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Coast Guard: Still in Deep Water?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009



The Coast Guard's "Deepwater" modernization program was plagued by problems. One whistleblower says it still is.

By Nick Baumann
Mother Jones


Last week, the Coast Guard kicked off construction of the 418-foot Stratton, engraving the initials M.O. into the ship's keel in honor of Michelle Obama. The Stratton will be the third of eight so-called "National Security Cutters" that are set to be the crown jewels of the service's revamped fleet. But the first lady may have lent her name to a flawed vessel, for critics of the new ships maintain that their communications systems are likely vulnerable to interception and that the Coast Guard's entire modernization program is ridden with major problems.

The Project on Government Overight (POGO) and Michael DeKort, a former Lockheed Martin engineer, have been leading the charge against the new ships. In 2006, DeKort recorded a whistleblowing YouTube video that claimed the Coast Guard's $25 billion, 25-year-long modernization effort to modify or replace nearly all of its ship and helicopters, known as Deepwater, was in trouble. Since then, DeKort, POGO, and members of Congress have criticized Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, the two main Deepwater contractors, for alleged mistakes in building and refitting ships and equipment.

One of the key issues that plagued Deepwater refits of older ships was a failure to meet electronic security standards that normally prevent foreign powers from eavesdropping on military communications, DeKort claims. He now says electronic security on the new National Security Cutters—like the one with Michelle Obama's initials—could be just as problematic. (The Coast Guard and its contractors dispute DeKort's allegations about electronic security on both the older ships and the new cutters.)...(Remainder.)

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Racism Is the Prime Cause for Debunked Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy Theory

The "birther" conspiracy has been utterly debunked, yet more GOP establishment figures have embraced the transparently racist cause.

By Liliana Sequra
AlterNet


By now, everyone has heard of the "birthers," that rabid crop of self-appointed patriots who insist that Barack Hussein Obama is not a legitimate president because he is not really an American citizen.

What was once a nasty little rumor in the early days of the presidential race has since evolved into a full-blown conspiracy theory whose proponents, though "viewed as irrelevant by the White House, and as embarrassing by much of the Republican Party," in the words of Politico's Ben Smith, nonetheless enjoy increasingly high-profile political support, and media coverage "9/11 truthers" could only dream of.

The birthers' conspiracy theory -- which holds that Obama was born in Kenya, despite all evidence to the contrary -- has long been debunked. The Obama camp released a copy of his birth certificate as early as June 2008, although that only seemed to fan the flames.

Yet, last week the "birthers" became big news again, after a video emerged showing Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., confronted at a town hall meeting by a woman who angrily accused him of being complicit in the coverup of Obama's true origins. Castle, who is commonly labeled a "moderate Republican" -- and whose subsequent remark would earn him the label "RINO American Traitor" in some corners of the Internet -- seemed genuinely perplexed....(Remainder.)

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Human Speed Bump, Glenn Beck, Compares Hitler Youth to AmeriCorps

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Texas Curriculum Review Sparks Debate About Religion

Does Religion Have a Place in American History?

By Emily Friedman
ABC News

The debate about whether to teach religious-based social studies in Texas public schools has dominated a broader discussion about the schools' curriculum, which is undergoing a review by state officials hoping to improve the nation's second-largest school system.

The outcome could possibly influence the textbooks used by students in other parts of the country where there appears to be little or no lobbying for such religious-based material.

Of the six experts appointed in the spring by the 15-member Texas Board of Education to review the state's K-12 curriculum, three have said they would like to see more attention paid to the religious aspects of American history....(Remainder.)

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Petition Opposing Hiring of Alberto Gonzales Gaining Signatures

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record

Seventy professors at Texas Tech University have signed a petition protesting the hiring of Alberto Gonzales and accused the college’s chancellor of nepotism in bringing the disgraced former attorney general to campus to teach a political science class.

According a copy of the petition obtained by the Texas Tech’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, the nine-page petition, which includes an appendix, calls Gonzales’s one-year professorship “a troubling example of a ‘celebrity hire’” and claims that the hiring of Gonzales by his “good friend,” Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance, “cannot be seen as a commitment to ethical conduct.”

Hance was a Democratic member of Congress for six years. He switched parties, becoming a Republican in 1985. Hance said in a July 7, news release that Gonzales will bring “expertise” and “experience” to Texas Tech and “prepare our students for success.” Hance did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment about the allegations .

