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The Sotomayor Hearings - Branding the Neo-Confederates

Monday, July 20, 2009

By Paul Loeb
The Huffington Post

If you read the liberal blogosphere, you know about Senator Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions's history of dubious racial statements. If you're following on most of the mainstream media, you don't. You might even buy the Alabama Republican's not-so-subtle assertion that Sotomayor is a "racist" -- discriminating against whites -- while Sessions is above any considerations of color. This will change only if some Democratic Senator on the judicial committee (though probably not Al Franken) calls Session on his game, and calls him on his history.

Sessions, as you may know, was rejected for a federal court seat after calling the NAACP "un-American" because it "forced civil rights down the throats of people." He also called a white attorney a "disgrace to his race" for litigating voting rights cases on behalf of African Americans. And during a murder investigation of the Ku Klux Klan, he joked, as black former assistant US Attorney Thomas Figures testified in Sessions's original hearings, about how he had no problems with the Klan until he discovered they were pot smokers. He also warned Figures to "be careful what you say to white folks." It's ugly stuff, and consistent with his racially charged questioning of Judge Sotomayor: He said she should have voted with a fellow Puerto Rican judge whose opinions he endorsed, asking, "Is there any instance in which you'd let your prejudice impact your decisions?"

But the major media still hasn't covered Sessions's history. It's too loaded, jarring, and ugly. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin did raise related issues, saying: "What's worth noting about what Jeff Sessions -- the line of questioning, was that being a white man, that's normal. Everybody else has biases and prejudices ... but the white man, they don't have any ethnicity, they don't have any gender, they're just like the normal folks."

But the worst of the history remains largely buried, and therefore invisible to most of the public. For that to change, some Democratic senator on the judicial committee must breach Senate decorum, and say bluntly and unequivocally that someone with Sessions's history can't say Sotomayor's relationship to her racial identity makes her less fit to be a Supreme Court Justice. They'll have to say that so strongly that the major media has to cover it, and therefore make it central to the hearings....(Remainder.)


Off the Rails: Geraldo Rivera Asks if Harry Potter & True Blood Promoting the Occult?


‘Blessed’ Trader Accused of Fraud in a Ponzi Scheme Targeting Chrisianists

By Larry Hartstein
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As news of Bernard Madoff's $65-billion Ponzi scheme horrified investors nationwide last winter, The Gresham Co. of Peachtree City assured customers their funds were safe.

But they weren't, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The agency has charged Eldon A. Gresham with running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. He specifically targeted Christians, according to the complaint, claiming he was successful because the "Lord had blessed him."

He said he was offering his program to "a limited number of Christians for a limited time."

Gresham portrayed himself as a highly successful foreign currency trader. Starting in 2004, he solicited more than $15 million from at least 75 customers by promising monthly returns of 5 percent to 10 percent.

But at most, Gresham deposited just over $2 million into his trading accounts, according to the CFTC. He paid off certain customers with money coming in from new ones. But starting in May or June of this year, none of the customers who asked for the return of their investments got their money back.

"Prospective customers were told that Gresham's trading program involved very little risk," the complaint states. "Gresham consistently communicated bogus monthly returns to Gresham customers through e-mails."

The agency also named as "relief defendants" in the civil action Gresham's longtime friend, Werner H. Beiersdoerfer of Calera, Ala., and Gresham's son, Kirk Gresham of Newnan. The complaint alleges Beiersdoerfer received $4.4 million and Kirk Gresham $413,000 in customer funds "as a result of [Eldon] Gresham's fraudulent conduct."

A federal judge has frozen the assets of all three defendants and set a hearing for July 23.

A call to Eldon Gresham's home was not immediately returned Thursday.

U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Patrick Crosby, citing Justice Department policy, said he could neither confirm or deny that his office had begun a criminal investigation....(Remainder.)


Peter Orszag Calls Out GOP & Blue Dogs for Obstruction of Health Care Reform


Corporate Hack, Gregory, Allows McConnell to Lie About CBO Analysis of Health Bill

By Media Matters

During the July 19 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, host David Gregory did not challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) mischaracterization of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis of the effect of the House Democrats' health care reform bill on the number of people without health insurance. McConnell claimed that "according to CBO," the House Democrats' health care reform proposal does not "really dramatically ... decrease the number of uninsured." In fact, in its July 17 analysis of the House bill, the American Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, CBO stated that based on the specifications of the legislation provided by the committee staff, the bill "would yield a significant increase in the number of Americans with health insurance." Specifically, CBO concluded that by 2019, the number of "nonerlderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 37 million, leaving about 17 million nonelderly residents uninsured."

