Romney Once Again Proves How Different the Real World is from His World

Here’s the “gaffe”.

“We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack,’  ” [Mitt Romney] said as he offered more hints as to what he would put in place of “Obamacare,” which he has pledged to repeal.

“No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”

He pointed out that federal law requires hospitals to treat those without health insurance — although hospital officials frequently say that drives up health-care costs.

[full story]

Here’s the reality.

A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn’t afford his medication, offering a sobering reminder of the importance of oral health and the number of people without access to dental or health care.

According to NBC affiliate WLWT, Kyle Willis’ wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance.

When his face started swelling and his head began to ache, Willis went to the emergency room, where he received prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications. Willis couldn’t afford both, so he chose the pain medications.

[full story]

Again…reality and Mitt Romney’s version of reality differ a great deal.  He says what happened never happens…but it did.

So the question remains…is he ignorant of reality or lying about it?  It has to be one or the other.

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Hope and Change vs Gloom and Doom

Most of Obama’s voters — 73 percent — say they are voting “for” him rather than “against” Romney (23 percent). The reverse is true among Romney backers: 54 percent say their support is more “against” Obama rather than “for” Romney (40 percent).

The poll also indicates why Republicans are going after low-information voters.  These are the ones that think approving a pipeline that will ship  oil out of the country will somehow lower prices here.

Update:  This has been flowing around…but recall what was said a mere four years ago…

Update2: The White House put up this page.   The most important graph, which is hidden about halfway down is the “Global Oil Consumption” one.  That’s the pressure on the demand side.  On the supply side, we have the Iranian tough talk campaign applying pressure, as noted here.

I’d also wager, rather safely, that oil company profits, when reported, will once again be approaching record territory.   A populace squeezed at the pump is looking to point a finger, and one particular media company in particular is more than happy to do so with every outlet at their disposal.   They do, falsely claiming the same thing was done four years ago.  I’ve already provided evidence that  it is they who have changed their story.

Now let’s see how many gullible folks they convince that while they were wrong then, they are dead-on right now, and gas prices are  actually singularly controlled by the President.  Probably with a little lever or dial.


Fox News Poll: President Obama Tops Republican Contenders In Matchups | Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/14/fox-news-poll-president-obama-tops-republican-contenders-in-matchups/

Says the guy who predicted the Iraq War might cost $50B and the Bush Tax Cuts would erase the deficit…

NYT: Indiana Becomes ‘Right to Work
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/us/indiana-becomes-right-to-work-state.xml

“Seven years of evidence and experience ultimately demonstrated that Indiana did need a right to work law to capture jobs for which, despite our highly rated business climate, we are not currently being considered,” Mr. Daniels said in a statement that his office released after he signed the bill. He has indicated in the past that his views on the issue have evolved in recent years, in part because of the struggling national economy and the number of people out of work.

In his statement, he added: “This law won’t be a magic answer, but we’ll be far better off with it. I respect those who have objected, but they have alarmed themselves unnecessarily: no one’s wages will go down, no one’s benefits will be reduced and the right to organize and bargain collectively is untouched and intact.”

In case you weren’t aware, Mitch Daniels is a flat out liar.

Romney: Any Concern By Anyone For Income Inequality Is ‘About Envy’

LAUER: When you said that we already have a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy, I’m curious about the word ‘envy.’ Did you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious? Is it about jealousy, or fairness?

ROMNEY: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus one percent — and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent — you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.

LAUER: Yeah but envy? Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as ‘envy,’ though?

ROMNEY: I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.

via Romney: Any Concern For Income Inequality Is ‘About Envy’ | ThinkProgress.

Glad you made this personal, Willard.   Sorry, but not everyone can blow $54,000,000 losing the Presidential nomination and then come back 4 years later and do it again, using only the money they’ve made by not working at  any discernible job during those four years, and do so while claiming their own taxes are too high (and whining about the debt in the next sentence).

“Sanctimonious prick” is  about the best definition for this waste of space I can find.  I mean…how much money does it take to be this tone deaf?

