Mitt Romney Claims Obama Is Supporting 9/11 Truthers

Mitt Romney, talking on the weekly GOP infomercial Fox News Sunday, accused Barack Obama of supporting 9/11 Truthers such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Susceptibility to brainwashing must run in the Romney family. His father admitted he was brainwashed about Viet Nam. Unfortunately Mitt does not understand how he has been brainwashed by the far right.

Please Share

There Are Crazier People In The World Than Glenn Beck

I’ve had many posts regarding the delusions and misinformation commonly spread by the right wing in the United States. Dealing with disputes involving domestic politics often ignores the fact that there are even crazier people in the world than Glenn Beck who we disagree with even more with regards to reality. For example, there is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

Two days before his official trip to Afghanistan, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a “big lie” intended to pave the way for the invasion of a war-torn nation, according to Iranian state media.

Ahmadinejad, known for his harsh rhetoric toward the West and Israel, said the attack on U.S. soil was a “scenario and a sophisticated intelligence measure,” Iran’s state-run Press TV reported Saturday.

The assault was a “big lie intended to serve as a pretext for fighting terrorism and setting the grounds for sending troops to Afghanistan,” Press TV reported Ahmadinejad as saying.

It’s not the first time Ahmadinejad has denied a historical tragedy. In the past, he has denied the existence of the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of some 6 million Jews during World War II, and suggested Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

“Today,” he said Saturday, “with blessings from the Almighty, the capitalist system, founded by the Zionists, has also reached an end,” Press TV quoted Ahmadinejad.

Please Share

John Kerry Addresses U.S.-Islamic World Forum

John Kerry, currently Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the man who might have become president in 2004 if only there were more voting machines available in some urban areas of Ohio, gave an excellent speech before the U.S.-Islamic World Forum. Spencer Ackerman writes, “This is the speech that should have been given to the Muslim world by President John Kerry in 2005.”

Kerry noted how the world is changing:

For a decade, our relationship was framed by trauma and terrorism, by two ongoing wars and political conflict—and the fallout only polarized us further. Many Muslims perceived the United States as an aggressor – projecting its power solely to protect its own security and economic interests, usually at the expense of Muslim countries. Too many in western societies implicitly, and at times explicitly, blamed an entire religion for the unholy violence of a few. This left many Muslims angry and alienated and complicated the task for leaders in the region.

At the same time, suicide bombers and extremists dominated the daily news. While credible and respected Muslim voices did publicly condemn the fanaticism and violence, their actions received little attention from the media and policymakers. Too often, the extremists defined an “us versus them” discourse, and all of us suffered for it.

Since President Obama took office, we have witnessed a dramatic shift. While expectations were perhaps too high that the world would change overnight, we know that his words and our subsequent actions were just the beginning of a long road.

Kerry also discussed what must be done in the future along with how conditions are changing:

First, America is striving to think and talk differently about Islam. We reject—publicly and categorically—the demonization of a religion and recognize our need for deeper understanding. Our values and our history remind us constantly that religious bigotry – whether it is anti-Semitism or Islamophobia – has no place in our public life. America was founded by those seeking freedom of religion, and all Western countries need to recognize that banning burqas or minarets is contrary to our shared values. It builds unnecessary walls between Muslims and the rest of society. It’s insulting, and it only exacerbates tensions.

Second, we must acknowledge that a serious debate is now underway within Muslim communities over how best to address extremism and combat prejudice. This is an important development because ultimately, it is those communities that are best positioned to find solutions that resonate. I want to commend His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan for his signature work in promoting Muslim-Christian dialogue through “A Common Word” initiative, which attracts more signatories every day. I want to also recognize His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for promoting interreligious dialogue. And of course, the Qataris deserve great credit for hosting forums like this one.

