Archive for April, 2011
At 9:17 am EDT NBC political director Chuck Todd tweeted “What a sad day in American political history”. I could not have said it better in so few words but I will elaborate on Mr. Todd’s point.
After over two years of the lunatic fringe asking to see President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, a form of which he had already offered to the public, the President today capitulated and published the “long form” of his Hawaiian birth certificate. So long as the crazed birther movement was led by certifiably insane Orly Taitz, part-time lawyer, part-time dentist, part-time real estate broker, the White House felt it could ignore the crackpot conspiracy theory that the President was foreign-born and therefore ineligible to be President of the United States. Once the self-promoting reality TV star, Donald Trump entered the fray, all that changed. Suddenly, the birther movement moved from TV news’ sideshow to their lead story.
The President had two choices, continue to ignore the foolishness or provide further proof that he is an American citizen. I have very mixed feelings about his choice. On the one hand, his release of the long form lays the matter to rest for all but the most truly lunatic among us. By doing so, he has shown 66% of the Republican party to be gullible idiots. He has shown Donald Trump to be, as the President put it in today’s press announcement, “a carnival barker”. He has hopefully cut substantially into the profits of Jerome Corsi’s upcoming book “Where’s the Birth Certificate?”
But there is a sad downside to this capitulation. The most powerful man in the world today was reduced to saying essentially, “Yes Massa, I really is an American. I gots the papers to prove it.” Not since the dark days of the 19th century where blacks had to identify themselves as free or slave has a man’s identity been so disgustingly challenged. There is no doubt that our incredibly sheltered citizenry who can’t identify other countries on a map had an adjustment to make with a President with such an exotic background. And let’s be honest. Obama, at least from one side of his family, is a first generation American. That is NEW for our country. However, his background makes him a black American.
People can talk until they are blue in the face. No President whose mother was American and father was French would have received this kind of scrutiny about his heritage. The fact is that despite the fact that we elected him, a vocal minority of this country could not accept having a black President and grasped at any straw possible to delegitimize him. Obama could have continued to ignore this contingent but chose to let them control the agenda. By publishing his long form birth certificate, Obama conceded that the lunatics are running the asylum. He validated their nutjob concerns by taking the time to address them.
One of my fellow bloggers whom I shall not identify because he should be ashamed of himself, recently said that he wished the birther conspiracy to be proven true so that Obama could be run out of office. There is no depth to which enemies of this President will not stoop to see him undone. What is the next step in this process? As some pundits have asked this morning, will Obama now have to publish his school transcripts? Will he have to publish his college thesis? What other things must Obama do to prove his legitimacy? We are the laughing-stock of the world today. Other countries see us circling the drain while we spend time on this idiocy. The long form is published. Now where are the jobs? When are the foreclosures going to stop? When are our sons and daughters going to stop dying in fruitless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya? How the hell did today’s developments move our country forward?
Who knows, maybe Dwight Eisenhower’s signature on the 1959 Hawaii Admission Act was a forgery? Maybe Hawaii really isn’t a state of the union at all? Perhaps Donald Trump can have his investigators look into that since we have to find some way, any way, to reject this President.
The joke begins, “who would make a great President in 2013?” and the punchline is “Donald Trump”. I would post the George Stephanopoulos interview with the Donald but the piece MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell (“Crazy Larry”) did Tuesday night is so much better because he takes the best of George’s questions and Donald’s lame answers and then interjects his own special brand of snark.
Why should anyone supporting a Trump presidential run get their head examined? Let me count the ways:
- The likelihood that Trump has sent “investigators” to Hawaii to find the “truth” about Obama is just about zero.
- Trump was pro-choice before he was pro-life and has no understanding of Roe v. Wade.
- Trump, a serial exaggerator (i.e. liar) claims a net worth not supported by any third-party account.
- Trump’s explanation for bankruptcy is at best a lie and at worst evidence of serious ethics problems. Apparently, if you believe his explanation, bankruptcy is a great way to not pay your bills and get a “good deal” on partial payments. And that’s his positive defense!
One theory about Trump’s current appeal as a candidate among Republicans is his supposed business savvy which a country in dire financial condition badly needs. NBC investigative reporter Michael Isikoff interviewed Trump about his business acumen and his bankruptcy shenanigans were the tip of the iceberg. My favorite scam is “Trump University”, an “educational program” that I actually considered “enrolling” in a couple of years ago. Something told me it would be a waste of my money. Apparently some states attorneys general agree with me.
One thing I got out of watching Trump’s foolishness is a new appreciation for Sarah Palin. I kid you not. The sexism on display by Trump’s meteoric political rise when he is as dumb as Sarah ever was is mind-boggling. While Sarah has “spunk”, she can’t sell her stupidity to the average intelligent voter. Trump on the other hand turns on the aggressive take-no-prisoners overkill and for a minute you find yourself believing he can move mountains.
