Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Talking Points Memo | Breaking News and Analysis


If only Saddam Hussein had been smart enough to solicit a legal opinion from his government lawyers that gassing people was within the law, he could have been playing golf in Myrtle Beach right now

Talking Points Memo | Breaking News and Analysis

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sergeant Who Smeared Fellow Soldier, New Republic Writer Executed Four Iraqi Men | TPMMuckraker


Sergeant Who Smeared Fellow Soldier, New Republic Writer Executed Four Iraqi Men By Brian Beutler - April 17, 2009, 11:46AM A senior enlisted U.S. Army soldier--Master Sergeant John Hatley--was convicted two days ago by a military jury in Germany of executing four handcuffed, blindfolded Iraqi men by shooting them in the backs of their heads. That's a newsworthy (and, of course, gruesome) story in and of itself, but there's a story behind the story. Many readers will recall the case of Scott Beauchamp--the Army Private who took his story of out-of-control soldiers in the line of duty to the pages of The New Republic and soon thereafter found himself on the receiving end of attacks from conservatives across the establishment and beyond. Some of those conservatives, including the Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb, participated in a concerted (and inaccurate) effort to discredit Beauchamp and tar, for lack of patriotism, the notoriously dovish New Republic and, by association, liberals everywhere. For his reporting, Goldfarb relied on some...let's call them 'questionable' sources and even got an assist, in a bizarre breach of protocol, from Beauchamp's First Sergeant, who took to the blogosphere to make the case against the beleaguered Private. "My soldiers [sic] conduct is consistently honorable." This soldier has other underlining [sic] issues which I'm sure will come out in the course of the investigation. No one at any of the post we live at or frequent, remotely fit the descriptions of any of the persons depicted in this young man's fairy tale. I can't and won't divulge any information regarding this soldier, but I do sincerely appreciate all the support from the people back home. Again, this young man has a vivid imagination and I promise you that this by no means reflects the truth of what is happening here. The name of that Non-Commissioned Officer might ring a bell: John Hatley. And he seems to have protested a bit too much. Hatley had, in fact, committed the murders before he took to the Internet to defend himself and his fellow soldiers against charges of recklessness. We excitedly await Goldfarb's statement on the issue. Goldfarb, you might remember, turned his 15-minutes of fame into a campaign seasons' worth, serving as deputy communications director for John McCain's presidential bid during which time he put his deep concern for the facts to good use. After that bid failed, he returned to the Weekly Standard, which seems to regard the entire episode as a job well done.

Sergeant Who Smeared Fellow Soldier, New Republic Writer Executed Four Iraqi Men | TPMMuckraker

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Krugman: Republican Hypocrisy On Spending Is 'Wonderful' To Watch | TPMDC


Krugman: Republican Hypocrisy On Spending Is 'Wonderful' To Watch By Brian Beutler - April 13, 2009, 9:43AM One of the major themes of last week was the degree to which Republicans in Congress were deceptively referring to Defense Secretary Robert Gates' budget proposal as a weak-on-defense spending cut. The corollary to that claim--articulated by many Republicans, but also some Democrats--is that defense spending "cuts" will cost jobs. The problem is, though, that most of the people making that argument voted against the stimulus bill this past winter. Last week we caught Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) in just such a contradiction. During the debate over the stimulus, Chambliss lashed out at the specter of government recession spending, calling it a "bloated government giveaway." But then, he called into the NPR program Talk of the Nation and said none of that matters as long as the spending is defense spending. "[W]hen it comes to stimulating the economy," Chambliss said, there's no better way to do it than to spend it in the defense community." On Sunday, Paul Krugman appeared on ABC's This Week, and picked up on the same thing, and called out Congressional Republicans for what one might call the "Chambliss hypocrisy". Here's Krugman: What's so wonderful is watching Republican congressmen saying, "But this will cost jobs!" The very same Republican congressmen who were denouncing the stimulus, saying government spending never creates jobs, but cutting defense spending costs jobs. It's wonderful. What Krugman doesn't note (because the panel covered it earlier in the show) is that these Congressional Republicans are basing their argument on spending cuts that don't exist. Funny, that. We'll be rounding up examples of this as we find them, from both Republicans and, perhaps, some anti-stimulus Democrats.

More Guns!

The New York Times

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April 14, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist

The American Way



Late in the afternoon on Good Friday, in a cold, steady rain, a gray-haired 60-year-old woman sat shivering and praying on a stone step outside of 1016 Fairfield St., which is where the terrible shooting had occurred. She read from a prayer book and from time to time would take a drag on a soggy Newport cigarette. A candle flickered beside her as she prayed.

Police officers in a squad car a half-block away were keeping a close eye on the woman and the house with the boarded-up windows behind her.

Reluctant to talk at first, the woman eventually whispered, “I’m the grandmother of the kid that killed those cops.” She said her name was Catherine Scott and that she was praying for her grandson, Richard Poplawski, who is 22 and being held in the Allegheny County Jail, and for the three officers he is accused of gunning down: Stephen Mayhle, who was 29; Paul Sciullo II, 37; and Eric Kelly, 41.

The officers were killed a week and a half ago as they responded to a disturbance at the house. Police said they were met there by Poplawski, who was wearing a bulletproof vest and was armed with a variety of weapons, including an AK-47 assault rifle.

“My grandson did a terrible thing,” said Ms. Scott. “There is no mercy for what he did.”

Mercy or not, there is no end to the trauma and heartbreak caused by these horrifying, blood-drenched eruptions of gun violence, which are as common to the American scene as changes in the weather.

