News and Opinion Based on Facts

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Path to Victory in November for Barack Obama and the Democrats

The Path to Victory in November for Barack Obama and the Democrats

The GOP has won repeatedly by defending tax cuts for the rich. But as Michael Tomasky argues, Democrats could prevail in 2012 by showing that middle-class fairness produces growth.

I have praised Barack Obama on previous occasions for finally (after nearly three years) figuring out he needs to position himself as the defender of the middle class and the Republicans as the defenders of the wealthy. It’s been a big improvement. But he’s still mostly missing something, and it’s a very important something—something Democrats miss a lot. Obama, in the standard Democratic fashion, is largely making an argument about society. Republicans, in contrast, offer a theory about economic growth. Now, the Republicans’ theory is a ridiculous lie. But even so, it is much more arresting and persuasive as an argument because it is tied to crucial end results. Obama and the Democrats will have far less trouble selling their message if they figure out how to construct their case more the way Republicans do.
Mandel Ngan, AFP / Getty Images

If I asked you to summarize in a sentence the main theme of Obama’s recent big speeches, the Osawatomie address and the State of the Union, you would probably say something like: he’s for building up the middle class and making the rich pay more because things are out of whack and unfair. And if I asked you to summarize the GOP’s trickle-down economics, you would say: the idea is that cutting taxes and regulations on those at the top will eventually help everyone.

I think I’m being fair here. And if I am correct, notice the difference between the two hypothetical descriptions. The summary of the Obama message makes an argument about the country (things are unfair), and it proposes steps (building up the middle class, making the rich pay more) that will presumably make things fairer. But the summary of the Republican message takes it one critical step further. It says: if we do these things, the economy will grow and prosper. Obama is making an argument about society: unfairness is wrong and must be corrected. Republicans are offering a theory of action toward the specific end of growth.

What Obama needs to do more forcefully is make the next step of the argument by answering the questions: Why must fairness be restored? What will it lead to? To liberals, it’s enough that it will lead to a fairer society. Therefore, it doesn’t even occur to many liberals that the “What will it lead to?” question even needs to be answered. A fairer society is enough. But for many Americans, it’s not enough. A fairer society is fine, they think, if we can afford it. But what these Americans want is a society where there are lots of good jobs. A prosperous society. So what Obama and his speechwriters should be hoping people summarizing his speeches would say is something like: he’s for building up the middle class and making the rich pay more because things are out of whack and unfair, and because doing so will create a more prosperous society. That’s the missing piece.

In my formulation, then, a happier and larger middle class isn’t just an end unto itself. It’s a means to an end—an end made up of more jobs and greater prosperity. It’s an answer to trickle-down economics: the Republicans say that if taxes are cut for the top 1 percent, prosperity will result; we Democrats say that if we take various steps to help the middle class, some involving taxes and others involving investment, that will lead us to prosperity. Democrats should not be afraid to have that argument. They should relish it.

There are people out there making it. My friends Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu have just published their second book together, The Gardens of Democracy, in which they make the case for what they call “middle-out economics,” which “does not rely on the droppings of the super-rich.” (Of which, by the way, Hanauer is very much one—he was a ground-floor investor in Amazon and runs a venture-capital firm; Liu was a White House domestic-policy adviser under Bill Clinton.) Instead, it “starts with the broad middle to generate wealth and pushes wealth outward so that it can circulate throughout the economy.”

At a terrifically interesting lunch at the Brookings Institution last Friday, Hanauer, who wrote a column for Bloomberg View in November that generated a massive response, said pointedly: “I am not a job creator. The middle class are the job creators. Believe me, capitalists like me, we hire only and exactly as many people as consumers ask us to hire. Their demand creates the jobs.”

Obama sometimes connects the middle class to jobs and prosperity. But he doesn’t do it as often and as explicitly as he ought to.

I recommend their book, which makes several provocative arguments that challenge conventional economic and political wisdom. And I commend also in this vein an article we published nearly a year ago in Democracy, the journal I edit, by David Madland of the Center for American Progress. Madland explains clearly how middle-class growth can be positioned as the exact opposite of trickle-down growth, and he cites a pile of social-science research showing that a prosperous middle class is not just an end in itself but that it also leads to better social outcomes, like greater trust and better governance.

