Monday, June 1, 2009

Sotomayor, Republican Kamikazes And Pass Me Another Keg Of Coffin Nails.

Sotomayor, Republican Kamikazes And Pass Me Another Keg Of Coffin Nails.


The average American thinks of the major threat to their safety, savings and general well being as a thug from a line up they see on a crime drama or a smug shot from the evening news. MBAs with corner offices and a copy of Excel are probably a bigger threat. They can ruin your life all at once or they can operate in stealth mode leeching off your labor for years. Its a strange cultural struggle in which everyone wants more police protection to deal with the statistically lower threat from the street thug, but fight regulation, frequently portrayed as unpatriotic, to protect us from the thugs in the two thousand dollar suits.”

GOP Filibuster over Sotomayor? Cornyn Won't Rule It Out - George's ...
By Jennifer Parker 
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., of the Senate Judiciary Committee isn't ruling out a Republican filibuster on Capitol Hill over Judge Sonia Sotomayor. ... It is just plain stupid. She'll get to Congress, they'll get thier moment in the sun grilling her, and she will likely be confirmed. The media will move on to the next manufactured big thing. In the meantime, a lot of people will have made total fools of themselves, accomplishing nothing positive for anybody. ...
George's Bottom Line -

The Sotomayor Story: Sessions Calls Filibuster Unlikely, More . . .
Wall Street Journal Blogs - New York,NY,USA
It's a big test for a Democratic committee chairman seen by rivals as a fiery partisan. Writes Bendavid: “The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee will ...
See all stories on this topic

Suddenly it's OK to call a judicial nominee a racist | Media ...
By JF 
Further, Soros, who owns the Democrat party in the US and funds left-wing hate websites, aided and abetted the Nazis in reporting on and taking property from Jews before they were ushered to the ovens for Hitler. ...
Just a few years ago, the mere suggestion that Samuel Alito should explain his membership in an organization that sought to limit the number of women and minorities at Princeton was met with outrage by the media. How dare the Democrats! They've gone too far! But now, with conservatives explicitlycalling Sotomayor a "racist" based on manufactured evidence, the media can't even be bothered topoint out that they are distorting her comments. Instead, the conservative complaints get taken seriously, as though they are a reasonable and fair interpretation of what Sotomayor said.

So it seems that lying about a Latina in order to call her a racist is just fine, as far as much of the media is concerned. Just don't you dare question why a white male belonged to an organization that sought to keep women and minorities out of his college. That's over the line.
Media Matters - Government -


Sotomayor Nomination: Republican Gain For Attacking  Judge Would Be Exactly Nada

By Elizabeth Hovde, Oregonian Columnist

Saturday May 30, 2009, 6:00 PM


Plenty of political analysts are saying that Republican opposition to the nomination of appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court would be political suicide. They're right. With approval numbers lower than lima beans, the party doesn't have enough political capital to come out against the historic nomination of a qualified Hispanic woman to the Supreme Court.

Latinos make up the nation's fastest-growing group of voters -- and the GOP represents the nation's fastest-shrinking political party.

"If Republicans make a big deal of opposing Sotomayor, we will be hurling ourselves off a cliff," Mark McKinnon, a senior adviser to George W. Bush, told a New York Times reporter last week. "Death will not be assured. But major injury will be."

Matthew Dowd, another one-time adviser to Bush, was also quoted in Adam Nagourney's Times Caucus blog saying that Republicans could doom themselves if perceived to be preventing Sotomayor from taking a seat on the highest court in the land. "Because you'll have a bunch of white males who lead the Judiciary Committee leading the charge taking on an Hispanic woman," Dowd said. "It's a bad visual. It's bad symbolism for the Republicans."

Phil Musser, a Republican consultant, told the Times, "Republicans who pick a fight with an up-from-the-bootstraps Hispanic woman do so at their own peril, and should only do so for a very, very good reason."

There are some legitimate bones to pick when it comes to Sotomayor. Her comment that being a "wise Latina woman" makes her better able to produce good judgments than her white male counterparts sounded elitist, arrogant and ignorant. (If a white male judicial nominee had said the comment in the reverse, he'd be vilified, crucified and denied a new black robe.) Likewise, Sotomayor's 2005 comment to a group of students saying that the U.S. Court of Appeals "is where policy is made" is troublesome, especially to those who fear activist judges.

The Senate Judiciary Committee should ask Sotomayor about those comments, allowing her to expand and explain where she was coming from. They should ask if in hindsight she sees how badly those comments came across. Chances are she does. Even if she doesn't, they are bedside-manner blips on her resume, not a reason to be Borked.

Some ads against Sotomayor are already circulating, making good use of the comments mentioned above -- and making conservatives look like bullies. Better fodder against Sotomayor might involve a controversial ruling involving some New Haven, Conn., firefighters who appear to be victims of reverse discrimination.

