Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cantor: Joplin Tornado Relief Must Be Offset–But Not Tax Cuts For Billionaires

Speaking on “Face the Nation,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-KY) said that emergency funding for victims of the Joplin, Missouri, tornado must be offset by budget cuts. Watch:

Cantor: Congress will find the money, and it will be offset. …When a family is struck with tragedy -- like the family of Joplin ... let's say if they had $10,000 set aside to do something else with, to buy a new car ... and then they were struck with a sick member of the family or something, and needed to take that money to apply it to that, that's what they would do, because families don't have unlimited money. And, really, neither does the federal government.

In response, Rep. William Lacy (D-MO) said "Where is his heart? Where is his compassion for people who are suffering today? If they want to fight and quibble over the supplemental, I mean, they are heartless. What's wrong with them? Nothing for the average American community. That's what they're saying: we don't have anything for the average American community. (h/t: Huffington Post)

Cantor drives a hard bargain against the interests of the average American family, those who have to decide between a car or health care. He's much more lenient, though, when it comes to the wealthiest segments of the country. He fought to extend Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires at a cost of $800 billion. In that case, Cantor didn’t insist that the cuts be offset. In fact, Cantor acknowledged that such cuts increase the deficit or “dig the hole deeper.”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Steve Benen: The Problem Is The Ryan Plan, Not Democrats’ Warnings

Paul Krugman recently observed about Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to destroy Medicare: “…the Ryan plan is turning into a political disaster for Republicans, not because the plan’s critics are lying about it, but because they’re describing it accurately." After commenting on the imbalanced tilt toward conservative voices discussing the plan on “Meet the Press” yesterday, Steve Benen (left) confirmed Krugman's statement. Republicans who charge the Democrats with “Mediscare” are hiding the fact that it's the Ryan plan that's frightening:

It’s exasperating, but it’s worth reemphasizing what too many establishment types simply refuse to understand: Democrats are telling the truth. Indeed, Dems are doing what the media is reluctant to do: offering an accurate assessment of the Republican plan for Medicare. If voters find the GOP proposal frightening, the problem is with the plan, not with Democrats’ rhetoric.

I’m at a loss to understand what, exactly, Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, and their cohorts would have Dems do. Congressional Republicans have a plan to end Medicare and replace it with a privatized voucher scheme. The proposal would not only help rewrite the social contract, it would also shift crushing costs onto the backs of seniors, freeing up money for tax breaks for the wealthy. The plan is needlessly cruel, and any serious evaluation of the GOP’s arithmetic shows that the policy is a fraud.

...political rhetoric isn’t “demagoguery” when it’s true. If a political message leads the mainstream to feel scared, it’s not necessarily “scare tactics” if people have good reason to worry.

What Dems are doing is ringing an alarm — Republicans are up to something dangerous, and Democrats want people to know about it. The question isn’t why Dems are on the offensive; the question is why the Beltway media finds it offensive.

The Best Way To Honor The Fallen

John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune

Memorial Day 2011: 549 Names Every American Should Know

Today we honor and remember with deepest gratitude those who gave their lives in service to this country. Corey Gabel has produced a video of Americans in uniform who died between last Memorial Day and May 23, 2011. The tragedies continue, as The New York Times reports that 10 more have died since the video was made. This is a fitting time to ask, Why are we still in Afghanistan? When will we end the nation’s longest war, so that more young lives won’t be lost between this Memorial Day and the next?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Krugman: Ryan Proposed A Right-Wing Wish List, Not Deficit Reduction

Democrat Kathy Hochul’s upset victory in an upstate New York Congressional race is a rebuke to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to destroy Medicare. Ryan wants to replace it with a privatized voucher system which, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, would eventually double seniors’ health care expenses. Paul Krugman (left) comments that the plan is running into trouble because the public sees it for what it is. Ryan's parallel plan to substantially reduce the top tax rate makes it clear that his goal is not deficit reduction but another shift in wealth to the wealthy. From "Medicare and Mediscares":

...the Ryan plan is turning into a political disaster for Republicans, not because the plan’s critics are lying about it, but because they’re describing it accurately.

Take, for example, the statement that the Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it. This may have Republicans screaming “Mediscare!” but it’s the absolute truth: The plan would replace our current system, in which the government pays major health costs, with a voucher system, in which seniors would, in effect, be handed a coupon and told to go find private coverage.

The new program might still be called Medicare...but it wouldn’t be the same program. And if the cost estimates of the Congressional Budget Office are at all right, the inadequate size of the vouchers — which by 2030 would cover only about a third of seniors’ health costs — would leave many if not most older Americans unable to afford essential care.

...In fact, it wasn’t really a deficit-reduction plan. Once you remove the absurd assumptions — discretionary spending, including defense, falling to Calvin Coolidge levels, and huge tax cuts for corporations and the rich, with no loss in revenue? — it’s highly questionable whether it would reduce the deficit at all.

What the Ryan plan is, instead, is an attempt to snooker Americans into accepting a standard right-wing wish list under the guise of deficit reduction. And Americans, it seems, have seen through the deception.

