Freedom of Speech – Some Are Just Freer Than Others!

I saw this story over the weekend and was meaning to post about it, but I like Bob Cesca’s post so much, I think I’ll let him do the honors. (emphasis mine)

“The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam.” Director of Issues Analysis Bryan Fischer from the American Family Association

I wonder if each wingnut yanks constitutional “facts” out of his or her own ass, or if there’s one big community ass from which they all yank.

Just to be perfectly clear: Fischer is waaaaaay wrong. Way, way, way wrong.

It kind of goes along with the previous post about alternate realities, doesn’t it. I’ll bet you that a whole bunch of media outlets reported that story but never informed their viewers or readers of the reality of our first amendment to the constitution. I’ll just bet you.


A President For All Americans – Build The Community Center!

President Obama proves once again, why he is the right person for the job. In remarks at the Ramadan Iftar dinner at the White House, he spoke in support of the controversial community center being planned 2 blocks away from “ground zero”. For anyone capable of being tolerant to others, this is really a silly issue. Jon Stewart does the best job of summing this up, go look at it. I am unable to embed Comedy Central clips on this blog, I’m too poor right now to pay the upgrade fee. But if you haven’t seen Jon’s piece, you really have to. Then come back here and read the rest of this post. There is a commercial that plays before the clip.

“Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.”

President Obama

What bothers me about this crusade by Islamophobes and Xenophobes is that somehow because of the “symbolism” of it being so close to “ground zero”, the media is helping to push this bigotry and justifying it with the fact that it is close to the World Trade Center site. There are so many things wrong with this idea, the first is that the whole touchy-feely symbolism thing about everything, is getting out of hand. I’m not sure when Americans became soooo sensitive and such big wusses. Everything “sends a message” these days or has some sort of deeper meaning, apparently whatever any given person reads into a situation. It’s like we are all quivering little children who are afraid of anything that moves.

I remember thinking after 9/11 that a lot of Americans really have an attitude that an American life is much more important than any other life. How many hundreds of thousands of people have been killed around the world, genocide in Darfur, starving in many places of the world, but when 3000 people get killed in New York City, they are somehow way more important than the lives of…well, how about an estimated several hundred thousand in Iraq that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Feith/Wolfowitz and the rest of the neo-cons murdered in a war of choice. Now I’m sure some will take offense to that for the exact reason I said it and say something like “these were Americans killed on 9/11”. Yes, they were Americans and 310 of them were foreign nationals.  One source I found said 62 Muslims died in the attack.  But when you read or listen to those most outraged by the community center, they talk as if all 3000 where white, god-fearing Christians. I’m sure if we tried to point out to them the diversity of the people who were in those buildings, their eyes would glaze over and there internal “nah nah nah nah” would kick in.

Besides the symbolism thing, there is also the whole blaming an entire religion for the actions of a group of terrorists. Timothy McVeigh was raised Catholic and killed 168 people in Oklahoma, are we preventing Catholic churches from being built because of Tim McVeigh? Or how about the Israeli serial killer that was just caught who killed 5 people, should we stop that synagogue from being built down the street? When people buy into that bullshit mentality, they are admitting that they are bigoted, there is no other reason for it. Of course these days being a racist has become chic (in some circles, not mine).  The racists have come out of the closet and are being paraded on my television daily. Maybe it’s a good thing to get them out in the open, is it worse to have them simmering below the surface or out there in the light of day?

I recently traveled to New York and New Jersey, was all over NYC one day and do you want to know what was cool. There were people of all races, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, whatever and they spoke many different languages….and the really cool thing about it, they were all getting along. When you get out into real America, one that isn’t filtered by a news anchor or political pundit, you see what the true American spirit is about. I didn’t see one teabagger protest during my whole trip. I didn’t see anyone screaming racial slurs at people. I didn’t see anyone yelling about illegal immigrants while packing a gun. I didn’t see Pat Buchanan dividing people up into stereotypes or Joe Scarborough talking about the latest poll on a street corner. I saw people living their lives and letting others live theirs. It was beautiful, really. I guess that is why I am making an effort to turn off my cable news, go out in the real world and interact with people. When we live in a cable news bubble, we run the risk of thinking like the people who want to ostracize anyone who is different from them.

I’m pasting the text of President Obama’s speech at the dinner last night after the fold. Read it, it shows that President Obama is a real American who contrary to the bigots on the right, knows the beliefs our country was founded on. Thanks to the LA Times for the text.

Continue reading

The Juvenile Republican Party!

When you step back and look at the Republican Party over the last two years, it looks very much like a fourth grade classroom. As the party of “nuh uh”, they look like they are just playing the opposite game, you know, the one where the pest in the class says the opposite of everything you say. This phenomenon has caused many Republicans to contort their positions and actually attack bills that they themselves were sponsors of and in some cases actually wrote. If that isn’t an example of a juvenile game, I’m not sure what is. I posted about the critics of the Obama administration (through Politico) who tried there hardest to make the BP Oil spill President Obama’s Katrina. Without any real knowledge of what the administration was doing, the reich-wing cooked up the “Obama’s Katrina” narrative, even though everyone with any knowledge of what was happening knew it clearly wasn’t true. The AP went fishing for a story to that effect and found out the truth. From a story at Huffington Post.

This came from Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.: “The American people deserve to know why the administration was slow to respond, why necessary equipment was not immediately on hand in the area and why the president did not fully deploy Cabinet-level federal officials” to the Gulf Coast until April 30.