Obama doesn’t always fail to connect the middle class to jobs and prosperity. In the Osawatomie speech he said: “When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom. America was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity, of strong consumers all across the country.” But he doesn’t make this argument as often and as explicitly as he ought to. Whether the idea of fairness can attract a voting majority is, alas, an iffy proposition. But the idea of a more prosperous society that also happens to be fairer should finally consign supply-side economics into the grave in which it has so long and so richly deserved to be entombed.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The 10 Most Racist Moments of the GOP Primary (So Far)

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The 10 Most Racist Moments of the GOP Primary (So Far)

The Republican Party is digging deep into the old bucket of white racism, using the politics of fear, hostility and anxiety to win over white voters.
 One cannot forget that the contemporary Republican Party was born with the Southern Strategy, winning over the former Jim Crow South to its side of the political aisle, and as a backlash against the civil rights movement. This is a formula for a politics of white grievance mongering and white victimology; a dreamworld where white conservatives are oppressed, their rights infringed upon by a tyrannical federal government and elite liberal media that are beholden to the interests of the “undeserving poor,” racial minorities, gays, and immigrants.
In keeping with this script in order to win over Red State America, the 2012 Republican presidential candidates have certainly not disappointed. Both overt racism and dog whistles are delectable temptations that the Republican presidential nominees cannot resist. With the election of the country’s first African-American president, and a United States that is less white and more diverse, the GOP is in peril. In uncertain times, you go with what you know. For the Republican Party, this means “dirty boxing,” digging deep into the old bucket of white racism, and using the politics of fear, hostility and anxiety to win over white voters by demagoguing Obama.
Racism is an assault on the common good. Racism also does the work of dividing and conquering people with common interests. While the 2012 Republican candidates are stirring the pot of white racial anxiety, this is a means to a larger end—the destruction of the country’s social safety net, in support of vicious economic austerity policies, and protecting the kleptocrats and financiers at the expense of the working and middle classes.
Here are the top 10 racist moments by the Republican presidential candidates so far.
1. Newt Gingrich puts Juan Williams "in his place" for daring to ask an unpleasant question during the South Carolina debate. This was the most pernicious example of old-school white racism at work in the 2012 Republican primary campaign. Newt Gingrich, a son of the South who grew up in the shadow of legendary Jim Crow racist Lester Maddox, is an expert on the language and practice of white racism (in both its subtle and obvious forms). He has ridden high with Republican audiences by suggesting that black people are lazy, and their children should be given mops and brooms in order to learn the value of hard work. With condescending pride, Gingrich has also stated that he would lecture the NAACP--one of America’s most storied civil rights organizations--that they ought to demand jobs and not food stamps from Barack Obama.
On Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, under the Confederate flag, in the state of South Carolina, Gingrich defended his racist contempt for African Americans by putting Juan Williams, “that boy,” in his place. During the debate, Juan Williams had gotten uppity and was insufficiently deferential to Newt.
This dynamic was not lost on the almost exclusively white audience in attendance (nor on the white woman who congratulated Gingrich the following day for his “brave” deed). They howled with glee at the sight of a black man, one who dared to sass, being reminded of his rightful place at Newt’s knee. In another time, not too long ago, Juan Williams would have been driven out of town for such an offense, if he was lucky -- the lynching tree awaited many black folks who did not submit to white authority.
The symbolism of Newt Gingrich’s hostility to black folks, on King’s birthday, and the personal contempt he demonstrated for Juan Williams, was a classic moment in contemporary Republican politics. This was the “scene of instruction,” when a black man was a proxy for a whole community, a stand-in for the country’s first black president, as Newt Gingrich showed just what he thinks about Barack Obama, specifically and about people of color, in general. In that moment, white conservatism’s contempt was palatable, undeniable and unapologetic.
 2. Herman Cain, in one of the most grotesque performances in post-civil rights-era politics to date, deftly plays his designated role as an African-American advocate for some of the Tea Party and New Right’s most racist policy positions. Most notably, in numerous interviews Cain alluded to the Democratic Party as keeping African Americans on a “plantation,” and that black conservatives were “runaway slaves” who were uniquely positioned to “free” the minds of their brothers and sisters. The implication of his ahistorical and bizarre allusion to the Democratic Party and chattel slavery was clear: black Americans are stupid, childlike and incapable of making their own political decisions, as Cain publicly observed that “only thirty percent of black people are thinking for themselves.”

Doubling down, as a black conservative mascot for the fantasies of the Tea Party faithful, Herman Cain also suggested that anyone who accuses them of “racism” (ignoring all available evidence in support of this claim) were in fact anti-white, and the real racists.

Herman Cain’s disdain was not limited to the black public. He also argued that undocumented immigrants should be electrocuted at the U.S. border by security fences, and that Muslim Americans are inherently treasonous and should be excluded from government. Perhaps most troubling, Herman Cain advocated for extreme forms of racial profiling in which Muslims would have to carry special identification cards.

Racism and anti-black sentiment know no boundaries. Herman Cain demonstrates that some of its most deft practioners are (ironically) people of color.

3. Ron Paul argues that the landmark federal legislation that dismantled Jim Crow segregation in the 1960s was a moral evil and a violation of white people’s liberty. Ron Paul’s claim that the rights of black Americans are secondary to the “freedom” of whites to discriminate, is an almost perfect mirror for the logic of apartheid. Ron Paul’s white supremacist ethic is more than a dismissal of one of the crowning legislative achievements of the 20th century: it is the endorsement of a principle that conveniently allows white people to hate and discriminate in the public sphere at will--and without consequence--against people of color. This “freedom” is the living and bleeding heart of white racism.

