With her strong will, busy travel schedule and breathless blogging, Laguna Niguel dentist Orly Taitz has become the most controversial figure in the effort to prove that President Barack Obama is foreign-born
By Spencer Kornhaber
Before she addressed the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States on March 13, Dr. Orly Taitz thought about his son and her sons and nearly started to cry.
This was after she had woken up at 3 a.m., headed to Kinko’s in Laguna Niguel, photocopied hundreds of pages, gotten on Interstate 5 heading south, answered questions on her cell phone from a radio station, caught a flight in San Diego, sat for a few hours in Salt Lake City, caught another flight, landed in Spokane, picked up a rental car, driven two hours in falling snow along the Washington-Idaho border, parked, entered University Ballroom at the University of Idaho, and then taken a seat to listen to a speech from Chief Justice John Roberts.
“This is a man who has his priorities straight,” said the law-school faculty member who introduced Roberts, going on to describe how Roberts had skipped part of the pre-event reception to be at his son’s baseball game.
That got Taitz thinking. She has three sons: One’s a singer with an “Elvis Presley voice,” another is a tenth-grade AP student who loves math and basketball, and another is studying to be a doctor at an Ivy League school. Since November of last year, Taitz has been “criss-crossing the country”; talking with activists, law-enforcement officers and government officials; filing lawsuits and finding plaintiffs; and speaking at events. She has had to hire extra help at her two dental offices; she can count on one hand the number of times she has been able to sit down and watch TV; and, worst, she has missed awards ceremonies, sports tournaments and family dinners with her sons. Her mascara-rimmed eyes teared up as she thought about all the time she’s never getting back.
Right Wing Watch
It is no surprise that Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, is displeased with the Hate Crimes bill that is making its way through Congress. It's also no surprise that he labeled Eric Holder a "master of demagoguery" after the Attorney General supported the bill and cited the recent murders of Dr. George Tiller and Stephen Johns, the fallen Holocaust Museum security guard, to show the hatred that still exists in our society.
What's troubling is Donahue's attempt to sever the connection between the actions of Scott Roeder and James von Brunn and the radical, hateful beliefs that they held. He claims that Roeder wasn't propelled by an extreme anti-abortionist viewpoint and that von Brunn didn't storm the Holocaust Museum due to anti-Semitic views. Rather their actions were solely prompted by possible mental illnesses:
Roeder was never involved in any pro-life organization, and von Brunn is an old man who was as much anti-Christian as he was anti-Semitic. In other words, it is nothing if not demagogic for Holder to exploit these two recent tragedies—committed by madmen, not political activists.Obviously, the facts directly counter Donahue's claim. Roeder had been in contact with Operation Rescue prior to Dr. Tiller's death and was arrested in 1996 for having the ingredients to make a bomb in the trunk of his car. He was a regular member of anti-abortion rallies in Kansas and a member of the Freeman, a radical anti-government group....(Remainder.)
Keith Deltano has a high school student tied up onstage and is precariously dangling a cinder block over the young man's genital region. Deltano is not a school bully or an escaped lunatic. He's an abstinence proponent, a comedian who uses this brick trick to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of condoms (although the actual lesson learned may be to steer clear of comics brandishing bricks).
Under the Bush administration, stories like this were commonplace. There was the Virginia Beach teacher who told her ninth graders they could be arrested for having premarital sex. And the abstinence teacher who explained to the young women in his class that women are like wrapped lollipops, and that after having sex they're nothing more than "poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled suckers."
This would be comical if not for the fact that these people have been teaching--or not teaching, more accurately--young Americans about sex. And then there are the assorted ridiculous sex-scare policy decisions--like the FDA holding up over-the-counter status for emergency contraception out of fear that it would make young women promiscuous or even lead to teens forming "sex-based cults."
Thankfully, the Obama administration has brought some measure of sanity to public health policy, cutting most abstinence-only education funding from the 2010 budget. But abstinence organizations are not going away. In fact, they're getting organized. Well aware that their cause is in trouble and unpopular, purity proponents are revamping their image to appear more mainstream. And with Obama's faith-based initiative lending them an ear, it just might work....(Remainder.)
Robert Reich's Blog
Momentum for universal health care is slowing dramatically on Capitol Hill. Moderates are worried, Republicans are digging in, and the medical-industrial complex is firing up its lobbying and propaganda machine.
But, as you know, the worst news came days ago when the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with awful projections about how much the leading healthcare plans would cost and how many Americans would still be left out in the cold. Yet these projections didn't include the savings that a public option would generate by negotiating lower drug prices, doctor fees, and hospital costs, and forcing private insurers to be more competitive. Projecting the future costs of universal health care without including the public option is like predicting the number of people who will get sunburns this summer if nobody is allowed to buy sun lotion. Of course the costs of universal health care will be huge if the most important way of controlling them is left out of the calculation.
If you want to save universal health care, you must do several things, and soon:
1. Go to the nation. You must build public support by forcefully making the case for universal health care everywhere around the country. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows that three out of four Americans want universal health care. But the vast majority don't know what's happening on the Hill, don't know how much money the medical-industrial lobbies are spending to defeat it, and have no idea how much demagoguery they're about to be exposed to. You must tell them. And don't be reluctant to take on those vested interests directly. Name names. They've decided to fight you. You must fight them....(Remainder.)
"What's really interesting, the president yesterday has said, he complained about FOX, and he said, I think accurately, that it is the one, only voice of opposition in the media.This is what one finds -- just from today -- on the Op-Ed page of The Washington Post, which yesterday fired Dan Froomkin:
And it makes us a lot like Caracas where all the media, except one, are state run, with the exception that in Hugo Chavez-land, you go after that one station with machetes. I haven't seen any machetes around here, so I think we are at least safe for now" -- oppressed victim Charles Krauthammer, Wednesday night on Fox News, decrying the persecution of conservative pundits.
