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Pawlenty Whacks Sanford: "Troubling and Hypocritical"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) offered one of the harshest rebukes from within the Republican Party of Mark Sanford, suggesting on Sunday that the South Carolina governor was hypocritical and had damaged the GOP at a time when the brand was already hurting.

"It's hard to quantify [the damage he has done]," said Pawlenty. "But clearly there has been damage. Any time you have leading figures who are engaged in behavior that's sad and troubling and hypocritical other people are going to look at that and say, 'Hmmm, they don't walk the walk. And so the words and the actions don't ring true."

Later in his segment on CNN's "State of the Union," Pawlenty would not push back against suggestions that Sanford had been directly derelict in his duties when he traveled to Argentina to conduct his affair. "Your staff has to be able to reach you and reach you quickly," Pawlenty said. "He should not have left the state and not allowed people to know how to contact him if something happened. That's obvious."

Both Pawlenty and Sanford have been discussed as possible contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Sanford, naturally, has dropped from that discussion after his admission of marital misconduct. Still, it was curious to see Pawlenty take a shot at his gubernatorial compatriot. Other Republicans have either avoided the Sanford topic altogether or framed the issue as a personal, not professional, miscue....(Remainder.)


Members of US House Financial Services Committee Snapped Up or Dumped Bank Stocks as Bottom Fell Out of Market

The day before the House passed the financial rescue package, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (right) of Florida grabbed up Citigroup stock. (Photo: Getty Images)

By Stephen Koff and Sabrina Eaton

Cleveland Plain Dealer

WASHINGTON -- As financial markets tumbled and the government worked to stave off panic by pumping billions of dollars into banks last fall, several members of Congress who oversee the banking industry were grabbing up or dumping bank stocks.

Anticipating bargains or profits or just trying to unload before the bottom fell out, these members of the House Financial Services Committee or brokers on their behalf were buying and selling stocks including Bank of America and Citigroup -- some of the very corporations their committee would later rap for greed, a Plain Dealer examination of congressional stock market transactions shows.

Financial disclosure records show that some of these Financial Services Committee members, including Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, made bank stock trades on the same day the banks were getting a government bailout from a program Congress approved. The transactions may not have been illegal or against congressional rules, but securities attorneys and congressional watchdog groups say they raise flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest.

"I don't think that any of these people should be owning these types of financial instruments," said Brian Biggins, a Cleveland securities lawyer and former stock brokerage manager. "I'm not saying they shouldn't be in the stock market. But if they're on the banking committee and trading in these kinds of stocks, I don't think that's right."

For example, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Florida Republican, bought Citigroup stock valued between $1,001 and $15,000 on Oct. 2, the day before the House passed the financial rescue bill and President George W. Bush signed it into law, records show. She opposed the bill....(Remainder.)


Wrong Response to the Wrong Question

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

It hasn't gotten too much attention -- all things considered, that's probably a good thing -- but MSNBC picked up on the calls from some conservatives for a boycott of General Motors. (The idea also got some airtime recently on "The Colbert Report.")
A sizable share of Americans, recent surveys show, are reluctant to buy from a bankrupt automaker. Complicating matters, the bailout is triggering a harsh reaction from the conservative end of the political spectrum, with some high-profile pundits calling for an outright boycott of what many are calling "Government Motors."

Among the most vocal is Hugh Hewitt, who has frequently called for a boycott to protest the "Obamaization of the American car business," both on his syndicated radio show and on his blog.

Hewitt insists that "individual Americans" must resist buying the automaker's products because, as he wrote in one blog entry, "every dollar spent with GM is a dollar spent against free enterprise."

I rarely agree with Joe Scarborough, but two weeks ago, he described the idea of a GM boycott as "stupid," and the conservative proponents of the boycott "morons."

While that's probably an impolite way of putting it, Scarborough's larger point is certainly true. As we talked about earlier this month, these conservative activists have the situation backwards....(Remainder.)


I Want My Money Back! (Pres. Obama!)

By Marie Marchand
Common Dreams

I want my money back.

I gave $20 a week for seven months, plus $60 every once in a while for a t-shirt and sticker. I gave of my modest purse joyfully. Once I add that all up, it makes a grand total of... $106 billion?! Wait a minute, I thought I was supporting change I could believe in, not more of the same bloodshed and war!

Betrayal is a part of life. After awhile, you just come to expect it. Yet, the initial shock always hits you as a surprise. Alas, the nature of betrayal. Humans are vulnerable to being betrayed because underneath our husky shells, our pain and hardened hearts, we are soft and trustful creatures. We want to believe in people.

I'm not that young, so I possess some cynicism. But I'm not that old either, so I manage some idealism. Sure, I am used to being betrayed by my government. But I thought my days of calling the White House in tears were over. To think that Barack Obama preyed on this naive hope in me and millions like me is unforgivable.

