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Palin Attorney Threatens Media

Sunday, July 05, 2009

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly


This is a bad idea.
Ratcheting up her offensive against the news media, Gov. Sarah Palin's attorney threatened Saturday to sue mainstream news organizations if they publish "defamatory" stories relating to whether Palin is under federal investigation.

In an extraordinary four-page letter, Alaska-based attorney Thomas Van Flein warns of severe consequences should speculation that until now has largely been confined to blogs about whether Palin embezzled funds in the construction of a Wasilla, Alaska, sports arena find its way into print.

"This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law," Van Flein warned, citing Alaska liberal blogger Shannyn Moore.

Keep in mind, neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post made any reference to the embezzlement rumors, but Palin's lawyers apparently threatened the papers anyway, just in case editors were thinking about looking into the allegations.

I can't speak to the veracity of the embezzlement accusations, though an FBI official said yesterday the governor is not a target of a public corruption investigation. That said, the threatening letter seems like an odd strategy for the governor's attorney. For one thing, it's awfully difficult to win a defamation case against a news outlet covering public officials.

For another, there's no surer way to pique a reporter's interest in allegations than demanding that major outlets ignore the issue....(Original.)

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Former D.C. Mayor, and Anti-Gay Hate Monger, Barry Charged with Stalking

By Associated Press
Via Talking Points Memo


Police say former Washington Mayor Marion Barry has been arrested and charged with stalking a woman.

The United States Park Police said Barry, a current D.C. Council member, was arrested Saturday in Washington after a woman flagged down an officer and complained that Barry was stalking her.

Barry was charged with misdemeanor stalking and released.

A message left seeking comment from a spokeswoman for Barry wasn't immediately returned early Sunday.

Barry served four terms as mayor. In his third, he was videotaped in 1990 in a hotel room smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting. He served six months in prison and in 1994 regained the mayor's office....(Original.)

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And Another Thing

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly


Sarah Palin's bizarre speech on Friday, announcing her decision to quit mid-way through her first term, has not gone over especially well. That the outgoing governor wouldn't (or couldn't) offer a compelling rationale for her resignation -- the desire to "effect positive change outside government" isn't cutting it -- has only fueled questions about what Palin is thinking.

With that in mind, Palin chose to elaborate on her rambling remarks with a 477-word, poorly-written Facebook message yesterday. She argued that it's in "Alaska's best interest" for her to resign, adding, "[I]t always feels good to do what is right."
The response in the main stream [sic] media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the "politics of personal destruction". How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it's about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make. [...]

Now is the time to rebuild and help our nation achieve greatness! God bless you! And I look forward to making a difference - with you!

In case there were any doubts, Palin's personal spokesperson told the AP that the Facebook message was, in fact, written by the governor. It was a helpful clarification, since it was easy to assume the message was written by a junior high school student who had hacked into Palin's profile....(Remainder.)

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Palin Opens Herself Up to Criticism

By Dan Balz
The Washington Post


Does Sarah Palin have a political future?

Until she declares otherwise, the assumption will be that she remains interested at least in exploring a presidential campaign for 2012. But after announcing that she intends to resign as governor of Alaska, that future comes with bigger question marks than ever.

Her judgment and political instincts were again called into question by her decision to quit. It was not a huge surprise. Many Republicans believed she might forgo seeking reelection to free herself up for a national campaign. But stepping away with almost 18 months left in her first term was beyond almost anyone's expectation.

Other prospective presidential candidates have decided to leave office. Mitt Romney chose not to run for a second term in Massachusetts when he decided to seek the presidency in 2008. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty already has announced that he will not run for another term next year and is seen as a likely candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination.

Neither Romney nor Pawlenty quit as Palin did, midstream. And Palin's explanation for stepping down was even more inexplicable. She described the abandonment of her duties almost in noble terms, saying that by leaving now she would avoid the temptation that she ascribed to others who have not run again....(Remainder.)

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National Archives Gone Missing: Lincoln Civil War Telegraphs, Photos of the Moon, and MORE!

By Larry Margasak
Associated Press via The Huffington Post


WASHINGTON — National Archives visitors know they'll find the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the main building's magnificent rotunda in Washington. But they won't find the patent file for the Wright Brothers' Flying Machine or the maps for the first atomic bomb missions anywhere in the Archives inventory.

Many historical items the Archives once possessed are missing, including:

-Civil War telegrams from Abraham Lincoln.

-Original signatures of Andrew Jackson.

-Presidential portraits of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

-NASA photographs from space and on the moon.

-Presidential pardons.

Some were stolen by researchers or Archives employees. Others simply disappeared without a trace.

And there's more gone from the nation's record keeper.

The Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, is conducting a criminal investigation into a missing external hard drive with copies of sensitive records from the Clinton administration. On the hard drive were Social Security numbers, including one for one of former Vice President Al Gore's daughters.

Because the equipment also may include classified information, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, calls it a a major national security breach....(Remainder.)

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Remove the Filibuster from the Senate Rules

By David Swanson
Democrats.com


Trying to squeeze any sort of peace on earth out of our government in Washington has been a steep uphill climb for years. For the most part we no longer have representatives in Congress, because of the corruption of money, the weakness of the media, and the strength of parties. There are not 535 opinions on Capitol Hill on truly important matters, but 2. Our supposed representatives work for their party leaders, not for us. Luckily, one of the two parties claims to want to work for us.

When the Democrats were in the minority and out of the White House, they told us they wanted to work for us but needed to be in the majority. So, in 2006, we put them there. Then they told us that they really wished they could work for us but they needed bigger majorities and the White House. So, in 2008/2009, we gave them those things, and deprived them of two key excuses for inaction. We took away the veto excuse and the filibuster excuse.

This is not to say that either excuse was ever sensible. The two most important things the 110th Congress refused to do (ceasing to fund illegal wars, and impeaching war criminals) did not require passing legislation, so filibusters and vetoes were not relevant -- in fact, the Senate and the president were not relevant. But the Democrats in Congress, and the Republicans, and the media, and the White House all pretended that wars could only be ended by legislation, so the excuses for not passing legislation loomed large. The veto excuse disappeared on January 20th. The filibuster excuse could have been gone by January 6th if Senator Harry Reid had wanted it gone. But it's gone now.

The filibuster excuse works like this. Any 41 senators can vote No on "cloture", that is on bringing a bill to a vote, and that bill will never come to a vote, and anything the House of Representatives has done won't matter. Any of the other 59 senators, the 435 House members, the president, the vice president, television pundits, and newspaper reporters can blame the threat of filibuster for anything they fail to do.

