Truly nothing shows how completely useless our news media has become than the endless discussion of the "Obama-Castro handshake." This is Volume Two of the "Obama Bowed To Saudis" fauxtrage, another fabricated reaction to a completely meaningless incident. The Daily Show has already superbly skewered those pretending to be upset about this so I don't need to go into all the times Republicans shook hands with horrible people.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ masterful dissembling of the right’s selective memory regarding the late Nelson Mandela is truly awe-inspiring:
For many years, a large swath of this country failed Nelson Mandela, failed its own alleged morality, and failed the majority of people living in South Africa. We have some experience with this. Still, it’s easy to forget William F. Buckley—intellectual founder of the modern right—effectively worked as a press agent for apartheid:
Buckley was actively courted by Chiang Kai-Shek’s Taiwan, Franco’s Spain, South Africa, Rhodesia and Portugal’s African colonies, and went on expenses-paid trips trips to some of these countries.
When he returned from Mozambique in 1962, Buckley wrote a column describing the backwardness of the African population over which Portugal ruled, “The more serene element in Africa tends to believe that rampant African nationalism is self-discrediting, and that therefore the time is bound to come when America, and the West … will depart from our dogmatic anti-Colonialism and realize what is the nature of the beast.”
In the fall of 1962, during a visit to South Africa, arranged by the Information Ministry, Buckley wrote that South African apartheid “has evolved into a serious program designed to cope with a melodramatic dilemma on whose solution hangs, quite literally, the question of life or death for the white man in South Africa.”
Buckley’s racket as an American paid propagandist for white supremacy would be repeated over the years in conservative circles. As Sam Kleiner demonstrates in Foreign Policy, apartheid would ultimately draw some of America’s most celebrated conservatives into its orbit. The roster includes Grover Norquist, Jack Abramoff, Jesse Helms, and Senator Jeff Flake. Jerry Falwell denounced Desmond Tutu as a “phony” and led a “reinvestment” campaign during the 1980s. At the late hour of 1993, Pat Robertson opined, “I know we don’t like apartheid, but the blacks in South Africa, in Soweto, don’t have it all that bad.”
Not all prominent conservatives were so dishonorable. When Congress overrode President Ronald Reagan’s veto of sanctions of South Africa, Mitch McConnell, for instance, was forthright—”I think he is wrong … We have waited long enough for him to come on board.” When Falwell embarrassed himself by condemning Tutu, some Republican senators denounced him.
But the overall failure of American conservatives to forthrightly deal with South Africa’s white-supremacist regime, coming so soon after their failure to deal with the white-supremacist regime in their own country, is part of their heritage, and thus part of our heritage. When you see a Tea Party protestor waving the flag of slavery in front of the home of the first black president, understand that this instinct has been cultivated.
The more things change, the more they stay the same – especially when there’s a brown to put down:
It is still, at this very hour, being cultivated:
He won the country’s first free presidential elections in 1994 and worked to unite a scarred and anxious nation. He opened up the economy to the world, and a black middle class came to life. After a single term, he voluntarily left power at the height of his popularity. Most African rulers didn’t do that, but Mandela said, “I don’t want a country like ours to be led by an octogenarian. I must step down while there are one or two people who admire me.”
That is the Wall Street Journal, offering a shameful, condescending “tribute” to one of the great figures of our time. Understand the racism here. It is certainly true that “most African rulers” do not willingly hand over power. That is because most human leaders do not hand over power. What racism does is take a basic human tendency and make it it the property of ancestry. As though Franco never happened. As though Hitler and Stalin never happened. As though Pinochet never happened. As though we did not prop up Mobutu. As though South Carolina was not, for most of its history, ruled by Big Men as nefarious and vicious as any “African ruler.”
To not see this requires a special disposition, a special blindness, a special shamelessness, a special idiocy.
Well said, TNC.
