Rep. Joe Walsh, What About You?

Frosh Republican Rep. Joe Walsh – thankfully not related to the musician who’s 100 times more intelligent, even accounting for his heavy recreational pharmaceutical use -  thinks President Care Bear was elected because, “he pushed that magical button: a black man who was articulate, liberal, the whole white guilt, all of that.”

I’ll concede Obama’s articulate, but if Bush the Lesser had been more articulate maybe we might have understood what he was mumbling before it was too late to stop the moron. Trivially, but as for being black, his census block is marked “mixed”.

But, the guilt?


Is the Race Glass Half Guilty?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m white. I voted for him. In fact, I’ve voted exclusively for white men in every election I’ve cast a vote, despite women and blacks running in all of them. I didn’t guiltily (or half-guiltily) vote for him because he’s (half) black, nor articulate, nor particularly liberal. And, my current dislike of him isn’t for any of those reasons either.I’m not happy because I don’t think his policies are very good – but I knew that going in. I also knew that compared to the other jackwads running, he was golden.

I reluctantly voted for him because John McCain showed the critical thinking skills of a ham sandwich in picking his running mate, has a skin thinner than a condom, and panders to anyone whose zipper his arthritic fingers can pull down.

In other words, if Obama won on who he is, McTheusela lost on who he is.

Neither do I think that every person who voted against him is racist, an idiot, or a Nazi (sanity I can’t vouch for). And, I don’t know that he got any more of a free ride from the media than McTheusela either. Media attention waxes and wanes on what pulls in the numbers and that unfortunately changes based on no formula in any textbook I know of (even the ones that tout Creationism).

Never Count on Great Legs to Save the Day
Early on, in fact, the talking heads had Johnny elected before anyone even knew who Obama was. Later, I think you could also make a pretty good argument that the media fawned over Gov. Mosselini based on her inarticulateness and great legs. No one made her speak stupidly. The legs are genetic.

Joe, even if all your charges are true … even if there was white guilt … even if there were black racists and whites as pure as, well, the driven (white) snow … even if there were people who inexplicably liked a person who could talk, there is one immutable fact: you, a white, inarticulate, non-racist, thin-skinned, whining Republican Tea Bagger managed to get elected.

How do you explain that?

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

The Audacity of Hate: Birthers, Deathers, Deniers, and Barack Obama

 

 

by Walter Brasch

 

 The latest garbage spewing hate as it circles the Internet in a viral state of panic continues a three year smear against Barack Obama.

The attacks had begun with the extreme right wing spitting out Obama's full name—Barack HUSSEIN Obama, as if somehow he wasn't an American but connected to the Iraqi dictator who, despite the Bush Administration's best efforts, had no connections to 9/11.

            When the right-wingers and Tea Party Pack get tired of their "cutesy" attempts to link Obama to militant Muslims, they launch half-truths and lies to claim he wasn't born in the United States. Like Jaws, Jason, or Freddy Krueger, "birther" propaganda keeps returning, even when independent state officials and analysts proved the claims false.

            The issue simmered on Fox TV and talk radio until Donald Trump, the man with the planet-sized ego and the bacteria-sized brain, inserted his persona into the issue, while pontificating about becoming the next president. The media, exhausted from having to cover the antics of Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, turned their news columns over to the man who would be God—if only it paid better.

The Wing Nut Cotillion, with Trump getting the headlines, then demanded Obama produce a long-form birth certificate—which he did while leading a combined White House-CIA-Pentagon effort to find and destroy Osama bin Laden. The truth still hasn't quieted the conspiracy nuts.

Not willing to accept truth and logic, the extreme right wing, grasping for anything they could find, have attacked the raid that killed bin Laden. Among their screeches are that bin Laden isn't dead . . . that he was killed a week earlier or even years earlier . . . that Obama had hidden the death until there was a more political time to reveal it . . . that it was George W. Bush (who publicly said six months after 9/11 that he didn't care about bin Laden) who deserves all the credit . . . and that while Navy SEALS should get credit, Obama is too weak to have overseen any part of the mission.

And now from the caves of ignorance and hatred comes a much-forwarded letter, which the anonymous author says "shouldn't surprise anyone." Written as fact, the letter informs us Barack Obama: "never held a 'real' job, never owned a business and as far as we know, never really attended Harvard or Columbia since those transcripts have never been released and no one remembers him from their time at either school."

The email of hate further "enlightens" us that "Being a community activist only gives someone insite [sic] on how to assist the less fortunate and dregs of society on how to acquire government housing and government benefits without ever contributing one penny in taxes."

