LA-SEN: Vitter not just a criminal but a birther, too

We already knew David Vitter doesn’t know when to close his zipper. Apparently he doesn’t know when to close his mouth, either.

Vitter told the New Orleans Tea Party yesterday that he supports birther lawsuits against the President of the United States, and it’s caught on video:

This comes on the heels of last month’s news that Vitter has knowingly employed a woman-beater as his legislative aide for women’s issues for two years, until the news was made public just a few weeks ago. Brent Furer pled guilty in 2008 to stabbing his girlfriend with a knife and had an active arrest warrant for drunk driving – his fourth. Vitter knew all of this but didn’t care. In other words, Furer was a violent, wanted criminal but Senator Vitter looked the other way and kept paying him with your tax dollars.

In the above clip, Vitter said “We need to fight the Obama agenda at the ballot box, starting this fall.” The Obama agenda includes following the law which, of course, is not a part of the Vitter agenda. As we learned in 2007, the “family values” candidate Vitter has a taste for cheating on his family by hiring illegal prostitutes and making them wear diapers.

Rep. Charlie Melancon is the Democratic nominee against Vitter this fall.

Lugar rips Romney over nuclear weapons

As you may have heard by now, Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post this week about the New START treaty rivaling only Sarah Palin for sheer incompetence. Fred Kaplan, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the US-Soviet arms race, called it “shabby, misleading and—let's not mince words—thoroughly ignorant.” I highly recommend Kaplan’s article at Slate, which points out the factual flaws in nearly every single line of the piece.

What’s particularly remarkable, however, is that it’s not just experts like Kaplan taking on Romney – it’s his own party. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote an equally devastating critique not as an op-ed or blog post but as an unsolicited 782-word statement from his own office. "Governor Mitt Romney's hyperbolic attack on the New START Treaty in the July 6 edition of The Washington Post repeats discredited objections and appears unaware of arms control history and context." The full statement is below the jump.

Lugar and Kaplan both point out many of the same errors in Romney’s screed. Romney is deeply offended by a non-binding preamble that will have no affect on policy whatsoever, claims that Russia will control our arms while ignoring that the provisions in question cut both ways, screams bloody murder that we are now unable to harm our own national security by converting ICBM silos to defense against our military’s wishes, claims Russia will harm us by exploiting a loophole with weapons they don’t actually have, and says another loophole will allow Russia to hide missiles on bombers even though a) we have more bombers and b) as Kaplan points out, they’re “bombers,” not “missilers.”

I would also point out that Ronald Reagan said on multiple occasions that we need to reduce our nuclear stockpile with the ultimate goal of its elimination. The man who conservatives like to pretend single-handedly won the Cold War. This is one time when they should actually listen to him on national security.

There's more...

Oil Spill Tracker

If you haven't seen this before, it's a pretty cool widget from the PBS NewsHour. It also comes in a version with the six live video feeds:

The good news is that BP, not that they can be trusted to tell us this kind of information but whatever, is now hoping to have the spill contained as early as the day after tomorrow (Monday) and relieved within two weeks. They've been ahead of schedule thanks to sheer luck so far, but are now intentionally speeding things up and multi-tasking - perhaps dangerously so - to take advantage of a short window of good weather.

In other BP-related news, Repub Senate candidate Rand Paul continues to be an uninformed apologist for BP.

Paul said Thursday that BP should pay for the Gulf cleanup, but that [the] Obama administration's sharp rhetoric could help imperil the company.

"I don't want them to go out of business when they can't pay for the mess, and that's what that kind of rhetoric could do," he said. "I want BP to be in business so it can afford to pay for the mess."

BP said this week it has spent $3.12 billion so far in response to the spill, including attempting to contain oil, paying claims and reimbursing the U.S. and local governments. By comparison, BP posted $17 billion in profit from its vast operations around the globe last year....

[Democrat Jack Conway, that state's attorney general, said,] "Accountability is not going on national TV and saying that it's un-American to go after British Petroleum. Accountability is not having a world view where you think the government basically should never touch business whatsoever."

Help Conway out at ActBlue.

