Sunday, October 3, 2010

Last Call

This may win some sort of award for the least surprising news story ever.

The husband-and-wife team behind the planned Islamic center and mosque near New York's ground zero have received threats, a New York police spokesman said Sunday, hours after the wife said her life is under threat.

The threats "began several weeks ago," police spokesman Paul Browne told CNN "We were investigating them."

Browne would disclose no details of the threats made against Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf or his wife, Daisy Khan, or whether they were receiving any police protection.

Khan raised the issue during a discussion aired Sunday on ABC's "This Week," which spent this week's broadcast focusing on American Muslims and the fears evoked by the proposed Park51 Islamic center in New York and by mosques in other parts of the United States.

"For the record, my life is under threat," she said.

"Check with the Police Department. My husband's life is under threat," she added. "We do not walk around with bodyguards, because we love this country. We don't walk around with big bodyguards because we don't want use taxpayer's money."

Imagine that.  The folks behind Park51 are getting threats.  Muslims, getting threats in America?

Least surprising news story I've read all year.

Small Government, No...Small-Minded, Yes

Bob Cesca catches another "small-government libertarian" Republican in action, Sen. Jim DeMint.

DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn't be in the classroom.

Government shouldn't be interfering in the beliefs of the American people, unless it's social conservatives enforcing how people should live their lives.

The most inalienable right to a Tea Party Republican is the God-given, Constitutional right to be able to remove the people who don't agree with them in order to prevent anyone from interfering with their right to pretend that everyone else in America has the same opinion they do.

Oh, and the Teabaggers want Jim DeMint to be their new Senate leader.

Master Debaters

Jack Conway and Rand Paul appeared on FOX News Sunday today for a debate of sorts.  I give credit to Conway for showing up on FOX, too.  It was a two on one fight he had to put up with.

Conway, the state's attorney general, said that while he agreed with some Obama policies including health care reform, he would be an independent voice looking out for Kentucky.

Asked about his campaign ads and reported comments depicting Paul as "crazy," Conway said: "I'm not saying Dr. Paul is crazy. I think some of his ideas are out of the mainstream and they're out of touch with the values of normal Kentuckians."

The debate moderated by "FOX News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace included accusations by Paul that Conway flip-flopped on some issues, first backing and now questioning cap-and-trade energy legislation and the expiration of some Bush-era tax cuts.

Conway denied changing positions but made clear that he now was firmly in the moderate camp on some hot-button issues, for example insisting that all the tax cuts should be extended.

Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for the 98 percent of the country earning up to $200,000 individually or $250,000 as families, while returning to higher tax rates of the 1990s for the 2 percent making more money.
Republicans, along with some Democrats -- including Conway -- say all the tax cuts should be extended as the economy slowly recovers from the recession.

Conway accused Paul of being out of touch with Kentuckians by advocating policies that he said were out of the 1930s. He repeatedly cited Paul's past suggestion of a $2,000 deductible for Medicare coverage and reducing the federal role in mine safety regulations as examples.

And while Jack Conway would certainly be a better Senator than Rand Paul, at best he would be another Evan Bayh/Ben Nelson type.  The really sad part is out of the four primary candidates from the two parties, Conway is the furthest to the left.  That means he's mistaken for a Republican only most of the time.

I'm not sure why Conway thinks he can beat Rand Paul by trying to be conservative.  That dog don't hunt.  Ahh, but I don't have much of a choice, do I?  After all, Rand wants to raise the retirement age for me.

Conservative Ben Nelson type over Rand Paul?  Absolutely.  I'll take predictable over insane.

Trojan Dipstick

Frank Rich's opinion of Christine O' Donnell is that she is 2010's Sarah Palin, and that's not in any way a good thing.

The O’Donnell template, by sharp contrast, is Palin. It was Palin’s endorsement that put O’Donnell on the map, and it’s Palin’s script that O’Donnell is assiduously following. The once obscure governor of Alaska was also tripped up by lies and gaffes when she emerged on the national stage, starting with her misrepresentation of her supposed opposition to “the bridge to nowhere.” But she quickly wove the attacks into a brilliant cloak of martyrdom that positioned her as a fierce small-town opponent of the coasts’ pointy-head elites.

O’Donnell, like Palin, knows that attacks by those elites, including conservative grandees, only backfire and enhance her image as a feisty defender of the aggrieved and resentful Joe Plumbers in “real America.”
The more O’Donnell is vilified, the bigger the star she becomes, and the more she can reinforce the Tea Party’s preferred narrative as “a spontaneous and quite anarchic movement” (in the recent words of the pundit Charles Krauthammer) populated only by everyday folk upset by big government and the deficit. This airbrushed take has had a surprisingly long life even in some of the nonpartisan press. In a typical example just three weeks ago, the influential publication National Journal delivered a breathless report on how the Tea Party functions as a “headless” movement where “no one gives orders.” To prove the point, a head of the headless Tea Party Patriots vouched that “75 percent of the group’s funding comes from small donations, $20 or less.”

