Friday, July 31, 2009

72 Year Old Grandma Gets Tased.

As Obama has a beer with a cop for daring to suggest that he acted "stupidly", we get to witness this policeman tasering a 72 year old woman arrested for a traffic violation.

The woman is clearly scared when she states, "I'm getting back in my car." For that she is electrocuted. But don't for God's sake say he overreacted or Obama will have to invite him for a drink.


Why is it that right wingers, the very people who demand that they need guns to protect themselves from the government, are always the very first people to defend the police when they behave in this way?

You may be as pure as the driven snow itself, but you have no idea what horrible crime that police officer might suspect you of committing. You may be tooling along on a Sunday drive in your 1932 Hupmobile when, quite unknown to you, someone else in a 1932 Hupmobile knocks off the nearby Piggly Wiggly. A passing police officer sees you and, asking himself how many 1932 Hupmobiles can there be around here, pulls you over. At that moment I can assure you the officer is not all that concerned with trying not to offend you. He is instead concerned with protecting his mortal hide from having holes placed in it where God did not intend. And you, if in asserting your constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure fail to do as the officer asks, run the risk of having such holes placed in your own.
Breathtaking. And yet this is the freedom they want exported everywhere. They are all little authoritarians at heart.
The authoritarian personality does not want to give orders, their personality type wants to take orders. People with this type of personality seek conformity, security, stability. They become anxious and insecure when events or circumstances upset their previously existing world view. They are very intolerant of any divergence from what they consider to be the normal (which is usually conceptualized in terms of their religion, race, history, nationality, culture, language, etc.) They tend to be very superstitious and lend credence to folktales or interpretations of history that fit their preexisting definitions of reality (thus the Founding Fathers of the US are conceptualized of as supporters of white nationalism.) They think in extremely stereotyped ways about minorities, women, homosexuals, etc. They are thus very dualistic- the world is conceived in terms of absolute right (their way) Vs. absolute wrong (the "other" whether African American, liberal, intellectual, feminist, etc.)
That actually sums up the Republican mindset perfectly.

Tancredo Says Obama's Appointment Of Sotomayor Could Indicate He's Racist.

This is becoming a theme amongst these scumbags:

TANCREDO: I do not know if he has a hatred for white people. I can say that his [Obama] statements and his appointment of someone I do believe to be a racist, “Sonia Mayer,” for her racial views by the way — that is an indication, that could be used as an indication by some, that he is indeed a racist. Because it’s depending on what you use as a definition.
They are hoping that if they repeat this shit often enough that some of it will stick. They are beyond shame.

Hat tip to Think Progress.

Holder: "Waterboarding is torture." Now what?

I'm really not sure what to make of this.

HOLDER: I have said that waterboarding is torture. If one looks at the history of that practice, I don't see how you can reach any other conclusion. I think the department, at least some of the people who worked here, simply lost their way. We will not criminalise policy differences. We will follow the facts of the law wherever that takes us.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think you have the independence to do that if you need to make that call?

What does he mean when he speaks of "policy differences"? Torture cannot be written off as mere "policy differences". The United States entered into binding international treaties promising that it would not torture and that it would prosecute anyone who took part in torture or who facilitated torture.

This is a matter of law. Holder talks a great game, but if he's going to dismiss torture as a mere "policy differences" then he can say whatever he likes but he's not upholding the law.

There are some who say that this view is utopian. That it is unrealistic to expect that presidents should be liable to prosecution if they broke the law whilst defending the nation. But, there are some things which the US Constitution demands, even of presidents.
We don't have to guess what those principles are. The Founders created documents -- principally the Constitution -- which had as their purpose enumerating the principles that were to be immunized from such "practical considerations." All one has to do in order to understand their supreme status is to understand the core principle of Constitutional guarantees: no acts of Government can conflict with these principles or violate them for any reason. And all one has to do to appreciate their absolute, unyielding essence is to read how they're written: The President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." "[A]ll Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land." "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." "No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Even policies which enjoy majoritarian support and ample "practical" justification will be invalid -- nullified -- if they violate those guarantees.
This is a pivotal moment in US history. Both the president and the vice president have admitted to committing war crimes. Nixon once famously said that, "When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal." Holder is in the unfortunate position of deciding whether or not Nixon was right. And, if he decides not to prosecute, then he proves that Bush was also right when he stated that the US Constitution was "just a goddamned piece of paper!"

Because if Bush and Cheney can blatantly commit war crimes and walk away unpunished, then the US Constitution is rendered meaningless. Because no-one is left upholding it's values.

The Audacity of Hops.

Even the president of the United States is not allowed to say that a policeman behaved badly without the press dragging him back into line and forcing him to, "look forward and not backwards". Not that this president is averse to looking, "forward and not backwards." He's ignoring the war crimes committed by his predecessor, so turning his back on the bad behaviour of James Crowley of the Cambridge police is really small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

After the event Crowley described the discussion as "cordial and positive". He made it clear there were on-going disagreements and no hint of an apology from either side, but that they had "agreed it's important to look forward rather than backward".

He recognised that Gates had the credentials to enlighten him, and "he has a willingness to listen to me about the difficult job that police officers do".

The police do have a difficult job to do, but the events at Gates's house could hardly be amongst the most difficult moments of Crowley's career, even if they end up being the most notorious.

He arrested an elderly black man because he didn't like his tone. He didn't like the way this elderly man was speaking to him.

The fact that Gates committed no crime has been made clear by the fact that all charges against him have been dropped. He simply should never have been arrested in the first place.