Sotomayor's appellate court affirmed a lower court's ruling in favor of the city's discriminatory promotion practices rather than the firefighters.

Of course, the judiciary committee should take the time to read more of Sotomayor's opinions and analyze her demeanor on the bench so they can raise valid concerns -- and even make Sotomayor herself analyze the kind of judge she has been as she prepares for the next step in her career. Everyone could use a performance evaluation from time to time that challenges her to be even better at what she does.

But Republican lawmakers should be clear that the inquiry and their challenges are not an attempt to block Sotomayor's Obama-paved path to the high court. Conservative groups around the nation also should abandon the negative attacks on Sotomayor. Not only because it will give the GOP even greater image problems but also because none of it will make a difference in the end.

The bottom line is that Obama is president. He leans left. And the job description that a majority of Americans gave him includes nominating judges to fill U.S. Supreme Court vacancies. Besides, Democrats already have 59 votes in the Senate -- nearly a filibuster-proof majority -- and a handful of Republican lawmakers gave Sotomayor an affirmative nod when she became an appellate court judge.

Sotomayor has good qualifications and a compelling personal story. And there's no guarantee that the person Obama would nominate in her place would be more palatable to those of us concerned about judicial activism.

Sotomayor will become a Supreme Court justice as long as she doesn't have any undocumented nannies in the closet or unpaid taxes. The only thing more politically stupid than fighting a historic judicial nominee when your party has an image problem is fighting a historic judicial nominee when doing so won't change the outcome.

Elizabeth Hovde writes a Sunday column for The Oregonian and also posts during the week on Reach her 

Online: Read Sonia Sotomayor's resume and record on notable cases at 

Right-Wing Hate Machine Launches Vicious Campaign of Racist and Sexist Attacks on Sotomayor

Faiz Shakir, The Progress Report. The right wing media has gone to town with their vile rhetoric even as Republican senators have attempted to distance themselves from the hatred.


It's Not What You Think : What the New Haven firefighter case really tells us about Sonia Sotomayor

By Dylan Matthews

Given that their target has spent almost 18 years on the federal bench, the attacks on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor have been remarkably substance-free. From Jeffrey Rosen’s anonymously-sourced questioning of her “temperament” to the common conservative cherry-picking of her statement that appellate courts are “where policy is made,” her opinions themselves have been mostly secondary to the arguments of her detractors. One decision, however—Ricci v. DeStefano—is becoming a focal point of opposition to her nomination.Richard Cohen called the decision by Sotomayor and others “noble in its ends and atrocious in its means,” while George Will declared it “indefensible.” Closer inspection, however, reveals that such attacks are based not on careful consideration of the case, but on knee-jerk sentiment.

The decision concerned a 2003 promotion exam at the New Haven, Connecticut fire department. One hundred and eighteen candidates were applying for 15 positions at the captain and lieutenant level. Twenty-seven of the candidates were African-American. A little under half of all applicants passed the promotion exam, including many African-American candidates, but no African-American scored high enough to qualify for a position under the department’s civil service regulations. This posed a problem. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, minority workers can sue their employers if they can show that a promotion exam exerts a “disparate impact” upon them. So rather than run afoul of the law, the New Haven fire department chose to discard the results of the exam.

But as the department was attempting to protect itself from a lawsuit by minority applicants, it found itself targeted by one from the overwhelmingly white applicants whose tests were invalidated. The case eventually made its way to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Connecticut, New York, and Vermont and on which Sotomayor sits. The Circuit Court first ruled against the white firefighters and in favor of the city of New Haven in a unanimous, 3-0 panel decision; Sotomayor was among the three judges on the panel. Next, the Court as a whole ruled 7-6 to not rehear the case en banc—that is, in front of the whole 13-member court rather than a three-judge panel. Again, Sotomayor ruled in favor of the city of New Haven, and against the white firefighters. Having exhausted their options at the Circuit level, the white firefighters appealed to the Supreme Court, whichheard the case and should rule on it shortly.

The actual legal issues involved are fairly simple. As Doug Kendall and Dahlia Lithwick wrote in a Slate article earlier this month, “the only real question before the court was whether New Haven had reason to believe that if the city used the test results it would be sued under Title VII.” And given as, in Kendall and Lithwick’s words, “the results of the test far exceeded the statistical cutoff that suggests a constitutional violation has occurred,” Sotomayor and most other Second Circuit judges concluded that the city did, in fact, have cause to worry about a Title VII lawsuit.

Cohen, Will, and other critics of Sotomayor have seized upon this case to argue that she is a hard liberal with no sympathy for discriminated-against white firefighters. In particular, they have seized upon the plight of the case’s plaintiff, Frank Ricci, a dyslexic white firefighter who studied 13 hours a day and even took a second job to pay for someone to record the relevant textbooks to cassette for easier studying. Ricci earned the sixth-highest score on the exam, only to have his results invalidated along with all the other firefighters’.

