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Loofah O'Reilly's Ark: Gay Marriage Could Lead to Goat, Duck, Dolphin and Turtle Marriage

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

By Media Matters

During the May 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly returned to his theory that the legalization of gay marriage could lead to the eventual legalization of interspecies marriages, this time stating to Fox News analyst Margaret Hoover, who argued against O'Reilly's theories, "[Y]ou would let everybody get married who want to get married. You want to marry a turtle, you can." O'Reilly has previously suggested that gay marriage could ultimately allow for a person to marry "a goat," "a duck," and "a dolphin."

During the May 11 segment, O'Reilly also again claimed gay marriage would lead to polygamous marriage, saying, "[I]f you OK gay marriage, then you have to do plural marriage, which is now -- has a name, triads. Three people getting married."

From the May 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: All right, Hoover. I did not know this, but I had said from the jump if you OK gay marriage, then you have to do plural marriage, which is now -- has a name, triads. Three people getting married. There is a group in Maui, Hawaii, called the Lessin's adversary group -- advocacy group, and it's World Polygamy [sic: Polyamory] Association. They're associated with that. And they want to be married.

So, No. 1, I'm an oracle. And No. 2, how you can deny them under equal protection under the law?

HOOVER: You can't deny them under equal protection of the law.

O'REILLY: OK, so you say that they have to marry, as well.
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Right-Wing Hack, John Stossel, Says We Should Eat Endangered Species



By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars


It's been quite awhile since I've seen a right-wing meme as gobsmackingly stupid as the one John Stossel was promoting last week on Fox, notably on Glenn Beck's Friday show.

At ABC, the headline read:


Now, if you go read the text, it is a somewhat thought-provoking piece suggesting that the way to save certain endangered species -- such as the tiger, which is a victim of poaching for its prized body parts -- is to begin farming them. It's worked with a handful of other species, such as the bison and the rhino.

But the headline -- and the meme that Stossel pushed on Fox -- was that the way to save endangered species is to farm and consume them.

Which is, perhaps, one of the most monumentally stupid ideas anyone's ever proposed. The logical outcome of Stossel's argument is that ultimately we need to begin farming all the planet's wild animals.

Of course, the vast majority of endangered species are inedible and not particularly desired by humans to begin with, so that leaves them out of the farming equation.

Moreover, human consumption of a number of species -- most notably sharks -- is primarily responsible for their endangerment in the first place.

Finally, what we know actually does work with endangered species is this: We protect them from human predation and endangerment. And we protect their required habitat. In certain specialized cases, doing that may mean creating commercially protected spaces for them, such as with the bison and the rhino, in addition to their normal wild habitat. But feeding a market for their body parts is always a bad idea....(Click for remainder.)

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Senator to the KKK, Pete Sessions: Obama Hurting Economy to Consolidate Power

By Ryan Grim
The Huffington Post


Rep. Pete Sessions, head of the House Republican committee tasked with electing more GOP members, has a unique theory as to why unemployment continues to rise: Obama wants to wipe out capitalism.

Deep into a New York Times item Monday about rising jobless numbers comes a theory that the Times gently refers to as an "argument" that "may indeed face an uphill fight."

Sessions told the Times that Obama's plan is to "diminish employment and diminish stock prices." By doing so, Obama "intended to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not to kill it" as part of a "divide and conquer" strategy to consolidate power.

The Times then follows with another understated gem: "Polls offer little evidence that Americans are prepared to accept those arguments."

So is Obama part of some communist sleeper cell intent on destroying America? For Sessions, it's nothing new to think of politics in terrorist terms -- only in the past Sessions has argued that the Republican Party ought to emulate terrorists, not that Obama already does.

The GOP, Sessions famously argued in February, ought to model its "insurgency" after the Taliban. "Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban," he said.

"And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with."...(Click for remainder.)

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U.S. Clears the Way for Antitrust Crackdown

Justice Dept. to Reverse Looser Policy of Bush Administration

By Cecilia Kang
The Washington Post


The Obama administration signaled yesterday that it would take an aggressive stand against companies that engage in anti-competitive behavior, reversing looser policies of the past eight years that critics called friendly toward big firms.

Christine Varney, head of the antitrust division at the Justice Department, announced that the agency would revoke a 2008 report that made it difficult to pursue antitrust cases against corporations. She said the guidelines and lax enforcement over the past decade helped contribute to the economic crisis.

