Friday, September 25, 2009

Last Call

Lindsay Beyerstein on the death of Census worker Bill Sparkman this week:
Census-taker Bill Sparkman was found hanging from a tree in a cemetery with a noose around his neck and the word "Fed" scrawled on his chest. The authorities haven't determined whether the death was a homicide or a suicide.

Richard Benjamin asks whether Sparkman was a casualty of Methland, USA or a victim of anti-government bile. That's a false dichotomy.

If Sparkman was murdered, whoever killed him committed an act of political violence. It doesn't matter whether the killer was also trying to protect a drug operation. The perp took a page out of the old fashioned lynching playbook--stringing up the victim and defacing his corpse as a warning to others.

If Bill Sparkman was killed by right-wing extremists for being a Census worker in rural Red State Kentucky, this was an act of domestic terrorism. If he was killed for stumbling across a meth lab or other illegal operation and was killed because of it, it's still an act of domestic terrorism.

We still have a very real anti-government domestic terrorism problem in this country. Republicans are feeding this climate for political gain, but it has already gotten out of control.

Why The GOP Keeps Losing


Just before the Senate Finance Committee wrapped up for the long weekend, members debated one of Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) amendments, which would strike language defining which benefits employers are required to cover.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) argued that insurers must be required to cover basic maternity care. (In several states there are no such requirements.)

"I don't need maternity care," Kyl said. "So requiring that on my insurance policy is something that I don't need and will make the policy more expensive."

Stabenow interrupted: "I think your mom probably did."



The great Billy Mays, these guys are not.
A new birther infomercial running on a CBS affiliate in Texas and elsewhere around the country tells viewers a "got a birth certificate?" bumper sticker can be theirs for the low price of $30.

The 28-minute program -- quite possibly the first ever birthermercial -- features community access production values, heavy use of foreboding strings soundtrack, and standard-issue Birther ideology.

For a $30 contribution, viewers also get a fax sent in their name to the 50 state attorneys general and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that President Obama produce his real birth certificate.

Infomercials. I crap you not. The Obama Derangement Syndrome is now to the paid infomercial stage.

But race has nothing to do with it, of course. They would be doing the same thing for McCain, right?

And yes, I would very much like to see a list of stations playing this little birthermercial.

It Only Encourages Them

The UN says planned global emissions reductions are still nowhere near enough to stave off massive warming.
Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world's leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program.

The new overview of global warming research, aimed at marshaling political support for a new international climate pact by the end of the year, highlights the extent to which recent scientific assessments have outstripped the predictions issued by the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.

Robert Corell, who chairs the Climate Action Initiative and reviewed the UNEP report's scientific findings, said the significant global temperature rise is likely to occur even if industrialized and developed countries enact every climate policy they have proposed at this point. The increase is nearly double what scientists and world policymakers have identified as the upper limit of warming the world can afford in order to avert catastrophic climate change.

"We don't want to go there," said Corell, who collaborated with climate researchers at the Vermont-based Sustainability Institute, Massachusetts-based Ventana Systems and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to do the analysis. The team has revised its estimates since the U.N. report went to press and has posted the most recent figures at

And of course, the climate change denial argument is now "since reducing carbon emissions won't spare us, why bother trying?" That's a healthy attitude, defeatism.

Might Be On To Something Here

Politico's Eamon Javers discovers Obama Derangement Syndrome just might be an actual problem.
In interviews with POLITICO, five former Secret Service, FBI and CIA officers say that they, too, are concerned that today’s climate of supercharged political vitriol could lead to violence.

And this week, the FBI said that it is investigating whether anti-government sentiment played a role in the death of a U.S. Census worker who was found hanged from a tree in rural Kentucky, because the body had the word “fed” scrawled on the chest — though authorities say there are too many unanswered questions at this point to rule the case a homicide or a hate crime.

Beyond any specific case, some of the experts see the political moment as a part of a larger trend that’s been developing since the mid-’90s — dating back to GOP attacks on President Bill Clinton and continuing through the left’s sharp criticism of President George W. Bush, who was called a “liar” and “loser” by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

This summer’s protests against health care included an episode where freshman Rep. Frank Kratovil Jr. (D-Md.) was hanged in effigy. Anti-energy bill protesters tarred and feathered an effigy of Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.). Last Halloween, a homeowner in liberal West Hollywood hanged in effigy Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at his home.

There’s a big difference, of course, between a person who shouts at a congressman at a town hall and a person who would do something much more violent. But security experts say that the shouting incidents and other angry moments in recent weeks serve as indicators of an increase in political rage in the culture.

That rage comes against a backdrop of enormous changes in American life. The United States suffered a humiliating economic collapse that threatens its long-term position as the world’s most important economy, with a staggering 9.7 percent unemployment rate. President Barack Obama made several controversial federal interventions into the private sector.

