Political Correction RSS http://mediamattersaction.org This link is for use by RSS-enabled software to retrieve the latest blog posts from Political Correction en-US Copyright 2019, Media Matters Action Network NC Sen. Goolsby Identifies "Illegals" By Their Inability To Speak English http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201208230002 <p>Two weeks ago, the anti-immigrant organization IIImpact held a two day <a href="http://iiimpact.com/?p=5">conference</a> in Wilmington, North Carolina to discuss the presence of undocumented immigrants in the United States and what immigration policies North Carolina politicians should pursue. The conference hosted many anti-immigrant voices, including Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) President William Gheen and Sheriff Sam Page of Rockingham County, North Carolina as well as both North Carolina State and Federal legislators. One of those politicians in attendance was Republican State Senator Thom Goolsby. During his session with ALIPAC's Gheen and Sheriff Page, Goolsby &mdash; who is up for <a href="http://watchdogs.blogs.starnewsonline.com/16658/sen-thom-goolsby-plans-to-run-for-re-election-to-state-senate/">re-election</a> this year &mdash; attacked the practice of hiring court interpreters for undocumented immigrants who are involved in court proceedings and claimed we know who the non-citizens are "because they can't speak English."</p> <p>Watch:</p> <p><object width="320" height="260" data="http://cloudfront.politicalcorrection.org/static/flash/pl52.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"><param name="flashvars" value="config=http://politicalcorrection.org/embed/cfg2?f=/static/clips/2012/08/23/26118/iiimpact-22082012-sengoolsbyspeakenglish.flv" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="allownetworking" value="all" /><param name="src" value="http://cloudfront.politicalcorrection.org/static/flash/pl52.swf" /><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /></object></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>GOOLSBY</strong>: Well Curtis, I go into court every day and we have all our court documents now printed in Spanish. I mean, explain that to me. I mean, as we talked about earlier when I did my session, I mean, to get a &mdash; to be a U.S. citizen, as Jude was telling us earlier, her husband from Brazil, he had to take a test in English and give answers in English. You have to speak English in order to become a citizen of this country. We have court documents every day, we have court interpreters that you spend hundred &mdash; millions of dollars a year to hire, for illegals to come into court, to plead guilty, to be found guilty to maybe be put in jail or not.&nbsp; And that's it, I<strong> mean they're done, they touched the court system, we know they're illegal because they can't speak English.</strong> And they go to jail, or they don't, or they get put on probation, and they're done. As the Sheriff says, he arrests them; he contacts ICE, Sheriff, what happens most of the time? ICE does nothing. They're released on bond or whatever else and they never get touched again until they break the law again, then it happens over again, and then that's it, and they stay here, and they stay here and they stay here. Period. Until they do something really bad and then they commit a Federal crime and then maybe they'll &mdash; maybe they'll take them out of the country.</p> </blockquote> <p>Goolsby's comments reveal his lack of understanding for the necessity of offering alternative language services. Over <a href="http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/language/data/acs/ACS-12.pdf">55 million</a> people in the United States currently speak a language other than English at home. These also aren't <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201201310003">just Spanish speakers</a>, as the percentages of those speaking French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean has also grown since the 1980's as new immigrants enter the United States. Despite Goolsby's contentions, many of these non-native English speakers are legal residents and citizens of the United States.</p> <p>The inability of some to understand English prompted former President Bill Clinton to issue an <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201107130002">executive order</a> which improved the ability for non-English speakers to obtain access to federal programs. This ensured that those who could not speak English were able to receive equal access to Federal benefits no matter their national origin.</p> Salvatore Colleluori http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201208230002 Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:39:26 EDT ALEC-Inspired Education Bill Helps Fund Loch Ness Monster Truthers In Louisiana http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201206260002 <p><img src=&#x22;http://politicalcorrection.org/static/images/bobbyjindal.jpg" border="0" height="166" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-right: 0pt; margin-bottom: 12px; margin-left: 12px; float: right; border: 1px solid black;" /></p> <p>It's not a myth &mdash; the Loch Ness Monster has turned up in, of all places, Louisiana. According to the&nbsp;<em>New York Daily News</em>, Louisiana's Eternity Christian Academy is using a textbook that asserts the monster is not only real, but that its existence disproves evolution. What's more, the school is eligible for taxpayer funded vouchers, thanks to a bill signed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal that strongly resembles model legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).</p> <p>From the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/loch-ness-monster-real-dinosaur-biology-books-taught-louisiana-school-article-1.1102340?print" target="_blank">NYDN</a>&nbsp;(emphasis added):</p> <blockquote> <p>The Scottish legend of the Loch Ness Monster is suggested as truth in a biology book that a private Christian school in Louisiana is using in its curriculum.</p> <p>But that's only part of the outrage from critics: Students who are eligible for taxpayer-funded vouchers will be allowed to attend Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake for the 2012-13 school year, according to reports.</p> <p><strong>The startling claim about Nessie's authenticity is made to bolster creationism within the textbook, the Scotsman newspaper reported Monday. The Loch Ness Monster is described as a type of dinosaur, and if dinosaurs and man co-exist, then presumably there would be holes in the scientific argument for evolution</strong>.</p> <p>[...]</p> <p>Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, advocated for the voucher plan, telling Reuters, "We are letting parents decide what's best for their children, not government."</p> </blockquote> <p>According to&nbsp;Gannett Louisiana, the <a href="http://www.theadvertiser.com/article/20120603/NEWS01/206030342/ALEC-school-reform-La-plan-mirrors-think-tank-s-blueprint">voucher plan</a> was part of a Louisiana bill that allegedly mirrored model legislation written by ALEC, an influential conservative group that&nbsp;promotes model legislation favorable to its corporate funders through statehouses across the country. From Gannett (emphasis added):</p> <blockquote> <p>The sweeping changes aimed at improving Louisiana's failing public schools are new to the state, but they are not new.</p> <p>The changes signed into law in April &mdash; on teacher effectiveness, tenure and accountability; on charter schools, vouchers and other school-choice tactics; and on systemic changes to early childhood learning &mdash; all reflect the strategic thinking of one of the nation's most active conservative public-policy organizations.</p> <p><strong>Reading Gov. Bobby Jindal's education legislation &mdash; passed by the state Legislature in House Bills 974 and 976 and Senate Bill 581 &mdash; is akin to reading model bills drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council</strong>.</p> <p>[...]</p> <p>Whether ALEC, or any other such tax-exempt entity, does "too much lobbying" is a matter of annual scrutiny by the IRS.</p> <p>Either way, ALEC has plenty of influence. Some say Jindal likely based his education legislation on models drafted by ALEC, which in August 2011 awarded Jindal the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award for public service.</p> <p>Kyle Plotkin, a spokesman for the governor, says that was not the case.</p> </blockquote> <p>Earlier this month, Reuters&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/01/us-education-vouchers-idUSL1E8H10AG20120601" target="_blank">described</a>&nbsp;the education plan as "the nation's boldest experiment in privatizing public education," and noted that the voucher program would cover "the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools."</p> <p>While one of those "Bible-based" schools is set to instruct students on the veracity of Loch Ness Monster sightings, another school &mdash; the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans &mdash; was forced to withdraw an application for government-paid vouchers after Louisiana lawmakers expressed concern about taxpayers funding "Islamic teaching." From the&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/louisiana_n_1593995.html" target="_blank">Huffington Post</a></em>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Stakes escalated last week when, to the frustration of some lawmakers, the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans applied for federal funds under the voucher program. Republican state Rep. Kenneth Havard objected to the Islamic School's request for 38 government-paid student vouchers, saying he opposed any bill that "will fund Islamic teaching," the Associated Press reports.</p> <p>"I won't go back home and explain to my people that I supported this," he said.</p> <p>"It'll be the Church of Scientology next year," Democratic state Rep. Sam Jones told AP.</p> <p>The Islamic School of Greater New Orleans withdrew its request for vouchers before the bill went to vote.