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Greetings again from Shanghai, recently the most polluted city in the history of mankind. In case you haven't heard, the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda department announced that heavy smog is actually a good thing, since it makes China invisible to its enemies. It also unites the Chinese people and makes them more equal.

This week marked the fifth anniversary of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo's detention and current stay in prison for the crime of thinking and talking about things while being Chinese in China. On this auspicious occasion, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement urging China to release him from prison and to release his wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest.

The Chinese foreign ministry promptly responded with a statement of its own saying that Kerry had no right to express an opinion about what should happen to Prisoner Liu or his wife. Yes, that's right: The Chinese government now presumes to tell the U.S. Secretary of State what he has the right and doesn't have the right to talk about.

In its statement the foreign ministry said that "China’s 1.3 billion people have the best right to talk about the country's human rights." Presumably the 1.3 billion Chinese people the statement referred to doesn't include dissidents like Mr. and Ms. Liu.

(Another benefit of heavy smog: The extremely low visibility prevents Liu Xiaobo from writing things critical of the Chinese government or finding his way out of prison.)

Somewhere in Beijing right now, I'm certain, Secretary Kerry is being accused of "interfering in China's internal affairs" and of "hurting the feelings of the Chinese people," because why not? These lines have always been so effective in the past at silencing Beijing's overseas critics. "The Chinese people," as I've noted, doesn't include Mr. and Ms. Liu.

Of course, ultra-left purveyors of false equivalencies will say: "But America spies on its own citizens and persecutes whistleblowers like Ed Snowden. Doesn't that make America the same as China?" Well, no, it doesn't. I disagree with the government's spying activities and persecution of whistleblowers as much as anyone. These things, however, are not equivalent to being thrown into prison and having family members subjected to collective punishment for simply expressing an opinion about something. I also don't recall Secretaries of State Clinton or Kerry telling other foreign ministers what they're allowed or not allowed to have an opinion about.

(In some parts of China, as in Alaska according to its former governor, we can also see Russia where Ed Snowden is. Except when there's heavy smog, which also means that Ed Snowden and the Russians can't see us. Thank goodness for that!)

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White House Petition: Demand Fair Media Access and an End to Harassment and Expulsion of American Journalists in China

When Vice-President Biden was here in China earlier this week, China's harassment and expulsions of US journalists was among the issues he took up with Chinese president Xi Jinping. Now, however, some two dozen New York Times and Bloomberg News reporters in China face immediate expulsion for their investigative reporting on the personal wealth and shadowy financial ties of top Chinese government officials. Other US and international journalists have been expelled or denied visas, harassed, detained, and even physically attacked for reporting on "sensitive" issues or critical of the Chinese government.

Meanwhile, Chinese reporters working for China's state-run media enjoy unrestricted access to the US, despite the frequently negative coverage the US receives in Chinese media.

I'm not an investigative journalist, nor am I here in China on a soon-to-expire journalist visa, so I don't face the immediate threat of expulsion that those New York Times and Bloomberg reporters face. As a teacher, freelance writer, and blogger here, however, I have written critically about the Chinese government at such publications as the Asia Times and USA Today, so I can't help feeling some personal concern at China's aggressive treatment of Western journalists. In any case, I would very much like to see the US government send a clear signal to China that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

In a special report on Chinese censorship earlier this year, the Committee to Protect Journalists recommended that the President and the State Department "engage China's leaders on press freedom," and that the Senate and House foreign affairs committees and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission "hold public hearings on press freedom" in China. As China's crackdown on Western journalists worsens by the day, following through on these recommendations is more critical than ever.

The Center for International Media Assistance has also recommended that the US and other Western governments "respond vociferously to assaults and visa delays of foreign correspondents" and "consider diplomatic options for signaling that visa delays or denials are unacceptable for a country of China's international stature." In its recommendations CIMA noted that "to date, the response from Western governments to growing harassment of international media in China has often been timid."

Vice-President Biden's attention to this matter while in China is a welcome sign that perhaps the US government is ready to take a more aggressive role in protecting US journalists here. As we know, however, strong words one day can easily turn to inaction the next. This is particularly true in dealings with China, which has shown itself quite apt in getting what it wants through bullying, threats, and the occasional temper tantrum.

