Robbie George, a political science professor at Princeton, says nothing groundbreaking in his 2 and a half minute snippet from the Republican debate in South Carolina. He does, however, speak on behalf of our inalienable rights with much ignorance to what we as a nation have intentionally done to institutionally make fellow Americans unequal. Are American’s of color today given the same rights to education or even the same slate as a white American when they are born? To me, pontificating about our equality in a hagiographic manner while we face a type of apartheid in our schools and neighborhoods is a sad side effect of privileged conditioning and possessing blinders to much of our America.
“For those who insist that the center is always the place to be, I have an important piece of information: We already have a centrist president. Indeed, Bruce Bartlett, who served as a policy analyst in the Reagan administration, argues that Mr. Obama is in practice a moderate conservative. Mr. Bartlett has a point.
The president, as we’ve seen, was willing, even eager, to strike a budget deal that strongly favored conservative priorities. His health reform was very similar to the reform Mitt Romney installed in Massachusetts. Romneycare, in turn, closely followed the outlines of a plan originally proposed by the right-wing Heritage Foundation. And returning tax rates on high-income Americans to their level during the Roaring Nineties is hardly a socialist proposal.
True, Republicans insist that Mr. Obama is a leftist seeking a government takeover of the economy, but they would, wouldn’t they? The facts, should anyone choose to report them, say otherwise.” –Paul Krugman
Glenn Greenwald illuminates the stark differences between America and Norway in light of the Oslo attacks last week:
The failed Christmas Day bombing over Detroit led to an erosion of Miranda rights and judge-free detentions as well as a due-process free assassination program aimed at an Muslim American preacher whose message allegedly “inspired” the attacker. The failed Times Square bombing was repeatedly cited to justify reform-free extension of the Patriot Act along with a slew of measures to maximize government scrutiny of the Internet. That failed plot, along with Nidal Hasan’s shooting at Fort Hood, provoked McCarthyite Congressional hearings into American Muslims and helped sustain a shockingly broad interpretation of “material support for Terrorism” that criminalizes free speech. In sum, every Terrorist plot is immediately exploited as a pretext for expanding America’s Security State; the response to every plot: we need to sacrifice more liberties, increase secrecy, and further empower the government.
The reaction to the heinous Oslo attack by Norway’s political class has been exactly the opposite: a steadfast refusal to succumb to hysteria and a security-über-alles mentality. The day after the attack — one which, per capita, was as significant for Norway as 9/11 was for the U.S. — Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang, when asked whether greater security measures were needed, sternly rejected that notion: “I don’t think security can solve problems. We need to teach greater respect.” It is simply inconceivable that any significant U.S. politician — the day after an attack of that magnitude — would publicly reject calls for greater security measures. Similarly inconceivable for American political discourse is the equally brave response of the country’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, whose office was the target of the bomb and whose Labour Party was the sponsor of the camp where dozens of teenagers were shot:
He called on his country to react by more tightly embracing, rather than abandoning, the culture of tolerance that Anders Behring Breivik said he was trying to destroy.
“The Norwegian response to violence is more democracy, more openness and greater political participation,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg insisted at a news conference. . . .
Stoltenberg strongly defended the right to speak freely — even if it includes extremist views such as Breivik’s.
“We have to be very clear to distinguish between extreme views, opinions — that’s completely legal, legitimate to have. What is not legitimate is to try to implement those extreme views by using violence,” he said in English.
Stoltenberg’s promise in the face of twin attacks signaled a contrast to the U.S. response after the 9/11 attacks, when Washington gave more leeway to perform wiretaps and search records.
It reflects the difference between the two countries’ approaches to terrorism. The U.S. has been frustrated by what it considers Scandinavia’s lack of aggressive investigation and arrests.