“It is unclear what Gonzales has done that makes him deserving of employment at Texas Tech,” the petition states. “Does he have a noteworthy academic record? Does he have a record of publishing in law reviews? Was his service to his country particularly distinguished?”...(Remainder.)

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America Is Rarely This Softspoken

High-level negotiations in Washington between the US and China reflect a growing sense that the two powers are on top of the world. But for the first time in decades, the US is taking a remarkably conciliatory tone with its Asian rival.

By Andrew Curry
Der Spiegel
Photo: AP

In an ambitious two-day summit in Washington, top officials from the United States and China met this week to discuss a wide range of issues. Everything from the climbing US deficit to North Korean missile programs was on the agenda as the two countries worked to put their relationship on a more solid footing.

The meeting's tone was a change from past US-China summits, when the US has been the one to level accusations and make demands of its Asian rival. With China holding massive amounts of American debt in the form of Treasury securities -- up to $1.5 trillion, by some estimates -- Washington has been scrambling to reassure the Chinese that the US economy is stable and the dollar will hold its value.

At the same time, the two countries discussed foreign policy issues, including China's increasingly belligerent client and neighbor, North Korea.

German commentators watched the proceedings warily, wondering where China's interests lie and whether Europe will be pushed to the political margins if Washington pushes ahead with a kind of G-2 with Beijing....(Remainder.)

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A Reality Check on a Reality Check

For years, Canadians have feared the American health care system; now Americans are being told to fear ours.

By Julie Mason
The Ottawa Citizen


I'm a secret CNN fan. I just can't get enough of those talking heads with their gleaming teeth, wet-look lipstick and perfect coiffures. Even at 4 a.m., some gorgeous thing with flawless makeup (men and women) will be gushing about important affairs of state like Michael Jackson or that philandering governor from South Carolina.

Every once in a while, CNN will notice there's a country north of the 49th parallel that has some weird little customs, like parliamentary democracy or gun control. They then venture forth to do in-depth analysis of our quaint habits for the benefit of the enlightened viewers of, let's say, Kentucky.

Kentucky is to blame for the latest CNN investigation of Canada -- a "Reality Check" on Canada's health care. It seems the state -- known for fried chicken and racehorses -- is also home to Senator Mitch McConnell, a high-ranking Republican of impeccable conservative credentials. Senator McConnell does not like President Barack Obama's plan to reform health care, and he's decided to use Canada as a weapon to help him fight the battle.

As CNN reported, McConnell recently made a speech to the Senate referring to the "bureaucrats who run Canada's health care system" and using the Kingston General Hospital as an example of the horror of Canada's health care. KGH supposedly had waits of 340 days for knee replacement and 196 days for hip replacement. McConnell also fussed that Ontario's wait time for breast cancer surgery is three months. CNN did interview Dr. David Zelt, KGH's chief of staff, who pointed out the wait times are actually 91 days for hip replacement, 109 days for knees, and that these aren't the average wait times, but the time that nine out of 10 people have had the procedure. Many have them done much faster. For breast cancer surgery, the wait time at KGH is 23 days, across Ontario it's 34 days....(Remainder.)

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Ambulance Chasers

By Ed Stein
Ed Stein Ink



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Franken Assails Court, Klobuchar Slams Sexism at Sotomayor Vote



By Chris Steller
The Minnesota Independent
Photos: Chris Steller (MnIndy)

Al Franken spewed fire and Amy Klobuchar threw brimstone this morning at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote on Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Minnesotans joined 10 other Democrats and one Republican in approving the nominee, but not before Franken raked the current Court and Klobuchar decried bias against women on the bench (video).

Franken was the last senator to speak before the vote, but his statement was perhaps the most arresting as he threw off the mild-mannered mantle of a first-month senator and threw down a gauntlet over high-court rulings he termed “judicial activism.”

It was a theme that he struck more tentatively during committee hearings and today promised to revisit when the nomination reaches the Senate floor.

“Individual rights, individual protections and individual liberties” are under attack by the current Supreme Court, Franken asserted, pointedly citing other senators on specific high-court rulings with which he found fault.

With a vehemence not yet seen in his short tenure in Washington, D.C., Franken took issue with rulings on abortion, voting rights, price fixing, age discrimination, and corporate entanglement in elections....(Remainder.)



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"The Opposite of Homosexuality isn't Heterosexuality. It's Holiness."

