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We're Waiting, Mr. President: Obama Must Provide Better Leadership on Afghanistan

Saturday, October 31, 2009



By Claus Christian Malzahn
Spiegel
Photo: AP


Afghanistan and Pakistan are being shaken by attacks, and the Taliban is dictating the course of the war. US President Obama has been silent about the situation for far too long and European countries like Germany and France are correct to demand better American leadership on the issue of Afghanistan.

The most important piece of news from the most recent meeting of NATO defense ministers was that there was no news.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pointed out the dangers of failure on the part of the Western military alliance in Afghanistan. The war effort is already underfunded to the tune of several hundred million euros. Nevertheless, the costs of defeat will be much higher than the costs of the mission, Rasmussen said at the NATO summit in Bratislava, Slovakia last week.

His warnings fell on deaf ears, with only Great Britain agreeing to a slight increase in troop strength. All other NATO defense ministers, including, of course, the German defense minister, remained politely aloof when it came time to make commitments.

For once, this hesitation cannot be attributed to widespread war fatigue in Europe. The mission in Afghanistan is seen as a toxic issue in all Western nations, and every government that has provided troops has come under sharp criticism at home. What the US's NATO allies now find far more irritating is US President Barack Obama's silence on the issue....(Remainder.)

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"You Made That Up," Dean Tells Rove in Debate

By David Edwards
The Raw Story

As one might have guessed, there were plenty of fireworks Tuesday night during a debate between former Bush adviser Karl Rove and former DNC chair Howard Dean held at Penn State.
There was little agreement, but a good bit of name calling, during the event which ranged in tone from heated to humorous.

“That’s a made up statistic, Karl Rove. ...For the first time tonight, I’m calling you on it,” said Dean, a medical physician and the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “You made that up."

Rove had said that Medicare rejects claims twice as often as the overall health insurance industry, and he promised to put the proof in his Wall Street Journal column next week. “And I would appreciate it if you didn’t question my integrity. ..Mr. Dean, you just called me a liar and I don’t appreciate it,” replied Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to George W. Bush and a Fox News contributor. Later, Rove called Dean “adolescent” after the former Democratic National Committee chairman interrupted one of his answers.
"Liar! Liar!," some in a crowd of mainly students yelled at Rove toward the end of the night, when the former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush brought up the No Child Left Behind education legislation as an example of an issue that could attract bipartisanship.


"These people must be from Michigan — or they must be from Ohio State, I don't know," Rove quipped, referring to Penn State's biggest football rivals.
 (Remainder.)


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Moore on CNN: ‘No Middle Ground’ on Afghanistan; ‘We Need to Leave’

By Gavin Dahl
The Raw Story

Filmmaker Michael Moore told CNN's Larry King that it's time for President Barack Obama to wind down the war in Afghanistan. "It's unwinnable. It's immoral. It's illegal. It's wrong," he said. "We need to leave."

Moore appeared on the program Thursday along with another war critic, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

"It is my sincere hope that he decides to wind down and end this war, at least our part of this war, in Afghanistan," Moore said. "Initially, the idea of going and trying to capture the criminals who committed a mass murder on 9/11, that was a good idea. But we never did that.

"There is no middle ground," he stated emphatically. "You're either going to go all out and fight a big war that can't be won, or you're going to bring the troops home and focus on the problems that we have right now -- huge unemployment, global warming, a health care mess, all these things, our educational system, everything."

Moved by Obama's attendance at the transfer of bodies at Dover Air Force Base, something President George W. Bush infamously didn't do, Moore offered hope that Obama might end the war in Afghanistan."I'm going to trust in all my heart that he's going to make the right decision," he opined....(Remainder.)


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Racist & Xenophobic Right-Wing Talk Show Host Again Running for Colo House Seat

By Joseph Boven
Colorado Independent

In case no one heard about it, blogger Republican Joshua Sharf is running again for Colorado House District 6. The past co-host of Backbone Radio and occasional blogger for John Andrews’ Backbone American is picking himself up off the electoral mat to fight again with veteran legislator Democratic Rep. Lois Court.

It won’t be easy, conceded Sharf in an Oct. 15 release. He isn’t kidding. Sharf is battling to represent the district once repped by current Bennet Senate primary challenger and former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff. Sharf lost the district last year 24,114 votes to 50,806 votes. The district includes 45.1 percent registered Democratic voters and only 22.4 percent registered Republican Voters.


Court is for single-payer health care reform . Sharf is not. Court would like to see citizen petition rights protected while encouraging statutory rather than constitutional ballot proposals. Sharf is a champion of unfettered use of the ballot to alter the constitution.

The voter cheat sheet for the Sharf campaign in 2008 spells out his views.

He is mainly against affirmative action and unions.

On Backbone Radio, December of 2007, Sharf told audience members that affirmative action in all forms should be abolished at the universities. He said in terms of education “there are no evident facts that diversity in and of itself is a positive good.”...(Remainder.)

