Robertson says Haiti got what it deserved. Rush thinks we shouldn't be helping save lives. Never mind politics, these guys are repulsive.
Sure, it was predictable that the right’s most venomous voices would find a way to turn America’s desire to help Haiti into something dark. But you’d think these guys would at least wait a day before starting to spew their bile. Nope.
Pat Robertson has declared that Haiti brought the destruction on itself by, well, asking the devil to free them from the barbarism of Europe’s slave-based economy. Video over at Media Matters, but here’s the relevant quote:
And you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heal of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal.
And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.
That speaks for itself, but as columnist David Sirota Tweeted, Robertson can only be considered a sociopath at this point.
Rush Limbaugh’s not far behind. He actually managed to get on air and argue against the U.S. sending aid. “We’ve already donated to Haiti,” he crowed. “It’s called the U.S. income tax.” That was just one remark in a train of nonsense he spat out in his radio show today, including arguing that President Obama has only responded to this catastrophe because it will build his “credibility” in “the black community -- both the light skinned and dark skinned black community.” Oh Rush, you’re just so funny and witty. That’s a knee-slapper. Literally uncounted thousands are dead and this jackass thinks it’s a chance to make race jokes. To enrich himself. Disgusting, and every company that does business with him ought to be ashamed of itself today.
On a positive note, here’s a couple of great places you can donate: Partners in Health has been providing emergency medical services in Haiti since 1987. They’ve got clinics in Port au Prince and cities around the country and an established staff of care providers. Also Doctors Without Borders, which has set up an emergency response team for Haiti to which you can donate directly.
UPDATE: Here's what White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had to say about Limbaugh yesterday.
The thousands of Haitians who fell victim to the recent earthquake just might be wearing your shirt. What does that say about the island's future?
When news broke last night that a 7.0 magnitude earthquake has killed thousands and leveled Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I immediately thought of the things we take for granted in America—building codes, for example. I also thought of a photo essay I once edited about Haiti's long tradition of recycling and retailoring clothes from wealthy nations into modern couture. The essay's creators subsequently made a film, Secondhand(Pepe):
You might find it odd that children in Uganda or in Thailand or in Port-au-Prince are running around in shirts that say the New England Patriots actually won Super Bowl XLII—but enormous multinational charitable organizations are devoted to selling these castoff clothes, in bulk, to needy people around the world. In 2002, the declared value of these exports was $59.3 million.
The Root documented this controversial reality in a story titled "Dead White People's Clothes." And yes—that's what they are, in a way; another name for Haitian pepe is "Kennedy," after the American president who shipped aid and clothing to Haiti in the 1960s. But I think the fashion tells a larger story: about the limits of charity; the interplay of art and commerce; a dark and bright side of globalization. The making of "Kennedy" also underscores that, living for decades at the back end of capitalist production, Haitians have proven as resilient and creative as they were at their founding.
In the wake of this disaster, one hopes that that tradition continues.
Young, black up-and-comer Harold Ford, Jr. has been out of the political game for four years. Will a 2010 bid for the New York Senate bring his mojo back?
Continuing the conversation on the race for 2010, here is a surprising development that wouldn’t change the Senate math for Democrats, but could start quite a fight:
Encouraged by a group of influential New York Democrats, Harold Ford Jr., the former congressman from Tennessee, is weighing a bid to unseat Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in this fall’s Democratic primary, according to three people who have spoken with him.
Mr. Ford, 39, who moved to New York three years ago, has told friends that he will decide whether to run in the next 45 days. The discussions between Mr. Ford and top Democratic donors reflect the dissatisfaction of some prominent party members with Ms. Gillibrand, who has yet to win over key constituencies, especially in New York City.
About a dozen high-profile Democrats have expressed interest in backing a candidacy by Mr. Ford, including the financier Steven Rattner, who, along with his wife, Maureen White, has been among the country’s most prolific Democratic fund-raisers.
While she has done little of note in her first year in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s former seat, Gillibrand is by all accounts a capable lawmaker, winning the respect of her colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations, Judiciary and Environment and Public Works Committees. She makes a credible pairing with influential senator (and potential future majority leader) Chuck Schumer, also of New York. But she took office under less-than-ideal circumstances—after once-favored Caroline Kennedy’s flameout, and amid uncharitable comparisons with her similarly blonde but far more qualified predecessor.
If elected, Ford, himself the son of a longtime congressman from Tennessee, would replace retiring senator Roland Burris as the only black member of the upper chamber of Congress. Ford, however, has been out of the political game for a few years now—recall that the last election he won was for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2004. Though he was the victim of some unseemly race-baiting in his bid for a Tennessee Senate seat in 2006, he has since been a bit of a dilettante—alternately, a Fox News commentator, the head of the hyper-centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and a vice president at Merrill Lynch. These are hardly the most populist of credentials. Nevertheless, a group of powerful Manhattanites—and a few in Albany—appear to be casting their lot with Ford.
Ford will certainly benefit from name recognition—and the special reverence bestowed upon upstanding black men running for elected office. But will New Yorkers tolerate the obvious carpet-bagging? Ironically, Gillibrand’s predecessor proved that it's possible, winning millions of New York voters with a “listening tour” over the course of 2000. And Bill Clinton counts Rattner as a friend, and himself rode to power with the backing of the DLC. Maybe, with their powers combined, Ford can pull off the same trick.
