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Okay, Now It's McCarthyism

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

By Rude One
The Rude Pundit


Much spittle has been spread about how Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, and the advance guard of the new Red Scare are leading us down the road to a new round of McCarthyism. Beck's specious little rant a week or so ago comparing himself to Edward R. Murrow exposing McCarthy, but let's remember that Murrow may have brought down McCarthy, but McCarthy and those he drove to spasmodic paranoia about Communists were out to destroy as many careers as possible. That meant not only politicians and Hollywood lefty types, oh, no. Blacklisting and fear of possible blacklists were used against librarians, schoolteachers, and university professors.

And now, in this retro-era of the new communist witch hunt (based some fantasy version of communism that has little to do with real and actual communism), everything old is new again. The difference this time has to do with so many activities the government used to do on its own: the cause has been privatized. This is different than random cranky whores desperate for attention, like David Horowitz and his little book of fucktardery, The Professors, where he identifies the "101 Most Dangerous Academics in America," which is not unlike uncovering the deadliest prairie dogs on the plains.

No, now we have an honest-to-god, well-funded effort from a conservative organization, the Leadership Institute, a kind of school for assholes that claims to have trained Mitch McConnell, Grover Norquist, and other various and sundry right-wing spoogebuckets. The new effort of the Institute is CampusReform.org, which started this week. The Rude Pundit received a letter of invitation to join up from LI's founder, Morton Blackwell, which explained the goals of this "massive new website I have created at LI to combat leftist abuses and bias at our colleges and universities."...(Remainder.)

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Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies Pays $63,500 for Dinner with Caribou Barbie

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We're Screwed!

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Belgium Justice Department Spent €21 Million on Phone Tapping in 2008

By Le Soir
Via Expatica.com


The justice department devoted EUR 21 million to listening to telephone conversations last year. According to Brice de Ruyver, professor of criminology, "police can no longer lead the struggle against crime without phone tapping".

The professor confirmed that it is an expensive process and that it requires specialised personnel.

Strictly speaking the actual phone tapping system only costs EUR 4 million.

Then EUR 17 million must be added for court costs, the recording of incoming and outgoing phone traffic, the activation of listening, observation and identification of suspect telephone numbers, and other administrative costs. EUR 3 million is spent on translation.

Professor Ruyver said that the considerable amount spent listening to telephone activity had often been discussed at the heart of the police force.

"But we have since arrived at the conclusion that we cannot do without this tool. Phone tapping is one of the most effective ways of dismantling rebel groups, fighting against drug trafficking and terrorism, and keeping an eye on extremist personalities," he added....(Original.)

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Glenn Beck Becomes Damaged Goods

The radio phenom takes over the morning zoo, makes fun of miscarriages and flames out.

By Alexander Zaitchik
Salon.com


When Glenn Beck assumed morning-show duties at KZFM in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1983, the zoo model was ascendant. It was the year Scott Shannon moved to New York to found Z100, where Shannon's "Z Morning Zoo" made the station No. 1 in the market within three months of its birth. Closer to Beck's new home, John Lander had just launched what would be a long-running and heavily syndicated morning zoo on Houston's KKBQ.

Like dozens of stations launching generic zoos around the country, Beck's first morning show was titled simply "The Morning Zoo." It wasn't a playbook zoo, as it lacked an ensemble, but it had a zoo spirit. It was fast-paced and featured skits and fake characters voiced by Beck. Beck's main cartoon character was named Clydie Clyde, a Muppet-voiced alter ego who sounds like the love child of Yoda and Kermit the Frog. Today the descendants of Clyde live on without names. Beck lapses into voices to imitate anyone he doesn't like, while going boggly-eyed and waving his hands around like he's slipping on a banana peel. (Clyde was based on the most widely imitated such character at the time, "Mr. Leonard" from Shannon's New York Zoo team.)

"Beck's Corpus show was just him, Clydie Clyde and the news reader," says Tod Tucker, who hosted the slot following Beck's at KZFM. "He was extremely talented and he knew it. At first we didn't get along because he was so arrogant, but we became friends. He always talked about going to New York City and making it big. That was his dream."...(Remainder.)