My favorite bit of Trump braggadocio is his put-down of Mitt Romney as a small business man. While I’m no big fan of Romney, based on the Isikoff interview, I’d trust Romney with my money a whole lot sooner than Trump.
But let me end where I began with my buddy Crazy Larry. On another segment of his show, O’Donnell discussed possible campaign slogans sent in by viewers. My favorite:
Nope, it’s not the latest book explaining to us lay folks how Congress works. On the contrary, the dummies work within Congress itself and certain Democrats have decided to dumb things down a bit so their Republican colleagues “get it”.
At the elementary school level, we have Anthony Weiner schooling his GOP counterparts on how a bill becomes a law. This was prompted by Representative Eric Cantor’s introduction of the ridiculous Government Shutdown Prevention Act. Perhaps a good read of the children’s book House Mouse, Senate Mouse would provide the wisdom that the ostentatious reading of the Constitution earlier this year did not.
Then at the high school level, Representative Donna Edwards thought some good rock and roll might help her GOP colleagues better understand the cause and effect relationship of their up to the wire government shutdown pig-headedness. Quoting from The White Stripes song “Effect and Cause”, she said, “If you’re headed to the grave, you don’t blame the hearse.” All I can say is word to yo mama!
These displays of Democratic intellectual superiority are entertaining but also disturbing. With two … wups I mean … three wars waging and an economy still teetering on the brink, can’t we send folks to Congress who can behave like adults and don’t need to be treated like children?
As a bonus to any of my readers who are White Stripes fans, here’s the original “Effect and Cause“.
No. This is not a post advocating a pro-choice position on abortion. Nor is it a post advocating a pro-life position. This is simply a post asking for consistency.
In 1973, Roe v Wade made abortion legal in the United States. In 1976 an amendment, or rider, to an appropriations bill, called the Hyde Amendment prohibited federal funding of abortions, specifically via Medicaid. This rider has been applied to bills ever since.
The logic behind the amendment is that pro-life tax payers should not be forced to pay for abortions. To this I say nonsense. There are a great number of things my tax dollars fund to which I might object (the war in Afghanistan comes to mind) but I don’t get to decide what my taxes pay for. Or to put it differently, if I don’t want my taxes to pay for something because I consider that something to be unethical or immoral, then I get to lobby my legislators to outlaw that “something” to which I object. Abortion is legal. Why should we treat it from a funding perspective as if it were illegal?
Why do I bring this up now? We just came dangerously close to a government shut down Friday night. Everyone agreed on the budget numbers but the sole stumbling block was a Republican attempt to drop Title X funding, specifically funding of Planned Parenthood. Advocates of Planned Parenthood say the organization provides valuable pre and post-natal care to mothers and babies as well as birth control options to women who wish not to have children. Advocates (including the organization itself) claim that only a small part of Planned Parenthood’s mission involves providing abortions. Opponents of Planned Parenthood call it an abortion mill.
The only reason why we should care who is right about Planned Parenthood’s mission is whether or not they use government funding for abortions, in violation of the Hyde Amendment. Again, advocates of Planned Parenthood say that funding of abortions is carefully cordoned off from federal money. Planned Parenthood opponents say that funds are fungible and that in truth any federal money given to Planned Parenthood ipso facto supports abortion.
I say abortion is legal and the Hyde Amendment is a back door workaround to give abortion a less than fully legal status. Had there been no Hyde Amendment, there would have been no last-minute controversy over the 2011 budget. There would have been no opportunity to hold budget negotiations hostage to an ideological battle. As it turns out, the ideological battle was lost but at the cost of much wasted legislative time.
To the chorus of pro-life readers now calling me “baby killer” I say one thing very simply. Stop fussing about what we fund and don’t fund and spend that energy changing the law! If abortion is immoral and unethical and tantamount to murder, then put all your effort toward overturning Roe v Wade. Let’s be honest. You don’t really care how abortions are funded. You want them to stop. So quit playing petty financial games that give you some misplaced sense of moral superiority and do the hard work of outlawing abortions.
While I know that a pro-life, pro-choice argument will ensue from this post, I repeat what I stated at the outset. You can be pro-life or you can be pro-choice, you just can’t have your cake and eat it too. The Hyde Amendment is a fine example of government hypocrisy and the time for its demise is overdue.
Let’s Do It Again
What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and politics among any of our people.
Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.
With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office–the Presidency of your country.
Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.
– President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Address to the Nation March 31, 1968.
For the past few weeks, I really thought we would be hearing some variation of this speech from President Barack Obama. Everything that Lyndon Johnson said applies today with one more ingredient. The extra ingredient is a President who just cannot seem to catch a break. Whether it’s a tanked economy or humanitarian disasters, current or potential, Obama’s plate is always full and each situation seems to be a no-win. When you top that off with the now acceptable campaign strategy that he was not born in this country and is a secret Muslim, you really have to wonder why Obama didn’t say “I’m blowing this joint!”
