Yesterday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) delivered “a lecture on Islam” at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Santorum argued that the American public knows too little about the Islamic faith, and to prove his point, he asked the students whether they knew the difference between Sunnis and Shias. Only three audience members raised their hands. He continued:
Santorum said he believes Muslims’ religious views cannot be changed or altered, so Middle Easterners reject American, democratic ideals.
“A democracy could not exist because Mohammed already made the perfect law,” Santorum said. “The Quran is perfect just the way it is, that’s why it is only written in Islamic.”
As a self-anointed scholar of Islam, it’s surprising that Santorum would assert that the Qur’an is “written in Islamic.” It is, of course, originally written in Arabic. Islam is not a language, but rather a religion. Santorum concluded, “I think that if every citizen was fully informed about the war, it would create a commonality between faiths.” Indeed, much work remains to be done.
By August of 1932, I imagine that Herbert Hoover already knew that he was doomed to the dustbin of history. But still, he found himself facing the very situation that today faces Barack Obama—an economic crisis, and a vacancy at the Commerce Department. In his hour of need he reached outside the government, to an executive from the auto industry named Roy D. Chapin.
Chapin had a pretty interesting life in business. He worked for automotive pioneer Ransom E. Olds (namesake of the Oldsmobile) and then left to be one of the founders of Hudson Motor Company in 1909. Hudson was named after its primary financial backer, a Detroit department store mogul named James L. Hudson, but Chapin was their top car guy. Under his leadership Hudson, and its subsidiary Essex Motors, were responsible for a number of innovations including the first affordable mass-produced enclosed automobile. In one of the pioneering moves of the alliance between automakers and the highway lobby, Chapin joined forces with Henry B. Joy of Packard Motors to spearhead the drive for the construction of the Lincoln Highway. In 1932, Hudson left the private sector to go work in the Hoover administration, where he tried and failed in an effort to convince Henry Ford to bail out the Guardian Trust Company of Detroit. Guardian’s collapse led to the Michigan Bank Holiday which prefigured FDR’s nationwide bank holiday in 1933. Chapin’s tenure at Commerce was brief, since Hoover lost the election just a few months later, and after FDR’s inauguration he went back to work for Hudson. He died in 1936.
Hudson merged with Nash Kelvinator in 1954 to become American Motors which, in turn, was acquired by Chrysler in the 1980s. And now it seems that Chrysler will soon either be liquidated or else acquired by Fiat.
Today, the Utah state legislature “dealt a final blow” to the last of five gay rights bills taken up under the Common Ground Initiative, when it defeated a bill that would have granted gay couples rights of inheritance and medical decision-making. Yesterday, the state House rejected bills that would have allowed gay adoption and protected gays from housing and employment discrimination.
Last night, Utah’s local ABC station received leaked portions of an interview with state senator Chris Buttars (R), which will be highlighted in an upcoming documentary on Proposition 8. Buttars is an outspoken opponent of gay rights; in the latest interview, he compares gays to alcoholics and Muslim terrorists, and warns that gay people are “probably the greatest threat to America.” Some excerpts from the interview:
– To me, homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here now and everybody goes nuts! But I don’t care.
– They say, I’m born that way. There’s some truth to that, in that some people are born with an attraction to alcohol.
– They’re mean! They want to talk about being nice — they’re the meanest buggers I ever seen. It’s just like the Moslems. Moslems are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side. And the gays are totally taken over by the radical side.
– I believe that you will destroy the foundation of American society, because I believe the cornerstone of it is a man and a woman, the family. … And I believe that they’re, internally, they’re probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of. Yep, the radical gay movement.
Buttars bragged that he “killed” every piece of gay rights legislation in Utah, and said that President Bush — “like him or love him” — “saved” America “for the foreseeable future” by appointing conservatives to the Supreme Court.
Buttars discussed how the Mormon church would never give in on gay rights. Indeed, Mormons contributed nearly 40 percent of the more than $40 million raised to defeat marriage equality in California. He helped kick out Gay Straight Alliance clubs in Utah schools, claiming they were “criminal” and threatening that gay people’s “greatest target is your kids.”
Andrew Jakabovics and David M. Abromowitz offer some detailed analysis of the mortgage plan put forward today. It’s kind of hard to summarize, so you’ll just have to read it yourself. They approve, but say there’s even more that could be done and “still more tools are available to the Obama administration as it rolls out its full plan, including modifying so-called REMIC rules governing the trusts that hold the mortgages to eliminate artificial barriers to modifications.”
I suppose you’d have to say that the major downside to this plan is not so much the cost, which is small relative to other stuff that’s happening, but the reality that messing around like this means that whenever the economy gets back on the upswing it’s going to be harder for people to get mortgages now that banks now that if things go wrong the government may well step in and start re-writing deals. On the other hand, I’m not really sure how much of a downside this is. Policymakers got into talking up homeownership as an end-in-itself in a way that never really made sense.