But we are all forced to witness this charade because the one thing we are never allowed to say, under any circumstances, is that the police behaved badly. Obama crossed this line and said that Crowley behaved "stupidly", so now we have to "look forward and not backward" and witness this photo opportunity.
Obama said :"I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode."
We have not to look at what actually happened:
Crowley was called to Gates's home in Cambridge last week following a report of an attempted break-in. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct after he protested that his treatment of the hands of the police was racially motivated. The charges were later dropped.
We have to look at some way of moving on without acknowledging that Crowley shouldn't have done what he did. He abused his power. But no-one is allowed to say that because he is a member of the police force and they "have a difficult job to do"; therefore they are above criticism.

So Gates and Obama and Biden and Crowley will all have a beer and no-one will apologise and no-one will admit that they were wrong.

Because the police are never wrong. And Obama, whilst not taking back his statement that Crowley behaved stupidly, is not repeating it.

So, we are all, "looking forward and not backwards". It sounds great and so - so - positive. But, exactly as it applies to the war crimes of George W Bush, "looking forward and not backwards" seems to me to be a great way to avoid anyone ever taking any responsibility for anything which they should not have done.

If the lessons of Obama's presidency are that we should ignore the past, learn nothing, and simply move on, then I fear I am going to be greatly disappointed.


And now I stumble across the real reason why Obama has to go through this charade:

Barack Obama significantly damaged his standing with voters – especially white voters – when he intervened in the controversy surrounding the brief arrest of a black Harvard history professor earlier this month by calling the police action in the case "stupid", according to new polling figures released yesterday.

A survey released by the Pew Research Centre found that 41 per cent of all voters disapproved of Mr Obama's handling of the affair, compared with just 29 per cent who approved.

White Americans want to believe that the election of Obama means that the US has become "post racial". Obama's crime was to tell them that they are not.


I include this simply because it made me laugh.


Here, Crowley describes his "ordeal". I would have thought that the "ordeal" happened to the person who was arrested. Since when did the person committing the arrest become the victim of the piece? This is becoming more surreal with every second that passes...

Click title for full article.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Morning Joe crew rips on Glenn Beck for calling Obama a racist.

Glenn Beck is torn apart on Morning Joe for his ridiculous statement that Obama is a racist. It's too much even for the Morning Joe crowd.

They, rightly, condemn the "poison which he puts into the atmosphere" when he makes this kind of charge. They are also of the notion that he's "an entertainer" and somehow doesn't mean what he says, which I think is being rather generous to Beck.

If people come out with racist crap then I tend to assume that they are racists.

Boston Police Officer Suspended For Sending E-mail Calling Professor Gates A "Jungle Monkey".

I said at the time of the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. that I thought he was far too quick to claim that the situation that he found himself in was based on his race, although I, nevertheless, found his arrest to be a disgrace.

However, the fact that he immediately thought race was a factor when dealing with the police has been lent some validity by an email sent by a Boston police officer:

A Boston police officer allegedly sent a mass e-mail using a disgraceful racial slur in referring to Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., prompting the commissioner to move immediately to fire the cop, the Herald has learned.

Officer Justin Barrett, 36, a two-year veteran assigned to District B-3, was placed on administrative leave pending a termination hearing yesterday afternoon. When a supervisor confronted Barrett about the e-mail - in which he called Gates a “jungle monkey” - he admitted to being the author, according to officials.

Police Commissioner Edward Davis immediately stripped the cop of his gun and badge, according to officials. Barrett, who could not immediately be reached, has no prior disciplinary history.

I have no idea how widespread such a mindset might be amongst American police forces and can only hope that such racism is in the minority. However, the fact that a serving officer felt that he could use such incendiary language in an email makes me think that, unlike Gates, I have no idea at all of what it must be like to be a black person in the US possibly facing that kind of mindset every time I have any contact with the police.

The assumption he made, which I disagreed with at the time, suddenly becomes much more understandable.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

Matthew Norman: The insanity and enduring racism of the American right.

I've written before about the differences between American Republicans and British Tories and the fact that Cameron's American counterparts are far more insane than any right wing Brit would ever be allowed to be.

Some of the differences I noted were:

Bush, when asked about the criticism of waterboarding - which he refuses to see as torture, despite the fact that the US itself has prosecuted people for doing that very thing - asked, "Which attack would they rather not have stopped?" He actually acted as if this could be sold as a "red pen or blue pen" scenario where one has to choose between torture and attacks.

No British politician could dare sit on national TV and make that argument.

But in the US, Bill O'Reilly can sit on national television and actually argue that people
who oppose torture are "despicable".

This is an example of just how radical and extreme the current American right wingers are. There simply is no British equivalent to the Republican party, unless one reaches towards the BNP and other extremists.

The Tories might sound like them on matters like tax cuts and deregulation, but when it comes to social policy they simply wouldn't dare make the arguments that are regularly made by the American right wing.

Any British politician who proposed
teaching creationism in schools would instantly be regarded as on the outer fringes of intelligent debate, but Bush argued for that very thing and was seen as playing to the base, rather than as someone who had blatantly lost his mind.

The notion that David Cameron could hope to get elected by opposing abortion is silly on it's face, and yet the Republicans put forward Sarah Palin as a candidate for Vice President precisely because
she held such views.

