Saturday, August 21, 2010

Last Call

If I didn't know better, I'd say Manu Raju of Politico was openly rooting for Harry Reid to lose.
As Republicans tie him to the state’s economic tailspin and highlight his penchant for politically damaging gaffes, Harry Reid seems to have conceded he’s going to remain the same unpopular figure here between now and Election Day.

None of it matters, though, as long as he finds a way to finish first on Election Day.

“The only approval rating that counts is the one on Nov. 2, OK?” Reid told POLITICO outside a local community center when asked why he has not been able to turn around his low approval ratings.

It’s called winning ugly, and it’s an approach Reid is at peace with as he seeks a fifth term under the worst imaginable political conditions.

Reid is trying to make the case that the state can’t afford to lose him, citing his power as Senate majority leader and the projects he has delivered throughout the state. Yet, his campaign largely has been focused on the foibles of his GOP opponent — Sharron Angle — and the theme that the tea party favorite holds “dangerous” policy positions.

Angle has been deeply damaged by the relentless attacks but if she can steady her campaign and undermine the notion that she is an extremist candidate, there’s much material for her to work with. At the top of this is the state’s frightening 14.3 percent unemployment rate.
Now keep in mind this is a news story on the Reid-Angle race, you'd be remiss if you thought this was the op-ed section.

Poor, poor Sharron Angle.  She's the victim here against mean ol' Harry Reid.  You're supposed to feel sorry for Angle for picking on her...shade of 2008 and a certain Alaskan Governor.

Pretty neutral, eh?  Gotta love the Village.

This Just In...

Republicans are partisan hacks trying to score cheap political points.  Shocking, I know.  Steve Benen:
It's pretty obvious that the U.S. market has been in a crisis situation for far too long. By any reasonable measure, 2010 is vastly better than 2009, but with the unemployment rate pushing 10%, and initial claims for unemployment insurance climbing to 500,000 last week, the scope of the problem is enormou

But that's no excuse for partisan nonsense. House Ways and Means ranking member Dave Camp (R-Mich.) issued a "report" yesterday, showing that -- get this -- the nation has lost jobs over the last year and a half. "While Democrats promised their 2009 stimulus would create 3.7 million jobs, the reality is far different," stated a release from Camp's office. "To date, 2.6 million jobs, including 2.5 million private sector jobs, have been lost."
This is lazy, intellectually dishonest drivel. That it's coming from someone who may be the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is more than a little distressing.
Even a House Republican should be able to understand the reality here. When the Recovery Act passed, the economy was in freefall. When President Obama was sworn into office, the economy was losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month. By Camp's absurd reasoning, a recovery effort that didn't magically transform the entire economy, and instantly stop the job losses, necessarily constitutes failure. It's the kind of ridiculous argument one might hear from a partisan hack, desperate to score a cheap, baseless point, but leading members of Congress should know better.
They should, but they don't give a damn.  Obama's a socialist Kenyan Muslim who pals around with terrorists and who is going to destroy America.  And this is also coming from members of Congress who should know better.

They don't care.  Never will.  It's all about getting back into power.  Nothing else, including the American people, matters.

A Notable Failed Bank In This Week's Busted Banks

We're up to 114 in 2010 now.  Eight banks went down this week, in Florida, California and Virginia, as the total keeps rising.  But it's the eighth failed bank this week, number 114 this year, that's a bit different.
ShoreBank, a privately owned bank known for its philanthropic activities, had received multi-million dollar investment commitments in recent months from Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Bank of America, as well as from General Electric.

But the bank, which was put on the ropes when the recession hit its lower-income borrowers especially hard, was unable to secure the funds it was seeking from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, it needed to match private-sector pledges.

ShoreBank's deposits will be taken over by a newly chartered institution called Urban Partnership Bank (UPB). Its 15 branches also will shift to the new bank.
In other words, ShoreBank was trying to invest in lower-income residents of Chicago when no one else would.  The money finally ran see, Wall Street nor the government would help them out.

Attempts to rescue ShoreBank have played out in the media for months, with lawmakers and watchdogs questioning whether special treatment was being given to the bank.
ShoreBank is located on Chicago's South Side near the home base of President Barack Obama and some of his top aides, and the bank has promoted on its website connections to Obama.
ShoreBank has received national recognition over the years for its efforts to extend loans to low-income communities and environmental cause.
It has some prominent supporters with strong ties to Washington, including Ellen Seidman, former director of the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision, and Eugene Ludwig, former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who represents Chicago's North Side, lobbied Wall Street banks this year to save the 37-year-old bank. She has blamed Wall Street's "recklessness" for the foreclosure crisis that precipitated ShoreBank's losses.
But bank activity with a philanthropic bent has not been profitable lately. For the quarter ending March 31, ShoreBank reported a $17.1 million operating loss, compared with an operating profit of $384,000 in the year-earlier period.

And now we see why.  It became politically unprofitable to help lower-income residents in Chicago with Obama as President.  No doubt the bank had to go.  Too vulnerable to the President coming under attack, and not worth trying to defend it.  Wall Street banks on the other hand, too big to fail.

That's the America we live in, where helping lower-income people secure a loan is in an of itself a potential crime.  Then again, so is being Muslim, Latino, gay, black, or liberal...

And poor.

That's About The Right Of It

The Rumpies explain the 2010 GOP platform:


It's truly sad that this is more correct than not.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

It is difficult to reconcile these ideas, but I will attempt to anyway.

1) Any accusation of rape must be taken with absolute seriousness and must be fully investigated.  No exceptions.  None.