That's right. The Whackadoodles Wearing Tinfoil Caps crowd has escaped again.  

Among those community activists who worked with the "dregs of society," apparently on ways to scam the government, are St. Francis of Assisi (1181–1226), founder of the Franciscan order and patron saint of animals and the environment; Jacob Riis (1849–1914), a journalist and photographer who exposed the squalor of slums and tenement buildings; Dorothy Day (1897–1980), a journalist who founded the Catholic Worker Movement that advocated nonviolent action to help the poor and homeless, and who the archdiocese of New York, at the direction of Pope John Paul II, began a process leading to beatification; and Jane Addams (1860–1935), who fought for better conditions for children and mothers, was active in the progressive campaigns of Teddy Roosevelt and who, like Roosevelt, earned a Nobel Peace Prize. Those who rail against community activists for not having "real" jobs would also oppose Saul Alinsky (1909–1972), who tirelessly established the nation's most effective organizational structure to help the poor and disenfranchised to gain a voice against political, economic, and social oppression; Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903–1998), America's foremost pediatrician, for leading antiwar campaigns; Cesar Chavez (1927–1993), who helped get farm workers respectable pay and decent working conditions; Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) who, with hundreds of thousands of others, forced a nation to finally confront its racism; and innumerable leaders of the feminist and gay rights communities who got America to confront their other prejudices. All were community activists.

Not dregs because they have "real" jobs are the bankers and Wall Street investors who brought about the housing crisis that led to the worst depression in the past seven decades. Also exempt from contempt are the business owners who downsized, right-sized, and shipped their production overseas, throwing millions of Americans out of work.

Barack Obama, castigated for not having a "real job," worked more than a year as research associate and editor at the Business International Corp., three years as director of Developing Community Projects, a church-based group for eight Catholic parishes, and summer jobs at law firms. Other "not real" jobs include being an author, civil rights lawyer, and a professor of Constitutional law at one of the nation's more prestigious colleges. Frankly, it's rather nice to have a president who actually understands the Constitution—as opposed to the rabble who misquote, misstate, and misappropriate it all the time.  

Those propagating the email of hate believe Obama couldn't earn degrees from Ivy League colleges; the subtext is as clear as their refusal to believe in an integrated nation. So, I contacted the registrars at Columbia and Harvard. In less than 10 minutes, the registrar at Columbia confirmed that Barack Obama received a B.A. in political science, and the registrar at Harvard Law School confirmed Obama received a J.D. These are public records. Anyone can ask the same questions, and get the same answer. Logic alone should have shot down these accusations. Obama was editor of the Harvard Law Review, something as easy to verify as his graduation, and he passed the Illinois bar exam—which requires graduation from college and law school, and a personal character test—also a matter of public record.

Even if Obama provided official transcripts, which are confidential, the wing nuts of society will claim that, like the birth certificate and the death of bin Laden, the transcripts were faked.

The truth is that the politics of hate, combined with media complicity and Internet access, has led not to a discussion of issues but to character assassination, with racism and bigotry as its pillars.

 

[Walter Brasch's latest book is Before the First Snow, literary historical fiction that explores the counterculture between 1964 and 1991. The book, to be published June 20, is available at amazon.com]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: What Homeland Security Looks Like After Bin Laden’s Death

 

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Nearly a decade ago, America’s War on Terror began as a manhunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But over the next nine years, that anti-terrorism effort evolved into a multi-faceted crusade: birthing a new national security agency, blossoming into two bloody wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, institutionalizing the racial profiling and surveillance of Muslim Americans and even redefining unauthorized Latin American immigration as—of all things—a national security issue. Now, in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, which elements of that crusade will persist or expand and which—if any—will dissolve?

Muslim Americans celebrate bin Laden’s death…

Following the announcement of bin Laden’s death last Sunday, Americans feverishly rejoiced at the news that a mission actually was accomplished in the War on Terror.  Profoundly, the celebrants included scores of individuals who had unwittingly become targets of that crusade—Pakistani immigrants and American Muslims.

Mohsin Zaheer of Feet in Two Worlds reports that Islamic groups in the United States wasted no time applauding President Barack Obama for Bin Laden’s death, taking the opportunity to distance themselves and Islam from the legacy of the slain terrorist. And while many Americans forget that the 9/11 terror attacks killed nationals from 70 different countries, Zaheer notes that the many immigrants who lost loved ones that day took some comfort in knowing that justice has been done.

