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Ban Ki Moon in Burma: The Chance for a New Beginning

Saturday, July 04, 2009

By Gordon Brown
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Huffington Post

When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon meets the military dictatorship in Burma today he will have the whole world with him.

His mission, to persuade the junta to release all political prisoners and engage with democracy, is critical to the future of the Burmese people.

But it is also a crucial moment for the international community.

In recent weeks, we have seen an extraordinary consensus around the world in support of all those forced to suffer under the Burmese regime.

The UN, the EU, and ASEAN have all made clear the need for urgent change. More than 45 Heads of State have added their voices to the call.

How we respond to the injustices in Burma will send a message about our resolution to tackle similar abuses across the globe.

Political and humanitarian conditions in the country continue to deteriorate.

When over 140,000 were killed and millions made destitute by Cyclone Nargis last year the world's efforts to help were resisted, a peaceful uprising by monks in 2007 was violently quashed, ethnic minorities are persecuted and under armed attack.

The media are muzzled, freedom of speech and assembly are non-existent and the number of political prisoners has doubled to more than 2000....(Remainder.)


Juan Williams Tries to be a Conservative and Bernie Goldberg Has a Plan on Affirmative Action

By John Amato
Crooks and Liars

Be warned, FOX News stupidity Alert!

Bill O'Reilly never has liberals fill in for him when he takes a vacation, so I was surprised to see Juan Williams in the anchor chair Wednesday night. And then I asked myself: Self, why am I surprised? Williams is BillO's chief apologist night in and night out and he would make a good little conservative talk show host in a pickle. And he did. Well, there were none of the Talking Points Memo segment that opens up The Factor every night because they probably didn't trust Juan to deliver them with the proper hateful spin, but he easily tried to do a BillO imitation the rest of the show.

It was quite hilarious listening to him stiffly yell about taxes being raised by the evil Obamanites. And then came Bernie Goldberg. They were both so appalled that CBS' Scott Pelley wouldn't invite any global warming deniers on his Global Warming special. Juan said: Not a single one. The horror, I say. And then Bernie went off on his new affirmative action plan.
Goldberg: I came up with a plan and it's a brilliant plan. Every white person in America who thinks that affirmative action is a good thing and it makes America a better place, voluntarily gives up his and her jobs immediately, right now on one and only one condition. That they be replaced by somebody who isn't white. That way, by tomorrow or the next day we'd have a lot more Blacks, a lot more Hispanics, a lot more other minorities in very important positions....

Juan: Bernie, hold on. Aren't you mocking the seriousness of this because to my mind look,....but the fact is doors have been closed, Bernie.

Listen, we have an ugly racial least my plan is addressing liberal, white liberal hypocrisy because when I put this plan.(blah, blah, blah) White liberals don't want to pay a price. They only want to dole out their racial goodies.


Fox Nation Ad -- Fox News "Great American" Pundits Champion Their "Core Principles"

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

Fox News is airing a new commercial on their station that frankly had me almost throwing up in my mouth a little when I saw it. Fox has decided to roll out their full list of regular pundits to espouse the network's journalistic integrity and "core principles". No...I'm not joking.

Here are some of the "principles" they claim Fox News promotes: civility, mutual respect, strengthening our diverse society by striving for unity, tolerance, open debate and civil discourse.

Yeah, that's exactly what I think of when I see the likes of Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly screaming over one of their guests. Or Glenn Beck riding that crazy train off into the horizon. Or Laura Ingraham on one of her hate filled screeds that's akin to listening to finger nails on a chalk board.

And for a real hoot, check out the ticker that's running below the ad. Breaking News!!... Fox News realizes that Helen Thomas exists and actually cares about what she has to say now that it's criticism of the Obama administration.

I love Helen to death, but her whining about Nico Pitney getting a question from the White House sounds like sour grapes to me from a typical Villager. There's plenty to complain about besides a blogger getting to ask one lousy question that's wrong with that White House press corps if she wants to go on a rant about what's wrong with our media....(Remainder.)


Sarah Palin Turns Pro

By Paul Begala
The Huffington Post

I wish Hunter S. Thompson had lived to see this.

As Hunter said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Sarah Palin makes Mark Foley, the congressman who sent filthy emails to pages look almost normal. She makes David Vitter, the senator who was hanging out with hookers, look almost boring. She makes Larry Craig, caught hitting on a cop in a men's room, look almost stable. She makes John Ensign, the senator who was having an affair with a staffer, look almost humdrum (and compared to the rest of the GOP whack-jobs, he is). And she makes Mark Sanford, the governor with the Latin lover, look positively predictable.

It was an almost impossible mission, but in resigning from office with 17 months to go in her first term, Sarah Palin has made herself the bull goose loony of the GOP.

Let's stipulate that if there is some heretofore unknown personal, medical or family crisis, this was the right move. But Gov. Palin didn't say anything like that. Her statement was incoherent, bizarre and juvenile. The text, as posted on Gov. Palin's official website (here), uses 2,549 words and 18 exclamation points. Lincoln freed the slaves with 719 words and nary an exclamation; Mr. Jefferson declared our independence in 1,322 words and, again, no exclamation points. Nixon resigned the presidency in 1,796 words -- still no exclamation points. Gov. Palin capitalized words at random - whole words, like "TO," "HELP," and "AND," and the first letter of "Troops."

