Tuesday, January 18, 2011

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The Christian Brotherhood

David Fitzsimmons - The Arizona Star - pilgrims arrive Color - English - religion, holidays, thanksgiving

Firedoglake puts forth an interesting observation in Christian Compassion, Republican Style.

Alabama’s new Republican governor, Robert Bentley, offers up a message of tolerance and inclusion for Martin Luther King Day:

”I was elected as a Republican candidate. But once I became governor … I became the governor of all the people. I intend to live up to that. I am color blind,” Bentley said in a short speech given about an hour after he took the oath of office as governor.

So far, so good! Very appropriate for the occasion. But then…

“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit,” Bentley said. ”But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”

Bentley added, ”Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

Well, I’m sure all the Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and atheists in Alabama were really thrilled to hear that he only considers Christians to be family… but he really wants them to convert so they can be his brothers and sisters too!
The Birmingham News noted that Governor elect Robert Bentley, who for years has been a deacon at First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, gave what sounded like an altar call.

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, Bentley's communications director, trying to do damage control said, ''He is the governor of all the people, Christians, non-Christians alike."

It appears that the deacon/Governor is having difficultly separating out his religious beliefs from his political convictions.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Progressives Unite!

John Cole - The Scranton Times-Tribune - Left Behind COLOR - English - obama, gop, tax cuts, compromise, liberals, democrats

Attention Progressives!! John Cory has,
A Liberal Dose of Reality for you.

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."
- Samuel Adams

So far there is no direct factual connection between the violence in Tucson and the toxic GOP and its subsidiary Tea Party screaming mobs, or the despicable daily spewing of hate-radio or the crazy chalkboard diagrams of the coming end times.

The false equivalency by the right wing and corporate media that the left does it too is merely a deflection intended to distract and shift focus away from them and their tactics. You can't connect the dots, they say.

A drop of ink on porous paper slowly seeps across the sheet. Multiple drops in multiple locations eventually bleed together without any external help. No one has to connect the dots; they connect themselves.

Thirty years ago Ronald Reagan said, "... government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."


Over the next three decades, vilification of government became a self-replicating meme. Big government fed the cash-driven paranoia machines. Politics got religion with the Moral Majority, which was neither, and Jerry Falwell made a devilish new BFF in Ronald Reagan. The Christian Right was born.

Plop. Plop.

Bogus welfare queens were created from thin air. The dismantling of Unions and the Fairness Doctrine turned news into a product for the corporations, who insisted that they owned the airwaves, not the public. The public good was tossed aside in favor of free-market profiteering without protective regulation.

Money is free speech and some of us have more freedom than others.

Plop. Plop. Plop.

With all this madness came Iran-Contra, the Savings and Loan crisis, HUD grant-fixing scandal, the Lobbyist scandals, EPA scandals and more. An estimated 130 Reagan officials were indicted and/or convicted or investigated for misconduct and/or criminal violations. But Reagan was the best president ever says the GOP.

Big government is bad. Small government, small enough to fit in a President's zipper is good. God be praised.


The Great Microphone of Anti-Democracy was created and funded under Reagan and allowed to grow and smear at will over the following decades.

Politics became reality television. The profits of fear made millionaires of the new hate-media puppets, supported extremist think tanks and generated a publishing industry dedicated to the propaganda of self-appointed "real" America; all in the name of the corporate owners of America.

And where has our liberal progressive movement been?

Pointing out their victimhood at the hands of the GOP and how the GOP is mean. Ignoring the elimination of investigative journalism. Scrambling for consultants and pundits to appear on the TV to provide "balance" while agreeing that both sides do it. Gently promoting "objective" media in a world rewarding biased punditry and outright lies.

Woe, is us! It is so unfair. Whatever can we do?

We need to get off our ass and quit pretending the bastardization of corporate media is something new, or that the hateful politics of the right wing cannot be defeated. We need to face reality and stop looking to billionaires and millionaires to fund us or rent us a megaphone to speak to the people.

