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Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos 'Show Rape' (Abu Ghraib Photos Included)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

All of this really needs to be turned over to a special prosecutor, ASAP.  The sad thing is that conservacons and those on the right will find nothing wrong with this.  To them it's all part of "protecting America."  Well I've got a nice little news flash for these 'people'...THE U.S. IS NOTHING WITHOUT THE RULE OF LAW!  We ARE the Constitution.  When you go into the military you take an oath to support and defend the Constitution.  When a person is elected, or appointed, to public office, they take the exact same oath.  Does this mean nothing to these people?  Obviously it doesn't, or DICK Cheney wouldn't be running around to every little Podunk radio show trying to justify his, and it was 99% HIM, actions.  Cheney even said "I took an oath to defend the United States people from terrorists."  NO YOU DIDN'T YOU G-DAMNED IDIOT!  It's time for President Obama to do what needs, nay must, be done and prosecute these people.  It's about the rule of law not retribution.  It's about defending and standing up for the fundamental principles of our nation.

Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

By Duncan Gardham and Paul Cruickshank
The Independent

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.

Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan....(Click for remainder.)


Via The Sydney Morning Herald

Some of the 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.


The GOP and a Hispanic Supreme Court Nominee

By Bruce Plante
Chattanooga Times Free Press


O'Reilly and Beck: We Don't Know If ACORN Has Done Anything Wrong . . . But Whatever It Is, It's Huge!

By Julie
News Hounds

Breaking news! I've just learned that many Republican Congress-people might be patronizing the same Washington, D.C. bank, and the money being funneled into that bank from Republicans in Congress could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, maybe even billions. Not only that, but we've also learned that many of the Republicans in Congress could be using the same teenage babysitter, and they might be funneling an enormous amount of money to her, too. Our attempts to interview her have been unsuccessful, but it could be corruption on a major scale here – same bank, same babysitter? We need to follow this money trail – it might be an enormous story.

Okay, I made all that up – but I presented just as much substantiated evidence there as Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck did on The O'Reilly Factor on May 25, 2009 (a recycled segment) about their investigation into ACORN's “money trail.” With video.

O'Reilly led off with, “We have been looking at the far-left group The Association of Community Organizations for Reform. Now, better known as ACORN. . . We sent Factor producer Dan Bank down there, and they weren't happy to see Dan.” Given Fox News' zeal for bashing ACORN, who could blame them?

Cut to a clip of Bank shoving a microphone in someone's face. “We just have a couple questions,” Bank persisted. “We want to know what's going on at Elysian Fields Avenue.” Come on, is it crack, opium, X, tell us, how do you seduce the masses of the poor and downtrodden?

O'Reilly brought in a smirking Glenn Beck, “who is also investigating ACORN.” Left unsaid by O'Reilly was – why ACORN? Why not investigate Catholic Charities USA? Why not UNICEF? Even the NAACP doesn't feel the love from O'Reilly like that. I mean, for example, in September 2008 a bookkeeper for the non-profit organization Catholic Charities was indicted for stealing $185,000 from the organization. Isn't that news? Worthy of some in-depth O'Reilly and Beck investigation? Follow that money trail, guys!

“Now,” O'Reilly began, “I want you to explain to the folks why this is important to Americans, why should they care about this community activist group?”

“Because it's not just a community activist group,” Beck replied ominously. “It's about 270 organizations, it goes to the power centers of unions all the way to Congress to the White House. This is a huge story of corruption, and nobody really seems . . . I mean, everybody is covering, kicking dirt over the tracks. New York Times, they threw you under the bus . . . .” Ah, the NY Times story that was supposedly “booted” by editors, about ACORN's ties to the Obama campaign. Well, let's start with the prime whistleblower, former ACORN employee Anita Montcrief, fired for using a company credit card for personal use which, yeah, constitutes theft. I previously posted on this New York Times story – and the reasons it was killed – here. And NY Times' Clark Hoyt wrote about the “tip that didn't pan out” here, and specifically mentioned O'Reilly's incomplete account of this story....(Click for remainder.)


White House Smacks Gingrich for Calling Sotomayor a Racist

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post

The White House hit back at Newt Gingrich on Wednesday for a twitter post made by the former House Speaker accusing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor of being a racist.