"The recent developments in the marketplace should make it clear that we can no longer rely upon the marketplace alone to ensure that competition and consumers will be protected," Varney said in a speech at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning Washington think tank.
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But doing so may prove difficult, observers said. The president's desire to clamp down on big corporate mergers and to guard against anti-competitive behaviors will be challenged by an economic recession that some analysts predict could lead to more pressure for corporations to consolidate, further cutting competition.

"Now more than ever, there is a confluence of challenges for the administration from an antitrust standpoint to stabilize sectors with cash-flow challenges," said Jessica Zufolo, an analyst at Medley Advisors.

While the administration's new enforcement would affect all industries, many antitrust experts said some of the more controversial cases are expected to arise from the fast-evolving high-tech and telecom worlds. Google, for example, has businesses in online video, mapping and mobile services even though its business is still mostly made up of online searches. AT&T provides wireless, video, phone and mobile entertainment services....(Click for remainder.)

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Enemies of Creationism May Be Hindering Science Teachers

A US judge's ruling is a warning to those who want to teach real science in schools that they need to change their tactics.

By Andrew Brown
The Guardian


A district court judge in southern California has ruled that a teacher who described creationism as "superstitious nonsense" was making a religious statement, which is impermissible in US public schools. On the face of it, this is completely absurd, even for southern California. Creationism is superstitious nonsense, and teachers should be able to say so. But when you look at the background, the case becomes in some respects less absurd, but also more threatening – especially for hardline rationalists such as Richard Dawkins, who would like to dismiss creationism as beneath contempt.

The first thing to say is that Judge James Selna seems, from his 37-page ruling, to be no friend of fundamentalists. Of the 20 complaints made against the teacher, James Corbett, he dismissed 19; many of them on the face of it much more anti-religious than calling creationism "superstitious nonsense". Second, the lawsuit was clearly a premeditated strike in the culture wars. Orange County, where Capistrano Valley high school is located, is one of the most conservative places in the US. Corbett had been involved in a controversy over John Peloza, a science teacher at the school who in 1994 sued his employers, demanding the right to teach creationism in his science classes. He lost.

Some fundamentalist parents were obviously out to get Corbett. His lessons were secretly recorded to compile evidence against him, and the words for which he has been found guilty were part of a discussion, or argument, about the earlier case: "I will not leave John Peloza alone to propagandize kids with this religious, superstitious nonsense," he said, and those were the words that Judge Selna has found unconstitutional....(Click for remainder.)

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New Top General in Afghanistan: Dark Star?

By Noah Schachtman
Danger Room @ Wired.com


The reboot of the Afghan war effort continues. Gen. David McKiernan, the top American commander there, has just been sacked by Defense Secretary Gates. In his place: Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former chief of Joint Special Operations Command.

Afghanistan has grown increasingly violent during McKiernan’s tenure. And the outgoing commander is being portrayed by the Pentagon as perhaps a little too conventional a thinker for Afghanistan’s dizzying complexities. McKiernan, for example, had repeatedly pushed for more and more troops in Afghanistan — a prospect Gates viewed with a skeptical eye. The swap for McChrystal is already winning high marks from military pundits, from former subordinates, and from McChrystal’s fellow commandos; he’s an “incredibly well respected” figure in that community, one Green Beret tells Danger Room. Plus, he’s got deep ties to U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus. And McChrystal just chaired a smart review of the Afghan strategy.

But at least one close observer of the Afghanistan war already has the heebie-jeebies about the new commander.

Not only was McChrystal’s involved in the “shameful coverup of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death,” writes Joshua Foust. But “one unit under his command, the now-notorious Task Force 6-26, which was assigned to find HVTs, or High Value Targets in Iraq, is credited with the ultimate death of [al Qaeda in Iraq leader Moussab al-] Zarqawi. The problem is, along the way they faced accusations of running a secret camp that tortured prisoners, and they were implicated in at least two detainee deaths during torture sessions. Their camp, called Camp Nama, became something of a lightning rod after a ‘computer malfunction’ destroyed upwards of 70% of their records and an investigation into their conduct stalled out.”...(Click for remainder.)

