Tuesday, August 31, 2010

U.S. sees Washington peace talks as start of year-long process.

Both the Obama administration and the Palestinian Prime Minister are talking very similar timetables for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Obama crowd state:

"While the parameters of an ultimate, comprehensive peace agreement are well known, we do not expect to achieve peace in one meeting," State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.

"But I think we want to see the launch of a vigorous process that will involve significant involvement by the leaders themselves, as well as regular interaction with their respective negotiating teams, including the full participation of the United States, supported by other countries in the region and around the world," he added. Crowley said that the administration thinks it can reach agreement "within a one-year time frame."
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is saying roughly the same thing:

The Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad yesterday unveiled a detailed blueprint for completing the independent state he insisted would be ready in 2011 if Israel lived up to its "moment of reckoning" in the coming weeks of negotiations.

Fayyad identified what he sees as the key to whether or not the talks will be successful or not.

He added that the talks would have to answer questions such as "What kind of state does Mr Netanyahu have in mind when he says 'Palestinian state'"?

"I think this is a most fundamental question," he went on. "I believe, without wishing to really prejudge what will happen in the next few days, the next few weeks, we are approaching that moment of reckoning."

That really is crucial to what happens next. I personally think Netanyahu only used that phrase to appease Obama. I see no way for the right wing coalition he leads to arrive at any compromise which would be acceptable to the Palestinians.

And yet, both the Obama camp and the Palestinians are talking of an agreement being reached within a year.

That puzzles me. Where does this optimism come from? On what is it based? Do they seriously think that Netanyahu is going to concede and give them back the West Bank?

Even Netanyahu is talking of the possibility of peace.

"I am not naive. I see all the difficulties and hurdles and despite this, I believe that a final peace agreement is a reachable objective. Of course, this does not depend just on us," he said on Monday.

Maybe I am simply the worst cynic on the planet, but I can't envision any peace deal which Netanyahu could plausibly sell to a government dominated by pro-settler parties, including his own. With that in mind, I simply don't get where all this optimism is coming from.

Click here for full article.

Obama, Beck and America.

Crooks and Liars have picked up on a point made in a Digby post, about the real lesson to be learned from the Beckathon this weekend.

Previously, most of the Tea Party debate focused on secular matters -- taxes, health care, immigration. As Digby points out, the religious elements were always present as an undercurrent, but they had been mostly suppressed as the movement initially attempted to sell itself as a "spontaneous" and secular response to Obama's policies. Now, they're out in the open.
Beck has now, by doing a rally in which he spoke of God more than he spoke of politics, tied the Tea Party movement to the Christian right. Oh, there were always links, but Beck has now made them blatant.

But Michael Tomasky in today's Guardian points out what is wrong with Beck and the Christian rights view of "big government".

They believe government strangles their liberty. I guess they really believe, as Beck put it, that "we are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and, damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights movement."

The two problems here are, first, that while they think they owe government nothing, they actually owe government a great deal. If they're small business people, they depend on the freight rails and the roadways and the utilities and the regulation of interstate commerce and the laws that keep their crooked competitors from undercutting them and the courts' abilities to enforce those laws. Without question the government is an annoyance in their lives in dozens of ways. But they don't see any of the good, only the bad. If you tote it up, the government helps them a lot more than it hurts them, and if they think not, let them go open a hardware store in downtown Mogadishu and see how that works out.

The second problem is the one I saw manifest at that dinner that night. Everybody in this country isn't like you. Yes, you worked hard to get where you are. But the vast majority of people work hard. Some have good luck, some have bad. Some stay healthy, some get sick. Some make only wise decisions, some make an unwise one. Some benefit from free-market oddities and inequities, some lose. And yes, some, because of history or birth circumstances, started the race at a starting line several paces back from the one where you started. Part of citizenship, a crucial part of citizenship, is standing in their shoes for a few moments – as they must stand in yours, and understand your point of view too.

The Beck movement is the we-stay-in-our-shoes movement. It's Grover Norquist's "leave us alone" coalition. It has existed since the republic was founded – the anti-Federalists, who opposed the constitution from the start. Its adherents fomented crises in the early-to-mid-1800s that led to civil war. Today, they have corporate billions behind them and a formidable propaganda machine, and a black cosmopolitan president to rally against, who seems to them to represent everything they hate and fear.

The Beck movement are largely white middle aged Americans who feel that their world is under threat.

Which is why the American right seriously talks about a world where black criminals are no longer prosecuted in cases where the victim is white. It's why they demand that American Muslims show sensitivity to their fears, even whilst they remain unable to imagine how it must feel to be an American Muslim in the climate which they are presently creating. They lack the gift of empathy, even as they demand that others must imagine how it must feel to walk in their shoes.

Tomasky points out how it came to this and implies what the American left must do if it to win this argument.

But what is really missing in this country is that no one is making the affirmative case for mutual civic obligation. In the America of my youth, some sense of that was given. Democrats and Republicans disagreed about what that obligation entailed – how much assistance to the poor, say – and in addition, the lines then were not cleanly along party lines. But majorities of both parties accepted the basic premise of mutuality.

Certainly, there were conservatives who said fie on you both, we dispute the very idea of obligation. But they were marginal headcases then. Now, they're extremely powerful. Most American liberals and moderates still don't quite see this big picture, I think.

Certainly, Democratic politicians don't ever talk in these terms. So Beck can hoist the concept of civil rights and turn it from its actual meaning, about expanding the community, into its opposite, the free zone of the individual; and he can get away with it because the people on the other side don't say no, that is a perversion of the truth. Until non-conservatives come to terms with how to do something about this, American political debates won't change much.

