Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Sunday, February 28, 2010

INTERESTING STUDY ON IQ AND POLITICAL, RELIGIOUS AND SEXUAL BEHAVIORS (turns out the more liberal you are, the higher your IQ)

Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds.

Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

The IQ differences, while statistically significant, are not stunning — on the order of 6 to 11 points — and the data should not be used to stereotype or make assumptions about people, experts say. But they show how certain patterns of identifying with particular ideologies develop, and how some people’s behaviors come to be.

The reasoning is that sexual exclusivity in men, liberalism and atheism all go against what would be expected given humans’ evolutionary past. In other words, none of these traits would have benefited our early human ancestors, but higher intelligence may be associated with them.

“The adoption of some evolutionarily novel ideas makes some sense in terms of moving the species forward,” said George Washington University leadership professor James Bailey, who was not involved in the study. “It also makes perfect sense that more intelligent people — people with, sort of, more intellectual firepower — are likely to be the ones to do that.”

Bailey also said that these preferences may stem from a desire to show superiority or elitism, which also has to do with IQ. In fact, aligning oneself with “unconventional” philosophies such as liberalism or atheism may be “ways to communicate to everyone that you’re pretty smart,” he said.

The study looked at a large sample from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which began with adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States during the 1994-95 school year. The participants were interviewed as 18- to 28-year-olds from 2001 to 2002. The study also looked at the General Social Survey, another cross-national data collection source.

Kanazawa did not find that higher or lower intelligence predicted sexual exclusivity in women. This makes sense, because having one partner has always been advantageous to women, even thousands of years ago, meaning exclusivity is not a “new” preference.

For men, on the other hand, sexual exclusivity goes against the grain evolutionarily. With a goal of spreading genes, early men had multiple mates. Since women had to spend nine months being pregnant, and additional years caring for very young children, it made sense for them to want a steady mate to provide them resources.

Religion, the current theory goes, did not help people survive or reproduce necessarily, but goes along the lines of helping people to be paranoid, Kanazawa said. Assuming that, for example, a noise in the distance is a signal of a threat helped early humans to prepare in case of danger.

“It helps life to be paranoid, and because humans are paranoid, they become more religious, and they see the hands of God everywhere,” Kanazawa said.

Participants who said they were atheists had an average IQ of 103 in adolescence, while adults who said they were religious averaged 97, the study found. Atheism “allows someone to move forward and speculate on life without any concern for the dogmatic structure of a religion,” Bailey said.

“Historically, anything that’s new and different can be seen as a threat in terms of the religious beliefs; almost all religious systems are about permanence,” he noted.

The study takes the American view of liberal vs. conservative. It defines “liberal” in terms of concern for genetically nonrelated people and support for private resources that help those people. It does not look at other factors that play into American political beliefs, such as abortion, gun control and gay rights.

“Liberals are more likely to be concerned about total strangers; conservatives are likely to be concerned with people they associate with,” he said.

Given that human ancestors had a keen interest in the survival of their offspring and nearest kin, the conservative approach — looking out for the people around you first — fits with the evolutionary picture more than liberalism, Kanazawa said. “It’s unnatural for humans to be concerned about total strangers.” he said.

The study found that young adults who said they were “very conservative” had an average adolescent IQ of 95, whereas those who said they were “very liberal” averaged 106.

It also makes sense that “conservatism” as a worldview of keeping things stable would be a safer approach than venturing toward the unfamiliar, Bailey said.

Vegetarianism, while not strongly associated with IQ in this study, has been shown to be related to intelligence in previous research, Kanazawa said. This also fits into Bailey's idea that unconventional preferences appeal to people with higher intelligence, and can also be a means of showing superiority.

None of this means that the human species is evolving toward a future where these traits are the default, Kanazawa said.

"More intelligent people don't have more children, so moving away from the trajectory is not going to happen," he said.

Neither Bailey nor Kanazawa identify themselves as liberal; Bailey is conservative and Kanazawa is “a strong libertarian.”

Albert Einstein, a true liberal:

"Einstein considered himself a pacifist and humanitarian, and in later years, a committed democratic socialist. He once said, "I believe Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence for fighting for our cause, but by non-participation of anything you believe is evil." Einstein's views on other issues, including socialism, McCarthyism and racism, were controversial (see Einstein on socialism). In a 1949 article, Albert Einstein described the "predatory phase of human development", exemplified by a chaotic capitalist society, as a source of evil to be overcome. He disapproved of the totalitarian regimes in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, and argued in favor of a democratic socialist system which would combine a planned economy with a deep respect for human rights. Einstein was a co-founder of the liberal German Democratic Party.

Einstein was very much involved in the Civil Rights movement. He was a close friend of Paul Robeson for over 20 years. Einstein was a member of several civil rights groups (including the Princeton chapter of the NAACP) many of which were headed by Paul Robeson. He served as co-chair with Paul Robeson of the American Crusade to end lynching. W.E.B. DuBois was charged frivously as a communist spy during the McCarthy era while he was in his 80s Einstein volunteered as a character witness in the case. The case was dismissed shortly after it was annouced he was to appear in that capacity. Einstein was quoted as saying that "racism is America's greatest disease".

President Barack Hussein Obama, Liberal

Rush Limbaugh, Conservative

Saturday, February 27, 2010

GOP Senator to America's unemployed: "TOUGH S**T!"

That sentiment from Jim Bunning (R-KY) is just a variation on "I've got mine.  Screw you!"  But that outburst from Bunning is especially heartless coming at a time when so many Americans are out of work and suffering.

Out of work, no health coverage, and coping with the effects of devastating weather, Americans deserve better than to be told "tough s**t!"
CNN reports:

"The Senate adjourned Friday without approving extensions of cash and health insurance benefits for the unemployed after a lone senator blocked swift passage due to his insistence that Congress first pay for the $10 billion package.

Retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Kentucky, led a spirited Senate debate with Democrats over the issue -- at one time cursing at another senator on the floor. Bunning said he doesn't oppose extending the programs -- he just doesn't want to add to the deficit.

According to two Democratic aides on the Senate floor Thursday night, Bunning muttered 'tough s---' as Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, criticized Bunning's stance on the package.

An aide to Merkley said the senator didn't hear the remark. A spokesman for Bunning said he was aware of the reports about the senator's language but didn't have a comment.

On Friday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, sent Bunning a letter asking him to 'stand down immediately' from his stance."

Thursday, February 25, 2010


This was so good I wanted to publish it here.  Thanks to TAO of "Radical Perspective" for permission to do so:

"Think about this:

"The majority party was pushing the largest entitlement expansion since the Great Society. The minority attempted byzantine legislative maneuvers to obstruct the vote. The majority never relented, even taking unprecedented action to ram the bill through Congress."

Bet you think that was a description of the current healthcare debate! If you listen to Fox News and or read a few of the numerous conservative blogs that go on and on about how this administration is cramming 'socialism' down our throats you could claim that it is an apt description of what the Democrats are attempting to do to this country with healthcare reform.


You see, this is a description of 2003 when the Republicans controlled Congress and the White House and the situation being described was the passage of the Prescription Drug Program:

This was not 2009 but 2003. Republicans controlled the White House and Congress. And with that power they passed the $400 billion Medicare prescription drug bill. The 2003 Medicare bill was not simply any vote. It enlarged a signature program of active-state liberalism (a.k.a.- big government). On a major piece of legislation, GOP lawmakers had to choose between principle and party. And many of today's Republicans chose party.

Republicans were proud back then. That December, not long after George W. Bush signed the bill, then-Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist was on "Hardball." Chris Mathews asked, "What was your biggest achievement this year?"

Frist: "I would have to say Medicare. Eleven months ago, the odds of getting a Medicare prescription drug [bill] through were probably 400-to-one, 500-to-one. ... So that clearly is our biggest single accomplishment, if you look at the last 30 years in this country."

A $400 billion entitlement expansion as the "biggest single accomplishment" in three decades? Yes, that came from a Republican leader.

42 Republican Senators who voted AGAINST the current heatlhcare measure voted FOR the Medicare prescription drug bill!

Fiscal conservative hypocrisy is so rampant we take it for granted.

John Boehner voted FOR this bill and AGAINST healthcare reform. Eric Cantor did too! J.D. Hayworth, who is the conservative shining star that is running against John McCain for the Senate seat that McCain currently holds voted FOR the prescription drug bill while McCain voted AGAINST it! Yet, all the conservative commentators are out in force pimping for Hayworth!

The hypocrisy does not stop there. Republican leaders have hammered Democrats for attempting to "ram through" their health care bill, highlighting untoward bribes:

Flashback: It's 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning in 2003. The traditional 15-minute roll call vote is extended for two hours and 51 minutes. The Medicare bill was heading to a 218 to 216 defeat. Key arms were twisted. Promises of campaign money and support were made. It became a 220 to 215 victory.

Oh, and before anyone throws out there that George Bush was actually "a Liberal" lets not forget, Ronald Reagan never cut entitlements, even as the national debt nearly tripled on his watch.

Republicans account for over 53% of our current deficit but you won't hear that mentioned nowadays any where but here!

Oh, and conservatives want to comfort themselves by telling themselves that Republicans are the 'lessor of two evils...."

Sure... "


South Dakota legislators tell schools to teach ‘astrological’ explanation for global warming.

Last week, the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a resolution to “urge” public schools to teach astrology. By a 36-30 vote, the legislators passed House Concurrent Resolution 1009, “Calling for balanced teaching of global warming in the public schools of South Dakota.” After repeating long-debunked denier myths and calling carbon dioxide “the gas of life,” the resolution concludes that public schools should teach that “global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact”:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-fifth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the South Dakota Legislature urges that instruction in the public schools relating to global warming include the following:

(1) That global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact;

(2) That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative; and

(3) That the debate on global warming has subsumed political and philosophical viewpoints which have complicated and prejudiced the scientific investigation of global warming phenomena; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legislature urges that all instruction on the theory of global warming be appropriate to the age and academic development of the student and to the prevailing classroom circumstances.

Yesterday, the South Dakota Senate passed by a vote of 18-17 an amended version of the resolution which eliminates most of the anti-science conspiracy theories, but still asserts that the “global warming debate” has “prejudiced the scientific investigation of global climatic change phenomena.” The amended version now “returns to the House for approval.”

Definition of  "astrology:" 

1. the study that assumes, and professes to interpret the influence of the stars and planets upon human existence
Definition of "thermological:"
Google takes me to a definition of thermology indicating it is “the medical science that derives diagnostic indications from highly detailed and sensitive infrared images of the human body.”

Go to this link to read how crazy this is.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


So asks Peter Brown on the Wall Street Journal's blog:

"Sarah Palin would probably blanch at the comparison, given their widely divergent world views, but these days her political profile looks quite similar to the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s just over two decades ago.

Simply put, the two emerged as political and media celebrities backed by exceptionally strong support within the most ideological wing of their respective political parties. But both also carry substantial political baggage with the much larger numbers of American voters who decide November elections.

That profile made the idea that Mr. Jackson had a serious chance to win the presidency unrealistic. Ms. Palin’s poll ratings are actually lower than Mr. Jackson’s were then. And doubts about her ability to broaden her support past the true-believers, as numerous as they may be, raise the same questions about her chances in 2012.

To be fair to the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, her base within the Republican Party is larger and more influential in primaries than Mr. Jackson’s was a generation ago in the Democratic Party.

Nonetheless, the electorate today sees Ms. Palin much like it once viewed Mr. Jackson.

