The White House is reportedly concerned that liberals may increasingly, and publicly, push for the US to withdraw from Afghanistan. The problem is that the White House doesn't have that good of a relationship with liberals because it has never seemed to want such a relationship in the past.
The White House makes no bones about wooing conservative Democrats and Republicans on issues ranging from the stimulus package to health care, but when it comes to wooing liberals, we're more likely to hear a senior administration official utter a slur, such as calling Democrats concerned about where health care reform is heading "the left of the left." And even during the campaign, rather than truly work with the blogs and liberal groups, Obama chose to create his own blogosphere on mybarackobama.com, and his own liberal group, Obama for America. It is simply not clear whether the White House, or the President himself, actually "likes" liberals, or considers them a legitimate part of the Democratic party.
The problem is now coming home to roost on Afghan policy, but it's really not limited to that. On health care reform, it's liberals who first called into question the President's fortitude in handling tough issues, and that doubt has now seeped into the public at large. And we've seen how "liberal" gays are able to repeatedly steal the news cycle when the candidate and now the White House forsakes that particular Democratic constituency....(Remainder.)
By Adele M. Stan
When Glenn Beck offers an odd-looking icon for his 9-12 Project, or Sarah Palin says something about her native state that sounds a bit to off-kilter to the ears of those in the lower 48, it's tempting to think, well, they're just nuts.
Perhaps they are, but that's beside the point. The point is that when Beck throws up a graphic of a segmented snake as his project's mascot, or Palin speaks of her native land as the "sovereign" state of Alaska, they're blowing a kind of dog-whistle for the armed and paranoid who make up the right-wing, neo-militia "Patriot" movement and the broader "Tea Party" coalition.
The loose affiliation of right-wing groups under the Tea Party umbrella can make it difficult to discern who's truly dangerous, and who's just an angry blowhard.
For instance, in its report about the resurgence of the militia movement, the Southern Poverty Law Center notes that a Minuteman militia in Southern California uses the Tea Party anthem as its call to arms.
Scott Roeder, the militant anti-abortion activist who is charged with the killing of Dr. George Tiller, counts himself among the members of the patriot movement....(Remainder.)
Photo: David Guttenfelder (AP)
True, he doesn’t seem a bit like Lyndon Johnson, but the way he’s headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency. LBJ also had a progressive agenda in mind, beginning with his war on poverty, but it was soon overwhelmed by the cost and divisiveness engendered by a meaningless, and seemingly endless, war in Vietnam.
Meaningless is the right term for the Afghanistan war, too, because our bloody attempt to conquer this foreign land has nothing to do with its stated purpose of enhancing our national security. Just as the government of Vietnam was never a puppet of Communist China or the Soviet Union, the Taliban is not a surrogate for al-Qaida. Involved in both instances was an American intrusion into a civil war whose passions and parameters we never fully grasped and could not control militarily.
The Vietnamese Communists were not an extension of an inevitably hostile, unified international communist enemy, as evidenced by the fact that Communist Vietnam and Communist China are both our close trading partners today. Nor should the Taliban be considered simply an extension of a Mideast-based al-Qaida movement, whose operatives the U.S. recruited in the first place to go to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.
Those recruits included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attack, and financier Osama bin Laden, who met in Afghanistan as part of a force that Ronald Reagan glorified as “freedom fighters.” As blowback from that bizarre, mismanaged CIA intervention, the Taliban came to power and formed a temporary alliance with the better-financed foreign Arab fighters still on the scene....(Remainder.)
Nearly a year after the federal rescue of the nation’s biggest banks, taxpayers have begun seeing profits from the hundreds of billions of dollars in aid that many critics thought might never be seen again.It was inevitable that the same people who pushed through the multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street would come out later on and tell us what a great idea theirs turned out to be, in retrospect and under the light of evidentiary examination. And we’re getting that now, with a pair of reports, the above one in the New York Times and another in the Financial Times, telling us the bailout is working because the government has made some money on TARP. They came to this conclusion by quoting Fed officials, who apparently calculated how much interest the Fed earned on TARP investments above what it would have earned on T-bills. The amount so far, according to these worthy gentlemen: $14 billion.
via As Biggest Banks Repay Bailout Money, the U.S. Sees a Profit – NYTimes.com.