I think Obama does get this argument which is why, during the election, he often voiced the notion of, "I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper." And, it obviously follows as he was elected, that a large proportion of Americans also understand this.

Obama needs to voice, as loudly and with the same articulation he used during the election campaign, the notion of mutual civic obligation. It's what Tony Blair meant when he used to argue that we have rights, but with those rights come obligations. Those obligations are to each other.

On the fifth anniversary of Katrina, it should be obvious to all what can happen when a government fails to respond adequately to it's citizens needs. At that time, the knee jerk response of many on the American right - especially on the newsgroups - was to blame the victims themselves for not fleeing. That toxic argument did not gain much favour with the public at large. Katrina reminded us that big problems need a big government response.

And yet Beck and the Tea Party brigade are still making that long ago lost argument which states that government is useless. It's not a hard argument to defeat. Someone on the left needs to stand up and make it.

Click here for Tomasky's article.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Beck blasts key part of MLK's dream.

Wallace does a very good job here of exposing just how little Beck has in common with Martin Luther King. He claimed to be "reclaiming" Martin Luther King for Christians, but, when pushed, he admits that he doesn't believe in many the things which MLK stood for.

He comes across as truly moronic.

Fire at Tenn. Mosque Building Site Ruled Arson.

The right have stated that anyone who objects to their behaviour regarding the Park 51 mosque is indulging in name calling.

But the behaviour being meted out by some of their supporters towards the Muslim community goes way beyond name calling.

Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb. Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.

Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told
CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.

The ATF, FBI and Rutherford County Sheriff's Office are conducting a joint investigation into the fire, Anderson said.
WTVF reports firefighters were alerted by a passerby who saw flames at the site. One large earth hauler was set on fire before the suspect or suspects left the scene.

The chair of the center's planning committee, Essim Fathy, said he drove to the site at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning after he was contacted by the sheriff's department.

"Our people and community are so worried of what else can happen," said Fathy. "They are so scared."
This was always the danger with this fearmongering, it was always likely to spiral out of control.

There are people now literally burning down mosques in the US. I don't think that there is anything that would ever shame the Palin's and the Gingrich's of this world into silence. But we have surely got to the point where decent people can see that this whole argument is getting way, way out of perspective.

The American right have been stoking fear and hatred towards the American Muslim community for weeks now. We've seen a NY taxi driver stabbed for being a Muslim and we have witnessed people urinating in mosques. Enough is enough. Surely someone somewhere in the Republican party can pull these people back from the brink?

Click here for full article.

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Media Matters: Who's the Real Glenn Beck? Faux Civil Rights Icon or Fox Shock Jock?

Beck has bemoaned the fact that people call him a fear monger. He insists that this is unfair. Media Matters have mashed together some of Beck's fear mongering.

It's beyond doubt that he has been using fear to bump up his ratings.

Obama blasts lies, disinformation.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Barack Obama has said that many Americans believe that he is a Muslim because of an on-line campaign of misinformation by his conservative enemies. He also said it was to be expected that right wingers like Glenn Beck would seek to “stir up” people during uncertain economic times.

Williams, sitting under a tent in a rain-soaked New Orleans, where the First Family commemorated the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, asked Obama why so many people were uncertain about something so fundamental as his faith.

“I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead,” quipped Obama, who took a deep breath to gather his thoughts when asked if the poll reflected his inability to communicate with voters.

“The facts are the facts. We went through some of this during the campaign — there is a mechanism, a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly,” said a visibly annoyed Obama, referring to “birthers,” who have waged a guerrilla campaign questioning either the existence or the validity of his Hawaiian birth certificate.

“I will always put my money on the American people, and I’m not going to be worried too much about what rumors are floating around there.”

Obama is right, I think, to put his faith in the American people. The people who think that he is a Muslim are right wing nut cases who would never vote for him in a month of Sundays. The ordinary man in the street will not buy into the same insane notions that these right wingers willingly attach themselves to.

It was also nice to see Obama counter the claim that he has "walked back" his support for the principles he reminded Americans of when it came to the Park 51 mosque.

“I didn’t walk it back it all,” he said. “I was very specific with my team… The core value and principle that every American is treated the same doesn’t change… At [a White House Ramadan celebration], I had Muslim Americans who had been in uniform fighting in Iraq… How can you say to them that their religious faith is less worthy of respect?... That’s something that I feel very strongly about.”

As he rightly says, it simply isn't right that one could build a church or a synagogue on that site, but not a mosque.

The nut cases will never understand that point. And that's because they see the US as a nation at war with Islam rather than al Qaeda.

Blair secretly courted Mugabe to boost trade.

If Labour need any other reasons as to why they should not listen to Tony Blair about who they should elect as their next leader, then this is surely it.

Tony Blair secretly courted Robert Mugabe in an effort to win lucrative trade deals for Britain, it has emerged in correspondence released to The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents show that the relationship between New Labour and the Zimbabwean President blossomed soon after Tony Blair took office in Downing Street.

Just weeks after the Government unveiled its ethical foreign policy in May 1997, the British PM wrote a personal letter to Mr Mugabe congratulating him on his role in unifying Africa and helping to improve relations between the continent and Britain. The signed message, which welcomed Mr Mugabe's appointment as leader of the Organisation of African Unity, paved the way for an attempt to bring the two leaders together in a face-to-face meeting in Downing Street during the first weeks of the New Labour administration.

Revelations about Labour's early links with Mr Mugabe come as Mr Blair prepares to publish his autobiography in which he casts himself as a force for good in world affairs.