We also need to disabuse ourselves of the illusion that the Democrats are on our side, or that they represent liberals and progressives let alone the concept that they represent everyday citizens. Modern Democrats are Mugwumps straddling the fence between self-enriching celebrity and GOP corporate compromise.

All of this is obviously more complicated than my simplistic presentation. But I'm a simple guy that believes in the KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

And if we think MSBC is the anti-Fox or that it is the liberal platform needed today, then we are just dumb. Snark and shouting and satirical lists are not news reporting or analysis, just tribal entertainment for the converted and like-minded.

No, we need to walk our talk. The other side will call us names no matter what we do, so let us embrace their hatred, as FDR said. Let us be proud radicals and fierce promoters of the common good.

Unions and organizations like the NAACP and La Razza have money that could be used to invest in a non-profit internet/newspaper/broadcast network instead of being spent on lobbying politicians.

Think of it, our own news outlet that conducts investigative reporting and covers real issues. Public subscriptions for print editions and sales of apps for iPad and other devices would provide support money too. Media of, by, and for the people!

Think of putting Robert Parry, Chris Hedges, Sy Hersh, Amy Goodman, Laura Flanders, Glen Greenwald and so many other wonderful voices together in one powerful force of messaging.

We pick a half dozen or so prime issues to promote - issues that overlap compatible areas so as to serve multi-functional roles. Here's a short list off the top of my head:

  1. End the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. War creates graves, not jobs.

  2. Universal Healthcare - explain why the US spends $7500 per person on healthcare while most other countries spend $3500. Is it American exceptionalism, or just plain greed?

  3. Promote government spending on infrastructure like roads, parks, schools and bridges and playgrounds. Immigrants can earn a living and progress toward citizenship by repairing and building infrastructure and paying taxes including Social Security taxes. Jobs, immigration and saving Social Security all rolled into one.

  4. Taxes - progressive and enforceable on all persons including corporate persons. Taxes are not evil or onerous, they are the investment in America that sustains all of us.

  5. Financial Reform regulation to protect the people. To paraphrase George Carlin, if we're concerned about street crime - that means Wall Street too.

  6. Labor must be protected. The right to a living wage. The right to collective bargaining to protect the powerless from the powerful. Labor is not a product - it is not enslavement for corporate enrichment.

  7. Bring back the Draft with some modifications that expand the age groups, limit exceptions, and include private contractors being converted to active duty and subject to military pay scales. Government contracts must be severely restricted. To profit from death and bombs cannot be a government function. Conservatives should love this because it is patriotic and confirms their mantra that government does not create any jobs. Right?

  8. Support Marriage Equality. "If you're against Gay marriage - don't marry one!" (I saw that on a button.)

Impossible? Why?

In an interview on Democracy Now! Slavoj Zizek pointed out, "Did you notice how strange the word 'impossible' functions today? When you talk about private pleasures and technology, everything is possible. But the moment you go to social changes ... practically everything that disturbs the market is impossible ... we will live forever ... whatever you want ... we will travel to the moon - that's all possible. But a small social change of more healthcare is not possible."

Corporations don't see "impossible." Conservatives did not see "impossible." Fox News and talk-radio were not built in a day, but over years.

If we don't unite and combine our forces, progressives and liberals will drown in the coming corporate GOP takeover of democracy.

In the Pennsylvania coal strikes of 1902, miners wanted to cut their work week from 7 to 6 days and cut their work day from 10-12 hours a day to 9 hours a day and raise wages.

George Baer, president of Reading Railroad, spoke for the owners in what became known as the "divine right" letter when he wrote: "... the rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for - not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests of the country."

When the letter became public, support shifted to the miners as the public saw what was headed their way. An informed citizenry is the greatest fear of every corporate driven government.

