No one is disputing that Jared Loughner is mentally ill. As more of his speech and writing emerge the picture comes into sharper focus. Some brain damage, possibly alcohol poisoning, drug abuse, symptoms of schizophrenia, behavior that frightened classmates and friends.
There’s little fear that he will get off on an insanity defense. Since John Hinkley’s attempted assassination of President Reagan, the bar has been raised. In any case, Loughner was not insane. He was not swallowing razor blades or slamming his head against a wall. He was able to carry out a plan.
What set him on this course? Why did his illness take this form? Why is the lone man who carries out a public mass murder a recurring pattern?
Loughner didn’t strike randomly. He had obsessed on Gabrielle Giffords.
[A friend of Jared Loughner, Bryce]Tierney tells Mother Jones in an exclusive interview that Loughner held a years-long grudge against Giffords and had repeatedly derided her as a “fake.” Loughner’s animus toward Giffords intensified after he attended one of her campaign events and she did not, in his view, sufficiently answer a question he had posed, Tierney says.
… “He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, ‘What is government if words have no meaning?’”
“He said, ‘Can you believe it, they wouldn’t answer my question.’ Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her.”
I can imagine a young man who is already becoming unmoored from reality– who is nursing grandiose visions and delusions of superiority. He approaches the Congresswoman to impress her with his insightful question, and is met by incomprehension. He feels this as a public humiliation. Who is she anyway? One word is telling…
Jared Lee Loughner, accused of shooting 20 people and trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left a note in his safe that read, “Die bitch.”
‘Bitch’ is one of those words that’s harmless until it’s not. If you’ve ever heard it said in malice you know what I mean. Women in power are a conspicuous minority. Gabrielle Giffords, like every public servant, knew that she could draw hatred for her political decisions. As a woman, she modeled the role of women in power, a change we are still adjusting to.
Loughner left other writings that suggest he nursed resentment against female teachers and fellow students…
Loughner seemed at times to be reaching out for help from the online gaming community in his postings, which emphasized his inability to attract women or land a minimum-wage job.
It’s his recent posts that are the most disturbing. On April 24, in a thread titled “Would you hit a Handy Cap Child/ Adult?”, he wrote: “This is a very interesting question?.There are mental retarded children. They’re possessing teachers that are typing for money. This will never stop?.The drug addicts need to be weeded out to be more intelligent. The Principle of this is that them c? educators need to stop being pigs.”
Later that day, in an even more horrifying post titled “Why Rape?”, he claimed that college women liked being raped. He wrote, “there are Rape victims that are under the influence of a substance. The drinking is leading them to rape. The loneliness will bring you to depression. Being alone for a very long time will inevitably lead you to rape.”
One woman’s voice in Congress is silenced for the near future, and may not be heard again. Women, a minority in positions of power, have lost ground in representation this year…
Despite the fact that many women ran in the primaries for the 2010 midterm elections, when the 112th Congress is sworn in this January, there will be a decline in the number of female members in Congress.
Women in the next US Congress are projected to make up just 16 percent of the members, down from 17 percent in the previous Congress. Although the actual number of seats lost is not a huge number, the change is still significant because it is the first decrease that women in Congress have seen in 30 years.
Full equality for women is not a part of our culture, not yet.
Jared Loughner is a man who was going to do something to put himself into custody, probably sooner than later. He was certainly ill. And he was haunted by voices, the most toxic in our society. ‘That bitch needs to be taught a lesson’, ‘I’ll go out in a blaze of glory’, ‘They’ll be sorry.’ This might have been what the voices said.
There were voices outside too, raising the level of hostility around him. There were weapons of mass destruction, easily available even to a young man whose behavior struck everyone around him as bizarre.
Misogyny is just one element in the poisonous mix that led to this tragedy, but it’s there. One woman’s voice in Congress that may not be heard again. We feel the loss.
This is a guest note by Jordan D'Amato who has recently joined the New America Foundation's American Strategy Program as a research assistant.
