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“Hot GOP Source”: Tabloids Become Reputable When They Provide An Opportunity To Link A Mass Murderer To Islam

There’s a hot new meme blowing up on the conservative blogosphere: James Holmes, the alleged Aurora, Colo., theater shooter, has become a devout Muslim. But where did it come from?

The Washington Times wrote a short report, which was quickly picked up by Fox Nation, conservative blogs and, naturally, the trifecta of the Islamophobic blogosphere: Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, and David Horowitz’ Front Page.

“There are enough Muslims engaging in mass killings. Having a non-Muslim mass killer convert is like shipping coals to Newcastle or murderers to Islam,” Front Page’s Daniel Greenfield quipped. “Actually, if Holmes’ conversion was initiated post-massacre, it does lend to the canard that violence in Islam is perpetrated only by the extreme, misguided,” Jihad Watch tweeted.

All of the posts are based on the Washington Times report, which is in turn based on a report from the Daily Mail, the irreverent and often erroneous British tabloid.

The Daily Mail’s sourcing? An even more disreputable outfit: One unnamed “prison source” quoted by the National Enquirer. The Enquirer hasn’t posted its story online, but here’s the Daily Mail writeup:

The source said Holmes has turned to Islam as a way of justifying his horrific murder spree… “He has brainwashed himself into believing he was on his own personal jihad and that his victims were infidels,” a prison source told the National Enquirer. He now prays five times a day, sticks to a strict Muslim diet and spends hours each day studying the Qur’an, the source said. But his new routine has upset Muslim inmates.

There’s also the new thick beard Holmes recently started sporting in court — “a symbol of his new-found faith,” according to the Daily Mail. (We didn’t realize one could brainwash themselves.)

Now, it’s entirely possible that Holmes has converted to Islam, and even that he brainwashed himself into ex-post-facto justifying his killing with Islam or anything else as Holmes is severely disturbed, by all accounts, and could delude himself into thinking anything.

But does that say anything about Islam? Of course not. It says something about mental illness. If Holmes suddenly became a devout Pentecostal or Hindu in prison, would these bloggers be connecting the religion to the shooting in the way they are doing now?

It’s also funny to see conservative blogs suddenly cite the National Enquirer as a reputable source when the tabloid publishes something that conforms to a narrative they’re seeking to push. While the tabloid has broken news that the mainstream media missed in the past (thanks to their willingness to pay sources), and the Washington Times has been kind to them, the right bashed the rag for its series of scandalous Mitt Romney “scoops” during the election. Oh, and did we mention that it’s the National Enquirer?

It’s only a matter of time before Michele Bachmann or Louie Gohmert pick up the tabloid baton and carry it across the finish line on the floor of Congress and into the Congressional Record, where it will live forever.


By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, March 21, 2013

March 22, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Birther Hypocrisy”: Right Wing Has No Problem With Canadian Born Senator Ted Cruz Running For President

A great moment in the annals of birtherism took place last week at CPAC….and nobody much appeared to notice.

Shortly after Sarah Palin finished cooing over the introduction she had received from Senator Ted Cruz—during which the half-term governor reminded us that we need more people like the Texas Senator in Washington—Palin turned her attention to President Obama’s support for background checks for those who wish to purchase a gun.

“More background checks?” Palin asked. “Dandy idea, Mr. President -should’ve started with yours.”

While Palin’s return to birtherism accomplished the intended laugh from the appreciative crowd, there was someone in the room who was likely not laughing.

That would be Senator Ted Cruz—the man who so glowingly introduced Ms. Palin and a man who clearly views himself as being on a populist track to the White House. He’s not alone in that regard as four percent of the votes registered in the CPAC straw poll were cast in support of Mr. Cruz, the man often referred to as the Republican Barack Obama.

Ironically, there can be little doubt that among those who expressed their support for a Cruz presidency at CPAC were attendees who continue to question the current president’s constitutional right to hold the office.

I say it is ironic because, while so many on the Right invested heavily in making the argument that Barack Obama lacked constitutional qualification to be our Commander In Chief due to his alleged foreign birth in Kenya, it turns out that Tea Party hero Cruz finds himself in precisely the same circumstance—except that Cruz’s foreign point of origin is openly acknowledged.

Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, the son of an American mother and a Cuban father. Were we to buy into the birtherism claim that Obama was, indeed, born in Kenya, then he too would have been foreign born as the son of an American mother and a father who was a citizen of a foreign land.