It took progressives years and years to bring change and enlightenment to workers and politicians alike. People like Ida Tarbell, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, Sinclair Lewis, W.E.B. DuBois and so many others all fought and organized and published their cause and the cause of the everyman and the poor and the sick. And it worked; not always in big events, but in small continuous determined steps.

To quote Edward R. Murrow: "We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late."

An ink drop on porous paper slowly seeps across the sheet. Add another and then another, until at last they bleed together to forge their own image and shape.

"Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts." - Edward R. Murrow


Progressives need to unite, now!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Does Speech Lead to Action?

Dave Granlund - Politicalcartoons.com - Rhetoric vs Reality - English - AZ, Arizona shooting, Firey rhetoric, Lock and load, target, congress, hateful rhetoric, guns, murder, unbalanced, violence, weapons, killing, threats, targets, Tucson, Gabby, dead, deaths, victims, bigotry, take aim, open season, Giffords, Congress

In the attempted murder of Democratic Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords [D-AZ] at a rally in Sedona, AZ on January 9, 2011, the 22 year old gunman, Jared Loughner, killed 6 people and wounded 12 others. In the 24 hours that ensued since the incident, there has been much talk about how vitriolic language, negative comments and violent references are the cause or instigator of such behavior.

Comedian Andy Borowitz joked that, “Fox News without violent rhetoric would be like The Weather Channel, without maps.”

On a more serious note, Steve Rendall
had suggested in a November, 2010 article in FAIR [Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting], that Fox News is The No. 1 Name in Murder Fantasies.
Bill O'Reilly's recent "joke" about decapitating Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank was only the latest example of a demented Fox News culture that permits on-air personalities to fantasize about assassination and other forms of violence against those deemed enemies of the station, its personalities or their worldview.

During the cable channel's 2008 election coverage, in what she later called an attempt at humor, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta linked Osama bin Laden to Barack Obama as people who both should be assassinated:

And now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, uh Obama. Well, both, if we could.

A week before Trotta's "joke," Republican primary candidate Mike Huckabee was apologizing for his own Obama assassination quip. Addressing a gathering of the National Rifle Association, Huckabee joked that a loud thud heard backstage during his address was Barack Obama diving to the floor to avoid gun shots. Months later, Huckabee was given his own Fox News show.

With its biggest new star, Glenn Beck, Fox News hired a host well-known for on-air death fantasies--for instance, chattering about killing filmmaker Michael Moore with his bare hands and hoping out loud that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D.-Ohio) would burn to death. In a Fox News skit in September 2009, Beck portrayed himself poisoning Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

It's a culture that apparently filters down to Fox News viewers and supporters. Over the years Fox Nation, the Fox News "owned and operated" fan website, has regularly featured comments expressing the desire to see Barack Obama's assassinated.

Yesterday News Hounds (11/8/10) published a collection of such quotes, some of which can still be read at on the Fox site. Fox Nation purports to be self-policing, to depend on readers to report inappropriate and irresponsible remarks for removal. Apparently presidential assassination fantasies fall short of Fox Nation's standards for inappropriate or irresponsible commentary.

Recent examples of these assassination fantasies on Fox Nation include comments calling for President Obama to "get what Kennedy got," for the CIA to "take this pres down" and a warning to the president that the Koran "ain't thick enough to stop a .308 round."

There is some evidence that Fox's murder fantasy culture has already helped to spark violent action. Reporting for Media Matters, journalist John Hamilton tells the story of Byron Williams, a Beck devotee who engaged in a shootout that injured two California Highway Patrol officers in July. After his apprehension, Williams told police he'd intended to travel Oakland California to kill people at the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU.

In a jailhouse interview in which he described the right-wing media sources that informed his views, Williams returned again and again to Glenn Beck:

I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn't for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind.

Among the things Beck did, according to Hamilton, was attack the Tides Foundation Fox News shows in the 18 months leading up to Williams' foiled mission to Oakland. in 29 separate Fox News shows in the 18 months leading up to Williams' foiled mission to Oakland.

