Thursday, January 31, 2013

R.J. Rushdoony-- Alive And Well In Montana! Meet Freak Of The Week, State Rep Jerry O'Neill


Rushdoony and O'Neill-- crackpots

Every now and then, Montana hard right Republican politician Jerry O'Neill pops his head out of the dumpster he lives in to demand something quaint-- like getting paid in gold and silver for his services or having state legislatures elect senators again, rather than ordinary Americans. O'Neill lives in the tiny hamlet of Columbia Falls (which has 966 families, 96.27% of whom are white; there are a few Native Americans and a Black person too) and people there must like him. They keep voting for him. That might change now that he's introduced a bill in the state legislature that slips corporal punishment back into the judicial system, long a goal of the crackpots in the so-called "Christian Reconstructionist" cult.

Max Blumenthal covers that crew of dangerous right-wing sociopaths in his book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, starting with the man behind the curtain, R.J. Rushdoony. His whole shtick was about religionist loons taking over the government and reconstructing it along Biblical lines.
According to Frederick Clarkson, a pioneering researcher of the Christian right, “Reconstructionism seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of ‘Biblical Law.’ Reconstructionism would eliminate not only democracy but many of its manifestations, such as labor unions, civil rights laws, and public schools. When would be generally relegated to hearth and home. Insufficiently Christian men would be denied citizenship, perhaps executed."

Calling for the literal application of all 613 laws described in the Book of Leviticus, Rushdoony paid special attention to punishments. Instead of serving prison sentences, criminals would be sentenced to indentured servitude, whipped, sold into slavery, or executed. "God's government prevails," Rushdoony wrote, "and His alternatives are clear-cut: either men and nations obey His laws, or God invokes the death penalty upon them." Those eligible on Rushdoony's long list for execution included disobedient children, unchaste women, apostates, blasphemers, practitioners of witchcraft, astrologers, adulterers, and, of course, anyone who engaged in "sodomy or homosexuality."

Burning at the stake, death by "the sword," and hanging were some of Rushdoony's preferred modes of execution. However, his son-in-law Gary North, a self-styled Reconstructionist economist (who eventually fell out with his father-in-law) and former advisor to libertarian Republican representative Ron Paul of Texas (a onetime outspoken admirer of the John Birch Society), advocated stoning evildoers to death. Rocks, North argued, are free and plentiful, making them ideal tools for the financially savvy executioner.

Labels: , ,

The "30 Rock" finale: The New Yorker's Emily Nussbaum says she'll miss the show ("quotable to a nearly psychotic degree") "like a stalker misses her stalkee"


by Ken

By the time this post posts, new episodes of 30 Rock will be a thing of the past, at least on the East Coast -- I guess in the Mountain and Pacific time zones the one-hour finale will still be upcoming. I've got the finale happening in real time as I write, though I can't say I'm really watching it, since I'm, you know, writing this post. (I'm trusting the DVR to do its thing, though it has been increasingly independent-minded over the last year or two. Well, there's always "On Demand.")

As it happens, The New Yorker's TV critic, Emily Nussbaum, is watching now too, as she explained today in a blogpost, "'30 Rock': I Love This Dirty Sitcom":
Tina Fey's sitcom ’30 Rock" ends tonight, dammit. I haven't yet seen the finale (I'll be watching it along with you screener-deficient folks), but I'm genuinely sad to lose my Thursdays with this awesomely dense comedy, which amounted to a grenade made of zingers. Sweet yet sour, at once funny ha-ha and funny-peculiar -- and also funny-relevant, if that were a thing -- "30 Rock" is quotable to a nearly psychotic degree. I'll miss it like a stalker misses her stalkee.
Not that Emily knows about it, but over the time that I've been getting a fix on her patrolling of The New Yorker's TV beat, I've settled on an uneasy truce. We actually like a lot of the same things, and dislike some of the same things, but we don't usually follow the same path toward those likes and dislikes. So while I haven't found her very useful to me as a sentinel, I'm sure there are people for whom she's just the ticket, and so not to be made light of as I had frequent occasion to do with her risible predecessor, Nancy Franklin.

However, on 30 Rock Emily and I are seeing pretty much eye to eye -- at least on this sad Final Night. (I do seem to recall at least one earlier piece of Emily's which seemed to me a profound misunderstanding of the shape of the journey TGS head writer Liz Lemon has traversed over these seven happy seasons.) The show seemed to me to start out fine and then over the first season or two or three to really gather both momentum and focus.

Emily has some plausible things to say touching on this, and we'll get to that. But first, she has come up with an ingenious angle from which to view tonight's series finale:
I could take pretty much any angle in looking back on "30 Rock," but I'll take the one that I am currently experiencing: looking straight at the Empire State Building. When the sitcom débuted, it was based on Fey's experience as the first female head writer for "Saturday Night Live," but it quickly became something bigger, stranger, and bolder: a surreal machine capable of commenting on anything, from feminism and prismatic perspectives on race to national politics, reality television, and corporate culture -- always from a New Yorker's P.O.V.

Not that the characters were native New Yorkers, mind you, other than Tracy (who was born in Yankee Stadium and attended middle school at an Exxon station in the Bronx). The rest had moved to Manhattan from somewhere else: Pennsylvania, Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia. They were ambitious nuts who lived for their jobs, injecting the office comedy mold with both workaholism and a recurrent anxiety about what that might mean. ("I wish I'd worked more," confessed Jack on his near-deathbed. Later, during a time-travel sequence, Future Jack told Jack he needed Liz to distract him from his own ambition.) While many shows have been set in a bland facsimile of "New York," "30 Rock" was obsessive about the actual city, referring to events large and small, including several elections, the financial crisis, and that weird maple-syrup smell that floated over Manhattan. It wasn't sentimental, either, or unafraid to make a sick joke, like the moment a subway speaker announced, "This train is going express for nooo reason. Next stop: One Millionth Street and Central Park Jogger Memorial Highway."
I haven't thought about it much over these seven years, because as Emily suggests the show has been so un-self-consciously dead on about its hometown. Now that I do think about it, she's quite right about its immersion in a New York that is both real and weirdly, wonderfully idiosyncratic -- and with an outpouring of prompting she solicited via Twitter, she fills three generous paragraphs with examples. Which brings her to this point:
the story of Liz Lemon is one version of the New York dream -- she may be an artistic sellout, but she's wildly successful. At first, Lemon was a frazzled, underpaid "creative" working on a mediocre skit show; she became a comparatively chill, well-paid professional, still running a mediocre skit show, but capable of getting Jack Donaghy to negotiate her salary against himself, on her behalf. (Many mid-series episodes were all about Lemon's anxieties about becoming a rich Manhattanite: at one point, she even considers becoming a wealthy Upper East Side woman of leisure, only to discover her fancy new friends are in a fight club.) In Season 2, she interviews with a co-op board, which turns into a drunk-dialing debacle. ("You know what? I've moved on. I bought a whole bunch of apartments. I bought a black apartment.") But eventually, she does buy an apartment, then the apartment upstairs, building a duplex so enviable that her new female page fantasizes about wearing Liz's lips as a mask.

