Contact Me By Email

Contact Me By Email

Atlanta, GA Weather from Weather Underground

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BBC News - China's dilemma on eccentric North Korea

BBC News - China's dilemma on eccentric North Korea




China's dilemma on eccentric North Korea

Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Sunday, 30 May 2010 18:41 UK
(L-R) Yukio Hatoyama, Lee Myung-bak and Wen Jiabao in South KoreaMr Wen (right) wants to avoid Korean instability at all costs
At the end of the three-way conference between President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, Yukio Hatoyama, the Japanese prime minister, and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, a great many people here must have been hoping to hear Mr Wen criticise North Korea for allegedly torpedoing the South Korean naval ship Cheonan two months ago.
At the very least they would have wanted him to accept publicly that North Korea had been responsible for it, as an international inquiry has maintained. If so, it was one of the most dangerous acts of war in the Korean peninsula in recent years.
Mr Wen refused. He sent his condolences to the families of the 46 South Korean sailors who were killed. He called for restraint. He hinted at the dire consequences of war. More..._
___________________________________________________
This is an excellent analysis of why China has refused to condem North Korea's torpedo attack on the South Korea ship Cheonan.

China is ruthlessly acting in its own self interest, which it sees as maintaining regional stability at all costs.  Many followers of the two previous leftist Korean governments have looked to China, more than the United States as their model and future ally.  This incident should give the Korean left reason to pause and revaluate their position.  China's interest and South Korea's interest diverge when it comes to North Korea while the United States remains South Korea's defender and strongest ally. Recent polls show an increase in support for Korea's conservative president Lee Myung-bak. Maybe the reality that North Korea is still a real threat is being better understood by otherwise skeptics of the current administrations more hardline polices.  I am afraid however that many on the Korean left will simply blame this crisis on Mr. Lee's tougher stance towards North Korea. 
John H. Armwood


Pressure to bolster North Korean leader makes war inevitable, analyst says

Pressure to bolster North Korean leader makes war inevitable, analyst says
While some experts believe tensions on the Korean Peninsula will blow over, at least one analyst who has spent years studying the secretive and reclusive North Korean society predicts conflict before the end of the year.

It will be a war resulting from the North Korean need to bolster the "father figure" image of leader Kim Jong-il and a desire to preserve a nationalist ideology, said B.R. Myers, a professor of international studies at Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea.
Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/most-popular/story.html?id=3085070#ixzz0pPoWBY2Y
_________________________________________________________________________
This article describes race based nationalism as an important motivator in the North korean decision making process. Race based nationalist ideology is found, in the thinking of many also in South Korean.  I experienced this first hand during my time living primarily in Busan, but also in Daejeon, South Korea,  The presence of this ideology in the south I believe works to pressure the South Korean government to work out an accommodation with the north and avoid a potential war with the north. 

John H. Armwood

In the Koreas, Five Possible Ways to War - NYTimes.com

In the Koreas, Five Possible Ways to War - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON

USUALLY, there is a familiar cycle to Korea crises.

Like a street gang showing off its power to run amok in a well-heeled neighborhood, the North Koreans launch a missile over Japan or set off a nuclear test or stage an attack — as strong evidence indicates they did in March, when a South Korean warship was torpedoed. Expressions of outrage follow. So do vows that this time, the North Koreans will pay a steep price.

In time, though, the United States and North Korea’s neighbors — China, Japan, South Korea and Russia — remind one another that they have nothing to gain from a prolonged confrontation, much less a war. Gradually, sanctions get watered down. Negotiations reconvene. Soon the North hints it can be enticed or bribed into giving up a slice of its nuclear program. Eventually, the cycle repeats.

______________________________________________________________

The chances of this crisis cooling down are good given the South Korean populations distaste for punishing its northern "brothers" coupled with the political reality that war between the Koreas would bring about a catastrophe in the south. Seoul is a little more than thirty clicks from the Demilitarized Zone (the DMZ) and war would devastate this large, modern metropolis as it did twice during the Korean War. South Korea is in a jam. Even though Presiden Lee's conservative party wants to take a very tough stand against North Korea a large segment of the South Korean population does not support such a move.

John H. Armwood

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tiger Woods: Black, white, other | racial politics | Sport | The Guardian

Tiger Woods: Black, white, other | racial politics | Sport | The Guardian
____________________________________________________
An excellent article on racial identity.

John H. Armwood

Tony Blair: Five Years After Gleneagles, Africa Has Reason to Hope

Tony Blair: Five Years After Gleneagles, Africa Has Reason to Hope


It is little surprise, in an ever faster moving world, that few of the leaders who took part in the G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005 are still in place. We have moved on or, in some cases, were politely asked to move on by our electorates.

But the commitments made and the ambitions set were neither short-term nor personal. The long-term goal of those at Gleneagles was to help Africa make the most of its rich potential through increased support from the wealthiest countries coupled with fundamental reform within the continent. Hopes, crucially, which reflected the insistent demands of many millions of our citizens to act over the gross injustices disfiguring our world.

The Rachel Maddow Show - Maddow gets light saber. House repeals Don't Ask, Don't Tell. . .

The Rachel Maddow Show - Maddow gets light saber. House repeals Don't Ask, Don't Tell. . .

Now if the Senate will go ahead a pass this we can in this sad era of discrimination in the military.

John H. Armwood

BBC News - China 'will not protect' Korea ship attackers

BBC News - China 'will not protect' Korea ship attackers

China 'will not protect' Korea ship attackers

Page last updated at 10:43 GMT, Friday, 28 May 2010 11:43 UK

South Korea wants China to increase pressure on its old ally
China "will not protect" whoever sank a South Korean warship in March, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has said.

"China objects to and condemns any act that destroys the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula," Mr Wen was quoted as saying after talks in Seoul.

South Korea has blamed the North for sinking the Cheonan with a torpedo.

Beijing is under pressure to take a strong stance against North Korea but so far has not accepted the findings of an independent investigation.
______________________________________________________________________
Taling is one thing but acting is something else. Up to this point China has refrained from criticizing North korea despite overwhelming evidence that a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean ship over a month ago.

John H. Armwood

Editorial: As Tensions Rise on Korean Peninsula, China Stands By

Editorial: As Tensions Rise on Korean Peninsula, China Stands By: "The only country with any chance of getting through to North Korea is China. Its decision not to act only makes the status quo more dangerous."



(Via NYT > Opinion.)

