Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Lies, distortions, jingoism, xenophobia"

Who is Pam Geller? Chris Hayes profiles the woman behind the Cordoba House controversy.

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John Cole: Careful With That Axe, Eugene

Eugene Robinson offers up some blunt talk:

Lies, distortions, jingoism, xenophobia—another day, another campaign issue that Republicans can use to bash President Obama and the Democrats. First it was illegal immigration. Now it’s the so-called Ground Zero mosque, which is not at all what its opponents claim.

First, it’s not at Ground Zero. The site in question is two blocks north of the former World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan; an existing mosque is just a few hundred feet more distant from the site of the collapsed towers. Second, while the planned building would indeed house a place of worship, it is designed to be more of a community center along the lines of a YMCA. Plans include a fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, bookstore, performing arts center and food court. Kebabs do not threaten our way of life.

As a commenter pithily noted the other day, calling this a mosque is like calling a casino in Las Vegas a cathedral because it has a wedding chapel.

I don't expect much from Tim Pawlenty. He has a presidential campaign to prepare, and a right-wing base to pander to, so it's inevitable that much of his rhetoric will be cheap and silly.

But this is ridiculous, even for Pawlenty.

Add Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) to the list politicians with selective memory about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's global outreach on behalf of the United States.

Pawlenty, a presidential hopeful for 2012, appeared on Fox News' "Hannity" last night to decry Obama's support for the Islamic cultural center proposed by Rauf's Cordoba House at a site two blocks from Ground Zero. He also criticized the State Department for sending Rauf on a diplomatic mission to the Middle East, saying that was "disgusting" and "dangerous."

"To have him be the leader not just of this mosque but to hire him through the State Department and send him around the world on our behalf is ridiculous," Pawlenty told Sean Hannity. "It is quite quite dangerous, quite concerning."

Now, Pawlenty doesn't know anything about national security, diplomacy, or foreign policy, so it stands to reason that he'd be confused about this. But he should at least try to keep up with current events before talking nonsense on national television.

As Adam Serwer reported last week, the State Department has "a long-term relationship" with Rauf -- which includes the Bush administration also sending him to the Middle East to assist with the U.S. diplomatic agenda in the region.

Was that "quite, quite dangerous," too?

For that matter, the FBI partnered with Rauf in 2003 on counter-terrorism efforts. Indeed, the FBI considered him an ally and one of New York's most respected Muslim voices.

Was that "ridiculous," too?

It's ironic -- every time Pawlenty takes steps to seem more credible, he ends up looking more foolish.

This week, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), hoping to make the case against the proposed Park51 community center, compared Muslim Americans to Nazis. On MSNBC yesterday, Pat Buchanan -- yes Pat Buchanan -- said Gingrich went too far.

Buchanan said Gingrich is just being a "political opportunist," hoping to keep up with former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in advance of the 2012 presidential primaries.

"How do you get more attention than Sarah Palin, who's very good at this, is to go two steps further," Buchanan said. "I mean, I think bringing the Nazis into the argument is always absurd in American politics because there is no valid comparison there."

As much as I appreciate Buchanan's criticism, I can't help but notice how odd it is to hear him to say "bringing the Nazis into the argument is always absurd in American politics." A year ago, it was none other than Pat Buchanan who compared non-existent "death panels" as part of health care reform to "Hitler's Third Reich, marrying Social Darwinism to Aryan racial supremacy." He's also offered some bizarre commentary on Hitler's intentions during World War II.

With that in mind, when Buchanan thinks Gingrich has gone too far with Nazi rhetoric, you know ol' Newt has pushed the envelope.

Either you support the First Amendment or you don't Chris Hayes points out the inappropriateness of applying the word "support" to everything allowed by the First Amendment when it's the First Amendment itself that warrants support.

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Shortly before the House broke for its August recess, Republicans killed a bill that seemed like one of the year's most obvious no-brainers.

The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would pay health care costs for 9/11 rescue workers, sickened after exposure to the toxic smoke and debris. The legislation was fully paid for, closing a tax loophole for American companies that try to hide their headquarters at P.O. box in the Caymans.

The GOP trashed the bill, calling the money a "slush fund." It needed a two-thirds majority to pass, and came up short -- nearly every Democrat voted for it, and nearly every Republican voted against it.

Yesterday, some of the heroes and their families who need this bill to pass expressed their deep disappointment -- by blaming President Obama for legislation that Republicans opposed.

Ailing 9/11 responders slammed President Obama on Tuesday for sounding off on the Ground Zero mosque while keeping silent on a $7.2 billion health care bill.

"Why have you failed us? We thought you would be our champion" in pushing the legislation, John Feal wrote to Obama.

So, let me get this straight. Obama supports the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Congressional Democrats support the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. If passed, the president would gladly sign the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act into law. Republicans not only trashed the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, but blocked it from passing.

But Obama has "failed" 9/11 responders?

I'm reminded of that episode of "The West Wing," in the third season, when Donna tells Josh about some voters' concerns about Bartlett. "They think the President is going to privatize Social Security," Donna said. "He's not going to ... that's the other guys!" Josh replied.

Obama's right about health care for 9/11 first responders. It's "the other guys" who are the problem.

Indeed, for all the recent attention about converting a closed-down Burlington Coat Factory into a local community center, many of the same politicians who claim to have endless passion in defense of Ground Zero had (a) no qualms about voting against the 9/11 health care bill; or (b) no criticism for those who did.

The disconnect matters.

mistermix: Least Surprising News of the Day

Remember the site that some of you visited to test your Internet speed? Well, the results are in. The average advertised broadband speed is 6.7 mbps. The average real speed is about 4 mbps, which is a McEstimated 6% or 600% of the advertised speed, depending on how many martinis you had last night.

Even though the FCC can’t regulate ISPs because any regulation will destroy the magic free market fairy dust, cute kittens and shiny ponies that power our Internet revolution, they’ve proposed a labeling standard that would show how well an ISP lives up to its broadband claims.

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