There were also regular indications of a New York outside this glamorous Upper West Side existence, especially Tracy's repressed memories of his Bronx past: "All my life I've tried to forget the things I've seen. A crackhead breast-feeding a rat, a homeless man cooking a Hot Pocket on a third rail of the G train!" (These particular traumas come flooding back up during the E.G.O.T. plot arc, when Tracy gains prestige for his appearance in the movie "Hard To Watch: Based on the Novel Stone-Cold Bummer, by Manipulate.")

There will be other New York shows set in New York -- you may have heard about a few that are set in Brooklyn. But there won't be another "30 Rock." Instead, we'll have to carry in our hearts Liz's immortal words, words that will echo in reruns: "It doesn't matter how long you've lived in New York. It's still fun to pretend all the buildings are giant severed robot penises."
I'm not going to try to top those severed robot penises, so let me just say for now that this wild ride of a final season, which has been preparing us for an end, has been wilder and more compelling than even the splendid seasons that preceded it. Never mind that viewership has been shrinking rather than growing. In the end this has been one of the great runs in TV history.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch the rest of the episode now. Then one of these days, when I feel up to it, I'll watch the whole thing. It may not be for a while, though. For now, let me just thank everyone involved in the production of the show -- including NBC itself (and of course most-of-the-way parent company GE), which took quite a beating over these seven years.

Labels: , ,

Ed Markey Has To Fight Off Two Anti-Choice Conservatives-- Stephen Lynch & Scott Brown


John Kerry gets to cap his career off as Secretary of State. Huzzah! I like the sound of "Elizabeth Warren, senior Senator, Commonwealth of Massachusetts," but... but by taking Kerry out of the Senate, Democrats now face the task of holding a seat. Scott Brown, Wall Street's favorite politician, is likely to run again, which means it won't be a cakewalk. The almost universal favorite for the Democratic nomination, with endorsements from the DSCC and from Kerry, is progressive champion Ed Markey, the dean of the Massachusetts delegation, who has a stupendous record in the House, not just as a dependable voter but as a leader on some of the most important issues facing the country, particularly around Climate Change and the environment. His lifetime ProgressivePunch crucial issues score is 94.70, a fraction better than Jerry Nadler and Barbara Lee and a just bit below fellow Massachusetts Reps Jim McGovern and John Tierney.

But Markey isn't the only congressman looking for the promotion to the Senate. Way down at the other end of the political spectrum, conservative Democrat-- and anti-Choice fanatic-- Stephen Lynch would also like to run. His lifetime Progressive Punch crucial vote score is a dismal 78.72. (This session Markey has a 100 rating so far and Lynch has a 33.33 rating, one of the lowest of any Democrat in Congress.) This afternoon, at Iron Worker's Hall in Boston, Lynch announced he would challenge Markey for the nomination (after campaigning at diners in Springfield and Worcester all morning). The primary is set for April 30 and the general election will be June 25. Markey has around $3,000,000 on hand for the challenge, while Lynch has something like $800,000 in his campaign warchest.

As a state legislator Lynch had a 100 percent voting record from Massachusetts Citizens for Life, a group usually associated with Republicans. In Congress, he was one of the 64 Democrats who voted for the Stupak-Pitts amendment that threatened to derail the healthcare bill. (43 of those Democrats were subsequently defeated for reelection or forced into retirement. One died and, by a quirk, one-- Joe Donnelly-- managed to get into the Senate when his Republican opponent started babbling about legitimate rapes.) Eventually Lynch voted with the GOP against the healthcare bill even after his Stupak-Pitts anti-Choice amendment was added to it.

Over the weekend the Washington Post pointed out that Lynch would definitely give Markey a run for his money-- while draining much of it out of the crucial efforts needed to fight Scott Brown and his Wall Street and Big Oil allies.
“This is an uphill fight for [Lynch] in a Democratic primary,” said Bay State Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh. But, she added, Lynch is “clearly going to make Markey earn this.”

Among the questions for Lynch is whether he is capable of building a wide enough base of moderate Democrats and can keep pace with Markey in the money race. How much support Lynch can expect from labor will be another major question.

We don’t yet know the answers to these questions. But one thing we do know is the race to replace Kerry just got a whole lot more interesting.
Blue America has a page devoted to electing progressives to the Senate in 2014. And we've added Ed Markey to it.

Labels: , , , ,

Mali-- Is France Freeing The Slaves? I Don't Think So


This month, the army of the quasi-legitimate Malian government-- with the help of French fighters and cheers from a few African neighbors-- turned back the Islamists' drive on Mopti (the landlocked country's biggest river port, Mali's Chicago) and Bamako (the capital) and then retook the only two big towns that had been in rebel hands, the legendary Sahara trading cities of Gao and Timbuktu. I tried explaining the significance of this to a friend yesterday and he thought I was telling him about a version of speed-cum-ecstasy that club goers are using these days and asked me if I knew the difference between Blue Mollies and Black Mollies. I don't.

But I do know the difference between the Tuaregs, who started the trouble in Mali this go-round and the Islamists (some of whom are Tuaregs as well) who decided to take advantage of it to push their own, very separate agenda. The Tuareg agenda is an independent state that takes in the vast wastelands of the Sahara, centering on northern Mali but including large swathes of-- at least-- Mauritania and Niger. They call it Azawad and declared it an independent state in April after they captured Timbuktu and Gao from Mali's U.S.-trained army. The unique lifestyle they seek to preserve includes their right to hold the darker-skinned Malians in slavery. There are hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in Mali, Niger and Mauritania who are Tuareg slaves. One would think that would be a big story in the coverage of a country few Americans had even heard of before this year, right?

But the West has had a reason for playing down the slavery aspect of the Mali civil war. From the very beginning they hoped to exploit the tensions between the Tuaregs and the Islamists and their two divergent agendas. So, no one wanted to play up painting the Tuaregs as slave-holding villains. The media is too stupid and lazy to report anything much more than what they're spoon-fed, especially from such a remote and physically inhospitable location as northern Mali. So, basically, there has been no coverage of slavery even from the most well-meaning news sources.