4. Rick Santorum tells conservative voters that black people are parasites who live off hard-working white people. Santorum’s claim that “I don’t want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money” is problematic in a number of ways. First, Santorum channels the white supremacist classic Birth of a Nation and its imagery of childlike free blacks who are a burden on white society. In addition, Santorum’s assumption that black people are a dependent class is skewed at its root. Why? Santorum presupposes that African Americans are uniquely pathological and lack self-sufficiency, ignores the black middle-class, and directly race-baits a white conservative audience by telling them that “the blacks” are coming for their money, jobs and resources. There is no mention of Red State America’s disproportionate dependence on public tax dollars, or how the (white) middle-class and the rich are subsidized by the federal government. 

5. In keeping with the class warfare narrative, and as a way of proving their conservative bona fides, Republican candidates have crafted a strategy in which they repeatedly refer to the unemployed as lazy, unproductive citizens who would “be rich if they just went out and got a job.” In fact, as suggested by Mitt Romney, any discussion of the wealth and income gap in the United States (and the destruction of the middle class), should be done in a “quiet room,” as such truth-telling stokes mean-spirited resentment against the rich. Conservatives have an almost Orwellian gift for manipulating language. The financier class is reframed as “job creators.” Programs that workers pay for such as Social Security are equated with “welfare.” Americans who are victims of robber baron capitalism and structural unemployment are painted as dregs who want nothing more than to “live off of the system.” Despite all evidence to the contrary, unions are painted as bastions for the weak, the greedy, and those who hate capitalism.

Race is central here: Conservatives seeded this ground with their assault on the black poor. The invention of the welfare queen by Ronald Reagan became code for lazy, fat, black women who game the system at the expense of hard-working whites. The Right uses the same framing in order to attack immigrants as people who want to destroy the country and steal the scarce resources of “productive” white Americans.

Efforts to shrink “big government” are closely related to the Right’s observation that the federal government employs “too many” blacks. The Republican Party refined its Ayn Rand-inspired shock doctrine and disaster capitalism through decades of practice on black and brown Americans. The racist tactics that were once used to justify the evisceration of programs aimed at helping the urban poor are now being applied to white folks on Main Street USA during the Great Recession.

6. Mitt Romney wants to "keep America America." The dropping of one letter from the Ku Klux Klan’s slogan, “Keep America American,” does not remove the intent behind Romney’s repeated use of such a virulently bigoted phrase. While Mitt Romney can claim ignorance of the slogan’s origins, he is intentionally channeling its energy. In the Age of Obama, the Republican Party is drunk on the tonic of nativism. From remarks about “the real America,” to supporting the mass deportation of Latinos and Hispanics, a hostility to any designated Other is central to the 21st-century know-nothing politics of the Tea Party-driven GOP. Romney’s slogan, “Keep America America” begs the obvious question: just who is American? Who gets to decide? And should there be moats and electric fences to keep the undesirables out of the country?
7. Rick Perry’s nostalgic memories of his family’s ranch, "Niggerhead." You cannot choose your parents (or decide what your ancestors will christen the family retreat before your birth). You can, however, choose to rename the family ranch something other than the ugliest word in the English language.

The world that spawned and nurtured Rick Perry’s Niggerhead was none too kind to black people. Jim and Jane Crow were the rule of the land; it was enforced through violence, threats and intimidation. Moreover, Rick Perry grew up in a “sundown town.” These were communities from which blacks were banished by violence, and where white authorities made sure that African Americans would never again be allowed in the area. The whiteness of memory and nostalgia is blinding. While he has finally dropped out of the race, the Niggerhead episode is emblematic of Rick Perry’s obsession with states’ rights, and a broader fondness for the Confederacy and secession. These are traits he shares in abundance with the remaining Republican presidential candidates.

8. Former candidate Michele Bachmann suggests that the black family was stronger during slavery than in freedom. Her claim is not just a simple misunderstanding of history and the importance of family in the Black Experience. No, she is signaling to a tired, white supremacist, slavery-apologist narrative which opines that African Americans were/are not yet ready for freedom, and could only “flourish” under the benign guidance of the Southern Slaveocracy.

In a moment when states such as Arizona and Texas are outlawing ethnic studies programs, and when the Tea Party and its allies are leading an assault on educational programs that are not sufficiently “pro-American,” Bachmann’s claims are part of a broader effort to literally whitewash U.S. history.

When married to her belief in a willful lie that the framers of the United States Constitution were abolitionists who fought tirelessly to eliminate slavery (in reality, both Jefferson and Washington were slaveowners), and a defense of slaveholding Christian whites who “loved their slaves,” Bachmann’s ignorance of the facts transcends mere stupidity and slips over to enabling white supremacy.

