Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Post-Convention Cull Day

Wow, a LOT apparently happened while I was busy at, or recovering from, the convention I worked at this past weekend. Too much for me to keep track of, or research, or comment in detail on.

So... it's Cull Day!

First off: Oklahoma becomes the first state to begin organizing its secessionist army.

Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.

. . .

"Is it scary? It sure is," said tea party leader Al Gerhart of Oklahoma City, who heads an umbrella group of tea party factions called the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. "But when do the states stop rolling over for the federal government?"

Incidentally, folks, it should be borne in mind that, just before the Civil War, most newspapers in the South were agents of the fire-eating secessionist wing of the Democratic Party, deliberately ginning up fear, hatred and paranoia among their readership. Today... we have Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, NewsMax.com, Drudge, National Review... so, yeah.

The Tea Parties are trying to unite... except, well, it's only those tea party groups funded and run by Republican Party activists that are uniting:

Mark Skoda, a Tea Party leader from Memphis (and a founder of the recent Tea Party Convention), is serving as the chief spokesman for the effort, and appears to have played a leading role in putting it together. Skoda, working closely with Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation, had helped organize and promote February's convention, at which Sarah Palin delivered the keynote speech and which enjoyed widespread media coverage. Also part of the new coalition is the Tea Party Express, the brainchild of a team of California Republican political consultants.

But one prominent group, the Tea Party Patriots (TPP), doesn't appear to be joining the party. Jenny Beth Martin, a leader of TPP noted to TPMmuckraker that her group already considers itself the largest grassroots Tea Party organization, and said it hadn't been involved in planning the new federation. TPP had also stayed away from February's convention.

It should be noted that Tea Party Nation is the group founded and led by former Republican leader Dick Armey. This is a clear case of the Republican Party trying- and failing- to co-opt the teabaggers, who are definitely much more radical and bigoted than the national average. Even Fox News is calling the teabaggers out on their lunacy, now that they realize they won't be controlled.

Even as Virginia Governor McConnell apologizes and backtracks on his leaving slavery out of the Civil War, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour brushes slavery off as unimportant:

CROWLEY: You know what I'm trying to get at here is that there's a sort of feeling that this is insensitive. But you clearly don't agree?

BARBOUR: To me, it's a sort of feeling that it's a nit, that it is not significant, that it's not a -- it's trying to make a big deal out of something doesn't amount to diddly.

So, yeah: slavery was wrong, "everybody knows that," but apparently it wasn't important at all to the Confederacy. Riiiiight.

Matthew Yglesias cuts right to the heart of both the Republican desire to celebrate the CSA, and the core of teabagger support:

... something that links the mentality of today’s right to the mentality of the slaveowners and segregation proponents is the white southern political tradition’s very partial and selective embrace of majoritarian democracy. As long as national institutions are substantially controlled by white southerners, the white south is a hotbed of patriotism. But as soon as an non-southern political coalition manages to win an election—as we saw in 1860 and in 2008—then suddenly the symbols of national authority become symbols of tyranny and the constitution is construed as granting conservative areas all kinds of alleged abilities to opt out of national political decisions. Even if you think opposition to the Affordable Care Act has nothing whatsoever to do with race, the underlying political philosophy by which a George W Bush or James Buchanan is a national president but an Abraham Lincoln or a Barack Obama merely a sectional one remains incoherent and pernicious.

Meanwhile, if you haven't had enough reminders of innate Republican evil, Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff in the State Department, testified that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld knew full well they were imprisoning- and torturing- innocent people in Guantanamo and elsewhere:

I came to understand that there were several different reasons for the refusal to release detainees in Guantánamo, even those who were likely innocent. These reasons continued to the time of my departure from the Department of State in 2005. At least part of the problem was that it was politically impossible to release them. The concern expressed was that if they were released to another country... the leadership of the Defense Department would be left without any plausible explanation to the American people...

. . .

Another part of the political dilemma originated in the Office of Vice President Richard B. Cheney, whose position could be summed up as “the end justifies the means”, and who had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent, or that there was a lack of any useable evidence for the great majority of them. If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it. That seemed to be the philosophy that ruled in the Vice President’s Office.

Of course, with Dawn Johnsen's nomination to the Office of Legal Counsel scuttled, the last faint hope of Obama ever following up on this testimony has long since flown away.

And finally, a recent federal court ruling puts a major kink in plans for net neutrality regulations. That said, it was almost certainly the right ruling:

If “ancillary jurisdiction” is enough for net neutrality regulations (something we might like) today, it could just as easily be invoked tomorrow for any other Internet regulation that the FCC dreams up (including things we won’t like). For example, it doesn't take much imagination to envision a future FCC "Internet Decency Statement." After all, outgoing FCC Chairman Martin was a crusader against "indecency" on the airwaves and it was the FCC that punished Pacifica radio for playing George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” monologue, something you can easily find on the Internet.

Of course, this ruling can- and probably will- lead to more direct and stringent regulation of telecoms and internet providers by the FCC, since they won't be allowed to do spot-checks on egregious incidents. This issue is by no means settled.

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