Transition to the Mainstream

He was a well-known civil rights leader who had made the transition to the conventional political mainstream in 1984 with a presidential campaign. She was a former small-state governor who zoomed to national political prominence when GOP nominee John McCain selected her as his running mate.

Current poll data show that more than seven in 10 Americans don’t think Ms. Palin is qualified to be president, including a majority of Republicans. But she commands strong loyalty among the grass-roots conservatives who have great sway in GOP presidential primaries.

Polling data two decades ago, asking voters whether they thought Mr. Jackson was qualified to be president, showed even fewer viewed him as Oval Office material.

Mr. Jackson was the candidate of the Democrats’ liberal wing and the first major African-American aspirant to seek the White House. He could count on firm support from black voters, who made up 15% to 25% of the primary vote in most of the major states, and some support from white liberals.

Ms. Palin, the candidate of the populist conservative wing of the GOP, has captured the support of many in the “Tea Party” movement characterized by anger at Washington, D.C.

Tugging to the Left – or Right

The fear among Democratic strategists in the ’80s was that Mr. Jackson would drag the party too far left through his primary candidacy, and God forbid what would happen should he actually win the presidential nomination. Many in the GOP hierarchy have similar fears about Ms. Palin.

Looking back today, the worry that Mr. Jackson might grab his party’s nomination seems out of the question.

But it is worth remembering that in the 1988 primary fight for the Democratic nomination, the contenders were often referred to as the “seven dwarfs” because of their collective lack of name recognition, and belief by some that none of them could be a good general election candidate.

That’s not unlike the current assessment of the potential 2012 GOP presidential wannabes in some quarters. Like Mr. Jackson in those days, Ms. Palin often leads the polls among contenders for the nomination because she is by far the best known.

Ms. Palin’s situation is somewhat different because at this point the idea she could win the 2012 GOP nomination does not strain credulity with many people. Still, her position reminds the rational analyst of mother’s teaching that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010



Apparently Scott Brown (R.Mass.) has incurred the wrath of the purist tea baggers.  Brown was one of five Republican Senators to vote for a procedural motion on the jobs bill in the Senate yesterday. The motion ended up passing 62-30 which ends debate on the bill allowing it to go forward for a simple majority vote.

 How quickly and viciously they turned on their hero:

h/t HuffPost

Monday, February 22, 2010


WASHINGTON - California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger played Conan the Contrarian Sunday, pummeling his party for hypocrisy on jobs and health care.

With the one-year anniversary of the $787 billion stimulus bill last week, Republicans chorused that it had failed, and created no jobs.

But Schwarzenegger, who finishes his term this year, sang the Democrats' tune, claiming the recovery act was vital, and mocked members of his party who crow about the money they get in their own districts.

"I find it interesting that you have a lot of the Republicans running around, and pushing back on the stimulus money and saying, 'This doesn't create any new jobs,'" the Govinator told ABC News' "This Week."

"Then they go out and do the photo ops, and they are posing with the big check and they say, 'Isn't this great,'" he said.

"It doesn't match up," he added, pointing to 150,000 private and public sector jobs funded in California.

"I think it's kind of politics," he added.

He also agreed that the GOP was the "Party of No," as Democrats have branded it.

FL Gov Charlie Crist: Stimulus Did Create Jobs

Florida Governor Charlie Crist says Republicans who say the stimulus has not created jobs are simply wrong.

"That’s not the case in Florida," he said speaking after the National Governors Association meeting at the White House, "It created or maintained at least 87,000 jobs, 27,000 of those jobs are educators and teachers throughout our state. I dare say what impact the would have on the students if those teachers were out of work, unable to put bread on the table for their families."

The governor said accepting stimulus funding was "the responsible and right thing to do for the people and it puts people above politics." He went on to say that lawmakers in Washington need to put their constituents ahead of partisan bickering.

Many in his own party have criticized the governor for publicly supporting the stimulus plan, even appearing at an event with the President last February on the issue. Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio is running against Crist for Florida's GOP Senate nomination, and has gone after the governor repeatedly on this issue.

Republican governors of two of our largest states admit that President Obama's stimulus plan has created jobs.


POWELL:  "We are NOT LESS SAFE under Obama."

Claims that the United States is less safe under President Obama are not credible, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.

He also challenged criticism by some (including former Vice President Dick Cheney, who say that by not using extreme interrogation techniques such as waterboarding on terror suspects the United States is more vulnerable.

"The point is made, 'We don't waterboard anymore or use extreme interrogation techniques.' Most of those extreme interrogation techniques and waterboarding were done away with in the Bush administration," Powell said. "They've been made officially done away with in this current administration."


Powell stuck by his conviction that Guantanamo Bay prison facility should be closed. "I think Guantanamo has cost us a lot over the years in terms of our standing in the world and the way in which despots have hidden behind what we have at Guantanamo to justify their own positions," he said.

"I think we ought to remove this incentive that exists in the presence of Guantanamo to encourage people and to give radicals an opportunity to say, 'You see? This is what America is all about. They're all about torture and detention centers.'"

Petraeus on DADT: Not Sure Soldiers Care

General Petraeus was asked about “don’t ask, don’t tell” on Meet the Press and spent the bulk of the time praising the year-long review process which will determine if the ban on gay and lesbian troops serving openly in the military should be lifted.

Petraeus stopped short of saying whether or not he felt “don’t ask, don’t tell should be overturned and said he wasn’t sure how the majority of soldiers felt.

“We have experienced certainly in the FBI and the CIA… I know. I’ve served in combat with individuals who were gay and who were lesbian in combat situations, and frankly, over time, you say, ‘How is his shooting?,’ or, ‘How is her analysis?’”