From CBO's July 17 analysis:
The legislation would establish a mandate to have health insurance, expand eligibility for Medicaid, and establish new health insurance exchanges through which some people could purchase subsidized coverage. The options available in the insurance exchange would include private health insurance plans as well as a public plan that would be administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The specifications would also require payments of penalties by uninsured individuals, firms that did not provide qualified health insurance, and other firms whose employees would receive subsidized coverage through the exchanges. The plan would also provide tax credits to small employers that contribute toward the cost of health insurance for their workers.

Collectively, those provisions would yield a significant increase in the number of Americans with health insurance. By 2019, CBO and the staff of JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 37 million, leaving about 17 million nonelderly residents uninsured (nearly half of whom would be unauthorized immigrants).


Liasson Says Liberals Oppose "Constructionists": Williams Says Roberts Has Been "Activist"


Peter Orszag Slams Chris Wallace's Bullshit Specter of "Rationing"


Fucktard O'Reilly Still Being a Opprobrious Racist Ass Over Michael Jackson

By Priscilla
News Hounds

Bill O’Reilly, who mourns the demise of the “white, male, Christian, power structure," just doesn’t understand why anybody would dare criticize any remarks which he makes about African American culture – a subject that he, clearly, is not an expert on! After he expressed utter surprise that blacks, at Sylvia’s Harlem restaurant, used cutlery, had table manners, and didn’t scream “give me my m-fing iced tea,” he just didn’t comprehend why people felt that his remarks were – ah – insensitive at best, and racist, at worst. And despite the conservative credo of taking responsibility for one’s actions and comments, Papa Bear said that “the media fabricated the controversy.” Recently, O’Reilly just couldn’t understand why Michael Jackson is a black icon. He made some remarks that were later challenged and while he did offer an apology, he used the segment to justify his position and chastise the chastisers! Once again, we saw how the no spin zone is a little wobbly.

On July 8th, O’Reilly interviewed Republican NY Congressman Peter King who had recently made disparaging remarks about Michael Jackson. During the interview, O’Reilly claimed that Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush had implied that King was a racist. The “Reality Check” segment of the July 13th Factor, titled “Who’s Demanding that O’Reilly Apologize to Him,?” began with O’Reilly claiming that Congressman Rush was “angry” with him. He then played and read a comment issued from Rush’s office in which the congressman said that he never called Congressman Peter King a racist and that he (Rush) did not “play the race card.” The comment continued: “To millions of African American children, specifically, (Jackson’s) story of being born to a working class family in Gary Indiana, to becoming one of the world’s greatest starts…illustrates the value of hard work…For Rep. King to use Jackson’s death as a springboard to a campaign for a US Senate seat is unacceptable.” O’Reilly concluded that the use of the term “African American, specifically", (said very loudly after which O’Reilly makes a face while looking stage left) “that sounds like a race based argument to me.” King was the one denigrating Jackson. Rush pointed out the reality that Jackson’s story was inspirational to African Americans. Was that a "race based argument" - don't think so. O’Reilly then had to admit that Rush didn’t call King a racist on the earlier show and added that Rep. Rush has an open invitation to appear on the Factor. O’Reilly then repeated the word, “specifically.’

The next section of the program was a video of Lewis Farrakhan, during an interview with an African America interviewer, speculating that Jackson changed his appearance because he “wanted to improve” himself by altering his appearance and the “evidence is there” that Jackson didn’t want to look black. O’Reilly didn’t say anything; but looked very smug....(Remainder.)


Perfidious & Abhorrent Ass, Ralph Peters, Wants Taliban to Kill Captured Soldier

By Ellen
News Hounds

Julie Banderas interviewed Fox News contributor, “strategic analyst” Lt. Col. Ralph Peters last night (7/19/09) about the capturing of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban in Afghanistan. “How do we get him back safely?” Banderas asked Peters. Peters alleged that Berghdahl deserted his unit and, even worse, had collaborated with the enemy during a video recently released by the Taliban in which an obviously fearful Bergdahl called for Americans to bring the soldiers home. Peters’ shocking answer: “If (Bergdahl) walked away from his post and his buddies at wartime... I don't care how hard it sounds, as far as I'm concerned, the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills.” Peters seems to have a penchant for murder. A few months ago, he suggested the military ought to kill war journalists. <(H/T antman 11 of DailyKos, who also has the transcript of the discussion, and reader Tim)....(Original.)


The 50% Myth: Taxes, Conservatives and Single Payer Health Insurance

By JMadison
The Smirking Chimp

I recently had an exchange here with a conservative who brought up what we call in the tax business "the 50% myth". In other words, taxes are so high here that they suck up more than 50% of your income between state, local and Federal taxes.

I've taken this one on before. Truth is, you could get kinda close, but not 50%.

Let's take the example of Mr and Misses example:

They're self-employed (so you can't accuse me of ignoring the employer portion of FICA). They have $250,000 of self-employment profits, and $200 of interest income (they apparently aren't real thrifty, or maybe all of their savings is in retirement accounts). Since self-employment profits are the most heavily taxed of all income, I use that for this worst-case scenario.