While Ricci’s situation tugs at the heartstrings, neither his admirably diligent study habits nor his learning disability are relevant to the case at hand. Ruling against him does not make Sotomayor heartless. On the contrary, it shows her ability to focus on the core legal issues of a case, even when the result is politically unpalatable. That, ultimately, is what Ricci v. DeStefano can teach us about Judge Sotomayor. Even on issues that are easy to demagogue, like race and hiring, she is unafraid to make choices that may offend key constituencies or even threaten her own career. Whatever one thinks of her judicial philosophy, that kind of courage is admirable, and crucial for a Supreme Court justice.

Dylan Matthews is a staff writer at Campus Progress and writes a blog formerly known as Minipundit.

t r u t h o u t | Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome
Last week, the malady mutated into a whole new thing - Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome - and boy, but it's a doozy. Ranting incoherence, brazen racism and suicidal ideation swept through the ranks of the far right after Judge Sotomayor ... the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he was 'uneasy' with some of the remarks and urged Republicans to focus on her legal record." "After a week of escalating race and gender rhetoric from the right over the Sotomayor ...
Truthout - All Articles -

Attacking Sotomayor from the alternative universe where your evil ...
Daily Kos - Berkeley,CA,USA
In the case of Sotomayor, her position on hot issues is not clear at the light of her record and her presentations before the Senate Judiciary Committee ..

Lindsey Graham Says Sotomayor Is Not A Racist But Should Apologize ...
By Nicole Belle  (To Whom…All The White Guy Good Ole Boys? Ed.)
GRAHAM: I do know this: that statement is not about talking about her life experiences, it's getting from her life experiences a superiority based on those experiences versus somebody else in society. And I don't want that kind of .... Hissy Missy Lindsey's on the Judiciary Committee. Sun, 05/31/2009 - 09:17 — woody. One of the 'oppo' party stalwarts on that committee MUST carry the nomination to the floor. The rest are Sessions, Coburn, Grassley, Cornyn, Hatch, and Kyl. ...
Crooks and Liars -

Andy Ostroy: Message to Republicans: Attacking Sotomayor is ...
By Andy Ostroy 
It's been utterly fascinating to witness the speed and consistency of the vitriol heaped on Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's choice for the United States Supreme Court. ... Top Republican Has Effusive Praise For Sotomayor (VIDEO). *** SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO*** Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, let his Republican counterpart do the heavy lifting on Sunday's Meet. ...
The Huffington Post Full Blog Feed -


Obama Court Pick Puts Spotlight On Sessions

Top Republican Has Effusive Praise For Sotomayor (VIDEO)
By The Huffington Post News Team 
Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, let his Republican counterpart do the heavy lifting on Sunday's Meet The Press, when it came to the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. ... It is not the end of the world if stupid Republicans try to filibuster this nomination. They will just look stupider. Imagine this bunch thinking that Harriet Myers was fine, poor resume though she had, but they find fault with this candidate. ...
Video on The Huffington Post -

By Ben Evans • The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jeff Sessions has made a career of speaking out and voting against anyone he considers an activist liberal judge. Sonia Sotomayor was no exception the last time they crossed paths.

In 1997, she was nominated to the federal appeals court. Sessions, R-Mobile, was a backbench senator demanding to know whether she had refused to join in a standing ovation for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She said she had.

Sessions voted against her anyway.

More than a decade later, the stakes are considerably higher. Sotomayor is President Barack Obama's choice to become the first Hispanic justice. Sessions has his party's lead role at her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

No one expects Sessions to alter his views of who should and shouldn't sit on the Supreme Court. But his own experience more than two decades ago as a judicial nominee denied a federal court seat by the Senate could confound conservatives expecting a bare-knuckled attack, as well as liberals hoping he'll come off as a bullying, out-of-touch Southerner.

"Some people are quick to caricature different members, whether it's the right caricaturing someone like Sen. (Edward) Kennedy or the left caricaturing someone like Sen. Sessions," said Michael O'Neill, a George Mason University law professor who was the committee's top GOP staffer when Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter was the senior Republican. "I don't think you'll see Sessions personalize this ... and in some respects it might be less heated."

Sessions, the son of a country store owner in rural Alabama, is stepping into his new role at a moment of weakness for his party. The circumstances, he acknowledges, require him to work more cooperatively with majority Democrats.

He knows he must balance pressure from the right to scrutinize Sotomayor against the risks of portraying Republicans as obstructionists, particularly with the first Hispanic nominee to the high court.

But Sessions also has a unique personal sympathy for judges in the confirmation hot seat. It was 23 years ago when the same committee blocked his appointment over allegations that cast him as a racist. He says he feels an overriding "internal pressure" to handle nominations fairly. 1 |  2 |  3


GOP Senators Favor Slow Deliberations On Sotomayor

By Seth Stern and Keith Perine, CQ Staff

The Senate should move slowly and examine Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s record carefully before bringing her nomination to the Supreme Court up for a vote, say top Senate Republicans.