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Udall Risks Enviro Wrath by Floating Bill to Boost Nuclear Industry

Rich in uranium, Colorado would be on the ‘dirty front end’ of any nuclear renaissance

By David O. Williams
The Colorado Independent

Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall Wednesday took his boldest step yet on the road to a national nuclear renaissance as part of a program designed to combat global warming. He introduced the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Improvement Act of 2009 in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor in which he acknowledged he was likely stepping on an environmental landmine.

“For some, news that a Udall is speaking favorably about nuclear power will come as a stark – and perhaps unpleasant – surprise. But I also believe public and expert opinion on the risks and benefits of nuclear power has changed,” Udall said, referencing the 1979 Three Mile Island power plant meltdown and the industry’s struggle to improve its public image in the ensuing three decades.

“Looking beyond environmental concerns, and as we face perhaps our greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, we also need an ‘all of the above’ solution to jump-start our economy. That means continuing our development of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass, as well as traditional energy resources like coal, oil and cleaner fuels like natural gas,” said Udall, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The Senate bill, co-sponsored by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, would clear the way for the U.S. Department of Energy to engage in research into modular and small-scale nuclear reactors, cost-efficient manufacturing for nuclear power facilities and enhanced proliferation controls.

The bill is largely viewed as an olive branch to key Republicans who insist nuclear power, a nearly carbon-free source of energy, must play a bigger role in the pending Boxer-Kerry climate change bill, which would set a cap on carbon emissions and penalize the nation’s largest polluters....(Remainder.)

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The Defining Moment

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

O.K., folks, this is it. It’s the defining moment for health care reform.

Past efforts to give Americans what citizens of every other advanced nation already have — guaranteed access to essential care — have ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, usually dying in committee without ever making it to a vote.

But this time, broadly similar health-care bills have made it through multiple committees in both houses of Congress. And on Thursday, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, unveiled the legislation that she will send to the House floor, where it will almost surely pass. It’s not a perfect bill, by a long shot, but it’s a much stronger bill than almost anyone expected to emerge even a few weeks ago. And it would lead to near-universal coverage.

As a result, everyone in the political class — by which I mean politicians, people in the news media, and so on, basically whoever is in a position to influence the final stage of this legislative marathon — now has to make a choice. The seemingly impossible dream of fundamental health reform is just a few steps away from becoming reality, and each player has to decide whether he or she is going to help it across the finish line or stand in its way....(Remainder.)

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They Really Know How To Pick 'Em

By Abby Zimet
Common Dreams




House Republicans have hired a new foreign policy adviser on Afghanistan: Oliver North, Iran-Contra scandal mastermind, best-selling author, commentator on Fox News and felon. His mission is to provide insight on Afghanistan, where he wants to send many thousands more troops.
"Col. North is someone who enjoys the very broad respect of the House Republican Conference." - Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana.

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Band of Dems Blasts Geithner's Plan

Proposed nearly unlimited bailout authority would even further expand executive power

By Mike Lillis
The Colorado Independent

WASHINGTON– Appearing before a House panel on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made his best pitch for legislation granting the White House broad new powers to seize Wall Street firms when their collapse might torpedo others in the industry. It didn’t go so well.


A number of Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee unfurled a laundry list of charges against the proposal, including the prominent concern that the bill would empower the president — and future presidents –with unlimited bailout authority to prop up “too-big-to-fail” institutions at the expense of taxpayers.

“Mr. Secretary, I’m not a man that fears this administration or you,” Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) told Geithner. “But I do fear the accumulation of power exercised by someone in the future that can be extraordinary.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) echoed those concerns, arguing that the bill represents “the most unprecedented transfer of power to the executive branch to make decisions about both spending and taxes in history — all without congressional approval.”

The tone of the comments could foreshadow a tough road ahead, not only for the White House, but for Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who introduced legislation this week that grants the Treasury’s request to broaden the president’s “resolution authority.” The bill is one of the final pieces of the finance-reform puzzle that Frank has been putting together all year. But by conceding most of the administration’s requests, the Massachusetts Democrat — who asked no questions of Geithner Thursday — has riled others on his panel, who want to see more taxpayer protections in the bill....(Remainder.)

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Christo-Fascist Hate Radio Host Dobson Leaving the Air

By Eric Gorski
Associated Press

DENVER — James Dobson, the voice of conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, will no longer host its flagship radio broadcast and is cutting formal ties with the organization that he founded more than 30 years ago, the evangelical group said Friday.

Dobson, 73, and the board of directors both agreed about the moves, which will go into effect at the end of February, ministry officials said. The decision to part ways was amicable and long anticipated, said Gary Schneeberger, spokesman for the Colorado Springs-based group.

Dobson has distanced himself in recent years from the organization he founded in 1977 and built into an influential force — both as a political powerhouse and provider of conservative family and moral advice. Dobson resigned as Focus on the Family president in 2003 and as chairman of the board in February.

"The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — and Dr. Dobson's season at Focus on the Family has been remarkable," Jim Daly, Dobson's successor as president, said in a statement. "He has done a superlative job in modeling the graceful transition of leadership from one generation to the next."