While the controversy that has dogged President Obama has focused on the President’s claim that he came into the world in a hospital in Hawaii, if we are to accept the argument of birther-in-chief Donald Trump—who made a ‘name’ for himself in politics by alleging that the President had, indeed, been born in a foreign country—then there is no way that Senator Cruz could be qualified to run for the presidency.

Yet, there is no shortage of Cruz supporters who are prepared to argue that he is a natural born American, despite being born in Canada. Why? Because his mother was, unquestionably, an American citizen at the time of Cruz’s birth.

But is being born to an American mother in a foreign land enough to meet the constitutional requirements to hold the office?

The United States Constitution requires that a candidate for the office of the president be a “natural-born” citizen. While what constitutes a natural born citizen is not defined in the text of the Constitution and has never been directly addressed by the Supreme Court, we do know that there have been laws promulgated that defines the status of a child born outside of the United States to parents where either one or both are American citizens.

According to the State Department—

Birth Abroad to Two U.S. Citizen Parents in Wedlock

A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided that one of the parents had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth. The child is considered to be born in wedlock if the child is the genetic issue of the married couple.”

It would thus appear that for Senator Cruz to qualify as a natural-born citizen under this paragraph, (a) both of his parents would need to be U.S. citizens at the time of birth; and (b) one of the parents had a residence in the US at the time of birth.

Senator Cruz’s mother was clearly an American citizen—having been born in Delaware—at the time she gave birth to her son. However, Mr. Cruz’s father was a Cuban immigrant who, according to a statement issued this week by Cruz’s spokesman, was not an American citizen prior to his taking his wife to Canada to work in the oil business.

Thus, under this definition, it would appear that an argument could be successfully made that Senator Cruz is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.

It is worth noting that other candidates for president have fallen under this definition of qualification. Governor George Romney was born in Mexico to two parents who were both American citizens at the time of his birth. Thus, there were no serious challenge set forth to Romney’s meeting the constitutional test of being a natural born citizen.

There is, however, an additional definition that could cover Senator Cruz as set forth by the State Department:

“Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock

A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) of the INA provided the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen, is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen, is required for physical presence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.) The U.S. citizen parent must be genetically related to the child to transmit U.S. citizenship.”

Under this definition, it would seem clear that Senator Cruz would meet the qualifications to run for President as his mother lived in the United States for at least ten years after she was fourteen years of age prior to going to Canada (note that the rule does not require that the ten years be consecutive.)

Accordingly, it appears—at least to me—that Senator Cruz is in the clear should he decide to take a run at the White House.

But…if you agree that Cruz is constitutionally qualified to seek the presidency and you are one of those who expended so much energy going after President Obama’s qualifications as a natural-born citizen, many of us would like to know how you justify such blatant hypocrisy? After all, even if Obama was born in Kenya, he was born to a mother who was an American citizen at her birth and who had also spent the requisite amount of her life after turning fourteen years of age living in the United States (see update on this law at the end of the article.)

To get an answer to this question, I reached out to Donald Trump’s office to get his take on this issue as he would appear to consider himself a leading authority on this subject.

At the time of publication of this article, there has been no response from Mr. Trump.

Again, my own understanding of how we have treated the question of natural-born citizenship would conclude that Senator Cruz is fully qualified under the Constitution to seek the top office in the land if that should be his wish. He was never naturalized as an American citizen because it was never necessary to do so. He was one of us from the moment he arrived in this world.

But if Cruz is qualified, there can be no argument that Barack Obama was not qualified in the same way, even if you choose to believe that he is Kenyan born. To allow the blatant hypocrisy of those who spent endless hours of time and untold sums of money seeking to discredit Barack Obama only to now be perfectly willing to give Senator Cruz a pass on the subject would simply be wrong and cannot be allowed, now or in the future should Cruz seek the office, to pass unnoticed.

UPDATE: A reader correctly notes that when Barack Obama was born, his mother was three months shy of her 19th birthday which means that had he been born in Kenya, his mother would not have reached the 5 years after her 14th birthday as required by the law for him to be a natural born American. This is true. However, subsequent acts of Congress relaxed the requirement to a total number of years a parent must live in the U.S. to five years, including just two years after the age of 14 (note that this happened long before Obama entered political life.) This means that Obama’s mother would have still qualified even if the President was born in Kenya and his mother was just 16. What’s more Congress made the law retroactive to 1952. As Obama was born in 1961, he would be a natural born citizen under the same law cited in the article.


