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Archive for August 2nd, 2009

Send In the Clowns

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Send In the Clowns

Circus

The Bolivian government has outlawed the use of all animals, wild or domestic, in circuses. The ban was proposed after activists documented the widespread abuse of animals in circuses that operated in the country.

The Guardian:

Bolivia has enacted what animal rights activists are calling the world’s first ban on all animals in circuses.

A handful of other countries have banned the use of wild animals in circuses, but the Bolivian ban includes domestic animals as well.

The law, which states that the use of animals in circuses “constitutes an act of cruelty”, took effect on 1 July with operators given a year to comply, according to the bill’s sponsor, Ximena Flores.

The law was proposed after an undercover investigation by the nonprofit-making London-based group Animal Defenders International (ADI) found widespread abuse in circuses operating in Bolivia.

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Pelosi Outlines August Plan Of Attack

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:39 am by HL

Pelosi Outlines August Plan Of Attack
Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined a doubled-edged message for selling health care reform in August: one part pro-consumer and the second, attacking the health insurance industry…

Eric Lurio: Again with the 51st State…
The main argument against Puerto Rican statehood is taxation. Except for DC, it has been the policy of the federal government that there be no taxation without representation, so Puerto Ricans don’t pay income tax.

AKMuckraker: Palins to Divorce?
The blogosphere in Alaska is on fire this morning with explosive new allegations about former governor Sarah Palin and ex-First Dude Todd. Reports say divorce is in the air.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: The GOP’s Birthers Con Game
A survey by Research 2000 found that more than half of Republicans have doubts about his actual birthplace. This proves the birthers have planted a deep conspiracy seed and they won’t go away quietly.


Malkin distorts Michelle Obama biography to attack her and her father as corrupt

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Malkin distorts Michelle Obama biography to attack her and her father as corrupt

In her new book, Culture of Corruption, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin claims that first lady Michelle Obama “was literally born into the Chicago political corruptocracy,” suggesting that because her father was a volunteer precinct captain and held a city job, she was a party to cronyism and embraced the practice. In fact, the biography of Michelle Obama that Malkin cites to make this case actually argued that the first lady’s experience in the “powerful political machine” of Richard J. Daley made her and her family “extremely cynical about politics and politicians” until they met “Barack [Obama], whose political career was pushed in part by a coalition of people who had grown up in opposition to Daley and whose goal was breaking the Machine.”

Malkin asserts Michelle Obama was born into “Chicago political corruptocracy”

From Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies (Regnery Publishing, July 2009):

In the Chicago patronage culture that made Michelle Obama, the color that matters most is neither black nor white, it is green — the color of money. Mrs. Obama was literally born into the Chicago political corruptocracy. Her father, Fraser Robinson, was a volunteer precinct caption for the Democrat Party [sic]. Washington Post writer Liza Mundy called him “an essential member of the powerful political machine run by [Richard J.] Daley, who, in addition to being mayor, was the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, meaning he controlled both the government and the political party, and could use one to do the other’s bidding.” Former alderman Leon Despres bluntly told Mundy that it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Robinson’s job at the city water department was a reward for his loyalty. “The water department, where Fraser Robinson worked, was a renowned repository of patronage jobs.”

Why such little scrutiny of Michelle the Merciless (or “That Other Michelle,” as she’s known in my house) and her crony-aided rise to power? Like her husband, Mrs. Obama is quick to play the victim card when her ill-considered statements and her dealings come under scrutiny. I don’t call her President Obama’s bitter half for nothing. [Page 43]

Biography cited by Malkin actually reported that Michelle Obama disliked machine politics

Liza Mundy’s Michelle: A Biography actually explains that “Chicago in the 1960s was almost certainly the source of her oft-expressed skepticism about politics.” Contrary to Malkin’s use of Mundy’s book to suggest that Michelle Obama embraced the culture of the Daley machine, Mundy actually writes:

While there were many pleasures in Michelle’s childhood — bikes could be left on sidewalks and moms could stay home and children could roam more freely than they do now — it’s also indisputable that the Chicago she grew up in was not entirely hospitable to citizens like Fraser Robinson and his aspirations to move his family forward. Her dad and her community may well explain her own grounded and hard-working nature, as well as her commitment to her children, but Chicago in the 1960s was almost certainly the source of her oft-expressed skepticism about politics. It was not only a racist and highly segregated city, but one with a complex and ambiguous political system, a system that Fraser Robinson participated in, either because he enjoyed politics or because it was one of the few paths open to an ambitious black man. [Michelle: A Biography, Page 23]

