Home-grown terrorists look to be on the attack

According to the AP:

Media outlets are reporting that late-term abortion doctor George Tiller has been shot and killed at his church in Wichita, Kan.

Anonymous police sources told The Wichita Eagle and other media that the 67-year-old doctor was killed Sunday morning at Reformation Lutheran Church.

An arrest has been made, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Tiller, long an object of anti-abortion protests, had been shot once before and his clinic bombed. Tiller's clinic had been vandalized earlier this month, as reported by another AP article.

Limbaugh on Sotomayor

Bug-eyed Pat rides again

TPM kindly provides this gem:


One hand gives, the other takes away

Michael Perelman identifies here what must be considered an instance of political Darwinism in the Obama and Bush crisis management efforts:

During the Vietnam War, a U.S. soldier seems to have anticipated the spirit of the current economic policy, explaining: "we had to destroy the village in order to save it." The difference today is that while the government destroys villages of the working classes, it is devoting enormous [sic] to improve the castles of the rich.

Anyone can see the care and feeding of bankers and financiers, while treating much of the rest of the economy with an iron fist.

The problem is compounded because alongside the federal stimulus, funding for state and local government is falling off the cliff, in effect, neutralizing much of the stimulus. This contradiction in economic policy is nothing new.

These policies would be politically Darwinistic since the hand which effects the destruction of the misfits can be easily seen by anyone who cares to look.


Politics as usual…

Paul Krugman's latest article would rebuke those economists and pundits who believe the United States will soon or eventually suffer through a dangerous bout of inflation, with the coming price instability caused by the Obama recovery-stimulus program. Yet "Deflation," Krugman claims, "not inflation, is the clear and present danger." Why, then, would the fear-mongers miss this point, assuming Krugman rightly claims that deflation is the real threat? Krugman believes they have an axe to grind and are thus politicking the issue:

…it's hard to escape the sense that the current inflation fear-mongering is partly political, coming largely from economists who had no problem with deficits caused by tax cuts but suddenly became fiscal scolds when the government started spending money to rescue the economy. And their goal seems to be to bully the Obama administration into abandoning those rescue efforts.

Needless to say, the president should not let himself be bullied. The economy is still in deep trouble and needs continuing help.

The market fundamentalists, it seems, would rather watch the economy collapse than to see the federal government implement the kind and number of reforms needed to effective manage the crisis.

G-20 to meet next in a rust-belt city

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "…Pittsburgh will host the G-20 world economic summit Sept. 24-25 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center." Naturally, the crises of the moment — the world economic crisis and the ecological crisis — will provide the prime topics on the agenda.

Why Pittsburgh? According to the Post-Gazette:

White House officials said they focused on Pittsburgh because of the city's economic recovery from the decline of the steel industry in the 1980s, and because of its leadership in environmentally friendly buildings. The administration also is funding research on solar window panels under development for office buildings by PPG Industries.

Briefly put, the White House believes Pittsburgh to be a post-industrial success story.


Torture advocate opposes Sotomayor nomination

John Yoo, a professor of law at Berkeley, a one-time legal counselor to the Bush regime, once a clerk to Clarence Thomas and currently an object of a Spanish war crimes trial, discusses Obama's first Supreme Court nomination:

President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor shows that empathy has won out over excellence in the White House. Sotomayor has sterling credentials: Princeton, Yale Law School, former prosecutor, and federal trial and appellate judge. But credentials do not an excellent justice make. Justice Souter, whom Sotomayor would replace, had an equally fine c.v., but turned out to be a weak force on the high court.

Empathy versus excellence… It seems Yoo believes Judge Sotomayor, like Souter before her, will produce results he dislikes, that will offend his political sensibilities, that he believes will be less-than-excellent and that she will be a probable "weak force" on the Court. Like Souter, she also has the bona fides of a successful lawyer…. Yet these are not enough to satisfy Yoo, who continues:

She will not bring to the table the firepower that many liberal academics are asking for. There are no opinions that suggest she would change the direction of constitutional law as have Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, or Robert Bork and Richard Posner on the appeals courts. Liberals have missed their chance to put on the Court an intellectual leader who will bring about a progressive revolution in the law.