O’Donnell: Obama And Netanyahu Hold Identical Positions On Israel’s Borders

Following the speeches by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Republicans, along with a few Democrats, see an opportunity to cultivate a wedge issue against the president. For example, presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that Obama “threw Israel under the bus.” Several Jewish Democratic Congressmen have pushed back with the truth: in calling for negotiations to start at the 1967 borders, and for those borders to be changed through mutually agreed land swaps, Obama is not saying anything new or radical. Yet the demagoguery continues, with claims that Obama is calling for Israel to go back to the 1967 borders–period. Lawrence O’Donnell called out the falsehood of such claims and pointed out that Netanyahu, in his speech to Congress, promoted the same stance on borders as Obama:

O’Donnell: All of the outrage was based on the lie that President Obama said that he believes the solution is to go back to Israel’s 1967 borders which he never, ever said. …When it was the prime minister’s turn to give his big speech to Congress just five days after President Obama’s speech, he used slightly different language, but he said exactly the same thing President Obama said. …The Prime Minister is saying there will be some settlements that will be beyond those borders that will have to be included in the new border that defines Israel. That is exactly what President Obama was saying when he referred to using the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. …The president’s position and the prime minister’s position are identical. You would ever know that by listening to the hysterics who wrongly believe they are rising in Israel’s defense. …The position of the president of the United States on Israel’s future borders is identical to the position of Israel’s prime minister.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Remembering Gil Scott-Heron

Poet and singer Gil Scott-Heron, who died at 62 yesterday, gave voice to black political protest starting in the 1970s and became known as “the godfather of rap.” Scott-Heron, however, wasn’t a rap fan and preferred to call himself a “bluesologist,” in line with the blues, jazz and the Harlem Renaissance literary movement of the early 20th century. His most famous work, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” lampooned commercial culture and those it manipulates as much as it made a revolutionary statement. This second version was recorded with a jazz band, including bassist Ron Carter:

In the following performance of “Winter In America,” Scott-Heron looked at a confused, broken nation that doesn’t know what to say or where to turn:

"Just Kids": A Bohemian World For Two

Just Kids by Patti Smith. 306 pp. Ecco. $16.95 (paperback)

Arriving in New York City in the late sixties, Patti Smith knew no one and slept in Central Park. She was fortunate to meet Robert Mapplethorpe, who took her in. They became bohemian soul mates, friends and lovers. Smith worked in bookstores and insisted on supporting Mapplethorpe (though he sometimes worked as a hustler), as both worked on, and lived for, their art projects. Money was extremely tight; since they couldn’t afford two tickets to a museum, one would go inside and later describe the exhibit to the one who waited outside. 

In "Just Kids," Smith provides a portrait of the arts scene in the New York of the sixties and seventies, including CBGB, the punk rock palace, and the Chelsea Hotel, legendary home to countless artists, where the two lived together. There are also appearances by Allen Ginsberg, Jim Hendrix, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin and other legendary figures. This, however, is the story of Smith and Mapplethorpe and their artistic development. Mapplethorpe stated, "Nobody sees as we do, Patti"–a comment that made Smith feel "as if we were the only two people in the world." Smith encouraged Mapplethorpe in his gradual turn toward photography, though she was uncomfortable about a controversial subject of his, sadomasochism. Mapplethorpe encouraged Smith as she set her poetry to rock, shooting the iconic cover of her album "Horses." Smith was inspired by the poetry of French poet Arthur Rimbaud and the music of Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison. Attending a Doors concert at the Fillmore East, Smith watched Morrison’s performance and thought “I could do that,” beginning a journey that resulted in her becoming "the godmother of punk."

Mapplethorpe’s gradual assumption of his gay identity resulted in the end of their sexual relationship, but their intense friendship continued until he died of AIDS in 1989. Smith concludes this deeply affecting memoir with a few poems dedicated to Mapplethorpe. One reflects his photos of flowers: “A wall of flowers concealing all the tears of a relatively young man with nothing but glory in his grasp. And what he would be grasping is the hand of God drawing him into another garden.”

Writer Jonathan Lethem interviewed Smith at a literary festival in 2010:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Senate Republicans Vote To Destroy Medicare

Majority leader Harry Reid (left) held a Senate vote on the Paul Ryan budget to press the point that the GOP remains committed to transforming Medicare into a privatized voucher plan while cutting taxes for the wealthy. The vote took place right after Democrat Kathy Hochul’s upset victory in a New York Congressional race focused on Medicare:

Senate Democrats wasted no time capitalizing on Tuesday's Medicare-fueled upset in a New York special election, holding a vote on the GOP budget plan Wednesday designed to put Republicans on record backing the controversial House budget plan.

The measure failed, 57 to 40, with five Republicans breaking ranks: Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The spending plan, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would turn Medicare into a private program and transform Medicaid into a state block-grant system.

The Ryan budget was used as a Democratic rallying cry in the New York race, which saw Kathy Hochul triumph in the heavily Republican district.

Just before the vote Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took to the floor to portray the GOP budget in stark terms.

"The Republican plan to kill Medicare is a plan to make the rich richer and the sick sicker," Reid said. His speech repeatedly used the phrase, "Republican plan to kill Medicare."

So regardless of their stinging loss in a conservative district in upstate New York and angry town hall meetings across the country, the vast majority of Republicans are sticking with the plan to end Medicare. May they remain resolute, right up to the 2012 elections.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Democratic Upset Victory In NY GOP District Rebukes Ryan Plan

Democrat Kathy Hochul’s (left) New York Congressional election victory over Republican Jane Corwin is directly tied to the latter’s support for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to destroy Medicare. Ryan wants to transform the popular entitlement into a  plan in which seniors are given vouchers to purchase private health insurance, despite the fact that the vouchers will not keep pace with rising costs. This stunning upset gives the Republicans pause regarding Ryan’s scheme, which also involves further tax cuts for the wealthy. Already Republican senators Lisa Murkowski (AK), Susan Collins (ME) and Scott Brown (MA) have announced either reservations or opposition to the plan. With the Hochul victory, one can only hope that Ryan keeps touting his plan:

Democrats scored an upset in one of New York’s most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party’s plan to overhaul Medicare.

The results set off elation among Democrats and soul-searching among Republicans, who questioned whether they should rethink their commitment to the Medicare plan, which appears to have become a liability heading into the 2012 elections.

Two months ago, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, was considered an all-but-certain loser in the race against the Republican, Jane Corwin. But Ms. Hochul seized on the Republican’s embrace of the proposal from Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to overhaul Medicare, and she never let up.