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The Hard Bitter Truth

By Bob Herbert
The New York Times


President Obama is in the uncomfortable position of staring reality in the face in Afghanistan. Reality is not blinking.

The president’s handpicked point man in the war zone, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, wants more troops and a stepped-up commitment by the United States that would lock us into the conflict indefinitely, with nothing like an exit strategy in sight, or even a conception of what victory might look like.

Mr. Obama himself has banged the war drums loudly, having already increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and declaring just last month that the war is absolutely essential to American security, that it “is fundamental to the defense of our people.”

Among the many problems for the president on this front is the sobering fact that most ordinary Americans do not seem to agree. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 51 percent of respondents believed the war has not been worth its costs, and only 26 percent favored sending more troops....(Remainder.)

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G-20 Nations Divided Over How to Fix World Economy



By Markus Dettmen, Christian Reiermann and Wolfgang Reuter
Spiegel
Photo: AP


In the run-up to the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, there are very few issues that all the participating nations agree on. Member states are divided over whether to limit bankers' bonuses and how to boost growth. But one thing is certain: A German proposal to tax financial transactions doesn't stand a chance of being approved.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück is known to keep a tight rein on his ministry. His nicknames among his staff -- "Supeer" and "Peerfect" -- attest to the respect his employees have for their boss. Yet with less than a week to go before Germany's general election on Sept. 27, Steinbrück's two highest-ranking civil servants, Jörg Asmussen and Werber Gatzer, are being disobedient.

The reason for this ministerial mutiny? They're angry that Steinbrück and Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier are pushing for a global tax on all financial transactions. Steinbrück grandly announced the topic would be on the agenda of this week's G-20 summit in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24-25. And yet just a few weeks ago he was against such a tax. His ministry has also been firmly against the idea up until now.

They may belong to the same political party as their boss, but Asmussen and Gatzer clearly aren't prepared to sacrifice the Finance Ministry's traditional stance -- much to the dismay of the SPD's campaign strategists. An e-mail Asmussen sent to his colleagues in the Finance Ministry's international department is currently doing the rounds at SPD headquarters. In it he says the transaction tax is "the SPD's position, not that of the Finance Ministry," adding "Gatzer and I opposed the contents of the proposal."...(Remainder.)

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Talk of Bipartisanship is Not Thoroughly Warped

By E.J. Dionne
Trughtdig
Photo: J. Scott Applewhite (AP)

It’s time to cast aside the political shorthand and ideological pigeonholing that distort our debates over health care in particular and government’s role in American life more broadly.

The way words such as centrist and bipartisan are now deployed turns the discussion away from useful arguments over how various proposals might work and toward arid talk about how ideas fit into prefabricated boxes.

The impact of this warping of reality, brought home daily in the health care fight, was dramatized in last week’s debate in the House of Representatives over a bill to expand federal aid to students by eliminating subsidies to bankers.

The bill, which passed 253-171, would allocate about $80 billion over the next decade for new loans, community colleges, school construction and early childhood programs without increasing taxes or adding to the deficit. How? Instead of paying bankers to provide loans for which they bear no real risk, the government would make the loans directly.

Liberals are always accused of spending money without worrying where it comes from, but in this case, costs are covered by making a government program more efficient—yes, at the expense of bankers.

“We were paying these exorbitant subsidies to bankers who were taking government money, loaning it to somebody else, getting government guarantees that the loans would be paid back, and then taking all these profits,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the bill’s champion. This, he told me, led Congress to ask itself: “Hey, chump, what is it you don’t get about what’s going on here?”...(Remainder.)

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Globalization Goes Bankrupt

By Chris Hedges
Truthdig


The rage of the disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can’t blame them. But unless we on the left move quickly, this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.

Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is hoping we will do—stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.

“The leaders of the G-20 are meeting to try and salvage their power and money after everything that has gone wrong,” said Benedicto Martinez Orozco, co-president of the Mexican Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT), who is in Pittsburgh for the protests. “This is what this meeting is about.”