As grainy pictures of China's new J-20 stealth fighter circulate the internet, many American defense analysts have been tempted to sound the alarms. After all, the past few weeks have been full of news which could be read as success in China's push to achieve parity with American military hardware.
In late December, Admiral Robert F. Willard of U.S. Pacific Command claimed that China's "carrier killer" ballistic missile had reached "initial operational capacity." Recently, one of Japan's leading newspapers reported that China's nuclear submarines has been able to operate around Taiwan undetected. And, looming in the background is China's first aircraft carrier, expected to be completed by 2014.
News from the American side has, likewise, reinforced the notion that the Sino-US military balance is shifting. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has announced that he intends to reduce the size of the Marines and Army. America's fifth generation fighter planes have run into a seemingly endless series of budget expansions and schedule delays--forcing the Pentagon to purchase more F-18's instead. The military, spread thin by years of war, needs time for its soldiers and equipment to recuperate.
In other words, if the news is to be believed, China is aggressively developing new military capabilities while America's armed forces face serious budgetary constraints. While the underlying message is true, the hype surrounding it needs to be deconstructed.
America's annual defense budget is still greater than the next top ten military spenders around the world combined. China's defense budget, by contrast, falls somewhere between 1/7 and 1/5 of that of the United States, according to a 2009 Pentagon report. While more money does not necessarily indicate a better military, in this case the US can claim a decisive advantage--experience.
While China may be fielding the early stages of next generation military platforms, it has yet to demonstrate that it can integrate and deploy them successfully in military action. "We're seeing [this type of integration] in individual elements of warfare, but not across the joint spectrum of warfighting" said Chief of Naval intelligence, Vice Admiral Jack Dorsett.
Instead of focusing on China's tactical level breakthroughs, the United States should be working to articulate its own grand strategic position more clearly. A strategy which regards the Peoples Republic of China as a rising power with legitimate regional interests and anxieties will better interpret China's actions for what they are. Acknowledging the constraints which China faces--from issues like pollution to demographic change to the enormously complex task of interacting with an international system as its primary challenger--will likewise reduce the chance for American overreaction. Buying into hype only intensifies spiraling mistrust. Fear may sell news. But it also puts pressure on policymakers to act, even if action is ill-advised.
Clearly defined grand strategic objectives would help guide long-term US military procurement. Strategic goals would provide a structure through which scarce resources could be distributed amongst competing objectives. Finally, an American grand strategy would give much needed context to Chinese military developments.
Viewed on their own, a stealth jet and an anti-ship ballistic missile should be a cause of alarm. But when the USS George Washington likes to drop by your backyard, it makes sense to have something guarding your door.
-- Jordan D'Amato
As the country gropes for ways to lower the temperature and make political disagreement less disagreeable, I thought I'd look back to a 2006-07 initiative that brought together a bipartisan group of 20 foreign policy experts. The Stanley Foundation's Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide project was the brainchild of Derek Chollet, who is about to move from the State Department Office of Policy Planning to the White House NSC staff. Together with our our conservative friend and colleague Policy Review Editor Tod Lindberg, we recruited ten bipartisan pairs of co-authors who were commissioned to find points of agreement on different areas of policy.
In the preface for the resulting book, I explained how the project worked and offered some reflections on foreign policy bipartisanship and the possibility for a more constructive debate about policy. I quote a couple passages after the jump, but if you'd like to read the preface, it's pages ix-xiii at Google Books
Here's how I described our consensus-seeking enterprise:
Politics today leaves little room for deliberation over issues; by and large, it is total war between sworn enemites. Rather than winning arguments on the particular merits of a matter, each side seeks to thoroughly discredit the other. As a result, what the public sees primarly are the caricatures that both parties draw to define their counterparts.
As a shared frustration with the low level of political discourse, many of the essays set aside the false choices that many politicians have sought to use as domestic political wedges: international law or power realities, China as partner or adversary, arms control regimes or the direct disruption of some nations' efforts to acquire the bomb, preservation of due process or the aggressive pursuit of terrorists suspects. In the place of these either/or choices, the authors stress the importance of managing inherent tensions and striking careful balances.