A confirmation vote before the August recess is unrealistic, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican said Sunday.

“I think that’s rushing it,” Jeff Sessions , R-Ala. said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I believe that she has over 3,000, maybe 4,000-plus opinions that need to be examined. And I think there’s no need for us to do that. We do need to do it by October. That’s when Justice [David H.] Souter will be stepping down.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy , D-Vt., who appeared with Sessions on the program, wouldn’t make any promises about having a nominee in place by September as President Obama has requested. But Leahy said he wants to hold a hearing as soon as possible in order to give Sotomayor an opportunity to respond to critics.

Leahy and Sessions were among 11 senators who spoke about Sotomayor’s nomination on Sunday news shows.

Republicans declined to criticize Rush Limbaugh and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. (1979-99), for calling Sotomayor a racist” and a bigot. Minority Leader Mitch McConnellsaid he “would not get into policing everybody’s speech” regarding Sotomayor. But he said “it is certainly not my view” that Sotomayor is a racist.

“My view is we ought to take a look at this nominee’s qualifications,” said McConnell, R-Ky., who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Jon Kyl , R-Ariz., the minority whip, sidestepped the question during an appearance on CBS’“Face the Nation” by saying, “I’m not going to get drawn into characterizations before I’ve even met her.”

Kyl will meet her Tuesday.

McConnell refused to take specific positions on how much time Republicans wanted to process the nomination, or whether they would try to filibuster it.

McConnell said it is “entirely too early to tell” whether Republicans would try to block a confirmation vote. But he was careful to note that President Obama, as a senator, voted to filibuster the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. in 2006. “I think the precedent is firmly established. It doesn’t mean it will be done in every instance,” McConnell said.

But Kay Bailey Hutchison , R-Texas, appearing on CNN, said she did not think there would be a need for a filibuster “unless we have not had a chance to look at the record fully.””

Page: 1 2 |  

Why the Pentagon Is Probably Lying About its Supressed Sodomy and Rape Photos

By Naomi WolfAlterNet.

This Is Probably Exactly What The Photos Show, Because It Happened. The Same-Sex Crimes Against Detainees Have Been Documented. 

The Telegraph of London broke the news -- because the U.S. press is in a drugged stupor - -- that the photos President Barack Obama is refusing to release of detainee abuse depict, among other sexual tortures, an American soldier raping a female detainee and a male translator raping a male prisoner.

The paper claims the photos also show anal rape of prisoners with foreign objects such as wires and light sticks. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba calls the images "horrific" and "indecent" (but absurdly agrees that Obama should not release them -- proving once again that the definition of hypocrisy is the assertion that the truth is in poor taste).

Predictably, a few hours later, the Pentagon issues a formal denial.

It is very likely that the Pentagon lying. This is probably exactly what the photos show, because it happened. Precisely these exact sex crimes -- these exact images and these very objects - -- are familiar and well-documented to those of us who follow closely rights organizations reports of what has already been confirmed.

As I wrote last year in my piece on sex crimes against detainees,"Sex Crimes in the White House," highly perverse, systematic sexual torture and sexual humiliation was, original documents reveal, directed from the top:

  • President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were present in meetings where sexual humiliation was discussed as policy.
  • The Defense Authorization Act of 2007 was written specifically to allow certain kinds of sexual abuse, such as forced nakedness, which is illegal and understood by domestic and international law to be a form of sexual assault.
  • Rumsfeld is in print and on the record consulting with subordinates about the policy and practice of sexual humiliation, in a collection of documents obtained by the ACLU by a Freedom of Information Act filing compiled in Jameel Jaffer's important book The Torture Administration.

The image of the female prisoner, probably Iraqi, being sexually assaulted? That image, or a similar one, has been widely seen in the Muslim world. Reports of the rape scenes described have also appeared in rights organizations summaries since 2004.

And scores of detainees who have told their stories to rights organizations have told independently confirming accounts of a highly consistent practice of sexual torture at U.S.-held prisons, including having their genitals slashed with razors, electrodes placed on genitals, and being told the U.S. military would find and rape their mothers.

Is systemic sex crimes practiced by the U.S. in a consequence of the lawlessness of "the war on terror" surprising to those of us who work on issues of sexual abuse and war? It is totally predictable: When you give soldiers anywhere in the world the power, let alone the mandate, to hold women or men helpless, without recourse to law, kidnap them as a matter of policy -- as the U.S. military kidnapped the wives of "insurgents" in order to compel them to turn themselves in -- strip them naked, and threaten them, you have a completely predictable recipe for mass sexual assault. The magisterial study of rape in war, Susan Brownmiller's Men, Women and Rape, proves that.