Early on Wednesday, Gingrich put up a post on twitter rapping Sotomayor for saying that her background as a Hispanic female allowed her to understand cases in a different, better, manner than her white male contemporaries.
"Imagine a judicial nominee said "my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman" new racism is no better than old racism."
Asked at the daily briefing to respond to the tweet, spokesman Robert Gibbs offered a bit of thinly-veiled shot at Gingrich and warned against the escalation of racially heated rhetoric.

"I think it is probably important for anyone involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation," said Gibbs. "I think... when people of American and the people of the Senate get a chance to look at more than just the blog of a former lawmaker that they will come to the same conclusion as the president did... I think that when people get a chance to look at her record, I feel certain that partisan politics will take a back seat to common sense and open-minded decisions based on a full examination of the record and I think that that's what every Supreme Court and judicial nominee deserves."...(Click for a remainder.)


Proposition 8 Ruling: Separate and Unequal

By The San Francisco Chronicle

The marriage rights of Californians now fall into three categories. Heterosexual couples have access to all rights, responsibilities - and the name - of marriage. Gays and lesbians who were married between May 15 and Nov. 4 can remain so - but cannot remarry in the event of death or divorce. And all other gays and lesbians are prohibited by law from marrying the partner of their choice.

There is a word for this type of unequal treatment:


The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that California voters had the authority to pass a constitutional amendment (Proposition 8) that declared, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

In reading the opinion, it was almost hard to imagine that it was produced by the same court that so eloquently affirmed the principle of marriage equality in May. Chief Justice Ronald George, then writing for the majority in a 4-3 ruling, had declared that all Californians should enjoy "a fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship."

The latest ruling focused on more technical legal issues, namely whether Proposition 8 represented an "amendment" to the constitution (permissible through the initiative process) or a more substantial "revision" that could be put to voters only through a constitutional convention or a two-thirds vote of the Legislature....(Click for remainder.)


Menin Explains to Hannity Panel that in Ricci Decision, Sotomayor "Followed 2nd Cirtuit Precedent"


Is Socialism Around the Corner?


The GOP's Feigned Outrage

It takes chutzpah to protest what you've created.

By Thomas Frank
The Tilting Yard at The Wall Street Journal

Those who followed news coverage of the "tea party" protests last month will recall that one target of the partiers' ire was the TARP bailout of the banking system -- a policy of the Bush administration that President Obama has carried on.

And yet, in a television interview last month, we find no less a representative of the late administration than former Vice President Dick Cheney endorsing the protesters' accusations with what is, for him, considerable enthusiasm. "I thought the tea parties were great," he told Fox News's Sean Hannity. "It's basically a very healthy development."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the Republican Party's few remaining stars, has also cheered the public's willingness to "fight back against Wall Street and Washington insiders."

A Republican who wants to fight Wall Street! A Bush official who thinks protesting Bush policies is "great"! Contemplating these curiosities, we begin to realize how easy it has been for conservatives to swing back into full-throated opposition only months after their cataclysmic defeat. And also to understand why the obituaries for the GOP might be just a tad premature.

After all, there's something about conservatives' ferocious "No" that precisely fits the temper of the times. For all the past year's Democratic victories, the GOP still owns outrage, still has an enormous capacity to summon up offense, to elevate every perceived slight into an unprecedented imposition upon both the hard-working citizen and freedom itself.

What really dazzles the observer, though, is conservatives' fury over things for which they are themselves responsible.

As an example of this habit of mind, consider the essay that Mr. Gingrich published in Human Events last week. "The current liberal bloodlust over interrogations," he wrote, referring to the Nancy Pelosi-CIA flap, is merely "the Left's attempt to hunt down and purge its political opponents." And yet, in a different essay he published on the very same day (this one in the Washington Times), Mr. Gingrich regretted that, in all the years of Republican rule, "there was a strategic failure to root out the left and the special interests of the left."

Mr. Gingrich's side failed to "root out" and destroy their opponents; now he imagines that this is what is being done to his team....(Click for remainder.)


Lawrence Eagleburger Mocks Cheney as "Benighted"

By Ryan Grim
The Huffington Post

Lawrence Eagleburger mocked Dick Cheney on Tuesday, saying that the former vice president, whom he dubbed "benighted," has long exaggerated his position as a partisan in favor of removing Saddam Hussein from power during the first Gulf War.

Eagleburger, a GOP elder statesman who was in President George H.W. Bush's inner circle during the war, said Cheney and others who say they were "screaming and yelling" for Hussein's removal only did so when it was obvious Bush had the capacity to do so. When the real decision was being made, Eagleburger implies, Cheney sang a different tune. Eagleburger answered questions at a Brookings Institution forum.