Gov. Palin's official announcement that she is resigning as chief executive of the great state of Alaska had all the depth and gravitas of a 13-year-old's review of the Jonas Brothers' album on Facebook. She even quoted her parents' refrigerator magnet. (Note to self: if one of my kids becomes governor, throw away the refrigerator magnet that says: "Murray's Oyster Bar: We Shuck Em, You Suck Em!") She put her son's name in quotations marks. Why? Who knows. She writes, "I promised efficiencies and effectiveness!?" Was she exclaiming or questioning? I get it: both! And I don't even know what to make of a sentence that reads:

*((Gotta put First Things First))*...(Remainder.)


The Original King of Irony Strikes Again

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

Karl Rove cracks me up. Consider what he told Fox News this morning:
"This White House has carried pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted events to a new height, and they're getting away with things that in any previous White House, the media would have eviscerated the press secretary and the White House for it."
As a substantive matter, Rove was criticizing the president's forum in Virginia yesterday on health care policy. Amanda Terkel contacted the White House about the logistics of the event, and it turns out, Rove's criticism is just factually wrong.

But it takes an extraordinary amount of chutzpah for Karl Rove to complain about anyone hosting "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted events."

Perhaps Rove doesn't remember the "Bubble Boy" policies used by Bush White House, but these folks quite literally wrote the book on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted events." We're talking about a White House that screened public audiences at public events based on bumper stickers and lapel pins. We're talking about a White House that would limit ticket distribution to presidential events to local Republican Parties, and then still require "loyalty oaths" to get a ticket. We're talking about a White House that would literally rehearse events in advance to make sure attendees said the right things to the president.

We're talking about the gang that put together an official White House "Presidential Advance Manual," which mandated that only those identified as "extremely supportive of the administration" can be seated between the stage and the camera platform, and that organizers designate "a protest area preferably not in view of the event site or motorcade route."

And Rove wants us to believe the Obama White House "has carried pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted events to a new height"? Are you kidding me?...(Remainder.)


Is Fox Nation in Bed with NewsBusters?

By Priscilla
News Hounds

Well, if so it’s a lawfully wedded heterosexual marriage! Newsbusters is a website that is the love child of Fox Fave Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center which is dedicated to exposing liberal bias in news. What they really do is take anything that is said by any media, famous as well as obscure, and whine about how librul it is. Never mind the fact that media doesn’t claim to be “fair and balanced” like Fox which, as we know, is nothing of the sort. Media Matters has shown that “bias free” Fox Nation pimps more than a few articles on its website from Newsbusters. So rather than “fair and balanced” we have cross pollination of conservative propaganda (dare I say incest?). Today we have a classic example of conservative inter species blog sex with the requisite propaganda which, in this case, is about “Stuart Smalley.”

To give you an idea of what Newsbusters is all about, they seem to have an obsession with PBS’s Bonnie Erbe because she supports abortion. The comments about Erbe are usually related to her physical appearance. Newsbusters is a kissing (but abstinent) cousin to Fox Nation because it seems to post threads that get its resident peasants with pitchforks (mostly male, and conservative (liberal Protestants are “apostate”) Christian) all in tizzy about evil blacks, Muslims, and gays, etc. As such, the Newsbuster krewe, like Fox Nation, is every bit as racist, homophobic, and generally enlightened (they hate “libs”) as the gang in Fox Nation. (One of the Newsbusters posters used the "C word" to describe Janeane Garofalo - see screen print below.)So today, there is a Fox Nation post about “soft ball questions” directed to Al Franken from “Today’s” Meredith Vieira. (Newsbusters thought that Couric’s interview with Palin was librul persecution!) It seems that Bozell acolyte Scott Whitlock wanted Ms. Vieira to mention electoral “irregularities” in the state of Minnesota. Never mind the fact that three courts (with Republican judges) have ruled in Franken’s favor. Whitlock alleged that the show has a history of “fawning” over Franken because in 2007 Jamie Gangell said that Franken was “Harvard Smart.” (Guess Scott doesn’t think much of Ivy degrees!) Naturally, this provided an opportunity for the good Christians, who post on Newsbusters, to say that Franken is “frothing at the mouth like a mad dog. I truly LOATHE this man......he is a disgusting, vile human being, coke head, drug abuser......I guess he ranks right up there with Zero in qualifications.” (Uh, the frothing is not coming from Franken!) And just like Fox Nation, the requisite Obama hatred: ...”that sends a former street agitator to the Oval Office and an idiot, washed-up, has-been of a comedian to the Senate, both in the same election, too.” The Fox Nation comments are equally mouth frothing including rude comments about Franken's wife. Once again, Coleman was gracious. Too bad Fox Nation and Newsbusters aren't....(Remainder.)


The Tea Party Teabaggers Really Have Balls

By Mark
News Corpse

Last April’s Tax Day Tea Party was by all objective accounts a massive failure. Estimates of national attendance hovered at something below 300,000. To put that in perspective, twice as many people went to see “The Hangover” last Saturday.

