Monday, June 30, 2014

Safe, Legal, And Rare And Hillary

Cruising the Internet (which once was called "surfing the Net," but I never learned to surf or to like the Beach Boys), one alights upon columns of the recent past revealed as stunningly foolish given more recent developments.  And so it was that on September 5, 2012, liberal Margaret Carlson- while slamming Republicans- lamented that Democrats had removed from their national platform the phrase "safe, legal, and rare."

Carlson noted "for some" of the members of the Christian right, "abortion is the only political issue that matters (and) there are zealots who justify killing doctors."  Yet, she also has bought the myth "the Christian Right was forged when Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973." But as Amanda Marcotte explained, upon summarizing a Politico magazine article by Dartmouth University professor Randall Balmer,

feelings about Roe v. Wade were mixed in the conservative Christian community in the early 1970s, with quite a few evangelical leaders agreeing with the court that abortion is a private matter. Desegregation, however, was a different issue altogether. Anger about forced desegregation of private schools galvanized conservative Christians. Bob Jones University stalled and resisted admitting black students, forcing the IRS to strip its tax exempt status in 1976, an event that spurred evangelical leaders to action. Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich, two conservative activists who had been seeking a way to marshal evangelicals into a Republican voting bloc, pounced. Balmer writes:

Weyrich saw that he had the beginnings of a conservative political movement, which is why, several years into President Jimmy Carter’s term, he and other leaders of the nascent religious right blamed the Democratic president for the IRS actions against segregated schools—even though the policy was mandated by Nixon, and Bob Jones University had lost its tax exemption a year and a day before Carter was inaugurated as president. Falwell, Weyrich and others were undeterred by the niceties of facts. In their determination to elect a conservative, they would do anything to deny a Democrat, even a fellow evangelical like Carter, another term in the White House.

The argument they used to defend school segregation will sound familiar to anyone following the lawsuits against mandatory contraception coverage in health insurance plans or the battles over whether businesses have a right to refuse gay customers: "religious freedom."

Carlson claimed

Medical science is galloping ahead of Roe. When the case was decided, we barely had sonograms and it was a miracle for a 22-week-old fetus to survive. The difference now between a pregnancy at 12 weeks and one at 22 is life itself. Walk into any neonatal unit and you’ll see newborns weighing 2 pounds; they’ll be playing basketball one day.

Medical science simply is not "galloping ahead of Roe," though surely some 22 year old fetuses one day will be playing basketball- or, for that matter, be an engineer, scientist, social worker, or something else productive.  (Why "playing basketball one day?")  Although there is a difference between a pregnancy at 12 weeks and one at 22, these changes come about in a fetus usually only after 22 weeks: fetal pain; functioning of the lungs; wiring of the cerebral cortex; resemblance of the cell structure to a newborn baby;  breathing.

But one other myth Carlson believed is particularly relevant to last week's decision from the High Court on reproductive rights. She asked

Why has the party removed the sentence “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare” from its platform? It was in the 2004 document but not in 2008’s or this year’s. Can’t Democrats just throw a crumb to the many millions who are pro-choice but not pro-abortion?

Efforts made in many states to make abortion rare, however, render nearly moot its status as legal in some of those jurisdictions, making a farce of any sense of reproductive freedom.  As the charts (from FiveThirtyEight) below indicate, states have, respectively, mandated waiting periods; counseling including the debunked linkage of mental health impairment and/or breast cancer with undergoing an abortion; gestational limits on abortion; parental consent; structural standards equivalent to those for surgical centers; abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges; an ultrasound prior to the procedure.

The women of Texas may suffer most from restrictions imposed by a state.  In 2011, there were a reported 44 locations in which a woman in the Lone Star state could obtain an abortion.  After the law which State Senator (and now Democratic gubernatorial nominee) Wendy Davis unsuccessfully fought is fully implemented in September, there are expected to be six (6).

That is all the more reason the presumptive Democratic 2016 presidential nominee ought to be asked if she approves of the Supreme Court's decision in McCullen v. Coakley, which struck down the buffer zones implemented by the State of Massachusetts.  Further, she might be queried whether she agrees with the ex-President who twenty years ago said "abortion should not only be safe and legal, it should be rare." As Aimee Thorne-Thomsen observed four years ago

We say that we trust women. We say we will not use them and their experiences as pawns in a political game. We say we care about women and want them to have access to all the information, services and resources necessary to make the best decisions they can for themselves and their families. That is at the core of reproductive justice. Not reducing the number of abortions. Safe – yes. Legal– absolutely. Rare – not the point.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Court Rules The First Amendment Is A Suicide Pact

Almost exactly twenty years ago- on June 30, 1994- the Supreme Court ruled on a Florida law "which prohibits antiabortion protesters from demonstrating in certain places and in various ways outside of a health clinic that performs abortions."  In a decision in which it found a 36-foot buffer zone around clinic entrances and driveways constitutional, Chief Justice Rehnquist wisely observed "The First Amendment does not demand that patients at a medical facility undertake Herculean efforts to escape the cacophony of political protests."

In a unanimous decision in McCullen v. Coakley, the current Supreme Court of the United States (photo below from Boston Magazine) has decided otherwise.  The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel puts it into context:

The Supreme Court unanimously struck down Thursday a Massachusetts law allowing abortion clinics to have a buffer zone keeping protesters at least 35 feet from entrances and walkways.

They did so from behind their own buffer zone, which they created for themselves last year to keep away protesters.

And the Supreme Court is not the only entity that enjoys a buffer zone, a protection against the sort of "counseling" Chief Justice Roberts believes the benignly motivated protesters are offering what are, presumably, their clients.  Slate legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick notes

While the court is silent about the constitutionality of the “free speech pens” around political conventions, and buffer zones around circuses, churches, and funeral services, presumably they are still permissible. Because those sorts of gentle counselors are different. I am searching for a reason that buffer zones are reasonable at polling places and the Democratic convention, but not for women seeking intimate medical care. Help me Obi-Wans.

In a gorgeously un-self-aware way, the same Supreme Court that severely limits speech and protest in a buffer zone all around its own building, extolls the unique and wonderful properties of the American boulevard in today’s opinion: “With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Not so on public streets and sidewalks. There, a listener often encounters speech he might otherwise tune out. In light of the First Amendment’s purpose ‘to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas.’ ” 

Lithwick is not unfairly ridiculing Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion striking down the Massachusetts law enacted in 2007, for imagining "counseling" as the primary tactic used by protesters. The Chief Justice wrote

Petitioners at all three clinics claim that the buffer zones have considerably hampered their counseling efforts. Although they have managed to conduct some counseling and to distribute some literature outside the buffer zones-particularly at the Boston clinic-they say they have had many fewer conversations and distributed many fewer leaflets since the zones went into effect.

Evidently, the law had been too effective, earning the support of the Boston Police Department and protecting women against threatening harassment.  Prior to enactment of the legislation, the head of security for Planned Parenthood facilities in Massachusetts swore in an affidavit

I have observed [two regular protesters] standing by the PPLM-Boston garage entrance in Boston Police hats and jerseys…I saw [them] wearing Brookline Police hats and jerseys while standing near the entrance to the parking lot in front of Women's Health Services.

They carried clipboards and had patients write on clipboards. These patients appeared to be frightened and upset when they learned that [they] were not police. Patients informed me that they had provided their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.

In testimony at that time, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley stated

Demonstrators regularly crowd facility entrances and surround women, facility employees and volunteers with graphic and discomfiting pictures of aborted fetuses, and shout at and taunt them calling them "baby killers" and "murderers."

Even more egregious are the protestors who dress as Boston Police Department officers and approach women and their companions at close distance, pretending that they are escorting them to the clinic's entrance, only to taunt them or force leaflets into their hands as they make their way to and from the healthcare facilities.

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard A. Posner explains the Court's opinion in McCullen

... fetishizes First Amendment rights. The core of the opinion can be found in two brief quotations from it, which I’ve strung together: “With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Not so on public streets and sidewalks. There, a listener often encounters speech he might otherwise tune out. … Petitioners wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks—sites that have hosted discussions about the issues of the day throughout history. Respondents assert undeniably significant interests in maintaining public safety on those same streets and sidewalks, as well as in preserving access to adjacent healthcare facilities.”

The concern with privacy that animated the Riley case was forgotten after one day. Who wants to be buttonholed on the sidewalk by “uncomfortable message[s],” usually delivered by nuts? Lecturing strangers on a sidewalk is not a means by which information and opinion are disseminated in our society. Strangers don’t meet on the sidewalk to discuss “the issues of the day.” (Has Chief Justice John Roberts, the author of the opinion, ever done such a thing?) The assertion tha tabortion protesters “wish to converse” with women outside an abortion clinic is naive. They wish to prevent the women from entering the clinic, whether by showing them gruesome photos of aborted fetuses or calling down the wrath of God on them. This is harassment of people who are in a very uncomfortable position; the last thing a woman about to have an abortion needs is to be screamed at by the godly.

The issue is not mainly, as the court stated in the last sentence that I quoted, the maintenance of public safety. Most abortion protesters are not violent, and police will be present to protect the visitors to the clinic. The issue is the privacy, anxiety, and embarrassment of the abortion clinic’s patients—interests that outweigh, in my judgment anyway, the negligible contribution that abortion protesters make to the marketplace of ideas and opinions.

They're not "nuts," but fanatics; and many of them are not godly, though the vast majority would claim to be. But Posner does understand that the protesters do not contribute to the marketplace of ideas- nor are they trying to engage clinic patients or workers in debate, civilized or otherwise.   "Counseling" is as far from their minds as is the 2000 World Cup (obligatory sports reference).

"The Constitution is not a suicide pact," conservatives smugly asserted in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01.  If left up to John Roberts and the other eight Justices divorced from the reality of life on this planet, the First Amendment would be just that for some Americans.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rex, Lex In D.C.

Calls by Donald Trump and other Republicans to see President Obama's birth certificate were ludicrous, almost comical, and nearly faded into obscurity once the White House released BHO's long-form birth certificate.

They should have been asking for confirmation of his law degree.  In the alternative, forensic scientists should be brought in to verify that the man occupying the White House is the individual who was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu to an American mother and an African father, lived in Indonesia from ages 6 to 10, attended Occidental College before graduating from Columbia University, and became a community organizer and civil rights attorney before a state senator, and a U.S. Senator for a week or so.

Between Columbia and the professional career, the man is purported to have earned a law degree from Harvard University, prompting the question:  What are they teaching at Harvard Law?  Last week, we learned from CBS News

President Obama on Wednesday met with congressional leaders at the White House (news report, below) to discuss the turmoil in Iraq and the administration's efforts to respond. According to one leader in the meeting, Mr. Obama said that any actions the administration may take in response to Iraq's deteriorating security situation won't require congressional authority.

"We had a good discussion," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "The president basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq. And indicated he didn't feel he had the need for authority from us for the steps that he might take and indicated he would keep us posted."

Apparently, no one at the meeting objected. This includes Nancy Pelosi, who at a news conferenceT after the gathering (video, below) advised that she had stated "I believe the President does not need any additional congressional authority to act upon measures to protect our national security."  "I didn't want," the House Minority Leader added, "that to be misunderstood as support for boots on the ground." That was helpful because, as we all know, advisers never, ever lead to combat operations.

Pelosi is placing her faith in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002," which authorized the President to use the Armed Forces to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq" and "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

Inconveniently, the Resolution authorized the President to act against a "threat posed by Iraq," whereas Tehran is now ostensibly an ally, with the President currently acting against the terrorists (ISIL) aiming to bring down the government.  Also inconveniently, the Resolution in the following section included "Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution."

Clearly, military action extending beyond two months would violate the War Powers Resolution, which  "requires the President to terminate the use of U.S. Armed Forces after 60 days unless Congress (1) has declared war or authorized the action; (2) has extended the period by law; or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack on the United States."

At least one Democrat isn't buying President Obama's bill of goods. Speaking on Morning Joe on Thursday, junior senator Tim Kaine of Virginia disagreed with Representative Pelosi, asserting

Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, I don't care what the politics are. The most sober power that we have in government and the mosti mportant power that Congress has is that power to determine whether we initiate military action or not...

I'm actually seeing colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Senate say, 'No, the president has all the authority he needs.' You know,the issue isn't what I'd like, the issue is what the law is. It's very, very plain that Congress is the body that gets to declare war. The president, once declared, the president manages it, but Congress has to get involved. 

Don't expect much disagreement with the President by congressional Democrats, who generally are loathe even to question their own.  And don't expect much disagreement by Repubs because they are intent on a future GOP president having all the power he or she can claim short of declaring martial law on a whim. Further, this is a matter not primarily of the Constitution, though the power to declare war is vested in Congress.  It is largely a matter of law- lex, rex- and with all the bleating and braying about impeaching President Obama, the law is not something of the highest priority among Republicans.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quite A Mentor That Barack Obama

Thank goodness Senator Barack Obama defeated Senator John McCain in 2008.  If he had not, big money from corporations and billionaires still would be controlling American politics, the U.S.A. would not have finally ended its national nightmare in Iraq, effective gun control measures would not have been enacted, and low-paying jobs still would be dominating the national economy.

Oops.  While productivity has more than doubled since 1968, the minimum wage of $7.25 today is worth $2.00 less than it was worth in 1968.  And the end of the recession and gradual recovery has meant a far greater increase in low-wage, rather than medium- or high, wage jobs as the chart (via Think Progress) below indicates.

The Obama Administration has been consistently advocated a higher minimum wage.But the educational policy of Administration figures, past and present, belies any understanding of the nature of the socio-economic challenge facing American families today.The President and especially his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, have supported the Destroy the Public Education, aka "education reform," movement. Now Politico reports

Teachers unions are girding for a tough fight to defend tenure laws against a coming blitz of lawsuits — and an all-out public relations campaign led by former aides to President Barack Obama.

The Incite Agency, founded by former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, will lead a national public relations drive to support a series of lawsuits aimed at challenging tenure, seniority and other job protections that teachers unions have defended ferociously. LaBolt and another former Obama aide, Jon Jones — the first digital strategist of the 2008 campaign — will take the lead in the public relations initiative...

Obama has bucked the teachers unions on many occasions, though they poured resources into electing him in 2008 and again in 2012. His education secretary, Arne Duncan, hailed the Vergara ruling, writing in a blog post that “it took enormous courage for tenth-grader Beatriz Vergara and her eight co-plaintiffs to stand up and demand change to a broken status quo.”

Duncan’s positions have so angered some teachers that the Badass Teachers Association, a more militant offshoot of the two major teachers unions, recently publicized a vote of no-confidence in the secretary.

But LaBolt said he joined Duncan and other Democrats in embracing the idea that “the best way we can ensure that every child has access to a quality education is to provide strong teachers in every classroom.” 

Oh, if only that were true.  Duncan employs the "strong teachers in every classroom" tripe, but there are weak teachers- and weak lawyers; weak doctors; weak construction workers; weak engineers; weak computer programmers; weak retail clerks... and so forth.  In every profession, there are workers who either are not very capable or not very efficient; it is the human condition.

So, too, are sickness and death part of the human condition.  It would be spectacular were they not, just as it would be spectacular if we could dramatically improve education by providing "strong teachers in every classroom," marking education as the only profession in the world in which everyone was top-notch.   (By contrast, the vast majority of teachers already is (are?) well-intentioned and devoted to their students.) Perhaps Duncan is enervated by the idea that we can ignore the evidence and imagine that the quality of teachers is paramount in providing quality education. Alas, that is not the case, notwithstanding the propaganda of the reformers.

Jersey Jazzman (blogroll, on right) presents three graphs demonstrating the strong correlation between socio-economic status and test scores of students in New Jersey.   The first demonstrates the relationship "between the percentage of a school's students who qualify for free lunch (a proxy measure for poverty) and average or 'mean' test scores. He observes "nearly three-quarters of the variation in Grade Eight language arts test scores can be explained by poverty."

The next graph indicates "60 percent of the variation in Grade 9 math scores can be explained by free lunch eligibility."

This tendency applies to older youngsters, wherein "over two-thirds of the vaiation in schools' SAT scores can be explained by their poverty rates."

And that tendency evidently applies also to the state of Georgia, in which SAT test scores and eligibility for free lunch are strongly correlated.  This would be less significant, presumably, if Georgia and New Jersey had more in common than both being on the eastern seaboard and having four vowels in their name.

Test scores are not the best indicator of student achievement.  But they have been the holy grail to the likes of Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Campbell Brown, and now, we find, to President Obama's former Press Secretary.   To their fellow travelers, test scores are almost as important as the ability of career-minded administrators to hire and fire teachers at will, as their professional aspirations dictate..

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Salon's Prachi Gupta notes John

Oliver may not have figured out his show’s exact format yet, but week after week, he continues to raise “tough questions,” as his show has advertised, and often skewers his audience in the process. Whereas Stewart and Colbert take pains to seem like our friends, Oliver has made it clear, as he recently told NPR’s Terry Gross, that he is “no one’s friend.” So if “HBO is the moral wild west,” as Oliver said on CBS, then the host has successfully assumed the position of lone sheriff. 

If the talented host of HBO's Last Week Tonight is in fact the "lone sheriff" of "the moral wild west," he is guilty of selective enforcement.  On Sunday, Oliver (video of segment, below) slammed the marketing of dietary supplements and skewered Dr. Oz especially for claiming for having declared various substances as a "miracle cure" or "magical."  It's safe to assume that anything being claimed as a "miracle" is not, including the "Miracle on Ice," the defeat of the Soviet national hockey team by the U.S.

Oliver contends the nutritional supplement industry is "shockingly unregulated" and offered as evidence the 38 deaths in the USA from tryptophan supplements.  In the late 1980s.  Yes, Oliver went back to the late 1980s for specific fatal incidents and to shock us about the dangers of supplements.

Last month, Christiane Northrup, M.D. blogged

In 2010, there were 38,329 deaths from drug overdose (an injury death). However, 78% of all individuals (30,006) did not intentionally overdose, and 60 % (22,134) of these cases were related to pharmaceutical drugs. Included in the 60% are people who took their medication as directed by their doctor.

So in 2013 there were 22,134 deaths in the USA from pharmaceutical drugs.  

Surely, with nutritional supplements "shockingly unregulated"- and celebrities like Dr. Oz hawking the stuff- deaths from these substances must be skyrocketing.  Instead

In absolute stark contrast, there were no deaths from vitamin, mineral, or other herbal or nutritional supplements in 2010. Not even one! We know this from the U.S. National Poison Data Systems’ report.7 None of 57 Poison Control Centers across the U.S. reported any deaths from nutritional supplements.

The nutritional supplement industry probably is insufficiently unregulated- were it not, it would suffer a unique status in the American economy.  (Substances whose use is specifically claimed to shed pounds need always be met with skepticism.) The need for manufacturers of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other substances to be monitored more closely pales in comparison to the need in such industries as energy, finance, firearms, defense contracting, hospital, and so many others, including the pharmaceutical industry.

That may a digression but given Oliver's condemnation of Dr. Oz, consider a long-running television program hosted by an individual who expects to be referred to as "Doctor" but is not a medical doctor nor in possession of a license in the medical or any related field. Welcome, everyone, to "Dr. Phil," the program hosted by a man whose hucksterism puts Dr. Oz to shame, inasmuch as

McGraw ceased the practice of psychology. He kept his license current and in good standing until he elected to retire it 15 years later in 2006. Appearing on the Today Show in January 2008, McGraw said that he has made it "very clear" that his current work does not involve the practice of psychology. He also said that he had "retired from psychology". According to the Today Show, the California Board of Psychology determined in 2002 that he did not require a license because his show involves "entertainment" rather than psychology.[21] McGraw's license is currently listed by the Texas State Board of Psychology as "retired" and he holds no other active licenses to practice in any other state.

John Oliver is appalled- justifiably- because Mehmet Oz, as a medical doctor, should not promote scientifically unproven dietary substances as miraculous.  He points out (at 4:36) "But that's the point: you're presenting it as a doctor."  Worse, Dr. McGraw, whose only license is a driver's, promotes the art of psychology daily.  He may claim that his work does not involve psychology, but his program is not called "Mr. Phil" or "Shooting the Breeze with Dr. McGraw, Who Cannot Legally Practice Psychology."  He calls his show "entertainment," but he dare not drop the "Dr."  "Online scam," indeed.

So, John, when you go after the other questionable characters hawking pseudo-scientific cures on the small screen, I'll laud you as bold and brilliant, and concede that you're not a shill for the pharmaceutical industry. And by the way: ginseng (6:29) is an herb, not a vitamin.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Republicans Have A Problem, And They Know It

What's the matter with Wisconsin?

Plenty, if you are a culturally conservative voter in the Badger State and are paying attention.

A couple of weeks ago, Scott Bauer of The Huffington Post reported

Gov. Scott Walker has a history of forcefully opposing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, but in the wake of the state's ban on gay marriages being found unconstitutional the Republican leader said Thursday that his own views about the issue do not matter.

Walker, who is running for re-election this year and eyeing a bid for president in 2016, continued to largely duck questions about the state's ban he voted for in 2006, as hundreds of gay couples wed in the last week and polls show public attitudes shifting in favor of allowing same-sex marriages.

Walker campaigned strongly in support of the ban nine years ago.

"We must change the Wisconsin State Constitution to say that marriage is to be between one man and one woman," Walker said in November 2005 during a brief run for governor that year. "My belief in this position is even stronger today."

Walker joined with 59 percent of voters statewide to add the ban to the state constitution in 2006. Even though he pushed for it to be approved then, Walker now says his position is irrelevant.

"My position has been clear. I voted in the past. It really doesn't matter," Walker said in response to questions about the issue following a campaign event Thursday.

He also previously voted as a member of the state Assembly for a bill in 1997 to prohibit same-sex marriages and declare those conducted in other states to be invalid.

As Milwaukee County executive in 2009, Walker vetoed a measure to provide benefits to same-sex partners of county workers. And once elected governor, in 2011, he fired the state's attorney defending Wisconsin's domestic registry law. The state Supreme Court is currently weighing whether the registry violates the state ban on gay marriage.

But in May, Walker said he doesn't think it will be an issue in this year's governor's race.
"Voters don't talk to me about that," Walker said then, sidestepping questions about whether he still personally supported the ban. "They talk to me about the economy, they talk to me about their kids' schools, they talk to me about making sure we keep our finances in order."

Walker's reluctance to stick to his hard-line position may be explained by recent polls showing growing public support for same-sex marriages.

A Marquette University law school poll released in May found that 55 percent of registered Wisconsin voters favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. That was up from 44 percent in October 2012.

Walker's likely Democratic opponent in this year's race for governor, Mary Burke, supports legalizing same-sex marriage and said she voted against the 2006 constitutional ban.

Now  the man previously referred to as a "Tea Party Senator," ultra-conservative Ron Johnson is singing from the same hymn book.  Appearing on CNBC's Squawk Box, the senator stated “I’m pretty traditional guy, almost 60 years old. I think marriage is between a man and a woman. But again if the voters decide that they want gay marriage I’m not going to oppose it."

Slightly condensed Johnson:  "Don't ask me about same-sex marriage.It's toxic."    Johnson added

social issues are going to primarily be decided in the states through democratic process and that's the why (sic) it should happen.... I'll certainly go with the judgment of the American people in terms of where they want to fall on, whether it's abortion issues or gay marriage or wherever.

Don't bet on it. If Johnson were to have maintained his ardent stance against same-sex marriage, he might have to contend with his neighbor's gay daughter... or his gay friend... or perhaps even a gay member of his extended family.  But there is, sadly, no similar pressure on lawmakers opposed to reproductive freedom because the stigma lives on.  So we have a situation where on Fox News' "The Five" in early May (video below pertaining to the abortion discussed; accompanying article here),

Greg Gutfeld opened the show with Emily Letts video of her own abortion. As she explains in a Cosmo article, she did this in order to counteract the culture of stigma and guilt around abortion. Gutfeld worked in the anti-choice meme that abortion is murder when, after she said that she wasn't ready to give life, he quipped "but you can take one." In attempting to further denigrate her, he visibly smirked as he spoke about her aversion to birth control pills. He asked "was this stunt nursed from the beginning, does it matter, it's just matter." He wondered if Cosmo would provide the same coverage for childbirth and accused Cosmo of being a "villain" in "taking advantage of somebody who needs help" (Anti-choice belief that women aren't capable of making that decision about abortion because of mental impairment or coercion) He snarked that she used her fetus as a "prop" for the column and that if she wins an award "she can put it next to the sonogram to remind her it was worth it."

Andrea Tantaros, who has promoted the anti-choice lie that emergency contraception is abortion, reinforced the aforementioned anti-choice lie about women being incapable of making an informed decision about abortion. She diagnosed Letts as being "deeply disturbed." She asked if Lett's place of employment should have ordered Letts to take a psychological exam. Tantaros said "it was positively disgusting" that "she didn't seem to care about the death of this child."  Like Gutfeld, she accused Letts of having "a clear disregard for human life" in "creating this baby as a stunt." (She used the anti-choice lexicon of "child," "baby," and "human life.")

Gutfeld accused her of trying to get attention. While Juan Williams was depressed about the topic, he tried to argue Lett's point of view. Bolling, who will never have an unplanned pregnancy, was disgusted that Letts said it was a "positive experience." Bolling accused her of not caring about "life" (anti-choice word) and, in a jawdroppingly inane moment, described her act as "genocide" which, of course, refers to large scale murder of a group of people by others intent on eliminating them - although the anti-choice movement accuses black women, who have abortions, of committing genocide on African-Americans.

Dana Perino worked an anti-Obama, anti-choice lie: “So even when Americans are asked to pay for the contraception for everybody, they won’t take the pills that are free because it might cause weight gain?" (Fact Check - insurance companies are paying for the birth control as are the women who are paying for their policies with either labor and, in some cases, their money) The married, but childless, Perino "wondered" about the father. Her nest comment was straight out of the anti-choice playbook about "how, if a child is wanted, it's celebrated...but if the baby is not wanted, it's OK to destroy the baby, it's not a life." Tantaros promulgated the anti-choice belief that this might not work out for Letts, in the long run. (Anti-choice fantasy that all women regret their abortions)

There aren't many Emily Letts.  It takes much more courage, circa 2014, to admit to having an abortion than to being gay, or being in a homosexual relationship, or to be contemplating a marriage to a person of the same gender.    The Repubs are not only on the defensive, but on the run on marriage in Democratic and in competitive states.  Democrats (such as Mary Burke) ought to take a page out of the Biden-Obama 2012 playbook on marriage and do what Republicans would do in an analogous situation: Don't let up; step on the gas; turn the heat up. (Choose your favorite cliche.)  And they should put in a word for reproductive freedom. They'll feel better when the country eventually comes around.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mike Huckabee Launches Outreach To Jewish Community

Fox News' huckster Mike Huckabee wants a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the missing e-mails of the IRS because, he argues (beginning at 2:16 of the video available here from Media Matters)

They can investigate us, they can charge us, they can convict us, and they can punish us all in one stop.  This is the one agency in federal government where there is not the usual checks and balances of having to go to various entities and prove the evidence and show there is a probable cause and present it to a jury of your peers.

Huckabee prefaced his comment with "The reason this is more important than some other federal agency, Neil, the IRS is the closest thing the U.S. has to a Gestapo."  Although no historian, the former Arkansas governor probably heard probably heard that it was not uncommon that

Anyone foolish enough to say something risky or tell an anti-Nazi joke in mixed company might get a knock on the door in the middle of the night or a tap on the shoulder while walking along the street. Letters were also sent out demanding an appearance at No. 8 Prinz Albrecht Strasse, the Gestapo headquarters in Berlin, to answer a few questions. The Gestapo prison center in Berlin (the Columbia-Haus) became notorious as a place where pedestrians strolling outside the building could hear screaming coming from inside.

Gestapo interrogation methods included: repeated near drownings of a prisoner in a bathtub filled with ice-cold water; electric shocks by attaching wires to hands, feet, ears and genitalia; crushing a man's testicles in a special vice; securing a prisoner's wrists behind his back then hanging him by the arms causing shoulder dislocation; beatings with rubber nightsticks and cow-hide whips; and burning flesh with matches or a soldering iron.

That is reminiscent of a typical income tax audit, as the video below (Lois Lerner not clearly visible) bears witness to:

Comparison of American institutions to the Nazis or of President Obama to Adolf Hitler are odious, perhaps even more so than the comparison of the plight of the Palestinians to the Holocaust.  Mike Huckabee and other politicians (virtually all, these days, on the right) appear unable to understand that there are millions of Americans- not all of them Jews- who understand the unparalleled threat to humanity posed by Hitler and his henchmen.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Look Who Now Doesn't Like Iran

Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney, penned (old term) a column recently in the friendly pages of The Wall Street Journal in which they concluded

American freedom will not be secured by empty threats, meaningless red lines, leading from behind, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies, or apologizing for our great nation—all hallmarks to date of the Obama doctrine. Our security, and the security of our friends around the world, can only be guaranteed with a fundamental reversal of the policies of the past six years...

 President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.

Oddly- given those baseless charges of the Cheneys, Dick and Liz were right about one thing.

It's not about the remainder of their conclusion,in which they maintained "In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said, 'If history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.'"

The duo, seriously memory challenged, argued in the Bergdahl deal "we violated basic tenant (sic) first of all, in negotiating with terrorists..."  Paul Rosenberg reminds us that from 8/12/85 through 10/28/86 there were eight arms shipments to Iran in response to 96 individuals (mostly American and western European) taken by the government of Lebanon.  Ultimately, four American hostages were released and four others abducted or murdered, with a net gain of zero hostages released. (President Obama, by contrast, got one released with no direct damage.) Moreover

Not only did Reagan deal with terrorists as president, as revealed in the Iran-Contra scandal, the preponderance of evidence now supports the charge that his campaign negotiated with Iranian hostage-takers while he was running for president in 1980, to delay the release of hostages before the election, which could have helped Carter win reelection — what was known as “The October Surprise.” Given that Reagan wasn’t president then, but was negotiating to thwart a president’s attempt to get hostages released, this is not simply questionable behavior, it is arguably an act of treason. 

The Cheneys snark

Our president doesn't seem to. Iraq is at risk of falling to a radical Islamic terror group and Mr. Obama is talking climate change. Terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history, and he goes golfing. He seems blithely unaware, or indifferent to the fact, that a resurgent al Qaeda presents a clear and present danger to the United States of America.

It is possible, rumor has it, that an Administration can work on more than one problem at a time, and Obama's attention to global warming with its potential to destroy the planet is more than frivolous, though it does discomfit Dick Cheney's favorite charity, the non-renewable energy industry. And a President too busy to play sports is entitled to golf from time-to-time. Cheney might not be aware that, as Obama was preparing for a vacation last August at Martha's Vineyard, he had taken part or all of 92 days as a vacation, whereas at the same point in his presidency, George W. Bush (whom Cheney served as vice-president) had taken 323 days.

This is not a direct equivalence, given that President Bush sometimes worked during vacations at his ranch in Crawford .  Such was the case when a  CIA briefer on August 6, 2001 handed him the Presidential Daily Brief (photograph of the meeting, below) "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," which suggested Osama Bin Laden- whom the Administration was assiduously ignoring- might hijack commercial airliners inside the USA.  Not the slacker Barack Obama is, Bush reportedly told the courier "You’ve covered your ass now" and then went fishing.

The Cheneys mistake a quick fix for a resolution when they claim "when Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge." But much of the success attributed to the surge was achieved by the Anbar Awakening months before American soldiers arrived.  The surge functioned as a band-aid (actually, Band Aid; adhesive bandage is the generic term) which staunched the bleeding, but eventually the bandage had to come off. And sometimes, as in the case of Iraq, the bleeding will return because the underlying problem has not been addressed.  The major achievement of the surge probably was the election of a Prime Minister but but

The litany of Maliki’s failures to accommodate Sunni aspirations is well known: his failure to live up to power-sharing promises made in 2010; his extra-constitutional abuses of power; his persecution of Sunni politicians; his failure to sustain ties with Sunni tribes in western Iraq; his refusal to follow through on commitments to integrate “Awakening” fighters into Iraqi security forces; and his heavy-handed response to Sunni political protests in Anbar province last year.

"Now, in a move that defies credulity, he toys with the idea of ushering Iran into Iraq," the Cheneys write of Obama. They add "Only a fool would believe American policy in Iraq should be ceded to Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror."   One could hardly imagine, then, that it is members of the Bush-Cheney Administration which have bragged about the surge, which resulted in the ascension to Prime Minister of the staunchly pro-Iranian Maliki.

Dick Cheney (and his daughter) should not be silenced.  But he should be confronted (and not only by Megyn Kelly, as in the video below) because- as with virtually every one  of President Obama's critics- he offers no solution and has been part of the problem. Rand Paul noted "I don't blame President Obama.  Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame those who are for the Iraq War for emboldening Iran. These are the same people now who are petrified of what Iran may become, and I understand some of their worry."

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bergdahl, The IRS, And Whatever It Takes

Mickey Kaus is a long-time journalist and currently a blogger at The Daily Caller.  He is a registered Democrat who mostly touts his (wrongheaded) opposition to unions and support for charter schools, and is most engaged about illegal immigration, upon which he has blogged extensively, and critically.

He should stick to immigration.  Recently, he offered the GOP unsolicited, yet obviously wise, advice pertaining to the Bergdahl release, or IRS e-mails, or whatever has the Party in a manufactured tizzy these days.  He recognizes a drive to impeachment "would give the Dems and the MSM the ammo they need to portray Republicans as extremists-and would predictably boost Democratic midterm turnout, especially among African Americans."  He suggests Republicans not "take the bait. You can babble about 'high crimes and misdemeanors' all you want- after November."

But the talk in and around the issue of impeachment, all the veiled threats and innuendo, rarely are about "high crimes and misdemeanors" but instead about the terrorism certain, they imply, to be unleashed by the release of the Sergeant.

That is well overdone, of course, but does drive the political discussion rightward and gins up Repub enthusiasm for an off-year election.  Not surprisingly for GOP criticism, however, it is disingenuous or woefully and remarkably ignorant.

Whatever the wisdom of the prisoner exchange, it is irrelevant to the issue of impeachment.  Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, a document many conservatives suggest is close to their heart and lying beneath their pillow as they sleep, require the President, the Vice President, and "all civil officers of the United States" to "be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." President Obama could not constitutionally be impeached (let alone removed from office) for offending the other Party, doing something unpopular, or exercising bad judgement. Were that an allowable basis for impeachment, the Framers would have unwisely criminalized policy disagreements.

The GOP could (as Kaus imagines it has) loudly contend that the President has committed an impeachable offense, a high crime.  The relevant provision of The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 reads

Prohibition on the use of funds for the transfer or release of individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act for fiscal year 2013 may be used to transfer, release, or assist in the transfer or release to or within the United States, its territories, or possessions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any other detainee who—

(1)is not a United States citizen or a member of the Armed Forces of the United States; and
(2)is or was held on or after January 20, 2009, at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by the Department of Defense.

Upon signing the legislation, President Obama issued a signing statement which decried  a group of provisions which

renews the bar against using appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose. I oppose these provisions, as I have in years past, and will continue to work with the Congress to remove these restrictions. The executive branch must have the authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests. For decades, Republican and Democratic administrations have successfully prosecuted hundreds of terrorists in Federal court. Those prosecutions are a legitimate, effective, and powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation. Removing that tool from the executive branch does not serve our national security interests. Moreover, section 1034 would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles.

If this is in fact a democratic republic with a real- rather than theoretical- separation of powers with checks and balances, signing statements should be barely worth the paper they're written on or the Word program they're typed on.  Republicans have given relatively little attention to this legal aspect of the controversial swap, perhaps recognizing there will be sometime this century a Repub President, who himself will issue signing statements promiscuously.

But Kaus' far more serious, and more brazenly misleading, suggestion is one in which he links to a Time magazine article about the lost e-mails of 11/1/09 to 4/11 of then-IRS director Lois Lerner He snarks "Another way to drive I-talk, of course, would be to behave in ways palpably reminiscent of the administration of Richard Nixon, a president who many Americans of both parties think should have been impeached (if he hadn’t resigned first). But that would never happen …"

Some of the e-mails since have been recovered and will be provided to Congress. But Richard Nixon- seriously?  Why go back so far?  Acknowledging Nixon's behavior, Digby, noting the outrage! outrage! emanating from Darrell Issa, Charles Krauthammer, and other Republicans, remarks

It’s also interesting how soon these conservative commentators forget a more recent “missing email” scandal. Remember that time when the Bush White House couldn’t provide years worth of emails from the office of the president and vice president involving Scooter Libby and kept it secret for years until it was finally forced to admit that the emails were destroyed and they hadn’t kept a backup? Apparently Krauthammer and company forgot about that. (You’d think his colleague at Fox would remind him — she was the presidential press secretary at the time and the official who finally admitted publicly that they didn’t have the missing emails.) They also forgot about that time when the Bush administration couldn’t turn over emails in the U.S. attorney scandal because they had failed to follow the law and conduct government business on government email servers and had instead used private RNC email addresses.

From Nixon to Obama, Republicans almost continually have found something scandalous (cartoon below from David Fitzimmons of The Arizona Daily Star) which they can act shocked by, and horrified at.Throw it against the wall, and see what sticks.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

But Triumph Can Prove How Exceptional We Are

Travis Waldron of Think Progress "spent Monday night in a bar so crowded and hot that I couldn’t move, much less order a beer, with a sweaty United States #8 jersey plastered to my skin. " He wants you to know that you, too, have to go out and buy an American flag (probably made in mainland China)

Because when you watch those celebrations, or when you sit in a hot, crowded bar full of American fans (and, in our case, Ghana fans too, which only made the atmosphere more incredible), and you feel it belch with anxiety in some moments and explode with euphoria in others, you realize how easy it is to just enjoy how fun all of it can be.

The tingling Waldron feels, and believes you will too, is at least safer than sex, both from a reproductive and a public health standpoint.  Still, for mature analysis there are few better places to go than Chris Hayes, who on Friday interviewed two individuals about the World Cup, including The Nation's sports editor Dave Zirin, who has written "Brazil's Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Struggle for Democracy." Hayes introduced the segment by noting

the first day of the World Cup will be remembered for more than  just action on the field. Outside the stadiums, many Brazilians took to the streets in protest. Police used percussion grenades and tear gas on hundreds of protesters in Sao Paulo and other cities. Two CNN journalists and an Associated Press photographer were among the dozens injured in the clashes.

I have got to say the protesters have a pretty strong case. This World Cup is estimated to have cost Brazil at least $11 billion and as much as $14 billion, making it the most expensive ever, money the protesters say would have been better spent on desperately needed housing, education, health care and food.

To get a sense of how this money is being spent, it makes sense we start in Manaus, which is located in the middle of the Amazonian rain forest, and where nearly $300 million was spent to build this 44,000-seat stadium, which will host four World Cup games, after that, not much.A fourth division Brazilian team plans to play in the stadium after the World Cup, but it can`t possibly hope to fill that stadium.

But that`s the ransom demanded by FIFA, the organization that runs international soccer, which is widely and probably correctly viewed as an absolutely corrupt racket. FIFA is run by Sepp Blatter, who leads an organization believed to be awash in bribery and who once charmingly suggested the way to make women`s soccer more popular is to have female players wear tighter shorts.

FIFA runs roughshod over the countries that host the World Cup, exempting itself from taxes, getting laws changed it does not like, including a Brazilian ban on selling beer in stadiums that was designed to keep safe. That apparently did not go over well with the World Cup sponsor Budweiser.

In an op-ed earlier in The New York Times, Zirin had written

FIFA’s corruption has been such an open secret for so many years that when new reports emerge, they tend to provoke more eye-rolls than outrage.

FIFA is supposed to police match-fixing, yet a New York Times investigation revealed that only six people on its staff of 350 are responsible for that enforcement. It is supposed to monitor corruption, but it’s not clear it does. There have long been allegations that bribes secured the 2022 World Cup for Qatar.

The head of FIFA’s own independent governance committee (which was recently disbanded) suggested holding a new vote for the right to host the 2022 World Cup. And the European football federation’s representatives to FIFA have threatened to protest against Mr. Blatter when he declares his intention this week to seek yet another term as FIFA’s head.

It’s easy to be cynical about all of this, but cynicism is a luxury we can no longer afford.  Anyone paying attention to the myriad injustices emerging in the international soccer of the 21st century can see that the stakes are a great deal higher than whether a few palms are greased.