I expect the Republicans to throw money at the Military Industrial Complex. Yet, from the Democrats, I was promised a different direction (like OUT of the Middle East). Regrettably, there has been minuscule change. There is still nothing to believe in.

It is against my religion to say the Pledge of Allegiance. (I am a Christian so I pledge allegiance only to God.) I did, however, pledge my time and treasure to Barack Obama. On November 4, 2008, I danced in the streets waving the American Flag, feeling proud to be an American. I was pathetically close to bustin' out some Toby Keith ditties....(Remainder.)


Michele Bachmann Claims Constitution Only Requires You To Answer How Many People Are In Your Household

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is no stranger to the Truth-O-Meter. So far, her comments have decidedly bent the needle to the left and, on one occasion, set the meter on fire.

We swear we're not trying to pick on her, but we just couldn't let this latest one go. Recently, Bachmann went on record to declare that because of ACORN's involvement in the census and other privacy concerns, she would only tell 2010 census takers how many people are in her household -- and nothing more.

Here's how she explained it in a Washington Times interview (which you can listen to here):

"Now ACORN has been named one of the national partners, which will be a recipient again of federal money," Bachmann said. "And they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public. This is very concerning because the motherload of all data information will be from the census. And, of course, we think of the census as just counting how many people live in your home. Unfortunately, the census data has become very intricate, very personal (with) a lot of the questions that are asked.

"And I know for my family the only question that we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."

There's a lot wrong in her statement, so we divided it into two Truth-O-Meter items. You can read the one on ACORN's involvement in a different item. In this item, we'll address Bachmann's claim that she's only constitutionally obligated to provide the number of people in her household.

Here's what the Constitution actually says:

"Representation and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers...the actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct."...(Remainder.)


Glenn Beck Plays With Live Turtles Named "Barney" & "Frank"

Okay, seriously? What the hell is wrong with this guy? I mean honestly. Is this guy just completely off his rocker?


John Boehner Throws Hour Long Hissy Fit on the House Floor

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

While the cable news channels decided that nothing else was going on other than the death of Michael Jackson, John Boehner was on the floor of the House doing his best job to pretend he is in the Senate filibustering a piece of legislation. He was supposed to be using his two and a half minutes alloted to him to wrap up debate on the energy bill and carried on for well over an hour instead.

The entire fiasco looked like nothing less than cheap showmanship and games to me, with Michelle Bachmann for the better part of the hour in the background with the rest of the Republican peanut gallery yelling "Yeah!!! You go John!!!...Keep going!!!" every chance she got.

The party of "No" isn't too good at governing when given the opportunity, but they sure are good at theatrics.

You can watch the entire thing at CSPANJunkie's new site: Minority Leader John Boehner On The Clean Energy & Climate Change Bill. I've just got the last few minutes of his freedom lovin' diatribe here.

The bill passed, barely, but all this exercise appeared to be to me was Boehner seeing if he could talk long enough to make a few members of the House get tired of listening to him and leave. Games. Political theater, pure and simple. No one likes this bill on either side and it appears the sausage makers have mucked it up enough that is not a good bill. Boehner didn't need an hour long rant to get that point across....(Remainder.)


Glenn Beck Claims U.S. is Only Country With Automatic Citizenship Upon Birth

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times

On his June 10, 2009, Fox News program, host Glenn Beck raised an immigration hot button that has gained some legislative traction in recent months: the issue of whether the United States ought to continue to grant citizenship to any child born in the country, even if the parents are illegal immigrants.

"You know, the anchor baby thing has always really hacked me off," Beck said. "You know the anchor baby. You know what that is. It's when a child that is born here, becomes a citizen and they help the illegal parents become citizens, right?"

He continued, sarcastically, "Remember empathy. Oh, empathy. No one wants to separate that family. Oh, that baby is a child. It's an anchor. It's an anchor to stay here."

"Why do we have automatic citizenship upon birth?" Beck asked. "Do you know? We're the only country in the world that has it. Why?"

Beck went on to explain that the 14th amendment granting citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" was drafted after the Civil War "to protect newly freed slaves and their children and guarantee their rights as citizens. Last I checked, I don't think we're having that problem anymore. Can we have some common sense?"

Beck touches on an issue that has caught the attention of a growing number of Republicans in Congress.

In April, Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor of Georgia, proposed H.R. 1868, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009. It seeks to amend immigration law so that babies born in the United States would only be granted U.S. citizenship if one of the parents is 1) a U.S. citizen or national; 2) a legal permanent resident of the United States; or 3) is serving in the U.S. armed forces. The bill currently has 77 cosponsors, 76 Republicans and one Democrat....(Remainder.)


