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Steven Leser's Journal - Archives
Posted by stevenleser in The DU Lounge
Thu Dec 01st 2011, 09:56 PM
I had a little drama on the subway today that I want to relate to my DU friends. In person, at least, I'm a nice guy who will turn the other cheek most of the time if someone is rude or unpleasant. Like most people, however, I have my limits. On my way home from work, I took a seat in the middle of an obese man on my left and this late 50's thin woman on my right. Within moments, the woman grabbed my elbow and shoved it and said something about me poking her. Fact is, it was rush hour on the subway, I was trying to occupy as little space as possible but I was thoroughly sandwiched between the gentleman to my left and this woman. A few moments later she shoved my elbow again and told me to stop leaning against her. At that point I looked straight ahead at the windows across from us which, due to the lighting, were turned into virtual mirrors. I noted that I was sitting straight up, elbows in and was not leaning at all. The lady then proceeded to be rude and nasty and talked about having to be on the train for another half hour or hour or something like that. I smiled and said, I'm really doing my best. More rudeness ensued. The man to my left became visibly self conscious and upset because he realized he was taking up 50% of the space that should have comfortably accomodated three people.

At that point, I became mad and a plan hatched in my head. Two stops later what I was waiting for came in. A woman twice my width with an angry expression on her face who was also coughing and sneezing. With a grandiose gesture, I offered my seat to her. The new woman couldnt even manage to say thank you as we switched places, me standing and she sitting. Immediately the two women began jostling with each other for space. The original woman clearly looked unhappy and uncomfortable. Several other passengers, having witnessed the entire drama from the beginning had smiles on their faces when they realized what I had done. Soon my stop arrived, and as I moved toward the exit, I made eye contact with the original woman, smiled and raised one of my eyebrows.

Unspoken message, you were an asshole and this is what you get. Hopefully she will realize she cannot treat people like that and perhaps I have saved the next few folks from dealing with what I dealt with.

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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion: Presidency
Sun Aug 14th 2011, 08:52 AM
That puts pressure on a Democratic opponent from the getgo.

Add the rest of the 1980 Reagan and national scenario you aptly describe and all the ingredients are there for a GOP victory.

It's hard to point to a large Democratic state where Perry would have a shot at winning. So, he basically has to win the George W. Bush states.

To make the election impossible for Perry to win ought to be easy. Not the same with the reverse. Obama's target states are Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida. That is six states where if President Obama wins two or three of them, it's virtually impossible for Perry to win. Add the fact that there are extremely unpopular GOP governors in three of those states, an energized Democratic base in Wisconsin, the Democratic convention in North Carolina, and you have a really good chance for the President even under difficult circumstances.

The potential GOP candidates that could have pressed Obama better in those states are either gone or are not gaining traction (Pawlenty and Huntsman).
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Posted by stevenleser in Political Videos
Fri Aug 12th 2011, 12:48 PM
For those of you who did not get the chance to see this in GDP yesterday. It's now on Youtube.

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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion: Presidency
Thu Jun 23rd 2011, 05:32 PM


When you decide you want to try to offer a new product or service whether in a new or existing business, you try to determine if there is a market for it. Is there a need for the new product or service, or through marketing can you create a desire for it. If you are introducing a new product to compete with existing products, how is your product different from the other products and is that difference something that people will find appealing.

Candidates can work in a similar way. From his campaign rollout speech, it is clear that Mr. Huntsman is trying to position himself as the one reasonable candidate who respects his Republican rivals for the nomination and ALSO respects President Obama. On Obama, Huntsman said that while he respects him, he just has a different vision for the country. Huntsman is also a smart guy who taught himself Mandarin Chinese, was the US Ambassador to China, Governor of Utah and knows American history and can speak knowledgably about foreign policy issues.

For all that, there is a major problem with candidate Huntsman. He is a product whose features have no market among the Republican electorate.

Republicans have no interest in a candidate that actually knows something. They seem to find willful ignorance irrelevant or even charming in a candidate. For instance, Sarah Palin's butchering and ignorance of history and current events is legend. Not only does she make up history as she goes along, when her error was pointed out, she insisted her version of Paul Revere's famous ride (he rode out to warn the British not to try to take our guns) was correct even though we are in the internet age when it is easy to look up such things and find out the truth. One of the last living really intelligent ultra conservatives, Margaret Thatcher, refused to meet with Palin when Palin traveled to the UK to see Thatcher. As much as I disagree with many or most of Ms. Thatcher’s decisions as Prime Minister, I can only opine from a distance that Thatcher didn’t want her legacy and brand of conservatism tarnished by meeting with someone who views being informed as an unnecessary inconvenience.

Michele Bachmann hasn’t been on the national stage as long as Palin but she is working hard to catch up in ignorant quotes. Bachmann has produced gems like “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” Bachmann may want to read this . If she still is unconvinced, maybe she will agree to be hooked up to a tank of the stuff to breathe for a while.