Mitt?  How much?

You know what’s ridiculous about this?  A guy with many times as much money as Mitt is saying the opposite thing he is.  Mitt Romney thinks you (my fellow Americans) are stupid enough to believe that Warren Buffet is only “envious” of Mitt’s vastly smaller fortune, which is why Buffet keeps bringing up the subject of income inequality.

Makes total sense…if one is a sanctimonious prick

Iran, Oil, Israel, the NDAA, and the 2012 Election : A Primer

Let’s start this off with a curious conjunction of news articles as presented by the Google News algorithm.

That's why they do it

That's why they do it

And I also ran across this article over on Juan Cole’s site.

Will his New Sanctions on Iran Cost Obama the Presidency?

Posted on 01/03/2012 by Juan

A sharp drop in the value of the Iranian currency as a result of new American sanctions may sound like good news to hawks in the US. But actually this development may signal ways in which Americans will also be harmed, and Obama may have put a second term in jeopardy, cutting off his nose to spite his face.

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama this past weekend will seek to slap third party sanctions on countries and enterprises that deal with Iran’s central bank. It will go into effect this summer. In effect, the law says that if you buy Iranian petroleum, you cannot do business with American financial institutions. Since the United States is still over a fifth of the world economy, and most institutions with capital need to deal with it, the hope of Congress is that Iran will be left without customers.

The measure, pushed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on behalf of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, might well be a trap for Obama. In an election year, he could not refuse to endorse new sanctions against Iran (the Republican candidates in Iowa are practically running on promising that if elected they will launch a war on Iran; and they are lambasting the president as weak on this issue).

[full story]

There’s a couple of interesting things about this line of thinking and Cole explores the direct results on this in his post.

Those two factors, the likelihood of rising Asian demand for petroleum in 2012, and investor nervousness about how tensions with Iran will play out, will probably keep petroleum prices at historically high levels in 2012, and some analysts believe that there could be a return to the overheated pricing of 2008 before the crash.

It would be much better for the American economy if prices sank back down to the levels of only a few years ago, of $50 a barrel or less.

If the Congressional sanctions actually worked, and took Iran’s roughly 2.5 million barrels a day in exports off the world market, that would take out 80% of Iran’s export income and deeply hurt the regime. But it would also send world petroleum prices through the stratosphere, deeply harming Western economies already teetering on the edge.

The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012) which has people all a-twitter about the AUMF made real, also includes the language that essentially declares economic warfare with Iran.  You know how all those little dollars say “Federal Reserve Note”…well…when it comes to being the one that redeems property, one tends to have some control over who gets to officially use it for business.   The NDAA (of FY 2012) essentially says that anyone who uses our money, can’t use it to buy their oil (or anything else they sell).

This was added to the NDAA by a flake.  Literally, Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Washington, D.C., Dec 9, 2011 – Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today along with 22 House Members sent a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R, CA) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D, WA) urging them to retain during conference negotiations with the Senate provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would levy sanctions on the Iranian financial sector, including the Central Bank of Iran, in an effort to severely limit the funding sources available to the Iranian regime for use in developing nuclear weapons.

You will be unsurprised to find out that Flake was one of the 81 Congressmen (only 21%) who did, in fact, take an all expense paid weeklong [edit 9 day] vacation to calm and relaxing Israel during the summer break.

Don’t worry though, no taxpayer money was (directly) used to pay for this.  Lobbyists covered the whole thing.

Sponsor(s) – American Israel Education Foundation
Dates – August 18, 2001 – August 26, 2001 (9 days)
Location(s) – Israel 

Purpose – Educational mission
Notes – Spouse Cheryl Flake accompanied. Other costs not specified.

Travel Cost – $7,183.20
Lodging Cost – $2,023.70
Meal Cost – $1,391.30
Other Cost – $986.00
Total Cost – $11,584.20

Additional family members – Yes

[full data on the Flake]

And just so you get an idea of how much of a flake this Flake guy is…

Flake was first elected to what was then Arizona’s 1st congressional district in 2000, after Republican incumbent Matt Salmon stepped down in honor of a self-imposed term limit. The district was then renumbered to the 6th district as Arizona gained two Congressional seats due to the results of the 2000 census.