Eliminationists on Parade: Coulter, Joe the "Not Really A" Plumber & Military Chaplains' Leader Wish for Deaths

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

The right-wing pundits have been busy whipping a fresh batch of eliminationist rhetoric this week.

Leading the parade, as is often the case, was Ann Coulter, appearing on Bill O'Reilly's show on Monday:
Coulter: Well, apparently, this one random nut who shot Tiller -- I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.

... I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don't want to impose my moral values on others.

... OK, their logic is, if you don't believe in abortion, don't have an abortion. If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, don't shoot an abortionist.

Coulter actually was just regurgitating this week's column for cable consumption:
I'm not justifying it, but I understand when you take democracy away from people, some of them will react violently. The total number of deaths attributable to Roe were seven abortion clinic workers and 40 million unborn babies.

... I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?

Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one.


Michele Bachmann claims ACORN getting money to work for Census Bureau

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times

Rep. Michele Bachmann sparked a new controversy recently when she declared she would provide the bare minimum to census takers because she was concerned about the Census Bureau's partnership with ACORN, a left-leaning group that has become a popular villain for Republicans.

(You remember ACORN: Formally known as the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, it was lambasted in 2008 by many Republicans because its voter registration efforts included some fraudulent names such as Mickey Mouse. ACORN leaders said they discovered the fake names, notified authorities and fired some workers who cut corners. But Republican leaders still say it was a willful effort to manipulate the election to help the group's liberal agenda.)

Here's how Bachmann explained her concerns in a Washington Times interview (which you can listen to here):

"Now ACORN has been named one of the national partners, which will be a recipient again of federal money," Bachmann said. "And they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public. This is very concerning because the motherload of all data information will be from the census. And, of course, we think of the census as just counting how many people live in your home. Unfortunately, the census data has become very intricate, very personal (with) a lot of the questions that are asked.

"And I know for my family the only question that we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."...(Remainder.)


Burqa Politics in France

What happens when feminism and sexual liberation become tools for nationalism?

By Michelle Goldberg
The American Prospect

Photo used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Flickr user superblinkymac.
On Monday, Nicolas Sarkozy became the first French president since Charles Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte to address the Parliament, thanks to recent reforms that scrapped a 19th-century law meant to protect the independence of the legislature. Given the occasion, it was rather odd that Sarkozy's strongest words were reserved for denouncing a garment that hardly any women in France wear. The burqa, he said, "is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women." It is, he added, "not welcome in France." Headscarves have been banned in French schools since 2004. Now Sarkozy wants to go much further, banning burqas, loose, full-body veils that cover women entirely, as well as niqabs, or face veils, from being worn anywhere in public.

This was partly a rebuke to Obama, who outraged the French with parts of his Cairo speech. When Obama said that he rejects "the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal," many people in France heard a shot at the country's republican laïcité, which demands that faith be wholly relegated to the private sphere. "There was a "great outcry and a sense of being gravely insulted," says Joan Scott, a historian at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and author of the 2007 book The Politics of the Veil. "I think you can't read Sarkozy's words as anything but a response to that."

Perhaps more important than the anger itself was the opportunity it created, giving Sarkozy a chance to reach out to the anti-immigrant French right without offending the left. The clothing of Muslim women has long been a contentious political issue in France, as well as in several other European countries. The debate about headscarves, veils and burqas is a synecdoche for larger, more fraught questions of cultural identity in the age of mass Muslim immigration. Islam is changing European life in a way that makes many Europeans unhappy, but it's hard for Europeans to talk about without seeming racist or xenophobic. The one place where Europeans do feel confident about defending the superiority of their own culture is in sexual matters. Feminism and sexual liberation become tools of nationalism.

We saw this most clearly with Pim Fortuyn, the flamboyant, anti-immigrant politician who nearly became prime minister of the Netherlands before his 2002 assassination. Fortuyn crusaded against the threat he claimed Muslim immigrants posed to the famously tolerant Dutch culture. He spoke of men suddenly being afraid to hold hands in the streets, of teachers reluctant to admit their homosexuality to immigrant students. "I have no desire," he told a reporter, "to have to go through the emancipation of women and homosexuals all over again."...(Remainder.)


Rove, O'Reilly Whine About Those Mean Liberals Who 'Coarsen' Politics by Talking About GOP Sex Scandals

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

Apparently, Rip-Van-Winkle-like, Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove simply slept through the 1990s, when Republicans couldn't stop obsessing about the Mighty Clenis and its powers of seduction.

Yesterday on The O'Reilly Factor, they both were mewling piteously about the mean liberals who are having a bit of a heyday with Mark Sanford's Appalachian Trail Adventures:
O'Reilly: Some in the Muslim world believe in stoning people. Apparently, some in the USA believe in stoning as well -- stoning with words.
Because, of course, Bill O'Reilly never attacks people with his words. You Pinhead!