Instead, Obama wrote to his supporters: “We’ve always known that lasting change wouldn’t come quickly or easily. It never does. But as my administration and folks across the country fight to protect the progress we’ve made — and make more — we also need to begin mobilizing for 2012, long before the time comes for me to begin campaigning in earnest.” It is expected that before all is said and done, Obama will have raised and spent over a billion dollars to keep his Pennsylvania Avenue address. Again, in an economy where the average Joe cannot buy himself continued employment, this is another no-win for Obama.
I voted for Obama in 2008 and I still support him but I approach his reelection campaign with mixed emotions. The reality of governance has made another “hope and change” campaign impossible. There are just too many examples where his campaign rhetoric of 2007 and 2008 was obliterated by the real job of being President. So what does he run on this time? How does he inspire? Fortunately for him, he has no serious Republican contenders in the offing. But that could change. If things get desperate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie might be convinced to run and then there will be a distinct danger of Obama being a one term President. If the GOP can find a clear credible voice that does not cater to the nutjob fringe, 2012 will be an interesting campaign year indeed.
Holder Cries Uncle
On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several 9/11 co-conspirators would be tried in a military court. This was a 180 from his original stance that the 9/11 master mind and his cronies would be tried in a New York City civilian court. Did Holder have a change of mind? Not one bit. In fact, Holder’s announcement was full of resentment and barely veiled anger at having his hand forced.
What this means for America is justice further delayed as the military court process slowly grinds away. It also subjects the United States to international suspicion as we try KSM in what will no doubt be characterized as a kangaroo court. This outcome also provides the very dangerous precedent of the legislative branch interfering with the proper functioning of the executive branch of government. As Holder said in Monday’s press conference, Congress was in over its head in the KSM controversy. The Justice Department was in the best position to determine how to adjudicate the case.
Further complicating matters is the fact that closing Guantanamo Bay must now wait for the KSM trial to be finished. So the politicians who ensured that KSM cannot leave Gitmo will no doubt be the same politicians to criticize Obama for not fulfilling his promise to close Gitmo.
Remind me again why this man is running for a second term.
When Nidal Hasan went on a rampage at Fort Hood, I for one wanted Anwar al-Awlaki, the cleric from Yemen who advised Nidal and other terrorists, to be prosecuted for inciting the violence. When someone knowingly engages in rhetoric that will incite others to violence, they must be prosecuted accordingly.
Florida Pastor Terry Jones was warned in no uncertain terms last September by no less an authority than General David Petraeus that the pastor’s plans to burn the Koran would incite violence in Muslim countries and put innocent lives at risk. After enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame, he backed down. We all thought that was the end of it. When he went ahead with the Koran burning on March 20 (after putting the holy book “on trial”) it hardly made a mark on American television. Perhaps American journalists thought if they ignored it, no one would notice? They were wrong.
Both Asif Zardari and Hamid Karzai, Presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan respectively, condemned the Koran burning which was prominently featured on news venues in those countries. Unfortunately some clerics in Afghanistan went one step further urging protests in the streets, protests that resulted in a United Nations compound being stormed and at least twelve people being killed.
There is never any excuse for murder of this kind. Those Afghans responsible for these murders must be brought to justice. However, the last person on this planet to sit in judgment on them should be Terry Jones. In response to the riot, Jones said:
We must hold these countries and people accountable for what they have done as well as for any excuses they may use to promote their terrorist activities … Islam is not a religion of peace. It is time that we call these people to accountability.
The problem here is that Jones knowingly provided them with their excuse to kill. Let’s simplify the scenario:
Terry, Bob, Andy and Hamid are standing in a room. Bob is an expert on violent lunatics. Hamid is a violent lunatic. Andy is an everyday American Joe. Bob tells Terry that Hamid is crazy as a loon and he doesn’t respond well to teasing and provocation. Terry responds to this by teasing and provoking Hamid. Hamid shoots and kills Andy. Terry was warned that his actions, with high probability, would have consequences but he ignored the warning. Can anyone look at Terry in this simplified scenario and say he is without guilt?
Terry Jones did not draw a cartoon like the Danish cartoonist who was targeted years ago for depicting Mohammed. Terry Jones did not write a book deemed disrespectful like the author Salman Rushdie. Terry Jones did not risk offending Islam in the name of art or expression. He simply exercised his bigotry by desecrating a holy book, a metaphorical destruction of the very religion itself. He did so, fully knowing the likely consequences of his act. His act had no redeeming value that could possibly justify the response that followed.
Terry Jones sits safely in his church in Gainesville, Florida while at least twelve innocent people will never see the light of day again.
The Afghan murderers, not much better than savages, should be prosecuted and so should the man who inspired them.