09/29/2010 archive

The New ‘Enemies’ List

Now that Peter Daou and Politico have thoughfully provided us with an Obama Administration ‘Enemies List’ and I have gotten over my embarrassment at not being famous and influential enough to be on it (yet), I thought I’d share one of its prominent members, John Aravosis’, reaction-

(E)ven when you say “the blogs helped cause the President’s problems” what does that mean?  The Obama administration and its apologists would have you believe that the liberal blogs have an almost svengali-like power to trick our readers, and Democratic voters generally, into being disappointed with the President and Congress.  I’m not convinced that our readers are so stupid that they’d believe “lies.”  We could only get away with lying once or twice before our stories simply wouldn’t pan out, our predictions wouldn’t end up happening, and our readers would realize that we had no clue what was really going on in Washington politics.  Except we ended up being right.

On gay rights, Joe and I have an almost perfect track record of predicting everything the Obama administration and Democratic Congress were going to do on DADT, DOMA and ENDA, and ultimately, in predicting just how much trouble our community would be in as a result of the Democrats’ disinterest in our issues.

But the gay community isn’t alone.  Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU surely haven’t been wrong about their early warnings regarding Obama’s civil liberties policies.  And were environmentalists wrong to question whether Team Obama would act forcefully and quickly on global warming?  Have Latinos been wrong to worry that Obama wouldn’t keep his promise to pass immigration reform last year, and now this year?  Then there’s health care reform – yes, the President and the Congress did something, but not nearly what they were capable of doing with the majorities and the public support we gave them.

Perhaps the reason the President’s voters-turned-critics have influence, and perhaps the reason the President and the party are increasingly less popular, isn’t because we’re consistently wrong – but rather because we’re right.

And nothing makes you more hated by fools and liars than being right.

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.

Amy Goodman: FBI Raids and the Criminalization of Dissent

Early in the morning on Friday, Sept. 24, FBI agents in Chicago and Minnesota’s Twin Cities kicked in the doors of anti-war activists, brandishing guns, spending hours rifling through their homes. The FBI took away computers, photos, notebooks and other personal property. Residents were issued subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. It was just the latest in the ongoing crackdown on dissent in the U.S., targeting peace organizers as supporters of “foreign terrorist organizations.”

 Coleen Rowley knows about the FBI. She was a career special agent with the FBI who blew the whistle on the bureau’s failures in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. TIME magazine named her Person of the Year in 2002. A few days after the raids in her hometown of Minneapolis, she told me, “This is not the first time that you’ve seen this Orwellian turn of the war on terror onto domestic peace groups and social justice groups … we had that begin very quickly after 9/11, and there were Office of Legal Counsel opinions that said the First Amendment no longer controls the war on terror.” . . .

This is all happening while the Obama administration uses fear of terrorism to seek expanded authority to spy on Internet users, and as another scandal is brewing: The Justice Department also revealed this week that FBI agents regularly cheated on an exam testing knowledge of proper rules and procedures governing domestic surveillance. This is more than just a cheating scandal. It’s about basic freedoms at the core of our democracy, the abuse of power and the erosion of civil liberties.  

(my emphasis)

Glen Greenwald:WH messaging about its base

President Obama gave an interview to Rolling Stone and actually said this:


The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible. . . . .If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we’d better fight in this election.

(Greenwald’s emphasis)

This may be one of the most audaciously hilarious political statements I’ve read in quite some time.  The Holder Justice Department’s record on domestic civil rights enforcement is actually one of the few areas where there has been substantial improvement — and that’s a perfectly legitimate argument to make — but for Barack Obama to cite “civil liberties” as a reason why Democratic apathy is “just irresponsible,” and to claim with a straight face that this election will determine whether we’re “the kind of country that respects” them, is so detached from basic reality that I actually had to read this three or four times to make certain I hadn’t misunderstood it.  To summarize Obama’s apparent claim:  the Republicans better not win in the midterm election, otherwise we’ll have due-process-free and even preventive detention, secret assassinations of U.S. citizens, vastly expanded government surveillance of the Internet, a continuation of Guantanamo, protection of Executive branch crimes through the use of radical secrecy doctrines, escalating punishment for whistleblowers, legal immunity for war crimes, and a massively escalated drone war in Pakistan.  That’s why, as the President inspirationally warns us:  “If we want the kind of country that respects civil liberties, we’d better fight in this election.”