I think Bachmann got her idea for this quote from Ann Coulter who claimed that radiation is good for you. If Ann really feels that way, I don’t understand why she isn’t at Fukushima offering to clean the whole thing up with her bare hands. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) would almost certainly offer her many times her regular speaking rate to do it. The Republican base has no interest in a candidate that is reasonable. The most successful GOP politicians and pundits are those whose mouths routinely spew hyperbole and false accusations against the President and other Democrats. Both of the lies that Politifact awarded “Lie of the Year” for the past two years were uttered by Republicans against President Obama and both were popular with the Republican base (2010 lie of year - “President Obama's Healthcare Plan is Government takeover of Healthcare” and 2009 lie of year - “Obama's health care plan includes death panels for seniors). You still here both of those lies parroted regularly by Republicans.

The list of lies doesn’t include the myriad of just plain crazy statements that have become the hallmark of the Republican party post election 2008. Statements like those from Republican congressional candidate Hans Zeiger who said he objects to the Girl Scouts and their cookies on the grounds that they are “a breeding ground for homosexual, ‘pro-abortion’ feminists.”. I just want to let Mr. Zeiger in on a little Biology 101. It’s pretty tough to get pregnant from lesbian sex and that being the case, the amount of abortions from resulting pregnancies has to be pretty miniscule (read: none). Who also can forget Newt Gingrich’s utterance earlier this year warning us about America being in danger of becoming “an atheist country dominated by radical Islamists”. Newt needs to enlighten us on how you can be an atheist and a ‘radical’ practitioner of any religion, the point being that you can’t. It is an impossible contradiction and a crazy thing to say. Somehow, the Republican base can’t get enough of that kind of craziness. The lies and unreasonableness seem to have flowed directly from the Tea Party astroturf movement. The Tea Party loves crazy signs, disrupting congress people’s town hall meeting with their constituents and toying with violent and secessionist rhetoric. While the Tea Party movement seems to have faded, the love of all things crazy seems to have stuck with the Republican base. Texas Governor Rick Perry is perfect for all of the above reasons and that is why Republicans are courting him to jump into the race. He has made several statements threatening for Texas to secede from the United States, he refused some of the free stimulus money for his state that it turned out he eventually needed and had to borrow. Texans can thank him for having to pay that money back (part of the stimulus money he did accept he used to rebuild the Governor’s mansion, i.e., his temporary home. I guess that was more important than whatever else Texas needed).

Perry will have his hands full with Michele Bachmann in terms of proving who is more willfully ignorant, secessionist and crazy. As sad as it sounds, it looks like who ‘wins’ that contest will determine who wins the Republican nomination.

With the above being the reality of life in the GOP, there is no room in the Republican Party for a reasonable person like Jon Huntsman. The Republican base is not looking for such a person and will not be able to appreciate him now that he has shown up. Huntsman may or may not be as conservative on economic and social issues as Bachmann or Perry, but if he doesn’t bring ‘the crazy’ the GOP base won’t be the slightest bit interested. I doubt Huntsman ever draws more than 5% in any poll or, if he lasts that long, primary or caucus.

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of International Business Times.

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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion
Fri Jun 17th 2011, 08:35 AM
In Midst of European Food Scare, US House Republicans Cut Food Safety Funding


In an act that is part ignorance and part pandering to large agribusiness, the Republican Controlled US House of Representatives voted on Thursday to cut millions of dollars in funding for the Agriculture Department, Food and Drug administration and other assorted agencies' efforts to ensure the US food supply is safe.




If you haven't heard, Europe is in the midst of an outbreak of foodborne Escherichia (E.) coli bacteria that has sickened 3300 people and killed 39 in the last two months. The lesson of why you shouldnt gut the funding for food safety is staring us right in the face... at least those of us who keep aware of the news and goings on around the world. That could be where part of the problem is. Most Republican elected officials (starting with Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin) don't even know US history let alone current events in Europe. One wonders if they could even identify where Europe is on a globe.


More at above link
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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion
Sun May 08th 2011, 09:24 AM
False moral equivalencies, cries of extra-judicial killing, all of this and more has been the reaction to the killing of Osama bin Laden by a particular segment of the Progressive left.

To understand whether any of these accusations have merit, let’s completely outline the situation that existed and exists between the United States and bin Laden and his group, Al Qaeda.

In August of 1996, Osama bin Laden issued the first of two declarations of war against the United States. He issued a written religious edict, called a Fatwa that was unambiguously titled "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places." In this Fatwa, he called on all Muslims to join him in this war against America and Israel.

In February 1998, bin Laden issued a second Fatwa declaring war against the United States, it’s allies, and Israel. In this second declaration of war, bin Laden among other things said “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it”

On August 7, 1998, i.e., a few months after the second declaration of war, the group led by bin Laden, Al Qaeda, bombed the US Embassies in the capitals of Kenya and Tanzania. Through those bombings, along with the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and of course the September 11, 2001 attacks, bin Laden and Al Qaeda demonstrated the seriousness of the ideas and intentions expressed in those two declaration of war Fatwas.

Is it possible for an international law-recognized state of war to exist between a nation state and a non-nation state entity, or even two or more non-nation state entities? The answer is, “of course”, as an example, many civil wars fit this description.