By Dan Savage
Slog at The Stranger

So says Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, the group that helps gays and lesbians "leave homosexuality." Anti-gay religious "leaders" and their nutjob followers point to groups like Exodus and to ex-gays like Chambers as proof that no one has to be gay. If we just dedicate our lives to Christ and pray our little gay hearts out Jesus will heal us and transform us... into what exactly? Not into straight people, Chambers admits in his new book Leaving Homosexuality. Chambers struggled with his homosexuality for twenty years, he says, and he's free now... not straight, mind you. Just, you know, free:
For so long I’ve heard gay activists say to me, “You’re just in denial. You’re not grasping the reality of the situation. You’re just denying who you really are.” The truth is, I am in denial, but it is self-denial. I’m not in denial of who I used to be. I’m not in denial of the temptations that I could still experience. I am denying the power that sin has over me. Sin does not have any power that we don’t give it, and what I’ve found is that my freedom—and the freedom of others I’ve known who’ve left homosexuality—was centered around denying what might come naturally to us regardless of how it got there. And once you deny sin’s power, you can live a free life.
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Crack Pot at OneNewsNow is Calling the Kettle Black

By James Hipps
GayAgenda.com

This stuff makes me want to scream…but I’ll save my voice for those who have enough of a brain to listen.

The anti-gay OneNewsNow has a post by some far-right wing nut that accuses the state of Connecticut of crossing the line of separation between church and state, not that there is a line that exist.

The crazed, lunatic woman who wrote the post is obviously upset that Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families had included links to resources for LGBT youth on their website.

What she accuses the state of doing is supporting one religion (those who happen to think that LGBT people are human) over those who, like herself, hate the gays and think we should all be exiled.

This is simply the CRAZIEST post I’ve seen yet from any right-sided nut.  Here is someone from the same group of people who have spent millions of tax-free dollars supporting legislation that denies rights to LGBT tax paying citizens and yet because a state DCF site has a link to a resource for LGBT youth, perhaps run by a “Christian” based organization, they are guilty of not maintaining separation of church and state....(Remainder.)

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'Gays Don't Face Discrimination,' says She Who Represents Gay-Discriminatory Group

By Jeremy Hooper
Good As You


This is how Patti Anker, a representative for the Concerned Women For Hatred and Bigotry America of Alaska, recently detailed Ordinance 64, a statewide measure that could bring a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation to Palin country:
"This ordinance is not about equality, it is about special rights," Patti told the Assembly. "Homosexuals have no immutable characteristics like skin color, no economic deprivation, no suffering from a long history of discrimination, and no political powerlessness." Patti pointed out the spurious comparison of the homosexual "rights" campaign to the civil rights movement. "African-Americans should be offended at the audacity of this special interest group to … equate the grievous sufferings of those who were forced to take their battle for equality to the streets."

On a practical note, Patti asked the Assemblymen if any impact studies had been done to determine the effect of this ordinance on the community at large. The Assembly doesn't have systematic "documented cases where someone has been denied access to education, housing, or employment," Patti said.

Lastly, and "most significantly and personally, this ordinance threatens my civil liberties," Patti argued. Patti is a kindergarten teacher at a private school and fears that teaching her students about God's design for marriage would constitute a hate crime under the new ordinance.

Small Actions Make A Big Difference [CWA]
Ain't it interesting how the white, hetero, Christian social conservatives always have soooooo much more insight into LGBT existence, and how our discrimination relates to the bigger civil rights picture? And by "interesting," we of course mean "intensely frustrating," as in: "OMG -- HOW DARE THEY SPEAK ABOUT A HUMAN EXPERIENCE THAT THEY'VE (A) NEVER LIVED WITHIN AND (B) DEDICATE THEIR LIVES TO DECRYING?!?!"...(Remainder.)

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Bad, Even for Newsbusters

By Jamison Foser
Media Matters

Newsbusters' Seton Motley couldn't have screwed this one up more badly if he had tried.  The right-wing media critic picked a fight with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, but only succeeded in making himself look like a fool.

Here's Motley, trying to ridicule Krugman's column about Toyota deciding to open a new plant in Ontario, Canada:
Krugman's Nobel-prize winning economic mind then offers up:
So what's the impact on taxpayers? In Canada, there's no impact at all: since all Canadians get government-provided health insurance in any case, the additional auto jobs won't increase government spending.
Really?  Adding workers brought in from outside Canada to the government rolls won't increase government spending?  A little of Krugman's new math: X plus 5,000 still somehow equals X.
Who said anything about "Adding workers brought in from outside Canada"?  Not Krugman.  In fact, Krugman specifically wrote that Toyota chose Canada in part because of the quality of Ontario's work force. 

