Sunday, January 31, 2010

Harold Ford for Senate? NFW!


Since this diary was posted Harold Ford has published an op-ed piece in the Times, and he does nothing but solidify his image as purely a Evan Bayh-type Republican masquerading as a Democrat.

Among his policy prescriptions: slash capital gains and dividend tax rates; slash corporate tax rates; and enact "sensible" health care reform, such as capitulating to insurance companies on malpractice liability.

Who the hell needs this? Not our party, that's for sure.

And I say that even though we went to the same law school.

We've covered Harold Ford here before, or, to be specific, we've discussed the vile racist tactics the Republicans used against him when he was running for Senate in 2006. Truly disgusting, but in no way surprising for the heirs to Nixon's Southern Strategy.

This does not, though, imply any endorsement of Ford's positions. Once again he's considering running for Senate, from New York this time, and we can be happy that he doesn't seem to be getting any traction.

Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., has been getting a lot of press lately, ever since he began publicly mulling a Senate bid in New York, where he now lives. But that attention hasn't yet translated into solid poll numbers -- according to a Marist poll released Friday, in a Democratic primary matchup, incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has a lead over Ford that stretches into the double-digits.

The results, which show 43 percent of New York Democrats saying they would vote for Gillibrand in the primary and just 24 percent reporting that they would cast their ballot for Ford, don't suggest that a Gillibrand victory is inevitable, though. The primary isn't for another eight months and fully one third of New York Democrats remain undecided.

Of course Gillibrand was a Blue Dog when she was in the House, which means we wouldn't ordinarily be supporting her for anything. Still, a look at the latest extensive interview of Harold Ford in the Times shows some serious problems with him.

On taxes:

As it relates to big issues: I think there ought to be a huge-tax cut bill for business people, not only in New York but across the country.

I think immediately, we need to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent. We need to make clear that dividends and capital-gains taxes not go up — we do not want to see decisions made that are rash.

On abortion rights:

A. If my daughter, my 15-year-old daughter, is taken to the hospital, to get an abortion, I would hope as a minor, I would know it. If she can’t get into a movie to see an R or NC-17 movie, at 15, I would hope that I would know if she was going to the doctor to have this kind of procedure performed. Not to give you my answer. But if I said yea or nay. I support my family. But I would want to know that. So that is why I voted in favor of parental consent.

Q. Partial-birth abortion. You have objections to it?

A. I do.

Essentially no discussion of foreign policy in the whole interview. Still, there is nothing there that makes him look like anything but a conservative DINO. It's hard to see why it would be a good thing for him to get in. I'm glad to see that Chuck Schumer is working to try to keep Ford out of the race.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Andy Griffith Vs. the Patriot Act

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dwight McKenna is the MAN.

Hey, J.D.

Nor a Grindhouse movie, but it is certainly steeped in the mindset.

Good news from Kansas

Domestic terrorist guilty of Murder One in cold-blooded murder of abortion doctor.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mr. Deity and the Promised Land

The chosen people! Of course they're entitled to the Promised Land. Why not?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bipartisanship, Republican style

Now that Scott Brown has been elected to the Senate, many observers are suggesting that the Democrats in Congress should consider taking a more bipartisan approach to the shared desire to reform health care.

Today we got a view of what the Republicans have in mind when they talk about bipartisanship:

Greg Sargent reports that: In a quick interview with me just now, GOP minority whip Eric Cantor made it clear that the only starting point for bipartisan compromise would be for Dems to drop their health care plan and embrace the GOP one.

That's right: for the Republicans, bipartisanship=Democratic surrender.

Isn't that simple? So let's just stop all the bickering and give the American people what they want. Bipartisan health care reform as dictated by the insurance companies.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paul Anka Smells Like Teen Spirit

Just one question: Do you fucking believe this?

Today's Republican Party

These guys are truly the descendants of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich:

GREENVILLE - Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has compared giving people government assistance to "feeding stray animals."