Imagine what the Republican base would do if McCain, or any candidate for the Republican ticket,
said this:
"I stood up in front of a Conservative conference, my first one as leader, and said that marriage was important, and as far as I was concerned it didn’t matter whether it was between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman," he said.
"No other Conservative leader has ever done that. I don’t think any Labour leader has done that. Even since then. The good thing was that they applauded."
And yet that is precisely what David Cameron did. The sky did not fall in and there were no calls for his head. Indeed, the Conservatives realised that they needed to change their stance on a lot of these issues in order to have any chance of ever getting re-elected, which is why they applauded.

In the US, the Republican party appears to have been kidnapped by radical extremists.
Today, the brilliant Matthew Norman of the Independent has a look at the Republicans and the insane theory of the birthers.

People like myself always believed that the Republicans would react to their crushing defeat at the hands of Obama by claiming that the problem was that the Republicans had not been right wing enough. But, as Norman rightly states, we greatly underestimated just how bonkers the American right wing would actually go.

Concerns that the Grand Old Party would respond to Obama's near landslide by aping the post-1997 Tories, and adhering to the Tebbitian doctrine that the only mistake was in not being nasty and insular enough, prove naïve. The Republicans now make the Tories at their dog-whistling absolute worst seem achingly inclusive.

Who leads them at the minute is a mystery. Some think it's Sarah Palin, others the deliriously repugnant Rush Limbaugh, who inevitably joins the other oracles of US radio and TV in keeping the birther debate bubbling. What leadership there is, so it seems to this ignorant observer across the ocean, comes from the grass roots ... the sort of God fearin', gun-totin', sister-shaggin' sweethearts who screeched "terrorist" and "kill him" when John McCain mentioned Obama on the stump. Unable to compute that America elected a black man, they have decided that he isn't their President at all. No longer can they use the "n" word or fantasise publicly about lynch mobs. But they can divert their rage into a bogus legalistic dispute, rejected time and again by the Supreme Court, as freely as they like.

And their elected representatives follow them in dumb terror. A Huffington Post reporter approached a clutch of Republican congressmen on Capitol Hill this week to ask if they think Obama was born on US soil. Several scurried away, one at a trot, without replying. Another spent 20 minutes pretending to examine CDs in a shop to avoid the question. The only one prepared to answer said that Obama was a natural born citizen "so far as I'm aware" – an echo of Hillary Clinton doing her genteel bit to foster the myth about him being a Muslim sleeper during the primaries by referring to him as a Christian "so far as I know".

It's worth reading the entire thing, which you can do by clicking on the title, but, Matthews detects one truth in the whole of the birther fiasco: and that is that, "America is waking to the realisation that untold millions aren't even close to accepting the democratic will that put a black man in the White House."

To that end they claim that he isn't even an American, far less their duly elected president.

It's a form of insanity that no British Tory would ever be allowed to indulge in. But, as the truly insane now make up the bulk of the Republican base, American right wingers are now forced into pretending that this insanity might actually have some validity.

It's a truly pathetic sight to witness. And it's worse than anything I could have ever imagined when I said that Obama's victory would cause them to self destruct. None of us could have foreseen this obscene spectacle on the horizon.

Click title for Matthews article.

Budget squeeze hits the weakest.

Philip Hammond, the shadow Treasury chief secretary, announced recently that he was going to be so savage with his cuts in public spending - should the Tories comes to power - that he was quite sure he was going to become a figure of national hate.

He sounded almost proud as he made this claim.

This is what I loathe about spending cuts, the people targeted always come from the weakest elements of our society. Yesterday the Labour party announced that allowances for people seeking asylum in Britain are to be slashed in the Autumn.

The "penny-pinching" reductions provoked fury last night with ministers facing accusations they were penalising some of the most vulnerable members of society. They were also warned that the reductions would force refugees into destitution. Under the moves, the subsistence allowance paid to single asylum-seekers aged 25 and over will be slashed from £42.16 to £35.13 a week in October. The cash is intended to cover their living costs while they wait for their claims to be assessed.

In future, single asylum-seekers – the majority of applicants – will be expected to exist on just £5 a day. Under government rules they are not allowed to increase their income by working. The revised rates will apply to new asylum applicants rather than those already in the system. The allowances paid to lone parents will be frozen at the current level of £42.16.

Asylum support payments have traditionally been raised in line with the rate of inflation in the previous September, which would have entitled claimants to an increase of more than 5 per cent this year. But the Home Office has ruled that such increases cannot be afforded this year.

I understand that money needs to be raised, but is anyone seriously going to argue that taking £7.02 a week from some of the most vulnerable people in our society is the most efficient way to trim our spending in these difficult times?

I mean seriously, how much money is actually being saved by this savage attack on some of the poorest members of our society?

If the government are serious about the need for savings, why are they making this needless one? Why not carry out one which would be hugely popular on the left and state that we can no longer afford to update Trident? That would save anything up to a £100 billion.

But no. That might prove controversial amongst the Daily Mail readers. Far easier to attack the elements of society that no-one stands up for. I mean, there aren't any votes to be won in protecting asylum seekers. There are even some left wingers I know who are rather dodgy when it comes to that subject. So, they are the first people to be hit when it comes to the need to make savings.

This is just one sad indication of what is to come further down the road.

We have a Tory shadow Treasury chief secretary who is positively salivating at the chance to turn himself into a hate figure due to the savage cuts he is planning on making.

As always in times like this, the people who earn a bit more than everyone else will never be asked to contribute a bit more in taxation, rather the savings must always be taken from the people who can least afford it. Especially if they are members of social groups, like asylum seekers, who have few people willing to defend their cause.