I'm sure that US news organizations are in communication with Washington to get some action on behalf of their reporters in China. For my part, I've started a White House petition to demand fair media access and an end to harassment and expulsion of American journalists in China under my first and last initials and US home address. If you could be so kind as to sign and circulate it (via Twitter, etc.), I and other Americans working in China would be eternally grateful. I've also written to my California members of the House and Senate in these regards, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Barbara Boxer (see also House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission). Should you choose to do likewise it would be lovely.

In a positive sign that further action may be forthcoming to protect US journalists in China, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (chaired by Senator Sherrod Brown, D-OH) will hold a roundtable on China's treatment of foreign journalists this Wednesday, Dec. 11. Panelists will include journalist Paul Mooney, who was denied a visa in November after reporting from China for 18 years.

As a Democrat I would love to see the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress take the lead in protecting US journalists in China. This should not be a partisan issue, however, since Democrats and Republicans both should be aware of all the ways in which China makes a general nuisance of itself. Two years ago an attempt was made with the Republican-sponsored China Media Reciprocity Act of 2011 to press China to treat US media equitably with the treatment of state-run Chinese media in the US. This bill failed to pass, however, amid concern that retaliatory limits on US visas for Chinese reporters might reflect badly on America’s commitment to press freedom or set off a visa war with China.

The situation for foreign journalists in China has clearly worsened since 2011, and shows no signs of improvement. As two dozen US journalists and their families face immediate expulsion from China, it's time to put a stop to this nonsense. If China wants to be accepted as a respectable member of the international community, it should learn to act accordingly. Please help teach China a lesson in polite behavior.

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I've been away from blogging at Daily Kos for a while due to a job change, moving house, and other issues with expat life here in Shanghai, but had to come back online to express my pride in Vice-President Biden's performance during his visit to China the last two days. Not only did Biden do his best to calm tensions between China and Japan in the East China Sea, but he stood up for press freedom and encouraged young people in China to challenge their government.

If anyone in Beijing was expecting a kowtow from Biden, they were sorely disappointed. No resolution was expected in the dispute over China's new Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea, and none was reached. Biden stood firm, however, in his and the Obama administration's objections to China throwing its weight around and escalating tensions with its neighbors.

Perhaps more notably, Biden stood up for US and other Western journalists facing expulsion from China for reporting critical of the Chinese government. While Chinese "journalists" (i.e., government propagandists) are free to roam the US and the globe "reporting" as they and their masters in Beijing will, the Chinese government has been aggressively kicking Western journalists out of China and denying visas for any reporting they do that the government doesn't like. Media have been complaining about this for some time now, and it's about time someone of Biden's stature from the Obama administration took a stand on the issue. This is not something that China should be allowed to continue getting away with.

Notable also were Biden's remarks to Chinese students and others awaiting student visas at the US Embassy in Beijing. Much to the chagrin of the Chinese government, I'm happily certain, Biden told visa applicants: "Innovation can only occur when you can breathe free, challenge the government, challenge your teachers, challenge religious leaders." These remarks were, of course, censored out of Chinese "news" coverage of Biden's visit, but they were heard by a large gathering of visa applicants in Beijing and will hopefully be heard by folks back home in America.

There have been times, perhaps, when Biden should have avoided shooting his mouth off. This was not one of those times. When you live in China as I do, you grow tired of watching Western leaders bend their knees to Chinese dictators for the sake of Chinese money. UK prime minister David Cameron was also in China this week, hat in hand, avoiding talk of anything but Sino-British business deals for his rich Tory friends. Human rights advocates in the UK were bitterly disappointed in his performance, and the British press is roasting him for it.

Not so with Joltin' Joe. From my point-of-view here in China, at least, Biden should return to a hero's welcome in the US.

Discuss

Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 07:35 AM PDT

Assange: Snowden is "Safe and Sound"

by eades

Following Edward Snowden's mysterious disappearance from Moscow's Sheremetevo airport after failing to show up for his expected flight to Havana, Julian Assange says that Snowden is "safe and sound," in an undisclosed location (Reuters, Russia Today, The Guardian):

Assange (via The Guardian):

The current status of Mr Snowden and Ms [Sarah] Harrrison [of Wikileaks, who travelled with him from Hong Kong]: both are healthy and safe and they are in contact with their legal team. I can’t give further information as to their whereabouts or present circumstances other than to say that the matter is in hand....

We are aware of where Edward Snowden is. He is in a safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the US administration we cannot go into further detail at this time.

Unfortunately we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time.

