Monday, May 31, 2010

The fake feminism of Sarah Palin

WashPost By Jessica Valenti

Sarah Palin sure is dropping the f-bomb a lot lately.

In a widely noted speech this month to the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion-rights group, Palin invoked the words "feminism" and "feminist" no less than a dozen times. She called for a "pro-woman sisterhood" and addressed the "sisters" in the audience. If it weren't for the regular references to gun rights, you might have thought you were listening to Gloria Steinem.

If this rhetoric seems uncharacteristic of the former governor of Alaska, that's because it is. When running for vice president in 2008, Palin flip-flopped on the feminist question, telling CBS's Katie Couric that she is one, but later telling NBC's Brian Williams, "I'm not going to label myself anything."

Today, however, Palin is happily adopting the feminist label. She's throwing support behind "mama grizzly" candidates, describing the large number of women in the "tea party" as evidence of a "mom awakening" and preaching girl power on her Facebook page.

It's not a realization of the importance of women's rights that's inspired the change. It's strategy. Palin's sisterly speechifying is part of a larger conservative move to woo women by appropriating feminist language. Just as consumer culture tries to sell "Girls Gone Wild"-style sexism as "empowerment," conservatives are trying to sell anti-women policies shrouded in pro-women rhetoric.

Several years ago, when antiabortion protesters realized that screaming "Murderer!" at women wasn't winning hearts and minds, they launched more palatable campaigns claiming that abortion hurts women -- their new protest signs read "Women Deserve Better." (Not surprisingly, this message is much more effective than spitting invective at emotionally vulnerable women.)

When members of the conservative Independent Women's Forum argue against efforts to address pay inequity, they say the salary gap is a result of women's informed choices -- motherhood, for example -- and that claims of discrimination turn women into victims. Conservatives have realized that women respond to seemingly feminist arguments.

But, of course, Palin isn't a feminist -- not in the slightest. What she calls "the emerging conservative feminist identity" isn't the product of a political movement or a fight for social justice.

It isn't a structural analysis of patriarchal norms, power dynamics or systemic inequities. It's an empty rallying call to women who are disdainful of or apathetic to women's rights, who want to make abortion and emergency contraception illegal, who would cut funding to the Violence Against Women Act and who fight same-sex marriage rights. As Kate Harding wrote on "What comes next? 'Phyllis Schlafly feminism?' 'Patriarchal feminism?' 'He-Man Woman Hater Feminism?' "

Given that so-called conservative feminists don't support women's rights, how can they paint their movement as pro-woman? Why are they not being laughed out of the room?

Easy: They preempt criticism of their lack of bona fides by aligning themselves with a history that most women are proud of -- the fight for suffrage. They claim they're the real feminists, as Palin did in her speech lauding the Susan B. Anthony List for "returning the women's movement back to its original roots." (She wasn't talking about voting rights; she was referring to the debated notion that first-wave feminists were antiabortion.)

It may seem odd to argue that for women to make progress, they should ground their movement in the past -- but it's appropriate, given the beliefs of conservative "feminists." They don't want to move forward; instead they knock 1960s-era feminism as hooey while claiming to support equality. In her book "Going Rogue," for example, Palin writes that she doesn't agree with "the radical mantras of that early feminist era, but reasoned arguments for equal opportunity definitely resonated with me."

Of course, by dismissing the past 40 years of feminism, women such as Palin disparage the very movement that made it possible for them to be public figures. After all, would Palin be addressing tea party rallies if Betty Friedan had never talked about the "problem that has no name?"

By tying their "feminism" to the suffragists, whose goal was realized nearly 100 years ago, they're not-so-subtly saying that women in America have achieved equality. In fact, they don't believe that systemic sexism exists. The conservative writer Christina Hoff Sommers, for example, says that women aren't oppressed and that "it is no longer reasonable to say that as a group, women are worse off than men."

If you believe women have made it, you're not going to fight very hard on their behalf. But it's difficult to rally women's support behind a message of inaction, so Palin is doing her best to frame this nonmovement as proactive and, of course, "empowering."

"More young women agree with these feminist foremothers [on abortion] than ever before," Palin said in her Susan B. Anthony List speech. "And believe in that culture of life, empowering women by offering them a real choice." (Exactly what said choice would be once abortion is illegal went unmentioned.)

A related strategy for Palin and fellow conservatives is to paint actual feminists as condescending hypocrites who simply don't believe in young women: "[They] send this message, that 'Nope, you're not capable of doing both. You can't give your child life and still pursue career and education. You're not strong enough; you're not capable.' So it's very hypocritical," she told the anti-abortion-rights crowd. Palin's "pro-woman sisterhood," however, "is telling these young women that they're strong enough and smart enough, they are capable to be able to handle an unintended pregnancy and still be able to . . . handle that [and] give that child life." (Unless of course, these young women were unlucky enough to live in Alaska when then-Gov. Palin cut funding for an Anchorage shelter for teenage moms.)