Cheney has recently taken center stage as a spokesman for a GOP hard line. Eagleburger, a former secretary of state, is the highest-ranking Republican to challenge him.

"The arguments that were made later by some of the benighted people--oh, never mind. I will just say screaming and yelling about how the president should have gone after Saddam at that time were only made once it was a fairly clear that he could have done so. If he had done so it would have been taking the advice of certain people who became vice presidents later on," said Eagleburger.

(Click for original.)


Why Gay Marriage is Important for All Americans

By Stephen H. Dinan
The Huffington Post

The California Supreme Court's decision to uphold Proposition 8 in banning gay marriage is a setback not only for gay rights, but for the psychological and spiritual growth of our country. Gay marriage concerns far more than the 5-10% of our population that identifies as gay. America's deepest tradition is the protection and expansion of individual rights and freedoms with a goal of liberty and justice for all.

Today, the movement to overturn millennia of discrimination against gay people represents the next major expansion of individual rights and freedoms. Even as a straight man, I see this not just through the lens of fairness but as an essential part of the evolution of America. While most commentators see Proposition 8 as a temporary setback in the context of an otherwise clear march towards equality, it does provide an appropriate moment to reflect upon why gay marriage is important not just for gay people but for all Americans.

At the core of the debate is the right of same-sex couples to marry and receive the full benefits and blessings accorded others under the law. Marriage is the most sacred contract sanctioned by our nation, consecrating the love between two beings and forging a legal partnership that also creates a stronger container for families. As such, it is a key place where spiritual values meet secular values. So long as gay marriage is outlawed, we are, as a country, creating a definition of sacred that excludes 5-10% of our citizens and the way they love. This message creates a profoundly split social order and has insidious effects on the psychology of straight people as well.

The suffering that comes from this form of apartheid is not as obvious as when we have separate drinking fountains for "white" and "colored." And yet, the number of people directly affected is parallel to the 10% of the US population that was black in the 1950s and faced with "separate-but-equal" facilities....(Click for remainder.)


No More Mr. Nice Gay

By Michael Rowe
The Huffington Post

"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression." -- Thomas Jefferson

As hard as I try to find another way to say this, yesterday's California Supreme Court decision makes this unattractive concept abundantly clear: gays and lesbians are now the only minority in America against whom discrimination is not only legal, but in many cases, encouraged. California has become the first state in U.S. history to amend its constitution to deprive a minority of a right that they had been legally granted. Now, with both the courts and the legislature unwilling to defend their rights, California's LGBT population must return to the people who consider them unequal citizens, and try to convince them that they're worthy of equal protections under the law. If the irony of this decision being handed down on the day Barack Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court wasn't so pernicious, there might be room for levity. Alas there is not.

For years, and with the best of intentions, gay activists have been reluctant to call the struggle for full and equal rights under the law what is actually is: the defining civil rights battle of our era. Sensitive to the feelings of other minority civil rights activists and historians, and often accused of "appropriating the civil rights movement" (as though there were a limited number of civil rights battles to go around) gays and lesbians have hesitated to equate the struggle for gay rights with the struggle with African American civil rights in the 1960's in spite of the undeniable parallels.

"Loving vs. Virginia," the landmark case that ended the ban on interracial marriage, is the most obvious parallel, and the most germane to the discussion at hand. In 1967, 70% of Americans opposed interracial marriage, and the repeal of its ban was not put to the public for obvious reasons.

Last night on Larry King Live, radio talk show host Larry Prager bumbled his way through an earnest defense of Proposition 8, positing the nightmare scenario (to him, at least) of little girls being asked by their friends if they'd rather marry a girl or a boy. When King pointed out that the same justification Prager was using to support Proposition 8 had been used in the past against interracial marriage, Prager puffed up like a male wild turkey in the forest bent on intimidation....(Click for remainder.)


The Road from here to Marriage Equality

By Mayor Gavin Newsom
The Huffington Post

Today we must turn anger into action.

It's cold comfort to many that history is moving in the right direction, with five states already on their way to marriage equality. But it's our job to make sure history moves faster towards equality here in California.

We must redouble our efforts in California to finally win this fight for equal rights. Please, take a moment today and lend your voice to this just cause.

Sign our petition for marriage equality.

Join the tireless efforts of the Courage Campaign and Equality California.

Let's be respectful. But let's be clear. We must start changing minds today. I know many of my fellow Californians may initially agree with this ruling, but I ask them to reserve final judgment until they have discussed this decision with someone who will be affected by it.

