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Obama, Who Vowed Rapid Action on Climate Change, Turns More Cautious

Sunday, April 12, 2009

By John M. Broder
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — President Obama came to office promising swift and comprehensive action to combat global climate change, and the topic remains a surefire applause line in his speeches here and abroad.

Yet the administration has taken a cautious and rather passive role on the issue, proclaiming broad goals while remaining aloof from details of climate legislation now in Congress.

The president’s budget initially included roughly $650 billion in revenue over 10 years from a cap-and-trade emissions plan that he wants adopted. But the administration, while insisting that its health care initiative be protected, did not fight to keep cap-and-trade in the budget resolutions that Congress passed last week, and it wound up in neither the House’s version nor the Senate’s.

Overseas, American officials are telling their counterparts that they need time to gauge the American public’s appetite for an ambitious carbon reduction scheme before leading any international effort.

Has the administration scaled back its global-warming goals, at least for this year, or is it engaged in sophisticated misdirection?...(Click for remainder.)

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Teabag THIS!

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US Religious Right Concedes Defeat [and It's About F**king time!]

America's religious Right has conceded that the election of US President Barack Obama has sealed its defeat in the cultural war with permissiveness and secularism.

By Alex Spillius
The Telegraph UK

Leading evangelicals have admitted that their association with George W. Bush has not only hurt the cause of social conservatives but contributed to the failure of the key objectives of their 30-year struggle.

James Dobson, 72, who resigned recently as head of Focus on the Family - one of the largest Christian groups in the country - and once denounced the Harry Potter books as witchcraft, acknowledged the dramatic reverse for the religious Right in a farewell speech to staff.

“We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action,” he said.

“We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”

Despite changing the political agenda for a generation, and helping push the Republicans to the Right, evangelicals have won only minor victories in limiting the availability of abortion. Meanwhile the number of states permitting civil partnerships between homosexuals is rising, and the campaign to restore prayer to schools after 40 years - a decision that helped create the Moral Majority - has got nowhere....(Click for remainder.)

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Dobson Points to Culture War Defeat

By Steve Benen
Washington Montly


James Dobson delivered a farewell speech to the Focus on the Family staff, and conceded that the culture war he helped start hasn't turned out well for the agents of intolerance. Indeed, Dobson almost sounded resigned to defeat.
James Dobson, 72, who resigned recently as head of Focus on the Family -- one of the largest Christian groups in the country -- and once denounced the Harry Potter books as witchcraft, acknowledged the dramatic reverse for the religious Right in a farewell speech to staff.

"We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action," he said.

"We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles."
Now, in fairness, this report omitted some context. As my friend Kyle reported, Dobson actually emphasized his desire to keep the fight going, despite the religious right movement's setbacks: "Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right? ... I have been assured by the board and by many of you that we're not going to cow, we're not going to be discouraged."...(Click for remainder.)

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As Alaska Stimulus Showdown Nears, Palin to Leave Town

By Sean Cockerham
Anchorage Daily News


JUNEAU -- With just one week left before the Alaska Legislature adjourns for the year, the conflict between Gov. Sarah Palin and lawmakers over taking federal economic stimulus money is the dominant issue left.

In fact, legislative leaders don't seem intent on doing a whole lot else this year.

Just nine of the 419 bills introduced have passed through the full Legislature so far, and while many more will pass in the frenzied final week, there is little desire to make major state policy changes in what Senate President Gary Stevens conceded is basically a session of preserving the status quo.

There's still a chance that bills will pass increasing the state minimum wage, requiring parental notification when a teenager gets an abortion, expanding Alaska children's health insurance for lower-income families and stopping the state, including the Permanent Fund, from investing in companies doing business in Sudan, the African country whose government has been blamed for genocidal killing in the Darfur region.

Legislators will also vote Thursday on approving the governor's appointees, including attorney general Wayne Anthony Ross, who has proven controversial but is still likely to be confirmed.

Palin herself will be leaving Alaska this week to attend the Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in Evansville, Ind. on Thursday, as well as an event for special-needs children. Fairbanks Republican Rep. Jay Ramras questioned her leaving town right at the end of the session, when critical decisions are being made....(Click for remainder.)