So Palin's "feminism" isn't just co-opting the language of the feminist movement, it's deliberately misrepresenting real feminism to distract from the fact that she supports policies that limit women's rights.

Of course, deciding who gets to call themselves feminists is a tricky business. Even some people who seem to generally disagree with Palin have found it difficult to bar her from the feminist ranks. Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz wrote that she won't "quibble with her" over the label, and Meghan Daum said in the Los Angeles Times that if Palin "has the guts to call herself a feminist, then she's entitled to be accepted as one."

Now, there's no grand arbiter of the label, and the tremendous range of thought in the movement means there isn't a singular platform one can look to as a reference point. And the sad reality is that there are plenty of self-identified liberal feminists who exhibit not-so-egalitarian ideals, such as racism or homophobia. So is it possible to exclude women such as Palin from feminism if we don't have a conclusive definition?

Absolutely. If anyone -- even someone who actively fights against women's rights -- can call herself a feminist, the word and the movement lose all meaning. And while part of the power of feminism is its intellectual diversity, certain things are inarguable. Feminism is a social justice movement with values and goals that benefit women. It's a structural analysis of a world that oppresses women, an ideology based on the notion that patriarchy exists and that it needs to end.

What Palin is peddling isn't feminism -- it's a manipulated buzzword being used to garner support for a party that time and time again votes against women's rights. Palin isn't trying to further a movement for justice or equality; she's shilling for women's votes -- a "stampede of pink elephants," she says -- for the midterm elections.

And it's working. The conservative "sisterhood" responded passionately to Palin's call. Blogger Lori Ziganto swooned over Palin and the other "true feminist" candidates she's supporting. "They are the new faces of feminism," she wrote. And Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review criticized those who would doubt Palin's feminist credentials.

But feminists -- or anyone who cares about women's progress -- need to stop Palin from turning feminism into yet another empty slogan. Because "sisterhood" and meaningless rallying cries aside, American women need real feminism in their lives, not just the f-bomb.

Jessica Valenti is the author of "The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Women" and the founder of She has written previously for Outlook on women's rights in the United States and on virginity.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just sayin'

One of the first women to challenge the view that domestic labor was not productive work was Maria-Rosa Dalla Costa, who wrote from Italy in 1972 that the housewife and her labor was the basis for the process of capital accumulation. Capital commands the unpaid labor of the housewife as well as the paid laborer. Dalla Costa saw the family as a colony dominated by capital and state. She rejected the artificially created division between waged and unwaged labor and said that you could not understand exploitation of waged labor until you understood the exploitation of unpaid labor

It is estimated that women make up 52% of the adults on this planet and do 75% of the work required to maintain 100% of the population. They earn less than 10% of the income and own less than 1% the world property.

Organizers of the Global Women's Strike assert that whoever is doing all this work has real power to effect change. But, as Maria Mies acknowledges in her book Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale, there must be solidarity between women in overdeveloped and underdeveloped countries if we want to make this change: "If one set of women tries to better its material condition as wage-workers, or as consumers, not as human beings, capital will try to offset its possible losses by squeezing another set of women."

Unfortunately, an underlying theme of some feminist literature seems to be that 1) women should have the "right" to exploit other workers, becoming overpaid capitalists, and 2) children should be mass-produced in daycare centers. Allowing both men and women an equal opportunity to be an oppressor is not a solution. Warehousing children so that parents can do jobs that exploit other people is not a solution.

Women who provide all this free labor in a capitalist system in which nothing else is free must stop being so nice. It makes us tired. And the logical consequence of being too tired is no special extras in the home and no volunteering at the school. Perhaps all volunteers should stop working for free, as it is the logical consequence of living under a market dominated value system. The only free work done should be revolutionary work. That includes raising aware children. All other free work only strengthens a system that is killing us and the planet.

Those who are most oppressed by the rules and rulers should "work to rule"-do the least amount of unpaid work as possible, then strike.

Unpaid labor is a taboo subject because acknowledging it would undermine one of the most important ideological foundations of capitalism. The owning class does not want to admit that they can only prosper by not paying for seventy-five percent of the true work of the planet.

From: Joanna Powers

Friday, May 28, 2010

Glenn Beck somehow finds a new low

Media Matters: Under pressure, Glenn Beck somehow finds a new low

If you wondered how long it would take Glenn Beck to make his simulation of President Obama pouring gasoline on a person look comparatively tame, the answer is about 13 months.

Welcome to the meltdown. It isn't pretty.

Apparently feeling pressure from an investigation by Rep. Anthony Weiner into his promotion of Goldline and ongoing scrutiny from Media Matters and others, Beck uncorked an impressively paranoid conspiracy theory this week. According to Beck, the SEIU, AFL-CIO, Van Jones, Jim Wallis, the White House, Rep. Weiner and Media Matters are engaged in "Alinskyite" plots that seek to "destroy" him, his family, Fox News, Christianity, and the Founding Fathers.