Let's put them in a high tax locale, Mountain View, CA. They own a $600,000 home (a bargain there, but they are available). Oddly enough, they somehow forgot to itemize their deductions (which they should be able to do with a mortgage on a $6000 home), but I did this to maximize their tax hit. I did allow them to take a $7200 adjustment to income for their $600/mo health premiums, though. Self-employed folks get to do that.

They spend $70,000/yr on goods subject to sales tax, and buy 1200 gallons of gasoline per year. They don't smoke, but they do drink a bottle of wine every night....(Remainder.)


The Cause of My Life: Ted Kennedy Speaks Out on Health-Care Reform

Inside the fight for universal health care.

By Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

In 1964, I was flying with several companions to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention when our small plane crashed and burned short of the runway. My friend and colleague in the Senate, Birch Bayh, risked his life to pull me from the wreckage. Our pilot, Edwin Zimny, and my administrative assistant, Ed Moss, didn't survive. With crushed vertebrae, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, I spent months in New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. To prevent paralysis, I was strapped into a special bed that immobilizes a patient between two canvas slings. Nurses would regularly turn me over so my lungs didn't fill with fluid. I knew the care was expensive, but I didn't have to worry about that. I needed the care and I got it.

Now I face another medical challenge. Last year, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center removed part of the tumor, and I had proton-beam radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital. I've undergone many rounds of chemotherapy and continue to receive treatment. Again, I have enjoyed the best medical care money (and a good insurance policy) can buy.

But quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years....(Remainder.)


Iran and Dissent: Where it Counts is at the Ayatollah Level

By Aimee Kligman
Smirking Chimp
Photo:  AP/Hayat News Agency

Now, it's serious.  Not that it had not been serious before, as Iranians were appalled by the results of the recent presidential election and took to the streets and protested, set vehicles and trash cans on fire, were arrested and beaten by police, - and who could forget  beautiful Neda, so brutally shot by thugs, and rising above the violence to represent the voice of the people? But it didn't seem to matter. Five hundred people were imprisoned; Moussavi himself was under threat of arrest for 'disobeying direct orders' from Ayatollah Khameini that Iran had to accept the 'legitimate' results of the election.  That was the turning point of 'serious'.

Though Ahmadinejad was Khameini's little darling, it was perhaps a fatal mistake for the aging ayatollah to align himself with a specific candidate. He lost credibility, prestige, and as reported today, the word on the street in Iran is that people no longer fear him as the voice of ultimate authority. He's just a man. And he's being challenged by one of the most influential and wealthy men in Iran: Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Friday prayers in Iran today were a little different: The setting was Tehran University, where Rafsanjani led prayers for the first time since the June 12th election and seized the moment to pronounce that the country was in 'crisis'.  He expressed his will to help 'save' the Islamic Republic; according to him, the Guardian Council, designated to look into complaints about irregularities, did not do its job properly....(Remainder.)


Pope Benedict: Therapeutic Abortion is Worse than Child Rape

By Max P.
The Progressive Puppy

You may recall the heartbreaking story of a 9-year-old Brazilian girl who was repeatedly raped by her stepfather and consequently became pregnant.  The child had been sexually abused since the age of six.  A medical team in Brazil's northeastern city of Recife performed a therapeutic abortion on the girl, who was four months pregnant.  She was carrying twins.  Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho, impervious to the family's suffering, stepped in and promptly excommunicated the girl's mother, the Ob/Gyn, and the entire medical team involved in the procedure.  He did NOT excommunicate the child's abuser, arguing that the rape of a child was regrettable - but having an abortion was much, much worse.  A conference of Brazilian bishops eventually reversed Sobrino's mass excommunications - but now that reversal has been overruled by the Supreme Pontiff is Rome.

His "Holiness" Pope Benedict XVI has taken the side of Archbishop Sobrinho in this sad case, condemning the mother and everyone associated with the abortion to hell.  PZ Myers writes on Pharyngula:
We now have an official document from the Catholic church clearly stating their position.  Anyone involved in an abortion for any reason is to be automatically excommunicated, no exceptions.  They've actually hardened their position.  That includes nine-year old children raped by their stepfather.  It includes any doctors who act on sympathy for a maltreated child.  Of course, all the rapist has to do is demand that his victim bear his child, and he will be welcomed in the bosom of the holy church.  The church is standing firm on principle.
The Pope's own Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued this statement:
"Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.  The Catholic Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.  (In Vaticanese, that means you get to suffer for all eternity.)  The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy.  (Except, apparently, for sexually abused youngsters.)  Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society."
Progressive Catholics may shake their heads over the pope's intractable position.  They might even concede that they don't agree with every single aspect of Church dogma.  But the fact remains - each time someone drops a dollar into that velvet-lined collection basket, they're not only adding to the vast wealth of the Catholic Church, they're supporting a religious institution that values the soul of a child rapist over the health of a little girl that suffered at his hands....(Original.)