…Voters, who turned out in strikingly large numbers for a special election, said they trusted Ms. Hochul, the county clerk of Erie County, to protect Medicare.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy 70th Birthday To Bob Dylan, With Thanks

I think of Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday today with tremendous gratitude. There’s no other recording artist who has affected me the way he has–and I’m not unique in that. Looking at his body of work, I wonder how one individual could have written so much, and with so many songs becoming classics: “The Times They Are A Changin’,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright,” “Like A Rolling Stone” (performed above in 1995), to name just a few.

One Dylan title, “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)” expresses his artistic credo of  always going his own way. When he arrived in Greenwich Village during the 1960s folk boom, the emphasis was not on original material but on performing traditional acoustic folk and blues tunes. Dylan countered that by becoming the era's first major singer-songwriter. In 1965, he outraged folk purists at the Newport Folk Festival by going electric, initiating the folk rock explosion. As a songwriter, Dylan has evolved from protest songs to the surreal to the American roots of his past few albums. In all of his evolutions, he has had a huge influence on countless performers and is one of the most covered songwriters in history.

What’s next for Dylan? One can never say. Though a 1967 documentary on his England concert tour is titled, “Don’t Look Back,” his 70th birthday gives us an opportunity to look back with thanks for Dylan’s profound contributions to social change, music and American culture.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Obama’s Stance On Israeli-Palestinian Talks Based On Precedent

At a Washington conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), President Obama defended his stance to base negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on Israel's pre-1967 borders, with retention of certain settlements for land swaps elsewhere. Obama’s proposal may be controversial at AIPAC, but it has long precedent as American policy and in Israeli-Palestinian talks:

As Mr. Obama himself pointed out, his theme in the speech last Thursday was not extraordinary. American presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have consistently instructed their foreign policy aides to pursue an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians using the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land swaps, as a basis for talks.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, in fact, made such a proposal to the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in 2008, as the two sides rushed to complete a peace deal before Mr. Bush and Mr. Olmert left office.

But the 1967 border issue has always been privately understood, not spoken publicly, and certainly not publicly endorsed by a sitting American president.

… [Obama] said, “let me reaffirm what ‘1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps’ means.” His view, he said, is that “the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”

“It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation,” he continued. “It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.”

Why did Obama talk about the 1967 borders publicly, to the chagrin of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu? Because in a rapidly changing Middle East, Israel, along with the U.S., stands to be further isolated if negotiations remain stalled–especially if the U.N. endorses Palestinian statehood in September. Regarding that prospect, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said, "We are facing a political-diplomatic tsunami. ...It is a very dangerous situation, one that requires action. Paralysis...will deepen the isolation of Israel." From that perspective, Netanyahu might view Obama's stance as an attempt to forge negotiations that will at least mitigate the tsunami. But there's little reason to believe that the prime minister will adopt that view.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Student Who Challenged Bachmann To Debate Gets Threats

Cherry Hill, NJ, high school student Amy Myers (left), who issued a debate challenge on a CNN website to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), has been threatened by some of the latter’s followers:

In a letter addressed to Bachmann and dated April 29, Myers leveled pointed criticisms at the Tea Party Caucus founder.

"I have found quite a few of your statements regarding the Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted," Myers wrote.

...Amy and [her father] Wayne Myers said the comments on conservative websites alarmed them most. Several commenters threatened to publish the Myers' home address.
Others threatened violence, including rape, they said.

"They're targeting me just because I'm challenging Bachmann," Amy said.

…The Minnesota Republican has more than once stumbled over constitutional questions in public.

In 2009, Bachmann said she would refuse to participate fully in the 2010 Census because the U.S. Constitution requires she only provide the number of people who live in her household. That is wrong.

And in several speeches, including one in response to President Barack Obama's Jan. 25 State of the Union Address, Bachmann repeated the patently false claim that the Founding Fathers "worked tirelessly" to abolish slavery.

For more questionable assertions from the Minnesota Congresswoman, see the "Best of Bachmann" video.

Matthews And Fox's Ailes Doubt Palin’s Intellectual Rigor

Chris Matthews comments that Sarah Palin’s statements on Newt Gingrich’s disastrous week are so illogical that he can’t even follow her “fairly basic brain”:

Matthews: This is so pathetic watching her on television. It's so pathetic that Roger Ailes has put her on television, sitting up in some box, some loony bin up in Alaska, sitting there answering these questions she doesn't know anything about. Did you hear what she just said, John? She said [Gingrich] should continue to attack the Republican plan. What's she up to here? Is she just not thinking or capable of thinking? What is going on here? Do you really think she should have been vice president of the United States? Or is Steve Schmidt, the [McCain-Palin] campaign manager, right: "She doesn't know anything."

Though Matthews’ comments annoyed Fox News chief Roger Ailes, apparently they share views on Palin:

“Every single [Republican] candidate has consulted with Roger,” but he’s not impressed with any of them. “He finds flaws in every one,” says another source—particularly Sarah Palin.

“He thinks Palin is an idiot,” says another source. “He thinks she’s stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven’t elevated the conservative movement.”