Dobson did not issue a statement on his departure. Dobson's "health and attitude are great," Schneeberger said. Dobson suffered a minor heart attack in 1990 and a mild stroke in 1998.
Daly, however, made clear that Dobson "will continue to make his voice heard in the public square."...(Remainder.)

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President Obama Weekly Address: Milestones on the Economy and the Recovery Act

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In Article Criticizing Democratic Health Care Bill, WashTimes Only Cites Republican

By Eric Boehlert
Media Matters

Or, just Journalism 101 at the WashTimes, which swears it's mainstream news org. (And please, pay no attention to the launch of the Times' new, right-wing online hub TheConservatives.com.)

Not only can't the WashTimes find any Democrats to cite in an article that's critical of pending Democratic legislation, but look at how painfully dumb the 'reporting' is [emphasis added]:
The word "report" appears 364 times and "tax" is used 214 times -- and while some of those refer to bookkeeping such as tax years, the bill does raise several key levies, such as a "surcharge" of 5.4 percent on individual taxpayers who earn $500,000 or couples with incomes of $1 million.

Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, said the bill uses the word "shall" 3,425 times, which he said was an indication that a lot of new mandates are being imposed.

Among them is a requirement that chain restaurants print directly on their menus how many calories each item contains.

It's funny, because not that long ago it was a badge of honor among Beltway journalists, and especially those who covered Congress, to be able to understand the often arcane ways of the legislative process. It was considered an accomplishment for Congressional journalists to under all the details and not be phased by the at-times bewildering ways of Congress....(Remainder.)

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Cartman Sings Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" on South Park

Yeah, nothing to do with politics, but I'm indulging.



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Lawrence O'Donnell Evicertates Liz Cheney




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The Health Care Debate: Abortion as the Last Arrow

By Rude One
The Rude Pundit

So during the endless discussion over what was going to be part of the health care reform bill coming out of the House of Representatives, some Blue Dog Democrats voiced their fear that hard-earned cash money from them or their constituents might be used to pay for eeeevil abortions in any public health insurance exchange. So Representative Lois Capps, Democrat from California, proposed an amendment in committee. That amendment said, in so many words, "Okay, fuckers, you're so worried about a totally legal medical procedure? How about this: the only way the public health insurance option can pay for an abortion with federal funds is under the ways allowed by the backwards-ass Hyde Amendment from way back when. That means the usual trio: rape, incest, mother's life in danger. And, just to make sure your precious tax dollars, which you have no problem being used for killing civilians in wars, don't in any way, shape, or form go for abortions, we'll set it up so that the public option and the private insurance companies in the big-ass exchange can't use any federal money for abortions, only the premiums paid in by individual members. So, in other words, not a single federal dollar will pay for an un-Hyde abortion. Good?"

The amendment passed the Energy and Commerce Committee and was included in the final bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced yesterday. And it does, indeed, explicitly ban federal funds from being used for abortions, except as the Hyde Amendment allows.

So, of course, the pro-lifers all over the political map have declared that the bill is "mandating abortion services."

See, the way that these anti-choice conservatives see it, even if no federal tax dollars are ever used for abortion, the simple fact that any of the plans in the exchange cover abortion means that federal funds would be used for, say, colds and cancer and paper clips, thus evilly freeing up other money to be used for abortions. Or, as an amendment pro-life Democrats, led by Michigan's Bart Stupak, are demanding be voted on in the House says, no federal funds may be used "to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion" except in cases of the trio mentioned above. And that goes even if one plan out of, say, a dozen in the exchange covers abortion....(Remainder.)

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Federal Lobbying Boom Continues, Third Quarter Reports Indicate

By Michael Beckel
OpenSecrets.org

Try not to be too spooked on the eve of Halloween, but 2009 is on pace to be another bumper year for lobbyists.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the sectors that could be affected most by the Obama administration's domestic agenda -- particularly health, business and energy -- have been some of the biggest spenders over the course of the year.

During the third quarter, corporations, unions, trade associations and other special interests spent $849 million on federal lobbying, the Center for Responsive Politics has found. This is the largest single-quarter lobbying expenditure since firms began filing quarterly at the start of 2008 -- about $8 million more than was spent during the third quarter of 2008.

The year-to-date total spent on lobbying now stands at $2.5 billion through the end of September, with that sum supporting 13,428 individual active lobbyists. By comparison, the total amount spent on all federal lobbying during 2005 was $2.43 billion.

Below, we've detailed some of these areas by business sector and issue.

HEALTH

The health sector remains the year's top spender on lobbying, with $396 million between January and September. This is about a nine percent increase when compared to the same period in 2008. This year, Congress and President Barack Obama have advanced plans to reform the nation's health care system. Their aim: grant coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, make health insurance costs more affordable, prevent denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and create a new public health insurance option to compete against private insurers....(Remainder.)

