Friday, August 20, 2010

Last Call

Your final lesson this evening:

Sun Tzu once said, "If you are bound by strict rules of engagement in battle...

There's a lot of startling news in these polls — from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and Time magazine. But one number that could catch significant attention is this: in the Time poll, 46 percent of Republicans said they believe Obama is a Muslim.

...and your opponent does not recognize these rules...

Time asked a question that gave more prominence to the possibility Obama is Muslim, but also may have drawn out more subjective feelings from respondents:
Do you personally believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim or a Christian?

...then you have already lost the battle."

Ahh, the August sounds of crazy winger dog whistles.  When you hear "Is Obama a Muslim" substitute a word for "Muslim" that begins with the next letter of the alphabet.

The letter N.

Here endeth the lesson.

Conflict Avoidance

This CNN article is a perfect example of why Republican obstruction is working.
Bringing up divisive issues that distract from fixing the country's economic woes will only create cracks in the bridge between the two major parties and independents, said Omar H. Ali, an independent voting analyst and professor at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

"Right now, there is a movement for nonpartisan reform in America and independents are leading that movement," Ali said. "In some ways, this issue with the mosque is the latest attempt of trying to gain partisan interest against the Democrats. ... But Democrats do the same thing to the Republicans [on other issues.]"
They do?  Right, because Democrats are trying to take away Constitutional rights from...whom, exactly?

Independents, he said, are the watchdogs and "conscience of America" when it comes to issues like the economy. The blame game over who caused the economic recession only highlights what is wrong in American politics today, Ali said.

"Americans generally are very concerned about the economic state of the nation with rising unemployment and joblessness," he said. "Independents feel that way but they're much more attuned to the fact that economic downturn is connected to a poor political process, which keeps power concentrated in the hands of deeply partisan interests -- namely the two major parties."

Yep.  Gotta love it.  Dems are just as bad as Republicans, and we're sick of both of them.  As long as idiocy like this reigns supreme as conventional widom, that both parties are equally guilty of failing America when the Democrats are trying to fix things and the Republicans are blocking any and all legislation from passing, then nothing will improve.

Our process is broken, alright.

Why Did You Make Me Beat You?

Via Digby comes this piece from National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru on the GOP game now:

President Obama’s interventions in this debate have been gifts to the Republican party–but it may be that what Republicans should do now is take the gift to the bank. In other words, make your point and move back to talking about the economy, the health-care law, and the size of government.

A lot of voters, maybe most of them, think that Obama has spent too much time on issues they don’t care about: Cambridge police procedures, the siting of the Olympics, etc. A Republican candidate could make a fairly effective stump speech out of that perception. Republicans should want the public to view Obama as the guy who has made the mosque an issue when what voters care about is the economy. If they spend more time talking about it themselves, that won’t happen.

To recap, Ramesh here thinks Obama has spent too much time on Skip Gates, the Chicago Olympics bid, and the Park 51 project.

Obama.  Has spent too much time.  On these issues.

Obama made America spend too much time on these issues that wingers like Ponnuru spent countless hours drumming up as distractions to attack the President and keep him from focusing on the real problems facing America.

It's all Obama's fault, you see.

Why did he make them hate him?

Glenn Beck Is Amazingly Stupid, But You Knew That

So, Glenn Beck's latest tirade goes like this:
  1. Charles Darwin came up with evolution.
  2. Evolution was used to justify eugenics by Mengele and the Nazis.
  3. The Nazis were the most evil, racist people ever of all time.
  4. Charles Darwin was therefore responsible for racism.
  5. Science is evil.
  6. Liberals worship science.
  7. Liberals are evil racists.
No really, that's his theory.  Anyone can play.  Let me try!

  1. Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber in 1843.
  2. Vulcanized rubber went into tires, gaskets, and all kinds of machines and devices including weapons.
  3. Weapons and vehicles were increasingly used in war and warfare over the last 160 years.
  4. Nazis used vehicles and tires and gaskets in war.
  5. The Nazis were the most evil, racist people ever of all time.
  6. Charles Goodyear was therefore responsible for the last 160 years of war.
  7. Science is evil.
  8. Liberals worship science
  9. Liberals are evil, warlike killers.
Don't get me started on Alfred Nobel, either...

Seriously, can we just get Glenn a nice padded cell?