Please talk to a lesbian or gay family member, neighbor or co-worker and ask them why equality in the eyes of the law is important to every Californian. Please talk to local business leaders who know that this will cost jobs and make California less competitive. Please remember we all know someone who is hurt by this decision today. Please reach out to these friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors and discuss why this decision is wrong for California....(Click for remainder.)


Obama Names Ambassadors to Britain, France, & India

By Philip Elliott
Associated Press via The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has picked a major Democratic fundraiser as ambassador to Britain, a theology professor to represent the United States at the Vatican and a former member of the 9/11 Commission to be the top U.S. diplomat in India.

The White House on Wednesday announced a slate of top diplomats in capitals from Tokyo to Paris. The group fills many of the highest profile jobs in the foreign service and will be crucial representatives of Obama and his State Department with U.S. allies.

"I am grateful that these distinguished Americans have agreed to help represent the United States and strengthen our partnerships abroad at this critical time for our nation and the world," Obama said in a statement. "I am confident they will advance American diplomacy as we work to meet the challenges of the 21st century."

For the plum London appointment, Obama turned to Louis Susman, a retired vice chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking. A former Salomon Brothers employee, he won a commission appointment from President Ronald Reagan and was a director for the St. Louis Cardinals for more than a decade.

He also has raised hundreds of millions in campaign donations for Democrats.

The White House also announced it plans to nominate Miguel H. Diaz, an associate professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minn., for the top job at the Vatican.

A Roman Catholic theologian, the Cuban-American advised Barack Obama's presidential campaign. He also was among 26 Catholics who signed a statement supporting the nomination of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic whose support for abortion rights was criticized by conservative Catholics....(Click for remainder.)


Wasn't Luntz Supposed to go Away?

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

We talked over the weekend about Republican pollster Frank Luntz, and his 28-page memo, "The Language of Health Care," written to help Republican lawmakers undermine health care reform efforts. In an interview with the New York Times, Luntz was asked some of his more misleading policy claims. "I'm not a policy person," Luntz replied. "I'm a language person."

And while it's obviously unsatisfying to hear Luntz argue, in effect, that he can do his job without knowing what he's talking about, Jay Rosen reminded me of another important angle: didn't Frank Luntz promise to move to Hollywood and stop bothering us with deceptive rhetorical strategies? This report ran exactly one month ago today.
One of politics' unlikeliest figures has come to Hollywood, looking to change his stripes.

Frank Luntz, the arch-conservative pollster known as the research hammer by which the Gingrich revolution came down hard on President Bill Clinton, wants to take over research for the entertainment industry. [...]

[T]he pollster and Fox News analyst is serious about making his play. He's bought a home in Santa Monica and is already doing survey work for Universal's marketing chief Adam Fogelson and speaking to producers about other projects.

Asked why he would give up a lucrative career in political manipulation, Luntz said, "I'm tired of selling reality. Reality sucks. It's mean. Divisive. Negative. What Hollywood offers is a chance to create a new reality, in two hours time." He added, "I don't like what politics has become.... I don't want to create a 30-second spot that makes people feel like s---."...(Click for remainder.)


Colonizing Culture

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t


The geo-strategic expansion of the American empire is an accepted fact of contemporary history. I have been writing in these columns about the impact of the US occupation on the people of Iraq in the wake of the "hard" colonization via F-16s, tanks, 2,000-pound bombs, white phosphorous and cluster bombs.

Here I offer a brief glimpse into the less obvious but far more insidious phenomenon of "soft" colonization. That scholars and political thinkers have talked at length of such processes only establishes the uncomfortable reality that history is bound to repeat itself in all its ugliness, unless the human civilization makes a concerted effort to eliminate the use of brute force from human affairs.

Gandhi, the apostle of non-violent resistance said:
"I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in other people's houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave."
This is an idea rendered irrelevant in the current scenario, where the mightier among the world's nations have secured the mandate to invade, with impunity, any society and any state that can be exploited for resources. Unlike earlier times, modern-day invasions are invariably camouflaged by a façade of elaborate deceit that claims altruistic intent as the motive of assault. In this new scheme of things, resistance is deemed as insurgency and dissent is unpatriotic. Those that are invaded do not have the luxury to decide between being beggar and slave. Culture would be the last thing on their minds as they struggle to stay alive. Yet it is the loss of their culture that ultimately causes the disintegration of these societies to the absolute advantage of their victors....(Click for remainder.)