I'm not sure precisely how to apply these observations (though I took a stab recently at a respectful exchange on the question of sanctions), Maybe the key thing to say is that a resevoir of goodwill, personal relationships, and experience with cooperation do exist within the foreign policy community.
Tennessee tea party activists presented state legislators yesterday with a list of ?demands? for the 2011 legislative session, which opened earlier this week, including, “educating students [about] the truth about America.? ?Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States,” according to a document the two dozen activists distributed to reporters. “We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.?
What “truth” do these conservative activists demand be taught? Apparently it doesn’t involve portrayals of the “minority experience” or anything else that might taint their mythical hagiographies of the Founding Fathers. At a press conference, the activists said they want a focus on the “progress” the Founders and “the majority of citizens” made, to the exclusion of supposedly “made-up criticism” about slavery and the treatment of Native Americans:
The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that ?No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.?
Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group?s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address ?an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.
?The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn?t existed, to everybody ? not all equally instantly ? and it was their progress that we need to look at,? said Rounds
It’s unclear what these activists think is “made-up” about the very real history of slavery in America or the very real intrusion on Native American lands by early American settlers.
This effort could be dismissed as a the work of handful of obscure activists in Tennessee were it not part of a much larger conservative attempt to rewrite American history without all the unflattering bits. Like their supposed reverence for the Constitution, when conservatives speak warmly of American history, they tend to pick and choose only the parts which reflect their contemporary world-view — and they are equally eager to sanitize the parts that do not.
The Founders should indeed be praised as visionaries, but they were humans and thus fallible products of their time. Any attempt to white-out the darker parts of their history does a disservice to the “truth” these tea party activists claim to promote.
Ben Smith flags the news that Mitt Romney has stepped down from the Marriott hotel chain's board of directors and is looking to announce his 2012 presidential campaign in April...and that, in turn, gives me an excuse to once again post this video of Mitt explaining why he thinks the individual health insurance mandate is such a good idea:
Of course, now that the GOP has gone all teabaggy on him, Mitt's done a complete 180...and now supports suing the government to block implementation of the idea he helped pass into law. Romney is among the leaders in the polls for the GOP nod, and he's got strong insider support, but as Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, says, RomneyCare will sink Mitt in the primaries.
By the way, an interesting personal note about Mitt:
Romney's father, George, was a close friend of the company's founder, J. Willard Marriott. Romney's given first name, Willard, is in honor of Marriott.
Right-wing media have accused Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of being a liberal activist in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona. However, Dupnik has previously encouraged gun ownership among his constituents, has advocated for citizenship checks of students in public schools, and supported the controversial Arizona immigration law after some provisions were removed.
"Limbaugh "Speculate[s]" That Dupnik "Hope[s]" Loughner is Acquitted, Because "I Just Know How Liberals Are." From the January 10 edition of PremiereRadio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: We have more of the sheriff, by the way -- audiosoundbite number 8 -- and in order, Saturday night -- this is before heappeared with Megyn Kelly on Fox on Sunday -- this is Pima County SheriffClarence Dupnik held a press conference to talk about the mass shooting. And wehave three soundbites from that press conference.
DUPNIK (audio clip): It's time as a country that we need to do a littlesoul-searching because I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in andday out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV businessand what we see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this hadnot become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in and Ithink it's time that we did the soul-searching.
LIMBAUGH: So, here you have an unfortunate event.Many people shot, killed, wounded. And people in the radio business, somepeople in the TV business, see what on TV how our youngsters are being raised.You mean like the shooter, Sheriff? How was the shooter being raised, Sheriff? In your community, Sheriff. The shooter did what he did in yourcommunity. You're -- you're -- you're in chargeof keeping that community safe, Sheriff. What did you do? Was this the first time you heardabout the shooter, or did you haveknowledge of the shooter before this? I would wager that the sheriff knew ofthe shooter long before this event.