* Neocon Charles Krauthammer: attacking Obama for indifference to Freedom in IranOn Monday, the Post hosted an online chat with Fox News' Glenn Beck to promote his new book. Today, on its so-called "Post-Partisan" Opinions page, The Post features a column from neocon Bill Kristol, attacking Obama for indifference to Freedom in Iran; a column from right-wing polemicist Kathleen Parker, attacking Obama for indifference to Freedom in Iran; and Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, attacking PBS for banning sectarian programming. On Wednesday, it published an Op-Ed from neocon Robert Kagan accusing Obama of being "objectively" pro-Ahmedinejad (headline: "Obama, Siding with the Regime"). The Post hosts a permanent feature with National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru, leading discussions about conservatism. And its Editorial Page, for years, was (and still is) the loudest cheerleaders for the neoconservative prongs of Bush's foreign policy, particularly the war in Iraq....(Remainder.)
* Neocon Paul Wolfowitz: attacking Obama for indifference to Freedom in Iran
* Establishment/CIA spokesman and war supporter David Ignatius: demanding that Obama do more to support Freedom in Iran and refuse to negotiate with the Iranian regime
* Bush CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden: warning that America will be in danger if CIA officials involved in torture continue to be criticized and questioned about what they did
Asking the Left side of the Blogosphere what the greatest of President Bush's crimes/sins against this nation was is kind of inviting a shouting match. There are so many to choose from, wars, torture, environmental law changes or lack of enforcement, the list goes on and on. Without an operational definition it is a argument which could consume thousands of words on line or tens of pints at a bar. The Dog is going to provide you with the definition and explain why he thinks there is one overarching act which out shines (if that is the right metaphor for such heinous acts) all others.
First the definition: the single action or plan of action which caused the most damage to the United States through its direct and indirect consequences. That seems pretty clear, no? Now to the Dog there is one act which stands out in these terms; the politicization of the Department of Justice. The Dog knows there are will be at least a few of his readers who will say this is not as bad as the war of choice in Iraq, but stick with the old hound a little bit and he will do his best to show you were the real and lasting damage is.
We can be fairly sure Vice President Cheney and his legal svengali David Addington were already looking down the road to be able to expand the powers of the Presidency. This is clear from the choices they placed in the Office of Legal Council and who they picked to be the AG. John Ashcroft looked like just the kind of person they needed, a former Senator who unexpectedly lost to the wife of his dead opponent. A known conservative who would (they thought) do pretty much anything they wanted as long as it meant he could stay in a position of power.
After 9/11 the crisis they needed was at hand. By now they were well on their way to stocking people in all of the levels of the DOJ they needed, loyalists in the Voting Rights Section, new hirers in the professional level and lots and lots of fiercely loyal Federalist Society members in place. Then the damage began....(Remainder.)
Crooks and Liars
Matthew Balan at Newsbusters is unhappy because a CNN chryon identified Shawna Forde's killer-Minuteman gang "extremists", while Rick Sanchez talked a bit about how Forde had been a player in the movement:
A chyron which accompanied a report on CNN’s Newsroom program on Wednesday about the arrest of a leader of an organization inspired by the Minuteman Project, referred to her and her accused accomplices as “extremists.” Despite qualifying how the largest Minuteman organization had distanced itself from the suspects, anchor Rick Sanchez questioned how she became a “player in the anti-immigration movement.”OK, so if Balan doesn't want to call Forde's gang of thugs "extremists," what would he call this?
Accused ringleader Shawna Forde told her family in recent months that she had begun recruiting members of the Aryan Nations and that she planned to begin robbing drug-cartel leaders, her brother Merrill Metzger said Monday in a telephone interview from Redding, Calif.Oh, and then they shot a 9-year-old girl and her father to death in cold blood....(Remainder.)
"She was talking about starting a revolution against the United States government," he said.
... "She sat right here on my couch and told me that she was going to start an underground militia. This militia was going to start robbing drug-cartel dealers — rob them and steal their money or drugs," Metzger said.
... Investigators think the May 30 robbery was intended to be the first in a series of such attacks intended to fund the border-watch group and a new venture, O'Connor said. Forde planned on starting a business of helping free kidnap victims in other countries, he said.
The Huffington Post
The Republicans are faulting President Obama for not taking a "strong enough stand" in support of the freedom marchers in Iran. Yet if the Republican/Religious Right/Neoconservative agenda had come to full fruition over the last 35 years the Republicans would have plunged America into our own version of the misbegotten theocracy destroying Iran today. I know. As a former Religious Right leader I worked to make America "safe" for "Christian values" and dangerous to everyone else. Thankfully I, and those like me, failed.
Had we succeeded America would be another version of Iran. Instead of people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson having become marginalized they'd be sitting in Washington advising whomever was the next Republican president. Instead of environmental protection and new mileage standards for cars there would be new anti-gay laws on the books.
What are the real lessons of Iran for the USA?
1) Don't mix religion and politics.
2) Thank God for the separation of church and state.
3) The Republicans are utter hypocrites.
Until I got out of the religious right (in the mid-1980s) I was both a leader of the so-called pro-life movement and a part of a Republican Party hate machine masquerading as the moral conscience of America....(Remainder.)