Bauer, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, made his remarks during a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn that included state lawmakers and about 115 residents.

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better," Bauer said.

And this was the guy who was going to be governor if Mark "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" Sanford had been impeached?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mr. Deity FunBits: Conan

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What did we learn tonight?

BOSTON — Scott Brown, a little-known Republican state senator, rode an old pickup truck and a growing sense of unease among independent voters to an extraordinary upset Tuesday night when he was elected to fill the Senate seat that was long held by Edward M. Kennedy in the overwhelmingly Democratic state of Massachusetts.

So what lesson should we take from this?

First off, something we already know: a bad candidate who runs a bad campaign is likely to lose. Everywhere you turn you see how bad the Coakley campaign was: refusing to stand outside of Fenway Park and shake people's hands; not calling the Democratic mayor of Boston until last week; going on vacation three weeks before the election.

Second, not the lesson Evan Bayh wants us to learn: that Democrats have to become just like Republicans. Harry Truman said it: "Given the choice between a Republican and a Republican, the people will vote for the Republican." In other words, surrendering to them means that we win nothing, not even a meaningless vote in the whip count.

Third,can Obama finally get the point? Trying to be bipartisan and work with the R's has gotten him absolutely nothing. He keeps losing. If he is going to lose anyway, why not go down fighting for the people, instead of competing to see who can win the blandness competition?

Fourth: we thought things were bad in Congress before? You haven't seen anything yet. The Republican program in Congress consists of two items: 1. Block anything the Democrats try to do; 2. Lie about everything the Democrats do or say. # 1 just got a lot easier.

Finally: pointing out that the Republicans are lying is not enough. The fight is more than that. We have seen that people are all too receptive to Republican lies. We need to get our own story out there. The Obama story was a great story, but it's not the only great story we have as Democrats.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Bertrand Russell on God (1959)

I got this from PZ. Very lucid evaluation of the merits of religious belief.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We're Number One! We're Number One!

Deja vu all over again?

You could say that, because once again we're reporting on the results of a survey from Pew, this one a survey that predominantly addresses the progress that minorities have made in the United States.

The good news is that blacks see themselves as doing much better than ever before.

Despite the bad economy, blacks' assessments about the state of black progress in America have improved more dramatically during the past two years than at any time in the past quarter century, according to a comprehensive new nationwide Pew Research Center survey on race.

Barack Obama's election as the nation's first black president appears to be the spur for this sharp rise in optimism among African Americans. It may also be reflected in an upbeat set of black views on a range of other matters, including race relations, local community satisfaction and expectations for future black progress.

The bad news? If you're an atheist, anyway:

The survey finds that most Americans also are ready to accept intermarriage in their family if the new spouse is Hispanic or Asian. But there is one new spouse that most Americans would have trouble accepting into their families: someone who does not believe in God. Seven-in-ten people who are affiliated with a religion say they either would not accept such as marriage (27%) or be bothered before coming to accept it (42%).

Gotta love those open-minded Americans!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mr. Deity and the Hard Wire

Religion of Peace, One More Time

Don't get excited--I'm not going after the Muslims this time.

No, this time I'm calling attention to the religion that most Americans would agree really is the religion of Peace. The Big One. Christianity.

You can always look to the church for guidance in times of trouble, disaster, and massive deprivation, so let's take a look:

And you know, Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it, they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince, true story. And so the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free, and ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.

He left out the part about the Dominican Republic having all the infielders.

Thanks for helping us understand the ways of the Lord, Pat!

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They're At It Again

It's an election year, and this year is particularly ripe for the red noses, fright wigs, and floppy shoes.

That's right, the Second Vermont Republic is running a slate of candidates.

If you've been following the issue for years, as we have, you are familiar with how chummy the SVR people are with the League of the South and other neo-confederate racist groups.

