Saturday, August 14, 2010

Obama Shows Courage in Mosque Support

by Michael O'Brien

Amid a maelstrom of manufactured outrage by the radical Right, President Obama took one of the most courageous steps of his presidency Friday, reminding us that “Islam is not the enemy, al Qaida is”. The occasion of the President’s remarks was a White House dinner held to celebrate Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of prayer and fasting.

While the usual collection of Right Wing hacks cried foul, the President Obama called on Americans to embrace the constitutional protections accorded all religions. Wading further into the storm, President Obama articulated his position on the proposed mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan saying that “…as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances".

Even before the President spoke, noted Constitutional scholar and defender of religious freedom Sarah Palin wondered if Obama would disavow the First Amendment, tweeting "Will Obama express US lingering pain & ask Muslims for tolerance by discouraging 9/11 mosque while he celebrates Islamic holy month tonight?".

Sorry Sarah, there is no such thing as a 9/11 mosque and, as the President so aptly put it "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable”.

Palin's fellow tea party traveler Mark Williams stirred the pot of hate by declaring that the community center would be used for "terrorists to worship their monkey god."

In the wake of the President’s remarks, in what can only be described as a fit of knee-jerk jingoism, the heroes of the Right Wing lined up to express their outrage. Declaring that "President Obama is wrong," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) attempted to put lipstick on the pig of anti-Muslim hysteria by claiming that Muslims in Lower Manhattan are “abusing” their freedom to worship when and where they choose. “While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much”.

Does King really believe that Muslims, many of whom are his constituents, are not offended by the, misguided, anti-Muslim rhetoric of the American Right? Has Rep. King forgotten the suffering of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan after almost 10 years of war and occupation? Is not the blood of thousands of Americans and Muslims lost to the horrors of armed conflict enough to satisfy King’s quest for endless revenge?

In face of an unprecedented campaign by the radical Right Wing to paint President Obama as everything from a “secret Muslim” to an undocumented immigrant, Obama has held true to his core strengths. True courage has become a rare commodity in politics today. By embracing American values and defying the hate and paranoia, the President has shown courage not seen since the days of the civil rights movement.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Judge Bolton Blocks Arizona Law

In what will surely be seen as a victory for the rule of law, Judge Susan Bolton blocked the enforcement of Arizona's controversial immigration law.

In blocking the Arizona law Judge Susan Bolton noted that "There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new (law)," By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a 'distinct, unusual and extraordinary' burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mullins Tries to Disarm Land Mine Remark

by Michael O'Brien

According to reports from the Associated Press and Huffington Post, Republican congressional candidate Tom Mullins suggested the use of land mines along the U.S. border with Mexico. The comments were reportedly made while Mullins was running in the New Mexico GOP primary, a race he eventually won. The comments were made during a radio interview and Mullins has attempted to back track on his statements.

Over the last several years, Right Wing talk radio has ginned up fears of an immigrant invasion stemming from Mexico and Central America. Painting a portrait of criminal hordes flooding the border states, the invasion mythology has gained some traction even among some legitimate news outlets.

The invasion myth was partially debunked in recent reporting by the AP citing data from the US Border Patrol and FBI. The AP analysis shows a drop in violent crime in four major border cities and a sharp reduction in violence against border agents.

The problem for Mullins and other Right Wing, anti-immigrant candidates is that once it’s squeezed out, the toothpaste is almost impossible to put back in the tube. At a time when the GOP is gasping for votes among Hispanic and immigrant communities, Mullins has added fuel to a xenophobic fire that is driving moderate voters towards Democratic candidates.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Is Tea Party Chair Mark Williams Psychotic?

The short answer is no, though at first blush one may conclude that Williams’ has lost it. In making his delusional claims about Islam, has Mark Williams unwittingly revealed what many people believe about the so-called tea bag movement? Even when given the chance to disavow his hate-filled screeds Williams sticks to his guns, shooting himself in the foot while providing some insight into the mind of the tea-bagger-in-chief and the tea bag movement in general.

What if William's is not merely a crazed lunatic but a serious reflection of the Tea Party?

On his blog, Williams has tried unsuccessfully to put some distance between his paranoid hatred of 1 billion Muslims and the corporately-funded, pseudo-populist organization he chairs. What should concern William's handlers is his apparent willingness drive a stake into the heart of public relations stunt that is the Tea Party. Freedom Works and other corporate benefactors have poured tens of millions of dollars into the Tea Party Express in hopes of manufacturing a grassroots facade for an assortment of anti-government crackpots, race-haters, anti-Obama birthers.