In his campaign in 2000, Flake had pledged to serve no more than three terms in Congress, leaving no later than January 2007, but in early 2005, shortly after being elected for a third time, Flake announced that he had changed his mind and would in fact run for re-election in 2006. “It was a mistake to limit my own terms,” Flake said.

[from the wiki]

So…long story short…get ready for much higher gas prices this summer and the Republicans constantly blaming Obama for it.   There’s a decent chance that the actual reason for the rise in prices will not be a constraint in supply, but instead an increase in middleman costs caused by the sanctions leading to a run-up in the price of oil…if not a full-on closing of the Straight of Hormuz by Iran (if the sanctions work too well  and they realize they are fucked either way.)

Whatever the reason, higher oil prices (even if only caused by the threat of increased hostilities…raising risks raises prices) will slow the already crawling economic recovery in the U.S., leaving it, most likely, continuing to sputter along like an old car running low on…well…gas.

What I find really funny here (funny in an ironic way), is that while Obama will be in actuality taking a political hit from the slowing economy from increased oil prices, he’s also going to continue to be hit for “throwing Israel under the bus” even while taking the economic hit that comes with directly targeting the money supply of Iran.

Pretty funny, if you think about it.

I still don’t think it’s going to be enough to convince more Americans to vote for Romney than Obama, however.

The election is going to be literally a Wall Street Tycoon vs a Community Organizer.

Ask your average Tea Party member which one of those they support (using those labels), and do it while they are community organizing for even greater lulz.

Mike Rowe’s Dirty Job: QVC Salesman for Precious Moments (and the Amazing KatSak)

I was just preparing to enjoy one of my last doses of NFL football for the year and heard the very familar and comforting voice of Mike Rowe selling large trucks.

If you aren’t familiar with the fellow, here’s the wiki bio.

He also did/does a fun little show called Dirty Jobs.  As the United States is currently in an employment crisis, he’s also been called upon by Congress to testify about the nature of many of those “dirty jobs” and how there don’t seem to be enough Americans willing and/or able to do many of them.  That testimony is here.

This post, however, is not about that.  It’s about Mike’s own dirty job in his paying profession (“salesman”..in case you didn’t notice how TV works and makes money), as captured by someone’s misprogrammed (one would hope) VCR.

Mike and his Precious Moments…

Mike and *the* KatSak…

Some very precious moments there as well.  If I had to define my own take on things in a general sense, I’ve precisely described that outlook as  “cynically sarcastic optimism”.     Rowe captures that sentiment precisely.   Good stuff, and a Happy New Year to you all.

May you enjoy your own dirty jobs (if you are blessed to have or find one) in 2012.

Keeeyyyystoooooooone!!!

A member of the House Tea Party caucus said Republicans are rallying behind Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in the payroll tax cut standoff, calling him “William Wallace” in their “‘Braveheart’ moment.”

Speaking Monday on Fox News, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) suggested contrary to reports that the Tea Party wing of the party is forcing Boehner’s hand, his colleagues are actually rallying to defend the Speaker of the House. […]

“Out of 75 responses, there may have been one person that thought it was OK that we would put the fight off until two months from now,” he continued. “Everybody else said, ‘Look, this is a ‘Braveheart’ moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace. Let’s rush to the fight. Get us back to Washington, let’s get to our work and we’re doing that.””

via Daily Kos: Rep. Phil Gingrey: Payroll tax fight is GOP ‘Braveheart moment’.

Yea…so anyway…here’s the latest on the extension of the payroll tax that President Obama got for 95% of Americans (more than half of whom thanked him by thinking he raised their taxes) and is currently fighting to extend.

The Senate passed a two-month extension after the House passed a ridiculous version that included approval of the Keystone pipeline (referenced in the title), simply because Obama said he didn’t want it and would veto it.

