Friday, August 13, 2010

Last Call


President Obama weighs in on Cordoba House at tonight's Ramadan Iftar dinner event at the White House.  Greg Sargent reports on his remarks:
Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities -- particularly in New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.
But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.
We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who have led our response to that attack -- from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us always remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for. Our enemies respect no freedom of religion. Al Qaeda's cause is not Islam -- it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders -- these are terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children. In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion -- and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.
Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you for saying what needed to be said here and I truly mean that.

Can we finally put an end to this Ground Zero idiocy?  I'm very grateful to have been proven wrong about my dreadful feeling that Obama would remain silent and that Dems would cave on this, but just a few hours later here while celebrating Ramadan at an Iftar dinner at the White House, the President has spoken on this matter.

It should be the final word on this.  It will not be.  Obama will be brutally attacked for this as a Commie Traitor Islamofascist Manchurian Crypto-Jihadi, but wingers will do that to Obama anyway.

This is the Obama saying what needs to be said as President of the United States and leader of the American people.  Good for him, and I mean that sincerely.

[UPDATE]  The President's full remarks here in the LA Times, and yes, via Memeorandum we already see the wingers launching into fits of apoplexy ranging the gamut of snide insinuation of him being a secret Muslim (wink nudge) to outright accusations of him being un-American for standing up for the First Amendment to actively declaring that this is proof he's sided with the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center.

It makes the President's gesture on Ramadan all that much more brave.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Digby asks:
Do you get the feeling that when the ruling elites talk about unemployment that they've never been unemployed?
Unemployment to professional beltway types means "the time period you have to live off of severance before you can get a new think tank/Village bobblehead/lobbying/boardroom/college president/'Hey, check out who's on our letterhead!' position" so the answer to that is "yes, pretty much."

Sadly I think they honestly assume that it can't be bad out there when the Ruling Elite unemployment rate is really more like five percent, so really Americans are doing just fine.  Besides, people are still buying things like iPads and Prius hybrids and Starcraft 2 on the PC so the economy has to be pretty good.  I mean the Dow's still over 10k even after a horrible week so we're a little slow but hey, the guys in charge have it under control.


Taking Out Woodrow Wilson Is Worth Some Phat Points

Via John Cole, we find something of a fascinating social experiment/wargaming/betting on the gladiator pits/drunken College Republican what-if exercise as a big giant pile of wingers decide who they hate the most, and by "fascinating" I mean "Hey, let's put on a live action version of Lord of the Flies only we put a bunch of LIBERALS on this island and then starve them until they eat each other, it'll be GREAT" lizard-brain violence kind of Battle Royale stuff, and there's only one helicopter off the island and it's guarded by the inevitable velociraptor pack, and there's weapons and booby traps and mutant pirahna and exploding barrels and food and medical supplies and Scott Pilgrim Versus The World power-ups hidden all over the island, plus a bunch of video cameras to capture all the wacky fun as it happens.  I'm pretty sure it'll be in HD too and we can add a laugh track in post-production, plus cool SPLAT BOING PEW sound effects.

Anyway, while we're waiting for the video feed to come in on that, it turns out that Barack Obama is only the second most reviled figure in American history behind History's Greatest Monster, a one Mr. Jimmy Carter as we look at the chart from the oddsmakers:

23) Saul Alinsky (7)
23) Bill Clinton (7)
23) Hillary Clinton (7)
19) Michael Moore (7)
19) George Soros (8)
19) Alger Hiss (8)
19) Al Sharpton (8)
13) Al Gore (9)
13) Noam Chomsky (9)
13) Richard Nixon (9)
13) Jane Fonda (9)
13) Harry Reid (9)
13) Nancy Pelosi (9)
11) John Wilkes Booth (10)
11) Margaret Sanger (10)
9) Aldrich Ames (11)
9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
7) Ted Kennedy (14)
7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
5) Benedict Arnold (17)
5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
4) The Rosenbergs (19)
3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
2) Barack Obama (23)
1) Jimmy Carter (25) 

Dude, my money's totally on Jane Fonda, she has real world experience in this sort of thing from Barbarella.  John Wilkes Booth?  He killed like one guy.  You have to like the manpower/tag-team advantage of the Rosenbergs versus Bill and Hillary and there's Benedict Arnold's military experience too.

