A couple of weeks ago, Senator Rand Paul did a courageous and unusual thing by visiting Howard University in DC. Howard is what is known as a “historically black university,” founded in the wake of the Civil War to provide opportunities for higher education to African-Americans. It’s not exactly home turf for Republicans, but that’s precisely why Paul went, in order to bridge a massive gap that is hurting the GOP.
Response to his visit was mixed, but yesterday, NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous wrote a generally supportive op-ed on CNN. Although noting that Paul missed his target in most areas, there is one area that has promise:
Paul struck out when he tried to equate today’s Republican Party with the party of Abraham Lincoln, while ignoring much of the 150 years in between. (He even acknowledged his mistakes shortly after). But his willingness to step up to the plate can provide a lesson for a GOP struggling to get on top.
Republicans will not win black votes by paying lip service to party history while attacking social programs and voting rights. But they can make inroads by showing a commitment to civil rights, something Paul managed to do briefly in his remarks.
I’m going to admit, I’ve been pretty freaked out by the Obama campaign this year. I’ve seen them ask people to forgo birthday presents and instead ask for money to be donated to the campaign. That one gave me chills, honestly (Ha Ha, my pretty! All your presents are belong to me!) We’ve had some pretty creepy emails earlier in the year, including “Wishing Michelle Obama a Happy Mother’s Day.” (Some sound like they were written by a dejected stalker.)
And now we have this very creepy image of Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, and this photo of celebrities with hand signs of loyalty to the president.
Isn’t this just beyond the pale, just a little bit?
I hate to say this, because I know every single person is going to say “GODWIN!” but back in the thirties there was this political demagogue in Germany who had his fans give a very distinctive hand salute, and they all used it, and they became something of a cult. Yes, I’m talking about Hitler. And while I don’t think that Obama is a fascist, the similarities are kinda hard to ignore.
A few weeks ago we brought you a video from an Occupy meeting where the stated goal was to overthrow capitalism. A few commenters took issue with this, claiming it was an isolated statement and that Occupy is a loose-knit group.
I had the opportunity to be with the Occupy protesters at the RNC and the DNC over the past few weeks and I can assuredly tell you that it is not an isolated statement. True, there are many groups represented at the demonstrations, and maybe not all of them will outright say that they want to overthrow capitalism. But when you promote a socialist economy, by definition you are advocating the overthrow of capitalism.
I covered the “March on the RNC” in Tampa and was able to have a conversation with a socialist marcher about the economy:
A few of his comments deserve special attention.
“We need to tax the wealthiest people in the country, who aren’t paying their fair share - it’s not shared sacrifice for them.”
This is a common refrain among not only the Occupy movement but among liberals in general. Consider that the top 20 percent of earners - going way beyond the famed 1 percent - makes a little more than half the money yet pays two-thirds of the federal taxes. And once you hit $200,000 in adjusted gross income, your tax rate nearly doubles - going from an average of 11.9 percent to 19.6 percent.
There are dumb ideas…and then there are really dumb ideas. And then there are, so to say, Congressional politicians. We’re not quite at that level yet, but it seems like it. I am of course, referring to a rather silly piece in Slate magazine titled “Let’s Nationalize Facebook,” written by one Phillip N. Howard, a professor of communications and information technology from the University of Washington. His reasons for doing so are:
Over the last several years, Facebook has become a public good and an important social resource. But as a company, it is behaving badly, and long term, that may cost it: A spring survey found that almost half of Americans believe that Facebook will eventually fade away. Even the business side has been a bit of a disaster lately, with earnings lower than expected and the news that a significant portion of Facebook profiles are fake. If neither users nor investors can be confident in the company, it’s time we start discussing an idea that might seem crazy: nationalizing Facebook.
What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.
During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.
Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.
Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
The only thing missing from Fred’s shooting range in North Carolina is John William’s score from The Patriot. You’ve got the rag-tag assortment of American everymen, you’ve got the red coat targets, and you’ll even feel a little of the same sense of urgency the American militiamen must’ve felt in the mid-1770’s.
Spending a weekend at an “Appleseed” rifleman school is not only a wise investment of money and time, it’s a whole lot of fun! Hosted by the Revolutionary War Veteran’s Association (RWVA), the Appleseed program is acutely in touch with the importance marksmanship can have on history, as they refer to April 19, 1775 (the day of the “shot heard ‘round the world”) as the day “marksmanship met history, and heritage was born.”
Last week, a scary new report came out from the Associated Press on the drug cartels presence in the continental United States:
Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
Cartel activity in the U.S. is certainly not new. Starting in the 1990s, the ruthless syndicates became the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, using unaffiliated middlemen to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and heroin beyond the border or even to grow pot here.
But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
“It’s probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime,” said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office.
On Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) made a historic stand filibustering the nomination of John Brennan over the federal government’s claim that it has the right to kill Americans on American soil, redefining “imminence,” “battlefield,” and “war” in general. The nation tuned in to see what I consider to be the most courageous political act in modern American history.
The #StandWithRand hashtag exploded on Twitter, and Rand Paul was ultimately joined by fourteen others in his filibuster: in order, Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Jerry Moran, Ron Wyden (a Democrat), Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Saxby Chambliss, John Cornyn, John Barasso, Ron Johnson, John Thune, Jeff Flake, Tim Scott, and Mitch McConnell (the Minority Leader). Every Senator who joined Rand Paul should be congratulated as they gave him both physical and political strength to go longer, and therein make a HUGE stride in advancing the Freedom Movement.
Above, watch Obama Administration Press Secretary Jay Carney explain that the drone strikes are “legal”, “ethical”, and “wise.” This has got to be one the biggest loads of crap I have heard since Obama was elected in 2008.
The legality of these drone strikes is highly questionable, as Doug Mataconis notes over at OTB. I fully expect court challenges to these strikes. Whether or not they succeed is a matter of speculation for people far more trained in the arcane arts of the law than I.
They are certainly not ethical. There have always been deep ethical qualms about killing human beings. In the modern era, we have notions such as due process, trials, courts of appeal, and judicial oversight, as well as punishment for those who kill wrongly. In combat situations, we accept homicide as par for the course, with both sides shooting at each other to kill. But this is not the same situation. This is picking an individual and raining missiles on him via robot death kites. This is not war. This is assassination. There are no restraints nor oversight. If you have a code of ethics that allows you to just kill people, on a whim, without any restraint whatsoever, you are a deeply troubled person and should be committed to a mental hospital. When will Obama go?
They are most definitely not wise. If anything, the drone strikes have only hardened al-Qaeda against us, and have turned us into enemies to the locals there, killing and maiming at will. Is it wise to “double-tap” targets and blow up emergency responders? Is it wise when only one in fifty of our victims are actually bad guys? No, this is not wise. This is most certainly unwise.
Naomi Wolf—eeeeeeek! I know, I know, but bear with me, please—had a very interesting column in the Guardian about a new independent documentary called Dirty Wars, tracking the use of secret assassins by the US government. It neatly dovetails with the recent release of a DOJ memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on Americans. Together, the two items reveal that we are living in a very different world, one where the American president has unlimited power to kill anybody, without any sort of legal repercussions whatsoever.
The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global “war on terror”. It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home – and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation’s contemporary history.