John Lithgow Provides Dramatic Reading To Gingrich Press Release

Appearing on the Colbert Report, actor John Lithgow gave a dramatic reading to a ridiculous press release written by Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler. The release, which cast Gingrich as an epic hero, followed a disastrous week for his presidential candidacy. Republicans were incensed that Gingrich called Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to destroy Medicare “right-wing social engineering,” and reports surfaced that he owed up to $500,000 at Tiffany’s. In addition, Gingrich was “glitter bombed” by a gay activist in Minneapolis and accused of racism for calling Obama “the most successful food stamps president in history.” Watch:

People Of NYC Vs. Koch

New Yorkers rallied outside the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center against David and his brother Charles Koch, billionaire oil magnates who support right wing causes that include support for the Tea Party, foreclosures, tax cuts for the wealthy, union busting, and financial and environmental deregulation, along with opposition to health care reform, unemployment insurance and social security. The Kochs were first exposed in a must-read article by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker. In the following video by the Brave New Foundation, protestors contend that David Koch’s support for the theater should not cover up the Kochs' destructive activities. Watch:

Other Brave New Foundation videos about the Kochs are here and here and here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: End-Of-The-World Hit Parade

I promised readers that I’d post my weekly musical feature today, supposedly the end of the world. I thought it would be apropos to go out on a high note surveying some of the greatest doomsday hits. The first of our rapturous musical samplings is Skeeter Davis with her 1963 chart topper, in which she asks a question similar to signs shown in Times Square lately: “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?”

Jim Morrison, aka the "Lizard King," and The Doors perform "The End," the apocalyptic ending to their self-titled 1967 album:

Jazz pianist Mose Allison, in "Ever Since The World Ended," sings, "It's just as well the world ended, it wasn't working anyway":

Elvis Costello is "Waiting for the End of the World":

Michael Stipe of R.E.M. views doomsday with aplomb, declaring, "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)":

I feel fine, too. Stay tuned for another musical installment a week from today.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

End-Of-World Leader’s Proof Of Doomsday: It’s The Gays

Harold Camping (left), leader of the May 21 end-of-the-world campaign responsible for placing doomsday billboards across the country, has the goods as to why the world will end. It’s the gays, of course:

"God has given us an enormous amount of proof, like the gay pride movement and the extraordinary amount of wickedness in the world," the 89-year-old founder of the Family Stations Christian radio network recently told SF Weekly's Alan Scherstuhl.

That belief might explain why Camping authored a paper...last year titled "Gay Pride: Planned by God as a Sign of the End."

..."The world-wide success of the Gay Pride/Same Sex Marriage movement is a dramatic sign provided by God to warn the world that the world is on the threshold of Judgment Day," he wrote.

Camping cites Sodom and Gomorrha as an example of biblical cities that were destroyed by God for homosexual behavior.

Case closed? Here's a saner, less hate-filled theological perspective:

Iliff School of Theology Professor Miguel De La Torre told The Colorado Independent that the suggestion gay pride was a sign of doomsday makes the story even more dangerous. "To say that the world will end because of God’s wrath with a particular group of people is really a throwback to the darkest part of our culture," he said.

"I do not see anything in the Bible that condemns loving relationships between same-gender adults. God is not displeased by any loving relationship between two adults. This seems to be based more on cultural biases than any Biblical text."

Prof. De La Torre's last point is the same one made by Rep. Steve Simon (D-MN) as he criticized Minnesota Republicans for passing an initiative to place a constitutional amendment before voters to restrict marriage to heterosexuals.

Camping's last doomsday prediction in 1994 was clearly wrong. With that in mind, let me reassure my regular readers that I plan to post my weekly "Saturday Night at the Liberal Curmudgeon" musical feature on May 21.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paul Krugman: Obama Should Call Republicans’ Bluff On Debt Ceiling

The Republicans held the country hostage over the extension of the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2010. The deal: extend them for the wealthy or no extension for the middle class and for unemployment benefits. Now they’re ready to hold the country hostage again over the need to raise the debt ceiling. Paul Krugman outlines the catastrophe that would take place if the ceiling isn’t raised: the government couldn’t pay a third of its bills, consumer spending would crash, businesses would slash payrolls and cancel investments, markets here and abroad would panic. Yet House Republicans are threatening not to raise the ceiling unless the president agrees to large spending cuts and rules out any tax increases. Krugman wonders “what, if anything, will get the president to say no”–and he advises Obama to finally call the Republicans’ bluff, lest he cede all his power. From “America Held Hostage”:

...this is a hostage situation. If the president and his allies operate on the principle that failure to raise the debt ceiling is an unthinkable outcome, to be avoided at all cost, then they have ceded all power to those willing to bring that outcome about. In effect, they will have ripped up the Constitution and given control over America’s government to a party that only controls one house of Congress, but claims to be willing to bring down the economy unless it gets what it wants.

Now, there are good reasons to believe that the G.O.P. isn’t nearly as willing to burn the house down as it claims. Business interests have made it clear that they’re horrified at the prospect of hitting the debt ceiling. Even the virulently anti-Obama U.S. Chamber of Commerce has urged Congress to raise the ceiling “as expeditiously as possible.” And a confrontation over spending would only highlight the fact that Republicans won big last year largely by promising to protect Medicare, then promptly voted to dismantle the program.

But the president can’t call the extortionists’ bluff unless he’s willing to confront them, and accept the associated risks.

According to Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, Mr. Obama has told Democrats not to draw any “line in the sand” in debt negotiations. Well, count me among those who find this strategy completely baffling. At some point — and sooner rather than later — the president has to draw a line. Otherwise, he might as well move out of the White House, and hand the keys over to the Tea Party.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cenk Uygur Busts The Myth Of The Fiscal Conservative

Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks once again demolishes the falsehood that the Democrats are responsible for the deficit. He cites Bush administration policies that exploded the national debt, including tax cuts for the wealthy, two wars and the unfunded Medicare prescription drug benefit–all of which dwarf the Obama tax cuts and stimulus. Uygur reminds us that the stimulus itself was made necessary by Republican policies, under which the billions in surplus left by Clinton was replaced by trillions in a deficit left by Bush. Uygur concludes with a summary of the GOP con job as it now relates to the debt ceiling: “So in the end, the GOP causes giant deficits and then, when we have to raise the debt limit to pay for them, they hold the country hostage to further the agenda that got us into debt in the first place.” Watch:

With apologies for the illiterate captions, including the reference to “Dwight” as “too white” and Eisenhower as “bison howard.”