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President Introduces the Office Public Engagement

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Army's Prescription to Combat Soldier Suicides: Christianity

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


A recent edition of the U.S. Army’s suicide prevention manual advises military chaplains to promote “religiosity,” specifically Christianity, as a way to deter distraught soldiers from committing suicide, which in recent months, according to one veterans advocacy group, has reached epidemic proportions.

The Army Suicide Prevention Manual says “Chaplains... need to openly advocate behavioral health as a resource” to treat suicidal soldiers and instructs behavioral health providers “to openly advocate spirituality and religiosity as resiliency factors."

"Spirituality looks outside of oneself for meaning and provides resiliency for failures in life experiences. Religiosity adds the dimension of a supportive community to help one deal with crises. Both embed themselves in a relationship with God, or a higher power, that provides an everlasting relationship. Bottom line, Soldiers should not base their reason for living in another human being!” says a slide included in the Army's "Suicide Awareness for Soldiers 2008" PowerPoint presentation.

The inclusion of Christianity and spirituality a new addition to the Army’s 2008 suicide prevention manual. A Pentagon spokesman did not return calls for comment.
According to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the civil rights organization that sued Gates and the Defense Department over claims of rampant proselytizing in the military, the PowerPoint presentation “is not only an unconstitutional promotion of Christianity for the soldiers who are mandated to attend it, but for the behavioral health providers and non-Christian chaplains who must present it.”

MRFF president and founder Mikey Weinstein said his lawsuit clearly demonstrates “the noxiously unconstitutional pattern and practice of fundamentalist Christian oppression in our U.S. armed forces.”...(Click for remainder.)

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Give It Up, Newt!

By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive


Newt Gingrich is a recurring nightmare.

I thought, when he fell from power at the end of the Clinton years, we’d be done with his grandstanding and demagoguery.

But he just won’t go away.

He helped organize the tea baggers, which isn’t something to be proud of, given that many of them were foaming at the mouth.

Now, he’s making noises about running for President, and I just can’t imagine there’s a groundswell of support for his royal pudginess.

On Sunday, he went on—where else?—Fox News to condemn the Democrats for daring to pursue justice against the highest-ups in the Bush torture gang.

Said Gingrich, in high dudgeon: “What we're seeing now, in a very sad way, is as bitter a partisan attack on the Bush people, as much as we've seen since the McCarthy era. The degree that they're putting specific people at risk for criminal prosecution is unprecedented in modern America."

First of all, this isn’t McCarthyism, not even close. The Bush folks aren’t being singled out for their political views, but for their lawlessness. This isn’t a witch-hunt. We already know the small group of people involved in the conspiracy to commit torture. And the attack on them is not designed to instill fear in masses of people around the country. It’s designed to hold accountable the handful of people who may have committed felony crimes in office, crimes that shame the nation....(Click for remainder.)

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President Obama Announces Private Health Care Cost-Savings Plan

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Glass-Steagall Act: The Senators and Economists Who Got it Right

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post


The footage of him speaking on the Senate floor has become something of a cult flick for the particularly wonky progressive. The date was November 4, 1999. Senator Byron Dorgan, in a patterned red tie, sharp dark suit and hair with slightly more color than it has today, was captured only by the cameras of CSPAN2.

"I want to sound a warning call today about this legislation," he declared, swaying ever so slightly right, then left, occasionally punching the air in front of him with a slightly closed fist. "I think this legislation is just fundamentally terrible."

The legislation was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (alternatively known as Gramm Leach Bliley), which allowed banks to merge with insurance companies and investment houses. And Dorgan was, at the time, on a proverbial island with his concerns. Only eight senators would vote against the measure -- lionized by its proponents, including senior staff in the Clinton administration and many now staffing President Obama, as the most important breakthrough in the worlds of finance and politics in decades.

"It was more like a tidal wave in 1999," the North Dakota Democrat recalled of that vote in an interview with the Huffington Post. "You've seen the roll call. We didn't really have to deal with push back because they had such a strong, strong body of support for what they call modernization that the vote was never in doubt... The title of the bill was 'The Financial Modernization Act.' And so if you don't want to modernize, I guess you're considered hopelessly old fashioned."...(Click for remainder.)