AND FINALLY, an open letter to Liz Cheney from Spencer Ackerman on TORTURE:

Dear Ms. Cheney,

I don’t know if you saw ‘Meet The Press’ this morning, but a general you may have heard of named David Petraeus — he’s the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia and is the most distinguished Army general since Colin Powell — graced your television. He was asked about whether the U.S. ought to torture Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy commander of the Taliban, recently captured in Pakistan. “I have always been on record, in fact since 2003, with the concept of living our values,” Petraeus replied. Every time the U.S. took what he called “expedient measures” around the Geneva Conventions, those deviations just “turned around and bitten us on our backside.” The effect of torture at Abu Ghraib is “non-biodegradable,” he continued, and boasted that as commander of the 101st Airborne in Iraq, he ordered his men to ignore any instruction to use techniques outside the Army Field Manual on Interrogations. Besides, the non-torture techniques that manual has long instructed? “That works,” he said. “That is our experience.”

But hey. You’re a former deputy assistant secretary of state! You obviously know better than the man who implemented the surge in Iraq. Why don’t you enlighten Gen. Petraeus about all the glories of torture? And since you consider “enhanced interrogation” so necessary to secure the country, perhaps there’s a full-page ad you’ll take out in a major newspaper?

Saturday, February 20, 2010


As is always the problem, prominent Republicans who speak at these sorts of conventions, do so to incite the worst in their followers.  What Blackwell said is a disgusting lie, and it cheapens--no violates, perverts in the worst possible manner--the memory of all Jews who actually suffered and died in pogroms.  That this stupid man would use incendiary speech to lie to his listeners and use the deaths of thousands of Jews for profane political gain is bad, what is worse is that no one in the audience had the courage to boo him off the stage and force him to leave in the disgrace and dishonor he so thoroughly deserves.

You remember Ken Blackwell, don’t you? He’s the guy who in 2004 served simultaneously as Ohio Secretary of State and co-chair of the Committee to Re-Elect George W. Bush. He used, and abused, his office to help the Bush campaign – including rejecting voter registration forms that weren’t on 80-pound paper stock.

Anyway, he must have been prepping for CPAC when he wrote his latest op-ed on Here’s what he said about the Obama administration:
What we are witnessing right now is an anti-Christian programmatic pogrom. What is a “pogrom” it’s the word that describes anti-Jewish raids by Cossacks and others in czarist Russia, but a programmatic pogrom best describes what is happening right now. These are not isolated attacks. And while we no longer have Cossacks to threaten, we now have left-wing bloggers who actually call themselves Kossacks (after the Daily Kos).
A “pogrom,” let’s recall, is “an organized massacre of helpless people; specifically: such a massacre of Jews.” And Blackwell, who most recently served as the vice chair of the RNC Platform Committee, contends that President Obama’s nominees would be leaders of this “pogrom” if confirmed.

He said this about Dawn Johnsen, who was nominated a year ago to lead the Office of Legal Counsel: “If she is confirmed, we will see a radical anti-Catholic, pro-abortion zealot influencing policy throughout the Justice Department—but also policy throughout the entire federal government.”

Johnsen, as it happens, is Christian and teaches Sunday School. She has prominent Republican supporters and a sterling record of commitment to the rule of law. But Blackwell thinks her confirmation is on par with the mass slaughter of Jews.

But he didn’t stop there. He also singled out Chai Feldblum, Obama’s pick to lead the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying that “if confirmed, she would be in position to pursue the pogrom nationwide.” As Ben Smith pointed out, Feldblum is a “Jewish law professor and disability rights scholar… whose father survived the Holocaust in the forests of Poland after losing most of his family.”

Feldblum is also a widely acclaimed academic and vigorous advocate for religious freedom. But that doesn’t matter to Blackwell, who isn’t really big on rational argument. As Rabbi David Saperstein wrote today, “Blackwell’s use of rhetoric invoking the pogroms, the widespread destruction of countless Jewish lives in Eastern Europe, is aimed at quashing reasoned political discourse,” and it “desecrates the memory of those who died in the pogroms.”

One thing is clear, Blackwell isn't trying to convince people – he’s trying to incite them. So will the RNC and Republican leaders denounce the remarks or just pretend not to notice? I think we all know the answer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Texans believe WHAT? And this is NOT a joke?


Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, and more than half disagree with the theory that humans developed from earlier species of animals, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

The differences in beliefs about evolution and the length of time that living things have existed on earth are reflected in the political and religious preference of our respondents, who were asked four questions about biological history and God:

• 38 percent said human beings developed over millions of years with God guiding the process and another 12 percent said that development happened without God having any part of the process. Another 38 percent agreed with the statement "God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago."

• Asked about the origin and development of life on earth without injecting humans into the discussion, and 53 percent said it evolved over time, "with a guiding hand from God." They were joined by 15 percent who agreed on the evolution part, but "with no guidance from God." About a fifth — 22 percent — said life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time.

• Most of the Texans in the survey — 51 percent — disagree with the statement, "human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals." Thirty-five percent agreed with that statement, and 15 percent said they don't know.

• Did humans live at the same time as the dinosaurs? Three in ten Texas voters agree with that statement; 41 percent disagree, and 30 percent don't know.

Maybe instead of rewriting textbooks to teach kids that Newt Gingrich was the most important man ever, Texas should focus on teaching kids that, as Lewis Black said, "The Flintstones" is not a documentary.

h/t daily kos


Wednesday, February 17, 2010



A group of more than 80 conservative leaders plan to sign a document on Wednesday that signals a retrenchment to "founding principles." It was scheduled to be signed today, Wednesday, February 17, 2010, at 2:30 PM.

Here are the stated principles with my remarks inserted in red.

The Mount Vernon Statement

Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.

These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the worldThey are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.