</p> </blockquote> Brian Powell http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201206260002 Tue, 26 Jun 2012 14:39:04 EDT Big Oil's Big Money Pays Off As Republicans Tour Nation On Their Behalf http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201205250002 <p><img src=&#x22;http://politicalcorrection.org/static/images/republicanheat.jpg" border="0" height="166" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-right: 0pt; margin-bottom: 12px; margin-left: 12px; float: right; border: 1px solid black;" /></p> <p>Earlier this month, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)&nbsp;<a href="http://kevinmccarthy.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=493&amp;Itemid=94" target="_blank">founded</a>&nbsp;the House Energy Action Team (HEAT), a "committed group of House members" dedicated to "promot[ing] Republican energy policies." Thirty-four members of Congress were recruited to the cause, dedicating their district work period to "promoting energy independence for America." As McCarthy's press office put it, the dedicated members of the HEAT squad would "clearly demonstrate that House Republicans are on the side of the small businesses and families."</p> <p>Judging from their campaign coffers, however, reasonable citizens might question who these members are&nbsp;<em>really</em>&nbsp;fighting for. Members of HEAT have already received nearly $1.3 million in campaign contributions from the <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/recips.php?ind=E01&amp;cycle=2012&amp;recipdetail=H&amp;mem=Y&amp;sortorder=U">oil and gas industry</a> in the 2012 election cycle&nbsp;<em>alone </em>(according to a <em>Political Correction</em> <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2012&amp;cid=N00031545">records search</a>&nbsp;on OpenSecrets.org of each individual HEAT member, excluding contributions from individuals). The average amount received per member comes in at about $38,232;&nbsp;HEAT leader Rep.&nbsp;McCarthy alone has received over $114,000.</p> <p>Thursday, Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), a member of HEAT and former oil executive, toured a hydraulic fracturing site and released a&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2012/05/texmessage-flores-calls-for-an-easing-of-burdensome-hydraulic-fracturing-regulations/" target="_blank">statement</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Flores toured the Enervest site as a part of the nationwide House Energy Action Team 2012 American Energy and Jobs Tour. The point of the tours is to "highlight America's domestic energy resources and the need to increase domestic production."</p> <p>"Burdensome Washington bureaucrat regulations and high energy costs are causing a roadblock to economic recovery and job creation," Flores said in a release. "We can clear this roadblock by increase our domestic energy production and decreasing our reliance on unstable Middle East oil. Yet, many folks in Washington view our domestic energy resources as a liability; and they continue to dream up ways to lock-up, restrict, tax, or otherwise regulate these assets away from the American people." [...]</p> <p><strong>"The oil and gas industry is vital to our economy and hydraulic fracturing is an integral tool to increase domestic energy production," Flores said</strong>. "I am working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that Americans are able to take advantage of one of our great natural resources we have in Texas that provides well-paying jobs, improved tax bases for Texas school districts, and lower energy prices. In [a] nutshell, if we want to have American energy security, we need to develop a smart, stable and transparent regulatory scheme for hydraulic fracturing."</p> </blockquote> <p>According to OpenSecrets.org, the "oil and gas industry" is the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/industries.php?cycle=2012&amp;cid=N00031545&amp;type=I" target="_blank">number one</a>&nbsp;donor to Flores's 2012 campaign. In addition to money from energy industry PACs, he's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search.php?name=&amp;state=TX&amp;zip=&amp;employ=Plains+Exploration+%26+Production&amp;cand=&amp;c2012=Y&amp;sort=N&amp;capcode=d99wz&amp;submit=Submit+your+Donor+Query" target="_blank">received</a>&nbsp;thousands of dollars this election cycle from James C. Flores, an executive at Plains Exploration and Production (PXP). PXP was in the news in recent weeks after it began&nbsp;<a href="http://wavenewspapers.com/news/local/west_edition/article_388252fc-6e40-11e1-90b8-0019bb30f31a.html" target="_blank">fracking</a>&nbsp;in southern California's Baldwin Hills Oil Field, a move that allegedly broke promises to nearby communities concerned about the safety of the process.</p> <p>HEAT members are <a href="http://www.gop.gov/blog/12/05/24/house-energy-action-team-promotes">currently touring</a> the nation's oil fields and energy companies. They're tweeting up a storm about the need for an "all-of-the-above energy solution," but they ignore green energy, the public health risks of drilling practices like fracking, and the economic realities of expanded domestic drilling (<a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/201204120005#drill" target="_blank">hint</a>: it won't drive down gas prices). And none of them disclose the tens of thousands of dollars they're receiving from oil and gas companies. In other words, it's just a lot of hot air.</p> Brian Powell http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201205250002 Fri, 25 May 2012 14:15:23 EDT Gov. Scott Misses Out On $200 Million For Children's Health Care Funding http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201205040002 <p><img src=&#x22;http://politicalcorrection.org/static/images/rickscottmonth.JPG" border="0" alt="Gov. Rick Scott" width="140" height="166" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-right: 0pt; margin-bottom: 12px; margin-left: 12px; float: right; border: 1px solid black;" /></p> <p>Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) likes to reject <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201102250013">most things</a> that <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201111280004">come from</a> the federal government. In the latest rejection of federal funds, his administration has rejected almost $200 million in bonuses that would have gone to health care for children. As Health News Florida <a href="http://www.healthnewsflorida.org/top_story/read/fl_passed_up_200m_for_kids">points out</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Over the past two years, Florida did such a good job of enrolling uninsured children in KidCare that the state could have qualified for as much as $200 million in federal bonuses - money that could have helped get more children into care.</p> <p>But the state did not take the steps required to get the money. A spokesman for the Florida House said it appears the reason was the cost involved in making changes to certain agency rules, but was unable to offer specifics Friday morning.</p> </blockquote> <p>While Scott has made it clear that he won't accept <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201111280004">the millions of dollars in funding</a> under the Affordable Care Act legislation, this money does not come from ACA but rather from the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA). CHIPRA has already benefited 1.1 million children above expected levels. As the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families <a href="http://theccfblog.org/2012/05/where-would-11-million-kids-be-without-the-chipra-performance-bonus.html">explains</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Data on the bonuses show that in the 23 states that received bonuses in FY 2011, an additional 1.1 million kids were enrolled above expected levels. The most (123,000) can be found in the state of Ohio. While we can't say that the bonuses fully explain this jump in enrollment, it would certainly be fair to say that they get some of the credit for supporting states in reaching these kids.</p> </blockquote> <p>One could only imagine the impact it would have on Florida because as Think Progress <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/05/04/477835/rick-scott-children/">notes</a>, "Currently, 687,300 or 16 percent of children are uninsured in Florida &mdash; six percentage points higher than the national average."</p> Salvatore Colleluori http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201205040002 Fri, 04 May 2012 13:07:31 EDT A Look Back At Two Years Of Arizona's SB 1070 http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201204240003 <p>Tomorrow the United States Supreme Court will hold hearings in <em>Arizona v. United States</em> on their way to deciding the fate of Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law, SB 1070 (and by extension the fate of the many copycat versions that have passed around the country &mdash; most notably in Alabama and Georgia). Since this legislation's <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201004200001">introduction and subsequent passage</a>, it has been a point of controversy not just in Arizona, but throughout the country.</p> <p>Defenders of the law claim that SB 1070 is necessary to stop crime in Arizona, but <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Farticles.latimes.com%2F2010%2Fmay%2F03%2Fnation%2Fla-na-arizona-crime-20100503">crime had been falling across</a> the United States overall, including in Arizona, prior to the law's passage. Even Jan Brewer, Arizona's governor <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201006140006">admitted</a> that the law "doesn't have anything to do with border security." In fact, despite rampant crime on the Mexican side of the border, in <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37493275/ns/world_news-americas/t/us-mexico-border-isnt-so-dangerous/#.T5aZWqtAZ-U">both 2010</a> when SB 1070 was passed and <a href="http://www.texastribune.org/texas-mexico-border-news/texas-mexico-border/fact-checking-gov-perry-obamas-lie/">again in 2011</a>, border towns were some of the safest cities in America.