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Right-Wing Extremist Congresswoman Denounces Attacks Against Right-Wing Extremists

Saturday, April 25, 2009

By Eric Kleefeld
Talking Points Memo

The recent Department of Homeland Security report, which attracted so much criticism on the right for its warnings about domestic right-wing extremists, has another big-time detractor: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

Bachmann took to the House floor on Wednesday night, delivering an impassioned speech about the government tagging decent Americans as extremists for being pro-life, pro-gun rights and anti-illegal immigration -- and asking whether Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has gone "absolutely stark raving mad":

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The 12 Worst Media Moments of Obama's First 100 Days


Reinventing Reagan?

In December 1981 about 1,000 civilians, mostly women and children, were massacred by the Salvadoran army at a village called El Mozote. The killers were an elite unit, the Atlacatl Battalion, that had been organized, trained and equipped by the United States. The Reagan administration denied that any such crime had occurred, and the Atlacatl and its commander continued to be favored by US military advisers in El Salvador. (Photo: Susan Meiselas / The New York Times Magazine)

By John Lamperti


As president of the United States, Ronald Reagan wove a rich tapestry of illusions - "It's morning in America!" - that did a lot to obscure the substance of his administration. Since his death in 2004, the myths have become denser. Comparing him with George W. Bush even created a certain nostalgia for the Reagan years, and by now the reality of his administration has all but vanished from sight and memory. This is unfortunate, because a clear vision of the past is vital for constructing a better future.

All the 2008 Republican presidential candidates (except perhaps Ron Paul) tried to claim a Reagan legacy. John McCain said Reagan was one of his heroes. This is hardly surprising, since Reagan was unquestionably a great vote getter; he won two elections for governor of California and two for president, and not one of them was close. He was known for "communicating" with people who didn't agree with, or were harmed by, what his administration was really doing; hence the "Reagan Democrat" phenomenon. Many politicians would love to have such an ability.

But something else has been happening as well. Numerous Reagan biographies, plus thick volumes of his letters and diaries, have been published [1], and they've caused a strange Reagan revival that goes beyond admiring his vote-getting skill. Various writers think they have discovered in that material intellectual depths and moral excellence that escaped everyone's notice during Ronald Reagan's years in office. It is his spirit and grand ideals that really count, some of these authors think, while the actual policies pursued by his administration are not very important....(Click for remainder.)


At Whitman High School, Students Prevail Against Bigotry and Ignorance

By Daniel de Vise
The Washington Post

A group of seven congregants from Topeka, Kan., set up outside Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda yesterday to protest the sexual orientation of the poet for whom the school was named.

The police presence -- 40 officers, five horses, blocked-off streets and a football field's length of yellow tape -- seemed comically disproportionate until the counter-protest arrived.

At the 2:10 p.m. dismissal, 500 students issued forth from the campus and lined up, several students deep, along the police tape, across Whittier Boulevard from the congregants. They alternately chanted the school name and "Go home!" -- drowning out voices from across the street.

Whitman, a 19th-century poet with major influence on American literature, is generally regarded as having been gay or bisexual, but his sexual identity remains enigmatic.

The Westboro Baptist Church has gained national notoriety for its anti-homosexuality demonstrations, staged provocatively outside military funerals and at schools that are putting on the musical "Rent." Before heading to Whitman, they showed up at the funeral of the Middletown, Md., family killed in a murder-suicide last week, claiming that those deaths, like the military casualties, were God's wrath toward a godless people. Police asked them to leave....(Click for remainder.)


United States: A Culture Soaked in Blood

By Bob Herbert
The New York Times


Philip Markoff, a medical student, supposedly carried his semiautomatic in a hollowed-out volume of “Gray’s Anatomy.” Police believe he used it in a hotel room in Boston last week to murder Julissa Brisman, a 26-year-old woman who had advertised her services as a masseuse on Craigslist.

In Palm Harbor, Fla., a 12-year-old boy named Jacob Larson came across a gun in the family home that, according to police, his parents had forgotten they had. Jacob shot himself in the head and is in a coma, police said. Authorities believe the shooting was accidental.

There is no way to overstate the horror of gun violence in America. Roughly 16,000 to 17,000 Americans are murdered every year, and more than 12,000 of them, on average, are shot to death. This is an insanely violent society, and the worst of that violence is made insanely easy by the widespread availability of guns.