Now thatthe sheriff's gone ahead now with the comments and he's given -- he has giventhe defense a case. My guess, the sheriff wouldn't mind if the shooter'sacquitted. After all, it's not the shooter's fault. If you carry the sheriff's logic all the way out-- what, what do you mean H.R.? If the sheriff's going to speculate, I'm goingto speculate. How does it feel?
Hey, Sheriff, I bet you hope he's acquitted, right? "What do you know about it, Limbaugh?" I don't know anything, I just know how liberalsare, Sheriff. You probably have a tough time putting the guilty behindbars because it's always somebody else's fault, right, Sheriff? It's never's the guilty's fault. They didn't do it,somebody made them do it, right, Sheriff? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/10/10, emphasisadded]
Malkin DismissesDupnik As A "Pro-Illegal Alien Amnesty Sheriff." In a January 10 poston her blog, blogger and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin wrote:
There has been zero indication that[accused shooter Jared] Loughner directly or explicitly complained aboutimmigration; instead, he ranted about illiteracy in general and inveighedagainst grammar control. But this, of course, didn't stop pro-illegal alienamnesty sheriff Clarence Dupnik from shoehorning SB1070 and its aftermath intohis press conference about the Tucson massacre. [MichelleMalkin.com, 1/10/11; emphasis inoriginal]
NewsBusters: "InThe End, Dupnik Is Just Another Democrat That Is Hostile To Republicans." In a January 9NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard claimed Dupnik "admitted that hisdepartment has not uncovered one shred of evidence to support his nowwell-publicized assertion" at the January 8 news conference regarding"vitriol." After including a video clip of Dupnik's January 9interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, Sheppard continued, "In the end,Dupnik is just another Democrat that is hostile to Republicans and isexpressing his opinion as such. Yet media outlet after media outlet have quotedthe comments he made Saturday as if they were coming from a legal perspectiveand not a political one." [NewsBusters, 1/9/11]
O'Reilly:"The Sheriff Of Pima County Clarence Dupnik Not Only A Law Enforcement Agent,He Is A Left-Wing Activist." From the January 11 edition of TheO'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.Thanks for watching us tonight. When law enforcement goes political: that isthe subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
The sheriff of Pima County, Clarence Dupnik, not onlya law enforcement agent, he is a left-wing activist. And Mr. Dupnik, who hasserved Pima County for more than 30 years, has now ignited anational discussion about whether political rhetoric may have motivated thekiller Jared Loughner. SheriffDupnik believes right-wing rhetoric contributed to the murders, althoughhe admitted to Megyn Kelly on Sunday he has absolutely no evidence to back thatup. Even so, Dupnik continues his campaign.
DUPNIK (video clip): It's my belief that -- that the hard rightis -- is deliberately fueling the fire against public officials, electedofficials, government, and the administration because it -- they think that insome way and maybe they are right, it benefits them in the election process.
O'REILLY: So why would the sheriff say that? Well, one look at hisresume provides the answer. When the tough illegal alien law was passed inArizona last year, here is how Sheriff Dupnik handled it.
[begin video clip]
GUY ATCHLEY (KGUN-TV news anchor): The Pima County sheriffsays he has no intention of enforcing the new immigration law. Clarence Dupnikcalls it racist, disgusting, and unnecessary. "Nine on Your Side"Steve Nunez is on "Immigration Watch."
DUPNIK: I think the law is one of the worst pieces of legislationI have ever seen in 50 years.
STEVE NUNEZ (KGUN-TV correspondent): PimaCounty Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says he will not enforce the new immigrationlaw.
NUNEZ: If the constitutionality of this law is held up, what do you do?Do you enforce it?
DUPNIK: No. Because we're going to keep doing what we have beendoing all along. We don't need this law.