Op-Ed Contributor - South Korea’s Collective Shrug - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Contributor - South Korea’s Collective Shrug - NYTimes.com

ONE of the students at my university was killed in the attack that sank a South Korean naval vessel on March 26. A visual communications major, Mun Yeong-uk was only a few months from concluding his military service when a North Korean torpedo split the warship, the Cheonan, in half. His classmates loyally collected money for his family’s funeral expenses, but I was struck by how few people on our campus evinced any real anger toward the regime of Kim Jong-il.

This lack of indignation is mainstream here. Most people now accept North Korea’s responsibility for the sinking that killed Mr. Mun and 45 other sailors. A small but sizable minority suspect an elaborate government conspiracy of some sort. What almost all seem to share is the desire that South Korea put this unfortunate business behind it as soon as possible.
________________________________________________________________________________________________

This article accurate expresses attitudes I saw during my more than two year stay in South Korea. These attitudes were a surprise to me and just about every other non Korea I met there. The common sympathy and race identification of Koreans seemed very bizarre to me. It seemed to be a throw back to an ancient since of tribalism, an attitude indirect opposition to the empirical reality of the present situation on the peninsula. It is all very puzzling. South Koreans generally have an unrealistic view of the world with little understanding of world history or the political machinations of other governments. The real shocker was the lack of any real intellectual curiosity concerning these issues.


John H. Armwood

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Analysis: Again, Obama Seeks China's Help - CBS News

Analysis: Again, Obama Seeks China's Help - CBS News: (AP) WASHINGTON (AP) - With the two Koreas nose to nose, the Obama administration again is looking to China for diplomatic help to avert a military confrontation, dramatizing the United States' increasing reliance on one of the world's surviving communist regimes.

Even as the Obama administration maneuvers for a U.N. sanctions resolution with China's support against Iran, the U.S. is turning to China to restrain North Korea in a serious flare-up over the sinking of a South Korean ship.

China, under intense U.S. lobbying, already has agreed to sanctions to try to keep Iran from making nuclear weapons. It remains to be seen how far China will go, however, in striking at the Iranian economy.

Why won't Israel admit it has nukes?

Why won't Israel admit it has nukes?: "Newly uncovered documents suggest that Israel tried to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid-era South Africa. Although Defense Minister Shimon Peres claims the documents have been misinterpreted, it's pretty much universally assumed that Israel has nukes, no matter what the higher-ups say. What would happen if Israel were finally to fess up?

[more ...

(Via Slate Magazine.)

Bob Kerrey: VA Docs Prohibited From Discussing Medical Marijuana With Returning Vets

Bob Kerrey: VA Docs Prohibited From Discussing Medical Marijuana With Returning Vets
The U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) recently adopted a policy prohibiting VA physicians from recommending medical marijuana to their patients, even if marijuana is the safest and most effective medicine to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other service-related conditions. More...

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Robert Gates-Hillary Clinton axis - Ben Smith and Jen DiMascio and Laura Rozen - POLITICO.com

The Robert Gates-Hillary Clinton axis - Ben Smith and Jen DiMascio and Laura Rozen - POLITICO.com: ""

News Analysis - On North Korea, China Prefers Fence - NYTimes.com

News Analysis - On North Korea, China Prefers Fence - NYTimes.com
BEIJING — In the best of times, Chinese foreign affairs scholars here say, Beijing grits its teeth while playing best friend to Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s ailing and erratic 68-year-old leader. South Korea’s charge last week that North Korea sank one of its warships, killing 46 crewmen, makes that role exponentially harder.

With Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and about 200 other American officials here for high-level security and economic talks, Chinese leaders face two unpalatable options. One is to mollify North Korea, and risk undermining its efforts to convince the United States, South Korea and Japan that China is a stabilizing force in East Asia.
_________________________________________________________________________
China is seeking stability in North Korea above all else. If the DPRK collapsed China would face a disastrous flood of refugees trying to cross it borders. In addition China uses the DPRK as a lever against the USA. China is able to seek concessions from the U.S. in return for its use of leverage on North Korea. China can cut the DPRK's oil supply any time it chooses. It did so for a couple of days a few years ago. I suspect that China will feign neutrality in this situation and raise its concerns in private discussions with the affected parties behind closed doors.

John H. Armwood

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Further memories of Former NYC Mayor John V. Lindsay

I was a sixteen year old black teenager who volunteered with the Lindsay Campaign, first at the Staten Island office then at the 5th Avenue campaign office between 52nd and 53rd Street.  I was later hired has a campaign staff person.  Both Lindsay and his wife Mary were kind to me.  I especially remember a Labor day walking tour on Staten Island.  Someone through a large paper cup filled with beer at the mayor.  I was hit by a large portion of the beer.  Mayor Lindsay teased me the rest of the campaign about being from Staten Island. I shed a tear when I heard he died.  I will always remember his openness and kindness. 

John H. Armwood

The Lindsay Years | THIRTEEN

:

Roberts_Lindsay.jpg
The Lindsay Years | THIRTEEN

Produced by THIRTEEN for WNET.ORG, a one-hour television documentary film, Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, airs Thursday, May 6 at 8:00 p.m. on THIRTEEN and Wednesday, May 12 at 10p.m. on WLIW21.

Fun City Revisited: The Lindsay Years, a new special from WNET.ORG, looks at John Lindsay’s turbulent two terms as New York mayor from 1966 – 1973. It also looks at his unsuccessful bid for President during the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination.(Click here to see the video.)
____________________________________________________________________

This was a time (1965-1973) when there were still liberal Republicans though John Lindsay switched parties in 1972 and became a Democrat.  He was a former "Upper East Side" of Manhattan U.S. congressman from New York's "Silk Stocking" district who was a champion of the poor.  African American's in NYC loved him and in the aftermath of the Martin Luther King assassination in 1968 New York City remained relatively cool while many large American cities erupted in violence.  He walked the street of Harlem late into the night sharing his constituents grief, anger and sorrow on the night after King was killed.  Lindsay served as Co-Charmain of the Kerner Commission which was set up by then President Johnson to study the rash of civil disturbances which were tearing at the very fabric of American society during the sixties.  The final report stated that America was becoming two separate societies, one black and one white (The Kerner Commission Report).

At the moment he took office in 1965 New York suffered a mass transit strike.  There was also a garbage and a controversial teachers strike during his first term which precipitated a long lasting tear in relations between New York's Jewish and African American communities.  Lindsay was blamed for the slow removal of snow from the streets of Queens after a fifteen inch snow storm.  He was reelected with only forty-one percent of the vote in a three way race in 1969.  He entered the Florida Presidential Primary in 1971 but his campaign collapsed after a few weeks.  He later failed in an attempt to run for the U.S. Senate.

