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National Politics

Video: Pres. Obama announces bipartisan House, Senate support of his plan to arm rebels in Syria

by: lowkell

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 20:32:42 PM EDT

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Angry White Men on the Right

by: Andy Schmookler

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 13:32:14 PM EDT

A friend of mine, who is liberal, told me recently, "Having grown up in the South in the 1950s, I know something about how it feels to be part of a group you're told is superior. It feels really good. It's a feeling that shouldn't be under-estimated."

That got me thinking about the anger of many white men, and why they've lent the force of that anger to the political right.

Imagine you're a white man, particularly in a region where racist ideology and patriarchy have been especially powerful. By virtue of being white instead of black, and male instead of female, you've got higher status than roughly three-quarters of the humanity around you. And if you're straight, not gay, you get to feel even better about yourself.

The feeling of self-worth is a big part of one's overall feeling of well-being.

The straight white man, in the old order, is the embodiment of "born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple."

What if a political force came to take all that away from you?

You are told that black people deserve the same rights and respect as white people. Laws are enacted to compel everyone to act as if that were true.

As if that weren't enough, this same political force -- American liberalism, through its political instrument, the Democratic Party -- declares that women are as good as men, and deserve the same treatment and opportunities.

At this point, the white man has been thrown out of the top quartile of his community and into the general pool.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 492 words in story)

Video: Pat Robertson Rants About "One Little Jewish Radical"

by: lowkell

Thu Sep 18, 2014 at 13:29:45 PM EDT

Yep, this is Bob McDonnell's mentor and a huge contributor over the years to the Republican Party of Virginia. Yet none of those folks will condemn him, no matter what he says (now, anti-Semitism in addition to his theocratic beliefs). Ugh.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Sen. Kaine Introduces Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ISIL

by: lowkell

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 08:49:54 AM EDT

Narrow, Specific Authorization Bars Ground Troops & Sunsets After One Year 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, will introduce a narrow and specific authorization for use of military force against ISIL. As the Foreign Relations Committee prepares to draft a tailored authorization to provide President Obama with authority in the mission to degrade and destroy ISIL, Kaine’s proposal is meant to reinforce the President’s strategy, as well as set key limitations he hopes will be included in final authorizing language for broader Congressional consideration.
 
In announcing the proposal, Kaine said: “Last week, President Obama laid out a strong case for the need to degrade and destroy ISIL and invited broader Congressional support for this effort. I was heartened when Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez answered this call by saying the committee would soon craft authorizing language for the U.S. military mission. It’s my hope that this proposal will help move the ball forward on what a specific and narrow authorization for limited military action against ISIL should look like – one that bars the deployment of U.S. ground combat troops except for rescue missions or limited operations against high-value targets, and sunsets in one year so that progress can be assessed before continuing the mission. I also propose the repeal of the obsolete 2002 Iraq War authorization. If Congress isn’t willing to do the hard work – to debate and vote on an authorization – we should not be asking our servicemembers to go into harm’s way.”

 

The authorization is specific to ISIL and supports President Obama’s key pillars: a multinational effortto degrade and destroy ISIL, the use of necessary and appropriate force in a campaign of air strikesagainst ISIL in Iraq and Syria and the provision of military equipment to appropriately vetted forces in Iraq and Syria, including the Iraqi security forces, Kurdish fighters, and other legitimate, appropriately vetted, non-terrorist opposition groups in Syria.

 

It also includes four key limitations:

 

1)      No U.S. ground troops;

2)      Repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force;

3)      Sunset after one year;

4)      Narrow definition of “associated forces.”

Full text of Kaine’s legislation is below:

To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant:

Whereas that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS or the Islamic State, is a terrorist organization committing daily acts of barbarity currently encompassing large portions of Syria and Iraq, and is a serious threat to the United States and the international community;

Whereas ISIL’s violence is destructive of religious freedom, the equality of women, protections against genocide, principles of national sovereignty, freedom of expression, and other core human rights protected by international law;

Whereas ISIL’s grisly execution of United States hostages, recruitment of United States citizens and others to serve as foreign fighters that threaten to return to the United States and other nations, and pledges to carry out additional acts of violence directly against the United States make it a threat of growing significance to the United States; and

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2169 (2014) and 2170 (2014) note that ISIL’s advancement is a major threat to Iraq’s future, condemn attacks by ISIL, reiterate international community support for Iraq’s security and territorial integrity, and emphasize the need for the international community to work together to help stabilize Iraq and combat ISIL: Now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This joint resolution may be cited as the “Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”.