Moreover, as the ADL reports, Pittsburgh's Richard Poplawski was so inspired by Beck's anti-government conspiracy theories, he reposted to a neo-Nazi website tape of Beck suggesting the government was building concentration camps for dissidents--before he was arrested after a shootout with police that left three officers dead.

If this all wasn't so deadly serious it would be seriously funny, because O'Reilly has spent years accusing liberal and progressive websites of fomenting hate speech. O'Reilly's crusade largely targets the comment and open forum sections of such websites, highlighting comments that generally pale in comparison to those broadcast on Fox and posted on Fox Nation. To add to the irony, when O'Reilly is called out for failing to make distinctions between the editorial content and comment sections of these websites, he argues that the groups are responsible for everything on their websites:

Open forum is bull.... You can regulate what’s on your website.

When it comes to hypocrisy and Fox News, you really can't make this stuff up.

The hostility behind O'Reilly's creepy Milbank beheading joke was on display when the host appeared to make a veiled threat toward Milbank's boss in an appearance on another Fox show. Apparently angered that Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt permitted Milbank to publish columns critical of Fox News, O'Reilly had Fox host Megyn Kelly put a picture of Hiatt up on the screen, and told her audience:

This is the editor, Milbank's editor, Fred Hiatt. And Fred won't do anything about Milbank lying in his column. I just want everybody in America to know what the Washington Post has come to. All right, you can take Fred's picture off. Fred, have a nice weekend, buddy.

(Later in the same appearance, O'Reilly suggested that the host join him in physically assaulting Milbank: "I think you and I should go and beat him up.")

O'Reilly's veiled threat toward Hiatt recalls one made in a recent interview with an Australian paper by Fox boss Rupert Murdoch (Australian Financial Review, 11/5/10):

People love Fox News.... We said to the cable operators when we put the price up, we said, do you want a monument to yourself....  Cancel us, you might get your house burnt down.

Perhaps the fish does rot from the head.

The bottom line is that incendiary, vitriolic, negative hate filled rhetoric is leading this country down the wrong path. If these newscasters, news readers, news pundits, new makers, talking heads and moderators, on either side of the issue, cannot keep their comments on the issues rather than sensationalize their words, then they should be fired.

O'Reilly blames the liberal websites for promoting hate speech when he states,
"You can regulate what’s on your website." Well, T.V. and radio need to regulate their own stations. Maybe O'Reilly and Beck should be the first to go!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Turning On and Off the Faucet

House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R - OH) has been known for crying.

In 2007, he cried regarding the Iraq War and how the U.S. needs "to stand up and take on the terrorist."

He chokes up during his election night acceptance speech, on November 2, 2010, while talking about himself.

He starts to cry when he thinks about kids and the American Dream while taking to Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes.

But, speaking from his hometown of West Chester, Ohio, on January 9, 2011, Boehner struck a somber tone but he doesn't cry when he spoke of the recent violent shooting and deaths in Tuscon, AZ.

In Tuscon, Arizona a Federal Judge, an 9 year old child and a 30 year old aide to a Congresswoman were among 6 deceased out of 22 casualties from a shooting on January 8, 2011. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head at point blank range is still hospitalized after surgery. The whole country is crying, except for Boehner!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Speak no evil, See no evil, Hear only Socialist!!!

Rating the President

Jimmy Margulies - The Record of Hackensack, NJ - Obama and Clinton appointees - English - Obama, Clinton, Clinton alumni, White House, White House reorganization, President Obama, Barack Obama, White House staff changes