Most importantly Lindsay should be remembered as a politician who had a heart.  He was an idealist in a time of idealism.  He led New York City through some of it's most tumultuous years.  Click on the link above and watch the one hour documentary.     

John H. Armwood

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rand Paul, A Part Of The Libertarian Tradition

Libertarianism and racial exclusion have a long, joined at the hip tradition. The late writer, former New York mayoral candidate and intellectual father of modern American conservatism William F. Buckley opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and every other civil right act of the 1950s and 1960s. Rand Paul's position in opposition to the 1964 act is consistent with the intellectual tradition that from which he arose.  The old southern battle cry of "States Rights" was nothing but an open demand for the right of states to maintain segregation.  Barry Goldwater, the political father of modern conservatism, opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on libertarian grounds.  Ronald Reagan expressed a similar sentiment in his opposition to the legislation.  While many members of the Republican Party are rapidly distancing themselves from Mr. Paul, his views and those of many historical and present day Republicans, are not that far apart.  Hopefully Rand Paul's intemperate statements along with those of Fox News'  John Stossel will shed light on the true identity of modern day libertarianism, the "Tea Party Movement"  and the Republican Party. 

John H. Armwood

Editorial - Rand Paul and the Limits of Libertarianism - NYTimes.com

Editorial - Rand Paul and the Limits of Libertarianism - NYTimes.com:

ColorOfChange.org

ColorOfChange.org: ""


On Wednesday, Rand Paul, the GOP's US Senate candidate for Kentucky repeated his claim that a central piece of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was wrong, and that businesses should be free to discriminate against whomever they please.1 Paul and his supporters don't seem to care that without federal intervention, Black people might still be second-class citizens in most aspects of American life: where we eat, where we work, even where we live.

Then, on Thursday, FOX contributor and business anchor John Stossel went even further than Paul and called for the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that applies to business to be repealed.2 And he's refused to back down.

It's time to hold FOX accountable:

http://www.colorofchange.org/stossel/?id=2368-1206759

While Rand Paul may have started this outrage, he can be taken care of at the ballot box — FOX News can't.

Stossel's position is an affront to Black America and everyone in this country who believes in racial progress. It's one thing to be a candidate with backwards views. It's another to be employed by a supposed news network and to use that platform to push hateful ideas that our nation repudiated decades ago.

It's time that FOX drop Stossel. It's why I've joined ColorOfChange.org in demanding Fox do so immediately. If after hearing from thousands of people like you and I, FOX refuses to act, it will make clear that FOX stands with Stossel and his values, and ColorOfChange has pledged to go directly after the network with a major public campaign.

Can you take a moment to add your voice to the call to fire Stossel? After you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:

http://www.colorofchange.org/stossel/?id=2368-1206759

FOX has a history of providing a platform for bigoted views and race-baiting. Most recently more than 300,000 people helped us hold FOX accountable by stripping Glenn Beck of more than 100 of his advertisers, after Beck called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people."3

But Stossel has arguably gone beyond Beck, echoing segregationist arguments from the Jim Crow era:

"It's time now to repeal that part of the law because private businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won't ever go to a place that's racist and I will tell everybody else not to and I'll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist."

Stossel went on to argue something that history has disproved time and again — that private business will do the right thing, without being compelled by laws, because no one would patronize a business that discriminates. It's a blind belief in market fundamentalism that just isn't in sync with reality. In the '60s, white-owned businesses that allowed Blacks as customers lost business. Market forces actually perpetuated discrimination; they didn't combat it. Simply put: segregation would still be active in parts of this country if government hadn't stepped in.

And recent history has shown that the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act is still needed. In 1994, it was used to hold Denny's Restaurants accountable, after the chain repeatedly refused to seat Black customers.4 Just last year, it was used to go after a Philadelphia pool that prevented Black children from swimming there.5

It's time for Fox News to make a choice. Are they willing to continue to give a platform to racially-divisive rhetoric and revive dangerously outdated perspectives? Or will they move with the rest of the nation into into the 21st century? Please join me in calling on Fox News to fire John Stossel. And once you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:

http://www.colorofchange.org/stossel/?id=2368-1206759

Thank you.

References:

1. http://huff.to/cjOnxL
2. http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201005200033
3. http://bit.ly/aoJUUy
4. http://nyti.ms/bpVZZY
5. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/January/10-crt-033.html
_____________________________________________________________
John Stossel's position is un-American. It contradicts our founding principles of equality and justice for which many people have fought and died. This is quite simply an issue of legal rights.  It is also an issue of simple human decency. Mr. Stossel should have the civility to resign or Fox News should summarily dismiss him. Maybe we need to organize a boycott of Fox News and we should demand the withdrawal of corporate sponsorships from the network. This is the most powerful method of sending Fox News a message.

John H. Armwood
Posted by John H. Armwood at 3:14 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Friday, May 21, 2010

China, U.S. should reaffirm importance of good ties: expert - People's Daily Online

China, U.S. should reaffirm importance of good ties: expert - People's Daily Online

How the Supreme Court is making it harder to get into court. - By Judith Resnik - Slate Magazine

How the Supreme Court is making it harder to get into court. - By Judith Resnik - Slate Magazine: ""

he Supreme Court recently announced that it was closing its front door. The court meant that literally: Instead of entering by way of the grand staircase on the western plaza, visitors are routed to a side entrance for weapons screening.

Next Tuesday, Congress will hold a hearing about another facet of access: whether to build more federal courthouses. Judges have sought to add space, but congressional investigations have questioned the need for it. One study looked at seven federal districts and found that the lights were on in courtrooms only about half the time. Of every 100 civil cases filed each year, less than two go to trial. And strikingly, despite the judiciary's prediction in 1995 that by now, more than 600,000 cases would be in federal courts, filings have been almost flat for the decade, averaging about 325,000 civil and criminal cases a year.

Rachel Maddow: Civil rights beyond race

Rachel Maddow: Civil rights beyond race: ""


Tea Party Pick Causes Uproar on Civil Rights - NYTimes.com

Tea Party Pick Causes Uproar on Civil Rights - NYTimes.com: "WASHINGTON — Rand Paul, the Tea Party candidate who challenged the Republican establishment to win the party’s Senate nomination in Kentucky two days ago, criticized a landmark civil rights law on Thursday, landing himself in a potentially damaging dispute over civil rights and race.