The dismal showing of Tea Baggers was achieved after having received millions of dollars worth of free publicity and promotion from Fox News. The network executed a wall-to-wall campaign promoting these events and their own participation in them. They shamelessly recruited viewers to take up the cause and sent their biggest stars out as enticements. And still they underperformed the expectations of their own organizers who predicted crowds in the millions.

So capitalizing off of that disaster, the Tea Partiers are back with a new sense of excitement and hope. Unfortunately, other than the most rabid disciples, the excitement is shared by very few. Even Fox News is offering tepid support. They have made a few mentions, and hosted a few interviews, but it is nothing comparable to the far-flung campaign they orchestrated last spring. Without the support of Fox’s mass media megaphone, it is unlikely that this ersatz movement will make much of a splash.

A story in the Washington Independent provides some interesting (and hilarious) details about the July 4, version of the Tea Parties. Organizers seem to have accepted the reality that prospects for the revolution they dreamed of have receded. One of the national organizers for the Tea Party Patriots is expressing her joy that a followup to Atlanta’s Tea Party in April (which she said drew 20,000 people) brought out only 70 TPers. This way, she feverishly rationalized, she could talk to every participant. Perhaps all sponsors of public protests should implore people to stay away so that this benefit could be enjoyed more often....(Remainder.)


Charles Krauthammer Doesn't Think Sarah Palin is Serious...or Bitchy, Moan, Moan.

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

UPDATE: Sarah Palin is stepping down as Governor of Alaska. Details here.

Quick! Someone alert the Red State Army Strike Force! Republican backstabber on Aisle 26 of Fox News!

We mentioned the other day that, if nothing else, the recent Vanity Fair profile of Sarah Palin made clear that the Beltway Villagers' view of Sarah Palin is "road kill in the rear-view mirror".

Charles Krauthammer on Fox the other day drove that point home by completely dismissing her as a potential candidate:
Krauthammer: Now, as to Palin, I agree entirely with what Mara [Liasson] said -- she is, she has star power without any doubt, she has an extremely devoted following, but she is not a serious candidate for the presidency.

She had to go home and study and spend a lot of the time on issues with which she was not adept last year. And she hasn't.

She has to stop speaking in cliches and platitudes. It won't work. It could work for eight weeks if you're the No. 2 candidate, as she was last year. But even so, she got singed a lot in that campaign. You cannot sustain a campaign of platitudes and clichés over a year and a half if you’re running for the presidency.
Interestingly, even Allahpundit at HotAir was inclined to agree....(Remainder.)


Experiment in Artificial Stupidity and Rove Discuss "The Party of the American Dream" For GOP

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

Funny Sean, my recollection was more of a nightmare than a "dream" with how the GOP ran things under Bush. But never let that get in the way of Sean Hannity bringing on Karl Rove to propagate the latest GOP propaganda. Can someone please explain to me why this man is on Fox News instead of in a jail cell? I'd really like to know.

Karl seems to think that the GOP just needs a more positive message. Hannity...freedom!!! And Karl reminds us not to forget about those "family values" as well. Yeah... save that advice for Sanford and Ensign and spare the rest of us from your empty rhetoric please.

Hannity and Rove decide on "The Party of the American Dream" being the new mantra for the GOP. These guys Can't stop writing their own punch lines....(Original.)


Protests Against Headscarf Ban, Call to Snitch on Burka-Wearers

By Europe News

On Sunday about 120 Muslims protested in Antwerp against the headscarf ban in the Royal Athenaeums of Antwerp and Hoboken. They carried signs saying: "Everybody free, except us," "Democracy, not discrimination" and "You are the oppressors, not us." (See pictures here) They demanded to rescind the headscarf ban by the two schools.

Parent Mina Cheeba said in a speech that the representatives of the parents in the school council haven't heard of any social pressure to wear a headscarf and that if there are actual complaints, then they would like to take a look at them so they could come to a solution together.

Cheeba says the decision to ban the headscarf was made without asking the parents' advice. The school regulations shouldn't be changed autonomously, but by consultation with the parents.

Several students also expressed their displeasure. One said that they're supposedly under pressure to wear a headscarf, but that's nonsense. They are not feather-brains who accept everything without thinking.

Ayoub Aazzouti said that he's fed up of the men being portrayed as machos who force girls to wear headscarves, because it's not like that. "For us boys and girls are equal. We have a lot of respect for them and they are intelligent enough to decide on their own if they wear a headscarf or not. Stop using us as an excuse."

On Monday about 40 Muslim women showed up to protest in front of the Royal Athenaeum of Hoboken. Some of the slogans included: 'distressed by the lack of understanding', 'why a ban on my character', and 'lies in order to discriminate'.

One of the students spoke: "We have a right to study and to a headscarf. It's not one or the other, we have a right to both."

Principal Chris Weyers spoke as well, telling she understands them, but that they did not protest when all other schools closed their doors to them. She said they should speak to the government so that they'll be welcome everywhere again. The principal says it's wrong that girls depend in their choice of studies on whether a school allows a headscarf or not....(Remainder.)


