Saturday, October 17, 2009

Spookier Than Halloween; The Real World News!

Spookier Than Halloween; The Real World News!

Has Grassley Totally Lost It?

Posted by Steve Benen, Washington Monthly at 4:24 PM on October 15, 2009.

(I am obligated to observe that there isn’t much there to lose as Senator Grassley is a mental pygmy and the personification mediocrity, who I genuinely believe does not understand the stuff he says prepared for him by his staff. If he understands only half the things he says; we have a problem because they vary between nonsense and insanity.)

of the most serious problems we have in this country is that we are supposed to be tolerant and respectful of everyone else’s opinions and free speech that we have gotten to the point where the most deranged, demented and twisted of thoughts are permitted to be dumped on the American audience and that a goodly portion of that audience is quite frankly so stupid, brain washed, so ignorant and bigoted that folks really believe the garbage circulated as truth and fact.

Grassley appears to be offering at least tacit support for radical "Tenther" theories that insist that health care reform may be unconstitutional.

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GRASSLEY, GOING AROUND THE BEND.... Two months ago, when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) first endorsed the notion that health care reform might include "a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma," it was pretty obvious the conservative Iowan was a lost cause.

At the time, Joe Klein called Grassley's comments "sheer idiocy," adding that the senator "either (a) hasn't the vaguest notion of what's in the bill or (b) he is so intimidated by the ditto-head-brown-shirts that he is trying to fudge a response to keep them happy. Either way, he should be ashamed."

Except, Grassley wasn't embarrassed in the slightest. Despite being the leading GOP negotiator on a "bipartisan" approach to reform, the Republican senator proceeded to wildly against the effort. This included trashing specific policy proposals he'd already endorsed.

This week, Grassley appears to have completely lost it, offering at for radical "Tenther" theories that insist that health care reform may be unconstitutional.

"I'm not a lawyer, but let me tell you, I've listened to some lawyers speak on this. And you know, it's a relatively new issue. I don't think we've ever had this issue before of having to buy something. And a lot of constitutional lawyers, saying it is unconstitutional or at least in violation of the 10th Amendment. Now maybe states can do this, but can the federal government? So, I have my doubts."

This was specifically responding to a question about individual mandates -- a measure he's already endorsed as a good idea that he supports.

Obvious inconsistencies notwithstanding, the notion that health care reform is "in violation of the 10th Amendment" is demonstrably ridiculous. The idea that "a lot of constitutional lawyers" see health care reform as unconstitutional is absurd.

But the fact that Grassley is even talking like this suggests the reform fight has really pushed him over the edge. He's up for re-election next year -- in a state Barack Obama won by about 10 points -- and there are reports Grassley may face a very credible Democratic challenger.

Embracing fringe, right-wing legal theories may excite the base a bit, but in general, Grassley's bizarre turn to the far-right is not only painful to watch, it's a risky political strategy that may cost him his job.

Tagged as: health reform, grassley

Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."

The Reaction: Craziest Republican Of The Day: Orrin Hatch
By Michael JW Stickings
If Hatch wants to take on, fine, he's free to do so, just as Democrats take on right-wing groups. But threatening it? Even if he didn't mean it literally -- and, of course, he didn't -- his choice of words reveals a great ...

Dissident Voice : Taping Our Mouths Shut To Scream Our Dissent
By Emily Ratner
We were many, many more than the
war criminal and his Mossad protectors. And we were powerful, more powerful than his security checkpoints and his electronically amplified lies. We strapped red tape to our bodies and stashed ...
Dissident Voice -

Pawlenty Speaking To Right-Wing Activist Conference
TPMDC (blog)
... and current runs the Web sites Expose Obama and the Impeach Obama Campaign, which warns: "how long should we sit back and permit Barack Hussein Obama to ...
See all stories on this topic

Israel Seeks UN Allies On Gaza War Crimes Vote | Antiwar Newswire
By admin
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called on members of the U.N.'s Human Rights Council to reject a resolution endorsing a report accusing Israeli forces and their Palestinian opponents of
war crimes during the ...Antiwar Newswire -

War Crimes, Deformed Babies | Pelican Project Pro-Life
Thanks to Paul Likoudis for this story on deformed babies in Fallujah, the sort of story the Republican”pro-life” organizations ignore. But it should never be forgotten by the rest of us that the US destroyed this ancient city and ...
Pelican Project Pro-Life -

UN Human Rights Council Adopts Gaza War Crimes Report - 2nd Update
Earthtimes (press release)
By : dpa Geneva - The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted Friday the
war crimes report of Justice Richard Goldstone regarding the conflict in and ...

Geneva - The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted Friday the war crimes report of Justice Richard Goldstone regarding the conflict in and around the Gaza Strip last December and January, setting the stage for possible further international action. On the 47-member body, 25 states voted in favour of a resolution tabled by the Palestinians and 11 delegates abstained. Six nations, including the United States and some European Union nations, voted against the resolution.