Tuesday, I noticed AP trumpeting how the Tuaregs had "liberated" Kidal, the third biggest town in northern Mali, from the Islamists. When the Tuaregs first captured Kidal it was, basically, reigniting a decades on-and-off again civil war. This time the Tuaregs are the "liberators."
As French and Malian soldiers held control of the fabled desert city of Timbuktu following the retreat of Islamist extremists, Tuareg fighters claimed Tuesday that they seized the strategic city of Kidal and other northern towns.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad-- the Tuareg group's name for northern Mali-- appears to have taken advantage of a French-led bombing and ground campaign to dislodge al-Qaida-linked Islamist fighters from the towns in northern Mali. Phone lines were down in Kidal, making it difficult to independently confirm the group's claim.

The Tuareg movement said on its website that it was ready to work with French troops and fight terror organizations.

However, it said it would refuse to allow Malian soldiers in Kidal, and the other towns under its control in northeastern Mali, following allegations that the troops killed civilians suspected of having links to the Islamists.

It said it "decided to retake these localities with all urgency to assure the security of the belongings, and more particularly of people, because of the grave danger their lives faced with the return of the Malian army, marching in the footsteps of the French army."

While the group known as NMLA was an important player in the early days of the Malian conflict last April, it had been ousted from power in northern Mali by the al-Qaida-linked extremists known as Ansar Dine.
The media coverage I've seen lately has tended to paint the Tuaregs as the poor, helpless victims of the brutal Malian army. I'm not condoning killing ethnic groups for any reason... but it's not inconsequential to remember that the Tuareg lifestyle is barbaric beyond anything I've ever experienced anywhere in the world and that barbarism includes holding Malians in the most brutal slavery you can possibly imagine. Now that Britain has sent troops to Mali they, along with France, have a moral responsibility for ending the Tuareg "right" to hold the Bella people in slave bondage for real and forever.

This typical media report (below) pretty much gets everything wrong, starting with the map, which mislocates Konna, Algeria and Mauritania for starters. The clueless Al Jazeera host, who may think "this all seems to be going a little bit too easy at the moment," is just pathetic and certainly Al Jazeera has no interest in talking about the Tuaregs' penchant for slavery.

Labels: , ,

NRA Assaults Congress


Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee-- one of the most divided and partisan committees in the Senate, which includes NRA shills and gun fanatics like Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jeff Sessions (KKK-AL)-- held the first Congressional hearing on gun violence since the Sandy Hook school massacre-- or as the far right extremists like to call it, the Sandy Hook Hoax. Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords started the hearing with a simple and pointed statement:
"Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you."
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, told the senators that new weapons restrictions are not a "serious solution" to the problem. "We need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books," he said. "Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works. Unfortunately, we've seen a dramatic collapse in federal gun prosecutions in recent years... That means violent felons, gang members and the mentally ill who possess firearms are not being prosecuted. And that's unacceptable... We need to look at the full range of mental health issues, from early detection and treatment, to civil commitment laws, to privacy laws that needlessly prevent mental health records from being included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System."

Sounds familiar? Those are the NRA talking points being endlessly repeated by the Members of Congress they own and, of course, by Fox and Hate Talk Radio hosts. And Sunday we heard those same words coming out of the mouth of a "Democrat" running for Congress in Jesse Jackson's old Southland seat. Debbie Halvorson, a self described "conservative Democrat" who has twice been rejected by voters in the district in the past two years, is the NRA candidate in the race. She's running on a platform opposing President Obama's proposal to ban assault weapons. Sunday she told voters at a candidates forum that "I refuse to take a look at these wide ranging gun bans and pass one more law against a law abiding citizen until there is something done against those who get their guns illegally or criminal." She has an "A" rating from the NRA, which is backing her in the race.

State Senator Toi Hutchinson is one of the sponsors of a bill in the Illinois legislature banning assault weapons. She's Halvorson's top-rated opponent, the stalwart progressive in the race-- and an across the board contrast to Halvorson's pro-gun posturing. If Halvorson manages to divide the vote and slip back into Congress, she'll continue voting with corrupt conservatives, like she did last time she was in Congress. If Toi Hutchinson is elected she'll be working for common sense solutions to gun violence with President Obama and with Members of Congress like independent-minded New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, whose message on gun violence is very much like Toi Hutchinson's. Shea-Porter sent this column, "Time for Action," to her constituents.
As I write this column, the news is covering still another shooting, this time on a college campus. We will learn who was involved, who was standing where when it happened, who witnessed it, who was hurt, who the hurt people’s friends and families are. Students-- reportedly 10,000 students attend the college-- will say how terrified they were. And then… the story of this shooting will be dropped from the news cycle, only to be replaced by another shooting story. And Americans will wonder why we can’t seem to stop the violence. Or can we?

When the children and teachers were executed in a mass murder at an elementary school, right before Christmas, while we were talking about love and faith and family and peace, everyone thought that this time, politicians would take action. It did seem for awhile that we had reached our breaking point, and that we would finally be ready to pass responsible gun legislation that would give us both the freedom to hunt and protect our families and the freedom to go about our daily lives without fear of being gunned down in still another act of violence. There was encouraging talk about passing legislation as quickly as possible, and President Obama did sign some Executive Orders with the families of the murdered six and seven year olds and the slain staff in the room.

The fight was already ugly, but that’s where it got uglier. The head of the National Rifle Association said that President Obama was “attacking firearms and ignoring children.” There was a sea of outrage that President Obama had children at the event. Children were at the site of the massacre-- I think it is appropriate that children who knew it happened and wrote about it should be in the room when grownups say we are going to try to stop this from happening again to children, or anyone else. The NRA leadership also dragged the President’s own children into the fray, as they falsely warned that President Obama was going to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

Some in Congress were upset at even the mildest suggestions, such as doctors asking if there are guns in the house so they can talk about safety issues involved when there are children in the residence. Doctors ask if somebody smokes around children. They talk about being safe and careful with candles and stoves, but apparently, they should not ask about a huge killer of children-- guns.

It’s time to stop the fighting and work on the solutions here. It is time to stop bowing to special interests and yes, the money they bring to campaigns, and talk about how we are going to protect both the right to have guns for sport and for protection, and the right to be safe from gun violence.

The easiest step should be to require background checks for gun sales. This means gun sales involving most private sales also. The majority of Americans support this plan. We also need to make sure that critical information is available when there is a background check. Records right now are too often incomplete, and do not identify a buyer’s criminal history or a dangerous mental illness.