9. The Republican Party’s 2012 presidential candidates' near-silence about how the Great Recession has destroyed the African American and Latino middle-class. This speaks volumes about just how selectively inclusive the Republican Party—which markets itself as the defender of the “American Dream” and of an “opportunity society”—really is. During the Ronald Reagan-Politico debate, the Republican candidates were asked what they would do to address the gross and disparate impact of the Great Recession on black and brown communities. While whites are suffering with an official unemployment rate of almost 10 percent, African Americans have struggled with a rate that is almost two to three times as high. In addition, the black and brown middle-class has seen its income, assets and wealth gutted by the Great Recession, where in 2011, whites have almost 20 times the average net worth of African Americans. As always, when White America gets a cold, Black America gets the flu…or worse.

In that awkward moment, only Rick Perry chimed in and proceeded to recycle the same tired rhetoric about “growing the economy” as a vague cure for all ills. One must ask: how would the Republican candidates have responded if the white middle-class had been devastated in the same manner, and to the same degree, as the black and brown middle-class? I would suggest that for the former, it would be treated as a crisis of epic proportions; for the latter, it is a mere curiosity and inconvenient fact.

Politics is about a sense of imagined community. The Ronald Reagan-Politico debate made clear that while the African American and Latino middle-class is being destroyed, the Republican Party has little concern or interest in remedying such a tragic event. It would seem that the Republican Party’s “big tent” has no room for “those people.”

10. The echo chamber that is Fox News, right-wing talk radio, the conservative blogosphere, and Republican elected officials daily stoke the politics of white racial resentment, bigotry and fear. Ultimately, the Republican candidates would not use racism as a weapon if it were not rewarded by their voters, and encouraged by the party’s leadership. An army travels on its stomach; it needs foot soldiers and shock troops to advance its aims. From the ugly, race-based conspiracy fantasies of Birtherism to the astroturf politics of the Tea Party to a news network whose guests routinely disparage Barack Obama with such labels as “ghetto crackhead” to the bloviating racist utterances by opinion leaders such as Rush Limbaugh, to the common bigotry on display at right-wing Web sites that use monkey, ape, gorilla, pimp, and watermelon imagery to depict the United States’ first black president and his family, it is clear that racism “works” for the Republican Party. To ignore the attraction of rank-and-file white conservatives to such ugliness is to overlook the driving force behind the Republican nominees’ behavior.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do Not Let Corporations Destroy the Free Internet

If enacted, either of these bills ( PIPA and SOPA ) will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation. Corporate supporters of Senate 968 (PIPA) and HR 3261 (SOPA) demand the ability to take down any web site (including craigslist, Wikipedia, or Google) that hurts their profits -- without prior judicial oversight or due process  -- in the name of combating "online piracy." 

PIPA and SOPA authors and supporters insist they'd only go after foreign piracy sites, but Internet Engineers understand this is an attempt to impose "Big Brother" controls on our Internet, complete with DNS hijacking and censoring search results. Incredibly, many Congress Members favor this idea.
<RANT>Try to imagine jack-booted thugs throttling free speech, poisoning the Internet (greatest of American inventions, the very pillar of modern democracy), and devastating one of the our most successful industries. Totalitarian, anti-American, massively-job-killing nonsense.</RANT>
Tell Congress you OPPOSE Senate 968 "Protect IP Act" (PIPA) and H.R. 3261 "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA):
Supporters of PIPA and SOPA: RIAA, MPAA, News Corp, TimeWarner, Walmart, Nike, Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Sony, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, VISA, Mastercard, Comcast, ABC, Dow Chemical, Monster Cable, Teamsters, Rupert Murdoch, Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI)
Opponents of PIPA and SOPA: Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, AOL, Mozilla, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, Zynga, EFF, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX)
Where does your Member of Congress stand on PIPA and SOPA? (Project SOPA Opera)
PIPA and SOPA Are Too Dangerous To Revise, They Must Be Killed Entirely 
Congress needs to hear from you, or these dangerous bills will pass - they have tremendous lobbying dollars behind them, from corporations experts say are attempting to prop up outdated, anti-consumer business models at the expense of the very fabric of the Internet -- recklessly unleashing a tsunami of take-down notices and litigation, and a Pandora's jar of "chilling effects" and other unintended (or perhaps intended?) consequences.
Don't believe it? Monster Cable has labeled craigslist a "rogue site," earmarked for blacklisting and full-takedown under PIPA -- resale of stereo cables by CL users reduces Monster 's new cable sales. (reddit).
There is still time to be heard. Congress is starting to backpedal on this job-killing, anti-American nonsense, and the Obama administration has weighed in against these bills as drafted, but SOPA/PIPA cannot be fixed or revised -- they must be killed altogether.
Sen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep Ron Wyden (D-OR) are championing an alternative to SOPA/PIPA called Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) that addresses foreign sites dedicated to piracy, without disrupting basic Internet protocols, or threatening mainstream US sites like craigslist.
Tim O'Reilly, a publisher who is himself subject to piracy, asks whether piracy is even a problem, and whether there is even a legitimate need for any of these bills.