What really got Rove's goat was Paul Begala, having the audacity to point out that he, like a lot of us, have had enough of the GOP's Holier-Than-Thou schtick, which they use with great regularity to beat liberals about the head and neck for their supposed "licentiousness".
Rove: I guess what it comes down to is when you get to socially liberal ideas like abortion, and like gay marriage, the left will seize on any opportunity that they think they have in order to condemn those who are pro-life and pro-traditional marriage. And it's just -- you know, there are people who are maybe moderate in their views on economics, or maybe nationalist on their views on international affairs, but when it comes down to social questions, they're liberal, and it's an instinct, and they cause a lot of people -- you know, like Paul Begala.

O'Reilly: I was just going to say that. Is that unbelievable?

Rove: Unbelievable. I don't recall -- you know, who exactly is accusing him of being a poor father or a poor Christian or not a patriot. But this sort of artificial victimhood -- and again, the purpose of it is, is to say to people --

O'Reilly: But wasn't Begala the guy, that it was just about sex, he and Carville were running around -- that's all they said for two years!
Don't you just love it when the guy who perfected right-wing victimhood as a phony schtick indulges it right there onscreen -- and then accuses the left of it!...(Remainder.)


Glenn Beck is a Crazed Street Corner Ranter by Nature, But He's Got a High-Paid FOX Megaphone and Number One Book

By Mark Karlin
Buzz Flash

If you've checked the mega-giant online retailer lately,, mutant demagogue Glenn Beck's latest book is number one (very possibly ghost written by some right wing failed comics) entitled, "Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine."

Often right wing wacko authors are number one on There are a lot of reasons for this, which we will get into, but one significant issue is that many progressives do not support liberal authors by buying their books and rest content that everything can be changed in D.C., rather than committing to creating a progressive culture by altering consumption and purchasing patterns.

This is the very basis of the BuzzFlash synergistic model of progressive journalism supported by creating a progressive, ecological, economic justice, and celebration of progressive culture marketplace. We wrote a must-read explanation on our unique model of self-sustaining reader-supported (with no advertising) journalism that helps to build an alternative culture of liberal, healthy, economically just and earth-healing consumption. In some ways, it's simple: Buy progressive and read progressive news and advocacy that creates an economic self-sustaining system of journalism that channels dollars away from destructive corporate policies and the "status quo for the wealthy and elite" media (increasingly on the Internet) that corporate advertising supports.

The creation of "perceived need" for often unhealthy products and food that we don't even remotely need -- along with corporate support for a media that distorts information to maintain a governing and economic system that dramatically favors corporations and the wealthy -- is the crowning glory of a corporate infrastructure that has amassed more power, in many ways, than the White House.

We were fortunate on Friday (June 26th) to meet with Margot Baldwin who has turned the Chelsea Green Publishing firm into a highly successful business (at a time when independent publishing is in decline) because of its wonderful selection of books on sustainable living, its occasional political offerings, and smart marketing practices....(Remainder.)


A Fierce Democratic Donor Writes

Via John Aravosis

Dear DNC,

I truly "support" Democrats being elected in 2010 and 2012. I am a "fierce advocate" of the Democratic Party after all. I know that I have promised you my support over the past few decades and have done my best to follow through.

Even now I am "working towards" a financial donation to the Party. I do have to ask for your "patience" though, because as a gay man, my family and I are still second class citizens and are having to funnel our resources towards causes that protect and honor our basic civil rights. "We have a lot on our plate."

We are "proceeding" towards lifting the denial of funds to the DNC and are "developing a strategy" that will get us there by the end of Obama's time at the White House. As a matter of fact, my family has planned several "meetings" to discuss these very important donations and will be sending out a press release shortly to announce our "cocktail party" celebrating Democracy.

Thanks for understanding. And hang in there!




Right-Wing Israeli Extremists Using Gay Rights to Justify Incursions Into Arab Villages

Gay Pride marches are being exploited by rabidly homophobic extremists who plan to parade through Arab towns, asserting their "Jewish pride."

By Marsha B. Cohen

Gay Pride parades in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are being invoked as the legal basis for ultra-right wing Jewish extremists to march through 15 Israeli Arab communities this weekend, waving Israeli flags and asserting their "Jewish pride."

Organizers of the 11th annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade estimate as many as 30,000 people may have participated in the June 14 march through Israel's largest city and cultural capital. Although their unions won't be recognized by the state of Israel, five gay couples exchanged rings and took commitment vows in a group ceremony on Gordon Beach, adding a new dimension to the event.