There is so much wrong with that statement including the truth, but what strikes me is that apparently he is saying that the federal government should have had equipment on hand and in the area in case a private Oil Company (British), should have an accident. Isn’t that some form of socialism, when the government is meddling with private businesses? Now maybe he is saying the government should have shifted all the resources of the federal government to get “necessary” (whatever the fuck that means) equipment in the area “immediately”.  Now considering this accident is unprecedented and all the greatest minds in our country are trying to figure out how to stop the flow, maybe Mike Pence can tell us what “necessary” equipment he is talking about. Here is the AP’s conclusion followed by some details of exactly what the Obama administration did…

While the Obama administration has faced second-guessing about the speed and effectiveness of some of its actions, a narrative pieced together by The Associated Press, based on documents, interviews and public statements, shows little resemblance to Katrina in either the characterization of the threat or the federal government’s response…

…Before noon the next day at the Interior Department, which oversees offshore drilling projects, the department’s No. 2 official, Deputy Secretary David Hayes, raced to grab a commercial jet for New Orleans without even time to pack a bag. He sets up shop at a government command center already monitoring events.

“We obviously knew this was a bad situation,” Hayes said in a recent interview. “But we were not in a mindset where we thought we were dealing with a major oil spill.”

And you know this was before the spill started, he went down there immediately when it was just an explosion and loss of life, which warranted a response from the Administration, if only these people had been around when Katrina happened instead of Ole’ Brownie. More details about the response, suck on it Mike Pence…

Two days after the fire erupted, Obama convened an Oval Office meeting to get the latest on what still was viewed largely as a major accident and rescue effort – 11 workers could not be found.

He asked departments to respond aggressively to help in the rescue and assess the environmental fallout. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in a statement called the response “the No. 1 priority.”

A team representing 16 agencies and offices that included the Pentagon, the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Interior and Homeland Security was formed. As a precaution, 100,000 gallons of chemicals to break up oil on the waster was sent to three Gulf Coast locations.

The next bit of juvenile behavior I’ll point out is the idea that we no longer mirandize American citizens accused of a crime. In 1966, the Supreme Court set out guidelines for what must be said to someone who is arrested. I won’t paste them here, everyone knows them if they ever watched Dragnet or Adam 12. All civilized countries have similar guidelines or laws that are meant to protect the rights of their citizens, you know those basic human rights that the Republican Party no longer support. I just heard one of the biggest village idiots within the Republican party, Rudy Giuliani, on “This Week with Jake Tapper” express that idea as clearly as any. They believe that giving rights to anyone is giving rights to terrorists, it’s black and white to them. It’s similar to the people who don’t have a problem with stopping Latinos in Arizona, they don’t see how American citizens will lose rights under the plan. As long as they don’t think it will directly affect them, they are cool with taking away other people’s rights. That is exactly why the founding fathers put habeas corpus right in the main text of the Constitution.

(to be continued)

Citizenship, Smitizenship – Lieberman’s Crazy Idea, Even Glenn Beck Can’t Go There!

The Obama administration had a great response to Joseph Lieberman’s latest batshit crazy idea. From ABS News, I love it…

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs today indicated no one in the White House supports the legislation introduced today by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., that would give the State Department the power to revoke the citizenship of American terrorism suspects.

“I have not heard anybody inside the administration that’s been supportive of that idea,” Gibbs said.

That idea, of course, is to strip the citizenship of anyone “associating” with terrorist organizations. Here is a little more from ABC News.

Lieberman offered the legislation today along with Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Reps. Jason Altmire, D-Penn., and Charlie Dent, R-Penn, which would add to the existing federal statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1481, which identifies seven categories of actions for which U.S. citizens lose their citizenship. The legislation, called the Terrorist Expatriation Act, would authorize the State Department to revoke the citizenship of any U.S. national who provides material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization or who engages in or supports hostilities against the United States or its allies.

Ah, the ole “material support or resources” wording, nice and vague. You know, perfect for taking away even more rights. Is it just me or is the party that has wingnuts screaming about freedom the party that seems intent on taking them away. And I include Joe Lieberman in the Republican party, by the way. He’s been with them for quite a while and playing the democrats like a cheap violin.

Here are responses from Senator John McCain and Rep. Peter King courtesy of Think Progress.

– “I think obviously that [mirandizing Shahzad] would be a serious mistake until we’ve — at least until we find out as much information as we have, and there are ways — legal ways — of delaying that.” — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

– “I hope that [Attorney General Eric] Holder did discuss this with the intelligence community. If they believe they got enough from him, how much more should they get? Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen but still.” — Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

This story really gets completely bizarre, it’s like a twilight zone. Glenn Beck and Fox’s Legal guy Judge Andrew Napolitano actually think that the Times Square bumbler should be mirandized. From Think Progress again, emphasis mine…

This morning on Fox and Friends, Napolitano said that Shahzad needed to be mirandized, and Beck added, “He’s a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens.” When Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade interjected, “But he’s a threat to the country. That’s different,” Beck responded, “So are a lot of citizens of the country. … We don’t shred the Constitution when it’s popular.”

I can’t believe I’m actually embedding a clip from Fox News…..I’m telling you this story is just weird (I hope the clip plays better for you than it did for me, GO HERE for Media Matters version it actually plays).