Thursday, March 25, 2010

Leading Conservative Fired for Criticizing Republicans

The truth hurts. And in keeping with the irrational, hateful, and intolerant tactics of Republicans and the right, they've turned on one of their own. Frum's crime is to criticize the Republicans. The Republicans/conservatives are starting look and sound like the NAZI's during their early years. The only difference is that they are not attacking Jews. Not yet:
Over the past week, David Frum, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research organization, has emerged as one of the leading critics of the way Republicans dealt with President Obama’s health care bill.

The party, Mr. Frum said, put politics over policy in trying to damage Mr. Obama’s agenda, and lost both the political battle and the ability to influence a key piece of legislation. In a column Mr. Frum posted at the FrumForum, he wrote that the House passage of the health care bill had become the Republicans’ “Waterloo,” rather than Mr. Obama’s, as a leading G.O.P. senator had once warned.

As of Thursday, Mr. Frum had become a former fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Frum said he was taken out to lunch by the president of the organization, Arthur C. Brooks. He said Mr. Brooks told him the institute valued a diversity of opinion, and welcomed that one of its scholars had become such a high-profile critic of Republican legislative leaders. Mr. Frum, who has been with the institute since 2003, said that he was asked if he would considering being associated with the institute on a nonsalaried basis.

Mr. Frum declined.
And Frum is not alone:
As some readers of this blog may know, I was fired by a right wing think tank called the National Center for Policy Analysis in 2005 for writing a book critical of George W. Bush's policies, especially his support for Medicare Part D. In the years since, I have lost a great many friends and been shunned by conservative society in Washington, DC.

Now the same thing has happened to David Frum, who has been fired by the American Enterprise Institute. I don't know all the details, but I presume that his Waterloo post on Sunday condemning Republicans for failing to work with Democrats on healthcare reform was the final straw.

Since, he is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI "scholars" on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

It saddened me to hear this. I have always hoped that my experience was unique. But now I see that I was just the first to suffer from a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn't already.

Sadly, there is no place for David and me to go. The donor community is only interested in financing organizations that parrot the party line, such as the one recently established by McCain economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin.

I will have more to say on this topic later. But I wanted to say that this is a black day for what passes for a conservative movement, scholarship, and the once-respected AEI.
This quote by Joe Klein puts it in stark terms:
Thre[sic] is a mania among Republicans right now. They thought they had Obama down for the count when Scott Brown won in Massachusetts. They didn't. The President managed to pass the one bill they hated (and feared) the most. Their reaction has been to get even more extreme...drinking their own kool-aid. I just said on Hardball, "It's getting pretty close to Jonestown."

IMF Proposes 100-Billion-Dollar Climate Fund

This is a defeat for the climate naysayers. This is a positive step in the fight against global warming. But the question is whether it's enough. Climate change is devastating the planet. And it doesn't help that we have a movement in the U.S. that crazily denies global warming:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has published the first details of a proposed financing framework, dubbed the 'Green Fund', intended to mobilise 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with the consequences of climate change and mitigate further emissions.

Outlined in a staff paper by IMF economists Hugh Bredenkamp and Catherine Pattillo, the Green Fund could launch from a capital injection by developed countries, in the form of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), a currency issued by the IMF to member countries.

The facility would eventually combine resources from investors, raised through 'green bonds' in global capital markets, with developed country subsidies. Contributors could scale their equity stakes in proportion to their IMF quota share.

Aid would then be extended in the form of grants or highly concessional loans to developing countries but the IMF would not finance or manage the Fund, according to the authors.
...full article

Pope Benedict faces Child Abuse Cover-up Queries

This Pope has step down. As someone who grew up a Catholic, I find Ratzinger's actions as a Cardinal unacceptable. It is time for a revolution in the Catholic church by parishioners. Pedophile priests should not only be expelled from the church but prosecuted. Additionally, the vow of celibacy should be abandoned. It creates an unnatural lifestyle that has tragic consequences.

Questions are being raised about whether Pope Benedict was personally involved in covering up a case of child sex abuse by a Roman Catholic priest.

Documents seen by the New York Times newspaper suggest that in the 1990s, long before he became Pope, he failed to respond to letters about a US case.

Fr Lawrence Murphy, of Wisconsin, was accused of abusing up to 200 deaf boys.

Defending itself, the Vatican said US civil authorities had investigated and dropped the case.

For more than 20 years before he was made Pope, Joseph Ratzinger led the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith - the Vatican office with responsibility, among other issues, for the Church's response to child abuse cases.

Allegations that the Church sought to cover up child abuse by Catholic priests in Europe have haunted the Vatican for months.