Discuss

SEE UPDATES BELOW: Ed Snowden apparently a no-show after checking in for expected Moscow-Havana flight. Many disappointed journalists now en route to Cuba on no-alcohol flight. Ecuadorian foreign minister speaks at press conference in Vietnam, denies knowledge of Snowden's whereabouts. Julian Assange says Snowden is "safe and sound," in an undisclosed location.

All indications are now that NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden, currently in Moscow, is bound for Quito, Ecuador via Havana, Cuba. There are not many flight options between Moscow and Quito, so this is a likely itinerary I found based on earliest available flights:

AEROFLOT 150 Moscow-Havana:
Leave 2:05 p.m. Monday Moscow time, Arrive 6:45 p.m the same day Havana time.

TAME (Linea Aerea del Ecuador) 503 Havana-Quito:
Leave 2:00 a.m. Tuesday Havana time, Arrive 4:30 a.m. the same day Quito time (Note: Cubana Airlines does not appear to fly to Quito).

Converted to US Eastern Daylight Time, Snowden would leave Moscow at 6:05 am. Monday, arrive in Havana at 6:45 p.m. Monday, Leave Havana at 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, and arrive in Quito at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

This gives Snowden about seven hours to kill in Havana. Mojitos in the airport lounge, perhaps?

UPDATE: Reports confirm that Snowden is booked on Aeroflot 150 leaving Moscow at 2:05 p.m. Monday local time (6:05 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time) for Havana, seat 17A (nice: a window seat). No word yet on his onward flight from Havana.

UPDATE #2: The plot thickens! After checking in for Aeroflot 150 from Moscow to Havana, Ed Snowden apparently failed to show up for the flight. Now a plane-load of journalists is bound for Havana, but no Ed. To make matters worse for disappointed journalists, according to The Guardian, no alcoholic beverages are served on Aeroflot's Moscow-Havana flights (See also New York Times, Washington Post, Russia Today).

UPDATE #3: Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patino Aroca, in Vietnam, speaks in support of Ed Snowden's bid for political asylum but denies knowledge of his whereabouts: "I cannot give you information about [Snowden's whereabouts]. We are in contact with the Russian government, but this specific information about this precise situation of Edward Snowden, we cannot give it to you right now, because we don't have it" (Guardian).

UPDATE #4: The Telegraph says "an Interfax source 'familiar with the situation' said Mr Snowden 'is most likely outside the borders of the Russian Federation,' suggesting that he could have given journalists the slip and taken a flight elsewhere."

UPDATE #5: Julian Assange says that Snowden is "safe and sound," in an undisclosed location (Reuters, Russia Today, The Guardian):

Assange (via The Guardian):

The current status of Mr Snowden and Ms [Sarah] Harrrison [of Wikileaks, who travelled with him from Hong Kong]: both are healthy and safe and they are in contact with their legal team. I can’t give further information as to their whereabouts or present circumstances other than to say that the matter is in hand....

We are aware of where Edward Snowden is. He is in a safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the US administration we cannot go into further detail at this time.

Unfortunately we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time.

Discuss

Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, has died. If I could give my condolences to the Thatcher family, I would -- It's sad for any family when a loved one passes away.

And if I thought the Thatcher family were regular Daily Kos readers, I'd hold my tongue regarding my thoughts on Margaret Thatcher's legacy to Britain and the world.

It was my good political fortune, as a young American my first time abroad, to be in Britain during the Miners' Strike of 1984-1985, while Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Though it ended in defeat for the miners, this strike was a challenge like no other to Thatcher's war on the British working class -- and a war it was, which Thatcher eventually won. As the child of American liberal Democrats who had drifted a bit to the left of my parents owing to the influence of post-1960s sex, drugs, and rock & roll, my experience in Britain during the Miners' Strike was my first real experience of class politics. That experience has influenced my political view of the world to the present day.

Given my age and the times and places in which I grew up, I think it's fair to say that my intellectual and political life has in large part been defined by opposition to the conservatism of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As a teenager in the South in the late 1970s - and as the child of liberal Democrats - I watched the rise of the new conservative movement led by the likes of Jerry Falwell, which swept Reagan to power in 1980, with great dismay. Upon finishing high school I left the conservative South and moved to liberal San Francisco, where I would be pulled even further to the left. Then, I traveled on student loan money to Europe, a trip that included a stay in the UK during the Miner's Strike. This, I'm afraid, sealed my fate as a life-long leftist.