The draconian security measures put in place to silence dissent in Pittsburgh are disproportionate to any actual security concern. They are a response not to a real threat, but to the fear gripping the established centers of power. The power elite grasps, even if we do not, the massive fraud and theft being undertaken to save a criminal class on Wall Street and international speculators of the kinds who were executed in other periods of human history. They know the awful cost this plundering of state treasuries will impose on workers, who will become a permanent underclass. And they also know that once this is clear to the rest of us, rebellion will no longer be a foreign concept....(Remainder.)

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Blackwater Involved in Bhutto & Harini Assassinations

By Tehran Times

TEHRAN - Pakistan’s former chief of army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg (ret.), has said the U.S. private security company Blackwater was directly involved in the assassinations of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Blackwater later changed its name and is now known as Xe.

General Beg recently told the Saudi Arabian daily Al Watan that former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater the green light to carry out terrorist operations in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Quetta.

General Beg, who was chief of army staff during Benazir Bhutto’s first administration, said U.S. officials always kept the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan secret because they were afraid of possible attacks on the U.S. Embassy and its consulates in Pakistan.

During an interview with a Pakistani TV network last Sunday, Beg claimed that the United States killed Benazir Bhutto.

Beg stated that the former Pakistani prime minister was killed in an international conspiracy because she had decided to back out of the deal through which she had returned to the country after nine years in exile....(Remainder.)

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Overshadowed by Teabaggers, the Christian Right Scrambles to Claim it isn't Racist

By Adele M. Stan
AlterNet


At the religious right's Values Voter Summit this weekend, some of the air seemed to have gone out of the balloon.

Gathering at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, 1,800 activists and their leaders seemed resigned to being subsumed by the broader Tea Party movement, or rendered irrelevant by it.

At this year's conference, sponsored by the political affiliate of the Family Research Council, there was a greater emphasis on matters important to Tea Party leaders: freedom was linked with free enterprise; ominous warnings offered about a march to socialism; global warming was said to be a good thing; and taxes were deemed to be too high and largely misappropriated.

But these messages did not receive nearly the degree of enthusiasm from attendees as the traditional religious right decrees against abortion and same-sex marriage. And despite efforts to tread carefully on issues of race, one of the biggest laugh lines of the conference was the racially charged parable told by Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., about the circumstances faced by Republicans in Congress, which he compared to having balls thrown at them by monkeys.

Yet religious right leaders, who have long played to racial resentment, seem alarmed at how the overt racism of some of the Tea Partiers could harm their own movement -- decades in the making -- of politicized Christian evangelicals and conservative Catholics....(Remainder.)

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‘Father of Neoconservatism’ Irving Kristol's Forgotten Alliance with Anti-Semites

By Max Blumenthal
The Huffington Post


By the time Irving Kristol died on September 18 at the age of 89, he had transformed the Republican Party through the neoconservative philosophy he helped pioneer. A former Trotskyist, Kristol promoted the supply-side economic theories that formed the foundation of the Reagan administration's domestic agenda. At the same time, he tapped industry trade groups and right-wing sugardaddies for massive donations, enabling the birth of an apparatus of conservative think tanks that would provide the future Republican Congress of Gingrich and DeLay, and the George W. Bush White House, with their policy blueprint.

These highlights of Kristol's career have been detailed at length in the many obituaries about his death. But the story of one of Kristol's most momentous -- and cynical -- maneuvers, the brokering of a tactical alliance between Jewish neoconservatives and openly anti-Semitic evangelicals, has been generally omitted.

In my book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, I describe how Kristol initiated the alliance in July 1984, urging that American Jews, "enmeshed in the liberal time warp," ally with Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority.

Kristol's apologia was inspired by the anti-Semitic ravings of a preacher named Bailey Smith. "I don't know why God chose the Jews," Smith had said. "They have such funny noses." When Jewish groups pounced on those remarks and on those of Jerry Falwell, who told his followers that Jews "can make more money accidentally than you can on purpose," Kristol rushed to the preachers' defense....(Remainder.)

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CIA Torturers Running Scared

By Ray McGovern
CounterPunch


Seven CIA directors—including three who are themselves implicated in planning and conducting torture and assassination — have asked the President to call off Holder.