It Is Not a Matter of If, but Only a Matter of When

By Russell Simmons
The Huffington Post

It is remarkable that it took only one day for our beautiful country to show its greatest potential and its greatest challenge. And that day was Tuesday. In the morning, I was inspired by the President's nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor for a seat on the Supreme Court. Yet, in the afternoon I was deeply saddened by the decision made by the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8.

It pains me that we have come to a point in this country where we use the ballot box to address the civil rights of our people. If President Johnson had to take a vote, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have passed. If Congress took a vote in 1920, women may still not have the right to vote today. And if President Lincoln went to the polls, blacks would definitely have endured many more years of slavery. We trusted our government to make the right decision and protect the minority, and yesterday we, as a nation, failed.

Unfortunately, most of the arguments against these monumental advancements of our country's history have been deeply rooted in religion; and in my opinion the misuse of religion. Let's remove religion from this discussion, and focus on the greatest gift religion has given all of us, the ability to love. And as an African-American, I urge my own people to take a deep look at our own struggles and not wish them upon anyone else. Simply, civil rights for all is about being connected as humans, united, tolerant, loving and brave.

We have come such a long way in this country. Let's us not stop now. Vermont and Maine have done the right thing by legalizing same sex marriage, and I am extremely supportive of my own Governor, David Paterson, to follow suit in New York....(Click for remainder.)


'Reverse' Racism

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

The right keeps coming up with odd phrases in which the apparent meaning bears no resemblance to the actual meaning. "Opposite marriage" was a popular one a few weeks ago, despite the fact that it was not referring to the opposite of marriage.

Matt Yglesias flags a new one.
Rush Limbaugh thinks Sonia Sotomayor is a "hack" and worse, "Here you have a racist -- you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist."

This seems very confused. Being a "reverse racist" can't be similar to being a "racist," it needs to be the reverse of being a racist. Limbaugh clearly just thinks Sotomayor is a racist. She hates white people. For a Latina to hate white people isn't "reverse" racism, it's racism. Reverse racism would be if you had
a white person who hates white people. It would be like racism, where you hate people of other races, but in reverse.
I had the same reaction, but I'd take this just a little further.

If we accept Limbaugh's argument at face value, he argues that a Latina like Sotomayor is a "reverse racist," as opposed to being a generic, garden-variety racist, because he thinks she hates white people. Putting aside the fact that the accusation is insane, the key to Limbaugh's case is the race of the injured party -- those bigoted against white people aren't racists, they're reverse racists. Presumably, then, those bigoted against non-white people are actual racists....(Click for remainder.)


Race to the Bottom: Con Attack Judge Sotomayor


The Banking Crisis Revisited

By Kevin Drum
Mother Jones

In an interview with Peter Baker, Bill Clinton says that although he regrets not regulating derivatives more strictly, he doesn't think that repealing the Glass-Steagall Act and allowing commercial banks to merge with investment banks was a big cause of our financial meltdown:
On the Glass-Steagall, I’ve really thought about that because No. 1, nonbank banking was already a major part of American life at that time. Letting banks take investment positions I don’t think had much to do with this meltdown. And the more diversified institutions in general were better able to handle what happened....I believe if you look at the blurring of the lines which already existed before that bill was signed — the bill arguably gave us a framework, at least, for which this process, which was happening anyway, could be regulated. So I don’t think that’s such a good criticism.

I think actually, if you want to make a criticism on that, it would be an indirect one; you could say that the signing of that legislation sped up what was happening anyway and maybe led some of these institutions to be bigger than they otherwise would have been and the very bigness of some of these groups caused some of this problem because the bigger something is and the newer it is the harder it is to manage.

I think this is roughly right.  And frankly, even the "indirect" criticism that repeal of Glass-Steagall produced a glut of banks too big to fail seems a little hard to swallow.  After all, even if Citi and Bank of America had remained purely commercial banks they still would have been too big to fail.  Hell, Bear Stearns, a modest sized investment bank, was too big to fail.  In the event, I doubt very much that Glass-Steagall had much if anything to do with our banking disaster.

On the other hand, I've also been thinking a lot about the financial meltdown of the past two years and wondering how much of what we think we know is really true anyway.  Structured finance, for example, has gotten a lot of blame for the crisis, but Dean Baker argues persuasively that derivatives and financial engineering didn't really have much to do with it.  It was purely and simply the result of a housing bubble, and the size of the collapse and the ensuing recession are pretty much what years of academic research predicts given the size of the price runup.  You just don't need anything more to explain it....(Click for remainder.)