[The US Constitution allows for the promise of a just nation, the problem is that “we the people” haven’t always lived up to that lofty goal. We have stumbled enough times so that I don’t think we should be bragging about being a “just nation unlike any other in the world.” Other nations have made horrid mistakes, as we have, and we have striven to right the wrongs that have caused our Native Americans, African-American, Japanese-American, Chinese-American, Gay and Lesbian Americans as well as many religious minorities pain and suffering. To ignore this truth and pretend that this country, at many times in the past and even in the present, did not betray the Constitution, which the Mount Vernon Statement reveres, is to ignore our history and continue to live in a Edenic fantasy that never existed.]

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The self-evident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

[Those are accusations which are not defined in this vague-sounding document. Which ideas exactly are under a “sustained attack?” What principles have been undermined and redefined? And where were these concerned conservatives during the last administration? Did they just come to see these sustained attacks, which they themselves said have been ongoing for decades, now that Mr. Obama is president? Which universities are undermining and redefining our Constitutional principles? Could they possibly mean Oral Roberts University where interracial dating among student was once prohibited, for example?]

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

[This seems a strange paragraph. Thomas Jefferson himself believed that this country would flourish and be at its best as an agrarian society, where land-owning white men would be the ideal citizens to govern it. He could not have foreseen the Industrial Revolution or any of the other changes that have come to this country since his time. A wise populace learns to deal with change while holding onto its ideals. We’ve not always done this wisely, but as Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”]

The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

[It seems to me that most of the important changes in our history have come as a result of liberal thinking i.e. the abolitionists, the suffragists, the labor union movement, the Civil Rights movement, the Gay and Lesbian movement, to name a few. Those achievements in justice are a result of Constitutional liberalism “grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty….”]

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

[Nowhere in the Constitution is nature’s “God” mentioned, nor is any god’s laws used as a basis for our Constitution. The Constitution expressly begins with “We The People…“ Nowhere does it say “Under God’s Law, We The People…“]

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic

[Not always. See the gridlock and intransigency of the out-of-power minority political party. The popular will of the people is not being served so long as the minority party uses senatorial tradition and not Constitutional laws to thwart the will of the people.]

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

[There will NEVER be “morality” in any sort of government so long at the institutions of that government are drenched in money from special interests and multi-national corporations in order to forward their agendas, and not the people’s. Corporate money is the real threat to moral self-government.

A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.

It applies the principle of limited government based on the
rule of law to every proposal.

It honors the central place of individual liberty in American
politics and life.

It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and
economic reforms grounded in market solutions

It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom
and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.

It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood,
community, and faith.

If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.

We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.

[This last part implies that only conservatives believe in the rule of law, individual liberty, free enterprise, freedom, being against tyrants and for family, neighborhood and faith. That’s absurd on its face. Conservatives don’t own those principles. It seems to me like a grab at grandstanding theatrics for these conservatives to come together now--a little over one year into Mr. Obama’s still young presidency--and produce this manifesto. Where were they while the Bush Administration was trammeling their Conservative principles? If, as they themselves state, this has been going on for decades, why have they chosen this time and during this particular presidency to assert these principles in this statement?  It is curious.]


Professor Darren Hutchinson of "Dissenting Justice" has a post up about the Mount Vernon Statement.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Bin Laden associate is most senior Afghan Taliban leader caught since ’01

ISLAMABAD — The Taliban's top military commander has been arrested in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation in Pakistan in a major victory against the insurgents as U.S. troops push into their heartland in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group's No. 2 leader behind Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and a close associate of Usama bin Laden, was captured in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, two Pakistani intelligence officers and a senior U.S. official said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release such sensitive information.

Hiding place

Baradar heads the Taliban's military council and was elevated in the body after the 2006 death of military chief Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Usmani. He is known to coordinate the movement's military operations throughout the south and southwest of Afghanistan. His area of direct responsibility stretches over Kandahar, Helmand, Nimroz, Zabul and Uruzgan provinces.

According to Interpol, Baradar was the deputy defense minister in the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan until it was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and has been increasingly cited as a possible hiding place for top Afghan Taliban commanders in recent months. It has a large population of Pashtuns, the ethnic group that makes up the Taliban, but it is on the Arabian Sea and far from the Afghan border.

Baradar is the most senior Afghan Taliban leader arrested since the beginning of the Afghan war in 2001 following the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.

Monday, February 15, 2010



America used to hang people for waterboarding. We hanged people for waterboarding in Dick Cheney’s lifetime.

Former VP, Dick Cheney:

"I was aware of the [torture] program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared…that is the Agency [The CIA] in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”

(AP) "Republican presidential candidate John McCain reminded people Thursday that some Japanese were tried and hanged for torturing American prisoners during World War II with techniques that included waterboarding.

"There should be little doubt from American history that we consider that as torture otherwise we wouldn't have tried and convicted Japanese for doing that same thing to Americans," McCain said during a news conference."


According to Politifact, a fact-checking project sponsored by the Pullitzer Prize winning St. Petersburg Times, the following is accurate:

“……..referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.” See full article here

Politifact interviewed R. John Pritchard, the author of The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. They also interviewed Yuma Totani, history professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and consulted the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, which published a law review article entitled, “Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts.”

Cheney, by these accounts, is guilty of war crimes.


Scott Horton has more on Cheney's war crimes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Believe it or not, there are some people who find  Mrs. Obama's campaign to get American children to eat healthier foods and to exercise more unAmerican and not relevant.  Somehow, these people believe that because this nation is involved in fighting terrorism, the FLOTUS should not waste time and effort to get us to do something about childhood obesity, which is now an epidemic in this country.

But the reality behind the criticism is this:  No matter what anyone in the Obama White House does, even if it is something to make American children healthier, someone, somewhere in Ihateobamastan will find a reason to denigrate and trash the effort.

This is sick, and it is emblematic of the times we live in.  This nation is so divided and so paranoid that even helping children to become healthy is now seen as some sort of commie plot.