A smaller and more subdued hourlong march was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem between 5 and 6 p.m. on June 25, followed by a low-key rally.

These demonstrations of gay rights in Israel are being exploited by rabidly homophobic, ultra-right wing Jewish extremists, who plan to parade through Arab cities, towns and villages in the next few days, asserting their "Jewish pride."

Knesset member (parliamentarian) Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union party, and provocateurs Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir are framing and justifying their march as retaliation for the desecration of Jerusalem by gays....(Remainder.)


Nothing Sacred: What We Talk About When We Talk About Torture

By Clayton Whitt

The Humanist

The prisoners had their feet shackled to the floor and their hands cuffed close to their chins… Detainees were clad only in diapers and not allowed to feed themselves. A prisoner who started to drift off to sleep would tilt over and be caught by his chains. At one point, the agency was allowed to keep prisoners awake for as long as eleven days; the limit was later reduced to just over a week.
Waterboarding is now the most infamous torture technique practiced by the administration of George W. Bush. But Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee’s August 1, 2002, memo—one of four President Obama released in April that had provided the legal basis for the CIA’s use of torture—authorized ten different torture techniques. One of which was sleep deprivation, as described in the above excerpt from a May 10, 2009, Los Angeles Times article.

According to that report, sleep deprivation was used in this manner on at least twenty-five detainees. And the Justice Department actually classified this torture method as less coercive than the other techniques, intending it to be employed earlier in the interrogation process. Other authorized techniques included slamming the detainee into the wall, slapping the detainee in the face, and confining the detainee in a small, dark space (Bybee wrote that if the space was so small that the person couldn't stand, then only two hours of confinement at a time were authorized; if there was standing room, the detainee could be left in confinement for up to eighteen hours). Placing the detainee in stress positions and confining the detainee in a cramped space with an insect to induce fear were also listed, along with the now infamous waterboarding. The process is often described as “simulated drowning,” but voluntary waterboarding victim Christopher Hitchens, reflecting on his experience in the August 2008 issue of Vanity Fair, wrote:
You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure.
Hitchens, unlike the detainees in U.S. custody, was able to give a prearranged signal to the experienced military trainers and have the procedure halted. He wrote, “If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.”...(Remainder.)


Naomi Klein Calls for Boycott of Israel

By Agence France-Presse

BILIN , West Bank - Bestselling author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters.

"It's a boycott of Israeli institutions, it's a boycott of the Israeli economy," the Canadian writer told journalists as she joined a weekly demonstration against Israel's controversial separation wall.

"Boycott is a tactic . . . we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa," said Klein, the author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

"It's an extraordinarily important part of Israel's identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy," the Canadian writer and activist said.

"When that is threatened, when the rock concerts don't come, when the symphonies don't come, when a film you really want to see doesn't play at the Jerusalem film festival . . . then it starts to threaten the very idea of what the Israeli state is."

She briefly joined about 200 villagers and foreign activists protesting the barrier which Israel says it needs to prevent attacks, but which Palestinians say aims at grabbing their land and undermining the viability of their promised state.

She then watched from a safe distance as the protesters reached the fence, where Israeli forces fired teargas and some youths responded by throwing stones at the army....(Remainder.)


Claims That the CBO Predicts Cap-and-Trade Will Cost About as Much as a Stamp a Day

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times

Responding to Republicans who have said a cap-and-trade bill could cost thousands of dollars a year for the average family, the Democratic sponsors of the bill are citing a new study from the Congressional Budget Office that they say shows their plan will be affordable.

"For the cost of about a postage stamp a day, all American families will see a return on their investment as our nation breaks our dependence on foreign oil, cuts dangerous carbon pollution and creates millions of new clean energy jobs that can't be shipped overseas," Rep. Edward Markey said in a June 22, 2009, press release jointly issued with the co-sponsor, Rep. Henry Waxman.

Waxman and Markey, from California and Massachusetts respectively, are the authors of a bill that would set up a market for power companies and other polluters to buy and trade carbon credits. The goal is to force them to cut their harmful emissions and lower carbon pollution 83 percent by 2050. But critics say polluters will inevitably pass the cost of buying credits or cleaner technologies on to the consumer.

Putting a pricetag on such a complex plan is tricky and controversial, as we note today in our article Your Guide to the Cap-and-Trade Estimates. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, says that cap-and-trade could raise the average family's annual energy bill by $1,241. House Republicans have said that cap-and-trade could cost consumers up to $3,100, a figure they say came from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology report. But the writers of that report admonished the GOP for incorrectly interpreting their work; intially, the authors predicted it would cost consumers about $340 annually, and have since updated that estimate to $800.

