08/18/2010 archive

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Glenn Greenwald: What political courage looks like

The toxic right-wing campaign to impose a Muslim-free zone around Ground Zero intensified today, while Democrats — following in the cowardly footsteps of Senate Majority “Leader” Harry Reid, whose book is one of the most ironically titled in history — ran faster and faster away from the controversy.  New York Governor David Paterson made it known  that he wants to meet with Park 51’s developers to encourage them to move to a new site.  One Democratic official, Rep. Michael Arcuri of New York, actually attacked his GOP challenger, Richard Hanna, for having bravely broken with his own party to support the project; Arcuri’s Gingrich-replicating attacks caused Hannah, one of the few Republicans in the nation to have defended Park 51, to reverse position by arguing today that it should move.  And it is hard to imagine anyone surpassing Rep. Anthony Weiner in the cowardice department after the unbelievably vapid, incoherent letter he issued, ostensibly setting forth his views on this matter (stringing together words randomly chosen from the dictionary would likely create more meaningful sentences than the ones Weiner wrote).

Aside from Michael Bloomberg’s impassioned, principled speech  in defense of Park 51 — and, if one wants to be generous about it, Barack Obama’s initial, voluntary defense of the religious freedom values at stake — there have been very few commendable acts in this dispute.  Until now.

Joan Walsh: Dr. Laura’s pity party

The angry radio quitter is another right-winger who misunderstands the First Amendment and loves playing victim

So Dr. Laura Schlessinger told CNN’s Larry King Tuesday night that she’s giving up her radio show, after being criticized for an on-air flameout in which she abused a black caller and used the word “nigger” 11 times. “I want to regain my First Amendment rights,” she told King. “I want to be able to say what’s on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors. I’m sort of done with that.”

Tom DeLay Will Not Face Federal Criminal Charges

Only if You’re A Republican

Transcript available here


“It’s a sad day for America when one of the most corrupt members to ever walk the halls of Congress gets a free pass. As we continue the work of building a Washington that is worthy of the American people, the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute Mr. DeLay for his actions sends exactly the wrong message to current and future members. The fact that Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney (R-OH) and former Interior official J. Steven Griles are the only three people who went to prison for one of the worst corruption scandals in congressional history is shocking. The Hammer belongs in the slammer. Mr. DeLay still has crimes to answer for in Texas – generally not considered the best place to be a criminal defendant.”

h/t Crooks & Liars

On This Day in History: August 18

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

August 18 is the 230th day of the year (231st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 135 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified when the Tennessee General Assembly, by a one-vote margin became the thirty-sixth state legislature to ratify the proposed amendment. On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the amendment’s adoption.

It took 70 years of struggle by women of the Suffrage Movement headed by Susan B. Anthony to get this amendment passed. Gail Collins’ NYT Op-Ed recount of the story puts it in great perspective:

That great suffragist and excellent counter, Carrie Chapman Catt, estimated that the struggle had involved 56 referendum campaigns directed at male voters, plus “480 campaigns to get Legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters, 47 campaigns to get constitutional conventions to write woman suffrage into state constitutions; 277 campaigns to get State party conventions to include woman suffrage planks, 30 campaigns to get presidential party campaigns to include woman suffrage planks in party platforms and 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses.”

As Ms. Catt tell is and to no one’s surprise the Senate was the biggest obstacle, so the Suffragettes decided to take it to the states and amend all the state constitutions, one by one.

The constitutional amendment that finally did pass Congress bore Anthony’s name. It came up before the House of Representatives in 1918 with the two-thirds votes needed for passage barely within reach. One congressman who had been in the hospital for six months had himself carted to the floor so he could support suffrage. Another, who had just broken his shoulder, refused to have it set for fear he’d be too late to be counted. Representative Frederick Hicks of New York had been at the bedside of his dying wife but left at her urging to support the cause. He provided the final, crucial vote, and then returned home for her funeral.

The ratification stalled short of one state when it came to a vote in the Tennessee Legislature on August 18, 1920 and was short one vote to ratify when a young state legislator got a note from his mother:

Ninety years ago this month, all eyes turned to Tennessee, the only state yet to ratify with its Legislature still in session. The resolution sailed through the Tennessee Senate. As it moved on to the House, the most vigorous opposition came from the liquor industry, which was pretty sure that if women got the vote, they’d use it to pass Prohibition. Distillery lobbyists came to fight, bearing samples.

“Both suffrage and anti-suffrage men were reeling through the hall in an advanced state of intoxication,” Carrie Catt reported.

The women and their allies knew they had a one-vote margin of support in the House. Then the speaker, whom they had counted on as a “yes,” changed his mind.

(I love this moment. Women’s suffrage is tied to the railroad track and the train is bearing down fast when suddenly. …)

Suddenly, Harry Burn, the youngest member of the House, a 24-year-old “no” vote from East Tennessee, got up and announced that he had received a letter from his mother telling him to “be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt.”

“I know that a mother’s advice is always the safest for a boy to follow,” Burn said, switching sides.

We celebrate Women’s Suffrage Day on Aug. 26, which is when the amendment officially became part of the Constitution. But I like Aug. 18, which is the day that Harry Burn jumped up in the Tennessee Legislature, waving his mom’s note from home. I told the story once in Atlanta, and a woman in the audience said that when she was visiting her relatives in East Tennessee, she had gone to put a yellow rose on Harry Burn’s grave.

I got a little teary.

“Well, actually,” she added, “it was because I couldn’t find his mother.”

“American Muslims Were Not Behind the Terrorist Plot”

I am really getting disgusted with the cowardice and bigotry that is being demonstrated by our politicians and news media. This exchange on CNN between news anchor, Don Lemon and Eboo Patel, Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Corps revealed the media bias against the American Muslim community.

   Lemon: Don’t you think it’s a bit different considering what happened on 9/11? And the people have said there’s a need for it in Lower Manhattan, so that’s why it’s being built there. What about 10, 20 blocks . . . Midtown Manhattan, considering the circumstances behind this? That’s not understandable?

   Patel: In America, we don’t tell people based on their race or religion or ethnicity that they are free in this place, but not in that place —

   Lemon: [interrupting] I understand that, but there’s always context, Mr. Patel . . . this is an extraordinary circumstance. You understand that this is very heated. Many people lost their loved ones on 9/11 —

   Patel: Including Muslim Americans who lost their loved ones. . . .

   Lemon: Consider the context here. That’s what I’m talking about.

   Patel: I have to tell you that this seems a little like telling black people 50 years ago: you can sit anywhere on the bus you like – just not in the front.

   Lemon: I think that’s apples and oranges – I don’t think that black people were behind a Terrorist plot to kill people and drive planes into a building. That’s a completely different circumstance.

   Patel: And American Muslims were not behind the terrorist plot either.


Prime Time

No Rachel last night which is ok, Chris does a fine job.  Dave still in repeats.


Jon has Dick Armey (I can’t even type it without laughing, I wonder how Jon will do), Stephen Barry Levine.  Alton does ‘Power Bars’.  Tears of a Sea Cow (oh the You Manatee).

Well, somebody had to say it.

Is it just me or does Tuesday night TV really suck?  I should join a book club.