07/10/2011 archive

Rant of the Week: Rachel Maddow

The Republicans “crazies” are flooding the primary field with felons, the head of the KKK and the religious fanatics that make the Westborough Baptist Church members sound sane.

GOP candidates court crackpot constituency

Rachel reviews the role of the social conservative fringe in 2012 Republican politics.

Congressional Game of Chicken: GOP Smells Success

I think the GOP is smelling success in their goal of making President Obama a one term president. Even bloggers like the Rude Pundit doubt Obama:

At some point, Obama has to squash McConnell and Boehner like bugs (although he probably won’t)

Now that Boehner has once again walked away from the negotiating table, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear on Fox News Sunday that his top priority is stopping Obama’s re-election:

Even with the country on the brink of default, the Senate’s highest ranking Republican says his “single most important” goal is to make Barack Obama a one-term president.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told National Journal’s Major Garrett in October.

Fox News’ Bret Baier asked McConnell Sunday if that was still his major objective.

“Well, that is true,” McConnell replied. “That’s my single most important political goal, along with every active Republican in the country.”

“But that is in 2012,” he added. “Our biggest goal for this year is get this country straightened out and we can’t get this country straightened out if we don’t do something about spending, about deficit, about debt and get the economy moving again. So our goal is to have a robust vibrant economy to benefit all Americans.”

McConnell told Baier that a “Grand Bargain,” where Republicans agree to tax hikes in exchange for cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, was likely off the table.

“I think it is. Everything they told me and the Speaker is to get a big package would require big tax increases in the middle of the economic situation that is extraordinarily difficult with 9.2% unemployment. We think it’s a terrible idea. It’s a job-killer.”

Priorities aside, what all these politicians don’t seem to understand is that austerity is the “job killer”, especially with the the job market and wages sinking like a rock. President Obama’s grand plan of $4 trillion in deficit reductions with cuts to vital social safety nets as the carrot and minuscule revenue increases, is even worse. This is all about maintaining the status quo for the wealthiest who have proven since the Bush tax cuts that they will just keep the money and screw the masses.

John Aravosis sums up this debacle quite succinctly:

Someone’s being played.  First the Republicans walked out of the Biden talks.  Now Boehner is refusing the President’s more than generous offer to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a larger deal absurdly skewed towards GOP goals.  It’s those pesky tax increases, you see.  It’s just not enough that the President caved on a clean debt ceiling, caved on having an additional stimulus instead of spending cuts, caved on postponing spending cuts until the economy is well again, caved on at least making spending cuts equal to tax increases, and caved on keeping cuts to Social Security and Medicare out of this.

Mind you, it’s not entirely clear what the Republicans have even agreed to here in terms of any tax increases.

So the GOP walks, and Obama will just have to sweeten the deal to “save the hostages.”  Did anyone else see this coming?

Someone is being played alright, the American people.

I have no hope for any rational solution that is going to improve the economy and the job situation for Americans. It makes no difference who is in the White House at this point, or in 2012.  Obama will never stand up to McConnell and Boehner simply because he agrees with them. They are playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun at the American people’s head.

On This Day In History July 10

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

July 10 is the 191st day of the year (192nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 174 days remaining until the end of the year.

1925, Scopes Monkey Trial begins,

In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law.

The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to “teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, and after his arrest the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution. Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, and the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in U.S. history.

On July 10, the Monkey Trial got underway, and within a few days hordes of spectators and reporters had descended on Dayton as preachers set up revival tents along the city’s main street to keep the faithful stirred up. Inside the Rhea County Courthouse, the defense suffered early setbacks when Judge John Raulston ruled against their attempt to prove the law unconstitutional and then refused to end his practice of opening each day’s proceeding with prayer.


The ACLU had originally intended to oppose the Butler Act on the grounds that it violated the teacher’s individual rights and academic freedom, and was therefore unconstitutional. Mainly because of Clarence Darrow, this strategy changed as the trial progressed, and the earliest argument proposed by the defense once the trial had begun was that there was actually no conflict between evolution and the creation account in the Bible (a viewpoint later called theistic evolution). In support of this claim, they brought in eight experts on evolution. Other than Dr. Maynard Metcalf, a zoologist from Johns Hopkins University, the judge would not allow these experts to testify in person. Instead, they were allowed to submit written statements so that their evidence could be used at the appeal. In response to this decision, Darrow made a sarcastic comment to Judge Raulston (as he often did throughout the trial) on how he had been agreeable only on the prosecution’s suggestions, for which he apologized the next day, keeping himself from being found in contempt of court.