Today on “Your World with
“Now, I have to be honest, he’s been everywhere else today to talk about health care today, seemingly with anyone with a pulse today. Just not here. Just not with me.”You can almost hear him choking back the tears. He attempted to insert some comedy by way of jokes about Obama appearing with SpongeBob SquarePants before sitting down with Fox News. However, the humor was exceedingly distasteful as it appeared to cast Obama as something that SpongeBob stepped in and tried to wipe off of his shoe (seriously). And if this prepared lament was not enough, he brought it up repeatedly throughout the remainder of the show while interviewing other guests. The core of his concern was stated thusly:
“Why do you hate us so much, Mr. President? Because we challenge you or because we won’t worship you? Or both?”This is nothing new for Cavuto. He frequently takes to mocking Obama and other Democrats because he feels neglected. He has recently been attacking the administration for not making the various issue “czars” available for Fox-applied abuse. In the course of these complaints he ridicules both the position and the person holding it. He boldly expresses his disapproval of Obama’s affinity for czars and that there are any czars appointed in the first place. Perhaps he should be informed that George Bush had at least a dozen czars of his own. (And can we please retire the title “czar” in favor of something like Manager or Auditor?)...(Remainder.)
International Rescue Committee via The Huffington Post
Every day the violence was getting worse in Baghdad. Every day we saw death, destruction and suffering. It all touches a place in your soul that you want to keep pure, but you cannot. My husband and I knew we were in danger and decided it was time to flee. But three days before we were to escape to Jordan with our two small children, my husband, who worked for the UN, was killed in a bomb attack.
I was 28 at the time and numb with grief. How do you tell your 3 and 4-year-old children that their dad will not be coming home tonight or ever again? I knew I had to pick up the pieces and search for a job to support my kids. It was extremely dangerous to go out, but I did find work as a translator for the US Army. It was a good job, even though it was risky, and I thought I was doing my part to help rebuild my country. But the terrorists were everywhere. They threatened to kill me if I did not quit my job with the Americans.
This time, I had no choice. My children and I fled to Amman. And there, I joined many Iraqi refugee war widows who also felt scared, unsafe and uncertain about the future as we struggled, as single mothers, to provide for our children.
When the United States opened its door to Iraqi refugees, I was praying that we would be given the opportunity to come here and start a new life, a safe life. Last year, our chance finally came and we were resettled to Georgia, a place where people are so helpful and quick to smile.
I knew life was not going to be easy at the beginning, but I also knew that the only way that my family could begin again was to find a job as soon as possible. I could not rely on government assistance, because there was so little available.
Even though my background was working for international organizations, I started searching everywhere for a job. I was willing to do anything. I sent my resume to shops, groceries, schools and community organizations. And eventually, with determination and God's grace, I found a job as a case manager at the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta, helping other newly arrived refugees to get on their feet....(Remainder.)
Once in a while, misplaced Reagan worship is even more cringe-worthy than usual.
John McCain, for example, reflecting on U.S. "moral support" towards Iranians, told Sean Hannity last night, "You and I are both students of history and we've seen this movie before. When Ronald Reagan stood up for the workers in Gdansk in Poland, when he stood up for the people of Czechoslovakia, in Prague Spring, and America did. And some good Democrats did, too."
He wasn't kidding.
Let's put aside the notion that neither McCain nor Hannity are "students of history," and consider how foolish the senator's remarks were on their face. Ben Armbruster notes McCain's calendar-centered confusion.
Perhaps McCain needs a new history lesson. The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia when Communist Party leader Alexander Dubcek allowed greater speech and assembly freedoms when he came to power ... in January 1968. Ronald Reagan had just completed his first year as California's governor at that time. Soviet and other Warsaw Pact troops invaded eight months later to end the reform movement. [...]Right. In fact, this constant talk comparing ongoing developments in Iran with Reagan and Eastern Europe is utterly ridiculous. As Hilzoy noted the other night, "We can debate how important Reagan's various pronouncements about Eastern Europe were, but I do not recall anyone suggesting that they would not be welcomed by Eastern European dissidents, or would harm their cause. In [Iran's] case, [presidential pronouncements] could do real harm, which is why no Iranian human rights activists and opposition leaders that I'm aware of have called on Obama to speak out. Question: do the people who make these arguments not know this? If they don't -- if they really believe that the question how Obama should respond is in any way like the question how Reagan should have responded to Eastern Europe -- then they are completely ignorant of Iran's history, and have no business commenting at all."...(Remainder.)
If McCain and company are going to continue to rely on Reagan for guidance, they should at least try to maintain the correct historical time-line.
Rupert Mudoch’s News Corp. has been bleeding badly financially. They have lost 49% of their stock value in the past 52 weeks. And acquiring the Wall Street Journal for $5 billion just as the newspaper business was collapsing couldn’t have helped matters.
Now News Corp. is reporting that they are unloading the Weekly Standard, the uber-rightist magazine founded by neo-icon, William Kristal. No reason or sale price was given in the announcement, but it is fairly evident that Murdoch needs to raise some cash and cut costs to service his massive debt.
The buyer is Clarity Media Group, a part of Phillip Anschutz’s billion dollar media and entertainment conglomerate. Clarity is the publisher of the Washington Examiner, a conservative freebie tabloid in D.C.
Don’t expect much to change at the Standard. Kristal will likely stay aboard, along with executive editor Fred Barnes. Both will also remain Fox News contributors. If anything, the magazine may begin to feature more stories dealing with Anschutz’s obsession for Dark Ages Christian Fundamentalism. He is a major backer of the Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank. He also finances anti-gay and pro-censorship organizations and initiatives.
In other words…more of the same....(Original.)
The Huffington Post
Meghan McCain got taken to task by Paul Begala during her appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday, leading her to tell Begala at one point "you clearly know everything and I'm just the blond sitting here."