Ask Bud Selig to move the 2011 All Star Game

My initial reaction to the Arizona boycott was to roll my eyes. Harming the state's economy will punish the state's low-wage service workers, not its legislators. And since many of those folks probably don't vote anyway, a boycott does lots of harm with little good. But, when there's a chance to prevent something big and new from coming to town rather than harming the existing workers, that's not a bad idea, especially if that new thing is social rather than political. This diary from Restore Fairness alerted me to the fact that preventing next year's MLB All Star Game from coming to Phoenix isn't a pipe-dream after all:

A few weeks ago, New York Rep. Jose Serrano sent a letter to [MLB Commissioner] Bud Selig urging him to move the All-Star game from Arizona and to take an official stand against the law that many players feel is an affront to civil liberties and to the spirit of baseball, but got no response. Opponents of SB1070 and civil rights groups that are mobilizing support to ‘move the game’ held a protest outside the headquarters of MLB earlier today.

Congresspersons? Major protests? This just might work.

There are two ways you can contact Commissioner Selig's office. The first is to use the online form at MLB's website, but that requires you to use less than 500 characters - not even five whole Tweets. So I mailed him an old-fashioned letter with a stamp this morning. Here's what I said:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167

Dear Commissioner Selig,

My name is Nathan Empsall, and I currently reside in northern Idaho. I may soon move to the East Coast. If I do, I will attend at least half a dozen games at Nationals Stadium per year with trips north to Fenway. If I remain in Idaho, the occasional quick trip to Seattle for Mariners games is likely. I also plan to continue renewing my dues-paying membership in Red Sox Nation each year.

That is, unless MLB moves ahead as planned with next year’s All Star Game in Phoenix, Arizona. My grandparents live near Phoenix and the gorgeous state is dear to my heart, but its legislature’s and Governor’s current bout of racial intolerance is unacceptable. Please stand up for your hundreds of minority players and let Governor Brewer know that if Arizona does not repeal its unconstitutional immigration law, you will move the game to another state. If you do not, MLB will not get a dime of my money until the law is repealed.

Thank you, Mr. Commissioner.

Sincerely,
Nathan Empsall

P.S. I wouldn’t mind a repeal of the DH rule either, but I can be reasonable.

Idaho Republicans hate the word “fiesta,” demand repeal of the 17th Amendment, and require loyalty oath

Even when ID-01 is in Democratic hands, Repubs still know how to steal the show. Two inane stories the past couple weeks. First, at their state convention, the party voted to enshrine repealing the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators) into their party platform, as well as demand that all Repub candidates sign a party loyalty oath. Second, the Bonner County Republican Party is outraged, OUTRAGED! that their county’s fair has chosen “Fiesta” as this year’s theme. This is America and we speak American, gulldarnit!

Let’s think about that party platform for a second: signing a loyalty oath to support repeal of the 17th Amendment. That means that if you’re pro-life, think Obama is a socialist, want to get rid of social security and the income tax, and can’t wait to drill baby drill but also think that people should have their right to elect their own representatives, then you are not right-wing enough for the Idaho Repub Party. By the way, that 17th Amendment? It was originally co-sponsored and introduced by an Idaho Republican in 1911, Senator William Borah.

From the Idaho Democratic Party:

It is now clear that the "new" Idaho Republican Party is interested not in governing but in ruling our state and its people...

Some of these extremist proposals included disbanding all Idaho public schools, creating a state militia, forbidding closure of poorly run publicly-funded charter schools that are drowning in red ink, and rejecting school-based vaccination clinics (vaccinations were called "unnecessary drugging of our children").

"The Idaho Democratic Party welcomes all well-intentioned voters to join us in finding solutions to the problems this state now faces. We embrace a wide range of views and voters. At the same time, the Idaho Republican Party is quickly moving to the extreme right, far away from its traditional, moderate center," stated [Democratic Chairman Keith] Roark.

To Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID)’s credit, he refuses to sign the loyalty oath.