Since the attacks, Stoltenberg and members of Norway’s royal family have underlined the country’s openness by making public appearances with little visible security. (emphasis by GG)
The American approach, even taken up by Barack Obama, is tough on terror. If we give terrorists (or even in a larger context, criminals) any slack, our demise will be nigh. Ironically, this slogan does not always match our actions (it again goes back to using secrecy for protective purposes):
Patrick Henry’s long celebrated tribute to courage has been turned on its head by the degraded cowardice of GOP tough-guy leaders — such as Pat Roberts, John Cornyn, and Rush Limbaugh — shrieking that civil liberties are worthless if you’re dead: i.e., that safety is the paramount goal. Meanwhile, as virtually every other country that suffers a horrendous Terrorist attack puts the accused perpetrators on trial in their real court system in the city where the attack occurred — the subway bombers in London, the train bombers in Madrid, the shooters in Mumbai, the Bali nightclub bombers in Indonesia — it is only the U.S., the self-proclaimed Home of the Brave, that is too frightened to do so, instead concocting military tribunals and sticking accused terrorists in cages on a Caribbean island, as members of both parties spew base fear-mongering to bar trials on American soil.
Gary Johnson does just that:
“This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue,'” reads a statement from Johnson’s office, which is accompained by a video:
Am I the only one who sees people reliant on transportation stuck outside in a Minnesota winter and a government shut down as not good things? It may be winning for you as a pol, as well as a church-type political party obsessed with pure ideological rhetoric in both word and deed, but not for the people you represent. Tina Korbe seconds:
The ad is well-executed, but, after watching it a couple times, I can’t help but question the wisdom of emphasizing a union strike and a government shutdown as evidence of accomplishments. The ad provides little context with which to understand why, exactly, these events should be seen as “wins” for Pawlenty. Instead, it seems to rely on an innate conservative interpretation of union protests and a halt to government as somewhat unpleasant, but ultimately acceptable, consequences of impressive, committed, conservative policy-making. I’d rather hear about the conservative policy-making — the actual accomplishments.
Mike Huckabee, I suppose, is following his calling. He is not running for president but feeding his sheep/flock on a cruise. This isn’t just any cruise, but an evangelical cruise with hints of insanity:
“It’s the first time I’ve felt the president wasn’t a true American. And that he wants to become a dictator. We didn’t like seeing him get elected because of his race,” – Maggie Benedict, a participant in the Freedom Cruise, a Christian gospel music extravaganza, hosted by Mike Huckabee.
But since her earliest days, America has inspired people from all over the world. Inspired them with the hope that one day their own countries would be one like this one.
And so he begins his smug parade of looking down on the rest of the world.
I know that now some say that times are so tough here at home that we can no longer afford to worry about what happens abroad. That maybe America needs to mind its own business.
Well, whether we like it or not, there is virtually no aspect of our daily lives that is not directly impacted by what happens in the world around us. We can choose to ignore global problems, but global problems will not ignore us.
Almost half a century later, America is still the only watchman on the wall of world freedom. And there is still no one to take our place.
What will the world look like if America declines?
Well, today people all over the world are forced to accept the familiar lie that the price of security is our liberty. If America declines, who will serve as living proof that liberty, security and prosperity can all exist together?
Today, radical Islam abuses and oppresses women. It has no tolerance for other faiths, and it seeks to impose its will on the whole world. If America declines, who will stand up to them and defeat them?
Today, children are used as soldiers and trafficked as slaves. Dissidents are routinely imprisoned without trial. They’re subjected to torture and forced into confessions and labor. If America declines, what nation on the earth will take these causes as their own?
And if America declines, who will do all these things and ask for nothing in return? Motivated solely by the desire to make the world a better place?
The answer is no one will. There is still no nation or institution on this planet that is willing or able to do what America has done.
Is this a call to an ongoing interventionalist streak in the world? Can we afford interventionalist wars? Can we fight these threats on our own soil? Where is the line? Larison puts this part of Rubio’s speech into perspective:
Whenever Rubio refers to American decline, we need to remember that what he means by this is that the U.S. will not attack other countries, intervene in their internal conflicts, or attempt to dictate the pace and content of political developments abroad as much as the U.S. does right now. In other words, what Rubio calls decline is what many of us would call a return to normal, or at least a reduction in the number and frequency of foreign conflicts and entanglements. What Rubio calls American decline is what many other nations around the world would refer to as being left alone.
