Friday, May 20, 2011

"Moment of Opportunity" President Obama's speech on the Middle East (VIDEO)

First off, I'm glad the White House kept Sec. Clinton's introduction in the video. I heard it live and it was pretty good and, more to the point, illuminating.

The Fireside Chat for May 20th, 2011 (VIDEO)

Having just given the commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, which has made inspiring progress in recent years, the President says Congress must replace No Child Left Behind to help all our schools thrive.

Wow, and to think, for a minute there, I was worried about running against Jon Huntsman...

Via TPM:

In his first major television interview of his likely presidential campaign rollout this morning, former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman avoided his own Newt Gingrich moment. The House Republican plan to privatize Medicare? Count Huntsman in.

"I would've voted for it," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos Friday morning. "Including the Medicare provisions."

Nice knowing ya, Jon. Not only are you toast for 2012 (we knew that anyway), but any hope you had to run and win in 2016 (which even I believed), just went up in smoke.

When will these people learn??  (And by "these people, I mean Richard Lugar, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, John McCain, Claire McCaskill)  A Tiger not only cannot, but should not change his or her stripes.  The people elected you for a reason, and these last minute personality reconfigurations to please a narrow constituency are a consistently losing strategy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TPM: Chuck Grassley decides to help out!

Chuck Grassley, never one of America's brighest Senators (or people for that matter) decides to help out!

"Sometimes I hear Mitch Daniels and I thought, maybe I oughta back him because it would be an opportunity to show that people who don't have charisma could be elected president," Grassley joked in a conference call with reporters today.

Grassley, who was asked about the importance of personal magnetism as opposed to policy in a presidential race, later made a point of saying his comments were "tongue in cheek."

Tongue in cheek...riiiiight.

Better question @Lawrence, why does the American Public keep thinking Celebrities can Govern? (VIDEO)

Only Lawrence O'Donnell goes there. Fort McHenry is a little seen, seldom-used blog, so I can say things like "One of the biggest problems with America, is the American people"...meaning the mistakes the American people keep making...

...but Lawrence went there, if only a little bit.

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Rachel goes after Arnold...and reveals Arnold's inherent racism (VIDEO)

Just wait until the three minute mark, you'll see what I mean:

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Rachel's takedown of the Bush Republicans "Torture-got-Usama" Argument (VIDEO)

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Excuse me, Melissa Harris Perry, but you still have some Cornell West in your teeth...

It nice to see at least some of the Black Academic Community rising up and pronouncing Cornell West a fraud:

West may have had principled, even prophetic reasons, for choosing this outsider position relative to Obama, but it is dishonest to later frame that choice as a betrayal on the part of the President. After what I had written about Senator Clinton during the campaign I wasn't expecting an offer from the State Department.

Furthermore, West’s sense of betrayal is clearly more personal than ideological. In Hedges's article West claims that a true progressive would always put love of the people above concern with the elite and privileged. Then he complains, “I couldn’t get a ticket [to the inauguration] with my mother and my brother. I said this is very strange. We drive into the hotel and the guy who picks up my bags from the hotel has a ticket to the inauguration... We had to watch the thing in the hotel.” Let me get this straight—the tenured, Princeton professor who collects five figures for public lectures was relegated to a hotel television while an anonymous hotel worker got tickets to the inauguration! What kind of crazy, mixed up class politics are these? Wait a minute…

What exactly is so irritating to West about inaugural ticket-gate? It can't be a claim that the black, progressive intellectual community was unrepresented. Yale's Elizabeth Alexander was the poet that cold morning. It can't be that the "common man" was shut out because the Neighborhood Ball was reserved for the ordinary women and and men who worked to make Obama '08 possible. It must be a simple matter of jealous indignation. While I appreciate the humanness in such a reaction, it hardly counts as a prophetic critique.

Since the inaugural snub, Professor West has made his personal animosity and political criticism of the president his main public talking point. There was that hilariously bad documentary with Tavis Smiley and the rest of the Soul Patrol in 2009. There is the tiresome repetitiveness with which West invokes the name of his erstwhile Harvard nemesis Lawrence Summers as indicative of President Obama’s failed economic vision. And just a few weeks ago there was the eminently watchable screaming match on MSNBC where love-the-peoplc West called Rev. Al Sharpton a “mascot” for the Obama administration. Add to this three year screed the current Hedges article and it looks more like a pissing match than prophesy.

If there's a reason that Russ Feingold will never be Governor or Senator from Wisconsin...'s stuff like this:

The progressive icon eviscerated his former colleagues in an e-mail for his advocacy group Progressive United on Tuesday, accusing two prominent Democrats of enabling "corruption" by opposing new transparency measures on political donations.

"This culture of corporate influence and corruption is precisely what we as Progressives United want to change," he wrote. "So we've decided to take on those legislators who are unwilling to stand up to corporate power, and we're naming names."

The names included House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). In addition, the email targeted Sens. Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA).

Feingold accused the group of backing "corporate interests in Congress" by opposing an executive order under discussion in the White House that would require government contractors to reveal their political donations.