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND THE LEVANT.

(a) In General.—In order to protect the United States and other countries from terrorist attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and in order to protect individuals from acts of violence in clear contravention of international law and basic human rights, the President is authorized, as part of a multinational coalition, subject to the limitations in subsection (b)—

(1) to use all necessary and appropriate force to participate in a campaign of airstrikes in Iraq, and if the President deems necessary, in Syria, to degrade and defeat ISIL; and

(2) to provide military equipment and training to forces fighting ISIL in Iraq or Syria, including the Iraqi security forces, Kurdish fighters, and other legitimate, appropriately vetted, non-terrorist opposition groups in Syria.

(b) No Authorization for Use of Ground Forces or Force Against Associated Forces.—The authorization in this section does not include—

(1) authorization for the use of United States ground combat forces, except for the purposes set forth in subsection (a)(2) or as necessary for the protection or rescue of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent danger posed by ISIL, or for limited operations against high value targets; or

(2) authorization for the use of force against forces associated with ISIL, unless such forces are identified in a report submitted under section 4 as individuals or organizations that are immediately and directly fighting alongside ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

(c) Expiration.—The authorization in this section shall expire on the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution.

(d) War Powers Resolution Requirements.—

(1) Specific statutory authorization.—Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) Applicability of other requirements.—Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

SEC. 3. REPEAL OF PRIOR AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AGAINST IRAQ.

The Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107–243; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.

SEC. 4. DESIGNATION OF ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY FIGHTING ALONGSIDE ISIL.

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this resolution, and every 90 days thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a list of those organizations or individuals immediately and directly fighting alongside ISIL for purposes of actions taken pursuant to this joint resolution. The list shall be maintained in unclassified form but may contain a classified annex.

SEC. 5. REPORTS.

The President shall report to Congress every 90 days after enactment of this resolution regarding the progress of the effort against ISIL.

SEC. 6. RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.

Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as—

(1) authorizing support for force in support of, or in cooperation with, the national government of Syria that was in power as of the date of the enactment of this resolution, or its security services; or

(2) limiting the constitutional or statutory powers of the President or Congress, or any additional powers held by the United States pursuant to international law or treaty.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Hannity: Charging NFL's Peterson w/Child Abuse Could Impede Teaching Kids "Being Gay Is Not Normal"

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 19:29:58 PM EDT

Nothing Sean Hannity says surprises me at this point, however appalling (like this). One question: does Barbara Comstock agree with her BFF and endorser about this?

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Video: Teddy Roosevelt Believed GOP Should Offer Real Solutions to Real Problems

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 15:10:02 PM EDT

From the superb Ken Burns series, The Roosevelts, I loved the following passage about Teddy Roosevelt as Governor of New York. Yes, TR was a Republican, but as the following passage makes clear, he was absolutely NOTHING like the Republicans of today. Regardless, TR was right then and he's right today: Republicans, and more importantly the country, would be far better off if they adopted TR's attitude towards government, business, the environment, etc., than the bizarre, warped, extreme positions they hold today.

P.S. I started off as a progressive Republican myself as a teenager, in the same line of thought as Teddy Roosevelt and many others (e.g.,  Bob LaFollette, Dwight Eisenhower, John Chaffee, Lowell Weicker, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller), but got the heck out of that party when I saw it taken over by supply siders (aka "Voodoo Economics"), racists and theocrats back in 1980. Sad to say, Republicans have only gotten (much) worse since then. I'm 100% confident that Teddy Roosevelt would not be a member of the Republican Party today (nor would Abraham Lincoln, of course, or Javits, LaFollette, probably George Romney, etc, etc.).