In fact, the decline Rubio describes won’t prevent the U.S. from being that “living proof” of the co-existence of liberty, security, and prosperity. It is quite conceivable that both American liberty and security would be enhanced when our government concentrates its “defense” policies on nothing but the defense of the U.S. and those allies that America will have for limited periods of time. There are many states that already combat jihadist militants on their own soil at great cost, and because most of them are fighting largely in self-defense they are going to continue doing so no matter what the U.S. does or does not do. Something that believers in Rubio’s particular version of American exceptionalism seem to take for granted is that the rest of the world is largely hopeless without constant, direct American involvement in their affairs. If that was ever true, it isn’t any longer.
Finally, you gotta love this line from the tail end of Rubio’s speech:
You see, these nations, these new emerging nations, these new shining cities, we hope they will join us, but they can never replace us. Because their light is but a reflection of our own.
Larison claims that “it is flattering to us to believe that other successful nations have become successful only by basking in the reflected glory of American light.” Indeed.
And wasn’t there an uproar when kids were asked to sing a song about Barack Obama? Oh yeah, it is only indoctrination when it is something you don’t agree with. When it’s your own ideals, it’s “education”, “enlightenment”, and the like:
Here’s another option now that the kids are out of school: a weeklong seminar about our nation’s founding principles, courtesy of theTampa 912 Project.
The organization, which falls under the tea party umbrella, hopes to introduce kids ages 8 to 12 to principles that include “America is good,” “I believe in God,” and “I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.”
Organized by conservative writer Jeff Lukens and staffed by volunteers from the 912 Project, Tampa Liberty School will meet every morning July 11-15 in borrowed space at the Paideia Christian school in Temple Terrace.
Tampa Liberty is modeled after vacation Bible schools, which use fun, hands-on activities to deliver Christian messages.
One example at Liberty: Children will win hard, wrapped candies to use as currency for a store, symbolizing the gold standard. On the second day, the “banker” will issue paper money instead. Over time, students will realize their paper money buys less and less, while the candies retain their value.
“Some of the kids will fall for it,” Lukens said. “Others kids will wise up.”
Another example: Starting in an austere room where they are made to sit quietly, symbolizing Europe, the children will pass through an obstacle course to arrive at a brightly decorated party room (the New World).
Red-white-and-blue confetti will be thrown. But afterward the kids will have to clean up the confetti, learning that with freedom comes responsibility.
Weigel gives her fair treatment:
The original video, from Channel 7, really makes it look like Palin got a historical question she wasn’t expecting, and then flubbed it. The way she grits her teeth on the phrase “riding HIS HORSE THROUGH TOWN!” is agonizing, for all involved. And look, if someone asked me, on the spot, to explain exactly what happened during Paul Revere’s ride, I’d struggle a bit to access my elementary school memory banks. The twist, with Palin, is that she has a bona fide army of supporters who will sic themselves on anyone and anything that threatens to damage her image.
The difference is that she hasn’t yet retracted her error. Yes, as a quasi-POTUS candidate you are still a human with room for error. Own up to those errors. When was the last time Palin retracted one of her own comments?
Reflections on Sarah Palin as a 2012 candidate and POTUS:
“The objections to Mrs Palin are about personality rather than policy. The fear is that she’s too reckless, too divisive and too intemperate to be an effective president. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to think that voters will go for it.” –Erica Grieder
“Given the massive debt, I think her prescription of more, big tax cuts is like giving an alcoholic a free jagermeister supply. Given the perilous instability and transformation in the Middle East, I think accelerating the colonization of the West Bank is insanely reckless, and striking Iran potentially catastrophic. An energy policy that focuses entirely on sustaining a carbon economy is terribly short-sighted. I suspect she would gladly bring back torture into the American government. Above all, I agree with George Will that someone this unstable, this disturbed and this delusional having access to the nuclear codes terrifies me. These concerns are not all about personality, although in her case, I think we have someone outside any conventional boundaries of responsibility. They are also about preventing America accelerating its decline.” –Andrew Sullivan
David Harsanyi explains how the mantra of “buy American!” can actually be anti-American:
If we all mechanically bought American, wouldn’t we allow manufacturers to avoid competition and rely on their locations rather than the excellence of their products? Sounds like the opposite of exceptionalism.