When the music producer Phil Spector decided, for whatever reason, to kill the actress, Lana Clarkson, all he had to do was reach for his gun — one of the 283 million privately owned firearms that are out there. When John Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Malvo, went on a killing spree that took 10 lives in the Washington area, the absolute least of their worries was how to get a semiautomatic rifle that fit their deadly mission....(Click for remainder.)


Al Gore Slams Right-Wing Hack Blackburn


Yes, National Review, We Did Execute Japanese for Waterboarding

By Paul Begala
The Huffington Post

 In a CNN debate with Ari Fleischer, I said the United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding. My point was that it is disingenuous for Bush Republicans to argue that waterboarding is not torture and thus illegal. It's kind of awkward to argue that waterboarding is not a crime when you hanged someone for doing it to our troops. My precise words were: "Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves."

Mr. Fleischer, ordinarily the most voluble of men, was tongue-tied. The silence, rare in cable debates, spoke volumes for the vacuity of his position.

Now Mark Hemingway of the National Review Online has asserted that I was wrong. I bookmark NRO and read it frequently. It's smart and breezy -- but on this one it got its facts wrong.

Mr. Hemingway assumed I was citing the case of Yukio Asano, who was convicted of waterboarding and other offenses and sentenced to 15 years hard labor -- not death by hanging. Mr. Hemingway made the assumption that I was referring to the Asano case because in 2006 Sen. Edward Kennedy had referred to it. (Sen. Kennedy accurately described the sentence as hard labor and not execution, by the way.)

But I was not referring to Asano, nor was my source Sen. Kennedy. Instead I was referencing the statement of a different member of the Senate: John McCain. On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, "Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding."...(Click for remainder.)


Gay Marriage and Maine

By Sandy Maisel
The Huffington Post

I guarantee that Maine will pass the Gay Marriage bill. I hope and believe that the legislature will pass it this year, but I know it will be law eventually.

Social progress moves in only one direction -- forward. The history of social progress in this country -- for concern after concern -- has followed an identifiable pattern. Often first steps affirming changing norms have come from a court recognizing that in an evolving society what was once unfamiliar and strange has become more common -- and that basic rights that once seemed inapplicable were being applied at an inexorable pace.

The African-American civil rights movement is the obvious case -- the long, slow progress from slavery, through segregation, to court-ordered and often military-enforced integration, to a fully integrated society.

A similar story can be told of women's rights, of the rights of religious minorities, of the rights of the disabled. Progress starts slowly, often with a path-breaking court case. In every case, there is a backlash, as those comfortable in traditional ways, frightened by change, recoil. But in this great land the basic goodness of the people prevails. And progress follows.

And so it will with the right of gays to marry....(Click for remainder.)


Letting Texas Secede

By Robbie Gennet
The Huffington Post

Governor Rick Perry of Texas brought up the specter of Secession recently and upon polling, a fair amount of Texans and other Americans seem to think Texas seceding from the US would be a good idea. TPM reports: Perry appeared with sponsors and supporters of a Texas House resolution affirming the state's claim of sovereignty under the 10th Amendment. "I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state," Gov. Perry said. "That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states' rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union." For the record, the 10th Amendment of our Constitution reads: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Texas has already seceded once back in 1861 but a quick Wikipedia search reveals that formally ended in 1869: After the Civil War, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas had remained a state ever since it first joined the Union, despite its joining the Confederate States of America and its being under military rule at the time of the decision in the case. In deciding the merits of the bond issue, the court further held that the Constitution did not permit states to secede from the United States, and that the ordinances of secession, and all the acts of the legislatures within seceding states intended to give effect to such ordinances, were "absolutely null". So by ending Texas' secession, the Supreme Court actually ended all possible secession by any state. But that didn't stop Gov. Perry from raising it as an issue last week.

A bit of history: Texas was part of the Confederate States of America, which lasted from 1861 until 1865. The United States refused to recognize the Confederacy, which collapsed upon the surrender of General Lee on April 09, 1865. Also keep in mind that the main formally-stated reason for secession in every state that did so was the threat to slaveholders rights. Wiki the 'Cornerstone Speech' where the VP of the Confederacy declared that the "cornerstone" of the new government "rest[ed] upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery--subordination to the superior race--is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth". Wow. To read that in the Obama Age is almost shocking. But it's good to understand the roots of secession buried deep in racism, slavery and fear....(Click for remainder.)