Unable to prevent Attorney General Eric Holder from starting an investigation of torture and other war crimes that implicate CIA officials past and present, CIA officials, together with what in intelligence circles are called “agents of influence” in the media, are pulling out all the stops to quash the Department of Justice’s preliminary investigation.

The most vulnerable of the Gang of Seven, George Tenet, is not the brightest star in the heavens, but even he was able to figure out years ago that he and his accomplices might end up having to pay a heavy price for violating international and U.S. criminal law.

In his memoir, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet notes that what the CIA needed were “the right authorities” and policy determination to do the bidding of President George W. Bush:
“Sure, it was a risky proposition when you looked at it from a policy maker’s point of view.  We were asking for and we would be given as many authorities as CIA had ever had.  Things could blow up.  People, me among them, could end up spending some of the worst days of our lives justifying before congressional overseers our new freedom to act.” (p. 178)
Tenet and his masters assumed, correctly, that given the mood of the times and the lack of spine among lawmakers, congressional “overseers” would relax into their accustomed role as congressional overlookers.  Unfortunately for him, Tenet seems to have confined his concern at the time to the invertebrates in Congress, not anticipating a rejuvenated Department of Justice that might take its role in enforcing the law seriously....(Remainder.)

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Fox's Latest Freakout: Obama to Sit “Just a Few Feet Away” From Qaddafi! Argh! Run Away, Run away!

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Bill O'Reilly's “Courage” Award Speech Smears Dr. Tiller and His Patients

By Priscilla
News Hounds


Bill O'Reilly is a "pro-life" Catholic whose campaign against Dr. George Tiller, a provider of legal late term abortions, included (at least 29 times) accusations that Tiller was a "baby killer. As we know, Dr. Tiller was shot by a man whose rabid anti-abortion views would appear to match those of Bill O'Reilly. Coincidentally, two months after Tiller's death, the Family Research Council, one of the sponsors of this annual gathering of radical "Christians," announced that O'Reilly would be honored at the upcoming Family Values Summit (Coincidentally something O'Reilly never previously attended) and praised O'Reilly's show as a "national platform to promote life--no matter what the personal or professional costs." Coincidentally, the first few minutes of the secret O'Reilly "Values Voters" speech was devoted to more smearing of a man who, courageously, performed a legal procedure to those women whose lives depended on it – a doctor who was killed, in his church, by a man whose twisted belief system was validated by the sick rhetoric of America's Daddy and all those who would take us back to the "good old days" of back alley butchers – a time when a woman's role was that of uncomplaining child bearer regardless of the cost to her life and health. The perverse lies and smears about Dr. Tiller, promulgated on a national television network, had no personal or professional costs for Bill O'Reilly – the costs were all borne by Dr. Tiller who is dead and whose death is seen by the man accused of murdering him and many in the "pro-life" camp as justifiable homicide. But Bill O'Reilly, who still sees no problem with his incendiary rehetoric, gets a "Media Courage" award.

Dr. George Tiller was killed by an anti-abortion fanatic at the end of May of this year. Shortly after (July 30th), Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council announced that O'Reilly would be honored by the upcoming Family Values Summit: "Bill O'Reilly has never shied away from denouncing late-term abortions and the handful of doctors who perform them. In the aftermath of George Tiller's murder, O'Reilly became an easy target for the liberal media who tried to pin some of the blame on Bill, saying he incited the violence by decrying these unnecessary procedures on his show. Despite the unfair allegations, O'Reilly spoke the truth, bringing new light to a gruesome procedure. On behalf of our co-sponsors and millions of values voters, we want to express our gratitude to a culture warrior."...(Remainder.)

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The Party of Lincoln?

By Steve Sack
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune



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“I Want My Country Back”

By Mike Keefe
The Denver Post



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Baucus and the Threshold

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


So Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has released his “mark” on proposed legislation — which would normally be the basis for the bill that eventually emerges from his committee. And serious supporters of health care reform will soon face their long-dreaded moment of truth.

You see, it has been clear for months that whatever health-care bill finally emerges will fall far short of reformers’ hopes. Yet even a bad bill could be much better than nothing. The question is where to draw the line. How bad does a bill have to be to make it too bad to vote for?

