TGFriday Reads

Good Morning!

I’ve thought about writing some posts about the CPAC circus but frankly, any thing that gives Donald Rumsfeld a “Defender of the Constitution Award” plus features Dick Cheney and Donald Trump is just way too over the top for me.  There were several interesting things and most of it came via Ron Paul and his very dedicated groupies.  One of them shouted Dick Cheney down as a “war criminal”.  Most of the Fundies were AWOL because they didn’t want to be seen networking with folks that might be out there trying to convert them to the “radical homosexual agenda”.   Then there was The other Donald with your zen moment of the day saying that Ron Paul was a nice guy but had “zero chance” of get elected.  Next question, Mr. Trump.  What are your chances of being elected then?

One shout of “where’s Bin Laden?” rang out as Cheney spoke of Rumsfeld.

That led to the pro-Cheney contingent (which it should be said greatly outnumbers the opposition) to shout the hecklers down with the familiar “USA, USA” chant.

It was all very odd, especially considering that when Cheney appeared as the “surprise guest” at last year’s CPAC he was greeted with the kind of cheers generally reserved for a rock star.

But Team Paul — whose numbers appear to have grown at CPAC in 2011 — were not going to let that happen this time around.

“Uh, Defender of the Constitution?” Justin Bradfield of Maryland scoffed when I caught up with him after he walked out of Rumsfeld’s speech. “Let’s see: he expanded the Defense Department more than pretty much any other defense secretary and he enforced the Patriot Act.”

“[Speaking] as a libertarian, that’s not really the type of person who should be getting Defender of the Constitution,” he added.

Wow, this is the sort’ve thing that calls for popcorn and chagrin.  The Hill covered the Trump card.

Business mogul Donald Trump said Thursday that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) could not possibly win the 2012 presidential race.

“By the way, Ron Paul cannot get elected, I’m sorry to tell you,” Trump said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday. “I like Ron Paul, I think he’s a good guy, but honestly he just has zero chance of getting elected.”

Then, the Caucus at the NYT covered the background on the Trumped-up decision to run for President.  Oh, the drama!  Oh, the pathos!  Oh, the ratings boost!

“Obviously, it’s a tremendous forum to espouse his views and to express the fact that he is legitimately contemplating on this run,” said Michael Cohen, the executive vice president of the Trump organization, who confirmed his attendance at the forum. “He is seriously considering doing this because he’s disgusted with how the country is being run.”

Mr. Cohen, a special counsel to Mr. Trump, has started a Web site,, to serve as something of a draft movement. But the Web site is far from an organic outpouring, considering that it is run by people on Mr. Trump’s payroll.

Advisers to Mr. Trump say that he will decide by June whether to go forward with a Republican presidential bid. The timing is built around his television program, “The Apprentice,” which is scheduled to end by June.

I have to admit that I was more interested in who WASN’T as much as I was in hearing about the theatrics concerning the attendees.  What does it say when two of the top draws in Republican Straw polls find better things to do?

I’m not sure if you caught the WAPO editorial written by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abedel Moneim Abou el Fotouh but you may want to give it a read. I’m basically of the opinion that we should worry about the Fundies in our back yard before we worry about the Fundies in some one else’s back yard. El Fotouh tells us we shouldn’t worry at all.  He also reminds us that peoples of a nation have a right to self-govern. That’s the basic American principle that does make the US exceptional.

Contrary to fear-mongering reports, the West and the Muslim Brotherhood are not enemies. It is a false dichotomy to posit, as some alarmists are suggesting, that Egypt’s choices are either the status quo of the Mubarak regime or a takeover by “Islamic extremists.” First, one must make a distinction between the ideological and political differences that the Brotherhood may have with the United States. For Muslims, ideological differences with others are taught not to be the root cause of violence and bloodshed because a human being’s freedom to decide how to lead his or her personal life is an inviolable right found in basic Islamic tenets, as well as Western tradition. Political differences, however, can be a matter of existential threats and interests, and we have seen this play out, for example, in the way the Mubarak regime has violently responded to peaceful demonstrators.