The Obama Haters' Next Move

One hundred seventy soldiers may be on the verge of refusing to serve—because their president might not be a natural-born citizen. Welcome to the world of the Birthers, right-wing conspiracy theorists whose anti-Obama movement is spreading to Congress.

By John Avlon
The Daily Beast
Photo: AP

Last week, a U.S. Army major named Stefan Frederick Cook made news when he refused deployment to Afghanistan on the grounds that President Barack Obama might not be a natural-born citizen and therefore is constitutionally ineligible to give orders as commander in chief. Now Cook’s lawyer says she has 170 more soldiers willing to file similar protests against the president.

Welcome to the world of the “Birthers”—right-wing conspiracy theorists committed to undoing the 2008 presidential election by proving that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. The movement is evidence that Obama Derangement Syndrome is going viral from the far right, proliferating beyond fringe-festival Internet sites. It’s in danger of a quiet mainstreaming along partisan lines—reaching into talk radio, cable news, the armed services, and even the halls of Congress.

The 170 number thrown out by Cook’s lawyer has the feel of Joe McCarthy’s claim that he had a list of 205 communists working in Harry Truman’s State Department—i.e. pseudo-specific, intentionally inflammatory, and bogus. But what’s not in question is the nine Republican congressmen who have co-sponsored a bill that, in response to this much-debunked conspiracy theory, would require presidential campaigns to provide “a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate.”

Asked whether Obama “is a U.S. citizen,” bill co-sponsor Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican, replied: “I don’t know. I’ve never seen him produce documents that would say one way or another.”...(Remainder.)


Sen. Judd Gregg (R-United Health Care) Wants to Force the Poor to Buy Health Insurance

By Stephen C. Webster
The Raw Story

New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg, who was almost President Obama's commerce secretary, thinks he has a solution to America's healthcare crisis. Watch him explain the plan below:

This video is from Fox News Sunday, published to YouTube on Sunday, July 19, 2009.

If you didn't catch that, here's what the senator just proposed:

Force the poor into buying "high-deductible" policies. But don't call them poor. Call them "illegal" or "young people" with wonky spending priorities.

Throw in a subsidy of unknown value to somehow "incentivize" folks who have not seen a doctor in years to suddenly vanish a valuable several hundred dollars from their monthly income for individual or family plans.

Don't mention any way to "incentivize" insurance companies to cover the "uninsurable" due to pre-existing conditions or chronic illnesses, of whom there are many. In fact, ignore them. They're not much concern at the ballot box.

Finally, Gregg's masterstroke: Don't mention that 'high deductible' means insurance which will refuse payment on needed care unless the holder can pay a lump sum to initiate treatment, usually $5,000 - $30,000, or more, which of course is Absolutely No Good to someone who cannot afford decent insurance in the first place. (At which point, many Republicans would suggest "health savings accounts" to fill in the gap, which is also no help to the poor.)

Way to go, Senator. Healthcare crisis = solved....(Remainder.)


Fox News ❤s White Guys

By Julie
News Hounds

In the wake of the Sonia Sotomayor hearings and the there-goes-the-neighborhood type of terror of the white male Republicans grilling her, and after my previous post about O’Reilly and Crowley debate Alan Colmes over an article by Maureen Dowd commenting on the hearings and the ridiculousness of the white male Republicans’ attacks on Sotomayor, I browsed through the video page on Fox News, just for kicks.

After checking out the categories of news and politics, what I figured out was that if the white male power structure becomes extinct, some of Fox News’ video pages will be largely blank, ‘cause I was nearly drowned in a sea of white male faces. Out of the 36 pictures I saw, only 4-1/2 were non-white males (and I’m not sure we can count the photo of Sonia Sotomayor, who was only featured so they could smear her).



Fox News Slags Stimulus Bill for Being Too Republican

By Stirling Newberry

A stopped clock is right twice a day, as the old joke goes, you just have to keep looking at it. Fox News is running with a story about how the states hardest hit by the stimulus bill get the least money. They are right; but they don't tell you why, really. And they don't exactly make sense in many of their measurements. This is sort of what you would expect from them. But let's answer their analysis with the unasked question: "Why?"