</p> <p>Proponents of the law also claim that it merely <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201007140003">mirrors existing</a> federal law and therefore they are helping the federal government do their job. However, as FactCheck.org <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fpoliticalcorrection.org%2Frd%3Fto%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Ffactcheck.org%252F2010%252F06%252Farizonas-papers-please-law%252F">pointed out</a>, the law "does more than merely mirror federal law" and actually potentially allows for racial profiling. The laws lead sponsor, the recently recalled Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce, has compared immigrants to a "<a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201012100003">cow with mad cow disease</a>" and held an immigration policy summit where he <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201008050009">questioned</a> whether or not President Obama is "illegal." After the law's passage, Pearce claimed <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201005260003">the immigration system wasn't broken</a> and said that he wanted to send the message that "illegal immigrants" are "<a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fseattletimes.nwsource.com%2Fhtml%2Fnationworld%2F2011609060_immigration15.html">not welcome in Arizona</a>."</p> <p>Unlike Pearce, whose approval decreased after the law's passage, the law's author, current Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, benefitted from an elevated national profile. Kobach has helped author <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201007150011">several anti-immigrant</a> laws across the country, most notably the precursors to SB 1070 in Hazelton, PA and Fremont, NE, while racking up $6.6 million in fees. For his work with <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201007150006">SB 1070 alone</a>, he received $13,000 in fees. Kobach has had a <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201007150010">history of anti-immigrant rhetoric,</a> and previously worked for the Immigration Reform Law Institute &mdash; the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2007/winter/the-teflon-nativists">hate group</a>. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney even made him an advisor on his campaign until controversy over Kobach's polarizing views on immigration recently forced Romney to attempt to <a href="http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/04/kobach-is-not-mitt-romneys-immigration-adviser-120792.html">disassociate himself</a> with Kobach.</p> <p>SB 1070 brought national attention to immigration enforcement in Arizona, a conversation that has empowered and showcased two notorious proponents of the bill -- Arizona sheriffs Joe Arpaio and Paul Babeu. Sheriff Arpaio, who is also known for the <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201101100002">extreme treatment</a> of his prisoners in Maricopa County, is facing a <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201105040011">corruption scandal</a> and a <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/15/nation/la-na-justice-sheriff-20111216">civil rights investigation</a> by the Justice Department. Recently, it was exposed that <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201112060008">he botched</a> more than 400 sex crime investigations, "including dozens of alleged child molestations."</p> <p>Babeu, who has used his <a href="http://www.sheriffpaul.com/">fame to run</a> for the House of Representatives in Arizona, also has a history of anti-immigrant behavior. In 2010 Babeu appeared on the "<a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201007210002">pro-white</a>" radio show <em>Political Cesspool</em> and <em>The Alex Jones Show, </em>which is hosted by <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/201007200066">9-11 truther</a> and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. In 2011, he was the <a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201111180007">keynote speaker</a> at FAIR's "Hold Their Feet To The Fire" conference which seeks to advance reforms "that relieve many of the burdens that mass immigration &mdash; legal and illegal &mdash; imposes on the American people."</p> <p>Given the continued push nationwide to enact similar legislation, Americans should be aware that the implications of this case go far beyond the Arizona state lines.</p> Salvatore Colleluori http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201204240003 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:28:55 EDT Last <em>Media Matters</em> Column http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201204060003 <p>This is my last column for <em>Media Matters</em>. As of Monday, I'm striking out on my own with a brand new website and blog: <a href="http://mjayrosenberg.com/">MJayRosenberg.com</a>.</p> <p>The reason for this step is that it disturbed me greatly to see an organization to which I am devoted facing possible harm because of my critical writings about Israel. I have no doubt that the crowd that opposes any and all criticism of Israeli government policies will continue to turn its guns on <em>Media Matters</em> if I am associated with it.</p> <p>I could not live with myself if that happened &mdash; not only because I care deeply about the organization and my colleagues, but also because <em>Media Matters</em> does such important work confronting the lies that emanate from the far right and especially Fox News.</p> <p>My presence here is being used in an effort to shut <em>Media Matters</em> up. That won't happen, of course. This is an incredibly successful organization. (Just ask Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh &mdash; or Rupert Murdoch, for that matter &mdash; about its impact). But the last thing I want to do is allow the right to use my support for a reinvigorated Middle East peace process to distract <em>Media Matters</em> from its primary mission: fighting for truth in the media.</p> <p>So I am moving on, although my readers won't notice the difference. The twice-a-week email columns will continue to be sent to the same list. (If you aren't on it, just <a href="http://eepurl.com/jQE1H">click here</a>). My columns will continue to appear on Huffington Post, Al-Jazeera and dozens, if not hundreds, of other outlets where they tend to be reposted. And then there is my twitter account: <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/MJayRosenberg">@mjayrosenberg</a>.</p> <p>Additionally, there will be the new blog, which will not be limited to Middle East issues and which will be continuously updated. And there may be a book in the works too. More on that later.</p> <p>A final word of thanks to <em>Media Matters,</em> which is a great organization. I started here at 62 years old, and it's the best job I've ever had.</p> <p>Richard Nixon famously said to the press after his failed attempt to become governor of California, "just think how much you're going to be missing. You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore." I, however, will most definitely be around. More than ever.</p> <p>The blog goes "live" tonight!</p> MJ Rosenberg http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201204060003 Fri, 06 Apr 2012 14:21:11 EDT The First Amendment Does Not Apply To Israel http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201204030004 <p>It would be funny if it wasn't so creepy. An author or journalist can write anything he wants about the United States &mdash; or, in fact, about any foreign country &mdash; without causing legions of critics to question the propriety of his doing so. That is, unless the subject of the author's work is Israel.</p> <p>Think about it. Books have accused FDR of having advance knowledge of Pearl Harbor while others argue that the U.S. government &mdash; in the form of the FBI, CIA or even Vice President Lyndon Johnson &mdash; had President Kennedy killed. In other words, books that accuse U.S. presidents and U.S. government agencies of high treason are okay. This is America, and authors, journalists and bloggers can write what they like. (So long as it isn't libelous.)</p> <p>But Israel is in a class of its own. This is not to say that it is impossible to get a book critical of Israel's policies published without setting off a firestorm among neocons and virtually the entire "pro-Israel" establishment. That isn't true.</p> <p>It is only when the author has considerable prestige, is backed by a major publisher and is thus likely to get his message across to large numbers of readers, listeners and, most important, opinion leaders, that the "we'll crush him like a bug" dynamic sets in.</p> <p>That is what is happening to Peter Beinart right now. Largely because he is highly credentialed (he was editor of the <em>New Republic</em> in his 20's), and because his pro-Israel bona fides are unassailable, he has aroused the fury of the pro-Netanyahu, pro-occupation crowd as few of those who went before him have.</p> <p>Take a look at what the <em>New Republic's</em> former owner and Beinart's old boss and mentor, Martin Peretz, had to say about Beinart's <em>"The Crisis of Zionism"</em> (or more precisely, about Beinart himself) in comments to the <a href="http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/94763/lightning-rod/2/"><em>Jewish Tablet</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>It's a narcissistic book, and the narcissism of privileged and haughty people is never particularly attractive...I always knew he [Beinart] was a very vain man, but a lot of us are vain, and if you had his mother, or if I had his mother, I'd be even more vain than I am." Peretz put on a mocking falsetto &mdash; "this is the most brilliant boy, he's so smart, he's so touching" &mdash; before going on: "It's a Jewish mother situation. You can use that &mdash; even if it makes me sound a little bitchy."