Oops....(Remainder.)

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Batcrap Crazy Rep. Foxx says Health Care Reform Will Cause Seniors to be "Put to Death"

Via Media Matters

On July 28, 2009, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) stated on the floor of the House that the Republicans' health care reform legislation, unlike that of the Democrats, would not put seniors "to death."  Besides being a reprehensible accusation, her words are blatantly false.




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Jeffrey Toobin: Answers to Questions

By Jeffrey Toobin
The New Yorker


In her opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Sonia Sotomayor said that she wanted to clear up some questions about her views. “In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy,” she said. “Simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make law—it is to apply the law.” Coming from a jurist of such distinction, this was a disappointing answer. Like much of her testimony, it suggested that the job of a Supreme Court Justice is merely to identify the correct precedents, apply them rigorously, and thus render appropriate decisions.

In fact, Justices have a great deal of discretion—in which cases they take, in the results they reach, in the opinions they write. When it comes to interpreting the Constitution—in deciding, say, whether a university admissions office may consider an applicant’s race—there is, frankly, no such thing as “law.” In such instances, Justices make choices, based largely, though not exclusively, on their political views of the issues involved. In reaching decisions this way, the Justices are not doing anything wrong; there is no other way to interpret the majestic vagueness of the Constitution. But the fact that Judge Sotomayor managed to avoid discussing any of this throughout four days of testimony is indicative of the way the confirmation process, as it is now designed, misleads the public about what it is that Justices do.

The process evolved this way as a response to a political, not a legal, problem. In 1987, Robert Bork engaged the Judiciary Committee in a substantive discussion of his judicial philosophy, and the Senate, quite properly, voted him down, because of his narrow conception of the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights. From this example, Supreme Court nominees took the lesson that the less said the better, and beginning with Anthony Kennedy, who succeeded Bork, nominees have taken to suggesting that simple fidelity to the law was the primary work of a Justice. The stonewalling has been bipartisan, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who testified that “a judge sworn to decide impartially can offer no forecasts, no hints,” to Samuel Alito, who ducked questions about abortion rights by saying, “It is an issue that is involved in litigation now at all levels.” Accordingly, Sotomayor asserted that she will follow Supreme Court precedent and keep an “open mind.” (Though, when it comes to interpreting the Constitution, one can scarcely imagine a worse qualification than an open mind. The issues are difficult and profound and require a lifetime of study to master, and one would hope that Justices arrive with heads full of firm ideas about the document they are charged with understanding.)...(Remainder.)

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Fox Nation Plays Race Card, Again, in Health Care Debate

By Ellen
News Hounds


Yesterday, I joked in my post about Fox News using the Gates controversy to ramp up racial attacks against Obama that Fox might one day suggest that Obama's health care would kill white people. It looks like Fox has already made that claim. At their "fair and balanced" website purportedly devoted to "tolerance," and "civil discourse," Fox Nation is suggesting that Obama's health care bill is a back door bill for slavery reparations. And yep, they suggest that white people will die as a result.

The short Fox Nation post states: "Still believe in post-racial politics? Read the health care bill. It's affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color.President Obama is on the record as being officially opposed to reparations for slavery. But as with other issues, you have to sift through his eloquent rhetoric and go beyond the teleprompter to get at what he really means."

So what is the basis for such a hypothesis? If you click through to the article, an unsigned Op Ed in Investor's Business Daily, it's based on the flimsiest of foundations, Obama's statement to a group of minority journalists pressing him about reparations (which he opposes): "If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionally affect people of color, because they are disproportionally uninsured," the article quotes Obama as saying....(Remainder.)


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“Freedom Isn't Free” — Neither is Health Care

By Joseph A. Palermo
The Huffington Post


The $106 billion the United States insists on throwing at Iraq and Afghanistan each year because George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had visions of a "New American Century" dancing in their heads has, from the start, been a draining expense the nation could ill afford. And this huge outlay of taxpayer cash comes on top of the over $600 billion burned up on the "peacetime" military budget. But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were sold to the nation as moral imperatives, not as taxpayer burdens. The health care debate, so far, has been framed as a taxpayer burden instead of a moral imperative. This framing must change or we'll be waiting another 70 years before we get a just and equitable health care system in this country.