It is time to end high-capacity magazine sales. It used to be that citizens had a chance to get away from a shooter when he had to stop to reload. But with high-capacity magazines, the killer can just keep firing away a lot longer, murdering many more innocent folks. Hunters do not need to fire 30 rounds. Neither do citizens exercising their right to defend themselves. I support banning magazines holding more than ten rounds. This will help law enforcement and the public to disarm a mass shooter, and it will give people a better chance to escape a madman.

I support President Obama’s call to close loopholes in gun trafficking laws, and to beef up law enforcement in communities. Let’s also step up mental health services, and work together to encourage a reduction of violence in video games and television and movies. All of these ideas should be the easiest to enact. There is another step, an assault weapon ban, that will require more political debate, but these ideas listed here are common-sense ideas that should have no political test of courage attached to them. Can’t we at least get this done now? Let’s get it done now. It already has been a long and deadly wait.
While the banksters and Wall Street interests on whose behalf Halvorson worked while she was in Congress, funnel cash into her campaign, Toi Hutchinson is running a people-powered grassroots effort. If you can help, please go to the ActBlue special election page here. This election is less than a month away.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

At Least Canadian Immigrant Ted Cruz Can Never be Presidente


Texas teabagger Ted Cruz is already making an effort to be the most revolting badass in town. And it's working. He was the first senator out of the box to attack fellow Cuban-American wingnut Marco Rubio and other Republicans for working with Democrats on a comprehensive immigration policy. And yesterday he was one of only 3 reactionaries to vote against confirming John Kerry as Secretary of State. A chickenhawk and spawn of Joe McCarthy himself, Cruz went out of the way to smear two decorated war heroes, Kerry and Chuck Hagel.

And on top of all that, Cruz picked a fight with Rahm Emanuel. I immediately thought of the crocodile vs shark video but I found something else instead that makes the same point (down below). Cruz doesn't want Emanuel coming around Texas. Who could blame him-- and who could care?

Emanuel is working with NYC Mayor Bloomberg to get dangerous firearms off the streets and out of the schools. Cruz, of course, is an ardent advocate of violence, mayhem and lots and lots of dead children-- as long as they're not Catherine Christiane Cruz or Caroline Camille Cruz.
Cruz sent a letter to Emanuel and the heads of two banks and two gun manufacturing companies on Tuesday in response to a call by Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff, for the banks to stop lending to the gun makers.

"Your continued anti-gun crusade may well cause some to wonder if the interests of the citizens of Chicago are being sacrificed in pursuit of a partisan agenda," Cruz writes. "Regardless, directing your attack at legitimate firearms manufacturers undermines the Second Amendment rights of millions of Texans. In the future, I would ask that you might keep your efforts to diminish the Bill of Rights north of the Red River."

On Thursday Emanuel wrote to the top executives of Bank of America and TD Bank, respectively, urging them to stop lending to gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. In Cruz's response, the junior senator from Texas urges the bank CEOs to come to Texas.

"Both of your companies do considerable business in the City of Chicago, and you may be understandably concerned that there are risks to refusing to comply with the demands of a politician who has earned the nickname, 'The Godfather,' " Cruz writes to the bank chiefs. "In Texas, we have a more modest view of government.

"We do not accept the notion that government officials should behave as bullies, trying to harass or pressure private companies into enlisting in a political lobbying campaign. And we subscribe to the notion, quaint in some quarters, that private companies don't work for elected officials; elected officials work for private citizens.

"In light of the reception you have received in the Windy City, please know that Texas would certainly welcome more of your business and jobs you create," Cruz adds.

And to the gun manufacturers, Cruz offers to introduce their companies to banks in Texas.

"Should Mayor Emanuel's bullying campaign prove successful, I am confident that there are numerous financial institutions in Texas that would be eager to earn your business. And in the event that it might prove helpful, I would be happy to introduce you to their leaders," he writes.

Emanuel has recently been active in pushing stricter gun laws, both in his hometown and at the federal level. He recently appeared at a panel at the Center for American Progress alongside Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on a House task-force for reducing gun violence, to discuss passing new gun restrictions.
Only a vicious political hack like Cruz would consider the fight for gun safety "a partisan agenda." But Texans are long aware of what this guy is all about. As for Emanuel, maybe he ought to slap down his erstwhile ally, NRA shill Debbie Halvorson right there in his own city and running for Congress on a pro-assault weapons platform, before he takes on Cruz.

Labels: , , , ,

If there's anything we should be able to do, it's overfish the hated snakehead to extinction


The snakehead doesn't look so bad this way -- in Rockfish chef Chad Wells's second course of "snakefish soaked in chimichurri, napped with avocado sauce, Nopal cactus relish and chipotle crema" (served with Flying Dog ale), the lone actual snakehead dish served at a gala dinner devoted to encouraging the fishing-to-extinction of the alien predator that's devouring Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River life. (No, it doesn't look so bad this way, but take a peek below.)

"'I don't like snakes, and I don't like fish,' said Nicky Safari of Tysons Corner, who appeared to be in exactly the wrong restaurant on the wrong night. 'I'm here because I know they're going to . . . make me like fish,' she said."
-- from Darryl Fears's Washington Post report,
"At benefit, eating snakehead to help the Chesapeake Bay"

by Ken

You might think that after crapping out on my post last night (sorry, just conked out, and when I woke up it was history), I would come back tonight with guns blazing on the great topics of the day -- immigration reform, more shootings in Arizona (and who knows where else) while the gun nuts try to hold their own in the Senate hearings where Gabby Giffords testified today, etc. etc. But here I am reporting on the crusade to eat the northern snakehead to extinction.

It would certainly be both environmentally and ethically reprehensible to advocate harm to a species on the basis of its looks, but golly, this snakehead fish creature is hideous, which is why I've refused to show it any more than 225-pixel width. If you want to see more of this godforsaken creature, click through to Darryl Fears's Washington Post report, "At benefit, eating snakehead to help the Chesapeake Bay."

Let it be made clear, though, that it isn't for its hideousness (Darryl Fears describes the thing as "looking like a weird cross of three animals that strike fear in the heart: a Burmese python, a barracudea, and an electric eel") that the snakehead is under fire -- often literally, in that, we're told, "many recreational fishermen kill snakeheads by shooting them through the head with a bow and arrow." The problem with snakeheads, which are native to waters off China and Korea, and are thought to have been "poured into a Chesapeake tributary in the early 2000s by some clueless aquarium owner," having taken up residence in Chesapeake Bay is that they're very large and they're voracious natural predators living in an environment where they have no natural predators, putting a goodly portion of the local marine life more or at less at their mercy.
The snakehead is nothing but problems. It devours nearly every bite-size fish in its path but has no known predator. Females are baby factories, lugging an average of 40,000 eggs, although U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists found one with a record haul of 100,000.