Three years ago, The New Republic asked eight "eggheads and eminences—mostly liberals—" who they would support in the 2008 election. Now, TNR goes back to the same eight to ask: Do they stand by their endorsements from three years ago?
Paul Berman is the author of The Flight of the Intellectuals, who endorsed Hillary Clinton.
I endorsed Hillary Clinton back in 2008, and I regret it. I had imagined that, if she won, she would fill the White House and key positions with crafty old Clintonians, and they would maneuver shrewdly enough. But look what has happened. The White House, not to mention the top slot at the State Department, has indeed been staffed by crafty Clintonians. And the results seem too crafty by half—a mix of small successes and large semi-failures. Read more here.
Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz is a professor at Harvard Law School, who supported Clinton.
I continue to support President Obama with regard to most of his domestic policies, and I applaud his recent legislative successes, especially with regard to the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Read more here.
Todd Gitlin is co-author of The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election, who "teetered” between Obama and Clinton.
Most of what has kept Obama from realizing his maximum potential would have kept Hillary Clinton from realizing hers. I refer, of course, to the Republican Party in company with very big money, availing themselves of an archaic Senate structure, anti-majoritarian rules, the Supremes’ recent plutocratic ruling in Citizens United, and so on. Would Hillary have fought more effectively against a dead-ended Afghanistan re-up, against bloated military spending, against torture, against extending the Bush tax cuts for the plutocracy, for prosecution of the irresponsibles who wrecked the global financial system? I doubt it. So I have no regrets. Health care reform (compromises and all), the repeal of DADT, Senate passage of New Start, all lift my heart. Read more here.
Erica Jong is the author of Fear of Flying, who voted for Obama but sympathized with Clinton.

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and I am not sorry, but I do understand better than ever how complex and difficult the job of president is.

Obama tried valiantly to cope with a great recession caused by GOP excesses...

Where I most disagree with Obama is concerning the war in Afghanistan. Read more here.
Randall Kennedy is a Professor at Harvard Law School and the author of the forthcoming book The Persistent Color Line: On Race and the Obama Presidency, who supported Obama.
I continue to support Barack Obama. There is no politician available who is as electable and similarly progressive. Obama is personally appealing in many respects: intelligent, thoughtful, patient, calm, gracious, eloquent. He has not pushed as hard to the left as I had hoped that he would. He seems to appreciate too little that a political leader can sometimes win in the long run by advancing a position or an appointment that loses in the short run. President Ronald Reagan lost the battle over Robert Bork. But in waging that struggle for judicial conservatism, Reagan won a larger battle by showing fidelity to principle and loyalty to supporters. Like President Bill Clinton, President Obama has a regrettable tendency to propitiate enemies while abandoning allies. Read more here.
John McWhorter is the William T. Simon Fellow at Columbia University and author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English, who supported Obama.

It seems only yesterday to me that the good word on Barack Obama was that he, with his cerebral ability to consider all sides of an issue and muttly heritage, was going to bring America together. That, to me, meant that what we would see from him would be compromises, which would elate no one but be much better than nothing. The “Yes, We Can” routine, implying that Obama would create a new New Deal, was something quite different and always struck me as heartening theatre, but only that.

And here we are. I am baffled as to how Hillary Clinton would have done better. Read more here.
C.K. Williams is a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet. He teaches at Princeton, who supported Obama.
Still, somewhere between sadness and anger, stupidity and lies, there’s that utterly unreasonable thing humans call Hope. I like to think somewhere it’s still there. Somewhere still there. Read more here.
Alan Wolfe is a political scientist at Boston College and author of The Future of Liberalism, who supported Obama.
In the broadest sense, I’m glad we have President Obama. As a policy president, I would grade President Obama an A, and as a rhetorical president a C-, but that is the opposite of what I anticipated. Read more here.
The question that has arisen is whether Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would have been fungible, as the President. As noted by Paul Berman, "The White House, not to mention the top slot at the State Department, has indeed been staffed by crafty Clintonians."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Swearing Allegiance to the T.V.


It isn't often that two Republican lawmakers raise their hands and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America in front of a T.V. instead of at the congressional session of the official swearing-in ceremony on the House floor. But that didn't stop GOP Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) from casting their first votes of the 112th Congress on Thursday despite the fact they were technically not members of Congress at the time.
The snafu sent Republican leaders scrambling Thursday afternoon because Sessions and Fitzpatrick had already recorded votes on the House floor and Sessions had even chaired the Rules Committee for a period during a hearing on the healthcare repeal bill. Sessions and Fitzpatrick were spotted huddling with staff off the House floor shortly after a vote on congressional budget cuts.