The Canadian Rationing Canard

I'm posting the complete post from Matt Yglesias because I think that this is an incredibly important topic.  The reform of the health care system in the United States is of vital importance to the future of the US economy.  The right-wing/Republican sound machine has already began to slander universal/single payer health care systems around the world.  So this is a beginning attempt to debunk the lies, and demystify the FACTS!

By Matthew Yglesias
Think Progress

It’s looking increasingly clear that the right’s strategy for attacking the Obama administration’s health care proposals is to attack totally made-up ideas that have nothing to do with what Obama has proposed. Steve Benen fills us in:
There’s a project, for example, called “Patients United Now,” organized by the same outfit that sponsored Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher’s anti-EFCA efforts. The group, Americans for Prosperity, has a new television ad featuring a Canadian woman who said she came to the United States to be treated for brain cancer, because in Canada, she would have had to wait six months to see a specialist, a delay that would have killed her.

To hear the woman tell it, Canada’s system is a dystopian nightmare, in which the government forces taxpayers to “wait a year for vital surgeries,” and bureaucrats restrict access to medicine and treatments. She concludes by telling the viewer,
“Now Washington wants to bring Canadian-style healthcare to the U.S., but government should never come in between your family and your doctor.” She encourages Americans, “Don’t give up your rights.”
Jonathan Cohn has a good rundown of the basic falseness of this ad. But I think it’s worth zeroing-in on the specific issue here. The way Canadian healthcare works is basically that if you want to see a doctor, you go see a doctor and the government pays the bill. This is a “single-payer” system (with the government as the single payer) and it in no way resembles what Obama has proposed. But it is what they do in Canada. A system like this can either cost a ton of money (sort of like our Medicare) or else you can control the costs by giving the program an explicit budget and then rationing access to care. And in Canada, they essentially have opted for the latter route. Sometimes a person wants treatment but the government won’t pay.

But why is it that in that instance a person would travel to the United States for health care? Obviously, the Canadian government won’t pay for that either. So if you’re going to have to pay privately, why do it in the USA? Why not just do it in Canada? Well, it turns out that in addition to its system of government-financed health insurance, Canada does a lot to curtail people’s ability to purchase health insurance and health care services privately. This is done for basically reasons of egalitarian ideology—they’re all in it together. But it’s also politically viable in part because the vast majority of Canadians live very close to the United States. So prosperous Canadians who are theoretically disadvantaged by this system can, in practice, take advantage of the American “safety valve” and go south of the border. This helps keep the Canadian ruleset politically sustainable.

But not only is Obama not proposing anything like Canada’s single-payer system, he’s really not proposing any restrictions on people’s ability to buy private health insurance. Much as Canadians have the option of going to America to buy health services, Americans will always have the option of going to America to buy health services. But for most Americans, buying health services is difficult because health care is expensive. Obama’s proposals are aimed at making it possible for more people to afford health care. If what you have instead is money burning a hole in your pocket that you desperately want to spend on health care, nobody is going to stop you....(Click for original.)


OPEN LEFT EXCLUSIVE: People of Different Genders and Ethnicities Vote Differently!


By Chris Bowers
Open Left

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has controversially claimed that non-white dudes might judge differently than white dudes in sexual and racial discrimination cases. Supposedly, this is because people see the world differently based on their different experiences, or something. Now, newly unearthed data shockingly suggests that this offensive and outlandish claim might actually have some validity.

The first tip came when Chris Bowers, Open Left's Director of Perpetually Gazing at Exit Polls, discovered the following chart buried at the top of the first page of the rarely viewed 2008 national exit poll. It shows that people with different genders and ethnicities had a tendency to vote--brace yourself--differently from each other:

(Click for remainder.)


Senate Republicants Won't Fight Sotomayor

By Chris Bowers
Open Left

It looks like the Sotomayor nomination fight is over before it began:
Top Senate Republican strategists tell POLITICO that, barring unknown facts about Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the GOP plans no scorched-earth opposition to her confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.

More than 24 hours after the White House unveiling, no senator has come out in opposition to Sotomayor's confirmation.

"The sentiment is overwhelming that the Senate should do due diligence but should not make a mountain out of a molehill," said a top Senate Republican aide. "If there's no 'there' there, we shouldn't try to create one."