2) There are those who have openly said that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange must be destroyed and Wikileaks stopped by whatever means necessary.

3) Julian Assange has been accused of rape in Sweden.

A spokeswoman for the Swedish prosecutors office says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is wanted on suspicion of rape and he should contact police for questioning.

Spokeswoman Karin Rosander tells The Associated Press that a prosecutor in Stockholm issued an arrest warrant for Assange late Friday and that authorities have not yet heard from him.

Rosander says Assange is suspected of molestation and rape in two separate cases and "should contact police so that he can be confronted with the suspicions."

Assange denied the charges Saturday on WikiLeaks' Twitter page, saying they "are without basis and their issue at this moment is deeply disturbing."

Needless to say, Assange doesn't have a choice other than to turn himself in and face this investigation.

[UPDATE] Except now I'm hearing news that Swedish authorities have withdrawn the warrant citing the allegations are unfounded?!?

Now this is getting crazy.

On Moving Park 51

Former Dubya-era State Department official Karen Hughes argues that the best solution to the Cordoba House/Park51 project is for supporters to turn the other cheek, accept the country's judgment, and to agree to move it to another location.
Unfortunately, the conversation has become overheated, politicized and counterproductive. I believe that most Americans who oppose locating a mosque near Ground Zero are neither anti-freedom nor anti-Muslim; they just don't believe it's respectful, given what happened there. I say that as someone who strongly believes that the Sept. 11 attackers and other members of al-Qaeda do not represent any faith, but instead taint all faith with their acts of murder. I met many Muslims around the world who feel that, along with airplanes, the terrorists hijacked their religion.
When my fellow Americans ask why more Muslims don't speak out against such violence, I respond that they do -- and I met many who were vocal in their condemnation of al-Qaeda and its acts of terror. Osama bin Laden wants to portray our efforts against terrorism as the West vs. Islam; we must work hard to portray them as civilized people of many faiths vs. a death cult.
That's why I believe it is so important that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his congregation make what I fully understand would be a very difficult choice: to locate their mosque elsewhere. Putting the mosque at a different site would demonstrate the uncommon courtesy sometimes required for us to get along in our free and diverse society.
I recognize that I am asking the imam and his congregation to show a respect that has not always been accorded to them. But what a powerful example that decision would be. Many people worry that this debate threatens to deepen resentments and divisions in America; by choosing a different course, Rauf could provide a path toward the peaceful relationships that he and his fellow Muslims strive to achieve. And this gesture of goodwill could lead us to a more thoughtful conversation to address some of the ugliness this controversy has engendered. 
Sometimes, the right answer is to do the wrong thing for the right reasons, and the reasons Hughes gives are compelling.  It is far easier for Imam Rauf to move his proposed community center and place of worship then it is to battle millions of Americans who do not find his actions respectful.  It is an opportunity to try to end the controversy through being an adult rather than digging in and being stubborn and child-like.  Life is about compromise in any national society.  It is a move designed to show respect towards and shame those who choose not to respect you.  Sometimes indeed the right answer is to surrender for the greater good.

Not everyone who is against the Park51 project is an anti-Islamic bigot.  Let's get this out of the way right the hell now.  As I have said, the reasons behind Hughes's argument are a sincere concern for fostering the greater good and to avoid conflict.  I believe after reading this article that she is genuinely concerned that if the Park51 project is built, there will be nothing but strife, anger, and violence from those who wish the project serious harm.

Sometimes the answer is to surrender now and to fight the good fight later.  And with all due respect to Karen Hughes and her diplomatic credentials and the idea of using diplomacy to further relationships between American Muslims and Americans in general...

This is not one of those times.

I have only to drive a mile or so from my home to the proposed site of a mosque being protested by anonymous fliers that threaten "the takeover of this country" if the mosque is built here, some 700 miles from Ground Zero.  My current home is too close to Lower Manhattan to allow a mosque to be built.  As Adam Serwer reminds us:

Mosque building 
500 (1).jpg

Plenty of Americans say Muslims do not have the right to build mosques in the United States. 48% of us, as a matter of fact, wish to deny Muslims their rights under the Constitution, including 14 percent of Americans who say no mosques should be built anywhere in the US.

Exactly how will moving the Park51 project solve this much larger issue? The simple truth is that it will not.  It will only throw the spotlight onto the next mosque project being protested.  That project too will be asked to shut down or move.  And the next.  And the next.  And the next.

Until the 14% have their way.  That is the only logical endpoint of such capitulation...unless a stand is taken.  If we as a country decide that the Constitution does not apply to Islam here, then it does not apply to Islam anywhere in the United States of America.  You cannot say that the people behind Park51 have the right to build a place of worship within the laws and then say they do not have the right to exercise it.

If you apply the "can they yes, should they no" argument, then there are those who will demand that Islam be removed from the United States of America, period.  Can they worship at existing mosques yes, but should they?  Can they practice Islam in the United States, yes...but should they?  Can we allow Muslims in the United States yes, but should we?

Capitulating on Park51 is the easy thing to do.  Nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy.  We are already seeing the results of what will happen no matter what Park51 does or where it is placed:  it will not stop those who are the bigots, those who want Islam and their adherents erased from the American landscape, those who see no difference between the people who attacked us on 9/11 and the people who are building Park51 or any mosque in America or any Muslim in America period.

Moving the Park51 project will not slake their anger.  Period.

Sometimes, the correct choice is the difficult one:  to stand for what is right and just and lawful especially when it is unpopular.  It is at this point when standing for the difficult but right position is the most necessary.

Build it.  Show those who say that America is full of hate that hate can be conquered through real freedom.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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