At the same time, the country has elected its first African-American president at a moment when dramatic demographic changes mean that the groups now considered racial minorities will account for the majority of the U.S. population by the year 2042.

Some people don't want Hope n' Change. Hell, some people don't want change at all. Even better, Javers seems to realize that the GOP is encouraging this behavior with one hand, while flatly denying the consequences with the other.

He just might be on to something here, you think?

The Forms Of Kanly Must Be Properly Observed

So, Iran's been hiding a secret nuke processing facility, which we knew about, but then the Iranians found out we knew about it, and decided to tell the IAEA "Well, umm...we're building a secret nuke facility that you might want to know about..."

The forms of Kanly and all. Now Obama can call them out on it (because Iran was cheating, and they caught us catching them cheating), which he did this morning along with Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- all in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a G-20 economic summit -- accused Iran of intentionally hiding its nuclear facilities from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

They threatened a stiff response if Iran fails to conform to international obligations regarding nuclear development.

Iran's newly unveiled uranium enrichment facility "is inconsistent with a peaceful (nuclear) program," Obama said. "Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow."

He called on Iran to "take concrete steps" to demonstrate it will comply with its international obligations to ensure its nuclear program is for civilian use and not a covert weapons program.

Brown said international leaders were prepared to impose "further and more stringent" sanctions against Tehran.

The "level of deception by the Iranian government" will "shock and anger the whole international community ... and harden our resolve," he said. There is "no choice but to draw a line in the sand."
Funny how the practical upshot of all this is a very convenient time to have multiple Western leaders call out Iran internationally and use basically the exact language we were using with Saddam Hussein in 2002. If you believe Iran just happened to find out that we knew all about this facility and coincidentally just happened to find out ahead of the yearly UN/G-20 meetings of world leaders this week, then I have a bridge in Tel Aviv I'd like to sell you...

The Wingers Collect Another Head

This time it's NEA communications director Yosi Sergant.
"This afternoon Yosi Sergant submitted his resignation from the National Endowment for the Arts. His resignation has been accepted and is effective immediately," said a spokeswoman, Sally Gifford, in a statement.

Sergant, who helped make artist Shepard Fairey's "Hope" image ubiquitous as an organizer of Obama campaign support from artists, had seemed to mix the NEA's work -- essentially non-partisan politics -- with the administration's legislative agenda on a conference call reported on by Andrew Breitbart's new conservative site, Big Government.

"I would encourage you to pick something, whether it’s health care, education, the environment, you know, there’s four key areas that the corporation has identified as the areas of service," Sergant told artists on the call, which he reportedly invited some of them to attend. "My ask would be to apply artistic, you know, your artistic creative communities utilities and bring them to the table," he said.

Texas Senator John Cornyn, among critics, complained that the call politicized subjected the agency to "political manipulation, though the NEA initially defended the call. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman later said the call "inappropriate" and that Sergant had acted "unilaterally" in helping to organize it.

Using fake intel to gin up a war of choice? No problem. Having artists getting NEA grants to donate some time and art to the government in return? Unconscionable Nazi-era propaganda of the most profane order.

Bob Cesca is 100% correct. Should Republicans get control of the House in 2010, they will impeach President Obama on charges that he might have skipped a day on wearing deodorant because you know as true patriots they simply have no choice, and besides, America deserves a real leader like Dubya was.

All Blue Bark, No Blue Bite

HuffPo's Ryan Grim reports that the Blue Dogs are still Democrats, and faced with strong opposition, they cave just like regular Democrats. In this case however that's a good thing.
Blocking a public health insurance option is a relatively low priority for conservative Blue Dog Democrats, according to an ongoing survey of its members. The fading House opposition could clear the way for the public option to move through the chamber.

The Blue Dogs have been surveying their membership over the last several days; coalition co-chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) has been collecting the responses. She listed the four top priorities that have emerged: Keeping the cost under $900 billion, not moving at a faster pace than the Senate, getting a 20-year cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office and addressing regional disparities in Medicare reimbursement rates.

So, the Huffington Post asked, the public option is not a top priority?

"Right, the group is somewhat split," she said.

That leaves the Senate and the conference committee between the two chambers as the final battlegrounds for the public option. While several Senate Democrats have said they oppose it, no Senate Democrat has yet said publicly that he or she would oppose any bill that included a public option.

Maybe they're not as dumb as everyone thinks, or maybe they're reading the numbers where when given a clear question about a public option, Americans support it overwhelmingly, particularly traditionally Democratic voters: minorities, those making less than $30,000, those with post-graduate degrees, and women.


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