It all got started during a discussion of George Bush, who McCain acknowledged was a less than perfect president. But McCain also pointed a finger at the Obama administration in Bush's defense, saying she felt that the Obama administration "has to stop completely blaming everything on its predecessor." When Maher asked McCain if she really thought this is what Obama is doing, McCain said "I do to a degree." A clearly annoyed Begala immediately shook his head and said "not to enough of a degree, I'm sorry not nearly enough." He then began to explain how President Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter for years, to which McCain responded blithely "you know I wasn't born yet so I wouldn't know." Going in for the kill, Begala fired back "I wasn't born during the French Revolution but I know about it."
And it only got more embarrassing for McCain from there.
There are four reasons that the mainstream media is worthless.
1. Self-Censorship by Journalists
Initially, there is tremendous self-censorship by journalists.
For example, several months after 9/11, famed news anchor Dan Rather told the BBC that American reporters were practicing "a form of self-censorship":
"there was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around peoples' necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions.... And again, I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism.Keith Olbermann agreed that there is self-censorship in the American media, and that:
"What we are talking about here - whether one wants to recognise it or not, or call it by its proper name or not - is a form of self-censorship."
"You can rock the boat, but you can never say that the entire ocean is in trouble .... You cannot say: By the way, there's something wrong with our .... system".As former Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin wrote in 2006:
Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do. . . .(Remainder.)
There’s the intense pressure to maintain access to insider sources, even as those sources become ridiculously unrevealing and oversensitive. There’s the fear of being labeled partisan if one’s bullshit-calling isn’t meted out in precisely equal increments along the political spectrum.
If mainstream-media political journalists don’t start calling bullshit more often, then we do risk losing our primacy — if not to the comedians then to the bloggers.
I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter - whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way.
This is a textbook example of how a dishonest news enterprise will employ deceit in pursuit of a partisan agenda. All it takes is an absence of conscience and ethics, and an intent to deliberately mislead your readers.
Ever since ABC announced that they would host a health care themed town hall from the White House, the conservative media machine has been blasting the move as evidence that the media is “in the tank” for Barack Obama. In an effort to advance this theory, the Washington Times commissioned a "study" by the Center for Responsive Politics on the campaign donations made by ABC employees.
The conclusion, as represented by the Times, was that ABC is a partisan operation that is unfit to call themselves a news service. They cited data from the study that said that over $124,000 was donated by ABC employees to Obama, as compared to about $1,500 to McCain or other candidates. In addition, they sought comments from Dan Gainor of the Business & Media Institute, a far right-wing group affiliated with ultra-conservative Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center. Gainor said that…
“ABC is in bed with their source, so to speak. ABC is supposed to be a news organization, not a producer of infomercials for national health care. And I wonder what they would have done if the Bush administration had asked for positive programming to support the war on terror or Social Security initiatives.”Gainor couldn’t have come up with two worse examples to make his point. The Bush administration asked for, and received, multiple programming opportunities to hawk his war mongering and Social Security privatization schemes - including one-sided town halls and air time on both broadcast and cable networks....(Remainder.)
By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars
Glenn Beck was on Greta Van Susteren's show last night, plumping his new book, Common Sense -- which, like most right-wing titles, is actually a piece of Newspeak that represents roughly the opposite of what it appears to mean -- and repeating his charge that "the progressive movement is the "disease" that is killing this country".
You see, he's been reading Jonah Goldberg, so he's reached this conclusion (with some help from libertarians). And there's no doubt that the basic argument is right: Beginning in the early 1900s, the progressive movement definitely shifted the direction of this nation and shaped it largely into what we see today.
Glenn Beck thinks that's a bad thing. I don't.
Now, I know that Beck reels in money by the barrelful these days. But he hails from a working-class family and often touts his working-class roots.
So I'd like him to meet some Americans before the progressive movement came along:
Crooks and Liar
Remember how, a week or so ago, Bill O'Reilly was preoccupied with the idea that the news media had comparatively obsessed over the domestic-terrorism killing of Dr. George Tiller, while "ignoring" the killing of Private Long, a similar act of terrorism? He had numerous segments complaining that the matter proved there was a liberal media bias.
At one point, he complained that CNN had "ignored" the story -- a completely meritless charge. At another, he even claimed that the only place you could find any coverage of the case was on Fox.
Now, compare that to how Fox has handled yet another horrifying case of murderous extremism: the arrest of Shawna Forde and her Minuteman cohorts for the cold-blooded murder of a 9-year-old girl and her father.
Fox simply has ignored the story. There is a single Associated Press story on the Fox website. This AP piece, notably, contains not a single reference to Forde's long history with the Minuteman movement, her close ties to Jim Gilchrist, or the fact that she intended this Minutemen squad to use its ill-gotten gains to "start a revolution against the United States government."
Meanwhile, I've reviewed my Fox News recordings, meanwhile, and cannot find a single instance of the story being reported anywhere on the news channel. (I could be mistaken about this; the recordings are only partially complete, and it's possible something ran in the occasional gaps in my record. But not likely.)...(Remainder.)
Who stole our change?
Who hijacked a popular uprising that was going to put a stop to business as usual in Washington, D.C.?
What happened to Barack Obama on his way to the White House?
The Republicans have been so busy trying to paint President Obama as a socialist, as a radical, as a Marxist, as a Muslim, as the Devil, that they haven't even noticed that he has become one of them.
What a difference a year can make. A year ago Barack Obama was on the campaign trail, promising an American electorate disheartened and disgusted by eight years of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that he was going to change everything if he was elected President.
He would be the new broom, sweeping out the dirt, collecting the trash, and fixing everything that was broken and tarnished and perverted in our government, in our nation's capital, in our White House.
He swept into office on a high tide of good will and anticipation. He was going to fix Wall Street. He was going to end the war in Iraq. He was going to bring a new era of transparency to government. He was going to stimulate a faltering economy and give new hope to a shrinking, frightened middle class. He was going to close the prison at Guantanamo and end the torture policies of his predecessors. There was even a hope that we would investigate how we went wrong and who ordered it.