On the same day that the three Pittsburgh cops were murdered, a 34-year-old man in Graham, Wash., James Harrison, shot his five children to death and then killed himself. The children were identified by police as Maxine, 16, Samantha, 14, Jamie, 11, Heather, 8, and James, 7.

Just a day earlier, a man in Binghamton, N.Y., invaded a civic association and shot 17 people, 13 of them fatally, and then killed himself. On April 7, three days after the shootings in Pittsburgh and Graham, Wash., a man with a handgun in Priceville, Ala., murdered his wife, their 16-year-old daughter, his sister, and his sister’s 11-year-old son, before killing himself.

More? There’s always more. Four police officers in Oakland, Calif. — Dan Sakai, 35, Mark Dunakin, 40, John Hege, 41, and Ervin Romans, 43 — were shot to death last month by a 27-year-old parolee who was then shot to death by the police.

This is the American way. Since Sept. 11, 2001, when the country’s attention understandably turned to terrorism, nearly 120,000 Americans have been killed in nonterror homicides, most of them committed with guns. Think about it — 120,000 dead. That’s nearly 25 times the number of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the most part, we pay no attention to this relentless carnage. The idea of doing something meaningful about the insane number of guns in circulation is a nonstarter. So what if eight kids are shot to death every day in America. So what if someone is killed by a gun every 17 minutes.

The goal of the National Rifle Association and a host of so-called conservative lawmakers is to get ever more guns into the hands of ever more people. Texas is one of a number of states considering bills to allow concealed guns on college campuses.

Supporters argue, among other things, that it will enable students and professors to defend themselves against mass murderers, like the deranged gunman who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech two years ago.

They’d like guns to be as ubiquitous as laptops or cellphones. One Texas lawmaker referred to unarmed people on campuses as “sitting ducks.”

The police department in Pittsburgh has been convulsed with grief over the loss of the three officers. Hardened detectives walked around with stunned looks on their faces and tears in their eyes.

“They all had families,” said Detective Antonio Ciummo, a father of four. “It’s hard to describe the kind of pain their families are going through. And the rest of our families. They’re upset. They’re sad. They’re scared. They know it could happen to anyone.”

The front page of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review carried a large photo of Officer Mayhle’s sad and frightened 6-year-old daughter, Jennifer. She was clutching a rose and a teddy bear in a police officer’s uniform. There was also a photo of Officer Kelly’s widow, Marena, her eyes looking skyward, as if searching.

Murderous gunfire claims many more victims than those who are actually felled by the bullets. But all the expressions of horror at the violence and pity for the dead and those who loved them ring hollow in a society that is neither mature nor civilized enough to do anything about it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dangerous Talk…

For those on the right it appears to be impossible to concede that not everyone, not even a simple majority, subscribe to their paranoid ranting.  They continue to deny that the ‘people have spoken’ by electing someone to the White House who actually believes in the US. Constitution and the Bill Of Rights.  Strange concepts to them I’m sure. 
Now they seem to be hinting at, or worse, advocating for, armed resistance!  No…this is not simple paranoia talking.  All one needs do is pay attention to what some of the more outspoken of the lunatic fringe are saying, and what the ‘not so outspoken’ of their ranks are doing.  Oh. And read the news to see what their ideals put into real outcomes in such places as Binghamton, NY.
An OP-ED in today’s Times calls attention to the issue and is worth your while in reading….

April 4, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist

Pitchforks and Pistols


Lately I’ve been consuming as much conservative media as possible (interspersed with shots of Pepto-Bismol) to get a better sense of the mind and mood of the right. My read: They’re apocalyptic. They feel isolated, angry, betrayed and besieged. And some of their “leaders” seem to be trying to mold them into militias.

At first, it was entertaining — just harmless, hotheaded expostulation. Of course, there were the garbled facts, twisted logic and veiled hate speech. But what did I expect, fair and balanced? It was like walking through an ideological house of mirrors. The distortions can be mildly amusing at first, but if I stay too long it makes me sick.

But, it’s not all just harmless talk. For some, their disaffection has hardened into something more dark and dangerous. They’re talking about a revolution.

Some simply lace their unscrupulous screeds with loaded language about the fall of the Republic. We have to “rise up” and “take back our country.” Others have been much more explicit.

For example, Chuck Norris, the preeminent black belt and prospective Red Shirt, wrote earlier this month on the conservative blog WorldNetDaily: “How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution?”

Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, imagining herself as some sort of Delacroixian Liberty from the Land of the Lakes, urged her fellow Minnesotans to be “armed and dangerous,” ready to bust caps over cap-and-trade, I presume.

And between his tears, Glenn Beck, the self-professed “rodeo clown,” keeps warning of an impending insurrection by saying that he believes that we are heading for “depression” and “revolution” and then gaming out that revolution on his show last month. “Think the unthinkable” he said. Indeed.

All this talk of revolution is revolting, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

As the comedian Bill Maher pointed out, strong language can poison weak minds, as it did in the case of Timothy McVeigh. (We sometimes forget that not all dangerous men are trained by Al Qaeda.)

At the same time, the unrelenting meme being pushed by the right that Obama will mount an assault on the Second Amendment has helped fuel the panic buying of firearms. According to the F.B.I., there have been 1.2 million more requests for background checks of potential gun buyers from November to February than there were in the same four months last year. That’s 5.5 million requests altogether over that period; more than the number of people living in Bachmann’s Minnesota.

Coincidence? Maybe. Just posturing? Hopefully. But it all gives me a really bad feeling. (Where’s that Pepto-Bismol?!)