This is sort of like calculating the returns on a mutual fund by only counting the stocks in the fund that have gone up. Forgetting for a moment that TARP is only slightly relevant in the entire bailout scheme — more on that in a moment — the TARP calculations are a joke, apparently leaving out huge future losses from AIG and Citigroup and others in the red. Since only a small portion of the debt has been put down by the best borrowers, and since the borrowers in the worst shape haven’t retired their obligations yet, it’s crazy to make any conclusions about TARP, pure sophistry. Moreover, a think tank set up to analyze TARP, Ethisphere, calculated in June that TARP was still $148 billion down overall, a debt of over $1200 per American. To start talking about what a success TARP is now is beyond meaningless....(Remainder.)
The Raw Story
According to a watchdog group and a litany of whistleblowers, Armorgroup North America, a key U.S. security contractor in Afghanistan, has suffered a breakdown of its chain of command resulting in an atmosphere in which "sexual predators and "deviants" are being allowed to "run rampant" at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
The nonprofit Project On Government Oversight (POGO) said on its website it had sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton detailing the problems, which also include language barriers between Nepalese Ghurkas and other guards.
It said it had obtained many emails, photographs, and videos that "portray a Lord of the Flies environment," referring to the title of the novel by William Golding about stranded school boys who turn into savages on a desert island.
Some of the activities mentioned include deviant hazing rituals in which guards were urinating on each other and drinking liquor from another's buttocks. A CBS News report published Tuesday carried video which showed a contractor being urinated on.
In the letter dated September 1, POGO said it launched its investigation after around one-tenth of the 450 guards and supervisors responsible for security at the embassy contacted the group....(Remainder.)
The New York Times
Civilian contractors working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan not only outnumber the uniformed troops, according to a report by a Congressional research group, but also form the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel recorded in any war in the history of the United States.
On a superficial level, the shift means that most of those representing the United States in the war will be wearing the scruffy cargo pants, polo shirts, baseball caps and other casual accouterments favored by overseas contractors rather than the fatigues and flight suits of the military.
More fundamentally, the contractors who are a majority of the force in what has become the most important American enterprise abroad are subject to lines of authority that are less clear-cut than they are for their military colleagues.
What is clear, the report says, is that when contractors for the Pentagon or other agencies are not properly managed — as when civilian interrogators committed abuses at Abu Ghraib in Iraq or members of the security firm Blackwater shot and killed 17 Iraqi citizens in Baghdad — the American effort can be severely undermined.
As of March this year, contractors made up 57 percent of the Pentagon’s force in Afghanistan, and if the figure is averaged over the past two years, it is 65 percent, according to the report by the Congressional Research Service....(Remainder.)
By Steve Krakauer
The other big star at Fox News besides the usual hosts we write about here (Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck) would be Sean Hannity, who’s ratings each night make him the #2 or #3 cable news host on television.
Last night on his Great American Panel, he featured FNC regular and longtime Democratic strategist Bob Beckel, right-wing regular Erick Erickson of RedState.com…and Playboy cover model and “singer” Aubrey O’Day. The conversation, inevitably, moved to masturbation.
First some background: for those unfamiliar with O’Day, she’s a former member of P. Diddy’s female pop group, Danity Kane – she’s about five steps below Lady Gaga and one step above Heidi Montag. For those unfamiliar with why she’s featured on Fox News during prime time, we’re not too sure.
But despite confused glances from Beckel and Erickson throughout the lengthy segments, O’Day was well spoken and knowledgeable, especially when discussing a recent UN report on sex education guidelines (yes, somehow two separate stories related to sexual practices of five-year-olds were on cable news yesterday).
But the highlight of the back-and-forth took place later in the show, when Beckel and Erickson joked about the “masturbation of five-year-olds” and “Playboy covers” and O’Day turned the tables on the boys. “You boys never wondered what you were doing and wished to be educated about it earlier than you were, are you going to sit up there and tell me that?” she asked....(Remainder.)
Minnesota Post via CIR
The Center for Investigative Reporting sought to examine documents from fusion centers in both Denver and St. Paul to better understand what roles they played in the security preparations for last year’s Democratic and Republican national conventions. But authorities in Colorado refused a public-records request sent by CIR.
The Colorado Information Analysis Center is run by the state’s Department of Public Safety. In a response letter, Spokesman Lance Clem said that releasing the records would be contrary to the public interest and “not only would compromise [the] security and investigative practices of numerous law enforcement agencies but would also violate confidentiality agreements that have been made with private partner organizations and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.”
The Denver Police Department, for its part, has a history of conducting activities that concern civil libertarians today – spying on individuals engaged in peaceful activities. As a result of a lawsuit filed in 2002 by the American Civil Liberties Union, hundreds of pages of records became public proving that starting in 1953, Denver police spied on as many as 3,200 individuals and 208 organizations. The list contained not only suspected criminal elements but also human rights, education and peace groups such as Amnesty International and the American Friends Service Committee.