Though all facets of this conspiracy theory are equally absurd, it's worth noting that Beck's call to "leave the families alone" rings especially hollow when viewed in light of the fact that earlier in the same radio show he suggested that Sasha and Malia Obama think "Jews are destroying the world" because they were exposed to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Later in the week, he mocked 11-year-old Malia for several minutes on his radio show by impersonating her voice and saying things like "Daddy, why do you hate black people?" He proceeded to attack "the level" of Obama's daughters' "education." Despicable -- and entirely in character. While Beck subsequently apologized for his comments mocking Malia Obama, he has yet to address the balance of his attacks against the first family.

Earlier this week, while lauding his supposed Nostradamus-like ability to predict future atrocities, Beck suggested that his detractors merely rely on labeling him crazy, rather than factually debunking his paranoid ranting. Trying to "factually" debunk ideas like a widespread progressive effort to destroy Beck's family and the Founding Fathers is akin to trying to debunk the conspiracy theory that the world is actually controlled by shape-shifting lizard people: It is self-refuting ridiculousness.

And while the idea that nobody can refute Beck on factual issues is a good line for his viewers, it simply isn't true. Here are several examples just from this week.

Yet, Beck's factual inaccuracies pale in comparison to his recent use of violent rhetoric. Starting with his speeches at Liberty University and the National Rifle Association two weeks ago, Beck's fearmongering about impending violence from progressives has reached a fever pitch.

During a tear-soaked, unhinged commencement speech at Liberty, Beck told graduates that they "have a responsibility" to speak out, or "blood ... will be on our hands." His advice for graduates (as well as his daughter) included "shoot to kill." He also claimed that God installed an "alarm bell" in people that is telling them that "your rights are being taken." If you were wondering which rights these might be, he cleared up any confusion later that night during his speech at the NRA, when Beck agreed with Mao Zedong that "power comes from the barrel of a gun," and then asked the audience, "Why do you think they want to take yours away?"

Since then -- keep in mind we're just talking about the last two weeks here -- Beck:

informed listeners that "what's coming is horrific. I don't even want to speak it out loud."
continued his bizarre obsession with administration official Cass Sunstein, who Beck suggested has "frightening similarities" to Joseph Goebbels and who "controls everything" and "will control your every move."
talked about how the "world is on edge" and told his viewers that "those who survive" will "stand in the truth" and "listen."
discussed the ongoing controversy over Arizona's immigration law, telling his listeners that "we are being pushed" toward civil war and that Obama is "trying to destroy the country."
told his listeners that "you have to be prepared to take rocks to the head. You have to be prepared to lose everything."
responded to criticism from Media Matters and said, "You will have to shoot me in the head. We are not stopping."
and attacked Jewish Funds for Justice's Simon Greer for putting "the common good" first, which Beck claimed "leads to death camps," adding, "a Jew, of all people, should know this."
While he previously relied on vague hints about what progressives were going to do to people by running "documentaries" supposedly linking Hilter, Stalin, and Mao to progressivism, Beck has now discarded the relative subtlety. On Thursday, Beck continued his recent fearmongering about the "soft revolution" that is supposedly taking place in America (purportedly designed to silence voices like Beck's), and claimed that if the administration "can't get everyone to silence, that's when the arrests come, or that's when they start a hard revolution. That's when they start just shooting people."

Taken as a whole, Beck's recent actions are outrageous and potentially dangerous. Beck claims that he is a Vatican-approved, "wildly important" warrior fighting on behalf of good against forces of "great darkness." He also spends a lot of his time boasting about his purported ability to predict -- with unerring accuracy -- everything that is happening right now. He then transitions into predicting the coming death camps, imprisonments, shootings, and "rivers of blood" as a result of progressive policies.

What, exactly, is Beck trying to do here? Is this the kind of guy the GOP wants to elevate as the heir-apparent to Rush Limbaugh as the leader of the party?

Bored conservatives break out the impeachment card

Frankly, I'm surprised it took conservative media figures almost a year and a half to manufacture a reason to start clapping excitedly about impeaching President Obama.

Unsurprisingly, it's a bunch of overblown nonsense.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) said that the Obama administration offered him a job in order to convince him to avoid a primary fight with Arlen Specter for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania. This is far from an unprecedented political gesture. For example, in 1981, the Reagan administration reportedly offered former California Sen. S.I. Hayawaka a job in the administration in exchange for not seeking re-election.

In the words of George Edwards, professor of political science and the Jordan Chair in presidential studies at Texas A&M University, the Sestak offer is "old news historically."