It's not only an obscenity, it's also an act of political cowardice. The Labour party - of all parties - is supposed to defend groups regarded as societal outcasts. In this case Brown has decided to kick them when they are down because it is easier to do that than anything else.

The Tories, when they come to power, will be even more brutal. They are already signaling that to us.

But the bankers, the people whose rampant greed led us all into this financial mess, will continue to pay themselves obscene amounts in bonuses. Their lifestyles will remain largely untouched while the poorest find their meager incomes slashed.

What's worse is that there will be no public outcry at this blatant injustice. That's exactly why Brown has chosen this group in the first place.

Click title for full article.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Glenn Beck: Obama agenda driven by "reparations" and desire to "settle old racial scores".

I linked last night to Beck's claiming that Obama is a racist, but I can see now that he really is warming to this theme. Today he takes it even further claiming that Obama's entire agenda is driven by "reparations" and a desire to "settle old racial scores".

Has it even occurred to Beck that Obama's mother and grandparents were white? That's deep shit if he's carrying some hidden hatred of whites.

Dobbs responds to "ethnocentric interest groups" protesting Birther coverage: "I'm not going to back off. Period"

Dobbs still doesn't get it. He thinks people are attacking his right to free speech. This has got nothing to do with "free speech", it's to do with Dobbs making strange assertions - despite the fact he says that he accepts Obama is a citizen - and bringing no evidence at all to the table.

He only succeeds in making himself sound like some cranky old uncle who has lost his marbles.

Even Bill O'Reilly no longer supports this nonsense. When you've lost O'Reilly you really are out there with the nutcases.

Kristol admits to Stewart that government run health care is THE BEST!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill Kristol Extended Interview
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

Jon Stewart gets Bill Kristol to admit that government run health care is the best health care, even if it is slightly more expensive.

Once Kristol has said that he has nowhere else to go, other than to the ridiculous place he finds himself, arguing that the public don't deserve the same health care as the military.
Stewart: Why no health care, Why no health care reform for Americans because the military fighting for us, gave it up. Why do you hate America?

Stewart: Why not? Why shouldn't the government provide some sort of care to the 50 million that are uninsured?

Kristol: No, well the military has a different health system than the rest of Americans.

Stewart: It's a public system, no?

Kristol: Yea, they don't have an option they're all in the military.

Stewart: Why don't we go with that?

Kristol: (Stupid look comes across his face.) I don't know. Is military health care what you really...first of all it's really expensive, they deserve it, the military...

Stewart: But people in public do not?

Kristol: No, the American public do not deserve the same...

Stewart: Are you saying Americans shouldn't have access to the same plan health care that we give the soldiers?

Kristol: Yes, to our soldiers? Absolutely.

Stewart: Really?

Kristol: I think the one thing if you become a soldier...

Stewart: So you just said, Bill Kristol just said that the government can run a first class health care system.

Kristol: Sure it can.

Stewart: A government run health care system is better than the private health care system. You just said that...

Kristol: I don't know if it's better.

Stewart: No, you just said it was better.

Kristol: I didn't say it was better all around.

Stewart: No, you said it was better. You said it's the best, it's a little more expensive, but it's better. I just want to write this down. The government runs the best health care...

Stewart: I understand that so what you are suggesting is that the government could run the best health care system for Americans, but it's a little too costly so we should have the shitty insurance companies health care.

Kristol: I'm suggesting our soldiers deserve better health care...

Stewart: They deserve the best. They have the best government run health care money can buy.
So, it is possible for the government to provide "the best" health care available, Kristol simply doesn't think that the American people deserve it. That's an astonishing admission.

The level of health care you deserve, as far as Kristol is concerned, is based on what you can afford either financially or due to your level of service. He's not denying that different levels of healthcare exist in the US, he's actually celebrating and defending such a notion based on what he perceives as your entitlement.

Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

The Worst Kind of Political Theatre.

What an asshole. McCotter is insisting that Congress should pass a resolution demanding that Obama apologise for his comments about the police officer involved in Gates-gate.

McCotter is insisting that we are witnessing "presidential over reach" and that he seeks to protect the individual from such abuse of power by the president's office.

As a member of the party which acquiesced in the treatment which the Bush regime handed out to Jose Padilla, McCotter is not in the best position to fight for the rights of the individual when faced with excessive presidential power.

For a substantial time, Padilla was denied all access to the outside world, including even access to a lawyer. In court, the Bush DOJ repeatedly argued that the President possesses the power to imprison even U.S. citizens indefinitely and with no charges simply by decreeing them to be an "enemy combatant," with no review of any kind and no opportunity to contest the validity of the accusations.
When Bush was president the rights of no American citizen were of concern to these assholes as long as he attached the word "terrorist" to their name. But we are suddenly asked to believe that these people are concerned about protecting private individuals from presidential over reach.

And they wonder why no-one associates themselves with their party anymore? They are beyond ridiculous.

MoD challenges payments for injured soldiers.

The timing of this, as UK death rates in Afghanistan reach new highs, is simply extraordinary:

The Ministry of Defence today brushed aside criticism of its attempt to cut compensation for wounded soldiers, telling the court of appeal that payments should be limited to the soldier's initial injury and not include subsequent disabilities.

Amid uproar from veterans and their families, the ministry argued that compensation must be based on objective criteria and not take into account an individual's particular circumstances.

The MoD is seeking to overturn a pensions appeal tribunal ruling that increased payments to Corporal Anthony Duncan, who was shot in 2005 while on patrol in Iraq, and Royal Marine Matthew McWilliams, who fractured his thigh in a military exercise the same year.

