You have an angry subset of Republicans who feel unfairly maligned by a society that's changing in ways they don't fully buy into. It's a strain in American political life that's always been around and perhaps it's because of the nature of America itself --- it's been a dynamic culture from the beginning with lots of immigrants and second chances and social mobility. And there have been sweeping social changes in the past few decades, more changes than a lot of people are able to cope with. This group is fairly represented by Palin, with her "sharp" and "forceful" call to fight for their beliefs and dissent from the consensus. She didn't make any friends among the elites of both parties yesterday, but I stand by my belief that she solidified herself in the leadership of the aggrieved Americans who cannot accept the legitimacy of their political opposition.
Obama, on the other hand, is by nature a mediator and a conciliator which is why he is effective as a president calling for national healing (and less successful at every day hand to hand political combat.) He's the embodiment of all the social changes that freak out the right and always presented himself as one who can transcend them. But they don't want the differences to be "transcended", they want them to disappear. On the other side, a whole lot of other people are desperate to see him to succeed at that and have placed their hopes in his skills to work it through. They embrace the change --- and hate the controversy [...]
I doubt this debate will ever truly end. This tension, which becomes more and less acute depending on the times, is a defining feature of our country. For better or worse, those two speeches were equally representative of America.
"But you can get all the latest information on this event, this .. a must-go-to event with this Chris Horner. People will learn ... it will be fascinating. We met with Chris Horner last week, 20 members of Congress. It takes a lot to wow members of Congress after a while. This wowed them. And I am going to have materials for people when they leave.
"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people -- we the people -- are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States and that's why I want everyone to come out and hear. So go to bachmann.house.gov and you can get all the information." [pauses reflect pauses, not omitted text]
For Taranto, the context makes it all 100 percent non-violent. What the context actually does is make it even more violent.
The U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes raising the country's debt limit even though failure to do so could hurt America's international standing and push up borrowing costs, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.
Some 71 percent of those surveyed oppose increasing the borrowing authority, the focus of a brewing political battle over federal spending. Only 18 percent support an increase.
This should embolden the teabaggers looking to block raising the debt ceiling. But if you want to see how confused the public is:
Only 24 percent say the country can afford to cut back on education spending, a likely Republican target, and 21 percent support cuts to law enforcement.
With the Pentagon fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 51 percent supported cutbacks to military spending.
Less than half, 45 percent, support an expected Republican effort to pare environmental enforcement.
Some 53 percent support cutting the budgets of financial regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, in spite of the widespread consensus that a lax regulatory atmosphere contributed to the devastating financial crisis of 2007-2009.
And 47 percent support cutbacks to national parks, which were shuttered for several weeks during the budget battles of 1995 and 1996.
Expensive benefit programs that account for nearly half of all federal spending enjoy widespread support, the poll found. Only 20 percent supported paring Social Security retirement benefits while a mere 23 supported cutbacks to the Medicare health-insurance program.
Some 73 percent support scaling back foreign aid and 65 percent support cutting back on tax collection.
So ... no more debt! But don't cut anything from the budget, either. Except for foreign aid, because that $10 billion will make all the difference in the world in a multi-trillion dollar budget.
Scientists at Cornell University's Computational Synthesis Lab are developing a commercially-available "3D food printer" that would allow users to "print" meals using "raw food 'inks'" inside syringes. Sounds delicious!
Cooking is so hard, what with "ingredients" and "recipes" and "having to leave your house to go shopping." So thank goodness for the fab@home project, an open-source collaboration on 3D printer technology that's developing a "food printer" intended for home use.
Who needs to cook with real ingredients when you can get anything you need (or WILL be able to get it) from a syringe?
Now if this was being sold as a NASA project for long-range space exploration, then ... maybe. But it's not.
In the "Where Are They Now" of ex-Bell, California city officials, former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo is working as a parking lot attendant, and three other former officials are trying to get the city to pay their legal bills -- after they allegedly used public funds to inflate their salaries.
Some of the officials in the city made up to $96,000 a year for part-time elected positions -- 20 times the national average for a city Bell's size.