Now, it seems, Sotomayor will produce results Yoo could live with because her rulings will not likely disturb the constitutional fundamentalism associated with the Reagan Revolution and its aftermath! Since this belief — that Sotomayor is a lightweight that will hew to the fundamentalist program —leaves Yoo without a point to drive home in his critique of the Sotomayor nomination, his course changes to:

But conservatives should not be pleased simply because Sotomayor is not a threat to the conservative revolution in constitutional law begun under the Reagan administration. Conservatives should defend the Supreme Court as a place where cases are decided by a faithful application of the Constitution, not personal politics, backgrounds, and feelings.

In Yoo's judgment, then, although Sotomayor lacks the intellectual power required by a Supreme Court justice and poses no threat to the Reagan Revolution as it pertains to constitutional law, she will still somehow impose her prejudices on her Court rulings, an imposition that will undermine the "faithful application of the Constitution." Her inclination to rely upon her biography and her empathy thus makes her unworthy of a seat on the Court.

Yoo, unsurprisingly, does not address the issues raised by his strange argument, issues that follow from the misalignment between his prediction that Sotomayor will pose no threat to the Reagan Revolution in constitutional law and his prediction that Sotomayor will bring unworthy prejudgments to this lofty post and then impose them on her jurisprudential work. Of course, the tension between the beliefs which support the two predictions dissipates a bit if one were to accept that constitutional fundamentalism of the conservative stripe is logically consistent with some instances of constitutional prejudice, namely, those prejudices typical of a constitutional fundamentalist. A prudent person might even expect these acceptable prejudices to mirror Yoo's own! But tensions in Yoo's position would persist and remain effective even if one were to accept that constitutional fundamentalism is consistent with some instances of constitutional prejudice. If prejudices are unacceptable, why then should anyone accept those attributable to a constitutional fundamentalist? They should not accept them if they wish to remain logically consistent.

Inconsistency does not appear to bother Yoo. He does attempt to avoid problems of this sort by relying upon what can be called the shotgun technique of criticism: One can expect to down one's prey if one hits it with an adequate amount of buckshot. Thus Yoo's recourse to an ad hoc collection of criticisms of Sotomayor's nomination.

Of course, killing Sotomayor's candidacy by using this method does not conform at all to the ideal of a reasoned deliberation over the merits of a particular candidate for the Supreme court, her legal positions and past work or, for that matter, of the norms that ought to be used when considering a candidate for the Supreme Court. Yoo's criticism is not really criticism at all. It is, rather, just another political hatchet job.

There is plenty of money for empire while California collapses

Robert Scheer worries about the failure of the Obama regime to address directly and with a workable blueprint for solving California's budget crisis. As well he should given the attack California now plans to make on its safety-net and education system:

Bail out the banks, but not the 500,000 poor families with children served by the CalWorks program, which will be dismantled, or the 928,000 children covered by the Healthy Families program, slated for oblivion.

At a time when the feds are spending with such abandon in an effort to stimulate the economy why is it tolerable to leave states in a position where they are forced to fire teachers? As the Los Angeles Times reported: "Schwarzenegger has proposed slashing state spending on education by $3 billion to help close the budget gap, and the state would pay dearly for canceling classes, firing instructors, cutting class days and shortening the school year, experts said." How can there be federal funds readily available for banker bonuses but not to keep teachers in the classroom with their students? It must have been the kids who caused the meltdown.

Scheer could have also included the money wasted on America's national-security and surveillance state and the empire that state advances.


Obama takes after “Slick Willie”

While addressing Barack Obama's recent National Security speech, Marjorie Cohn rightly asserts:

The pressure [produced mostly by the Reactionary Noise Machine] has caused Obama to buckle [on his decision to close Guantanamo Bay prison]. Timed to coincide with a Cheney speech to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, Obama announced an appeasement plan to deal with the 240 remaining Guantánamo detainees. Parts of his plan would threaten the very foundation of our legal system — that no one should be held in custody if he has committed no crime.

"Unsurprisingly, Republicans are jubilant" with the new Obama, according to Joanne Mariner. They are elated, in Mariner's reckoning, because they can now plausibly represent "…Obama's reversal as a belated embrace of the Bush administration's war on terror, their tone is unabashedly triumphant." Obama's stance has been called "Cheneyism-without-Cheney," an apt depiction of a president who has done little more than to provide a bit of whitewash to America's empire and its criminal actions.