Gaps in the Right's "Banana Republic" Rhetoric

By Jamison Foser
OpEd News

After years in which the executive branch of government did basically whatever the hell it wanted, whenever the hell it wanted to, recent news about U.S. torture of detainees has finally caused conservatives in the media to be alarmed about the prospect of the United States resembling a banana republic:
  • Glenn Beck: "[T]his is what banana republics do."
  • Mark Steyn: "[T]hat is the sort of thing that happens in banana republics."
  • Karl Rove: "[W]e're going to turn ourselves into the moral equivalent of a Latin American country run by colonels in mirrored sunglasses. ... [T]hat might be fine in some little Latin American country that's run by, you know, the latest junta -- it may be the way that they do things in Chicago -- but that's not the way we do things here in America."
  • The Wall Street Journal editorial board: "This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power."
  • Bill Cunningham: "It makes us look ... like a banana republic."
But, incredible as it may seem, they are not upset about an administration that wiretapped American citizens, including a member of Congress. They aren't upset about a president using "signing statements" to ignore the clear intent of the very legislation he signed into law. They aren't even upset that the United States of America tortured people to make them confess a link between Iraq and 9-11 -- despite the fact that no such link existed -- in order to obtain a pretext to invade Iraq....(Click for remainder.)


The GOP and Obama's First 100 Days

By Bob Englehart
The Hartford Courant


Keith Olbermann Responds to Fox's Attacks on MSNBC


OBAMA EFFECT: Dem Wins Special Election in GOP Stronghold


FBI Arrests Oklahoma Teabagger For Twitter Threats

By Kevin Poulsen
Threat Level @

An Oklahoma City man who announced on Twitter that he would turn an April 15 tax protest into a bloodbath was hit with a federal charge of making interstate threats last week, in what appears to be first criminal prosecution to stem from posts on the microblogging site.

Daniel Knight Hayden, 52, was arrested by FBI agents who identified him as the Twitter user CitizenQuasar. In a series of tweets beginning April 11, CitizenQuasar vowed to start a "war" against the government on the steps of the Oklahoma City Capitol building, the site of that city's version of the national "Tea Party" protests promoted by the conservative-leaning Fox News.

"START THE KILLING NOW! I am willing to be the FIRST DEATH!," read a tweet at 8:01 PM that day. "After I am killed on the Capitol Steps, like a REAL man, the rest of you will REMEMBER ME!!!," he added five minutes later. Then: "Send the cops around. I will cut their heads off the heads and throw the[m] on the State Capitol steps."...(Click for remainder.)


Democrats Near Deal to "Fast-Track" Health Bill

By Thomas Ferraro and Donna Smith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional Democrats are near a deal to ram through legislation overhauling the U.S. healthcare system, overriding Republican objections to one of President Barack Obama's top policy goals.

Party aides said on Friday Democratic leaders who control both chambers of Congress had reached a tentative agreement to fast-track a pending health package, which would prevent Republicans from blocking it.

The plan to push a healthcare package through Congress, which could be formally agreed upon next week as part of a final budget resolution, would enrage Republicans who had hoped to have a significant say in proposed changes to the $2.5 trillion healthcare industry.

"We are prepared to do this because we are not confident Republicans are going to work with us," one party aide said. "This is the direction we're heading," another aide said.

Obama and fellow Democrats in Congress aim to pass by the end of the year a sweeping measure to revamp the healthcare system and provide insurance to all Americans. Major fights over costs and the role of government in individuals' medical care are certain....(Click for remainder.)


Warner vs. Gingrich On Climate Change

By Sen. John Kerry
The Huffington Post

Today in the House there was a dramatic contrast between a Republican Party embracing the urgent need to take serious action about global climate change and one wedded to ideology.

Consider it a "Tale of Two Testimonies."

About two years ago, Newt Gingrich and I had a civil, respectful debate on the environment. We disagreed on the way forward, but agreed on the urgency of the global climate change crisis. So it was disappointing to see Newt rehash the same tired formula today in his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He spent almost all of his prepared remarks saying the word most popular with his party: No. And he continued to use talking points and "facts" that have already been discredited many, many times.