Rep. Hatch, Fox News Defend Big Oil Subsidies

Despite the fact that the five largest oil companies reported more than $35 billion in first-quarter profits, the American taxpayers provide them with $2.1 billion in subsidies. Regardless, at a Senate Finance Committee hearing in which Democrats grilled five oil executives, James J. Mulva of ConocoPhillips refused to apologize for calling the proposed rescinding of subsidies “un-American.”

Just as Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized to BP following criticism of the Gulf oil spill, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) criticized the hearings as politically motivated and not based on obvious outrage at subsidies for companies enjoying record-breaking profits. Watch Hatch, whose views represent the Republican party, dance around the question of why big oil needs such huge tax breaks:

Fox News rushed to the oil executives' defense, following its history of defending oil companies. Most absurdly, getting rid of the subsidies is referred to as a "feel good move"–not a move to stop wasting billions of actual taxpayer dollars. Watch the cavalcade of Fox apologists:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Boehner Criticized By Catholic Professors For Policies That Hurt The Vulnerable

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is known for his “So be it” dismissal of potential federal job losses, his desire to repeal health care reform, his consistent support of policies that favor the rich and powerful, and his shilling for financial deregulation. Boehner spoke at the Catholic University of America this past Saturday; prior to his address, he received a letter from Catholic professors criticizing his record for the harm it has done to the disadvantaged:

More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House will hurt the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable, and that he therefore has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teachings.

“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”

The letter writers criticize Mr. Boehner’s support for a budget that cut financing for Medicare, Medicaid and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, while granting tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. They call such policies “anti-life,” a particularly biting reference because the phrase is usually applied to politicians and others who support the right to abortion.

Pelosi Gives Republicans A Playlist Following Vote To End Medicare

Now that their votes to end Medicare, following Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposals, have had a negative response throughout the country, freshmen Republicans have asked President Obama to rein in Democratic attacks. Others have tried to tightly control town hall meetings, including Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who only answered pre-screened questions. Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, however, insisted that the Republicans literally face the music for their cavalier attitude toward the health care of the American people:


To: GOP Freshman

Fr: Democratic Leader’s Press Office

Da: May 13, 2011

Re: Facing the Music – Suggested Songs for Your Trip Home

As you go home to face the music of your vote to end Medicare as we know it, we know you’re worried about what your constituents are going to say…for good reason. Here is a suggested playlist for your trip:

Think – Aretha Franklin (1968)
Desperado – Eagles (1982)
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word – Elton John (1976)
Hard to Say I’m Sorry – Chicago (1982)
I’m Sorry, So Sorry – Brenda Lee (1960)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Rolling Stones (1969)
You Got Another Thing Coming – Judas Priest (1982)
Mama Said – The Shirelles (1961)
Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home) – The Impalas (1959)
Cryin’ – Aerosmith (1993)
Who’s Sorry Now? – Connie Francis (1958)
Lost Cause – Beck (2002)
I Learned the Hard Way – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (2010)
Not Ready To Make Nice – Dixie Chicks (2006)
Bad Day – Daniel Powter (2005)
Troubles – Alicia Keys (2001)

When the music stops, you should try listening to the American people.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

“Reconfiguring An African Icon” At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art

The African mask has a long association with ceremonies that often involve connecting with ancestral spirits. It has also had a tremendous influence on many modern artists, including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. A group of contemporary artists in Africa, the U.S. and Europe have re-imagined the African mask constructed from a conglomeration of discarded materials with startling effect. These artists are represented in a small but worthy exhibit, “Reconfiguring an African Icon: Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three Continents” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There is an irony in these works, in that a spiritual icon primarily carved in wood has evolved into works composed from the detritus of evolving consumer societies. The influence of the West is evident here, including its waste, fortunately recycled into new forms of creativity. Among the artists are Calixte Dakpogan from Benin, whose “Woli” (2007) is composed of metal, glass and plastic; note the eyes derived from the backs of video tapes:

Romuald Hazoume, also from Benin, constructed "Ear Splitting" (1999) from a plastic can, brush and speakers:

More images are here. The exhibit continues through August 21, 2011, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, NYC.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

McCain Condemns Torture, Disputes Its Leading To Bin Laden

Despite the yearning for a resumption of torture on the part of Dick Cheney and Fox News, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), former POW who was tortured in Vietnam, eloquently spoke out on the Senate floor against waterboarding and other so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques." McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, disputed the contention that torture led to Bin Laden:

Further, McCain declared his opposition to a “return to the use of waterboarding or other methods of interrogation that I sincerely believe are torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading”; discounted the validity of statements made under torture, in which “a person will say anything he thinks his captors will want to hear”; said that it was unfair to the intelligence community and military to say that “they only succeeded because we used torture”; and stated that American values are at stake in this debate:

In an essay in the Washington Post, McCain further disputed the value of torture in the search for Bin Laden and commented on the harm torture can do to our soldiers:

I asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and he told me the following: The trail to bin Laden did not begin with a disclosure from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. The first mention of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti — the nickname of the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden — as well as a description of him as an important member of al-Qaeda, came from a detainee held in another country, who we believe was not tortured. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda.

In fact, the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on Khalid Sheik Mohammed produced false and misleading information. He specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married and ceased his role as an al-Qaeda facilitator — none of which was true. According to the staff of the Senate intelligence committee, the best intelligence gained from a CIA detainee — information describing Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti’s real role in al-Qaeda and his true relationship to bin Laden — was obtained through standard, noncoercive means.

...Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops, who might someday be held captive. While some enemies, and al-Qaeda surely, will never be bound by the principle of reciprocity, we should have concern for those Americans captured by more conventional enemies, if not in this war then in the next.