For example:
Even after accounting for other factors, each $1,000 in a state's per capita income means that the state got $21 more per capita in stimulus funds. With a spread of almost $38,000 in per-person income between the top and bottom states, this has a sizable impact. High-income states get considerably more stimulus money.
First, this is a bad question. Per capita income isn't a measure of how hard a state is hit by the recession, it is entirely possible that higher income states are hit worse in a downturn than lower income states. People who have farther to fall, have harder to fall, too. Many high income states are markedly more cyclical, which is not unexpected. The real question is which states have seen the largest falls in per capita income; that's a better measure. Second, the stimulus bill, like the one passed in 2008 and the three between 2001-2003, was -- stop me if you have heard this one before -- driven by reductions in income taxes. And as you would expect, lowering income taxes sends more money to states with higher per capita incomes and lower unemployment rates. That's what the ideology of "giving money back to the taxpayer" means. The entire stance of the right wing was that giving money to people who aren't working is to give money to undeserving people. Fox is complaining, no, bitching, that the people they wanted to give money to are the people who got the money.

Note to Fox News: income tax cuts don't help the unemployed, and federal programs that are adjusted by state income go to states with higher income. After pushing for a Republican stimulus bill, Fox News is upset that we got a Republican stimulus bill....(Remainder.)


The Intellectual Dishonesty of Pat Buchanan

By Jed Lewison
Daily Kos

There's much to be said about the shocking display of racism exhibited by Pat Buchanan on MSNBC over the past few days, but let's take a look at the accuracy and relevance of the three of the claims he made yesterday on Rachel Maddow's show.

Buchanan made the claim while attempting to explain why 108 of 110 Supreme Court justices have been white. As you'll see, he's every bit as intellectually dishonest as he is racist.

Buchanan claimed: White men were 100% of people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg

In the strictest sense, this claim is not true -- at least one black solider was killed at Gettysburg. But even though the claim is nearly true, it's intellectually dishonest to claim that it is relevant.

The implicit argument offered by Buchanan is that African-Americans sat on the sidelines during the Civil War. The reality, however, is that by the end of the war, 10% of the Union army was black. 200,000 Union soldiers were black and 38,000 died. Moreover, at the onset of the war, much of the African-American population was enslaved.

Buchanan's claim is a rhetorical attempt to claim moral superiority for whites, but the flip-side of his claim undercuts its absurdity: were it not for racist whites (like Buchanan, who undoubtedly would have sided with the Confederacy), we would never have had a civil war in the first place.

Buchanan claimed: White men were close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy

The 320th Antiaircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion at Normandy

As the above picture shows, Buchanan's claim is wrong. Not only did 2,000 African-Americans storm the beaches of Normandy, but 1.2 million blacks served in World War II. Moreover, it's important to remember that during this time, black soldiers were segregated from white. So even if Buchanan's claim were true, the reason would have been traceable to institutionalized racism, not the moral superiority of white people.

Starting with the Korean War, the U.S. government began tracking deaths by race. Those numbers also refute Buchanan's general claim: in the Korean War, whites comprised 80% of the war dead. In Vietnam, it was 86%. In the first Gulf War it was 76%. So Buchanan's 100% claim just doesn't add up....(Remainder.)


What do GOP Lawmakers Think of Randall Terry's Violence Stoking?

By Christy Hardin Smith

Randall Terry is at it again.  Because apparently the half-skull poster of Sonia Sotomayor and exhortations to his unstable flock about the Angel of Death weren't nearly enough to get him the fundraising haul attention he needed.

In any polite society, his brand of dangerous stoking of the fires of hell would get him shunned by decent people.

In fact, it's well past time that GOP lawmakers were asked -- clearly and without any ambiguity -- what they think of Terry's fire and brimstone violence stoking on behalf of their policy agenda.

Because they cannot have it both ways any more that Terry can.

Using Terry's dangerous rhetoric to push the Republican policy agenda makes them just as responsible for the ends of those means as Terry is.

Either you embrace the violent ends that result from this and take responsibility.  Or you denounce it for what it is:  dangerous violence stoking rhetoric that poses a public threat, and is designed to scare public officials into inaction through threats of violence and retribution against their safety.

Just like it was designed to do with Dr. Tiller.

Here, though?  Terry gets time at the National Press Club to spew his vile, violent venom:
Randall Terry, Founder of Operation Rescue, and other local pro-life advocates will hold a press conference at the National Press Club (529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC) on Tuesday, July 21, at 2:00 P.M. Mr. Randall Terry to discuss what he and other pro-life leaders will and will not do if healthcare passes and includes paying for child-killing, and what convulsions follow.

"Let all those in government be warned: They cannot order people to pay for the murder of babies, and betray God Himself, without horrific consequences." -- Randall Terry...


Mormon ‘Kiss-In’ in Utah Leads to Shouting Match

Isn't is just wonderful to see that the magic-underwear-wearing, homophobic Mormon "Church" continues they're hateful and bigoted behavior?  I'm hoping that the battle over gay rights will kill off this obnoxious cult once and for all.