Barring something currently unforeseen, this one is over.

Even so, the process of the appearance of a fight still holds a lot of potential benefits for Democrats and progressives. First, a weak opposition to Sotomayor by Senate Republicans could open a real "rootsgap" between Republican Senate leaders and an activist base that has long rabidly focused on the judiciary. Second, Democrats can continue to concern troll the racially charged conservative media attacks on Sotomayor, which threaten both to drive a further wedge between Latinos and Republicans, and also to further the process story of "Republicans in series electoral trouble."...(Click for remainder.)



By Pat Bagley
Salt Lake Tribune


Something Positive: Awkward Moments

By R.K. Milholland
Something Positive


Newt Gingrich Should Withdraw from America

By Bob Fertik

Newt Gingrich's tweet was short and bitter.

Last week, Gingrich urged Speaker Pelosi to withdraw because she said the CIA misled her.

Newt Gingrich is an acknowledged expert at withdrawing as Speaker, since he quit after paying $300,000 in an Ethics fine.

It's time for Newt to withdraw from America. Tweet him @newtgingrich...(Click for original.)


GOP Struggles to Avoid the Racism Label...and Fails

By BarbinMD
Daily Kos

Just a few days ago, the Republican Party was struggling to disassociate themselves from the Party of No label, and now, with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United State, the new battle cry is, "We are not racists":
Lionel Sosa, a Texas-based Republican ad maker who designed Latino outreach for GOP presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, said that opposing Sotomayor "would be one more nail in the Republicans' image coffin in terms of Latino voters."

"When you're anti the first Latina on the Supreme Court, you're anti-my-family. . . . I would take it that these people are anti-Latino," Sosa added. "The worst thing the Republicans can do is oppose her."

The Senate's Republican leadership, aware of the potential pitfalls, began conferring Tuesday with several Latino strategists, seeking their assessment of conservative opposition.

The GOP's dilemma on Sotomayor is the latest example of the party's internal struggle over how to reinvent itself at a time that its voter base is increasingly dominated by Southern, conservative white men.

Which leads us to a classic case of, rock, meet hard place, because the very people given the "leaders of the party" label -- the Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich wing of the party -- aren't struggling at all. They've come out against Sotomayor in full attack mode, calling her, among other things, a "reverse racist," a "radical," and a "disaster." And it probably doesn't help when the media outreach person for the Republican National Committee is retweeting claims of racism against Sotomayor.

Nono is very happy....(Click for original.)


The Right's Biggest Bigots Call Sonia Sotomayor a Racist

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

Republicans seem to have picked a meme for fighting the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court: She's a racist!

It's on all the wingnut tongues. We had Tom Tancredo spewing this line on The Ed Show yesterday -- yeah, the same Tom Tancredo who once sang "Dixie" with the members of a white supremacist organization, and whose entire presidential candidacy was built on bashing Latinos.

You could kinda see where this was going then.

Sure enough, the rest of the Right's leading Racial Sensitivity icons -- Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan -- all were singing the same chorus: "She's a raaaaaacist!"

Limbaugh: The infamous Donovan McNabb incident is only the tip of his lengthy race-baiting record.

Beck: The guy who likes to link Latinos to crime and hyperventilates about Mexican crime regularly.

Coulter: The "woman" whose new book soft-pedals the existence and activities of white supremacists.

Buchanan: The man whose recent books have been rehashings of old white-supremacist eugenics from the early 20th century, fretting about white privilege being overturned by an evil brown tide.

Coulter's a classic case of this: As Diane Sawyer tried to get her to talk about the upside of seeing a Hispanic woman nominated to the Supreme Court, Coulter dourly refused, pouting that liberals hadn't done the same for Clarence Thomas or the execrable Miguel Estrada....(Click for remainder.)


Conservative Reaction To Sotomayor Will Frustrate Efforts To Remake GOP

By Greg Sargent
The Plum Line

It’s the dynamic that just won’t die.

Sonia Sotomayor was nominated only 24 hours ago, but a familiar pattern is already visible: The overheated conservative reaction to the pick is likely to further complicate the GOP’s efforts to shake off its image as intolerant, backward-looking, harshly obstructionist, and captive to extreme elements.

The reaction from the right is already playing into the hands of Dems, whose strategy is to make any and all GOP objections to Sotomayor about the current state of the Republican Party.

Evidence of this isn’t hard to find. In a CNN radio interview, RNC chair Michael Steele all but begged fellow Republicans to temper their rhetoric on Sotomayor. Steele said, wishfully, that the GOP “right now will avoid partisan knee-jerk judgments.”