Mundy argued that Robinsons were “extremely cynical about politics and politicians” until they met Obama. Mundy reported:

But it’s also likely that for all the pride Michelle took in her father’s professional dedication, she also drew a lesson about politics. Part of Michelle’s skepticism about it comes form the version she saw up close as a little girl: how the system bought you and protected you, but also controlled you. “If you didn’t do this, didn’t behave in a certain way,” says [Don] Rose [Chicago political consultant and historian of city government], “you could lose your pay, [the Machine could] demote you, fire you.” People who underperformed in their political work were susceptible to being “vised,” or summarily fired. That was politics in Chicago. “Some of [Michelle’s] subconscious — some of her disdain as to politics could have to do with how [her father] was treated, and what he had to go through,” says Al Kindle, a political consultant who grew up on the South Side.

And that, Kindle says, is why the black community was ambivalent about patronage and about Daley: the Machine lifted you up — got you services and perks — at the same time that it kept you down. “It was clear that you didn’t get access to certain services unless you were a friend to the power structure. That spigot could be cut off. As a young African American with a family, you had to think about that with a jaundiced eye. Just as it helped you, it restricted your choice.” So it could be that Robinson’s son and daughter developed a dislike for politics even as they developed a deep, deep love for him. “We as a family were extremely cynical about politics and politicians” is how Craig [Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother] puts it. That started to change when they met Barack, whose political career was pushed in part by a coalition of people who had grown up in opposition to Daley and whose goal was breaking the Machine. [Michelle: A Biography, Pages 30-31]

Malkin ignored biography’s argument that Frank Robinson had little choice but to be politically active while holding a city job

A former Chicago alderman told Mundy: “[T]he majority of the people were [serving as precinct captains] because their jobs depended on it.” Mundy reported:

As a precinct captain, you could expect, in return for this political policing, a city job. In fact, doing “volunteer” work was almost the only way you could get one. “To get a city job, you’d have to have some kind of recommendation from your ward committeeman,” says Don Rose, describing a system in which it was crucial to have a recommender, somebody watching out for you — your patron. Daley kept a file cabinet with a list of jobs in it and was said to know the names of everybody who held them.

[…]

“We had some volunteers but the majority of the people were [serving as precinct captains] because their jobs depended on it,” says Cliff Kelley, a former South Side alderman who […] was familiar with machine culture. Most of the time, Kelley says, a person’s political activism, and the job he held, were inseparably linked. [Michelle: A Biography, Pages 28-29]

In ’50s and ’60s, city jobs “insulated” African Americans “from the capriciousness and racism of the open job market.” Mundy reported:

A city job was particularly valuable to an African American in that it insulated him somewhat from the capriciousness and racism of the open job market. “This was in the fifties and early sixties. Before affirmative action, patronage was as close as you could get to affirmative action, and if you didn’t get rich, at least it was a steady job,” says Rose. [Michelle: A Biography, Pages 28-29]

Malkin attacks Fraser Robinson, doesn’t note he had M.S. but worked every day for decades “without complaint”

Citing Mundy’s book in attacking Fraser Robinson, Malkin ignored Mundy’s reporting that Robinson worked every day for decades despite being “crippled by multiple sclerosis.” Mundy described Fraser Robinson as a “vigorous man who was crippled by multiple sclerosis, a progressive disease that set in when he was just in his thirties.” Mundy wrote that Fraser’s “congenial presence defined the home” Michelle Obama grew up in, with his “unflinching work ethic, his deep commitment to family, his view that who you are is defined not only by how you behave in public but what you do in the shadows, when nobody is watching.” [Michelle: A Biography, Page 22]. Mundy added that Michelle and Craig “describe what an inspiration it was to both of them, seeing Fraser Robinson get up to go to work every day, something that became increasingly difficult after his disease set in. Despite the fact that he needed a cane — and, later, crutches and eventually a motorized cart — he never stopped working.” [Michelle: A Biography, Page 30]