What? You say this is nothing more than another desperate try for the SVR to grasp at relevance? Of course, if you said that you'd be right, but don't tell them--it would be like telling a little kid there's no tooth fairy.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nicholas Kristof gets it partly right

Nicholas Kristof, an Op-Ed columnist for the Times, deserves a lot of praise for his concentration on the oppression of women. He is perhaps best known for his writings about teenage girls held in slavery as prostitutes, and his efforts to free them by buying them from their captors.

This week's column takes another step in opposition to women's oppression, pointing out how religion across the world, in various denominations, operates to keep women down.

He writes:

Religions derive their power and popularity in part from the ethical compass they offer. So why do so many faiths help perpetuate something that most of us regard as profoundly unethical: the oppression of women?

It is not that warlords in Congo cite Scripture to justify their mass rapes (although the last warlord I met there called himself a pastor and wore a button reading “rebels for Christ”). It’s not that brides are burned in India as part of a Hindu ritual. And there’s no verse in the Koran that instructs Afghan thugs to throw acid in the faces of girls who dare to go to school.

It's good to see a mainstream news outlet publishing such a point.

So why do I say that he gets it partly right?

Simple. He treats pervasive religious sexism as somehow an aberration, a distortion of the true nature of religion. In fact, as Kristof's own words demonstrate, sex oppression is at the very core of the largest religions in the world. Sexual oppression isn't the entirety of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, but it is a fundamental part of all three:

The New Testament quotes St. Paul (I Timothy 2) as saying that women “must be silent.” Deuteronomy declares that if a woman does not bleed on her wedding night, “the men of her town shall stone her to death.” An Orthodox Jewish prayer thanks God, “who hast not made me a woman.” The Koran stipulates that a woman shall inherit less than a man, and that a woman’s testimony counts for half a man’s.

He is right that there appears to be an opportunity for some religions to abandon their sexist natures, but it is no help to pretend that those who oppress women in the name of religion are not doing so in line with the central principles of those very religions.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Republicans have the solution to terrorism

Why didn't they tell us it was this easy?

Speaking on ABC this week, Rep. Peter King had the solution to global terrorism.

George Stephanopolous asked "one other specific recommendation the president could implement."

"One main thing would be, just himself, to use the word 'terrorism' more often," King said.

Back in 1947, a Republican senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg, made the observation that "politics stops at the water's edge".
The statement became a catch phrase for people who didn't believe that domestic politics should be subordinated to the interests of national security. While Bush was president the Republicans never missed the chance to trot out this principle to silence legitimate criticism of Bush's unjustified international adventures.

Of course, now that the President is a Democrat things look a little different in a party that Arthur Vandenberg wouldn't recognize. One example is Peter King's theory that what we need to do to fix terrorism is to have Obama start saying "terrorism" more.

Another example is the way the Republicans have responded to the Christmas Day attempted bombing. Bolster the national security apparatus? Try to understand the motivations of terrorists and potential terrorists?

Nope, they have a better idea: raise money for Republicans. In a letter just three days after the attempted Christmas bombing--yes, three days, including Saturday, December 26 and Sunday, December 27, Peter Hoekstra, R, Mich., sent out a letter urging people to "make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to [his] campaign" for governor of Michigan.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee quickly followed suit: To you and me and our friends throughout America, the healthcare bill is a man-made disaster. And when a foreigner tries to blow up an airliner, it is an attempted terrorist attack.

Now more than ever we need a check in the Senate to stop the radical Obama agenda down until we elect a Republican President in 2012.

Get involved today. Tomorrow night at midnight, we close the books on 2009. Donate $10 to help us close out the year strong, and forward this to 5 of your friends so we can get their email and keep them up to date with what is happening in DC.

We've already seen them show their true colors on health care, working to ensure that that the effort to reform health care will be Obama's "Waterloo", and now we're seeing the same thing on terrorism. Even when the safety of the United States don't give a rat's ass about the public interest, but are concerned only with their own political advantage.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010


If you're like me, language is important to you. Its use, and also its abuse. In fact, it's sometimes hard to tell whether the pleasure from reading one of the great writers, like John Updike, is more than the displeasure caused by reading the pedestrian, the bland, and the badly phrased. Since it's a new year I thought I'd start out with some words that I'd really rather not hear again in 2010.

