Archive for July, 2010

I’m disappointed that the ADL has joined the demagogues

I am deeply disappointed by the Anti-Defamation League, a group which was founded to fight vicious bigotry and religious intolerance, specifically that against Jews.
The venerable organization has now made common cause with the bigots and demagogues who are fighting plans by a group of New York Muslims to build a community near (not at) Ground Zero. The ADL’s statement is careful in its wording, acknowledging that the Cordoba Initiative has the “right” to build near the site of the Twin Towers. (BTW, the Cordoba Initiative has been in the vicinity of Ground Zero for years.) Nevertheless, it provides cover to bigots and opportunists who are using the controversy for political gain (think Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich):

“Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong,” the statement reads.

“But ultimately …

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Congressman Rangel, spare yourself further embarrassment

The charges against Charlie Rangel are now official. Yesterday, the House Ethics Committee laid out a string of embarrassing charges that show Rangel took advantage of his post to build monuments to himself, flouted the most obvious standards of propriety and ignored basic rules of ethics in strong-arming interests who came before his committee. From the NYT:

Ethics committee members appeared somber on Thursday, expressing fondness for Mr. Rangel even as they issued the stinging report, which states that Mr. Rangel’s “actions reflected poorly on the institution of the House and, thereby, brought discredit to the House.”

Mr. Rangel did not appear at the meeting on Thursday, but issued a written response denying “each and every allegation” and criticizing the committee’s report as “deeply flawed in its factual premises and legal theories.”

In the 40-page report, the committee said it substantiated the major charges that had been hanging over Mr. Rangel for two …

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Health care law gains support? Well, of course

Here’s news that’s really no surprise: a new poll has found that support for the health care reform law has been gradually rising. The GOP hysteria proved unfounded, as voters now know.

From The WaPo:

Opposition to the landmark health care overhaul declined over the past month, to 35 percent from 41 percent, according to the latest results of a tracking poll, reported Thursday.

Fifty percent of the public held a favorable view of the law, up slightly from 48 percent a month ago, while 14 percent expressed no opinion about the measure, according to the poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The approval level was the highest for the legislation since it was enacted in March, after a divisive year-long debate. In April, the poll found 46 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.

(The chart shows an average of several polls; the Kaiser poll reports support at 50 percent.)

A couple of things help explain the rising support. One is that the debate over health reform was ugly, …

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A lesson for tenthers in the Arizona ruling

On the angry end of the political spectrum, secession is in the air and a narrow reading of the US Constitution — with severely limited powers for the federal government — is all the rage. But the Constitution is interpreted by federal courts (according to the Constitution), and an Arizona federal judge has delivered a blow to tenthers who believe that the federal government should be allowed to do very little.
In rejecting key parts of the Arizona immigration law, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton agreed with the Obama administration’s views on “pre-emption,” a belief that states cannot usurp important federal powers.

From the WSJ:

A judge’s ruling blocking major portions of Arizona’s immigration law strengthened the Obama administration’s hand in a battle over states rights that appears destined for the Supreme Court.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix sided with the Justice Department on the most important federal arguments accusing the state of …

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Where’s tea party’s outrage over billions that disappeared in Iraq?

Among the many reasons that I find it so difficult to take Republicans’ claims about being serious deficit hawks, ah, well, seriously is that they were such profligate spenders during the Bush years. The Iraq war wasn’t just a war of choice against people who didn’t attack us, but it was also a gigantically wasteful enterprise, wherein the Pentagon poured money out endlessly without any care for where it went. There were reports of huge bundles of cash disappearing in the night, with no idea who got it. It might have gone to our enemies.

Consider this story from the AP:

A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.

The $8.7 billion in question was Iraqi money managed by the Pentagon, not part of the $53 billion that Congress has allocated for rebuilding. It’s cash that …

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Global warming makes heat waves the new normal

WASHINGTON — Following a furious thunderstorm on Sunday, the temperature here dropped more than ten degrees, allowing residents of the capital city to venture outdoors again. After several brutal days with the thermostat hovering near triple digits, temps in the mid-to-high eighties felt downright balmy.

