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Eliot’s Mess

Friday, March 14, 2008

The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked

By Greg Palast
Reporting for Air America Radio’s Clout

March 14th, 2008

While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was paying an ‘escort’ $4,300 in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush’s new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators.

Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there’s a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush’s man Bernanke was using ours.

This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.

Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.

Who are they kidding? Spitzer’s lynching and the bankers’ enriching are intimately tied.

How? Follow the money.

The press has swallowed Wall Street’s line that millions of US families are about to lose their homes because they bought homes they couldn’t afford or took loans too big for their wallets. Ba-LON-ey. That’s blaming the victim....(Click here for remainder of post).

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Join the Iraq War debate? Don't bother

The case is closed: invasion was the greatest foreign policy mistake since 1945
By Martin Samuel

This is a brave new era for the modern media and we should embrace it with a cheer. Our lives are going to become a lot easier. This week, five years after the invasion of Iraq, we, as neutral observers are going to discuss its legacy in terms of success or failure. Can you believe that? Not only in this newspaper, but also in other publications, over the airwaves and on television, too. There will be a national meditation on whether invading Iraq was a good or bad thing.

Do you know what this means? It is party time. It is open season. All bets are off. No more moping around the house bereft of ideas. No more lying awake staring at the ceiling. No more turning on the radio in the small hours in the forlorn hope that one item, one caller will stir the faculties for argument from their coma.

Now the worst foreign policy mistake of post-1945 Western democracy is up for deliberation, it is fair to say that anything goes. Events through history that seemed fairly cut, dried and closed to examination can be revisited with an open mind. The Spanish Inquisition, perhaps, or the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. It is no longer required to debate only the debatable. If we can take an event in which everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, that has divided the world and made it more dangerous, if we can take something that has, indefinitely, increased the alienation of clans and races and say: “So, what do you reckon, did that suck or not?” then these really are high times for the wittering classes.

When Jerry Sadowitz posed the question on national television “Jews and Nazis, so who's right?” I thought he was joking. Not any more. In this climate so many events that were previously off limits can be reopened....(Click here for remainder of post).

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Patriot missiles: Iraq Veterans Against the War

After Vietnam, American veterans testified to the atrocities they witnessed. Now soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are about to do the same

Some of them will be okay. They will live with the secrets. They can dissociate from what happened in combat because it was part of the job. It was what they signed up for. They will keep the secrets out of duty – the silence is part of a code, and they honour that code above all else.

But for others, the secrets they keep are like a poison, slowly releasing toxins of shame and remorse. Who can they tell anyway? They talk to each other – other veterans who have seen what they’ve seen, done what they’ve done, and who can relate to the burden of carrying these secrets for the rest of their lives.

In 1971, the protest group Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered at a hotel in Detroit. More than 100 veterans talked about the atrocities they had witnessed in southeast Asia.

The event lasted for three days and was named Winter Soldier after Thomas Paine’s famous article. “These are the times that try men’s souls,” he wrote of the terrible winter of 1776, when Washington’s ragtag, demoralised army turned the tide of the War of Independence....(Click here for remainder of article).


The Crisis by Thomas Paine

December 23, 1776

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own [NOTE]; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.

I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.

'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.

As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts are raised to defend. Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry = six miles. Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however, they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack, and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that their agents are under some providential control.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes centred in one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon care.

I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.

But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.

I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.

America did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.

Quitting this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage, and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope — our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.

December 23, 1776

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A rockin' letter from Rep. Pete Defaxio (D-OR) to Clinton and Obama to stop the infighting and go after McBush

Here's an amazing letter from Representative Pete Defazio, (D-OR) to Senators Clinton and Obama. Rep. Defazio has put down on paper what many Democratic voters have been thinking and longing for. Since the campaigns apparently are not willing to listing to the voters, maybe they will be receptive to the words of an uncommitted superdelegate. (The letter was posting on Policito.com and can be found here.)

Dear Senator Clinton and Senator Obama:

I write today as a concerned member of the Democratic Party and an uncommitted super delegate.

I appreciated the manner in which you both conducted your campaigns during the early primary process. It was a manner that respected the other and tried to highlight policy differences without resorting to destructive smear campaigns.

In the lead up to the March 4th primaries, the tone of both campaigns shifted and the civility that I had appreciated disappeared. The long term goal of beating the Republican nominee took a back seat to the short term goal of proving one's viability by tearing down the other Democratic candidate. We lost sight of the general election, we lost sight of the
true opponent and if we continue to be shortsighted, I fear we will lose in November.