Harsanyi connects this to companies in America that are taking government handouts or have been propped up when nearly failing by the government. I believe in certain seasons of history this logic may work. This current one doesn’t seem to fit into that mold.
As I noted earlier today, Palin is making her cross-country trip, effectively rousing the people for a possible 2012 GOP bid. Palin is taking an unconventional route (no pun intended) in that she is purposefully eluding the press (and even her fans) and making them find her. In a sense, this tour will either give Palin the green or red light in terms of running in 2012:
According to a source with knowledge of Palin’s thinking, the tour is a test of whether she can do it “her way,” which the source described as “nontraditional, low-cost, high-tech…. The key is to be totally unpredictable and always keep her rivals off-balance.”
With that under-the-radar approach, Palin may have some gold up her sleeve:
Unscripted moments that go badly can haunt a politician on YouTube during a campaign and into the future, but Palin’s ease with a rope line and her politicking skills are one of her best assets. A Palin campaign may not have a press bus or the more formal interviews that reporters crave, but her team will undoubtedly factor in added time for her to greet supporters and campaign not just in large rallies but one on one as well.
The one major trait of Palin that could doom her chances is her divisiveness. Everything from her comments post-Tuscon to her Tweets, she polarizes the political debate to awful extremes (sometimes even cultural ones). Andrew Sullivan made this ironic point when she moved to Arizona, a state bitterly divided between the white, conservative north and the Hispanic south.
One other irony: Palin made the comment that she loves the smell of emissions. This comment could have many meanings behind it. It coincidentally was said by her the same day this report (eyes widen) was released:
According to the IEA, a record 30.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere last year, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. In light of these shocking numbers, experts now fear that it will be impossible to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius — which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change.”
Picture by Flickr user Dave77459
TIME magazine ran a good piece on the politics of Arizona. It’s worth reading in full. Here are some money quotes and comments.
Arizona is, after all, the Grand Canyon State. Its defining topographical feature is literally a divide. The politics of the state, not just in these past few weeks but in the past few years, has been all about division, as though every argument we are having as a nation plays out there on a breathtaking scale. The budget is a shambles, the schools are among the worst in the country, the governor is accused of running “death panels” for cutting off funding for organ transplants for some Medicaid patients. Representative Giffords’ Tea Party — backed opponent held a “Get on target for victory” shoot-out at a gun range as a campaign event. Rallies against a controversial immigration bill last year featured so many tearful calls to prayer and accusations of Nazism that it seemed like an all-Hispanic version of the Glenn Beck show. “It’s as bad as I’ve seen in 40 years of observing Arizona politics,” says Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University. “We have so many real problems, and all our leadership has done is [pursue] polarizing issues using very strident language.”
Hence the picture. Here is a very brief history of the rather young state (less than 100 years old and less than a dozen senators in it’s history):
A certain level of discord was sewed into the fabric of Arizona from the outset. The center of the state was settled largely by “washed-up 49ers,” as Tucson lawyer and history buff David Hardy puts it, who were returning empty-handed and somewhat wild-eyed from California. Among them was a morphine-addicted prospector named Jack Swilling, who founded Phoenix. The libertarian DNA — the same strain that made Giffords a fan of concealed weapons and caused state senator Lori Klein to carry a handgun to Governor Jan Brewer’s state of the state address at the capitol two days after the Tucson shootings — remains from those early days. Distant from Washington and hardened by the Apache wars, settlers acted first and asked permission from the federal government later. “The pioneer,” wrote Orick Jackson in his 1908 history, “took the matter in hand without any authority, and without a dollar in pay.” That group had little in common with the Mormons who settled the north and not much regard for the Hispanic population that was dominant in the south. It was, says Manuel Hernandez, professor of Mexican-American literature at Arizona State University, an “apartheid state” for Hispanics until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
With all its baggage, Arizona has boomed over the past half century:
Fair weather and cheap housing made the desert boom: a population that was just 700,000 after World War II stands at more than 6.5 million today. The growth in the past 20 years has been nothing short of steroidal: the population mushroomed by 40% in the 1990s and then rose an additional 25% in the first decade of this century. It is now the 16th largest state in the U.S. And that’s just the official population.