Editorial - The Sinking of the Cheonan - NYTimes.com

Editorial - The Sinking of the Cheonan - NYTimes.com: "Nearly 60 years ago, the Korean War concluded with an armistice. North Korea’s attack on a South Korean navy ship, which killed 46 sailors, is a reminder of the continued fragility and danger of that less-than-peace.

The two Koreas have more than one million troops on their border and the North has thousands of artillery tubes pointed at Seoul. With an erratic (that’s generous) leader like Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang, the risk of miscalculation is very high. The fact that Mr. Kim also has nuclear weapons makes it all the more frightening.

South Korea deserves credit for its prudent response to the late March sinking of the Cheonan, which was sailing in disputed waters. Instead of lashing back, it assembled an international team of experts to determine the cause. On Thursday, the government produced forensic evidence that a torpedo sank the ship, including part of a torpedo propeller with what the investigative team says is a North Korean serial number. Read More..."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Analysis of the election results in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

Analysis of the election results in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Arkansas.: "Campaign strategists and pundits hoping to find the Gospel truth in today's election results weren't disappointed: There was birth, death, and resurrection. Rand Paul was born as a national leader of the Tea Party movement. Arlen Specter's long political career came to an end. And the Democratic Party and Blanche Lincoln were brought back from the dead

(Via Slate Magazine.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Arizona: The Gift That Keeps On Giving - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

Arizona: The Gift That Keeps On Giving - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com: ""

The loud debate over the recently passed Arizona House Bill 2281, which bans from the public schools ethnic studies courses that promote race consciousness, is a clash between two bad paradigms.

Gallup Survey Presents Surprising Findings on Immigration Perceptions

Gallup Survey Presents Surprising Findings on Immigration Perceptions: "
Last week Gallup released a poll that evaluated which concerns Americans find most pressing. While typical worries, such as the economy, unemployment, healthcare and politics made the Top 5 of the list, so did immigration (both legal and otherwise).

That 10 percent of those surveyed cited immigration as one of the major problems facing America stood out to Gallup, considering that it's been two years since mention of immigration as the nation's top problem reached double digits. So what's behind this trend?

Without a doubt, the state of Arizona's new policy to crack down on illegal immigration factored into the responses, considering that the survey was conducted May 3-6. Gallup found that those from all over the country and across the political spectrum cited immigration as the nation's top problem, but those from residents of Western states were especially concerned about the issue. Gallup conducts surveys about America's most pressing issues each month, and from April 2010 to May 2010, the percentage of respondents in the West worried about immigration jumped from 2% to 16%.

These figures lead me to question what the real issue is here--immigration or perceptions about immigration presented in the media. If immigration is really contributing to more Americans being out of work or Americans paying higher taxes and more for community services generally, as immigration opponents claim, wouldn't concerns about immigration be consistent? Could the issue go from being a non-factor on the Gallup survey from one month to making the Top 5 the next? I suspect that media coverage about immigration and the fact that immigrants, due to their underprivileged status both racially and economically, make them easy targets during tough times.

If we're to look at Arizona's immigration policy with critical eyes, it's imperative that we truly analyze how much of a problem immigration (legal and otherwise) has posed to us and our communities. Are those who support crackdowns on undocumented immigrations just having a knee-jerk reaction to a hot-button issue with little self-reflection but lots of influence from the media?


(Via About Race Relations.)

Is Japan Seeing Internal Shift on Whaling?

Is Japan Seeing Internal Shift on Whaling?: "There are signs that Japan's appetite for whale hunts may be fading a bit."

(Via NYT > Opinion.)

Africa's Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation

Africa's Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation: "

May 1, 2010

Nicolas van de Walle

Africa's woeful infrastructure is no secret, but this World Bank report offers an unusually comprehensive analysis of the region's rail and road grid, communications network, transportation sector, power supply, and potable water systems.

It will be the standard empirical source on African infrastructure for the foreseeable future. According to the report, the public infrastructure in most African countries increasingly lags behind those of poor countries in other regions -- in part due to Africa's difficult geography, but largely thanks to governments' and private actors' chronic underspending. For instance, in 1970, Africa's per capita power generating capacity was three times as great as South Asia's; now, it is less than half as great.

"


(Via feed/http://www.foreignaffairs.com/rss.xml.)

Op-Ed Columnist - In Gabon, Visiting Africa’s Eden - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - In Gabon, Visiting Africa’s Eden - NYTimes.com:

The moment I fell in love with Gabon was when my companions and I walked along the beach at sunset: an endless strip of white sand with no one in sight as far as the eye could see in any direction. Then we spotted movement, and we realized we were sharing the beach after all.

With three elephants.

The elephants had an animated conversation among themselves, presumably about the rare sighting of human beings, then ambled off into the rain forest to tell their friends.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Civil rights vets uneasy with Kagan - Josh Gerstein - POLITICO.com

Civil rights vets uneasy with Kagan - Josh Gerstein - POLITICO.com: "Like the president who nominated her, Elena Kagan has steered clear of championing the old-line civil rights positions on race-based programs and preferences – putting her squarely in the centrist Democratic mainstream but at odds with the views of some of the party’s most loyal supporters in the minority community.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Complaint Box | Ambulance Chasers

Complaint Box | Ambulance Chasers: "What's more annoying than being in a minor car accident? The letters and calls from lawyers and medical professionals seeking to profit from your trouble."

(Via NYT > Home Page.)
_______________________________________________________________________
Do not forget the personal injury lawyer television advertisements which dominate daytime television and have ebbed their way into primetime. Along with the drug advertisements, Viagra anyone? The modern media has lost any pretense of decorum and civility.

John H. Armwood

China's undocumented migrant problem.