[end video clip]
O'REILLY: So who's "we," Sheriff?Certainly not the Arizona legislature, which passed the law.Certainly not the people of Arizona, 70 percent of whom support the law. Iguess "we," Sheriff Dupnik, is you and your liberal pals. So here's a clue. As a sworn officer of the law, you have a duty to upholdit. By saying you would not, you have violated your oath.
"Talking Points" is not in business to put SheriffDupnik out of business. If the good people of Pima County like him that's finewith me. But let's be honest here Dupnikis an ideologue. He along with many far left pundits is using the murders ofsix people to make political points. With all due respect, I'd never, nevervote for a person like that for anything.
Again, as an American, Clarence Dupnik is entitled to hold anyopinion he wants, but as a law enforcement officer he has a responsibility toall the citizens. Sheriff Dupnik has turned a horrificmurder case into a political circus. Who doesthat serve, Sheriff? What good does that do? You have made a terrible mistake,no question about it. Andthat's the memo. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/11/11]
In 1981, DupnikEncouraged Gun Ownership Among Constituents. From a January 10 article at Slate:
But a look through Dupnik's past reveals amuch more complex figure than his current portrayal as a liberal Democraticcrusader. Dupnik first joined the Tucson Police Department in 1958, wasappointed sheriff of Pima County in 1980, and has won re-election ever since.Perpetually over-tasked and under-resourced, Dupnik's force has the near-impossiblejob of dealing with not just the usualcase load, but also the continuous flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico.In 1981, Dupnik sent a message to all residents: Arm yourselves. Policecouldn't adequately protect the populace, he said, because they didn't havesufficient manpower: "Not only are things not good, they are going to getworse. For those who are so inclined, it's time to start protectingyourselves." [Slate, 1/10/11]
Dupnik: "It'sWrong For The Taxpayers In This Country To Spend The Millions And Millions AndMillions Of Dollars That We Do Catering To Illegals." From the same Slatearticle:
Dupnik provoked the Hispanic community againin April 2009 by suggesting that public schools should check students'immigration status when they enroll, even though the Supreme Court ruled in1982 that denying enrollment to the children of illegal immigrants isunconstitutional. "It's wrong for the taxpayers in this country to spendthe millions and millions and millions of dollars that we do catering toillegals," Dupnik said, including providing free education to theirchildren. Rep. Raul Grijalva and 10 other prominent Democrats signed a letterrequesting an apology. Grijalva even called Dupnik "Arpaio light."Dupnik refused to apologize and downplayed the backlash: "If you read theblogs, and I don't know if you do, I think you'll have a differentopinion." [Slate, 1/10/11]
Dupnik Said Four Of Every 10Students In One Tucson District "AreIllegal," Complained That "The Schools HaveNo Choice But To Educate Illegal Aliens." From an interview with Greta VanSusteren on Fox News' On the Record:
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN(host): All right, let me ask this -- let me -- let me ask you aquestion. Because when we go back to this without the sort of whether thestatute is constitutional or not or whatever it is and that's going to bebattled out and has created quite a fire, I guess.
I'mactually trying to figure out how to solve the problem. When we started thisinterview with you you're saying it's a horrible problem. Obviously, Iunderstand that you think the statue doesn't help but if it's a horribleproblem it means that you haven't gotten a grip on it yet. You need somethingelse.
Sowhat do you need -- what do you see as the solution to the illegal immigrationproblem in your county?
DUPNIK:Well, I think we need -- we need two things. We need substantially moreassistance from the federal government. It's their responsibility. And we needdesperately, reform in the area of immigration. You know right now we have anumber of magnets that we ignore, that are attracting people across this borderand we're not really doing anything about it, substantially.
Forexample, I've been a critic of the schools. We have one school district here inTucson, Arizona that has four out of ten students who are illegal. Yet, theschools have no choice but to educate illegal aliens. [FoxNews, On the Record, 4/30/2010, via Nexis]
Dupnik SupportedArizona Immigration Law After Removal Of Profiling Provision. From the August 11,2010, edition of Fox News' America Live:
DUPNIK: As a matter of fact, when the law wasfirst passed, I was one of the most vocal opponents. And there was such an uproar that a few days later, the legislature met in special session andchanged the law, so that no longer are Hispanics --are we being pressured to profile Hispanics,which the original law would have caused us to do.