Palin Resigning Governor's Job; Future Unclear

Robert DeBerry/The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, via Associated Press

By Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg
The New York Times

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska abruptly announced on Friday that she was quitting at the end of the month, shocking Republicans across the country and leaving both parties uncertain about whether she was leaving national politics or laying the groundwork for a presidential run.

Ms. Palin, 45, the Republican vice-presidential nominee last year, was supposed to serve through the end of 2010; she said she would cede control of the state to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell on July 25.

Speaking outside her home in Wasilla, Ms. Palin offered conflicting signals about her intentions and her motivation.

In her tone and some of her words in an often-rambling announcement, she sounded like someone who was making a permanent exit from politics after what her friends have called a rough and dispiriting year.

But her remarks, delivered in a voice that often seemed rushed and jittery, sounded at times like those of a candidate with continued national aspirations, as when she suggested she could “fight for all our children’s future from outside the governor’s office.”

Ms. Palin said that she had decided not to seek re-election when her term expires at the end of next year and that, given that, she did not think it was fair to her constituents to continue in office....(Remainder.)


All Foam and No Beer, Rep. Joe Barton (R-LaLa Land) Identifies 'Carbongate'

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

Throughout his career, Rep. Joe Barton, the Republican congressman from ExxonMobil, has been something of an embarrassment. Part of the problem is his reflexive right-wing ideology. Another part is his well-deserved reputation for being the most pro-pollution lawmaker on the Hill.

But perhaps the most troubling aspect of the congressman's record is the fact that he's conspicuously unintelligent. On a variety of subjects, on a variety of occasions, Barton has humiliated himself. Just in recent months, it's happened over and over and over and over again.

With that in mind, Barton appeared on (where else?) Fox News this morning to talk about Alan Carlin, a global-warming denying economist, whose hobby wasn't taken seriously by the EPA. The Texas Republican compared the "story" to the Watergate scandal. Seriously.
This morning on "America's Newsroom," the industry-friendly Texas Republican accused the EPA of suppressing the report, and declared that "just as Nixon had Watergate, Obama now has Carbongate to deal with." [...]

(Note that Barton called Carlin "a scientist at the EPA." In fact, Carlin has worked for the agency since months after its founding in 1971, but he does not hold an advanced degree in any natural science, and he has always worked as an economist.)

So just to compare: Watergate involved the cover-up of a criminal enterprise directed from the Oval Office. "Carbongate" involves the EPA ignoring a scientific study by a non-scientist that it never commissioned and which hasn't been published in any scientific journal.
If you're just joining us, and aren't sure what the Carlin "story" is all about, check yesterday's post on the subject.

It's only been a far-right hobbyhorse for a week, and it's already mind-numbing....(Original.)


Franken Gets His Franking Privilge

By Hendrick Hertzberg
The New Yorker

Al Franken is finally being allowed to take his seat in the Senate. He and the senior senator from Minnesota, the charming and delightful Amy Klobuchar, are sure to make a stellar pair, Capitol Hill’s answer to Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

Naturally I am pleased by this development, and not only because Al and his wife, Franni, are friends of mine, and because I share their politics. I have a loftier reason, too.

The Senate was originally envisioned as a chamber of notables. Its members were supposed to be persons of accomplishment, capable of independent thought, often bringing with them national reputations and national—or, at least, not hopelessly parochial—outlooks. Al Franken, unlike the overwhelming majority of his new colleagues, is such a person. I don’t doubt that he will assiduously look after the interests of Minnesota, but he has spent many years thinking and writing about weightier questions than the need for lake subsidies and cheese price supports. His books, despite their diverting titles (“Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot” and the like), are substantial works of research and analysis. The fact that they, like he, are also funny should be counted in their, and his, favor. American popular culture is stronger, not weaker, because Stuart Smalley is part of it.

We would be better off as a country if more senators were cut from the Franken cloth, even if the ideological balance remains unchanged. Must we have right-wing senators who, rather than admit that there are problems that tax cuts and “free markets” can’t solve, would have the icecaps melt, the seas boil, and the coasts drown? Very well, then, but let them be conservatives whose brain waves are not completely flat and who have spent their professional lives doing something worthier than flattering local realtors, hating the life of the intellect on principle, and regurgitating Heritage Foundation talking points. George F. Wills, please, not James M. Inhofes....(Original.)


The Magic of Purity Rings

By Zach Weiner
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal


Elephants Palin on Parade

By Gregg Levine

Mere days after bragging about her stamina, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin up and quits. Her hastily organized presser—called on a super-news-dump Friday before a national holiday—coupled with the half-baked logic contained in her farewell, can only leave anyone who gives a rat’s sphincter to start wondering: which of Palin’s ten or twelve pending scandals is the one that has forced her to—as General McArthur didn’t say—“advance in a different direction”

It certainly made a commenter curious at the oft-Palin-palsy-walsy RedState:

Whoa. Is that what gets you banned these days? Erick, I know it’s been a rough day week fortnight month year three years, but the commenter was stating a desire to read you more, dude! You should be rejoicing in the interest, not recalibrating your thin-skin-o-meter....(Remainder.)