Waxman and Markey are relying on a June 19 Congressional Budget Office analysis of their bill. The CBO is a well-respected, independent arm of Congress, but we have found its findings are occasionally mischaracterized by members of Congress. So we wanted to check whether Waxman is correctly summarizing the CBO's findings....(Remainder.)


They Say Obama is Starting to Stumble. The Hell He Is.

There are some aspects of this article that I totally disagree with, e.g. gay rights, but all-in-all I agree with what Michael Crowley has to say here.

On Iran, gay marriage and the economy, the president is taking flak. But critics ignore the profound changes he is delivering.

By Michael Crowley
The Observer

It's a handy rule of thumb in Washington: a president's fortunes can be divined by the way the White House press corps treats him. Think of George W Bush. At the height of his powers in 2003, reporters jockeyed for his favour, which he expressed by bestowing nicknames and sharing wisecracks. By the time Iraq and Katrina had ruined his presidency, the same hacks competed to see who could most effectively humiliate the president before a live audience.

So it was an ominous sign for Barack Obama last week when he appeared in the White House for a press conference that was his most uncomfortable to date. Reporters who had thus far treated him with deference and even admiration treated him with something close to disrespect. Obama, as the New York Times put it, "has rarely experienced as combative and contentious an hour on live television as he did on Tuesday afternoon". Had his response to Iran, one asked, been "timid and weak"? Another tweaked the president's "Spock-like language" about healthcare reform. One even grilled an increasingly irritated president about his furtive smoking habits. The treatment left Obama a bit testy. "I got it," he groused. "You're pitching, I'm catching."

Indeed he has been catching - catching flak, that is, from critics on left and right and over both his foreign and domestic agendas. As he approaches the six-month mark of his presidency, his job has become less glamorous and more gruelling. Allies in Congress are restive and for the first time, the whiff of failures and defeats is in the air. Thus the new tone from the White House press corps, which, like animals in the wild, preys on the weak. But don't be fooled by this dark patch. Obama's long-term prospects remain bright....(Remainder.)


Most Americans Want Sotomayor on Court

Poll Indicates That 62 Percent Think Federal Judge Should Be Confirmed by Senate

By Jon Cohen and Robert Barnes
The Washington Post

A sizable majority of Americans want the Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and most call her "about right" ideologically, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Senate hearings on Sotomayor, President Obama's pick to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter, begin in two weeks, and 62 percent of those polled support her elevation to the court. Sotomayor, 55, is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York.

If confirmed, Sotomayor would become only the third female justice and the second on the current nine-member court. But there is no gender gap in support for her, with men and women about equally likely to be on her side.

Partisan differences, however, abound. Nearly eight in 10 Democrats and about two-thirds of independents said they want the Senate to confirm Sotomayor, but that drops to 36 percent of Republicans. Overall, most Republicans deem the judge a "more liberal" nominee than they would have liked.

But Obama's nominee also divides Republicans: While conservative Republicans are broadly opposed, most Republicans who describe themselves as moderate or liberal support her. More than seven in 10 conservative Republicans said she is too liberal, which is more than double the proportion of centrist or left-leaning Republicans who say so....(Remainder.)


Fault Lines: Religion in the Military


Facebook Hires Lobbyists to Push Privacy Agenda

Social networking site hopes increase influence with world authorities

By Bobby Johnson
The Guardian

Facebook is hiring lobbyists to push its agenda on internet privacy and data sharing in Brussels and Washington, as the social networking site attempts to increase its influence with authorities around the world.

The company has appointed Richard Allan, who was previously the head of European regulatory affairs for the technology giant Cisco, to lead its efforts in lobbying EU governments.

The move to create a dedicated European lobby team comes after the company hired Timothy Sparapani, a former lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, as the second member of its Washington operation. Sparapani had previously been linked to campaigns critical of Facebook's targeted advertising systems.

According to Chris Kelly, the Californian web company's chief privacy officer, the five-year-old startup has been engaging in talks with government officials in various countries for some time, but its growing size and importance means it is essential they "understand our philosophy".

He said: "There is a concern we've had for some time that – in a well-meaning attempt to protect consumers – legislators or regulators would end up passing laws that would keep people from the beneficial sharing of information." Jim ­Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for the rights of British citizens online, says technology companies are increasingly choosing to exert pressure at European level, rather than in more tightly monitored environments, such as Westminster.

"It is much easier for commercial concerns to lobby Brussels, which is distant from public attention but shapes very important legislation," he said. "Businesses will pay to make sure their views are heard, and it's difficult for citizens to match that."...(Remainder.)


Kucinich Says Climate Bill Might Make Things Worse

By Rep. Dennis Kucinich
U.S. House of Representatives

“I oppose H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The reason is simple. It won’t address the problem. In fact, it might make the problem worse.

