Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fairy Tales From Texas

Texas Governor Rick Perry

In today’s toxic political climate, the truth is sometimes hard to recognize. Truth pales in the face of fairy tales, creative deception and outright lies. I looked past the talk of death panels and the government “killing granny”. Now I listen to the talk from Gov. Rick Perry that Texans are thinking about seceding, warning “Washington had better watch out”.

I brushed the threat aside as more political rhetoric designed to stir up far-right wing Republicans until a talk show host intimated that Texas had a written agreement from the government giving them the right to secede, and also to divide itself into five states. Later, I found a third claim which says that the Texas flag gets special rights over all other state flags in the nation.

Let me debunk all three of these claims as quickly as possible. The idea of a state leaving the union was settled a long time ago. Remember the Civil War. The second claim died with Texas’ readmission to the Union which left out any provision for Texas to divide into additional states. Finally, the Texas flag gets no special treatment. Under the flag code, any flag may fly at the same level as the U. S. flag on adjacent poles. The requirement is that the U. S. flag be on its own right.

It might be interesting to note that Alaska actually got a referendum on the ballot a few years ago to study secession. The drive to secede got nowhere, of course.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Another Nominee Stalled to Death

Dawn Johnsen, the president's appointment to the Office of Legal Counsel whose nomination has lingered in Congressional limbo for more than a year, has officially withdrawn her candidacy for the post, according to a statement sent over from the White House.

The withdrawal represents a major blow to progressive groups and civil liberties advocates who had pushed for Johnsen to end up in the office that previously housed, among others, John Yoo, the author of the infamous torture memos under George W. Bush.

But the votes, apparently, weren't there. Johnsen had the support of Sen Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) but was regarded skeptically by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) -- primarily for her positions on torture and the investigation of previous administration actions. A filibuster, in the end, was likely sustainable. Faced with this calculus, the White House chose not to appoint Johnsen during Senate recess, which would have circumvented a likely filibuster but would have kept her in the position for less than two years.

Bart Stupak Retires

Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak will not seek reelection this fall, a decision that comes hard on his front-and-center (and controversial) role in the recent passage of President Barack Obama's health-care legislation.
"This year, after all that we've accomplished, I have decided to begin that new chapter," Stupak wrote in an email to supporters announcing the decision. "I will not seek reelection this November."

A series of prominent Democratic leaders made pleas for him to reconsider - including President Obama who called Stupak on Wednesday - but his mind was made up.
Stupak's seat, which takes in much of northern Michigan's Upper Peninsula, will be a major takeover target for Republicans. Obama carried it with with 50 percent in 2008 but George W. Bush won the district in 2000 and 2004.

Stupak is the 16th House Democrat to announce his retirement; 18 Republicans are calling it quits while a 19th is leaving his District to run in another.

Waterboarding Decision

Judge Jay Bybee

John Yoo

The Justice Department recently ruled that lawyers who authorized CIA interrogators to use waterboarding are not guilty of professional misconduct, but did show "poor judgment," after an internal investigation into the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies.

Though Obama has abolished the technique, the Justice Department was responsible for deciding if those who previously authorized such tactics would be punished. An initial review had concluded that the two former government lawyers, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, had committed professional misconduct, but the Justice Department's most senior lawyer disagreed after re-examining the case. But he wrote in a memo, "This decision should not be viewed as an endorsement of the legal work that underlies those memoranda." The ruling comes as George W. Bush is seeing a strong show of support at a recent Conservative Political Action Conference, reports Benjamin Sarlin, who notes that Bush never lost a large chunk of his party's base.

Keep watching and listening. Who says that crime doesn't pay?

Liz Cheney's Mission

When Dick Cheney is not attacking the president his daughter Liz is picking up the slack. Her organization Keep America Safe recently released an ad that even has some conservatives crying foul. The ad targets U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and suggests he has hired terrorist symphatizers to work in the Justice Department. “The ad targets Holder’s hiring of nine lawyers who performed past legal work for suspected terrorists detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Despite a request from congressional Republicans, Holder declined to reveal the identities of seven lawyers in the group whose detainee work had not been previously reported. Eric Holder will only name 2. Why the secrecy behind the other 7? Whose values do they share?” the ad asks, after flashing a tear-out of an Investor’s Business Daily headline that reads, “DOJ: Department of Jihad.” When you watch this ad you see why the parties can not work together. Liz Cheney and her ilk are committed to one thing, and that is demonizing the president and his entire cabinet.

Eric Massa and Glen Beck

Eric Massa

Rep. Eric Massa had announced he was resigning from his seat in Congress. He has given a variety of reasons: cancer illness, inappropriate behavior with staff, and most recently he was forced out by his own party. The Democrats were forcing out one of their own. Why? He did not support the healthcare bill. Well, this made Glenn Beck’s ears stand up like a dolberman pinscher. Get that man on the show. Finally we can have one of his own bash him. It was time for some good ole Obama bashing, but what they failed to do is vet this guy. Massa proved to be quite the foil for Beck. Beck finally got the opportunity to look into the eyes of crazy and not be looking into a mirror and it was great. Beck had to apologize to his audience at the end of the show for wasting their time. Maybe he should end all his telecast the same way.

Karl Rove

It is fascinating to watch politicians and political insiders try to write a new chapter in their lives. The tricky part is doing it while trying to erase your past and that is what Karl Rove is attempting to do.

Rove is a winner. That is why he was one of President Bush’s right hand men. Rove could win elections because he didn’t let people get in the way. He was a win at any cost kind of guy, but that Rove is not the one that appeared on the Today Show over the past two days. This kinder, gentler guys tells us the he simply did not do some of the things people say he did. He said “his reputation as a down-and-dirty political campaigner is undeserved. Tricks attributed to him were either media distortions or the work of others.

Rove specifically said he had nothing to do with the smear tactics used against Sen. John McCain in South Carolina during the 2000 Republican presidential primary campaign. One of the more notorious dirty tricks of which Rove is accused is the so-called “push-pull poll” conducted in South Carolina during the 2000 primaries, when George W. Bush and John McCain were vying for the Republican presidential nomination. The poll suggested that McCain, who has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh, had fathered an illegitimate child with a black woman.” Rove claimed he had nothing to do with it and he went on to criticize McCain for not making it a teachable moment, and sharing how he and his wife had adopted a daughter.

Rove went on to say “I have become an adjective. There is something called a Rovian-style of campaigning and it’s meant as an insult. One columnist said it consists mainly of throwing mud until it sticks. One prominent blogger described the elements of a textbook Rovian race as fear-based, smear-based and anything goes.”* Rove is attempting to distance himself from the thing that he perfected. Dirty Politics existed before Lee Atwater, he exploited it for Bush Sr., but Karl Rove perfected it for GW Bush and like it or not that will be his legacy.

Confederate History Month

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

President Obama said that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell made "an unacceptable omission" when he declared April Confederate History Month without including mention of slavery.

McDonnell apologized for the omission and altered the proclamation to include slavery and acknowledge that it was the cause of the Civil War.
Some say Gov. Bob McDonnell's Confederate History Month proclamation and subsequent apology for leaving out mention of slavery puts him out of contention as a national candidate.

"It's a lasting scar mainly for its combination of stupidity, insensitivity and ignorance about the Civil War," one senior Republican strategist told Chris Cillizza of the Fix Blog.

"Sixty days and it's ancient history," said another.

Washington Post Poll tallies 35% in favor of Confederate History Month and 65% against.

Well, McDonnell almost got away with rewriting history. Now all he needs to do is change the school text books in Virginia like they did in Texas. Let’s influence those minds while they’re young.