Blanche Versus The Bus

Sen. Blanche Lincoln is losing by 20 points to John Boozman right now...pushing 30 if you throw in Rasmussen's numbers as an average.
Rasmussen's numbers by themselves are almost comical, Lincoln is losing by almost 40 points.

Boy, good thing the Democrats listened to Bill Clinton and didn't nominate somebody who was going to get their ass kicked in the general, huh?

Tipping Point

I think we've honestly reached some sort of tipping point where it has now become the fashion in the Village to brutally and openly attack Muslims.

Wtiness Michelle Boorstein's WaPo profile of Pam Geller and her blogging partner Robert Spencer.  Gellar's anti-Islam bigotry and reality-bending insanity (she famously accused the President of being Malcolm X's love child) should make her a laughing stock on any normal person's radar, but Boorstein takes the "Earth is flat, views differ" approach on Gellar's credibility.

While some have dismissed them as bigoted attention-seekers, their attacks on the proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan have gained currency in recent weeks among some Republican leaders. And their influence appears to be growing.  

At no point in the article does Boorstein hint that this may be a problem.  Perhaps it has something to do with this:

Through her blog, Atlas Shrugs, television interviews and appearances at political rallies, Geller has become one of the chief organizers of opposition to the so-called Ground Zero mosque as well as efforts to build other Muslim prayer centers across the country. 

Here's what I want to know:  the only people who are able to give Pam Gellar credibility in the world of journalism are...actual journalists.  Calling her out as a bigot of course would impugn everyone who's had her on their show (and everyone in GOP circles in Washington) who consider her to be legitimate...and Boorstein apparently doesn't have the desire to seer her career vanish in a puff of smoke.

Of course, Pam Gellar is now openly attacking Boorstein and the Washington Post anyway:

She has used this incendiary language, i.e., "anti-Muslim," before (here). She is not only stupid, but dangerous. I am not anti-Muslim. This is a slanderous lie. I love people. All people. Anyone who knows my work, knows me. I am against the ideology that inspires jihad. I am against the sharia. I am against gender apartheid, misogyny, etc.
The reckless and malicious "reportage" of this "religion" reporter is bordering on criminality. Having interviewed with Boorstein at length, her silly propaganda piece reflects none of the interview I conducted with her. In my conversation with her, she showed herself to be woefully ignorant on her niche, the religion beat. I found it astounding that a "religion" reporter from the venerable (ahem) Washington Post knew little to nothing of her subject matter. She knew nothing of the sharia, apostasy, the threat doctrine, gender apartheid, abrogation...........
And she rants on.  No racist will ever tolerate being called a racist, no bigot will ever tolerate being called a bigot.  Even when boorstein is giving her cover, Gellar berates her as stupid and dangerous, saying that the article "incites violence" against anyone "brave" enough to criticize Islam.

The whole thing is farcical.  Steve M. wraps it up:

See, to the mainstream press, it doesn't matter all that much what she says. What matters is that she's worked it. She's hustled to try to become a media star. To them, she isn't a hatemonger freak -- she's a hell of a self-promoter. They respect that. She's doing what a lot of journalists are trying to do. They all have a novel in the desk dream, or dreams of being a bestselling nonfiction writer like Jon Meacham or Walter Isaacson. So they probably get her.

And now she has a president and an entire political party on the ropes. So she'll probably get more respect. She could be on the covers of Time and Newsweek soon.
Indeed.  Bloggers would joke that the GOP was taking Islam policy from Pam Geller.  Nobody's laughing now, because that is now the literal truth.

The Republican party has declared war on Muslims in America.  You know, Muslims like Obama.