People leading the anti-health care charge, whether they be Blue Dog Democrats, Republicans, Tea Baggers, or Glen Beck, often become dewy-eyed emoting about the "heroism" of our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (as Sarah Palin did yesterday in her farewell address). But they have no real sense of shared sacrifice with their fellow citizens. Nothing illustrates this point better than their fanatical commitment to destroying any progress on health care. Sean Hannity of FOX News has devoted special editions of his show to shilling for the HMO and pharmaceutical industries. Hannity and the others specialize in giving us jingoistic talk about how "freedom isn't free," but they fuse these sentiments with a deep-seated cynicism toward government. On the issue of health care this cynicism crystallizes in the form of disinformation and scare tactics about creeping "socialism." For these folks government can expertly manage foreign wars and occupations, but it can't do a damn thing to help Americans find relief from a predatory private health care system....(Remainder.)

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The Unwinnable War

By Kyle
Right Wing Watch

In yet another attempt to put an end to the absurd Birther conspiracy theories, Hawaii's health director released a statement attesting that she has personally seen President Obama's birth certificate in the Health Department's archives:
"I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai'i State Department of Health verifying Barrack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen. I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago...."

On Oct. 31, Fukino originally tried to put an end to the belief among so-called "birthers" that Obama was not born in the United States and thus was ineligible to run for the office of president.

Despite Fukino's statement today, the issue continued to resonate from Capitol Hill to the national airwaves to the blogosphere.
So how is this playing over at WorldNetDaily (aka "Birther Central"), you ask?  Shockingly, they have dismissed it entirely and responded by accusing Fukino of breaking the law....(Remainder.)

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The Birth of Desperation: Irresponsible Opposition

By Jeff Schweitzer
The Huffington Post

Republicans are imploding, and the resulting compression into a black hole of nothingness is not pretty. Apparently nothing can escape this massive and growing object of right wing infinite density, not even light or logic. As a window into theater of the absurd, we have recently witnessed the governor of Alaska cutting and running, Republicans on the Hill embarrassing themselves trying to legislate an apology from the president, and bizarre extremists questioning Obama's birth certificate long after the false issue was put to rest.

This is the best the opposition can do? They have little to say, and less to say intelligently, about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change, a nuclear Korea, an ascending Iran, an increasingly belligerent Russia, energy independence, or the critical issue of health care reform.

The departure of Palin deserves no further mention other than to point out that her rambling, incoherent speeches prove the point of her irrelevance. More disturbing is the "birther" movement that began in the extreme right wing but metastasized to include moderate Republicans. Their time would be more productively and reasonably spent pursuing Sasquatch, Yeti and the monster lurking just out of focus in Loch Ness.

Hawaii's Department of Health director released a statement in November 2008 verifying the legitimacy of Barack Obama's birth certificate. While state law prohibits officials from releasing the birth certificate of a person to someone outside of the family, officials issued instead the following:
There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama's official birth certificate. According to DOH Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino, state law (Hawai'i Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.
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Mitch Albom's Faulty Tax Math

By Jim Naureckas
FAIR

Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom--best known for his bestseller Tuesdays With Morrie--had a July 25 column that criticized the Obama healthcare reform with an argument that suggested an unfamiliarity with how the U.S. tax system works:
In explaining why it was OK to sock a new 5.4 percent tax on the highest earners in this country--to pay for healthcare reform--President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said this:

"The president believes that the richest 1 percent of this country has had a pretty good run of it for many, many, many years."

Ah. So that’s it. The old "You’ve had it good enough for long enough" policy. That’s why a family earning a million dollars a year should now cough up $54,000 of that--in addition to all the other taxes it pays--to cover healthcare for people who may not pay a penny of new tax themselves.
But a family making $1 million a year wouldn't pay an extra $54,000 in taxes from the proposed 5.4 percent surcharge--because that surcharge would only apply to income beyond the first million dollars of income. A smaller surcharge would kick in at $350,000, and increase at $500,000--but the total tax increase for a couple making $1 million would be $9,000, or one-sixth of what Albom claimed was a "grossly overweighted tax."

This is how taxes generally work, with marginal tax rates that apply to income over a certain level. You'd think that Albom, who has an MBA from Columbia University, would be familiar with the concept. But media outlets have been known to trip up on this subject, even when their stories are prepared in conjunction with tax experts (FAIR Action Alert, 9/22/08)....(Remainder.)

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National Repiglickins Target Markey, Salazar, Perlmutter on Health Care

By Ernest Luning
The Colorado Independent

With health care legislation set to simmer over the August congressional recess, Republicans will be hitting the airwaves with ads aimed at keeping three Colorado Democrats on the hot seat.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has freshman U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey in its sights as part of a “month-long offensive” of television ads and other persuasive measures landing in the districts of Democrats the campaign committee considers vulnerable, Politico reports. “It’s going to be much tougher to get these guys to come back and cast a vote for something they’ve been hearing bad things about over the course of August,” NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said.