Here's an example: too many Republicans continue to completely overstate the cost of the proposals, misstating an MIT study so badly that one of the main authors of the study felt compelled to go public to correct the record. The GOP talks of a cost in the thousands per household, while the Union of Concerned Scientists has concluded that the energy policies currently under consideration will be a net gain for the economy.

In his prepared testimony, Newt continued the false rhetoric that the major energy problem is a lack of domestic oil production. Leaving aside the fact that domestic oil production would never have a major effect on prices in a global oil market, Newt's rhetoric completely ignores the whole point under discussion: the awful climate disruption from global climate change. Oil drilled here has the same carbon footprint as oil drilled anywhere else....(Click for remainder.)


New GOP Torture Meme: Dems' Fault

By David Waldman
Congress Matters

The latest Republican parlor game on the torture issue is to pump up the talking point that torture is a Democratic problem, because Democrats have been in the majority in Congress since 2007, and therefore could have stopped the torture and didn't.


Yes, I'm pretty sure you instantly see the problem with that one. Republicans were in the majority in Congress for most of the duration of the Bush "administration's" torture program. But there's more to it than just that.

The new twist -- really a recycled Iraq war talking point -- is that since Democrats "knew about" the program thanks to the bare bones, no staff, top secret, we'll-prosecute-you-for-treason-if-you-mention-this briefing four of them received, they "could have stopped it if they had wanted to."

Here's the meme from FOX:
Defenders of the interrogation program note that if Congress had wanted to kill the program, all it had to do was withhold funding, which didn't happen.
Ah, yes. You'll recognize it as the "have the courage of your convictions" argument from 2007. That is, the GOP talking point that said that Democrats must really favor not only the Iraq war, but the way it was being prosecuted, because they refused to register their disagreement by cutting off the funding....(Click for remainder.)


Broken Steele


Obama Pick Marks a Victory for Labor Unions

By Brody Mullins
The Wall Street Journal

Labor unions scored a victory today when the President Barack Obama named a top labor advocate to serve in a key position in the Labor Department. Mary Beth Maxwell will join the administration as senior advisor after serving for years as the executive director of the labor coalition American Rights at Work. In the administration, Maxwell will work with the White House Task Force on Middle Class and Working Families, a group that is working to improve the lives and jobs of workers.

Maxwell will be replaced by the organization’s current board chairman David Bonior and deputy director Kimberly Freeman. American Rights at Work is the leading labor coalition pushing Congress to enact the Employee Free Choice Act, a measure that would make it easier for workers to join labor unions. The legislation suffered a setback earlier this year when several senators who voted for it in the past reversed course and said they would oppose it this year. However, labor believes that it can still prevail. Support for the legislation “is as strong as ever,” said Bonior, a former senior House Democrat.

Although Maxwell had spent much of her time advocating for the Employee Free Choice Act, she was not a registered lobbyist. Therefore, she was not precluded from serving in the administration by Mr. Obama’s tough anti-lobbyist employment policy. Those rules have caused concern among lobbyist for corporations and nonprofits alike who have been disqualified from working for the Obama administration. Much of the work of American Rights at Work involved television advertisements. The group retains one registered lobbyist....(Click for remainder.)


Democrat Wins House Race in New York

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Democrat has won a close U.S. congressional election in New York that had been seen by some as an early gauge of support for President Barack Obama.

Republican Jim Tedisco conceded defeat on Friday to his Democratic rival Scott Murphy in a district of northeast New York state that has traditionally been Republican but has voted Democratic in recent years.

"As a candidate, Scott courageously championed the economic plans we need to lift our nation and put it on a better path, and he will continue to do so in Congress," Obama said in a statement.

Some experts saw the special election for a vacant seat in the House of Representative as a sign of how voters assess Obama's performance since he took office on January 20.

Others said that interpretation was limited due to local factors in the rural district and that since the race was so close it didn't indicate much support or opposition for Obama.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, however, said, "Scott's victory is a clear indication that Democrats, independents, and Republicans across the country want to continue moving America in a new direction and reject the 'just say no' policies" of Republicans in Washington."...(Click for remainder.)