The report, written by Goldstone, a South African war crimes prosecutor, and three other international experts, concluded that both Israel and the Hamas movement likely committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

The Goldstone report said each party should investigate itself objectively or the case should be handed over to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

UN Panel Backs Gaza War-Crimes Report, But Cites Only Israel
USA Today
The UN Human Rights Council has endorsed a report accusing Israel and Hamas of committing
war crimes during the 22-day Israeli offensive in Gaza that ended ...
See all stories on this topic

Israel's Dangerously Battered Image
دار الحياة
Indeed, his report found evidence that 'Palestinian armed groups' also committed
war crimes, as well as possible crimes against humanity. ...
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Netanyahu Calls War Crimes Report 'Distorted'
New York Times
... found evidence of possible war crimes by both Israel and Hamas in last winter's Gaza war as “distorted,” and said that Israel acted in self-defense. ...
See all stories on this topic

House Committee Approves New Rules On Derivatives Trading

The legislation is a key piece of Obama's plan to overhaul financial regulations. It would increase supervision and regulation of a complex trading market blamed in last year's financial crisis.

Reporting from Washington - A House committee today approved a key piece of the Obama administration's plan to overhaul financial regulations, establishing new requirements for the largely unregulated world of over-the-counter derivatives.

The House Financial Services Committee voted 43 to 26 to dramatically increase transparency in the market for the complex and opaque derivatives, so-called because their value is derived from the price of an underlying asset, such as interest rates, stocks, oil or other commodities.

Derivatives known as credit-default swaps were a major factor in the financial crisis. They were at the heart of the failure of insurance giant American International Group, spurring the government's bailout last fall because so many financial institutions had purchased the derivatives to cover potential losses on mortgage loans and other investments.

The legislation, which closely tracks the Obama administration's proposal, would set new rules for standardized derivatives, including requirements that banks and other firms that trade them have set amounts of money in reserve to cover losses. Most derivative trades would also go through regulated exchanges -- central clearinghouses that would act as middlemen, adding transparency to what has been a murky and mysterious market. Major derivatives dealers also would face supervision and regulation, shared by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

"We are making substantial changes in the atmosphere in which they operated," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "There will no more hidden trades. There will no more hidden prices."

Republicans opposed the measure, arguing it was heavy-handed and would increase costs for businesses that use derivatives -- costs that would be passed on to consumers. Many businesses use derivatives to offset financial risks associated with variations in interest rates and prices for commodities.

"If we want people to make capital available in our system for job creation, we shouldn't be lessening their ability to manage risk with any type of derivative they think is necessary," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

The legislation is one part of Obama's financial regulatory overhaul, which also includes more controversial measures to create a new agency to protect consumers in the financial marketplace and give the government power to seize and dismantle firms whose failure pose a risk to the entire economy.

Because the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission is overseen by the House Agriculture Committee, legislation from there will have to be merged with the bill passed by the Financial Services Committee. It's unclear when the full House would vote on the legislation and other components of the regulatory overhaul, but Obama has pressed for Congress to act by the end of the year.

(ChattahBox)—Conservative fundamentalist Christian and founder of Conservapedia, Andy Schlafly is on a mission to remove all liberal bias inserted into the Bible by professor-translators, whom Schlafly claims “overwhelmingly” voted for President Obama. These wild eyed radical, biblical scholars have distorted the Bible with liberal terms and Socialism, according to Schlafly, and he plans to rewrite the King James Bible to make it more right-wing.

Schlafly, the son of the extreme right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly founded Conservapedia in 2006, because he believed Wikipedia had a liberal, anti-Christian and anti-American bias. He now has set his sights on transforming the Bible to better suit his own Conservative bias.

Despite the oft-repeated belief by Christian Fundamentalists that the Bible contains the literal word of God, Schlafly intends to rewrite it with a “conservative word-for-word” translation.

Appearing on Alan Colmes’ radio program Tuesday night, Schlafly described his ridiculous Bible rewriting project, as a way to remove the taint interjected by Obama-voting liberal professors translating the Bible.

“You look at each successive translation and it gets more liberal,” complained Schafly.

“These people who are re-translating the bible already are people who voted overwhelmingly for Obama and the liberal agenda,” claims Schlafly. He arrives at his conclusion, based on his belief that most professors are liberal. Hence, biblical scholars must be liberals.

“These professors at universities, are the most liberal class of people,” he said. Schalfly then went on a bizarre rant against liberals saying:

“Liberals do a lot of harm. Liberals control the public schools. The public schools produce a lot of people who can’t read,” said Schlafly on Colmes’ show.

Schlafly also wants more hell, damnation and free market capitalism in his version of the Bible.

“The King James Bible mentions hell 54 times, but each successive translation mentions hell less and less,” lamented Schlafly. He views the concept of forgiveness, as a liberal concept. “Forgiveness denies punishment and hell,” Schafly told Colmes.

And according to Schafly, many of Jesus’ “parables were free market economic parables.” So of course, any mention of charity (welfare-entitlement) or liberal notions of “social justice” should be removed from the Bible.

Finally, Schafly believes the liberal word, “government” should be replaced with the conservative word “tyranny.”

Right Wing Watch has all 11 minutes of the kooky audio from Schalfly’s appearance on the Alan Colmes’ show.