</p> </blockquote> <p>Imagine Peretz, a major figure in the "pro-Israel" camp and in U.S. politics from 1968 to 2010 <a href="http://www.salon.com/2010/09/07/marty_peretz_racist/">when he self-destructed</a>, actually attacks Beinart's <em>mother</em> for producing a son who has written a book criticizing Israel.</p> <p>Suffice it to say that Peretz's "review" is typical of what we'll be seeing from the "pro-Israel" establishment. It is Beinart's temerity in writing such a book that drives them crazy, much more than the book itself &mdash; so much so that the Israel-can-do-no-wrong types like Peretz, would rather impugn Beinart personally than actually review the substance of the book.</p> <p>Peretz's hysteria is unique, but his allusion to Beinart's "narcissism" is not. The essence of that charge also appears in Sunday's <em>Washington Post</em> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/book-review-the-crisis-of-zionism-by-peter-beinart/2012/03/30/gIQAlQ3rlS_story.html?tid=pm_entertainment_pop">review</a>&nbsp; of the book.</p> <p>Alana Newhouse accuses Beinart of trying to "elevate himself as the standard-bearer" for liberal critics of Israel and that his "obvious politicking" to be leader of the Jews is one of the book's major flaws.</p> <p>Brett Stephens, a <em>Wall Street Journal</em> columnist (and a former editor of the <em>Jerusalem Post</em>) begins his truly vicious <a href="http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/94872/peter-beinarts-false-prophecy/">review</a> in the <em>Tablet </em>by mocking Beinart for writing that one of the things that motivated him to write the book was watching the abuse of a 10-year old Palestinian boy by the IDF and thinking that the boy "Khaled Jaber could have been my son."</p> <p>Stephens finds that hilarious: "The real question is: Someone named Khaled Jaber could have been Beinart's son?"</p> <p>In other words, to Stephens, Beinart is just a self-involved fool for seeing his son in a child who is "named Khaled Jaber" (i.e., an Arab, not a Jew). True, that says something ugly about Stephens, rather than Beinart, but the point remains. In Stephens's view, Beinart is na&iuml;ve for being empathetic to the suffering of non-Jews and for, in part, viewing the Palestinian experience through the prism of his own life and experiences.</p> <p>Andrew Sullivan, the author and blogger, says that he was taken aback by the attacks on Beinart from the same people who once were his friends, allies and colleagues in the "pro-Israel" establishment. &nbsp;But now he understands that the normal rules of criticism <a href="http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/03/the-assault-on-peter-beinart.html">do not apply</a> when the subject is Israel.</p> <blockquote> <p>I've been through my share of personal vilification over the years...But this level of vicious personal obloquy from people who once advanced and supported him? It beggars belief.</p> <p>There is something rotten here. And something utterly bankrupt. You want to know why these people have become so unhinged? Read the book. They're terrified of its truth.</p> </blockquote> <p>At this point, I could write about Beinart's Jewish and pro-Israel credentials. But I won't. Beinart's views would be equally worthy of merit even if he wasn't an observant Jew or a Jew at all. <em>The Crisis of Zionism </em>is not Beinart's autobiography. It is a serious, heavily researched and documented book that makes a powerful case that the post-'67 occupation is destroying Israel as a democracy and ultimately could destroy it as a state. It also argues that Israel is treating the Palestinians under occupation with cold brutality while simultaneously denying Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (inside the '67 lines) the full rights Israeli Jews are granted. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Beinart also demonstrates that the "pro-Israel" organizational establishment in the U.S. (the people trying to shut Beinart down) are representative of no one except the multi-millionaire and billionaire donors who keep their organizations going. &nbsp;</p> <p>Beinart exposes AIPAC as utterly uninterested in any value other than power itself, particularly the power to intimidate Congress. He demonstrates how the Holocaust is blatantly exploited to build support for Netanyahu and the occupation even by organizations (like the American Jewish Committee) which were close to indifferent to anti-Semitism in Europe when it was occurring. (It is always shocking to read that the now&nbsp; Holocaust-obsessed organizations like the American Jewish Committee and AIPAC rarely brought up the subject until after the 1967 Six Day War when it could be used to build support for the occupation). &nbsp;</p> <p>For me, the best part of Beinart's book is the section I refer to as "Myths &amp; Facts." He takes every major propaganda point that is used by the right to support the status quo and demonstrates that it is based on distortions, if not out-and-out lies.</p> <p>These distortions include the myth that Israel has "no partner" with whom to negotiate, the myth that Israel has offered the hand of peace since its founding, the myth that the Palestinians want the West Bank to be free of all Jews, the myth that Israel needs the West Bank for security purposes, the myth that Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza as a step toward peace rather than as a device to permanently prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, the myth that Israel will not be transformed into an apartheid state if it continues to maintain the occupation without granting the Palestinians the franchise and equal rights, and the myth that Hamas initiated the 2008-09 Gaza war without provocation from Israel.</p> <p>Beinart is not arguing that the Palestinians are always right. Instead, he proves that Israel isn't either &mdash; and that almost all the information put out by the lobby and the Israeli government is propaganda.</p> <p>You doubt that? How many people do you know who believe that Israel offered the Palestinians <em>virtually everything</em> at Camp David in 2000, only to have the Palestinians <em>walk away</em>? As Beinart demonstrates and was proven by Clayton Swisher in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Truth-About-Camp-David/dp/1560256230">"The Truth About Camp David",</a> and in a half-dozen other volumes, there was no "generous offer" and the Palestinians didn't walk away either.</p> <p>None of this makes for much comfort for either side. (If the right is furious at Beinart for exposing the lies of the "pro-Israel" right, the left cannot stand his commitment to the two-state solution which it considers not only na&iuml;ve but no more just than the right-wing maximalism of Netanyahu and company).</p> <p>Accordingly, do not be fooled by the reviews from the left, which argue that because Beinart is a self-described "liberal Zionist" he has nothing to say, or those from the right that say that the book is nothing but self-indulgent pieties. It is neither. It is a book that unravels the lies, unspins the spinners, and gets at the truth.</p> <p>Passover is the holiday that celebrates freedom from bondage. In the case of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is myths and lies that are among the tightest shackles of that bondage. This is the bondage Beinart goes far toward breaking.</p> MJ Rosenberg http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201204030004 Tue, 03 Apr 2012 15:27:08 EDT Rep. West Attacks Rep. Rush For "Immature Gimmickry" On The House Floor http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203290005 <p>Earlier today on Laura Ingraham's radio show, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) commented on his colleague Rep. Bobby Rush's (D-IL) decision to don a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses while making a floor speech about the Trayvon Martin shooting. From <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/219105-rep-allen-west-calls-rep-rushs-hoodie-a-security-risk"><em>The Hill</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>West said the incident might be funny now, but he speculated that at the time, Capitol Police were likely concerned.</p> <p>"Initially, they did not know who it was and they were concerned that someone had just walked off of the street or kind of had broken away from a tour group," West said on conservative Laura Ingraham's radio show.</p> <p>"Look, this is the type of immature gimmickry we see coming from the other side that you know, does not have any place, especially on the House floor and really in the United States," he continued.</p> </blockquote> <p>Clearly, West wasn't concerned with what Rush actually did or the message Rush was trying to convey. As <em>The Hill</em> <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/219105-rep-allen-west-calls-rep-rushs-hoodie-a-security-risk">pointed out</a>, Rush took off a suit jacket that he wore onto the house floor prior to pulling the hoodie, which was under his jacket, onto his head. (Rush was giving a floor speech condemning the remarks of <em>Fox News' </em>Geraldo Rivera, who claimed&nbsp; that wearing <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/201203230002">"the hoodie"</a> played a part in Trayvon's death.) Despite West's criticisms of "the other side," it's Republican Rep. Don Young (AK) who definitely takes the "gimmickry" cake.</p> <p>Last year during a committee hearing, Rep. Young wore a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/bobby-rush-don-young-both-wore-head-gear_n_1386410.html">propeller beanie</a> with the Obama campaign logo on it and the words "Obama's energy plan," in an obvious attempt to mock the President's energy strategy.</p> <p>While the two incidents are clearly different (for many reasons), it shows that when it comes to Democrats, Rep. West will attack them for almost anything &mdash; even for protesting a situation that he himself called <a href="http://www.facebook.com/notes/congressman-allen-west/i-have-sat-back-and-allowed-myself-time-to-assess-the-current-episode-revealing-/320362644683436">"an outrage"</a> last week.