China's undocumented migrant problem.: "This week, the United States and China will resume a dialogue on human rights after a two-year hiatus. The talks come at an especially sensitive time in U.S.-China relations, with both nations eager to press the reset button. Discussion is expected to center on Chinese censorship and the imprisonment of political dissidents and civic activists. But the usually one-sided discussion could be shaped by both nations' struggle with a less high-profile human rights issue: the treatment of undocumented migrants.The United States could begin by conceding one of China's principal arguments: Human rights are not just about individual liberty, but also economic opportunity. The Chinese 'economic miracle,' which lifted 500 million people out of poverty in just one generation, is itself an unprecedented human rights achievement. Yet it gave rise to other pressing human rights concerns, including an issue that threatens to destabilize China's Communist regime—growing discrimination against the roughly 200 million Chinese citizens who left their rural homes to find jobs in China's booming cities.In many ways, these rural migrants resemble undocumented immigrants in the United States. In China, they provide indispensible labor for vast urban construction projects and work in menial jobs as guards, waiters, cooks, or barbers. They are often mistreated by employers, generally live in poor conditions, and receive few social benefits and limited protection from the police. And their children are regularly denied public education.Chinese newspapers, 'Netizens,' and even Communist officials are calling for reforms. Their main target is China's 50-year-old household registration, or hukou, system. Began as part of China's state-run economy, the hukou system labels individuals as 'rural' or 'urban,' indicating their proper place of residence and binding laborers to the land. Today, rural residents are permitted to travel to the cities, but they can still be fined or forcibly returned home if they are caught working or living outside their designated hukou. Obtaining a temporary urban-residency permit from the police is beyond the means of most migrants, requiring a fee and employment documentation. Permanently changing one's hukou by attending university or joining the military or the Communist Party is similarly out of reach.Life for a city dweller with a rural hukou is difficult. Their hukou denies them urban welfare and access to public housing. It also excludes them from publicly funded health-insurance schemes. Since fewer than 3 percent can afford health insurance, most avoid medical care altogether. City judges often impose harsher sentences on rural migrants, and employers frequently withhold wages, knowing undocumented workers cannot complain to police without risking exposure.Even more devastating, children inherit their parents' rural status. By demanding 'donation' fees and proper work papers, public schools deny education to more than 30 million migrant children, in violation of Chinese law. Many migrant families now rely on unauthorized, poor-quality private schools. For hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, reform of the hukou system would mean higher-paying and safer jobs, housing, police protection, access to health care and welfare, and education for their children. And reform is now closer than ever. China's leaders are taking an acute interest, fearing that growing inequality could trigger social unrest and threaten their hold on power. Chinese city-dwellers are three times wealthier than their rural counterparts—the most lopsided urban-rural inequality in the world. Abolishing the hukou system altogether to allow unconstrained freedom of movement from rural to urban areas may seem the simplest way to reform, but many fear that migrants would flood China's cities. Mass migration could bust municipal budgets—costing an estimated $242 billion over five years as new residents qualify for public housing, education, and welfare. Costs forced the city of Zhuhai to end its attempt at reform in April 2008.Chinese scholars have proposed other options. Hukou reform could be done gradually, granting urban hukou to wealthier or skilled migrants at first, then expanding to reach poorer residents in much the same way that U.S. immigration laws favor educated and skilled green-card applicants. Shanghai recently took this approach, granting urban hukou to residents who had contributed to the city's welfare system for seven years. To offset the costs of public housing, cities might alter property rules so migrants can develop collective housing. Small or medium-sized cities could undertake pilot reforms to try alternative approaches, much as they did in the 1990s. The Chinese government is committed to reform, though it remains vague on specifics. In 2006, the Public Security Ministry proposed allowing migrants to transfer their hukou to urban areas, and this year the central committee issued a policy paper calling for fundamental hukou reform and greater integration of rural and urban populations. Large cities are becoming more receptive as well. In March, Beijing officials publicly pledged to educate the city's 300,000 rural hukou children after parents petitioned the city government. Even as China's treatment of undocumented migrants receives scrutiny, the United States appears incapable of dealing with its own undocumented immigrants, undermining U.S. credibility on human rights and damaging the government's image abroad. Most remarkably, as China explores ways to legalize the presence of migrants, expand access to police protection, and reduce discrimination, the state of Arizona, encouraged by resurgent American nativism, passed a law that appears to do the opposite. As the United States and China consider immigration and migration reforms, respectively, this year's human rights dialogue has the potential to break from history and become a truly collaborative exchange of ideas. Reform will not be easy on either side of the Pacific, but the similarity of each nation's predicament represents an opportunity to reset these critical negotiations and perhaps the U.S.-China relationship.

[more ...]

(Via Slate Magazine.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Exhibition Review - John Lindsay’s Tumultuous Years as New York Mayor - NYTimes.com

Exhibition Review - John Lindsay’s Tumultuous Years as New York Mayor - NYTimes.com: "What on earth happened? We enter the fine new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York and see that handsome patrician, boyishly grinning on posters and magazine covers: John V. Lindsay, Park Avenue-born son of privilege, graduate of Yale and Yale Law School and, in 1965, newly elected mayor of New York City. He is just out of his early 40s and is so charismatic, striding through the city streets with such casual authority, that he might have been a gift of the Fates to replace another boyish, privileged political leader, a president assassinated just two years before.

Lindsay.jpg
America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York, looking at the Lindsay years of the 1960s and ’70s, is at the Museum of the City of New York through Oct. 3
___________________________________________________________________________

I had the pleasure of spending some time around John V. Lindsay during his second campaign for Mayor in 1969. He was a kind, outgoing person. I was only sixteen but he always took time to speak with me. I was working, first as a volunteer, then a staff person on the campaign. That campaign was my introduction to electoral politics. I worked with his political organization for the next four years. I have many fond memories of John Lindsay and his wife Mary.

What Obama's choice of Kagan tells us about his judicial philosophy.

What Obama's choice of Kagan tells us about his judicial philosophy.: "Since the Republican attacks on Elena Kagan's fitness to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court have thus far ranged from hypocritical to laughable to insane, the fight between the left and the way left has become far more interesting, with Salon's Glenn Greenwald battling her supporters and everyone else trying to figure out where they stand. But the fact remains that none of us knows a thing about Kagan's judicial philosophy. She has neither said nor written much of anything that would tell us how she thinks a judge ought to decide cases—and it's clear that the White House likes this state of affairs, thank you very much, and plans to keep it that way.

(Via Slate Magazine.)

Op-Ed Contributor : Why Miranda Matters — and Why It Doesn’t

Op-Ed Contributor : Why Miranda Matters — and Why It Doesn’t: "President Obama shouldn’t create a terrorism exception to the Miranda rule."



(Via NYT > Opinion.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Arizona bans 'ethnic studies' - Andy Barr - POLITICO.com

Arizona bans 'ethnic studies' - Andy Barr - POLITICO.com

___________________________________________________________________________

Is Arizona becoming the Mississippi (pre-1970s) of the 21st Century? When will the Republican leadership there wake up and smell the coffee? America, including Arizona, is a multicultural country whether they like it or not. This ban pulls the white sheet off of any claim that the recent legislation, signed by the Arizona governor, was solely aimed at illegal immigration. This ban is directed at the teaching of the culture of a significant portion of the Arizona population. This ban is an attack on Hispanic culture by those who seek political profit by mongering to one of the worst insecurities of our society. The fear that America is being taken over by "the others". The "Birther Movement" and the "Tea Party Movement" are also playing to these fears. The irony here is that Arizona only became a state in 1912. Arizonans and their forebears were immigrants, excepting the native American population. This is all about cultural hegemony, not simply immigration.