The presiding judge John T. Raulston was accused of being biased towards the prosecution and frequently clashed with Darrow. At the outset of the trial Raulston quoted Genesis and the Butler Act. He also warned the jury not to judge the merit of the law (which would become the focus of the trial) but on the violation of the act, which he called a ‘high misdemeanor’. The jury foreman himself wasn’t convinced of the merit of the Act but acted, as did most of the jury, on the instructions of the judge.

By the later stages of the trial, Clarence Darrow had largely abandoned the ACLU’s original strategy and attacked the literal interpretation of the Bible as well as Bryan’s limited knowledge of other religions and science.

Only when the case went to appeal did the defense return to the original claim that the prosecution was invalid because the law was essentially designed to benefit a particular religious group, which would be unconstitutional.

F1: Silverstone

Scuderia Marlboro UPC has a hissy fit

You know it’s nothing unusual for the boys from Maranello to fail to engineer a competitive car and use their influence with the FIA to change the rules in their favor, but their days of influence may be over.  There’s no doubt at this point that they’re behind the mid season Off Throttle Blown Diffuser rule change and they’re looking pretty sad and pathetic when only Sauber (who uses their engines) supports them.

Things are not happy in the Formula One Teams Association, there’s also the fact the Concorde Agreement has expired and is extended only through a letter, not a contract, through 2012 following a heated dispute that led many teams to threaten to go CART.  While nominally guided by Martin Whitmarsh of McLaren and Ross Brawn of Mercedes the FOTA is widely viewed as a tool of Bernie Ecclestone who has a distinct conflict of interest and a hazy history of influence on the FIA itself with his cozy relationship to Max Mosley the fifth columnist Nazi’s son who got the boot for his sexcapades.

Interestingly enough this was the scoop of the recently deceased and unlamented News of the World who published sick Nazi Sex Orgy by Neville Thurlbeck so who knows what to think?

It’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world.

Sometimes it helps if you sing.

There will be another meeting before Nürburgring (did I mention I like irony?) which probably won’t help much since the FIA is insisting on unanimous consent.

Oh, car racing.  Haven’t the foggiest.  No spoilers you know.

Eventually I’ll have pretty tables, stay tuned.

Le Tour 2011- Stage 9

Issoire to Saint-Flour 130 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Well first of all Saint Flour is not for baking.  Yes I need more sleep, coffee or both.

Teams were pretty cautious the first day in the Medium Mountains (only one more to go after today) but given Friday’s crash fest that’s not so surprising.  However time is running out for the ‘punchers’, the not quite climbers, not quite sprinters like Hushovd and Gilbert to make their mark otherwise you’ll have to start rooting on the Schleck brothers and Evans if you’re not a Contador fan.

He’ll be starting his same old 1:42 back from Hushovd who expressed his surprise at being able to hold on as long as he has to the maillot jaune.  It’s a measure of how the field has thinned though that Contador has moved from 82nd to 20th in rank with no change at all in that margin.  On the other hand nobody has been able to put a move on him since Stage 3.

This Stage has 2 category 4 bumps at the end and 3 category 3s and 2s so there are a fair number of ‘King of the Mountain’ climber points available.  The sprint checkpoint is only 19 miles from the end so your guess is as good as mine if the Green Jersey competitors will have caught up by then or been left in the dust.

Whatever happens it will surely be more enlightening than the Sunday Stupid Factory.

Tomorrow is a Rest Day but Vs. will be filling all the regular time slots (8 am, 11:30 am, 3 pm, and 8 pm) with a summary of the action so far.  I’ll be covering today’s results.

Today’s coverage starts at 8 am.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: This Week has exclusive interviews with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and IMF Managing Director and Chair Christine Lagarde.

The roundtable guests, George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, and ABC News Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl will discuss the “debt ceiling divide”.

Another roundtable with Vanity Fair columnist and ADWEEK editorial director Michael Wolff, NPR’s Nina Totenberg and CourtTV founder Steve Brill, will debate “the state of the media in this tabloid culture.”

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr, Schieffer’s guests are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

The Chris Matthews Show: This Week’s guests, Bob Woodward The Washington Post Associate Editor, Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Jamie Tarabay, National Journal Managing Editor and Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune Columnist, will discuss:

Is the Tea Party’s flirtation with default a big favor to Barack Obama?

Is Michele Bachmann too far right even for the GOP?

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is making the rounds. Republican presidential contender, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has his turn with Gregory.

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson and NBC’S Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director Chuck Todd join in a discussion of the debt ceiling fight and its impact on Obama’s 2012 reelection.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen will have a stand off about the debt ceiling and its impact.

GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum will exam his chances of getting the GOP nod.

Ans finally. a look at the future of space exploration for the United States.

Fareed Zakaris: GPS: Fareed Zakaria asks Peter Godwin, author of “The Fear”, about whether the birth of South Sudan will be marred by war.