We fully understand that the United States has political interests in Egypt. But does the United States understand that the sovereign state of Egypt, with its 80 million people, has its own interests? Whatever the U.S. interests are in Egypt, they cannot trump Egyptian needs or subvert the will of the people without consequences. Such egotism is a recipe for disaster. With a little altruism, the United States should not hesitate to reassess its interests in the region, especially if it genuinely champions democracy and is sincere about achieving peace in the Middle East.

I have to admit that any one who lives in Louisiana usually has a huge number of Mississippi jokes up their sleeve.  The same was true for Nebraska on Iowa.  Nebraska had a red and white license plate design and we always called Iowa Drivers out as ‘blue plate specials’ for there blue tags.  I got to use that same joke down here on the folks from Mississippi; especially my New Yorker transplant boyfriend who taught molecular biology and lived in Forrest County.  I just learned where the Forrest came from and  I’m not even sure I can express what I want to say about this tidbit on a proposed Mississippi license plates: ‘Mississippi May Honor Early KKK Leader On Commemorative License Plate. Some historical figures are best left dead  and  buried’.

Controversies over honoring Confederate heritage are not uncommon in the South, but some activists in Mississippi are pushing the envelope even further. The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans is proposing a license plate that honors Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was also an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Following the Civil War, Forrest was involved with the very first incarnation of the KKK. He was so closely associated with the group’s formation that he is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the KKK’s founder — though he was quickly elected Grand Wizard, and began centralizing disparate KKK groups under his authority. He believed that while blacks were now free, they had to continue to toil quietly for white landowners. “I am not an enemy of the negro,” Forrest said. “We want him here among us; he is the only laboring class we have.”

Perhaps even more disturbing, however, were Forrest’s violent actions during the Civil War, specifically a massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow, TN in April 1864.

Yup, this guy slaughtered black union troops that had already dropped their rifles.  What is wrong with modern Mississippi and what will its Governor Haley Barbour say about this?

So, here’s an interesting YouTube with Noam Chomsky on ‘How Climate Change Became a ‘Liberal Hoax’ in a series from The Nation’.

Known for his criticism of the media, Chomsky doesn’t hold back in this clip, laying blame on mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, which will run frontpage articles on what meteorologists think about global warming. “Meteorologists are pretty faces reading scripts telling you whether it’s going to rain tomorrow,” Chomsky says. “What do they have to say any more than your barber?” All this is part of the media’s pursuit of “fabled objectivity.”

Of particular concern for Chomsky is the atmosphere of anger, fear and hostility that currently reigns in America. The public’s hatred of Democrats, Republicans, big business and banks and the public’s distrust of scientists all lead to general disregard for the findings of “pointy-headed elitists.” The 2010 elections could be interpreted as a “death knell for the species” because most of the new Republicans in Congress are global warming deniers. “If this was happening in some small country,” Chomsky concludes, “it wouldn’t matter much. But when it’s happening in the richest, most powerful country in the world, it’s a danger to the survival of the species.”

Okay, so, just so you know that our Congress is on the up and up these days, I’m going to leave you with this headline: ‘The Pajama Party Is Over, Ethics Group Tells Congress’.

A Washington ethics watchdog says it is time for Congress to crack down on lawmakers who sleep in their offices rather than pay for a place to live. Reacting to a surge in lawmakers’ bunking down in their work spaces, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wants the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether the politicians are getting an unfair tax break and violating their own rules by making personal use of public resources. “House office buildings are not dorms or frat houses,” Melanie Sloan, the group’s executive director, said Thursday. “If members didn’t want to find housing in Washington, they shouldn’t have run for Congress in the first place.” Aside from the legal and rules questions, Ms. Sloan said she has heard reports from Congressional staffers about uncomfortable work environments. “Especially if you’re a woman and you’re working late and your boss is there getting ready for bed, that seems designed for discomfort,” she said.

They should just be glad their Senator isn’t David Vitter who probably uses campaign funds for hookers and diapers. Don’t make me think about what he’d be up to in his office!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?