Now, the Senate itself is and always has been and was intended to be an anti-democratic institution. It serves no purpose that is not or could not be more democratically accomplished by the House alone. The Senate should simply be eliminated by Constitutional Amendment. But the filibuster is the most anti-democratic tool of the Senate, and can be eliminated without touching the Constitution, which does not mention it. If you take 41 senators from the 21 smallest states, you can block any legislation with a group of multi-millionaires elected by 11.2 percent of the American public. That fact is a national disgrace that should be remedied as quickly as possible....(Remainder.)

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Why is a White Supremacist Leading the Charge Against Sotomayor in the Senate?

By Paul Rosenberg
Open Left


I was going to write a diary about this.  But then I came across this clip from Rachel Maddow, from a show that I somehow had missed. It hits all the high points I had in mind, and I don't have to go searching through archives of the NY Times from the 1980s.




Answer to the question I asked: Because that's the way the GOP wants it.

[Update on the Flip:] Some detail on his record prosecuting black voter registration activists for "voter fraud" in the 1980s.

Back in 2002, when the strange phenomena of anti-racist conservative bloggers helped drive Trent Lott from power (hint: he was too prone to striking deals with the Dems), The New Republic ran a piece by Sarah Wildman "Closed Sessions", asking, "Hey, anti-racist conservatives, what about Jeff Sessions?"
His record on race arguably rivals that of the gentleman from Mississippi--and yet has elicited not a peep of consternation from the anti-racist right.
(Remainder.)

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Anti-Gay Group Fighting Obama's Choice

By Jim Hipps
gayagenda.com


The Family Research Council has started hitting hard on their campaign against Kevin Jennings, an Obama Administration appointee, claiming he should not be in the position he is with the Department of Education because…well, because he’s gay, even though they claim their objections come from his previous position in private activism, as he is the former executive director of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network…or again, because he’s gay.

Jennings is scheduled to begin working with the Dept. of Ed on Monday as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for the Department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

This week however, the anti-gay FRC launched a last-minute Web promotion and petition in an effort to oppose his appointment.

Here’s what they’ve come up with:



(Remainder.)

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The Reason for it All...

About three years ago, I removed all references to the United States from the Declaration of Independence, and handed it out to my right-wing, Fox News watchin', librul hatin' family and co-workers. You know what their response was 9 times out of 10? "This is communist!" "What is this liberal BS?" They went on, and on. When I told them what it was, they sputtered, and spit, and all of the sudden didn't have anything to say. So in an effort to educate y'all, HERE is the United States Declaration of Independence in all of it's wonderful glory. Every American who loves their country should commit it to memory.
The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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Rumors Fly About Palin's 'Iceberg Scandal'

By Muriel Kane
The Raw Story


Updates: MyFOX National runs article on embezzlement rumors; GOP strategist says ‘inept’ move could seem ’suspicious’ to many; BradBlog now suggests that Palin’s resignation was due to an upcoming Federal indictment for embezzlement. Max Blumenthal at The Daily Beast adds more details.

In the wake of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s surprise resignation on Friday, rumors are beginning to circulate that she might have acted in anticipation of a previously unsuspected scandal being revealed.

Alaskan blogger Shannyn Moore suggested at Huffington Post that “rumors of an ‘iceberg scandal’ have been circulating” even before today’s announcement.

“Resignation is certainly out of character for Sarah Palin,” Moore noted. “Senator Mark Begich had a meeting with Sarah Palin two days ago with no mention of her leaving office. Palin’s press secretary, David Murrow had posted on his Facebook page Wednesday, ‘David Murrow is considering life’s ironies.’ He was hired less than a month ago. Yesterday he wrote, ‘There’s gonna be some fireworks this weekend!’”

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo similarly suggested, “Remember that based on the public record, Palin is a wildly unethical public official, guilty at a minimum of numerous instances of abusing her authority as governor. And a lot of very damaging information has come out about her in the last few days — though mainly embarrassing information about her character rather than new evidence of bad acts. I would not be surprised if this latest round of revelations shook something else loose that we haven’t heard about yet.”...(Remainder.)

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America's Arrogant Manipulator

Israel lobbyist Paul Wolfowitz calls for US interference in Iran

By Paul J. Balles
Redress Information & Analysis


"He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow." – George Eliot

Paul J. Balles cautions against the warmongering growls of Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the aggression against Iraq and a man of dual loyalty to Israel and the USA, who is now calling for American interference in Iran’s internal affairs.

The Washington Post published an Op-Ed piece (19 June) by Paul Wolfowitz, the man more responsible than others in the previous US administration for unjustified death and destruction in Iraq.

Bernard Weiner, writing in the Crisis Papers reveals that in 1992, then-Secretary of Defence Dick Cheney had a strategy report drafted for the Department of Defence, written by Paul Wolfowitz, who was then the under-secretary of defence for policy.
 
In it, the US government was urged, as the world's sole remaining superpower, to move aggressively and militarily around the globe. The report called for pre-emptive attacks and ad hoc coalitions, but said that the US should be ready to act alone when "collective action cannot be orchestrated."

Weiner wrote: “Wolfowitz outlined plans for military intervention in Iraq as an action necessary to assure ‘access to vital raw material, primarily Persian Gulf oil’ and to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and threats from terrorism.”

This last part was the key to the Wolfowitz doctrine. Israel had as its agent provocateur Paul Wolfowitz to justify occupation of Iraq as permanent protection against WMDs.

"For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." said Wolfowitz, in an interview in the magazine Vanity Fair.

In his latest Washington Post article, Wolfowitz started off with a hawkish remark about how, "President Obama's first response to the protests in Iran was silence, followed by a cautious, almost neutral stance designed to avoid 'meddling' in Iranian affairs".

Instead of criticizing Barack Obama’s prudent response to the events in Iran, the uncompromising warmonger Wolfowitz should be having nightmares over the 1,331,578 Iraqis slaughtered since the US invaded Iraq, and the 4,315 US military personnel sacrificed in that war....(Remainder.)

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Jobs Report Sign of Deeper Economic Trouble

By Ruth Conniff
The Progressive


The Federal government's jobs report for June shows the country sliding further into an already historic recession. With 467,000 jobs disappearing, bringing the official unemployment rate to 9.5 percent, wages down, and more workers than ever stuck in part-time jobs that don't adequately cover the bills, Americans are hurting. Credit is tight and spending down, leaving little hope that we can borrow and buy our way out of the current economic slump.