'So friendly'

The documents seen by the New York Times suggest that in 1996, the then Cardinal Ratzinger twice failed to respond to letters sent to him personally.

They concerned the Rev Lawrence Murphy, who worked at a Wisconsin school for deaf children from the 1950s.

Three archbishops of Wisconsin were told Fr Murphy was sexually abusing boys but those allegations were not reported to civil authorities at the time.

Alleged victims quoted by the New York Times gave accounts of the priest pulling down their trousers and touching them in his office, his car, his mother's country house, on class excursions and fund-raising trips, and in their dormitory beds at night.

"If he was a real mean guy, I would have stayed away," said Arthur Budzinski, 61, a former pupil of at St John's School for the Deaf, in St Francis, in the Diocese of Milwaukee.

"But he was so friendly, and so nice and understanding. I knew he was wrong, but I couldn't really believe it."

According to the New York Times, Fr Murphy was quietly moved to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes and schools. He died in 1998, still a priest.

Rachel Maddow Transcript (3-24-10): Violence Directed at Members of Congress

Complete transcript. Excerpt below:

Today, we learned that the FBI and local authorities are now investigating threats made against a Democratic congressman named Tom Perriello of Virginia, who has been a guest on this show before. Mr. Perriello was a last-minute vote for health reform when it came before the House on Sunday night. As a result of that vote, a pair of health reform opponents posted what they thought was Tom Perriello`s home address online. They sarcastically encouraged people to, quote, "drop by and express your thanks for the Congressman Perriello`s vote."

But the address that they posted online was actually that of Congressman Perriello`s brother, who then discovered that a propane gas line leading into his home had been cut.

When one of the bloggers who posted that wrong address online was informed that the address he`d posted was for the congressman`s brother and not the congressman himself, the blogger responded by saying, quote, "Do you mean I posted his brother`s address on my Facebook? Oh, well, collateral damage."

That gentleman is now professing to be shocked about the severed propane line, saying he just wanted people to, and I quote, "get close to the congressman."

Authorities are now investigating that incident, the cut line, as an attempted threat to a member of Congress.

Then there`s Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan, who went from being opposed to health reform on the grounds of abortion to supporting health reform after the president agreed to sign an executive order concerning abortion rights. Well, today, Mr. Stupak released threatening phone calls that he says he received once it became known that he was going to vote for health reform.

Little bit of a warning here, we have bleeped the worst parts of it, but the language used in these phone calls we`re about to play for you is explicit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE CALLER: Congressman Stupak, you baby killing (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you turncoat (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I hope you bleed out (EXPLETIVE DELETED) got cancer and die (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You do not -- you do not say that you`re a pro-life and then for a few bucks, you know, turncoat and hurt the country, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I hope you die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: You are a bastard and a baby killer. You will rue the day you did this, Mr. Stupak. You are a disgusting man, and I hope you`re haunted the rest of your living days. Because you won`t be a congressman much longer, so you are a dirtbag, and the country loathes you and God, bastard that you are. We think you`re a devil, and you will go to your grave with this on your conscience. Was it worth it, selling your soul?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CALLER: Stupak, you`re a low-life baby murderer, scumbag pile of steaming crap. You and your family are scum. You ought to fill your pockets and jump into the Potomac, punk. That`s what you are, Stupak. You`re a piece of crap. We despise you and every punk like you, Stupak.


MADDOW: Congressman Stupak says he referred about 50 threats like those to the Capitol Hill police.

Among the first to be physically threatened in conjunction with the health care vote was Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York. Some time last Friday, a brick was thrown through the window of her district office in Niagara Falls, New York.

Today, Congressman Slaughter spoke publicly about that incident.


REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER (D), NEW YORK: I have three offices. Niagara was the only one we were really concerned about. One is in a federal building which has guards. The other is in a building in downtown Buffalo which has guards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are members concerned about the multiple incidents?

SLAUGHTER: No, of course, they are. I think it`s a dreadful thing that we`re going through.


MADDOW: Members of Congress, in fact, are so concerned that the number two and number three Democrats in the House gave a press conference today, an impromptu press conference, saying that there are more than 10 members of Congress who say they have been threatened in recent days.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel that your members are really at risk in terms of their security?

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), MAJORITY LEADER: Yes. I think that we`ve had very serious instances that have occurred over the last 48, 72 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, how are you dealing with that? What actions are you taking?

HOYER: Well, we have the Capitol Police just briefed members. If they are in any way suspicious or fearful or see actions occurring, to report those immediately, and the Capitol Police will respond and try to determine whether crimes have been committed.


MADDOW: Among the members of Congress who have reported receiving threats because of the health care vote is Democratic Congressman John Boccieri of Ohio. Mr. Boccieri told NBC News today that his district office in Canton, Ohio, has received a number of threatening phone calls in recent days.