Newt Gingrich’s “History Of Divisiveness And Intolerance”

Newt Gingrich, who declared his presidential candidacy, fashions himself an intellectual heavyweight and a historian. I’ve been tracking Gingrich’s historical pronouncements and find many as valid as Glenn Beck’s. Gingrich has commented on “gay and secular fascism,” distortions to which his gay rights activist sister Candace objected; stated that "we are surrounded by paganism”; declared that the president’s behavior is “Kenyan, anti-colonial”; stated that his own adultery was driven by love of country; demanded that Obama bomb Libya and then criticized him for doing so. In an editorial, The New York Times rounds out the Gingrich “history of slashing divisiveness and intolerance”:

He refers to himself as a historian, but apparently his personal study of history has primarily taught him about the effectiveness of demagogy. Donald Trump, fiddling with birth certificates, is an amateur compared with Mr. Gingrich at sliming the Obama administration — as well as Democrats, Muslims, blacks and gay men and lesbians.

The Democrats who won in 2008, including President Obama, are “left-wing radicals” who lead a “secular socialist machine,” he wrote in his 2010 book, “To Save America.” He accused them of producing “the greatest political corruption ever seen in modern America.” And then the inevitable historical coup de grâce: “The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.”

The slurs don’t stop there. He compared the Muslims who wanted to open an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan to the German Reich, saying it “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.” He is promoting the fringe idea that “jihadis” are intent on imposing Islamic law on every American village and farm.

Last year, he called for a federal law to stop the (nonexistent) onslaught of Sharia on American jurisprudence and accused the left of refusing to acknowledge its “mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” This nuanced grasp of world affairs was reinforced when he said that Mr. Obama displayed “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.”

In his world, advocates for gay rights are imposing a “gay and secular fascism” using violence and harassment, blacks have little entrepreneurial tradition, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the Supreme Court is a “Latina woman racist.” (He kind of took back that last slur.)

...It is not difficult to know what Newt Gingrich stands for, and to find it repellent.

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Robert Johnson And Cream At The Crossroads

Last week I paid tribute to Robert Johnson on what would have been the 100th birthday of the greatest blues songwriter of all time. I mentioned one of the central themes of Johnson’s legend: his selling his soul to the devil at a Mississippi Delta crossroads in exchange for becoming a guitar master. Some of Johnson’s songs allude to this legend, including “Crossroads.” The following video set to Johnson’s “Crossroads,” one of the 29 songs he recorded, starts with his only two surviving photos:

In 2005 at the Royal Albert Hall, London, Cream played a reunion concert during which they performed “Crossroads.” Johnson’s greatest advocate, guitarist Eric Clapton (shown last week playing a Johnson song on acoustic), is joined by Jack Bruce, bass, and Ginger Baker, drums. As these three British musicians perform an electrified version of “Crossroads,” they demonstrate the universality of Johnson’s music:

To hear more covers of Robert Johnson, listen to St. James Infirmary, hosted by my friend Dr. Michael Mand. Click on the May 6 show, second half; the Johnson material begins at 37:40.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nation Reassured As Gov. Jindal Releases Birth Certificate

Losing sleep over whether Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana was born in the United States? You can rest easy, since Jindal released his birth certificate proving that he was born here shortly after his parents arrived from India.:

They arrived Feb 1, 1971, and a bit over four months later, on June 10, 1971, Piyush Jindal was born at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, a natural-born U.S. citizen, who like every other child born in America, could, constitutionally, grow up to be president.

Donald Trump can now call off the campaign he was no doubt going to launch questioning the Republican governor’s citizenship. Regardless, Jindal has made his birther sympathies known, stating that he would sign a bill filed in the Louisiana Legislature requiring federal candidates to furnish a birth certificate. His stance prompted a scathing editorial in the Advocate of Baton Rouge. Excerpted from “Masquerade for Bigotry”:

This is what is called in politics a “dog whistle.” While there is no reason for the Louisiana Legislature to pass a birther bill, the pledge to sign the bill is a signal to the lunatic fringe that Jindal is sympathetic to them.

...Our system does not depend merely on laws, even the Constitution. It depends on an atmosphere of mutual respect, for the office if not the person or the views. By lending his signature to a birther bill, Jindal would put his politics above his personal obligation to make America’s political system work. Above the respect he ought to show to the president’s person, even if he disagrees with the president’s actions.

Finally, the son of Indian immigrants to this country, who have lived the American dream, should not be a party to this nativist agitation, which is at its root racist and anti-immigrant.

Jindal’s release of his birth certificate should actually disqualify him from holding office in the voters’ estimation, since he feels compelled to distract himself from state business with this nonsense.

NRA Bill In Florida Prohibits Doctors From Discussing Gun Safety

Florida’s House and Senate passed a bill, written with the help of NRA lobbyists, that will prohibit doctors, particularly pediatricians, from asking whether there are guns in the home. Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign it; the measure is also being considered in North Carolina and Alabama. Doctors are permitted to discuss other domestic safety issues, but asking about guns and advising on their safe us are viewed as an “intrusion of...Second Amendment rights”:

As parents know, pediatricians ask a lot of questions. Dr. Louis St. Petery says it's all part of what doctors call "anticipatory guidance" — teaching parents how to safeguard against accidental injuries. Pediatricians ask about bike helmets, seat belts and other concerns.

"If you have a pool, let's talk about pool safety so we don't have accidental drownings," he says. "And if you have firearms, let's talk about gun safety so that they're stored properly — you know, the gun needs to be locked up, the ammunition stored separate from the gun, etc., so that children don't have access to them."

For decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged its members to ask questions about guns and how they're stored, as part of well-child visits.