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof talks about whether Sudan will allow South Sudan to flourish.

This could change the conversation on these shows: John Boehner Rejects Obama’s Grand Bargain On Debt Ceiling

New York Times Editorial: The Worst Time to Slow the Economy

It was not surprising to hear the Republican presidential candidates repeat their tiresome claim that excessive government spending and borrowing were behind Friday’s terrible unemployment report. It was depressing to hear President Obama sound as if he agreed with them.

The Labor Department report showed virtually no job growth in June, with the unemployment level edging up to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent the month before. It seemed to confirm last month’s indication that the economy had stalled. After the report came out, the president went to the Rose Garden and said he hoped that a conclusion to the current debt-ceiling talks would give businesses “certainty” that the government had its debt and deficit under control, allowing them to start hiring again.

Certainty? That sounds like Mitt Romney, or any of the other Republicans who have concocted a phony connection between hiring and government borrowing.

Jane Hamsher: Breaking Point: Obama and the Death of the Democratic Party

According to both the Washington Post and the New York Times, Obama is proposing cuts to Social Security in exchange for GOP support for tax hikes.

Nobody ever says they want to “cut” Social Security or Medicare. They want to “save” it.  Just ask Pete Peterson, he wants to “save” it. Likewise AARP.  They don’t want reduced benefits for senior citizens, they want to “preserve” it for future generations.  If they have an enormous customer base they can market private “add-on” accounts and other retirement products to when Social Security goes bye-bye, I guess that’s just a happy coincidence.

Now if you think that this is something the President is doing because it’s the only way to get Republican cooperation you can stop reading here, because we’re going to disagree.  From the moment he took the White House, the President has wanted to cut Social Security benefits.  David Brooks reported that three administration officials called him to say Obama “is extremely committed to entitlement reform and is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending” in March of 2009.  You can only live in denial for so long and still lay claim to being tethered to reality.

Amy Goodman: WikiLeaks, Wimbledon and War

Last Saturday was sunny in London, and the crowds were flocking to Wimbledon and to the annual Henley Regatta. Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org, was making his way by train from house arrest in Norfolk, three hours away, to join me and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek for a public conversation about WikiLeaks, the power of information and the importance of transparency in democracies. The event was hosted by the Frontline Club, an organization started by war correspondents in part to memorialize their many colleagues killed covering war. Frontline Club co-founder Vaughan Smith looked at the rare sunny sky fretfully, saying, “Londoners never come out to an indoor event on a day like this.” Despite years of accurate reporting from Afghanistan to Kosovo, Smith was, in this case, completely wrong.

Close to 1,800 people showed up, evidence of the profound impact WikiLeaks has had, from exposing torture and corruption to toppling governments.

Assange is in England awaiting a July 12 extradition hearing, as he is wanted for questioning in Sweden related to allegations of sexual misconduct. He has not been charged. He has been under house arrest for more than six months, wears an electronic ankle bracelet and is required to check in daily at the Norfolk police station.

Johann Hari: Would You Trust a Management Consultant with the World’s Rainforests?

Our protests stopped David Cameron handing UK forests over to corporations. Now the rainforests are being handed to management consultants

The two most dreaded words in any office are the same – management consultants. Their arrival rumbles through a workplace like the approaching thwump-thwump of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, rattling our desks and making us all fear we will be picked up and gored at random. We’re right to be afraid – and scornful. According to “Rip Off”, a report on management consultants by David Craig, 170 organizations who used management consultants were studied in the 1990s by the Cranfield School of Management, and only 36 per cent of clients thought they had brought any value. We all know now that management consultants were threaded through the banksters and hedge funders who just crashed the global economy.

But now management consultancy has been taken to a whole new level, according to a startling new report by Greenpeace entitled: “Bad Influence: How McKinsey-inspired plans lead to rainforest destruction.” Management consultants have, in effect, been tasked with setting the future of the world’s rainforests – and facing accusations that they are using our money to draw up plans that will result in their more rapid destruction. Instead of stopping the loggers and miners, the report suggests they are aiding them.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pakistan regains control with 95 dead in Karachi

By Hasan Mansoor, AFP

5 hrs ago

Pakistan announced on Saturday its troops had taken back areas of Karachi occupied by armed groups and arrested more than 100 people after political violence across the vast port city claimed 95 lives.

Four days of unrest has been blamed on political and ethnic tensions, with gunmen firing on two buses in the early hours of Friday, killing 12 people including a six-year-old girl, according to security officials.

“Our paramilitary soldiers have secured the troubled localities and hills where armed terrorists were firing on innocent people, and have restored normal life,” interior minister Rehman Malik told reporters.