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U.S. Shipped 989 Munitions Containers To Israel Week Before Gaza Invasion

By Australian Herald

A week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 20-foot containers of munitions, each weighing 14,000 tonnes, to Israel.

In the dying days of the Bush administration, and a week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign, followed by a land invasion of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 containers of munitions to Israel.

Each container was 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes. The shipment reportedly reached Israel last month at Ashod, 40 kiometres north of Gaza. The huge arsenal of munitions will replenish those expended in the Gaza War.

According to Amnesty International in the UK, the shipment included white phosphorous.

The international organization says 300 of the containers had been unloaded at Ashod in March by a German cargo ship, Wehr Elb.

"We are sure that the consignment contained arms and munitions." We have a strong suspicion that it contained white phosphorous which has been used against civilians in Gaza," Brian Wood, head of Arms Control Campaign at Amnesty International in London said late this week.

"The cargo ship had been chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command. It left the USA for Israel on December 20, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza. The vessel was carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes," he said....(Click for remainder.)

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Cost of Iraq War Will Surpass Vietnam's By Year's End

If Congress approves the latest funding request, as expected, the Iraq war will have cost about $694 billion, making it the second most expensive conflict in U.S. history behind World War II.

By Julian E. Barnes
Los Angeles Times


Reporting from Washington -- The amount of U.S. money spent on the Iraq war will surpass the cost of Vietnam by the end of the year, making it the second most expensive military conflict in American history, behind World War II, according to Pentagon figures provided Friday.

If Congress approves the supplemental funding request submitted this week by the Obama administration, the cost of the war will rise by $87 billion for 2009, including a previous supplement approved during the Bush administration.

Added to the amount spent through 2008, it would mean the Iraq war will have cost taxpayers a total of about $694 billion. By comparison, the Vietnam War cost $686 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars and World War II cost $4.1 trillion, according to a Congressional Research Service study completed last year.

In Vietnam, U.S. forces at their peak had up to three times as many troops at any one time as in Iraq and suffered 58,000 deaths, more than 13 times as many as have died in Iraq. There are two broad reasons for the added expense of the Iraq war: people and equipment....(Click for remainder.)

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Awake and Sing!

By Frank Rich
The New York Times


“I am pronouncing the depression over!” declared CNBC’s irrepressible Jim Cramer on April 2. The next day the unemployment rate, already at the highest level in 25 years, jumped yet again, but Cramer wasn’t thinking about the 663,000 jobs that disappeared in March. He was thinking about the market. Mad money. Fast money. Big money. The Dow, after all, has rallied in the weeks since Timothy Geithner announced his bank bailout 2.0. Par-tay! On Wednesday, Cramer rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, in celebration of the 1,000th broadcast of his nightly stock-tip jamboree.

Given Cramer’s track record on those tips, there’s no reason to believe he’s right this time. But for the sake of argument, let’s say he is. (And let’s hope he is.) The question then arises: What, if anything, have we learned from this decade’s man-made economic disaster? It wasn’t just trillions of dollars of wealth that went poof in the bubble. Certain American values also crumbled and vanished. Making quick killings by reckless gambling in the markets — rather than by investing long-term in new products, innovations, technologies or services that might grow and benefit America and the world — became the holy grail in the upper echelons of finance.

This was not an exact replay of the preceding dot-com bubble. As a veteran of the tech gold rush recently observed to me, in Silicon Valley “the money comes later” and “the thing you make comes first, however whimsical, silly, microscopic, recondite it may be.” On Wall Street over the past decade, the money usually came first, last and in between. There was no “thing” being made at all unless you count the slicing and dicing of debt into financial “products,” the incomprehensible derivatives that helped bring down the economy, costing some five million Americans their jobs (so far) and countless more their 401(k)’s....(Click for remainder.)

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Colbert ThreatDown: Robert Gates, Dog Seders, & Obama

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Glenn Beck Issues a Wingnut Call to Arms

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Obama's Vatican Ambassador Rejected? No.

By Amy Sullivan
Swampland @ Time.com


I'd missed this until now, but apparently the trustworthy folks at Newsmax have been circulating a report [aka lie] claiming that the Obama administration has submitted three separate ambassadorial candidates to the Vatican for approval and each has been rejected for being "insufficiently pro-life."