But what is far scarier about these images Obama refuses to release and that the Pentagon is likely to be lying about now, is that it is not the evidence of lower-level soldiers being corrupted by power -- it is proof of the fact that the most senior leadership -- Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, with Rice's collusion -- were running a global sex-crime trafficking ring with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Baghram Air Base as the holding sites.

The sexual nature of the torture also gives the lie to Cheney's and others' defense of torture as somehow functional: The sexual perversity mandated from the top reveals that it was just plain old sick sadism gratified by a very sick form of pleasure. I also pointed out in "Sex Crimes in the White House" that the escalation of the sexual abuse showed the same classic pattern shown by sex criminals everywhere -- you start with stripping the victim, keeping him or her completely in your power, and then you engage in greater and more violent excesses with more and more self-justification.

The light sticks, for instance? We in the human rights world know about the light sticks. Probably dozens of prisoners were sodomized with light sticks. In the highly credible and very fully documented Physicians for Human Rights report, "Broken Bodies, Broken Lives," doctors investigated the wounds and scars of former prisoners, did analysis of the injuries, assessed the independent verification of their stories, and reported that indeed many detainees had in fact been savagely raped with light sticks and by other objects inserted into their rectums, many sustaining internal injuries.

This same report confirms that female military or other unidentified U.S.-affiliated personnel were used to sexually abuse detainees by smearing menstrual blood on their faces, seizing their genitals violently, or rubbing them in a sexual manner against their will. In other credible accounts collected by human rights organizations, many former prisoners in U.S.-held prisons report that they had been tortured or humiliated by female agents who appeared to be dressed like prostitutes.

Indeed, early on, intelligence spokespeople boasted in the New York Times of the use of female agents to sexually abuse and humiliate prisoners: it was called in their own material "invasion of space by a female."

Today at lunch, I happen to have sat next to the lovely and brave Dale Haddon, the "face of L'Oreal," who is also a tireless advocate for women and children through UNICEF. She is heading for Congo, to help hold accountable rape and sex crimes institutionalized as acts of war. Those criminals will face trials and convictions.

In Sierra Leone, the soldiers and generals who used rape as an instrument of war have been tried and many convicted. In Bosnia, likewise. But at another lunch party, Haddon, who travels in many circles, may well be seated next to our own former leaders, violent and systemic sex criminals who are still at large.

When will we convict our very own global rapists, the ones who gave the U.S. the hellish distinction of turning us into the superpower of sex crime? Convictions must come, but first we must see the evidence.

And women especially, who understand how sexual abuse and rape can break the spirit in a uniquely anguishing way, should be raising their voices loudly.

Whom are we protecting by not releasing the photos? The victims? Hardly. It's, as feminists have been saying for decades, not their shame. The perpetrators? Their crimes are archived; if not this administration, another may well obey the law and release the images, which are evidentiary (again: that rape and sodomy were directed form the top; prosecute those at the top).

These photos go to exactly why Obama is burning what is left of the shreds of the Constitution by calling for pre-emptive detention for about 100 detainees. It ain't because they are "too dangerous," his pathetic justification. It is because their bodies are crime scenes. It is because the torture, including possibly the sexual assault, they experienced is likely to be so horrific that if they were ever to have their day in court it is others whom Obama needs who would be incriminated.

In the 19th century, when a woman had been raped, or had experienced sexual abuse in the family, the paterfamilias would say she was crazy, get her declared "too dangerous" to be free, and lock her up forever so her story would be interred with her.

That is what Obama is trying to do with pre-emptive detention for these detainees.

Well, America? Do you want to live with this?

Remember: History shows categorically that once the state can lock "them" up without a fair trial, torture, rape them or sodomize them -- well; sooner or later it will be able to do the same to your children or mine; or to you and me.

US Violated Geneva Conventions, Bush Iraq Commander Says
John Byrne

The head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, said Friday that the US had violated the Geneva Conventions in a stunning admission from President Bush's onetime top general in Iraq that the US may have violated international law.

"When we have taken steps that have violated the Geneva Conventions we rightly have been criticized, so as we move forward I think it's important to again live our values, to live the agreements that we have made in the international justice arena and to practice those," Gen. Petraeus said on Fox News Friday afternoon.

Petraeus made the comment in the context of being asked about the Bush administration's so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques." The now-Central Command chief said he believed that banning the more extreme techniques had taken away "a tool" employed by "our enemies" as a moral argument against the United States.

Petraeus didn't say which parts of the Geneva Conventions he thought he and other administration officials had violated.

Asked about a "ticking time bomb" scenario -- which is often employed by torture's defenders -- Petraeus said that interrogation methods approved for use in the Army Field Manual were generally sufficient.

"There might be an exception and that would require extraordinary but very rapid approval to deal with but for the vast majority of the cases our experience… is that the techniques that are in the Army Field Manual that lays out how we treat detainees, how we interrogate them, those techniques work, that's our experience in this business," he said.