Those were the conservative glory days of the Reagan-Thatcher transatlantic political romance. Ronnie and Maggie seemed to be in love with each other, at least on a political level. Reagan visited London while I was there in 1984, and during his visit I was pleased to take part in an anti-Reagan-Thatcher demonstration that attracted about a quarter of a million people. A favorite chant of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in those days was: "Ronnie Reagan, he's no good -- Send him back to Hollywood!" This among other choice verses was chanted at the demonstration, as we marched on both 10 Downing Street and the US Embassy. I felt proud then, at so young and tender an age, to be marching against both the president of my home country and the prime minister of my host country at the same time.

It was the Miners' Strike, however, that hammered home the message of what unrestrained, Reaganite-Thatcherite capitalism does to ordinary people. Reagan and Thatcher set in motion a process of working-class disempowerment and impoverishment that has continued unabated until today. In 1984, Thatcher sought to break the back of the most powerful and militant trade union in Britain, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), by closing coal pits and privatizing the national coal industry. This was a fight that Thatcher ultimately won, greatly advancing the Iron Lady's destruction of the organized British working class.

The miners fought valiantly, however, under the leadership of NUM president Arthur Scargill, and with the help of left-wing groups such as those with which I associated while in Britain. I also gained a priceless education in class politics during my time with other activists on the picket lines, at political meetings, and at demonstrations in support of the miners around Britain. Those experiences in Thatcher's Britain have informed my views on class and politics to the present day.

So now a part of my youth has died. Rest in peace, Maggie, and thanks for the memories.

Discuss
The Williams Institute at UCLA has released the results of a new poll on state-by-state support for marriage equality (full results here: PDF). While support for marriage equality has grown in all fifty states, according to the poll, wide disparities in support are found from state to state and region to region.

The highest level of support for marriage equality (62%) was found in the District of Columbia. In addition to DC, majority (50%+) support for marriage equality was found in twelve states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The lowest level of support for marriage equality (31%) was found in Louisiana. Support for marriage equality under 35% was also found in nine other states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

No surprises here: The highest levels of support for marriage equality are found in the Northeast and on the West Coast; and the lowest levels of support are found in the South. In-between are many Midwest and Rocky Mountain states with levels of support between 35% and 50%.

(See also Huffington Post)

Discuss
Sarah Palin, Goddess of Theocracy
The good news from a new national HuffingtonPost/YouGov poll on Christianity as an official state religion is that at least a plurality of Americans oppose the idea. The bad news is that a full third of Americans support it.

According to the poll, 34% of adults would favor establishing Christianity as the official state religion in their own state, while 47% would oppose doing so. 32% said that they would favor a constitutional amendment making Christianity the official religion of the United States, with 52% saying they were opposed.

A demographic breakdown of poll results reveals, predictably, that support for Christianity as an official state religion is stronger among older Americans, those who identify as Republicans, and those without higher education.

The demographic breakdown of poll results does not indicate state or region, but we can safely assume that support for Christianity as a state religion is strongest in the South and other conservative rural regions of the United States. In the most conservative states support for Christianity as a state religion could quite conceivably be the majority opinion. This does not bode well for religious minorities, women, gay and lesbian Americans, or others in those states with an interest in maintaining separation of church and state.

Those of us who live in liberal states can rest reasonably assured that they won't soon be living in a Christian theocracy. Those in conservative states, however, can expect continued attacks on reproductive rights, gay and lesbian rights, and the rights of religious minorities as state-level Republican politicians pander to their grassroots religious wingnut base. At the national level, we can also expect a lot more religious wingnuttery from Red State Republicans in Congress as they pander to the folks back home.

(See also HuffPost video: Christianity For All?)

Discuss

Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 07:09 AM PDT

Sarah Palin: The Queen of Stupid at CPAC

by eades

Conservatives always get angry when liberals accuse them of being stupid. Then they go and invite the Queen of Stupid -- the very embodiment of all things stupid -- to speak at a high-profile national event like the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Here Sarah Palin brandished a Big Gulp in a hostile shout-out to New York mayor Michael Bloomberg for his attempt to regulate extra-large soft drinks (as shown in the photo above looking like someone's poor drunk aunt at a family reunion), and thrilled her audience of adoring troglodytes with the standard Palin shtick of homespun faux-wisdom and snarky one-liners directed against President Obama and the Democratic Party.

On the topic of background checks for gun purchases, Palin threw out a hunk of dripping red meat to the Birther contingent: "Dandy idea, Mr. President, we should have started with yours." This former half-term quitter-governor, failed vice-presidential nominee, and fading TV personality said that our president should have undergone a background check, as though he were a common criminal. It was Pure Palin: stupid, trashy, and cheap. And her audience loved it, because they're stupid, trashy, and cheap.