According to sources, the situation came about when the Speaker's office discovered a photo of Sessions holding his hand up while watching a television showing his fellow colleagues taking the oath on the floor.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) administered the oath to both lawmakers on the floor on Thursday, but Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) abruptly recessed a hearing they attended while officials figured out a way to make the votes that Sessions and Fitzpatrick recorded count.
The Republicans have argued that they can get things done better than the Democrats. This incident opened the door for the votes that Sessions and Fitzpatrick cast to be disqualified.
The votes cast during the first days of the congressional session by two Republican lawmakers who skipped Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony will be invalidated, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said Thursday.

Dreier made the announcement at a meeting of the Rules Committee after it became clear that Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) had cast votes during the first two days of the 112th Congress despite having not technically been sworn into office.

Democrats seized on the incident as evidence that Republicans "can't get their house in order."

"When Congressmen-elect Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick participated in reading parts of the U.S. Constitution on the House floor, Speaker Boehner should have given them Article 6 which requires Members of Congress to be sworn in," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Jennifer Crider said. "Republicans have spent a lot of time over the past two days proselytizing about House rules, but they don't seem very keen on actually following the rules."
The two Republicans missed the official swearing-in ceremony on the House floor Wednesday because they were attending a separate event for Fitzpatrick elsewhere in the Capitol.

Now raise your right hand in front of your computer screen and swear you won't laugh!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Michelle Bachmann and Friends

David Fitzsimmons - The Arizona Star - fine print - English - congress, republicans, constitution

Watch out Washington! Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) founder of the "Tea Party Caucus," has also decided to start a "Constitution caucus," and then hold regular "Constitution classes" for freshmen Republican lawmakers? That's right, she wants the freshman legislators to be coached, like players in a football game, on the constitution by teachers of her choice.

Her first mentor is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He recently stated that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.

Bachmann: We're going to do what the NFL does and what the baseball teams do: we're going to practice every week, if you will, our craft, which is studying and learning the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Each week she plans to have a class on the Constitution Her all-star line up also includes Evangelical David Barton and his Christian perspective on American history.

Bachmann: Every week we'll start our week with a class on the Constitution and how maybe bills that we're working on fit in with the Constitution - real time application.

Brody: One guest speaker on the list: influential Evangelical David Barton and his Christian perspective on American history.

Bachmann: The Judeo-Christian heritage isn't a belief. It's a fact.

Brody: And there's another fact Bachmann is bringing to the table.

Bachmann: One thing we know from the Book of Isaiah is that Isaiah tells us that the government is on His shoulders. "We can trust a holy, almighty God with our future and nothing is too big for Him."

Although she says this caucus is bi-partisan, she also said that it is a "constitutional conservative" caucus with a Christian perspective on American history.

Bachmann is right about one thing, she needs practice, practice practice to understand the Constitution. The irony is she is so busy loving the Constitution that she can't make time to actually participate in the legislative process.

The Dumbing Down of the Constitution

Justice Antonin Scalia stated in a recent interview with California Lawyer (via the Huffington Post) that he believes that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. He believes that the civil rights issues presently ruled on by the Supreme Court really should be determined by laws passed by the legislature.

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don't think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we've gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. ... But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that's fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don't need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don't like the death penalty anymore, that's fine. You want a right to abortion? There's nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn't mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

It's a convenient time for Scalia to get loose on the 14th Amendment, as the new, super-right-wing, “constitutionalist” Congress floods into Washington with the intent of revising the document our country was founded upon in their own image. In particular, right-wingers have a particular disdain for the landmark amendment, which did away with many racist and guarantees birthright citizenship -- last summer, Senators John Kyl and Lindsay Graham proposed we do away with it altogether, and the passion for repeal is already bleeding into super-conservative states like Arizona, Texas and Utah. In his passive, wishy-washy stance, Scalia is essentially deflecting interpreting the Constitution -- erm, his job -- back to Congress.