Here is Mrs. Obama speaking about the program "Let's Move."  You decide how this in any way takes away from this country's efforts to fight terrorism:

And here is Mrs. Obama's speech, where nowhere does she say childhood obesity is more of a danger to this country than terrorism.  Nowhere.

Friday, February 12, 2010


"There's a visceral loathing between two halves of the country. This mutual hatred and disdain might not have spilt over into another civil war, but there is once again a very obvious civil stand-off in which one half of the country looks on the other with absolute contempt."

Sound familiar? Is it the US? No. This was written by Tobias Jones, British author writing in "The Dark Heart of Italy, An Incisive Portrait of Europe's Most Beaautiful, Most Disconcerting Country." pg 241 --Published in 2003 by North Point Press, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

And the following was written by Italian journalist Angelo Panebianco, for the newspaper "Corriere della Sera, in January 2002.

"[There is] a type of 'battle between civilisations.' On one side are those who retain that the current government is a sort of infection, a repository of wickedness and illegality, and on the other are those for whom that same infection can be seen in the relationship between the political left and the magistrature. The division between the two is radical. It's a division about values and principles which cancels any possibility of communication and compromise."

Are we Americans going to go down the path that Italy has chosen for herself?

I believe we are halfway there. I also believe what Abraham Lincoln said when he paraphrased the New Testament: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

From Matthew 12:25, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand."

As I said, I believe we’re halfway there--unless we have the will and the courage to change.

Today is the anniversary of Lincoln’s birth date, 201 years ago. Let’s remember what he and 600,000 Americans sacrificed to keep this country together.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The rank hypocrisy on the Right for cheap political points is set out here in a New Yorker article by Jane Mayer concerning the arrest of the so-called Christmas "Underwear Bomber" and the administration's plans to prosecute him in a civilian court.  In fact, the Bush Administration had done the very same thing in the past, and not one of the hypocrites now criticizing the Obama Administration said anything against what the previous administration did.  Read the facts:


“What we did is totally consistent with what has happened in every similar case” since 9/11, he said. “There’s a desire to ignore the facts to try to score political points. It’s a little shocking.” Without exception, he noted, every previous terrorist suspect apprehended inside the country had been handled as a civilian criminal. Even so, critics such as Krauthammer were denouncing Holder for failing to send Abdulmutallab directly to Guantánamo. As a senior national-security official in the White House put it, “It’s a fantasy! Under what alternative legal system can Special Operations Forces fly into Detroit, and take someone away without court oversight?”

According to Kate Martin, the director of the Center for National Security Studies, in Washington, the military can’t simply grab suspects inside the U.S. and hold them without charge or a hearing. “It violates the Constitution, which extends to everyone inside the U.S.,” she said. “You can’t be seized without probable cause. You have the right to due process, and to a trial by a jury of your peers—which a military commission is not.”

Confusion on this point may derive from the Bush Administration’s controversial handling of two suspected terrorists, José Padilla and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. Both men were arrested in the U.S. by law-enforcement officials, and indicted on criminal charges.

But Bush declared Padilla and Marri to be “enemy combatants,” which, he argued, meant that they could be transferred to military custody, for interrogation and detention without trial. (Neither suspect provided useful intelligence.)

The cases provoked legal challenges, and in both instances appeals courts ruled that Bush had overstepped his power. The Administration, not willing to risk a Supreme Court defeat, returned the suspects to the civilian system.

For all the tough rhetoric of the Bush Administration, it prosecuted many more terror suspects as criminals than as enemy combatants. According to statistics compiled by New York University’s Center on Law and Security, since 2001 the criminal courts have convicted some hundred and fifty suspects on terrorism charges. Only three detainees—all of whom were apprehended abroad—were convicted in military commissions at Guantánamo. The makeshift military-commission system set up by Bush to handle terrorism cases has never tried a murder case, let alone one as complex, or notorious, as that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who will face the death penalty for the murder of nearly three thousand people.

The Bush Administration obtained life sentences in the criminal courts for two terror suspects arrested inside the U.S.: Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, and Zacarias Moussaoui, who was planning a second wave of plane attacks. (Reid was read his Miranda rights four times.)

When the Bush Justice Department obtained these convictions, the process was celebrated by some of the same people now criticizing Holder. Giuliani, after the Moussaoui trial, said, “I was in awe of our system. It does demonstrate that we can give people a fair trial.”

Holder told me that he was “distressed” that people “who know better” were claiming that the courts were not up to the job of trying terrorists. He added that he found it “exceedingly strange” to hear this argument from Giuliani, who had been a zealous prosecutor. “If Giuliani was still the U.S. Attorney in New York, my guess is that, by now, I would already have gotten ten phone calls from him telling me why these cases needed to be tried not only in civilian court but at Foley Square,” Holder said.

There is no evidence suggesting that military commissions would be tougher on suspected terrorists than criminal courts would. Of the three cases adjudicated at Guantánamo, one defendant received a life sentence after boycotting his own trial; another served only six months, in addition to the time he had already served at the detention camp; the third struck a plea bargain and received just nine months. The latter two defendants—Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni who worked as Osama bin Laden’s driver, and David Hicks, an Australian who attended an Al Qaeda training camp—are now at liberty in their home countries, having been released while Bush was still in office."

Meanwhile, Gingrich keeps digging himself deeper into his own hypocritical hole (do these people have any memory left or are they merely bald-faced liars?):

"In a post on his Twitter page, Gingrich explained that when he made the Reid comment to the "Daily Show"'s Jon Stewart his reference was actually to Jose Padilla. Reid, after all, is a British citizen -- Padilla is American.

But Gingrich wasn't done there. In a dig at the Obama White House, he added to the tail end of his tweet: "Treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is Pres."

That's a standard GOP talking point, and yet when President Bush moved the Padilla case from a military setting to the criminal system, it was Gingrich who came to his defense despite conservative howls of protest, a Democratic source points out.