During the debate over the stimulus, President Obama accused his critics of wanting to “do nothing” about the economic crisis. Republicans complained that it wasn’t true. “I know of no Republican in the Congress of the United States who wants to do nothing,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said. But with the focus now shifting to the credit and housing crises, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) (who led the opposition to the stimulus) is advocating a radical prescription of “allowing private markets to run their course” and let banks fail:
“There’s a crisis of confidence throughout the market — throughout the world — even though the government has thrown nearly $1 trillion at the financial system,” DeMint said. “We’ve started this vicious cycle. We don’t have enough money — we can’t borrow enough money to take all the toxic assets off the books.
“We’ve got to let the market begin to absorb them at a loss, but they can absorb them. We just have to decide do we want a government-controlled economy, or do we want the private sector to work?”
To review what we know about high-speed rail in the stimulus, a last-minute change to the legislation ensured that $8 billion will be appropriated to be spent on high-speed rail projects. Numerous conservative commentators and several Republican legislators have been characterizing this provision as expending $8 billion on a project to build an HSR link between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and darkly hinting that it’s some kind of pork barrel scheme for Harry Reid. That is a wildly inaccurate characterization of the provision which will fund HSR projects nationwide on a competitive basis. So I’ve been complaining about the people who are lying about this. Now along comes Mark Hemingway at the Corner who appears to agree that Reps. Miller and Boehner are completely mischaracterizing the stimulus bill’s HSR provisions, but nonetheless thinks I’m wrong to call them liars because the Vegas-LA route will potentially be eligible for some portion of that $8 billion.
I say: Hemingway is being ridiculous. I’m complaining about people making false statements about HSR in the stimulus. He agrees that they’re statements are false, but somehow I’m to blame? Members of congress wouldn’t get heated denunciations on blogs for making things up if they didn’t make so much stuff up.
UPDATE: Here, for example, is Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) in a February 17 Detroit Newsop-ed:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stashed a “necessary” high speed rail project in the bill. But how does this $8 billion “Sin Express” from Los Angeles to Las Vegas put someone like Greg from Milford back to work?
McCotter is denouncing a non-existent provision in the bill. He’s lying. If Hemingway has a problem with Republican members of congress being called liars, he needs to get in touch with the McCotters of the world and get them to (a) stop saying this stuff, and (b) demonstrate some good faith by apologizing and correcting the record.
The Washington Timeshas a story trying to make a big deal out of the fact that Barack Obama often appears with American flags in public: “Look. It’s President Obama, and he’s surrounded by American flags,” the piece said. “That’s the same president who once would not wear an American flag pin. Things have changed.”
And, honestly, whatever. Obama’s been surrounded by flags throughout the presidential campaign and everyone with half a brain knows it. But The Washington Times prints a lot of BS. But as Greg Sargent observes, things got a little weird in the broader media pickup:
The Note, inexplicably, listed the piece as a “must-read,” and Politico’s Mike Allen exclaimed that “cable’s gonna go cuckoo over this.” Doesn’t take much, apparently.
Naturally, it got its Drudge link. All for a story about nothing. Allen’s response is, I think, the most infuriating. Everyone knows that Mike Allen is an important political reporter. His morning “Playbook,” in particular, helps set the agenda for the whole next day of moronic political buzz. When he writes up a stupid story, he’s not passively predicting that people will be buzzing about it, he’s helping to make it happen. In this case, it didn’t work. Today’s cable news has, overwhelmingly, been about an actual policy question—Obama’s housing plan. And good for cable. But no thanks to Mike Allen.
Last night, the Center for American Progress hosted a discussion between PBS’s Gwen Ifill and CAP President John Podesta about Ifill’s new book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” After the event, Ifill sat down for an interview with ThinkProgress, where we asked her about the Republican party’s efforts to reach out to African-American voters.
During her talk with Podesta, Ifill said that she didn’t believe that RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s race was the motivating factor behind why Republicans elected him. In the interview, Ifill said that “they weren’t so caught up with the idea of Barack Obama being black that they were going to sacrifice their need to come back just to elect a black guy.”
“They needed someone that could articulate what the Republican brand still is,” said Ifill. “And he did that better than the other guys running for office.” Asked if she saw any “breakthrough” candidates in the Republican party, Ifill responded bluntly, “not yet”:
IFILL: In fact, we seem to have gone backwards. I mean, we used to have J.C. Watts in the House, but now there are no black Republicans in Congress. At all. That’s a step back. In order to change that direction, there has to be recruiting going on. I think there is recruiting going on at some lower levels, but they’ve got some ground to make up.
Former Oklahoma representative J.C. Watts, whom Ifill mentioned, retired from Congress in 2002. Since then, no African-Americans have been elected to Congress on the Republican ticket. According to Pew Research in March 2008, the share of African-Americans identifying themselves as Republican has stayed steady this past decade at around 4 percent.