The Big Whorehouse on the Potomac

By Paul Craig Roberts

As Americans celebrate July 4, they can contemplate that the union of “free and independent states,” like the former British colonial power, has evolved into its final manifestation--a complete whore house. While Members of Parliament in London charge their expense accounts with every personal expenditure, including the rental of adult xxx-rated films, an American newspaper put the reporting of public policy out to bids until blew the whistle.

In Washington, everything is for sale, including journalistic integrity. The Washington Post, which abandoned investigative reporting eons ago, decided to boost its sagging revenues by spreading her legs. The Post’s business division put out a flier offering lobbyists access at the Post’s CEO’s gracious home to “those powerful few” in the Obama administration, Congress, and among the Post’s editors and reporters who decide the nation’s policies, such as health care.

The Washington Post’s flyer offered a Wal-Mart low cost of a mere $25,000 for one “salon” to interact with decision makers and $250,000 for eleven interactions.

Alas, people with an old fashioned sense of integrity impugned the Washington Post’s new business model, and the Post’s boss, Katharine Weymouth, had to rescind the offer that would have rescued the newspaper by turning it into a “facilitator for private lobbyist-official encounters.”

I say damn the old fashioned moralists. America would be much better served if the Washington Post was selling access to lobbyists instead of selling the US government’s PSYOPS operations in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia, Venezeula, Honduras, and everywhere else, for which the paper receives a pittance: the reporter can tell his editor that he has a deep source within the government, hardly an adequate recompense for wars that cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars at a time when Americans cannot pay the mortgages on their homes....(Remainder.)


What Gun Would Jesus Pack?

Packin’ Pistols for God and Country: NRA Christians stake claim on patriotism and the America

By Bill Berkowitz
Buzz Flash

If you don’t quite get that for many in this country that the connection between guns and God is as American as burgers and fries, baseball and beer, and July 4th and fireworks, you should have been at the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, June 27, where Pastor Ken Pagano welcomed more than 200 people – most of them packing guns (albeit unloaded) -- to an event called the “Open Carry Celebration.”

According to the New Bethel Church website, the “Open Carry Celebration” was held on a Saturday instead of a Sunday, so that it was clear that it was “not a church worship service, where the focus is on Jesus and our responsibility to Him. Rather,” Pagano, a former Marine weapons instructor, pointed out, “this is merely a church-hosted event, similar to any other event that any other church may do to celebrate their heritage.”

The “Open Carry Celebration” was held several weeks after Pagano had encouraged his parishioners to bring the guns to a church-sponsored picnic. "Honestly, I would really like to see this mushroom into a Thunder over Louisville, where we are just inundated with civil-minded responsible gun owners,” Pagano said.

“As a Christian, I believe, and as an American this country was founded on the deep-seated belief in God and firearms — without which we wouldn’t be here today,” Pagano told FOX News during the run-up to the “Open Carry” event. “There is nothing illogical nor immoral about being a God-fearer and a decent community-minded individual who believes in rights to bear arms and use firearms for self-defense if necessary or just for sporting purposes.”

Ministry Today reported that “Pagano got the idea after hearing several of his congregants voice concern over the Obama administration's views on gun control.” (During last year’s presidential campaign, Obama’s comment during a San Francisco fundraiser -- just before the Pennsylvania primary – that it was “not surprising” that in tough economic times, people then “get bitter, [and] they cling to guns or religion …“ continues to feed the right wing rumor mill that the Obama administration has plans to fiddle around with the Second Amendment.)...(Remainder.)


Cheney Much More Involved in Plame Leak (Surprised?)

I'm just saying, but if George Bush and Dick Cheney are right, and we are fighting a "War on Terror," then Dick Cheney is in some deep shit. The punishment for treason, and outting a CIA NOC asset would certainly fall under that rubrick, is death. I'm just sayin'.
By Larisa Alexandrovna

We all knew this, but it seems the Obama administration wants to keep a lid on it anyway. Why?
"A document filed in federal court this week by the Justice Department offers new evidence that former vice president Richard B. Cheney helped steer the Bush administration's public response to the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson's employment by the CIA and that he was at the center of many related administration deliberations.

The administration's discussion of Wilson's link to the CIA was meant to undermine criticism by her husband of administration allegations that Iraq attempted to acquire uranium, a matter that her husband had probed for the CIA, according to testimony presented in a 2007 trial.

A list of at least seven related conversations involving Cheney appears in a new court filing approved by Obama appointees at the Justice Department. In the filing, the officials argue that the substance of what Cheney told special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald in 2004 must remain secret."
I am sure Lizzie Cheney will soon be deployed to defend her daddy's treason. Of course this too is troubling:
"The Obama administration has since agreed that the material should not be disclosed. A Justice Department lawyer at one point last month argued that vice presidents and other White House officials will decline to be interviewed in the future if they know their remarks might "get on 'The Daily Show' " or be used as fodder for political enemies."
And there you have it. Our leadership is afraid that a comedian will make fun of them for holding to account a man who committed treason. Anyone feel like we have entered a whole new, yet unpublished chapter, of 1984? Maybe we should now use 1985 to explain the realm we are now in?...(Original.)