Like other liberals, I've often asked myself why the media still pays attention to Sarah Palin. Perhaps a better question would be why Republicans still pay attention to her. If, as Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has said, the GOP needs to “stop being the stupid party,” then why do Republicans still insist on showcasing the very face of stupid for the nation and the world to see at events such as CPAC? And why do attendees at events like CPAC still flock to see her and to cheer every stupid line that drips like stupid sauce from her stupid mouth?

I know why liberals still pay attention to her: Because her stupidity and her high profile at events like CPAC make the whole Republican Party look stupid. We pay attention to Sarah Palin for the same reason that we pay attention to Louis Gohmert, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry. Each of these personalities is like a different color of stupid paint that we can brush all over the GOP: Palin Pink, Gohmert Green, Bachmann Blue, Perry Purple.... It's a Republican Rainbow of Stupid!

Then again, maybe Silly Sarah isn't quite as stupid as she seems: After all, she's rich and famous now, without meriting any of the wealth or fame that she has received. It isn't every day that so much falls into the hands of one so undeserving as Sarah Palin. If anything, she seems quite generously endowed with the low-grade intelligence of a good con artist, of one who can spot a sucker a mile away and tell him just what he needs to hear in order to part him from the money in his pocket. She seems quite adept at pandering to and manipulating the dull-witted, and probably also at intimidating those under her command. Sarah Palin is a grabber, and she's grabbing what she can while the grabbing is good. Such a low form of political street smarts probably won't get you into into the White House, but it will get you appearances on Fox News, speaking slots at CPAC, and lot of cold hard cash.

On the other hand, her devotees must certainly be every bit as stupid as liberals often accuse them of being; every bit as big a bunch of suckers as they seem. Who but an abject nincompoop could fall, again and again, for such a silly shtick as that of Silly Sarah, former half-term quitter-governor of Alaska and one sad old man's failed vice-presidential nominee? Since 2008, Palin's adoring followers have told themselves that we liberals attack Sarah and call her stupid because we're afraid of her. Because we're afraid of her! How stupid is that? How stupid must one be not to realize that, for liberals, each and every Palin public appearance is like a five-gallon bucket of stupid paint that we can fling like Jackson Pollock across the entire threadbare, wrinkled canvas of the GOP? I'm sorry, but I just can't see how any intelligent person could find Sarah Palin the least bit appealing, or could imagine that liberals are afraid of her.

Sarah Palin probably won't help any Republicans get elected, but she will make a lot of money and enjoy the adulation of a lot of people who really just aren't very clever but who are really angry about something. And for as long as it lasts, that's good enough for Silly Sarah.

Discuss
Scott Terry
North Carolina resident Scott Terry's pro-slavery and segregationist remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday have been widely reported. At a panel discussion on GOP minority outreach the 30-year-old Terry defended slavery for feeding and housing slaves and expressed a wish to return to segregation (see video below). In an interview with Think Progress following the panel, Terry claimed that white people have been "systematically disenfranchised" by federal legislation; that he would be happy to live in a society where African-Americans were permanently subservient to whites; and that African Americans should vote in Africa rather than in the United States.

Scott Terry is shown in the photo here wearing a badge identifying him as a member or supporter of Patriot Voices, a conservative student group founded by Rick and Karen Santorum with chapters throughout the United States. Patriot Voices is a high-profile participant at CPAC, its activities this year including a reception and round-table student discussion with Rick Santorum.

As Think Progress notes, Terry was also wearing a sticker identifying him as a supporter of Rick Santorum, and attended the panel with a friend who wore a Confederate Flag-emblazoned t-shirt. Mr. Terry's companion at CPAC was identified by Talking Points Memo and The Atlantic Wire as Matthew Heimbach, founder of the White Students Union at Towson University in Maryland and described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (see also Huffington Post). Heimbach's activities at Towson and his association with neo-Confederate hate groups are detailed by SPLC. An audio interview conducted by Heimbach with Scott Terry is available at far-right Counter-Currents Publishing. Mr. Heimbach is shown here at CPAC with his Patriot Voices badge, Confederate flag, and George Wallace campaign button courtesy of The Atlantic Wire, which also identifies Scott Terry as a member of the White Students Union at Towson:
Matthew Heimbach
It might be interesting to see what Patriot Voices thinks of being represented at CPAC by white nationalists such as Scott Terry and Matthew Heimbach. The Patriot Voices national organization may be contacted here for comment, via Twitter (@Patriot_Voices), or via Facebook. The Maryland chapter of Patriot Voices may be contacted here for comment, via Twitter (@TeamSantorumMD), or via Facebook. The North Carolina chapter of Patriot Voices may be contacted here for comment, via Twitter (@TeamSantorumNC), or via Facebook. The Twitter and Facebook accounts for Patriot Voices in Maryland and North Carolina indicate a close relationship with the Rick Santorum presidential campaign, and Patriot Voices co-chairs in both states have served as officers for the Santorum campaign. Indeed, Patriot Voices seems to be little more than an arm of the ongoing Santorum campaign.