Senate Democrats finally got tired enough of the NeoConfederate nullification of a sitting President to say “the hell with kicking the ball, I’m kicking Lucy instead”:
Both parties actually reached an agreement months ago to streamline the confirmation of Obama nominees, a pact Reid said Republicans have breached with their recent and repeated obstruction of nominees to the influential DC Circuit court. Republicans have flatly opposed Obama nominating any judges to the court, seeking to preserve the court’s conservative tilt. Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley even suggested eliminating seats on the DC Circuit to prevent Obama from filling them.
“Republicans simply don’t want President Obama to make any nominations to this vital court,” Reid said before the vote. “None! Zero!” The DC Circuit has jurisdiction over a number of key regulatory matters–which means that it has a lot of influence over how much of the Obama administration’s accomplishments survive legal challenges. Obama’s three most recent nominees to the DC Circuit were all filibustered by Republicans. With the rule change, their confirmation is all but assured.
Opposing Reid’s attempt to kill the filibuster for executive and judicial nominations, Republicans were left making a number of contradictory arguments–that the rule change was both a “distraction” from the failure of the president’s health care law and an nefarious attempt to implement his regulatory agenda, a naked “power grab” but one Republicans will likely preserve if they retake the Senate.
President Obama laid out the case, and it turns out the GOPers were even worse than I thought they were:
“It’s no secret that the American people have probably never been more frustrated with Washington, and one of the reasons why that is is that over the past five years, we’ve seen an unprecedented pattern of obstruction in Congress that’s prevented too much of the American people’s business from getting done.
All too often we’ve seen a single senator or a handful of senators choose to abuse arcane procedural tactics to unilaterally block bipartisan compromises or to prevent well-qualified, patriotic Americans from filling critical positions of public service in our system of government.
Now, at a time when millions of Americans have desperately searched for work, repeated abuse of these tactics have blocked legislation that might create jobs. They’ve defeated actions that would help women fighting for equal pay. They prevented more progress than we would have liked for striving young immigrants trying to earn their citizenship, or it’s blocked efforts to end tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. They’ve even been used to block common-sense and widely supported steps to protect more Americans from gun violence, even as families of victims sat in the Senate chamber and watched. And they’ve prevented far too many talented Americans from serving their country at a time when their country needs their talents the most.
It’s harmed our economy, and it’s been harmful to our democracy, and it’s brought us to the point where a simple majority vote no longer seems to be sufficient for anything, even routine business through what is supposed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body. I realize that neither party has been blameless for these tactics. They’ve developed over years, and it seems as if they’ve continually escalated. But today’s pattern of obstruction — it just isn’t normal. It’s not what our founders envisioned. A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can’t let it become normal.
So I support the step a majority of senators today took to change the way that Washington is doing business, more specifically, the way the Senate does business. What a majority of senators determined, by Senate rule, is that they would restore the long-standing tradition of considering judicial and public service nominations on a more routine basis.
And here’s why this is important. One of a president’s constitutional responsibilities is to nominate Americans to positions within the executive and judicial branches. Over the six decades before I took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome filibusters. In just under five years since I took office, nearly 30 nominees have been treated this way. These are all public servants who protect our national security, look out for working families, keep our air and water clean.
This year alone, for the first time in history, Senate Republicans filibustered a president’s nominee for the secretary of defense, who used to be a former Republican senator. They tried everything they could to hold up our EPA administrator. They blocked our nominee for our top housing regulator at a time when we need more help for more families to afford a home and prevent what has caused mortgage meltdowns from happening again.
And in each of these cases, it’s not been because they opposed the person, that there was some assessment that they were unqualified, that there was some scandal that had been unearthed. It was simply because they opposed the policies that the American people voted for in the last election.
This obstruction gets even worse when it comes to the judiciary. The Constitution charges the president with filling vacancies to the federal bench.
Every president has exercised this power since George Washington first named justices to the Supreme Court in 1789. But my judicial nominees have waited nearly two and a half times longer to receive yes or no votes on the Senate floor than those of President Bush. And the ones who eventually do get a vote generally are confirmed with little if any dissent.