Mitch McConnell (the Turtle or “Tortuga”), was for the plan, then figured he’d be against it.  Now the Democrats and Obama have to figure out a way to compromise, once again, with economic “terrorism”.   That is…everyone knows this extension is needed, without it, the recovery stalls even more (after being knee-capped by Republicans this summer with the debt-ceiling debacle).

So the Dems, in the objective “good for the country” sense, need to get a deal, the Republicans, once again, get the throw a gremlim in the gears, and hope nobody remembers who did it, and blames Obama for the results, in…11 more months.

IMHO, as a constant spectator of this charade, and of the American people…I’m about 67% sure this strategy is going to fail, and Obama is going to crush the R’s in 2012.   There is a sizable portion of my country (about 20%) that thinks Obama is the reincarnation of Mao/Hitler/Muhammed (the bad version)/Marx.   They can’t be reasoned with, they can’t be bought, most of them are retired or soon will be, and most of them (80% or so), will vote against Obama.   The other 20% doesn’t believe in elections anyway (but love the Constitution) and will stay away.     That’s about 16% of the gen pop against Obama.

This is a significant hurdle for 2012, but…outside of the nuts and the truly devoted, this long and what look’s to be a drawn out, if-not-totally-inconclusive, Republican primary session is going to devastate that Party.   Some of the stuff coming out of this is so noxious to most people (Newt threatening to do away with judges he doesn’t like being the latest example), that a tested and tried solution in Obama is going to look mighty appealing.

The U.S. economy is actually recovering, albeit slowly.  If the unemployment rate drops below 8%…which is entirely possible before next November, Obama is actually going to look like a “Messiah” in retrospect.

He killed Bin Laden (gave the order to do so), Kim Jung Il is gone, Kqadaffai [sp] is gone, Egypt is free (and chaotic, as freedom is), the  Iraq War is done, he was a damn Peace Prize, and looks to have some actual dividend coming from bringing a lot of peace to the world (compared to when he took office, mind you).

Against this….you have Republicans going to the wall for Big Oil.

It’s really not a tough game to call.

Discussion on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and Dgital Products in the 21st Century

Here’s the basics…

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  If you are scanning down here while the video is loading or being boring, here’s the gist of the problem…

…hrmm…looks like they have realized who is doing the best work against them..

The Motion Picture Association of America came out swinging against critics who believe the Stop Online Piracy Act would disrupt Internet security and harm businesses. The trade organization’s Paul Hortenstine targeted the Electronic Frontier Foundation this week, calling the group’s objections “sky is falling rhetoric.”

[full story]

The EFF is hard on point on this, and has been one of the few groups that has consistently worked against this type of stuff for years.  “This type of stuff” being horribly overreaching legislation written by media companies for media companies.

Here’s a nice infographic that talks about the new powers granted in SOPA.

Here's why this is really bad legislation

That graphic was taken from this post.

These bills are bad and need to die a lonesome death upon that hill.

If you are one of those folks who complains about the confluence of corporate influence on government, or the basic existence of government regulation, this is one of those subject we should all agree on.  Fix this…stat!

Stock Market Crush

Well, it wasn’t a crash like I predicted, but it does look pretty much like a crush.   This is a chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from July 21st-27th.

Market Reaction to Ongoing Deb Ceiling Walkouts/Tantrums

Something to note about the graph…note the huge drops due to “overnight” trading (those are the big gaps where the DJIA opens well lower than where it closed).  That’s when the rest of the world takes over for the global economy, and then we open up the floor for trading and recalculate the price of things.    What we’ve seen over the last five days is a steady erosion in investor confidence.  This is directly due to a manufactured political debt crisis that went critical last Friday.

This will continue, if not accelerate, until we get a deal done.   There is real and palpable damage being done RIGHT NOW to our economy thanks to this idiocy.    One side understands that, and is willing to compromise to get things right.  The other side is split.  Some of them get it, others are hoping, literally, that we crash and burn, somehow thinking this will be better in the long haul.  This is kinda like thinking that blowing out a knee in college is, somehow,  absolutely awesome for the prospects of someone who wants to be a professional athlete.

