Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last Call

Bonus points for intellectual consistency for the man who would be Alaska's next Senator, Joe Miller.  He really is crazy enough to to go to Washington as Alaska's Senator in order to cut the state off at the knees financially.
"I don't think anybody can [claim] - sitting at $13.3 trillion in absolute debt, by some estimates $130 trillion in future unfunded obligations - that we are in any way in a good financial state," Miller said.

"The answer to this is to basically transfer the responsibilities and power of government back to the states and the people. That is really the only answer, I think, out of this crisis," Miller said.

"As we continue to tighten our belts because fiscally that's critical for the economic solvency of this nation, we also transfer it to the states more power. That means more ownership of lands. It's not a situation where you just yank the financial plug, but at the same time you're transferring over discretion over the use of the resource base," Miller said.

"In this state, two-thirds of it is owned by the federal government. There really isn't a good constitutional basis for that," Miller said. "It's our position that as the money is restricted, the lands are transferred." 
Alaska gets $1.84 for every dollar that they pay in federal taxes.  Joe Miller figures the state has the resources to go it alone.  That especially means Alaska's infirm and elderly.

Schieffer noted that Miller has also taken controversial and even extreme positions. "First you say you want to phase out Medicare. You want to privatize Social Security. I have to say there are a lot of people in Alaska who are on Medicare and are getting Social Security. Isn't that position going to be a problem for you in the [general] election?"

"I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme, then you would also think that the founders are extreme," Miller said. "We just simply want to get back to basics, restore essentially the constitutional foundation of our country. 
See, there's nothing about Social Security or Medicare in the Constitution.  If you really love America and the Constitution, you'll understand we have to go back before they existed, you know.  We need "other solutions" for dealing with the sick and elderly.  They're not pulling their weight, you know.

I may complain about Obama's Catfood Commission, but Joe Miller and the Republicans make what the Democrats are considering look like spring rain in the desert by comparison.

150 years ago a bunch of folks thought it would be really great to give power to the states.  Didn't work out so well, if I recall.  Things kind of got nasty.

Meanwhile, Over There...

Afghanistan is still a nasty little war.
Afghan and coalition soldiers killed more than 30 insurgents, including 13 would-be suicide bombers, as they fought off assaults on two military bases and government buildings in eastern Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Sunday.

The attacks, which happened Saturday morning, were led by Haqqani network insurgents and were against Forward Operating Base Salerno and Forward Operating Base Chapman, ISAF said. Both bases are located in Khost province, a volatile region on Afghanistan's rugged border with Pakistan.

The Haqqani network is a militant group with ties to al Qaeda.
Perhaps we should be removing our troops from such a target-rich environment.  It's not like we're flush with cash as a country these days.

If we're looking for sources of spending we can all agree on cutting, I think our now pointless nine year war in Afghanistan is a good place to consider starting.

Cult Of Personality

Some perspective to keep in mind next time you hear remarks on "Obama's cult-like following" or his "messianic tendencies".
Among those surprised by all of conservative TV host Glenn Beck's recent religious talk - including at Saturday's Washington rally, where Beck said that "America today begins to turn back to God," - is the Rev. Richard Land, a Southern Baptist leader.

"I've been stunned," said Land, who directs public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention and who attended the Saturday rally at Beck's invitation.

"This guy's on secular radio and television," Land said Saturday, "but his shows sound like you're listening to the Trinity Broadcasting Network, only it's more orthodox and there's no appeal for money ... and today he sounded like Billy Graham."

Beck's speeches around his "Restoring Honor" rally have brimmed with religious language: "God dropped a giant sandbag on his head" to push him to organize the rally, he said Friday.

On Friday night, Beck held a religion-focused event at the Kennedy Center that was billed as Glenn Beck's Divine Destiny.

Beck's speech Saturday also evoked the feel of a religious revival.