But that’s not even half as crazy as one of the county parties. Just north of my home in Kootenai County, Repubs are furious that a Spanish word - "fiesta" - was chosen (way back in January) as the theme for this year’s Bonner County Fair. In protest, they have declared that the theme of their booth will be "celebrate," and they have written to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to ask if she has any Arizona license plates she could spare for them to decorate their booth.

The Twin Falls Times-News titled their responding editorial, “A bigot is a bigot, in any language” and said that Repubs should “avoid insulting 10 percent of your political constituency.” But my favorite line from this whole affair comes from Fair Board Chairman Tim Cary, who asked of the food court, "Are we supposed to change the name of a burrito to something in English?"

Small wonder that CQ just upgraded ID-01, once the national Repubs’ top target, from "toss-up" to 'leans Dem."

Update 3:49 EDT: Per Boise Weekly, the Bonner County Democrats have responded to the fiesta flap. Chairwoman Laura Bry says they will have donkey piñatas at their booth.

I should also point out that Sarah Palin was born in Bonner County.

Angle joins long list of BP-defending Republicans

Nevada Repub Senate nominee Sharron Angle agreed with Joe Barton on a call-in radio show yesterday, echoing his claim that its escrow fund for spill victims is a government “slush fund.”

A caller said that Obama had "basically extorted $20 billion from a private company," and asked Angle what she thought of "the $20 billion slush fund."

"Government shouldn't be doing that to a private company," Angle replied. "And I think you named it clearly: It's a slush fund… They're actually using this crisis if you will, because they never waste one -- Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals -- they are using this crisis now to get in cap and trade, and every crime and penalty, and slush fund.”

Angle tried to clarify herself today, claiming that her actual position on the issue is the complete opposite of yesterday’s remarks. She’s been doing a lot of that lately. She just doesn’t get that voters can sense authenticity. A candidate who makes a gaffe can pull a 30 or even a 45, but they can’t pull a 180. This flap isn’t going to end well for Angle.

And yet boy does she ever have friends. Let’s review which Republicans have claimed either that BP shouldn’t have to set up a fund for its victims or shouldn’t pay for the Gulf clean-up:

Yup. This is definitely turning into a party philosophy and mindset.

Bring back the White House solar panels

A major symbolic setback for the clean energy movement occured when Ronald Reagan took solar panels off the White House. 350.org is launching a petition to put them back on. Sign it here. This would be a good parenter for Michelle Obama's healthy garden, and perhaps will set an example for other folks to follow. If nothing else, it'll at least reduce one building's reliance on fossil fuels.

On 10/10/10, thousands of communities will join together to celebrate climate solutions. All over the world, we’ll be putting up solar panels, installing wind turbines, digging community gardens, and more.

Will you join us? Install solar panels on the roof of the White House, and then get behind policies that make it possible for everyone in the United States to join you in the clean energy future. We need you to act symbolically—and then we need you to act for real.

Southern Baptists join progressives on comprehensive immigration reform

Charles wrote the other day that the Tea Party and Religious Right are merging, citing the Family Research Council’s endorsement of and prayers for TP principals. That’s true as far as it goes, but I think the full picture of evangelical politics is broader than that. A few months ago, I highlighted that, like many other evangelical groups, the Christian Coalition – the group started by Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed – had endorsed Lindsey Graham’s efforts to work with John Kerry on climate legislation. Now it’s the Southern Baptists supporting the White House on immigration.

A recent Politico headline said “GOP warned on immigration” and talked about a possible shift among evangelicals who really do support the “compassion” Bush pretended to stand for. We’re not talking about the progressive American or black National Baptists, but the fundamentalist Southern Baptists. The equally conservative National Association of Evangelicals, which fired policy guru Rich Cizik for supporting civil unions, is also inching to the left on this issue. Here’s the Baptist Press on the Rev. Richard Land, who has headed the Southern Baptist Convention’s official public policy wing since 1988:

"There are some things that require presidential leadership, and the immigration issue is one of them," said Land, who attended [President Obama’s] July 1 speech at American University in Washington, D.C. "This speech by the president, in and of itself, will not solve the immigration crisis, but this speech was a necessary prerequisite to bringing about a fair and just solution to the immigration crisis that is rending the social fabric of our nation.