Appearing on Fox News in November 2005, the former speaker said the following when asked whether it was "a loss" for the Bush White House to have tried Padilla in civilian courts after holding him for three-and-a-half years as an enemy combatant:

"Well, I think if they believe they have enough evidence to convict him, going through the process of convicting him and holding him, I suspect, maybe for the rest of his life without parole would not be -- would hardly be seen as a loss," Gingrich said."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Poll: Americans Want Compromise

Nearly two-thirds of Americans want Congress to pass comprehensive health-care reform, stalled since Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts was elected last month, ending Democrats' 60-vote supermajority.

Although Brown's election has been interpreted as a rebuke to Democrats' sweeping health-care legislation, nearly 60 percent of Americans blame Republicans for not doing enough to compromise with President Obama, while 40 percent blame Obama for not forging compromise with the GOP, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

Nearly six in 10 in the new poll say the Republicans aren't doing enough to forge compromise with President Obama on important issues; more than four in 10 see Obama as doing too little to get GOP support. Among independents, 56 percent see the Republicans in Congress as too unbending and 50 percent say so of the president; 28 percent of independents say both sides are doing too little to find agreement.

As party leaders tussle over the proposed bipartisan health care summit, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they want Congress to keep working to pass comprehensive health-care reform. Democrats overwhelmingly support continued action on this front, as do 56 percent of independents and 42 percent of Republicans.

The sticky part of widespread desire for compromise is that it's simple to want it from the other side. About three-quarters of Democrats see the congressional Republicans as intransigent, while a similar proportion of Republicans see Obama that way. But even Republicans are critical of their congressional leadership, with 44 percent seeing them as doing too little to strike deals with Obama; that compares with just 13 percent of Democrats worried about inaction on Obama's part.

At the same time, the president does pick up some criticism from the left here: 18 percent of liberal Democrats say Obama is doing too much to compromise with the GOP on big issues.

Read it at The Washington Post


Could the Tea Party movement be losing ground?

Days after Sarah Palin headlined the nation's first Tea Party convention, a Rasmussen Reports poll released today shows that a generic "Tea Party candidate" would come in third in a theoretical three-way congressional contest.

The poll found that 36% of voters would support a Democratic candidate on a generic ballot, 25% would back the Republican and 17% would go for the Tea Party pick. Twenty-three percent of respondents are undecided.

In early December, the same poll showed the Tea Party in second place and the GOP in third. Unchanged between the polls, according to Rasmussen, is that 41% of voters have a favorable view of the conservative movement.

The poll of 1,000 likely voters was taken Feb. 7-8, just after the national Tea Party convention in Nashville. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

h/t JohnC


Hint to Tea Party Nation:  Next time you hire a speaker for $100,000 to fire up your followers, get someone who can keep three thoughts in her head at the same time and who doesn't have to write down her core beliefs on the palm of her hand. 
Also, the Tea Party Nation needs to rid itself of racists:
Photo Shows Top Tea Bagger Holding Sign with N-Word (Which He Misspelled)
It’s going to be a lot harder for Tea Baggers to claim they’re not racists now that a photo has emerged of Dale Robertson, who calls himself the “president and founder of the Tea Party,” holding a sign that reads,”Congress = Slave Owner; Taxpayer = Niggar.”

The photo was taken in Houston on Feb. 27, 2009.

Robertson is the operator of the Tea Party website ( Here’s what he wrote about himself on the website’s “About Us” page:
A Word From The Founder;

Dale Robertson is a man of courage and conviction, a rare commodity in today’s topsy-turvy world. Dale, is the Founder of the modern day Tea Party and also President of

Dale Robertson, a public speaker, a family man with a wife and 5 children, has lead [sic] Tea Party rallies across America from its inception.

A little later, Robertson talks about this educational background:

Dale Roberson’s academic background includes extended training in theology, as well as excelling in the field of Engineering at Southwest College, San Diego, California. He went on to earn a second degree in Political Science at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

So what we know so far is that he is a racist and a poor speller

To the Tea Party Nation:  Robertson is one of your people. 
To Americans everywhere:  Take notice.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Mother With A Special Needs Child - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

A Mother With A Special Needs Child - The Daily Dish By Andrew Sullivan

A reader writes:

I am the mother of a 16 year-old girl with severe intellectual disabilities. I am disturbed by Mrs Palin's insincere comments when she speaks out for individuals with developmental delays. I watched The Colbert Report last night, and I have never been more proud to call myself a fan of Stephen Colbert.

But also, as a mother I wonder what is in Trig's future.

If his Down Syndrome does not severely affect his ability and he is able to read, he will read his mother's autobiography and learn that she questioned if she could love him.

He will read interviews that his mother considered even for a split second to terminate her pregnancy, he will become aware that many consider his mother a hero for not terminating her pregnancy - thus knowing that among her fans he is considered beautiful but somehow a burden.

She needs to start treating him quietly as a child who will grow into a man. She needs to learn to advocate for him and not allow him to be a victim of satire when it suits her and a victim of discrimination when it can get her attention.

And she needs to stop using him as a political prop. A child with such needs should surely not be hauled around half-naked in front of flash photographers to promote a book tour, or be routinely referred to in speeches for applause lines.

It's unseemly.

But then so much about this person is.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


And this is what the ex-governor said.  (If anyone can tell me exactly what this means, I would be grateful.)

"I think, kind of tougher to, um, put our arms around, but allowing America's spirit to rise again by not being afraid to kind of go back to some of our roots as a God fearing nation where we're not afraid to say, especially in times of potential trouble in the future here, where we're not afraid to say, you know, we don't have all the answers as fallible men and women so it would be wise of us to start seeking some divine intervention again in this country, so that we can be safe and secure and prosperous again. To have people involved in government who aren't afraid to go that route, not so afraid of the political correctness that you know -- they have to be afraid of what the media said about them if they were to proclaim their alliance on our creator."