You can't count out Tim McVeigh, either.  You know the guy is an expert with improvised weapons and explosives.  On the other hand, George Soros probably already bought the island beforehand, so he knows where all the really good weapons are.

What's Carter going to do, drink a Billy Beer?   Sheesh.

But man, all bets are off should FDR get the bionic battle suit hidden in the cave on the northwestern end of the island...

Appeasement Strategy

Steve Benen's thorough and effective dissection of Charles Krauthammer's column today scolding America for Cordoba House is a powerful piece of work that reads in part:
But Krauthammer is making a compelling case against an idea that doesn't exist. Literally no one is suggesting that the Cordoba House be built "at," "over," or "on" Ground Zero -- it's proposed location is a couple of blocks away. Indeed, within a two-block radius of Ground Zero, there are all kinds of establishments -- restaurants, coffee shops, office buildings, churches, strip-clubs, etc. -- and Feisal Abdul Rauf wants his proposed community center to be among them. What does Ground Zero's sacred qualities have to do with this? Nothing at all, which is why this debate is so ridiculous.

Also note the lesson Krauthammer believes Pope John Paul II was offering: "This is not your place; it belongs to others." In this case, who are we to believe "others" are? On Sept. 11, 2001, the victims included innocents of every race, ethnicity, and religion. Krauthammer seems to suggest Muslim Americans are the "others" who should stay away. That as absurd as it is offensive.

Benen goes on to a scathing rebuke to Krauthammer's nonsense and it's something that needs to be said.

The problem is that Cordoba House may never be built.  Not at the current site.  At some point very soon (I'm going to say maybe as soon as on the Sunday shows this weekend) you're going to see at least one Democrat come out and say that Democrats should oppose the Cordoba House project because it will only empower the Republicans and give them a massive fundraising symbol and now that it is completely a political issue, that it will require too much political capital to get it done.

In other words, you're going to see the Democrats start to fold on this in much the way David Paterson already has.  It will be couched as a strategy decision, so I expect to see it come from one of the perennial Dem strategists that float around on this.  "There's no political upside to defending Cordoba House" Dems will be told and nothing but downside to it in an election year.

Expect to see a quiet but concerted effort to nix the project and quickly due to poll numbers.  Defending an unpopular minority is exactly why we have a Constitution that promotes equal protection and religious freedom under the law.  The Court of Public Opinion however suffers from no such mediating influence.

My gut is screaming that the fold is coming.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

As it stands right now, President Obama still opposes gay marriage...

...and Glenn Beck does not.
Appearing on The O'Reilly Factor Thursday, Fox News' Glenn Beck took time out of his daily habit of railing against progressives to calmly explain that the country wasn't going to be destroyed by giving marriage rights to gays and lesbians.
Beck told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly why he didn't devote airtime to the issue. "Honestly I think we have bigger fish to fry," said Beck. "You can argue about abortion or gay marriage or whatever all you want. The country is burning down."
"But isn't that one of the reasons, because we are getting away from the traditional way we used to live into this progressive [agenda]?" prompted O'Reilly.
"Your country is burning down," repeated Beck. "I don't think marriage, that the government actually has anything to do with what is a religious right."
"Do you believe that gay marriage is a threat to the country in any way?" asked O'Reilly.
"No, I don't," said Beck. "Will the gays come and get us?"
"I believe what Thomas Jefferson said," Beck continued. "If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?"
I may have to take up drinking on a more professional basis after this.  Glenn Beck, the voice of effing reason on gay marriage.  This is one of those times folks where criticism of Obama is entirely and completely justified.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Hey folks, we do understand that the whole Dr. Laura N-word thing will simply be turned into a false equivalency where she is made out to the be the white Shirley Sherrod, right?  "White people can't be racists because black people use the N-Word and white people aren't allowed to so it's black people who are the racists" and "It's the context that's important so if Shirley Sherrod isn't a racist than neither is Dr. Laura but she apologized anyway bless her heart" and other such delightful little idiocies along those lines?

We do get where this train is going, right?  "Black people clearly hate white people"?