KELLY:So you don't have any problem with the law as itwas amended, then, from the sound of it.
DUPNIK: I don't have any problem with it now. [Fox News, America Live, 8/11/10]
Jim Hightower's Facebook entry yesterday provides a little perspective in regard to the move to the right that both parties have undergone in recent years. Since the Reagan era, we've basically gone from a left vs right dialogue to a right vs righter one and it's becoming apparent that the actual left... call them Progressives, Liberals, whatever... have nowhere to go as far as the two major parties are concerned.
Many of them reacted to this marginalization and lack of representation last November election by simply staying home for which they were roundly criticized by a the leading lights of a Democratic party that in the 1960s would have been seen as hard right, the general thrust being that they should vote Democrat... even if the Democrats no longer represent them or their interests and indeed often malign and marginalize them as effectively as any Republican group... solely to keep Republicans from being elected.
That might be politically expedient to a degree if you subscribe to one of the "lesser of two evils" or the "something... no matter how unsubstantial or ambiguous it might be... is always better than nothing" schools of political activism but it does little to bring about any kind of economic or social equity nor does it do anything to stop or even slow the flow of crap rolling downhill on a daily basis, while the wealth and power flow upward.
One of the real touchy spots for the center/right Democrats that now dominate the party seems to be that you should hold Mr. Obama pretty much inviolate in terms of his support for the corporate plutocracy as evidenced by the huge number of Wall Street Mafia he's appointed to his inner circle and his basic refusal to actually engage the corporatocracy on all fronts with anything more than a smattering of flailing about with a wet noodle.
Mr. Hightower's take on his latest nod to the corporate and Wall Street vampires:
When folks look at the Washington power game to see whose voices are not being heard (much less heeded) in national policy making, very few come to the conclusion that Wall Street and corporate CEOs are the ones getting shorted.
Yet, this seems to be the bizarre conclusion of Barack Obama, who has been going way out of his way in recent weeks to show an unseemly level of presidential love for America's corporate powers. So concerned is Obama about strengthening big business' iron grip on Washington that he's creating a special spot for these moneyed elites right inside the White House.
Excuse me, but these guys already ooze power, using their ocean of electioneering and lobbying cash to push their private profiteering agenda over the public interest. Workers, the unemployed, the middle class, the poor - where's their designated power seat in the White House?
Nonetheless, CEOs are the ones getting an inside man. He is ?ber-corporatist Bill Daley, who poses as a Democrat. But let's check his pedigree. Daley, now a top executive at Wall Street giant JP Morgan Chase, previously was Washington lobbyist for SBC, the telecommunications conglomerate. Also, as Bill Clinton's commerce secretary, Daley was the guy who hung NAFTA around our necks.
More recently, this corporate operative chided the White House for even attempting to reform America's disastrous healthcare system, not mentioning that he's on the board of drug giant Merck. As a Wall Street honcho, Daley also fought Obama's effort to rein-in the banksters, even opposing the creation of an agency to protect us consumers from big bank greed.
So here's a Democratic President who's now hugging the corporate greedheads who're knocking down America's majority. What's wrong with this picture? And still, they wonder why people are cynical.
As I've said for a while now, my own yardstick for determining who gets my vote is based more on the Populist vs Corporatist concept but I'm sure everyone has their own opinions as to an "ism" that best reflects their views on how to fix America. There is no law that says that you HAVE to vote for someone in the big 2 nor is there any law that says you HAVE to vote for the lesser of two evils.
I'm a Populist... and right now there is no Populist party and very few true Populists... as opposed to various Tea party types who have usurped the word and spun it into something that doesn't even resemble actual Populism... ever wind up on ballots.