Duncan was awarded £9,250, but this was increased to £46,000 by the tribunal. McWilliams's £8,250 award was increased to £28,750. If the ruling stands, they will also both benefit from a guaranteed annual income when they leave the services.

The appeal court heard that although Duncan had undergone 11 operations, took two years to recuperate and one of his legs was shorter than the other, he was now "fully deployable". It emerged that he is fighting on the front line in southern Afghanistan. McWilliams is still in the Royal Marines, the MoD said.

One of the things which has always rankled me during both the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan is the notion that those of us who have opposed these wars are somehow "against the troops". I actually think nothing could be further from the truth. These brave men and women risk their lives at the moment when our country is facing maximum danger and what most enraged me about the Iraq war was that their lives were risked when the country was not facing any danger at all.

So, it is, to me, ironic in the extreme to witness the people who claim to have the troops best interests at heart go to court in an attempt to limit the amount of compensation these troops can be paid when they have suffered horrific injury.

This is simply shameless.

Simon Weston, a former Welsh Guardsman who suffered severe burns during the Falklands war, said the government was being "petty". He added: "It seems awful – it is almost car crash politics when they start doing something like this."

Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Church, of the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association, told Radio 4's Today programme: "This case is obviously appalling timing for the Ministry of Defence. The [current] scheme is an improvement over the old war pension in many ways. It is unique that it compensates people in service ... so that is an advantage." However, he said it was based on a "complex" tariff system that applied "remorseless logic".

Lawyers for Duncan and McWilliams argue that the compensation scheme must take into account the effect of the initial injury on an individual, including medical treatment.

The Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, who is chairman of the commons defence committee, said: "If the Ministry of Defence is appealing to keep the costs of looking after injured servicemen as low as possible, it sends the wrong message to people who are wondering whether to join the armed forces."

The hearing continues tomorrow.

So, the people who berated those of us who opposed their illegal invasion of Iraq as "not supporting the troops" are now fighting those same troops in courts of law in order to ensure that they don't have to pay them too much money to compensate for their horrific injuries.

It looks to me as if the troops best interests were actually served by those of us who demanded that they not be sent to Iraq in the first place. They've certainly not been well served by the war mongers who sent them there and now balk at the cost of compensating them for their injuries.

Click title for full article.

Fox Host Glenn Beck: Obama Is A "Racist"

Glenn Beck's inability to hide the fact that he is an utter moron explodes into the open once more on Fox News when he, without bringing forward a single example, decides that Barack Obama is a racist.

The group was discussing the recent Gates controversy, and Beck exclaimed that Obama has "over and over again" exposed himself as "a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don't know what it is..."

When Fox's Brian Kilmeadeon pointed out that many people in Obama's administration are white, so "you can't say he doesn't like white people," Beck pressed on. "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem," Beck said. "This guy is, I believe, a racist."
So, he's not saying Obama doesn't like white people, as all the proof undermines that theory, but he is saying that Obama is a racist.

Of course, because these right wing loons only ever agree to be interviewed by other right wing loons, no-one will ever get to properly question Beck about how many times he says utterly insane things in public.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fox & "Friends" Terrify Elderly Viewers With Health Care Reform is Euthanasia Canard.

God the right wing are getting desperate. Here, we see Fox News arguing that Obama's healthcare plan is really just a subtle form of euthanasia.

Kilmeade: Dying?!! Sucking it up?!! And not having surgery?

Johnson: Too sick, too expensive.

Kilmeade: Well, that's what this whole trend is!

Johnson: Absolutely. And some people are saying, 'Well, this isn't health care reform,' and other people are saying -- maybe me -- that this is a subtle form of euthanasia. And when you start looking at the proposals, you say, 'God, what's happening?'

There's nowhere too low for these buggers to go.

The river is low and the rocks are in full view.

Howard Fineman sums up the Republican birther problem perfectly here.

When the river is low, the river bed is exposed. The river is low in the Republican party right now and you are seeing the rocks at the bottom.
The Republican base now consists of mainly lunatics. And the problem for the Republicans is that, as these nutters are all that they are left with, they are reluctant to dismiss them out of hand. Which is why we see so many of them pretending that the birthers have legitimate questions.

And it suits the Obama administration to allow the Republicans to have to deal with these nutters. It's far better to have the Republicans forced on to the back foot talking about birther issues than it is to have them debating healthcare.


Talking of nutcases, here is Bachmann objecting to a resolution which states that Obama was born in Hawaii.

BACHMANN: Mr. Speaker? I object to the vote on the grounds that a quorum is not present and make a point of order that a quorum is not present. [...]

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): Further procedings on this motion will be postponed.

The resolution was later passed 378-0.

Bill Maher: Professor Gates Was Arrested Because He Didn't Kiss The Police Officer's Ass!

I've always got time for Bill Maher. Here, he rightly points out that Palin is being stupid when she attacks Hollywood on the subject of gun control. Nowhere on Earth are guns promoted more than in Hollywood movies.

And I agree with his reading of the Gates affair. The police did act stupidly.

Wolf Blitzer does his very best to defend the police line on this, as the networks always do. But Maher does a good job of questioning this mindset.

Only 6% Of FOX Viewers Believe Sarah Palin Is Presidential Material.

When only six percent of Fox News viewers see you as presidential material I think it's safe to say that Palin's goose is cooked.


Voters turn against war in Afghanistan.