    Learn more about SOPA, Protect IP (PIPA), and Internet Blacklisting:

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Occupy protesters rally against Congress at Capitol

    (Reuters) - Demonstrators from the Occupy movement rallied outside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to protest against the influence of money on Congress.
    In a sign of renewed vigor for the Occupy movement, which staged protests in many U.S. cities last fall, several hundred protesters gathered on the Capitol's West Front Lawn to greet members of Congress returning from a holiday break with a day of rallies and protests they said would include attempts to occupy lawmakers' offices.
    Occupy protesters from around the country who gathered on the rain-soaked lawn carried signs saying, "Face it liberals, the Dems sold us out," "Congress for sale" and "Congress is not for sale."
    "It's important to let people know we're not going to take it anymore. People are really mad about the way things are going and we want Congress to understand that," said protester James Cullen, a 30-year-old unemployed social worker from Greenbelt, Maryland.
    The morning demonstration was peaceful. Police said one protester had been arrested for assaulting a police officer.
    The protest against Congress comes as a record 84 percent of Americans say they disapprove of the way Washington lawmakers are doing their job, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Monday.
    Democrats and Republicans fought all last year over the best way to control the U.S. debt and budget deficit as the parties tried to position themselves for the 2012 elections.
    "Corporations and government have been so inextricably linked that it's not a true democracy anymore, and people have to realize that," said David, 16, a high school student from New Haven, Connecticut, who gave only his first name.
    The leaderless Occupy movement burst onto the national scene in September at Wall Street in New York with its focus on income inequality and the perceived greed of the rich and powerful.
    The movement succeeded in changing the national political conversation but it has weakened with winter weather and perhaps protest fatigue. Police have cleared Occupy encampments in New York, Los Angeles and other big cities.
    The Washington Occupy movement has been among the most durable, in part because the National Park Service has allowed protesters to keep their encampments in two public squares near the White House.
    District of Columbia officials are starting to show signs of impatience. Mayor Vincent Gray urged the National Park Service last week to remove protesters from one of the sites, McPherson Square, citing a rat infestation and other health concerns.
    (Reporting By Ian Simpson. Editing by Peter Bohan.)


    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Attorney general: Mississippi may order nationwide manhunt

    Attorney general: Mississippi may order nationwide manhunt

    By the CNN Wire Staff
    updated 1:56 PM EST, Thu January 12, 2012

    Mississippi governor pardons killers

    • NEW: The attorney general vows to catch the pardoned inmates
    • Haley Barbour approved full pardons for nearly 200 people, including 14 convicted murderers
    • A judge temporarily blocked the release of prisoners
    • The attorney general believes Barbour put people at risk
    Jackson, Mississippi (CNN) -- Mississippi's attorney general said Thursday that the state may have to issue a nationwide manhunt after four pardoned murderers left jail and "hit the road running."
    "We'll catch 'em. It's just a matter of time," Attorney General Jim Hood told CNN.
    The four were among nearly 200 convicted criminals to whom Gov. Haley Barbour granted clemency or a pardon in a final act before leaving office this week.
    The governor's actions have set off a legal firestorm in Mississippi.
    A judge issued a temporary injunction Wednesday forbidding the release of any more prisoners. And the process of releasing 21 other inmates has been halted, said Hood, who believes the former governor put people at risk and sought the court order.
    The pardons include the four convicted murderers and a convicted armed robber who were released Sunday. The five now must contact prison officials on a daily basis as their fate is adjudicated, but their whereabouts are unknown, Hood said.
    A court hearing on the matter will be held January 23.
    Hood said the state cannot issue an arrest warrant for the five who were released because they have not committed a crime.
    "We have not found any law that will support that," Hood told CNN. "They have a legal document saying they are free to go.
    "There are some tough legal issues we are trying to address," he said. "This is such a unique problem that no law has ever had to address yet. We're having to make new law here."
    Hood said he did not know Barbour's reasons for the pardons and clemencies, but said he owed the public an explanation.
    He gave the governor a tongue-lashing, comparing him to the unethical, greedy commissioner in the 1980s television series "The Dukes of Hazzard."
    "He's tried to rule the state like Boss Hogg and he didn't think the law applied to him," Hood told CNN Wednesday.
    Hood said Barbour violated the state's constitution because the pardon requests for many inmates were not published 30 days before they were granted, as required.
    Mississippi is one of the few states that requires advance notice.
    "This isn't a partisan issue," according to Hood, who is a Democrat. "Either you followed the constitution or you didn't."
    Barbour is a conservative Republican.
    What's behind the pardon battle?
    Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green issued the injunction Wednesday, saying it appeared some pardons, including those for four murderers, did not meet the 30-day requirement. Any inmates released in the future must meet the standard, Green ruled.
    On his way out the door, the governor approved full pardons for nearly 200 people, including 14 convicted murderers, according to documents the Mississippi secretary of state's office released Tuesday.
    The four murderers who received full pardons last week -- David Gatlin, Joseph Ozment, Charles Hooker and Anthony McCray -- were cited in Green's order.
    They were all serving life sentences and worked as inmate trusties at the governor's mansion, said Suzanne Singletary, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Trusties are inmates who can receive additional rights through good behavior.
    Hood told CNN that it's possible that those who didn't meet the 30-day requirement may have to return to prison and complete their sentences.
    Barbour said Wednesday that some people misunderstand the clemency process and believe that most of the individuals were still jailed.
    "Approximately 90 percent of these individuals were no longer in custody, and a majority of them had been out for years," he said in a statement.