The situation calls for a big new round of government stimulus spending. Economists Dean Baker, Paul Krugman, and others are calling on President Obama to try to force a more ambitious stimulus plan through Congress. "Just to be clear, I'm well aware of how difficult it will be to get such a plan enacted," Krugman writes in the The New York Times, anticipating criticism from the Administration insiders like Rahm Emanuel. (In a New Yorker profile earlier this year, Emanuel was quoted as saying that Krugman and other liberal economists are basically right in their criticisms of the too-timid Obama approach to issues like stimulus and tax cuts, but that it's easy to criticize the President when you don't have to get anything past the Republicans in Congress--"How many bills has he passed?" Emanuel asked of Krugman.)

I interviewed another critic of the Obama Administration's centrist economic team for the forthcoming issue of Progressive, William Greider, author of the definitive book on the Federal Reserve Bank, Secrets of the Temple, and, most recently, Come Home America. Greider also has critical things to say about Krugman: "He can’t let go of all the bromides he has absorbed over many years as a professional economist," he says, tarring him with the same brush as Robert Rubin and Alan Blinder....(Remainder.)

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GOP Establishment Bails on Latest Teabagging Hate-Fest

By Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story


The organizers of the latest round of Tea Party protests must be wondering whether the Fourth of July is the right time for political activism.

On a day usually reserved for barbecues, family outings and fireworks displays, the Tea Parties held at some 600 locations across the country appear to have drawn considerably fewer participants than the much-ballyhooed Tax Freedom Day protests on April 15.

Preliminary news reports from Saturday’s Tea Parties suggest public participation fell far short of the April protests. In Morristown, NJ, attendance was down by a third compared to this spring’s event. In Fort Lauderdale, FL, the Sun-Sentinel reports a crowd of “hundreds,” compared to an estimated 5,000 in April.

And in Syracuse, NY — where protesters waved the American flag upside-down — organizers had expected 1,000 people to show, but only 200 did.

Yet warm weather and patio parties may only be a part of the explanation. Unlike with the April protests, the Republican party’s establishment didn’t throw its weight behind this latest round of rallies.

“The collaboration between the official Republican establishment and the Tea Parties has not lasted into June,” writes the Washington Independent. “The RNC has no plans to get involved with any Tea Parties. A spokesman for [House minority leader] John Boehner (R-OH) … said that [Boehner's] holiday plans were private but would probably not include Tea Parties. [Newt] Gingrich will not attend any of the Tea Parties, although he recorded video messages for events in Birmingham and Nashville “at the request of the respective organizers’.”...(Remainder.)

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Fox Nation Smears Ron Reagan

By Ellen
News Hounds


Given that he's the son of St. Ronnie, you'd think that Fox News would have a soft spot in their hearts for his son, Ron Reagan - at least a soft enough spot to fact check their own articles that smear him. But, apparently, politics is thicker than blood on Fox Nation. The "fair and balanced" website falsely claimed that Reagan accused Rush Limbaugh of engaging in domestic violence. Had whoever wrote the article bothered to actually listen to the audio posted as "proof," they would have known that Reagan never said that but was mocking Limbaugh's "humor."

If you click through from the blaring headlines on the home page, you get to a one-sentence article that says, "Ron Reagan: Domestic violence marred Rush's marriages." But the YouTube audio, purportedly from July 1, 2009, and presumably from Reagan's Air America program, says nothing of the sort.

As Media Matters posted, Limbaugh mocked the Obama administration's appointment of a domestic violence czar by saying, "Why do you need an advisor on violence against women? ...Is an advisor going to say... 'Well, in this case it was justified?' 'There are some cases where it's justified?' Why do you need an advisor on this?" Limbaugh went on to say that it was only a ploy "to just establish more executive power."

So Reagan mocked Limbaugh. Reagan began, "Limbaugh... has an issue with the White House's new advisor on domestic violence." In a voice that imitated Limbaugh's Reagan continued, "Why do you need any advice on that? Are there some instances where it's justified and you need an advisor to tell you when? In case, you know, the woman is a Republican and the husband's a Democrat, and it's perfectly understandable why there'd be domestic violence? We're gonna allow for this? What the hell are we doing here?"...(Remainder.)


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Three Theories of Palin's Resignation

By Matthew Cooper
The Atlantic


Sarah Palin's stunning announcement that she'd not only decline to seek reelection as Alaska's Governor in 2010 but that she'd resign her term later this month caught everyone by surprise. After all, can you think of another presidential candidate who resigned their office to seek the presidency? Jimmy Carter and Mitt Romney had left their governorships when they sought the White House. Bill Clinton remained as Arkansas governor when he sought the presidency. George McClellan was fired by Lincoln before he ran for the presidency in 1864. The last person I can think of who left government service to run for the presidency was Dwight Eisenhower who gave up his NATO command in the Spring of 1952 and garnered the GOP presidendtial nomination a couple of months later. That's far different from cutting out of elective office 18 months before you're scheduled to leave.

Okay, so why would Palin do this on a Friday before a holday, traditionally a day for dumping bad news? A couple of theories:

1. She has more bad news to report. There's something going on with her family again. There's more to come with the state's finance. Whatever. There's no good reason for her to suddenly up and quit the governorship, her one claim on elective experience....

(Remainder.)

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Liberalism in America

By Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
The New Mood in Politics (1956)


In a sense all of America is liberalism. "The great advantage of the American," Tocqueville wrote over a century ago, "is that he has arrived at a state of democracy without having to endure a democratic revolution and that he is born free without having to become so." With freedom thus a matter of birthright and not of conquest, the American assumes liberalism as one of the presuppositions of life. With no social revolution in his past, the American has no sense of the role of catastrophe in social change. Consequently, he is, by nature, a gradualist; he sees few problems which cannot be solved by reason and debate; and he is confident that nearly all problems can be solved. It is characteristically American that every war in American history has been followed by an outburst of historical "revisionism" seeking to prove that the war was unnecessary.

It is this birthright liberalism of American society which justified the European political thinkers two centuries ago who saw in America the archetype of primal political innocence. Here, at last, men were free to inscribe their own aspirations in society without the clog or corruption of the accumulated evils of history. "In the beginning," as Locke put it, "all the world was America." This was, of course, an overstatement, since no American could escape the history he brought with him from Europe, any more than he could escape the peculiar stamp of the American experience, especially the ever-receding frontier. But, though extreme, the view was not entirely misleading. The American tabula rasa may not have been totally blank; but it lacked one determining phenomenon in particular of the European scene -- that is, feudalism. As a young American political scientist, Professor Louis Hartz of Harvard, has brilliantly argued in his recent book The Liberal Tradition in America, the absence of feudalism is a basic factor in accounting for the pervasive liberalism of the American political climate.