I keep hoping that we'll manage to change that and actually get a movement going eventually but right now... faced with another round of "at least he/she's better than the other guy" and "anything to keep Brand X from being elected", I'll be looking for a candidate with a proven track record of actually standing up to the corporatists because I firmly believe a corporate plutocracy to be a bigger threat to our way of life than anything from the outside.
If I can't find one, I too may just stay home next year and let the right of center and the right of right duke it out among themselves and wait for the rest of the American people to get as fed up with the whole damned bunch as I am.
President Obama's call for more civility didn't impress the Anchor Baby, who found something last night to fling poo at.[...]
Read The Full Article:
Nothing could illustrate the difference between "what is" and "what should be" as the two speeches yesterday, one by Sarah Palin illustrating the partisan small-minded approach and the other Obama’s universally respected and well-received compassionate call for a more civil tone.
Palin made Obama seem bigger and more statesman-like, and for that, she has done us all a service. The trouble is that there’s a small group of ultra-conservatives who get outsized media coverage and for whom Palin speaks. And it isn’t the violent rhetoric, bad as that is, that’s most dangerous (there is no direct link to this troubled mass murderer.) It’s the "Obama is illegitimate, and so is the federal government" strain of ultra-conservatism.
That anyone in this day and age, after governors in his birthplace of Hawaii have said otherwise, can still think that Obama was not born in the U.S. attests to the distance the fringe has to go to reach the center of politics in this country. That anyone can claim with a straight face that he’s a socialist or a closet Muslim or any of the other slurs that routinely make the rounds speaks to the problem that is inappropriate political rhetoric, one that seeks to delegitimize the president of the United States.
Palin speaks to that fringe group, and while she’s got their undying loyalty, she’s lost everyone else. Why does that matter? Because as long as the media obsessively covers every one of her pugnacious tweets, the Dark Side is part of the national conversation. Her ability to inject herself into that conversation (as if yesterday was "all about her") is on display, but that’s hardly the stuff of leadership.
And until I see Palin change, I don’t see things getting much better – except for one thing. As the economy improves, the mood of the public will improve with it. You can already see that in Obama’s poll numbers. And the economy (not Obama, not Palin) remains the most important factor in politics.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who has long argued that his indictment on money laundering charges was politically motivated, said on the "Today Show" this morning that his conviction was political, too.
"I was tried in the most liberal county in the state of Texas and, indeed, in the United States," he said, referring to Travis County, the home of Austin. DeLay and his lawyers had tried to get his trial moved to a different, more conservative county, to no avail.
"The foreman of the jury was a Greenpeace activist," DeLay went on. "So, I'm not criticizing the jury. The point is this is a political campaign."
During the trial, DeLay told reporters he trusted the jury to acquit him, saying liberals are more empathetic. "I know them like they're my brothers and sisters," he said.
The charges stem from the 2002 statehouse elections. DeLay's state PAC collected $190,000 in corporate donations that cycle, which it donated to the RNC. The RNC, in turn, donated a total of $190,000 to seven Republican statehouse candidate hand-picked by Delay's PAC. Corporate donations for political campaigns are illegal in Texas.
DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, also appeared on the show and revealed a bit of his appeal strategy. DeGuerin said he would use the Citizens United Supreme Court case, which legalized direct corporate donations in federal elections. But he also said that the money wasn't corporate, anyway.
DeLay was indicted in 2005, three years after the election. The then-district attorney, Ronnie Earle, had to use multiple grand juries before he won an indictment against DeLay, which DeLay says is proof that the charges are flimsy and politically motivated.
"This was a political prosecutiion," DeGuerin said. "He was prosecuted because he was so successful in bringing about redistricting in Texas."
The prosecutors "made the jury hate politicians," he said.
The seven state house candidates in 2002 won, giving Republicans the state legislature and allowing a pro-Republican redistricting orchestrated by DeLay. The redistricting, in turn, sent more Texas Republicans to the U.S. House, strengthening DeLay's power there.