Indeed, numerous legal experts have disputed the idea that the Sestak offer would constitute a crime, including former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Most media conservatives ignored all of this and went into a full-on feeding frenzy, turning to discredited sources in order to push the falsehood that this constituted "bribery." They declared the scandal "Obama's Watergate," and Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Morris, and Sean Hannity all contemplated Obama's impeachment.

Who could have guessed that Beck, Limbaugh, Morris, and Hannity all thought Ronald Reagan should have been impeached?

Following the administration's response to the scandal today, Bush ethics chief Richard Painter said that there is "[n]o scandal. Time to move on."

Considering that conservative media outlets thrive on trumped-up, hypocritical nonsense like this, the fact that this is "no scandal" will hardly encourage them to "move on."

It's OK if you're a Republican: Memorial Day edition

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that President Obama would be attending a Memorial Day service in Chicago while Vice President Biden would lay the wreath at Arlington National Cemetery to honor our fallen troops. Hearing the words "Obama" and "troops" in close proximity, conservatives leaped into action.

Beck claimed that he is "sick and tired of people believing the lie" that Obama "has respect for the soldiers." Erick Erickson labeled Obama's actions "offensive." Fox & Friends spent an entire segment discussing how this was "breaking tradition," with on-screen graphics featuring the text "Trampling On Tradition?", "Offensive To Soldiers?" and "Memorial Day Miss-Out?"

A few big problems with this attack: First and foremost, Beck's asinine claim that Obama "decided not to honor the troops" is completely false. Obama will be speaking at a Memorial Day service at an Illinois cemetery that is dedicated as a national cemetery within the Department of Veterans Affairs's National Cemetery Administration.

Also, despite conservatives' suggestion that Obama's decision is somehow unprecedented, it isn't. Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan each missed the wreath laying at Arlington at least once during their presidencies and either marked the occasion elsewhere or sent a proxy in their place.

Conservatives like Erickson were undeterred in the face of these inconvenient facts. In a classic moment of circular logic, Erickson explained on Twitter that even though previous Republican presidents had not gone to Arlington on Memorial Day, Obama's decision was different because "no one questioned their support for soldiers and belief in American Exceptionalism." So, Obama hates the military because conservatives like Erickson smear Obama as anti-military. Right.

Hard to argue with logic like that.

This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Media Matters' Ben Dimiero.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010



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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


REALLY? Strange but True Facts!

Look at your zipper. See the initials YKK? It stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushibibaisha, the world's largest zipper manufacturer.

40 percent of McDonald's profits come from the sales of Happy Meals.

315 entries in Webster's 1996 Dictionary were misspelled.

On the average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily.

Chocolate kills dogs! True, chocolate affects a dog's heart and nervous system. A few ounces is enough to kill a small sized dog.

Ketchup was sold in the 1830's as a medicine.

Leonardo DA Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time.

Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood.

There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.

Leonardo DA Vinci invented scissors. Also, it took him 10 years to paint Mona Lisa's lips.

Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to slow a film down so you could see his moves. That's the opposite of the norm.

The original name for the butterfly was "flutterby"!

By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you can't sink in quicksand.

Mosquito repellents don't repel... They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito's sensors so they don't know you're there.

Dentists recommend that a toothbrush be kept at least six feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush.

The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum.

Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than the entire Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined.

Marilyn Monroe had six toes on one foot.

Adolf Hitler's mother seriously considered having an abortion but was talked out of it by her doctor.

The three most valuable brand names on earth: Marlboro, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.

To escape the grip of a crocodile's jaws, prick your fingers into its eyeballs. It will let you go instantly.

The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

The "pound" (#) key on your keyboard is called an octothorp.

The only domestic animal not mentioned in the Bible is the cat.

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

Dreamt" is the only word in the English language that ends in "MT".

It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

In Chinese, the KFC slogan "finger lickin' good" comes out as "eat your fingers off".

A cockroach can live for 10 days without a head..

We shed 40 pounds of skin a lifetime.

Yo-Yos were once used as weapons in the Philippines

Mexico City sinks about 10 inches a year.

Brains are more active sleeping than watching TV.

Blue is the favorite color of 80 percent of Americans.

When a person shakes their head from side to side, he is saying "yes" in Sri Lanka

There are more chickens than people in the world.

The thumbnail grows the slowest, and the middle nail grows the fastest.

There are more telephones than people in Washington , D.C..

The average four year-old child asks over four hundred questions a day.

The average person presses the snooze button on their alarm clock three times each morning.

The three wealthiest families in the world have more assets than the combined wealth of the forty-eight poorest nations.

The first owner of the Marlboro cigarette Company died of lung cancer.

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The world's youngest parents were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910.

Our eyes remain the same size from birth onward, but our noses and ears never stop growing.

You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV.

A person will die from total lack of sleep sooner than from starvation. Death will occur about 10 days without sleep, while starvation takes a few weeks.

Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.

The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows.

When the moon is directly overhead, you weigh slightly less.

Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, never telephoned his wife or mother because they were both deaf.

A psychology student in New York rented out her spare room to a carpenter in order to nag him constantly and study his reactions. After weeks of needling, he snapped and beat her repeatedly with an axe leaving her mentally retarded

"I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language

Colgate faced a big obstacle marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking countries because Colgate translates into the command "go hang yourself."

Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different.

"Bookkeeper" is the only word in English language with three consecutive double letters.

Right handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left handed people do.

The sentence "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the English language.

If the population of China walked past you in single line, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction

China has more English speakers than the United States

Every human spent about half an hour as a single cell.

Each square inch of human skin consists of twenty feet of blood vessels.

An average person uses the bathroom 6 times per day.

Babies are born with 300 bones, but by adulthood we have only 206 in our bodies.

Beards are the fastest growing hairs on the human body. If the average man never trimmed his beard, it would grow to nearly 30 feet long in his lifetime.

According to Genesis 1:20-22, the chicken came before the egg.

The longest place name still in use is: Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturi- Pukakpikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu - a New Zealand hill.

If you leave Tokyo by plane at 7:00am, you will arrive in Honolulu at approximately 4:30pm the previous day.

Scientists in Australia 's Parkes Observatory thought they had positive proof of alien life, when they began picking up radio-waves from space. However, after investigation, the radio emissions were traced to a microwave in the building.

Wearing headphones for an hour increases the bacteria in your ear 700 times.

More than 40,000 parasites and 250 types of bacteria are exchanged during a French kiss.

Men can read smaller print than women, but women can hear better.

Coca-Cola was originally green.

The most common name in the world is Mohammed.

The name of all the continents ends with the same letter that they start with.

There are two credit cards for every person in the United States

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men!!

You can't kill yourself by holding your breath.

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

People say "Bless you" when you sneeze because when you sneeze, your heart stops for a millisecond. Also,it was believed in olden times that the sneeze expelled an evil spirit.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

10 fictitious Tea Party beliefs

10 fictitious Tea Party beliefs
Washington Post By Steven E. Levingston

In a recent Political Bookworm item focusing on his book “The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics,” guest blogger Martin Jay noted that “truth-telling is not always the best policy in even the most democratic of political contexts.” John Amato and David Neiwert get quite worked up over this notion, especially as it applies to the conservative right. In their book, “Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane,” due out in June from PoliPoint Press, the authors explore the false stories they say are propagated by figureheads of the right such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs. Here they identify 10 beliefs of the Tea Party movement that they say are provably untrue. Amato is founder of Crooks and Liars, a progressive weblog. Neiwert is editor of the weblog Orcinus.

By John Amato and David Neiwert

We’ll admit up-front that the title of our forthcoming book,“Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane,” indulges in some rhetorical imprecision: conservatives in the United States are of course not really insane in any clinical or legal sense, and we are not suggesting they undergo sanity hearings to determine if their rights should be suspended. We mean “insane” in the common-sense meaning of the word -- having taken leave of their senses.

What other word, after all, can properly describe the behavior of people who adamantly insist on believing things that are provably untrue? Einstein facetiously defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Defiantly clinging to exploded fantasies and thoroughly debunked false “facts,” even when evidence of their falsity is planted directly in front of them, is a kind of insanity too.

The numbers of things that the American Right -- embodied in its wildly popular new “grassroots” Tea Party movement – believes but that are provably untrue is actually a pretty long list. But we’ve put together the Top 10, listed by importance in their increasingly Planet Bizarro-like worldview:

1. The birth-certificate conspiracy. Reality: Not even official birth certificates from Hawaii, newspaper clippings from 1961, and the testimony of state officials will convince the true-blue Tea Partiers. Which is why WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah lectured the National Tea Party Convention for an hour about the “truth” of the birth-certificate story.

2. Death panels. Reality: PolitiFact named Sarah Palin’s Facebook invention its “Lie of the Year,” and the belief was thoroughly exposed as a falsehood by every news network (even Fox). Yet Palin still insists that the panels exist somewhere in the health-care reform bill that was signed into law, its actual language notwithstanding.

3. Obama is a Muslim/Socialist/Fascist. Glenn Beck’s fantasy of the week -- one week Obama was a Socialist, the next he was a Communist, then a Fascist. Then it was on to Marxism and Maoism -- was avidly adopted by sign-bearing fans at Tea Party gatherings, who sometimes shared Beck’s confusion by just calling Obama All of the Above. Reality: Give us a break. Obama’s self-evident cautious centrism, embodied by his health-care reform package stripped of a public option, as well as his more recent embrace of a limited offshore drilling program, has infuriated liberals in his party -- but it hasn’t stopped Tea Partiers from denouncing the president as a radical anyway.