My assertion is that according to applicable international law, a state of war existed and continues to exist between the United States and Al Qaeda and its affiliates. No cease fire or peace agreement has been signed between the US and Al Qaeda and acts of war continue between them.

International Law, as outlined in various United Nations documents and the Geneva Conventions has a number of things to say about terrorism, war and self defense.

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter says “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security….”

Al Qaeda is not a member of the United Nations and does not recognize the authority of the United Nations, its charter or its resolutions. Thus, the idea that the Security council can “take measures necessary to maintain international peace and security” in this situation via any kind of diplomatic actions or resolutions is moot, at least as things now stand.

On 12 September 2001, The UN Security Council adopted a resolution that condemned the September 11th terrorist attacks, expressed determination to combat terrorist acts by “all means”, re-affirmed the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, and expressed its readiness “to take all necessary steps” to respond to the terrorist attacks.

The September 11th attacks resulted in the US and UK as well as Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway joining together in Afghanistan to wage war against Al Qaeda and their Taliban supporters. Most of those countries are hardly the sort that would be involved in unnecessary wars or unprovoked wars of aggression. We can go beyond those countries who participated directly and say that virtually the entire international community supported the United States in their efforts to bring the perpetrators of 9/11 to justice.

Indeed, in response to the killing of bin Laden, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations said “Personally, I am very much relieved by the news that justice has been done to such a mastermind of international terrorism. I would like to commend the work and the determined and principled commitment of many people in the world who have been struggling to eradicate international terrorism.”

Linguistics Professor and political activist Noam Chomsky has compared and asked us to contrast the attack that killed bin Laden with a hypothetical attack by Iraqi commandos to kill George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. Chomsky suggests there is a moral equivalence between the two. Anti war activist and author David Swanson wrote an article that suggests that bin Laden was lynched.

As an aside, most Democrats were against the Iraq war, identified it as unnecessary and unprovoked, and we were proven correct. I have written several articles critical of the war and proving that the Bush administration knew several weeks before the war that their primary justification regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was not true. Here is one such article . Those facts make the Iraq war an unprovoked war of aggression and those who ordered it are guilty of that war crime.

The easiest response to Chomsky’s suggestion is that currently no state of war exists between Iraq and the United States. Not only that, the government of Iraq signed Status of Forces Agreements in 2008 and 2009 that governs how many US troops can be in Iraq and for how long. So Chomsky is comparing a killing that occurred between two entities that are at war and a hypothetical one between two entities that are not only no longer at war, they have good relations.

International law and most countries’ criminal law statutes take those kind of distinctions very seriously.

It would be quite an odd argument to claim that bin Laden should get the protection of a non-war status and those who killed him should be prosecuted for an extra-judicial killing after he himself declared war twice and since then has continuously waged war directly through the organization he led.

A helpful second example that illustrates the inaccuracy of the Chomsky and Swanson analogies is the April 18, 1943 killing of Japanese Commander in Chief Isoroku Yamamoto by the US Army Air Corps. Military intelligence learned that Yamamoto would be conducting an inspection of Japanese installations in the Solomon Islands and they learned the flight path his aircraft would be taking, and they had US Fighter aircraft ambush and shoot down the plane.

The ambushing of Yamamoto was not a crime and no one then or since has considered it so. In wartime, the commanders of combatants are legitimate and legal targets. It’s not considered an extra-judicial killing or lynching to attack combatants and their commanders in wartime.

A high percentage of those who self identify as Democrats and/or Progressives also self identify as anti-war, and I include myself in that. There is a difference, however, between protesting unjust wars and preferring non-violent solutions to conflicts whenever possible versus twisting facts and using false equivalencies to demonize actions because you want to try to assert that all acts of violence, particularly those by one country or entity (in this case the US), are evil.
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Posted by stevenleser in Ask the Administrators
Wed Mar 09th 2011, 05:09 PM
I've alerted on the below multiple times over two days:

Right wing memes (Anti-lawyers, anti career politician) -

Comparing President Obama to Nazis and Hitler -

Saying Obama is no different than McCain -


I think the rules violations on these three are pretty apparent. I'm wondering if something is changing because I have 160 or so of the folks who tend to write stuff like this on ignore. If I am still seeing these kinds of things, I'm guessing that a lot more OPs like this are out there that I am not seeing. Have we given up on the constructive criticism only idea? Is it possible that we've allowed a slow creep from constructive criticism to outright and scathing opposition?
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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion: Presidency
Thu Nov 04th 2010, 09:09 PM
Original Content at

November 4, 2010

By Steven Leser

By my calculations, the new Republican house is already proposing $220 Billion in additional spending and reduced revenue (aka $220 Billion increase to the budget deficit) on two items between now and election day in 2012 making it very difficult to get to their promise of cutting spending and cutting the deficit at the same time they intend to cut taxes and stimulate the economy. We will get into the specifics of that later in this article.

I want to get in what will be one of if not in fact the last of my commentarys on the Tea Party because if my analysis is right, they will not be around much longer. You see, the Tea Party has worn out their welcome in the Republican Party. The only slight measure of success of the Tea Party was to temporarily rebrand the Republican Party to the point where they could oppose some of Obama's initiatives. Had they stopped there and let the Republicans run their own candidates, election 2010 would have been an even bigger success for the GOP.