He came to town on a white horse, riding a staggering wave of popular approval in the polls, a golden leader in a golden moment with a golden opportunity, and then he did what? Nothing much. Nothing different....(Remainder.)
Doling out "a little positive reinforcement" when Fox News "actually gets something right," Mark Howard of News Corpse (6/18/09) agrees with Sean Hannity's declaration of "the death of journalism"--though disagreeing with the context of Fox's pronouncement, being their assertion that a scheduled ABC News broadcast "that would delve into the pros and cons of the president's policy" on healthcare amounts to "an infomercial for Obama's plan. They assert that nothing like this has ever happened before":
Once again, Fox News is either pathetically ignorant or desperately dishonest. (Yeah, I know. It's both.) Last year Fox News broadcast a special from the Bush White House they called Fighting to the Finish. And there was also their highly promoted exclusive, Dick Cheney: No Retreat. These are just two blatant examples of hypocrisy by Fox. There are many more incidents of Fox serving as the PR agency for the Republican Party. But somehow, ABC having a town hall, where they assert that multiple views will be discussed, is an abomination that (finally) heralds the end of journalism.In the end, Howard bemoans how "I guess that I should just be satisfied that they are acknowledging something close to reality at all. Even though they don't grasp their own role in journalism's demise."...(Original.)
Joe and I will have more on this tomorrow and through the week. But the rumor we heard last week is apparently true. We found out today that the White House has decided to throw a big gay party at the end of the month. It's clear that the purpose is two-fold. First, the White House is trying, again, to surround the president with A-list gays in order to show how "gay friendly" he is - he's even willing to give a speech in a room full of them for a full 8 minutes! And second, the White House hopes that a little champagne and fancy food will convince the A-listers to throw the rest of you overboard. Because, after all, what's two gay service members discharged a day and an ongoing effort to legally label you as akin to pedophila and incest, when there's champagne to be served.
I think it's fair to say that, unless the White House shows significant action on Don't Ask Don't Tell and DOMA by the time of this party, any representative of a gay organization attending this event is going to met with a swift community-wide boycott of their organization.
HRC managed to get away with attending this week's faux-benefits signing, which was, i believe, a bit mistake. The organization's president, Joe Solmonese, was on the Michelangelo Signorile Show earlier this week, and Joe said to Mike, I'm told, something to the effect of "When the president calls, you come."
No you don't.
You don't permit yourself to be used by a politician against your own community unless and until you extract something huge in return for your community. And there's been no action on DADT or DOMA or any others of the president's campaign promises since HRC accepted the invite. The president desperately needs our leaders to give him cover. Then get something in return, something huge, something we've been demanding as one of our top priorities. And that does not mean changing our married name on our passports....(Remainder.)
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is morphing into George W. Bush, as administration attorneys repeatedly adopt the executive-authority and national-security rationales that their Republican predecessors preferred.
In courtroom battles and freedom-of-information fights from Washington, D.C., to California, Obama's legal arguments repeatedly mirror Bush's: White House turf is to be protected, secrets must be retained and dire warnings are wielded as weapons.
"It's putting up a veritable wall around the White House, and it's so at odds with Obama's campaign commitment to more open government," said Anne Weismann, chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a legal watchdog group.
Certainly, some differences exist.
The Obama administration, for instance, has released documents on global warming from the Council on Environmental Quality that the Bush administration sought to suppress. Some questions, such as access to White House visitor logs, remain a work in progress.
On policies that are at the heart of presidential power and prerogatives, however, this administration's legal arguments have blended into the other. The persistence can reflect everything from institutional momentum and a quest for continuity to the clout of career employees....(Remainder.)
Yes, it's time for the fashion police, when hate is worn with pride and considered to be the smart, current, in-vogue style, as seen in the Bush GOP Party of No, nothing for no one (all negative) . . . this is more than just the use of freedom of speech, it's our members of Congress refusing to do their jobs for this country . . . refusing to do their jobs after being a part of the destruction by the criminal Bush regime . . . if they can't do their jobs, then make them accountable for the jobs they did during the last eight years.
Their fashion attire is coming very close to being fascism, which is what we actually had under the Bush regime (except this country stays constantly in denial) . . . a totalitarianist dictatorship with extreme nationalism promoted . . . remember before the invasion into the Iraq, along with the media, at many shopping malls around the country, there gathered groups of American citizens waving their flags, and all we heard was the demand for patriotism, what it was to be a patriot, lies that cost lives, and this constant command of patriotism went on for years . . . how proud are those citizens today, I wonder, after 5,000 deaths of US military, thousands of wounded military, a National Guard that should never have been in any military operation, and hundreds of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions of Iraqi citizens. And, for what? Driven by many US media, and for what?
When hate becomes a regular topic on public TV, radio, and on the news, it's long overdue for a fashion change of our, what some call, social elite, and we Americans have to make that change happen. To fight intolerance, we have to be intolerant. We cannot tolerate hate rhetoric and the violence that it brings into the public realm.
Hate is blind and cowardly. It kills the innocent and the unarmed. After eight years of such violence by the Bush GOP criminal regime, nothing has changed. They area still at it.
When hate is being worn as something to be proud of, the question becomes, "how to bring about drastic change in US society?" The majority of Americans are not haters, so, we are talking about a minority, but a minority that has had eight profitable years of violence against Iraq, Afghanistan, and American citizens.