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Debunking Another Hate Crimes Lie

By Kyle
Right Wing Watch


One of the things that I have found most confusing about the Right’s completely deranged opposition to hate crimes legislation is the insistence that the legislation would “protect” things like pedophilia and bestiality because they claim such things fall under the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of “sexual orientation” resulting in statements such as this:
But this bill goes MUCH, MUCH FARTHER that simply prosecuting violent crime — it creates a new “protected class” of people that would now be protected under “hate crimes” definitions. That means that this bill will protect all 547 forms of sexual deviancy or “Paraphilias” listed by the American Psychiatric Association! This would provide a HUGE MASS of “sacred cows” in our society, which includes pedophiles who would be given elevated protection — giving “the offender” an additional decade behind bars.

And that “offender” could be YOU! If a pedophile tries to molest your daughter, or your nephew, or your granddaughter, or some little boy in the street — if you step in and beat the pedophile to get him away, YOU could spend ten years in prison for your “offense”!
There are so many blatantly false claims here it is hard to know where to start. 

We could point out that it doesn’t create a “new” protected class, it simply adds “sexual orientation” to the list of existing protected classes such as race and religion. Or we could point out that the legislation doesn’t legalize illegal behavior like pedophilia and that the idea that someone would be charged with a hate crime from fending off an attack from a pedophile is flagrantly absurd....(Click for remainder.)

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Being Anti-Torture Doesn't Make You Pro-Terrorist

By Matt Taibbi
True/Slant

WASHINGTON — Torture is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. An innocent’s life is at stake. The bad guy you have captured possesses information that could save this life. He refuses to divulge. In such a case, the choice is easy. Even John McCain, the most admirable and estimable torture opponent, says openly that in such circumstances, “You do what you have to do.” And then take the responsibility.

Some people, however, believe you never torture. Ever. They are akin to conscientious objectors who will never fight in any war under any circumstances, and for whom we correctly show respect by exempting from war duty. But we would never make one of them Centcom commander. Private principles are fine, but you don’t entrust such a person with the military decisions upon which hinges the safety of the nation. It is similarly imprudent to have a person who would abjure torture in all circumstances making national security decisions upon which depends the protection of 300 million countrymen.

The second exception to the no-torture rule is the extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of high-value information likely to save lives. This case lacks the black-and-white clarity of the ticking time bomb scenario. We know less about the length of the fuse or the nature of the next attack. But we do know the danger is great. We know we must act but have no idea where or how — and we can’t know that until we have information. Catch-22.

Under those circumstances, you do what you have to do. And that includes waterboarding.

Charles Krauthammer, via Townhall.com.
So I got pelted with emails from the usual lunatics this weekend after making the mistake of saying on television that I thought the lawyers who greenlighted the waterboarding program should be prosecuted. I’m not going to delve into this too deeply, because this is clearly one of those issues that few people are willing to change their minds about, but I feel like I’ve got to talk about one particular aspect of this debate, because it’s just too crazy to let go.

Here’s a snippet from one letter I got: “What really gets me about liberals like you is that when other countries torture and kill our people, and cut off their heads, [there's] not a peep from you. But you dunk some terrorist’s head underwater for a few minutes and you go all weepy.”...(Click for remainder.)

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Populist Angst Fuels Senate Credit Card Compromise



Consumer-Friendly Reforms Expected for a Vote This Week

By Mike Lillis
The Washington Independent


Senate banking leaders have wrangled a bipartisan deal over controversial legislation reining in the credit card industry, setting the stage this week for likely passage of new consumer protections in the midst of a tough economy where card companies are hiking rates to bolster profits.

The Senate compromise — worked out over the weekend by bill sponsor Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the senior members of the Senate Banking Committee — would force card companies to disclose looming rate increases, eliminate surprise fees and prohibit rate hikes on existing balances.

House lawmakers passed a similar bill easily last month, but the threat of a GOP filibuster — not to mention the tremendous lobbying clout of the finance industry — has threatened to derail the legislation in the Senate, which has been a black hole for Democratic leaders trying to push bank reforms in recent years. Indeed, Dodd struggled to get his credit card bill out of the Banking Committee, with Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, representing the banking hub of South Dakota, voting with all panel Republicans against the bill.

The Senate compromise dilutes the consumer protections slightly from Dodd’s original proposal, but it goes further than both the House bill and new Federal Reserve rules to help consumers manage their cards. As a result, the Dodd-Shelby bill has the distinction — rare among finance reforms opposed by Wall Street — of gaining approval from both Senate Republicans and the vocal community of consumer and lending-reform advocates.

