Mojo - August 2010

Live Tweets From Beckapalooza

Sat Aug. 28, 2010 9:03 AM PDT

Front page photo courtesy of HA! Designs -Artbyheather/Flickr.

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Angle: Congress' Enemies of the State Still There

| Fri Aug. 27, 2010 10:30 AM PDT

At least Nevada conservative Sharron Angle isn't a complete flip-flopper.

As Greg Sargent over at The Washington Post's Plum Line reported this week, when an interviewer suggested in 2009 suggested that there were "domestic enemies" in the US Congress, Nevada conservative Sharron Angle responded, "Yes. I think you're right." Now, that alone is quite an inflammatory statement, claiming elected lawmakers here in DC are actively threatening the safety of this country.

Well, as ThinkProgress points out today, Angle was given a second chance to weigh in on this domestic-enemies-in-Congress claim in an interview with conservative radio host Heidi Harris. Here's the exchange:

HEIDI HARRIS: He said that we have domestic enemies and he thinks some of them are in the walls of the Senate and Congress, and you agreed with him. Did you agree with him?

ANGLE: Well, we were talking about what’s going on in Congress, of course, and the policies that have come out of Congress, and those policies as we’ve all seen over the last 18 months have definitely hurt our country.

HARRIS: Yeah, well I agree with you by the way, but I wanted to make sure you got you a chance to clarify that, because I’ll tell you the truth, Sharron. I do think we actually do have folks in Congress who truly want to do us harm and see us change from the nation we are now.

ANGLE: There is no doubt that the policies that have been coming out in the last 18 months have injured us, and injured us most specifically here in Nevada.

So not only does Angle stand by her domestic enemies position, but she belives the problem is actually spreading! Harris, the transcript shows, agrees with Angle's position.

In response to Angle's original comment, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Angle's opponent in Nevada's US Senate race, issued a direct challenge to Angle: Name which senators she considered domestic enemies. "If she is going to use such rhetoric, she has an obligation to name names and explain to the American people exactly who she thinks is a domestic enemy," Reid said. Then again, you can't take seriously most anything Angle has to say. After all, this is the candidate who called the unemployed "spoiled," who suggested "Second Amendment" remedies to fix our problem in Congress, and stated that a teenage girl who'd been raped by her father should turn "a lemon situation into lemonade."

(h/t ThinkProgress)

Marco Rubio's Debate-apalooza!

| Fri Aug. 27, 2010 7:56 AM PDT

Marco Rubio, the GOP's candidate in Florida's US Senate election, must be feeling pretty good about his chances right now. So good, in fact, that he's throwing down one hell of a gauntlet. Rubio recently announced that he wants not just one or two or three major candidate debates this fall—no, he wants seven different occasions to duke it out with his opponents, Democrat Kendrick Meek and independent Charlie Crist

Rubio announced his debate barrage, the St. Petersburg Times reports, soon after agreeing to an October 24 debate with Crist hosted by CNN and the St. Pete Times. It's a pretty canny move by Rubio, giving him ample time to bash the lifelong-Republican-until-I'm-not Crist. Here's the Times on the political calculus behind Rubio's gambit:

Charlie Crist is almost always good on TV, but this poses a real problem for him. In a three-person debate, it would be Rubio and Meek each taking turns hitting Crist and pressing him on flip-flops and inconsistencies. It's hard to stay above the fray when you're the main target.

But skipping most of the debates is equally problematic. If Meek agrees to these debates and the networks agree to televise them with or without all three candidates, Crist would be letting Meek raise his profile as the Democratic alternative to Rubio.

"I am the only candidate for Senate who has outlined specific ideas and proposals as a clear alternative to the wrong direction that Washington politicians are taking our country," said Rubio in a statement. "I enthusiastically accept these opportunities to debate my opponents and present Floridians with the clear choice they have between a faithful loyalist of Washington’s agenda, a say-and-do anything opportunist who only cares about winning, and the clear, idea-based alternative I am offering."

Rubio proposed the following dates to debate Crist and Meek. As you can tell, some of these are primetime settings.