But Muslims in the U.S. also had another cause for celebration. Bin Laden’s death coincided with the termination of a grossly discriminatory federal program that has targeted, tracked and deported thousands of immigrants from predominately Muslim countries since 2002. ColorLines.com’s Channing Kennedy describes the program (called NSEERS or the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System) as “one of the most explicitly racist, underreported initiatives in post-9/11 America” which “functioned like Arizona’s SB 1070, with working-class Muslims as the target.” The Department of Homeland Security has been vague about its reasons for ending the program, but the decision  amounts to a victory for immigrant rights groups that have been protesting the effort since its launch nine years ago.

…but still face an uncertain fate

That said, the fate of Muslims in America is far from rosy. As Seth Freed Wessler notes at ColorLines.com, the Department of Homeland Security continues to target, detain and deport Muslims “in equally insidious, but less formal ways” than the NSEERS program.

Pointing to investigations by “Democracy Now!” and the Washington Monthly, Wessler explains that the Department of Justice “has repeatedly used secret informant-instigators to manufacture terrorist plots” and advocated religious intolerance, racial profiling and harassment in its search for homegrown terrorists. Through these means, the quest for security has degenerated into the systemic persecution of American Muslims and countless other immigrants deemed threats to national security becaue their race, religion or nationality. And that didn’t die with bin Laden.

As recently as last March, in fact, Republican Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, held a hearing on the radicalization of Muslim Americans—during which numerous witnesses repeatedly reiterated the dire threat posed by radical Muslims in the U.S. At the time, Behrouz Saba of New America Media noted that the hearing lacked any discussion of U.S. military presence in the Middle East and its impact on radicalization. Rather than critically examine the many ways in which U.S. foreign policy and military conflict breeds the monster it aims to destroy, the hearing instead served to demonize a growing, well-educated and largely law-abiding population of the United States.

The Latin American link

But the War on Terror has deeply impacted other marginalized communities as well. Even the circumstances of bin Laden’s death bears an alleged connection to the frought issue of Latin American immigration to the U.S.—an issue that has, itself, undergone massive scrutiny and regulation following 9/11.

ThinkProgress reports that one of the Navy Seals involved in Bin Laden’s extermination is, purportedly, the son of Mexican migrants. While the veracity of that claim has been contested by some, Colorlines.com’s Jamilah King argues that the rumor nevertheless “raises serious questions around the military’s recruitment of Latino youth, the staggering numbers of Latino war causalities, and the Obama administration’s often contradictory messages on immigration reform.” She continues:

Casualties among Latino soldiers in Iraq rank highest compared to other groups of soldiers of color. Yet while the military actively courts Latino youth and immigrants with one hand, it’s aggressively deporting them and their families with the other.

It’s worth noting that, within the government, the most vocal proponents of the DREAM Act supported the legislation because they expected it to dramatically increase Latino enrollment in the military. While the DREAM Act ultimately died in the Senate, proponents of its military provision are perpetuating a troubling and persistent dichotomy that is only reinforced in the wake of bin Laden’s demise: immigrants are welcome on our battlefields, but not in our neighborhoods.

It’s comforting, albeit naïve, to believe that Osama bin Laden’s death will cap a decade of military conflict and draw a torturously long anti-terrorism crusade to a close. More likely, our multiple wars will persist longer than they should, and our domestic security apparatus will continue targeting the most vulnerable members of our society under the misguided notion that such enforcement strengthens rather than divides us.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

Voters Turning Inward

Sabato on the prospect of a  "bin Laden" bump for Obama/Democrats in 2012?

[...] the killing of bin Laden, as ordered by a Democratic president, gives Democrats a convenient and easy-to-understand answer whenever challenged by Republicans on national security: “Republicans had seven years under George W. Bush to get bin Laden. They failed. Democrats got him in a little over two.”

That potentially powerful argument may mean a lot when the country inevitably refocuses on national security in some future election. But whether it matters much for next year’s presidential election, when the focus will likely remain on the economy, is very much an open question.

This week Pew released their Political Typology report, which concludes voters -- especially swing voters -- aren't paying as much attention.  In 2005, military strength vs. diplomacy was the question dividing voters clearly on partisan lines, with disafecteds and undecideds left to pick a side.  The new report shows that while there is still a split on that issue, it's primarily between Republican subsets not Democrats and Republicans. The majority of voters have turned "inward."  Blumenthal:

As the report explains in more detail, we see even less division among the groups on a variety of foreign policy and national security issues, including the war in Afghanistan, the use of force in Libya, the trade-offs between privacy and safety from terrorism and the role of foreign trade.