Police collected names, home addresses, personal descriptions and other information on individuals, including writing down license plates of vehicles used by those attending peaceful protests. This appeared to be in violation of a city policy prohibiting the collection of intelligence “unless such information directly relates to criminal conduct or activity and there is reasonable suspicion that the subject of the information may be involved in criminal conduct or activity.”
Some of the targets were designated in the records as “criminal extremists” despite being clearly nonviolent. The records also showed that an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force collected information and created files “on the activities of peaceful protesters who have no connection to terrorism or any other criminal activity,” according to the ACLU....(Remainder.)
By Editorial Board
Christian Science Monitor
With fewer jobs for Americans these days, are there fewer jobs that Americans won't do?
The answer will influence whether Congress decides to grant amnesty to some 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, perhaps by next year.
Most illegal workers in the US are Mexicans who mow lawns, clean motel sheets, butcher hogs, pick strawberries, and otherwise toil away at tasks that, as George W. Bush once said, "Americans won't do." And they often are paid less than the minimum wage.
A widely held assumption in Washington's debate about immigration is that native-born Americans avoid menial and dirty work. Laid-off autoworkers wouldn't really wash dishes at a Denny's or milk cows on a dairy farm, would they? Such a notion has long helped justify a flow of foreign workers into the US – or possibly an amnesty for those hiding from the law.
Recent recessions have been short enough that jobless Americans who rely on government benefits waited for a "good job" to return. But this "Great Recession" has been long and deep. The unemployment rate has doubled from 4.7 to 9.4 percent, and it may keep rising into next year. Many layoffs appear permanent as whole industries have collapsed and new fields, such as clean energy, are slow to emerge. The percentage of Americans "mal-employed" – working below their skill or education – is higher than in recent recessions....(Remainder.)
A Chilean judge has ordered the arrest of 129 former soldiers and police accused of purging critics of former dictator General Augusto Pinochet.
The suspects - the largest group so far to face arrest warrants - all worked for the secret police agency, Dina, during the Pinochet dictatorship.
They are accused of taking part in killings and disappearances of dozens of leftists and opposition activists during the so-called "dirty war" waged under Pinochet's rule over Chile between 1973 and 1990.
The identities of those named in the warrants issued on Tuesday were not released.
Ordering the arrests Judge Victor Montiglio said the 129 were members of the army, air force and uniformed police who worked for the Dina.
Their alleged crimes were said to have been committed as part of Operation Condor, the Colombo Operation and the Street Conference, campaigns which targeted opponents of military regimes in Chile and other South American nations.
"We are investigating all who have participated ... in the deprivation of liberties of the victims," Montiglio said.
"We are much nearer the end" of the process, he added....(Remainder.)
I'm not a big fan of petitions, but in this case, it's getting the media's attention, and that's good. CNN:
An online petition demanding a formal apology from the British government for its treatment of World War II code-breaker Alan Turing is gaining momentum.(Remainder.)
Turing was subjected to chemical castration in 1952 after being found guilty of the charge of gross indecency for having a homosexual relationship, an illegal act at the time. He committed suicide two years later....
Turing was best known for inventing the Bombe, a code-breaking machine which deciphered messages encoded by German Enigma machines during World War II.
The messages provided the Allies with crucial information from the British government's code-breaking headquarters in Bletchley Park where Turing worked full-time during the War.
This is rich! Faux news (a.k.a Fox News) posted a piece about some college students crying over spilled milk. Well, not exactly spilled milk, but it may as well be. The group of young Republicans at the University of Toledo are claiming they've been victims of discrimination by "liberal professors", and they're doing something about it. They're making a list of all those mean liberals…not sure what they plan to do with it, but they're making a list.
A case of the oppressors becoming the oppressed? Nah, just some spoiled rotten brat who have yet to learn that homophobia and bigotry are NOT American values.
Here's an excerpt:
"We've been portrayed in the media, as well as comments from people in the community including College Democrats, saying that we're creating a blacklist in order to smear the names of professors and that's not true," Rubin said. "We're giving a voice to the students that have been harassed because of their political beliefs. It's the same thing as bashing a student because they're gay."I would love to know what this punk @ss knows about being gay-bashed! I'm sure he's been beaten, hospitalized or murdered for being Republican....(Original.)
Portland Press Herald
Supporters of same-sex marriage will hold a fundraiser in Portland on Wednesday featuring Gov. John Baldacci.