There are many different types of hate: hater of government and authority: misarchist; hater of learning, wisdom: misophist; hater of science: misomath; hater of reason, enlightenment: misologist . . . Having always believed in a two-party system where opposite views are discussed openly and respectfully, in order to come to a common solution that would be best for the American people and for this country as a democracy . . . that is what we Americans should be able to expect from our members of Congress. We should have seen opposition to the illegal activities during the eight years of the Bush administration, but, we did not. Why now? Why all of this opposition against the Obama administration?...(Remainder.)
The Washington Independent
Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), who has introduced a bill that would require future presidential candidates to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, has collected four more co-sponsors — Reps. John R. Carter, John Culberson and Randy Neugebauer, all Republicans from Texas, and Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.). Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) became the first co-sponsor last month.
Via WorldNetDaily's Andrea Shea King, who transcribes a stunning interview Posey gave her on her Internet radio show. Posey, who referred to the story as the "eligibility dilemma" and said King brought it to his attention, outright accused the president of hiding something: "The only people that I know who are afraid to take drug tests are the people who use drugs." He also admitted speaking with "high-ranking members of our judiciary committee" about the chances of Obama "being removed from office," but said there was "zero chance" of success there.
On how he got the co-sponsors:
I was talking to Neugebauer about it, and my good friend John Culberson was listening to the conversation and so Randy said, "Yeah, I told my staff I wanted to sign up on that already." And having heard the conversation, Culberson says, "Yeah, sign me up." And the judge (Carter) was sitting in the next row listening to the conversation and he said, "By God, sign me up!" So you know, we might start getting a little bit of steam here pretty soon. I didn't strong arm these people. I haven't begged anybody to sign on this thing, I haven't asked anybody, really. The people that come up and slap me on the back and say, "Good luck to you!" I say, "Hey, there's room for you on here!" And of course, they start doing the moonwalk, you know? "Oh no, no, no, congressman!" But you know, times change and time wounds all heels.(Remainder.)
Yesterday, Senator Barbara Boxer politely requested that Brigadier General Michael Walsh address her as “Senator” and not “Ma’Am.” Not surprisingly, this was a thread on Fox Nation where “mutual respect” is always encouraged – not! I’m thinking that the writers at Fox Nation are like those who are shopping for peppers when they’re making chili – which requires a decision on level of heat. The Fox Nation writers must take a look at news of the day and decide which ones will create the most heat on the palate of Fox Nation diners. Obviously anything or anyone connected with Democrats is on the Fox Nation menu; but Barbara Boxer, a liberal from California is made to order for Fox Nation gourmets whose hatred of liberals and California is hot, hot, hot!!! (might not be on a level with ACORN; but it’s up there) I’ve copied some of the comments which show the high level of "mutual respect" shown on Fox Nation. One of the comments conveniently provided Boxer’s Senate address for the hate mail and death threats. Oh, BTW, the US Senate passed a resolution, today, that apologized for slavery. I suspect that we won’t see that on Fox Nation because Fox Nation writers don’t want that kind of heat! But ya never know!!!!
And to the person who claimed that "liberal California senators don't support the troops" - why did Boxer request that the Senate Appropriations Committee include funding in the FY09 Supplemental Defense Appropriations Bill for the highly successful C-17 program?
Some interesting poll numbers have come out recently with some dire news for the GOP. Consider this from a NYT/CBS poll:
While Republicans have steadily increased their criticism of Mr. Obama, particularly on the budget deficit, the poll found that the Republican Party is viewed favorably by only 28 percent of those polled, the lowest rating ever in a New York Times/CBS News poll. In contrast, 57 percent said that they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party. [emphasis added]And this from a WSJ/NBC poll:
25 percent hold a favorable view of the Republican Party, which is an all-time low for it in the poll. 45 percent hold a favorable view of the Democratic Party. [emphasis added](Original.)
Tom Ricks watches a Mike Pence (R-IN) appearance on Fox News and comes away fearing for the lives of Iran’s brave protestors:
I just hope that Iranian protestors know not to take this clown seriously.For quite some time now I’ve been trying to emphasize the point that Pence is not an intelligent man. It’s good to see Ricks notice this as well. But I think it’s important for people in the journalism game to get a bit more interdisciplinary on this. Oftentimes people are inclined to grant the benefit of the doubt. A Ricks might say “well, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about on national security, but maybe his energy ideas make sense.” Ask around, though, and you’ll see it’s not the case. He’s just got dumb ideas on all sorts of topics. And it’s worth aggressively making that point. It’s all well and good to “hope” that Iranian protestors recognize that he’s a “clown” and shouldn’t be taken seriously. But the odds are actually pretty good that foreigners will take the situation at face value—he’s one of the highest-ranking and most prominent members of a major political party, so surely his pronouncements should be taken seriously. Right? Because if such a high-level party leader were, in fact, a “clown” then people would hear about that. Right?...(Remainder.)
This problem goes to the essence of strategy: A “tough” stance that Fox’s anchors are pushing might feel good, but it likely would be unproductive. A sober stance of the sort that Obama has taken is more difficult but likely more effective in the long run.
This has not been a week in which the Republican Party has covered itself in glory. From fairly obscure staffers to major political players, the words coming from the mouths, keyboards, and twitter accounts of Republicans about their president has gone from bad to appalling in 4.9 seconds.
Consider the parade of over-the-top (to say nothing, on at least a couple occasions, of bitterly racist) messaging we have been treated to in the past few weeks:
Our first nominee--House Minority Whip Eric Cantor:
Cantor told the AP that Mr. Obama's plans for the auto industry represent governmental micromanagement and said watching the administration operate is "almost like looking at Putin's Russia."Pretty bad, but when we get to the end of the parade, it is pretty unlikely that Cantor even makes it to the medal stand.