In fact, local chapters of Tea Party Patriots routinely received early training and support from FreedomWorks, the moneyed libertarian outfit run by the former Republican House majority leader and corporate lobbyist Dick Armey. FreedomWorks is itself a spinoff from Citizens for a Sound Economy, a pseudo-grassroots group whose links to the billionaire Koch brothers were traced by Jane Mayer in her blockbuster August exposé in The New Yorker. Last week the same Tea Party Patriots leader who bragged to the National Journal about all those small donations announced a $1 million gift from a man she would identify only as an entrepreneur. The donor’s hidden identity speaks even louder than the size of the check. As long as we don’t know who he is, we won’t know what orders he’s giving either.

Such deep-pocketed mystery benefactors — not O’Donnell, whose reported income for this year and last is $5,800 — are the real indicators of what’s going on under the broad Tea Party rubric. Big money rains down on the “bottom up” Tea Party insurgency through phantom front organizations (Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Job Security) that exploit legal loopholes to keep their sugar daddies’ names secret. Reporters at The Times and The Washington Post, among others, have lately made real strides in explaining how the game works. But we still don’t know the identities of most of those anonymous donors. 

Rich is right, but he's also missing the larger point:  Tea Partiers don't give a damn about the fact that cash is being poured into the system by conservative groups with unlimited donation power, and that's because Tea Partiers don't give a damn about fiscal responsibility.  They just want Obama gone, and they don't really give a damn how it's accomplished.

All of the rest is a ruse.  Yes, if this means Christine O'Donnell is in office, they don't care what she does, as long as Obama is removed from office.

People need to recognize the driving force behind Tea Party anger is getting rid of Obama.

Fortress Europe

A major terrorism-based travel advisory for Americans in Europe is a big deal, folks.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens in Europe, based on information that suggests that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. Americans are warned to be aware of their surroundings and protect themselves when traveling.

One senior U.S. official said earlier that in addition to the travel alert from the State Department, "U.S. military installations are taking prudent precautions. This is a serious situation."

A separate U.S. official said the alert is being prompted by the volume of intelligence on possible terror threats, rather than new intelligence.

It emerged last week that U.S. intelligence officials were looking at information about a possible "Mumbai-style" attack in cities across Europe.

ABC News has more:

Strong concerns that terrorist teams in Europe have selected their targets, completed their surveillance, eluded capture and are now ready to strike at airports and tourist attractions have prompted the State Department to ready a highly unusual travel advisory for Europe, multiple law enforcement and intelligence sources tell ABC News.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials have information that the teams could at any time launch a "Mumbai style" terror attack that targets civilians for death or hostage taking. The 2008 Mumbai attack used small arms and explosives to kill 175 people and paralyze the Indian city for days.

The current concerns are for scenarios that include opening fire at airports in Europe as well as executing similar attacks at "soft" targets like tourist attractions or hotels.

According to ABC News sources, the terror plotters have moved through the surveillance stage, checked back in with al Qaeda in Pakistan, and have received the go-ahead to strike.

The US issuing an alert like this for all of Europe is not anything to be treated lightly, because it becomes an instant logistical nightmare for the EU, but apparently it's deadly serious.

Hopefully nobody will be hurt here.

Today In Village Idiocy

You don't even have to read Dean Broder's column this week, you just need to glance at the title:

"John Boehner's useful thoughts on fixing Congress"

You want to know what Orange Julius brought to Congress in the last two years?

You want to know who Broder blames for the last two years?

What Boehner called "a cycle of gridlock" afflicts both sides of the Capitol, and has been enabled by both parties, depending on who had the majority. As he was honest enough to admit, the abuses did not start when Pelosi took the gavel, and both sides have been guilty of twisting the rules.

If the margins of control shrink in January, as I think they will, it might well be time to negotiate a truce.

I'd like to see Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leaders take Boehner up on the challenge he has raised, not try to demean it. He said, for example, that rather than stifling debate through the manipulation of rules, "we should open things up and let the battle of ideas help break down the scar tissue between the parties. . . . Let's let legislators legislate again."

Does anyone on Earth, even the Republicans, think Boehner will be allowed to "break down the scare tissue between parties" with the Tea Party in charge of the GOP?   When half of your party doesn't even think the President is legitimately the President, how do you work with him?

Broder really does need to be put out to pasture.  He lives in a fantasy world where he's actually taking John Boehner at his word.

But we're already seeing the Village meme for the next two years:  "Will the Democrats be the adults and capitulate to the Republicans?"  It'll be funny too right up to the point where Obama's being impeached.
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