendavid singled out Mike Ross for his tough negotiating and his “moderate” positions on health care reform. Eggen reported that Ross alone raised over $1 million from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries in five terms in Congress.
He goes on taking special aim at former Speaker Dennis Hastert and NY Sen. Chuck Schumer.
He wraps it up:
If Congress adopted a system of the public financing of elections—as is done in most democracies—they would receive better legislation at a miniscule fraction of the cost they now pay indirectly for their penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude toward election funding.
Posted in campaign finance, Civics, Congress critters, Current Events, health care, insurance reform, Politics
Tagged campaign finance, Civics, congress, Eric Alterman, Politics
Obama, in his speech tonight, said “This is not a time for partisanship; this is a time for citizenship.”
He said citizenship.
It’s good to hear that word, which has been missing in recent decades. Maybe we no longer have to be called the “consumers of this country” (which was wildly grammatically incorrect); we can again be called the “citizens of this country”.
Wars being touted. Enemies everywhere they say. Troops? Not really enough for all that. But we have Blackwater, yes? And who knew, but we also have SCG. Here’s their logo. Blackwater’s original logo was bad enough; this one is downright creepy. These people love them some military games.
I just can't quit you
Could not shut down for the evening without bringing your attention to this delicious column by Steve Bennen at The Washington Monthly. From it:
From March to December, Gingrich appeared on Meet the Press, on average, every other month. No one else in American politics was on the show this often. . . . In fact, Newt Gingrich, despite not having held any position in government for over a decade, was the single most frequent guest on “Meet the Press” in 2009 of any political figure in the United States. Literally.
He refers of course to the disgraced former Speaker of the House. In addition:
“Meet the Press” didn’t have the actual Speaker of the House on at all this year.
Oh, that David Gregory . . . Hell of a job, Davy.