I find it fascinating that both the US and the UK governments should announce that they are willing to talk with the Taliban at the very moment when UK support for the war dissipates, with a majority of people polled stating that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable.

A majority of the public believes that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable and British troops should be pulled out immediately, a poll for The Independent has found.

The growing opposition to the military offensive emerged as another two UK soldiers were killed, bringing the number of deaths so far this month to 22. Gordon Brown declared yesterday that Operation Panther's Claw – the five-week onslaught on Taliban positions in Helmand province – had been a success.

But today's ComRes survey suggests that the public mood is switching rapidly against the war – and that people do not believe it is worth sending reinforcements to Afghanistan.

More than half of voters (52 per cent) want troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan straight away, with 43 per cent disagreeing. Opposition to the military action is even stronger among women.

By a margin of nearly two-to-one, the public believes that the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily. Fifty-eight per cent view the war as "unwinnable", with 31 per cent disagreeing.

There is overwhelming agreement – by 75 per cent to 16 per cent – that British troops in Afghanistan lack the equipment they require to perform their role safely.

Despite that, 60 per cent of people do not think more troops and resources should be dispatched to the war zone. Just over one third (35 per cent) are in favour of reinforcements being sent in.

The problem with the war in Afghanistan is that most of us have lost sight of what it is supposed to be for. It began as a search for bin Laden and then morphed into a war against the Taliban, the very people Blair had said could remain in power if they only handed bin Laden over.

But, no matter what the war aims, it's very hard to believe - eight years later - that there can be some dramatic change on the ground which suddenly reverses the pattern of the last eight.

Brown continues to insist that progress is being made and that this war is ensuring the safety of Britain's streets.

Mr Brown yesterday announced the first phase of Panther's Claw had been a success, clearing out Taliban insurgents from a wide area of Helmand ahead of next month's Afghanistan elections.

He acknowledged the "tragic human cost" among UK troops who were killed or injured, but insisted it had not been in vain. "What we have actually done is make land secure for about 100,000 people," the Prime Minister claimed.

"What we've done is push back the Taliban – and what we've done also is to start to break that chain of terror that links the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the streets of Britain."

There's a fundamental flaw to that logic. It was the government of Tony Blair which insisted that there was no link between the war in Iraq and the terrorist attacks which took place on 7-7.

So, Brown is now insisting that this link does, indeed, exist when he argues that fighting in Afghanistan is ensuring Britain's safety.

It's that lack of intellectual consistency which is undermining support for this war. Very few of us remain convinced that it can be won. And our politicians are not making a consistent case as to why we should keep sacrificing young British lives for what most of us conceive as a lost cause.

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Obama administration officials in Israel to demand end to settlement building.

This is a slippery slope:

Obama's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, is reportedly discussing a deal with the Israeli leadership that would allow the completion of several thousand homes for Jewish settlers already under construction but impose a total halt to building once they are complete. Such an agreement would amount to a concession by Obama, who laid down an immediate and complete freeze on construction as a marker of a more interventionist policy at a testy meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in Washington in May.

But American sources close to the negotiations say that getting Netanyahu to agree that no new construction can begin is an important step toward forcing a new diplomatic process that is no longer hostage to Israeli intransigence.

Netanyahu will say anything in order to complete the current settlements but my prediction is that, having seen Obama back down once, Netanyahu will then begin another stage of building.

This is simply what Israel have been doing since 1967. And they feel they have enough support amongst US politicians to defy any US president and feel sure that they can bring enough pressure on him to ensure that he backs down.
The diplomatic moves came as the Israeli military announced that the number of Jewish settlers on the West Bank has risen above 300,000 for the first time with about 200,000 more in East Jerusalem. About 2.5 million Palestinians live in the same territory.
The Israelis sound almost proud as they announce that 300,000 settlers are living illegally on Palestinian land. That alone is a testament to the ineffectiveness of US policy towards the Israelis for the last 42 years. The US has always said that it found the building of settlements "ill-advised" and "proactive" but, apart from the Carter administration, it has always fallen over itself not to call them illegal.

Which is why, 42 years later, we find Obama bending over backwards to try to get the Israelis not to openly defy him on the subject of the settlements.

Mitchell said at a press conference that the disagreement over settlement construction is a "discussion among friends" but it is also a test of Obama's authority.

One former official who monitors the negotiations closely said that the US is prepared to give ground because it sees a settlement freeze as an important step toward reviving Israeli-Palestinian talks.

There is no great expectation in Washington that talks will go anywhere but that they should have been tried and failed once again will help smooth the diplomatic path for the administration's plan to force its own proposals on to the table later this year which could force Israel to make significant territorial concessions.

It should be obvious to everyone, except the blindest Likud supporter, that the Israelis actually have no interest in peace. They are interested in land. Land which they believe was given to them by God.

Obama is about to come up against that reality. Previous administrations have done anything to avoid facing up to that fact. To that end they have pretended that Israel is "seeking a partner in peace" but that this partner remains ever elusive.

And the bottom line is that the Israelis are much more ruthless at this stuff than the Americans are. They have been practising Hasbara for the past 40 odd years. And Netanyahu won't be scared of getting into the mud and making this very messy indeed.

Obama can't hope to stand above the fray and refuse to soil himself by engaging in a bit of mud wrestling. That's exactly where the Israelis are about to take him.

He's taken his first step backwards in the hope of being reasonable. That's not a good step. All the Israelis will see is that Obama can be pushed. So they will push.