Nothing could say more about his basic immorality than then fact that he was willing to do business with Mugabe. And, remember, this was at the very start of his premiership, when his power was at it's zenith. He could have done anything he wanted at that period and yet he chose to attempt to coddle up to Mugabe. Nor was he, at that time, unaware of who he was dealing with.

But the secret documents show how, despite international condemnation of Mr Mugabe's regime, Labour was secretly negotiating to establish close trading and political relations with Harare. At this time, Mr Mugabe was under growing pressure to accept responsibility for "crimes against humanity" in which thousands of Matabeleland civilians were killed by the Zimbabwe army's Fifth Brigade in 1983-87.
I know that many mocked Robin Cook's intention to have an "ethical foreign policy", but at least Cook had good intentions at heart. Blair, it appears, was willing to deal with just about anybody as long as their was trade at the end of it.

So let's listen to him when it comes to who should be the next Labour leader.

Click here for full article.

Labour contenders await Tony Blair intervention.

Why the Hell should anyone care about who Tony Blair thinks should lead the Labour Party?

The contenders for the Labour leadership are bracing themselves for an intervention this week by Tony Blair, whose memoirs will be published as ballot papers drop on doormats across Britain.

The former prime minister was reported today to have remarked that Ed Miliband, who is making a pitch for traditional Labour voters, would be a "disaster".

Blair has been careful to ration his interventions in British politics since he stood down as prime minister in 2007, seeking to avoid Margaret Thatcher's mistake of acting as a "backseat driver" to John Major.

But the former prime minister, who is recording an interview with Andrew Marr to be aired on BBC2 on Wednesday night to coincide with publication of his memoirs, knows he will face questions about the Miliband brothers, who are the frontrunners for the Labour leadership.

This is the man who dragged the Labour party so far to the right that rock solid Labour seats like Glasgow East started to peel off towards the SNP. This is the man who lied repeatedly to us about what we apparently KNEW about Saddam's WMD and led us into the worst US foreign policy debacle since Suez. This is the man who appeared in front of the Chilcot Inquiry and found it impossible to even express regret for the loss of British troops.

So, why is the Labour party poised to listen to what he has to say now?

Blair believes the older Miliband has grown into a highly skilled politician and communicator who understands the central tenet of New Labour: that electoral oblivion will follow if the party resorts to its "comfort zone". Jibes this week by Ed Miliband about the dangers of remaining in the "New Labour comfort zone" have confirmed Blair's view that the younger brother would consign Labour to an even longer spell in opposition.

The Mail on Sunday reported today that Blair believes a victory for Ed Miliband would be a "disaster". This is an authoritative reflection of the views of the former prime minister, whose supporters have made clear his unease about Ed Miliband at social occasions in recent weeks.

Blair ran the Labour party as a Tory-lite organisation, often using the excuse - on subjects such as education funding - that he had to do what he was doing as the Tories would only do it more brutally than he was doing it.

He was never, in his heart, a Labour politician. Which is why he often mocked left wing critics of what he was doing as "Guardian readers". He saw many of us as hopeless Utopians, as unrealistic dreamers. According to Tony's logic, the swing to the right was the only way to keep the Daily Mail reader on board. And that had limited success. Often, Tory friends of mine would tell me how wonderful they thought Tony was and lament the fact that he wasn't a Tory as they would have loved to vote for him. I would suggest to them that perhaps he was a Tory which is why they all loved him so much.

But it honestly baffles me as to why we should listen to him now. I know he brought us electoral success, but at what a bloody price? He achieved this by occupying the middle ground and forcing the Tories further and further to the right. The problem with this plan was that Cameron caught wind of it and told his party to vote for Labour policies when they were, in reality, Tory policies in disguise. At that point Tony's great plan collapsed as the Labour backbenchers were outraged that they were being so right wing that even the Tories were backing what they were doing.

And it was during the reign of Tony that the Labour party went so far to the right that the Liberal Democrats became the voice of left wing politics in Britain.

So, the blessing by Blair will be as much of a curse to David Miliband as it is anything else.

David Miliband makes it clear that Labour has to reassemble the coalition that handed Blair his victories. In an interview with G2, which took place during a tour of community groups in Milton Keynes and Stevenage, he says: "Unless we start winning back the Milton Keynes, we'll never win power. We've got just 10 seats out of 212 in the south, excluding London."

He makes clear he has no patience with his brother's criticism of the governments of Blair and Gordon Brown. "I'm not going to run away from the best of what we've done over the last 13 years and I'm not going to reduce our crime policy to ID cards, or reduce our foreign policy to Iraq. We did lots of other things as well. We shouldn't get into a situation where just because we find one thing people disagree with, we trash the whole of it."

Oh, we remember the other things as well. I remember Blair refusing to ask Israel to desist as she pummelled Gaza and agreeing with Bush's plan to reverse all US policies since 1967 and allow the retention of many of the illegal settlements. We remember similar behaviour when it came to Lebanon. And which of us could ever forget David Miliband's intervention in the battle between Russia and Georgia, when he announced solidarity with Georgia, who were later found to have been totally responsible for starting the war.

So, Blair is right to identify young David as his successor, but for many of us that is not, in itself, a good thing. Like Blair, David can find no fault at all with the New Labour experiment. But I certainly can.

With each election New Labour fought, the turnout at every general election fell lower that the last. Many argued that people had lost all interest in politics. Then a million people took to the streets in protest against the Iraq war and it became clear that people still cared passionately about politics, they simply didn't care for the choices which were on offer to them.

The country deserves better than two parties offering essentially the same right wing bollocks. Which is why we should pay no attention to anything which Blair has to say.

Click here for full article.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Right and "name calling".

Why is it that right wingers, rather than engage in arguments, always accuse their opponents of name calling?


-- Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

-- Disgust and alarm with the federal government's unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

-- Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

-- Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.

Perhaps Krauthammer's time would be better spent by telling us why so few black faces appear at these Tea Party rallies? Do black citizens not care about taxation as much as white citizens? Aren't they equally concerned with intrusiveness and debt?

And the charge of Islamophobia is proven by the fact that so many Republicans have decided that they are at war with Islam rather than al Qaeda.

Krauthammer knows that the charges are largely correct, but he - and others at Fox - are deliberately playing on the economic fears people have as a result of the financial meltdown which occurred under the last Republican administration's watch. It's very easy in such a climate to scare people even more and direct their fear and frustrations towards other ethnic groups who are "having it easy".

To see this, one only has to turn on Fox News and listen to the stories they have been concentrating on recently to catch the mood of whites being disenfranchised and too much power slipping towards other communities:
[B]lack people preventing them from voting (New Black Panthers), stealing their elections (ACORN), and treating them unequally (Shirley Sherrod and Eric Holder's Justice Department); Muslims who want to conquer their country and celebrate over their Christian corpses (the Triumphalist Ground Zero Mosque); invading, marauding Latino armies coming to steal their property and rape their women while their Marxist allies in Government (led by a black Muslim President) disarm the white victims.
Virtually every story which gets Fox riled up seems to have race somewhere in it's theme. Every story seems to be about power moving towards blacks and away from whites. And this, we are asked to believe, has nothing to do with the fact that the US has just elected it's first ever black president. Nor is it remotely significant that most of these people who take to the streets in protest at Tea Party events and want "to take back" their country are over 45 and white.

Matt Tiabbi:
What we’re watching is a calculated campaign to demonize blacks, Mexicans, and gays and convince a plurality of economically-depressed white voters that they are under imminent legal and perhaps even physical attack by a conspiracy of leftist nonwhites. They’re telling these people that their government is illegitimate and criminal and unironically urging secession and revolution.

The Fox/Rush/Savage crowd in the last 18 months has taken the anti-Muslim fervor that launched a phony war in Iraq, carried George Bush to re-election, and pushed through the Patriot Act, and re-directed that anger at a domestic nonwhite enemy. In doing so they’ve achieved a perfect storm of political cross-purposes: they’ve almost completely succeeded in distracting the public from the real causes of their economic misfortune (i.e. Wall Street corruption), they’ve re-energized a Republican party that was devastated by eight years of Bush-era corruption and incompetence, and, as usual, they’ve made Rupert Murdoch a shitload of money.
But don't call them out on it. That's name calling.

Glenn Beck Withdraws His Belief That Obama is a Racist.

It's taken a long time, but Beck has finally admitted that he was wrong to call Obama a racist.

African-American host Joe Madison rounds on Beck and says, “I am so angry with you.” “Oh boy,” Beck responded, “Did I just walk into something I shouldn’t have walked into?” “Yes,” Madison said, pressing him on why he called Obama a racist:

MADISON: He’s not a racist?

BECK: What is he? [...] I’ve talked about this at length, and so I’m going to rehash it all. I’ve already said stupid comment, off the top of head. And I said just the other day, an ignorant comment. Now that I really understand how he grew up, where he grew up, what his influences were — it’s more of a liberation theology, a kind of attitude he has. That I immediately interpreted — because I didn’t understand him. His attitude is more of, like Bill Ayers — that America is an oppressor. And I just disagree with that.


MADISON: You do not believe President Obama is a racist?

BECK: I’ve said this before.

MADISON: A mistake? Was that a mistake?

BECK: Absolutely it was. And I’ve said that before. I misunderstood — this I just said the other day — I misunderstood his philosophy and his theology, which is liberation theology.

MADISON: Which was King’s philosophy. Big time.

BECK: Didn’t know that. I’ll talk to Alveda today about it.

MADISON: Oh, talk to his father. You know who you should talk to? Talk to Walter Fontroy. Rev. Walter Fontroy, who grew up with King. That was his philosophy — it was the theological philosophy of social justice.

BECK: Right. I am not a fan of social justice.

MADISON: That’s where we really part. I’m a big fan of social justice.

What's striking about this U-turn is that Beck is admitting that he was speaking from a position of ignorance. And that he is still speaking from such a position when he talks about Martin Luther King. How else can he claim to represent MLK's legacy and yet also admit that he didn't know that MLK stood for liberation theology? That's breathtaking.

Martin Luther King "I have a dream".

As Beck has the temerity to think that any rally which he could organise could possibly rival or equal, in importance or in substance, the speech given by King at the Lincoln memorial, it's worth looking at the whole thing one more time.

Notice, there is nothing vague about King's message. The people gathered here know what they are there for. They want to end discrimination towards America's black population.

Listening to this speech so many years later can still make the hairs at the back of your neck rise. Nor can one ignore the fact that a very large part of the crowd are white, in stark contrast to the lack of faces of colour at Beck's rally.

"Restoring Honor": Glenn Beck honors Glenn Beck.

It's was a confusing day, because the man who organised it always admitted that he never knew what it was for, so contradictions were bound to occur.

Glenn Beck:

"We are 12 hours away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America".
Sarah Palin:
"We must not fundamentally transform America, as some would want. We must restore America and restore her honour."
It's been the problem with the tea party movement since the beginning; no one can work out what the Hell it is that they stand for. It's a collection of groups of older white people, each with their own agenda, uniting around the fact that they do not like Barack Obama, whilst insisting that this has nothing to with race.
Asked why there were virtually no African-Americans in the crowd, Robert Lemaster, 65, who had travelled from Ohio, opened his hands wide: "I don't know why others are not here." He denied the Tea Party was racist: "That is nonsense. I know lots of minorities who support the Tea Party. It is not about racism but issues such as taxation."
Hell, they couldn't even agree on how many of them were there, never mind why they were there.