But three of those officials seem to think that allegedly taking money from the city does not disqualify them from the perks of holding public office. Mayor Oscar Hernandez, Councilwoman Teresa Jacobo, and former Councilman George Cole are arguing that the city should pay their legal bills in a lawsuit brought by the state's Attorney General. Cole and Jacobo want the same perk applied in a criminal case by the L.A. County DA.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
The legal papers were filed by lawyers for the trio in response to the attorney general's lawsuit. The current and former council members' lawyers insist that despite claims their clients took large salaries for little or no work, they did nothing legally wrong and are entitled to have Bell cover the costs.
The effort to get the city to foot the bills comes as state auditors have indicated the city's expenses are already outrunning its income, leaving Bell little alternative but to cut services and employees.
And then there's Rizzo, who was charged with 53 different counts after making nearly $800,000 a year. Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Rizzo is now employed as a parking lot attendant at the International Surfing Museum.
Lopez writes he went down to the museum to check it out:
"You look famous," I said to him.
Do you surf?" I asked, and I think this is where the relationship went south.
Rizzo gave me a long hard stare. Perhaps it was his way of suggesting it was just as likely that Jabba the Hutt was a surfer.
Read the full report here (it's worth clicking just for the picture).
All eight officials charged with misusing public funds pleaded not guilty in October.
Scenes from last night's memorial in Tucson:[...]
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Apparently Chris Matthews doesn't follow any of Media Matters reporting or what David Neiwert and others have been documenting here at Crooks and Liars for some time now since he appeared to be completely unaware that there have been numerous assassination attempts where the perpetrators were fans of Glenn Beck.
Heaven forbid that might entail some time... you know... reading and researching a bit instead of talking over his guests or repeating the latest Villager common wisdom talking points of the day.
During a discussion about Sarah Palin's latest attempt to feign victim-hood to deflect criticism of her crosshairs map, Media Matters' David Brock pointed out to Matthews that yes, words do sometimes have real world consequences when it comes to riling up mentally unstable people who take to heart the type of eliminationist rhetoric we've seen from the likes of Palin and others, and in these cases, Glenn Beck.
BROCK: But this is not street theater, as you know.
Glenn Beck himself has been responsible for three thwarted assassination attempts this year. And Sarah Palin --
MATTHEWS: How is he responsible for them?
BROCK: Well, you want to know what they are?
MATTHEWS: You said it.
So, he burned Nancy Pelosi in effigy on his set. He tried to poison her with a chalice. OK. Some three weeks later, somebody tried to firebomb Nancy Pelosi`s house. That guy`s mother went on television and said he gets all his ideas from FOX News.
Do you know about Senator Patty Murray and the death threat that she got?
MATTHEWS: No. Go ahead.
BROCK: OK. It`s recorded. The guy says after the health care vote, he says, you have a target on your back and I can accomplish what I want to accomplish with one bullet.
He`s tried, convicted, and in the sentencing phase, his cousin writes in for leniency and she describes in a very chilling memo -- it`s on our Web site -- that he was slowly drawn into Glenn Beck`s world. And she portrays the guy, the attempted assassin, Charlie Wilson, as a victim of Beck.
And, number three, which you probably do know about, this liberal foundation in San Francisco was targeted by a gunman, Byron Williams, in June. The shooter gave jailhouse interviews -- and we published them -- and he says Glenn Beck is a schoolteacher on television and points to specific episodes of the Glenn Becks show that inspired him to do it.
MATTHEWS: Oh, God.
Maybe someone can ask Chris Matthews or his staff to spend a little time taking a look at Media Matters site before he has another one of their contributors on as a guest again.
Full transcript here.
There's a lot more excess to work through in the housing market. It still is unfair that the bankers who organized and profited from the excesses are recovering so quickly while everyone else is stuck with the bill. The TARP program that rescued the bankers as well as the banks was a huge mistake and probably has a lot to do with the current public position on the national debt. Sure it's crazy, but Washington only has itself to blame for the poor bailout that nobody quite understands even today. It's asking a lot for struggling families to care when they just watched the bankers get away with their excesses.
Banks seized more than a million U.S. homes in one year for the first time last year, despite a slowdown in the last few months as questions around foreclosure processing arose, a leading firm said Thursday.
Banks foreclosed on 69,847 properties in December, bringing the year's total to 1.05 million, topping the prior record of 918,000 homes seized in 2009, real estate data firm RealtyTrac said.
The number of foreclosure filings, which includes default notices, auctions and repossessions, was a record 2.9 million last year, including 257,747 filings in December.
In the aftermath of the horror in Arizona, all major public voices are united in their absolute, vehement condemnation of violence. Almost all minor voices, including every blogger known and unknown, join in the chorus. It seems that everyone, from the most famous and powerful personages to lowly bloggers offering their thoughts to a world which cares nothing whatsoever about what they say, profoundly opposes violence. If all such people -- which would appear to include all people -- were genuinely sincere in their proclamations (and they may well be sincere, in the manner that people are sincere in their announcement of deeply-held beliefs reflecting the intellectual and moral rigor of sayings blazoned on greeting cards or found in fortune cookies), and, of much greater significance, if they matched their actions to any measurable extent to what they insist is a profound opposition to violence, we would certainly inhabit a paradise on Earth.
You may have observed that we do not. In making this statement, I assume you have not been asleep or unconscious for the entirety of your lifetime. You need have been awake and observant for only a few brief moments to appreciate the charnel house that humanity has made of this planet for most of its presence on this cloud of dust.
As is true with regard to every subject of importance, and as is always true when a subject becomes the focus of our "national discourse," almost everyone who repeatedly and passionately denounces violence is, as my title has it, a goddamned liar. On this occasion, the lies are all-encompassing, and they extend over the entirety of the political spectrum, from craven conservatives to peabrained progressives.
It is only proper to begin with the Liar-in-Chief, the chief executive of the Death State -- who is, he reminds us, a public servant and therefore must be "good and important," as he instructed us last evening. Take a moment to appreciate the hideousness of that moment, for it captures the House of Horror quality of this sickening business. In speaking of the awful death of a nine-year-old child, Obama presumes to read the dead girl's mind:
She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.Thus does the murdering leader of the Death State use a dead child to burnish the image of the State itself and, which is undoubtedly more critical from Obama's perspective, to burnish the image of those who direct the Death State's operations. If you dare to think that those who lead the Death State and implement its policies engage in murder, conquest, plunder, and brutalization without end, that is only because you are "cynical" and engaging in "vitriol." Our leaders are "good and important": do you want to disagree with a murdered child?
[A]t a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized ? at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do ? it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.It is almost impossible to describe accurately the distance between these statements and the relevant facts of Obama's record. Just this moment, as I was wondering how I might capture the enormous scope of the lies involved, I remembered a passage I wrote on the occasion of Obama's acclaimed speech on race. Very few people agreed with my assessment then; I suspect a few more people might agree now, but not many more.
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath. For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.
So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.
But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives ? to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.
Almost every politician lies, and most politicians lie repeatedly. Yet in one sense, Obama's speech is exceptional, rare and unique -- but not for any of the reasons offered by Obama's uncritical, mindless adulators. It is exceptional for this reason: it is rare that a candidate will announce in such stark, comprehensive terms that he will lie about every fact of moment, about every aspect of our history that affects the crises of today and that has led to them, about everything that might challenge the mythological view of America. But that is what Obama achieved with this speech. It may be a remarkable achievement -- a remarkable and detestable one, and one that promises endless destruction in the future, both here and abroad.In brief: when he was a candidate, Obama announced (on multiple occasions to be sure, but this was an especially notable one) that he would lie about everything. And so he does.
Obama and his administration claim the "right" to murder anyone in the world, wherever he or she may be, for whatever reason they choose -- or for no reason at all. Obama and his administration recognize no upper limit to the number of people they can murder in this manner: they can murder as many people as they wish. And they claim there is nothing at all that may impede their exercise of this "right."From The New York Times, December 7, 2010:
This is the game entire. Understand this: once Obama and his administration have claimed this, there is nothing left to argue about. They can murder you -- and they can murder anyone else at all. What in the name of anything you hold holy remains to be "debated" once a vile, damnable "right" of this kind has been claimed?
This is a war crime [under the Nuremberg Principles]: "murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory..."
It is also a crime against humanity: "Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population..."
Under Principle VII, all those who are complicit in these crimes are also guilty.
A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit that had sought to block the American government from trying to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a United States citizen and Muslim cleric in hiding overseas who is accused of helping to plan attacks by Al Qaeda?s branch in Yemen.Mr. Jaffer is a master of understatement. This policy, and it appears it shall remain the policy of the United States government in the future, places the executive branch beyond all law, beyond all challenge, and represents the triumph of absolute power.
The ruling, which clears the way for the Obama administration to continue to try to kill Mr. Awlaki, represents a victory in its efforts to shield from judicial review so-called targeted killings, one of its most striking counterterrorism policies.
In an 83-page opinion, Judge John D. Bates said Mr. Awlaki?s father, the plaintiff, had no standing to file the lawsuit on behalf of his son. He also said decisions about targeted killings in such circumstances were a ?political question? for executive branch officials to make ? not judges.
Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the decision ?a profound mistake? that would dangerously expand presidential power. The A.C.L.U. and the Center for Constitutional Rights represented Mr. Awlaki?s father, Nasser al-Awlaki, in the matter without compensation.
?If the court?s ruling is correct, the government has unreviewable authority to carry out the targeted killing of any American, anywhere, whom the president deems to be a threat to the nation,? Mr. Jaffer said. ?It would be difficult to conceive of a proposition more inconsistent with the Constitution, or more dangerous to American liberty.?
In October, the City Commission in Traverse City, MI unanimously passed an ordinance that made it illegal to fire or deny housing to someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Traverse City became the 18th city in that area of Michigan to pass such a law. But some local anti-gay activists mounted a vociferous campaign against the ordinance, and in particular, against City Commissioner Jim Carruthers, an openly gay man who introduced and advocated for the law. When it passed, Carruthers spoke out against the “violent, angry, ugly” e-mails he’d been receiving, but said “[t]hese to me are all reasons why we need to do this. There is so much hate and ignorance out there.”
Last week, a local anti-gay activist named Paul Nepote posted a video to his Facebook group, “Traverse City Opposing a Gay Agenda Ordinance,” showing men shooting a rifle at human-shaped targets, and added a comment: “I love this rifle!” In the wake of that posting, along with shocking violence against public officials in Arizona, Carruthers has gone public with deep concerns for his safety:
In an e-mail to his fellow city commissioners, local media, and the city police chief, Carruthers said:
“Considering what has taken place, I am going on record to say (as I have in the past) I personally as a political leader feel threatened by the extreme rhetoric that is being espoused by anti-gay hate groups in Traverse City toward people such as myself.”
“These people are unstable and I fear bad will come from them in the future,” he said. “I fear more and more for my personal safety with such hateful people in our midst.“
Nepote’s Facebook group is littered with epithets against “homosexual activists” who “SHOULD STAY OUT OF TRAVERSE CITY.” One post in November featured a picture of Carruthers, his address, and a note from Nepote: “KNOW THE OPPOSITION – Homosexual Activist.” He also posted a video in which Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly appears to call for the murder of gay activists who crashed a church service in California.
On his group’s page, Nepote also repeatedly bashes M?Lynn Hartwell, an openly gay woman and former Traverse City Human Rights Commissioner. Hartwell reports that, in the past, during campaigns to enact the human rights ordinance and during other local gay rights campaigns, the “outside of her house was vandalized twice…and two years ago she returned from vacation to find a bullet hole in the wall of her home.”
Police in Traverse City say there’s nothing they can do about the seemingly insinuated violence on Traverse City Opposing a Gay Agenda Ordinance’s Facebook page. Contacted by the Michigan Messenger, Nepote said Carruthers is “full of shit”: “If somebody was going to shoot him he’d be dead years ago.”
(HT: Michigan Messenger)
2010 gave us a lot to write about here at Firedoglake. From passing student loan reform, to covering the BP oil disaster, to elevating the national conversation around marijuana policy, FDL bloggers and diarists came through with amazing reporting and[...]
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I am here in Alexandria VA at an event being put on by FDIC to look at small business lending issues. Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke is a panelist as well as several members of Congress, bankers and of course, a representative from the U.S.[...]
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HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Second Amendment supports those of us who would control guns - and thus prevent the insane slaughter that compromises our security.
James Madison and the Founders of this nation would be enraged to see the Second Amendment being used to put guns in the hands of the Tucson shooter and so many others like him.
The debate over the violent hate-speak of Sarah "Lock & Load" Palin and her Foxist ilk is long overdue.
But so is a careful national reawakening to what the Second Amendment actually says:
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."