Looking For The Eject Button

The assumption on Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling on Prop 8 and the utterly miserable case against gay marriage presented by the prop-Prop 8 side is that no matter Walker thinks, the only person with an opinion that will count is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who would be the swing vote on the issue.  But Via Matt Osborne in Twitter, there's a growing theory that Prop 8 may actually not be appealed to the Supreme Court for the fact that risk of losing the case -- and a national overturning on gay marriage bans in 30 other states that would lead to gay marriage being recognized across America -- is too much for the wingers to handle.  From Right Wing Watch:

Barton: Right now the damage is limited to California only, but if California appeals this to the US Supreme Court, the US Supreme Court with Kennedy will go for California, which means all 31 states will go down in flames, although right now this decision is limited only to California.
So there's an effort underway to say "California, please don't appeal this. I mean, if you appeal this, its bad for you guys but live with it, but don't cause the rest of us to have to go down your path."
Wildom: So you think the better situation here would be California not to appeal ...
Barton: Well, I'm telling you that that's what is being argued by a lot of folks now because the other Supreme Court attorney who watched this from afar said "on no, you left too many arguments on the table, you stayed technical." And now, knowing what Kennedy has already done in two similar cases to this and knowing that he's the deciding vote, the odds are 999 out of 1000 that they'll uphold the California decision.
If they do, there's not a marriage amendment in the country that can stand. And so the problem is that instead of California losing its amendment, now 31 states lose their amendment. And that won't happen if California doesn't appeal this decision. It's just California that loses its amendment.
They're afraid, folks.  They know they don't have a secular, legal argument against gay marriage and they are becoming terrified that they will lose if Prop 8 goes before SCOTUS.  They desperately want a Republican president in 2012 to try to shift the court to the right but right now they are seeing a 5-4 decision striking down Prop 8.

As such it's possible that the 9th Circuit decision upholding Prop 8 might be the best route towards getting Perry to SCOTUS as the appeal would be filed by the plaintiffs.  We'll see how this shakes out.

But don't be surprised if the decision is made not to appeal this case.

Everyone Hates The Professional Left

Including the Professional Left, apparently.

As angry as they might be, the professional left isn't ready to back a primary challenger to President Obama just yet.

Two high-profile liberals on Thursday said they are not interested in running against the president in 2012, and liberal bloggers say any challenge to Obama would be fraught with difficulty.
“I haven't heard of a credible name that has been floated that would challenge President Obama,” said David Sirota, a prominent liberal blogger. “I haven't heard of that. I think it would be very difficult to do.”
Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, who is also a columnist for The Hill, said he didn't think Obama would get a 2012 primary challenge "in a million years." In an e-mail, Moulitsas also said Obama shouldn't be challenged.
Still, some influential voices on the left, which erupted in fury this week at criticism White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made in an interview with The Hill, suggest a multitude of voices in New Hampshire and Iowa could be helpful to the party. 
“I have always encouraged a diversity of voices in the primary process, within all parties and at all levels of government,” said Jane Hamsher, founder of, a leading liberal blog.
“It's a sign of a healthy democracy,” said Hamsher, who suggested this week that Gibbs’s comments could depress turnout in the November mid-term elections for Congress.

No, what's going to depress turnout in the November midterms is the Village pushing six weeks of Useful Idiots Are Useful and how progressives are simultaneously destroying the country with their agenda while being laughably pathetic and easily dismissed.

The real bad guy here is the specter of Republican takeover of the House and Senate and not Obama, but that apparently hasn't occurred to the Professional Left, just the Class A Minor League Farm Team Left like myself.   I guess it's too obvious that more Republicans in Congress will lead to a less progressive second two years of Obama's current term, but I'm going to throw that out there anyway.

Oh, and Robert Gibbs giving the Village six weeks of Hippie Punching as a gift like, major networks and political blog shops need to be sending him assorted meats and cheeses.

Borderline Crazy

While spending $600 million on increased border security is something that Republicans and Democrats can actually agree upon, I hope Obama understands that he could spend a trillion dollars on trained armored wolverines, a ten foot moat and a 40 foot electrified wall with lasers, and guard towers topped with .50 cal machine guns and Republicans would still bash him relentlessly for not rounding up every undocumented person in the country and then denying citizenship to their kids by changing the 14th Amendment.

I really hope he understands that Republicans will never be satisfied with "border security" until we have a police state in place that actively checks everyone in the country constantly for citizenship papers, right?