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Media Immigration Human Rights Environment Water Health Drugs Sex Corporations and Work World Politics Take Action 3 Silly Religious Beliefs Held By Non-Silly People

By Greta Christina
AlterNet

"You can't disprove religion."

I'm seeing this trope a lot these days. "You can't disprove religion. At least -- not my religion."

"Well, of course," the trope continues, "many outdated religious beliefs -- young-earth creationism, the universe revolving around the earth, the sun being drawn across the sky by Apollo's chariot -- have been shown by science to be mistaken. But modern progressive and moderate beliefs -- these, you can't disprove with science. These are simply matters of faith: things people reasonably choose to believe, based on their personal life experience."

Then there's the corollary to this trope: "Therefore, atheism is just as much a matter of faith as religion. And atheists who think atheism is better supported by evidence are just as dogmatic and close-minded as religious believers."

The usual atheist reply to this is to cry, "That's the God of the Gaps! Whatever phenomenon isn't currently explained by science, that's where you stick your God! What kind of sense does that make? Why should any given unexplained phenomenon be best explained by religion? Has there ever been a gap in our knowledge that's eventually been shown to be filled by God?"

Which is a pretty good reply, and one I make a lot myself. But today, I want to say something else....(Remainder.)

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Christian Anti-Defamation Commission Defends Exorcists and Hate Groups From the 'Scary Gays'

By BlackTsunami
Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Now that President Obama has signed lgbt-inclusive hate crimes legislation, every wannabe religious right activist with access to a computer and someone dumb enough to fund them is coming out of the woodwork looking to profit on the supposed coming persecution of Christians by the lgbt community.

Last night, Pam Spaulding clued me in on the following from Gary Cass and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission:

"In other nations, like Canada, where hate crime laws have been enacted, it is Christians, specifically conservative Christians who hold to the historic Christian faith and it's values, that become the object of institutionalized, governmental hate."

"Christians who dare to tell the truth about the social, moral, spiritual and health consequences of illicit homosexual acts are accused of hate speech and intimidated into silence with threats of fines or jail."

"The fact the hate bill had to be passed in such an unscrupulous and cynical manner (attaching it to the Defense Authorization Act) reveals the depth of President Obama's commitment to a radical, anti-Christian agenda. He will stop at nothing to undermine the will of the majority of Americans to pay back militant homosexual activists who raised millions of dollars for his campaign and worked to get him elected."
So the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission is claiming that Christians will be under siege thanks to President Obama signing hate crimes legislation....(Remainder.)

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Obama Says U.S. to Lift Ban on HIV-Positive Travelers

By Kate Andersen Brower
Bloomberg

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said the U.S. will eliminate a 22-year-old ban on foreign nationals with HIV entering the country, saying it will be a step toward removing the stigma from the disease and encourage testing.

“We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic, yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people with HIV from entering,” Obama said today at the White House. “If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS we need to act like it.”

Obama made the announcement as he signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, reauthorizing a federal program that provides HIV-related health care.

The lifting of the travel ban was initiated last year by Congress when it approved legislation funding HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs sought by then-President George W. Bush.

The legislation eliminated the statutory requirement that HIV-infected travelers be excluded from entry to the U.S. and left it to the Department of Health and Human Services to decide on a final rule. Obama announced today that HHS will publish new rules on Nov. 2, to take effect Jan. 4, 2010.

Funding for Treatment

The Ryan White law was first authorized by Congress in 1990. Its reauthorization passed the Senate on Oct. 19 and the House on Oct. 21. According to the program’s Web site, it provides $2.1 billion to people “who do not have sufficient health care coverage” and financial help in coping with HIV. The funds are administered by HHS, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the HIV/AIDS Bureau....(Remainder.)

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Students Rally for Suspended Teacher

By Michelle Garcia
Advocate.com

Hundreds of students have rallied in support of a teacher who let his 10th-grade students to read a report on homosexuality among animals.

Dan Delong of Carlinville, Ill., at teacher at Southwestern High School in the nearby town of Piasa, will face a school board hearing November 2, after being suspended from teaching. A parent of one unidentified student thought the optional reading assignment was inappropriate for her child, according to United Press International.

The article, "The Gay Animal Kingdom," was by Jonah Lehrer, concerning the research of Joan Roughgarden, a biologist who has documented homosexual societies among more than 450 animal species, according to the Journal-Courier of Jacksonville, Ill.

Delong will face school district officials at the central office in Piasa at 6 p.m. on Monday....(Original.)

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US: Mass. Can't Force Gay Marriage Benefits

By Devlin Barrett
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — States that allow gay marriage can't force the federal government to provide benefits to those couples, the Obama administration argued Friday in court papers in a lawsuit by Massachusetts.

The Justice Department is at odds with Massachusetts — the first state to allow gay marriage — over a 1996 federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Massachusetts sued in July, saying that law is discriminatory and deprives gay couples in the state of some federal spousal benefits.

The Obama administration agrees the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is discriminatory and wants it repealed, but says it has an obligation to defend laws enacted by Congress while they are on the books and can be reasonably defended.