Oy! Noam Chomsky Compares Right-Wing Media To “Nazis”

Add Noam Chomsky to the growing list of people using the Nazi analogy lately. Speaking to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, he alluded to right-wing media as “substantive content — crazy content, but it does give answers,” and warned that if Americans weren’t properly educated about what was really happening to them, they could be in for a repeat of the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s.

Chomsky, an influential linguist and liberal activist, did give himself some wiggle room — he prefaced his comments by saying “I don’t want to press the analogy too hard,” and later repeated that the analogy wasn’t a perfect one. But it was provocative stuff, and veered into Godwin’s Lawterritory. Chomsky singled out Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage as dealers of dangerous rhetoric, but he didn’t call out any cablers by name, although they seemed to be swept up in his critique of right-wing media:

The memory that comes to my mind — I don’t want to press the analogy too hard, but I think it’s worth thinking about — is late Weimar Germany. There were people with real grievances, and the Nazis gave them an answer. ‘It’s the fault of the Jews and the Bolsheviks and we’ve got to protect ourselves from them, and that will take care of them.’ And you know what happened…

[...]Germany in the 1920s was at the peak of Western civilization. A decade later, it was at the pits of human history.

Unless an answer can be given to these people, unless they can be led to understand what’s really happening to them, we could be in for trouble.

The Right's 'Tenther' Constitution

In a recent Fox News interview, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) accused health care reform supporters of "forg[etting] what the Constitution says." Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who once called for his Party to defeat health reform because it will "break" President Obama, claimed that health reform violates the Tenth Amendment andurged state legislators and governors to "champion individual freedom" by resisting the bill. Numerous state lawmakers -- including secessionist Texas Gov. Rick Perry(R) -- have struck a similar tone, endorsing "state sovereignty resolutions" that demand the federal government "cease and desist" enforcing many laws with which conservatives disagree. (Emboldened by Perry's hardline stance, Texas "tenthers" held a pro-secession rally at the state capital yesterday, demanding that their political opponents "go back to the U.S. where you belong.") Indeed, while "birther" conspiracy theorists make increasingly outlandish attempts to dismantle President Obama's legitimacy, "tenther" constitutionalists like Bachmann, DeMint, and Perry hope to dismantle an entire century's worth of progressive legislation.

THE 'TENTHER' AGENDA: In a nutshell, tenthers believe that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt led an illegal coup against the U.S. Constitution, exploiting the passions of the Depression Era to expand federal power to unconstitutional levels. Killing health reform is only the beginning of their agenda. Under the tenther constitution, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, federal education funding, the Veterans Affairs health system and the G.I. Bill are all illegal. The minimum wage, the requirement that employers pay overtime wages, and the ban on child labor are all beyond Congress' power to enact, and the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local business. Indeed, nearly every single law that Americans cherish -- from laws protecting workers' right to organize to laws forbidding race and gender discrimination -- could be eliminated overnight if the tenther constitution ever became law. One prominent tenther, a Texas official charged with rewriting that state's public school textbooks, even declared the federal highway system to be unconstitutional.

DISTORTING THE DOCUMENT: Tenthers derive their narrow vision of the Constitution from a strained reading of the Tenth Amendment, which provides that the Constitution contains an itemized list of federal powers and anything not contained in that list is beyond Congress' authority. In the tenthers' eyes, Congress' powers must all be read too narrowly to allow most federal statutes to exist. However, the tenther constitution bears little resemblance to the words of the document itself. Contrary to tenther claims that federal spending programs like Medicare or Social Security are unconstitutional, Article I of the Constitution empowers Congress to "lay and collect taxes" and to "provide for...the general welfare of the United States," whichunambiguously authorizes it to spend money in ways that benefit the nation. Similarly, Congress' broad authority to enact regulatory schemes that "substantially affect interstate commerce" easily encompasses laws like thefederal minimum wage and the requirement that businesses do not discriminate on the basis of race. As Roosevelt chided tenther-like conservatives from his era, "The Constitution of 1787 did not make our democracy impotent."

A LEGACY OF RADICALISM: Sadly, tentherism's assault on democracy is nothing new; indeed, retreat to outlandish constitutional theories is a favorite tactic of the right during times of historic upheaval. Tenther "state sovereignty resolutions" are little more than new names for the "interposition resolutions" enacted by southern states in the immediate wake of Brown v. Board of Education, which claimed that the federal government exceeded its constitutional authority when it extended the Constitution's promise of "equal protection of the laws" to the American South. Tenther claims that health reform is unconstitutional -- because the Constitution does not specifically use the words "health care" -- echo the infamous Southern Manifesto's argument that Brown was wrong because the "Constitution does not mention education." Much of the intellectual framework for tenther assaults on economic regulation comes from discredited Depression-era Supreme Court decisions that struck down essential provisions of the New Deal on the grounds that they exceeded Congress' lawful authority. Indeed, conservatives even justified the greatest act of treason in American history, the Civil War, by claiming that that the Constitution permits each state to leave the union at will. Now that America is slowly emerging from its most recent crisis, tenthers once again hope to exploit the nation's fears to fuel a radical constitutional agenda.

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