The NRCC ads, expected to focus on the cost of health care reform, haven’t started airing yet. “We won’t have more info on the ads for about another week or so,” another NRCC spokesperson tells The Coloradoan’s Bob Moore. But whatever the ads say, they’ll be part of “the greatest stimulus package for local television and radio affiliates in the last 10 years.” Moore points to Democratic strategist Paul Begala’s observation from the Politico article predicting an unprecedented on-air onslaught in swing districts.

The Republican National Committee is also spending nearly $1 million targeting 60 Democratic lawmakers in August with a barrage of minute-long radio ads calling health care reform proposals a “dangerous experiment,” CNN first reported. Included on the hit list are Markey and fellow Democrats John Salazar and Ed Perlmutter.

Noting the RNC plans to run television ads in Nevada, North Dakota, and Arkansas on top of its seven-figure radio buy, The Hill parses the radio campaign’s targets:
The RNC is especially focusing its radio ads in Ohio and Pennsylvania, targeting five lawmakers in the Buckeye state and four in the Keystone state. Congressmen in swing states Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia will also feel the heat.
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Unhinged!

By Rep. Earl Blumenauer
The Huffington Post


Three or four times a month I will preside over House proceedings. While this can occasionally be repetitious, I find it to be a fascinating window into House operations. There is no better seat to watch the interactions of Members - who is talking to whom; who pays attention when someone else speaks. When there are large numbers of people on the floor you can watch patterns develop. It is a great way to understand House-dynamics.

Occasionally, you get more than you bargained for. Today, my two hour stint in the Chair was made up entirely of one-minute speeches. This is a House procedure where Members from both parties come to the floor, and the two sides take alternating one-minute shots talking about everything from critical issues to commemorating a championship high school softball team, to an announcement of legislation that a Member is introducing.

Sometimes, however, it isn't pretty. Today, I literally watched Republicans become unhinged as they attempted to outdo one another on the "evils" of programs being considered by President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. As the Republicans took advantage of the unlimited opportunities for one-minute speeches, dozens of them headed to the floor with competing tales of horror that are allegedly in the Democratic approach to health reform.

I listened as people, theoretically speaking from the same talking points, variously claimed that 4, 5, 6 and even 7 million jobs would be lost as a result of the health care plan. A colleague from Oregon claimed that 114 million Americans would lose their health insurance; that Democrats want to socialize 20% of the economy. In as much as healthcare currently is only 16% of the economy, this is quite a trick. Another Republican talked about how extending health insurance to more than 40 million Americans who currently don't have coverage was somehow going to put government bureaucrats in charge?!...(Remainder.)

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Obama's Military is Spying on U.S. Peace Groups

By Amy Goodman
The Huffington Post


Anti-war activists in Olympia, Wash., have exposed U.S. Army spying and infiltration of their groups, as well as intelligence gathering by the U.S. Air Force, the federal Capitol Police and the Coast Guard.

The infiltration appears to be in direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act preventing U.S. military deployment for domestic law enforcement, and may strengthen congressional demands for a full-scale investigation of U.S. intelligence activities, like the Church Committee hearings of the 1970s.

Brendan Maslauskas Dunn asked the City of Olympia for documents or e-mails about communications between the Olympia police and the military relating to anarchists, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) or the Industrial Workers of the World (Dunn's union). Dunn received hundreds of documents. One e-mail contained reference to a "John J. Towery II," who activists discovered was the same person as their fellow activist "John Jacob."

Dunn told me: "John Jacob was actually a close friend of mine, so this week has been pretty difficult for me. He said he was an anarchist. He was really interested in SDS. He got involved with Port Militarization Resistance (PMR), with Iraq Vets Against the War. He was a kind person. He was a generous person. So it was really just a shock for me."...(Remainder.)



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Health Care vs. White House Beer? Are You Kidding Me?

By Frank Schaeffer
The Huffington Post


Here's what I care about: that the 72 percent of us Americans who want a public option on health care -- so that we can stick it to the insurance companies, who have been sticking it to us -- be heard so we see prices fall. Here's what I don't care about: President Obama having a beer with a member of the Harvard elite and a "respect-my-uniform" cop from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here's what I care about: that I don't go bankrupt trying to pay for health insurance as a self-employed American. Here's what I don't care about: the moron Republicans who say that -- contrary to all evidence - our president was not born in the United States.