The law "does not prohibit gay and lesbian couples from marrying, nor does it prohibit the states from acknowledging same-sex marriages," according to the court filing by Assistant Attorney General Tony West.

Massachusetts, the filing continues, is trying to claim individuals have a right to federal benefits based on marital status.

"There is, however, no fundamental right to marriage-based federal benefits," according to the 36-page filing.

Joe Solmonese, head of the nation's largest gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign, said the law is discriminatory and the Obama administration should not defend it....(Remainder.)

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President Obama Commemorates Enactment of Hate Crimes Prevention Act

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The Act in Action: New Report Shows Recovery Act Creating Jobs Throughout the Nation

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Contrary to ALL Scientific Evidence and..Well...FACTS, Baron of Batshit & Monckton Say "We're in a Cooling Period"

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The Blubbering Buffoon Beck Pulls Lou Dobbs' One-World Gov't BS Out of His Ass

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The Babbling Baboon Stokes Fears of His Moronic Followers: The Republic is Under Siege! Revolutionaries in the White House! ARGGGH!!!

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The Baron of Batshit Issues a Totally Insane Ultimatum: You're Either With Marxist Revolutionaries or 1776 Revolutionaries

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Pat "Intelligence Level of a Tsetse Fly" Buchanan Tries to Downplay GDP Growth

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Right-Wing Ass Vampire Fucktard O'Reilly Thinks Obama is Fighting Fox More Than Taliban

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Christianist Taliban Fascist Leader, Dobson, Thanks Fox News for Their Unfounded Witch Hunts Against "Czars"

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Steve Doocy & Chris Wallace Crawl All Up in Rush's Man-Snatch: WH Attacked Him First

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Screeching Right-Wing Shrew, Conway, Thinks Caribou Barbie "Governed Like a Man...Didn't Raise Taxes"

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What's the Retarded Baby Jesus to do When Facts Are Against Him...Make Shit Up, and Bring Up Debunked "Death Panels"

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The Retarded Baby Jesus & Totally Crazy Bachmann Parrot the Pig-Man That Health Bill Will Ban Private Insurance

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The Oxy-Moron Comes Up With Another Batshit Insane Theory on Stocks & GDP

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Laura "Right-Wing Festering Snatch" Ingraham Compares Health Reform to a Horror Movie

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Rush "Couldn't Enlist Because of a Pimple on My Ass" Limbaugh Lies About Bush Going to Dover to Attack Obama

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In Yet Another Racist Screed, the Oxy-Moron Says Obama "Created 4.5 Million Basketball Games"

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Complete Ignorning ALL Scientific Evidence, Beck and Monckton Advance Bullshit Claim that CO2 is "Harmless"

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One of Fox's Many Talking Doorstops, Jamie Colby, Aggressively Pushes "Death Panel" Bullshit

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White House Trumpets Reports on Job Creation

Republicans, critics question figures on impact of stimulus


By Alec MacGillis and Michael A. Fletcher
The Washington Post

The White House on Friday embraced reports showing that the $159 billion in grants and loans made so far under the economic stimulus package has created or saved about 640,000 jobs, even as Republicans and government watchdogs questioned the reliability of the figures.

White House officials said the reports -- the first batch of filings by states, cities and other recipients of stimulus grants and loans -- buttressed their calculation that the full $787 billion package passed in February has saved or created 1 million jobs.

Friday's numbers fell short of 1 million, officials said, because they do not include $180 billion of the package's spending so far -- tax cuts, safety net spending and fiscal aid to states. In addition, only $25 billion of the $159 billion in grants and loans reported Friday has been spent, meaning that those awards may yet lead to more jobs. And the reports do not gauge the broader "multiplier effect" of the money in the economy.

"The Recovery Act is operating as advertised," declared Vice President Biden, flanked by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D)....(Remainder.)

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Conservative Media's "Radical" Attacks are So Lame

By Brian Frederick
Media Matters

On Thursday, House Democratic leaders unveiled the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The bill followed on the heels of the Senate Finance Committee's passage of its own version of health care reform legislation.

Let's let Sean Hannity explain: "This is so important. Because for all the town halls and everything that happened this summer, these are the critical weeks if you don't want health care."

And who wants health care? Much less health care reform ...

Hannity and the rest of the right-wing wrecking crew are gearing up for a war.

The very day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the House health care bill, Rush Limbaugh purported to read it and explain it. As one might expect, his analysis of what one provision of the bill says was almost entirely the opposite of what it actually says. On Thursday's show, Limbaugh said:
Now, as I go through this, it -- this section I'm gonna read part of, it looks like small businesses are gonna lose their tax breaks for health coverage. Right now, small business gets a tax break for providing health coverage. It's gonna be -- it looks like it's gonna be phased out in two years. But it's hard to tell from the damn convoluted language.
Ah, yes, that "damn convoluted language." Funny how such language confounds the Limbaughs of the world, yet gives them enough cover to provide their own bogus analyses....(Remainder.)