And even then some Republicans would demand that other groups start getting deported, like Muslims, gays, liberals, etc...I mean Obama does realize this.


Ten Years To Go

Give Iraqi Army chief Lt. Gen. Babakar Zebari some credit:  he's damn honest about the fact we will never leave Iraq in my lifetime.

Iraq's top army officer on Wednesday warned that a pullout of all US soldiers by the end of 2011 was premature, after eight of his troops were killed in a brazen attack that exposed shaky security here.

Lieutenant General Babakar Zebari's remarks, which run counter to those of his political leaders, coincide with the exit of thousands of American soldiers under a US declaration to end combat operations in Iraq at the end of August.

"At this point, the withdrawal (of US forces) is going well, because they are still here," Zebari told AFP on the sidelines of a defense ministry conference in Baghdad.

"But the problem will start after 2011 -- the politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011.

"If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020."
Understand that the PR war against withdrawal from the hawks has already begun.  The current Israeli government in particular will not countenance us leaving from Iraq anytime soon.  The 2010 elections will play a big part in whether or not we leave, frankly.  If Republicans regain control of the House, they will do everything they can to keep us there, saying that if we leave we will threaten the security of the entire Middle East, not just Iraq's fledgling government.

A lot can change in 17 months in US politics.  Our withdrawal from Iraq will certainly be the political issue of 2011 among the GOP crew going after Obama's job and I'm betting most of them will be insisting we keep troop levels the same until 2012, when a presumptive GOP president can then continue to extend the war in Iraq for another 4 years.

Given the state of our economy however, I'm betting economic reality may barge into this scenario in an abrupt manner and soon.  We're simply not going to be able to afford to stay in Iraq much longer without sacrificing enough of the bread and circuses that the US population notices...and reacts.

The War On J Street

Greg Sargent hints at this in his post yesterday on Bill Kristol's Emergency Committee For Israel group taking out ads targeting Dems for being weak on Israel, but what he leaves unspoken says volumes.
Bill Kristol's hawkish, pro-Israel group, which has been running ads blasting Dems as anti-Israel, is now making it explicit: It is targeting Dems with paid media for the express purpose of making it politically toxic for them to criticize Israel.

That's what Kristol and a spokesman for his group, the Emergency Committee for Israel, suggested to me today, in statements accompanying a new ad it's set to release attacking Dem Rep Jim Himes of Connecticut.
What Sargent doesn't say is that it already is toxic to criticize Israel in any way for a Washington politician or any politician in America for that matter.  The given reasons from the ECFI are a smokescreen.  But Greg does get to the heart of the matter eventually.
Kristol's group has already aired other versions of this ad attacking Joe Sestak, Mary Joe Kilroy, and Glenn Nye.

The group insists it's putting real money into these buys, and the above ad attacking Rep. Himes will run during NBC Nightly News, a spokesman for the group, Michael Goldfarb, says.

The spot blasts Himes for signing a recent letter sponsored by the left-leaning pro-Israel group J-Street that has emerged as the nemesis of neoconservative pro-Israel groups like Kristol's outfit. 
Ding ding ding!  Understand that there's only room for one Israel lobby in the US with one position to take, and J Street's exercises in reasonable diplomacy and pointing out that there are members of the American Jewish community that see more war as unnecessary if not outright detrimental to Israel cannot be tolerated.  It's not Dems here that are the main target.  It's specifically the fact that the ECFI is going after anyone who dares to associate themselves with J Street or its moderate positions.
The letter doesn't accuse Israel directly of "collective punishment," as the ad says. Rather, the letter asks Obama to pressure Israel to relieve the blockade. It recognizes that the Gaza restrictions are born of "legitimate" fear on the part of Israel, but warns against allowing the blockade to result in "the de facto collective punishment" of Palestinians.
And the ECFI can't have that.  The goal here is to eliminate J Street as a lobbying presence by brutally attacking any member of Congress who dares to accept anything less than Israel's right to total war against the Muslim world.  The message here is if you back J Street, you are putting a big bullseye on your back come election time from the ECFI.  The goal here is to drive J Street -- and the idea that moderates on Israel even exist in the United States -- out of Washington's power circles.

After all, what good is a lobbying group if no politician will deal with you?


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