A reader over at Greg Sargeant’s blog makes a poignant observation:

I’m confused. According to the right, 9/11 happens nine months into Bush’s term and it’s Clinton’s fault; however, Obama’s already being blamed for any upcoming attack. Doesn’t Obama get the same sort of grace period Bush got?

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This is absolutely outrageous:

Tamera Jo Freeman was on a Frontier Airlines flight to Denver in 2007 when her two children began to quarrel over the window shade and then spilled a Bloody Mary into her lap.

She spanked each of them on the thigh with three swats. It was a small incident, but one that in the heightened anxiety after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would eventually have enormous ramifications for Freeman and her children…

The incident aboard the Frontier flight ultimately led to Freeman’s arrest and conviction for a federal felony defined as an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act, the controversial federal law enacted after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

“I had no idea I was breaking the law,” said Freeman, 40, who spent three months in jail before pleading guilty.

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ABC News came out with a truly astounding poll yesterday that debunked a lot of sloppy “conventional” wisdom about Americans’ views on torture.

Glenn Greenwald sums up some of the poll’s key findings:

By a wide margin — 58-40% — Americans say that torture should never be used, no matter the circumstances. Let’s repeat that: “no matter the circumstance”…

Moreover, a majority of Americans (53-42%) favor the closing of Guantanamo, with large support among Democrats (68%) and independents (55%).

[A] majority of Americans (50-47%) believe that the Obama administration should investigate whether the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees was illegal.

Say what you will about the body politic, sometimes they get it right.

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About time:

Moving quickly to reverse his predecessor’s policies on the treatment of terror suspects, President Barack Obama on Thursday signed an executive order to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year.

He also signed an executive order to require that all U.S. interrogations of terror suspects must now conform to the U.S. Army Field Manual, a move meant to restrict what the CIA can do. The presdient created an interagency task force to advise him on detainee policy.

In addition, the man tapped to oversee U.S. intelligence is promising Congress there will be no torture, harsh interrogations and warrantless wiretapping on his watch.

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James Kirchik, writing for The New Majority, has a new piece on why the GOP needs to give up its neverending fight against those scary gays:

[T]he continued propagation of policies opposed to the advancement of the gay rights agenda will doom the GOP for a generation. Given the fact that nearly 40 states have passed laws in some way or another defining marriage as between a man and a woman, the notion that conservatives should drop gay issues may seem counterintuitive. But these successes are illusory. America has witnessed a sea change in attitudes on the subject of homosexuality over the past 35 years. In 1973, for instance, 73% of Americans viewed same-sex relations as “always wrong.” In 2006, that figure stood at 56%. In February of 2004, 61% of Americans supported banning gay marriage; two years later that figure dropped to just 51%. Likewise, support for the right of gays to serve openly in the military now stands at nearly 80% (a majority of Americans opposed open service when it first became a national controversy in the early months of the first Clinton administration), and about half of Americans support allowing gays to adopt children…

Conservatives face a stark choice. They can succumb to the short-term temptation of erstwhile electoral victory and continue to support regressive policies on gay rights that are fast going out of fashion. Or they can look at the statistics, talk to their younger colleagues, coolly survey the direction in which the culture is inevitably headed, and plan accordingly. This doesn’t necessarily require the GOP to support gay marriage, just to stand out of the way of what’s coming. A properly conservative party does not just wish to preserve the useful traditions of the past, but to adapt those traditions for the future.

I suggest reading the whole article. There is a lot there and I have to run off in a few minutes to a meeting. Before I go, a few points on why the GOP needs to stop with the gay-bashing:

1. It’s the right thing to do. People are perfectly welcome to hate gay people (or blacks, Jews, or left-handed people) in their private lives. However, when it comes to the public sphere, too much of the Republican anti-gay agenda has served to demonize gay people in a truly despicable way.

2. Simply from the point of self-interest, the Republican Party would be better served by dropping the gay hate. With every passing year, the hatred and stigma of gay people lessens. In the “conservative” Tory Party in England, there are already a number of gay elected officials serving openly without much of a clamor from the party faithful. Could you imagine such a state of affairs in today’s Republican Party?

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William Saletan asks what I consider to be a pretty simple question:

Should parents go to jail for believing so devoutly in faith healing that they don’t seek lifesaving medical treatment for their children?

Here’s the situation:

Leilani and Dale Neumann[‘s] … 11-year-old daughter died of diabetic complications after they relied on prayer rather than doctors to heal her. Now they face trial for reckless endangerment and a potential prison sentence of 25 years. They’re the third couple slapped with criminal charges in the last year for failing to seek treatment for a child.

My answer to his question? Yes; 110%; absolutely — send ’em to the pokey. As I noted in an earlier post ruminating on the death of John Travolta’s son:

If all this is true, Travolta (and other religious nuts like him who refuse lifesaving treatments on behalf of their minor children) should at least be prosecuted for child endangerment or criminally negligent homicide.

It is all well and good for adult religious nutjobs to refuse medical treatment for themselves. When they refuse treatment for their children, they should be held liable if that refusal leads to the child’s death. Children can’t speak for themselves and need the state to protect them from the insanity of their parents.

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I am a big fan of the Confabulum blog over at Culture 11. I consider Conor Friedsdorf to be one of the leading lights in the post-oogedy-boogedy era of the conservative movement in America today. I’m not as familiar with some of the other writers there, including one Ericka Anderson, who recently wrote a post that quoted esteemed right-wing gay-hater Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Remember her?

To refesh your memory, this is a classic clip from the West Wing, in which Martin Sheen seriously dresses down a character that was based on Dr. Laura:

Well, I posted a few comments over on Ericka’s blog post, which ended with the following:

Ericka,

Whatever Dr. Laura means to you, she is a force for hateful fundamentalist rigidity and intolerance in this country. I don’t know if she’s toned down her inflammatory, hateful rhetoric since her time in the limelight earlier in the decade but here is a nice little sample of some of the venom she’s spewed over the years:

“When homosexuals adopt children, these children are intentionally robbed of a necessary mom and dad.” — Dr. Laura Schlessinger

“A huge portion of the male homosexual populace is predatory on young boys.” — Dr. Laura Schlessinger

“Her [Dr. Laura’s] perorations strongly suggest that many gays are predators, eager to convert new members to the faith. She urges parents to avoid bringing kids into the company of possibly gay relatives.” — Reuters/Variety on Dr. Laura, February 13, 2000

You see, it’s not just that Dr. Laura believes that homosexuality is a sin — a lot of people believe that, which is fine if that’s where the belief stops. It’s that she takes it to the next level and actively insults gay people by suggesting that they’re wildly predatory and denigrates the great work that gay parents do.

Dr. Laura and the rest of the fundamentalist sect of the Republican Party need to realize that the time for demonizing gay people is over — permanently. The Tories in England have a number of gay elected officials amongst their ranks. Could you imagine the same being true in today’s Republican Party? Nope. The gay-bashing continues unabated. In order to make the party relevant in the 21st Century, we conservatives need to get over our fear of teh gay and realize that even though it is perfectly fine for people to privately hold the belief that homosexuality is a sin, we can no longer try to bludgeon gay people over the head with misguided isolation and venom.

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Parents that encourage their talentless children to go on American Idol should be convicted of child abuse.

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