By applying the term appeasement in this instance Cohn thereby invokes the Munich Pact of 1938 which sealed the Sudetenland's fate and has come to represent a cynical and foolish real politics in action, a display of cowardice in the face of a mortal threat and the willingness of the powerful to betray the weak in order to gain meager advantages. Her use of the term also indirectly calls to mind Bill Clinton's infamous triangulation strategy, the net effect of which was to move the Democratic Party rightward without, however, slaking the crude desires of the reactionaries. Briefly put, it can be argued that Bill Clinton prepared the country for the militarism and authoritarianism of the George W. Bush regime with his triangulation strategy. He managed this feat by making a Republican program appear normal and inevitable. Appeasement is thus a powerfully critical symbol in this case. By relying upon this power Cohn suggests that Obama's new prisoner detention policy amounts to his capitulation to America's neoconservatives, militarists and imperialists, which is to say, to an evil within our midst.

Finally, it can be said that Obama's latest position not only advocates illegal and unconstitutional actions and institutions, as must be the case given America's treaty commitments and its constitutional safeguards against this kind of behavior, it also effects his greatest betrayal of the Americans who voted for him in the last election, a political outcome that clearly reflected a deep popular dissatisfaction with the kind of policies Obama now promotes. It is clear today that America's electoral mechanism and party system lack the power needed to restrain America's criminal state. More is needed if the country wishes to effectively refuse to become a massive gulag.


California here we come….

Krugman opines:

…the California [fiscal and political crisis] still has me rattled. Who would have thought that America's largest state, a state whose economy is larger than that of all but a few nations, could so easily become a banana republic?

Krugman — rightly — blames the infamous Proposition 13 and, transitively, every bit of the Reaganite foolishness that followed. The greater danger the California crisis prefigures, a danger applicable to the country as a whole, could be more easily managed at the federal level but for the rightwing economic thinking that still pervades the land. The key battle remains political in character.

Sotomayor it is

According to The New York Times, Barack Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor for David Souter's position on the Supreme Court. A Hispanic woman of Puerto Rican descent, Sotomayor's presence would diversify the ethnic and gender composition of the Court, which remains composed mostly of crusty old white guys and white guy wannabes (Thomas), if her nomination were to make its way through the Senate.

As one would expect, the reactionary right has already begun to stockpile the ammunition (she is a liberal activist) it will use to combat Sotomayor's candidacy. Their standards are so exacting….

It’s the spoilage that’s the problem

Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism wonders if the United States and Great Britain are too spoiled to implement the reforms needed to resolve the economic crisis. It goes without saying that one should look for America's bratty children mostly on Wall Street and in Washington:

If the US cannot stand to make risk capital like bondholders take a whack (heavens, no, we cannot make hapless funds take losses, better to dump it on taxpayers who have no ready way to complain), it goes without saying that we are wildly unprepared for any sort of real hardship. Yet as the experience of other financial crisis countries suggests, taking the hit from bankruptcies and resturcturings and cleaning up banking systems faster is associated with steeper initial downturns and rapid rebounds.

And if we don't take our medicine, I fear it will be imposed on us later by events regardless.

I suspect the United States will find it much more difficult than Great Britain when it events impose austerity measures on the local economy. The reason: The Messianic vision, the sense of entitlement and the wish for omnipotence, all of which contribute into making the core of America's political culture. America can only be the wealthiest, strongest and bestest country in the world. Denial thus suits Americans all too well, and they will have great need to practice this art in the future.


Books = dinosaurs?

Elisabeth Sifton, writing for The Nation, ruminates over the depressing fate looming over the publishing industry. While doing so she rightly points out that:

Over the past twenty years, as we've thrown ourselves eagerly into a joy ride on the Information Superhighway, we've been learning to read, and been reading, differently; and books aren't necessarily where we start or end our education. The unprofitable chaos of the book business today indicates, among other things, that slow, almost invisible transformations as well as rapid helter-skelter ones have wrecked old reading habits (bad and good) and created new ones (ditto). In the cacophony of modern American commerce, we hear incoherent squeals of dying life-forms along with the triumphant braying and twittering of new human expression.

