American Morning

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April 20th, 2010
12:30 PM ET

Review: KFC's 'Double Down' sandwich

KFC's Double Down sandwich is two pieces of chicken, two slices of cheese and two strips of bacon - without a bun.

KFC's Double Down sandwich is two pieces of chicken, two slices of cheese and two strips of bacon – without a bun.

By Dashira Harris, CNN

I took a deep breath. I was next in line. "Uhhh, can I have a grilled and fried Double Down," I stammered once I got to the cashier. I imagined a collective gasp once the words left my mouth, but no such occurrence.

The cashier said the grilled Double Down will take six minutes to make. I waited while two others in line got the fried Double Down, one was a 70-year-old woman with a cane.

I have to admit, the blogs and tweets proclaiming, "heart attack," "instant death" and "you will die" unnerved me. On the other end, low-carb dieters rejoiced at the grilled option, only three grams of carbs and the fried, 11 grams.

Still, as I tore through the brown bag and popped the cardboard lid, I wondered would I spontaneously combust? I just had to find out for myself.

FULL POST


Filed under: Opinion
April 9th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Avlon: Ugliness & absurdities in American politics continue

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says Virginia's governor resuscitated more than a century’s worth of bad feeling and distrust by not mentioning slavery.

CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says Virginia's governor resuscitated more than a century’s worth of bad feeling and distrust by not mentioning slavery.

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

This week’s wingnuts include Virginia’s governor issuing a Confederate History proclamation that ignored slavery and a Georgia congressman confessing his fears that Guam might tip over.

The ugliness and absurdities in American politics continue, but they were belied this week by a moment of grace from a conservative senator who stood up to his audience’s expectations by complimenting Speaker Nancy Pelosi and standing up for civility. He gets our Profile in Courage Award for the week.

Virginia’s newly elected Gov. Bob McDonnell managed to resuscitate more than a century’s worth of bad feeling and distrust by deciding to issue a Confederate History Month proclamation – without mentioning slavery. It was a doubly odd decision, apparently made with an eye toward scoring subtle political points with “heritage, not hate” home state conservatives. The proclamation had been suspended by the two previous Democratic governors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. But the previous GOP Gov. Jim Gilmore had inserted language excoriating the evils of slavery into the proclamation.

McDonnell and/or someone on his staff apparently thought it would be a good idea to not only re-open that wound, but also made the proactive decision to remove any mention of slavery – not that slavery had anything to do with the Civil War in the first place. This neo-Confederate hat-tip did not go unnoticed and by Wednesday night McDonnell was offering voluminous apologies, but little by way of explanation.

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Filed under: Opinion • Politics • Wingnuts of the week
April 2nd, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Avlon: Militia arrests raise questions about political landscape

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says the arrest of the Hutaree militia group raises new questions about the fear-fueled fringes of the political landscape.

CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says the arrest of the Hutaree militia group raises new questions about the fear-fueled fringes of the political landscape.

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

We’ve seen a ratcheting up of violent rhetoric and even violent plots in recent weeks. This edition of Wingnuts of the Week takes a look at a new Code Pink “citizen’s arrest” of Karl Rove and the real arrest of the Hutaree militia.

Militia movements exist well off the grid when it comes to conventional domestic politics. But the arrest of the Michigan-based Hutaree anti-government militia group raised new questions about the increasingly ugly and fear-fueled fringes of the political landscape.

The small, self-style Christian militia group (members say “Hutaree” means “Christian warrior”), led by father David Stone, was arrested by the FBI early this week on charges that they plotted to murder a local law enforcement officer and then bomb his funeral procession to up the body count in an attempt to spur a civil war in the United States.

This is the latest sign of the estimated 300% increase in militia groups – as detailed by the Southern Poverty Law Center – that we’ve seen in America during the first year of the Obama administration. Not all militia groups can be classified as violent extremists, but this rapid growth indicates an unwelcome return to the heated atmosphere of the mid-1990s, when militia movements proliferated in the wake of Bill Clinton’s election and incidents at Ruby Ridge and the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The era ended after Timothy McVeigh destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing more than 160 innocent men, women and children.

FULL POST


Filed under: Opinion • Politics • Wingnuts of the week
March 29th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Commentary: Transforming 'food deserts'

Editor’s Note: Elissa Barrett is the executive director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance. She joined us on Monday's American Morning as the Jewish holiday of Passover was set to begin, to discuss her organization’s work on the issue of ‘food deserts’ in Los Angeles.

By Elissa Barrett, Progressive Jewish Alliance

Tonight, Jewish families all over the world will gather around their Seder tables to celebrate the holiday of Passover. In our nation’s capital, President Obama will be hosting a Seder in the White House, recounting – as millions of others will be doing – the story of the liberation of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.