</p> Salvatore Colleluori http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203290005 Thu, 29 Mar 2012 17:42:34 EDT Why Peter Beinart Is Driving The "Pro-Israel" Organizational Establishment Crazy http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201203290004 <p>Almost all the <a href="http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/94872/peter-beinarts-false-prophecy/">criticism</a> of (and controversy about) Peter Beinart's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Crisis-Zionism-Peter-Beinart/dp/0805094121/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1333028300&amp;sr=1-1">"The Crisis of Zionism"</a> comes down to two major complaints:</p> <p>The first is that he is a "liberal Zionist" which, by some definitions, means he is just as indifferent to Palestinian rights as a rightwing Zionist. For example, he believes in the idea and reality of a Jewish state and is primarily motivated by his sense of urgency about preserving it. He also does not support granting the right to return to Israel to all the Palestinian refugees (dating back to 1947) and their millions of descendants, &mdash; viewing full return as a means to ending Israel's existence. And, worst of all to some on the left, Beinart favors the so-called "two-state solution" which, although repeatedly thwarted primarily by settler-supporting Israeli governments, Beinart sees as the only means to achieve a solution fair to both peoples.</p> <p>The second source of disapproval (fury, actually) toward Beinart's book emanates from the "pro-Israel" right &mdash; and the intensity of their condemnation dwarfs the criticism of those who attack from the left.&nbsp;</p> <p>After all, the anti-Zionists primarily view Beinart as misguided and na&iuml;ve, still a prisoner of the Zionist ideology on which he was raised. But the "pro-Israel" right (and that includes virtually the entire "pro-Israel" organizational establishment) views Beinart as evil, as a traitor and, as ridiculous as this sounds, an enemy of the Jewish people. No matter that his goal is a secure Israel living side by side next to a secure Palestine and that his love for Israel suffuses his entire book or that he is an observant Jew; for the "pro-Israel" right, Beinart is the enemy.</p> <p>Understanding the American Right's feelings about Beinart may be more the job of a psychologist than a pundit, because the sentiment is so irrational that it cannot be addressed by merely citing facts. It is a mark of how crazy the debate over Israel has become in this country that the vitriol exceeds anything that goes on in Israel, which itself has more than its fair share of right-wingers.</p> <p>For instance, <a href="http://eranvered.com/blog/?tag=video-saar-szekely-talking-about-the-occupation">take a look at this video</a> from the top-rated Israeli show "Big Brother," a television reality show in which a group of young people move into an apartment and live their lives on camera. These shows are popular worldwide, but the brilliant exposition of the evils of the occupation that one character made on the Israeli show last week is unimaginable here. (U.S. reality shows avoid politics like the plague. But this is Israel).</p> <p>There is one other striking thing about this video (besides the fact not even a Jewish Community Center would dare show it in the U.S). It is that the young man making the case against the occupation is the kind of person Zionism was supposed to produce: a proud Israeli afraid of nothing. These are the kind of Israelis we don't see much of in the United States anymore (in contrast to the period before Israel became obsessed with maintaining the occupation and confronting Iran). You know, the Paul Newman ("Exodus") kind of Israelis who &mdash; although a stereotype &mdash; &nbsp;are rooted in reality. The reason we don't see them is because an Israeli government that is always making the case for the status quo based on fear would be ill-served by proud, unafraid Israelis speaking to Americans.</p> <p>For instance, take Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose mind seems to be in 1938 Europe. In 2006, speaking of Iran, Netanyahu <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/netanyahu-it-s-1938-and-iran-is-germany-ahmadinejad-is-preparing-another-holocaust-1.205137">told an audience in Los Angeles</a>. "It's 1938 and Iran is Germany." He said that the Iranian president who "denies the Holocaust" is "preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state."</p> <p><em>Note: Netanyahu's warning of the imminent danger of an Iranian nuclear weapon was delivered six year ago and it was far from the first Netanyahu warning that Iran was on the brink of achieving a nuclear bomb.&nbsp; It was also not the first time he said that the present day was reminiscent of 1938 although he has sometimes he invoked 1942 or 1944. </em></p> <p>The difference between Netanyahu and the young Israeli in the video (and most Israelis, I believe) is that for them the situation today is nothing like the situation in the 1940's. If it is, then who needs Israel, which justifies its very existence as the ultimate guarantee that "Never Again" is more than a slogan? It is a reality backed up by one of the most effective militaries in the world and 200 nuclear weapons. Israel is not the Warsaw Ghetto, a comparison that insults both the memory of the Holocaust and Israel itself.</p> <p>And Netanyahu is far from the only person in a leadership position to make that comparison. Beinart reminds us that:</p> <blockquote> <p>Jews "tell ourselves that we are still history's victims whose primary responsibility is merely to survive. Consider the language of prominent Jewish leaders. In 2009, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, declared that "anti-Semitism (is)...reaching a peak this year that we haven't seen since the tragic days of World War II." In 2010 House Majority Leader Eric Cantor devoted his entire speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference to an extended analogy with the Nazi era. That December, Malcolm Hoenlein, the powerful executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, gave a speech entitled," Is It 1939?" (In a 2007 speech, subtitled "Is it 1938 Again."</p> </blockquote> <p>Beinart then offers this chilling image that sums up the Holocaust fixation and how it affects attitudes toward Israel today:</p> <blockquote> <p>A few years ago, a journalist reported that Malcolm Hoenlein...had a photo in his conference room of Israeli F-15s flying over Auschwitz. It is a photo of a fantasy. Israeli jets never bombed Auschwitz and never will. What they have bombed, in recent years, is the Gaza Strip, a fenced in, hideously overcrowded, desperately poor slum from which terrorist groups sometimes shell Israel. Hoenlein, in other words, has decorated his conference room not with an image of the reality that he helps perpetuate, but with an image of the fantasy he superimposes on that reality.</p> </blockquote> <p>It is that fantasy that is producing such vitriol against Beinart in the "pro-Israel" organizations and among their cutouts. Beinart, born in 1971 in Massachusetts and brought up on stories about Israeli pioneers and heroes, absolutely refuses to accept the idea that Israel is some helpless little ghetto on the verge of extinction. He does not see the existence of Israel as an extension of the Holocaust but as the guarantee that there will never be another one. His Israel is one of daylight while the "pro-Israel" establishment sees only night and fog.</p> <p>Add to that that his belief that the secure Israel of his dreams can only exist if Palestinians are secure and it becomes clear why he produces such rage. To put it simply, the "pro-Israel" establishment is so invested in the dark past that it will not tolerate the image of a bright future &mdash; especially if that future can only be achieved by compromising with a people they have decided are German Nazis. It is pathological. Fortunately, I think it is Beinart who represents the future.</p> MJ Rosenberg http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201203290004 Thu, 29 Mar 2012 15:28:13 EDT Who Speaks For Iranian-Americans? http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201203270010 <p>The schedule for the American Jewish Committee conference in Washington coming up in May highlights that Sohrab Ahmari, an Iranian-American, will be addressing the question: "Can Iran's nuclear program be stopped?" Ahmari has been popping up more and more these days, especially at neoconservative organizations like the AJC.&nbsp;</p> <p>The AJC, established in 1906 to combat anti-Semitism and advance human rights both at home and abroad, is now obsessed with Iran. (Check out its <a href="http://www.ajc.org/site/c.ijITI2PHKoG/b.5114321/k.C068/Iran.htm">website</a>). In recent years, AJC has dumped much of its domestic agenda in favor of supporting rightwing policies on Israel and especially to war monger on the issue of Iran.</p> <p>Ahmari, the neocons' favorite Iranian, is very much in the mold of the neocons' favorite Iraqi. During the run-up to the 2003 invasion <a href="http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Chalabi_Ahmed">Ahmed Chalabi</a> was their darling because, as an Iraqi &eacute;migr&eacute;, he was thought to have unique credibility. Neocons loved hearing an Iraqi say that invading Iraq would not only prove successful but would be welcomed by his fellow Iraqis. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a fake, whose agenda was almost entirely personal. The war he and his friends promoted was an infamous catastrophe. And, to put it mildly, the invasion he told us that Iraqis would welcome was not welcomed.</p> <p>One difference between Chalabi and Ahmari is that Ahmari is a prominent neoconservative, rather than someone who merely courts them. He is, in fact, a fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, a neocon think tank in London.