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Grover Norquist Spouts Falsehoods About Clean Energy Jobs Legislation

By Media Matters

During a Senate Environment and Public Works committee hearing on the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist repeated a slew of false talking points.  Contrary to Norquist's testimony, legislation increasing our investment in clean energy technologies would create jobs in every state and help America become more energy independent, all for less than a quarter a day.

Grover Norquist Cited False Cost Estimate

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist:
A recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, issued by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), to the U.S. Treasury Department reviled the government's internal reports estimate a cap and trade program will cost between $100 to $200 billion dollars in new taxes per year. This is the equivalent of a hike in personal income taxes by about 15% and the average American household would pay an additional $1,761 a year. [Norquist testimony via ATR, accessed 10/30/09]
That's just wrong.

PolitiFact.com Rated Claim FALSE: The "Statement That Households Will Pay $1,761 In New Taxes Every Year Is Based On A Blogger's Incorrect Assumptions And Overly Simple Math." According to PolitiFact.com: the "statement that households will pay $1,761 in new taxes every year is based on a blogger's incorrect assumptions and overly simple math. The estimate does not account for revenue that will be returned to consumers in the form of rebates and other efficiency measures. Furthermore, the number is based on old numbers; the Treasury estimate was written on the premise that all permits would be sold, which, ultimately, is not the form that the Waxman-Markey legislation has taken. Finally, both Alexander and McCullagh portray money raised by selling these permits as a tax. We rate Alexander's claim False." [PolitiFact.com, 9/16/09]...(Remainder.)

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Sens. Hatch and DeMint's Opposition To Net Neutrality Raises Eyebrows

By Walid Zafar
Media Matters

In a column in the October 30th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) attacked network neutrality, calling it a barrier to investment. Criticizing FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's plan to move forward on the issue, the Republican Senators argued against what they see as government intrusion into "one of the only aspects of our economy and national life free from government regulation."
If the Internet were invented by a politician or worse, managed by bureaucrats, cell phones would still look like bricks and the information superhighway would still be a dirt road. If there is any sector of our economy where competition is so fierce and where the pace of innovation is so rapid that government interference would only get in the way, it is the Internet and telecommunications market.

[...]

Net neutrality may sound like fairness but it is actually the opposite. Bandwidth is finite-like the finite number of lanes on a highway-and network providers must innovate in order to accommodate the burgeoning traffic. As they invest billions of private dollars in new and improved networks, they should rightly expect to set prices and manage those networks as they see fit.
Network neutrality is largely being misrepresented by Republicans as a government takeover of the Internet.  In fact, net neutrality would restrict carriers from controlling content.  Though the Senators allude to a highway to make their point, a more proper analogy is one made by flyte's Rich Brooks....(Remainder.)

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O'Reilly Sends His Stalker-Producer Griff Jenkins Out to Aggravate Alan Grayson

By Heather
Crooks and Liars


Alan, Alan, Alan...you forgot to use the Keith Olbermann "How to talk to Bill O'Reilly's stalker-producer in a way that guarantees the interview doesn't get on the air" guide for dealing with this sort of situation. Bill-O decided to send his stalker-producer Griff Jenkins out to do another one of his ambush interviews to get Rep. Grayson to respond to calling Enron lobbyist turned Fed lobbyist Linda Robertson a "K Street whore", which Grayson has since apologized for.

Someone needs to send Rep. Grayson Keith's tips in case Griffy-boy decides to take some more time away from promoting the Tea Baggers and sit outside of his office all day waiting to shove a microphone in his face. Three words Mr. Grayson--Malmedy, Mackris, loofah.


Howie Klein's got more on Grayson's comment about Linda Robertson over at the HuffPo--Alan Grayson calls a whore a whore-- Beltway whores freak out & defend Enron lobbyist working at the Fed.

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Glenn Greenwald: Lieberman and Bayh Enriching Themselves and Their Spouses with Opposition to Health Reform

By Heather
Crooks and Liars


Rachel Maddow talks to Glenn Greenwald about Joe Lieberman's threat to filibuster the health care bill if it contains a public option, Evan Bayh quickly following suit and the financial gain being made by both men and their spouses for doing so.
Maddow: Sen. Lieberman has made it very clear that he plans to oppose health reform that includes a public option. He’ll filibuster it in fact which would be historic. What do you think is motivating him?

Greenwald: Well I think you have to look first of all at a Research 2000 Daily KOS poll that was taken last month that shows that a margin of 68 to 21% of Connecticut voters, the people who he’s essentially representing, favor a public option. That’s a 47 point margin which is almost impossible to find on almost any other issue. So when you ask why he’s doing this, it’s clearly not because the people he’s supposed to be representing favor it.

I think clearly what it’s about is primarily that fact that the industry that he’s serving by doing this—by preventing competition with the public option—is an industry from which he receives very substantial benefits. He’s drowning in campaign contributions from the insurance industry, the health care industry, the pharmaceutical industry—more than $2.5 million.