An estimated 87,000 people attended a rally organized by talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.
Glenn Beck via Gateway Pundit:
“I heard two estimates from the media. One was 300,000 and the other was 500,000. So, who knows just how many are actually here today.”
And the most profoundly stupid quote will always come from Michelle Bachmann:
"We're not going to let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million here today - because we were witnesses."
Leaving all that aside, the day was never going to be able to live up to the hyperbole which it's organiser had engaged in. He had told us that we were going to see "a miracle", that just as "Woodstock inspired a generation," his rally "could be a new generation's defining moment."
"Maybe in a 100 years from now or 200 years from now ... this will be remembered as the moment America turned the corner."

"I really, truly believe" that 8-28 "will be remembered in American history as the turning point."

"You will see something on Saturday that has not happened in America for 228 years."
I was honestly looking forward to waking this morning and finding out what he had said. I expected that he would be outrageous, especially as he had promised so much.

In the end it was much ado about nothing.

Think about it. In 1963, King and thousands of Americans marched to the Lincoln Memorial in a plea to Washington for massive action to tackle the problems of poverty and unemployment and also to block the forces of "nullification" and "interposition" -- personified by Alabama's racist Gov.George Wallace - that prevented blacks from voting and even using the same drinking fountains as whites.

In 2010, Beck not only told his predominantly middle-class gathering that not only do the poor in America not have it so bad but that in an era of political roadblocks, America need not focus on taking collective action but should look inward for answers, devoting more time to family but in particular by turning to God, the major theme of the Restoring Honor rally. Indeed, in his keynote speech, he said the rally had "nothing to do with politics, everything to do with God."

In a sense, that was true. In the works and in the news and eventually the subject of much controversy for much of this year, the actual "Restoring Honor" rally was a strange and often tepid affair -- stripped of all the political red-meat and angry Obama bashing (indeed, the president was almost never mentioned either from the podium or in the vast crowd) that has marked earlier Tea Party events, including the large Beck-inspired 9-12 rally last fall. It was nothing like any Tea Party-incited event I'd attended over the last year while researching my book on the movement, The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama. That might have been a disappointment to some in the crowd who traveled to Washington to show their displeasure with the current administration.

That's why Bert Melli was one of more than 100 people huddled in the pre-dawn pitch blackness at 4:45 a.m. yesterday in a shopping center parking lot in Havertown, Pa., waiting for a bus. "We have to let people know they are unhappy with the direction of the country," said Melli, a 78-year-old retiree. "This is a way to get their attention."

But what Melli and the other heated overheated masses got instead on a languid, partly cloudy August day was an event that at times felt like the Jerry Lewis Telethon, minus the comic stylings of Shecky Greene.
In the end, the day was about nothing other than Glenn Beck. And even then, we didn't get hyperbolic Beck, proclaiming himself the new Messiah. We got dull Beck, droner Beck, Holy Beck....

Maybe some of the crown left happy, simply because they had attended. But few would have left holding aloft a grand phrase or a vision which had inspired them. People who attended MLK's speech in the same spot almost half a century before would always remember the following:
"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men - would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'"
There was nothing of such substance given to this crowd. They were thrown bubbles, bright shiny things which it was possible to momentarily enjoy, but, when they burst, the crowd were left with nothing of substance to take away. No grand vision, no soaring phrase. Other than Glenn thinks you all ought to pray more.

He could have delivered that message in five seconds on the TV. God knows why he had to bring everyone to Washington to hear it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beck at Kennedy Center: "We are 12 hours away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America".

Beck delivers his version of Obama's "Yes, we can" message. Damn, he even choked up as said it.

And, not content with ripping off Obama's lines, he then mimicked Obama more by stating, "We are 12 hours away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America".

I thought "transforming America" was a bad thing when Obama spoke of it? Why is it good now?

Here are even more of his insane rantings, punctuated by frequent bouts of crying.

He really is going for it with this one. He's so unhinged at the moment that he could easily declare himself the son of God before the weekend is over. Because he quite clearly believes that God wants him to do what he is now doing. And he admits that he doesn't know why. This could go anywhere...

Fasten your seat belts, it's gonna be a bumpy ride...


Dammit. I didn't realise that he had pre-empted me.

"Yes, I'm going to announce that I'm Jesus on Friday, and only Martin Luther King on Saturday, but that's it!"
I feel slightly disappointed.

Demonizing the Opposition.

It really is too much when Laura Ingraham accuses her opponents of "demonizing the opposition".

According to Ingraham's victimology, it is the people who are against the mosque who are being demonized, it is they who are having names thrown at them. Let's leave aside the Muslim taxi driver who was attacked for the crime of being a Muslim, or the fact that drunks have been urinating in Mosques in Queens. Let's leave all that aside and remember that the real victims of this piece are the poor right wingers who are being called out for the rampant Islamophobia which they are engaging in.

The right wing have a long history of turning the perpetrator into the victim in cases such as this. Ingraham is merely giving that tired trick a new run around the block.


Rev. Barry Lynn points out that the "Newt Gingrichs and the Sarah Palins" are more responsible for the "demonization" of Muslims than anyone else. And it is the Muslims who are being demonized here, despite what Ingraham claims. The evidence, as he points out, is all over the country.

The NRA Non-Endorsement: Reid's Response.

The NRA are making it clear that they will not be backing Harry Reid because of his confirmation votes for Sotomayor and Kagan.