Who stands to be harmed by this misguided bill? The children under the care of pediatricians:

Ultimately, both Florida's Senate and House agreed with the NRA and voted to approve the bill. For supporters of gun rights, it's another victory — one that [Dr. Louis] St. Petery says will negatively affect pediatricians and their patients.

"Many pediatricians will think twice about asking about firearms and discussing firearms safety," he says. "What I think is going to happen is there'll be more children injured and killed from firearms in the home that are not properly stored."

Florida Republicans Slash Unemployment Benefits, Shift Savings To Corporations

Florida Republicans under Gov. Rick Scott (left) are continuing their party’s pattern of slashing the social safety net and shifting the savings to the wealthy and corporations. An article in The New York Times focuses on the extent of proposed cuts in unemployment benefits:

A bill that would establish some of the deepest and most far-reaching cuts in unemployment benefits in the nation is heading for the desk of Gov. Rick Scott… The legislation would cut maximum state benefits to 23 weeks from 26 when the jobless rate is 10.5 percent or higher. If lower, the maximum would decline on a sliding scale until bottoming at 12 weeks if the jobless rate was 5 percent or less.

The Miami Herald connects the dots in an article, “Florida Senate approves business tax cut that shrinks unemployment benefits”:

The Senate plan, approved on a party-line 29-10 vote, keeps the maximum benefit at 26 weeks. But it creates a sliding scale that would cut or add a week of unemployment benefits for every half-percent the unemployment rate dropped or climbed.

… The bill cuts by 10 percent the tax rate that businesses pay to cover the costs of unemployment benefits and makes it easier for companies to keep former workers from collecting benefits.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said there was no reason to connect benefits to the unemployment rate.

“This bill is not good for employees,” she said. “If I’m unemployed, I’m unemployed. And don’t tell me because the unemployment rate is low consequently what I receive is less. That’s preposterous.”

Republican Senator Nancy Detert provided the characteristic insulting argument: slashing benefits will “motivate” the unemployed to get a job:

“It encourages people to get back into the job market,” Detert said.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paul Krugman: “The Unwisdom of Elites” Led To Economic Disaster

Paul Krugman counters the claim that our economic mess is the result of a spoiled public wanting something for nothing. This self-serving argument denies the fact that we have been undergoing a “top-down disaster.” Krugman poses an important question: “What happened to the budget surplus the federal government had in 2000?” You remember, the one accrued under a Democratic president, Clinton. The answers amount to a trio of irresponsible conservative policies: Bush tax cuts, two wars and reckless deregulation. From "The Unwisdom of Elites":

The answer is, three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.

So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street.

President George W. Bush cut taxes in the service of his party’s ideology, not in response to a groundswell of popular demand — and the bulk of the cuts went to a small, affluent minority.

Similarly, Mr. Bush chose to invade Iraq because that was something he and his advisers wanted to do, not because Americans were clamoring for war against a regime that had nothing to do with 9/11. In fact, it took a highly deceptive sales campaign to get Americans to support the invasion, and even so, voters were never as solidly behind the war as America’s political and pundit elite.

Finally, the Great Recession was brought on by a runaway financial sector, empowered by reckless deregulation. And who was responsible for that deregulation? Powerful people in Washington with close ties to the financial industry, that’s who. Let me give a particular shout-out to Alan Greenspan, who played a crucial role both in financial deregulation and in the passage of the Bush tax cuts — and who is now, of course, among those hectoring us about the deficit.

So it was the bad judgment of the elite, not the greediness of the common man, that caused America’s deficit.

Rep. Steve Simon: How Many Gays Must God Create Before They’re Accepted?

Republicans in Minnesota passed an initiative that places a constitutional amendment before voters to restrict marriage to heterosexuals. Rep. Melissa Hortman (D-MN) rightly criticized “put[ting] the question of fundamental rights to a majority vote.” Rep. Steve Simon (D-MN) eloquently argued that the initiative was an attempt to “enshrine [religious] beliefs” into the state constitution, and stated that sexual orientation is not a choice but “innate, God-given” and based on scientific evidence. Watch:

REP. SIMON: How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around? How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether the living of their lives the way they wish, as long as they don't harm others, is a Godly and holy and happy and glorious thing... I'm comfortable with a society and a tradition that bends towards justice, fairness, wholeness, openness and compassion. And I do think...that that's where the arc of history is bending as well. ...If we pass this...history will judge us all very, very harshly...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Condoleezza Rice Recycles Discredited Justifications For Iraq War

In a recent interview with Lawrence O’Donnell, Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State in the Bush administration, demonstrated that the war in Iraq remains without a rationale. O’Donnell challenged the connection that Bush–and, by extension Rice–made between 9/11 and a supposed threat from Saddam Hussein. Rice tries to put together a patchwork of justifications for the war: the non-existent WMD, the faulty intelligence, the Iran-Iraq war, the no-fly zone, the sanctions, the U.N. resolutions, the Kurds, Kuwait, the number of countries who fought. None of these factors, taken alone or together, adequately counter O’Donnell’s statement that Saddam was not a threat to the U.S.–and that our soldiers should not have been put in harm’s way for regime change in Iraq. Despite the fact that Rice acknowledges that the intelligence was wrong, she refuses to admit that the war was based on false premises. Watch:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Celebrating The Centennial of Robert Johnson, Legendary Blues Master

“His music is like my oldest friend, always in the back of my head, and on the horizon. It is the finest music I have ever heard.” – Eric Clapton

“The music of Robert Johnson has inspired a thousand riffs. The myth of Robert Johnson has inspired a million dreams…” – Jimmy Page

"Robert Johnson, to whom we all owed our existence in some way.” – Robert Plant

These quotations from three English rock and blues musicians are testimony to the reverence held for Robert Johnson, the greatest blues songwriter of all time. Johnson was born 100 years ago today, May 8, 1911. Much of Johnson’s life is shrouded in myth; according to legend, he sold his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads so that he could be a guitar master. Johnson recorded 29 tracks in Texas, many with themes that resonate with his haunted legend: “Hell Hound On My Trail,” “Cross Road Blues,” “Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil),” “Me and the Devil Blues.” Johnson died at age 27, supposedly poisoned by a jealous husband. For more about this Mississippi Delta master, whose music has been covered by countless artists, I recommend “Searching for Robert Johnson” by Peter Guralnick. The following is a video on Johnson’s life:

This animated video by artist Inekes Goes is set to Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues”:

Eric Clapton, Johnson's greatest advocate, comments on the complexity of his music and performs "Stones in My Passway":

Friday, May 6, 2011

Does This Fox Host Want To Waterboard President Obama?

