Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Mashup (1/24/11)

  • Yesterday, the New York Times ran some opinion columns from people suggesting what Obama should say or do when he gives his State of the Union address tomorrow night (sorry, but I know those things basically are pep rallies regardless of which side is in power, so I don’t attach much significance, although Obama calling out the Supremes last year over Citizens United was pretty cool).

    One column was from former Iran-Contra scoundrel Elliott Abrams, who of course blames Obama for the uprising in Tunisia (and it’s Abrams birthday today, strangely enough…forgive me if I don’t send a card)…

    THE revolt in Tunisia has thrown both that nation’s dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and the Obama administration’s democracy-promotion policy onto the ash heap of history. The revolt undermined — indeed, destroyed — two years of effort in Washington to move toward a policy of “engagement” with hostile and repressive regimes.

    The price for this policy has been paid by men and women from China to Russia to Iran to Egypt to Venezuela, who had expected a louder voice and a firmer helping hand from the United States. Now, watching the Tunisians try to move from a rapacious dictatorship to a stable democratic system, the president should say that in Tunisia, and everywhere else, we will side with those working to build democracies.
    Sooo…all of these countries should have expected the U.S. to support militarily some kind of a coup? Is that what he means by “a louder voice and a firmer helping hand”?

    And did I mention yet again that Abrams has never served in our armed forces?

    I just want to make sure I’ve got this straight; according to the rules of wingnut punditry, such as they are, Dubya gets a pass because he believed former Tunisian dictator Zine El Abadine Ben Ali was a friend in the Now And Forever You’d Better Believe It You Kenyan Muslim-Lovin’ Democrat Party Terrist America Haters in the Global War on Terra! Terra! Terra!, even though, as Think Progress tells us here, “the excesses of President Ben Ali’s family…inspire outrage” among Tunisians.

    However, when President Obama decides not to interfere and let natural events run their course (inspired by this brave example by a man named Mohamed Bouazizi, though I don't encourage anyone to imitate it), he’s criticized for not interfering, which, given our wrongheaded support of Ben Ali previously, is exactly the right course of action.

  • And from that same section of pundits trying to “help” Obama, I give you the following odious Third Way tripe (here)…

    To get something done with a skeptical Congress, the president ought to shift the focus from the instruments of violence to the perpetrators by calling for a substantial increase in the number of people who are listed by the F.B.I. as barred from purchasing guns.

    An approach aimed at the person, not the gun, has a real chance of winning bipartisan support.
    If I were more prone to colorful language from movies about the Old West (appropriate for me when talking about the gun issue anyway), I might refer to Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler here as a couple of lily-livered panty waists more anxious to fluff Republicans than stand up to them. And that is because trying to divide the difference on guns by choosing to strengthen the system of background checks (a petition is here) versus making high-capacity magazines illegal is stupid; both of these goals should be pursued, not one or the other.

  • Next, J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times weighed in here concerning the latest from Little Ricky Santorum, who claimed that Obama should be advocating “personhood” for fetuses…

    "The question is - and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer - is that (unborn) human life a person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no," Santorum said. "Well, if that human life is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say 'now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.' "

    Santorum, undeterred by his critics in the media, the next day moved aggressively into the minefield of racially charged politics and personal choice.

    "For decades," he said, "certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the Constitution. Today, other human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly treated as property and denied the right to life for the same reason, because they are not considered persons under the Constitution. I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in this country."

    In fact, this thesis is not Santorum's. He lifted it from a famous Baptist preacher, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    In 1977, Jackson wrote an influential piece for the Right to Life News that linked the court-sanctioned "privacy" rights of the slave owner to that of one seeking an abortion.

    In 1,000 words, Jackson eloquently addresses arguments favoring abortion, aiming to weaken and dismantle them.

    The essay, "Respecting Life," is still widely circulated among pro-life activists. His arguments are why pro-life activists see themselves as modern abolitionists.
    I don’t know why Jackson apparently changed his position on abortion; I haven’t been able to find an explanation (though it’s not surprising that Jackson kept his thoughts on such a personal issue to himself). Was it made out of political calculation? Let me ask you this in response – when you’re talking about someone who once ran for elected office, what decision isn’t made out of political calculation?

    Besides, it’s not unheard of for politicians seeking the presidency to change their minds on this issue, as noted here.

    I have a question, though. When the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution were passed in essence granting full personhood to slaves, did that mean that former slave owners could now be prosecuted since slaves were no longer three-fifths of a person in the eyes of the law? I believe the answer to that question is no.

    If The Supremes or another court eventually rules that even a partially developed fetus is a person with full rights, thereby codifying legally the belief that life begins at conception, what’s to prevent doctors performing abortions or women seeing them for whatever reason from being prosecuted for attempted or actual homicide in the same eyes of the law?

    Nothing, that’s what. Which is exactly something Santorum devoutly wishes to see transpire (and Mullane also, I’m sure).

    And on that day, God help us, we will take another step backward to the Dark Ages.

    (One more thing – this is about what you would expect from Little Ricky, seeing as how he’s already trailing Romney, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin – God, what a field! – for the 2012 Repug presidential nomination.)

  • In addition, I should note that I read the latest Republican propaganda disguised as political analysis from Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times today (here), and I have only this to say:

    The Repugs got their stinking tax cut extension in the lame duck session last year (which, of course, will do nothing except add to the deficit, a fact that somehow was absent from most of the discussion during all the tax-cut theatrics). Now, as far as they’re concerned, everybody else besides the “pay no price, bear no burden” crowd can take it in the neck (or somewhere else – I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader). And there really isn’t much of anything else to say besides that.

  • Finally (sticking with the Courier Times), this tells us the following…

    When Bucks County's judges select a new county commissioner Tuesday afternoon, they will likely pick one of three GOP-endorsed frontrunners: Jon Forest, Robert G. Loughery or Jennifer L. Yori.

    The Bucks County Republican Executive Committee gave the trio its stamp of approval at a Jan. 13 screening meeting and forwarded their names to the judges, who will meet behind closed doors Tuesday to choose the candidate to replace James Cawley, sworn in as Tom Corbett's lieutenant governor last week.
    So judges from Bucks will meet behind closed doors, as the story tells us, to choose which Republican will take the place of the departed Jim Cawley.

    Being a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, I have only this question to ask in response:

    Why can’t we have a special election instead?
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