But there's legal precedent that says the 14th Amendment does protect women, along with people of color. The Huffington Post called National Women's Law Center founder Marcia Greenberger:

"In these comments, Justice Scalia says if Congress wants to protect laws that prohibit sex discrimination, that's up to them," she said. "But what if they want to pass laws that discriminate? Then he says that there's nothing the court will do to protect women from government-sanctioned discrimination against them. And that's a pretty shocking position to take in 2011. It's especially shocking in light of the decades of precedents and the numbers of justices who have agreed that there is protection in the 14th Amendment against sex discrimination, and struck down many, many laws in many, many areas on the basis of that protection."

Emboldened by the incoming wave of Tea Partiers, clearly Scalia's using this opportunity to publicly open the door for regressive interpretations of the Constitution.

Scalia defers to the legislature regarding equal rights, sex discrimination, abortion, and all civil rights issues. But what he doesn't acknowledge is that after the legislature rules on these issues, where is the Supreme Court in determining the constitutionality of the laws. Is he really saying that there is no need for the Supreme Court to rule on the issue of civil rights. Is this just shocking or just ignorant?

The Factoid Factor

Olle Johansson - Sweden - Christmas gift-Color - English - Barack, Obama, Gift, Christmas, Tax cut, Cuts, Poor, Rich, Gop, Democrats, Money, Dollar, Taxes, Economy

Robert Reich knows that the Republicans are continually repeating the "The Big Lie" to the American people. He also know that unless Obama and the Democrats counter it strongly with "The Big Truth" then the public will believe that these lies are the truth. It goes like this.
Republicans are telling Americans a Big Lie, and Obama and the Democrats are letting them. The Big Lie is our economic problems are due to a government that's too large, and therefore the solution is to shrink it.

The truth is our economic problems stem from the biggest concentration of income and wealth at the top since 1928, combined with stagnant incomes for most of the rest of us. The result: Americans no longer have the purchasing power to keep the economy going at full capacity. Since the debt bubble burst, most Americans have had to reduce their spending; they need to repay their debts, can't borrow as before, and must save for retirement.

The short-term solution is for government to counteract this shortfall by spending more, not less. The long-term solution is to spread the benefits of economic growth more widely (for example, through a more progressive income tax, a larger EITC, an exemption on the first $20K of income from payroll taxes and application of payroll taxes to incomes over $250K, stronger unions, and more and better investments in education and infrastructure.)

But instead of telling the truth, Obama has legitimized the Big Lie by freezing non-defense discretionary spending, freezing federal pay, touting his deficit commission co-chairs' recommended $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase, and agreeing to extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Will Obama stand up to the Big Lie? Will he use his State of the Union address to rebut it and tell the truth? Maybe, but so far there's no evidence.

In his weekly address yesterday, the President restated his "commitment" for 2011 "to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class." He added that it's important "to look ahead - not just to this year, but to the next 10 years, and the next 20 years" to find ways to stimulate the economy through innovation. And that it is critical that the US discover ways to "out-compete other countries around the world."

Become more innovative? Out-compete? Who or what is he talking about? Big American corporations are innovating like mad all over the world, with research and development centers in China and India. And their profits are soaring. They're sitting on almost $1 trillion of cash. But they won't create jobs in America because there's not enough demand here to justify them.

In the Republican address in response, US Senator-elect Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) restated the Big Lie. "The American people sent us to Congress with clear instructions: make government smaller, not bigger," she said. Deficit reduction "isn't a Republican problem or a Democrat problem - it's an American problem that will require tough decision-making from both parties." And the way to shrink the deficit is to cut government. The extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts over the next two years, she said, was an "important first step" to jump-start the economy.