In early 2005 his wife was hired by a large P.R. firm, Hill & Knowlton, in the pharmaceutical division, which at the time was representing the health care giant Glaxo in major legislation before the Senate. And several months later Joe Lieberman was on the floor of the Senate offering legislation that would directly steer huge amounts of incentives to that company in order to develop vaccines.

So I think what you’re seeing here is the kind of legalized corruption, legalized bribery that runs the United States Senate; only in this case it’s particularly sleazy and transparent because Lieberman is ready to gut the major initiative of the Democratic Party....
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MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Goes After Liz Cheney

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Liz Cheney Suggests Obama Honored Fallen Soldiers For The Publicity

By Evan McMorris-Santoro
Talking Points Memo

Liz Cheney called out President Obama for his early-morning trip to honor fallen soldiers arriving at Dover Air Force Base yesterday, suggesting President Bush honored America's heroes with a bit more class than his successor.

Cheney, on Fox News Radio's John Gibson Show yesterday:
"I think that what President Bush used to do is do it without the cameras. And I don't understand sort of showing up with the White House Press Pool with photographers and asking family members if you can take pictures. That's really hard for me to get my head around...It was a surprising way for the president to choose to do this."
It's not clear exactly what Cheney is referring to when she says, "Bush used to do it without the cameras."

It's true that Bush's Pentagon continued a long-standing policy of banning cameras at Dover when the nation's fallen arrived in flag-draped caskets from foreign battlefields. (Upon taking office, Obama lifted the ban.)

So that covers "without the cameras."...(Remainder.)

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Statement from Mayor Gavin Newsom

It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California. With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to — and should be — done.

This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats.

When I embarked on this campaign in April, my goal was to engage thousands and thousands of Californians dedicated to reforming our broken system and bringing change to Sacramento.

I would like to thank those supporters, volunteers, and donors who have worked so hard on my behalf. I have been humbled by their support and am indebted to their efforts. They represent the spirit of change and determination essential to putting California back on the right track.

I will continue to fight for change and the causes and issues for which I care deeply — universal health care, a cleaner environment and a green economy for our families, better education for our children, and, of course, equal rights under the law for all citizens.

Sincerely,
 Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom

 Paid for by Newsom for California Committee - Governor 2010. FPPC #1308175

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Obama Honors Return of Fallen Soldiers

Friday, October 30, 2009

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James Inhofe, Heating Up

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

Dana Milbank noted this morning, "It must be very lonely being the last flat-earther." He was referring, of course, to the tragically confused senior senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe (R).

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a key hearing yesterday on global warming, and even conservative Republicans on the panel "made it clear that they no longer share, if they ever did, Inhofe's view that man-made global warming is the 'greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.'"
"Eleven academies in industrialized countries say that climate change is real; humans have caused most of the recent warming," admitted Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "If fire chiefs of the same reputation told me my house was about to burn down, I'd buy some fire insurance."


An oil-state senator, David Vitter (R-La), said that he, too, wants to "get us beyond high-carbon fuels" and "focus on conservation, nuclear, natural gas and new technologies like electric cars." And an industrial-state senator, George Voinovich (R-Ohio), acknowledged that climate change "is a serious and complex issue that deserves our full attention."


Then there was poor Inhofe. "The science is more definitive than ever? You keep saying that because you want to believe it so much," he said bitterly. He offered to furnish a list of scientists who once believed in climate change but "who are solidly on the other side right now." The science, he said, "already has shifted" against global-warming theory. "Science is not settled! Everyone knows it's not settled!"


Inhofe called for more oil drilling. His aides tried to debunk the other senators' points by passing around papers titled "Rapid Response." Mid-hearing, Inhofe's former spokesman, now in the private sector, sent out an e-mail -- "Prominent Russian Scientist: 'We should fear a deep temperature drop -- not catastrophic global warming.' "
Inhofe later insisted that "we went out of that natural warming cycle about nine years ago" -- a claim that's patently ridiculous.

As for Inhofe's "list of scientists," let's not forget that many of them aren't scientists, and many more are convinced Inhofe's wrong. (Some of the actual scientists included on the senator's list demanded that their names be removed -- and he ignored their requests.)...(Remainder.)

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Fox News is Not Just Biased -- It's a Cult

By Bryant Welch
The Huffington Post

The danger Fox News poses to America is not that it is a biased or partisan arm of the Republican Party, as the Obama Administration contends. Fox is a danger because it is a cult and uses the same destabilizing psychological techniques cults use to undermine the independent functioning of minds they want to control.

Once unleashed, these cult-like techniques can ultimately take on a life of their own and become very dangerous, especially to the most important of all American freedoms, the freedom of thought. The most precise term for these techniques is mind control.

Unfortunately, by focusing on Fox News' bias, the Administration diverts attention from the true problem. Fox is a powerful system of mind control that makes a mockery of the principles of self-reliance and individual responsibility for which Fox adherents ostensibly stand.