Her evasive testimony exacerbated grave concerns we had about her long-standing hostility towards the Second Amendment. As a result, the NRA strongly opposed her confirmation and made it clear at the time that we would be scoring this important vote.

The vote on Elena Kagan's confirmation to the Court, along with the previous year's confirmation vote on Sonia Sotomayor, are critical for the future of the Second Amendment. After careful consideration, the NRA-PVF announced today that it will not be endorsing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for re-election in the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Nevada.
Reid quickly issued a statement.
"The NRA's relationship with Sen. Reid has been long-standing and productive and - unlike for Sharron Angle - they've put their money where their mouth is this cycle. Along with their financial support, the declaration of NRA head Wayne LaPierre that Sen. Reid is 'a true champion of the Second Amendment' and that 'no one has been a stronger advocate for responsible gun ownership than him' shows beyond a doubt that the NRA believes Sen. Reid to be a strong advocate for Nevadans' Second Amendment rights in the US Senate."
The NRA have also made it clear that they will not be endorsing Sharron Angle.

Maybe Angle is simply too extreme even for the NRA.

Because they can't say she doesn't believe in Second Amendment rights. Indeed, her problem is that she is threatening to employ "Second Amendment remedies" if she isn't elected.

She's a crazy person, engaging in crazy talk. And it would appear that her Second Amendment position is too extreme even for the NRA.


It now transpires that 66% of the people who voted for Angle now regret their decision.

That's astonishing.

Cameron: David Miliband greatest threat to Conservatives.

This strikes me as the kind of spin that used to irritate me about Blair and New Labour:

David Miliband poses the greatest threat to the Conservative party of all the candidates in the Labour leadership contest, David Cameron has said in private remarks that could change the dynamic of the campaign just days before millions of ballot papers are posted.

To the likely delight of the older Miliband, who enters the final stages as the frontrunner, the prime minister has made it clear he believes the shadow foreign secretary stands the best chance of reaching out to middle Britain.

A well-placed source told the Guardian: "David Cameron said the candidate he hoped for was Ed Miliband, and the candidate he most feared was David Miliband."

Ed Miliband, who is thought to be slightly behind his brother in first preference votes, but who hopes second choice votes will propel him to victory, is likely to be irritated by Cameron's remarks, which echo those of supporters of Tony Blair: his backers believe that his elder brother is being supported by what they describe as the "Blair machinery".

This sounds to me like exactly the kind of story the "Blair machinery" would make sure hit the press just before the party went to vote. Cameron fears David, so the party would be best advised to elect him over his brother.

The problem with this story is this; why would David Cameron make his preference of Labour leader so well known? Why would he advise the Labour party on who they should elect who would be best suited to beat him?

David Miliband is New Labour through and through, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if it turns out that his people were behind this "leak".

Click here for full article.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beck and his "delusions of grandeur".

The rampant egomania of Glenn Beck simply has no limits.

This ad is for his Restoring Honor rally tomorrow, in which he compares this event to the moon landing, the invention of flight, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. There's simply no way to overstate the importance which Beck is placing on this rally which he himself has organised.

Although, it's very hard to discern what his rally is actually for. He says it's about God.

But I think Burns is much nearer to what this rally is actually about. He says it's about Glenn Beck "elevating himself and his delusions of grandeur".

Watching that advert for the event, it's hard to deny that Glenn Beck has delusions of grandeur.


Unsurprisingly, there are some who take great exception to Beck attempting to hijack the legacy of MLK.

Ingaham Loses It When Cab Attack Is Mentioned.

Scott Stringer commits the crime of bringing up the stabbing of a New York cab driver in front of Laura Ingraham in the context of the hate being fomented by Fox and others towards Muslims.

It's fair to say that she explodes. She begins ranting that the Tea Party movement has a "huge and positive influence in the United States". She then says that she thinks the "duelling protesters" over the Ground Zero mosque are to be encouraged "on both sides". When Stringer points out to her that "constructive debate" is good, she rounds on him as an "elitist" for daring to suggest what is constructive and what is not.

She then, again, asks if he believes that America has more blood on it's hands than al Qaeda, which she has shown in recent days that she thinks is a game changer.

At one point she even tells Stringer to "pipe down".

I know she has a tendency to shout down guests who don't allow her to preach her far right message, but, even by her standards, this is shameless.

Drunk shouts 'terrorists,' urinates on mosque rugs.

First we hear of the stabbing of a New York cab driver for the crime of being Muslim, then we hear of this:

In the latest in a spate of anti-Muslim incidents over the last two days, an intoxicated man entered a mosque in Queens on Wednesday evening and proceeded to urinate on prayer rugs, New York police officials said.

The man, identified as Omar Rivera, reportedly shouted anti-Muslim epithets and called worshippers who had gathered for evening prayer “terrorists.” One witness told the New York Post the man was “very clearly intoxicated” and had a beer bottle in his hand at the time.

“He stuck up his middle finger and cursed at everyone,” Mustapha Sadouki, who was at the mosque at the time, said. “He calls us terrorists, yet he comes into our mosque and terrorizes other people.”

Rivera has been charged with criminal trespassing.

It is to be expected that those who have been stirring up hatred of all things Muslim would seek to distance themselves from these actions, but Pamela Geller has wasted no time at all in seeking to make herself - and let's face it, no-one has done more to stir up hatred of all things Muslim than her - the victim of the piece rather than one of the architects of this outbreak of violence towards Muslims.