“It sets targets that are too weak, especially in the short term, and sets about meeting those targets through Enron-style accounting methods. It gives new life to one of the primary sources of the problem that should be on its way out– coal – by giving it record subsidies. And it is rounded out with massive corporate giveaways at taxpayer expense. There is $60 billion for a single technology which may or may not work, but which enables coal power plants to keep warming the planet at least another 20 years.

“Worse, the bill locks us into a framework that will fail. Science tells us that immediately is not soon enough to begin repairing the planet. Waiting another decade or more will virtually guarantee catastrophic levels of warming. But the bill does not require any greenhouse gas reductions beyond current levels until 2030.

“Today’s bill is a fragile compromise, which leads some to claim that we cannot do better. I respectfully submit that not only can we do better; we have no choice but to do better. Indeed, if we pass a bill that only creates the illusion of addressing the problem, we walk away with only an illusion. The price for that illusion is the opportunity to take substantive action.

“There are several aspects of the bill that are problematic.

1. Overall targets are too weak. The bill is predicated on a target atmospheric concentration of 450 parts per million, a target that is arguably justified in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but which is already out of date. Recent science suggests 350 parts per million is necessary to help us avoid the worst effects of global warming.

2. The offsets undercut the emission reductions. Offsets allow polluters to keep polluting; they are rife with fraudulent claims of emissions reduction; they create environmental, social, and economic unintended adverse consequences; and they codify and endorse the idea that polluters do not have to make sacrifices to solve the problem....(Remainder.)


Tarnished Shields: Mark Sanford and the Morally Bankrupt GOP Leadership

By Walter Brasch
The Public Record

Some columns are easier to write than others.

This is one of them.

Providing all of my research were the "family values" Republicans.

This week, second term Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina disappeared for six days, leaving the state without a chief executive who could make decisions in an emergency. His Republican lieutenant governor didn't know where he was, and had not been given any authority to make decisions in his absence.

The state police said they had not been informed. His wife told the Associated Press she didn't know where he was, wasn't worried about him, and thought he was "writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids" over the Father's Day weekend. His senior aides said he was walking along the Appalachian Trail to "clear his head."

But it wasn't his head that he was clearing. When he returned, after first lying to a reporter for the Columbia, South Carolina newspaper The State who caught up with him on his return to the Atlanta airport, he finally admitted he went to Argentina to meet with a long-time lover. His wife, who was not by his side when he held an early afternoon press conference, later said she and the governor had separated two weeks earlier. The State later produced e-mail love letters it had been keeping since December.

The rising young star of the Republican party who was seen as a presidential contender in 2012, the man who was head of the Republican Governors Association until the day after he acknowledged his extramarital affair, the man who had wanted to deprive his state of $700 million in federal stimulus funds as a political message to President Obama, the man who had established himself as a beacon for the sanctity of marriage and the values of the oh-so-pure Religious right, was not only an adulterer, but for at least the second time had left his state at risk since there were no contingency plans of how to reach him in an emergency....(Remainder.)


Sanford: King David Didn't Resign, So Why Should I?

By Zachary Roth
Talking Points Memo

Mark Sanford has been holding a televised cabinet meeting this afternoon.

And the South Carolina governor started out by using an interesting comparison to respond to calls for his resignation. King David didn't back down after his own sex scandal, he told his colleagues, and neither will I.


Said Sanford:

I have been doing a lot of soul searching on that front. What I find interesting is the story of David, and the way in which he fell mightily, he fell in very very significant ways. But then picked up the pieces and built from there.

As King of Israel and Judea, David saw Bathsheba in the bath (he was walking on the roof at the time, goes the story) and immediately had to have her. After getting her pregnant, he tried to conceal it by ordering her husband Uriah to return from war and sleep with Bathsheba, so that the baby would be thought of as Uriah's.

But Uriah preferred to remain at war. So David gave an order that Uriah should be abandoned in battle, ensuring his death. Then he married Bathsheba....(Remainder.)


Dawkins Sets Up Kids' Camp to Groom Atheists

By Lois Rogers
The Sunday Times

GIVE Richard Dawkins a child for a week’s summer camp and he will try to give you an atheist for life.

The author of The God Delusion is helping to launch Britain’s first summer retreat for non-believers, where children will have lessons in evolution and sing along to John Lennon’s Imagine.

The five-day camp in Somerset (motto: “It’s beyond belief”) is for children aged eight to 17 and will rival traditional faith-based breaks run by the Scouts and church groups.

Budding atheists will be given lessons to arm themselves in the ways of rational scepticism. There will be sessions in moral philosophy and evolutionary biology along with more conventional pursuits such as trekking and tug-of-war. There will also be a £10 prize for the child who can disprove the existence of the mythical unicorn.