Now, the moment of truth isn’t here quite yet: There’s enough wrong with the Baucus proposal as it stands to make it unworkable and unacceptable. But that said, Senator Baucus’s mark is better than many of us expected. If it serves as a basis for negotiation, and the result of those negotiations is a plan that’s stronger, not weaker, reformers are going to have to make some hard choices about the degree of disappointment they’re willing to live with.

Of course, those who insist that we must have a single-payer system — Medicare for all — won’t accept any plan that tries, instead, to cajole and coerce private health insurers into covering everyone. But while many reformers, myself included, would prefer a single-payer system if we were starting from scratch, international experience shows that it’s not the only way to go. Several European countries, including Switzerland and the Netherlands, have managed to achieve universal coverage with a mainly private insurance system....(Remainder.)

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Anti-Gay Christians Break the 9th Commandment...Again

By Max P.
The Progressive Puppy


In less than two months the citizens of Kalamazoo, Michigan, will decide what sort of city they want to live in - a city that celebrates equality and diversity, or one where gay workers can be fired from jobs because of their sexual orientation.  Needless to say, anti-LGBT forces are using fear and deceit to scare and confuse voters.  Take a gander at the image on the right and see what they've been hanging on doorknobs around the city:  a disreputable looking character in dark glasses sneaking into the women's restroom to commit some sinister act.  Classy, huh? 

From WWMT News3
Dozens of volunteers with One Kalamazoo have hit the streets, knocking on doors and looking for "yes" votes.  The group supports a non-discrimination ordinance which extends protections to gay and transgendered people in housing and the workplace.  The opposition group, Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No To Special Rights Protections, is also going door-to-door and handing out fliers to persuade people to vote "no."
The organization fighting the ordinance has a website called "Responsible Voters" (of all things), and on the site their position is stated as "Voting NO to Special Rights Discrimination" - now, you see, it's discrimination instead of "protections," the same baffling message they've printed on the door hangers.  They've dropped any pretense at honesty and are asking citizens to "vote No to discrimination."...(Remainder.)

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Losing Their Religion: Atheists Deal With Isolation

By Russ Cardwell
Tampa Bay Tribune


After graduating from high school, Nan Owens attended a Bible institute with hopes of becoming a missionary. But before she finished seminary, her opinion on religion had changed.

So Owens did what more people find themselves doing - she left the religion of her childhood to join the ranks of the unaffiliated.

About half of American adults have changed religious affiliation at least once in their lives, according to a recent report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The group that has grown the most in the past several years is the one unaffiliated with a church or religion - those defining themselves as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular.

But taking the nonreligious road can be a rocky one, particularly for those who do not believe in God.

Families split; friends are lost; social norms can become awkward.

"I had good friends who found (atheism) hard to accept," Owens says. "They told me, 'We have never met an atheist.' "

From an early age, Owens' goals were clear. She would study the Bible, become a missionary and spread the Gospel to others.

She met a man with a similar goal, got married and attended seminary with her husband.

Then she went back to college, and her opinion about religion began to change....(Remainder.)

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Obama Denies Request to Drop CIA Torture Probe

By David
Crooks and Liars


An investigation into abuse of terrorism detainees won't be halted following a letter sent to President Barack Obama by seven former CIA directors. "I don't want to start getting into the business of squelching, you know, investigations that are being conducted," Obama told CNN's John King Sunday.

"I appreciate the former CIA directors wanting to look after an institution that they helped to build," Obama told CBS' Bob Schieffer in a separate interview.

Politico:
The White House’s comments on the sensitive issue have been closely watched by supporters and opponents of further investigation into interrogations some have described as torture.

In August, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y) urged Obama and his aides not to send signals about what Holder should do in terms of investigating the interrogations.

“I have nothing to say to the president on this, except let Mr. Holder alone. As far as I know, they are," Nadler said at a convention of liberal bloggers and activists. “It would be….improper for the president to decide that there ought to be or ought not to be a special counsel, prosecutions or whatever.”
(Original.)