There was, before this whole episode, a large and growing contingent of countries that think using the Dollar as a reserve currency is looking more and more like something that shouldn’t be done any more.    It’s hard to explain to people who can’t understand how defaulting on our loans would be bad, that losing this *very* privileged and unique position would cause further harm to the economic prospects of everyone in this country.

We get a fairly large dividend by underwriting the global economy.   We are going to lose that dividend, and soon, as more and more evidence is added to the pile that says we are simply not functional enough as a political entity to deserve that pedestal.

If you want a nice and stark piece of data to use to mark the end of the American economic dominance, that’s the one.     And we are now rushing towards it…and half the crew doesn’t even believe it exists.

GE/NBC/Comcast Merger Approved, Olbermann Fired…50th anniversary of what speech?

Oh yes, the first Texan in the White House (and just for the official records, this guy was a yankee).  Here’s that speech..

There’s some great historical context here.  This was the previous election that he mentions in passing. The direction the country would go next was very much up for debate and led to a very close election (and the subsequent second amendment rebuttal).

Wonderful under-quoted part of this (@5:00), “Crises there will continue to be.  In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great of small, there is a recurring temptation to feel some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.”   For some reason, “Shock and Awe” springs immediately to mind.

His call to balance that followed was nice as well.

But the tides have changed since his warning.  He notes how military spending was roughly on par with corporate earnings in 1961.  Fifty years later, the balance of power has shifted as much as how we engage our enemies.

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or non-inflation-adjusted terms.

[full story]

Military spending was roughly $0.750 trillion in 2010.     So while I love Eisenhower’s take on it, and it’s been around for a while, the balance of power really has shifted away as mergers, consolidation, and attrition have brought this whole military industrial complex thing to a whole new level.  Which the acquisition of NBC some time ago, there was a mouthpiece, and with Universal, always something to say (and charge for).  Now with Comcast thrown into the mix, you do *really have* a vertically integrated global behemoth that can start the wars, cover it up, hide the news, broadcast something else, and keep pumping out half-hour crap that seems to be the only thing the only cable company left in town carries.

The scary part, at least from the recent developments file, is how they’ve been using an idiot led mob-horde of political opinion to make net neutrality, the obvious policy-level antidote to the entire scenario I described above, something akin to death panels/commie/socialism/etc. etc. the same bag of connotation and guilt by association used by all the media slime balls to slime things.

So where are we now?  GE owner of NBC Universal has been approved to buy Comcast and later that week Olbermann gets the quick axe.   I wouldn’t doubt he pulled it down faster, he’s just that kind of guy, but while his hyperbole wasn’t really my cup of tea, I didn’t doubt his sincerity, and found folks like him to be something of a bulwark against *actual* policy threats, and not the imagined ones.   Kind of like Donahue used to be.

You know about Phil Donahue, right?  He was a lefty political commentator on MSNBC back before the Iraq War.  He started asking lots of questions.  Having lots of guests.  As the war rhetoric heated up, so did his ratings. Three weeks before the bombs started dropping in Baghdad, GE dropped one on Donahue.

It simple doesn’t do to have one division of your company making and selling bombs, and the another of your division riling up domestic opposition to the use of them.  It’s not really a conspiracy folks.  There’s not man behind the curtain pulling all the strings.   There’s just a lot of people doing their jobs, trying to make it through the week/month/year.

But how it works, ultimately?  And how the *system* as a whole works to protect itself, and it’s profits?    That bothers me, that scares me.  That is something I try to fight against, in whatever way possible.  Unfortunately such a system is not an easy thing to combat, as I agree that each discrete decision such a system makes is rational, or very close to it.

Net neutrality is one of those things that would acts as a check and balance against such concentrated market power.   The Net can level the playing field, but only if the Net is level.

So there’s one less loudmouth on the air, and one more corporate behemoth encircling the globe (NEW AND IMPROVED: With a completely unfettered ability to distribute political money [and free airtime/bandwidth to the good kids]).

Joy.

Congrats, Assholes. You won.