While it may be argued that some among the tea party faithful bear no racial animosity or profess extremist, anti-democratic views, Mark Williams’ seems to have enough hate and delusional paranoia to go around.

So while the Right Wing celebrates the primary election victory of extremist Rand Paul, the thrill may be short lived. Paul's advocacy of racial discrimination while questioning the legitimacy of the Civil Rights Act, when combined with William's hateful worldview, may force a painful but politically-expedient divorce from the mainstream Republican Party and its tea bag step child.

See a great recap of William's lunacy at TPM Muckraker -

Tea Party Leader: 'Islam Is A 7th Century Death Cult Coughed Up By A Psychotic Pedophile'

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Tea Party is Over

Turn out the lights, the tea party is over. Going into Tuesday’s primaries with high hopes, the Tea Party saw its hopes dashed by more moderate Republicans candidates. As the memory of the anemic tax day protests faded, Tea Party leaders pinned their political survival on primary votes in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio. To their dismay, Republican voters rejected fringe candidates choosing instead to stick with middle-of-the-road Republicans.

Whether Tuesday’s results are a barometer of the upcoming election in November is unclear. One thing is certain – tea party claims of an anti-incumbent wave sweeping Democrats and ideologically impure Republicans out of office have been debunked. Yes there will be some Democratic looses in November and even some Republicans may find themselves without a job. What will not happen is the Congressional sea change predicted by the Right Wing fringe.

If voter turnout by party is an indication, claims of conservatives voting in droves have also gone up in smoke. In the Ohio primary, around 1.8 million voters turned out with Democrats outvoting Republicans 60% to 40%. Ex-Bushie and GOP Senate hopeful Rob Portman ran unopposed. With Democratic Senate candidate Lee Fisher winning his contest against Jennifer Brunner, the stage is set for a November vote between two non-ideologues. Down ballot races in Ohio showed a similar trend with mainstream Republicans winning over fringe-favored candidates.

Now six months really is a lifetime in politics and events could conspire to reinvigorate the fringe wing of the GOP. But if May 4, 2010 was any indication, the tea party is over.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Boycott Arizona Baby, Boycott

Enough is enough. As the level of reactionary racism in Arizona rises, so do calls for an economic boycott of Arizona with state and local governments, businesses and even the Mexican government are considering ways to do just that. It is time for progressives and people of conscience to consider ways to join the movement to remind Arizona conservatives what is at stake should they stay on the path to institutional state-sponsored racism.

After fighting the recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, to passing a draconian and unconstitutional immigration law to today’s move to ban ethnic studies programs, the time has come to drag Arizona kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Locked in a time warp reminiscent of post-Civil War Reconstruction, Right Wing members of the Arizona legislature slide deeper into racially-driven hysteria.

In yet another fit of rabid Right Wing xenophobia, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would effectively ban ethnic studies programs from the state’s public school curriculum. After being the passed through the Arizona House and Senate, the bill now sits on the desk of Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. Brewer, who admitted on camera that she does not “know what an illegal immigrant looks like” created a political firestorm by signing a law empowering local law enforcement to profile people who look like aliens.

This is not the first time ├╝ber conservatives in Arizona have attempted to remove ethnic studies from public schools. According to published news accounts, the drive to ban ethnic studies programs began in 2007 when Tom Horne, now the state’s State Superintendent for Public Instruction, fought to ban the programs in the Tucson Unified School District.

Among some of Horne’s more stunning claims he stated that “the American public school system has brought together students from different backgrounds and taught them to be Americans”. Just ask Native Americans about the history of Indian schools where native children were stripped of their cultural identities, religious beliefs and even their clothing, forced to wear the clothes of whites. This misguided effort at forced assimilation left deep wounds in the Native American culture.

Whipping himself into a jingoistic lather, Horne went on to claim that teaching ethnic studies “promotes Latinos to rise up and create a new territory out of the southwestern region of the United States and tries to intimidate conservative teachers in the school system”.

Americans of good will must not sit idly by and wait for Congressional action on immigration reform. We must as a matter of conscience act to force Arizona’s leadership to confront their racial paranoia.Economic boycotts can be an effective tool as demonstrated so well by the United Farm Workers during the struggle to organize farm workers and in helping to bring down the oppressively racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

It’s time to boycott baby boycott.