And Now You Jagoffs Made It Personal

It's one thing to go after Muslims and the Park 51 project in NYC.  It's entirely another to go after Muslims and try to deny them 1st Amendment rights where I live in northern Kentucky.
"We have not heard from anyone opposed to the project," Boone County Assistant Zoning Administrator Mitch Light told the paper at the time. That was in stark contrast to 2002, when the mosque project in Florence (then proposed for a different site) received "considerable opposition" from locals "citing concerns about increased traffic and a negative impact to property values and to the community in general."
Less than a month later, however, the new mosque site has become the subject of a new round of anti-Muslim attacks. A website called The Vigilante ("standing firm in a storm of socialist sedition") attacked the project on August 5, calling on Florentines to "to understand what they are in for" with the the new mosque:
"Once Islam has established itself sufficiently in any nation, it seeks to overthrow any existing regime or constitution or law, and replace it with Islamic theocracy," the site warns. "All Islamic mosques have Islamic leaders (rulers) who can call Muslims for fighting, and as such are satellite headquarters for spreading Literal Islam's political doctrine of world domination and totalitarianism--no matter how many 'moderate Muslims' they serve."
This week, the anti-Muslim fear campaign stepped up a notch with an anonymous flier that's being distributed, warning residents that the Muslims are coming to get them.
"Everyone needs to contact Florence City Council to have this stopped," the flier reads in part, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. "Americans need to stop the takeover of our country."
Yep.  A mosque right here in Florence, not more than a couple of miles from where I live.  That was before this idiocy spread nationally.  That's before people decided it was OK to be bigots in my neighborhood.

Even the politicians are weighing in as Florence and Manhattan become sister cities in anti-mosque rhetoric. Rep. Geoff Davis (R) is Florence's congressional representative. Like many Republicans, he's opposed to the Cordoba House project in New York. "Plans to construct a mosque near the Ground Zero memorial site, where thousands of Americans lost their lives due to a radical Islamic terrorist group attack, is not only insensitive but provocative," he told the Enquirer yesterday.

But when it comes to the mosque project in his home district, Davis seems a bit more cautious. "So long as the appropriate state and local rules have been followed, this is permissible under the establishment clause regarding freedom of religion in the First Amendment of the Constitution," Davis said of the Florence mosque.
A spokesperson for the Florence mosque project did not respond to my requests for comment. Joseph Dabdoub, a spokesman for the project, told the AP, "The flier was very disappointing. These are average, hard-working people from the community, looking for a place to worship."

This might be a good time to point out that Florence already has an Islamic center, and it's "just a few blocks from the proposed mosque site," according to the Enquirer. That building "hosts many activities, including daily prayers, community gatherings and Sunday school," and it's also "focused on outreach in an effort to introduce Islam to the local community, which representatives say has increased membership and contributed to the need for a larger facility."
But guess what?  The law is the law...and the law is clear.
It seems that those supporting the new mosque will likely get their wish, according to local officials. As in New York, those pesky property rights are getting in the way of project opponents.

"If anyone owned a piece of property in the city of Florence and it is properly zoned -- whether it was a business development or residential development -- they could do that, and that's the case with the Islamic center," Florence Community Development Director Joshua Wise told WLWT-TV.

But now it's personal.  Now the anti-Muslim bigots are distributing flyers where I live, to my neighborhood, to the people I see every day, to where I am proud to call home.  And I'll be damned if I let these backwards assholes embarrass Florence Kentucky nationally like this.

Now I have a personal stake in this fight.

It's on.

Double G Has To Regulate

You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger and you don't go on NPR and make stuff up about Glenn Greenwald, because he will call you out at high noon.

This is really quite strange.  Yesterday, my inbox began filling up with email telling me that Jeffrey Goldberg had gone on NPR and, when asked about my critiques of his Atlantic article on bombing Iran, claimed I had "retracted" part of what I had written.  When I read the first couple emails, I assumed the emailers had heard it incorrectly or were mischaracterizing Goldberg's remarks, because not only had I never issued any retraction of those criticisms, but I never wrote anything remotely close to what could possibly be misconstrued that way:  I never even hinted that anything I had written was inaccurate, because it wasn't.  I was reasonably sure that even Jeffrey Goldberg wouldn't simply fabricate such an event of that significance and announce it as fact on NPR as a way of discrediting a critic.  But sure enough, once the audio was posted by NPR and I listened to it, I found -- genuinely, perhaps na├»vely, to my amazement -- that what the emailers described is exactly what happened.

I'm not sure why Jeffrey Goldberg would want to pick a fact-checking fight with one of the most exhaustively thorough legal and constitutional policy wonk journalists out there, (there are times when I think Greenwald goes over the line on the rhetoric but never, ever cross the guy on the substance) but Goldberg just walked into a world of pain on this one, and it turns out this morning Goldberg just made things a lot worse for himself.

Goldberg responds, playing the victim role.  He falsely accused me on NPR of issuing a retraction and now he's the wronged party, claiming he merely "confused me with someone else," presumably "someone else" who issued a retraction last week (who?).  Feel free to read his response and form your own judgment.  He also complains that I "posted our private e-mail exchange, without asking [him] if that would be okay."  There was nothing "private" about our email exchange; my whole point in emailing him, as I made explicitly clear, was that I intended to write about this episode and wanted to include his response in what I wrote.  The whole exchange was entirely on the record.  It's just amazing how devoted to the Cult of Secrecy so many self-proclaimed journalists are.

The point of course is Jeffrey Goldberg was one of the many Villagers who failed upwards into the higher echelons of Serious Credibility by drumming up our war in Iraq.   The guy is Bucket O' Fail anyway, but the fallout from going after Greenwald is not something I'd even wish on on a Village Idiot like Goldberg.

Gonzo Goes Gonzo On The GOP

As much as I think former Bush-era AG Alberto Gonzales should be spending time behind bars rather than penning WaPo op-eds, the jackass actually calls out congressional Republicans for not enacting Bush's immigration plan and scuttling it again under Obama and joins the growing chorus of "knock it off you morons" on the whole 14th Amendment nonsense.
President George W. Bush pushed for comprehensive immigration reform, but Republican members of Congress refused to join him. Although President Obama and the present congressional leadership have used their majority to enact sweeping health-care and financial reform, they seem to lack the will to try to pass comprehensive immigration legislation. Even my apolitical and saintly 78-year-old mother wonders whether the Democrats are keeping this issue on the table for political reasons, hoping that Republicans will propose enforcement measures that alienate Hispanic voters.

Most recently, some politicians and concerned citizens have expressed a desire to amend the 14th Amendment of our Constitution, which says in Section 1, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Proponents want to discourage undocumented mothers from crossing our borders to give birth to children derogatorily referred to as "anchor babies," who by law are American citizens. Such a change is difficult to carry out, as it should be, requiring a new amendment ratified by three-quarters of the states.

I do not support such an amendment. Based on principles from my tenure as a judge, I think constitutional amendments should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances that we cannot address effectively through legislation or regulation. Because most undocumented workers come here to provide for themselves and their families, a constitutional amendment will not solve our immigration crisis. People will certainly continue to cross our borders to find a better life, irrespective of the possibilities of U.S. citizenship.

As the nation's former chief law enforcement officer and a citizen who believes in the rule of law, I cannot condone anyone coming into this country illegally. However, as a father who wants the best for my own children, I understand why these parents risk coming to America -- especially when there is little fear of prosecution. If we want to stop this practice, we should pass and enforce comprehensive immigration legislation rather than amend our Constitution. 
Which is what Democrats have been saying all along.  It seems the nation's first Hispanic AG, himself the child of immigrants, thinks that scapegoating immigrants in general is a bad long-term strategy for the GOP and for America.  Imagine that.

Two questions:  One, what does Gonzo think of the Muslim-bashing among the GOP's luminaries?  Certainly a "man of the law" like him sees Obama's position as the correct one, yes?

Second, how fast is Gonzo going to get thrown under the bus by the racists in the GOP?  My guess is going to be "before the end of the day" especially with calling out Republicans in Congress for scrapping Bush's immigration legislation.

I'll check back on this later on.

Well You Know, They're Just Not That Bright...

Jennifer Rubin opens up the latest ODS front: openly questioning Obama's intelligence.
Attempting to explain the Ground Zero mosque blunder, Margaret Carlson argues that Obama is too smart for us: “He is so supremely confident in his intellect that he forgets, on his way to the correct decision, to slow down and pick up not-so-gifted stragglers.” Well, supremely confident but not so smart. Does he truly not get the distinction between constitutional rights and moral persuasion? Does he not understand that an imam who can’t denounce Hamas, insists America is complicit in 9/11, and won’t disclose whether state sponsors of terror are funding his project isn’t seeking reconciliation?

To be blunt, Obama suffers from a lifetime of others excessively praising his intellect. It insulates him from ideas and facts that conflict with his pre-existing liberal rubric (so “every economist” believed his stimulus would work). It leaves him unprepared to engage in real debate with informed opponents (e.g. the health-care summit). It skews his understanding of how geopolitics works, as he imagines that his own wonderfulness can sway adversaries and override nations’ fundamental interests (the Middle East). Is he as well read as George W. Bush? As intellectually creative as Bill Clinton? As grounded in history as Harry Truman? Let’s get some perspective here.
"As well read as George W. Bush" is hysterically funny on its own.