Mundy notes that in describing her father’s “premature death,” Michelle Obama said, “He died on his way to work.” Mundy wrote that Fraser Robinson “had recently been in the hospital for a kidney operation, and afterward died unexpectedly of complications,” adding that Michelle Obama also said of his passing: “He wasn’t feeling well, but he was going to get in that car and go.” [Michelle: A Biography, Page 30]


Stanford Complains: Prison Too Prison-Like

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Stanford Complains: Prison Too Prison-Like
Allen Stanford, the Texas banker charged with orchestrating an $8 billion fraud, isn’t too happy behind bars, it seems. His attorney, the heavy-hitting criminal defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin, has filed papers calling conditions at the federal detention facility north of…

Bonner Responds: Forged Letters Were Sent By “Temporary Employee”
Jack Bonner of Bonner Associates has responded to the news that an employee at his firm sent a forged letter purporting to come from a local Hispanic group, urging a congressman to oppose the recent climate change bill. In a…


Col. Limbaugh of the Chickenhawk Corps

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Col. Limbaugh of the Chickenhawk Corps


The Ones That Got Away

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:34 am by HL

The Ones That Got Away
Once upon a time, TPMCafe collected the best reader posts of the week and put them together in an easily digestible round-up. Today, we’re reviving that age-old tradition. For people who like beer — and beer puns — this was…


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An ‘Imperturbably Valiant’ Lawyer
Few if any who recall the uproar over Mahmoud Amadenijad’s appearance at Columbia University two years ago can recall the uproar over the appearance at Columbia of Hans Luther, the first Nazi ambassador to the U.S, in 1933. But one…


Sponsored Topics: Columbia UniversityUnited StatesPoliticsMcCarthyismHans Luther

HOW TO UNITE JERUSALEM
Jerusalem is back in the news. It’s probable that the government of Bibi Netanyahu decided to give the legal green light to settler-support Irwin Moskowitz to build in the mostly Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to strengthen Bibi’s right flank….


Sponsored Topics: JerusalemIsraelBenjamin NetanyahuEast JerusalemMiddle East


Tancredo: Sotomayor Pals Around With Mexican Separatists

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Tancredo: Sotomayor Pals Around With Mexican Separatists
Doubling-down on his previous claim that Justice-to-be Sonia Sotomayor is a member of the “Latino KKK,” nativist former Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo (R-CO) published a column yesterday suggesting that she supports an imaginary movement of Mexican-Americans planning to wage civil war against the United States: The last thing the Democrats want is for the […]

tancredoDoubling-down on his previous claim that Justice-to-be Sonia Sotomayor is a member of the “Latino KKK,” nativist former Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo (R-CO) published a column yesterday suggesting that she supports an imaginary movement of Mexican-Americans planning to wage civil war against the United States:

The last thing the Democrats want is for the American people to know about the National Council of La Raza, their radical agenda and Sotomayor’s association with the group.

Sotomayor is a member of La Raza and her comments about “Wise Latinas” being superior to white men appeared in the La Raza Law Journal. The National Council of La Raza bills itself as “the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States” who works through “its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations.”

Among these affiliates are several chapters of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán) who La Raza helps fund. Aztlán is what radical “Mechistas”—as they refer to themselves on La Raza’s website—call the American Southwest, which they claim still belongs to Mexico. Their slogan is “Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada” meaning “For the Race everything, outside the Race nothing.” One chapter says on La Raza’s site that their mission is “empowerment of our gente and the liberation of Aztlán.”

For starters, Tancredo offers no explanation for his belief that Sotomayor, who is Puerto Rican, would somehow find common cause with Mexican-American separatists.  Mr. Tancredo may be unaware of this fact, but Puerto Rico is not part of Mexico.

Moreover, Tancredo’s claim that America is threatened by Mexican-Americans eager to start a second civil war is simply absurd hate speech.  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Aztlán libel is based on a radical document published in 1969, which called on Mexican-Americans to “reclaim the land of their birth” and unite to fight “oppression, exploitation and racism.”  Although this document is nothing more than “a relic of the counterculture of the 1960s,”  nativist hate groups have seized upon it as a supposed “founding document of a bona fide conspiracy endorsed and backed by Mexico and, in some versions, by most Mexican Americans.”

For Tancredo, however, no theory is too bizarre, so long as it bolsters his deep-seated hatred of people who don’t look like him.