  • Sunday, September 5, NBC’s Meet The Press, Moderated by David Gregory, Washington, DC
  • Friday, September 17, WLTV-Univision 23 Debate, Miami, FL
  • Tuesday, September 28, WTVT-FOX 13 Tampa Bay Debate, Tampa, FL
  • Wednesday October 6, ABC News, WFTV-ABC 9 Orlando & WFTS-ABC 28, Tampa, Moderated by George Stephanopoulos and two local media panelists Orlando, FL
  • Wednesday, October 20, Leadership Florida Debate, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Sunday, October 24 CNN/St. Petersburg Times Debate, Moderated by Candy Crowley, Tampa, FL
  • Tuesday, October 26, NBC News & WESH-NBC 2 Orlando Debate, Moderated by David Gregory, Orlando, FL

What's Glenn Beck Afraid Of?

| Fri Aug. 27, 2010 4:13 AM PDT

For a guy who loves chalkboards and slogans, Glenn Beck has issued a peculiar edict to potential attendees of his "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial being held this Saturday. He has repeatedly told people coming to DC not to bring political signs. What? No signs? The hallmark of the last year's worth of tea party rallies that he helped fuel? But it's true. In an info packet on his website about the rally, Beck instructs, "Please refrain from bringing signs (political or otherwise) as they may deter from the peaceful message we are bringing to Washington."

The message is reiterated in a flyer written for the media, which stresses again that Beck doesn't think his rally is a political event: "Not only is the event non-political, we have continuously encouraged those attending to avoid bringing political signs, political flyers, 'I heart the RNC' t-shirts and other similar partisan paraphernalia. There are plenty of opportunities to talk about politics. This isn’t one of them."

The idea that Beck's rally is nonpolitical is sort of laughable, given that he will be sharing the stage with one of the nation's most political celebrities, Sarah Palin. So the sign ban does beg the question: What's Beck worried about? Perhaps the answer is an obvious one. Given that a single nut case with a racist sign will color the media coverage of the entire event, it's in Beck's best interest to try to keep them out. (The nut cases seem pretty drawn to him, too. Recall that Beck follower Byron Williams was arrested last month armed to the gills on his way to kill off the staff of the progressive Tides Foundation, after Beck had bashed the foundation on his show.) Maybe Beck is genuinely concerned about focusing on the troops, who, lest we forget, are the very people the rally is supposed to be honoring.

A more cynical read might suggest that Beck doesn't want anything at the rally to take the spotlight off the star attraction, Beck himself. (Some tea party activists have questioned whether the event is really about anything but Beck, dubbing it "Beckapolooza"). Indeed, Beck has posted a melodramatic video promo for the event (complete with Goldline plug) that basically compares himself to Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and the Wright Brothers, while likening the rally to the moon landing. But Beck may also have some employment concerns as well. Despite the fact that Palin herself works for Fox News, the conservative news network has been somewhat hesitant about Beck using his show to become an outright political leader. Fox has actually declined to broadcast the event. Headlining a political rally full of angry people waving inflammatory signs might be bad for his long-term TV presence—and scare off even more of his sponsors.

Regardless of the underlying motivations, it's hard to imagine that many of the grassroots activists headed to the rally will adhere to the no-sign rule. But just in case, Tea Party Patriots, a large national umbrella group for grassroots conservatives, will be on hand to coordinate volunteer marshals for security at the event. Presumably one of their main jobs will be crushing errant signage. As another backstop, TPP is also providing an alternate venue for all those patriots gathered for the Beck event dying to wave some signs around the nation's Capitol. The day after the Beck rally, TPP is sponsoring a tea party at the Upper Senate Park at 10 a.m., and encouraging activists to bring signs.  

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for August 27, 2010

Thu Aug. 26, 2010 11:59 PM PDT

 

Two Soldiers with Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Wash., patrol a town in the Taji area. Photo via the US Army.

Is Being Gay A White, European Thing?

| Thu Aug. 26, 2010 2:05 PM PDT

Ugandan parliament member David Bahati thinks so. The author of the East African country's anti-gay bill told Harper’s contributing editor Jeff Sharlet that "'If you come here [to Uganda], you'll see homosexuals from Europe and America are luring our children into homosexuality by distributing cell phones and iPods and things like this,'" Sharlet recounts in an interview on yesterday's "Fresh Air." How iPods lead to same-sex relationships is beyond me save maybe constant replays of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." As Sharlet points out, it's actually anti-gay hysteria that's getting exported to Uganda, and the exporters are evangelicals from the US of A. An Advocate cover story penned by Sharlet sheds light on various anti-gay laws gaining traction throughout Africa, and the Americans that are funding them.  

But let's go back to Bahati's suggestion that Europeans and Americans are exporting homosexuality: It's a claim I’ve heard before from some black people, my own family included. The rumor has it that being gay is a white inclination that’s seeped its way into the black experience via colonialization. It's largely based on the misconception that gay people don't exist in African history. And it's comparable to the claims made by some conservatives that gay rights, specifically gay marriage, is a fad not rooted in "traditional values" or espoused by any society in history. Which is just plain false.