But look: now we've gone from "Obama is too smart to connect to the American public" to "Obama's not smart enough to do anything right" almost overnight.  Obama's gone from Spock to Stupid...not even the intellectual equal of Dubya.  After all, the argument goes, if Obama doesn't get the "common sense" wisdom that America hates Muslims, he can't be all that bright, can he?  That's why he's letting Timmy and Ben and Nancy and Harry run things.  Hey, he's even taking advice from his VP.

Hey, if Obama was actually smart, he would have fixed the economy, prevented the oil spill, ended racism, fixed Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan for that matter, solved Middle East peace, dropped the unemployment know he would have fixed all the problems that Bush left him.  I mean come on, he had 19 months after all.  Clearly because liberals questioned Bush's intelligence when he got us into this mess, if Obama hasn't fixed it yet he's not as smart as Bush, right?

Libertarian self-proclaimed Uber-nerd Vox Day goes one step further.
I figured out during the campaign that while Soebarkah is more intelligent than the average, he is far less intelligent than his academic background would normally lead one to believe. He's simply not as smart as his underlings or most of his peers in the political elite and he knows it, which is why he accepts the de facto leadership of Reid and Pelosi. This doesn't make him uniquely cretinous among the Washington set; John Kerry has a similar IQ in the 115 to 120 range. But because people expect more from a president, I have little doubt that by the time Soebarkah's political career is done, most likely after his first term, the national consensus will be that he was one of the dumbest presidents with whom the electorate has ever inflicted itself.
The Affirmative Action President, he calls him.  "one of the dumbest presidents with whom the electorate has ever inflicted itself."  This from a guy who insists the President's last name isn't Obama.

If the President was smart, he'd be a conservative Republican, after all...right?

Hence the title of the post, here.  Barack Obama is the Other, and the Other is not like us.  He continues to be dehumanized by some of his critics.  The unspoken here is of course that the nation's first minority President can't actually be that bright -- look at all the trouble we're in now -- but what do you expect from one of them?  It all comes back to the oldest racial stereotypes:  "they're just not as smart as we are" so it's perfectly logical to dehumanize and disenfranchise them.

Ahh, the soft bigotry of low expectations has now become the open bigotry of Obama Derangement Syndrome.

The Rand Man's Making Excuses Now

The latest Insight CN|2 poll here in Kentucky shows Rand Paul and Jack Conway tied at 41% with 17% undecided.  The Paul campaign response?  We refuse to believe you.

The results reflect a 10-point jump for Conway from the last statewide cn|2 Poll taken Aug. 2-4. Support for Paul has held steady at around 41 percent for each of the three statewide cn|2 Polls. View the full results and crosstabs of the Aug 16-18 poll here.

This survey also showed the lowest percentage of undecided voters for the cn|2 Poll at 16.4%. The other two previous polls each showed the percent of undecided voters above 20%.

Paul’s spokesman, in a brief telephone interview, dismissed the results, saying “other more established polling firms are showing a healthy lead for Dr. Rand Paul.” A Rasmussen Reports poll of about 500 voters interviewed by an automated system earlier this week showed Paul with a 49-40 lead over Conway. (See other Kentucky results here).

“With all due respect, your polling has been as about consistent as Jack Conway has been on the issue of extending the Bush tax cuts,” Howard added. (The Paul campaign has criticized Conway for flip-flopping on his support for keeping the tax cuts.)

The cn|2 Poll is conducted by Braun Research Inc. of Princeton, N.J. It has a margin of error of 3.46 points.
Nope, it can't be the fact that Paul stuck his foot in his mouth at Fancy Farm and then went straight into the wacko Aqua Buddha at college nonsense and then pissed off every rural county cop in the state by saying that they need their drug enforcement budgets cut because we need tax cuts for rich people, and the fact that all of that happened between the time the last CN|2 poll was taken August 2-4 and now.

So yeah, Conway's gained 10 points and nearly all of that came from the state's undecideds.

No, it has to be the faulty polling.  It can't be that Rand Paul had one of the worst months I can ever remember any Senate candidate having.


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