Boss Platt feared the new governor harbored what he called "altruistic ideas," and was a little loose on questions affecting the right of a man to run his own business in his own way.  He was right. Roosevelt promised to consult Platt as he went along, but he had concluded that it was neither wise nor safe for Republicans to take refuge in what he called "mere negation." New circumstances demanded a new kind of reform - progressive reform. The Republican Party, he felt, should actually offer real solutions to real problems...the old natural laws of the marketplace were no longer adequate. Government, [Roosevelt] believed, needed to step in to tame the market's excesses and maintain necessary order. Wrongs now had to be righted through legislation as well as persuasion. Roosevelt intended to strike a balance between what he called "mob rule" and improper corporate influence...In less than 6 months, he secured passage of bills that taxed corporations, limited working hours for women and children, improved sweatshop conditions, created or protected forest preserves...
Discuss :: (7 Comments)

The Republican Party's Extraordinary Pattern of Destructiveness

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 11:54:45 AM EDT

The following is the second in a series whose purpose is to show what's gone wrong in our nation's political arena, and to help start the process of setting things right. The series is addressed to all those who are disturbed by what the Republican Party has become, and frustrated by the failure of the Democratic Party to combat it effectively.

Summary: In the conduct of today's Republican Party, we can see a pattern of destructiveness. It displays an insatiable lust for power and wealth, an impulse to prey upon the vulnerable, a preference for conflict over cooperation, a persistent dishonesty, and a willingness to sacrifice the greater good for selfish advantage. Putting the pieces together, we see that our national crisis is not just at the political level, but goes deeper to the moral and spiritual levels.

I have a message and a plan to help turn back this force. To succeed, it will need the help of many.
*******

The Republican Party, I have said here, has been taken over by a destructive force. Time now to flesh out more of the picture showing the relentlessly destructive nature of what now animates the Republican Party:

It's a force that's insatiable in its lust for power and wealth.

    Even though we have the greatest income inequality that we've had in living memory, this force works continually to widen that gap still further. All their budgetary proposals would take from average Americans to give more to those who already have the most. As they protect those who have tripled their share of our national income, they cut food stamps to the most vulnerable Americans -- even at a time when jobs are scarce and even the middle class is struggling. In the realm of political power, this force has given us a Supreme Court that handed down that disgraceful decision in Citizens United, making it still easier for the nation's widening inequalities of wealth to be translated into inequalities of political power. With our government put up for auction, "All men are created equal" gets swamped by the Almighty Dollar. The Republicans have been working to turn our government from one "by the people" into one controlled by those giant so-called "persons" that make up the corporate world.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1382 words in story)

Whatever the Problem, Very Serious People's Solution is Always More All-Out War

by: TheGreenMiles

Tue Sep 09, 2014 at 17:31:25 PM EDT

The Washington Post editorial board, which Republicans would have you believe is part of our "liberal" media, today demands President Obama lead us into nothing short of all-out, indefinite war in Iraq, Syria, and wherever else war takes us:
Already, the group has seized far more of Iraq and Syria than is compatible with the safety and human rights of the people living there, and its sights are set on further destabilization in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kurdistan, as well as terror attacks in Europe and, if it's capable of them, the United States. The two Americans butchered by the Islamic State will not be the last if the group's leaders have their way. This murderous terrorist army, whose scarily effective global recruitment matches its global ambitions, can be neither contained nor "managed," as the president implied in some of his more hesitant previous comments. [...]

In seeking their support for what may be the first long-term overseas war to begin entirely on his watch, the president should be utterly forthright about the risks of inaction but also about the potential costs of action. Only a clear-eyed president, backed by an informed people and their representatives, can lead the world in this crucial mission.

It doesn't matter than John McCain was palling around with ISIS just last year. It doesn't matter that the last war the Washington Post pushed caused the destabilization that ushered in ISIS. And no mention of the 100,000+ Iraqi civilians killed in that war - gee, do you think that might have something to do with why ISIS is having no trouble recruiting a new generation of terrorists? Never mind, bomb more! If only you damn peaceniks had let us bomb more and get more kids killed for no good reason last time, we wouldn't have to bomb and kill kids again now!

Since World War II, we've gone to war in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan, and only in Afghanistan could I give you a very good reason why. Otherwise, this seems like yet another case of the Very Serious People inside the Beltway warning us that we face an Imminent Threat that only Clear-Eyed People can see, and if you can't see it, clearly you are not Clear-Eyed and cannot be trusted to discuss national security.

As Dave Weigel writes at Slate, ISIS' beheading videos were "surely meant to sow fear and breed over-reaction, [and] succeeded magnificently." There are always Very Serious People ready to play war games with someone else's kids, and war profiteers ready to cash in.

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Many Liberals Don't Like the Idea of Battle, But the Alternative in America Today is Much Worse

by: Andy Schmookler

Tue Sep 09, 2014 at 10:55:37 AM EDT

This article is the first in a series, titled "Press the Battle," whose purpose is to get our national conversation to focus on the central realities of the crisis in today's America.

In America right now there's a battle that needs to be fought and won in our political arena. It's a battle over what kind of country, and what kind of planet, our children and grandchildren will live in.

Although some people like waging battle - some even insist on it - most liberals I've known are capable of living richer, more balanced and fulfilling lives. Most of us liberals would rather lead those better lives than focus on political combat.

But over the past decade or two, while we've been living our fuller, more rounded lives, we with the more humane set of values have been out-organized, out-fought, out-messaged by a relentless force that has taken over the right, and that has

    • Turned our politics into a kind of war,
    • hollowed out the middle class,
    • debased our public discourse,
    • brought out the worst in our decent conservative neighbors,
    • undermined the rule of law,
    • placed our descendants in greater peril of ecological     catastrophe,
    • embroiled us in needless wars,
    • besmirched America's good name in the world,
    • driven our economy into a pit,
    • and magnified the ability of corporate power to steal our democracy.  

The response from Liberal America to this ugly destructive force on the right has been woefully inadequate to protect the nation.

The combination of a destructive force and weak response has created one of the most profound crises in American history. If our nation is going to stop its descent, and to regain the ability to deal constructively with the challenges we face, this dangerous political dynamic must be turned around.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 683 words in story)

Are the Democrats Making a Mistake in Avoiding the Immigration Confrontation Before the Election?

by: Andy Schmookler

Sun Sep 07, 2014 at 10:49:30 AM EDT

In 2010, the Democrats made what I felt was a great blunder in keeping the issue of the Bush tax cuts out of the off-year election campaigns.

The Democrats' position was that the tax cuts for the 98% should be kept, because the economy was still trying to get up off the mat, but that the tax cuts for the richest 2% should be allowed to expire.

The Republicans' position was that all the Bush tax cuts should be preserved, and they were willing to hold the middle class tax cuts hostage unless they got their way.

Opinion polls showed that the American people overwhelmingly favored the Democrats' position.

But the Democrats avoided the confrontation, waiting until the lame duck session. (At which point, lamentably, Obama caved, not taking a strong stand until later.)

I thought that this issue was a perfect battlefield for the Democrats: 1) the people were on their side, and 2) the Republicans' willingness to sacrifice the middle class to serve the rich brought into sharp relief the Republicans' real allegiance to the big money.

But the Democrats were scared. They didn't seem to believe that they could win the argument. So out of fear of losing the elections, they shrunk from the confrontation and lo and behold, they got slaughtered at the polls.

Caution and prudence are good. Being ruled by fear is often a disaster.

Now, President Obama has apparently been persuaded/pressured by Democrats -- specifically, it is said, by vulnerable Democratic candidates for Senate -- to put off taking the presidential action he promised on immigration reform.

Is this the same mistake all over again?

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 356 words in story)

The Anti-Israel Left and that Historical Mystery, Anti-Semitism Part I

by: Andy Schmookler

Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 15:36:59 PM EDT

Talking with a friend about anti-Semitism, and about a distaste for the flavor of the anti-Israeli position of so much of the left.

I think my friend is a lot more wholly siding with Israel than I am. But we both agreed that -- in the way the anti-Israel left deals with the moral complexities of the situation in the Middle East - there is a distinct smell of anti-Semitism.

Which led us into some discussion of the mystery of anti-Semitism.

Here are some of my thoughts about it. And as an American Jew born in 1946, and one who has made a life-time study of human brokenness, I've been thinking about anti-Semitism here and there for fifty years, from Erich Fromm and the Authoritarian Personality to Hitler's Willing Executioners and The Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933.

The extraordinary thing about anti-Semitism is the way it can take so many forms in so many times and places. It's like this indigestible bone in the gullet of much of civilization down through the centuries across much of the planet.

The world is full of inter-group hatreds. The map of them would consist of a great many short lines of such negative engagement.  But with the Jews, and only the Jews, it's different.

There are prejudices all over the world, but there is no other people who have been the object of prejudice in so many times and places, getting kicked out of Spain, getting massacred by the hundreds of thousands in 17th century Ukraine, to "The Protocol of the Elders of Zion" being a huge hit TV documentary in Egypt, spreading the long-discredited murder-feeding fraud of that forgery of a tract.

How does that happen in a civilization, or collection of civilizations interacting on one planet?  

There's More... :: (25 Comments, 462 words in story)

It's Always Unfortunate to Have to Wage Battle

by: Andy Schmookler

Wed Sep 03, 2014 at 14:57:46 PM EDT

The other day, I sat down with a book with the title The Power of Kindness. The book had been given to April and me by a young man to thank us for the kindness we had extended to him recently when he was in difficulty.

The book quickly put me in a sweeter and more tender frame of mind and soul. That, in turn, reminded me of how much it has cost me, over the past ten years, to have taken on this force from the dark side of things that's taken over the political right.

How much more I would like to be in that place where what I focus on is the warmth of goodwill and love and compassion where we take care of each other's hearts.

But focusing on that better space is not an option for me.

For starters, I cannot help but pay attention to what's happening in the world around me. At various times over the past nearly 50 years when the pain of what I saw seemed more than I wanted to bear, I've tried to turn my head away. But I could never do it.

For another, I apparently also cannot see what I hold dear being destroyed and not be moved to act to protect it.

So, even as I enjoyed the sweetness of the space that book on kindness brought me to, and recognized the loss that girding myself for battle imposes on me, I understood that I the choice I'm making is the one I simply must make.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 565 words in story)

A Tale of Two Warriors: Part II-- Press the Battle

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 11:46:57 AM EDT

It is wisely said that one cannot please everybody. And so I have had it confirmed for me lately when a friend of more than 40 years standing wrote to me to express his distaste for my choice of an icon to serve as the graphic for my present campaign, "Press the Battle."

Of this image, my friend wrote that he disliked the symbol, found it a turn-off: "It strikes me as more male-chauvinist macho stuff."

It should be said of my friend that when I met him, in 1971, he was recently retired as a major from the United States Marines, where he had pursued a military career. And it should be noted that he has since been an increasingly dedicated opponent of American militarism, a major figure in the organization, Veterans for Peace.

Of course, at some level, my friend is right. This image -- derived from a piece of 18th century statuary found at a palace in Berlin-- is as much emblematic of the "problem of power" as was that previous warrior image (described in Part I) in the ancient rock painting from the Algerian Sahara.

But in another, I think more urgently important sense, I believe my friend's reaction is off the mark. More "urgent" because I believe my friend is missing the tragic, but essential truth of our predicament in America today.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 561 words in story)

Barbarians At...and Inside the Gates

by: va_lady2008

Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 09:23:15 AM EDT

As the GOP (more on just what exactly, the "party stands for" in a moment) becomes ever more strident, doctrinaire, and enforcing of its orthodoxy not just on itself, but on the rest of us, it sees, somehow, that its power just might be slipping away.

Is it any wonder they're afraid?

A long time ago, someone explained to me that progressives and liberals are always open to doubt, which conservatives exploit, because they are certain they are right. Conservatives harbor no doubt, and deny that anyone else has a right to a different opinion.

All opinions that are not theirs are wrong. Diverging from this group think is treated not just as treason, but as a kind of religious apostasy. I'm surprised they don't physically crucify the transgressors, although anyone who's been at the wrong end of the lashing foul tongue of Rush Limbaugh might have preferred that.

When challenged, even from the inside, the tendency is to circle the wagons and shoot first, without asking any inconvenient questions. Their problem is that they're so busy pointing their "open carry" iron at one another, they're disgusting the mostly silent majority in this country.

We now see the full stinking bloom of their attitude, on the racist side in Ferguson MO but in many other places, mostly undocumented; on the misogynist side, pretty much everywhere; on the side of the poor absolutely everywhere; and are properly appalled.

Some progressives, of the live and let live variety, of which I truly wish to be a part, bear at least a small share of the blame, because we refused to return unfriendly fire with even more unfriendly fire, allowing things like "false equivalency" to bloom, as if some made up notions with no demonstrable basis in fact is equivalent to real facts, faced squarely.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 755 words in story)

Video: Blast-From-The-Past as "TEA Party merges with anti-immigrant lobby in PW County, Virginia"

by: lowkell

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 17:34:45 PM EDT

Eric Byler, director of the superb film 9500 Liberty (a must see!) -- about the anti-immigrant movement in Prince William County, Virginia, and the courageous people who stood up to it -- just posted this video (from July 4, 2009) on his Facebook page. Here's Eric's description:
A hate watch organization had asked me to film it. I had no intention of going, but I did at their request. I posted the video for their edification only, and never shared the link with anyone else until now. Prince William County, of course, had been the scene of an ugly but effective politicization of anti-immigrant sentiment for the 2007 election, and the battle had continued into 2008 as the film 9500 Liberty shows.

I haven't re-watched the video. But my recollection 5 years later is that several anti-immigrant activists recognized me early on and some of them tried to stop me from filming by standing in front of the camera. I think you will see this in the video. I had to go hand-held so that I could get out of their way. And when I did so, I stood right next to the largest of the men. He didn't touch me. He just said, "Well isn't that nice," or something to that effect.

The reason why the hate watch org. was interested was that a representative from FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) was scheduled to speak, and on conservative entertainment channels and websites, this was being touted as the long-awaited merger of the anti-tax TEA Party with the anti-immigrant FAIR (and likeminded organizations).

The event was held at the Prince William County government center in Woodbridge, VA where many of the most memorable scenes from 9500 Liberty take place.

Chilling. Disturbing. Totally f'ed up. Any other descriptions you'd care to add to this video? Oh, and thanks to Eric Byler for his tireless, courageous work exposing extremism and bigotry like this.
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

A Clear Sign Obama & Co. Are Looking to Take Out ISIS

by: Andy Schmookler

Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 13:21:38 PM EDT

There are a variety of indications in recent days that the Obama administration is gearing up to mount a war of sorts against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Here's one more indication that, so far as I know, has not elsewhere been interpreted in this way.

The first paragraph of a Huffington Post article reads:

Ben Rhodes, the White House's Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications & Speechwriting, said that journalist James Foley's execution at the hands of the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS, constituted a terrorist attack.

The spokesman goes on to make a reasonably plausible case for regarding that killing as "a terrorist attack" against the United States. Rhodes notes that ISIS committed this "brutal execution" explicitly because Foley was an American, and declared that this constitutes "an attack on our country, when one of our own is killed like that."

While it is not unreasonable, then, to regard it as a terrorist attack, the important point to note is that this spokesman of the administration has gone out of his way to make that case.

The only explanation I can think of representing the murder of one journalist in this expansive way is that he is making the case -- to the American public, and to Congress -- for regarding this killing as a provocation to which the suitable response is to revive the "war on terror," at least to a degree and with suitable authorization, with ISIS as the enemy.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 284 words in story)

Video: Jim Webb Interview in Iowa Fuels 2016 Presidential Talk

by: lowkell

Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 17:34:14 PM EDT

Fascinating interview with Jim Webb by Iowa Press (yes, Webb's in Iowa...hmmm) a bit earlier today; here are a few key quotes:

*Asked if he's running for President in 2016, Webb says we're in a "transitional period in the country," that we "need to have a strong debate inside the Democratic Party and between the two parties" about where we need to go, and that "I'm curious about the political future of the Democratic Party and of our country."

*Asked how he feels about Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, Webb says "I think there's time to have that discussion later." When pressed by a reporter, "Why not now?", Webb responds, "It would probably take up the whole show."

*Webb reiterates his three themes from 2006, emphasizes "economic fairness and social justice" and how "the stock market has almost tripled since March 2009" but "real income for workers actually has decreased in the same period." Webb says things are not going well for working people in this country, and the "solution for that is only going to come from the Democratic Party."

*Webb says he doesn't believe the phrase "don't do stupid stuff" is a fair characterization of the Obama Administration foreign policy, that "it's a very complicated world right now," that the "pivot" to Asia for instance was "healthy" and "good." Webb also praises the Obama Administration for the "careful way" it's approached the Ukraine situation.  

There's More... :: (26 Comments, 300 words in story)

DLCC Launches $70 Million-Plus "Advantage 2020" Effort Starting with 2014 Cycle

by: lowkell

Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 21:08:02 PM EDT

I sure hope this works, but no matter what, it's great to see Democrats FINALLY focusing on the crucial state legislative races that really determine who controls Congress (and the country).

DLCC LAUNCHES ADVANTAGE 2020 AS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN THE NEXT ROUND OF REDISTRICTING

-- $70 Million-Plus Effort Starting with the 2014 Cycle –

Washington, D.C. (August 21, 2014) – Together with a roster of Democratic state legislative leaders from across the U.S., the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) launched today in Minneapolis, MNAdvantage 2020, a major effort by the DLCC to help Democrats win elections and level the playing field in order to be successful in the next round of redistricting.

Advantage 2020 is the result of the DLCC’s analysis of the electoral opportunities that exist in all 50 states in 2014, as well as an examination of the electoral and demographic changes that are expected this decade.  In this assessment conducted jointly with Clarity Campaigns, the DLCC determined that Advantage 2020 will require an investment of a minimum of $70 million over the next four cycles.  This investment has begun in 2014, and the DLCC expects to increase the level of investment significantly in each cycle thereafter.

Much is at stake in the next round of redistricting. Partisan control of Congress hangs in the balance, as do policy outcomes in every state capitol.  During the past two redistricting cycles, Republicans have cashed in their legislative power to draw maps to favor their own special interests.  As a result, we have seen ultra-conservative measures passed at the state level and a Tea-Party Congress that is no longer held accountable. Our politics are broken and blocking Republicans from blatant gerrymandering is a critical step in fixing our system.

Fundamental to the DLCC’s 2014 activity to move Advantage 2020 forward is the organization’s investment in 33 states.  This funding is supporting efforts to:

  • Build a solid political infrastructure in more states than ever before, including 19 states where Republicans currently enjoy control of both state house chambers and the Governorship;
  • Implement the Grassroots Victory Program (GVP), the DLCC’s program that helps ensure that the advantage Democrats enjoy at the national level is replicated at the state level;
  • Position Democrats to take back majorities in WI, PA and MI, three states where Republicans are currently in complete control, as well as to hold key chambers in MN, CO and NV, among others; and,
  • Target gains in other states such as NC, FL, and GA.

 

Michigan Senate Democratic Caucus Campaign Chair Rebekah Warren said, “In 2010, Michigan voters tried an experiment in which they gave Republicans control of not only both statehouse chambers, but also the Governor’s mansion and the state Supreme Court.  What Republicans have done with this power has resonated negatively in districts across the state: unfair tax policies, disinvestment in education and attacks on women’s healthcare.  The result is that voters realize that they need a new alternative to this Republican extremism.   Through the DLCC’s Advantage 2020, my Democratic colleagues and I can level the playing field in way that enables voters to elect legislators who are committed to passing policies that matter most to Michigan citizens.”

Minnesota Speaker of the House Paul Thissen said, “If there is anything that Democrats can learn from Minnesota, it is that elections matter.  Because Democrats successfully seized control from Republicans in both legislative houses, Minnesotans now benefit from new investments in education, equal pay for women, an increase in the minimum wage, tax fairness, expanded healthcare with the nation’s lowest insurance rates, marriage equality and the first balanced budget in a decade.  We support the DLCC’s Advantage 2020 because we believe that it is important for voters in other states to have the opportunity to benefit the type of public policy agenda that Minnesotans enjoy today.”

North Carolina House Democratic Leader Larry Hall said, “As a direct result of 2010 redistricting, the North Carolina legislature became among the nation’s most aggressive bastions of radical Republican policies.  As North Carolina’s Republican supermajority gave tax breaks to the wealthy, it was working families, teachers and students who picked up the tab.  In addition, redistricting is what allowed Republicans to roll back the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of eligible voters across the state.  The voters of North Carolina deserve a choice, and the DLCC’s Advantage 2020 gives Democrats a way of reversing Republicans’ unfairly gerrymandered maps.”

DLCC Executive Director Michael Sargeant said, "DLCC Executive Director Michael Sargeant said, “To position Democratic success in 2021, Advantage 2020 requires an ‘all hands on deck’ approach.  The range of variables included in a 4-cycle, 50-state strategy is vast, and the DLCC will work closely with state legislative leaders, Clarity Campaign Labs, and other partners to assess the electoral opportunities in each state and direct resources accordingly.  Our resources alone will not ensure Democrats’ success, so we will pull together all interested parties to ensure a coordinated effort.  Advantage 2020 is no doubt a large undertaking, but it is commensurate with the high stakes of future election cycles and the challenges ahead.”

Clarity Campaign Labs’ co-founder and partner Tom Bonier said, “Clarity Campaign Labs is proud to help give Democrats running for office at every level access to the same powerful targeting and modeling that are being used by national organizations.  Because much of our work has been on the state legislative level where crucial decisions about redistricting are made, we are excited to partner with the DLCC to put Democrats in the driver’s seat.”

#  #  #


Guided by its mission to produce winning Democratic majorities in state legislatures, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) builds and maintains the progressive infrastructure that enables Democrats to protect and pick up legislative chambers and seats across the country.  Since 1994, the DLCC has followed a 50-state strategy that allows Democrats to go on the offense in state capitols.  Most recently in 2012, Democrats won eight new majorities and netted nearly 200 legislative seats nationwide.

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A Rush to Judgement vs. The Rush To Shoot

by: Coy Barefoot

Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:59:01 AM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

I continue to be baffled by those (mostly "conservatives") who keep wagging their fingers and warning us against any kind of "rush to judgement." What about a rush to shoot?

Your government rushed to use chemical agents, rubber bullets, and technology designed for waging war on foreign enemies- all against peaceful citizen protestors. Tear gas and bullets were not used during the looting, but against peaceful protestors in their own neighborhood.

You go on and on about an oppressive big government violating your freedoms- but when armed agents of the state violate the freedoms of poor black people, you wag your finger and tell us not to "rush to judgement."

You look the other way when it happens in a poor black neighborhood because you're thinking to yourself well, that's a dangerous place full of thugs so they probably deserve it, those people have to know their place.

Here's the point: those are RIGHTS that are being violated, rights that are no less sacred when held by poor people or held by men and women of color.

You allow armed agents of state power to form a domestic army that violates the rights of human beings in an impoverished neighborhood, then I can absolutely and without qualification promise that they're coming to your neighborhood next. It's not a matter of if, but when.

Today it's the parking lot of a convenience store on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri. Tomorrow it's the parking lot of a grocery store at Barracks Road Shopping Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 102 words in story)

Not a Word from Ken Cuccinelli and Other Supposed Lovers of "Liberty" on Ferguson, MO

by: lowkell

Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 11:29:21 AM EDT

You know how Ken Cuccinelli and other hard-right Republicans are always going on and on about how much they (supposedly) love "liberty?" Of course, most of us know that's utter bull****, that the only "liberty" they actually care about is: a) the right of corporations and the super-rich to do whatever the hell they want to do regarding workers, the environment, whatever; b) the ability of big government to tell people what they can and can NOT do in their bedrooms; and c) the efforts of fundamentalists to move America towards a religious theocracy. Other than that, it's obvious that Cuccinelli et al. don't in any way, shape or form care about "liberty," at least not how the Founding Fathers envisioned it, or how you and I understand it.

Ferguson, Missouri proves this once and for all: with all the frightening, horrifying, disturbing, disgraceful, and intolerable things we've seen go down in Ferguson, Missouri the past few days, with clear violations of ACTUAL liberty by police, including blatant trampling on First Amendment rights (e.g., the rights of the press to report on events), you'd think that all these "liberty"-loving right wingnuts like Ken Cuccinelli would be screaming from the rooftops about this situation.  You just KNOW that if the races were reversed, and it was a majority BLACK police department putting down WHITE protestors (and killing a WHITE man) that they - Cliven Bundy types, etc. - would be going NUTS (on Fox, Rush, etc.)!

Instead, what have we gotten? See below for two screenshots from TRUE libertarian Doug Mataconis' Facebook page and you'll have your answer. I also checked Ken Cuccinelli's Facebook and Twitter feeds, and saw absolutely NOTHING about the Ferguson situation (lots of ranting and raving about Barack Obama). So yeah, as Doug Mataconis says, "If you have been spending the last 5 years talking about 'Liberty' and aren't outraged by what's happening in #Ferguson you're a hypocrite." I'm talking to YOU Ken Cuccinelli - and others of your ilk (Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell, Eric Can'tor, John Boehner, E.W. Jackson, Mark Obenshain, etc.). Where's your outrage not just at Ferguson, but at the same stuff (militarized police forces suppressing people's actual liberties) going on all over the country? Crickets.

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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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