4. Obama is going to take away our guns. Well, the NRA managed to scare a whole lot of people into buying up every gun and piece of ammunition in sight the first year or so after Obama’s election. And at least five police officers died because the suspects they were arresting feared Obama was going to take away their guns. But Obama not only has adhered to his promise not to address gun-control issues, there hasn’t been even a breath of it from his administration. Which, of course, just makes the paranoids that much more paranoid: It’s proof that he’s really up to something.

5. Obama is raising our taxes. Reality: Obama lowered taxes for 95 percent of working Americans in his first year in office. But, you know, he’s a liberal Democrat – and for true-blue right-wing folks, that ALWAYS means a tax hike.

6. Fascism is a left-wing phenomenon. We can thank Jonah Goldberg -- with a big assist from Beck -- for the popularity of this one, even though Goldberg’s thesis has been demolished and angrily dismissed by academic historians. It’s especially come in handy for Tea Partiers with Obama-as-Hitler signs, who are not impressed by those pointy-headed professorial types anyway.

7. Global warming is a hoax. So Sean Hannity assures us, citing the Climategate brouhaha -- which was itself shown largely to be a hoax of its own. Meanwhile, the world’s ocean levels keep rising, and glaciers and the polar ice cap keep receding -- regardless of the endless words thrown up denying that they are.

8. Some 16,000 new IRS agents will enforce the new health care reform act by throwing you in jail. Reality: The IRS is actually only increasing its spending in the coming budget year as it normally would -- but some Republican operatives decided to figure out how many positions its increased budget would buy, and came up with 16,000, a figure that then became gospel on Newt Gingrich’s lips. According to the same mythmakers, this nonexistent new army of health care police was going to start throwing people in jail if they failed to buy health insurance -- though in fact, the only penalties contemplated for such failures are fines and taxes.

9. Two million people were at the 9/12 March on Washington. At the culmination of a monthlong promotion (highlighted by a national Tea Party Express bus tour) by Beck and Fox News, about 70,000 people gathered on the National Mall on September 12 to protest. Beck cited an erroneous early report that over a million had shown up. Later that grew to be two million, the figure now commonly cited by Tea Party leaders as evidence of their tremendous numerical force.

10. The Tea Parties are a non-partisan, broad grassroots movement. Sure, if by non-partisan you mean rabidly paleo-conservative, to the point of even dismissing Republicans, and by grassroots you mean fake populism organized and whipped up by the most popular cable-news network on television, with a heaping helping of corporate financing.
Tea Party folks and their defenders also want to believe that they’re just ordinary Americans who want to be serious about helping their country. But it’s pretty hard to fit that description when you embrace plain old nuttiness.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Americans killed by terrorists this year. 37

Americans killed by terrorists this year. 37

By Muslims ZERO
Christmas Day bomber attempter* 0
New York Times Square attested bomber* 0

* Please tell me why they are called ‘bombers’
when the bombs(?) didn’t go boom!?

By Corporations 37
West Virginia mine blast 26
Gulf Oil spill 11 dead

PLUS allot of collateral economic damage.

Just a thought from a liberal mind this morning.

Please don't get me started on the numbers killed by the Wall Street crooks of last year.
And we rewarded them with our own money!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sympathy on immigration

Poll: Sympathy on immigration, but desire for secure borders


Two-thirds of Americans want the government to do
a better job of securing the borders, but they are
sympathetic to illegal immigrants who have been
working hard and staying out of trouble, a USA
TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

Eight in 10 Americans are concerned that illegal
immigrants burden schools, hospitals and other
government services, and 77% worry that they drive
down wages, the poll finds.

Yet 77% are concerned that stricter laws would mean
illegal immigrants and their families who have lived
productively in the USA for years would be forced to

The seeming contradiction reflects the difficulty in
grappling with the issue, said Tomas Jimenez, a
fellow at the non-partisan New America Foundation.

"On the one hand, they don't like the idea that
people are breaking our immigration laws, that it
appears we have a southern border that is out of
control," Jimenez said. "On the other hand, they
think the people coming here who work hard, who
have dreams of a better life, are really participating
in an American tradition that is as old as this

In the poll, 68% say it is extremely important or very
important to halt the flow of illegal immigrants into
the country, and 67% say it is extremely or very
important to develop a plan to deal with about 12
million illegal immigrants in the USA. Yet 74% are
somewhat or very concerned that tougher
immigration laws would lead to harassment of

Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for
American Immigration Reform, said the numbers
mirror the federation's positions against citizenship
for illegal immigrants and for denying them jobs
and benefits. "Americans want enforcement, but
they're fair-minded," he said.

Ali Noorani of the Reform Immigration for America
campaign, which supports a process for some
illegal immigrants to become citizens, sees a
sympathetic response that recognizes a broken
system. "People are frustrated, but they don't want to
take their frustrations out on the immigrants," he

Other findings:

•Sixty-four percent are sympathetic to illegal
immigrants. Of Democrats, 75% are sympathetic;
among Republicans, 46% are.