McCain, Falsely, Claims 9-11 Attackers Came From Canada

By Press TV

John McCain claims that Sept. 11 hijackers entered the US through Canada, prompting the Canadian embassy to reissue a statement on the misconception.

"Well, some of the 9/11 hijackers did come through Canada, as you know," McCain, last year's Republican presidential candidate, said on Fox News on Friday.

John McCain is the latest high-profile politician to repeat the mistake that the 9/11 terrorists entered the United States through Canada.

Earlier, this week, Janet Napolitano, the US Homeland Security Secretary, sparked a diplomatic row by suggesting the terrorists took a Canadian route to the US eight years ago.

However, Napolitano withdrew her claim on Thursday after Canadian officials chided her for the remark, calling it an unfortunate misconception.

Napolitano admitted on Thursday that she made a mistake -- since the 9/11 Commission concluded that the hijackers entered the US from overseas.

McCain's remarks prompted the Canadian embassy to immediately reissue statements made earlier this week by Ambassador Michael Wilson, who reminded Americans once again that no 9/11 perpetrator came to the US via Canada...(Click for remainder.)


Why Obama Is Right: We Need Legislation and Markets to Unleash Clean Energy

By Frances Beinecke
The Huffington Post

I have seen many Earth Days come and go, but until this year, I never had the chance to hear a sitting president use the annual green spotlight to call for sweeping clean energy legislation. President Obama's speech on Wednesday was a welcome change.

I especially liked the fact that he called for clean energy legislation while visiting a thriving wind plant in Iowa. To me, it perfectly illustrated why we need the private sector and government legislation to work in tandem.

Some people believe that if clean energy technologies are really so promising, then they should compete on their own in the market without any help from government policy.

But the truth is the energy sector is different than other industries, such as finance or electronics. Things move very slowly in the energy business. Computer chips double in speed every 18 months, so if you are a chip manufacturer, you sprint toward the next innovation. Energy technologies -- such as solar panels -- can take decades to come to scale.

Another challenge unique to the energy sector is that the private sector tends to under-invest in new technologies because of something called "innovation spillover."...(Click for remainder.)


Homophobic Bastard Fred Phelps and Westboro Clan Planning Mass Suicide?

By Michelle Garcia

The world may not be seeing more of the controversial fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in the near future.

A cryptic blog entry posted by the Topeka, Kan.–based church on April 18 -- and unearthed by Gossip-Boy -- says "it's about time for us to leave this place."

The church says its members will be saved from the country's tolerance of gays.

"When we’re done, we will leave your filthy land and be placed safely out of the reach of the horror that will then land upon you swiftly and certainly -- in one hour," the entry reads.

Westboro has been picketing funerals of those who have died of AIDS -- and later military funerals, because church members hold that personnel casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are God's retribution for U.S. "tolerance" of homosexuality -- since 1991. The group has started gaining more media attention in recent years, and other nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom have started to deny the members entry. Many of their signs are slathered with antigay language like "God hates fags" and "Fags doom nations."...(Click for remainder.)


House Committee Passes Hate Crimes Bill Despite GOP Efforts to Kill It

By Joshua Lynsen
Washington Blade

Hate crimes legislation cleared a hurdle Thursday, winning approval from the House Judiciary Committee.

Committee members backed the bill, 15-12, following a second day of debate. The measure will next go to the House floor for a vote, something that Capitol Hill observers have said could occur as soon as next week.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, praised the committee vote.

"Laws ultimately reflect a nation's values, and this legislation, once passed, will send a strong message that America rejects all forms of hate violence, including bias-motivated crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," she said. "This committee vote marks the beginning of the end of a long-fought battle."

Joe Solmonese, the Human Rights Campaign president, urged Congress to quickly pass the measure and send it to President Obama for his signature.

"After 10 years, and tens of thousands more victims, this critical legislation combating hate violence is long overdue," Solmonese said. "On behalf of the overwhelming majority of the American people, and more than 300 law enforcement, religious and civil rights organizations, we urge Congress not to delay in sending this bill to the President's desk where he has stated he will sign it into law."

But passage did not come easily in committee. There was protracted discussion Wednesday and Thursday of several amendments to the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The measure is intended, among other things, to allow the Justice Department to assist in the prosecution of hate crimes committed against LGBT people that result in death or serious injury....(Click for remainder.)



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