Second 'kiss-in' on Mormon church plaza in Utah draws shouting match

By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press via The Raw Story
Photo: AP

A mass-kissing protest near the Mormon church temple Sunday drew a shouting match between gay activists and a group of faithful Mormons.

For the second consecutive weekend, about 100 people gathered to stage a "kiss-in" to protest the treatment of two gay men cited for trespassing July 9 after they shared a kiss on the plaza owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both gay and straight couples exchanged kisses during the protest.

Demonstrators were greeted at the south entrance by a group of protesters carrying large signs that denounced homosexuality, prompting a heated verbal exchange.

Police say no one was arrested or cited, despite a large group exchanging kisses by a reflecting pool at the plaza's center.

"We didn't call the police. We didn't do anything," church spokeswoman Kim Farah said.

The church bought one block of Salt Lake City's Main Street to build a plaza in the 1990s alongside the Temple, where Mormon marriages and other religious rituals take place.

Matt Aune has said he and his partner, Derek Jones, exchanged a modest kiss at the plaza 11 days ago, but church officials contend their behavior was lewd.

"There was much more involved that a simple kiss of the cheek," Farah said in a statement Friday. "They engaged in passionate kissing, groping, profane and lewd language, and had obviously been using alcohol."

The men have said they were walking home from a nearby concert and cutting through the plaza on their way home....(Remainder.)


GOP: Sotomayor: Racism

By Adam Zyglis
The Buffalo News


North Fort Myers Marine Was Born Leader

Can someone PLEASE tell me what in fresh hell we're still doing in Iraq and Afghanistan?  As a consequence of the Bush Crime Family's pointless wars, as well as Obama's capricious adherence to his predecessor's policy; America's finest  young men and women are being slaughtered.  This policy of American hegemony is wrong and should end immediately!

North Fort Myers sergeant was a week from end of his final tour

By Dave Breitenstein
Fort Myers News Press

Soldiers aren’t made; they’re born.

That was evident when Michael C. Roy was growing up in North Fort Myers.

“He knew he wanted to be in the military since a very early age,” said his father, Sgt. Michael Roy of Punta Gorda. “His older brother was in the Gulf War, in the Army.”

The younger Roy, a 25-year-old Marine, was killed Wednesday by a sniper in Afghanistan, joining more than 5,000 soldiers who have died in the Middle East since 2001. Fifteen of those are from Lee County, including 13 Army veterans and two Marines.

Roy was on his third tour of duty, a week from returning to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for good.

He enlisted Sept. 25, 2001, two weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and often talked about stopping terrorism, al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden.

“He wanted to protect his country and wanted his children to grow up without war,” said Julie England, a longtime neighbor whose children befriended Roy. England also served as Roy’s home-school teacher for ninth grade.

Roy and his wife, Amy, had three children: Olivia, 4; Mikey, 2; and Landon, 11 weeks. After Mikey was born, Roy struck a deal: He could stay home for a year if he returned for a third tour of duty. Roy was in Afghanistan when Landon was born, but his father said the military granted him a one-week release last month to visit his newborn.

Roy was a graduate of Academy High School in Fort Myers, partaking in its accelerated program that allowed him to graduate in 2001 at the age of 17. Three months later, he enlisted with the full support of his father.

Initially trained as a rifleman, Roy was promoted to sergeant in October 2005. The Department of Defense lists numerous decorations, including a Navy Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, a Navy Unit Commendation, three Navy Meritorious Unit Commendations, two Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a Humanitarian Service Medal, four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons and a NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

“You couldn’t ask for a better leader as your sergeant,” said Cpl. John Wood, 23, a Marine stationed in Parris Island, S.C., who served under Roy for his first two tours in Iraq. “You couldn’t ask for a better person. If there was anything you needed, he would take care of you.”...(Remainder.)


Abandon the CA Ship

By Daryl Cagle


Florida Fundraising Shows Democratic Threat to GOP Rule

Alex Sink's fundraising success could mean trouble for GOP

The Democrats' early success in fundraising could spell trouble for Republicans in the 2010 governor's race.

By Marc Caputo
The Miami Herald

TALLAHASSEE --  Republicans, beware.

For the first time since the GOP won control of state government in the mid 1990s, the Democratic Party and its leading candidate for governor together raised more money than their Republican counterparts at the start of a gubernatorial election season.

Alex Sink, the state's Democratic Chief Financial Officer, raised almost $1.3 million to Attorney General Bill McCollum's $1.04 million, since April 1. The Democratic Party raised nearly $2 million, while the Republican Party of Florida raised almost $1.2 million.

First, blame the bad economy for the turn of fortunes.

Many big-donor Republicans tend to hail from the development and finance industries, which are crashing. Democrats rely more on lawyers, unions and small donors who haven't been as devastated by the housing industry meltdown.