“It’s not everything we wanted, but it takes strong steps to help consumers,” said Lauren Saunders, managing attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “It’s a reasonable compromise.”

Central to that compromise, the Dodd-Shelby bill allows banks to hike rates on existing balances in cases when cardholders are 60 days late on a payment. The original bill banned all such retroactive rate hikes. The House proposal, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), permits retroactive rate hikes if customers are 30 days late. In another break from the Maloney bill, Dodd’s proposal would allow customers to earn back lower rates by paying on time for six months straight following a retroactive rate hike....(Click for remainder.)

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John Cornyn's Defense Budget Fearmongering

By Matt Yglesias
Think Progress


Robert Gates reform-oriented defense budget would mean less money for some defense contractors and fewer jobs in the districts of some members of congress. Under the circumstances, I’m not surprised that it’s being met with some skepticism. That said, the idea that the Gates/Obama budget would somehow leave us “unprepared” for conventional war is just silly:
Others, like Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, cite the threats posed by nations around the world that remain true adversaries — or at least are competitors to American interests.

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy center in Washington, Mr. Cornyn said that China was upgrading and expanding its navy to challenge American warships, that Russia was striving to intimidate its neighbors and re-establish a sphere of influence, and that North Korea and Iran continued to expand their missile arsenals while pursuing nuclear weapons.
Time again to take a look at US defense spending in context:




If we decided to take the threats Cornyn names seriously and spend double the combined budgets of China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran then that would imply large cuts in our current levels of spending. And keep in mind that under such a scenario we’d still be able to call on allies such as South Korea, Japan, and our friends in NATO. The west would still have an overwhelming preponderance of military power....(Click for remainder.)

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Graham Corroborates Pelosi

By Marcy Wheeler
Emptywheel


FWIW, Greg Sargent's account of his interview with Bob Graham seems to suggest Graham may have gotten even less in his briefing on torture than Nancy Pelosi did in September 2002.
“I do not have any recollection of being briefed on waterboarding or other forms of extraordinary interrogation techniques, or Abu Zubaydah being subjected to them,” Graham told me by phone moments ago, in a reference to the terror suspect who had been repeatedly waterboarded the month before.

Graham is the only other Dem aside from Pelosi to get briefed in 2002, so they are both in effect asserting that no Dem was briefed on the use of EITs that year. The date of the next briefing was in February 2003.

Graham claimed he would have remembered if he’d been told about the use of torture. “Something as unexpected and dramatic as that would be the kind of thing that you would normally expect to recall even years later,” he said.

[snip]

Graham denied being told about EITs, and argued that the presence of two staff members at the meeting (as indicated in the records) would have made it “highly unusual” for the briefers to divulge such sensitive info. “I don’t recall having had one of those kinds of briefings with staff present,” he said. “That would defeat the purpose of keeping a tight hold” on the info.

Graham, however, was circumspect on what was actually discussed, saying only that “the general topic had to do with detainee interrogations” but didn’t include any reference to EITs or waterboarding.
Click through to see the account of a US Official (remember--the torture briefing list came via the Director of National Intelligence office from the CIA) saying only that CIA records say Graham was briefed on torture. Right. Yes. We know CIA is not vouching for the accuracy of those documents....(Click for remainder.)

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O'Reilly Uses Nazi Propaganda to Defend Torture, Attack Obama

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Support the Matthew Shepard Act

By John Sherffius
Boulder Daily Camera



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Right-Sized

By R.J. Matson
The New York Observer



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The Hill Continues to Ignore GOP's Past Embrace of Reconciliation

By Media Matters

In a May 9 article about the congressional debate over health care, The Hill reported that "[Sen. Chuck] Grassley [R-IA], [Sen. Mike] Enzi [R-WY] and other Senate Republicans see the decision by Democrats to include partisan budget reconciliation instructions, which would allow a bill to pass with a simply majority, as a move of bad faith." But The Hill did not disclose that Enzi, Grassley, and numerous other Republicans previously supported reconciliation. The Hill similarly ignored Republicans' past support for reconciliation in March 31 and April 27 articles reporting their recent criticisms of Democrats for considering that procedural tool.