On top of that, snakeheads might qualify as parents of the year in the Chesapeake. Males and females, which can grow to 47 inches long and weigh 15 pounds, shepherd their young in ball-shaped schools. As a result, the bay's fish problem keeps getting bigger.
As Darryl Fears suggests,
Humans could put a stop to it. Humans, after all, nearly ate their way through the bay's native rockfish, blue crab, shad, oysters and sturgeon before realizing the error of their ways and taking aggressive steps in the past few decades to protect marine life.
The problem here is that even though the damned things are apparently quite edible, we're not eating the damned things.
[W]atermen aren't interested in snakeheads, because there's no real market for them. Fewer than half a dozen Washington area restaurants serve them. Only 3,800 pounds were sold commercially last year, the first year in which sales were recorded.

"It's very low . . . because fishermen don't have the right equipment to catch them," said John Rorapaugh, director of sustainability and sales for ProFish, a seafood supplier and one of the event's organizers.
"The event" was the second annual ProFish Invasive Species Benefit Dinner, at Tony and Joe's Seafood Place in Georgetown's Washington Harbour, where some 200 guests paid $125 a plate to help the cause ("it benefited Miriam's Kitchen, which serves the homeless, and the Oyster Recovery Partnership, which works to restore the bay's oyster habitat") and perhaps develop a taste for the unwelcome bay interloper, as a step toward putting the infernal creature in the mortal peril we reserve for so many choice water-borne taste treats.

Ironically, given the theme -- the snakehead as devourer of all life in the bay -- only one of the evening's five courses could contain snakehead, because of a scarcity of catchable specimens. The theory is that in the case of a cold snap like the one just endured, "they go in deep water and bury themselves in the mud."

From a PR standpoint, the name "snakehead" obviously doesn't help, and the look of the thing doesn't either. But we've gotten over our squeamishness with regard to other unsightly sea creatures -- look what chefs have done for the once-shunned monkfish.

Chef Chad Wells, who prepared the evening's one snakehead dish, is apparently a fan. But even its virtues may be offputting.
Snakeheads have a wonderful dense coat of slime, Wells said. When frozen, the mucus protects the fish, so it stays fresh. He compared the flavor to that of tilapia. Wells described the texture as perfect. "It's more like a dense ocean fish, not a freshwater fish," he said.
Thanks for sharing that about the dense coat of slime, chef. I guess if you were lucky enough to have access to snakehead for home preparation, you might want to have you fishmonger do the, um, mongering. Of course, if the thing should take off, residents of the Chesapeake Bay area may yet come to consider themselves lucky for their unique access to the newly prized delicacy.

At which point they can start worrying about how to save the endangered snakehead. Ah, the cycle of life.


A Case For Natural Disaster Vengeance?


Republican Congressman Peter King was correct when he said New York and New Jersey donors would be crazy to contribute campaign money to Republican candidates. "Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined," he raved to CNN. "It was absolutely disgraceful. People in my party, they wonder why they're becoming a minority party... They're going to have a hard time getting my vote, I can tell you that. Turning your back on people who are starving and freezing is not a Republican value."

In the video above, MSNBC populist host Ed Schultz suggests that northerners may make it tough on states like Missouri, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama when, inevitably, their states next come to the federal government to help them with disaster relief. Wrong states. Yes, hypocrites Roy Blunt (R-MO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Jeff Sessions (KKK-AL) voted against aid for Sandy survivors. But Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) wisely voted for aid.

Were there any states with both senators who voted against aid? Of course there were... and their constituents are going to-- at the very least-- be forced to wait a little longer for disaster relief reimbursement. Or maybe Democrats will ask that aid be offset with an increase in taxes on millionaires or be offset by closing loopholes on Big Oil. Which states better hope they don't need federal help soon?
Wyoming- John Barraso (R)- NO and Mike Enzi (R)- NO... and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), Wyoming's only Congressmember- NO
Texas- John Cornyn (R)- NO and Ted Cruz (R)- NO... as did 23 of Texas' 24 Republican congressmembers
Georgia- Saxby Chambliss (R)- NO and Johnny Isakson (R)- NO... as did all the Republican House Members
Oklahoma- Tom Coburn (R)- NO and Jim Inhofe (R)- NO
Idaho- Mike Crapo (R)- NO and Jim Risch (R)- NO... as did the state's 2 Congressmen, Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson
Nebraska- Deb Fischer (R)- NO and Mike Johanns (R)- NO... as did the state's 3 congressmen
Arizona- John McCain (R) and Jeff Flake (R)- NO... as did all 4 GOP congressmen
South Carolina- Lindsey Graham (R)- NO and Tim Scott (R)- NO... as did all 6 of the state's 6 GOP congressmen
Utah- Orrin Hatch (R)- NO and Mike Lee (R)- NO... as did all 3 of the state's GOP congressmen
Kentucky- Miss McConnell (R)- NO and Rand Paul (R)- NO
Kansas- Jerry Moran (R)- NO and Pat Roberts (R)- NO... as did all 4 of Kansas' congressmen
So... best-- purest-- targets are Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas... 100% states against aid. And then there's Georgia... Adairsville, Georgia, birthplace of Pretty Boy Floyd, sits exactly on the boundary between the 14th and 11th congressional districts in northwest Georgia. The 11th, which holds most of the town of 4,648, is represented by GOP Rape Caucus loon Phil Gingrey. The 14th is represented by equally crazy and extremist Tom Graves. Today God raised His hand against the poor folks in Adairsville and smote it-- probably to send a clear message to Gingrey, Graves and the two right-wing Georgia senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, all 4 of whom voted against aid to Sandy victims. The storm also hit Nashville, Tennessee, where Jim Cooper distinguished his Blue Dog self as the only Democrat to vote against aid for the natural disaster in New York and New Jersey.
At least two people are dead after a series of powerful storms and tornadoes pummeled much of the South Wednesday.

Whole swaths of Georgia and Tennessee spent the day under siege, already battered by high winds as the storm front began its deadly march last night.

Outside of Nashville residents heard a deafening roar and had only seconds to react.