Religion Stumps Americans

Basic Religion Test Stumps Many Americans

Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

Take the test.

How much do you know about religion?

Tell us how you did.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday Morning Reading

I Trust It Is Now Clear Democrats Hate The Left

by Ian Welsh, September 29 2010

Now that virtually everyone of any importance, up to and including the President has told you that they hate you, that you are a bunch of unrealistic ingrates who need to be drug tested, I trust no one still thinks the White House doesn’t hate the left’s guts, and that it comes from the very top, from the President?

Not just that, but for whatever reason, these folks either don’t care about winning elections or are so incompetent they can’t see the obvious.  Everyone with any track record of being, y’know, right, told them the stimulus was too small and every political consultant knows the economy is the most important thing to reelection chances, yet they passed an inadequate stimulus anyway.  In a midterm election where they need the base to come out, they have spent the last six months insulting the base and engaging in policy after policy meant to enrage it.  They could have, for example, put off filing a brief arguing that government secrecy allows the president to assassinate any American he wants anytime until after the election, but they chose not to.

It is, for whatever reason, more important to Democrats to “hippie punch” than it is for them to win elections. It is more important for them to serve Wall Street, even if Wall Street gives more money to Republicans, than it is to win elections.  Further, they are  very happy to do very non-liberal things, like restrict abortion rights, forbid drug reimportation, gut net neutrality or try and cut social security.

This is your Democratic party.  These people are the problem. As long as they are around, the problem can never be solved.  If it could be, they would have done so.  This means, sorry folks, that the only hope for liberalism and for America to avoid a complete economic meltdown, is for Democrats to be swept out of power and for as many Dems who aren’t reliable progressives to lose their seats as possible.

Yes, the Republicans will do worse things, but that’s going to happen anyway.  And in some cases, as with Social Security, it is better to have Republicans in power, because it is easier to fight Republican efforts to gut SS than it is to fight Democratic efforts to do so.

Obama Scapegoats His Own Voters

By: Cenk Uygur Wednesday September 29, 2010 3:05 am

They think they’re going to lose and they’re setting up a scapegoat. It wasn’t that they ran a bad campaign or that they didn’t deliver on their promises – it was their ungrateful voters and the damned professional left. Actually, Washington reporters will love this. There is nothing they enjoy more than beating up on progressive activists and the Democratic base. This strategy is tailored made for the DC elite. They’re going to eat it up!

I think they still believe that the DC media is a good proxy for the mood of the country. That is a stunning and inexcusable error. But they’re so deep in, they can’t even see that losing the election and winning over the DC establishment is not a win or a wash, that’s a gigantic loss. Do you think making David Broder happy will win you the 2012 election?

Almost everyone in Washington is there because they succeeded in this broken, corrupt system. If you make them happy, you’ve probably done the exact opposite of what you were supposed to do.

What got you elected was the promise to throw those bums out on their asses not to cater to them. But if you like, you can take another cheap shot at the people trying to help you and see if that changes the polls. My guess is it won’t. And then when you blame us again, the only people happy will be the ones in DC who hate change.

Obama’s CYA 2010 Talking Points for Rolling Stone

by Taylor Marsh, 28 September 2010 4:18 pm

Barack Obama is never responsible. What’s worse is that it doesn’t even occur to the President to show humility in the face of compromises with Republicans that manifested policies that haven’t solved the problems he was sent to fix. I won’t take you through the litany of bipartisan mush Obama and his loyalists call “accomplishments,” most of which any Democratic president elected in 2008 could have gotten done with a Republican Congress, though we’ll never know what a could have done with a Democratic majority if Pres. Obama would have been bold instead of compromising with the minority at every turn.

The hubris of Pres. Obama to point the finger at voters at a time when it’s his responsibility and that of the Dem leadership to make the case for Democrats is choking.

Pres. Obama obviously thinks Democratic voters are his bitch and an abused one at that; the more you whip the stupid wench the more she’ll perform for you, no matter whether she gets anything for her trouble. After all, she’s got nowhere else to go, right?

On This Day in History: September 29

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

September 29 is the 272nd day of the year (273rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 93 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1547, Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, is born this day near Madrid.