You'll be shocked to learn this is not true. But oh how perfect it must have sounded to the Newsmax crew when they put out the story. Everyone knows Democrats aren't pro-life. And now Obama can't even get a Vatican ambassador approved--because there's not a single pro-life Catholic in the Democratic Party!

Unfortunately for them, John Thavis at Catholic News Service actually called over to the Vatican to ask about the rumors. Here's what he found:
Vatican sources said not only was the report inaccurate, but that its premise was faulty. The Vatican has not been in the habit of vetting the personal beliefs or ideas of candidates before accepting them as ambassadors, they said.

There have been occasions in the last two years when the Vatican has objected to ambassadorial candidates -- from Argentina, in the case of a divorced Catholic with a live-in partner, and from France, where the candidate was an openly gay Catholic in a union with another man.

"For Catholic ambassadors, there is the question of their matrimonial situation. But outside of that, I don't think there are other criteria," said one Vatican source.
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Agribusiness Wants Michelle Obama To Use More Chemicals

By Amanda Terkel
Think Progress


First Lady Michelle Obama received widespread praise for her decision to plant a White House garden that will provide food for the residence. Obama has been receiving help with the project from Bancroft Elementary School children, who are learning the importance of healthy living. “You can carry a message back to your school about the importance of eating healthy meals,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said yesterday. “You have a partner at the Department of Agriculture to make meals better tasting and better for you.” However, the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) — which represents agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, and DuPont Crop Protection — are unhappy that no chemicals are being used on the food:
Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical,” the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) wrote the first lady last month a few days after she and fifth-graders from a local elementary school planted the White House Kitchen Garden.

“As you go about planning and planting the White House garden, we respectfully encourage you to recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S. in feeding the ever-increasing population, contributing to the U.S. economy and providing a safe and economical food supply.”
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Jon Stewart Ruthlessly Mocks Right-Wing Defense Spending Kerfuffle

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M - Th 11p / 10c
Full Metal Budget
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis Political Humor

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Limbaugh Melts Down On-Air, The Wheels Are Coming Off His Little Red Wagon

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Conservative Media Unleash Violent, Revolutionary Rhetoric

By Media Matters

Since President Obama's inauguration, numerous conservative media figures have called for a "revolution" or have invoked violent rhetoric while discussing the Obama administration or government in general. In addition to encouraging violence, such violent rhetoric has also included suggesting Obama's policies were doing violence to the American people and depicting Obama as a rapist, spousal abuser, or mobster.

Media Matters for America has previously noted that since Obama's inauguration, conservative media figures have made ominous, even apocalyptic claims about the impact policies pursued by Obama and other progressives might have on the United States; warned of impending socialism, fascism, communism, Nazism, McCarthyism, or Marxism under the Obama administration; asserted or suggested that under Obama, U.S. sovereignty may give way to a one-world government; and warned their audiences that Obama's administration will seize their guns. Media Matters has compiled the following examples of revolutionary or violent rhetoric:
  • During the April 9 edition of his Fox News program, Glenn Beck claimed to be imitating Obama while pouring liquid from a gasoline can -- which he later stated was water -- on an "average American." Beck said during his demonstration: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? ... We didn't vote to lose the republic."
  • In an April 9 NewsBusters.org post, associate editor Noel Sheppard repeatedly used the acronym WACO -- which he wrote stood for the "War Against Conservative Opinion" -- in discussing how "liberal bloggers blamed right-leaning media members -- in particular, Fox News's Glenn Beck -- for the shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."
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Is Inciting Sedition The Latest Republican Strategy?

By Stephen Rose
The Smirking Chimp


Back in June of 2008 I wrote a blog entitled,  “Surround Barack Obama With Protective Energy.” Most of the over 2000 readers “got” the point, the need to protect by any means a man who, by his very nature, would incite many against him. After all, he was half Black, and his liberal-leaning ideas would most assuredly seem threatening to many within the economic “Establishment” and, by definition, the right wing. Little did I know at the time just how important the need for protection might become.

I didn’t realize the extent of the forces that would align against him no matter what he said or actually did. I didn’t know the Republican Party would so viciously and systematically go after Obama simply because he won the election. I didn’t as yet understand how pathologically desperate the right wing is to be “right,” nor did I know how firmly and totally they embrace the ideology that there are only two kinds of people in the world, those with them and those against them, basically those who are them, and those who are not!