By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, March 21, 2013

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Birthers | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Promoting The Republican Brand”: The GOP Should Just Embrace Being A Party Of The Past

Scientists believe that dinosaurs roamed the earth until their extinction 65 million years ago. The religious right believes dinosaurs were with us until six thousand years ago. They’re both wrong. Anybody who watched the Conservative Political Action Committee conference last weekend or the Republican Party for the last few years knows the giant reptiles are still with us.

On Monday, the Republican National Committee released its own research on voter attitudes towards the GOP. The RNC study reports that Americans see the party as “narrow minded” and full of “stuffy old men.” These are the RNC’s words, not mine.

The RNC report also states that the party has to find better ways of getting its message across to the public. This will be much easier to do than changing Republican policies that the public finds so disturbing: things like killing Medicare, opposition to attempts to curb violence against women, and protecting federal tax freebies for big oil.

Here are my ideas for promoting the Republican brand.

The Major League baseball season starts on April 1 and I’ve come up with a great promotional tie between MLB and the GOP. The Republican Party can sponsor “Turn Back the Clock” nights with each of the major league teams to demonstrate the party’s commitment to the past. Wouldn’t it be great to see Paul Ryan, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell wearing the throw back rainbow uniforms of the 1970’s Houston Astros or the brown and yellow uniforms made unpopular by the San Diego Padres?

A new brand needs a new slogan and I’ve come up with some ideas. Since the GOP is hell-bent on driving away the voters they need to win, I thought I’d help them along. It’s the least I can do to put the party out of its misery. This is what I came up with.

Vote GOP to Turn Back the Clock: Republicans do fine with seniors, but the party is woefully inept with the fast growing population of millennials, voters born since 1982. A good example of the GOP’s problems is the growing support for gay marriage. ABC News and The Washington Post released a new national survey Monday showing that support for gay marriage is at a record high (58 percent favor-36 percent oppose). Ten years ago, a large majority of Americans opposed gay marriage. An overwhelming number of millennials support gay marriage and support for the idea will grow as these young people become a larger proportion of the electorate.

Only Real Men Vote Republican: The GOP research report indicates that voters feel that the Republican Party is full of “stuffy old men.” If the GOP doesn’t change, the only people who’ll vote for the party will be stuffy old men. Maybe that’s why it is known as the GOP for Grand Old Party. Former First Lady Laura Bush told an audience that the Republican Party “frightens” many women. Republicans love to talk about rape and a majority of the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted recently against the Violence against Women Act.

If you have any ideas to rebrand the GOP, feel free to comment here and send them to RNC chair Reince Priebus. The new RNC autopsy states that Republicans were far behind Democrats technologically. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, didn’t use email and Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, Stuart Spencer, refused to use Twitter. I don’t know if the GOP has email or Twitter yet. So you might want to send your ideas to the RNC via snail mail at 310 1st St. SE, Washington, DC 2003.


By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, March 21, 2013

March 22, 2013 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Snake Is Eating Fluffy In Little Bites”: The Press Is Missing The Sequester’s Evil Genius

Love it or hate it, there’s a certain genius to the sequester. No, it’s not the notion of including cuts aimed at offending folks on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Nor is it its purported ability to force a budget deal. No, the genius is in the seven months it will take to unfold.

Why? Because $85 billion in budget cuts should cause outrage from coast to coast. But spread it out over seven months, and you might just get away with it.

Take a look at what’s happening in Indiana. The Associated Press reports that Head Start programs in Columbus and Franklin Counties have “resorted to a random drawing” to figure out which three dozen kids to drop from their early childhood education program because of sequester budget cuts. Those will be the first children to lose what is anticipated to be about 1,000 slots statewide.

It’s one of the opening skirmishes in a slow rolling war of attrition that will eventually play out across the country. The 600 families who’ve already learned they’re losing rental assistance in King County Washington. The 418 who’ve lost their jobs at an Army Depot in Pennsylvania. The Kentucky hospital that fired 28 workers.

None of these examples, on their own, are enough to garner national headlines. At least at this early stage, it can be hard to get your head around the impact of a policy that costs thirty jobs here, kicks another hundred people out of a program there, dribs and drabs of misfortune that can easily get lost in the shuffle.

Eventually, of course, the depth of the sequester cuts will add up to major setbacks for countless Americans across the country. But by then, Republicans hope the waters will be sufficiently muddied, the connection between pain and the sequester sufficiently attenuated in the public’s mind, the cuts themselves sufficiently entrenched that mounting an effort to roll them back will fall to nothing. Genius.