For cults, like Fox News, their objective is total control of the victim's mind so that the viewer becomes the easily manipulated pawn of the cult. The cult leadership is not satisfied to merely convince the listener of a particular point of view. The cult wants to effectively pull the levers inside the listener's mind, and direct that mind lock, stock and barrel. The cult will measure its own success by the relative ease with which it is able to do this....(Remainder.)

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Oily Taints Lawsuit Thrown Out By California Judge

By Rachel Weiner
The Huffington Post

Another challenge from birther queen Orly Taitz against President Obama's birth certificate has been thrown out of court.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter's decision came down this morning. dismissed Orly Taitz's challenge that Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen and so is not the country's legitimate president.

Judge Carter wrote in his decision that the plantiffs were asking the Court "to effectively overthrow a sitting president who was popularly elected by We the People‚ sixty-nine million of the people."

Carter said before the ruling came down that his office was getting 40 to 100 calls from birthers urging him to back Taitz, after she asked for support on her website.


Earlier this month, Taitz was slapped with a $20,000 sanction by a judge in Georgia for "wasting the judicial resources" of the Middle District of Georgia with her "frivolous and sanctionable conduct."...(Remainder.)

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The Myth of Too Big to Fail

When it comes to banking, size isn't the only thing that matters.

By Tim Fernholz
The American Prospect

Amid last fall's financial chaos, executives from Wachovia, at the time the fourth-largest commercial bank in the country, had bad news for their regulators: They were broke. Federal officials deliberated and decided Wachovia was so important to the economy that the government had to save it.

It was only the latest in a series of financial institutions that regulators had deemed "too big to fail." In the preceding months, the government had bailed out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Bear Stearns, and Congress had passed the controversial $700 billion bill to fund yet more financial-sector rescues. Some of the institutions, like the insurance company American International Group (AIG), weren't even banks.

When the news of Wachovia's failure first reached Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chair Sheila Bair, she wanted to liquidate the bank and cut into the pocketbooks of its investors -- as she had done with Washington Mutual, the largest U.S. bank failure ever, a few days prior. But Tim Geithner, then president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, argued strenuously for Bair to invoke her agency's "too big to fail" exception and spend more money to cover the costs of the bank's sale. He worried another collapsing bank would only intensify the financial panic at a time when the government's hands were tied. (While the FDIC can liquidate a commercial bank like Wachovia, the Fed doesn't have the tools to shut down financial institutions, only the ability to prop them up with loans.)

Geithner, now the Treasury secretary, made the right decision at the time, but it was a terrible precedent to set. Sending the message that the government won't let large banks fail in a crisis gives them an unfair advantage over their smaller competitors. Worse, if bankers are rewarded for success and insulated from failure, there is little incentive for prudence and smart management -- the problem of moral hazard....(Remainder.)

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Nancy Pelosi You'll Burn In HELL! FOX & Friends

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Fox Nation Announces FirstSshots Fired in Annual War on Christmas



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Surgeon General Approved Without Opposition

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

About three weeks ago, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved Dr. Regina Benjamin's nomination to be the next surgeon general. The vote was unanimous, and there was little doubt she'd be confirmed by the Senate.

Until, that is, some Senate Republicans decided to put a hold on the nomination. They were angry, apparently, because HHS told Humana to stop using taxpayer money to mislead the public about health care reform. As "punishment," the GOP decided to block all administration health-related nominees from receiving up-or-down votes.

This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said enough was enough. Senate Republicans, perhaps concerned about the public's reaction to blocking a vote on a surgeon general nominee during a public health emergency, quickly backed down.
After much agitation earlier in the day, the Senate voted to confirm Dr. Regina Benjamin as the nation's surgeon general on Thursday night amid a national emergency over the swine flu outbreak.


The Senate approved her on a voice vote. On Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, had taken to the floor to complain that her nomination, along with others, had been held up.
Given the larger context, it seems Reid's forceful public criticism sparked the change and led to the confirmation....(Remainder.)

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From John Birchers to Birthers

The right's paranoid political style has gone mainstream.

By Thomas Frank
Wall Street Journal

Next month will mark the 45th anniversary of the publication by Harper's Magazine of Richard Hofstadter's famous essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," a work that seems to grow more relevant by the day.

I was not always a fan. When I first read it two decades ago, I thought Hofstadter was being needlessly insulting by equating political views with mental illness—despite his insistence that he wasn't using the word that way. Besides, I thought, who really cared about the strange notions that occurred to members of marginal groups like the John Birch Society? Joe McCarthy's day was long over, and even in the age of high Reaganism, I thought, the type of person Hofstadter described was merely handing out flyers on street corners.

As the historian himself admitted, "in America it has been the preferred style only of minority movements." Why bother with it, then?

How times have changed! Hofstadter's beloved liberal consensus has been in the grave for decades now. Today it would appear that his mistake was underestimating the seductive power of the paranoid style.

The essential element of this mindset, Hofstadter explained, was its predilection for conspiracy theory—for understanding history as a theater in which sinister figures control the flow of events from behind the scenes, nudging us constantly and secretly in the direction of communism....(Remainder.)

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