Especially when he gets pressed by one of his own mates in the House: Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk:
In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Kirk said he told Chinese officials "the budget numbers that the U.S. Government has put forward should not be believed." He went on to say that Congress will wind up spending even more.So, apparently now the playbook includes the compulsion to clip the President's knees (and, of course, the Democrats), even if that entails trying to scare the bejeezus out of our biggest creditor in order to do so....(Remainder.)
Glenn Beck thought he had so cleverly arranged to crash ACORN’s anniversary party Wednesday night by sending reporter Griff Jenkins, dressed in a tuxedo and standing on a red carpet, to ambush attendees on their way in or out. But the tables were turned by OpenLeft.com’s Adam Green who surprised Jenkins with a microphone and a camera of his own. Green asked Jenkins about a 2004 Fox News directive, “Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of US lives and asking out loud why are we there?” Not surprisingly, Jenkins ducked the question and became flummoxed as Green peppered him with relentless questions. Not only had the hunter been captured by the prey but the video became an instant hit on YouTube with well over 111,000 views a little more than 24 hours later. Last night (6/18/09), Beck ratcheted up the theatrics and cranked up the smear machine in response. In a tacit admission of Fox's conservative agenda, Beck bragged that because of Fox's reporting, ACORN would disband. With video.
Beck began by gleefully mocking and smearing one woman who had spoken amicably to Griff Jenkins on her way in or out of the party. Beck didn’t have the decency or the journalistic integrity to give her a chance to defend herself.
“Our cameras weren’t allowed into last night’s exclusive ACORN anniversary party,” Beck groused. Gee, I wonder why.
Beck prodded Jenkins, “You actually were kind of assaulted, weren’t you?”
For some reason, Jenkins didn’t want to go there. “Not necessarily assaulted,” he told Beck. But Jenkins did say that he had “pointed out that those people (ACORN)... were under investigation... for voter registration violations.”
I believe that in reality, it’s a handful of ACORN workers who are under investigation. But if that’s such a big deal, why hasn’t Jenkins been investigating Fox News fave Ann Coulter, currently under investigation for actual voter fraud? He wouldn’t even have to stake her out, given that she’s so ubiquitous on Fox. Surely Jenkins and Beck must be very curious to hear Coulter’s explanation as to why she voted in Connecticut while allegedly living in New York, especially since no other host seems to have even asked Coulter about the charges....(Remainder.)
Glenn Beck Embarks On Another ACORN Smear-a-thon, This Time With A Heavy Dose of Obama Conspiracy Theory
Glenn Beck must still be feeling the sting of his epic fail at Wednesday night’s ACORN party. Last night (6/19/09), he ramped up the attacks on the party-goer he had smeared the night before, declared ACORN a socialist organization working to destroy, then recreate the American economy, and baselessly suggested that President Obama is actively involved in the conspiracy. With video.
Beck began the discussion by once again attacking ACORN party-goer Heather Booth whose only crime was to speak politely to ambush-reporter Griff Jenkins after being waylaid outside the party.
“So who is this woman?” Beck asked, with sinister implications. He enlisted the services of Matthew Vadum who, like Beck seems to have a special axe to grind against ACORN. Once again, there was nobody to defend Booth nor any voice to counter the inflammatory rhetoric coming from Beck and Vadum. Very fair and balanced - not!
Beck, with his customary exaggerated self-importance, went to a dry erase board with a diagram of a tree to “prove” that because Booth's husband had once been connected to the radical 60’s group SDS (and Bill Ayers, “Professor” Beck neatly threw in), that meant ACORN was “socialist nonsense” connected to violent revolution. For good measure, Beck threw in an attack on President Barack Obama: “Anybody who says, ‘Well, he just knows Bill Ayers; you know he was just a neighbor of Bill Ayers... He knows (his emphasis) all of these people.’” At the top of ACORN’s tree were, as Vadan put it, “the money men who shower ACORN with funds” such as George Soros, “the toxic mortgage king and queen, Herb and Marion Sandler,” Roseanne Barr, and Barbra Streisand....(Remainder.)
It's been a wild couple of weeks for those of us in the wingnutology business. Our services have been in tremendous demand as the mainstream media tries to sort out the meaning of what Scott Roeder and James von Brunn did. I've done an average of one radio show every day for the past two weeks trying to help various lefty talkers around the country make some sense of it all; and I'm generally gratified at how seriously people are starting to take this.
At the same time, I'm also appalled (though, sadly, hardly surprised) by the conservative mythmaking that's going on around the very serious issue of right-wing domestic terrorism. So it's obviously time to pull together another "Firing Back" piece to give progressives what they need to separate fact from fiction when these talking points start flying.
I've actually had every one of the following myths pitched to me by on-air interviewers, phone-in callers, and/or online commenters over the last two weeks. Most of them have come up over and over, which suggests to me that you're likely to encounter them, too. So let's walk 'em through:
1. These are just "lone wolf" psychos who are acting alone. You can't hold anybody else responsible for what crazy people decide to do.
True and false. But mostly false.
It's true that every one of the nine right-wing terrorists who've made the news since January 20 had a history of mental illness, domestic violence, and/or drug abuse. Several were veterans who were having a really hard time adjusting to civilian life. None of these people could reasonably be considered sane; and, for whatever twisted reasons, they made a personal choice to do what they did.
But it's not true that they were acting alone. People who are dealing with these kinds of demons are often drawn into movements that offer a strong narrative that helps them make sense of a world that never seems to add up right for them. They're usually drawn into organizations like Operation Rescue or the Minutemen that are nominally non-violent; but which also indoctrinate them into a worldview that justifies and motivates people to commit terrorist acts. They come to believe that they must do this to save the world, to serve God, and to be the heroes they desperately want to be.