The absence of feudalism meant the absence of a static and confining social order, and it meant equally the absence of a profound social passion to uproot and destroy that order. It deprived America simultaneously of traditions of reaction and of revolution. The American Revolution was thus a revolution of limited liability, aiming at national independence more than at social change. And since independence, American political conflict has taken place in an atmosphere -- sometimes felt rather than understood -- of consensus. The tensions of the French Revolution still vibrate in the Fourth Republic; but Thomas Jefferson could dispel most of the apprehensions of "the Glorious Revolution of 1800" by proclaiming in his inaugural, "We are all Republicans, all Federalists." There have been few periods of more embittered political feeling in America than the age of Andrew Jackson; but Tocqueville, seeing America in the perspective of France, could not but feel the differences between the Jacksonians and the Whigs to be superficial and trivial.

American historians have not always drawn so mellow a picture of American political history; but these historians, Mr. Hartz argues with some justice, have too often ignored the framework of consensus in their zest for conflict. American campaign oratory, Hartz warns, should never be taken for a sober description of issues; American partisan enthusiasm gives an air of violence to sham battles which the observer would nonetheless be sadly mistaken if he takes for war a l'outrance. And this combination of verbal violence and underlying accord further helps explain the semantic obscurity of American politics. Every one, in one mood or another, has claimed to be a liberal or a conservative -- even Franklin D. Roosevelt to be a conservative, even Herbert Hoover to be a liberal. Such words in the American consensus tend to be counters in a game rather than symbols of impassable divisions of principle....(Remainder.)

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A Republic, If You Can Keep It

By Ian Welsh
Firedoglake


On this Independence Day, let us not just remember those who died that America might have its freedom, but also what they died for.  The truest respect for sacrifice is not to hold a parade, to speak of gratitude or to say fond words; no, the truest respect is to value that which the dead fought for and to continue their fight.

America's founders fought for freedom, we're told, and there's a lot of truth to that, though it wasn't, then, freedom for all.  In the context of the 18th century freedom meant some of what it means today: all men equal before the law, no taxation without representation, freedom to worship as you chose, and so on, but it also meant freedom from the aristocracy, and freedom from inherited power.  "All men equal before the law" was a strike, not against slavery, but against the nobility.  No man should have more rights than another; no man should have power because of who his father was.

America is the land of opportunity, it was said.  Some still say this, and perhaps it's still true.  But the deeper truth is dying.  Inherited wealth and inherited power are on the rise.  For centuries, indeed until somewhere between 10 and 20 years ago, America, amongst all the nations in the entire world, had the most inter-generational mobility.  To put it another way, no matter who your father was, or who your mother was, you could make it in America.  More than in any other nation, in America you had a fair shot.

Now no one would say you can't still make it in America.  No one would say that opportunity isn't still available in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  But the fact, the sad fact, is that amongst Western nations the US now has the most income inequality and the least inter-generational mobility (along with Britain, the nation which follows American policies most closely).   In America it now matters more who your father is, who your mother is, how much money your family has and how many connections it has, than in any other Western nation.  The old European nations are now the land of opportunity, the land where who your parents were matters least....(Remainder.)

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Senator for the KKK, Sessions, Getting Nastier Over Sotomayor Nomination

By mcjoan
Daily Kos


That's a real man bites dog headline, I know, but Sessions has decided to get particularly nasty over an utterly irrelevant issue in the Sotomayor nomination. He's demanded decades worth of paperwork from a Puerto Rican civil rights organization. Sotomayor once served on the board for the group, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Sessions has demanded reams of documents from the organization that weren't written, edited, reviewed, or approved by Sotomayor, acting in her capacity as a board member. Which White House Counsel Greg Craig pointed out in a letter sent to Sessions.
"Perhaps there is confusion about Judge Sotomayor's role with PRLDEF, and that confusion may account for your unusual interest," Craig wrote. "Let me be clear: On Judge Sotomayor's behalf, we submitted all documents the committee requested of her, and we did so in record time."
To which, Session responded:
"During her time there, the organization took extreme positions on legal issues ranging from the death penalty to abortion to racial quotas," Sessions said in a statement. He said it was "absurd" for the White House to call the documents irrelevant.
Because staff that was not under her control or supervision wrote things that she was not in a position to approve or reject. Gottcha. This is pro forma obstructionism from Sessions, another pathetic attempt to try to drum up some kind of real opposition to Sotomayor and to potentially delay the hearings while they wait for irrelevant documents....(Remainder.)

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RedState: Palin Resignation Opens Door to the Left "Gang Raping" Conservative Politicians with Children

By Logan Murphy
Crooks and Liars


(image courtesy of bjkeefe)
The right is collectively imploding over Sarah Palin's resignation, and as with any sort of passing there comes a period of grieving. Two major stages in that process are denial and anger, and the always-classy Erick Erickson of RedState is already showing signs of both:
1. Sarah Palin resigned, I think, to spare her family from more attacks. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Sarah Palin is doing this just days after a very nasty Vanity Fair article where folks like Nicolle Wallace and, according to Bill Kristol, McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt (though I’m told Schmidt is not involved), savaged her.

2. Unfortunately, by resigning,
I think the left and national media will be emboldened to ritualistically engage in the metaphorical gang raping of conservative politicians, particularly those who are female and have children. They’ll decide savaging Palin’s family drove her from office, so the sky’s the limit on the next conservative with kids.
Finally, Erickson goes flat out delusional, comparing Palin's resignation to Obi Wan Kenobi taking one for the team and sacrificing it all to fight the dark side:
4. I’ve had this running thought all day, perhaps because I was watching it on TV in HD for the first time, that this is kind of like Ben Kenobi letting Darth Vader strike him down. Palin is not going to run in 2012, but by doing this she can now become Barack Obama’s worst nightmare, and help rebuild the opposition to Obama. How? Because were she to remain a 2012 contender, she’d keep having stories by anonymous McCain campaign staffers and other 2012 contenders going after her and her family. Take that ambition off the table and it neutralizes a lot of that. So she can focus on candidates and ideas without an ulterior motive focused on 2012.

Read on...
Really? Erick, you know this wasn't about her children. She used them as political props all through the '08 campaign and continued to do it till the bitter end. And in the end, it was her ineptitude and ethical shortcomings that did her in. Perhaps the enduring lesson from this tragic political tale with be that going forward, politicians of all stripes should think twice about exploiting their children for political gain....(Remainder.)