Andrea Mitchell: Palin Told Allies She's "Out of Politics, Period"


A President Breaks Hearts in Appalachia

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The Washington Post

Mountaintop removal coal mining is the worst environmental tragedy in American history. When will the Obama administration finally stop this Appalachian apocalypse?

If ever an issue deserved President Obama's promise of change, this is it. Mining syndicates are detonating 2,500 tons of explosives each day -- the equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb weekly -- to blow up Appalachia's mountains and extract sub-surface coal seams. They have demolished 500 mountains -- encompassing about a million acres -- buried hundreds of valley streams under tons of rubble, poisoned and uprooted countless communities, and caused widespread contamination to the region's air and water. On this continent, only Appalachia's rich woodlands survived the Pleistocene ice ages that turned the rest of North America into a treeless tundra. King Coal is now accomplishing what the glaciers could not -- obliterating the hemisphere's oldest, most biologically dense and diverse forests. Highly mechanized processes allow giant machines to flatten in months mountains older than the Himalayas -- while employing fewer workers for far less time than other types of mining. The coal industry's promise to restore the desolate wastelands is a cruel joke, and the industry's fallback position, that the flattened landscapes will provide space for economic development, is the weak punchline. America adores its Adirondacks and reveres the Rockies, while the Appalachian Mountains -- with their impoverished and alienated population -- are dismantled by coal moguls who dominate state politics and have little to prevent them from blasting the physical landscape to smithereens.

Obama promised science-based policies that would save what remains of Appalachia, but last month senior administration officials finally weighed in with a mixture of strong words and weak action that broke hearts across the region. The modest measures federal bureaucrats promised amount to little more than a tepid pledge of better enforcement of existing laws....(Remainder.)


Same-Sex Marriage's Colour Bar

I actually think that this guy and this article is full of barnyard ruminant feces.  Well surely there is racism in the gay community, saying that if the rights movement wasn't the support of people of color a major slippery slope.

If the gay community wants the support of people of colour, it must address the pernicious racism within its own ranks.

By Orville Lloyd Douglas
The Guardian

The American same-sex marriage debate is still polarised due to the fact the US is very racially stratified. It is obvious that although race relations in America have advanced since Martin Luther King in the 1960s, there is still a long way to go.

Some black gays don't feel comfortable attending gay pride or supporting LGBT events due to gay racism. It is the reason that in major American cities like Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston, there is a black gay pride that is separate from the mainstream white gay pride events. There isn't much inclusion or a sense of "togetherness" with the mainstream gay community.

Last fall the white gay activist Dan Savage suggested that the African-American community in California was to blame for the passage of Proposition 8. Other white gay media publications such as The Advocate and Out magazine also blamed African-Americans, when in fact the numbers just don't add up.

The truth is that in the LGBT community, the people who receive a lot of media attention in terms of television, radio and internet interviews are powerful white gay men and lesbians. Another quandary in American LGBT communities is that whites control the gay community centres and other LGBT nonprofit organisations. Therefore, once again white people are at the apex while gay people of colour receive the scraps at the bottom of the pyramid.

One of the reasons white gay racism is ignored is due to the fact some white gays are also involved in the mainstream press. It is the convenient excuse of white people that somehow blacks are less civilised and less educated in relation to LGBT issues, which is false. White gay activists still have white skin privilege, and they utilise their whiteness to discriminate against African-Americans....(Remainder.)


Barack Obama Joins Hall of Presidents @ Disney


Why Sarah Palin Quit

By Jay Newton-Small

In bowing out as Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin harkened back to her high school basketball days — although there was no sign of the "Barracuda," as she was nicknamed for her ability to cut through the opposing team's offenses. In a hastily called press conference on the eve of a three-day holiday, Palin presented herself as a point guard exhausted by the "full court press from the national level." The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee explained how the metaphorical point guard should respond. "She drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket, and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win," Palin said. "And I know when it's time to pass the ball for victory." Or take a timeout, as the case may be.

Palin's stunning announcement raised more questions than it answered: Is she bowing out of public life? Is there a more nefarious reason for her resignation after only two-and-half years in office — yet another G.O.P. scandal in the offing? Or is the woman who tops most G.O.P. 2012 shortlists to challenge Barack Obama stepping down to get a head start on her next presidential campaign? Palin took no questions after her unscripted, rambling address, and her comments seemed to hint both ways: that she's "passing the ball" of elected office, and that she plans on working for all Americans, not just Alaskans. "Some are going to question the timing of this and let me just say that this decision has been in the works for a while. In fact this decision comes after much consideration," Palin said, holding up her left index finger as she amended her thought, "Much prayer and consideration. And finally, I polled the most important people in my life, my kids. And the count was unanimous. While in response to asking, 'Hey, do you want me to be a positive influence and fight for all our children's futures from outside the governor's office?' it was four yeses and one 'Hell, yeah.' The 'Hell, yeah' sold it."...(Remainder.)