Let's be honest. He's right. He usually is, but he has a habit of being insufferable about it. (And this is a prime example of that).

Feingold's never been in love with the sound of his own voice (as most Senators are), but he is in love with his personal self-righteousness, and has no problem rubbing people's noses in it.

Yeah, I was born and raised in Steny Hoyer's District. Know all about him. Claire McCaskill is doing her level best to self-destruct in the Missouri Senate Race (and I could care less if she wins).

Still, do us all a favor Russ...don't write the Republican's Campaign Ads FOR THEM!!!

Look, at the end of the day, Russ is going to want his fellow Senators out there campaigning for him, sending out Emails raising money for him. Sniping at one's colleagues doesn't seem to be a good way to get that done.

Jonathan Cohn talks about a warning from the Courts to Obamacare opponents...

From today's piece:

At the moment, the case against the law in the hands of the appellate courts. Three sets of cases are pending, each one before a different Circuit Court. Last week judges from the Fourth Circuit, which sits in Virginia, heard the first of these cases. Early next month, judges from the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, are supposed to hear the next one.

The Fourth Circuit judges, all of them Democratic appointees, seemed openly skeptical of arguments that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. But the Sixth Circuit panel will include two judges appointed by Republicans and just one appointed by a Democrat. Most experts figure they will be more sympathetic to the lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality or, at least, to the parties bringing it.

And maybe they will be. But, on Thursday, the judges sent a letter to lawyers from both parties. In it, they asked the lawyers to write briefs on three procedural questions. Two of them are about "standing" and "ripeness." (Or at least what I understand those concepts to be.)

The first question asks whether the plaintiffs can show they have suffered an injury or face an "imminent injury," even though the law doesn't take effect until 2014. The other asks for details on the penalties for violating the individual mandate and the extent to which they would actually cause "injury and hardship." As legal expert Timothy Jost and journalist Timothy Noah have pointed out, the law specifically prohibits the federal government from using criminal penalties to enforce the insurance requirement.

These questions are critical because, if the plaintiffs can't demonstrate that the Affordable Care Act has caused or will "imminently" cause them hardship, then they arguably have no right to challenge the law. And the Sixth Circuit judges don't seem to be the only ones pondering these issues. The Fourth Circuit judges, in Richmond, made a big deal about this in last week's oral arguments.

Lawrence O'Donnell spikes the football... (VIDEO)

Still think he should've named names...

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It's a sad, sad day in America when I have to agree with (shudder) Allen West...on anything.

Scott Keyes asked Rep. Allen West (the same Allen West who hired an anti-semetic Radio Show as his Chief of Staff before bailing on her), about Newt Ginrich's recent idea to basically reinstate the poll test as a method of screening out voters.

KEYES: Over the weekend, presidential contender Newt Gingrich came out and said he’d like to see some sort of poll test, throwing out the idea that maybe voters ought to have a certain standard knowledge of American history in order to be able to vote. What are your thoughts on that?

WEST: That’s going back to some times that my parents had to contend with. [...] I think that we need to do a better job educating our young men and women in school, but we don’t need to have a litmus test, no.

I know. I'm amazed too. A moment of clarity and sanity. But don't worry, Rep. West will soon say something else that will disgrace the country and the institution in which he serves.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hardall: Why the International Monetary Fund's Chief getting arrested matters (VIDEO)

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Race to the Top comes through for Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, TN (VIDEO)

I'm hoping they put the speech up somewhere, because it looks like a good time was had by all.

This last bit was first caught by The Only Adult In The Room:

Hmmm. Wonder if this'll satisfy Krugman.

Doubt it.

The White House is threatening to hold up final passage of three coveted free trade agreements unless lawmakers agree to expand retraining assistance for American workers who lose their jobs because of foreign competition.

The move comes as administration officials begin talks on Capitol Hill to finalize the agreements the White House reached to expand trade with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. President Barack Obama has said the deals are an integral part of his economic agenda, and the pacts have broad Republican support.

While administration officials have long said they supported expanding the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, or TAA, Monday's announcement was the first time aides said they would be willing to delay the deals without it.

"We will not submit the FTAs without an agreement on an enhanced TAA," said Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council. "But we also believe we can work on congressional leadership to get that accomplished."

60 Minutes: The growing threat of "Sovereign Citizens" (VIDEO)

Anyone who's been following the Militia movement has heard of these guys. Nevertheless, I'm glad 60 Minutes took some time to shine a spotlight on them in yesterday's broadcast:

(CBS News video can't get it's act together. The video that is coming through their "Embed this clip" button is of some magnetic kid from Croatia, and not the story I'm talking about. Hence, if you want to see the video, click here.)

It is interesting that this movement has a lot of clear ties to some very racist organizations in the past, yet there is Wesley Snipes, apparently (according to the piece) using Sovereign language in legal filings about his Tax Case.

Personally, I think that says more about Wesley Snipes than it does this movement.

The West Wing explains the Debt Ceiling

A great, great catch by Matthew Yglesias:

And it also could explain the President's strategy in the matter.