Rachel Maddow Transcript: Health Care Bill Opponents Turning to "Violence and Intimidation" (3-23-10)

Complete transcript. Excerpt Below:

This hugely consequential legislative win, an accomplishment that will part of paragraph one definition of Barack Obama`s presidency no matter what else he does in this term or even in a potential second term. That`s what`s going on. That is the huge news going on above the surface, visibly, in American politics right now.

What`s going on below the surface in American politics is something very different. Last night on this show, we reported on three separate incidents across the country in which it seems that people opposed to health reform abandoned the debate over this issue and decided instead to express their opposition to health reform through violence and intimidation. We described last night incidents at two Democratic Party or Democratic-elected official offices in New York State and one in Arizona. All three of them were attacked over the weekend.

Today, we are updating our reporting on what`s turning out to be a much more serious story. It turns out it wasn`t just the three incidents we described last night. It was more.

Here`s what we know: Sometime on Friday, a brick was thrown through a window of Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter`s district office in Niagara Falls, New York. Also, late on Friday or possibly early on Saturday, another brick was thrown through a window at the Sedgwick County Democratic Party office in Wichita, Kansas. That brick was reported to have anti-Obama -- anti-Obama and anti-health reform messages on it.

A day later, on Saturday or early Sunday, another brick shattered glass doors at the Democratic Party headquarters in Rochester, New York.

Shortly after the health reform vote on Sunday, a fist-sized rock was reportedly thrown through the front window of the Hamilton County Democratic Party in Pleasant Ridge, Ohio.

And at 2:40 a.m. on Monday morning, a few hours after the health care vote, the front door and glass panel were smashed out at Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford`s office in Tucson, Arizona.

So, compiling all those, it`s Niagara Falls, New York, Rochester, New York, Pleasant Ridge, Ohio, Wichita, Kansas and Tucson, Arizona. Five separate attacks on Democratic Party offices in the span of four days.

Since the initial reports we have also learned that the FBI is now investigating threats reportedly left at Congresswoman Louise Slaughter`s campaign office -- a recorded message reportedly threatening to assassinate the children of lawmakers who voted yes on health reform. Again, the FBI is now reportedly investigating that reported death threat against Louise Slaughter`s children.

We can also now show you what was used to smash out the glass door at that Democratic Party headquarters in Rochester, New York. That brick had a note wrapped around it which reads, quote, "exremism in defense of liberty is no device." Presuming they meant extremism and not exremism, which is what they wrote, the brick wielder appears to have been, quoting conservative U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater when he accepted the Republican Party`s nomination for president in 1964.

In last night`s report on this show on some of those incidents, we said that nobody yet had taken responsibility for any of those incidents. That`s the one thing that I said in reporting on this last night, that I would have most guessed wouldn`t change over 24 hours. Well, that`s changed.

The Rochester Democrat and "Chronicle" newspaper reporting that after their initial story on the attack on the Monroe County Democratic office, somebody did contact the newspaper to happily claim credit for that incident. His name is Mike Vanderboegh. He`s the former leader of a group called the Alabama Constitutional Militia. Mr. Vanderboegh has been advocating specifically that people throw bricks through the windows of Democratic Party headquarters all around the country and he wants credit apparently whenever anyone follows his advice.

Transcript: The Treasury’s Blistering Attack on Chamber of Commerce

Now this sounds more like an administration that is dedicated to change business as usual. Let's see how successful they are at actually doing something about. Excerpts below. Complete transcript here:

Over the past two years, we have seen that the fate of Wall Street and the fate of Main Street are bound together. Responsible American businesses and families have paid a heavy price for the financial industry’s failures. Retirement accounts have been crushed, millions of jobs have been lost, and even today small businesses across the country are having trouble getting the credit they need to operate and grow.

Economists will conduct a complete autopsy of the crisis for years to come. But there should be no debate about one thing: a central cause of the financial crisis was a financial regulatory system decades out of date and riddled with gaps and loopholes.

So while we can have legitimate disagreements on the details of financial reform, there can be no disagreement that reform is necessary. And there should be no disagreement that reform is long, long overdue.

That is why it is so puzzling that, despite the urgent and undeniable need for reform, the Chamber of Commerce has launched a $3 million advertising campaign against it. That campaign is not designed to improve the House and Senate bills. It is designed to defeat them. It is designed to delay reform until the memory of the crisis fades and the political will for change dies out.

The Chamber’s campaign comes on top of the $1.4 million per day already being spent on lobbying and campaign contributions by big banks and Wall Street financial firms. There are four financial lobbyists for every member of Congress.

All told, it is one of the most expensive special interest campaigns in history.