However, the state’s current affairs are hard to overlook:
The state of Arizona’s budget is even worse than it looks: a new study estimates that the true deficit is $2.1 billion (more than twice what the legislature says it is). The unemployment rate is exactly that of the U.S. as a whole — 9.4% — but more than half of the homes in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is, are underwater. Most state parks are being shuttered. The public schools are in the bottom 10% of the nation by many metrics.
The current leadership appears singularly unfit to tackle these challenges. Half the legislature seems to treat legislating like an indoor version of the Tombstone 2 p.m. Gunfight Show, giving speeches about pioneer values and then firing a round of blanks. Arizona’s legislature has long been warped by low voter turnout and uncontested districts. “Only ideologues go to the polls,” says Merrill. “In Arizona, that happens to be the right-wingers.” Public financing for campaigns removed most kinds of fundraising and, with them, the moderation that can come with accountability to the business community, so the primaries function as a race to the fringe of acceptable politics.
One Arizonan statesman worth mentioning is Russell Pearce:
Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who is now the president of the senate and perhaps the most powerful politician in the state. In 2009 the budgetary meltdown was already in its second year, but Pearce doggedly championed legislation that would force Obama, whom he describes as waging “jihad” against Arizona, to provide proof of his citizenship (it was tabled after being ridiculed around the country). In 2010, Pearce turned to immigration with SB 1070, a bill seemingly purpose-built to provoke not only controversy but also a lengthy court battle, thereby sapping both prestige and resources from a state that needs more of both. This year, the No. 2 priority after the budget, says Pearce, will be legislation calling for the repeal of the 14th Amendment, the one that grants citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil. This, of course, is not anywhere near the jurisdiction of the Arizona legislature.
To wrap up, much of the national and state-level approach to immigration issues most likely will come back to haunt America. The strident bumper-sticker public policy approach in Arizona and elsewhere in America is attacking the very base that will have a majority in Arizona in a few decades and most likely will continue to grow in presence and stature in America in the years to come:
So when the lawmakers decided to cut dropout-prevention programs — the Hispanic dropout rate is particularly abysmal — they may have fulfilled a campaign promise, but they also dented Arizona’s prospects.
(Pictured: The Grand Canyon in Arizona).
“You take away the money from Israel? No. That’s something we can’t do. Do I like foreign aid? Sometimes, but not every time. Don’t like giving money to our enemies, but I love giving money to Israel. And so there’s a picture there that people realize that, we stop helping Israel, we lose God’s hand and we’re in big time trouble,” – Congressman Dan Webster (R-FL).
Mind you, we give $2.4 billion per year to Israel. Some necessary background info for the newly informed:
Webster’s religious argument for assisting Israel echos the belief of Christian Zioniststhat Israel will play a central role in the apocalyptic end-times. One interpretation of the Bible, held by a large portion of Christian evangelicals, is that the return of Jesusrequires that Jews control the “Holy Land.” Over the last two decades, both Israeli lobbyists and right-wing Christians have harnessed this growing belief to build support for Israeli government actions and for unchecked taxpayer assistance to the Israeli military.