    "The pardons were intended to allow them to find gainful employment or acquire professional licenses as well as hunt and vote. My decision about clemency was based upon the recommendation of the Parole Board in more than 90 percent of the cases," Barbour wrote. "The 26 people released from custody due to clemency is just slightly more than one-tenth of 1 percent of those incarcerated."
    Hood said he is questioning the release of many of the 175 individuals who received full pardons.
    The pardons are "a slap in the face to everyone in law enforcement and Governor Barbour should be ashamed," Hood said.
    Barbour's full pardon of Gatlin has intensified fears that the man will try "to finish what he started," one of his surviving victims said.
    "I feel like my safety is in jeopardy," Randy Walker, who was shot and wounded by Gatlin, said Wednesday. "I wonder if he's going to finish what he's started."
    Gatlin walked into a trailer in 1993 where his estranged wife, Tammy Ellis, lived and shot her in the head as she held their 6-week-old baby in her arms. She died of her wounds.
    Walker, the woman's friend, survived a gunshot wound to the head.
    Gatlin was convicted of murder, aggravated assault and burglary of a residence.
    In an interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien, Walker and Tiffany Ellis Brewer -- Tammy's sister -- expressed concerns about the release and fears that Gatlin may intend to target them.
    "I'm married and have a family again," Walker said. "I feel the safety for them is an issue. Anybody that might be with me at the time that he decides to do something would be in jeopardy."
    Gatlin's pardon also raised concerns from John Kitchens, the prosecutor who saw him sent to prison.
    "Haley Barbour is insane for granting a pardon to this criminal," said Kitchens, who is now in private practice.
    Brewer said Barbour -- who left office this week -- hasn't directly responded to questions about the pardon.
    "He will not comment on anything. We have no answers as to why he has done this. I would like to think he did not have all of the facts of the case, if he did have all the facts," she said.
    Barbour's successor, Phil Bryant, was inaugurated Tuesday.
    Barbour, who served eight years in the governor's office, had previously granted full pardons to three other convicted killers in 2008. Another three were awarded conditional or indefinite releases during his time in office -- meaning the governor, in total, granted reprieves to 20 convicted murderers, the documents showed.
    Since the conservative governor took office in 2004, 222 people were granted clemency for a wide variety of crimes. Those who have been granted full pardons include shoplifters, rapists, burglars and embezzlers.
    There were also a number who were found guilty of either manslaughter or homicide, who were given unconditional pardons.
    Barbour is a long-time GOP operative, serving as the chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997, working as an aide in the Reagan administration and taking part in the 1988 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush. He also is considered one of Washington's most-powerful lobbyists.

    CNN's Ed Lavandera, Rich Phillips, Vivian Kuo and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

    Bloomberg Love Affair With Lady Gaga Upstages State of the City Speech

    Bloomberg Love Affair With Lady Gaga Upstages State of the City Speech

    (Mayor's Office)
    MANHATTAN — The love affair continues.
    In a parody video played before the State of the City address, Mayor Michael Bloomberg bopped awkwardly after asking a livery cab driver to flip on some Lady Gaga, with whom he shared a very public smooch on New Year's Eve in Times Square.
    In the clip, which was played before the mayor's address at Morris High School in the Bronx, Bloomberg hails a livery cab to take him to the speech.
    Along the way, he asks the driver to turn on the radio and play some Lady Gaga.
    When the driver flips on Bloomberg radio, the mayor says: "No not that, what about something with Lady Gaga?"
    Hizzoner can then be seen busting some moves in the back of the cab as the music plays.
    During the ride, he passes some cyclists who are riding in the street and yells at them to stay in the bike lane, one of his major projects during his three terms in office.
    He also passes former Mayor Ed Koch, who asks his trademark question, "How am I doing?"
    Tom Liddy By Tom Liddy,

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Republicon Governor Pardon's Murderers