If he's to have any chance of bringing about a peace settlement, Obama needs to be ready to engage in verbal warfare. For the Israelis, and their US supporters, will throw the kitchen sink at him. He needs to stand his ground and not back down an inch.

This is not a great start.


This is what he is up against:
"People tell us that it is impossible to stand up against American pressure; there is no bigger lie," yelled out Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, which helped to organize the event. It was timed to coincide with US envoy George Mitchell's visit to Israel.

Netanyahu's government should be concerned with its election promises to support the settlements, rather than with its obligations to the US, Dayan said. This government has an obligation to return Israel to the Zionist path of settling the land, he said.

Prior to the rally Dayan told The Jerusalem Post he hoped "Netanyahu will learn lessons from those who preceded him."

He added that "David Ben-Gurion founded Israel in spite of American pressure... Menachem Begin destroyed Osirak in spite of American opposition, and Yitzhak Shamir rejected American demands to stop construction."

Demonstrators held signs that said, "Yes to Israeli Independence! No to American Demands!" Other signs read, "Israel will not fold."
Holding aloft a banner bearing the legend "Stop Screwing Israel," Zvi November of Ramat Eshkol in Jerusalem told the Post: "All of the land of Israel belongs to Am Yisrael... There are 22 Arab states comprising five and a quarter million square miles of land - they don't need ours."
They believe God gave them that land. And they are furious that Obama's actions are exposing them as the frauds which they are when it comes to peace. It was okay when it was Bush, who did nothing to promote peace and even went as far as hailing the war criminal, Sharon, "a man of peace". But Obama is insisting that the Israelis actually seriously engage in peace and it's obvious from Netanyahu's reaction and the reaction of the people who have taken to the streets that Israel isn't remotely interested in such a thing.

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Monday, July 27, 2009


I think Andrew Sullivan gets this spot on:

And Obama is right that cops like Crowley are good men in general (although I can't pass a judgment on someone I don't know). I also believe in being respectful and polite to policemen as a rule, and do not recall any moment in my life when I haven't been. But I do think it's necessary to remember that policemen are our servants, not our masters. We pay their salary - and they'd better treat us right. And I find the many comments that we should always show deference to the man with the gun and the badge and never publicly criticize cops to be alarmingly authoritarian in its implications.

If a cop gives you trouble in your own home after it is perfectly clear that no crime has taken place, you have every right to tell him to get the hell out of your house; and he has no right to hang around. You also have every right to give him your opinion of his police work or his haircut if you so wish.

It seems to me undeniable that Henry Louis Gates Jr. behaved badly and was very quick to imagine that he was being picked on because of his race, but behaving badly in your own home is not, in itself, a crime.

And this notion that people need to respect the badge of a police officer is simply a nonsense.

Crowley was there to ascertain whether or not a crime was taking place. Once he had been shown proof that Gates was not a burglar and that this was actually his own home, Crowley should have left the premises, especially as Gates was claiming that he was only there because of his race.

If police can start arresting us because they don't like our tone then we really are walking towards a police state.

And Andrew's strongest point is that we employ them. And we employ them to get bad guys, not to arrest us if they don't like our attitude.

Click title for full article.

Darling meets banks in loan talks.

I always thought the whole idea behind the government bailing out the banks was to ensure that they started lending again. But a property advisor recently told me that, although the bank rate is a mere 0.5%, it is not unusual for banks to insist that new mortgage holders pay anything between 6% and 8% and that this is because they want to encourage people to put as much of their equity as possible into these loans so that they can then sell off their mortgages as packages to other investment companies in the exact same way as led to the recent financial collapse in the economy.

I find that simply staggering. Firstly, I am gobsmacked that they are still allowed to sell off these mortgages to other companies, as I thought the whole thing which went wrong in the markets previously was this notion that one could lend to someone and then sell that risk on to someone else. Surely, this encourages people to make the kind of reckless loans which lead to the sub prime mortgage crisis in the first place?

Alastair Darling has called the bankers in for a meeting as they are apparently, despite being bailed out by billions, doing the same crap when it comes to lending to small business.

But Alistair Darling has said he is "extremely concerned" that banks may be charging firms too much for loans.

The BBA's chief executive Angela Knight has denied this is the case.

However, BBC business correspondent Nils Blythe said that the statistics had been "misleading" and that lending to non-financial businesses had fallen last month, while the overall lending trend was "emphatically downwards".

On Sunday, the chancellor said he was concerned that the cost of loans to small firms had risen in recent months, despite the UK's record low base interest rate of 0.5%.

He added that banks had a duty to restore lending levels, and that the government did not rescue the banking sector "out of some charitable act".

However, Ms Knight said the banks could not lend at 0.5% because they had to pay much more than that for the funds they themselves borrowed in the wholesale money markets.

She said the wholesale price of money was about twice the base rate.

So, even by Knight's own admission, lending could take place at around 1%. But the banks are only lending at around 3% for people prepared to invest a large amount of equity into any business or home.

So, in real terms, the crunch on credit remains. And that's primarily because they want to be able to sell their risk onwards with the guarantee that certain lenders have huge amounts of their own equity in these loans.

Stephen Alambritis, chief spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said the chancellor was "quite right to haul in the banks".

"It is hugely important that Mr Darling keeps tabs on the banks to ensure they are lending money to firms, and at fair rates," he said.

"Firms need to be able to reap the benefits of the historically low base rate."

The whole notion of reducing the base rate to the historic low of 0.5% was to get the economy moving again.