Eric Bolling of Fox Business’ “Follow the Money” read the responses from Twitter followers to his question about whom they’d like to have waterboarded. Leave it to Fox to make a joke out of waterboarding, and on a show ostensibly about finances. Bolling falsely attributes Bin Laden’s discovery to waterboarding and reads the suggestions for waterboarding victims, the vast majority being progressives and President Obama. Watch:

BOLLING: I wanted to know who else at home who you thought should be waterboarded. So, Louise says, waterboard "Joy Behar." Patti says "Senate Dems... and then Obama...and then the kooks on The View, starting with Joy." Jerry says he wants to see Alan Colmes get waterboarded. "The secrets of the left wing cabal will come pouring out of that boy." This guy's a bit more sentimental, go ahead, waterboard "my ex-wife." Denise says Keith Olbermann and Rachael Maddow. And Mike says "Waterboard the Westboro Baptist Church." I agree with them. (h/t Media Matters)

Does Bolling's agreement refer to the Westboro Baptist Church–or to everyone on the list, including President Obama? Regardless, does Fox feel that it’s fine for one of its hosts to casually read such a list, especially as it includes the president as a candidate for torture?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Former U.S. Interrogator In Iraq: Torture Didn’t Yield Bin Laden

Countering those like former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld who argue that the use of torture under the Bush administration was essential to finding Osama bin Laden, Lawrence O’Donnell spoke to Matthew Alexander (a pseudonym), who conducted or supervised over 1,300 interrogations in Iraq that led to the capture of Al Qaeda leaders and the killing of Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Alexander spoke about the ineffectiveness of torture, its negative consequences and his own interrogation techniques:

ALEXANDER: What former secretary Rumsfeld should explain to us then is how come we didn’t find or locate Osama bin Laden back when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded in 2002 and 2003 after his capture and when these and other detainees were exposed to other enhanced interrogation techniques? Those techniques ended years ago and never resulted in the critical pieces of information that would have handed us Bin Laden and his exact location. This notion that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave us a critical piece, first of all, it came a year after he was waterboarded. It wasn’t those techniques that got that information …The long term, negative consequences of using torture and abuse greatly outweigh any benefit you get from them. I saw in Iraq when I was overseeing interrogations of foreign fighters who were coming to fight because of the torture…This resulted in the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers in Iraq. … I found that when I built a relationship of trust...I was able to get them to cooperate. Our success rate in Iraq for my team was upwards of 80%. I have no doubt that American interrogators are more than capable of defeating Al Qaeda terrorists in the interrogation booth in the battle of wits.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brave New Films: Why Are The Koch Brothers Buying Our Democracy?

As part of “The Koch Brothers Exposed” series, Brave New Films asks why, with their billions of dollars and luxury homes, do oil magnates Charles and David Koch have the need to buy our democracy and support causes that make life so difficult for so many? Such causes include foreclosures; tax cuts for the wealthy; union busting; financial and environmental deregulation; and opposition to the SCHIP health care program for children, unemployment insurance, and social security. Three Florida seniors living on Social Security and others try to ask the Kochs these questions:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The “Deathers”: Fox Hosts Wonder If Bin Laden Killing Is A Hoax

Yes, now there are the “deathers,” those who doubt the death of Osama Bin Laden. Of course, two of the most prominent are Fox commentators, who must be driven wild by Obama’s nine-point jump in approval ratings. In addition, Bin Laden's death contradicts the right-wing theme that Democrats are "soft on terror." Fox’s Andrew Napolitano warns against “too much joy and unity.” He wonders about “no photos” of a dead Bin Laden, even though the administration is debating whether photos may inflame Bin Laden’s followers. He also wonders about “no testimony from eye witnesses,” even though the storming of the compound was a secret operation, not a media circus. Napolitano suggests that the government may be “pulling a fast one to save Obama’s lousy presidency.” He questions whether Bin Laden should have been killed without also considering the dangerous circumstances of the operation. Absurdly, Napolitano suggests that Obama may now go on a killing spree:

Napolitano is joined in his cynicism by Glenn Beck, who asks, “Are poll numbers involved, or are we seeing a show? Is it possible that Osama Bin Laden has been ghosted out of his compound?” Watch:

Prior to the operation against Bin Laden, of course, the conservative media repeatedly attacked Obama’s commitment to fighting terror.

Monday, May 2, 2011

President Obama Announces Bin Laden's Death: “Justice Has Been Done”

Congratulations to our military and the Commander in Chief. The following is President Obama’s speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden:

OBAMA: Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

...Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda's leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Week Of Town Hall Objections To GOP Priorities

Think Progress put together an outstanding video of highlights from town hall meetings across the country showing citizens objecting to Republican priorities. The basis of their protests is the House’s passage of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget. Ryan's goals are to ultimately end Medicare and Medicaid and lower the top tax rate from 35% to 25%. His budget, then, is balanced on the backs of the middle class, the lower class and seniors, with more cash shifted to the wealthy. Watch this compilation from the past week: