The United Kingdom celebrates nine years of an officially uncloseted military this year, and the Independent (UK) provides a glimpse of life since the ban was lifted. It isn't all roses and candles, but the transition seems to have gone much more[...]
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Allen Stanford, the Texas banker charged with orchestrating an $8 billion fraud, isn't too happy behind bars, it seems.
His attorney, the heavy-hitting criminal defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin, has filed papers calling conditions at the federal detention facility north of Houston where Stanford is being held "oppressive," and asking that the cricket-loving billionaire be moved.
DeGuerin notes that "during the hottest part of the summer, with outside temperatures of 100 degrees or more," Stanford is being held in a facility that was without air conditioning "for at least a week" during a recent power outage.
According to the filing, Stanford is housed in a single cell with as many as ten other men. "There are no windows for light or ventilation and the conditions are intolerable," the filing says.
The filing also notes that Stanford is unable to consult with his attorneys or review evidence at the facility, since most of the evidence is on computer files and the facility does not allow inmates to use computers.
No word on whether Stanford would also prefer that a larger menu of food options be made available to him.
Stanford has been in prison since June, after a judge ruled him a flight risk.
Politico is reporting that Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky will not seek a third term next year.
Bunning, one of that small but growing club of politicians to transition from earlier careers in sports or entertainment, was first elected in 1998 to Kentucky's Class 3 seat occupied previously by, among others, the legendary Henry Clay, 1860 presidential candidate John C. Breckinridge (briefly), and Vice President Alben Barkley.
Bunning's health and lucidity was first called into question more than five years ago after he apparently relied on a teleprompter during a debate in his 2004 re-election campaign, and a few months ago he used rather aggressive language in criticizing the leadership record of his fellow Republican senator from Kentucky, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Whatever the reasons, the Politico's Manu Raju and Josh Kraushaar say pressure was growing from within his party caucus to retire.
"Bunning has been under enormous pressure to step aside from senior Republicans in Washington, including from ... McConnell, who worried that the 77-year-old senator?s poor fundraising and rock-bottom poll numbers will ensure he loses reelection in 2010," they report. "But the senator had for months resisted overtures and became increasingly confrontational with McConnell, who learned about the news just moments before his announcement."
Not sure if this news will compel Nate to bump KY from second to first in his Senate race rankings, but we'll have to leave that to him to clarify.
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Howard Kurtz this weekend was only the latest media critic to pile on Lou Dobbs for his promotion of the Birthers' conspiracy theories on CNN. Like nearly everyone else, Kurtz dismissed the coverage of the story as "ludicrous," and his guests pointed out how profoundly irresponsible it was.
Indeed, Kurtz was a bit late to the story, as Jamison Foser observed:
Well, by the time Kurtz got around to addressing the issue on today's Reliable Sources, CNN President Jonathan Klein had weighed in, calling Dobbs' birtherism "legitimate" and denouncing Dobbs' critics as "people with a partisan point of view from one extreme." (Klein had earlier indicated that the story was dead and the birthers' claims baseless; his flip-flop raises the question of who is in charge -- Klein or Dobbs.)
... Had Kurtz addressed the Dobbs issue last week, when he should have, he might have been able to get away with not coming back to it. But by waiting until today, he put himself in a position where he had to either address Klein's comments, or shy away from criticizing the boss. He chose to keep quiet about Klein. And so we learned from Kurtz's unwillingness to criticize Klein that he likes having the job of media critic more than he likes doing the job of media critic.
As Eric Boehlert observes, the whole dustup has been overall a good thing:
But there was some good news last week, and it came from watching Dobbs' slow motion train wreck unfold on the airwaves. It came from seeing how eagerly -- how convincingly -- the birther claims were debunked, not only online by progressives, but within the mainstream press as well -- the same mainstream press that's often reluctant to show up high-profile media players such as Dobbs, no matter how badly it has botched the facts. And let's not forget conservatives, who dismissed and ridiculed the birther claims.
In the case of the birthers, though, Dobbs' corporate media colleagues were utterly relentless in their fact-checking. I still don't think Dobbs knows what hit him. And frankly, I'm not sure I've ever seen such a well-deserved media pile-on. It's hard to see how Dobbs' career survives the humiliation.
Of course, it's always dangerous when hateful and cuckoo conspiracy theories are ushered into the mainstream and right-wing critics are given a platform to peddle their hateful whodunits about Obama's nationality the way Dobbs did. But, in this case, I almost think it was worth running that risk in order to watch the tidal wave of media disapproval that Dobbs' fearmongering unleashed.
This is all true. It certainly is a heartening sign that Dobbs is finally facing this tidal wave for attempting to present as mainstream absurd rhetoric from the fringes of the far right -- because he has been getting away with doing precisely that for years.
Most of the time, this has involved his rantings about immigration, including his false claims that immigrants were bringing leprosy across the border and that they intended to take back the American Southwest for Mexico. As Alex Koppelman noted at the time, there was a consistent pattern even back then of Dobbs drawing on beyond-dubious far-right fringe sources for his "reporting."
Meanwhile, Dobbs has been overly generous in his dealings with right-wing extremists on his show. He's hosted Glenn Spencer of American Border Patrol without explaining to his audience that ABP is a longtime SPLC-designated hate group, and for good reason: they are unmistakably racist and white supremacist. He also hosted many leaders of the Minutemen movement (most notably Chris Simcox) on his programs over the years while hailing them as "a neighborhood watch" -- though he noticeably has failed to report it when the evidence becomes violently manifest that it is not anyone's idea of a civic-minded organization. More recently, Dobbs was one of the many right-wing pundits who attacked the Department of Homeland Security for its warnings about right-wing extremists.
That Dobbs has been permitted to operate in this fashion without facing the consequences among his fellow journalists has been one of the real ongoing media scandals that no one in the media wants to write about. So now it's out in the open -- and about time.
MM has put together a page where you can chime in on CNN's Lou Dobbs problem. Go make yourself heard.
The afrosphere is very much abuzz with conversation about the arrest and release without charges of Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by the Cambridge Police Department. But, there are those who say this incident will be quickly forgotten and intra-color group relations will remain as they were before.
One of the main points that I would hope people would learn from this is that police treatment of Blacks depends on the the color of the "suspect" and NOT on the color of the officer. There is impunity for treating Blacks like "nigras" and that impunity is just as real regardless of the color of the police officer.
I suspect that Black officers face no extra reaction against them from "their community" when they participate in color-aroused abuse of Blacks because Black officer's most immediate "community" is the police department.
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and President Bill Clinton At one time, Blacks believed and whites feared that more Black cops would make a police force more understanding of Black people. But I think we (and whites) should have learned by now that, regardless of the skin color of the officer, one significant ROLE and objective of the police officer in society vis a vis Blacks is the same - repression and humiliation.
Meanwhile the risk any officer runs by engaging in this abusive and repressive behavior is the same regardless the skin color of the officer. They act with near absolute impunity. I'll use an economic analogy. When the price of tomatoes goes down, both Black and white people buy more tomatoes, because the impetus to purchase doesn't depend on the skin color of the customer, but on the price of the tomatoes. The "price" of abusing Black people is still nil, and it's still far less than the price of abusing white people under similar circumstances.
Black and white and Latino officers know this and they act accordingly. In fact society rewards them (with continued employment, raises and promotions) for abusing Black people. The Gates situation is a perfect example. There were Black police and white police on the scene and they all behaved like . . . police, in their role as repressor and humiliator of Blacks.
Some people say that because Black police participated, the situation cannot have occurred because of "race". They make this mistake first because they believe that skin color naturally binds people into a "race" that will all act and think in the same ways, while science has long since discovered that "race" does not exist and it never did.
People also focus on the skin color (what they call "race") of the officer, which is irrelevant to the potential for punishment of the officer.
One of the reasons it is important that we abandon this fallacious concept of "race" is that the belief in "race" causes us to make other fundamental scientific and intellectual errors, including the belief that because an officer and subject are from the same 'race', therefore there can be no "racism" in the interaction. However, everyone's treatment of everyone in American society can be color-aroused, color-motivated, color-determined, regardless of the skin color of the parties in question, be they the same or different.
That's what we should learn from Gates-gate; each interaction needs to be studied with no prejudgments to determine the role that skin color plays in the participants' treatment of one another.