Instead, almost all of the big name Tea Party Senate candidates who were in competitive races lost their elections this past Tuesday including Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Ken Buck in Colorado, Joe Miller in Alaska. These candidates cost the GOP the senate. Had the GOP been able to run candidates that did not strike the electorate in these states as crazy radical wingnuts, the Republicans would have won those races and Mr. McConnell would be Senate Majority leader.

While some would argue that the Tea Party helped win the House of Representatives, that logic also doesnt work because Democratic Presidents and indeed most Presidents of either party typically have large losses in the mid term elections following their election to their first term. As this graphic by Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly illustrates, the chances are that the Republicans would have taken the House and by large numbers even without the Tea Party. Its something that just usually happens.

Typical Midterm election effect on House of Representatives by Steve Benen

That isn't the only failure of the Tea Party. The Tea Party also failed in one of the key reasons it was created and that is to oppose President Obama's initiatives like the stimulus and Health Care Reform. As we all know, both of those measures passed.

This failure is not lost on the powers that be in the Republican Party and the fact is that the folks at the two big Republican thinktanks, Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity, control all of the Tea Party's infrastructure and funding. All that has to happen is for the leadership of those two thinktanks to turn the funding key to 'off', shut down the websites that help organize the tea parties, and the Tea Party Express would come to a quick and wordless stop. That is what I predict will happen in the next few weeks. They are going to try to do it as quietly and innocuously as possible, but they are going to do it. The Republican Party has nothing left to gain from the Tea Party and everything to lose. The grass roots members of the Tea Party actually expect the Republicans to cut spending and close the budget deficit and the GOP has no intention of doing that.

As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, Republicans have announced they intend to push $220 Billion in additional spending and reduced revenue for the next two years over what is the current situation and plan. First, they intend to stop President Obama from bringing an end to the Afghanistan war in 2011. That war costs $80 Billion per year. I've been generous in my calculations and only charged the GOP congress who are pushing for the extension with the cost of the war in 2012 but truthfully, Obama plans to end the war in the summer of 2011 so we could add another $40 Billion to the increased expenditure for which the Republicans are advocating.

Second, the Republicans are pushing to make the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent. Those tax cuts cost $70 Billion per year. So, before anything else has happened, Republicans are advocating for an increase in the deficit for the time between now and election day in 2012 by $220 Billion dollars. Republicans would have to find that amount of cuts to take effect in the next two years just to offset what they are already proposing.

As I have said repeatedly in debates with my right wing friends over the last two years, Republicans have no credibility on Fiscal Responsibility. They have no credibility in the past and they clearly intend to go on having no credibility in the future. See these videos of me discussing the Tea Party in April of 2009 and November 1, 2010 where I make this and other points.

That isn't all, the Republicans have had two years on the sidelines to plan for what they would do if they got the likely chance to return to power in one or both houses of congress and with all of that time, they have no detailed proposals for what to do about the economy. They cannot articulate a single item in the budget to cut, not a single one. They squirm, spin and run from the question everytime they are asked. See these videos for prominent GOP members of congress asked about what they intend to cut:

Now, we have already heard that cuts of defense are off the table as far as Republicans are concerned. Before the election, the common theme you heard was that everything was on the table including defense because our budget was so out of control. After the election, we are hearing that defense cuts are verboten, so, what large items does that leave in the budget to cut? It leaves things like Medicare and Social Security. If Republicans are going to try to cut something, and I am not convinced that they are, they are going to try to cut Medicare and Social Security.

As much as I would like to see the Republicans commit political suicide by proposing broad cuts in Social Security and Medicare that would then be shot down in the Senate and White House, I don't really believe they are going to do that. Instead, Republicans are going to prove that they are the same old Republicans that existed before the modern incarnation of the Tea Party started making noise. They are going to propose tax cuts and then they will fail to followthrough with any kind of spending cuts to pay for those tax cuts further ballooning the deficit.

No one should be surprised, this is who the Republicans are, this is the Republicans' nature. We've all heard the parable of the scorpion and the frog. The scorpion asks the frog to swim across the river and carry the scorpion on its back. The frog replies that he is afraid the scorpion will sting him to which the scorpion promises he will not and asserts that it would be dumb to do since it would drown them both. Sure enough, the frog relents and half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog and on their way to sinking beneath the waves, the frog asks the scorpion why he did it and the scorpion says "It's my nature".

I have no idea why the voters of this country have to be periodically reminded of the Republicans' nature. We're going to get a lot of reminders of their nature in the next two years. The Republicans are reportedly going to be spending millions and perhaps billions of dollars investigating the Obama administration in the hopes of finding something with which to impeach him as I described here in this article Before the election Darryl Issa had already taken to calling himself the "questioner in chief."

Combine that with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's repeated assertion that his top priority is to make Obama a one term President and I wonder if Republicans remember that we still have a very serious situation with the economy and unemployment. You GOPers remember those things, right? Particularly since those are the reasons people did not reelect the Democrats, they were concerned about those things.