He also acknowledged that the US prison at Guantanamo Bay has inflamed anti-US hostility.

"I do support is what has been termed the responsible closure of Gitmo," Petraeus said. "Gitmo has caused us problems, there's no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activity since 9/11 and again Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard."

"I don't think we should be afraid of our values we're fighting for," he added. "What we stand for and so indeed we need to embrace them and we need to ope rationalize them in how we carry out what it is we're doing on the battle field and everywhere else. So one has to have some faith I think in the legal system. One has to have a degree of confidence that individuals that have conducted such extremist activity would indeed be found guilty in our courts of law."

This video is from Fox's Live Desk, broadcast May 29, 2009.


For Afghan Civilians, Life Means Being Caught in the Middle of an Unwinnable War
Melek Zimmer-Zahine

Iraq Faces the Mother of All Corruption Scandals
Patrick Cockburn

Jesus's Jihadis : Sunday, May 31, 2009

-- by Sara

I arrived in DC for the America's Future Now! conference, kicked back in my hotel room, and was greeted with the news that Dr. George Tiller -- the Kansas gynecologist who has endured shootings, state investigations, public harassment, and more death threats than any thousand of us together can imagine in 20 years of standing up to that state's anti-abortion thugs -- was shot to death in his own Lutheran church this morning. 

I don't have a lot of time to think through an elaborate post on this (I'm leading a panel with Tom Frank, Rick Perlstein, and James Rucker that will be televised in full on C-SPAN tomorrow), but there are several quick things that spring to mind. 

1. Tiller was one of the great heroes in the fight for a woman's right to choose safe, legal abortion. Late-term abortions are a terrible business for everyone concerned. Despite anti-abortion distortions to the contrary, they are very rare -- and almost never chosen for anything but the most heartbreaking of reasons, usually having to do with the life of the mother or the viability of the fetus. It's a life-changing choice for everyone concerned, and not one anybody takes lightly.

By all accounts, Tiller dealt with these horrific situations with dignity, compassion, and grace, helping women and their families deal with the loss and grief that always come with being faced with such a traumatic decision. He didn't just tend to their physical condition; he tended to their psychological and spiritual well-being, too.  Most of us will be backed into life-or-death corners regarding serious medical conditions (a family member's, or our own) at some point in our lives. In those times, we are fortunate when we can find doctors with that kind of ability to understand the nuances, and help us deal with the ambiguities, and come to terms with the hard decisions we must make. Tiller was, according to his patients, one of those doctors.

2. The Terrorists Win. Tiller was one of just three doctors in the entire US who performed late-term abortions. Now, there are just two. Which means that 36 years of anti-choice terrorism is now just two assassinations away from completely ending late-term abortion in America. Violence has won out -- over the will of the people, over the courts, over the horrific logic of medical necessity. And whenever terrorists win, democracy has lost -- and is lost.

3. Churches. First Knoxville, then this. Sherilyn Ifill once made the point that lynchings typically occurred on courthouse lawns as a symbol that the mob had overridden the authority of the state and taken justice into its own hands. So what does it mean when right-wing terrorists start gunning down progressives in the pews of their own churches? Two events do not a pattern make -- but if this keeps happening, it'll be clear that there's a message being sent.

As I write this, police have a suspect in custody for Dr. Tiller's murder. There's no word yet on who the perpetrator is, or what motivated him; but it's a pretty sure bet that as the story comes out, he'll be found to be an anti-abortion True Believer. The fact that this killing happened on the sixth anniversary of Eric Rudolph's capture bears this out. The date was chosen with a message in mind. It seems very likely that the venue was, too. 

I've often said that fundamentalism begins the minute you decide you have the One True Right and Only Way -- and that you have a God-given duty to impose that way on the rest of the world. Because of this, fundamentalists have never been willing to recognize the legitimacy of other faiths. And certain factions on the far right have never had qualms about vandalizing mosques or synagogues in order to harass Muslims and Jews into political and social silence. 

But they used to leave Christian churches pretty much alone. The fact that this shooting occurred in a church (again) suggests that this tactic is now being tried out on more closely related faith groups whose views don't comport with the fundamentalist party line. As Dave has often pointed out, bringing violence to houses of worship is usually an overtly eliminationist act.  They are trying to terrify liberals by making us feel at risk and unsafe inside our own spiritual sanctuaries -- the very places we go to feel the most security and peace. This is terrorism, plain and simple -- Christian fundamentalist terrorism, committed by people Sam Smith has started referring to as "Jesus's Jihadis."

