Usually this blog focuses on larger national or international issues, but over the weekend, Long Island in general, and specifically Wantagh where I live, was in the news for two reasons. First, an evangelical leader in Wantagh took on Glenn Beck who was going after any religion that preached “social justice” with a sign. Frustratingly, though I pass the sign walking back home a few times a week, CNN got the story before I did.
Then, a massive storm hit Long Island. Driving home on Saturday night was a matter of literally dodging fallen trees and power lines hanging down across the road. The National Guard was apparently out setting flares and doing emergency work as cop cars blocked off especially dangerous roads and set up flares and emergency tape. Of course, I decided to go out and take a few pictures, mainly of the massive tree downed in front of Wantagh Elementary School before the rain and wind drove me back indoors:
Chris Corradino took some more dramatic photos in the immediate aftermath of properties destroyed (when I was further east instead of in Wantagh.)
News reports indicate several fatalities around Long Island, but none in Wantagh. Property damage though is another story. It always seems like it happens to be those storms you don’t hear about that actually do the damage – while the ones hyped by the weather stations and local news end up fizzling.
The media is giving blanket coverage to this “controversial” procedure being used by the Democrats. But using reconciliation for a few fixes and tweaks isn’t controversial historically, and it’s not controversial procedurally. It’s only controversial because Republicans are saying it is. Which is good enough, as it turns out. In our political system, if Democrats and Republicans are yelling at each other over something, then for the media, that is, by definition, controversy.
3. Cyberwar? Ryan Singel of Wired‘s Threat Level reported some of the back-and-forth among the U.S. intelligence community, explaining why Republicans want to undermine and destroy the internet for national security as well as for commercial reasons. The Obama administration’s web security chief maintains in an interview with Threat Level that, “There is no cyberwar.”
4. Limiting government. Jacob Weisberg of Slate always seems to be looking for the zeitgeist. His piece this week is on how Obama can embrace the vision of limited government. While all the pieces are there, he doesn’t quite make the connection I want to make: that government is absolutely needed even as it must be limited and its power checked. A post on this line has been percolating in my mind for some time, and now that Weisberg has written his piece, I feel its just about time for me to write mine.
5. Liz Cheney, Al Qaeda Sympathizer? Dahlia Lithwick slams Liz Cheney for her recent ad calling the Justice Department the “Department of Jihad” and labeling some attorneys there the “Al-Qaeda 7”:
Given that the Bill of Rights pretty much evaporates once you’ve been deemed a jihadi lover of Bin Laden, you might think Liz Cheney would be super-careful tossing around such words They have very serious legal implications…Having worked for years to ensure that the word jihadist is legally synonymous with guilty, Cheney cannot be allowed to use it casually to describe anyone she simply doesn’t like.
6. George Will: More Partisan Than Independent? Ezra Klein catches George Will out in a rather telling fit of procedural outrage over the Democrats’ use of reconciliation in the Senate. Plus, Klein uses this nifty chart to illustrate that dramatic change that George Will doesn’t happen to comment upon:
Reading the news stories about my Congressman Pete King’s “rant” pissing all over Michael Jackson’s dead body – saying “there’s nothing good about this guy” and calling him a “lowlife,” a “pervert”, a “pedophile,” a “child molestor” – I expected to be incensed when I saw the video. It’s not that I believe Jackson wasn’t any of these things – it’s just that in the absence of any convictions and with the accusations in the second trial at least looking rather calculated – I’m still reserving judgment. I wouldn’t go around denouncing a dead man for being a child molestor based entirely on the media’s portrayal of him.
But rather than being incensed at a ranting Congressman, what I saw instead was a rather sober, if cliched, Rep. Pete King – just down the block from my house in Wantagh – trying to cut through the bullshit and express something he felt without a politically correct censor. He does well to remind us that our country has many unsung heroes – police officers, firemen, people who volunteer in cancer wards, teachers who work in the inner city. It’s always a good time to remind people of that point. King’s “rant” reminded me of the way I had admired him for his defense of Bill Clinton through the impeachment trial:
In that same spirit that led King to take on Michael Jackson (but without relying on smears and accusations and instead relying on the Congressman’s own documented words), let me say this to my congressman, mincing no words:
Whatever your other redeeming qualities, you are a bigot – and a disgrace to the House of Representatives.
You have repeatedly demonstrated that you equate Islam with terrorism in public remarks – notwithstanding your attempts to save face by saying you are not talking about all Muslims.
When asked by Sean Hannity about previous statement you had made that 85 percent of mosques in America are “ruled by the extremists,” you said that many American Muslims are in reality “an enemy living amongst us.”
You denounced a mosque for running subway ads as “especially shameful because the ads will be running during the seventh anniversary of September 11, and because the subways are considered a primary target of terrorists” – equating, once again, the religion of Islam with terrorism.
I first realized you were a bigot when I read your novel Vale of Tears back in 2004 expecting a standard thriller – but what I got instead was page after page of anti-Muslim invective, approvingly noted by the narrator – an Irish American Congressman from Long Island who bore a striking resemblance to you.
And all of this bigotry is justified by your reaction to September 11 – which transformed you from a sensible moderate to a bigot and a fetishist for executive power. Since then, you have had little time for such niceties as the rights of citizens and American values – as you focus on this fight against “the enemy living amongst us,” thereby targeting the rights of us all. When asked about balancing American values with government power over citizens, you advocated the government using any means necessary – ignoring civil liberties and constitutional protections – as “if there is any doubt, [you] want this resolved by going out and getting the job done.” “If there is any doubt” you want to err on the side of constricting the liberty of citizens! This is not consistent with your oath to uphold the Constitution. Given this, it’s not that surprising that you think Guantanamo – a place where hundreds have been tortured according to America’s own records – goes too easy on them – that it’s like “Club Med.”
You are not the type of congressman we need. Your bigotry is embarrassing. Your disregard for American values is abhorrent in a public servant, sworn to uphold the Constitution. Whether you decide to challenge Kristen Gillibrand for New York’s Senate seat or remain in your House seat, I will do my best to make sure you no longer represent me.
That’s from me, Joe Campbell, addressing you in the no-bullshit style you so value. Go ahead – rant about that.