</p> <p>Henry Jackson was a United States Senator from Washington and a proud champion of the original neoconservatives. Known as the "Senator from Boeing," he was a consistent supporter of increased weapons spending, the Vietnam War and anything and everything Israel wanted. He died in 1983 and left as his legacy a group of former staff members who still vociferously agitate for war. Among them are Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and <a href="http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/feith_douglas">Douglas Feith</a>. (Feith became infamous for creating and running the war's disinformation shop at the Pentagon.)</p> <p>The Henry Jackson Society closely reflects the world view of the former Jackson aides. And so does Ahmari who is now traveling the country speaking as, and for, Iranian-Americans. His sidekick is Peter Kohanloo, a law student in Boston and self-described organizer within the Iranian-American community.</p> <p>However, like Chalabi, neither of these spokesmen have a following, either among Iranian-Americans or Iranians, a fact that &nbsp;probably makes them deeply resentful of the Iranian-American organization that does, the <a href="http://www.niacouncil.org/site/PageServer?pagename=About_index">National Iranian American Council (NIAC).</a></p> <p>NIAC opposes the Iranian regime and supported the 2009 protests against it. But it believes that the most effective, and probably only, way to successfully change Iranian behavior is through diplomacy, not sanctions and war threats.</p> <p>This drives the Iranian neocons nuts. In a February piece on NIAC in <em>Foreign Policy </em>called <a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/02/01/The_Diasporas_Conscience">"The Diaspora's Conscience,"</a> Ahmari and Kohanloo try to make the case that NIAC misrepresents the Iranian diaspora's position; instead, inadvertently, they prove the opposite.</p> <p>The heart of the two neocons' argument is that NIAC distorts the Iranian-American community's view by arguing (using NIAC's own words) that, although they "deeply resent the Iranian regime, [Iranian-Americans] prefer U.S. policies that emphasize engagement and de-escalation."</p> <p>They continue:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p>Widely available survey data belie these anecdotal findings. A 2011 Zogby poll commissioned by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), a nonpartisan organization that refrains from taking positions on foreign-policy issues, asked Iranian-Americans to identify their two top priorities for U.S. policy toward Iran. <strong>An overwhelming majority (63 percent) chose "promotion of human rights and democracy," while 30 percent chose "promoting regime change." In contrast, only 14 percent identified "preventing an American military strike against Iran" as one of their top two priorities</strong>.</p> </blockquote> <p>But exactly how do those poll findings contradict NIAC's position? NIAC favors "promotion of human rights and democracy" as a U.S. priority and, like all but the 30% cited in the poll, do not favor "promoting regime change."&nbsp;</p> <p>Here are some of the other <a href="http://paaia.org/CMS/paaia-releases-2011-national-survey-of-iranian-americans.aspx">poll findings</a> confirming that NIAC does indeed represent Iran-American views:</p> <blockquote> <ul> <li>Only 3% favor military action against Iran.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>44% consider U.S. sanctions to be "burdensome" to their families in Iran.</li> </ul> </blockquote> <p>Most significant of all is this:</p> <blockquote> <p>A majority (56%) of Iranian Americans now disapprove of President Obama's handling of relations with Iran, while thirty-two percent (32%) approve of how the President addresses this issue.&nbsp; These numbers have flipped since 2009 when a majority of Iranian Americans viewed President Obama's handling of relations with Iran favorably.</p> </blockquote> <p>Of course, the difference between 2009 and today is that in 2009 President Obama was pursuing a diplomatic approach toward Iran, while today he relies almost exclusively on sanctions and threats of war. Iranians clearly prefer Obama's original approach &mdash; not the one subsequently pushed on him by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the neocons (like Ahmari and Kohanloo).</p> <p>Ahmari and Kohanloo have every right not to share the views of most Iranian-Americans and they clearly don't. Earlier this month <a href="http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/can-iran-be-saved/">in <em>Commentary</em></a>, Ahmari made clear that his personal preference, like that of <em>Commentary</em>, is for regime change precipitated by a U.S. bombing campaign:</p> <blockquote> <p>The likelihood of an all-out Western land invasion aimed at toppling the mullahs is low. But a limited military intervention aimed at destroying their nuclear facilities may nevertheless precipitate regime collapse. Iran's nuclear sites are spread out over a wide geographic area; an intervention aimed at disabling them must be wider in scope than the Israeli strikes that destroyed Iraq's facilities in 1981 and Syria's in 2007. A successful strike will require destroying much of the country's national defense and security architecture. Having invested so much prestige, moreover, in one signature national project &mdash; the nuclear program &mdash; the regime stands to lose what little legitimacy it has left should a weeklong airstrike rubble its nuclear sites.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>Later he proposes "completely dismantling major state apparatuses," promising that the the Iranian version of de-Ba'athification would not backfire as it did in Iraq. Of course, "dismantling" such state institutions as the Revolutionary Guard and the Basji (Mobilization) forces would require occupying the country &mdash; a contingency Ahmari passes over &mdash; but which the U.S. military, Iranians, Iranian-Americans and everyone else who knows anything about Iran dismisses as either impossible or insane.</p> <p>But that is how neocons think. Force works every time. It is, however, definitely not how Iranian-Americans think.</p> <p>And the two neocons know it too. Asked <a href="http://www.rappaportcenter.org/probono/marshall_brennan/TurmoilInIranwithPeterKohanloo.mp3">on a recent podcast </a>how he, as an Iranian-American, can support a war that would hurt Iranians, Kohanloo responded: "I would say the Iranian-American community is not in any position to initiate or prevent a war, that is up to the president and the US government."</p> <p>In other words, don't pay too much attention to Iranian-Americans who, as they well know, oppose war. If they thought their pro-war views were representative, they would not dismiss the importance of Iranian-American views.</p> <p>Representative or not, if the Chalabi precedent holds, we are going to see lots more of these two in the coming days. That is why it is of critical importance that these Iranian Chalabis be exposed for what they are before establishing themselves as representing anything larger than themselves and their fellow neocons.</p> <p>That won't matter to the American Jewish Committee and others who have already enlisted in the anti-Iran crusade. It should &mdash; it better, matter to policymakers who might be inclined to believe that Ahmari and Kohanloo actually represent an Iranian-American constituency. They do not.</p> MJ Rosenberg http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201203270010 Tue, 27 Mar 2012 18:07:43 EDT Sen. McConnell Appoints Islamophobia Validator To Federal Commission http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203270007 <p>Five years ago, Zuhdi Jasser was just a physician and self-proclaimed Muslim leader who used&nbsp;<a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201102280011" target="_blank">regular appearances on Glenn Beck's television and radio shows</a>&nbsp;to criticize the&nbsp;<a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201101190008" target="_blank">supposed</a>&nbsp;"Islamist" leanings of leading American Muslim groups. Now, thanks to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he's the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases/3710-two-uscirf-commissioners-appointed.html" target="_blank">newest Commissioner</a>&nbsp;on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom:</p> <blockquote> <p>The U.S. Congress has appointed two individuals, Dr. Robert P. George and Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, to serve as Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).</p> <p>Comprised of nine commissioners, USCIRF monitors and advocates for religious freedom abroad wherever that right is being abused.&nbsp; USCIRF also offers policy solutions to improve conditions at the critical juncture of foreign policy, national security, and international religious freedom standards. On March 20, the Commission issued its 2012 annual report which recommended to the Secretary of State that the Obama administration designate 16 nations as countries of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act.</p> <p>Dr. George was appointed by The Speaker of the House John Boehner. Dr. Jasser was appointed by the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>Jasser gained prominence thanks to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the House Homeland Security Committee chairman who, in spite of Jasser's lack of&nbsp;<a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201103030007" target="_blank">both experience in the law enforcement field and followers in the Muslim community</a>, selected him as a witness for the first of the committee's hearings on&nbsp;"the extent of radicalization in the American Muslim community and that community's response."