The fact is that the Republicans have no intention of following through on spending cuts and they have no intention of concentrating on the economy and jobs. The Republicans have three priorities, keeping the Afghan war going, hurting Obama with the intent of making him a one term President, and rewarding their wealthiest donors with tax cuts for the rich. We Democrats cannot let them behave this way without paying a massive price in the next elections. We've got to keep reminding people what they promised. We've got to keep reminding Republicans that they are now a part of the government and are responsible for helping come up with solutions. They are no longer outside agitators. They are there because they said Democrats weren't doing a good enough job. We've got to keep demanding that they outline their plans with complete details. It's time for Republicans and their Tea Party cronies (for as long as the Tea Party remains around) to put up or shut up.
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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion: Presidency
Mon Nov 01st 2010, 02:58 PM
The debate will be aired at 4:32pm, 8:32pm and 12:32am all Eastern time. It has already aired twice with a pretty good response.

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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion: Presidency
Tue Oct 05th 2010, 01:26 AM

October 5, 2010

By Steven Leser

Voters voting - Photo by F Delventhal* on Flicker

It became clear to me shortly after writing my last article (1) that among the many crazy ideas espoused by many of its Tea Party candidates, the Republicans have a special focus in mind if elected. Republicans have simmered in anger for over 40 years at the progress of the women's equal rights movement. Finally, now, in 2010, they feel comfortable enough to run on a broad spectrum of policies that are blatantly anti-women's rights.

My last article mentioned that:

"While we are accustomed to Republican candidates being against a woman's right to have an abortion, five high-profile Tea Party Republican SENATE candidates, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ken Buck of Colorado, Joe Miller of Alaska, Sharron Angle of Nevada, and Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, are even against a woman's right to have an abortion in the case of rape or incest! Women would have to have their rapists baby. Girls raped by an uncle or cousin or their fathers would have to give birth to a child from a resulting pregnancy."


There are a few updates to that. I also found out that the GOP's NY Governor hopeful, Carl Paladino, is also for outlawing abortion for women even in the case of rape and incest. The reason that is so important is that if somehow, Roe v. Wade were overturned, the states would have the right to allow or prohibit abortion. With Paladino at the helm, New York's women would have no right to an abortion in virtually any situation. To say that this is out of touch with the wishes of the women of New York is an understatement.

I also found out that several Republican candidates, Ken Buck running for Senate in Colorado among them, want to limit the contraceptive options available to women.

We already know from data that the reason that women do not get equal pay for equal work has to do with family issues and planning. Women tend to outperform their male colleagues in pay up to the time they start a family and then they fall behind. Women who opt to never have families go on earning more than their male colleagues.

If you add restrictions on abortion and contraception to that equation, you are going to push the progress of women's equality back to what it was in the 1950's. Women are going to be reduced to having no choice but to be stay at home mothers taking care of their families. There is nothing wrong with that role for women AND men who choose it, but to have it forced on anyone because of restricted family planning options is criminal.

From their rhetoric, it's also clear that Republicans are back to wanting to punish women for having sex outside of marriage and want to trap women into having children if they dare to have sex either inside or outside of marriage. They want to destroy women's ability to plan a family and thus plan a career around their family plans.

By now some of you probably think I am exaggerating. It isn't possible, some of you are thinking, that Republicans really want to punish women for pre-marital sex. You would be wrong. This is what North Carolina Senator Jim DeMint had to say on the subject:

"if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend -- she shouldn't be in the classroom." (2)


First I should mention that DeMint, who is a Tea Party favorite, also opposes a women's right to have an abortion in the case of rape or incest but let's take a look at something that immediately jumped out at me in DeMint's statement here. The unmarried woman is singled out as someone who shouldn't be allowed to teach, but DeMint said nothing about the man. The Republicans are back to considering unmarried women who have sex 'whores' but unmarried men who have sex are just fine and probably in the GOP world considered good old boy studs.

As batty crazy as they seem, DeMint, and Angle and Paladino and Buck are far from alone in the GOP in having these positions. Compared to some other Republicans, you could even consider them more moderate. Republicans like Daniel Webster who is running against incumbent Democrat Alan Grayson in Florida's 8th congressional district. Webster belongs to a religious institute that:

"seeks to impose stoning as a form of capital punishment for crimes including murder, adultery, "heresy," and "witchcraft." (3,4)


I thought Republicans were against Sharia law? They seem to bring it up a lot as a bad thing, particularly on the big Republican blogs like Free Republic. Now they want to bring a Christian version of Sharia to life in the US?

Bill Gothard, the head of this group Webster is a member of called "Institute For Basic Life Principles" says that "women must be "submissive" and "obedient" to their husbands." and "The man's wife and his children are to submit to his authority... A man is the lover and leader. (The wife's) role is to trust God to supply her needs through the leadership of her husband and to serve with him and fulfill his needs." (3,4)

Regarding Gothard, the St. Petersburg Times notes that Webster is " enthusiastic supporter. His six children learn at home, taught by his wife, Sandy, using the institute's curriculum. The family, which also is active in its Orlando Baptist church, has participated in numerous institute seminars over the years.