Starting Wednesday, when the 112th Congress convenes with a Republican majority in the House, we'll be hearing far more of the Big Lie.

George Orwell once explained that when a public is stressed and confused, a Big Lie told repeatedly can become the accepted truth. Adolph Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that "the size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed" and that members of the public are "more easily prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones."

Only the President has the bully pulpit. But will he use it to tell the Big Truth?

PolitiFact has a tracked President Obama 's campaign promises and his actions.

Phase out exemptions and deductions for higher earners

The Promise: Promise Broken Restore the phaseouts of personal exemptions and itemized deductions for those making more than $250,000 (couples) or $200,000 (single), with threshholds indexed for inflation.

Update December 21st, 2010: Current tax rules continued for high earners

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Freeze the 2009 estate tax law

The Promise: Compromise Freeze the 2009 estate tax law, which exempts the first $3.5 million and has a top rate of 45 percent.

Update December 20th, 2010: Obama agrees to lower estate taxes

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Repeal the Bush tax cuts for higher incomes

The Promise: Promise Broken Repeal the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 (couples) or $200,000 (single)

Update December 20th, 2010: President Obama signs off on continuing tax cuts for high earners

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Extend the Bush tax cuts for lower incomes

The Promise: Promise Kept Extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 (couples) or $200,000 (single)

Update December 20th, 2010: Obama gets extension for the middle-class tax rates

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Extend child tax credits and marriage-penalty fixes

The Promise: Promise Kept Will extend aspects of the Bush tax cuts such as child credit expansions and changes to marriage bonuses and penalties.

Update December 21st, 2010: Tax compromise includes extensions of child tax credits and marriage-penalty fixes

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Expand the child and dependent care credit

The Promise: Promise Broken Expand and make refundable the child and dependent care credit.

Update December 21st, 2010: No expansion for the child care tax credit

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Increase the capital gains and dividends taxes for higher-income taxpayers

The Promise: Promise Broken Increase capital gains and dividends taxes from 15 to 20 percent for those making more than $250,000 (couples) or $200,000 (single)

Update December 21st, 2010: No increase in capital gains taxes for high earners

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Eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups

The Promise: Compromise "Barack Obama understands that small businesses are the engines of our economy, and he will eliminate all capital gains taxes on investments in small and start-up firms."

Update December 10th, 2010: A short-term fix

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Create a tax credit of $500 for workers

The Promise: In the Works Enact a Making Work Pay tax credit that would equal 6.2 percent of up to $8,100 of earnings (yielding a maximum credit of approximately $500). Indexed for inflation.

Update December 7th, 2010: Tax compromise may cut taxes for workers.

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Change federal rules so small businesses owned by people with disabilities can get preferential treatment for federal contracts.

The Promise: Promise Broken "Barack Obama and Joe Biden would direct the Small Business Administration to amend regulations under the Small Business Act that provide preferences in federal contracting to small businesses owned by members of socially and economically disadvantaged groups to include individuals with disabilities."

Update November 19th, 2010: No sign of progress toward small business boost for Americans with disabilities

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According to PolitiFact, Obama's scorecard for promises made during his Presidential campaign indicates that he has kept 128 promises, broken 28 promises and compromised on 40 promises. Also, 82 promises have been stalled and 225 are in the works.

According to a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll, most Americans think the United States should raise taxes for the rich to balance the budget.

President Barack Obama last month signed into law a two-year extension of Bush-era tax cuts for millions of Americans, including the wealthiest, in a compromise with Republicans.

Republicans, who this week take control of the House of Representatives, want to extend all Bush-era tax cuts "permanently" for the middle class and wealthier Americans. They are also demanding spending cuts to curb the $1.3 trillion deficit.

Sixty-one percent of Americans polled would rather see taxes for the wealthy increased as a first step to tackling the deficit, the poll showed.

The real issue is whether Obama will stand up for 'Truth' or allow 'The Big Lie 'to become a 'Factoid!'