•Eighty percent of all respondents are very or
somewhat concerned that allowing illegal
immigrants to stay in the USA might encourage

'5 Myths about immigration'

Doris Meissner Sr. Fellow, Migration Policy Institute
"5 Myths about immigration."
Meissner was commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1993-2001.

Cambridge, Mass.: I oppose large-scale immigration, whether legal or illegal, for a number of policy reasons. Do you have any advice on how one can put forward this view without being labelled a "racist" or some other epithet? It's difficult to debate people whose first reaction is to hurl insults.

Doris Meissner: The most important thing, especially with issues that are emotional as immigration is, would be not to start with the position of being anti- or pro-large-scale immigration. Instead, to look at the evidence and information and then reach conclusions and make arguments based on information, rather than pre-determined opinions.


Harrisburg, Pa.: I don't know if anyone can quantify this, but one of the "lesser known" things about immigrants, over history, is the second generation tends to be among the most productive workers. First, one of the ironies is that immigrant families tend to be the most stable nuclear families as opposed to most other groups of Americans. Second, they tend to instill a sense of working hard upon their children. I know this is a generality, but overall, there always seems to have been a good amount of truth to this. At a time in a few decades when we will need a sharp increase in productivity to help our global competitive edge, highly productive children of immigrants may be just what our economy needs.

Doris Meissner: It is a generality, but one borne out by lots of experience and research. It is true, tho, to the extent that that next generation must be equipped with the education and skills to succeed. The motivation is and will be there - it's in the nature of newcomers. But we are now in a knowledge-based economy and we need to work hard to be sure our education system allows these younger workers to be able to compete and succeed. Important not just for them, but for us all.


San Jose, Calif.: Do undocumented workers contribute more tax moneys than they use in state services?

Doris Meissner: Overall, the research shows that foreign-born workers - both legal and unauthorized - probably contribute more in taxes than they use in services. Taxes in this context are not only payroll taxes, but sales taxes, etc. And for those who are in the country illegally, they are ineligible for nearly all assistance programs. Problem is that the large share of the taxes come to federal coffers, and most of the costs (schools,for example) are the responsibility of local levels of government. So there's a disconnect - plus at the macro level, minus at the local. Another good reason we need immigration reform - to fix this disconnect.


Berkeley, Calif.: Ms. Meissner, you were quoted in 1996 in the San Francisco Chronicle as promising that the border would be "controlled" within five years, i.e. by 2001. (California Border Patrols Busier Than Ever. Illegal immigrants line up despite tightened controls (San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 31, 1996))

Would you care to explain your failure?

Doris Meissner: I don't consider it my failure. The assumption underlying border control is that the border must be effectively managed, which we began to do in the 1990s. But from the standpoint of illegal immigration, border enforcement is essential but not sufficient. We tried very hard to make the case that we were doing our part in tackling the problem of a chaotic border. But other steps also needed to be taken, particularly changes in the law that would make it possible to have strong enforcement of employers and enough visas so people could come to the country for work purposes when jobs were legitimately available. We are still having that debate today, 15 years later, and lawmakers have still be unable or unwilling to put into place other measures that would make it possible to enforce the border where illegal immigration is concerned.


Tempe, Ariz.: Having lived in San Diego for 10 years and now in Phoenix, Ariz., for the past 6 years, I find the count of 11 million illegals living in the USA to be unbelievable. It must be closer to 25 million PLUS. Who came up with this count?

Doris Meissner: The number is widely agreed on and derived by Census bureau statisticians and outside experts. It is an estimate, to be sure, but it is based on U.S. census data, immigration statistics regarding entries and visas, data on the foreign-born population, birth and death data from Mexico and other major sending countries, along with other similar data point. It is a reliable number for lawmakers and the public to use.


Annandale, Va.: Overall, legal immigration is good and the benefits should be properly understood as your 5 Myths article addresses. But let us honestly address the many adverse implications of Illegal immigration. What are the truths in terms of costs to cities and states, crime, respect for the rule of law, impact on local schools and communities?

Doris Meissner: Your point is important, and I tried to answer it in an earlier reply, so I hope you'll take a look at that.


Fairfax, Va.: I have concerns about the large percentage of Hispanic immigrants who have an education level of less than ninth grade. According to the Pew Hispanic Center data from 2008, 34 percent of foreign born Hispanics fall in this category. Policy experts always indicate that even only a high school education will be insufficient for American jobs in the future. It seems to me that we are importing an underclass.