On Passover we trace our path from oppression to redemption, from suffering to opportunity. As we recall our wandering through the desert on the way to freedom, our minds turn to those who are suffering today, to those still wandering the desert. The Progressive Jewish Alliance seeks solutions to repair injustices in our cities here and now, calling attention to the reality that millions of Americans live – unnecessarily – in "food deserts."

Food deserts are areas dominated by fast food restaurants, liquor stores and convenience stores with little or no access to fresh and healthy food. In a food desert, buying potato chips is easy, but buying a potato is hard.

Food deserts, unfortunately, exist at the intersection of race, class and geography. While 31% of white Americans live in a census tract with a supermarket, only 8% of black Americans do. The human costs of living in a food desert are high: inadequate nutrition leads to preventable diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

FULL POST


Filed under: Opinion
March 26th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Avlon: Hate is cheap political tool

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says an escalation of angry rhetoric and actions this week are the results of hate in the service of hyper-partisanship.

CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says an escalation of angry rhetoric and actions this week are the results of hate in the service of hyper-partisanship.

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

In the wake of the health care vote, we’ve seen an escalation of angry rhetoric and actions, fueling this week’s wingnuts to ugly new heights of incitement.

At least ten members of the House of Representatives received death threats this week while Republican House Leader Eric Cantor reported that bullets had been fired at his district offices in Virginia. Four local Democratic Party offices and district congressional offices had their windows broken with bricks.

All this follows the online exhortations of militia leader Mike Vanderboegh, who wrote on his blog this past Friday: “If we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.”

I interviewed Vanderboegh at length late last year for my book "Wingnuts." He is a self-described “former leftist” and SDS member who became a Second Amendment activist and leader in the militia movement during the 1990s. Last year, he co-founded a loosely-affiliated Hatriot group known as the Three Percenters.

Over the past year, he has detailed his unhinged opposition to the Obama administration: “You should understand that we are rapidly coming to a point in this country when half of the people are going to become convinced of the illegitimacy of this administration and its designs upon our liberty. Need I remind you that this side is the one with most of the firearms?”

This week he’s been hitting the radio show circuit to promote his message. This isn’t just wingnut stuff, it’s indicative of a new breed of Hatriot militias – those who believe its patriotic to fear the government and hate the president. It’s the politics of incitement.

At a time when Sarah Palin posted a Facebook page with gun-scope cross-hairs on the districts of Democratic representatives she is seeking to unseat this fall, the unhinged could be getting further encouragement from the former GOP VP nominee. In light of the death threats, decency and a modicum of good judgment should inspire Palin to take that map down immediately.

FULL POST


Filed under: Opinion • Politics • Wingnuts of the week
March 19th, 2010
06:30 AM ET

Avlon: Partisan politics leads to health care hypocrisy

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

CNN independent analyst John Avlon says partisanship is trumping principle and eclipsing patriotism in government.

CNN independent analyst John Avlon says partisanship is trumping principle and eclipsing patriotism in government.

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

This week, Washington combined high stakes poker and parliamentary procedures with health care reform in the balance. And despite more than a year of heated debate, the American people remain deeply divided on the issue – the only thing they seem to agree on is that D.C. is dysfunctional. A new poll shows Congress with a 17% approval rating.

Part of the reason is an epidemic of situational ethics: politicians reversing supposedly principled stands depending upon whether or not their party is in power.

The most egregious example is support for reconciliation – a measure to ensure an up-or-down vote, bypassing the threat of a filibuster. Republicans have lately been conflating reconciliation with the closely related, controversial (and conveniently scary-sounding) “nuclear option.”

When Larry King asked Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, “what’s wrong with majority rules?” on LKL earlier this week, she replied: “Because that's not how the Senate works. The Senate works with 60 votes. And now, what the president is promoting is a nuclear option, which is 50 votes.”

But the so called “nuclear option” was invoked 5 years ago by Republicans when they accused Democrats of blocking President Bush’s judicial nominations via filibuster.

As then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist explained, “Every judicial nominee brought to the floor should get a fair up or down vote...We were prepared to use this approach. The minority attempted to demean it by calling it the nuclear option surrounding it with the threats of the closure of government stopping this body from working…The proper term for our response is the constitutional option because we would rely on the constitution's power of self-governance to restore senate traditions barring judicial filibusters.”

In other words, Republicans were for forcing up-or-down votes before they were against it. As is so often the case in politics, where you stand is a matter of where you sit.

FULL POST


Filed under: Opinion • Politics • Wingnuts of the week
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