Enzi and Grassley were among 51 senators who voted against striking language from the 2005 budget resolution allowing the reconciliation process to be used to permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Enzi and Grassley also were among the 51 senators -- all 50 Republicans and Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) -- who voted in favor of a 2001 amendment to the fiscal year 2002 budget resolution that allowed for the consideration of President Bush's 2001 tax cuts -- the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 -- through the reconciliation process. Grassley subsequently voted for the tax cut bill itself; Enzi did not vote.

Additionally, in 2003, Enzi and Grassley voted for the Senate version of the fiscal 2004 budget resolution that called for additional tax cuts to be considered under reconciliation and for the final version of the 2004 budget resolution. Enzi and Grassley also voted against an amendment to the Senate version of the budget resolution, proposed by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), that would have stripped reconciliation instructions from the resolution. Enzi and Grassley later voted for the tax cut bill passed under reconciliation. In 2005, Enzi and Grassley voted for the final version of the fiscal 2006 budget resolution, which also called for tax cuts through reconciliation....(Click for remainder.)

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IG Report: Waterboarding Was Neither "Efficacious Or Medically Safe"

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post


A CIA inspector general's report from May 2004 that is set to be declassified by the Obama White House will almost certainly disprove claims that waterboarding was only used in controlled circumstances with effective results.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported the impending release of a May 7, 2004 IG report that, the paper added, would show that in several circumstances the techniques used to interrogate terrorist suspects "appeared to violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture" and did not produce desired results. It is difficult, the report will conclude, "to determine conclusively whether interrogations have provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks."

A fury of speculation ensued among a host of reporter-bloggers, who viewed the forthcoming information as the strongest proof to date that proclamations of waterboarding's usefulness were overblown.

But there is no need to wait for the report's declassification. Information from its pages was already made public in the footnotes of the Office of Legal Counsel memos written by Steven Bradbury in 2005 and released by the current administration less than one month ago.

And the conclusion seems pretty clear: Not only did interrogators, for a period of time, use waterboarding that was deemed by U.S. officials to be more frequent and intense than was medically safe, it did so to apparently limited results.

As the Huffington Post reported back in mid-April, on a footnote on Page 41 of the Bradbury memo, it is written that "Agency interrogator[s]" had "in some cases" used the waterboard in a manner different than the way "used in the [the Marine Corps' Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape] SERE training."...(Click for remainder.)

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David Frum's GOP

By Scott Horton
Harper's Magazine


The number of Americans who self-identify as Republicans may be reaching a low mark. Arlen Specter may have left the party. Rush Limbaugh may still hold the party faithful in a bizarre thrall. But there is still life in the G.O.P. There are still intelligent analysts in the G.O.P. corner. And if I had to make my pick of who could provide the political analysis to lift the Republicans from their current state of confusion to a new party of government, right now I’d say that person is David Frum. In fact, I confess to being a regular reader of Frum’s postings and other writings. Frum is a solid analytical thinker and an excellent writer. But he has some other traits that will serve him over time.

A sense of humor, for instance. On Wednesday, Obama and Biden made a trip to a suburban Virginia hamburger joint for lunch. The event turned into a media frenzy that was effectively ridiculed by The Daily Show (with some assistance from Dan Rather). On the right, Sean Hannity attacked Obama for ordering mustard with his burger. Frum gives this a deadpan grilling on the basis of culinary polls:
What kind of a man eats his hamburger without ketchup? That was the big question yesterday on talk radio, after President Obama visited an Arlington, Virginia, hamburger place on Tuesday and ordered his burger with spicy mustard.

First answer: Texans… Second answer: Republicans. A 2000 survey of members of Congress by the National Hot Dog Council found that 73% of Republican lawmakers preferred mustard to ketchup, as opposed to 47% of Democratic lawmakers. Final answer: traditionalists. Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, the restaurant widely believed to have served the first hamburgers ever made in the United States, absolutely forbids ketchup.
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Can We Please See Less Dick Cheney?