Now, we have all been down this road with crazy churches and pastors. I am willing to completely discount this issue with Webster if he comes out and says that while he likes some of what the church teaches, he disagrees with the role the church ascribes to women. I would accept it if he says that and so should everyone else in my humble opinion. The question is, will he say that? I don't think he will. I think this years crop of loony Republicans believes in things like what the "Institute for Basic Life Principles" teaches and they think they can get away with openly advocating them.

As I am accustomed to dealing with right wing talking points, I know that one of the counterpoints to this article will be that Republicans are running a fair amount of women's candidates this year. We're supposed to be impressed by that even though Democrats have been running women longer and have many more elected to the House and Senate. You don't get points for running candidates from a discriminated-against class if those candidates are advocates for continuing the discrimination. Candidates like Nevada's Sharon Angle and Delaware's O'Donnell are for all of the worst of the anti-women initiatives. This kind of thing is nothing new, slavery had overseers, the concentration camps had Kapos, South Africa had black policemen, etc. There are always traitors to a descriminated-against class seeking equality. So no, any GOPers reading this, that counter-argument will not work.

There is no question that the Republicans also plan to attack the poor, the middle class, Hispanics, Muslims and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered communities if elected and those attacks should not be minimized nor am I attempting to do so here. However, the Republicans/Tea Partiers have a special place in their hearts for the systematic dismemberment of all that has been done to try to ensure women have equal opportunities at a career and equal standing in the home and society. Republicans aren't even trying to hide that they intend to do this. If women do not want to lose everything they have achieved in the last 40-60 years, they need fight to ensure that as few Republicans win seats this year as possible.


(1) "2010 Election - A Democratic Momentum Shift Begins to Materialize", OpEdNews,

(2) "DeMint addresses conservative issues at Spartanburg church rally", Spartanburg Herald Journal,

(3) "Alan Grayson's GOP Opponent Directly Tied to Christian Group That Wants Permanent Subordination of Women", Alternet, /

(4) St. Petersburg Times, Feb 16, 1997

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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Aug 31st 2010, 12:34 PM

Pinellas County is my old stompin' grounds before moving to NYC. It is one of those crucial counties in Florida along what is called the I-4 corridor. Getting as many Dems elected in this corridor is crucial. If you can afford to give to any of the candidates or the Pinellas DEC, it would help out a lot!

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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Aug 31st 2010, 11:59 AM
Yes, they really said that. The stupid is coming in fast and furious over the last few days:

Ultra-conservative Christian mega business ministry Focus on the Family wants all these gay people to stop talking about child bullying, because they're pushing a secret agenda to turn America's kids into homosexuals, and that is not what Jesus intended.

The church's "education expert" Candi Cushman told The Denver Post that the gays have infiltrated the public discourse on bullying in America, and this just isn't fair to God-fearing Christians: "We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled." And while Cushman believes in bullying prevention, she says, "this issue is being hijacked by activists. They shouldn't be politicizing or sexualizing the issue of bully prevention."
Focus on the Family was founded in the 70's by Dr. James C. Dobson, who once offered these tips on raising a fine young American boy: Meanwhile, the boy's father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son's maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.
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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion: Presidency
Mon Aug 30th 2010, 01:07 AM
Original Content at
August 30, 2010

By Steven Leser

If you follow Republicans as closely and for as long as I have a number of things become apparent. The one that is the most important with regards to election 2010 is that once Republicans find a tactic that works, they stick with it until they are forced to abandon it. There are many examples of this. The election of Bill Clinton in 1992 was followed by a campaign to paint him and his major initiatives, including healthcare reform, as too liberal and out of touch with America. The Republicans reprised this "He's governing in a manner that is too Liberal" campaign against Obama. They will use it again against the next Democratic President elected no matter that President's policies. You can bet your remaining life's earnings on it.

Sometimes, Republicans get ideas from things Democrats have used against Republicans and then use them against Democrats regardless of whether these things apply. The Republicans took the frequent criticisms by Democrats of George W. Bush's inept speech-making and have tried to assert that Obama cannot make speeches without a teleprompter. Republicans, angered by the portrayal of the Tea Party as racist, tried to assert that USDA Director of Rural Development Shirley Sherrod was racist. We all saw how that worked out.

One of the things that to me seems clear is that if Republicans take back the House of Representatives in 2010, they will reuse what worked well to weaken the Clinton Presidency and prevent the election of Al Gore and that is that they will initiate impeachment proceedings against President Obama.

Republicans are not hiding the fact that they are gearing up for this. An August 27 article in Politico talks about how:

Republicans are planning a wave of committee investigations targeting the White House and Democratic allies if they win back the majority. Everything from the microscopic -- the New Black Panther party -- to the massive - think bailouts -- is on the GOP to-do list, according to a half-dozen Republican aides interviewed by POLITICO... And a handful of aggressive would-be committee chairmen -- led by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) -- are quietly gearing up for a possible season of subpoenas not seen since the Clinton wars of the late 1990s.

..."How acrimonious things get really depend on how willing the administration is in accepting our findings responding to our questions"


That last quote is from Kurt Bardella, spokesman for Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee. To the Politico reporters, Bardella "referred to his boss as "questioner-in-chief.'"