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White House Calls Fox and 'Ideological Outlet'

By David
Crooks and Liars


Interviews of President Barack Obama was broadcast on five news outlets Sunday but Fox News was not included. Chris Wallace called the White House "the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with my 30 years in Washington."

The White House responded Saturday. "We figured Fox would rather show 'So You Think You Can Dance' than broadcast an honest discussion about health care reform," Josh Earnest told ABC News.

Earnest indicated that Obama would probably appear on Fox News again. "Not that their whining particularly strengthens their case for participation any time soon," said Earnest.

Chris Wallace continued to criticize the president Sunday. "Every president is thin-skinned, but I wonder whether this administration, this White House, has a particular problem with criticism," he said....(Original.)

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NBC's Gregory Challenges "People Aren't Supposed to Be That Color" Boeher on Obama=Socialist

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Mara Liasson Smacks Down Propagandaministerium Talking Point that Obama is "Overexposed"

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President Obama: Public Option is Not Dead

By John Amato
Crooks and Liars

I was shocked that the media barely mentioned the public option during President Obama's media blitz today. David Gregory did discuss it on Meet The Press and told Obama that he essentially killed it. Obama denied it:
DAVID GREGORY: Like the public option. You effectively said to the left, "It's not gonna happen."

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well what I — no, no, that's not true. What I — what I've said is the public option, I think, should be a part of this but we shouldn't think that, somehow, that's the silver bullet that solves health care. What I've said, for example, on — what's called an individual mandate. During the campaign I said, "Look, if — health care is affordable, then I think people will buy it." So we don't have to say to — to folks, "You know what? You have to buy health care."

And — what — when I talked to health care experts on both the left and the right what they tell me is that, even after you make health care affordable, there's still gonna be some folks out there who — whether out of inertia, or they just don't want to but — spend the money — would rather take their chances.

Unfortunately, what that means, is then you and I and every American out there who has health insurance, and are paying their premiums responsibly every month, they've gotta pick up the cost for— emergency room care when one of those people gets sick. So what we've said as long as we're making this genuinely affordable to families then you've got an obligation to get health care just like you have an obligation to get auto insurance in every state.
The media shifted their narrative last week as I heard Villager after Villager say the public option was dead. We've been fighting for the public option tooth and nail in the blogosphere and also by strong progressive members of Congress....(Remainder.)

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President Obama Tells John King that the Easiest Way to Get on CNN, Fox, or MSNBC is to be Rude & Outrageous

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Kathleen Parker & David Brooks Agree: Beck & Limbaugh Stoking Racism

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CBS's Jeff Greenfield Uses Glenn Beck Clip to Show "Fear" of Obama Fed by Fox News

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President Obama Tells Judas Stephanopoulos Health Insurance Mandate IS NOT Tax Increase

By Susie Madrak
Crooks and Liars

I don't know that it matters how cleverly the president sidestepped George Stephanopoulos on this question: People are still going to view it as a tax increase, and they're angry about it:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were against the individual mandate...

OBAMA: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...during the campaign. Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?

OBAMA: Well, hold on a second, George. Here -- here's what's happening. You and I are both paying $900, on average -- our families -- in higher premiums because of uncompensated care. Now what I've said is that if you can't afford health insurance, you certainly shouldn't be punished for that. That's just piling on. If, on the other hand, we're giving tax credits, we've set up an exchange, you are now part of a big pool, we've driven down the costs, we've done everything we can and you actually can afford health insurance, but you've just decided, you know what, I want to take my chances. And then you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that's...

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, but it's still a tax increase.

OBAMA: No. That's not true, George. The -- for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it's saying is, is that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I'm not covering all the costs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy...

OBAMA: No, but -- but, George, you -- you can't just make up that language and decide that that's called a tax increase. Any...
(Remainder.)

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Right-Wing Hack, George Will, Totally Ignores Racism of the Right, Tries to Blame Left

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The NYT's Painfully Dumb Gangsta Rap/Hate Radio Essay...Or, Glenn Beck is “Colorful” & “Genuinely Hilarious.”