</p> <p>A year ago&nbsp;<a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201103030012" target="_blank">we wrote</a>&nbsp;of Jasser:</p> <blockquote> <p>With no relevant&nbsp;<a href="http://aifdemocracy.org/about/members.php" target="_blank"><strong>credentials</strong></a>&nbsp;to speak of, Jasser's authority in conservative circles as an "expert on radical Islam" seems to be derived from his willingness to frequently attack the Obama administration (whose terrorism advisor Jasser says "deserves honorary membership in the Muslim Brotherhood") and Muslim-American civil rights groups ("front organizations" for the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Jasser).</p> <p>[...]</p> <p>Given these facts, it should be no surprise that Fox News' Glenn Beck has&nbsp;<a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/embed/clips/2011/02/28/14313/prn-beck-02142011-jasserislamicfronts" target="_blank"><strong>dubbed him</strong></a>&nbsp;the "one Muslim that we were all searching for after 9-11" and said he is "a voice that I trust." Jasser has appeared on Beck's show to provide "expert" validation of Beck's zany apocalyptic&nbsp;<a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/201102060009" target="_blank"><strong>conspiracies</strong></a>&nbsp;in the wake of recent unrest in the Middle East.</p> </blockquote> <p>The Center for American Progress has also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/08/pdf/islamophobia.pdf" target="_blank">highlighted</a>&nbsp;Jasser's background and work, describing him as a "leading light of the Islamophobia network" and "the validator for Islamophobic propaganda."</p> <p>In spite of those deficiencies, McConnell apparently thinks Jasser is the best qualified individual to serve on a commission whose mandate is the spread of religious liberty.</p> Matt Gertz http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203270007 Tue, 27 Mar 2012 17:04:21 EDT Recent Florida Case Undermines Stand Your Ground Apologists http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203270005 <p>Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law has become the subject of increasing scrutiny after the Sanford&nbsp;police cited&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sanfordfl.gov/investigation/docs/Zimmerman_Martin_shooting.pdf" target="_blank">the statute</a>&nbsp;in their explanation of why they&nbsp;did&nbsp;not arrest George Zimmerman following his&nbsp;fatal&nbsp;shooting of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman's lawyer has also&nbsp;<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/trayvon-martin-shooter-teenager-gun/story?id=16000239#.T3HJ7DFAYbQ" target="_blank">indicated</a>&nbsp;that "Stand Your Ground" would likely be part of his defense against potential charges.</p> <p>State legislators that backed the bill and a major gun lobby ally have begun claiming that Zimmerman's actions aren't covered by "Stand Your Ground." A central part of that claim is that "Stand Your Ground" doesn't cover Zimmerman because he pursued Martin. Writing at Foxnews.com,&nbsp;state&nbsp;Rep. Dennis Baxley, the&nbsp;author of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" legislation,&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/03/21/trayvon-martins-alleged-attacker-not-covered-under-law-wrote/" target="_blank">argued</a></strong>:</p> <div class="im"> <blockquote> <p>There is nothing in the castle doctrine as found in Florida statutes that authenticates or provides for the opportunity to pursue and confront individuals, it simply protects those who would be potential victims by allowing for force to be used in self-defense.</p> </blockquote> </div> <p>Former Florida Sen. Durell Peaden&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Stand-Your-Ground-Authors-Say-Law-Doesnt-Apply-To-Trayvon-Martin-Shooter-143684626.html" target="_blank">echoed</a>&nbsp;the sentiment saying,&nbsp;"There's nothing in the Florida law that allows him to follow someone with a d*** gun."&nbsp;On&nbsp;<em>Hardball With Chris Matthews</em>,&nbsp;the Second Amendment Foundation's Alan Gottlieb&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snd0pnEgm5c&amp;feature=player_embedded" target="_blank">suggested</a></strong>&nbsp;"Stand Your Ground" didn't apply,&nbsp;saying Zimmerman "was the pursuer" and that "when you're pursuing you're not standing your ground."</p> <p>Despite their protestations,&nbsp;a&nbsp;recent Florida case shows that Zimmerman's&nbsp;self-defense claim&nbsp;isn't the first time someone has pursued a person they later killed and then cited "Stand Your Ground"&nbsp;to avoid prosecution.</p> <p>According to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/21/2706789/miami-judge-stabbing-in-the-back.html" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;in the&nbsp;<em>Miami Herald</em>,&nbsp;Greyston Garcia pursued a car burglar attempting to steal his car's radio more than a block before stabbing him to death, an event captured by a video recording. Last Wednesday the judge threw out murder charges against Garcia citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Prosecutors unsuccessfully argued that Garcia "no longer needed to use deadly force to protect his home or unoccupied vehicle. "</p><p><a href="http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203270005">More...</a></p> Chris Brown http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203270005 Tue, 27 Mar 2012 15:58:58 EDT After Two Years, Florida Republicans Are Still Ignoring The Realities Of Health Care Reform http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203270001 <p><img src=&#x22;http://politicalcorrection.org/static/images/rickscottglare.JPG" border="0" alt="Gov. Rick Scott" width="130" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-right: 0pt; margin-bottom: 12px; margin-left: 12px; float: right; border: 1px solid black;" /></p> <p>This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments challenging President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Almost immediately upon passage, Florida (via Attorney General Bill McCollum) <a href="http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-83TKWB/$file/HealthCareReformLawsuit.pdf" target="_blank">spearheaded</a>&nbsp;a lawsuit against the act (subsequently joined by several other states), which has now reached the nation's highest court. At the same time Florida was filing its paperwork against the ACA, the Republican leadership in Florida began its case in the court of public opinion by fear-mongering about the law with misrepresentations, omissions and hyperbolic vitriol<strong>.</strong></p> <p>Some of the most ludicrous attacks have come from Florida Gov. Rick Scott<strong>,</strong> who has been in full denial mode. Initially, he publicly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2011/dec/01/rick-scott/gov-rick-scott-says-obamacare-not-law-land/" target="_blank">denied</a>&nbsp;that the ACA was the "law of the land," despite having been passed by Congress and signed by the president. Lately, he's&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wtsp.com/news/article/247143/19/Florida-shuns-funds-tied-to-health-care-reform" target="_blank">chosen to deny</a>&nbsp;federal aid to the people of Florida. Scott has managed to shun hundreds of millions of dollars in PPACA grants that would, among other things, bump up Medicaid payments to primary care physicians and directly benefit Floridians right now.</p> <p>Other Florida Republicans have followed Scott's lead. Some examples include Sen. Marco Rubio, who&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.heritage.org/2012/03/22/exclusive-interview-sen-marco-rubio-talks-cuba-budget-and-obamacare/" target="_blank">claimed</a>&nbsp;"Obamacare" has been "detrimental to our economy;" Longtime Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who&nbsp;<a href="http://blog.heritage.org/2012/03/22/exclusive-interview-sen-marco-rubio-talks-cuba-budget-and-obamacare/" target="_blank">alleged</a>&nbsp;the ACA "raids half a trillion dollars from Medicare, jeopardizing seniors' access to the care they need and deserve;" Rep. Gus Bilirakis, who&nbsp;<a href="http://bilirakis.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&amp;task=view&amp;id=583&amp;Itemid=115" target="_blank">characterized</a>&nbsp;the law as a "job-killing takeover of our healthcare system," and Tea Party darling Rep. Allen West<strong>,</strong> who has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/23/why-obamacare-is-bad-for-americas-health/" target="_blank">declared</a>&nbsp;the law an "unconstitutional, anti-constitutional and, most certainly, an awful piece of American policy" that is "destined to fail."</p> <p>Unfortunately for the GOP cause, the harsh rhetoric of the Florida Republicans doesn't match the reality on the ground in their state. Even though the ACA's full rollout is still some years down the road, many of its provisions have already had a big impact on Florida citizens. The U.S. Department of Health &amp; Human Services (HHS) has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.healthcare.gov/law/resources/fl.html" target="_blank">published</a>&nbsp;some noteworthy statistics that the GOP in the sunshine state failed to mention. Here are a few:</p> <div class="im"> <ul> <li><strong>The ACA Is Saving Florida Seniors Hundreds Of Dollars In Prescription Drug Costs</strong>. From HHS:</li> </ul> <blockquote> <p>Thanks to the new health care law, 256,600 people with Medicare in Florida received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010.&nbsp;<strong>In 2011, 238,362 people with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand</strong>-<strong>name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole</strong>. This discount resulted in an average savings of $596 per person, and a total savings of $141,948,339 in Florida. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole. [Healthcare.gov, accessed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.healthcare.gov/law/resources/fl.html" target="_blank">3/22/12</a>, emphasis added]</p> </blockquote> <ul> <li><strong>Over 157,000 Young Floridians Have Gained Coverage As A Result Of The ACA.