Labels: , , , ,

Sodom Has Always Gotten Bigger Headlines Than Gomorrah


I just started re-reading Max Blumenthal's "bestiary of dysfunction from the dark heart of the Republican party," Republican Gomorrah. Blumenthal's introduction starts with a letter he uncovered from one of the last good presidents-- and certainly the last good Republican president-- Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower, a big fan of Eric Hoffer's The True Believer, was worried that Americans could turn to the kind of fascism being offered by far right Republicans like Joe McCarthy (R-WI) because it offered them a way to abdicate civic responsibility and avoid the stresses inherent in free choice (democracy). In the 1959 response to a dying veteran, Eisenhower wrote “I doubt that citizens like yourself could ever, under our democratic system, be provided with the universal degree of certainty, the confidence in their understanding of our problems, and the clear guidance from higher authority that you believe needed. Such unity is not only logical but indeed indispensable in a successful military organization, but in a democracy debate is the breath of life.” He went on to explain to the vet that Hoffer had pointed out "'that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems-- freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.' The authoritarian follower, Eisenhower suggested, desired nothing more than insulation from the pressures of a free society." In a 2009 NY Times OpEd, Blumenthal explained Eisenhower's prescience in seeing the takeover of the GOP by the Tea Party.
Alluding to Senator McCarthy and his allies, Eisenhower pointed out that cold war fears were distorted and exploited for political advantage. “It is difficult indeed to maintain a reasoned and accurately informed understanding of our defense situation on the part of our citizenry when many prominent officials, possessing no standing or expertness as they themselves claim it, attempt to further their own ideas or interests by resorting to statements more distinguished by stridency than by accuracy.”

...In closing his letter, Eisenhower praised Biggs for his “fortitude in pondering these problems despite your deep personal adversity.” Perhaps it was the president’s sense of solidarity with a fellow soldier that prompted him to respond to Biggs with such care; and perhaps it was his experience as supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe that taught him that the rise of extreme movements and authoritarianism could take root anywhere-- even in a democracy.
Four years on an "Eisenhower Republican," David Brooks, a kind of a duck out of water in GOPville, refuses to accept that the fascist elements have taken over the GOP. He called for A Second GOP in his Times column yesterday. Brooks starts with the irony of Bobby Jindal-- currently abolishing a progressive income tax for a regressive sales tax in his state while whining the GOP must not continue to be the party that gives things to the wealthy at the expense of everyone else-- calling on Republicans to stop being the stupid party, to stop insulting the intelligence of the American people. Brooks wants to embrace opportunists and ideologues like Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz but even he recognizes they're at the bottom of what ails the party, not a part of a real solution to Republican dysfunction.
[S]o far, there have been more calls for change than actual evidence of change. In his speech, for example, Jindal spanked his party for its stale clichés but then repeated the same Republican themes that have earned his party its 33 percent approval ratings: Government bad. Entrepreneurs good.

In this reinvention process, Republicans seem to have spent no time talking to people who didn’t already vote for them.

Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality-- embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking. Since Barry Goldwater, the central Republican narrative has been what you might call the Encroachment Story: the core problem of American life is that voracious government has been steadily encroaching upon individuals and local communities. The core American conflict, in this view, is between Big Government and Personal Freedom.

While losing the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, the flaws of this mentality have become apparent. First, if opposing government is your primary objective, it’s hard to have a positive governing program.

As Bill Kristol pointed out at the National Review event, the G.O.P. fiercely opposed the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law but never offered an alternative. The party opposed Obamacare but never offered a replacement. John Podhoretz of Commentary added that as soon as Republicans start talking about what kind of regulations and programs government should promote, they get accused by colleagues of being Big Government conservatives.

The next problem with this mentality is that it makes it hard for Republicans to analyze social and economic problems that don’t flow directly from big government. For example, we are now at the end of the era in which a rising tide lifts all boats. Republicans like Mitt Romney can talk about improving the overall business climate with lower taxes and lighter regulation, but regular voters sense that that won’t necessarily help them because wages no longer keep pace with productivity gains.

Americans are still skeptical of Washington. If you shove a big government program down their throats they will recoil. But many of their immediate problems flow from globalization, the turmoil of technological change and social decay, and they’re looking for a bit of help. Moreover, given all the antigovernment rhetoric, they will never trust these Republicans to reform cherished programs like Social Security and Medicare. You can’t be for entitlement reform and today’s G.O.P., because politically the two will never go together.

Can current Republicans change their underlying mentality to adapt to these realities? Intellectual history says no. People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks. Moreover, in the South and rural West, where most Republicans are from, the Encroachment Story has deep historic and psychological roots. Anti-Washington, anti-urban sentiment has characterized those cultures for decades.

It’s probably futile to try to change current Republicans. It’s smarter to build a new wing of the Republican Party, one that can compete in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic states, in the upper Midwest and along the West Coast. It’s smarter to build a new division that is different the way the Westin is different than the Sheraton.

The second G.O.P. wouldn’t be based on the Encroachment Story... Would a coastal and Midwestern G.O.P. sit easily with the Southern and Western one? No, but majority parties are usually coalitions of the incompatible. This is really the only chance Republicans have. The question is: Who’s going to build a second G.O.P.?
The GOP needs more than a difference akin to a Sheraton and a Westin to appeal to normal voters and if Brooks took over his blinders long enough, he might realize that the conservative force he's asking for is, alas, Obama's Democratic Party. But David Frum and some of his pals decided to take up Brooks' argument and run with it. "The new and more thoroughly conservative Republican Party," he asserts, "is not a healthy beast."
Some data points:

In the six presidential elections of 1968 through 1988, the GOP averaged 52.5% of the vote. In the six presidential elections of 1992 through 2012, the GOP crossed the 50% mark only once.

The grand Republican win of 2010 was the product of unusual circumstances: more than one third of all votes cast were cast by voters over 60, the oldest electorate in any election since 1982. That circumstance was unlikely to repeat itself in 2012, and it didn’t.

In 2012, the GOP ran on the most conservative platform since 1964. It lost the presidency by almost 5 million votes, just under 4% of the popular vote. It lost the Senate. It held a diminished majority in the House only grace to gerrymandering: Democratic House candidates won more total votes than Republican candidates.

Predictions are difficult, especially about the future. But we can say this. Republicans draw their voting strength from categories likely to shrink in the years ahead: voters born before 1952, non-Hispanic whites, voters without a college degree.

The new, immoderate Republican Party is therefore unlikely to succeed better in the near future than it has in the recent past.