I've already contacted Patriot Voices to ask for their thoughts on being represented at CPAC by white nationalists who support slavery and segregation, and I encourage you to do likewise. Let's see if we can force a response from them.

A North Carolina resident named Scott Terry has also blogged at Faith & Heritage, a white Christian nationalist website dedicated to "presenting the views of Occidental Christians who are determined to preserve both Western Civilization and Western Peoples." Depending on how many politically-active white supremacists named Scott Terry there are in North Carolina, this may be the same Scott Terry who defended slavery and segregation at CPAC. Scott Terry at CPAC claimed to have studied literature and history, and Scott Terry at Faith & Heritage identifies himself as a student pursuing a degree in philosophy and English (see also Lawyers, Guns, & Money).

Conservatives are now pushing the idea that Scott Terry was a "troll" used by the liberal media to discredit CPAC. Terry's likely blogging activities at Faith & Heritage, his association with Matthew Heimbach, and his association with Patriot Voices should help dispell any notions that he was merely a "liberal troll" seeking to make conservatives at CPAC look like a bunch of raging bigots (which of course they are).

Video of Scott Terry's remarks at CPAC (Think Progress):

Discuss

It's wonderful having Alan Grayson back in Congress. Grayson treats Republicans exactly as they deserve to be treated and should be treated. I wish we had many more Alan Graysons in the Democratic Party.

On Tuesday evening while discussing Paul Ryan's latest budget proposal on Current TV, Grayson gave Ryan the treatment he deserved and should receive from every Democrat in Washington (see Crooks & Liars, Raw Story).

“In one case after another, you look at his principles, you look at his vision, and they’re a nightmare for America,” Grayson said of Ryan. “He wants Americans to work until they die, he wants poor people who get sick not to be able to see a doctor, not to get the care they need, not to get better, he wants them to die, and he wants an America that consists of nothing but cheap labor for his corporate patrons.”

No mincing words here: If you're healthy, Paul Ryan wants you to work until you die. If you're sick, he just wants you to die. These comments echo Grayson's charge against Republicans in 2009: "If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly."

Grayson continued: “Paul Ryan believes that Social Security is unconstitutional, just like anyone who follows the writings of Ayn Rand would believe. If you read the Fountainhead, if you read similar fiction — although they don’t regard it as fiction — you come to the conclusion that these are people who believe government itself, anything that does anything for people other than defend the borders, is fundamentally immoral and unconstitutional.”

Alan Grayson tells it like it is.

(Support Alan Grayson: A Congressman with Guts)

Discuss

Via Little Green Footballs: The White House created the hashtag #askFLOTUS for citizens to tweet their concerns about childhood obesity to the First Lady. Predictably, the hashtag was quickly hijiacked by bigots.

Among these was Northern Ohio farmer John Cossel, who compared the First Lady to "Aunt Jemima" in the following racist tweet:

"why do u look like aunt jemima walking up the steps next to 2white women? Aren’t u the health nut?" (7:37 AM - Mar 11, 2013)

John Cossel is the owner of Cossel Farms in North Royalton, Ohio. In addition to the racist gem copied above, his Twitter account is full of the usual ranting right-wing teabaggery characteristic of his ugly ilk.

Contact information for Cossel Farms is as follows:

15981 York Road  (N.E. corner of York & Bennett Rds.)
North Royalton, OH 44133
tel: (440) 237-8565
e-mail: cossel@cosselfarms.com

Cossel Farms sells its produce throughout the Cleveland area, including at local farmers' markets in North Royalton, Parma, Hinckley, Brunswick, and Strongsville. Please avoid buying from this bigot. Please feel free also to address comments to Mr. Cossel via his contact information above.

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