    By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY

    Updated 1h 23m ago

    An uproar over some of the 200 pardons -- including murder cases -- granted by outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has prompted some lawmakers to propose bills to curb pardons by future governors, The Clarion-Ledger reports.
    Relatives of crime victims had voiced outrage Monday after it was revealed that the Republican governor, on his last days in office, had pardoned four convicted murderers. Those men had worked at the governor's mansion as part of a prison trusty program.
    A list released by the Mississippi Secretary of State's Office on Tuesday showed some of the convicted killers were pardoned, while others were given medical or conditional releases. Barbour had released five other convicted killers in 2008, the Associated Press reports.
    "My reaction was like everybody else's: It's like, what? It's shocking, just by the sheer number," said House Minority Leader Bobby Moak, a Democrat. "It takes people aback."
    Barbour has declined to comment on the pardons.
    Among those pardoned were Earnest Scott Favre, older brother of retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, convicted of driving drunk and causing his friend's death.
    Two bills sponsored by Rep. David Baria, a Democrat, would require a public hearing before a felony offender can be pardoned and will preclude those convicted of capital murder from serving as trusties at the governor's mansion.
    It is a custom in Mississippi for governors to pardon those trusties who serve at the historic residence.
    "There is no doubt that, with everything swirling around right now, hopefully, the Legislature has a better opportunity to pass this legislation," Moak said.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Republicon Taliban

    Rick Perry, now there's a good conservative for you.
    He just loves the fetus, I mean, he loves the fetus.
    He'd do anything for a fetus.
    He'd send armed agents into your bedroom to see when you and your wife were making love, then have them watch you for 9 months to make sure nothing happened to that fetus.

    But he hates the child.
    Like most conservatives, he believes life begins at conception and ends at birth.
    He executed 240 men in three years, and someone asked, “Knowing that 10% of the people you executed are probably innocent, does it bother you that you may have put innocent people to death?”
    “Not at all.” He responded to thunderous Republicon applause.
    He's a typical Republicon.
    Just not as good a speaker as some of he others,
    He's not sophisticated.

    It's been said that conservatives are like the Taliban.
    Conservatives and the Taliban both hate change.
    The Taliban yearns fondly for the good old days of the 8th century, when you could hack your wife's head off with nary a peep from the do-gooders.
    Republicons yearn for the good old days of the fifties, when blacks, women and gays “knew their place.”
    They both believe in using force to have others obey their version of morality.
    The Taliban throws acid in girls faces to prevent them from going to school, Republicons toss children into violent, crime ridden prisons for using drugs that they, the conservatives disapprove of.
    When asked about women's equality Perry quipped. “I ain't never met a woman who could whoop me in a fight.”
    I guess he hasn't met Katie Holmes.
    She would “treat him ugly.”

    Then there's Mittens Romney.
    He's like Fatah to Perry's Hamas.
    He signed into law once of the most progressive health bills around, and has spent the rest of his time denying it.
    Perry comes right out and says ”People who don't have health care and get sick should just die.”
    Then there is Santorum, on health care; “poor people who don't have health care need to cut down on luxury items, like cell phones and cars.”
    Does that remind anyone of Gingrich' suggestion that poor black kids should scrub the urinals of their more fortunate classmates, to learn how to make money other than being a pimp or drug dealer?

    Well, Bachmann and her gay husband are gone.
    That should give “Doctor” Bachmann a lot more time to “discipline” the gay barbarians.
    To the pizza guy I say, “Blame yourself.”
    Ron Paul is done, it's not that he's a racist, it's that he was too vocal about it, and hence, unelectable.
    Also, he'd put a lot of Republicon owned defense contractors out of business.

    Now if Rick Perry was talking sense, he would just be an inarticulate guy making sense.
    Instead, he's an inarticulate guy that wants to turn America into a vast, fascist, corporate state.
    That's the Republicon dream.
    Believe it.

    Most of my readers are too young to remember Barry Goldwater.
    He was a conservative that loved America.
    That used to be a part of being a conservative.
    Bill Buckley was a conservative, as well, but he likewise loved America.
    Now, I didn't agree with most of Buckley's views, I thought he was just wrong, but not malicious, like todays gaggle of “conservatives”.

    As Barry Goldwater's daughter said recently, “If my Dad saw these people who call themselves conservatives today, he wouldn't be able to stop puking..”

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012


    by R J Shulman
    WASHINGTON – (PTSD News Service) – Desperate to field a viable presidential candidate, in an otherwise field of dismal or freakish wannabes, several Republican Party leaders planned to reach out to Jesus to get him to carry the GOP presidential banner for 2012.  However, before Jesus could even be asked, he was rejected by a poll of the Republican party rank and file for being too liberal.

    “Our polls showed that Jesus could do very well against Obama in the general election, especially as we could frame the choice as being between Christ and the Anti-Christ,” said Jib Cutter, a GOP research analyst, “but the problem is that Jesus gave out free healthcare by healing the sick, acted like a socialist by wanting everyone to help the poor, and was a dark-skinned fellow of the Jewish persuasion, all things that will be soundly rejected by the religious right.”