4. I told you so? My mailbox is full of notes from friends pointing out the irony of this happening just days after Andrew Sullivan accused me of being over-the-top and shrill for suggesting that the right wing was moving into a more violent gear -- and that in the worst case, this is the kind of thing that brings on civil wars. I'm not entirely sure that's warranted. I was specifically worried about anti-gay violence in the wake of Prop 8 being overturned in the California Supreme Court, which didn't happen. But the larger point I've been writing about for the past few weeks now --  about the increased agitation we're seeing on the right, and the likelihood that we're in for a long, hot summer of this kind of acting-out -- is definitely borne out here. 

I don't like being right about this kind of thing, but yeah, I did tell you so -- though not so much here as here.

5. Then, they fight you. Gandhi famously said: First, they ignore you. Then, they ridicule you. Then, they fight you. Then, you win.

I think the ridicule part is over, and the fighting part has started in earnest. And this is not (as many of us seemed to hope) going to be a metaphorical fight, but a real one -- with guns and bombs and death involved. The fact is: In America, whatever liberties we win and keep have all been bought in blood, and that's a historical truth that we are not going to get past any time soon.

In the meantime, our deepest condolences to Dr. Tiller's family and employees. If you want to put your money where your heart is, find your local Planned Parenthood clinic's website, and drop them a few bucks. Without George Tiller around, we're down one hero on our side -- and are going to need to give that much more support to everybody who's still around carrying on the work. 


An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia : Exhibit 49: Hypocritical Outrage, Anal Sex Division

WorldNetDaily and the Media Research Center have bashed references to anal sex in the media -- but not when Rush Limbaugh makes those references.

By Terry Krepel

Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell is, to put it succinctly, not a fan of anal sex:

  • In 2006, he complained that at a Comedy Central roast for William Shatner, "the audience was buried in man-on-man anal-sex and oral-sex jokes."
  • In 2008, he was offended that "Ugly Betty" includes "catty references" to, among other things, "anal sex."
  • On March 13, he bashed "Family Guy": "This Jesus-bashing is offensive, but it isn’t so surprising – it’s a 'Family Guy' staple. Now add the allusions to anal penetration and we’re on another trip down Grossout Lane."

WorldNetDaily feels much the same way on the issue. It has criticizedWikipedia for including a "photo of two nude men having anal sex on a bed," bashed Spencer Gifts for carrying "pornaments" that "graphically depict anal intercourse between a snowman and a bare-breasted 'snowwoman,'" disapproved of the Wal-Mart website selling a book that "gives explicit instructions for engaging in oral or anal sexual acts," and denounced the movie "Brokeback Mountain" for depicting characters who "awkwardly and violently engage in anal sex." WND founder and editor Joseph Farah even asks: "Isn't it time to make anal sex taboo, again?"

Bozell and WND have thus clearly established their opposition to references to anal sex in the media and popular culture. So why do they give Rush Limbaugh a pass for making those very same "allusions to anal penetration"?

Limbaugh has a long history of making anal-sex references on his radio program and in interviews. For instance:

  • He has called reporters "butt boy[s]."
  • He has said regarding blacks and gays: "Let me see if I can get your question right. You want to know why the Republicans are willing to say, 'Screw you,' to 30 percent or more of their voters and yet Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, 'Have your way with me,' for 10 percent and 2 percent of the population?"
  • He accused Republicans of planning "to go bend over and grab the ankles" by renouncing the "Southern Strategy" of using race as a wedge issue.
  • He said of political controversies faced by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "This is pure sexism in Alaska on the part of these old boys trying to get rid of Sarah Palin, and she didn't put up with it, and she didn't bend over and let them have their way."

Yet you will find not one word of condemnation of Limbaugh's words at WND or any MRC website. Indeed, some at the MRC have uncritically repeated and even endorsed those references.

In a Jan. 22 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard touted Limbaugh's interview with Sean Hannity, during which he said of Barack Obama: "We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds; that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever; because his father was black, because this is the first black president." Sheppard did not highlight or criticize the remark.

In a Jan. 28 NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor noted MSNBC's highlighting of the "grab the ankles" remark, but that's not what offended him. Rather, he complained that the remark was used to ask a Republican congressman to "denounce the talk radio king."

Another Jan. 28 NewsBusters post by Geoffrey Dickens transcribed the remark as it was repeated in a segment of MSNBC's "Hardball," but did not highlight it or express offense; instead, he he was more interested in making the case that Chris Matthews "fell into the same trap many other journalists have in misunderstanding the term 'Dittoheads.'"

And in an April 2 NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor wasn't offended that Limbaugh said of praise for Obama, "if he keeps this up throughout the G20, Gordon Brown will come down with anal poisoning and may die from it." No, he was offended that CNN's Rick Sanchez was offended, and he considered Limbaugh's reference to anal sex to be perfectly acceptable:

Throughout George W. Bush's presidency, insults were doled out repeatedly about the commander-in-chief and that was just a fact of life for the highest-ranking public official in the land. However, now there's a new president, there seems to be a different standard on how you talk about a president.