Is this former lifelong Republican, now an avid Obama supporter, (I quit the Republican Party notwithstanding my background as a former religious right leader, as have all sane Americans after the Republicans became the party of hate, fear, myth, needless war and obstruction) the only American with a rising sense of fury directed against the divided Democrats, who can't get their act together, in spite of a majority in both houses of Congress, and a progressive president sitting in the White House, when it comes to reforming health care?

Who are these people who have so hamstrung our political system that it looks as if a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform our health-care system may be lost?

It's time for a summer of rage, the kind of thing the French are good at. Where are the burning tractor-loads of dung clogging the streets of Washington? It's time to build a few barricades, hurl a few paving stones and generally shut this country down until our health care system is genuinely reformed and that means that the insurance companies lose and we win. If the Democrats we elected can't do better than to effectively cave to the do-nothing, hate-America Republicans and the sell-your-mother insurance industry who will act?...(Remainder.)

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Basic Facts: They're Important

By Jonathan Chait
The Plank at The New Republic


Last night I noted, with regard to Jonah Goldberg's erroneous beliefs that the stimulus did not include tax cuts and that liberals did not complain about its size at the time of its passage, that it's very frustrating to debate public policy with people who are unaware of the basic facts. The problem seems to be especially acute on health care, an issue conservatives have just never paid much attention to. Thus an enormous swath of right-wing commentary is based on simple factual misunderstandings. In today's Washington Post, Martin Feldstein spews out a lot of GOP talking points on health care, capped off by this gem:
Obama has said that he would favor a British-style "single payer" system in which the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried but that he recognizes that such a shift would be too disruptive to the health-care industry.
Obama has never said that he favors a British-style health care system. Britain does not have a single-payer system. It has a socialized system, where the government directly employs all health care providers. Indeed, if you follow the link in Feldstein's own column, it says, "A single-payer system would eliminate private insurance companies and put a Medicare-like system into place where the government pays all health-care bills with tax dollars." Does Medicare own hospitals and pay doctors government salaries? No. Professor Feldstein, please stop writing about topics you know nothing about....(Remainder.)

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The Financial Truth Commission

By Editors
The New York Times


Congress has pledged to reform the banking system, but too often over the past year lawmakers have chosen instead to shield the financial industry, a big campaign contributor, from accountability.

So the public has every right to ask whether the newly formed Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — created by Congress to investigate the meltdown — can be counted on to put the public interest ahead of political loyalties, professional ties and ideological biases.

The men and women on the panel are accomplished in their fields — business, law, economics and academia — and many have past government experience. They have been chosen to perform a service that is crucial to restoring trust in the markets and in the government; their findings will also inform regulatory reform efforts.

The 10 members — six chosen by the Democratic leadership, four by the Republican leadership — also have long partisan histories and at least one has strong ties to the financial industry.

The Democratic chairman, Phil Angelides, a former California state treasurer, has given, together with his wife, nearly $327,000 to Democratic candidates over the past two decades, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The vice chairman, former Representative Bill Thomas, a Republican, received $1.6 million in campaign contributions from financial, insurance and real estate interests during his nearly two decades on Capitol Hill. He is now an adviser to a law firm that represents banking and financial-services clients....(Remainder.)

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California Republic

By John Sherffius
Boulder Daily Camera



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Sen. Inhofe Claims Oil & Gas Don't Cause Pollution



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Sen Bernie Sanders Gives Orrin Hatch a Nice Big Helping of STFU Over Health Care Reform

By Heather
Crooks and Liars


Go, go Bernie! The one honest man in the Senate takes on Orrin Hatch over health care reform on Lou Dobbs Tonight. Bernie does a great job of shooting down Hatch's fear mongering and distortions.
DOBBS: And turning now to the battle over health care. The Obama administration pushing Congress to pass a bill on health care before the end of this year. But opposition to the president's at least trillion-dollar plan is rising. Many senators including some Democrats are pushing back and pushing back hard.

That is the topic of tonight's "Face-Off Debate". Joining me now, two distinguished senators, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah. Senator, good to have you with us.

And Senator Bernie Sanders, independent from Vermont. Bernie, good to have you with us. We appreciate it, Senator.

SANDERS: Good to be with you.

DOBBS: Let me turn first to the fact that a bipartisan group in the Senate apparently closing on a compromise which we have not heard until just now. Is it to your sense, Senator Sanders, that that is the case?