This ban on teaching ethnic studies is despicable. It is not American. We are a nation of immigrants. What will come next, book burnings?

John H. Armwood

Ideas (and hopes) for plugging the gusher

Ideas (and hopes) for plugging the gusher: "May 11: Satish Nagarajaiah, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, explains the ideas being applied to plugging the underwater-oil-volcano in the Gulf of Mexico like the 'junk shot' and the 'top hat.'  (msnbc.com)"



(Via The Rachel Maddow Show - The Maddow Blog's Column - Articles and Seeds.)

Oil companies as good at passing bucks as making them

Oil companies as good at passing bucks as making them: "May 11: Senator Robert Menendez who serves on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee talks about the challenges of holding the companies involved in the massive Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe to account as they point fingers at each other.  (msnbc.com)"



(Via The Rachel Maddow Show - The Maddow Blog's Column - Articles and Seeds.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - Root Canal Politics - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - Root Canal Politics - NYTimes.com: "DEATH NOTICE: The Tooth Fairy died last night of complications related to obesity. Born Jan. 1, 1946, the Tooth Fairy is survived by 400 million children living largely in North America and Western Europe, known collectively as ‘The Baby Boomers.’ ‘We’ll certainly miss the Tooth Fairy,’ one of them said following her death, which coincided with the 2010 British elections and rioting in Greece. The Tooth Fairy had only one surviving sibling who will now look after her offspring alone: Mr. Bond Market of Wall Street and the City of London."



(Via .)

Climate Scientists Fight Back

Climate Scientists Fight Back: "In the face of dwindling public confidence and a renewed surge in attacks from global-warming skeptics, climate scientists are fighting back. In the May 7 edition of Science, 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, including 11 Nobel laureates, signed a letter decrying what they call the 'political assaults on scientists and climate scientists in particular.' 'There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions,' the authors write. '[F]or a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.'"



(Via Drudge Retort.)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Illegal Status of Army Spouses Often Leads to Snags

Illegal Status of Army Spouses Often Leads to Snags: "Many service members have fought to gain legal status for their family members — only to hit a legal dead end."



(Via NYT > Home Page.)

Oil companies' history of ducking safety improvements before big spills.

Oil companies' history of ducking safety improvements before big spills.: "In the last half-century, three major oil spills have significantly marked American politics—the 1969 Santa Barbara, Calif., spill, the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, and now the 2010 spill in the Gulf. They have a striking thing in common: Each occurred after the oil industry successfully resisted demands for safety improvements that would have greatly reduced the damage the spills caused. These technological fixes either were already standard or would later become so—and mandatory.  By fighting them off in the short-term, the oil companies cost themselves huge amounts of money and the rest of us an environmental debacle.

[more ...]

(Via Slate Magazine.)

Why President Obama revealed how many weapons are in the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

Why President Obama revealed how many weapons are in the U.S. nuclear stockpile.: "In an underreported bit of news this week, the Obama administration revealed how many weapons are in the U.S. nuclear stockpile. The number, which until now has been classified, turns out to be 5,113.

(Via Slate Magazine.)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Lieberman's pretzel logic

Lieberman's pretzel logic: "Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) talked to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell today about his new proposal to strip the citizenship of any American suspected of affiliating with foreign terrorist groups. From the rush transcript of Lieberman:"



(Via The Rachel Maddow Show - The Maddow Blog's Column - Articles and Seeds.)

Video: Brits head to polls for historic election

Video: Brits head to polls for historic election: "

May 6: BBC’s Matt Frei discusses whether Britain’s Conservative Party will have a chance to regain power after 13 years.  (Other)BBC’s Matt Frei discusses whether Britain’s Conservative Party will have a chance to regain power after 13 years. (Other)


"



(Via msnbc.com: Decision '08.)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The bizarre criticism of the Faisal Shahzad interrogation.

The bizarre criticism of the Faisal Shahzad interrogation.: "The case of Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bombing suspect, is a spectacularly bad test case for arguing against the Miranda warning. But don't take my word for it. Listen to Glenn Beck, suddenly turned constitutional scholar: 'We do not shred the Constitution when it's popular. We do the right thing,' he said. Also, 'How is it that saying a citizen should have their rights read to them … is controversial?'

[more ...]

(Via Slate Magazine.)

The Civil Rights Community and The new Arizona Immigration Act

I am so proud of the way the black leadership in America has responded to the Arizona Immigration Act. There is such a long tradition of the Civil rights community leading the fight for immigration rights, most notably in strongly supporting the Immigration Reform Act of 1965 which put non- whites, ie Hispanics, Asians & Africans on an equal footing with European Immigrants. I am so proud of my people.

Roberts court protects the powerful

Roberts court protects the powerful: "Opinion: John Roberts places corporate interests first and the rights of individuals second.

(Via POLITICO Top Stories.)

Op-Ed Columnist: No Fooling Mother Nature

Op-Ed Columnist: No Fooling Mother Nature: "After the oil spill in the gulf, an energy/climate/jobs bill is needed more than ever. America has to stop messing around with the environment’s future."



(Via NYT > Opinion.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The GOP's messaging dilemma - Kenneth P. Vogel - POLITICO.com

The GOP's messaging dilemma - Kenneth P. Vogel - POLITICO.com

Republican voters want Congress to repeal the healthcare overhaul, aren’t convinced that climate change is happening, and don’t think illegal immigrants should have a way to become citizens or that President Barack Obama has improved the United States’ global standing – all stances that put them at odds with the majority of voters, according to a new survey by Resurgent Republic.

Poll: Obama Approval Rating 51%

Poll: Obama Approval Rating 51%: "President Obama's approval rating, buoyed by improved perceptions of his handling of the economy, stands at 51 percent in a new CBS News/New York Times poll."



(Via Drudge Retort.)

The GOP's messaging dilemma

The GOP's messaging dilemma: "The Republican base is motivated but many of its views are at odds with a majority of Americans.

(Via POLITICO Top Stories.)

White House in P.R. 'panic' over spill - Glenn Thrush and Mike Allen - POLITICO.com

White House in P.R. 'panic' over spill - Glenn Thrush and Mike Allen - POLITICO.com:

Why we're so bad at dealing with unlikely disasters like the Louisiana oil spill.