What now divides the party groups more clearly are attitudes about the efficiency and worthiness of government and the social safety network. These are also the issues now most likely to create cross-pressure on true swing voters. For example, 45 percent of the Democratic-leaning Post Moderns worry that "government is almost always wasteful and inefficient," while 61 percent of the Republican-leaning Disaffecteds agree that "the government should do more to help needy Americans, even it if means going deeper into debt."

National security never fully leaves the equation, but any role it plays in 2012 will boost Democrats, and Republicans will shy away from the issue entirely.  Swing voters will be busy pondering the value of Social Security, Medicare, and the health of the economy.

Probably why we're seeing Republicans run away from Paul Ryan's budget -- which all but 6 House Republicans voted for -- as fast as they can.

 

 

 

Our World has Changed Forever and It’s Not Coming Back

On September 1, 2001 a gaggle of terrorists – at least one of whom spent his last night on Earth drinking demon run while ogling strippers – caught the early flight out of Portland , ME. The rest, as they say, is history.

When the dust settled George W. Bush grabbed a megaphone, climbed atop some rubble, threw his arm around a fireman, and gave a fiery speech about truth, justice, and the American way. The good ol’ boy fireman hug was a bit over-the-top, but otherwise it was the perfect thing to rally a country on edge and staring into a bottomless pit of C4.

It also marked the last time I agreed with just about anything he said and the last time there was any semblance of civility in the political process.

At the time, every pundit and politician talked about how the attacks were game-changers. The most oft-heard phrase was, “Our world has changed forever.”

That sure turned out a gross understatement.

Wobble-Kneed Don Knottses
Since the skeevy bastards drove the planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field, America became – not the Greatest Generation of heroes and fidelity to high-minded principles – but a country of wobble-kneed Don Knotts impersonators grasping at any straw, enhanced interrogation technique, or abridged law to feel “safe”.

When the most unterrifying terrorist imaginable set his lap on fire, we cried out for the protection afforded by 3 oz. shampoo bottles and forbidden nail clippers – “watch out, I’ll clip you to within an inch of your pinkie finger’s quick”. And for good measure, we meekly stripped naked and suddenly thought it was perfectly reasonable to allow government agents to stick rectal probes up our asses to verify those things in our throats were tonsils and not miniature thermonuclear bombs…no doubt built in Iraq.

Our latter day lunatic fringe is terrified at the tyranny of affordable health care, yet makes not a peep over unrestricted wiretaps, error-prone no-fly lists, and a host of other insults to the Constitution.

The small government champeens somehow see a conglomeration of 380 million individual decision makers as an effective form of government. But, what about the biggest government behemoth of them all – the Department of Homeland Insecurity? For some, it and the Department of Defense are the only two allowable functions of a tyranny-free government, except for the Bureau of Who You Can’t Marry and the Anti-Abortion Administration.

Our twin 30-day cum 10-year wars grind up bodies and trillions of dollars that we aren’t really losing because they’re financed off-budget. Plus anyone the President chooses can be outsourced to some incredibly evil off shored prison to be beaten and waterboarded with impunity. Actually, you’d think they’d be all for affordable health care after all that.

America: The North American Banana Republic
Our current government is as stable as a South American Banana Republic that can’t agree on which sash and medals the President can wear with his faux flight suit and codpiece.

And, your average American Chicken Little believes the President is a Communist Kenyan, the moon landings took place in a Houston TV studio, and Bush personally killed bin Laden with the pearl-handled six-shooters confiscated from Saddam … or the Pentagon attack was staged… or bin Laden’s whereabouts have been known for years and Obama just saved the killshot for political points… or, well, you get the point.

Whether you vehemently oppose abortion, protest every capital death sentence, believe in euthanasia, or think Obamacare consists entirely of a Death Panel and hypodermic needle, chances are you see bin Laden’s killing as a richly deserved punishment for a cowardly, suburban-dwelling bully dressed in funny clothes and unable to get more than 10 feet from a dialysis machine. And, you’d be right.

Resolved: the man was a worthless piece of shit who didn’t deserve to live. Now, America can chant “USA… USA… USA!”and unite around something again. It’s a good thing that a brave team of our best warriors killed the man in cold blood – there is no question. However, the unity started to fray as the chants fell quiet. People are already arguing over every scrap of information or cockamamie fantasy they harbor. Pundits are pontificating and politicians are preening. In short, the nation is quickly reclaiming its false bravado and Don Knotts tremor.

Those folks were right nearly 11 years ago. The world will never be the same again because we’ve handed the terrorists a victory of continuous self-induced terror, exactly what terrorists want.

And, killing Osama doesn’t change that a whit.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

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