Republican Gov. Charlie Crist's success in financing his U.S. Senate race may also be hurting McCollum's 2010 fundraising. Crist has leveraged the power of his office and personality to raise a record-setting $4.3 million.

''There's not much money out there, and Charlie Crist is taking a lot of it that McCollum needs,'' said Republican operative Roger Stone. ``Charlie is the first to ask for money and the likeliest to get it.''

Sink has been hitting up donors for months as well.

Though the Democratic edge isn't large and the 2010 elections are more than a year away, campaign finance data shows Sink is cutting into Republican territory.

Sink, whose office helps regulate insurers, received at least $100,000 each from the insurance and development industries, according to a Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times analysis of the campaign-finance quarter that ended June 30....(Remainder.)


Vatican Investigates ‘Legionaries of Christ’

The Catholic Church looks into cult allegations — and $1,000 hams.

By Jason Berry
Global Post
Photo:  "Vows of Silence"

Editor's note: A sweeping Vatican investigation of an international religious order — and the cult of personality built around its founder — has just begun in Rome. Five bishops are delving into the finances and internal dynamics of an organization suspected of influence peddling. Award-winning investigative reporter and author Jason Berry has tracked these events for years in a book he co-authored and a documentary he produced on events leading to the Pope's decision to investigate. In this exclusive report for GlobalPost, Berry breaks new ground on the Vatican investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, and the case against Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder.

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI recently appointed five bishops from as many countries to investigate the Legionaries of Christ, a religious order founded in 1941 by the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest who is accused of sexually abusing young seminarians, and who left a grown daughter who was born out-of-wedlock.

Even after death, Maciel wields power through the influence he secured.

While the American Catholic Church has been publicly battered by two decades of priest sexual abuse scandals that erupted in the press and devastated church finances with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on compensating victims and legal fees, the Maciel scandal has gone largely unnoticed by most of the American press.

There's a reason: For decades, the Legion shunned the media while Maciel cultivated relationships with some of the most powerful, conservative Catholics in the world. He also forced his priests and seminarians to take vows never to criticize him, or any superior. The legion built a network of prep schools and an astonishing database of donors. In Maciel's militant spirituality, Legionaries — and their wing of lay supporters, Regnum Christi — see themselves as saving the church from a corrupted world. Behind the silence he imposed, Maciel was corrupt — abusing seminarians and using money in ways that several past and present seminarians liken to bribery, in forging ties with church officials....(Remainder.)


Yes Another 'C Street' Republican Cheated on His Wife

By Pareene

The C Street townhouse of "The Family," the secretive cult of Christian congressmembers, is a den of sin. John Ensign lived there. Mark Sanford sought counsel there. Now we learn a former congressman carried on an affair while living there!

This is an example of good things coming to those who wait. Back in late 2007—many years ago, in the distant and forgotten past!—Representative Charles W. "Chip" Pickering Jr. was supposed to be the next Senator from Mississippi. And then he rather suddenly retired from the House, because he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Then he divorced his wife, weirdly!

But almost two years had to pass before anyone learned the wonderful details.

Now, Pickering's estranged wife Leisha has filed an "alienation of affection" lawsuit against Pickering's mistress, so that we may all learn all about his terrible affair.

Pickering, of course, lived at C Street, with the Family, all of whom live their lives according to the teachings of Jesus, and all of whom pay below-market rents, because they live in what is classified by the IRS as a Church.
Leisha Pickering alleges that some of the "wrongful conduct" on the part of the woman accused of breaking up the Pickering marriage "occurred and accrued" in Washington, D.C., "at the C Street Complex."

A source familiar with the C Street group said it is difficult to envision a resident carrying on relations with a mistress in the townhouse where he lived with other lawmakers.


Same-Sex Couples Seek Immigration Benefits

Gay-rights groups hopeful for inclusion, which might threaten bills' passage

By The Associated Press
Photo: Paul Sakuma (AP)

WASHINGTON - Judy Rickard took an early retirement and a reduced pension so she could be assured of more time with her partner, a British citizen whose stays in the U.S. are limited to six months.

Rickard, 61, would have preferred to keep working at San Jose State University and sponsor her partner, Karin Bogliolo, for residency in the United States, just as heterosexual couples can. But U.S. law does not allow for that.

"If you're going to have a system that's designed to keep families together, it should focus on keeping families together," Rickard said.

That could soon change, as more than 100 lawmakers in the House and about 20 in the Senate have signed onto bills that would add the U.S. to the 19 countries that already recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes.

Gay rights groups are encouraged that President Barack Obama has signaled that he would like to include couples like Rickard and Bogliolo in the bills.

"In many ways, the stars are aligning to move this forward as part of a comprehensive bill," said Steve Ralls, communications director for the advocacy group Immigration Equality. "That's an opportunity we didn't have years ago."...(Remainder.)