And why is the right wing so offended? The Republicans deserved to lose the presidential and congressional elections. After eight disastrous years of pushing their own agenda under the “leadership” of the Bush Administration and its congressional enablers, they left the nation in tatters. The voters at least got it! -- Ah denial....(Click for remainder.)

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Anti-Gay "Rights" Group Calls its Marriage Campaign '2M4M'

By Brian Beutler
Talking Points Memo


Now that activist legislators are legislating from their legislatures to legalize gay marriage, activists are turning up the volume on anti-gay marriage rhetoric.

There's just one, ahem, kink.

In an unintentional but hilarious nod to gay sex chatters everywhere, the National Organization for Marriage has dubbed their campaign "2 Million for Marriage". Or 2M4M. Whoops.



For a bit of context, the National Organization for Marriage, founded in 2007, describes itself as a group created "in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures." To do that, they run an education fund and a political action committee and have spent $1.5 million on this nation-wide ad, which, according to YouTube, has been viewed well over 100,000 times since it was uploaded on April 7 (though it's unclear how many of those viewers are angry or amused or irony-minded liberals)....(Click for remainder.)



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Pandemic: Limbaugh's Obama Derangement Syndrome Spreads Through Conservative Media

By Media Matters

As Media Matters for America has documented, since President Obama's inauguration, "Number One voice for conservatism" Rush Limbaugh has made numerous ominous, even apocalyptic claims about the impact policies pursued by President Obama and other progressives might have on the United States, often while invoking fears of rising socialism, communism, and tyranny. For example, on the February 12 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh "thank[ed]" Obama for "doing the job that everybody expects of you, taking every tradition and institution that defined this country's greatness and trying to rip it to shreds." Similarly, on March 18, Limbaugh claimed that "everyone in the White House" is "[p]erfectly timed, perfectly programmed, perfectly educated to destroy capitalism ... and they're in the process of doing it." And on March 30, Limbaugh stated, "Based on what we've seen with General Motors and the banks, if [Obama] fails, America is saved. Barack Obama's policies and their failure is the only hope we've got to maintain the America of our founding." Over the past month, other prominent conservative voices have followed Limbaugh's lead in making increasingly dire predictions about the consequences that policies sought by Obama and other progressives might have for the country.

This alarmism is part of a recent eruption of extremist rhetoric in the conservative media; as Media Matters has noted, since January, conservatives in the media have also warned of impending socialism, fascism, communism, Nazism, McCarthyism, and Marxism, or used such language to describe Obama or other Democrats. Moreover, since Obama's inauguration, conservative media figures have asserted or suggested that U.S. sovereignty may give way to a one-world government and have warned their audiences that Obama will seize their guns. And Fox News has actively promoted what it has branded "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties."...(Click for remainder.)

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Mark Udall: High Noon in the Senate

By Al Eisele
The Huffington Post


Vail, Colo. - He looks like the classic Westerner, right out of the pages of an outdoor magazine. Tall, lean and handsome with a shock of grey hair, he's dressed in a navy blazer, open neck shirt, creased blue jeans with silver belt buckle and cowboy boots. It's Gary Cooper-goes-to-Washington instead of Jimmy Stewart, and he's here to field questions about what's on the minds of people in Ski Country USA.

He's Sen. Mark Udall, a fifth generation Westerner and scion of one of the West's most famous Democratic families who's already Colorado's senior senator even though he took office only three months ago after winning what political observers considered one of the nation's most important Senate races, thanks to President Obama's choice of Ken Salazar as his Secretary of Interior.

And thanks also to the global economic meltdown, the shifting demographics of the American West that are turning many of the region's red states into blue, and the political skills that made him a leading voice on conservation and renewable energy during 10 years in the House, the 58-year-old Udall appears poised to play a key role in shaping the eco-politics of the 21st century.

The son of liberal icon former Rep. Mo Udall and the nephew of former Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall - whose son Tom is the new junior senator from New Mexico - he's making a quick stop in the I-70 ski corridor during a day-long statewide tour to meet this week with about 50 members of the Vail Valley Partnership, a local Chamber of Commerce-type organization....(Click for remainder.)