However, the banks are using this historically low rate to increase their profits rather than to regenerate the economy. Darling should threaten to tax their profits if they don't use the billions they were given for the tasks that they were given it for.

Click title for full article.

Palin quits as Alaska governor, but stays quiet on plans for national comeback.

The most honest thing I can say is that I have never understood the power of Sarah Palin when it comes to charming the right wing. She has always struck me as slightly nutty. But they obviously see something else.

So, it's no great surprise that I watch this video and wince, wondering what the Hell these people are cheering for. She's vaguely blaming the press and implying that the troops are dying to enable the press to tell the truth. On that theme she asked the press, "how about, in honour of the American soldier, you quit making things up."

It's classic Palin. It's vapid, it's without any actual example of where she feels she has been unfairly maligned, but it appeals to some vague notion that the world has it in for right wingers.

Palin's departure relieves her of the bureaucratic burdens that had started to weigh her down in recent months. Supporters hope she will use her new freedom to pursue a national profile that will lead to a run on the White House in 2012.

But without the governor's title, Palin is also left without a formal political power base from which to kickstart any campaign. She carries with her debts, continuing ethics battles related to her term in office, and the new label of "quitter".

Exactly what she will do with her ample spare time remains a big question. Her spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton, told Associated Press: "I cannot express enough there is no plan after 26 July." The only known date in her diary is 8 August, when she will speak at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in California.

Pundits are equally divided between those who are convinced she is finished, and those who think the Palin spectacle has just begun. Part of the reason for the polarised response is that Palin is a polarising politician, and part because she herself offers so little in the way of explanation.

Her most effusive comments these days are via Twitter. Recently she posted an overtly political tweet: "Ain't gonna shut my mouth/I know there's got to be a few hundred million more like me/just trying to keep it free".

I personally think she is finished, whilst secretly praying that she will be insane enough to challenge Obama in 2012.

I regard this woman as barking mad. And the very fact that she excites so much of what remains of the Republican base is, to me, an indication of just how loopy the runt of that base are.

She stands for nothing. She speaks in only the corniest, vaguest, sound bites; allowing her audience to fill the gaps in her perceived grievances with whatever personal feelings of helplessness they might have.

The enemy is "the press" and "Liberals", but their actual crime always remains undefined. Or, rather, it's so widely understood amongst right wingers that there is no need for Sarah to articulate it.

I've always said that - barring some unforeseen Democratic disaster - I think the Republicans are dead for the next decade. They stand for nothing. Reaganism has been destroyed by the excesses of the market and they are left mouthing empty slogans.

To that end, Palin is the perfect champion of their cause. But I doubt, when push comes to shove, that even the Republicans would be insane enough to elect her to face Obama in 2012.


Here's the entire thing. She wants Hollywood to know, "We eat, therefore, we hunt." So the enemies she perceives are "the press" and "Hollywood."

She's still attacking the notion that the government can do any good and extolling the notion that God's grace, "helps those who help themselves."

It's bonkers, but her audience loves it.

Click title for full article.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who Is The Most Trusted Man in American News?

Notice how keen both of these newscasters are to assure us that no-one would laugh more at the fact that Jon Stewart is the most trusted man in American news than Jon Stewart himself. Apparently, it's simply a joke that Stewart could top such a poll.

But it's simply a lie to say the Stewart would find this funny. Indeed, he's spoken out before about how he feels the news media are failing the people of the United States.

Here he is on Crossfire, berating the news media.

The reason that Jon Stewart is the most trusted of all the newsmen - despite the fact that he is actually a comedian - is that Stewart, at least, cuts through the bullshit.

But I find it funny that these two newscasters are so keen to make out that Stewart leading this poll is such a joke. He actually has more integrity than any of the others, which is why we all respect him so much.

Cheney Demanded To Use US Troops To Arrest People And Destroy The Constitution.

It would appear as if there really was no limit to the number of ways in which Dick Cheney wanted to test the limits of the US Constitution.

Glenn Greenwald:

This new report today from The New York Times' Mark Mazzetti and David Johnston reveals an entirely unsurprising though still important event: in 2002, Dick Cheney and David Addington urged that U.S. military troops be used to arrest and detain American citizens, inside the U.S., who were suspected of involvement with Al Qaeda. That was done pursuant to a previously released DOJ memo (.pdf) authored by John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, addressed to Alberto Gonzales, dated October 23, 2001, and chillingly entitled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the U.S." That Memo had concluded that the President had authority to deploy the U.S. military against American citizens on U.S. soil. Far worse, it asserted that in exercising that power, the President could not be bound either by Congressional statutes prohibiting such use (such as the Posse Comitatus Act) or even by the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which -- the Memo concluded -- was "inapplicable" to what it called "domestic military operations."

Though it received very little press attention, it is not hyperbole to observe that this October 23 Memo was one of the most significant events in American politics in the last several decades, because it explicitly declared the U.S. Constitution -- the Bill of Rights -- inoperative inside the U.S., as applied to U.S. citizens.
Cheney's extraordinary lack of respect for the notion that any limitation should ever be placed on the power wielded by the executive is no great surprise. This was the argument which essentially ran beneath every stance that the Bush regime took during it's war on a noun.

What's extraordinary to me is that one can take this stance whilst simultaneously pretending to be against "big government".

That's so contradictory it makes one's head spin. And is anyone surprised that the memo which claimed this was legal came from the pen of John Yoo? Has he not been disbarred yet? How may more of his insane memos have to come to light before everyone can agree that this man is not fit to practice law?

Click title for New York Times article.