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Meet Senator Jim DeMint, Honduran Coup Supporter and Apologist: Oh, He's Republican Too

By Nikolas Kozloff
BuzzFlash


President Obama has decried it.  The Organization of American States and countries throughout Latin America have condemned it.  The European Union has protested loudly.  The majority of world leaders have raised their voices in opposition, confirmed by a resolution just passed in the United Nations General Assembly.  And yet, one prominent legislator on Capitol Hill has leapt to the defense of the new coup regime which took power in Honduras on Sunday.  That politician is Republican South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was deposed by the military just as he was seeking a non-binding referendum which the Honduran Congress and courts pronounced illegal.  Zelaya’s move was seen as an effort to alter the constitution so he could seek a second term.  Honduras’ Supreme Court said Zelaya’s referendum violated the constitution, a decision which the military has used as a justification for overthrowing the government.  The White House however is not buying these justifications, saying that it’s the military which has behaved unconstitutionally.  “Concerns or doubts about the wisdom of his [Zelaya’s] actions relating to his proposed non-binding referendum are independent of the unconstitutional act taken against him,” an administration official stated.

If you’re still having some doubts about whether what happened in Honduras constituted a coup, consider the following: the military invaded Zelaya’s home, kidnapped the President and forced him to leave the country.  The military then installed an unelected President without due process or adherence to the Honduran Constitution.  On Wednesday Honduras’ new government, spearheaded by former head of  Congress Roberto Micheletti, established a nighttime curfew, suspended personal liberties and freedom of assembly, declared the right to detain suspects for more than 24 hours, and restricted freedom of movement both inside Honduras as well as in and out of the country.  Thousands have protested the new government in Tegucigalpa and union leaders have announced a national strike.
 
Audaciously taking on Obama, DeMint chastised the White House for what he called “a slap in the face to the people” of Honduras.  “The people of Honduras have struggled too long to have their hard-won democracy stolen from them by a Chávez-style dictator,” DeMint remarked.  The South Carolinian, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, went even further, attacking the Organization of American States for “trampling” over the hopes and dreams of a “free and democratic people.”...(Remainder.)

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Obama Wants Liberal Groups (Read: MoveOn) to Stop Pushing Dems to Support Public Option

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


Liberal groups, such as MoveOn and SEIU, and liberal bloggers (such as Jane Hamsher and our own Joe Sudbay) have been pressuring Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu to support the public option in health care reform (i.e., some kind of public health insurance plan). Landrieu has been adamantly opposed to anything resembling a public option. So groups like MoveOn have been running ads against her.

Well, our president will have none of that, He want us all to stop trying to get Landrieu to support a public option. Specifically, he wants them to stop running this ad.

Yes, let's not pressure bad Democrats to support key provisions of the most importance piece of legislation of Obama's presidency, let alone the next decade.

Obama is quickly pushing liberal groups to a make or break moment, I think. Groups like MoveOn can't just agree to stop supporting, and advocating for, key components of the liberal agenda simply because the president asks them to. I mean, sure, MoveOn can. Just as the gay groups have so far rolled over and played dead for the president even as he files briefs defending ant-gay laws, even as he compares their marriages to incest and pedophilia, even as he turns a blind eye towards the two gay service members a day being kicked out under his watch. But MoveOn doesn't lack the spine, and crave the cocktail parties, like our national gay civil rights groups. And now we have the second time that Obama has criticized MoveOn, and implicitly, its members....(Remainder.)

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Libertarian Freedom: Sarah Palin Lies Because...

Sarah Palin Resigns In A Mega-Blizzard of Lies--Revealing A Crucial Difference Between Libertarians and Liberals

By Paul Rosenberg
Open Left


It was a slow newsday, Friday before a holiday, so why shouldn't Sarah Palin suck up all the oxygen in five continents?  If only that stupid Michael Jackson fellah hadn't died the week before, she could have totally pulled it off.  As it was, she did pretty damn well for a couple of hours there.  Her big secret?  Same as it ever was: she lied.  Seven ways from Sunday.  She lied about being cleared in all the Alaska investigations; she lied about their cost; she lied about wanting to serve the people of Alaska; she lied about fulfilling her goals; she lied about people attacking her son Trig; she lied about being like a point guard; she lied when she said "and" and "the".  She spoke, therefore she lied.

Why does Sarah Palin lie?  She lies to get out of trouble; she lies to shift blame; she lies to get even; she lies to get ahead; she lies to hurt her enemies; she lies to amuse her friends; she lies to relieve boredom; she lies to have some fun; she lies because truth is bother; she lies as a key to strategy; she lies because she has no plan; she lies to confuse anyone trying to keep track; she lies to make sense to those not keeping track; she lies for power; she lies because lying works for her; she lies just for the hell of it; she lies because she can; she lies because that's how she expresses her freedom--a very libertarian idea of freedom, I might well add.

Liberals and libertarians are both about freedom, but their concepts of freedom are radically different, and Sarah Palin's compulsive, multipurpose lying is as a good a way as any to approach understanding the differences between them.

In sharp contrast, liberals characteristically express their freedom by telling the truth, inconvenient truths, as Al Gore put it.  Truths about racism and war, such as Martin Luther King told, when speaking truth to power. Truths about the social order and tradition that are not supposed to be said....(Remainder.)

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Fox Nation's Hypocritical Double Standard for Patriotism

By Ellen
News Hounds


Those self-glorifying "patriots" at Fox Nation, the site that brags about celebrating "open debate" and "civil discourse," are attacking Gyneth Paltrow for having the nerve to favorably compare Spain to the United States in certain respects (nowhere in the article does Paltrow say she likes Spain better than the U.S.). The "tolerant" Fox site has blown up Paltrow's photo with the denigrating and distorting headline, "Paltrow Puts Down America Again." The hypocritical irony is that next to the Paltrow put down, is a column from Ted Nugent, the same guy who suggested then-presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should "suck my machine gun, in which he suggests it's time for armed insurrection against the federal government.

As I read the article about Paltrow, I kept wondering where she "put down" America. Maybe Fox was insulted by this:
"(Spain) is so different from the United States. It seemed to have a history, and the buildings are years and years and years old. Here in the United States an old building is about 17 (years old), and over there it's from 500 B.C., it's incredible," she said.

"Also, the way people live over there. They seem to enjoy life a little bit more. They aren't running around as much as in New York. They enjoy time with the family. They don't always have their Blackberries on."

Or was it this:
Paltrow remains close to the family she lived with in Spain, calling them "my Spanish mother" and "my brothers" from Spain. Her success as an actress, she says, hasn't impressed them.