"In any marriage, you have to first have an initial proposal," he said. "The president proposed this morning. It's up to the Congress to now accept that proposal or to construct its own proposal and to bring forth a bill that will consummate the marriage. We need to call upon our congressmen and senators to behave like statesmen. Politicians think about the next election; statesmen think about the next generation."…

In 2006, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on immigration that urged increased border security, enforcement of the laws, and judicious and realistic dealings with illegal immigrants, while encouraging Christian outreach to immigrants regardless of their legal status…

Other evangelical leaders attending who support comprehensive reform were Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council.

And what exactly does “realistic dealings with illegal immigrants” mean? Land told NPR last month, “The vast majority of these people are law abiding citizens once they've gotten here. They've worked hard. It's not realistic that we're going to round them up and send them home… I think that we need to have a pathway, an earned pathway to legal status or citizenship, whichever they prefer.”

There will always be “libertarian” folks in the woods who have their God and have their Gun and want to be left alone. There will also always be authoritarian-minded families in the suburbs who just want to be told what to believe because that’s easier. These folks, however, may make up the backbone of the Tea Party, but they are no longer representative of white evangelical voters in this country. The younger generation is splitting from the old guard, as happens every few decades in evangelical politics. True, the Politico article cites a poll showing most evangelicals don't necessarily agree with Land, but it was also less than two years ago that a PBS-commissioned GQR poll found a majority of self-identified evangelicals under 30 support either gay marriage or civil unions. This is no longer a movement, I don’t think, that can be painted with one broad brush.

Montana Repubs attack firefighters - again

Just saw on MSNBC that Rep. Danny Rehberg is attacking Montana forest firefighters for burning trees on his property. The sub for Ratigan rightly criticized Rehberg's greed and praised heroic firefighters, but didn't point out that this is par the course for Montana Repubs. Then-Senator Conrad Burns called firefighters lazy in 2006 - and lost to Jon Tester, giving Dems control of the Senate. From Butte's KXLF:

The lawsuit filed last Friday contends property and equipment was damaged at Rehberg Ranch Estates because the fire department breached its duty during a wildfire. The July 2008 fire burned more than 1,100 acres in the subdivision just north of the Billings Rimrocks.

Monday Democratic Congressional nominee Dennis McDonald said Rehberg's lawsuit will have a chilling effect on fire departments and volunteer firefighters. 

"As a volunteer firefighter in Melville, I don't want to have to worry about being sued, when I'm asked to help fight a fire," said McDonald. "The Billings Fire Department and the heroes who work there should not have to worry about the Rehbergs suing them while they are putting everything they have into doing what's right," McDonald said in a campaign press release.

McDonald says Rehberg's lawsuit is reminiscent of former Senator Conrad Burns' outburst when he called firefighters lazy during the 2006 summer wildfire season.  Burns later apologized for his remarks... 

"Congressman Rehberg, who has a net worth of $63 million, is now after the citizens of Billings for another million dollars," said McDonald. McDonald says he believes the firefighters who worked the Rehberg ranch fire two years ago deserve a "thank you" not a Rehberg lawsuit.

McDonald is one of the candidates on the online ballot for Democracy For America's next round of Grassroots All-Stars. I voted for him yesterday, along with Tom White and Anne McLane Kuster, before seeing this story. I sure don't regret that vote today.

Governor Good Hair is also Governor Lazy

Bill White, the Democrat with a decent chance to become Governor of Texas, has been hitting incumbent Rick Perry hard the last few days for not working very much. A recent campaign press release said stat records show "Part-Time Perry" look 15 long weekends last year. That's followed up by this video, talking to normal Texans about records showing Perry works just 7 hours a week:

What scares me about this is that if Perry was able to cause this much damage to the state in just 7 hours a week, how bad would things have been had he worked a full 40? I guess he needs the extra 33 to maintain that perfect hair helmet, though, so that's fair.

You can donate to White, who was tied with Perry 43-43 in the latest poll, at the Going On Offense ActBlue page.

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