Untold Truths About the American Revolution

By Prof. Howard Zinn
The Progressive

There are things that happen in the world that are bad, and you want to do something about them. You have a just cause. But our culture is so war prone that we immediately jump from, “This is a good cause” to “This deserves a war.”

You need to be very, very comfortable in making that jump.

The American Revolution—independence from England—was a just cause. Why should the colonists here be occupied by and oppressed by England? But therefore, did we have to go to the Revolutionary War?

How many people died in the Revolutionary War?

Nobody ever knows exactly how many people die in wars, but it’s likely that 25,000 to 50,000 people died in this one. So let’s take the lower figure—25,000 people died out of a population of three million. That would be equivalent today to two and a half million people dying to get England off our backs.

You might consider that worth it, or you might not.

Canada is independent of England, isn’t it? I think so. Not a bad society. Canadians have good health care. They have a lot of things we don’t have. They didn’t fight a bloody revolutionary war. Why do we assume that we had to fight a bloody revolutionary war to get rid of England?

In the year before those famous shots were fired, farmers in Western Massachusetts had driven the British government out without firing a single shot. They had assembled by the thousands and thousands around courthouses and colonial offices and they had just taken over and they said goodbye to the British officials. It was a nonviolent revolution that took place. But then came Lexington and Concord, and the revolution became violent, and it was run not by the farmers but by the Founding Fathers. The farmers were rather poor; the Founding Fathers were rather rich....(Remainder.)


Sarah Palin's Bizarre Bombshell

The latest episode in the Sarah Palin soap opera arrives: her mysterious decision to abruptly quit as governor of Alaska.

By James Antle
The Guardian

Is Sarah Palin finished? That's the question her friends and foes alike are asking now that she has kicked off the Fourth of July weekend with an announcement that she won't even finish her term as governor of Alaska, let alone run for president.

Given how quickly she would have needed to make the transition from governor to presidential candidate if she were to seek the Republican nomination in 2012, it is not surprising that she is taking a pass on a second term in 2010. But to leave office before even her first term is expired – she plans to resign in three weeks time, on July 26 – seems like a bizarre dereliction of duty. It certainly will do nothing to address concerns, widespread in 2008, that she is too inexperienced to be commander-in-chief.

The timing of her announcement could not be worse. Not only did she drop this bombshell right when most Americans are going on vacation, an ideal moment to bury unfavourable news. Palin also looks like she is buckling after a series of unflattering media controversies, most recently including a Vanity Fair profile that reopened all of the old wounds of the McCain-Palin presidential campaign.

Conservative blogger AC Kleinheider writes: "Sarah Palin has now succeeded in becoming, if she was not already, pretty much everything her critics have accused her of being." Andrea Mitchell reported on MSNBC that sources close to the soon-to-be former Alaska governor claim she "has had it with politics" and just wants out....(Remainder.)


Weekly Address: On the 4th of July, Overcoming America's Challenges


Right-Wing Uses Honduras Coup to Attack Obama as Far Left Extremist

By Larisa Alexandrovna
The Raw Story

There is a very strange word game being played with regard to the Honduras “bloodless” coup. Many on the right have decried the use of the term “coup” in describing last week’s military arrest and deportation of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. More importantly, the right wing has co-opted the Honduran coup as a political umbilical cord tying President Obama to Castro and Chavez in much the same way as they tried to tie Obama to terrorists during the 2008 election.

This propaganda war by the far-right raises once again the serious question of how far the extreme right will go to destroy President Obama and – as Rush Limbaugh has often prayed for – make sure that his tenure in office is a complete failure.

First, the Coup

I am going to try to explain the recent events in Honduras as simply as possible, not using legal or political verbiage, but simple language to make this complex situation more understandable.

Before I begin, however, I would like to make absolutely clear that I am no fan of Manuel Zelaya. I am also no fan of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. The latter’s inclusion here serves a purpose which I will explain later.

According to the Honduran Constitution – remember, I am simplifying the language – a person who has served as president cannot run for president again or attempt to change the Constitution to alter this provision. A person engaged in this activity will be stripped of the presidency and charged with violations of the law. This person will also not be able to hold any public office for 10 years....(Remainder.)


Palin's Resignation Has Everyone Guessing What's Next

By Sean Cockerham and Erika Bolstad
McClatchy Newspapers

ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sarah Palin stunned Alaska and the nation today by abruptly announcing her resignation from office. Palin will be governor only until July 26, when Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will take over.

Palin made the announcement at a hastily called press conference held at her Wasilla home as the holiday weekend began.

Palin said she first decided not to run for re-election next fall when her term is up, then figured in that case she'd just quit now. Palin said she didn't want to be a "lame duck," a political phrase for an officeholder approaching the end of their term and losing clout to get their political agenda through.

"Many just accept that lame duck status and they hit the road, they draw a paycheck. They kind of milk it. And I'm not going to put Alaskans through that. I promised efficiencies and effectiveness," she said.

But Palin could have waited until next year to announce her plan not to run for re-election. Her explanation makes no sense, said state Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, a leading critic of her.