"Look forward. Look West. Look to the heavens. Look to God and make your choice," he said.
Glenn Beck's not running for anything so pedestrian as a political office.  He's running for something somewhat...higher in nature (or lower, depending on your theosophy.)   Sarah Palin I think is content with being a grifter, but Beck actually lets himself believe his own rhetoric, and that's what makes him truly dangerous.

Dismissing him as a loudmouth TV host is a critical error.  He has a lot more in mind for both himself and America.

Mostly himself, however.

[UPDATE] A much more informative article on Beck's Messiah complex by AlterNet's Alex Montgomery.
Beck, who seems to view himself in increasingly messianic terms, says he is helping to launch another religious “Great Awakening” that will shape American history and promised attendees that on Saturday they would be “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Beck has plenty of company among those who saw Barack Obama’s election as a sign that politics is failing America, and that a religious revival is the only real hope for its future. In fact, it’s become practically routine at Religious Right events for leaders to announce that history would view their event as the spark of a new awakening. But none of them have had an audience near the size that Beck does.
And it is that combination of big business "win the news cycle at all costs" Republicanism and Christian Dominionist "We're on a mission from God" theory that makes Beck uniquely and truly dangerous. 

The revolution will be propagandized.

Uncontrolled Burn

The rampant Islamophobia in this country is getting more and more dangerous.
Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.

Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.

Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.

The ATF, FBI and Rutherford County Sheriff's Office are conducting a joint investigation into the fire, Anderson said. 
Murfreesboro, Tennessee...also too close to Ground Zero, apparently.  And now the stakes just got a lot higher and a hell of a lot more dangerous.

We've gone from demagoguery to angry protests in Manhattan to national protests at mosque sites across the country now to arson, in just a few short months.  What happens when someone is hurt or killed because of this, or worse?

[UPDATE] As Maha points out:
There have been Muslims in the community for 30 years; they have been worshiping in an office building. Members of the Muslim community say they have never experienced hostility until they began to build their new facility.
Opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer; they are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.
“They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group,” Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.
Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore “Vote for Jesus” T-shirts and carried signs that said “No Sharia law for USA!,” referring to the Islamic code of law.
Others took their opposition further, spray painting a sign announcing the “Future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro” and tearing it up.
Earlier this summer opponents criticized the planned mosque at hearings held by the Rutherford County Commission, as supporters held prayer vigils.
At one such prayer vigil, WTVF reported opponents speaking out against construction.
“No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Evy Summers said to WTVF. “Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity.”
So can we call Evy Summers et al. bigots now? If that isn’t bigotry, I don’t know what is.

Now we're up to arson.  Is it going to take actual mosque burnings and possible deaths before America realizes this is wrong?

The Democrats' Path To Victory pretty clear cut:  jobs, jobs, jobs.  Steve Benen:
It's worth noting, then, that there's at least some evidence that attitudes have shifted in a more constructive direction. This question in the newly-released Newsweek poll bears special attention:
"Which one of the following do you think should have the higher priority for policy-makers in Washington right now:
37% Reducing the federal budget deficit
57% Federal spending to create jobs
6% Don't know
This strikes me as very encouraging. For many Americans, the "deficit" has become an amorphous concept that they've been conditioned to viscerally reject, and the polling last year suggested this knee-jerk reaction was so strong, deficit reduction was actually perceived as more important than the economy itself.

But the Newsweek poll -- yes, I know, it's only one poll -- wasn't close. Asked which should be a higher priority, the deficit or spending money on job creation, the latter won by 20 points.

Dems on the Hill are afraid to make economic investments because they expect a public backlash. They're nervous enough about the midterms and aren't in the mood to hear another round of "government spending is bad." But here's data showing that spending on job creation is actually quite popular. Republicans would respond by saying the deficit matters more, but that's not where the public is right now.

So why not borrow the money and invest in job creation? Like, immediately?
You would think so.  But gosh, Republicans keep blocking job bills "against the will of the people".  Obama needs to look into an executive branch program for jobs if possible, using the resources of the Treasury and Fed if he has to.

If he doesn't, enjoy the GOP-controlled Congress.  Really is that simple.
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