This law has its objectors. One to mention is Senator Rand Paul. He is basically met with this rhetoric about patriotism:
Paul and the other dissenting Senators better give up their objections and submit to quick Patriot Act passageor else they’ll have blood on their hands from the Terrorist attack they will cause. That, of course, was the classic Bush/Cheney tactic for years to pressure Democrats into supporting every civil-liberties-destroying measure the Bush White House demanded (including, of course, the original Patriot Act itself), and now we have the Democrats — ensconced in power — using it just as brazenly and shamelessly (recall how Bush’s DNI, Michael McConnell, warned Congressional Democrats in 2007 that unless they quickly passed without changes the new FISA bill the Bush White House was demanding, a Terrorist attack would likely occur at the Congress in a matter of “days, not weeks”; McConnell then told The New Yorker: “If we don’t update FISA, the nation is significantly at risk”). Feinstein learned well.
Greenwald challenges the myth that there is no bipartisanship in Congress.
So when they were out of power, the Democrats reviled the Patriot Act and constantly complained about fear-mongering tactics and exploitation of the Terrorist threat being used to stifle civil liberties and privacy concerns. Now that they’re in power and a Democratic administration is arguing for extension of the Patriot Act, they use fear-mongering tactics and exploitation of the Terrorist threat to stifle civil liberties and privacy concerns (“If somebody wants to take on their shoulders not having provisions in place which are necessary to protect the United States at this time, that’s a big, big weight to bear,” warned Feinstein). And they’re joined in those efforts by the vast majority of the GOP caucus. Remember, though: there is no bipartisanship in Washington, the parties are constantly at each other’s throats, and they don’t agree on anything significant, and thus can’t get anything done. If only that were true.
I would add bipartisan support for Israel to that short list.
Conor Friedersdorf explains why this matters to us and brings Barack Obama into the mix:
Contrary to the misleading reassurances of PATRIOT Act apologists, some provisions of the legislation aren’t merely likely to be abused by law enforcement in the future — they’ve already led to civil liberties violations, many of them documented circa 2009 by the Justice Department. Through National Security Letters, for example, law enforcement is permitted to obtain sensitive information from the banks, phone companies and Internet service providers of any American citizen. The FBI doesn’t need a warrant to request this private data, and the target of the snooping needn’t even be suspected of any connection with terrorism! More than 6,000 Americans were spied on in this manner during 2009 (the most recent year data is available), and the federal government has itself documented flagrant FBI abuses. All that’s missing is a desire to fix the problem. There are plenty of other objectionable PATRIOT ACT sections too: the “lone wolf” provision, roving wiretaps, Section 215 notices. All are worthy of study, especially since now the American people won’t learn more about them through a Congressional debate.
President Obama’s support for this latest re-authorization matters because it bears on a central promise of his candidacy. During Election 2008, he made it seem as though a vote for him would signify and end to the Bush Administration’s excesses in the war on terrorism: its tendency to needlessly sacrifice civil liberties even when less intrusive measures were sufficient, its disdain for checks and balances on executive authority, its habit of using scare tactics to insist that national security legislation be passed quickly and without a debate. Hope. Change. Those were the slogans. They weren’t about getting Osama bin Laden, nice as that was.
Glenn Greenwald explains:
…the same faction that spent the last decade demanding fealty to the Commander-in-Chief in a Time of War upon pain of being accused of a lack of patriotism (or worse) now openly sides with a foreign leader over their own President. The U.S. Congress humiliates itself by expressing greater admiration for and loyalty to this foreign leader than their own country’s. And because this is all about Israel, few will find this spectacle strange, or at least will be willing to say so.
In one sense, the pro-Netanyahu reaction of the GOP is worse, since they spent the last decade accusing anyone who sided with foreign countries over their Commander-in-Chief of being subversive, but in another sense the Democratic reaction is worse, since the President’s own party — especially its leadership — would never, ever publicly criticize him this way on any foreign policy issue other than Israel. In any event, please remember that you must not speak of the immense power of the Israel Lobby lest you reveal yourself to be a conspiratorial hatemonger. I hope that’s clear.
This is mind boggling.