Instead of singing Kumbiya and other campfire favourites, they will sit around the embers belting out “Imagine there’s no heaven . . . and no religion too”.

Dawkins, who is subsidising the camp, said it was designed to “encourage children to think for themselves, sceptically and rationally”. All 24 places at the retreat, which runs from July 27-31, have been taken.

Afternoons will be filled with familiar camp activities such as canoeing and swimming but the mornings will be spent debunking phenomena such as crop circles and telepathy....(Original.)


40 Years Later, Still Second-Class Americans

By Frank Rich
The New York Times

LIKE all students caught up in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, I was riveted by the violent confrontations between the police and protestors in Selma, 1965, and Chicago, 1968. But I never heard about the several days of riots that rocked Greenwich Village after the police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in the wee hours of June 28, 1969 — 40 years ago today.

Then again, I didn’t know a single person, student or teacher, male or female, in my entire Ivy League university who was openly identified as gay. And though my friends and I were obsessed with every iteration of the era’s political tumult, we somehow missed the Stonewall story. Not hard to do, really. The Times — which would not even permit the use of the word gay until 1987 — covered the riots in tiny, bowdlerized articles, one of them but three paragraphs long, buried successively on pages 33, 22 and 19.

But if we had read them, would we have cared? It was typical of my generation, like others before and after, that the issue of gay civil rights wasn’t on our radar screen. Not least because gay people, fearful of harassment, violence and arrest, were often forced into the shadows. As David Carter writes in his book “Stonewall,” at the end of the 1960s homosexual sex was still illegal in every state but Illinois. It was a crime punishable by castration in seven states. No laws — federal, state or local — protected gay people from being denied jobs or housing. If a homosexual character appeared in a movie, his life ended with either murder or suicide.

The younger gay men — and scattered women — who acted up at the Stonewall on those early summer nights in 1969 had little in common with their contemporaries in the front-page political movements of the time. They often lived on the streets, having been thrown out of their blue-collar homes by their families before they finished high school. They migrated to the Village because they’d heard it was one American neighborhood where it was safe to be who they were....(Remainder.)


Rep. Salazar Takes Green Heat for Bucking Climate Change Bill

By David O. Williams
The Colorado Independent

Colorado environmental groups were quick to criticize Democratic Congressman John Salazar Saturday after he joined the two Republican members of the state delegation in voting against the American Clean Energy and Security Act Friday.

The landmark climate change bill, which seeks to reduce carbon emissions in the United States 80 percent by 2050, passed out of the House by a scant seven-vote margin late Friday (219-212), with Colorado Democrats Diana DeGette, Betsy Markey, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis voting for the bill.

“We applaud the Colorado representatives who voted for this critical legislation, yet we are disappointed with Reps. Salazar, [Mike] Coffman, and [Doug] Lamborn for opposing this critical legislation,” Pam Kiely, legislative director for Denver-based Environment Colorado, said in a release.

Salazar, brother of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, told the Denver Post he couldn’t justify raising utility rates in his largely rural 3rd Congressional District at a time when the economy is just now starting to stabilize.

Markey also represents a mostly rural and more conservative district but voted in favor of the bill because of last-minute pro-agriculture changes to it. DeGette, vice chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee that painstakingly negotiated the framework of the bill over the last several weeks, said the costs to the average American will be negligible....(Remainder.)


Poor Pitiful Pathetic David Benkof is Still Spouting His Bitterness

By Timothy Kincaid
Box Turtle Bulletin

I hesitate to give attention to anti-gay writer David Benkof. There’s nothing he likes better than seeing his name in print. It makes him feel as though there is validation for the decision he made to create for himself a bitter, empty, lonely, loveless life.

And it’s not like Benkof’s writing deserves commentary. It has no substance to refute, just insinuation, condemnation, nonsense, and lots and lots of whining.

Benkof loves to whine. He whines about gay folks wanting to marry, wanting to serve their country, wanting to live in freedom. He whines about how selfish gay people are to want equality, how cruel to have children, how careless it was for gays to endanger the police at Stonewall. It’s all so shrill it makes my ears hurt just to read it.

Benkof used to live as a gay man. But feeling unfulfilled (and in no small part bitter), he decided to convert to Orthodox Judaism. And as living a life consistent with his orientation is in conflict with his restrictive religion, he now lives in some wacky sexless existence of his own creation dreaming of the day that some nice Jewish girl will choose a loveless marriage to an egocentric man and give him social standing.

And if he can’t be happy, well then he’s going to darn sure try to make you unhappy as well.

But, unlike most “not gay any more” activists, Benkof feels compelled to pretend to be someone he is not. He thinks it adds credibility to act as though he is part of the gay community and speaks for gay people....(Remainder.)



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