The governor, who signed Maine's same-sex marriage law less than an hour after it was presented to him in May, will be the "guest of honor" at the event, said Mark Sullivan, spokesman for the No on 1 campaign.
The legalization of same-sex marriage is the target of a campaign that seeks to have voters overturn the legislation passed this spring.
Baldacci and a majority of lawmakers supported the law. For the most part, lawmakers haven't been active in the subsequent campaign -- on either side.
It's not unusual for top politicians to take part in such campaign events, but Baldacci's appearance could signal a ramping-up as fall begins and Election Day nears.
Tickets for Wednesday's event, to be held at a home in the West End, cost $100. There's also a $250 "friend" level, a $500 "host" level and a $1,000 "sponsor" level.
Sullivan said this will be one of "scores of fundraisers" around the state.
"Raising money is a key part of any campaign," said Ted O'Meara, head of Ted O'Meara Communications, a public affairs and communications consulting firm. His firm is not involved in the gay-marriage campaign.
"When you can take advantage of someone who has good name recognition, who people would want to come and see -- that's pretty much a staple of any campaign," O'Meara said....(Remainder.)
The National Organization for Marriage and other groups opposing marriage equality are facing ethics investigations in both Maine and Iowa.
According to complaints filed with two state ethics boards, NOM has repeatedly accepted large sums of money and functioned as a political action committee (PAC) in those states but failed to disclose the names of its donors.
The executive director of the Maine Commission of Governmental Ethics and Elections, Jonathan Wayne, sent a four-page letter on Monday to Joseph Keaney, treasurer of Stand for Marriage Maine PAC, and Brian Brown, executive director of NOM, seeking written responses by September 17 to charges made by Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate that the two organizations are “laundering money.”
According to the ethics commission letter, potential violations include section 1060(6) of Maine’s election law, which states, “All PACs are required to report the names and addresses of contributors who have given more than $50 to the PAC," and section 1004(3) and 1004-A(3), which states, “it is illegal for a PAC to knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person."...(Remainder.)
Crooks and Liars
Mike Nellis at the Kansas Democrat's blog has more idiocy from this fast rising star of the House Republicans. When asked by a single mother who cannot afford health care and doesn't qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP what her alternatives were:
Jenkins' response? A hardy laugh and the words "go be a grown up."Transcript:
This compassionless, bureaucratic exchange between Smith and Lynn Jenkins' was luckily caught on tape. The footage is incredible in it's detachment from the dire situation that is our health insurance crisis.
Elizabeth Smith: I'm a 27 year-old single mother. I work full-time. I do not have health insurance. My employer does not provide health insurance to me and I cannot afford it privately. Why shouldn't my government guarantee all of its citizens health care?(Remainder.)
Jenkins: Thank you. I'm sorry, maybe you missed my opening remarks, but absolutely. That's why we have Medicaid in the current system and that's why under the alternative proposal we have an option for low-to-modest-income people to be able to afford health care and then we've got the SCHIP program for children. I think we've got all of the bases covered.
Audience member: She's not covered under SCHIP!
Jenkins: OK, if you're not then you're the perfect example for why we need reform and why we need it now but we have to do it right and if we can do an alternative proposal, as I'm suggesting, give you the money to go buy it in a reformed marketplace where it is affordable, that's my preference rather than to saddle the nation with yet another government program when they can't afford the government run programs we have.
Elizabeth Smith: I want an option that I can pay for. I work. I pay my bills. I'm not a burden on the state. I pay my taxes. So why can't I get an affordable option. Why are you against that?
The Raw Story
The Obama White House is pushing back against former Vice President Dick Cheney’s allegation that a probe of unsanctioned CIA torture of terror war prisoners is politically motivated.
“This is the same song and dance we’ve heard since literally the first day of our administration,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday, speaking to reporters in the briefing room.
“I don’t have a lot to say,” he added. “I think [Cheney], if you watched some of his interview, was clearly, uh, clearly had his facts on a number of things wrong.”
Chief among them, though not pointed out by Gibbs, is Cheney’s allegation that the torture techniques were designed to be “safe” and were carried out by “trained professionals.” As RAW STORY reported last week, some of those “professionals” had little more than two weeks of training.
An unnamed Obama administration official further told CNN that Attorney General Eric Holder, not President Obama, made the decision to investigate torture “based on the facts and the law.”
The network’s source also corrected Cheney’s claim that the president is “the chief law enforcement officer in the land.”...(Remainder.)
In a Cacophony of Insane Nonsense, Beck Says Obama & Van Jones are Communists. Is He Really This Stupid?