One of the Senate GOP's top goals this cycle was to starve crazy Sen. Jim Bunning of any reelection money, thus forcing him into retirement. Mission accomplished.
Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky says he will not run for a third term in 2010, citing a lack of campaign money.
In a statement issued by his office Monday, Bunning blamed fellow Senate Republicans for doing, quote: "everything in their power to dry up my fundraising."
For Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and NRSC Chair John Cornyn, this is undoubtedly a huge victory, moving the seat from a lean Democratic pickup opportunity to an even toss-up. But in the process, they publicly humiliated a colleague.
There's a real easy way for Bunning to get back at McConnell and the rest of his tormentors -- quit the seat early. Sure, his replacement would be appointed by the state's Democratic governor, but that would certainly be fitting retribution. And it's not an original idea. In fact, it was Bunning who first floated it.
The Kentucky Republican suggested that possible scenario at a campaign fundraiser for him on Capitol Hill earlier this week, according to three sources who asked not to be identified because of the politically sensitive nature of Bunning’s remarks.
The implication, they said, was that Bunning would allow Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, to appoint his replacement — a move that could give Democrats the 60 votes they need to block Republican filibusters in the Senate.
"I would get the last laugh. Don’t forget Kentucky has a Democrat governor," one of the sources quoted Bunning as saying.
Do it, Jim. Get the last laugh. Make it epic.
According to the AP, Sen. Baucus' Senate Finance committee will not include a public option in its bill. [...]
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Today, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) introduced a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s statehood. The resolution also proclaims the state as President Obama’s birthplace, a point the Plum Line’s Greg Sargent noted may ?put House GOPers who are flirting with birtherism in a jam.” This afternoon on the House floor, Abercrombie spoke of his measure and specifically noted that Obama had been born in Hawaii. “It’s also going to be the birthday in a week or so of President Obama, born in Kapiolani hospital just down the road from where I lived,” he said. Just as the presiding chair of the House, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), was about to declare the resolution passed by voice vote, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) stood and objected:
BACHMANN: Mr. Speaker? I object to the vote on the grounds that a quorum is not present and make a point of order that a quorum is not present. [...]
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): Further procedings on this motion will be postponed.
H. Res. 593, a resolution “recognizing and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the entry of Hawaii into the Union as the 50th State,” contains this provision: “Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii”
You can draw a pretty clear line in the sand from when Specter went from sorta, kinda Democrat to OMG totally! Democrat, and it coincides with the date that Sestak announced his challenge.
The real question is how Specter will behave if and when he wins the primary challenge, and the pressure from the left is off. This is especially so now that some polling shows Republican Pat Toomey, who forced Specter from the GOP in the first place, competitive against him in the general election.
Indeed, Specter appears to be just as capable of reacting to pressure from his right as to his left. In reviewing Specter's votes, I noticed that there was also something of a breaking point while he was still a Republican. In the first part of the year, after Barack Obama had carried his state by 10 points last November, he was voting with Democrats quite often, including on key measures like the stimulus package. But once the primary pressure from Toomey had begun to heat up -- as emphasized by a shocking March 25th Quinnipiac poll that put Specter 14 points behind his Republican rival -- he had become quite conservative, voting with Democrats only 16 percent of the time in his final month or so as a Republican.
There's no doubt that Specter is the consummate political survivor, doing and saying whatever is necessary to live to fight another day. There's no principle he won't compromise, no ideal he won't toss aside, if it helps him achieve victory in the next election.
The thing to remember throughout this cycle is that this is likely to be Specter's last election. If he wins reelection, he'll be 86 when his next term is up. So how will he act when he no longer has electoral pressures to keep him loyal to the Democratic Party? The charts above have the likely answer -- his Democratic loyalty scores will be somewhere between 58-69 percent. He became a solid Republican when threatened from the Right, and he's now a solid Democrat when threatened from the left. But when all's said and done, and he's not feeling the pressure, he becomes a Lieberman-esque thorn on his party-of-the-moment's side.
This is the decision Pennsylvania Democrats will have to make -- do they want an unpricpled Lieberman-style hack who will support Democratic priorities a bit over half the time, or someone more dependable?