A Connecticut senator is doing what's best for America and his party. Hint: It's not Joe Lieberman.
A Connecticut senator is doing what's best for America and his party. And it's not Joe Lieberman. Chris Dodd, a five-term senator from Connecticut, will not stand for reelection this November. Chris Cilizza at The Fix has the scoop:
Dodd's retirement comes roughly two years after his presidential ambitions came to an end in the Iowa caucuses. Dodd, always a longshot in a field filled with better known and better financed candidates, had moved his family to the Hawkeye State in the fall of 2007 in hopes of generating some excitement for his bid. The move backfired on the Democratic incumbent as many Connecticut voters bristled.
Dodd's political problems were further compounded later in 2008 when it was reported that he had been included in a special VIP mortgage loan program by Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Dodd insisted he was unaware of his inclusion and he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Senate Ethics Committee but the political damage was done.
Once among the safest of incumbents, Dodd's numbers plummeted in the spring of 2009 before rebounding somewhat over the summer. But, a Quinnipiac University poll conducted late last year showed significant slippage for Dodd and led to widespread speculation that he had to vacate the seat for his party to have a chance at retaining it in the upcoming midterm elections.
The news of Dodd's retirement came on the heels of an announcement that longtime Democratic senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota will not run for reelection, either. Dorgan's throwing in the towel is the bigger blow to the Democratic party. Connecticut's Democratic attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, will run and likely keep Dodd's seat blue, but North Dakota is a cherry-red state that will be difficult to win without the power of incumbency Dorgan enjoyed for three terms. Both retirements, however, offer great hope to those Americans tired of the game-playing that pervades the U.S. Congress, particularly the Senate.
Rather than being "lame ducks", as Sarah Palin mysteriously claimed when leaving the governorship of Alaska in July, I've long been of the mind that retiring lawmakers are the most useful to the general public good. Dodd deserves credit for being enormously so even before Tuesday's bombshell announcement. In the year since his presidential bid flamed out, he has led the Democratic passage of health care reform, financial regulatory reform, consumer protection legislation, and administration of the $700 billion TARP bailout program. In 2010, I'm genuinely confident that a newly freewheeling Dodd could lead on immigration reform (Dodd is a fluent Spanish speaker who spent a Peace Corps tour in Costa Rica), and smart management of the drawdown in Iraq and the surge in Afghanistan from his post on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And while replacing old, white men with slightly younger, white men isn't that satisfying, any Congressional turnover is generally a good thing.
It should be mentioned that Democrats have no need to panic--more Republicans than Democrats are retiring this year, and they are still likely to keep a majority in both houses. As for other at-risk Democratic senators--Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Harry Reid--here's hoping that they can look beyond what's a precarious situation for them and see the bigger picture--a precarious situation for the country, and do the right thing on the various pieces of contentious legislation coming down the pipe in 2010.
In the end, we fall back on the American knee-jerk instinct. Categorize and cauterize.
Is the Obama administration about to open a third front in Yemen? A visit by Gen. Petraeus to Sana’a this week was a strong sign that the military option is fast becoming the first reaction to a terrorist event. We’re still in Iraq; we’re escalating in Afghanistan; and we’re already crossing the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan in a pursuit of terrorists with a strategy that increasingly looks like a game of whack-a-mole. If the next terror attempt comes from one of the 14 newly-dangerous countries now on the special watch list, will we be dispatching troops, or at least drones, since we like to do things by remote control and keep our casualty rate down? It is hardly comforting that the pundits assure us that ground troops are not needed "for now.”
An anti-terrorism policy that lacks a political component is a dead end. But even Obama’s brilliant speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony didn’t quite paper over the gap between his initial rhetoric and the combative strategy he has embraced. And invoking World War II surely didn’t address the litany of failed imperial interventions in Afghanistan that stretches back to Great Britain in the 1920s through the Soviets in the 1970s.
While many Americans have joined our allies in becoming disappointed with President Obama, we can assume that those on the fence, including many moderate Muslims who hoped to see a real change in U.S. policy, are downright disillusioned. We’re backing off closing Guantanamo. We’re in another Muslim country and debating intruding on yet another. At this point in time, there is little reason for them expect real change in U.S. policy in the Middle East. True, we’re no longer torturing captives for information. But the ambitious plans to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict --a very real cause of rage used by both the Islamic radicals and oppressive governments --has disappeared from Obama’s priority list in a flurry of contradictory statements and retrenchments.
At the same time we keep redefining who we’re fighting. A a decade ago, the theory was that suicide bombers were disillusioned, uneducated young men with no future. Now they’re the sons of wealthy Nigerian entrepreneurs and the graduates of prestigious British universities. In the end, we fall back on the American knee-jerk instinct. Categorize and cauterize. After 9/11, it was young Muslim men of Arab descent; some U.S. citizens joked that they were victims of FWM (Flying While Muslim), repeatedly pulled out of line for the so-called random checks that yielded no box cutters and no shoe bombs. Now it will be Cubans and Syrians and Algerians and Nigerians and Somalis.
There is no wall tall enough, no barrier perfect enough, to guarantee us perfect safety. Chances are that a competent terrorist will get through one day, no matter how well we learn to “connect the dots.” Then we’ll go chasing after another mole with our sizeable mallet. Until we develop a policy that wins hearts and minds in the Middle East and in the broader Muslim world the Abdulmullatabs will continue to bloom --and not just from those 14 countries on the watch list.