By Joseph A. Palermo
The Huffington Post


Dick Cheney insists on inserting himself into our political discourse in a very creepy, strange, and unaccountable way. Every time he appears he reminds us how terrible the last eight years were. With his unyielding assertions and tone of infallibility he seems to be one of the only prominent rightwingers left in America who has yet to figure out that the real world has made a shambles of his ideology. Cheney cannot accept that he is no longer in power, hence his ubiquity on the public airwaves. He had a golden opportunity to participate after serving two terms as Vice President. He could have run for president in 2008 as the natural standard bearer for George W. Bush. Or he could position himself for a run in the Republican primaries in 2012. He'll have no problem raising money and look at all the free exposure the corporate media give him. The way Cheney savors the idea of returning to power he reminds me of one of those "dead enders" in Iraq he talked so much about.

So why does Cheney spend his time cowardly throwing darts at President Barack Obama from a "non-disclosed location" no one cares about via friendly journalists instead of stepping up and challenging President Obama's re-election?

Maybe it's because he would face a drubbing. Americans have notoriously short attention spans -- but not THAT short. Bush and Cheney promised us a free market path to "prosperity" and "security." We got neither. Everything they touched turned to failure. Unless you were on the receiving end of the cash that changed hands (which means you were part of the problem) nothing the Bush Administration did over the course of eight long years -- NOTHING -- helped our nation become more prosperous or secure. And here's Dick Cheney on Face the Nation in all his vainglorious arrogance asserting that if he were still in power and the Republicans were even more extreme we'd be in much better shape today!

Wow!...(Click for remainder.)

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Will Unions Back a Green Candidate Against Blanche Lincoln?

By Brian Beutler
Talking Points Memo


The cause of Employee Free Choice been dealt a number of difficult blows in the last several weeks, but perhaps the hardest came from Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in early April when she came out against EFCA. At the time she said, "[I] cannot support that bill in its current form. Cannot support and will not support moving it forward in its current form."

Deliberations are underway between labor groups and key legislators who seek a compromise bill with enough support to overcome a Republican filibuster. But Lincoln, whose constituents include Wal-Mart, is situated to drive a hard bargain.

That is, of course, unless she thinks her job might be at stake. And it could be--or, at least, some influential people want her to think it could be. One senior labor official close to the situation told TPMDC that a general election challenge could be in the works. "I think that's a line people are preparing to cross."

It's a little known fact of Arkansas politics, but the Green party tends to do pretty well in state elections there. Mostly this phenomenon can be attributed to the Arkansas' political machinery, which often allows candidates to run unopposed by members of the other major party. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) ran without a real Republican challenger in 2008, and won with 79.5 percent of the vote. The other 20.5 percent went to Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy, who's campaign cost less than $14,000....(Click for remainder.)

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ACORN Relishing New Role as GOP Boogeyman

Conservatives Stepping Up PR, Legal Battle Against Liberal Group

By David Weigel
The Washington Independent


The first week of May was as eventful for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) as any time since the 2008 election. It began with 26 counts of extortion and voter registration fraud filed against the group and some of its members in Clark County, Nev. It continued with the indictments of seven ACORN workers in Allegheny County, Pa. Democrats staged a floor fight over a Republican amendment to block any organization that had indicted members from getting taxpayer dollars. ACORN’s national spokesman was kicked off of Glenn Beck’s Fox News set.

Republicans pounced, and the week ended with a Republican National Committee fundraising appeal that attacked the Obama administration for considering the use of “sampling” in the upcoming Census as a hidden-in-plain sight benefit to ACORN.

“ACORN’s community organizers are eager to once again take action to aid their old friend in the White House,” wrote RNC Chairman Michael Steele. “You can be sure they’ll be manipulating population numbers.

The 39-year-old group has never been more controversial. Bertha Lewis, the chief executive officer and chief organizer of ACORN since the middle of last year, could not have been happier.

“Fine, bring it,” Lewis said in an interview with TWI, inside ACORN’s national offices near Capitol Hill. She brought up her fists in a boxing stance. “Let’s bring it. We know what the true facts are. We know that we’ll win in court. Our strategy now is to beef up our operations so we can defend ourselves.”

ACORN spent decades under the radar, agitating on housing and employment issues, garnering the ire of business and conservative leaders, but not really winning political infamy. That changed in 2008, and Lewis now believes the organization’s next 39 years might be spent in a permanent offensive stance — battling lawsuits, defending its “brand” against attacks from Republicans, and indulging in cable news shouting matches. In the space of months the group has become the most notorious member of the Democrats’ coalition. To many conservatives, it’s about time, and it’s the pay-off for years of fruitless exposes of ACORN’s influence....(Click for remainder.)