Read this comment today.   Figured it was pretty honest about the whole thing, and certainly reflects what I would feel.    So congrats, assholes hoping for a generations long war against most of the world, you are one step closer to that goal.

Nudge [TotalFark] Quote 2010-08-23 07:06:58 AM
I’m a Muslim American, and the nationwide attempt to ban mosques in various locations has made me extremely frustrated, angry, and feeling helpless. I’m by and large considered one of the most passive individuals in our local community, ardently arguing against individual Muslim action in foreign-occupied countries against American Soldiers (I believe Islamically, only one state can declare war on another state).

Keep that in mind when I say that, through gentle persuasion of anti-Muslim actions, I find it harder to defend these points and harder to believe them myself. A brother told me recently that, out of defense, every Muslim in this day ought to have a gun in his home. I’ve never, ever wanted to own a gun in my life, let alone condone the usage of one except under extreme circumstance, but his suggestion in today’s conflict made me consider the thought for quite some time.

My hometown has a mosque being protested. I’m friends with a lot of the young men organizing its construction. Today, thousands of Muslims in the area pray out of office buildings and garages, simply wanting a place to worship that looks beautiful and doesn’t remind them of a tool shop. These men have spent the last several years planning this project and have been excited about every step forward. Now, protesters are essentially shutting them out, declaring in no uncertain terms that they must fight for their rights. Some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen have become angry, bitter, and hateful because of this.

I just wanted to congratulate the protesters. You’ve managed to begin the ruination of the one, and only, fully-integrated Muslim society success story in the Western World. You’ve shut down our charities, protested our religious rights, spat and and disrespected our women, and ended belief in the superiority of American tolerance.

Way to go, fuckjobs.

UPDATE: It should be noted that the “win” doesn’t include stopping the mosque, it will most likely go through anyway.  The “win” is for people like Palin, Gingrich and Bin Laden, who want a no-holds-barred war between peoples.   They made progress toward that goal today.

UPDATE2: For a slightly longer version of this (and a lot more specifics), check Frank Rich’s column for today.   Short-term political gain vs. real world progress in that war we started.

UPDATE3: Here’s a longer story about the wider phenomenon I noticed on a simple message board.  These kinds of changing attitudes are happening, today, at a rate of about 1,000 a second, I’d guess.   Thanks all that is good and holy we have a rational President right now, and not one of the bomb throwers with an even bigger bullhorn.

Like most non-Americans, Muslims across the world barely understand the vagaries of U.S. politics, including the wedge issues and posturing that turn midterm elections into mud fights. Commentators from the Middle East to South Asia to Indonesia to Nigeria praised Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for coming to the defense of the community center, even as the president hedged his apparent initial support for the project.

Obama has “placed ethics and principles ahead of politics that not only enhances his credibility to the Muslims only but also his stature as a statesman to the rest of the world,” read an opinion piece in the Daily Star of Bangladesh.

[first link]

Is there anything that would make Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden happier than to watch the world’s media broadcast footage of angry American protesters, whipped into a frenzy by Fox, saying hateful things about Muslims? Why are Sarah and Newt doing bin Laden’s work for him? Can’t they show just a little patriotism?

[second link]

Desktop clearing link dump re: Ground Zero Mosque

Well I’ve got some bad new for y’all.  Looks like I’m backing to selling my skills on the open market, which means *much* less posting (if history is any indication).  That being said, here’s the stuff that I found interesting lately and some quick blurbs and all that.  You know the drill.

First up is some more reading on the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” (first mentioned here, here).  It’s the latest in a long line of  “scare the base about the brown people” tactics that seems to work wonders at the polls.   As the best antidote for bigotry and ignorance is exposure and information, here’s some interesting reading in that direction.

Here we have a nice dissection of Newt Gingrich’s (and other commentators) understanding of history regarding the name of the group building the mosque.