She writes:
Omar Rivera of the Bronx was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing last night, after he entered a Queens mosque drunk and urinated inside. Omar peed in the mosque and all the Islamic supremacists (co-conspirator Hamas funder, Muslim Brotherhood front CAIR's headline was Islamic propaganda: "Man Shouting Anti-Muslim Slurs Desecrates NY Mosque") and their useful idiot tools cried racism and blamed those opposed the Islamic supremacist Ground Zero mosque and extremist Rauf's cultural jihad center on our graveyard.

Lies. Lies. Lies. There is something terrible and dangerous happening right before our very eyes. Can you smell the stench?
There is, indeed, something "terrible and dangerous happening right before our very eyes" but I very much doubt that Pamela Geller is one of the victims of this piece.

She goes on to tell us that the young man who stabbed a New York cab driver was "a rabid lefty" because he worked for an organisation which supported the Park 51 mosque. She rants:

Both the leftwing media and FOX has CAIR on regularly. They should be jailed as subversives plotting to overthrow the government. They are guilty of subversion and that is legally actionable. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Perhaps the next administration will do what we elect the to do, protect and defend the American people.

This relentless attack on lovers of freedom by the left and Islamic supremacists is madness.

How quickly she has made herself and others on the right - "lovers of freedom" - the victims of this piece.

What does it say about her mindset that she would choose this particular moment to claim that it is she and other right wingers who are being subjected to "relentless attack"? She has chosen to say this at the very moment when it is others who are having acts of violence carried out against them. That's beyond shameless. It's borderline psychotic.

Click here for full article.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rider Asks if Cabby Is Muslim, Then Stabs Him.

One doesn't want to make a link between this incident and the hatred that many on the right have been stoking, but as Brzezinski states in a clip further down the page, it's kind of hard not to.

Michael Enright, a 21-year-old film student who had been recently trailing Marines in Afghanistan, started a conversation with a taxi driver, asking him if he was Muslim and, when told he was, saying that he hoped he had a good Ramadan. Then the conversation turned nasty.

Then, he said, Mr. Enright began making fun of the rituals of Ramadan, and Mr. Sharif sensed this cab ride might not be like any other.

“So I stopped talking to him,” Mr. Sharif said. “He stopped talking, too.”

As the cab inched up Third Avenue and reached 39th Street, Mr. Sharif said in a phone interview, Mr. Enright suddenly began cursing at him and shouting “This is the checkpoint” and “I have to bring you down.” He said he told him he had to bring the king of Saudi Arabia to the checkpoint.

“He was talking like he was a soldier,” Mr. Sharif said.

He withdrew a Leatherman knife, Mr. Sharif said, and, reaching through the opening in the plastic divider, slashed Mr. Sharif’s throat. When Mr. Sharif turned, he said, Mr. Enright stabbed him in his face, on his arm and on his thumbs.

Mr. Sharif said he told him: “I beg of you, don’t kill me. I worked so hard, I have a family.”

Brzezinski says what I think everyone must be thinking.

How do you ignore the link between the Nazi comparisons of Ginrgich and the Park 51 mosque and a violent act against a Muslims in the very city where this hate is being stoked? Though I note that Buchanan, another person who has made such comparisons, sits quietly when Scarborough berates Gingrich for this kind of behaviour.

Muslim groups have called for the rhetoric to be softened.

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement: “As other American minorities have experienced, hate speech often leads to hate crimes. Sadly, we’ve seen how the deliberate public vilification of Islam can lead some individuals to violence against innocent people.”

In a statement, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, “This attack runs counter to everything that New Yorkers believe, no matter what God we may pray to.” He said he had spoken to Mr. Sharif and told him “ethnic or religious bias has no place in our city.”
Now we will hear the inevitable claims from the right that there is absolutely no correlation between this incident and the hate they have been stirring over the Park 51 mosque.

And, whilst it's true that none of us can ever establish whether or not this incident had anything to do with the hatemongering being pushed by the right, it is also true that their behaviour made an incident like this more likely to happen, not less.

Click here for full article.

Ingraham Talks Over Colmes as he reminds her of her previous position.

Alan Colmes does very well in trying to point out reality to the awful Laura Ingraham, but it's hard to get her to stop transmitting and start receiving. She simply talks over him when he points out that she said to Daisy Khan that she had no problem with the building of the Park 51 mosque.

COLMES: This is worth seeing who the intolerant people are in this country. It's interesting that the word "tolerance" was used with you and the love fest you had with Liz Cheney. But the real intolerance we're seeing are from those people who don't seem to believe in religious freedom in this country. And I'm interested that you were very much for this when you interviewed Daisy Khan or spoke with her.

INGRAHAM: Actually, you're not reading the transcript correctly, Alan.

OLMES: I did read the transcript.

INGRAHAM: I never said I was for building the mosque--

COLMES: You actually did.

INGRAHAM: --600 feet from Ground Zero.

COLMES: You actually said I don't have a problem--

INGRAHAM: I said I like what you're doing. No, I said--

COLMES: I like what you're doing, which is--

INGRAHAM: No, I said I can't find a lot of people who have a problem with it. I like what she said--


INGRAHAM: --about bringing Muslims into the American experience.

COLMES: Right and that--

INGRAHAM: And I repeated that last night. Absolutely.

COLMES: And that hasn't changed. That hasn't changed.

INGRAHAM: When she goes on television and calls people who question the positioning of the mosque, where it is, not the right to build it--

COLMES: Right.

INGRAHAM: --but the place of building as people who hate Muslims--

COLMES: You know--

INGRAHAM: --I reject that. That's intolerant.
More than even Bill O'Reilly, Ingraham makes no attempt to hide her agenda.

