Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Imaginary Abuses & Blistering Stupidity

Conservatism undermined by emboldened fringe
April 26: Sam Tanenhaus, author of "The Death of Conservatism" talks with Rachel Maddow about the encroachment of fringe wack-a-do groups like the John Birch Society on leaderless mainstream conservatism.

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Racist roots of Arizona law
April 26: Rachel Maddow exposes the origins of Arizona's new immigration law in the racist Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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Linda Greenhouse, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, isn't known for writing provocative opinion pieces. But the new, odious immigration measure in Arizona appears to have genuinely outraged Greenhouse. Good for her.

...I'm not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last week has turned it into.

What would Arizona's revered libertarian icon, Barry Goldwater, say about a law that requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person with whom they have made "any lawful contact" and about whom they have "reasonable suspicion" that "the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?" Wasn't the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?

Greenhouse's question about Goldwater's reaction to such madness also reminds me that there's another group of small-government-minded folks who claim to be concerned by authoritarian tactics. Reader B.H. emailed this poignant observation last night:

Just a question I haven't heard anybody ask: Shouldn't the tea party crowd be having a cow over this new immigration bill that Arizona just passed? Doesn't that sound like big government tyranny to them? Giving the police the power to demand "papers" from someone just on their own suspicion?

Any chatter from the tea party folk to this effect? I haven't seen any.

Nor have I. It's almost as if the right-wing crowd is only offended by government abuses when they're imaginary.

Credit where credit is due: MSNBC's Joe Scarborough criticized Arizona's new immigration law this morning, and did so in a compelling, persuasive way.

As the former Republican congressman put it, "...It does offend me when one out of every three citizens in the state of Arizona are Hispanics, and you have now put a target on the back of one out of three citizens, who, if they're walking their dog around a neighborhood, if they're walking their child to school, and they're an American citizen, or a legal, legal immigrant -- to now put a target on their back, and make them think that every time they walk out of their door they may have to prove something. I will tell you, that is un-American. It is unacceptable and it is un-American."

I'm not sure if I've ever agreed so strongly with Joe Scarborough.

Atrios added, "I'm not usually one to highlight right wingers saying reasonable things, but I think on this issue it's a positive sign that even Joe Scarborough isn't on board with the Arizona horror show."

Of course, Scarborough is no longer in Congress, and need not worry about offending the Republican Party's far-right base or donors. What I'd really like to see is some current GOP officials speak out this forcefully on the issue. Thus far, according to research from ThinkProgress, only one sitting Republican member of Congress -- Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American lawmaker in Miami -- has been willing to speak out strongly against the Arizona measure.

Here's hoping he's not the only one.

John Cole: Today’s Main Event

Goldman comes to town:

The CEO of Goldman Sachs and other executives from the Wall Street powerhouse are coming before Congress 10 days after the government accused the firm of fraud. The Senate panel hearing their testimony Tuesday alleges that Goldman used a strategy that allowed it profit from the housing meltdown and reap billions at the expense of clients.

Goldman executives misled investors in complex mortgage securities that turned toxic, investigators for the Senate subcommittee say. They point to a trove of some 2 million e-mails and other Goldman documents obtained in an 18-month investigation. Excerpts from the documents were released Monday, a day before the hearing bringing CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the others before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Blankfein says in his prepared testimony that Goldman didn’t bet against its clients and can’t survive without their trust.

Also appearing Tuesday: Fabrice Tourre, a Goldman trading executive who, federal regulators say, marketed an investment designed to lose value. Tourre who famously called himself in a January 2007 e-mail “The fabulous Fab … standing in the middle of all these complex, ... exotic trades he created.”

I saw this initially on my FB feed, and it teased: “Goldman Sachs executives will come before Congress today, 10 days after the government accused the firm of fraud. What questions would you like to hear answered?”

My immediate response was “firing squad or lethal injection,” so I think it is safe to say that I am now to the point I can no longer even think about Goldman rationally.

A couple of weeks ago, members of the Senate Republican leadership traveled to New York for a private, behind-closed-doors chat with hedge fund managers, bankers, and Wall Street elites. By all appearances, the message wasn't especially subtle: the GOP would fight against new safeguards, and Wall Street should reward Republicans with campaign contributions.

I guess it's working.

Republicans may lose the fight over Wall Street regulations, but the fight has helped their campaign accounts.

For the first time since 2004, the biggest Wall Street firms are now giving most of their campaign donations to Republicans.

Last year, J.P. Morgan's PAC gave most of its donations to Dems. This year, most of its donations are going to Republicans.

Last year, Morgan Stanley gave most of its donations to Dems. This year, 80% of its donations are going to Republicans.

Goldman Sachs has been a reliable Democratic supporter, until this year, with most of its PAC money going to the GOP.

Yesterday, after Republicans blocked a debate on Wall Street reform, the RNC issued a press release that said Democrats "stand with" Wall Street, adding that Senate Dems failed "in their attempt to move forward with bailout for their Wall Street fat cat friends."

Given reality, it's hard to overstate how blisteringly stupid this is. The RNC must seriously believe we're all idiots.

BarbinMD (dKos): Republicans block, reject, derail ...

Yesterday the Republican Party had a clear choice ... respect the wishes of an overwhelming majority of the American people or to kowtow to Wall Street. And from coast-to-coast, headlines reflected that choice loud and clear:

Yesterday the Party of No confirmed that the only time they'll say yes is to Wall Street. And now everyone knows it.

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