In Brazil, site of the 2014 World Cup, the FIFA-driven push to build new stadiums at a breakneck pace has led to the deaths of nine construction workers. FIFA’s demands for security and infrastructure may end up displacing as many as 250,000 poor people, who live in the favelas surrounding Brazil’s urban centers. The cost of the games continues to tick upward, the latest figures climbing as high as $15 billion. Brazil’s own 1994 World Cup star, Rom├írio, called the 2014 tournament “the biggest heist in the history of Brazil.”

The situation is even worse in Qatar, site of the 2022 World Cup. Hundreds of migrant workers have already died in the oil kingdom’s efforts to build new “FIFA-quality stadiums.” This, along with recently emerging bribery allegations, has led some high-level FIFA officials to talk openly about moving the event to a new locale.

Hayes played a portion of the video (full video, below) from John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight," in which we learned that the government of Brazil is spending $11 billion on the spectacle and that the US game against Ghana would be played a new, $270 million stadium. After that, the site is to be used for four other World Cup games, after which it will, Oliver quipped, "become the world's largest bird toilet."

Hayes concluded the report Friday by summarizing "There's something sort of perfect, right, that captures 21st century globalization, that the entire world sits and watches what is a very enjoyable, corrupt racket." In the United States, the games will be watched by many foreign-born people and many native-born, many of the latter of whom will forget how to spell the word "soccer" six months after the winner is crowned.  With soccer a fine sport (at least it's not golf- we're talking sports here), most people will, like Travis Waldron, find the games enjoyable.  Perhaps it will be as good for you as it was for him.

Remember, though, that it is never, never a good thing to dance with the devil.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

The Profile In Courage We Are Required To Support For The Democratic Nomination

President Obama has been served loyally by Joe Biden, who as a veteran Washington hand helped balance the public perception of the freshman senator as charismatic and enervating, yet inexperienced. It lent gravitas to the ticket, and possibly to the presidential nominee himself.  In 2008, Biden did Obama another favor, this time coming out in favor of same-sex marriage, paving the way for the President to do the same.

So of course the President has fallen all over himself praising Hillary Clinton, who is blocking Biden's path to the 2016 nomination.  A book recently published has the anti-HRC author Edward Klein claiming (according to the New York Post)

... Obama wasn’t interested in Bill Clinton upstaging him during the presidential campaign. He resisted giving him any role at the convention.

But as last summer wore on, and Democrat enthusiasm waned, chief political strategist David Axelrod convinced the president that he needed Bill Clinton’s mojo.

A deal was struck: Clinton would give the key nominating speech at the convention, and a full-throated endorsement of Obama. In exchange, Obama would endorse Hillary Clinton as his successor.

Maybe yes, maybe no. But Barack Obama was clever enough, principled enough, or something enough to have given a dynamic and unequivocal speech against the war in 2002. However, Hillary Clinton, who as a US Senator voted for the war and later admitted it was a mistake, is now having third thoughts.  Dylan Scott of Talking Points Memo reports

Explaining her hesitation to renounce her vote in favor of the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton said Monday that she didn't want to "break faith with" the U.S. military.

The remarks gave a little more context to Clinton's admission in her new book that voting for the Iraq War in 2002 was "wrong. Plain and simple."

Backtracking on the vote earlier would have been the "smart political decision," Clinton told a Toronto business group on Monday during her ongoing book tour. But she explained why she felt she couldn't.

The Nation published a video and transcript of her statement in front of the Toronto Board of Trade.

"I had this sense that I had voted for it, and we had all these young men and women over there, and it was a terrible battle environment," Clinton said. "I knew some of the young people who were there and I was very close to one Marine lieutenant who lead a mixed platoon of Americans and Iraqis in the first battle for Fallujah."

"So I felt like I couldn’t break faith with them," she continued. "Maybe that doesn’t make sense to anybody else but me, but that’s how I felt about it. So I kept temporizing and I kept avoiding saying it because I didn’t want there to be any feeling that I was backing off or undercutting my support for this very difficult mission in Iraq."

Clinton wrote in her new book that she "got it wrong" on Iraq with her 2002 vote. But she said on Monday that her apparent hesitation to recant the vote was not a political calculation.

She was for the war. Then she realized it had been a mistake. Wrapping herself firmly in the flag, she now couches her earlier support  in patriotic terms: "I knew some of the young people there (and) felt like I couldn't break faith with them," she most cowardly rationalizes.

And she doesn't even credit the Democrats who voted against the Bush Administration's war with common sense, prescience, nor (especially this) courage.  Scott continues

"I kept trying to say, 'Well if we knew then what we know now it would not have ever come for a vote,' all of which was true, but just sort of avoided the fact of my saying, 'You know I just got it wrong, plain and simple. I made a mistake,'” she said. 'I thought a lot about that, because people said well -- 'You’re not saying you made a mistake for political reasons.'"

"Well, in fact, in the Democratic Party at that time, the smart political decision, as so many of my colleagues did, was to come out and say 'Terrible mistake, shouldn’t have done it,' and you know blame the Bush administration," she said.

No, the "smart political decision" for Democrats then was considered to be an "aye" vote on the Iraq War Resolution, in order to eliminate the possibility of being tarred as unpatriotic or "hating the troops."  Instead, Clinton casts her vote as one of political courage and suggests individuals who criticized the policy made an unprincipled, political calculation.  She castigates those who chose to "blame the Bush Administration."  That would, presumably, include a State Senator from Chicago who at the time declared

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with bin Laden and al-Qaida, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure that the U.N. inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Obama enjoyed the luxury of not having to cast a vote.  Still, he was right, and his words were, literally and figuratively, fighting words of exactly the sort Hillary Clinton has chosen to condemn.   Her words (video of relevant portion interview, below; The Nation article, here) were carefully chosen.  The former New York senator probably realizes that now she has made clear that she thinks Democrats of that sort were unpatriotic opportunists, President Obama will gravitate, however gradually...  even closer to her.  That is, we've learned,  how the once-bold State Senator now rolls.

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One of Our Own, Or So He Says

So do your thing ,Charles! Stephen A. Smith on Fox News on Wednesday night commented I got to tell you something. As much as people may ha...