Why we're so bad at dealing with unlikely disasters like the Louisiana oil spill.: "Every industrial disaster yields lessons, and the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana last month will be no different. BP should have had more safeguards against explosions, we will learn. Regulation should have been tighter. Drilling should have been banned so close to shore.


(Via Slate Magazine.)

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Political Test Looms for the Cuomos’ Bond - NYTimes.com

A Political Test Looms for the Cuomos’ Bond - NYTimes.com: ""



(Via .)

Arizona Paper: Pols Failed on Immigration

Arizona Paper: Pols Failed on Immigration: "Arizona's largest newspaper criticized U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and a host of other elected officials in a rare front-page editorial Sunday, saying the politicians have failed to find solutions to illegal immigration. The state has become the target of calls for boycotts since adopting a law that requires local and state law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally. 'The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border. Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear,' the Arizona Republic said in a full-page editorial. 'The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration.'"



(Via Drudge Retort.)

Drilling, Disaster, Denial

Drilling, Disaster, Denial: "With leadership, the disastrous oil spill in the gulf could help reverse environmentalism’s long political slide."



(Via NYT > Paul Krugman.)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The neighbourhood needs a big clean-up



Bangkok Post

The neighbourhood needs a big clean-up: ""



* Published: 2/05/2010 at 02:13 AM
* Online news: Opinion

Two incidents in Asia last week seem at first glance to be unrelated. In South Korea, investigators said it seems inescapable that a North Korean torpedo attack sank the navy ship Cheonan, killing 46 sailors. In Chiang Mai province, soldiers from the Pha Muang Task Force protecting the Thai border intercepted smugglers, who immediately pulled out weapons and opened fire. The troops killed three men, subsequently found to be Wa insurgents trying to smuggled methamphetamines into Thailand.

Such reports of violence have become almost commonplace. They are frequently relegated to the bottom area of the inside pages of this and other newspapers. The deadly border battle with the drug traffickers was the fourth story on the fourth page of last Friday's Bangkok Post. The horrific deaths of 46 men in an apparent ``perfect crime'' by the North Korean government never made the front page.

The reason for this is simply because this region has become used to such appalling news. The two nations at the southwest and northeast corners of East Asia constantly produce reports of hideous actions. The governments of Burma and North Korea are secretive, unaccountable and shadowy regimes. It is well known and documented that they abuse citizens, shackling and torturing anyone who dares to speak against them. Both countries sanction and support deplorable crimes against their neighbours.

Op-Ed Columnist - If Only Arizona Were the Real Problem - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - If Only Arizona Were the Real Problem - NYTimes.com: "Op-Ed Columnist
If Only Arizona Were the Real Problem
By FRANK RICH

DON’T blame it all on Arizona. The Grand Canyon State simply happened to be in the right place at the right time to tilt over to the dark side. Its hysteria is but another symptom of a political virus that can’t be quarantined and whose cure is as yet unknown.

If many of Arizona’s defenders and critics hold one belief in common, it’s that the new ‘show me your papers’ law is sui generis: it’s seen as one angry border state’s response to its outsized share of America’s illegal immigration crisis. But to label this development ‘Arizona’s folly’ trivializes its import and reach. The more you examine the law’s provisions and proponents, the more you realize that it’s the latest and (so far) most vicious battle in a far broader movement that is not just about illegal immigrants — and that is steadily increasing its annexation of one of America’s two major political parties.

Arizonans, like all Americans, have every right to be furious about Washington’s protracted and bipartisan failure to address the immigration stalemate. To be angry about illegal immigration is hardly tantamount to being a bigot. But the Arizona law expressing that anger is bigoted, and in a very particular way. The law dovetails seamlessly with the national ‘Take Back America’ crusade that has attended the rise of Barack Obama and the accelerating demographic shift our first African-American president represents.

The crowd that wants Latinos to show their papers if there’s a ‘reasonable suspicion’ of illegality is often the same crowd still demanding that the president produce a document proving his own citizenship. Lest there be any doubt of that confluence, Rush Limbaugh hammered the point home after Obama criticized Arizona’s action. ‘I can understand Obama being touchy on the subject of producing your papers,’ he said. ‘Maybe he’s afraid somebody’s going to ask him for his.’ Or, as Glenn Beck chimed in about the president last week: ‘What has he said that sounds like American?’

To the ‘Take Back America’ right, the illegitimate Obama is Illegal Alien No. 1. It’s no surprise that of the 35 members of the Arizona House who voted for the immigration law (the entire Republican caucus), 31 voted soon after for another new law that would require all presidential candidates to produce birth certificates to qualify for inclusion on the state’s 2012 ballot. With the whole country now watching Arizona, that ‘birther’ bill was abruptly yanked Thursday.

The legislators who voted for both it and the immigration law were exclusively Republicans, but what happened in the Arizona G.O.P. is not staying in Arizona. Officials in at least 10 other states are now teeing up their own new immigration legislation. They are doing so even in un-Arizonan places like Ohio, Missouri, Maryland and Nebraska, none of them on the Department of Homeland Security’s 2009 list of the 10 states that contain three-quarters of America’s illegal immigrant population.

Outbreaks of nativist apoplexy are nothing new in American history. The last derailed George W. Bush’s apparently earnest effort to get a bipartisan immigration compromise through the Senate in 2007. At the time, the more egregious expressions of anti-immigrant rage — including Arizona’s self-appointed border-patrol militia, the Minutemen — were stigmatized as a fringe by the White House and much of the G.O.P. establishment. John McCain, though facing a tough fight for the Republican presidential nomination, signed on to the Bush reform effort despite being slimed by those in his party’s base who accused him of supporting ‘amnesty.’

What a difference the Tea Party makes. This time McCain endorsed his state’s new immigration law as ‘a good tool’ and ‘a very important step forward,’ and propagandized in favor of it with his widely ridiculed televised canard that illegal immigrants were ‘intentionally causing accidents on the freeway.’ McCain, like other mainstream conservative Republicans facing primaries this year, is now fighting for his political life against a Tea Party-supported radical. His opponent, the former congressman and radio shock jock J. D. Hayworth, is an unabashed birther who frames the immigration debate as an opportunity to ‘stand up for our culture,’ presumably against all immigrants, legal and illegal alike. In this political climate, he could well win.