From what I’ve been reading about climate change, though, we’d better get used to miserable, scorching summers. We can stop using the term “heat wave” to describe what will become a routine pattern of high temperatures, overtaxed electricity grids and epidemics of heat strokes.

According to NASA, all but one of the ten hottest years on record were since 1999. The agency expects this year to be the planet’s hottest.

Still, the fierce heat wasn’t enough to coax a vote on pricing carbon emissions through the Senate. While rightwing know-nothings like Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) used the blizzards that blanketed the city last winter to claim global warming is a hoax, …

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GOP goes to bat for richest two percent

For practical and political reasons, the Obama administration has decided to allow Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class to stay in place. Politically, the president campaigned on a promise of not increasing taxes for the middle class. Practically, middle-class and working-class Americans will spend more of that money rather than saving it, which will help a weak economy.
However, to address the deficit, Obama wants to allow the tax cuts on the richest Americans to expire. Last week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner confirmed the Obama administration’s intention to allow steep tax cuts for the rich to expire on Jan. 1, 2011, as the law requires. “We believe it is appropriate to let those tax cuts that go to the most fortunate expire,” Geithner told a gathering of journalists last week.

Oddly, Republicans, joined by a small group of Democrats, are arguing against allowing the tax cuts to lapse. Even though the GOP has made the size of the deficit one of their premier …

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Breitbart’s defenders need a dictionary. Sherrod’s relative was lynched

While many conservatives rightly and promptly demanded that Andrew Breitbart apologize for his smear of Shirley Sherrod, some on the right have — inexplicably — kept up their crusade to prove that Mrs. Sherrod is, if not a racist, then a contemptible liar. It’s very odd and has had the effect of making conservative media outlets like The American Spectator appear unhinged.
In a piece on its Web site, the Specator comes to the conclusion that Sherrod told an outrageous lie in her NAACP speech when she said a relative had been lynched.

This is the Spectator’s proof, from Supreme Court documents:

The arrest was made late at night at Hall’s home on a warrant charging Hall with theft of a tire. Hall, a young negro about thirty years of age, was handcuffed and taken by car to the courthouse. As Hall alighted from the car at the courthouse square, the three petitioners began beating him with their fists and with a solid-bar blackjack about eight inches long and weighing two …

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In Colorado, Ken Buck tells the truth about birthers

Because we’ve reached the peculiar point in our political discourse when mainstream Republicans can’t point out the lunacy of birthers, Ken Buck, Colorado candidate for the GOP Senate nomination, has committed the quintessential political gaffe: He told the truth.

Buck has rightly been criticized for a sexist remark about his female GOP opponent, saying primary voters should support him because he “doesn’t wear high heels.” His commit about birthers, however, is dead on.

From TPM:

Buck is the Tea Party candidate running against establishment pick Jane Norton in Colorado’s Republican Senate primary. His latest gaffe is being caught on tape by a Democratic operative saying, “Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I’m on the camera?” according to The Denver Post. Without walking it completely back, Buck has already told the Post the language was inappropriate.

(In Georgia, Nathan Deal, seeking the GOP nomination for …

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Tony Hayward isn’t BP’s biggest problem; greed is

It looks like BP CEO Tony Hayward is on his way out, to be replaced by a Mississippi-born American, Robert Dudley. He’s already a familiar face because BP put him out front to handle the spill weeks ago.

But replacing Hayward won’t solve the company’s problems. Its sullied reputation stems from a clear record of choosing profits over safety, as an investigation taking place out of the spotlight has made clear.

From The Washington Post:

For example, on the day of the blowout, BP managers decided to skip a typically routine, and time-consuming, “cement bond log” test that could have detected fissures in the cementing of the well. They did not use the recommended 21 “centralizers” to position the well prior to the cement job, deploying just six instead. They used the cheaper of two well designs, one with fewer barriers to rising gas but costing $7 to $10 million less.

They were also conscious of the value of mud. On the day of the explosion, the expensive drilling fluid was taken …

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