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Black Helicopter Alert! Conservative Media Suggest Obama Supporting One-World Government

By Media Matters

Since President Obama's inauguration, conservative media figures have asserted or suggested that U.S. sovereignty may give way to a one-world government. Their alarmism is part of a recent eruption of extremist anti-government rhetoric in the conservative media; as Media Matters for America has noted, since January, conservatives in the media have warned of impending socialism, fascism, communism, Nazism, McCarthyism, and Marxism, or used such language to describe Obama or other Democrats. Conservative media figures have also warned that Obama will seize their guns or have suggested that a government effort to ban guns is likely. And Fox News has actively promoted what it has branded "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties."

The one-world government rhetoric has been advanced by some of Fox News' most familiar faces. For instance, in an April 6 column headlined, "The Declaration of Independence has been repealed," Fox News contributor Dick Morris claimed, "On April 2, 2009, the work of July 4, 1776 was nullified at the meeting of the G-20 in London" -- an assertion Morris repeated on that night's edition of Fox News' Hannity. Additionally, on the April 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly stated that "[s]ome believe Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-CA], Senator Harry Reid [D-NV], and President Obama himself are sympathetic to the one-world, global-justice view," which O'Reilly had earlier described as "requir[ing] that a one-world government seize private property and distribute it so that every human being has roughly the same amount of resources." O'Reilly then demanded to know: "Where does Barack Obama stand?" And on the April 1 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Glenn Beck asserted, "The Constitution is being taken apart piece by piece through international coalitions, through international law, and through the United Nations."...(Click for remainder.)

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Public Endorses Change In Cuba Policy

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly


The White House plans to "abandon longstanding restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba." It was the right position for Obama to take during the campaign, and it's encouraging to see him follow through.

But will Americans perceive the change in U.S. policy as somehow "soft on communism"? Apparently not.
President Obama is getting ready to visit to the Summit of the Americas next week amid rising reports the administration is planning to announce new rules on family travel and remittances to Cuba. Do Americans back a plan to relax some of the current restrictions on that island nation?

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday suggests the answer is yes. Nearly two thirds think the United States should lift its ban on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba. And seven in ten think it's time to re-establish diplomatic relations with that country.
Support for the policy change has increased over the last three years....(Click for remainder.)


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Is AP Violating Bill Clinton's Intellectual Property Rights?

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


As you know, we've all been reporting a lot lately about the Grinch's Associated Press' campaign to stop Christmas the Internet. Well, I was over at Atrios' site this morning and saw him link to AP's main page promoting its Internet censorship campaign.



Then I looked at the top of the page, and saw something that looked awfully familiar. Check out the guy on the right. Do you know him?



The white hair, the bit lip, the white columns. Sure looks an awful lot like President Bill Clinton. And it sure looks an awful lot like AP is suggesting that President Bill Clinton is behind their Internet censorship campaign. And while I can't swear to it, I'm going to go an a limb here and assume that Bill Clinton never gave AP permission to imply that Bill Clinton endorsed their censorship campaign....(Click for remainder.)

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Christianity on the Decline

By Matthew Yglesias
Think Progress


Interesting Holy Week item from Gallup showing the slow-but-steady decline in the percentage of Americans self-identifying as Christian:


(Click for remainder.)

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Coretta Scott King: Racism and Homophobia Are The Same Thing

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


This is an important post that every civil rights advocate should copy and keep handy.

I was at CNN yesterday, taping a segment for Howie Kurtz's Sunday show (should be on around 10:15am-ish Eastern time Sunday morning). The segment was about all the recent gay marriage victories, and whether the media was giving them enough coverage. I was debating conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager.

Prager made several rather telling points, while complaining about the fact that the American people are rising up with pitchforks against the recent onslaught of civil rights. He complained that if you oppose gay civil rights you're accused of being a bigot (I told him "that's because you are"), he then said that gay civil rights advocates would even compare your opposition to gay civil rights to those who opposed the civil rights of blacks. Well, yes Dennis, they do. That's because it's the same thing. Don't listen to me. Listen to Coretta Scott King, who I will quote extensively below. (And I researched all of these quotes myself - they're real, you can do a Lexis search if you need to find the originals.)...(Click for remainder.)

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