Wasserman Schultz & Israel-- Brooks doesn't need anything more conservative than these two clowns

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Lou Barletta-- Face Of The KKK, Face Of The GOP, Face Of America's Dysfunctional Political System


I once lived in Monroe County, PA. Nice, all-American area, currently represented by thoughtful progressive freshman Matt Cartwright. But when I lived there, Monroe County was part of the 11th CD, represented by one of the worst Democratic banking shills, Paul Kanjorski, who was elected in 1984, grew more and more corrupt (and powerful), and was finally dumped in 2010 by Democrats too sick of him to bother going to the polls. It would have been impossible for anyone with any degree of self-respect to vote for a crook like Kanjorski. Aside from being an NRA Democrat, anti-gay, anti-Choice, and pro-war voters were becoming aware that Kanjorski was using his senior position on the House Financial Services Committee to enrich himself and his family. In 2010 Democrats nearly ousted him in a primary but "almost" doesn't count and Pennsylvania's most preeminent racist, Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta beat Kanjorski in the general election, 55-45%. (Barletta only took 54% in Monroe County.)

Hazleton is a small city (population 25,340) in Luzerne County and Barletta had a fairly undistinguished career working for his family's business after doing poorly in school and then failing to make it as a professional baseball player. He finally made a fortune by contracting highway work from the government. He was elected mayor of Hazleton in 1999, where he sang a one note song-- a vicious jihad against Hispanics.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania yesterday struck down ordinances adopted by the City of Hazleton to bar illegal immigrants from working or renting homes there, the most resounding legal blow so far to local efforts across the country to crack down on illegal immigration.

The decision, by Judge James M. Munley of Federal District Court, presents a new roadblock to local officials who want to take action against illegal immigration after broad federal legislation to address the issue failed in the Senate last month.

Judge Munley ruled that ordinances first passed last July by the Hazleton City Council interfered with federal law, which regulates immigration, and violated the due process rights of employers, landlords and illegal immigrants.

The ruling resonated beyond Hazleton because the town was the first in the country to pass such measures, after its mayor, Louis J. Barletta, vowed last year to make the city “one of the toughest places in the United States” for illegal immigrants. Many other local initiatives were modeled on Hazleton’s ordinances, which were never put into effect because of the legal challenge.

“Whatever frustrations officials of the City of Hazleton may feel about the current state of immigration enforcement,” Judge Munley wrote in the 206-page decision, “the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme.”

Mr. Barletta said the city would appeal and would fight to the United States Supreme Court if necessary.

“I will not sit back because the federal government has refused to do its job,” Mr. Barletta said at a news conference on the steps of City Hall.

Judge Munley reached his conclusion after a full hearing of the issues in a bench trial, the first such trial in the various legal challenges to local ordinances restricting illegal immigration. The challenge was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and Cozen O’Connor, a private law firm.

The judge emphasized that illegal immigrants had the same civil rights as legal immigrants and citizens.

...Mr. Barletta, the Hazleton mayor, has championed the city’s ordinances because he said illegal immigrants had unleashed a crime wave in Hazleton and had overburdened health and other public services.

At the nine-day trial in March, A.C.L.U. lawyers worked as hard to debunk those claims as they did to undercut the city’s legal arguments. They showed that 4 of 428 violent crimes in Hazleton in the last six years could be attributed to illegal immigrants.
Barletta and his racist allies on the city council passed an ordinance giving themselves the authority to fine landlords up to $1,000 for leasing to illegal immigrants-- as well as making English the official language of Hazleton, prohibiting city employees from translating documents into any language without official authorization, which sat badly with Puerto Rican American citizens.

So why bring up Barletta? Well, you can probably imagine that the immigration debate has stirred the wild beast in him. Yesterday it sprung into action. At a time when the Republican Party is trying to make nice with Hispanic voters, Congressman Lou Barletta is... going rogue.
Avowed immigration hardliner Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) announced his immediate opposition on Monday to a bipartisan Senate framework on comprehensive immigration reform, suggesting that it could be serving as an ill-advised Republican olive branch to Latino voters.

Barletta went on to say that the GOP should have no interest in providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, claiming that most are uneducated, government-dependent individuals who wouldn't support the party.

"I hope politics is not at the root of why we're rushing to pass a bill. Anyone who believes that they're going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken," Barletta said, according to the Morning Call. "The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on."

..."It's amnesty that America can't afford," Barletta said. "We have to stop people from coming in illegally. This will be a green light for anyone who wants to come to America illegally and then be granted citizenship one day."
Looks like Barletta either didn't get the message, ignored it or... shot the messenger. Jed Lewison at Daily Kos shared the GOP message on how to talk about immigrants.
A top Hispanic Republican advocacy group co-chaired by Jeb Bush is so worried about how the GOP will respond to immigration reform that they are distributing a set of guidelines instructing congressional Republicans on how to discuss the topic without sounding like a bunch of neanderthals. The issue, according to the group, isn't really about substance. Instead, it's about using "tonally sensitive" language:
"Tone and rhetoric will be key in the days and weeks ahead as both liberals and conservatives lay out their perspectives. Please consider these tonally sensitive messaging points as you discuss immigration, regardless of your position," Hispanic Leadership Network Executive Director Jennifer Korn writes.

Before you even read word one from the memo, the fact that the group is more concerned about how congressional Republicans talk about the issue than how they vote on it is a pretty clear indication of just how backwards Republicans are on this topic. Usually in politics, advocacy groups try to achieve actual policy priorities. Here, they are just trying to stop their party from acting like assholes—and based on some of their advice, they must really think there's a lot of assholes in their party. For example, on their list of "messaging dos and don'ts for immigration reform," they say:

Don’t use phrases like “send them all back”


Don’t characterize all Hispanics as undocumented and all undocumented as Hispanics.
Had the Democratic Party not tolerated the gross corruption of Paul Kanjorski-- of course, now a sleazy lobbyist-- Barletta would never have won in 2010. That's our Beltway system. (I'm not certain of this but I believe that the Judge Munley who ruled against Barletta's anti-immigrant ordinance is Congressman Matt Cartwright's father-in-law.)

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Immigration-- Only The Dregs Of GOP Bigotry Still Opposing Reform


Most House Republicans have the luxury of running in crazy little red districts drawn to exclude likely Democratic voters. They can say or do whatever they want regardless of what most voters prefer-- just as long as they're pleasing the lunatic fringe that watches Fox and listens to Hate Talk Radio hosts. Republican senators, particularly those outside the old Confederacy and the Mormon Empire, don't have it quite so good. They do have to take all their constituents' views into consideration if they hope to get reelected. That's the reason there were catastrophic GOP losses last November in Senate races in Indiana, Missouri, Massachusetts, Florida, Wisconsin, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia. Michigan, Pennsylvania. Congressman Todd Akin could always talk all he wanted about "legitimate rapes" and whatever other freaky right-wing nonsense he wanted to babble about in his old congressional district, especially in backward Lincoln County-- which he won in November 48-45%... while losing the whole state 55-39%.