Cervantes led an adventurous life and achieved much popular success, but he nevertheless struggled financially throughout his life. Little is know about his childhood, except that he was a favorite student of Madrid humanist Juan Lopez, and that his father was an apothecary.

In 1569, Cervantes was living in Rome and working for a future cardinal. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the Spanish fleet to fight against the Turks. At the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, he took three bullets and suffered permanent damage to his left hand. Later, he was stationed at Palermo and Naples. On the way home to Madrid in 1575, he and his brother Roderigo were captured by Barbary pirates and held captive in Algiers. Cervantes was ransomed after five years of captivity and returned to Madrid, where he began writing. Although his records indicate he wrote 20 to 30 plays, only two survive. In 1585, he published a romance. During this time, he married a woman 18 years younger than he was and had an illegitimate daughter, whom he raised in his household. He worked as a tax collector and as a requisitioner of supplies for the navy, but was jailed for irregularities in his accounting. Some historians believe he formulated the idea for Don Quixote while in jail.

In 1604, he received the license to publish Don Quixote. Although the book began as a satire of chivalric epics, it was far more complex than a simple satire. The book blended traditional genres to create a sad portrait of a penniless man striving to live by the ideals of the past. The book was a huge success and brought Cervantes literary respect and position, but did not generate much money. He wrote dramas and short stories until a phony sequel, penned by another writer, prompted him to write Don Quixote, Part II in 1615.

Cervantes died in Madrid on April 23, 1616. In honor of the date on which both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died, UNESCO established April 23 as the International Day of the Book. (Shakespeare and Cervantes, however, did not actually die on the same day, as the April 23 date for Shakespeare is Julian calendar (Old Style) and the April 23 date for Cervantes is Gregorian calendar (New Style) as those were the calendars in effect in England and in Spain, respectively, at that time. The Gregorian calendar was then ten days ahead of the Julian.)  

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 39 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 One fifth of world’s plants threatened by extinction: study


54 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – More than a fifth of the world’s plant species faces the threat of extinction, a trend with potentially catastrophic effects for life on Earth, according to research released on Wednesday.

But a separate study cautioned that extinction of mammals had been overestimated and suggested some mammal species thought to have been wiped out may yet be rediscovered.

Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, said the report on plant loss was the most accurate mapping yet of the threat to the planet’s estimated 380,000 plant species.

Prime Time

Well, last week we said goodbye to H.G. Wells and thwarted her nefarious plot to destroy humanity by using the Minoan Trident to set off the Yellowstone Super Volcano.  Claudia seemed more comfortable with her destiny as a Caretaker and Myka quit because she couldn’t stand the stress anymore.

Oh and Arnie got another one of those shoulder sling flesh wound thingies, on the other side this year I think, from shooting at H.G.’s Corsican Brothers Vest.

I don’t nap through all the episodes you know.

This week we return to the Stargate Universe with, uh…, Stargate Universe Season 2.  When last we saw our band of embattled refugees they were still trapped on The Destiny, a Stargate sowing ship now transiting galaxies and taking them farther out of range by the minute.  In addition to being pursued by nameless aliens and their evil anal probes they are now locked in battle for control of the ship with a boarding party of Lucien Alliance mercenaries.  I once had my Sci Fi friend try to explain to me exactly who was pregnant by whom, but with the consciousness shifting communicator and a rather casual attitude about intercourse it’s really hard to keep track of.  I will note with some skepticism that while they somehow managed to salvage an unlimited supply of ammunition they don’t seem to have remembered to bring along a single condom.  It would really make much more sense if they were using Zats and Staff Weapons because you could probably figure out some way to recharge them, but bullets don’t grow on trees.

Next week Caprica cranks up again and it’s all on Tuesday instead of Friday because Sci Fi got stuck with WWE Friday Night SmackDown.  While the Sci Fi connection may be tenuous at best, it’s another good reason to hate Linda McMahon.

Two NCIS premiers, No Ordinary Family Series Premier, and you can see if Sarah Palin shows up to get booed again.


What do you know- Dave hosts Jon Stewart performing against himself (well, actually Stephen) and N.E.R.D..  Jon has Arianna, Stephen Ross Douthat (should be good for a laugh).  No Alton.

BoondocksThe Trial of Robert Kelly.

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