One can see that she thinks she has an ace card to play when she asks Colmes if he agrees with Imam Feisal Rauf that America has more blood on it's hands than al Qaeda. Colmes stuns her by stating, "I agree with it in the broader context". She almost recoils that Colmes can agree with such a proposition, as if the dead 500,000 Iraqi babies can be swept under the carpet of history.

Colmes does well to point out that she is taking one sentence out of context and repeating it as if this one sentence is proof that Rauf is not a bridge builder. And it is of no interest to her whether or not the sentence is factually accurate, it is the stating of such a fact publicly which she finds so offensive.

She then invites that well known lunatic Ralph Peters on to aid her with her sweeping.
Peters: Alan didn't answer your question which was, "Do you believe America has more blood on it's hands than al Qaeda?" as Imam Rauf said publicly. Well, we all know that's not true.We all know the crazy claim that Imam Rauf said... that 500,000 babies starved to death... because of America. It's not true.
Actually, it is true as UNICEF pointed out at the time. And no, they didn't starve as Peters rightly points out, they died of other causes, such as a lack of clean water and medicines.
Throughout the period of sanctions, the United States frustrated Iraq’s attempts to import pumps needed in the plants treating water from the Tigris, which had become an open sewer thanks to the destruction of treatment plants. Chlorine, vital for treating a contaminated water supply, was banned on the grounds that it could be used as a chemical weapon. The consequences of all this were visible in paediatric wards. Every year the number of children who died before they reached their first birthday rose, from one in 30 in 1990 to one in eight seven years later. Health specialists agreed that contaminated water was responsible: children were especially susceptible to the gastroenteritis and cholera caused by dirty water.
This is a matter of public record. It ought not to even be controversial. Indeed, when asked about this on TV, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made no attempt to deny the figure and even went on to state that "it was worth it." But, on Fox, facts are what they want them to be and the truth has a liberal bias.

Ingraham actually thinks that Rauf cannot be a bridge builder because he has reminded the US of the result of a past policy which the US would rather forget. That, to her, is his crime.

Osborne's Budget may have breached equality law.

I have always argued that Osborne's budget was ill thought out, and that the 25% figure which he demands in across the board cuts was one which he pulled from his ass.

But I never foresaw this:

The coalition Government faces the embarrassing prospect of being rebuked by the equalities watchdog over whether its planned spending cuts are "unfair" on groups such as women, the disabled and ethnic minorities.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission may take action against the Treasury for not meeting its obligations under the Equality Act 2010 to consider the impact on specific groups before announcing its plans in the emergency Budget in June.

Commission officials are in negotiations with the Treasury but have not yet been satisfied that it complied with the Act, pioneered by Harriet Harman, the former Equalities Minister.

As far as I am concerned it goes without saying that Osborne never considered the impact his budget would have on minorities. When has Osborne ever seen a minority as anything other than another scrounger asking for special treatment? Indeed, his entire budget was an attack on the poorest members of society.

But now it appears that he may have fallen foul of the Equality Act 2010. The Act requires that the government must conduct an assessment of how it's decisions will affect certain vulnerable groups, such as the disabled and other minorities. It became clear yesterday on the airwaves of Radio 4 that this thought had simply never crossed their minds.

Mark Hoban, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, was ambushed when he answered the IFS criticism on BBC Radio 4's Today programme in what was seen by his ministerial "colleagues" as the worst media car crash since the Coalition Government was formed in May.

Justin Webb, the presenter, asked Mr Hoban whether the Treasury had conducted an assessment of how the Budget would affect specific groups, as required under the Act.

The Treasury minister appeared not to know the answer. Mr Hoban stuck rigidly to his brief, insisting: "We went through a very detailed distributional analysis at the time of the Budget, it was the most extensive piece of work anyone has done."

Mr Webb smelt blood and asked the same question six times. Eventually, Mr Hoban tried a different answer, accusing Mr Webb of "looking at detail rather than actually at recognising the fact we had to take some difficult decisions in the Budget".

Later, the Government fielded Nick Clegg to respond to the IFS criticism. He said the IFS report was a "single snapshot" which did not provide the full picture of the Government's agenda.

Justin Webb: Can I just ask you this quick question: have you conducted an assessment which you are required to do by law by the equalities act of 2010 to find out what affect this budget has on ethnic minorities, disabled, other vulnerable groups?

Mark Hoban (Treasury minister): Look Justin, we went through a very detailed distributional analysis at the time of the Budget, it was the most extensive piece of work anyone has done.

JW: But have you conducted this assessment?

MH: And it looked across a wide range of households in a way that other governments haven't done, and I think the choice that we faced...

JW: So hold on, can I just get straight from you, have you conducted this legal assessment or not?

MH: Justin, we have gone through the most detailed and rigourous assessment of the distributional impact of this Budget than any government...

JW: So you've not, you've not actually done the assessment that you're required to do under the 2010 act?

MH: We've gone through the most rigorous assessment of the impact of this Budget on families...

JW: But not this formal assessment?

MH: We've gone through, Justin, this is the best and most detailed piece of work any government has done on the impact of their Budget on families and households...

JW: Can I just get it clear from you, you've not done the formal assessment some people think you are required to do under the equalities act 2010?

MH: Justin, I think you know you are looking at detail rather than actually at recognising the fact we had to take some difficult decisions in the Budget to tackle the deficit we inherited from Labour, the choice we faced was either to take action now or to do nothing...

So, the quick answer is that they didn't look into "the detail", which doesn't surprise me in the least. Osborne's called for cuts of 25% across the board for God's sake. It's hard to imagine a cruder policy objective than that. When making such arbitrary demands it stands to reason that details have not been considered.

And the price to pay is that some of Osborne's most regressive cuts may very well now find themselves on hold.

Click here for full article.