SANDERS: I really don't know. That's in the finance committee. I think Senator Hatch may know more than I do.

DOBBS: All right. Senator Hatch?

HATCH: Well, I don't know. I'd be surprised if they can put together a program that could be supported by Republicans because they're pushing for, you know, more taxes, more government, and more spending. I don't see how you solve the problem of $2.5 trillion current bill by adding another $1.5 to $2.5 trillion more. But I know they've had a very difficult time because of that government planned approach.

(remainder.)

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Screeching Howler Monkey Michelle Malkin Rehashes Clinton Era Attacks Against Obama

By David Neiwert Crooks and Liars

Michelle Malkin has a new book out. If it's as well researched as her two most recent outings -- which featured the classic right-wing technique of gathering any smidgen of evidence one can find to support a thesis (no matter how dubious or downright false) while carefully excising any smidgen of contradictory evidence (no matter how mountainous) -- it promises to be a real mess.

Malkin was on Sean Hannity's program last night touting it. I was particularly interested in how she described it -- heavy on innuendo, intimations of shady dealings, and a major emphasis on First Lady Michelle Obama as a kind of Machiavellian manipulator running the show from behind the scenes. She labels her "the First Crony."

This has a familiar ring, doesn't it? The wingnut right attacked Bill Clinton relentlessly as a corrupt Southerner involved in shady dealings (think Whitewater or Mena), while the Evil Hillary ran the show behind the scenes. And the mainstream right made heavy use of these attacks.

It's just deja vu all over again.


Michelle Malkin Waiting for Sean Hannity to Shit in Her Mouth

Especially the complete and utter loss of perspective:
Hannity: Now that you've done all this research -- and I'll let the audience, because you really, with great specificity and detail, go into the corruption -- how corrupt is this administration compared to others?

Malkin: Well, I think you have to judge them by their rhetoric. And if you look at the gap between the rhetoric and the reality, this has to be one of the corrupt, most corrupt administrations in recent memory.

(Remainder.)

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Rhinoceros-Jizz-for-Brains Hannity Says Market Doesn't Matter to Him, Then Attacks Obama Over Dow

By Media Matters

On the July 27 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity linked "President Obama's approval rating," which he said "has dropped 7 points in the last month," to "the Dow Jones industrial average," which he noted is "now back over the 9,000 mark." However, as Media Matters for America has noted, Hannity repeatedly blamed Obama for stock losses in March, at one point referring to "Obama's bear market." But when Hannity was confronted on May 1 with the fact that the Dow Jones industrial average had surpassed its level on Inauguration Day, he denied that the market is a proper "indicator" of Obama's performance handling the economy and stated: "The market doesn't mean anything to me."

On July 27, Hannity said: "[T]here's some bad news for President Obama tonight and some good news for Wall Street." After displaying a graph mapping the Dow and Obama's approval rating, Hannity asserted, "Now you can see that as the president's job approval rating crumbles, well, the Dow has been on the rise. Is it just a coincidence? We'll let you be the judge."

Discussing Obama's performance on the economy during the May 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox Business Network anchor Alexis Glick said, "[L]ook at the market in the 100 days. Yes, we went to 12-year lows in early March, but we have re-climbed back to where we were before he was inaugurated." Hannity responded: "The market doesn't mean anything to me. ... Alexis, you're the first person to tell people don't look at the market unless you're in it for five or 10 years, right? All right, so we're not looking at the market." Hannity then added: "But this is the indicator that I'm looking at. The Congressional Budget Office says we're going to have $10 trillion in debt."...(Remainder.)

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Fox's Bret Baier Surprisingly Debunks Myth that Health Bill Would Mandate End-Of Life Counseling

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Dumb-as-a-Sack-of-Doorknobs, Lou Dobbs Manages to Make-Up New Developments in Birther BS

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Donny Deutsch Calls Birthers "Hate-Mongering" "Fear-Mongering" "Racists" on MSNBC

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Dobbs Says He's Going to Continue His Racist Bither Bullshit, No Matter What the 'Brown People' Say

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Suicide Failure & KKK Grand Wizard Wanna-Be Beck Says Obama Hates White People

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Maddow: Racist Jackass Buchanan is Leading a GOP "Southern Strategy Part 2"

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Fucktard O'Reilly Manages to to Debunk Birther BS

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Dr. Maddow Mocks Lou Dobbs' Calling Her "Tea-Bagging Queen"

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