So this isn’t obstruction on substance, on qualifications. It’s just to gum up the works. And this gridlock in Congress causes gridlock in much of our criminal and civil justice systems. You’ve seen judges across the country, including a Bush-appointed chief justice to the Supreme Court, say these are vital vacancies that need to be filled. And this gridlock has not served the cause of justice. In fact, it’s undermined it.
Over the past three weeks, Senate Republicans again denied a yes or no vote on three highly qualified Americans to fill three vacancies on the nation’s second-highest court, even though they have the support of a majority of senators. Four of President Bush’s six nominees to this court were confirmed. Four out of five of my nominees have been obstructed.
So the vote today I think is an indication that a majority of senators believe, as I believe, that enough is enough. The American people’s business is far too important to keep falling prey day after day to Washington politics. I’m a former senator. So is my vice president. We both value any Senate’s duty to advise and consent. It’s important and we take that very seriously.
But a few now refuse to treat that duty of advise and consent with the respect that it deserves. It’s no longer used in a responsible way to govern. It’s rather used as a reckless and relentless tool to grind all business to a halt.
And that’s not what our founders intended. And it’s certainly not what our country needs right now.
And I just want to remind everybody what’s at stake here is not my ability to fulfill my constitutional duty; what’s at stake is the ability of any president to fulfill his or her constitutional duty.
And public service is not a game, it is a privilege. And the consequences of action or inaction are very real. The American people deserve better than politicians who run for election telling them how terrible government is, and then devoting their time in elected office to trying to make government not work as often as possible.
Now, I want to be clear the Senate has actually done some good bipartisan work this year. Bipartisan majorities have passed common- sense legislation to fix our broken immigration system and upgrade our courts — our ports. It’s passed a farm bill that helps rural communities and vulnerable Americans. It passed legislation that would protect Americans from being fired based on their sexual orientation.
So we know that there are folks there, Republican and Democrat, who want to get things done. And frankly, privately they’ve expressed to me their recognition that the system in the Senate had broken down and what used to be a sporadic expertise of the filibuster had gotten completely out of hand.
I believe, I’m confident, that that spirit will have a little more space now. I want us to make sure that we can do more work together to grow the economy and to create jobs.
And if there are differences in the Senate, then debate should be had, people should vote their conscience, they should vote on behalf of their constituents, but they should vote. That’s what they’re there to do. And ultimately, if you got a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass.
You know, Americans work hard, they do their jobs, and they expect the same from everybody who got sent here. And as long as I have the privilege of being in this office, I’ll keep working as hard as I know how to make sure that the economy is growing, and we’re creating good jobs, and we’re widening prosperity and opportunity for everybody. And I know that that’s what the majority of folks in the Senate believe as well. But the gears and government have to work. And the step that the majority of senators took today I think will help make those gears work just a little bit better.”
Good job, Harry!
If Faux News didn’t have someone as earth-shatteringly dense as Elizabeth Hasselbeck, they’d have to create her:
Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck suggested on Monday that pregnant women 65-years-old and older were losing their doctors because of President Barack Obama health care reform law.
In a segment titled “Who’s Ruining the Economy Now?” Fox Business host Stuart Varney announced that the president was not going to be able to keep the promise that people could keep their doctors because “United Healthcare has just dropped — we don’t know exactly how many — but thousands of doctors have been dropped from United Heathcare’s Medicare Advantage program.”
“That leaves hundreds of thousands of patients without the doctor that they’ve had for many many years,” Varney added. “We don’t know how many thousands have been dropped, but thousands have been dropped. What about their patients? What about the people who used to have this doctor who now no longer have this doctor? Broken promise.”
“And many of those people are women who are expecting babies and who may just have a real relationship with their physician and want to see the same doctor deliver possibly their second child,” Hasselbeck opined. “And they are now left in the dark in a time that they feeling quite vulnerable.”
“Most of them are elderly,” Varney pointed out.
Please proceed, con-servative media…
Remember the name Madison Kimrey – I have a feeling we’ll be hearing it again.
Pitch perfect – and she appears to be smarter than the majority of North Carolina’s congressional delegation.