After some online sleuthing, I discovered a whole lot of gayness, and gay marriages, in various cultures around the world going back centuries. (I know, I know. Appealing to tradition is a weak way to prove a point, but it is educational and pretty darn fascinating). So from the Bronze Age in China, to the eunuchs of the Roman empire, and even to the cross-dressing mugawe in Kenya, here's a brief (but handy) timeline: 

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This Week in National Insecurity: Orwellian Edition

| Thu Aug. 26, 2010 1:37 PM PDT

Whichever side of the fence you land on, chances are you agree that America's not a very secure nation these days: economically, electorally, or physically. So we grabbed our lensatic compass, rucksack, and canteen, then mounted out across the global media landscape for a quick recon. Whether you're scared because our military isn't good enough—or you're scared because it's too good—here's all the ammunition you need, in a handy debrief.

Today is our special Orwellian edition! Black is white, down is up, and we've always been at war with Oceania! In this installment: Islamophobia is the new Beatlemania; Iraq is the new utopia; Afghanistan is the new Iraq; a robot heat ray is the new billyclub; virtual war is the new war war; and sometimes James Bond loses...his life.

The sitrep:

The United States government's national threat level is Elevated, or Yellow. You're welcome.

VIDEO: Embedded With the Taliban

| Thu Aug. 26, 2010 1:01 PM PDT

Courtesy of Andrew Exum at the Center for a New American Security, here is "Behind Enemy Lines," a report for Australian TV by Norwegian journalist Paul Refsdal—who lived with an active Taliban unit as they prayed, ate, played with their families, ambushed US soldiers, and dodged AC-130 gunships in the dead of night. Irrespective of your war opinions, this will be the most fascinating 20 minutes of television you see anytime soon.

Glenn Beck's Greatest Racist Hits

| Thu Aug. 26, 2010 12:22 PM PDT

In preparation for Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally this Saturday, the liberal watchdog group Media Matters has put out a compendium of the Fox News demigod's greatest racist hits. He says the rally is supposed to honor Americans in uniform, as well as those who "embody our nation's founding principles of integrity, truth and honor" (like everything else Beck-driven, though, it's all about him). But the event has drawn controversy because it falls on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Though Beck writes the timing off as mere coincidence, he's also spoken of the rally as an opportunity for his followers to "reclaim the civil rights movement." Then there's the fact that Beck will be addressing his 9/12 faithful from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his speech. Surely that's a coincidence, too. Democratic strategists are poised to use the event and any racist tea partiers it draws out to further turn moderates against the GOP, Greg Sargent notes, writing that "the sight of Beck trying to coopt the legacy of King while crazed Tea Partyers bash the first African American president in the ugliest of terms may well go down as an iconic moment in the history of this movement." If conservative activists follow Beck's lead, the rally will be quite the race-tinged spectacle indeed. Courtesy of Media Matters, a sampling of Beck's charged rhetoric: 

  • Beck suggested Obama's name is un-American. On the February 4 edition of The Glenn Beck Program, Beck said of Obama: "He chose to use his name, Barack, for a reason. To identify, not with America -- you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?"
  • Economic stimulus package. "It is the nanny state. They're going to tell us what we can eat. They can tell us what our temperature needs to be in our homes. They can tell us what kind of car to drive. They can tell businesses how to run their business. It's slavery. It is slavery."
  • Everything Obama does. "Everything that is getting pushed through Congress, including this health care bill, are transforming America. And they are all driven by President Obama's thinking on one idea: reparations. ... These massive programs are Obama brand reparations -- or in presidential speak, leveling out the playing field. But, just in case the universalness of the program doesn't somehow or another quench his reparation appetite, he is making sure to do his part to pay the debt in the other areas." [Glenn Beck, 7/23/09]
  • Beck's "funny 'black guy' character." Journalist Alexander Zaitchik wrote in his September 2009 profile of Beck for Salon.com that Beck, as a younger man, had many "racial hang-ups." According to Zaitchik: "Among the show's regular characters was Beck's zoo alter ego, Clydie Clyde. But Clyde was just one of Beck's unseen radio ventriloquist dolls. 'He was amazing to watch when he was doing his cast of voices,' remembers Kathi Lincoln, Beck's former newsreader. 'Sometimes he'd prerecord different voices and talk back to the tape, or turn his head side to side while speaking them live on the air. He used to do a funny "black guy" character, really over-the-top.' "

Beck says that his rally "is going to be a moment that you'll never be able to paint people as haters, racists." Forgive us if we don't take his word on that.