Leahy to GOP: "Stop the Racial Politics" on Sotomayor

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post

The two top officials on the Senate Judiciary Committee left niceties at the door when they held a joint appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday.

Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) accused the Republican Party of playing "racial politics" with the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor, even declaring that the leaders of the GOP had called her a "bigot" and the "head of the KKK."

"I have no idea how many [Republican votes] she'll get in committee or on the floor," said Leahy. "But she will have Republican votes... She deserves it. Now, I understand [Sen.] Mitch McConnell and I've worked with Sen. McConnell on different things. But like the other leaders of the Republican Party, he came out very, very early against her and he doesn't want to change his mind. You had one leader of the Republican Party call her the equivalent of the head of the Ku Klux Klan. Another leader of the Republican Party called her a bigot. To Sen. McConnell's credit, he has not used those things, but the leadership of the Republican Party came out against her long before we ever had the hearing, long before they had a chance to look at her record. I think that's unfair."

"I hope we don't go back to the day when we used to put African Americans up for confirmation and say yes, but you belong to the NAACP so we're really suspicious of you," Leahy added later, refering to Republican concerns about Sotomayor's involvement with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund. "Come on, stop the racial politics," he said....(Remainder.)


The Most Misunderstood Man in America

Joseph Stiglitz predicted the global financial meltdown. So why can't he get any respect here at home?

By Michael Hirsh

Anya Stiglitz was in the middle of a Pilates class in Central Park on an April morning when her cell phone rang. Glancing down, she saw "202" pop up—no number attached—and knew it was the White House. An aide to Larry Summers was on the line, looking for her husband, the Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. Anya said she'd pass on the message to Joe—then went back to work on her abs. No big deal, she thought. People often call her when they want to talk to Joe, because even though he's spent four decades figuring out how the global economy works, he hasn't quite gotten the hang of voice mail. "He doesn't listen to his messages, so if you want to talk to him, keep calling," Anya says on his cell-phone recording.

Anya figured Summers, Obama's chief economic adviser, was probably just calling to gripe about Joe's latest op-ed in The New York Times. Joe Stiglitz and Larry Summers, two towering intellects with egos to match, are not each other's favorite economist. "They respect each other, but they hate each other like poison," says Bruce Greenwald, Stiglitz's friend and academic collaborator at Columbia. ("I've got huge admiration for Joe as an economic thinker," Summers told NEWSWEEK.) Stiglitz had been hammering at Obama's economic team for its handling of the financial crisis. He wrote that the stimulus program was too small to be effective—a criticism that has since swelled into a chorus, though Obama says he's not adding more money. Stiglitz also had called the administration's bailout plan a giveaway to Wall Street, an "ersatz capitalism" that would save the banks' investors and creditors and screw the taxpayers. "I thought, Larry—he's just going to yell at Joe," Anya recalls.

But Summers's aide soon called back, and this time he said it was urgent: could Professor Stiglitz come to Washington for a dinner hosted by the president—that same night? Anya patched him through to Joe's office at Columbia University; Stiglitz accepted, and jumped on an early train. He was a little miffed: the other eminent economists attending the dinner, like Princeton's Alan Blinder and Harvard's Kenneth Rogoff, had been invited the week before. Stiglitz, a former chairman of Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, had supported Barack Obama as a candidate as early as 2007. But until that day, four months into the administration, he had heard barely a word from the White House. Even now, when the president was making an effort to hear a range of economic voices, Stiglitz seemed to be an afterthought. (A White House spokesman said only that the president wished to include Stiglitz.)...(Remainder.)


President is Set to 'Take the Baton'

As Skepticism on Health Reform Mounts, He Will Intensify His Efforts

By Michael D. Shear and Shailagh Murray
The Washington Post
Image: Haraz N. Ghanbari (AP)

Six months into his presidency, Barack Obama may have no greater test of his ability to translate personal popularity into a successful legislative agenda than the upcoming two weeks.

With skepticism about the president's health-care reform effort mounting on Capitol Hill -- even within his own party -- the White House has launched a new phase of its strategy designed to dramatically increase public pressure on Congress: all Obama, all the time.

Senior White House aides promise "an aggressive public and private schedule" for Obama as he presses his case for reform, including a prime-time news conference on Wednesday, a trip to Cleveland, and heavy use of Internet video to broadcast his message beyond the reach of the traditional media.

"Our strategy has been to allow this process to advance to the point where it made sense for the president to take the baton. Now's that time," said senior adviser David Axelrod. "I don't know whether he will Twitter or tweet. But he's going to be very, very visible."

Another senior White House aide added: "It's time to raise the stakes on this."

But even as Obama returns to full-time campaign mode, he is facing increasing calls to show that his presidency can manage the tough, nitty-gritty of lawmaking by cutting deals with his allies to keep his health-care legislation moving in the House and Senate committees....(Remainder.)



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