Conservative Republicans, however, didn’t get that memo, denouncing her in harsh, sometimes racially loaded terms.

Rush Limbaugh attacked her as a “hack” and a “reverse racist.” Pat Buchanan declared her an “Affirmative Action pick.” And Senator Jim Inhofe worried that Sotomayor won’t apply the law “without undue influence” from her “race” and “gender.” There’s much more like this.

Such stuff, of course, only makes it easier for Chuck Schumer to claim that GOP opposition to Sotomayor is all about Republican extremism, and has nothing to do with her jurisprudence, as he did on MSNBC yesterday. Expect other Dems to make this point en masse today....(Click for remainder.)


Gay Moroccan Write Takes on Homophobia

By Jenny Barchfield
Associated Press via Yahoo! News

PARIS – A soft-spoken slip of a young man, Abdellah Taia hardly looks the part of an iconoclast. But as Morocco's first high-profile, openly gay man, Taia has made it his mission to win acceptance for homosexuals throughout the Muslim world.

Taia has defied Moroccan society's don't-ask, don't-tell attitude toward homosexuality — and prison sentences that are still on the books in the North African kingdom — to write five autobiographical novels about growing up poor and gay in the northern coastal city of Sale.

The novels, peppered with sexually explicit passages, have catapulted him to fame in his native country and made him the de-facto poster child of its budding gay rights movement.

His work has sparked harsh criticism. Taia said some outraged critics have called on him to renounce Moroccan citizenship so as "not to bring shame" on the country.

It's also alienated him from his parents and eight siblings, who figure extensively in the books and complain that Taia has publicly humiliated them.

But the 35-year-old author insists he's never been cowed by fallout from his work.

"When I write, I feel a sense of urgency, as if my life depended on it," Taia said in an interview in Paris, where he has lived for almost a decade. "When I first started writing, it never occurred to me to invent some fictional character and talk about made-up things."

His latest novel, "L'armee du Salut," or "Salvation Army," focuses on his decision to move to Europe. An English translation recently came out in the United States, with an introduction by author Edmund White....(Click for remainder.)


The Big Gay Chip on My Shoulder

By Rob Thomas
The Huffington Post

I am a straight man, with a big gay chip on my shoulder.

A while back on my Twitter page (yes, I know how ridiculous it sounds), I mentioned that, if I believed in the devil, Pat Robertson might be him.

Being a fairly liberal-leaning guy with either liberal friends or Republican and Christian friends who don't believe that being one has anything to do with the other, I was surprised at how many people took offense to what I had to say.

These people weren't friends of Mr. Robertson but friends, apparently, of God. They had "spoken" with him and he had assured them that he was no friend of the gays. He also told them that he loved America more than any other country and was a huge fan of Dancing With the Stars.

The small controversy or "Twitter-versy" (patent on phrase pending) all started when I had made the mistake of asking why two people of the same sex shouldn't be able to make the same life-long commitment and (more importantly) under the same god, as straight people. Why can't my gay friends be as happily married as my wife and I? It seemed simple to me, but let me start off by telling you a series of things that I believe to be true:

I am a person who believes that people are born gay. I don't think you have any control over what moves you or to whom you're attracted. That's why it's called an attraction and not a choice....(Click for remainder.)


The Supreme Court Justices and Marriage Equality

By Timothy Kincaid
Box Turtle Bulletin

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This amendment is home to the “Equal Protections Clause” and “Due Process Clause”. And it is under the language of this clause that Theodore B. Olson and David Boies seek to have Proposition 8 determined to be unconstitutional.

Now to me it’s a simple proposition. Gay persons - and couples - are entitled to the priveleges of any other citizen. And, if it up to me, I would probably argue more about how Proposition 8 is an abridgement of my privileges as a citizen than I would about the due process of law. And I’d probably lose.

But regardless of the merits of the arguments, ultimately it isn’t what I think, or what Olson and Boies think that about the application of these protections, it is what the nine Justices of the Supreme Court think.

It is not possible at this time to know the composition of the court should this suit ever reach it. Several members are quite elderly and some are not in good health and lawsuits of this sort can take years before they are heard.

But we can look to the present composition of the court and make some educated guesses about whether they would find such arguments compelling. To guide us, we can look to two significant previous rulings on gay issues that dealt with equal protections and due process....(Click for remainder.)



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