Third, the United States is reaching out to the next generation and cultivating people-to-people relationships. President Obama has created new science envoys and exchange programs. Our space program, NASA, is welcoming Muslim students from around the world and financing a research program in the Gulf. And Secretary of State Clinton has appointed a Special Representative to Muslim Communities who is focused on people-to-people engagement, Farah Pandith, who is here with us today. All of these initiatives add up to a different attitude and a different approach.

Kerry pointed out how there must be changes in the treatment of women:

But for societies to harness their full potential, we also need to address the aspirations of women. Countries cannot expect to be competitive if half the workforce is economically marginalized or denied rights and opportunities. While this effort sometimes runs hard up against cultures and traditions, as we in America learned with the election of our first African-American president, once a barrier has been broken, we wonder how it could ever have stood for so long.

Kerry concluded with a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and conditions in Gaza. He pointed out that achieving peace alone will not solve all of the problems:

I know that everyone here understands the urgent need for peace. But peace alone will not solve all the region’s problems. Ask yourselves: If peace were delivered tomorrow, would it meet the job needs of the entire region? How many more children would it send to school? Who really believes that Iran would suddenly abandon its nuclear ambitions? So we know that Israel/Palestine is central but we must develop a much more practical partnership that extends well beyond regional conflicts.

The full text is under the fold:

(more…)

Please Share

Out of Context Quote Distorts Obama Administration View on Response to Terrorism

Here’s a good example of how a phrase taken out of context can really convey a different meaning. Jake Tapper, referring to an op-ed by John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, has a misleading headline saying, WH: Some Critics ‘Serving the Goals of al Qaeda’. The same headline is going out on Twitter and Facebook, giving a misleading idea of what Brennan actually said.

The first impression from this title is that the White House has resorted to the same sort of jingoism seen during the Bush years, such as that if you are not with us you are supporting the terrorists. Reading Brennan’s actual op-ed gives an entirely different meaning when these words are not taken out of context. This quote comes from this passage:

Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda. Terrorists are not 100-feet tall. Nor do they deserve the abject fear they seek to instill. They will, however, be dismantled and destroyed, by our military, our intelligence services and our law enforcement community. And the notion that America’s counterterrorism professionals and America’s system of justice are unable to handle these murderous miscreants is absurd.

Headlines do need to condense, but simply expanding the headline to “unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda” provides a far closer view of what Brennan wrote. He is repeating what many of us critics of the Bush administration and the right wing response to terrorism have been saying since 9/11. The goal of terrorists is to instill terror in the population. Fear-mongering by the right wing does play into their hands, and does serve the goals of al Qaeda.

Brennan also makes another point which many others have also made in recent weeks since the Obama administration has been attacked for handling the attempted Christmas day terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in civilian court (emphasis mine):

It’s naive to think that transferring Abdulmutallab to military custody would have caused an outpouring of information. There is little difference between military and civilian custody, other than an interrogator with a uniform. The suspect gets access to a lawyer, and interrogation rules are nearly identical.

Would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid was read his Miranda rights five minutes after being taken off a plane he tried to blow up. The same people who criticize the president today were silent back then.

Cries to try terrorists only in military courts lack foundation. There have been three convictions of terrorists in the military tribunal system since 9/11, and hundreds in the criminal justice system — including high-profile terrorists such as Reid and 9/11 plotter Zacarius Moussaoui.

Brennan also responds to those on the right who claim that the Obama administration is not taking the threat of terrorism seriously, noting Obama’s successes in 2009 and how they compare to Bush’s record:

This administration’s efforts have disrupted dozens of terrorist plots against the homeland and been responsible for killing and capturing hundreds of hard-core terrorists, including senior leaders in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond — far more than in 2008. We need no lectures about the fact that this nation is at war.

Update: An op-ed at The Washington Examiner further misquotes Brennan with a headline reading:  White House: People who criticize us are helping al Qaeda.