Doris Meissner: This is a very important concern. I touched on it to an extent in an earlier answer. In addition, it is among the reasons why illegal immigration is a problem. We should not be in the grip of a system where we, as a country, have abdicated the responsibility to determine how many people come here and for what reasons. Immigration reform needs to include provisions for establishing future flows of legal workers, so that there is a way for employers to apply for help when they legitimately need it, but so that the process is above board and regulated. Past work that I and MPI have done has proposed a Standing Commission that would advise Congress every two years on the numbers who should be admitted for work purposes, so that the system can be flexible and resposive to changing economic conditions, which would include criteria such as education and availability of native-born workers. A provision somewhat like our idea is in the draft outline for legislation that Senator Schumer announced last week.


Arlington, Va.: Lets assume that Congress musters up the courage and votes to pass a comprehensive immigration bill that includes both border security and a path to citizenship for those already here (I know, a big assumption). How do we deal with the impression provided to the following generations of illegal immigrants that if you make can just make it into the U.S. and wait long enough you will be legalized?

Doris Meissner: The message you cite is an important point. I think the only answer to it is to enact reforms that provide sufficient visas for future flows of workers that are responsive to the legitimate economic needs in the country - with an aging society - but then to combine that with strong enforcement, especially at the workplace so that only legal workers can be hired. This levels the playing field for American workers and also sends the message abroad that there are not jobs, unless one comes here with a visa. Ultimately, of course, countries from which large numbers of unauthorized immigrants come must develop more effectively and quickly, so that migration is a choice, not an act of desperation.


Baltimore, Md.: Alan Greenspan was quoted as saying that illegal immigrants make a "significant contribution" to the American economy. Though some regions of the of country and some sectors of the economy benefit more (and some less), do you believe that illegal immigrants provide a net benefit to the American economy?

Doris Meissner: It has provided a net benefit to the economy during a period of sustained economic expansion and growth, which has been the case in the U.S. until the recession hit. But that does not mean that illegal immigration should be the way to achieve the positive benefits of immigration. The call for reforming our immigration laws is often described as a call for better enforcemeent, amnesty, etc. In fact, done properly, it is a call for an overhaul of a system of rules that are outdated and not suited to today's economy or the one that we believe lies ahead.


Fairfax, Va.: Am I mistaken in thinking that there's been real resistance to emphasizing the role of employers in encouraging illegal immigration? Aren't there employers who bargain directly with smugglers, so that the illegal immigrants already know that they've got a job waiting for them, before they set out to come here? This kind of illegality seems especially sinister given the involvement of the smugglers in drug trafficking and their "war" against the authorities in Mexico.

Doris Meissner: You are correct, and thank you for making that point. Like everything else, however, there are many kinds of employers. Many, and probably most, employers who hire people illegally would obey the rules if the rules were realitic in helping them meet their needs for workers. What we need is a system that has realistic requirements for employers who want to comply, and then focus enforcement against those who truly want to skirt the law and engage in the kinds of activities you describe.


Cumberland, Md.: Is there any research that indicates the criminal activity of illegal immigrants -- especially relative to the rest of the population?

Doris Meissner: The available data are national and they show that foreign-born rates of criminal activity - among legal and illegal immigrants - are significantly less than that of native-born. State and local level data are more spotty, but the data available displays the same pattern.


America: You insist on speaking only of immigration in general. You recognize no distinction between legal and illegal (which you insist on calling "unauthorized") immigration. But it is obvious that people who have met the educational and vocational requirements to come here legally are more likely to do well that those who sneaked across the border. What would your answers to your "myths" be if you were writing only about ILLEGAL immigrants?

Doris Meissner: I try to make the distinction between legal and illegal where it is germane. At the same time, when it comes to issues like economic impact, the effects have to do with foreign-born workers overall and so it is important to understand the issues of large numbers of newcomers overall. In using the term "unauthorized", I am using the official Census term. I also frequently use the term "illegal immigration" to describe the phenomenon. I do write frequently about illegal immigration,but we were using a broader lens for this piece.


Bethesda, Md.: For those that are so concerned about illegal immigration, please look at the legal immigration. There are lots of new Hindu (India) owned IT firms that are abusing legal immigrants, bringing them here with legal work visas and paying this people very little. Labor laws need to be enforced for legal and illegal humans

Doris Meissner: I agree completely.


Baltimore, Md.: I am old enough to think that, frankly, the problem of illegal immigration can't be solved, absent truly draconian policies. The reforms the Reagan administration put forth, including amnesty, were sold as being a solution to the issue and it has grown and grown over the past 25 years. Social and economic conditions in Mexico and Central America are so dire for so much of the population that millions are willing to take enormous risks to get here.

Doris Meissner: These are issues that must be managed - they cannot be solved as long as the conditions you describe are with us. But we can do a much better job of managing them and upholding our essential humanity and values as a nation in so doing.


Doris Meissner: It's time to close. Thanks so much for all the EXCELLENT, well-informed questions. I wish I could have taken them all. Tried to cover as fully as possible the range of topics you raised. Thanks too for the spirit of learning and understanding implicit in the questions. We need more light and less heat to solve these dilemmas and this chat has been very encouraging in that regard.