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President Obama Announces Education Help for Unemployed

By Jill Doherty and Chris Isidore
CNN


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama announced new steps to help unemployed Americans on Friday, targeting people who are out of work and want to go back to school.

The president outlined a plan under which the Department of Education will send colleges legal guidance, encouraging them to increase financial aid packages for the unemployed so they can enroll in educational and training programs while keeping their unemployment benefits.

Under Obama's initiative, colleges would consider a person's current financial situation to make it possible for them to receive Pell grants, which are available for low-income students. The unemployed person would not lose any unemployment benefits and the maximum Pell grant would be increased in July by $500 to $5,350.

Current unemployment rules create a Catch-22: In most cases, if you are receiving unemployment compensation, you have to be actively looking for a job.

If you want to get more education or training, you have to give up unemployment benefits. But if you return to school, you don't qualify for federal education grants since, in most cases, your qualification is based on the previous year's income.

The government has started a Web site with information on the plan: www.opportunity.gov.

The Labor Department will also issue guidance "strongly encouraging" states to modernize their rules to allow more unemployed to continue their education without forfeiting their benefits....(Click for remainder.)

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Hoover Slams O'Reilly for Suggesting That if Same-Sex Marriage is Legalized, "Polygamy is Then Going To Run Rampant"

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Schultz Slams Feherty's "sick Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid death fantasy," Davis for Reading It

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Harnessing Nature's Power

By Robert Redford
The Huffington Post


Anyone who knows Utah knows the power of wind, water and sun. You can see that power in Utah's sculpted arches of stone, in our majestic mountains capped with snow, and in the cracked earth of our deserts.

Nature's power is so obvious that you have to wonder why we've mostly ignored it as a source of energy to run our homes and businesses, and to propel our cars and trucks.

After all, if we did a little more to harness that power, we could begin to solve some of our most pressing environmental and economic challenges. In fact, creating electricity from the energy nature gives us is critical if we're going to reduce global warming pollution, protect public health with clean air and water, create jobs in Utah and ultimately bring down energy prices.

We know that burning fossil fuels is destabilizing the atmosphere and acidifying the oceans. We know that our dependence on oil shackles us to dangerous foreign regimes and to the escalating prices they'll inevitably charge as demand outstrips supply. But we also know how to break our dependence and free ourselves from this destructive cycle.

Why keep buying foreign crude when we could be making energy right here in Utah from sunlight, wind and geothermal power? Why rip up more pristine wilderness to extract dirty fuels when we could generate clean power from the energy nature delivers to our doorstep?

Dollar for dollar, investing in clean energy creates more jobs than investing in traditional energy sources like oil and gas. That really matters, especially when you consider that more than 30,000 Utah workers lost their jobs last year....(Click for remainder.)

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Careful Who You Trust (Response to NOM's NH Ad)

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Concern in Brussels Over Last Six Weeks of Czech Presidency

By Jamie Smyth
Irish Times


THERE WAS a sense of irony when one of Mirek Topolanek’s last acts as Czech prime minister and figurehead for his country’s six-month EU presidency last week was to chair a jobs summit.

But the 53-year-old chairman of the Czech Civic Democratic Party did not see the funny side of a reporter’s question on what advice the soon-to-be-redundant prime minister could offer millions of workers losing their jobs. “I will lose a job but not work because you will find work if you look for it, and that’s the advice for everybody else,” he said in a typically blunt response that may have been inspired by his admiration of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

The Czech government’s collapse, which most observers blame on Civic Democratic Party infighting stirred up by Eurosceptic president Vaclav Klaus, leaves a weak technical government led by civil servant Jan Fischer to close out the presidency.

For the EU, the changeover could not happen at a worse time, coming in the face of the worst economic crisis in 60 years and with the Lisbon Treaty still not implemented in all states.

But it also underscores the poor diplomatic skills shown by Topolanek over the past five months as EU president.

Right from the start, the Czech presidency offended some of its EU partners when it unveiled the Entropa sculpture by Czech artist David Cerny. The 16m x 16m satiric artwork, which was hung in the Council of Ministers building in Brussels, poked fun at EU stereotypes. Italy was represented by masturbating footballers while Bulgaria was a Turkish toilet. The Bulgarians did not get the joke and a diplomatic protest followed....(Click for remainder.)

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