The 36-year-old actress, who is married to Coldplay's Chris Martin, says she talks to her children in Spanish.

"Moses speaks a little bit, but understands everything. Apple speaks a lot," she says.

(Remainder.)


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Jefferson—The Risk of Too Much Confidence in Elected Government

Via Harper's Magazine



It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights; that confidence is every where the parent of despotism; free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy, and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power; that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no farther, our confidence may go; and let the honest advocate of confidence read the Alien and Sedition Acts, and say if the Constitution has not been wise in fixing limits to the government it created, and whether we should be wise in destroying those limits; let him say what the government is, if it be not a tyranny, which the men of our choice have conferred on the President, and the President of our choice has assented to and accepted, over the friendly strangers, to whom the mild spirit of our country and its laws had pledged hospitality and protection; that the men of our choice have more respected the bare suspicions of the President than the solid rights of innocence, the claims of justification, the sacred force of truth, and the forms and substance of law and justice. In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, From the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, from: Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, vol. 4, p. 543 (1907)

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Thomas Paine—An American Liberal Lion

By Rev. Robert Vincguerra
OpED News


On this July 4th, 2009, America is facing a crisis, though unlike the crisis she faced when the Quaker pamphleteer wrote "The Crisis" in 1776, the United States born out of that crisis faces ones of poverty, inequality, debt, under-education education, and tyrannical opposition to personal freedoms. Once again, these are the times that try men's souls.

First, the author of this article would like to underscore that he is aware of conservative movements to garner Paine as their own hero; recalling a forgotten American revolutionary and conjuring up the great man as a bastion of conservative ideals.

I say nay to the those who would paint the great Thomas Paine as a sympathizer with the cause of modern conservatism, and specifically I cast shame unto one Bob Basso, a man who is not a great pamphleteer who writes for the benefit of all mankind, but one who is a horrid jester, a propagator of lies, and performs for the musings of those who purposely contort Paine's spirit like so many decrepit whores.

I extend this condemnation also to Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and all other similar manner of infinite intellectuals whose goal it is to willfully pervert the message and sprit of Paine through willful and calculated deception.

On the Liberalism of Thomas Paine

The conservatives who tout Paine's name today are the very ideological kin of those who defamed him over 220 years ago for rattling the cages of the establishment. They the kin of men such as Edmund Burke, as British Parliamentarian who condemned Paine's views of "The Rights of Man" in favor of ideals which conserved the political norm.

Indeed, in fact, in truth, and in all right, Thomas Paine is the kin of modern liberals. Not liberals such as William Jefferson Clinton or Harry Reid. No, I think he would have thought them to be too conservative in their actions and too dispassionate in their politics. Paine is the kin of liberals who are far more left than the nations acceptable upper echelon....(Remainder.)

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The Young Turks Reveal FOX's Talking Points on Al Franken

By Adam Green
Open Left


Last month, when Stephanie Taylor and I turned the tables on FOX's Griff Jenkins, he had "no comment" when asked about the talking points that are distributed to FOX anchors and reporters each morning giving them Republican propaganda to say aloud on the air.

A bunch of examples of these talking points are at FoxAttacks.com/facts.

But last night, the single-best progressive talk show out there -- The Young Turks -- went beyond their great news analysis and entertaining commentary. They broke actual news.

Check out FOX's talking points on Al Franken:




Congrats to Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, Jayar Jackson, David Koller, and Jesus Gadoy for breaking this news....(Remainder.)

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Honor Our Hemp-Raising Patriot Heroes

By Harvey Wasserman
The Huffington Post


It is our patriotic duty to honor our Founding Heroes, America's greatest hemp growers.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison -- virtually all Revolutionary Americans who had access to land -- embraced hemp's critical role in our early economy.

Accordingly, they raised it in mass quantities.

We must now honor them by demanding its immediate legalization, to save our economy and our ecology.

For rope, for paper, for clothing, for food, for fuel, this miracle plant has been a critical crop for cash and survival for 6,000 years, since the onset of ancient China.

Today it is a multi-billion-dollar product there and in Germany and Canada, among other major economies.

There is no rational reason for hemp to be illegal. Some law enforcement "experts" say it resembles marijuana, and therefore must be banned.

What are they smoking? Certainly not hemp, which gives its imbibers little more than a splitting headache and a nasty cough.

Today, marijuana is the largest cash crop in many states and regions of the United States. A billion dollars-worth of it was purchased under medical auspices last year in California alone. Properly taxed, its users freed from our overcrowded prisons, pot's legalization could offer a giant step out of our financial morass....(Remainder.)

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NOM's Resident Ass-Faced Closet Case Hate Merchant, Maggie Gallagher, Doesn't Trust Men Who Want Children

By Kyle
Right Wing Watch


Yesterday, Jim Burroway pointed out that professional anti-gay activists had quickly sezied on the arrest of Frank Lombard and begun "using this horrific crime as 'proof' that all gay people are unfit to be parents."

This sort of thing is to be expected from the likes of Paul Cameron, but I have to admit that I am a little surprise to see it also being made by Maggie Gallagher in this column saying that she has a deep suspicion "of men who want to get close to children while depriving them of mothers":
Adoptions are government acts. What did his fellow social workers who approved this adoption know? What did they overlook? What questions didn't they ask because, well, he was "in the club" -- one of them?

Adoption is the way we strip a child of his or her natural protection -- his mom and dad -- and the government steps in to give this baby a new and better father or mother. Preferably both, I say. But I'm old-fashioned.

I have a bias in favor of mothers. I have a suspicion (let me be frank -- I'm not proud, but it's true) of men who want to get close to children while depriving them of mothers. Yes, let me be politically incorrect: On the whole I would prefer two mothers to none at all for a child.

How do children do who are raised by only fathers? Not that well, actually -- on average, I hasten to add.

Maybe gender doesn't matter at all. But maybe it does. Are we allowed to ask? To wonder?

Yes, I know, women fail babies too. But I would be happier if children were not deliberately deprived of mothers by other adults in their lives.

(Remainder.)

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Rush Limbaugh is Still a Big Fat Idiot

And so are his Fox News pals, who lambasted Sen. Al Franken's "stolen election"

By Joe Conason
Salon.com


Reuters/Eric Miller (foreground); AP/Craig Lassig Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., shown at rallies in Minneapolis Nov. 4, 2008 (foreground) and Wednesday in St. Paul.
It wasn't surprising when, after seven months of legal wrangling, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared that Al Franken had won the 2008 Senate race against incumbent Norm Coleman. Still less surprising (although vastly more entertaining) was the simultaneous breakdown of nearly all of Franken's adversaries on the right, whose regurgitated insults, whining complaints and exploding noggins revealed nothing about him or his victory -- and everything about them.

