Archive for May, 2010

CWA blames Washington for Souder’s affair. Don’t conservatives believe in personal responsibility?

I had not commented on the latest “family values” Republican to get caught up in a sex scandal simply because — well — it has ceased to be interesting. It happens so often that it hardly seems worthy of comment. As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank put it:

When was it, exactly, that the Republican revolution merged with the sexual revolution?
With each passing year, the class notes for the famous House Republicans Class of ‘94 get more lurid. The latest entry was submitted Tuesday morning by Rep. Mark Souder (Ind.).

“I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff,” he announced in a resignation statement.

I gave myself a pat on the back for passing on this one even though Souder had made it so easy: Not only did he have an affair with his mistress, but the two made a video touting abstinence. Really. You can’t make this stuff up.

But the comments about Souder from the Concerned Women for America, a …

Continue reading CWA blames Washington for Souder’s affair. Don’t conservatives believe in personal responsibility? »

The voters are angry. They are also confused.

Anger is a powerful emotion, often overwhelming reason. And voters are more likely to make their decisions based on emotions than on facts, as Emory psychology professor Drew Westin points out in his book, The Political Brain.”
Nevertheless, I was fascinated — and slightly dispirited — watching voters completely reject reason as they made their ballot box choices yesterday. One example came from Arkansas, where a voter interrupted Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln while she was talking to reporters. When Lincoln described herself as a centrist, the voter, 81-year-old Webb Ross, interrupted to challenge her, saying she always votes with the “left.”
OK, I disagree with Ross’ assessment, but it isn’t irrational. What came next was: He told Politico that he was voting for Bill Halter, Lincoln’s challenger in the Democratic primary. Halter is more liberal than Lincoln.

Ross said:

I’m voting for Bill Halter. At least he’s new. We get somebody else in there,” Ross told …

Continue reading The voters are angry. They are also confused. »

The SCLC has outlived its usefulness. Give it a decent burial

WASHINGTON — Let’s be clear about the current round of controversy engulfing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference: The machinations of its factions have nothing to do with eliminating injustice, elevating human rights or reducing the remaining vestiges of racism. Activists associated with the group are engaged, instead, in ego-inflating demagoguery, petty score-settling, and, quite possibly, outright thievery. They are not in the business of carrying out the organization’s original mission.

The SCLC — long an organization in decline — has been caught up in this latest round of infighting since last year, when a group of board members accused the former chairman, Raleigh Trammell, and the former treasurer, Spicer Gordon, of diverting more than half a million dollars of the organization’s funds to their personal use. (A criminal probe continues.)

Trammell and Gordon have been ousted, but they organized a rump faction to try to take over. The two groups are …

Continue reading The SCLC has outlived its usefulness. Give it a decent burial »

Pretty girl wins beauty pageant. So what if she’s Arab-American?

Generally speaking, the award of a beauty pageant title to a gorgeous young woman would fit neatly in the story category that journalists call “dog-bites-man” — an occurrence so utterly typical, so routine, that we need not make note of it. Indeed, most big city newspapers don’t cover beauty pageants.

But last weekend’s Miss USA title, which went to Miss Michigan, is causing a stir among some conservatives. You see, Miss Michigan has ancestral ties to Lebanon, and her family name is also the name of some Hezbollah officials. (The accompanying photo clearly indicates she’s no burka-wearing fundamentalist.)

Associated Press

Associated Press

That has upset some who see all Muslims as a threat. According to McClatchey:

To win the title of Miss USA, Rima Fakih paraded across a Las Vegas stage in a nearly microscopic bikini. She skirted disaster when she almost tripped in her glittery white evening gown. Finally, she told the judges that health insurance should cover birth control pills.

Fakih, a …

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Here’s a shocker: BP didn’t plan for disasters

UPDATE: A satellite image from yesterday shows the slick’s dangerous drift toward the loop current, which would take the spill down the Keys and into the Atlantic (h/t Deep Sea News):

Yesterday, the oil slick was dangerously close the "loop current" (blue arrow)

Yesterday, the oil slick was dangerously close the "loop current" (blue arrow)

It’s too bad it took a cataclysm like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to show the perils of virtual industry self-regulation, but, at least, the rational among us will now concede that the federal government needs to have tough rules to govern businesses and needs to have the personnel equipped to enforce those regulations. (When I say “the rational among us,” I am, by definition, excluding tea partiers and those with a belief in an extreme interpretation of the 10th Amendment.)
Why? Because businesses don’t focus on safety. They focus on profits. From the WSJ:

In 2004, managers of BP PLC, the oil giant involved in both incidents, warned in a trade journal that the company wasn’t prepared for the long-term, …

Continue reading Here’s a shocker: BP didn’t plan for disasters »

Research shows that immigrants don’t steal jobs from Americans

A coalition of groups that want to limit immigration, legal and illegal, has an ad claiming that illegal immigrants steal jobs from Americans. That’s a popular talking point among the build-the-fence, seal-the border types, but it’s just not so. has rounded up a lot of academic research that shows that immigrants don’t steal jobs:

The video from the congressional caucus and the statement from Sen. DeMint refer specifically to illegal immigrants. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there were nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2008, with 8.3 million in the labor force. About 5.4 percent of the nation’s workforce, then, was composed of illegal immigrants.

But whether they’re legal, as in the CFAW ad, or illegal, as in our two other examples, really doesn’t matter for the purpose of answering our question: The truth is that immigrants don’t “take American jobs,” according to most economists and others who have studied the …

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With Rand Paul, tea party movement continues to defy common sense

Tuesday’s primaries in several states are being dubbed a mini-Super Tuesday, with not only Democratic mid-term prospects on the line but also the ballot-box strength of the tea party movement getting a major test. Among the more fascinating primaries is the GOP Senate contest in Kentucky, where it seems that tea party favorite Rand Paul, son of GOP congressman Ron Paul, will easily win over conventional Republican Trey Grayson.
If Paul wins the primary, he will serve as fuel for the GOP’s continuing self-immolation. If he wins the election in Nov., he will serve as proof that Kentucky voters don’t take their politics all that seriously.
Paul has run a campaign in which he has tried to distance himself from some of his father’s nuttier views, but he still occupies a space far outside the mainstream. He has said, for example, that a nuclear-armed Iran poses no threat to our national security. (See video below.)

Some of his views fit comfortably inside the borders of the GOP …

Continue reading With Rand Paul, tea party movement continues to defy common sense »

Obama blames oil execs and feds for spill. But what about the rest of us, Americans addicted to oil?

President Obama had harsh words for all the parties involved in the disaster evolving in the Gulf of Mexico, saying he didn’t appreciate the “ridiculous spectacle” of oil and drilling executives pointing the finger at each other during recent hearings. He also acknowledged that the federal government had failed in its responsibility to regulate the industries that caused the disaster.
It’s too bad that politics didn’t allow the president to point the finger at us, the Americans who are addicted to petroleum. Here’s video of Obama’s remarks today:

Continue reading Obama blames oil execs and feds for spill. But what about the rest of us, Americans addicted to oil? »

The U.S. needs college students like Jessica Colotl

WASHINGTON —  If immigrants represented the best and the brightest, we’d eagerly welcome them into the United States, right? If they learned to speak English. If they were strivers and achievers. If they worked hard and reached for the brass ring, we wouldn’t deny them the opportunity to join the American mainstream. Would we?

Yes, we would.

Jessica Colotl, 21, is a senior at Kennesaw State University, a political science major and a member of Lambda Theta Alpha, a college sorority. She wants to attend law school.

However, she came to this country illegally, with her parents, when she was a child. And her detractors don’t care what she’s accomplished since then. They want to send her back to Mexico, a country she barely knows.

Following a routine traffic stop on campus in late March, Colotl was arrested and sent to a federal detention facility to await deportation. After an outcry by friends and support from faculty members, immigration authorities agreed to defer …

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Hawaii says “enough already” to the birthers

The great state of Hawaii has had it with the nutty fringe, the insistent birthers and the politically expedient who keep demanding copies of President Obama’s birth certificate:

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday signed into law the so-called “birther” bill that is intended to limit the number of requests for President Obama’s Hawai’i birth certificate.

Hawai’i state officials receive dozens of requests for Obama’s birth certificate each month from people who believe he is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and thus not eligible to be president.

The new law, Act 100, allows state agencies a limited exemption from Freedom of Information requirements when duplicative requests for information are made by the same person. Although the law covers all agencies, the measure targets people who repeatedly request a copy of Obama’s Hawai’i birth certificate.

The requests are being made to the state Department of Health, which keeps the birth certificates.

Of course, Hawaii’s prudent action, born …

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