It sounds like gobbledegook to me. What did she try to say? 

Apparently, Palin needed crib notes to help her answer basic questions from her adoring fans. And it took up all of 10 minutes of her time. 

This potential presidential candidate and "movement" leader was using crib notes to answer basic questions?

This would mean:

A) That she knew the questions beforehand and the whole thing was a farce.

B) That she still couldn't answer the previously agreed-upon questions without a little extra help.

If true, this is supremely rich coming immediately after a speech in which Palin took a shot at President Obama for using a teleprompter to read his prepared speeches.

You can bet that the President wasn't reading scribbles off his extremities while he sparred with Republicans and Democrats in an unscripted format in his recent Q&As.

Palin, on the other hand, seems to need a cheat-sheet just to get through a contrived lovefest with a smitten interviewer and an adoring audience.
As one observer from Politico wrote:

"I don't remember seeing a telepromter when Obama took questions from the Republican Representatives in Baltimore. Ms. Palin can't seem to handle pre-screened and pre-selected questions from her adoring fans without a few crib notes."

h/t HuffPost

And today on FOX News (via Politico):

President Barack Obama is making "misguided decisions" that he expects the American people to "shut up and accept," Sarah Palin said Sunday.

"Many of us are not going to sit down and shut up, we're going to say 'No we do not like it," the former Republican governor, who quit in the middle of her term, of Alaska said on "Fox News Sunday."

Pressed by host Chris Wallace to explain where the president is telling Americans to sit down and shut up, Palin said: "Just kind of his general persona, I think, that he has when he's up there at, I'll call it a lectern. When he is up there and he is telling us basically 'I know best. My people in the White House know best and we are going to tell you that yes you do want this essentially nationalized health care system.' And we're saying, 'No, we don't' and the messages are not being received by Barack Obama. So I think instead of lecturing he needs to stop and he needs to listen"

(So said the ex-governor as she lectured the President of the United States.)

She also called for White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Attorney General Eric Holder to step down because “I think these guys are giving our president wrong advice.”

She said Holder should resign “because of the way that we are treating these terrorists, allowing them our U.S constitutional protections when they do not deserve them.”

(The former governor makes a fool of herself in making statements on issues she knows nothing about.  She is uninformed on this issue.)

Palin left open the possibility of running against Obama in 2012 saying it would be “absurd” to not consider a run for president.

“I would (run) if I believe that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family,” she said.

Obama, she said, could change the political dynamic and boost his reelection odds if he “played the war card” and declared war on Iran or bolstered Israel.

(She talks in sound-bites.  Nothing more.  And says absolutely nothing. "Bolstered" Israel?  What does she mean by "bolstered?"  She never explains and flitters off into another subject, unaware of how shallow she sounds.)

And lastly, her double standard.  She scolds Rahm Emanuel for his intemperate use of the word "retarded" at a closed, private meeting with Democrats, but excuses Rush Limbaugh's use of the word to mock the Democrats.

"I didn't hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people who he did not agree with f---ing retards and we did know that Rahm Emanuel, it's been reported, did say that. There's a big difference there," said Palin, whose youngest son Trig has Down Syndrome.

Palin made the comment after Wallace asked her about this Limbaugh quote: "Our politically correct society is acting like some giant insult's taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards. ... I mean these people, these liberal activists, are kooks."

"Should Rush Limbaugh apologize," Wallace asked.

Palin responded, "They are kooks so I agree with Rush Limbaugh."

She's a slippery little hypocrite and not too bright.  But we already knew that.

And finally, Sarah vs. Sarah.  She railed against the bailout at the tea party convention this weekend--the same bailout she supported while running for vice president less than a year and a half ago [she and McCain have that in common--flip-flopping.]  Just listen to her lack of understanding of the issues as she fumble-talks to Katie Couric while using meaningless blather to cover up her ignorance of what the bailout is:

Friday, February 5, 2010


Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary "blanket hold" on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, according to multiple reports this evening. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

"While holds are frequent," CongressDaily's Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report (sub. req.), "Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal."

The Mobile Press-Register picked up the story early this afternoon. The paper confirmed Reid's account of the hold, and reported that a Shelby spokesperson "did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking confirmation of the senator's action or his reason for doing so."

Shelby has been tight-lipped about the holds, offering only an unnamed spokesperson to reporters today to explain them. Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke the news of the blanket hold this afternoon. Reid aides told CongressDaily the hold extends to "all executive nominations on the Senate calendar."


According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama's nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. The two programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:

A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers. From CongressDaily: "Northrop/EADS team would build the planes in Mobile, Ala., but has threatened to pull out of the competition unless the Air Force makes changes to a draft request for proposals." Federal Times offers more details on the tanker deal, and also confirms its connection to the hold.

An improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI. From CongressDaily: "[Shelby] is frustrated that the Obama administration won't build" the center, which Shelby earmarked $45 million for in 2008. The center is due to be based "at the Army's Redstone Arsenal."

Though a Shelby spokesperson would not confirm that these programs were behind the blanket hold, the Senator expressed his frustration about the progress on both through a spokesperson to both CongressDaily and the Federal Times.

A San Diego State University professor and Congressional expert told the Mobile paper "he knew of no previous use of a blanket hold" in recent history.

h/t TPM

Senatorial extortion?  Sounds like it: "Hey!  Mr. President!  You want your nominees?  Hand over the earmarks, and no one gets hurt."  If this were happening anywhere else, it would be a felony.

Remember the outrage over Senators Nelson and Landrieu and the exchange of money for votes? I do. 
I remember hearing them called prostitutes for what they did.  There was a firestorm of anger over what happened.  I wonder if this egregious example of Senatorial blackmail will produce the same amount of outrage.

Our system of governing is broken.