McCain, like Arizona, shouldn’t be singled out for censure: He is far from alone in cowering before his party’s extremists. Neither Mitch McConnell, John Boehner nor Eric Cantor dared say a word against Arizona’s law. Mitt Romney, who was mocked during the 2008 campaign for having employed undocumented Guatemalan immigrants as landscapers on his Massachusetts estate, tried to deflect the issue by vacillating (as usual). So did Mike Huckabee, who told The Dallas Morning News last week that ‘it’s not my place to agree or disagree’ with what happened in Arizona. If it’s not the place of a talk-show host and prospective presidential candidate to take a stand on an issue of this moment, whose place is it? There are few profiles in courage among the leaders in this G.O.P. — only a lot of guys hiding under their desks.

The one group of Republicans that has been forthright in criticizing the Arizona law is the Bush circle: Jeb Bush, the former speechwriter Michael Gerson, the Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge, the adviser Mark McKinnon and, with somewhat more equivocal language, Karl Rove. McKinnon and Rove know well that Latino-bashing will ultimately prove political suicide in a century when Hispanic Americans are well on their way to becoming the largest minority in the country and are already the swing voters in many critical states.

The Bushies, however, have no power and no juice in the new conservative order. The former president is nearly as reviled in some Tea Party circles as Obama is. Even conservatives as seemingly above reproach as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina now invite the nastiest of blow-back if they fail Tea Party purity tests. When Graham had the gall to work with Chuck Schumer of New York on an immigration reform bill, the hard-line Americans for Legal Immigration punished him by spreading rumors about his private life as loudly as possible. Graham has been backing away from supporting the immigration bill ever since.

It’s harder and harder to cling to the conventional wisdom that the Tea Party is merely an element in the G.O.P., not the party’s controlling force — the tail that’s wagging the snarling dog. It’s also hard to maintain that the Tea Party’s nuttier elements are merely a fringe of a fringe. The first national Tea Party convention, in Nashville in February, chose as its kickoff speaker the former presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, a notorious nativist who surely was enlisted precisely because he runs around saying things like he has ‘no idea where Obama was born.’ The Times/CBS poll of the Tea Party movement found that only 41 percent of its supporters believe that the president was born in the United States.

The angry right and its apologists also keep insisting that race has nothing to do with their political passions. Thus Sarah Palin explained that it’s Obama and the ‘lamestream media’ that are responsible for ‘perpetuating this myth that racial profiling is a part’ of Arizona’s law. So how does that profiling work without race or ethnicity, exactly? Brian Bilbray, a Republican Congressman from California and another supporter of the law, rode to the rescue by suggesting ‘they will look at the kind of dress you wear.’ Wise Latinas better start shopping at Talbots!

In this Alice in Wonderland inversion of reality, it’s politically incorrect to entertain a reasonable suspicion that race may be at least a factor in what drives an action like the Arizona immigration law. Any racism in America, it turns out, is directed at whites. Beck called Obama a ‘racist.’ Newt Gingrich called Sonia Sotomayor a ‘Latina woman racist.’ When Obama put up a routine YouTube video calling for the Democratic base to mobilize last week — which he defined as ‘young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women’ — the Republican National Committee attacked him for playing the race card. Presumably the best defense is a good offense when you’re a party boasting an all-white membership in both the House and the Senate and represented by governors who omit slavery from their proclamations of Confederate History Month.

In a development that can only be described as startling, the G.O.P.’s one visible black leader, the party chairman Michael Steele, went off message when appearing at DePaul University on April 20. He conceded that African-Americans ‘really don’t have a reason’ to vote Republican, citing his party’s pursuit of a race-baiting ‘Southern strategy’ since the Nixon-Agnew era. For this he was attacked by conservatives who denied there had ever been such a strategy. That bit of historical revisionism would require erasing, for starters, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, not to mention the Willie Horton campaign that helped to propel Bush 41 into the White House in 1988.

The rage of 2010 is far more incendiary than anything that went down in 1988, and it will soon leap from illegal immigration to other issues in other states. Boycott the Diamondbacks and Phoenix’s convention hotels if you want to punish Arizona, but don’t for a second believe that it will stop the fire next time.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Letters - The Arizona Immigration Law, and Its Discontents - NYTimes.com

Letters - The Arizona Immigration Law, and Its Discontents - NYTimes.com: Re “Why Arizona Drew a Line,” by Kris W. Kobach (Op-Ed, April 29), defending the Arizona immigration law:

While it is true that federal law requires noncitizens to carry immigration documents, this is almost never enforced or prosecuted. What’s more, it’s a far different story to permit federal officials to punish a noncitizen for failure to carry immigration documents and for state and local officials to do the same. Immigration regulation is a federal function.

I find it disingenuous to cite a hypothetical of 12 nervous, shifty-eyed passengers crammed into a minivan being stopped by the police for speeding as being the typical case in which the Arizona police will inquire into a person’s immigration status.

What about the case of two young males wearing sombreros speaking in Spanish in front of a convenience store, or three poorly dressed Spanish-speaking women sitting together at a cafe? Are we really to believe that Arizona’s police officers are not going to make inquiries in those situations?

This law isn’t good immigration enforcement; it’s an invitation to flagrant abuse of the civil rights of anyone caught in its web, including American citizens, permanent residents and applicants for asylum or another lawful status.

Theodore Ruthizer
New York, April 29, 2010

The writer, a lawyer who works on business immigration matters and a lecturer at Columbia Law School, is a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Democrats Eye Young, Minorities For Midterm Boost

Democrats Eye Young, Minorities For Midterm Boost: "May 1, 2010

Millions of voters got an e-mail this past week, directing them to a new video featuring President Obama. It’s the opening salvo in Democrats’ battle to defend their majorities in the House and Senate.

Congressional Democrats face an uphill battle in November: Unemployment is sky high; Obama’s approval rating is hovering at or below 50 percent. If history is any guide, many would-be Democratic voters are likely to sit the election out.

"



(Via .)

BP Is Criticized Over Oil Spill, but U.S. Missed Chances to Act

BP Is Criticized Over Oil Spill, but U.S. Missed Chances to Act: "Officials assailed BP’s response, but the federal government also had opportunities to move more quickly and did not do so, waiting instead for word from the company."



(Via NYT > Home Page.)

Drillings dangers darken political zeal

Drilling's dangers darken political zeal: "April 30: Rachel Maddow contrasts the political enthusiasm for offshore drilling with the grave reality of oil spills like the one presently threatening the Louisiana coast. Congressman Frank Pallone joins to talk about his urging of President Obama to block further offshore drilling.  (msnbc.com)"



(Via The Rachel Maddow Show - The Maddow Blog's Column - Articles and Seeds.)