They're already walking sticks of dynamite. But it takes the heat of that apocalyptic, dualistic, eliminationist, pro-violence narrative to light their fuses and make them explode....(Remainder.)
Obama Closes Doors on Openness
By Michael Isikoff
As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding "secret energy meetings" with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama's "clean coal" policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged "presidential communications." The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig's office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure. Since Obama pledged on his first day in office to usher in a "new era" of openness, "nothing has changed," says David -Sobel, a lawyer who litigates FOIA cases. "For a president who said he was going to bring unprecedented transparency to government, you would certainly expect more than the recycling of old Bush secrecy policies."
The hard line appears to be no accident. After Obama's much-publicized Jan. 21 "transparency" memo, administration lawyers crafted a key directive implementing the new policy that contained a major loophole, according to FOIA experts. The directive, signed by Attorney General Eric Holder, instructed federal agencies to adopt a "presumption" of disclosure for FOIA requests. This reversal of Bush policy was intended to restore a standard set by President Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno. But in a little-noticed passage, the Holder memo also said the new standard applies "if practicable" for cases involving "pending litigation." Dan Metcalfe, the former longtime chief of FOIA policy at Justice, says the passage and other "lawyerly hedges" means the Holder memo is now "astonishingly weaker" than the Reno policy. (The visitor-log request falls in this category because of a pending Bush-era lawsuit for such records.)...(Remainder.)
"To ensure equality, water must be considered a human right and not just a need, privilege or commodity." (Photo: Edwin Huffman / World Bank)
What is called for is an international code for the public's access to a guaranteed supply of water as a basic human right.
The Corporate Crusade to Commodify Water
By Lisa Boscov-Ellen
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Water has been characterized as the oil of the 21st century. Blue gold. It is essential to life, and yet humanity faces a growing water crisis as a result of severe mismanagement in water and sanitation, which will be exponentially exacerbated in the coming decades by population growth combined with declining resources. Latin America has the greatest income disparity in the world and the population's access to water reflects this inequality. Over 130 million people living in the region do not have access to potable water in their homes, and sanitation is in even poorer condition, as it is estimated that only one in six persons has adequate sanitation services. According to the 2007 Annual Report from the nonprofit organization Water For People, "Every day, nearly 6,000 people who share our world die from water-related illnesses - more than 2 million each year - and the vast majority of these are children…There are more lives lost each year to water-related illnesses than to natural disasters and wars combined." It is clear that lack of access to clean water is a serious issue, one that has only started to gain international attention from a variety of organizations in recent years.
The Fifth World Water Forum took place in Istanbul, Turkey, from March 16-22, 2009, with over 25,000 people attending, representing 182 countries. The World Water Forum, the largest water policy event in the world, is held every three years. It is organized by the World Water Council, a private think-tank based in Marseille, France. The People's Water Forum, a global water justice movement which has referred to the World Water Forum as "false" and "corporate driven," also gathered in Istanbul to protest the Fifth World Water Forum. In the People's Water Forum Declaration, they sharply criticize the World Water Forum, stating that it is motivated by private interests and attempts to create the misleading illusion of an utterly false global consensus on water management. The Declaration also asks that the next water forum be organized by the UN General Assembly, calls for water to be defined as a human right, and denounces all forms of privatization and commercialization of water and sanitation services. Joining the discussion, the International Water Forum, a by-invitation-only Forum sponsored by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, and CIFAL Atlanta will be held on July 9-10 of this year to discuss global water scarcity as well as methods for establishing a sustainable water supply....(Remainder.)
Riot police in Iran have used tear gas, water cannon and batons to disperse about 3,000 people attempting to protest over the disputed presidential election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president.
Witnesses said that dozens of people were hospitalised after being beaten by police and pro-government militia in the capital, Tehran, on Saturday.
"Lots of guards on motorbikes closed in on us and beat us brutally," one protester said.
"As we were running away the Basiji [militia] were waiting in side alleys with batons, but people opened their doors to us trapped in alleys."
Supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, a defeated reformist candidate, had planned to stage a rally in the city's Revolutionary Square, but arrived to find their way blocked by police.
A witness told Al Jazeera that police were turning people away.
"The roads were pretty much blocked by the militia, they were out with retractable metal batons. It looked like they were very frantically trying to keep people from the area," he said.
Amateur video of Saturday's protests, which could not be independently verified, showed dozens of Iranians running down a street after police fired tear gas.
Other footage showed protesters trying to give first aid to a badly injured woman in the street....(Remainder.)
Louisville Christian Examiner
A small debt collection agency in Minnesota is being sued by a large competitor over what the competition sees as “a slogan that harasses and offends the public at large”. Bullseye Collections, a 50 year old small company, has had the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) printed on their stationary and marketing materials for some time but when a competitor got wind of it, he decided to start a federal class action lawsuit over the religious slogan.
Mark Neill, owner of the Bureau of Collection Recovery, a large collection firm and a competitor of Bullseye stated that he is offended by the WWJD on the stationary. Part of the lawsuit filed states that the letters WWJD invoke a sense of guilt and fear into those receiving it and lead one to think that the debtor is portrayed as “a sinner who is going to hell.” (worldnetdaily.com)
Attorneys from [ultra right-wing and ignorant] Liberty Counsel, which is representing Bullseye, feel fairly confident that the case doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Harry Mihet, lead attorney stated: “They treat their customers with respect, with integrity and the way they would want to be treated. They listen to the debtors. They try to work out solutions for the problems they are facing. They even pray with the debtors over the phone sometimes in certain situations.”
Mihet further states that “The only reason they put it there (WWJD) is they want the world to know they have adopted for themselves a code of conduct that goes above and beyond any federal law requirements to be civil and polite to debtors.”...(Remainder.)