Tom Tancredo, the former Republican congressman from Colorado who is now running for Governor of Colorado as an independent but with much support from Republicans, is openly calling for impeachment of Obama. In an OpEd in the Washington Times, Tancredo said:

Obama's refusal to live up to his own oath of office which includes the duty to defend the United States against foreign invasion requires senators and representatives to live up to their oaths. Members of Congress must defend our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Today, that means bringing impeachment charges against Mr. Obama


While some mainstream Republicans attempted to distance themselves from Tancredo's remarks, the Republican blogosphere erupted with support for the effort. The base that Republicans need to support them are with them on impeachment.

After Clinton, The Impeachment Genie is Out of the Bottle

In one of my earliest introductions to impeachment in grade school, my teacher made the point that congress is loath to use the impeachment process because impeachment could be used (or misused, depending on your point of view) to usher in a new parliamentary system in the US. This is because the Constitutional rules regarding what constitutes grounds for impeachment are so vague that the argument could be made that it is completely up to congress what constitutes a justifiable reason to remove the President, to wit:

The Constitution, Article II, Section 4:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The Constitution, Article I, Section 3:
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.


In the wake of the changes Reagan ushered into the Republican party in general, the GOP has demonstrated a wanton disregard for the long term consequences of their actions. Congressional Republicans prior to Reagan, for instance, would never have misused impeachment as the late 1990's Republicans did.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the Clinton impeachment is that there is now judicial review, in the form of rulings by Chief Justice Rehnquist, that solidifies that not just the reasons for impeachment, but many aspects of the process as being up to the whims of congress. For instance, Rehnquist said that while the Chief Justice of the United States presides over impeachment, any of his ruling regarding what evidence could be allowed in or any other procedural matters can be overruled by the senate by a mere majority vote. The Chief Justice is, according to Rehnquist's rulings, a glorified meeting facilitator in the impeachment process, nothing more.

To be fair to Rehnquist, few to none of his pronouncements were materially different from Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase's handling of the 1868 impeachment and acquittal of President Andrew Johnson. However, Rehnquist's upholding of the Chase interpretation of impeachment put a modern stamp on the impotent role of the Chief Justice in impeachment. A recklessly led congress can now initiate impeachment for any reason and has no real procedural constraints. Thanks to the late 1990's Republican Party, the impeachment genie is truly out of the bottle.

How will Republicans attempt to justify impeachment?
After the Clinton impeachment, there is only one thing congress need concern itself with regard to impeachment and that is public opinion. Even that is only something that needs to be dealt with later, during election time. If those behind an impeachment can throw up a good enough smokescreen regarding their reasoning to fool enough people, as Republicans did with Clinton, even the risk of a public backlash is something that can be mitigated.

Republicans have three hopes for justifying the impeachment of President Obama. The first is the one discussed openly in the above discussed Politico article. If Republicans take the House, they will unleash an unprecedented wave of investigations into the administration. They hope that they can come up with something, no matter how small, that they can sell as an impeachable offense.

The second hope Republicans have is more subtly evinced by Kurt Bardella's quote "How acrimonious things get really depend on how willing the administration is in accepting our findings responding to our questions,". Bardella is clearly signaling to everyone that if at some point, the administration gets sick of the investigations and stops cooperating with them things will get ugly. What does that mean? Well, congress has only one real remedy for checking the power of the President beyond a veto override. It's clear Bardella is not discussing vetoes here. If the President attempts to use executive privilege or in any other way appears to not be participating fully, the Republicans will attempt to sell this as contempt of congress and obstruction of justice and initiate impeachment proceedings.

Lets say that the administration thwarts the Republicans in both of the two top things that the GOP hopes will allow them to sell an impeachment. How will Republicans proceed then? Tom Tancredo gave us the hint in his Washington Times Op-Ed. The GOP will use a mashup of policy decisions they disagree with and claim that Obama has violated his oath of office. They will talk about the "takeover" of General motors, the "refusal to secure the borders" the "Socialism" of healthcare and say that these actions justify impeachment.

It's important to note that Republicans do not intend to remove President Obama from office, at least not with impeachment. They know they have no chance to do that and it is not their goal. Their goal is to hurt the President politically to hamper his efforts to enact his policies, hurt his efforts to be re-elected and also hurt the chances of the next Democratic candidate for President. The Democratic Party leadership and candidates need to start asking the critical question of Republicans and their congressional candidates, "Is impeachment an option if you are elected?" I predict that if Democrats start asking the question, Republicans will not give them any straight answers. There will be no Pelosi-an "Impeachment is off the table" from Republicans.

Republican Neo-Fascism and Tunnel-Vision Concerning Hurting Obama
Beyond impeachment, people should be concerned about where the Republicans are positioning themselves and their base to take the country. The GOP and their Tea Party alter-ego have been whipping their base up against a religious minority (Muslims), against immigrants, they have encouraged their base to bring weapons to Democratic events they are protesting, Glenn Beck's recent "Rally for Honor" puts the exclamation point on how nationalistic the GOP/Tea Party has become. While Republicans seem to be enjoying their foray into neo-Fascism, they are notably lacking for any ideas on how to improve the economy or address any of the other problems of the nation.