RNC Adopts Wingnut Agenda: Calls ?Obamacare? Socialism, Bans Cap-And-Trade, Condemns Obama?s ?Czars?
This weekend, the Republican National Committee is gathering for its summer meeting in San Diego, the first for the RNC under Michael Steele’s leadership. In his speech to RNC members yesterday, Steele complained, “Think about all the crap we’ve taken from the press, and some of our own. And think about where we’re going.” Watch […]

This weekend, the Republican National Committee is gathering for its summer meeting in San Diego, the first for the RNC under Michael Steele’s leadership. In his speech to RNC members yesterday, Steele complained, “Think about all the crap we’ve taken from the press, and some of our own. And think about where we’re going.” Watch it:

So where is the RNC going? The RNC adopted three resolutions yesterday that give a pretty good indication of where the party is heading:

1) RNC resolution calls “Obamacare” a march toward “socialism.” For months, right-wing members of the RNC have been urging Michael Steele to call Obama a “socialist.” They even proposed a resolution renaming the Democratic Party the “Democrat Socialist Party.” But Steele pushed back, saying, “We don’t see this president so much as a socialist as we see him as a collectivist.” In recent weeks, however, Steele has succumbed to the right-wing’s influence and started calling Obama’s health care proposal “socialism.” Now, the RNC has adopted a resolution that “recognize[s] that Obamacare is marching America further towards Socialism and urge that it be stopped.” The resolution proposes “true cost savings” can be realized by encouraging seniors to opt out of Medicare:

RESOLVED, that true cost savings be achieved by allowing Medicare patients to opt out of Medicare program to pay for their own catastrophic insurance, and allowing Medicare participating physicians to discount their service fees for cash payments;

2) RNC resolution says Obama violated Constitution by appointing czars. For months, the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party has been railing against Obama for the appointment of policy “czars,” despite the fact that President Bush engaged in the same practice. Fox News has been pushing the conspiracy that Obama is acting unconstitutionally, even while the network’s own correspondent has acknowledged that the myth is false. The RNC has now adopted a resolution condemning Obama for his appointment of these policy liaisons:

RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee recognize that the current concentration of powers in the Executive Branch is a violation of the powers of the President of the United States as defined in the U.S. Constitution and is dangerous to the citizens of America;

As ThinkProgress has noted, many of the “czars” that the right wing is up-in-arms over are actually Senate-confirmed positions. Moreover, the history of presidents appointing high-ranking policy advisers goes back over hundreds of years.

3) RNC adopts resolution to kill cap-and-trade. The RNC’s resolution on cap-and-trade declares that the cost of it will “greatly exceed any benefit.” It also declares that global warming is merely a “pretext” for passing cap-and-trade:

RESOLVED, that we urge Congress to vote no on Cap-and-Trade and to reject all efforts to use global warming as a pretext to increase federal revenues;

The language appears to be an attempt to mollify the global warming-denier base of the Republican Party. Expert analyses have found that Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation will cut pollution and create wealth over time. The EPA estimated that the bill will lower electricity bills by 2020.

For a Party attempting to broaden it base, these resolutions that pander to the conservative “wacko wing” are extremely unlikely to help that cause.


Pelosi to Use House Recess to Sell Obama’s Health-Care Plan

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:32 am by HL

Pelosi to Use House Recess to Sell Obama’s Health-Care Plan
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi returned home to San Francisco this weekend carrying a red, white and blue pocket card that will help guide her through the August recess. The card lists talking points she hopes will convince everyday Americans of the benefits they could receive under the health-care…

A Political Odyssey: How Obama’s Team Forged a Path That Surprised Everyone, Even the Candidate
Adapted from the upcoming book “The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election”

White House Altering Health Pitch in Bid to Reinvigorate Obama’s Signature Issue
From the start of his presidency, Barack Obama made clear that his plan for enacting comprehensive health-care reform came down to three words: fast, broad and bipartisan.


How House Bill Runs Over Grandma

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 2nd, 2009 4:29 am by HL

How House Bill Runs Over Grandma

Health Reform Ultimately is a Debate Over Freedom
Mark Steyn, NRO

Rick Sanchez’s ‘Sellout’ Stereotype
Linda Chavez, New York Post

Eric Holder’s Justice Department
Jennifer Rubin, Weekly Standard