The heated rhetoric between both campaigns has continued to intensify as we head into the Pennsylvania primary. While you trade barbs, McCain is uniting the Republican Party around his thinly disguised right wing agenda. In the next six weeks, McCain can sit back, amass his war chest, concentrate his base and delight as you deconstruct each other.

I propose that you not allow him that luxury. You both claim to be better suited than the other to take on the so-called Straight-Talk Express, so prove it. Run the next six weeks of your campaign against McCain, not against the other Democrat. Go after McCain for his policy positions, not the other Democrat for theirs. Allow the Democratic voters to believe in a campaign that can provide a new direction for this country and stop McCain from continuing the failed policies of the Bush Administration. In the end, it is the candidate who can take the fight to McCain and win that deserves my support and, most importantly, the support of the Democratic Party.

Both of your campaigns have been built on the fundamental idea that if elected, you will bring about change. Let's change the way we are doing business in this primary election. In the last few months, you have been running for the Democratic nomination. In the next six weeks, I urge you start running for President.

Sincerely,
PETER A. DEFAZIO
Member of Congress

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Saddam Hussein had no direct ties to al-Qaida, says Pentagon study

Elana Schor
guardian.co.uk, Thursday March 13 2008


A US military study officially acknowledged for the first time yesterday that Saddam Hussein had no direct ties to al-Qaida, undercutting the Bush administration's central case for war with Iraq.

The Pentagon study based on more than 600,000 documents recovered after US and UK troops toppled Hussein in 2003, discovered "no 'smoking gun' (ie, direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al-Qaida", its authors wrote. George Bush and his senior aides have made numerous attempts to link Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda terror in their justification for waging war against Iraq.

Wary of embarrassing press coverage noting that the new study debunks those claims, the US defence department attempted to bury the release of the report yesterday.

The Pentagon canceled a planned briefing on the study and scrapped plans to post its findings on the internet, ABC news reported. Unclassified copies of the study would be sent to interested individuals in the mail, military officials told the network....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Democrats Dig In for Surveillance Battle

By SIOBHAN GORMAN
March 14, 2008; Page A3

House Democrats are expected to approve today a surveillance measure that challenges the White House and which President Bush said he would veto, virtually ensuring the spy-power battles on Capitol Hill will continue at least into the spring.

The plan represents a shift for Democrats, who until now have mostly backed down in the face of White House claims that their efforts would endanger national security. Democrats are betting that their stance appeals to a growing number of voters who say Mr. Bush's antiterrorism policies have compromised civil liberties. Democrats may also see less of a risk in opposing Mr. Bush on national security because polls show the public is more concerned about the economy than terrorism. "There's a feeling that we need to stand up for civil liberties," said one Democratic aide.

The recent pushback, however, leaves Congress with no clear way to resolve the problem of how to modernize surveillance law while preserving civil liberties. "It's time to clarify what the endgame needs to be," said Rep. Jane Harman (D., Calif.), a former House intelligence panel member....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Obama Cuts Into Clinton's Delegate Lead Among Elected Officials

By Julianna Goldman and Catherine Dodge


March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Barack Obama has pulled almost even with Hillary Clinton in endorsements from top elected officials and has cut into her lead among the other superdelegates she's relying on to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Among the 313 of 796 superdelegates who are members of Congress or governors, Clinton has commitments from 103 and Obama is backed by 96, according to lists supplied by the campaigns. Fifty-three of Obama's endorsements have come since he won the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, compared with 12 who have aligned with Clinton since then.

``That's not glacial, that is a remarkable momentum,'' Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a superdelegate and Obama supporter, said in an interview. ``I don't think there is anything that will slow that down.''

Democratic elected officials have the most at stake in the nomination because the candidate at the top of the ticket in November will have an impact on state and local races....(Click here for remainder of article).

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MoveOn Taps Hollywood Heavyweights to Judge ‘Obama in 30 Seconds’ Ad Contest

MoveOn.org is putting its money where its endorsement is.

The anti-war advocacy group that backed Barack Obama in early February is hosting a campaign ad contest for the Illinois senator that will be judged by Hollywood heavyweights. It plans to announce the winning entry right before the pivotal April 22 Pennsylvania primary.

The effort reprises a 2004 contest against President Bush.

The group made a casting call to all Obama girls — and boys — on its Web site, asking filmmakers and artists to submit 30-second ads that will be ranked on originality, impact and how effectively they portray Obama’s “positive message.”

The winning ad from the “Obama in 30 Seconds” contest will be aired on national TV.

“Powered by grassroots enthusiasm, Obama has won the most states and the most delegates. But the race isn’t over, and we’ve got to pull out all the stops to help him across the finish line,” says a message on the Web site....(Click here for remainder of article).