Now, as it happens, there’s an entity well-positioned to foil the Republican plan: It’s the media. And a media committed to methodically reporting not only the day-to-day impact of the sequester on ordinary lives, but also the big picture of what the little examples are adding up to would do us all a real service.

Instead we get this: An examination by ThinkProgress found that the suspension of White House tours “were mentioned 33 times as often (Fox News had 163 segments, CNN had 59, and MSNBC had 42)” on cable news “as mentions of other sequester impacts hitting the poor. Any discussion of sequestration’s steep cuts to housing assistance, food stamps, and Head Start early education was virtually nonexistent on all 3 networks in the same time frame.” And as you’ve no doubt seen, it’s not just cable. White House tours have been everywhere, from the Washington Post editorial pages to the nether reaches of talk radio.

So when Michigan Republican Rep. Candice Miller urges the President to “stop trying to justify the unjustifiable,” or Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran says, “We can and must be smarter with our spending decisions and make cuts in ways that do not intentionally and unnecessarily inflict hardship and aggravation upon the American people,” or when South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune asserts that White House tours are “not the kind of duplicative and wasteful spending that we should be looking to target,” the media plays right along. This despite the fact that by any rational analysis, the cut that unjustifiably inflicts hardship on the American people is the one that denies underprivileged children an entrée to critical early education services.

Seriously. What must you think of the government if, after taking a full view of the sequester, you hone in on the suspension of White House tours as the element deserving of such disproportionate attention? That the other programs really aren’t very significant at all. For Republicans, that’s really the point. We might have expected the media to take a more critical view of the matter. No such luck.

Look, I like a good White House tour as much as the next person. And if you have a child who was looking forward to one, that can be a hard thing. But I think I may have a solution: tell them why they can’t go, and be ready with an alternative thing to do. There are lots of other fun and educational activities in Washington, after all.

Here’s a harder question: what do we say to the Indiana Head Start mother who told the AP that “[my son] loves school…I don’t know how I’m going to tell him he’s not going back.”

I’ve come to think of the sequester in the following (admittedly gruesome) way: it’s something like a snake eating a hamster. If it gobbles up fluffy all in one bite, you can see that hump moving all the way down the line as the snake digests his delectable treat. Hard to miss. But if snake eats fluffy one little bite at a time, the hamster’s still dead, and nobody notices. Unless someone calls the snake out.

Hey media: your move.


By: Anson Kaye, U. S. News and World Report, March 21, 2013

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Sequester, Sequestration | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Just Another PDF File”: Back To The Drawing Board For The GOP, Again

The Republican’s “Growth & Opportunity Project” isn’t comprehensive enough. It’s a document filled with marketing and campaign tactics: improving messaging, appealing to minorities, building a data infrastructure, adjusting fundraising, and compressing the primary process. Don’t get me wrong, these are all good ideas, but what’s the long-term vision?

The tactical recommendations rest on a single-case: the mistakes that Mitt Romney made that lost him the presidency. What about how the GOP governs in Congress? How will representatives change their legislative behavior to reflect the new messages? Most importantly, how is the Republican National Committee going to get state and local party organizations to buy in?

Political parties are decentralized organizations. There’s no “top-down” command structure to enforce compliance, and even if there was, it takes a while for change to take root. The GOP only needs to look as far as how reorganizations play out in major corporations. They’re messy affairs that often lead to a lot of employee turnover. In decentralized organizations, there are no mechanisms to make change happen; the RNC can offer state and local parties incentives to tow the line, but incentives alone don’t work.

The party wants to start recruiting more women and minority candidates, but it’s going to be difficult for these candidates to get a seat at the table. Most races are not competitive: there are just a few open races with no incumbent running. Incumbents are hard to beat. They get reelected 90 percent of the time. Challengers could make some headway mounting primary fights, like the Tea Party did in 2010, but Republican leaders have been pretty clear: protect incumbents.

So if most incumbents stay in office, how is the GOP’s new messaging going to work? Conservative incumbents don’t have records that are friendly to minorities. It’s not just about changing the talk – you also have to change the walk. Provide a consistent narrative, otherwise you come across as a flip-flopper. And flip-flopping sinks campaigns. It certainly drowned John Kerry’s 2004 and Romney’s 2012 bids for the White House.

The GOP must go back to the drawing board and come back with something solid. Otherwise, the work they’ve done so far will be a wasted exercise — just a PDF file with a cool cover page filled with pretty circles and a white elephant.


By: Jamie Chandler, U. S. News and World Report, March 21, 2013

March 22, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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