CNN's Rick Sanchez, the host of the 3 p.m. hour of "CNN Newsroom" on April 2 took offense to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh described a flowery praise of President Barack Obama by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


The alleged indiscretion: Limbaugh noted on his April 1 broadcast that Brown, who isn't exactly a free-market capitalist that reflects the ideals the United States was founded upon, was kissing up to Obama, in a way that might contaminate his person.

Poor goes on to dismiss the criticism as "an outcry by a lefty" -- even though his own boss has railed against those very same references.

Meanwhile, as the anti-Obama "tea parties" captured right-wing attention, WND and the MRC defended them by taking offense at references to "teabagging" -- and, thus, perpetuating the hypocrisy.

Bob Unruh complained of the references in an April 17 WND article: "Perhaps it's a new 'If you can't beat 'em, bad-mouth 'em' strategy on the part of some news anchors to denigrate the grass-roots Tea Parties that blanketed the United States this week." Unruh dramatically began with a parental advisory that his story makes "explicit references to graphic sex and will be objectionable to readers. It is not suitable for children." He went on to solemnly define "teabagging" as a term "commonly accepted in the homosexual community to describe a homosexual act in which testicles are inserted in someone's mouth" and quoted anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera whining about "snotty liberal journalists telling insider sex jokes."

Of course, WND is no stranger to the "If you can't beat 'em, bad-mouth 'em" strategy, having once presented as "news" a picture of a copy of Hillary Clinton's autobiography in a bookstore's science-fiction section.

An April 17 WND article by Drew Zahn (also prefaced with the statement that it is "not suitable for children") argued that CNN's Anderson Cooper should be fired for making "an openly lecherous comment that mocks protesting Americans with a homosexual term for a sex act." But WND previously had no problem with mocking protesting Americans -- it has bashed those who protested the Iraq war as anything from two-bit agitators to vampires to crazy Froot Loops.

It seems that smearing Obama as a Nazi is perfectly legitimate and acceptable discourse at WND -- as is, apparently, references to anal sex made by conservative radio hosts -- but referencing "teabagging" is not.

Farah went on to thunder in his April 18 column that Cooper's use of the word was "grossly degrading," and he "should have his dirty, little gutter mouth washed out with soap" and then be fired. Farah added: "This is hardly the kind of comment Americans would expect from a respectable TV newsman paid by one of America's largest media corporations in prime time." This from someone whose website published a column by Erik Rush calling Attorney General Eric Holder "another floatie in the septic tank that is the Obama administration" -- that is, a piece of shit.

Then again, perhaps we have come to expect such grossly degrading hate by dirty, little gutter mouths to ooze from WND. Even more telling, Farah has made no move to fire Erik Rush as a columnist, which can be interpreted as tacit endorsement of that piece-of-shit view.

Meanwhile, an April 16 MRC press release complained about "woeful bias," "lowly crassness," and "sleaze-riddled condemnation" on the part of people on CNN and MSNBC in making "teabagging" references and featured Bozell thundering that "MSNBC and CNN both allow this vulgar attack-journalism to go out on their airwaves without blinking an eye and without any sign of guilt."

This from the same organization that has regularly indulged in the lowly crassness of Clinton sex jokes, their favorite form of sleaze-riddled condemnation.

The release also featured a quote by Dan Gainor of the MRC's Business & Media Institute (where he apparently carries the snazzy title of "Vice President of Business and Culture") baselessly claiming that the tea party protests were "grassroots."

The ConWeb ginned up even more hypocritical outrage over an incident involving the April 20 Miss USA pageant. Contestant and Miss California Carrie Prejean was asked by judge and Internet gossip Perez Hilton whether she supported same-sex marriage; she responded, "I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." After the pageant, Hilton issued a video blog in which he called Prejean a "dumb bitch."

WorldNetDaily went apoplecticas did NewsBusters, in denouncing Hilton and running to the defense of Prejean.

Where's the hypocrisy? In August 2007, gun-happy rock singer Ted Nugent called Barack Obama a "piece of shit" and Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch." Sean Hannity even played the clip on his Fox News show. But ConWebWatch could find no reference to Nugent's outburst whatsoever at NewsBusters or WND, let alone any condemnation of it.

The most extreme reaction to the Hilton-Prejean controversy, though, came from NewsBusters' sister outfit It published an April 24 column by professional gay-basher Matt Barber, who apparently felt the need to be more offensive than Hilton: Barber called Hilton a "boylover," a "creepy valley girl wannabe with a five o’clock shadow," a "lispy-wispy lil’ cupcake," and "Hollywood’s frothy-potty-mouthed little drama queen."

Barber hilariously concluded by baselessly extrapolating that Hilton's outburst means all people who don't hate gays as much as he does are "ugly, desperate and most intolerant."

Really? Barber needs to take a look in the mirror.

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