Gay Activists to Mehlman: Not So Fast

| Thu Aug. 26, 2010 9:13 AM PDT

Well, big surprise. Ken Mehlman is gay. And now the former Republican Party chairman says he yearns to be a gay-marriage advocate. But Mehlman, who headed George Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, is a little late to the wedding party, and he's getting a frosty reception in some quarters of the gay rights world--for good reason.

Mehlman was outed years ago not just by gay activists appalled by his party's electoral strategy, which included vicious attacks on gays and lesbians, but by other gay Republicans. During the 2004 presidential campaign, the Bush reelection effort and the GOP used anti-gay marriage initiatives in key states, such as Ohio, to enhance their electoral prospects. The party continued to whip up anti-gay sentiment after Melhman assumed the helm of the Republican National Committee. Meanwhile, rumors about his sexuality persisted. (After a 2005 Republican Party dinner in Ohio attended by Mehlman, one local gay Republican attendee told the Gay People's Chronicle that while Mehlman didn't quite admit publicly that he was gay in response to questions about his sexual orientation, "as long as he’s sleeping with men behind the scenes, that’s all I care about.”) Mehlman's hypocrisy is legendary on this front.

Mehlman is hardly the first big-league Republican to come out of the closet. Last year, longtime GOP political consultant Arthur Finkelstein, a highly secretive down-and-dirty political operative who helped orchestrate the rise of notorious gay basher, North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, shocked the politerati by marrying his partner of 40 years in a civil ceremony in Massachusetts. (Prior to that, there had been merely unconfirmed rumors about Finkelstein's orientation.) Fred Karger, a long-closeted California political consultant who helped devise the Willie Horton campaign against Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential campaign, came out a few years ago, and he has become a prominent gay rights advocate, as we explained in this article earlier this year. But unlike Mehlman, Karger never worked for the extreme social conservatives of his party or promoted gay-bashing electoral strategies.

Given Mehlman's particular record, many gay activists believe he has lots of apologizing to do, and not all of them are ready to link arms with the guy. In a post headlined, "Repulsive Anti-Gay Quisling Homophobic Scumbag Asshat Closeted Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman Has Come Out," gay blogger Joe.My.God writes, "Mehlman's crimes against his own people are motherfucking LEGION....We can be sure that GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans [organizations of Republicans who support gay rights] are positively drooling over the prospect of welcoming Mehlman onto their boards of directors. VOMIT."

Michael Rogers, who outed Mehlman six years ago, writes a blistering post suggesting that gay rights activists should wait before embracing Mehlman as one of their own:

I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for being the architect of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for his role in developing strategy that resulted in George W. Bush threatening to veto ENDA or any bill containing hate crimes laws. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for the pressing of two Federal Marriage Amendments as political tools. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for developing the 72-hour strategy, using homophobic churches to become political arms of the GOP before Election Day. And those state marriage amendments. I want to hear him apologize for every one of those, too.

And then there is one other little thing. You see, while you and I had the horrible feelings of being treated so poorly by our President, while teens were receiving the messaging 'gay is bad' giving them 'permission' to gay bash, while our rights were being stripped away state by state, Ken was out there laughing all the way to the bank. So, if Ken is really sorry, and he very well may be, then all he needs to do is sell his condo and donate the funds to the causes he worked against so hard for all those years. He's done a lot of damage to a lot of organizations, while making a lot of money. A LOT of money. It's time to put his money where his mouth is. Ken Mehlman is sitting in a $3,770,000.00 (that's $3.77 million) condo in Chelsea while we have lost our right to marry in almost 40 states.

THEN, and only then, should Mehlman be welcomed into our community.

Perhaps Mehlman should go one more in his quest for atonement (should he decide to atone, that is). Karger, the gay former GOP consultant, is running for president as a Republican. Needless to say, the party hasn't rallied around his historic, if exceedingly long-shot, campaign. Mehlman could join Karger's campaign staff, or at least raise money for him. Karger, who is vacationing in Martha's Vineyard and schmoozing with the White House press corps to advance his campaign, emails that he'd already been planning to ask Mehlman for assistance before the news broke. After all, he notes, there aren't that many gay, Jewish Republicans. Now that Mehlman has come out, Karger is more than happy to welcome him to the fold--and to his campaign, saying, "Ken, I need your help!"