This is the important fact that Newt hopes those who read his polemic will be ignorant of: for a ruler to be legitimate in Muslim eyes in the tenth century, during the time when the Great Mosque was being expanded into its present-day dimensions, it was important to emphasize the peaceful succession of Islam from the other religions in the area.  A caliph was expected to have arrived at an accord with the Christians and Jews over which he ruled.****** Far from “symboliz[ing] their victory” the Mosque was held up by Muslim historians a symbol of peaceful coexistence with the Christians–however messier the actual relations of Christians and Muslims were at the time.*******

So what should modern Christians think when they hear a Muslim use the word “Cordoba”?  Well, I know that Newt hasn’t been a Catholic for very long now, but maybe his priest ought to direct him to read a little thing called “The Catholic Encyclopedia“.  Allow me to quote from the 1917 edition (which has the virtue of being in the public domain and easily searchable) and its entry on Cordoba:

In 786 the Arab caliph, Abd-er Rahman I, began the construction of the great mosque of Cordova, now the cathedral, and compelled many Christians to take part in the preparation of the site and foundations. Though they suffered many vexations, the Christians continued to enjoy freedom of worship, and this tolerant attitude of the ameers seduced not a few Christians from their original allegiance. Both Christians and Arabs co-operated at this time to make Cordova a flourishing city, the elegant refinement of which was unequalled in Europe.

Yes, yes, I know, history can be a bit boring and dauting at times, but my what it does for context.

Along that same line of thinking, here’s a long and detailed history of the curiously named city of Elkader, Iowa.

Elkader, Iowa was founded in 1846. It remains today as the seat of Clayton County, with a population of around 1500. It is the only city in America named after an Arab.

There’s a long and detailed history of the intereactions between Muslims and Christians, and it’s five times longer than the history of the U.S.   When someone wants to use a reference that calls to mind the positive and peaceful interactions between the popular Abrahamic faiths, and is instead smeared with the very broad brush of “terrorism”, it’s time to break out the history books.

Unfortunately this type of informed, measured response goes against the tide of the time.  That tide, to my mind, is very much along the lines of this piece, entitled:  “The state of America?  Hysteria“.

If you reengage the American media after a month out of the country, as I’ve done this week, it’s hard not to conclude that hysteria is now the dominant characteristic of our politics and civic conversation.

How else to explain the fact that questions like secession and nullification — issues that were resolved in blood by the Civil War more than a century ago — have come alive again and are routinely tossed around, not just by fringe figures but by Republican officeholders and candidates?

For example, Zach Wamp, a Tennessee congressman who opposes the recently enacted healthcare reforms and is running for governor, told an interviewer that he hopes “the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government.”

The most popular such movement involves abolishing or gutting the 10th Amendment as a way to deny American citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. Even the ostensibly moderate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has signed on to that one, while Rep. Louie Gohmert (R- Texas) speculates that such children actually are terrorist moles planted here to grow up as U.S. citizens as part of a long-range plot.

Nothing quite tops the anti-Muslim hysteria, which has led people to organize opposition to the construction of new mosques in places from Lower Manhattan to Temecula. One candidate for statewide office in Tennessee — somebody should examine their water supply — argues that the 1st Amendment does not cover Muslims.

The piece ends with what I think is probably the single best description of the modern politics landscape.

In the midst of moral panic, inchoate indignation stands in for reason; accusation and denunciation supplant dialogue and argument; history and facts are rendered malleable, merely adjuncts of the moral entrepreneur’s — or should we say provocateur’s — rhetorical will. As we now also see, a self-interested mass media with an economic stake in the theatricality of raised and angry voices can transmit moral panic like a pathogen.

I think that sums it up nicely.  It takes cooler and wiser heads to prevail in such a situation, and given the volume and reach of the provocateur’s mouthpiece (my local Fox news affiliate ran a hit piece of the First Lady tonight, something they usually reserve for their cable outlet), it’s dang hard to get a wise word in edgewise.

Humor works as well, occasionally, although sometimes the subtlety can be a bit much for the morally outraged.

Why is this an insult to the victims of 9/11? The answer, I think, is obvious. Among the titles published by Conde Nast is the fashion magazine Vogue. Vogue publishes an Italian edition. Italy, of course, was the incubator of fascism. The terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center were Islamofascists. I think the connection is clear.