This election should be about important issues like the economy and jobs. I understand how some Americans are frustrated by what they perceive to be a lack of progress on improving the economy. I know how the GOP has attempted to stoke fears about supposed Socialism and Muslims and immigration. You can disagree with the administration about policy direction concerning the economy and job creation. The thing everyone needs to understand is that the Republicans who hope to take congress do not care at all about any of these issues.

You cannot be preparing to spend the kind of time and money Republicans are preparing to spend on investigations and then also claim that the economy is your top priority. The Republicans top priority if they win back the House will be the same it has been since January 21, 2009 and that is to hurt President Obama. If that is your top priority, by all means, vote for Republicans in November. If it isn't, if you want people in office working on the most important issues of the day, voting Democratic is a much better choice.

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Posted by stevenleser in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Jul 20th 2010, 11:53 PM

July 20, 2010

By Steven Leser

GOP = Hoax Party

I missed the initial bruhaha caused when a video surfaced of Shirley Sherrod making apparent biased comments regarding aid for a white farmer. Sherrod was, at the time of the video's release, the Director of rural development in Georgia for the Department of the Interior. She was forced to resign shortly thereafter and suffered condemnations at the hands of the Obama administration and NAACP.

It turns out that the right wing agency that broke the story of the video released an edited version of the video. In the edited video, Sherrod is telling a story of, 20 years ago, giving a white farmer with less help than she could have. In the full video, she uses that story to make a point about how it made her realize that bias is wrong and that what she wants to be about, and has been about ever since, is helping all poor regardless of race.

This kind of falsification and alteration of evidence has become standard operating procedure for the GOP and those attempting to further Conservative efforts and policies.

We saw the same thing with a leaked video purporting to show Acorn workers assisting a pimp with prostitution efforts. The same producer of that video, James O'Keefe was apprehended in a Democratic Senator's office (Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana) tampering with her phone equipment. It turns out that what happened in the Acorn video was staged and manipulated. One can only imagine what Mr. O'Keefe intended to do with Senator Landrieu's phone equipment. I'm guessing that Mr. O'Keefe intended to tap her phone and release incriminating conversations and if no incriminating conversations were heard, he would edit them to make them seem incriminating.

There is an interesting connection here. The same website that featured James O'Keefe's manipulated Acorn video is the one that released the edited video of Shirley Sherrod.

The website, is owned by Andrew Breitbart. Mr. Breitbart has issued vigorous denials when asked whether he knew the Sherrod video was edited and also when asked whether he knew Mr. O'Keefe was going to trespass and tamper with the equipment in Senator Landrieu's office. Is it possible Mr. Breitbart is telling the truth? Maybe, I doubt it but it is possible. It still means that his publishing and fact-checking standards are in the toilet and that no one should believe anything he puts out ever again.

There are more examples of this. A few months ago, hacked emails of climate scientists in London magically appeared in the hands of right wing operatives who provided them to their friends in conservative media. Those tens of thousands of emails purported to have 6-10 excerpted statements that showed issues with the theory of Global warming and intend to hide data. No less than five separate independent investigations have taken place and the investigations concluded that the statements were misinterpreted, taken out of context, the scientists did nothing wrong and there is no effect on the theories concerning anthropogenic global warming.

For some reason, I haven't seen a lot of coverage of the ClimateGate investigation results in the Mainstream Media. There were articles in the Huffington Post and San Francisco Chronicle that indicate that the scientists were vindicated but little to no TV coverage in the US.

Republicans and their Tea Party alter ego count on the fact that the accusations are exciting but the corrections, retractions and amplifications are less so. Why would anyone support a party that does things like this? Even if you agree in principle with some of the things for which the GOP stands like lower taxes, small government, etc. Why would you lower yourself to support them or their candidates? Why would you go anywhere near people or a party that has happily embraced the three things I outlined above? Supporting the Republicans (or their nom du jour, Tea Partiers) means that you support lying and forged and manipulated data and information. If you are in favor of lower taxes and small government but are in favor of personal freedoms, you could opt for the Libertarian Party. If you are for small government and religious conservatism, the Constitutionalist Party is out there for you.

The point is that there are alternatives for your views if you don't want to support liars and forgers.

The rest of us have to do a better job of expecting this and when I say "The rest of us" I am including my friends in the NAACP (they've already issued a mea-culpa and seem to get it) and Obama administration. When hit pieces get released that contain ugly accusations at prominent Democrats, we've got to allow some time to investigate them before passing judgment and issuing condemnations. We know the Republican Modus Operandi now and need to treat anything remotely like these things as highly suspect.


San Francisco Chronicle article on ClimateGate investigations exonorating the scientists and the theories of global warming

Acorn Fake Pimp connection to Landrieu break in article in Newsweek

California Department of Justice news release on Acorn Fake Pimp video saying the tape was edited and does not show what Republicans tried to show in the edited version and, in the words of the California Attorney General "The evidence illustrates... that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor."

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