Lying Sack of Dog Mess Says Obama Admin Going to Take Over Oil Companies. This Fuck's Crazy is All Sorts of Scary.
Right-Wing Cunt & Whore, Ingraham, Attacks Sen. Kennedy's Grandson! Would Someone Please Hit This Bitch With a Bus?
Desperate to Kiss the Oxy-Moron's Chocolate Starfish, Racist/Fascist Mark Davis Laughingly Tries To Say Left is Racist
Have so many blue-chip advertisers ever fled a program as quickly as the who's who of corporate America that's sprinted away from Glenn Beck in recent weeks? I certainly cannot recall ever seeing a mass exodus of this scale.
The A-list collection of disgruntled Beck advertisers is staggering: Applebee's, AT&T, Bank of America, Best Buy, Campbell Soup, Clorox, ConAgra, CVS, Ditech, Farmers Insurance Group, GEICO, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Lowe's, Nutrisystem, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, RadioShack, Sprint, State Farm Insurance, The UPS Store, Travelers Insurance, Verizon Wireless, Vonage, and Wal-Mart, among others.
If any television program had lost just three or four of those types of high-caliber advertisers, it would be seen as an extraordinary move in a media environment in which grassroots attempts to pressure advertisers have traditionally yielded modest returns. But at Fox News, Glenn Beck is rewriting television history right before our eyes: four dozen lost advertisers and counting. All of Beck's big-time advertisers have fled. All of them.
As momentum continues to gather behind the unprecedented boycott effort led by ColorofChange.org, Beck and Fox News executives seem to be flailing around as they frantically search for a way to stop the exodus.
Despite media reports to the contrary, Fox News executives explicitly refused to distance themselves from Beck's claim that President Obama is a "racist," let alone reprimand the host for the shockingly hateful comments. Fox News' initial knee-jerk response of failing to question any of the gutter rhetoric Beck dishes out, and the cable news giant's decision to treat the transgression as a nonstory unworthy of a serious response, of course, is what led to the boycott drive....(Remainder.)
By now, CNN's Lou Dobbs, with his single-minded obsession over all things anti-immigrant and his bizarre embrace of the loony birther movement, is well known for trafficking in disturbing, misleading, and often inaccurate garbage. Escaping under the radar of many, however, are his close associations with an organization that has been described by experts as a "hate group."
On September 15 and 16, Dobbs is scheduled to appear at the "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" rally and legislative advocacy event in the nation's capital being thrown by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). These anti-immigrant zealots must be pleased as heavily spiked punch to have Dobbs helping out again this year, just as they were with his participation last year when it bragged in a press release that the CNN host's "prominence will add to the visibility and stature of [the] event."
Heck, they even gave Dobbs their first-ever "People's Voice Award" for his "continued efforts in leading the immigration reform movement through both his talk radio show and his television show." The award is no doubt nearly as coveted as the jingoistic fumes that seem to fuel both Dobbs and the organization.
So what exactly is FAIR, other than a conveniently misleading acronym?
Well, for starters, the group was founded 30 years ago by John Tanton, who remains on its board to this day and happens to have a well-documented history of making racist statements and espousing racist beliefs....(Remainder.)
In a September 1 USA Today op-ed calling Republicans and Democrats "hypocrites for caring about the deficit," Jonah Goldberg wrote that "Obama's budget will have, for the first time, a single year deficit of $1 trillion," adding that "Obama's 2009 budget deficit will be greater than all of the Bush deficits from 2002 to 2007 combined." Absent from Goldberg's analysis was the fact that before President Obama took office or signed any legislation, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that, based on actions taken by President Bush and economic conditions at the time, the deficit for fiscal year 2009 would reach $1.2 trillion.
Goldberg: "Obama's budget will have, for the first time, a single year deficit of $1 trillion"
From Goldberg's September 1 USA Today op-ed:
Obama's budget will have, for the first time, a single year deficit of $1 trillion and, according to the Obama administration's own projections, the same stack will be over 600 miles high ($9 trillion) at the end of 10 years, and that might be optimistic. Obama's 2009 budget deficit will be greater than all of the Bush deficits from 2002 to 2007 combined, according to the Heritage Foundation's Brian Riedl. And none of this takes into account that Obama's health care ambitions, nevermind cap and trade, could swell the deficit much more, if realized. Nor does it take into account the fact that unless the economy revives, tax revenues will continue to plummet as they have been (this year saw the greatest drop-off of receipts since 1932), which would make the shortfall even worse.(Remainder.)