    “We needed the Anti-Romney and Anti-Obama all rolled into one candidate and thought Jesus could fill those shoes,” said Wayne Church, a GOP spokesperson, “but the guy doesn’t wear shoes, but instead walks around in hippie sandals.”   Rex Barker, another GOP strategist said it was just as well that Jesus proved not to be Christian enough, “There really wasn’t enough time for Jesus to be fully vetted.  Heck we don’t even know what the ‘H’ stands for that’s his middle name.”

    Others thought Jesus would be weak on the war on terror.  “When Jesus should be shock and awing the enemy, he might turn the other cheek,” said Connie Langdale, of the Maryland Republican Party.  “While he doesn’t have the kind of marriage and divorce baggage of someone like Gingrich,” said Bub Sacklane, a Wichita, Kansas Republican, “he has been known to hang out with prostitutes.  Plus I would have felt a bit more comfortable if Jesus had turned the water to beer instead of wine, because wine is just too darn French and gay.”

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Why Do Conservatives Hate America?

    Posted on Oct 12, 2009

    White House / Pete Souza

    Conservatives may not like Obama, but they ought to salute his achievement. It is, after all, an honor for the country as well as the man.

    Somebody explain this to me: The president of the United States wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and Rush Limbaugh joins with the Taliban in bitterly denouncing the award? Glenn Beck has a conniption fit and demands that the president not accept what may be the world’s most prestigious honor? The Republican National Committee issues a statement sarcastically mocking our nation’s leader—elected, you will recall, by a healthy majority—as unworthy of such recognition?
    Why, oh why, do conservatives hate America so?
    OK, I know, it’s just some conservatives who’ve been exhibiting what they, in a different context, surely would describe as “Hanoi Jane” behavior. Others who haven’t taken leave of their political senses—and are familiar with the concept of manners—responded to President Barack Obama’s unexpected award with equanimity and even grace. Sen. John McCain, for example, offered his good-natured congratulations.
    Some of Obama’s most strident critics, however, just can’t give it a rest. They use words like farce and travesty, as if there were always universal agreement on the worthiness of the Nobel peace laureate. Does anyone remember the controversy over Henry Kissinger or Yasser Arafat or F.W. de Klerk?
    The problem for the addlebrained Obama-rejectionists is that the president, as far as they are concerned, couldn’t possibly do anything right, and thus is unworthy of any conceivable recognition. If Obama ended all hunger in the world, they’d accuse him of promoting obesity. If he solved global warming, they’d complain it was getting chilly. If he got Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu to join him around the campfire in a chorus of “Kumbaya,” the rejectionists would claim that his singing was out of tune.
    Let the rejectionists fulminate and sputter until they wear themselves out. Politically, they’re only bashing themselves. As Republican leaders—except RNC Chairman Michael Steele—are beginning to realize, “I’m With the Taliban Against America” is not likely to be a winning slogan.
    More interesting, but no less goofy, is the recommendation—by otherwise sane commentators—that Obama should decline the award. This is ridiculous.
    If the award just represented the political views of a handful of left-leaning, self-satisfied Norwegian Eurocrats, as some critics have charged, then it wouldn’t matter whether Obama won it or not. But of course it means much more. The Nobel Peace Prize, irrespective of the idiosyncratic process that selects its winner, is universally recognized as a stamp of the world’s approval. For an American president to reject such a token of approval would be absurdly counterproductive.
    Obama has shifted U.S. foreign policy away from George W. Bush’s cowboy ethos toward a multilateral approach. He envisions, and has begun to implement, a different kind of U.S. leadership that I believe is more likely to succeed in an interconnected, multipolar world. That this shift is being noticed and recognized is to Obama’s credit—and to our country’s.
    The peace prize comes as Obama is in the midst reviewing war strategy in Afghanistan. Some advocates for sending additional troops are complaining—and some advocates of a pullout are hoping—that the award may somehow limit the president’s options. But the prize is nothing more than an acknowledgment of what Obama has been saying and doing thus far. He hardly needs to be reminded of his philosophy of international relations—or that he once called Afghanistan a “war of necessity.” Threading that needle is not made any easier or harder by the Nobel committee’s decision.
    What I really don’t understand is the view that somehow there’s a tremendous downside for Obama in the award. It raises expectations, these commentators say—as if expectations of any American president, and especially this one, were not already sky-high. Obama has taken on the rescue of the U.S. financial system and the long-term restructuring of the economy. He has launched historic initiatives to revolutionize health care, energy policy and the way we educate our children. He said flatly during the campaign that he wants to be remembered as a transformational president.
    The only reasonable response is McCain’s: Congratulations. Nothing, not even the Nobel Peace Prize, can set the bar any higher for President Obama than he’s already set it for himself.
    Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)   
    © 2009, Washington Post Writers Group