Please Share

Doomsday Clock Moved Back One Minute

I’m going to sleep more soundly tonight. The Doomsday Clock is being moved back one minute to six minutes to midnight. Barack Obama is partially credited for the decreased risk of nuclear annihilation:

The board said the end of a nuclear threat to the world could now be in sight.

‘We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

‘For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals.’

President Obama was particularly praised for causing ‘a change in the U.S government’s toward international affairs.’

‘With a more pragmatic, problem-solving approach, not only has Obama initiated new arms reduction talks with Russia, he has started negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program,’ the board said.

Despite their positive mood, BAS co-chair Lawrence Krauss, said: ‘Even though we are encourage by recent developments, we are mindful of the fact that the Clock is ticking.’

Please Share

Twitter vs. Terror

Senator Richard Lugar, writing in Foreign Policy, suggests that the State Department use social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook in a global fight for freedom. He sees these sites as being “an important leap forward from traditional U.S. outreach efforts, such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.”

Lugar gave examples of their use in Iran, the Congo, and Pakistan and wrote:

The adroit use of social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and others, coupled with text messages and increasingly widespread mobile-phone technology, can help lend support to existing grassroots movements for freedom and civil rights, connect people to information, and help those in closed societies communicate with the outside world. It also promises to give a strong economic boost to small entrepreneurs and the rural poor. The World Bank estimates that for every 10 percent increase in the number of mobile-phone users in a developing country, there is nearly a 1 percent increase in its economic output…

…social networking technologies are more often used to enable individuals across a country, or across the globe, to interact, engage, and become empowered. Although this means that our government will not be able to control the message as well as it might with conventional public diplomacy tools, I believe it is a risk worth taking. Terrorists and other anti-American propagandists have for some time been using the Internet and other techniques to communicate and recruit. America needs to beat them at their own game, especially since we invented most of the technology.

Please Share

Exit Strategy in Iran

News from Iran:

Iranian Supreme National Security Council has ordered a complete check-up of the jet which is on standby to fly Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his family to Russia should the situation in Iran spiral out of control.

The order, to the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guard Corps, was dated on Sunday, 27 December, the second day of recent unrests in Iran.

Please Share

Memories of Festivus Past

(It is almost the start of Festivus. Before beginning this year’s celebration I’ll look back at the traditional Festivus Airing of Grievances from 2005. The Grievances were aimed at then-president George Bush.)

Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participate at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In the spirit of George Lakoff’s “strict father” model for Republican leadership style, for Festivus this year I rant to one and all about all the ways in which George Bush has disappointed me:

George, you twice took an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and you claim to support judges who look to the intentions of its framers. Yet you take executive powers, and the powers of the commander in chief, far beyond what the framers ever intended. Emergency powers are intended to allow for immediate response to a crisis, not to allow for an indefinite expansion of your powers without legislative approval or judicial review.

You failed in the most important duties of your office, protecting the country when under attack. You ignored the warnings about al Qaeda from your predecessor upon taking office. You ignored warnings in your own intelligence briefings that terrorists planned an attack involving hijacked airplanes, and then on the day of the actual attack you sat down to read a book, possibly for the first time in your life. I hope you enjoyed The Pet Goat. Now if you would only read a few books explaining the background to the problems you have been mishandling.

After failing to take action to protect us from an imminent attack, you totally screw up in retaliating against the wrong country. Your failure to settle matters in Afghanistan before attacking Iraq allowed Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora when he could have been captured.

Who has your foreign policy helped? You sure helped al Qaeda grow, as Saudi and Israeli studies showed that it was opposition to the war which radicalized those fighting American troops. The other big winner has been Iran as you have spread our military too thin to respond to problems beyond Iraq.

You even considered bombing al-Jazeera. Listen, if you really wanted to get rid of a bunch of religious fanatics and political extremists who were using biased news reports to prop up a corrupt government and reduce freedom you should have gone after Fox News. If Pravda had been as effective in deceiving the public as Fox News and the rest of the right wing noise machine is, the Soviet Union would probably still exist.