Take Lamar Smith, a 14-term crackpot whose neatly gerrymandered Texas district carefully zigs and zags around Hispanic and working class neighborhoods of Austin and San Antonio. President Obama only won 37.9% in Smith's all white golf club congressional district, while in adjoining TX-20, Obama won 58.9% and also won next door in TX-35. A die-hard member of Michele Bachmann's rapidly shrinking Tea Party Caucus, he's the new chairman of the House Science Committee and presides over a pack of right-wing anti-Science maniacs like Paul Broun (R-Pit of Hell), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), domestic terrorist Steve Stockman (R-TX), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Thomas Massie (R-KY). This week ole Lamar is attacking the Senate's bipartisan plan to reform the immigration system. All he sees is "amnesty" rewarding "illegals." Smith is making it more difficult for Republican senators like Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Marco Rubio (FL) and John McCain (AZ), who would like to drag their party into alignment with the majority of Americans, if not with the majority of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity listeners.
Smith, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who now sits on the panel's Immigration subcommittee, did not spare his Republican colleagues in attacking the Senate blueprint.

“No one should be surprised that individuals who have supported amnesty in the past still support amnesty," he said.
The new Judiciary Committee chairman is Virginia Boehner patsy Bob Goodlatte and he's taking a wait and see stance, saying the path to citizenship component raises a lot of questions. "When we look at proposals that deal with the legal status of 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S., we have a lot to discuss. The American people and members of Congress have a lot of questions about how this would work, what it would cost and how it will prevent illegal immigration in the future.”
The decision of Rubio, a rising conservative star, to join the effort could be crucial in attracting conservative support, and a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) specifically cited his involvement in a short response to the release of the blueprint.

“The Speaker welcomes the work of leaders like Sen. Rubio on this issue, and is looking forward to learning more about the proposal in the coming days,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

The House has long been seen as the more challenging chamber for immigration reform because of the opposition of conservative Republicans to any proposal that smacks of “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.

Given that history, the muted response from conservatives in the House is notable. In a question-and-answer session with the Ripon Society last week, Boehner said that a bipartisan group in the House “basically [has] an agreement” on immigration reform. That group, he said, included both “hard heads” in his own party and Democrats who have long pushed for comprehensive reform.
Another right-wing crackpot, Michelle Malkin, was screaming her empty head off yesterday about the proposed deal, huffing and puffing at Republicans for going along with Democrats in fixing the immigration system. A self-loathing and demented extremist, she has particular animus for right-wingers Rubio and Flake in heavily Hispanic states, Florida and Arizona.
[D]on’t believe the hype from Rubio supporters that this warmed-over shamnesty proposal-- another recipe for more illegal immigration, a bigger welfare state, and undermined sovereignty-- is somehow new, improved and more enlightened.

John McCain said it himself on Sunday (via Allahpundit):

“I’m very pleased with the progress,” McCain said. “It’s not that much different from what we tried to do in 2007.”

Since repetition is key in the age of the low-information voter and the bonehead GOP, let me repeat at length what I said after Election Day:

GOP “moderates” and strategists assume that waving the magic amnesty wand and opening up the welfare/entitlement state to generations of illegal immigrants will translate into electoral gains for the party. They’re deluded. They pretend amnesty will come at no cost to legal immigrants and native-born Americans. They pretend they can “secure the border first” by making the same empty, token gestures that have left our borders a bloody joke for decades.

The promise of “securing the border first” is a Kabuki compromise.

These GOP amnesty-peddlers are as deluded now as they were in 2007 when Bush/McCain/Kennedy spearheaded a failed amnesty campaign. They’ve learned nothing.

How about clearing naturalization application backlogs instead of expanding illegal alien benefits?

How about tracking and deporting violent illegal alien criminals instead of handing out driver’s licenses to illegal aliens? How about streamlining the employee citizenship verification process for businesses (E-verify) and fixing outdated visa tracking databases instead of indiscriminately expanding temporary visa and guest worker programs?

Let’s drop the semantic games. Whether Shamnesty Twins Graham and McCain call it a “pathway to citizenship,” “regularization,” or “comprehensive immigration reform,” they are talking about permanently rewarding and incentivizing more mass illegal immigration above all else.
The proposal will probably have little problem getting through the Senate-- although die-hard extremists like Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) will oppose it-- and it looks like Boehner will trash the Hastert Rule again and let it pass with overwhelming Democratic support and maybe a quarter to a third of House Republicans. One of the Democrats pushing the hardest for the bill, Luis Guitierrez (D-IL) seemed very optimistic yesterday. “We are on track to pass a bipartisan bill this year that legalizes millions of immigrants, keeps families together, strengthens our country, and eventually allows immigrants to apply for citizenship. All of the pieces are falling into place... We have not signed on the dotted line, and some important details are yet to be resolved, but what we have now is momentum. Momentum, plus encouragement from the American people, the president, and immigrant and Latino communities, will get an immigration bill across the finish line this year.”

Steve King (R-IA), one of the most virulent hatemongers in Congress, is considering a Senate run, so he has to tone down the bigotry a little. But just a little. Here's his statement on the Senate proposal:
"Eight Senators have now agreed to four basic legislative pillars or immigration policy principles," said King. "They have 52 more Senators and 218 House Members to convince after they put their plan on paper in the form of a bill. I agree with most of the language in the very broad guidelines.

I would ask the Senators, do you agree with me that the United States should have an enforced immigration policy designed to enhance the economic, social, and cultural well being of the United States of America? Do you believe the Rule of Law and national sovereignty are essential components of a successful nation? Do you believe employers should be allowed to deduct wages and benefits paid to illegal aliens as a business expense? I'm guessing the 'Gang of Eight' would be inclined to agree with me on my principles. But, I predict that they will oppose my every effort to get them into law.

The president has demonstrated he will only enforce the laws that he likes. Promises of future law enforcement made under the 1986 Amnesty Act were not adequately kept by President Reagan. Why, then, would Americans accept the promise of this president?

I will continue to promote positive, common sense reforms that address our problems with illegal immigration, including reintroducing the New IDEA (Illegal Deduction Elimination Act) in the 113th Congress and I will continue to support enforcement of our existing laws."

Labels: , , , , , ,