Upon learning that Franken had prevailed in a unanimous decision by his home state's highest court, the usual suspects on Fox News Channel and in the Limbaugh wasteland of radio immediately threw up a barrage of furious invective. Wasting no time on gracious concessions, they concentrated on two themes. First: Franken himself is wild, spiteful, menacing, bigoted and, most of all, deranged (as must be anyone who voted for him). Second: Franken's ascension to the Senate is tainted by the process, which his opponent insisted on prolonging.

Sadly, the most notorious Franken antagonist, Bill O'Reilly, was absent from the airwaves on the evening of Franken's victory. Demure guest host Monica Crowley seemed bemused by the Minnesota outcome. But Glenn Beck, in his semiliterate way, heaped on enough abuse to keep Billo's fans satisfied for the moment. "It shows how crazy our country has gone," he began. "It shows that we've lost our minds. It's like we've slipped through a wormhole. It's like, this look likes the country I grew up in, but no -- Al Franken would never be a senator … We have entered a place to where there isn't statesmanship anymore."...(Remainder.)

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Who Is He, Why Is He, and Why Are We Putting Up with This?

By JO
Square State


He is Michael Bennet.


He wants his first foray into elective politics to be the United States Senate, known hereinafter as the House of Princes, a chamber reputed to offer lifetime employment and emoluments to those sent there once, even though most Princes never achieve anything.

In some recent posts here, reporting on campaign appearances by Prince Michael, I have detected some sense of respect for him that goes beyond the normal respect that might be accorded to any random person lurking about in denim pants, given that we are all born equal. I have read suggestions that it was to his credit that our latest (though not by much) princling was willing to take time out of his busy, busy schedule as "one of the most powerful" people in the [country] [world] [universe] [history of mankind] to answer questions of humble voters in out-of-the-way corners of the Square State.

All of which raises a question in my mind: HUH?

I will grant that the process of getting elected to office both demands and builds, over time, certain qualities in a person: the ability to understand complex issues and how they affect ordinary people. The ability to articulate both needs and solutions. The ability to inspire confidence in a wide variety of people of differing backgrounds, social classes, and personal situations.

Michael Bennet has shown none of these. Maybe he will do so, but heretofore he has chosen another route: The Way of The Tap. Tapped to be an assistant to the Mayor. Tapped to be superintendent of schools without putting in a single hour educating anyone. Tapped to be a United States senator without ever demonstrating any of the skills needed for the job: the ability to get elected, the ability to function effectively in negotiations with other Ambitious Super-Egos (pardon me, Dr. Freud, the phrase is too good to pass up), the ability to resist the siren call of Mother Moola and her Minions....(Remainder.)

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Does Franken Solve the Filibuster Problem?

Don't break out the champagne quite yet: The Democrats' supermajority is just as much a curse as it is a blessing.

By Terence Samuel
The American Prospect


When Al Franken is sworn in as the new junior senator from Minnesota next week, there will be endless talk about the long interregnum between Election Day and his oath-taking. People will chatter about his unlikely journey from Saturday Night Live funnyman to the U.S. Senate. And there will be even more talk about how his victory gives Democrats the 60 votes they need to end GOP filibusters and tighten their grip on the Senate. But nothing is quite what it seems.

While these things are all true, they will turn out to be less consequential than they now appear. For starters, the long battle leading up to Franken's victory is an oddity, but it's certainly not novel. In 1974 when Louis Wyman and John Durkin ended up in a dead heat for a New Hampshire Senate seat, it fell to the state Senate itself to sort things out -- the body took 11 months to decide it could not choose a winner and call for a new election. For much of that time, Durkin and Wyman sat at the back of the Senate chamber listening to the interminable debate about their fates.

Then there's the question of whether Franken's sense of humor will help or harm his effectiveness as a senator. This issue will probably turn out to be moot since he has spent the last two years trying to convince everyone how serious and unfunny he is. Even at his best, he is not the sharpest wit in the Senate. Indeed, Franken may be the second-funniest senator from Minnesota, since Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a certified laugh riot.

On the more serious issue of the Democrats' 60-vote threshold, much has already been said. But the supermajority will not be as potent a tool as some expect. Clearly, it will be held up as further evidence of the GOP's decline. But it will also raise the expectations among frustrated Democratic constituencies, who will see this development as the final piece of leverage needed to move the progressive agenda forward. With Barack Obama in the White House, and solid controlling majorities in both the House and the Senate, it will be harder to blame Republicans for stalling the Democratic agenda....(Remainder.)

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Did a Scandal Sink the U.S.S. Palin?

The suddenness of Sarah Palin’s resignation raises questions about whether a coming scandal caused her to leave office. Max Blumenthal looks at one possibility.

By Max Blumenthal
The Daily Beast


CNN and other major news outlets have reported that Sarah Palin has abruptly resigned as governor of Alaska. The suddenness of her announcement raises the question about whether Palin resigned to avert a major scandal. One logical place to start looking is the affair that has Alaska political circles buzzing: an alleged scandal centered around a building contractor, Spenard Building Supplies, with close ties to Palin and her husband, Todd.

Many political observers in Alaska are fixated on rumors that federal investigators have been seizing paperwork from SBS in recent months, searching for evidence that Palin and her husband Todd steered lucrative contracts to the well-connected company in exchange for gifts like the construction of their home on pristine Lake Lucille in 2002. The home was built just two months before Palin began campaigning for governor, a job which would have provided her enhanced power to grant building contracts in the wide-open state.

SBS has close ties to the Palins. The company has not only sponsored Todd Palin's snowmobile team, according to the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett, it hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004.

Though Todd Palin told Fox News he built his Lake Lucille home with the help of a few "buddies," according to Barrett’s report, public records revealed that SBS supplied the materials for the house. While serving as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin blocked an initiative that would have required the public filing of building permits—thus momentarily preventing the revelation of such suspicious information.

Just months before Palin left city hall to campaign for lieutenant governor, she awarded a contract to SBS to help build the $13 million Wasilla Sports Complex. The most expensive building project in Wasilla history, the complex cost the city an additional $1.3 million in legal fees and threw it into severe long-term debt. For SBS, however, the bloated and bungled project was a cash cow....(Remainder.)

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Totalitarian Rightist Put Orwellian Spin on Honduras Coup

By John Nichols
The Nation


To hear Rush Limbaugh and the tribunes of the totalitarian right tell it, everything is going swimmingly in Honduras.