This shift in focus, which also marks an alteration in our modern habitus, one which mimics three previous disruptions driven by the emergence of the motion picture, radio and television media, depends upon more than the power, allure and profitability of the internet and the communication devices which depend upon it. It also depends upon the uses modern individuals make of their capacity to read, think and communicate. And it depends even more upon what a modern society expects from its inhabitants. A society such as that found in the United States today, a society in which most individuals are mere worker bees, has no need to sponsor the formation of an informed, sophisticated and active culture. A culture like this would be systematically dysfunctional. Moreover, worker bees would find the capacities to reflect, will, judge and act burdens in their bee-lives. Having these qualities would give them only a sense of alienation and anomie, for they would cease to be mere worker bees once they have completed their acquisitions. They would be instead human beings and potential citizens conforming to their worker bee role.

I would suggest that, insofar as modern societies today approach this dystopian ideal, it is to that degree that books, magazines and newspapers become luxury items which only the leisure class and soundly-vetted professionals have time to use and create. Twitter and Facebook, picture magazines and Fox News will remain the home places for the majority.

Sifton, to her credit, does not torment herself with false hopes:

It is a confused, confusing and very fluid situation, and no one can predict how books and readers will survive. Changed reading habits have already transformed and diminished them both. I, for one, don't trust the book trade to see us through this. Wariness is in order. Three centuries ago, John Locke agreed that we shouldn't base our freedom to read books on the proclaimed good offices of the business itself. "Books seem to me to be pestilent things," he wrote in 1704, "and infect all that trade in them...with something very perverse and brutal. Printers, binders, sellers, and others that make a trade and gain out of them have universally so odd a turn and corruption of mind, that they have a way of dealing peculiar to themselves, and not conformed to the good of society, and that general fairness that cements mankind."

Yet history will not end anytime soon. And bookworms can find a bit of hope in the fact that book writing and reading has already survived the Dark Ages, the Catholic Church, the Reformation, Fascism, Stalinism and much else. Books may, then, survive the coming Dark Age too.


An emerging campaign to disbar Bush’s torture lawyers

The organizer of the campaign: Velvet Revolution. A page dedicated to the campaign may be found here, and includes the rationale behind the campaign, the names of the lawyers targeted, the supporting documentation and lists of individual and organizational campaign endorsers.

So far, as every politically sentient being knows, the Bush apparatchiks who organized and justified America's recent torture regime have escaped justice. This campaign would be a start.


Factional struggle in the Florida GOP and beyond

The Washington Independent reports that "[t]he coming Florida primary is shaping up to be the most brutal of the ideological primaries." The reason, according to the Independent:

Florida's Republican Senate primary has quickly become a contest between the party's base and its national leadership. Since the start of the Obama administration, the national party has attempted to capture the energy of the base by endorsing anti-spending Tea Parties, opposing the Democratic agenda, and blaming the losses of 2006 and 2008 on a move away from fiscal conservatism. At the same time, it has courted more moderate candidates like Florida's Crist, California's former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-Pa.). Until he became a Democrat this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee had supported Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) over conservative foot soldier Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania's Senate race. This disconnect between message and recruitment is starting to irk conservative activities and setting up heated primaries that the party would have preferred to avoid.

Briefly put, the Party's base has concluded that their national leaders count on their votes and support but do not represent their views. This conflict might generate the emergence of a GOP version of the Democratic Party's Leadership Council. It may also split the Republican Party.

Give the man a microphone

TPM reports that "Next Thursday, former Vice President Cheney will give a speech at the American Enterprise Institute making a global case for the Bush administration's use of torture and indefinite detainment of suspected terrorists as core parts of its War on Terror." Cheney's rancid explosions are like gifts from Heaven for critics of American militarism and the empire it supports. May he always have a bully pulpit from which to speak power's 'truth' to the sensible folk.


Obama picks a another Republican for a key position

Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) will leave the Utah governor's mansion to become America's next Ambassador to China, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Huntsman speaks Mandarin, served as an Ambassador to Singapore and has been mentioned as a potential Republican Presidential nominee in 2012.

Chuck Norris: Essayist, raconteur infomercial huckster

And a seditious one to boot!

On Glenn Beck's radio show last week, I quipped, in response to our wayward federal government, "I may run for president of Texas."

That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not I, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star State, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state.