Then there’s this Medicare plan of yours. Those in Medicaid programs had their prescriptions paid for at negotiated discount prices, but your plan prevents such discounts in the Medicare programs providing a financial windfall to the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the taxpayers. What a great deal for the pharmaceutical companies who donated fortunes to you–plus you gave them a great excuse to eliminate their patient assistance programs. Of course don’t forget the insurance industry, which also makes out great thanks to the subsidies you are providing for Medicare managed care plans–plans which have historically been so inefficient that insurance companies will only get involved if they receive such subsidies, again at taxpayer’s expense.

You sure are great for your friends in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Then there’s the oil companies. How much did they stand to gain if you got away with the ANWR drilling? I’m sure they would have gotten a better deal than the consumers who would have save a whole one cent per gallon at the pump.

Besides undermining our national security and harming the environment, you have run up record deficits to undermine our financial futures while giving huge tax cuts which primarily benefit the rich. You have undermined important parts of the Constitution as you have engaged in illegal surveillance of American citizens, worked to destroy the checks and balances which have so far saved us tyranny, and you have harmed the separation of church and state which is so important to guarantee that everyone can practice (or not practice) religion in the manner they desire.

Your disdain for the democratic process was especially seen in your campaign last year. You both avoided contact with all but firm supporters, and avoided discussing any real issues. You were too afraid of a real discussion of the issues, knowing in such a situation you would be rejected, so instead you based your campaign upon distorting the positions and record of your opponent. I don’t think you ever commented on a single position actually held by John Kerry.

You were even so far off the wall as to suggest that intelligent design be taught in schools as an alternative to evolution. At least you aren’t flip flopping this time (which is something you and not John Kerry has been guilty of). Supporting such superstition over science is consistent with your overall disregard for science. Calling intelligent design a valid alternative to evolution to explain the development of life is as nonsensical as promoting the belief that earth quakes occur because the gods are angry as a valid alternative to geology.

Traditionally, at the Festivus dinner we have the The Feats of Strength. This year I propose that we show our strength by working to remove from Congress those who have collaborated with you and replace them with new members who are willing to vote for your censure or impeachment and restore Constitutional rule as intended by the Founding Fathers. You already have the distinction of being the first President to admit to an impeachable offense in your illegal surveillance, and your lying us into war was an even worse crime. Both are certainly more deserving of impeachment than a private sexual affair and creative uses of cigars.

Next year, when we have a Congress willing to take action against you and to reestablish the form of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers, we can call it a Festivus Miracle.

Now, in the spirit of Festivus, I invite you all gather around an aluminum pole to air your grievances or perform a feat of strength.

Update: Thanks to The Atlantic and others for linking to this airing of old grievances. This year’s airing of grievances, ranging from Barack Obama to the Obama bashers (left and right) to J. J. Abrams (for destroying Vulcan) are posted here.

Please Share

Obama Accepts Nobel Peace Prize

articleLarge

Barack Obama has accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

The full text of his acceptance speech is under the fold.

(more…)

Please Share

Republicans Considering Purity Resolution

It was bound to happen. Cults just cannot resist demanding purity. The Caucus reports that Republicans are considering a purity resolution:

Republican leaders are circulating a resolution listing 10 positions Republican candidates should support to demonstrate that they “espouse conservative principles and public policies” that are in opposition to “Obama’s socialist agenda.” According to the resolution, any Republican candidate who broke with the party on three or more of these issues– in votes cast, public statements made or answering a questionnaire – would be penalized by being denied party funds or the party endorsement.

The ten items are:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

Republicans sure have not adhered very well to number one when in office. Number two is nonsensical considering that Obama is not proposing government-run health care (as the American Medical Association pointed out in their endorsement of health care reform).  At least they aren’t requiring a pledge of support for torture, although that certainly is a common characteristic of pure Republicans.

Please Share