Yes, the military invaded the home of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya with guns blazing, kidnapped the country's elected leader and forced him to leave the country.

Yes, the military then installed an unelected president and a new "interim" cabinet.

But, says Limbaugh, "It really wasn't a coup. It was the constitution being upheld. It was not a government being overthrown. It was a government being upheld, a government being sustained and getting rid of somebody who wanted to turn into an Ortega, who wanted to turn into a Chavez, who wanted to become a Castro, and these are the people our president of the United States is siding with."

Reading from the same script, Fox's Sean Hannity declared it was "mind-numbing" that the Obama administration would side with the world community to condemn the removal of Zelaya by the military and its political allies. No one will debate Hannity knows a good deal about what it takes to numb a mind. But his spin on this issue establishes a new standard for braindead thinking by the totalitarian right that has so besmirched the good name of old-right, anti-interventionist conservatism as it was once practiced by Ohio Senator Robert Taft and Nebraska Congressman Howard Buffett, and as it continues to be espoused by Texas Congressman Ron Paul and the publications such as The American Conservative....(Remainder.)

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Obama Taps Conservative and Chicago Donor to Ambassadorships

By Catalina Camia
The Oval at USA Today


The latest list of President Obama's nominees for ambassador posts includes conservative law professor Doug Kmiec, who raised eyebrows during the campaign by endorsing the Democrat.

Kmiec, who teaches at Pepperdine University in southern California, is being tapped to be ambassador to Malta, an island nation in the Mediterranean. He was head of the Office of Legal Counsel for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Kmiec wrote a much-discussed article last year about why Catholics should endorse Obama. (Malta, by the way, is predominantly Roman Catholic.)

Obama also tapped fellow Chicagoan Fay Hartog-Levin to be ambassador to the Netherlands. A former executive at the Field Museum and a legal adviser to the Illinois Board of Education, Hartog-Levin is now in public affairs and media relations. She has donated to Obama's campaigns and to Democratic causes.

You can search Obama's campaign donors with the help of our friends at the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics....(Original.)

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Expect Violence When Phelps Clan Protests at Jackson's Funeral



By Max P.

The Progressive Puppy


Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed the odious Westboro Baptist Church a victory by refusing to consider a Missouri court's order barring the state from enforcing its new law restricting protests near funerals.  To Fred Phelps and his shrill band of homophobes, this was an Anything Goes permission slip allowing them to continue imposing their unique brand of hatred on grieving families across the country.

I wonder if WBC realizes its members will soon be placed in an explosive situation that might easily result in violence - and possibly bloodshed.  (I do hope they're not stupid enough to put their children in harm's way.)

In the wake of Michael Jackson's death, the Phelps clan - no doubt emboldened by this recent SCOTUS decision - has been busily making plans to protest the legendary pop star's funeral.  WBC just announced that church members will rally on July 7th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to denounce the singer's "sinful life" and "Praise the Lord" for sending him to hell.  If past demonstrations are any gauge, they'll be milling around with their cheap megaphones and offensive signs and tacky tee-shirts, shrieking their outrage at the United States of Sodom.  They will be loud and aggressive.  (Their main purpose, after all, is to inflict pain on those who have suffered the loss of a loved one.)

Westboro's press release reads:  WBC TO PICKET FUNERAL OF FAG MICHAEL JACKSON AT THE STAPLES CENTER, 1111 S. FIGUEROA STREET, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA  (Tue., July 7, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.)

God Hates Fags, Fornicators, Pedophiles, Adulterers, Icons.  MICHAEL IS IN HELL.  DEAL WITH IT.

The protest is unlikely to go unnoticed by hardcore Jackson fans, some of whom can be excitable in their devotion to the singer.  When Jackson's followers see that first "Michael Is Burning In Hell For Being a Fag" poster, there won't be enough police officers in the state of California to prevent the violence that will erupt....(Remainder.)

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Leading Clerics Defy Ayatollah on Disputed Iran Election

By Michael Slackman and Nazila Fathi
The New York Times


CAIRO — The most important group of religious leaders in Iran called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate on Saturday, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.

A statement by the group, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, represents a significant, if so far symbolic, setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final. The government has tried to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes more difficult — if not impossible.

“This crack in the clerical establishment, and the fact they are siding with the people and Moussavi, in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic,” said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. “Remember, they are going against an election verified and sanctified by Khamenei.”

The announcement came on a day when Mr. Moussavi released documents detailing a campaign of fraud by the current president’s supporters, and as a close associate of the supreme leader called Mr. Moussavi and former President Mohammad Khatami “foreign agents,” saying they should be treated as criminals....(Remainder.)

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Tea Party Movement Loses Steam

By David Weigel
The Colorado Independent


While South Carolina’s political establishment wrestles with the fate of Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Ron Parks has already moved on. He’s one of the organizers of a July 4 Tea Party in Charleston, a rally that will celebrate America and protest the way that President Barack Obama is governing it.

April 15 Tea Party in Washington, DC (Aaron Wiener)
“We had 6,000 people show up at the last Tea Party in Charleston, on April 15, when [Gov.] Sanford spoke,” said Parks, a contractor who lost his job earlier this year and quickly found work as a volunteer with the Tea Party movement. “We’re expecting fewer people this time, but I’d love to have to eat my words.”

With no great fanfare and little national media coverage, the people who organized the April 15 Tea Parties are gearing up for a new day of protests against government spending and higher taxes. Hundreds of rallies will take place, at least one in every state, in public places and in parks rented out for the occasions. Many of the same people are involved. Most of the conservative organizations that aided the last rounds of rallies are on board for the sequel, such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. A proliferation of sites run by those groups and sites run by grassroots activists are pointing curious activists to rallies ranging in size from barbeques to a rally in Dallas that organizer Phillip Dennis promises will be “the biggest Tea Party in the history of Tea Parties.”

In the run-up to the first round of Tea Parties, conservative activists were aided enormously by coverage from Fox News and the endorsements of many Republican stars. Fox News ran dozens of segments about the events, dispatching five of its stars — Sean Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, John Gibson, Glenn Beck, and Neil Cavuto — across the country to cover them live. Newt Gingrich endorsed the events, speaking at a Tea Party in Times Square and dispatching talking points to protesters through his American Solutions organization. Dozens of Republican members of Congress spoke at the events. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele passed up an opportunity to attend a Chicago Tea Party after being denied a speaking slot, but in May he told RNC members that the tide was turning against the Obama administration because “change is being delivered in a tea bag.”...(Remainder.)

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