"That isn't a reason. Seated governors just don't resign in the last year of their term no matter how successful or for that matter unsuccessful they've been. Right now there are a lot more questions than answers. And until the governor chooses to reveal more of her motive here, it's just one of those questions we will never know the answer to," Hawker said....(Remainder.)


Bennet Engages Religious Leaders in Health Care Debate

U.S. senator: 'If we have a pubic plan but if we don't get the incentive structure in line, we run the very serious risk of putting the costs on our children and grandchildren.'

By John Tomasic
The Colorado Independent

As members of Congress return to their states for the July Fourth recess, national health care reform, one of the thorniest of the thorny legislative initiatives lawmakers are grappling with this term, brought U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet to a Thursday night discussion hosted by Rev. Bill Calhoun at Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver. The meeting was part of a campaign being waged by Calhoun and a network of more than 600 religious leaders, who are demanding that policy presently being drafted in Washington, D.C., deliver affordable coverage for all Americans.

“Will there be a public option? Please tell us about your health care plan, senator,” someone called out at one point, spurring a rippling reaction among the crowd.

The question has gained increased urgency as lawmakers meeting with health-industry lobbyists have sent signals that tax-based and government-run public health care along the lines of public education could be off the table.

Speaking in his shirt sleeves and without notes, Bennet, the former Denver schools superintendent tapped by Gov. Bill Ritter to serve the remainder of current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s term in the Senate, won over the audience with quick reference to policy details and what seemed a cautiously optimistic critique of the strengths and weaknesses of various options for reform.

“If a public option is paid for and we changed the incentive structures… it would be a helpful part of an overall package and it would increase choice,” Bennet said.

“But we shouldn’t kid ourselves. If we have a pubic plan but if we don’t get the incentive structure in line, we run the very serious risk of putting the costs on our children and grandchildren.”

In recent speeches, Bennet has likewise emphasized the need to encourage preventive and follow-up care in order to rein in costs. He has said there are “amazing savings to be generated by paying people to stay well instead of for getting sick.”...(Remainder.)


CNN: Was Navy Sailor Killed Because He Was Gay?


What's Wrong With Being 'Right'?

By Dr. James F. McGrath
Exploring Our Matrix

For those who are enthusiastic about the voices calling for a return to or preservation of the Christian foundations of our society, you will probably find yourself largely in agreement with the sentiment of another famous politician, who said:
The national government will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality.

Today Christians stand at the head of our country. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during recent years.

For those following currents in American religious and political life, the language sounds very familiar, and you may wonder precisely whose words these are. They are the words of Adolf Hitler. This is a quotation from the address he gave after coming to power in Germany (from "My New Order, The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939", Vol. 1, pp. 871-872, Oxford University Press, London, 1942).

I was tempted to simply leave it at that, without comment. But just to make certain my point is clear, I will say just a few words about it. It is my hope that, by highlighting the similarity between current American voices and that of Hitler, my fellow Americans will understand why the voices on the far-right scare so many of us who do not share their views. Moderate leanings to the left or right are not what I am talking about here, but there are voices that are far to the right of center, and some use that language often without realizing what it means: far in the direction of Hitler, of the Nazis, of fascism. Many in our time lean in that direction, and reflect a view which claims that our heritage (cultural, religious, economic, political, whatever) is the best, and that it is our destiny to be the most powerful nation precisely for this reason. It claims certainty that those who question our cherished values are wrong, and would ideally like to see our laws uphold and enforce these values.

Yet in an American context, to claim that our nation's heritage is simply "Christian" is misleading. The faith of Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, would not be considered acceptable to most of those American Christians today who claim that the founding fathers were Christians. The Bill of Rights guarantees Americans the right to break at least the first two of the Ten Commandments by guaranteeing religious freedom for all....(Remainder.)


Ft. Worth Mayor Asks for Federal Review of Rainbow Lounge Raid & Assault

By Elizabeth Campbell

FORT WORTH — Mayor Mike Moncrief has asked the U.S. attorney’s office to review the results of a Fort Worth police internal-affairs investigation into what happened early Sunday at gay bar near downtown where one customer was injured and six others were arrested.

In a statement released Friday morning, Moncrief said he and the City Council trust that the Police Department will conduct "a thorough and professional investigation."

But, Moncrief wrote, he has asked acting U.S. Attorney James Jacks to review that report when it’s finished "to ensure the department has thoroughly and impartially carried out its obligation to all the citizens of Fort Worth."

"I encourage the [Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission] to follow the same course."

Chad Gibson, 26, of Euless remained hospitalized in good condition Friday with a head injury he received after six police officers and two beverage commission agents and a supervisor entered the Rainbow Lounge about 1 a.m. Sunday.

When contacted Friday, Moncrief declined to elaborate on his statement. He referred questions to Jason Lamers, a city spokesman.

"This in no way signifies the council has a lack of confidence in the Police Department’s internal investigative process," Lamers said. "The purpose is to show those who may have doubts about what we already know — and that is that we have a fair, impartial process."

The arrests and Gibson’s injury have been widely publicized and loudly condemned, especially by gay and lesbian activists. The incident occurred on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, a significant moment in the gay-rights movement....(Remainder.)



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