&nbsp;</strong>From HHS:</li> </ul> </div> <blockquote> <p>Health plans are now required to allow parents to keep their children under age 26 without job-based coverage on their family's coverage, and, thanks to this provision, 2.5 million young people have gained coverage nationwide. <strong>As of June 2011, 157,185 young adults in Florida gained insurance coverage as a result of the new health care law</strong>. [Healthcare.gov, accessed <a href="http://www.healthcare.gov/law/resources/fl.html">3/22/12</a>, emphasis added]</p> </blockquote> <ul> <li><strong>Cancer Patients And Others With Chronic Diseases Are No Longer Burdened By Lifetime Caps On Coverage</strong>. From HHS:</li> </ul> <blockquote> <p>The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits - freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 5,587,000 residents, including 2,170,000 women and 1,411,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014. [Healthcare.gov, accessed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.healthcare.gov/law/resources/fl.html" target="_blank">3/22/12</a>]</p> </blockquote> <ul> <li><strong>Thousands Of Floridians With Pre-Existing Conditions Now Have Options For Health Insurance Coverage</strong>. From HHS:</li> </ul> <blockquote> <p>As of the end of 2011, 3,736 previously uninsured residents of Florida who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law. [Healthcare.gov, accessed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.healthcare.gov/law/resources/fl.html" target="_blank">3/22/12</a>]</p> </blockquote> Brian Powell http://politicalcorrection.org/blog/201203270001 Tue, 27 Mar 2012 09:46:40 EDT Robert Gates: "An Attack On Iran Would &hellip; Be A Catastrophe" http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201203220004 <p><img src=&#x22;http://politicalcorrection.org/static/images/robertgates.jpg" border="0" width="140" height="174" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-right: 0pt; margin-bottom: 12px; margin-left: 12px; float: right; border-image: initial; border: 1px solid black;" /></p> <p>Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave a stern warning to those in Washington beating the drums for war with Iran. In a recent speech before the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Gates said, "If you think the war in Iraq was hard, an attack on Iran would, in my opinion, be a catastrophe."</p> <p>From the <em><a href="http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/25564/Gates_Proceed_Warily_on_Iran/">Jewish Exponent</a></em>: </p> <blockquote> <p>The Iranians see themselves surrounded by nuclear-armed countries, he said. They also see that the United States easily removed Iraq's Saddam Hussein, who had no nuclear weapons, and that the Moammar Gadhafi regime "fell to a ragtag rebel army with Western air support." In contrast, he said, the Iranians observe that the United States and its allies have been far more cautious dealing with the North Koreans because they have a nuclear capability. </p> <p>[...]</p> <p>Without naming names, he criticized some politicians' approaches to the Iranian problem as too simplistic. "Make no mistake about it: How to deal with Iran's defiance of international norms and its nuclear program is one of the most difficult and dangerous challenges this country has faced in decades." </p> <p>It's a challenge, he added, "where I believe the most likely outcomes are all bad. Any decision to act or not to act will be one of the most consequential any president has had to make." </p> </blockquote> <p>The article goes on to explain that Gates "contradicted recently released U.S. reports citing military and intelligence officials who question whether Iran has decided to pursue a nuclear-weapons capability," quoting him saying that he has "long been convinced that Iran is determined to develop nuclear-weapons capability." But Gates's words do not necessarily contradict intelligence assessments. As Gates's successor, <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/02/28/434146/panetta-iran-hasnt-decided-on-nuclear-weapons/">Leon Panetta</a>, as well as Director of National Intelligence <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/02/16/427136/clapper-graham-iran/">James Clapper</a> have both said that Iran has not made the decision to build a nuclear weapon, though the country is considered to have a break-out capability. Multinational and unilateral sanctions, which have been ratcheted up in recent years, are aimed at pressuring the Iranians not to take the next step.</p> <p>Gates adds his voice to a <a href="http://www.niacouncil.org/images/content/pagebuilder/NIAC-Washington-Post-Ad-ful.jpg">growing list of former military and intelligence officials</a> who have warned of the consequences of war. His recent comments most closely resemble comments made by Ret. General Anthony Zinni, former Commander of CENTCOM, who said <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17264957">in 2009 that</a> "if you like Iraq and Afghanistan, you'll love Iran." </p> Walid Zafar http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201203220004 Thu, 22 Mar 2012 13:10:13 EDT <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>'s Bret Stephens Dismisses The Intelligence On Iran http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201203210003 <p>It's becoming clear that the hawks are losing the debate on war with Iran. With negotiations scheduled for <a href="http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2012/03/20/five-tips-for-president-obama-on-nuclear-negotiations-with-iran/">the weeks ahead</a>, and President Obama's stern warning that war chatter is "<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57391681-503544/obama-to-gop-rivals-war-in-iran-not-a-game/">not a game</a>," the hawks have their backs to the wall. After years of having their rhetoric go largely unchallenged by the media, they suddenly must operate in an environment in which the military and the media are ringing the alarm bells.</p> <p>Since they can't easily challenge the facts (or <a href="http://www.salon.com/2008/03/19/iraq_five/">make up their own</a>, as in the run up to war with Iraq), they're left making inane arguments &mdash; such as <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/global_view.html#printMode">this one</a> from the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>'s Bret Stephens. Stephens believes the intelligence on Iran's nuclear program is not as important as what his gut tells him about what the Iranians are up to. (Of course, if the intelligence confirmed what he already knows in his heart of hearts, he might be singing a different tune.)</p> <p>He writes: </p> <blockquote> <p>...the New York Times reports that U.S. intelligence agencies are sure, or pretty sure, that Iran "still has not decided to pursue a weapon"-a view the paper says is shared by Israel's Mossad. The report echoes the conclusion of a 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that Iran put its nuclear-weapons program on the shelf back in 2003.</p> <p><a name="U603740322391CYD"></a>All this sounds like it matters a whole lot. It doesn't. You may not be able to divine whether a drinker, holding a bottle of Johnnie Walker in one hand and a glass tinkling with ice in the other, actually intends to pour himself a drink. And perhaps he doesn't. But the important thing, at least when it comes to intervention, is not to present him with the opportunity in the first place.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, forget what the intelligence community (both here and in Israel) says about the state of Iran's nuclear program, because the very fact that Iran has a program in the first place is reason enough for war. Stephens seems to go further than even the Israelis, who want the U.S. redline to be nuclear capability, an already tenuous position given that Iran, technically, already has such a capability (hence the debate about Iran's decision to go for the bomb).</p> <p>But there's more. The meat of Stephen's piece comes toward the end, where he discounts the idea that the Iranians would respond to an Israeli attack by going after U.S. targets. On Monday, the <em>New York Times</em> <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/20/world/middleeast/united-states-war-game-sees-dire-results-of-an-israeli-attack-on-iran.html?_r=2&amp;hp">reported</a> on a classified military simulation exercise that concluded that an Israeli strike "would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead." Stephens' piece is clearly an effort to challenge the <em>Times</em> report. He asks:</p> <blockquote> <p>Is this outcome likely? Maybe, though it assumes a level of Iranian irrationality-responding to an Israeli attack by bringing the U.S. into the conflict-that top U.S. officials don't otherwise attribute to Iran's leaders.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is typical of Stephens and the other neoconservatives. In their zeal to get the United States to attack Iran, they will ascribe irrationality to the Iranian regime when they warn that Iran might use a nuclear weapon against Israel, even though such an act would be suicidal (in that it would all but guarantee retaliatory strikes and the destruction of Iran). But when contemplating the possibility that Iran will strike U.S. interests in the event that they are attacked, the Iranians are suddenly too rational to take such dangerous actions.</p> <p>Stephens's beliefs are contradictory, except for the consistent devotion to war as the solution to our differences with Iran. On the one hand, there is no way that we can live in a world where the Iranians have an enrichment capability (hence the Johnnie Walker reference) and yet, in the event that their country is attacked, the Iranians (most of whom support the nuclear program) would be level-headed enough not to take their anger out on the United States. </p> <p>That doesn't make sense. But as we learned from the war in Iraq, rationality is the first casualty of selling a preventative war. </p> Walid Zafar http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201203210003 Wed, 21 Mar 2012 13:30:37 EDT