Your cooperation is appreciated:

1. Humbled. How many times have you heard someone getting some award, honor, or appointment announce that they were humbled by the experience? Did you have the same reaction I had? "Bullshit! You're not humbled. You think this proves how great you are, just like you've been telling everybody you know all along." My suggestion: when you're going for the false modesty, at least have the decency to do it in your own words, instead of the trite "humbled".

2. Niche. No, let me clarify something here. There's nothing wrong with the word, I'm just sick of hearing people pronounce it like they just learned it from a native speaker of French and were using it in English for the first time. It's not "neesh" it's niche, pronounced "nitch". Get it right or don't say it at all.

3. G.O.P. Maybe if I keep saying this often enough people will start listening. Why would you call the Republican Party the Grand Old Party? Fowler's Modern English Usage (1926) warned, "Now the sobriquet habit is not a thing to be acquired, but a thing to be avoided; & the selection that follows is compiled for the purpose not of assisting but of discouraging it." Fowler included the sobriquet among what he termed the "battered ornaments" of the language. What's more, why would the opponents of the Republicans want to call it "Grand"? And as far as "Old" goes, the party is not as old as the Democratic Party. I have friends who like "G.O.P.", using it to stand for Guardians of Privilege, but I still say ditch it.

4. More. Here in the English language we have a perfectly good way of forming the comparative of adjectives: generally the rule is to add "-er" to the adjective to form the comparative. Just this year, though, I started noticing people forming the comparative of adjectives with a perfectly good comparative form by adding "more" before the adjective. Like "more fair" instead of "fairer", or "more healthy" instead of "healthier". It's not ungrammatcial, but I don't quite get why you want to sound like Forrest Gump just learning to speak English as your second language, so cut it out.

5. Decade. At least not until December. You see, for a couple of weeks now you can't open a newspaper or a web page without seeing stories about the Top Ten this or that of the decade, what we should call the new decade, what to expect in the new decade, etc.. The problem is, we're still in the first decade of the Twenty-First Century, and we will be for almost another year. Why do we have to go over this again? Didn't we just get done trying to make people understand that 2000 was the last year of the 20th Century, and 2001 was the first year of the 21st? Well then? How hard is this to figure out? Start at 2001, count to ten, and that brings you to what? 2011. Unless we assume that the decade we just finished is one of those unusual, nine-year decades, we're not done with it yet.

I'm sure there are more, but five is a nice, manageable number. If we can just get people to avoid this five words that would be a real start, or, to put it another way, a nice way to wrap up the decade.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Religion of Peace Redux

We've previously covered the phenomenon of the Danish cartoons and the death threats from the Islamic fascists (I know people object to the term "Islamofascist", but what would you call someone who wants to kill you for drawing pictures they don't like?), but one would wish that at some time the story would play itself out, right?

Apparently that hasn't happened yet. Here's the latest chapter, if you haven't heard it yet:

Danish political cartoonist Kurt Westergaard hid in a "panic room" inside his home as a man wielding an ax and knife cracked the glass in the home's front door, Danish police said Saturday.

Police said a home alarm alerted them to the scene in Aarhus at 10 p.m. Friday, and they were attacked by the suspect when they responded. Police shot the suspect.

Over the years, Danish authorities have arrested other suspects who allegedly plotted against Westergaard's life.

After three such arrests in February 2008, Westergaard issued a statement, saying, "Of course I fear for my life after the Danish Security and Intelligence Service informed me of the concrete plans of certain people to kill me. However, I have turned fear into anger and indignation. It has made me angry that a perfectly normal everyday activity which I used to do by the thousand was abused to set off such madness."

Meanwhile, I'll just sit here quietly and wait for someone to explain once more how Islam is a religion of peace.

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