It is not only the presence of Vogue at Ground Zero that is such an awful affront and insult. The Fairchild division of Conde Nast is the publisher of Women’s Wear Daily. The initials of Women’s Wear Daily are WWD. WWD sounds almost exactly like WMD. The Islamofascists who attacked our country on 9/11 are part of an Islamofascist movement that seeks to use WMD against Americans. Also, they want to use IEDs. IED also sounds like WWD, though not as much. Also, IED sounds like IUD, and many of the women-oriented magazines published by Conde Nast advocate the use of IUDs as a method of birth control. Those who advocate the use of IUDs cannot be allowed to sully the memories of the dead by building their headquarters on the site of Ground Zero.

I wanted to finish this up with a link to an act I found surprising and refreshing.  Quick background, the Anti-Defamation Leage (ADL) who claim to be “the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all“, came out *against* the building of an Islamic community center in New York City.
I listened to their director, Abraham H. Foxman (I’m guessing the “H” ain’t for Hussein), on NPR defending their decision to side with the ignorant and I just couldn’t wrap my head around his point.  He kept saying how people need to be more aware of those around them and give into the bigots and fools, or something.  It really was a twist, listening to someone who, by all their own statements, should have been out in front of this thing, being that cooler, wiser head.    Instead they joined with the small-minded political opportunists, and lost the support of a powerful voice in the opinion-maker’s bracket, Fareed Zakaria.   While I find Fareed a bit too corporate for my tastes, I do think he’s, by far, one of the best international commentators you’ll find on the tubes.  Well-spoken, well-read, and now very well connected, his insights are worth paying attention to.
In regards to this topic, he can explain it much better than I, so I’ll let him have at it. (really, watch that video, he covers all the bases, including pointing out the hypocrisy involved with a primarily jewish organization telling *others* to be wary about building things in places you aren’t very welcome and causing more pain…).
Fareed then put the money where his mouth was, and returned his reward.   That’s what they call integrity ’round these parts, and it *is* rare enough to find in a media personality in this day and age to be notable.  It’s good to know there’s at least one rational voice, speaking only after taking it all in and thinking about what it all means.
I think there might be only one, to be honest.
UPDATE: Here’s a solid refutation of those who continue to try and paint the imam in question as a radical…

And, of course, an interview with Foreign Policy in 2007 explored both the depths of [Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s] ongoing contact with the Administration and his so-called radical views.

I have had meetings with Karen Hughes. However, I would welcome the opportunity to have further, deeper, and more nuanced discussions with other members of the Bush administration on how they need to understand religion and how it intersects with political affairs. To not understand the role of Islam and faith as a motivator is to be incapacitated in shaping a foreign policy that achieves the objectives of the United States.The perception in the Muslim world is that the West wants to impose a secularism upon it, which to them is equivalent to the erasure of religion in society. As an American, I know that is not the intent of the United States at all. But thats the perception. The perception in America is that when people say they want an Islamic state, they want something like the Taliban. And that is not true at all.

Rauf added that, during Ramadan, it was important to remember the love that Jews, Muslims and Christians agree that their gods preach, adding, “It also means do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.” Guess that’s one thing Rauf’s critics forgot.

This whole issue is, largely, one based on those perceptions and on clarifying the reality of the situation.  Asshats like this ain’t helping.

“Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero,” Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association wrote this week on the AFA website. “This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.”

That’s a bit too Palin-American for even the most xenophobic folks, one would hope.

That said, ADL’s misguided excess of feeling in a case in which clear thinking was requisite is not part of a pattern, which is why it stands out so clearly as a mistake. In fact, since 9/11 the organization has spoken out frequently and clearly against discrimination toward Muslims.

As Amanda Susskind, who directs ADL’s Pacific Southwest Region, told me this week, “ADL is not in the business of promoting an anti-Muslim agenda. Our original statement focused on the issues of location and sensitivity of the Islamic Community Center. The debate on those issues was hijacked by bigots, Islamophobes and those who wanted to promote their own political agendas.”