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? We the people have the authority, according to America's Declaration of Independence, which states:

"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

One might expect greater loyalty to the nation from America's Über-patriots than the lackluster effort they have shown so far. Nevertheless, they have a right to express their bizarre thinking in public just as those of us who oppose them have a right to point to their hateful fulminations. I would suggest that their opponents ought to welcome their efforts. Their thinking neatly puts on display their arrogance, their love of power and their hatred for the country and its rich and contradictory legacy.

Naturally, Norris and his kind also fail to notice that they do not represent "We, the people" to the federal government or to a part of civil society any more than the positions expressed by Ralph Nader, Martin Luther King, Ignatius Donnelly, Eugene V. Debs or Nat Turner had back in their days. The phrase refers to a conceptual object and a political potential inherently a feature of a modern democracy, an object and capacity that is necessarily available to everyone and thus to an object that belongs to no one in particular. As such, any American can draw upon this object and power.


So true

Frank Rich's latest offers this observation:

IF you wanted to pick the moment when the American news business went on suicide watch, it was almost exactly three years ago. That's when Stephen Colbert, appearing at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, delivered a monologue accusing his hosts of being stenographers who had, in essence, let the Bush White House get away with murder (or at least the war in Iraq). To prove the point, the partying journalists in the Washington Hilton ballroom could be seen (courtesy of C-Span) fawning over government potentates — in some cases the very "sources" who had fed all those fictional sightings of Saddam Hussein's W.M.D.

Colbert's routine did not kill. The Washington Post reported that it "fell flat." The Times initially did not even mention it. But to the Beltway's bafflement, Colbert's riff went viral overnight, ultimately to have a marathon run as the most popular video on iTunes. The cultural disconnect between the journalism establishment and the public it aspires to serve could not have been more vividly dramatized.

It is now rather obvious that the mainstream press in the United States no longer observes the world so that American citizens can make informed judgments about that world. The mainstream press instead issues from the institutions it is meant to observe if it conformed to its ideal. As such, the mainstream press, taken as a whole, is a mere publicity mechanism and thus a tool of elite governance; it surely is not the institutional expression of some of the capacities inherent in a democratic concept of a citizen. Its system logic is that of the market in a for-profit, elite-driven, private property economy.


Another laugh-provoking assessment of the GOP

William Rivers Pitt shares this gem:

Even when they try to put a brave face on the situation, Republicans wind up sounding like the trombone player in the Titanic brass band. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was asked to comment about Specter waking up on the left side of the bed. "I will tell you that in 2010 we are working very hard to make sure that we have the kind of candidates across the country on a national scale," said Cornyn, "that will allow the Republican Party to regain our status as a national party, and run competitive races in blue states, and purple states, and in red states." Regain our status as a national party? That was, accidentally or otherwise, one of the most starkly accurate statements you're ever likely to hear from a Republican politician.

He concludes by identifying the justice one can easily find in the GOP's current low state:

The Republican Party is trapped within a toxic fused loop of it's own design. It relied on hate-peddlers like Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage to gin up the party base against all things Democrat, and now must live with that berserk party core being the most muscular component of their coalition. They embraced the Taliban Christians of the South and West, and are now bogged down in a culture war they are losing on all fronts. Every stitch in their trickle-down free-market economic ideology has popped and frayed. Worst of all, they are confronted by a massively popular Democratic president and near-total irrelevancy in Congress. Under these dire conditions, any vaguely moderate GOP voices are bound to be drowned out by the screechers and screamers.

It is unfortunate that the Democratic Party is a mere faded copy of the Republican. Because it is, because it has rejected the mildly social democratic reformism that characterized the New Deal and the Great Society years, America's rentier capitalists have nothing to fear from the Obama-Clinton wing of the Democratic Party. Empire, of course, is always on the agenda.


Wolves will come off the endangered species list

Hunters reach for their guns while wolves look for Kevlar jackets

The delisting will occur on Monday and refers specifically to the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes Regions, according to the Associated Press report.


Justice David Souter intends to retire this summer

A moderate on this right-leaning Supreme Court, Souter, according to the Associated Press, wishes to retire in order to flee permanently a Washington, DC he despises!

It goes without saying that the opportunity to appoint Souter's successor will provide Barack Obama with another self-revelatory moment.