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Olbermann Goes off on Hillary

By Joe Garofoli

Ever since he started doing his "Special Comment" feature two years ago, Keith Olbermann's occasional personal commentaries at the end of his nightly "Countdown" show on MSNBC have been aimed largely at conservatives, namely G.W. Bush. We all remember when KO told the Prez, "You, sir, are a bold-faced liar." And on another night, he called Bush a "fascist."

KO's run of GOP love ended Wednesday night when Olbermann let loose with a blistering, nearly 10-minute takedown of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton that was unlike anything you'd hear on the nightly network news.

But in the wake of Geraldine Ferraro's remarks about Sen. Barack Obama recently, KO couldn't take it anymore. Olbermann ripped into Clinton Wednesday and her advisers for their "tepid response to this Ferraro disaster." "Senator, their words and your own are now slowly killing the chances for any Democrat to become president," he said.

"In fact, senator, you are now campaigning as if Barack Obama were the Democrat and you were the Republican." Yeow....(Click here for remainder of post).

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Obama on Offense

By Dorothy Rabinowitz
March 13, 2008


It came as a relief to hear, in the last few days, that both Democratic candidates were now about to go on the attack, though pundits agreed such low tactics had been forced on Barack Obama. There's something reassuring about the usual election season blather over negative campaigning. That relief is a response, mostly, to any whiff of normality promising to emerge in the current Democratic race.

Still, the prospects are thin, given the rapturous response Mr. Obama has enjoyed at the hands of a good part of the press -- attitudes so obvious that the usual stern media denials that their coverage was other than objective have been hard to find. Anyone who doubts this bias has only to look at the past week's charges that Hillary Clinton and company have been playing the race card -- the latest in a series of such accusations made by Obama surrogates, carried forward by the media.

Of those offenses, the most memorable, perhaps, concerned Bill Clinton's challenge to the record Sen. Obama claimed regarding his long opposition to the Iraq war, which Mr. Clinton called "a fairy tale." In short order, word was put out that the former president had insulted black Americans and their high hopes for this election, by use of this disparaging term, "fairy tale." Mr. Clinton, some charged, had denigrated Mr. Obama's entire candidacy as a fantasy....(Click here for remainder of post).

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Hillary Wants Florida Do-over Vote Counted in Private

The Clinton campaign's latest push to grab delegates includes a secret vote count.

By Mark Crispin Miller, AlterNet. Posted March 12, 2008.

Now here's one really terrible idea -- and if Obama goes along with it, he should just write off Florida completely, regardless of how many Democrats down there might vote for him. The Clinton camp is urging a big mail-in re-vote: a "complex plan" that would entail the party's "pay[ing] a private firm to count the votes."

This news comes courtesy of New York Times, which, reports that crucial last detail in passing, but we (and, certainly, Obama) should demand to know (a) why all those ballots should be counted in that way, and (b) which "private firm" the party has in mind. For this is Florida, remember? And, so far, nationwide, the "private firms" retained to manage all aspects of our elections have always done a scandalously rotten job -- or at least it would be scandalous if the U.S. press would bother to report the scandal(s).

In any case, the fact that Clinton's posse wants to do it this way indicates quite clearly that they figure -- rightly -- that it will only benefit themselves.

In the long term, we must ban all private vendors from America's elections, so that such a plan as this would not be merely ill-advised but patently illegal. And, right now, Obama -- and all those Floridians who still believe in fair elections, whether they would vote for him or not -- should just say no to this appalling plan....(Click here for remainder of article).

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New Evidence in Siegelman Case Points to Republican Cabal

A group of Republicans were seeking to profit from the trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

By Sam Stein, Huffington Post. Posted March 13, 2008.

A new review of evidence suggests that an aligned group of Republican interests were pressing for -- and seeking to profit financially from -- the trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on charges of bribery.

According to court documents and official testimony, months before Siegelman was charged, Rob Riley, the son of the state's governor, expressed confidence that an indictment would occur and that Siegelman's political financier, Richard Scrushy, would be drawn into case.

Around the same time, moreover, Riley managed to maneuver himself into an extremely profitable position: lead local counsel on a separate, massive civil suit against Scrushy and his company, HealthSouth.

How he received the assignment aroused some suspicion.

Riley had limited experience in securities litigation. And, for critics, his appointment gave of the appearance of legal-political insider trading: the governor's son, cognizant that Scrushy would be dragged into Siegelman's case, saw the benefits to be had from the civil suit against Scrushy's company, and positioned himself to profit....(Click here for remainder of post).

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Copyright

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