By Eric Boehlert
Media Matters


Ugh, this is what passes for insight at elite media outlets. The Times' David Segal thinks it's really, really interesting that he can draw connections between rappers and right-wing talk show hosts. i.e. Ludacris and Glenn Beck are similar. It's "uncanny" and "revealing," writes Segal, who's a big gangsta rap fan.

See what the Times is doing? It's comparing two groups of people rarely associated with one another. The Times is being contrarian!

Of course in the process, Segal, adhering to the media's Gold Rule of never directly quoting the disgusting vile that hate talkers actually traffic in, portrays Beck and Limbaugh and Savage as artists, not hate-mongerers. They're merely "colorful" and "highly agitated" in the hands of Segal. And instead of leading a blood-thirsty, right-wing pack set on dehumanizing Barack Obama by claiming he's a foreign-born, Manchurian Candidate sent to the United States to undermine our freedoms and liberties from within by leading a left-wing revolution, the talk haters are actually artists behind the mic.

Indeed, according to the Times, Beck is "genuinely hilarious." And nut job Savage "riffs are a quirky, zig-zagging flow of ideas that at their best are a kind of talk show scat, jumping from a mini-lecture about the Khmer Rouge, to a rave about barbecue chicken, to a warning that he feels a bit manic, which means he'll be depressed for tomorrow's show."

Pure skills.

But the real kicker comes at the end when Segal plays monumentally dumb and wonders if the hate radio is detrimental to the country's debate [emphasis added]:
There's a curious role reversal here, with fans of Mr. Limbaugh, et al., now under the very suspicion that had long been cast on fans of gangsta rap. The suspicion boils down to another question: Can people listen to highly provocative words (and in rap's case, irresistible beats) and still be civil?
(Remainder.)

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Clinging to Hope

By Nick Anderson
The Houston Chronicle



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Civility

By Nick Anderson
The Houston Chronicle



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"Most Boring Person on Earth" Hume Says Racism is Bad Except When "Mental Midget" Beck Does It

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars


Brit Hume has a new standard for our discourse: If you accuse someone of racism, you've cheapened the argument.

On Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier on Friday, he joined the chorus of Fox anchors decrying even the possibility that racism might be behind some of the vitriol that's been directed at President Obama.
Baier: So does this work? What does this do to debate when it's thrown out there?

Hume: Well, I think over time, it cheapens the charge. And I think in this instance, with all that we've heard and with all the instances cited in James Rosen's report, this is going to infuriate the people of good will who are resisting President Obama and not in any way because of his race but because of his policies. And my guess is, it has real backfire potential, which diminishes to some extent the consensus on race in America.
And what consensus on race is that, Brit? The Fox version?...(Remainder.)

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Dylan Ratigan Absolutely Destroys Brad Blakemen Over GOP's Opposition to Health Reform

By Heather
Crooks and Liars


I'm no fan of Dylan Ratigan but I enjoyed seeing someone, anyone rip into Brad Blakeman for once. I've just got no use for Blakeman after watching one too many of his interviews on MSNBC. He's a class A jerk, liar and unashamed shill for the Republican Party no matter how wrong what they're doing may be for the country. Ratigan, unfortunately, is determined to push this whole "the left does it too" and "all sides are equal" B.S. during this segment, but it was just about worth putting up with to watch Blakeman flailing in the wind here.
Ratigan: Brad, if you were to look at the opening that seems to be there for the Republicans on the center-right, how they get to a place where they can simply come out in favor of free and fair markets, competition, all of the things that were lacking in these massive industries people are so angry about. The President has made it clear he would like to engage many of those things even if some on the left have said things that are more, that harken back to a previous era. We clearly have a President for a new era and yet I feel like on the left and right we are having old spitball fights. How do we move forward?

Blakeman: Well, for the President to be successful he has to come more towards, to the center, the center-right. That’s where our nation is. And lets face it, for Republicans to seek a nomination they have to get, run to the right and then once they get the nomination, run back to the middle, so the type of rhetoric you’re going to be hearing from Republicans this week as we approach the next Presidential season is that they’re going to talk to their base, whether it’s talk to the values… (crosstalk)...
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Former Bush Cabinet Secretary Gale Norton Subject of Formal Corruption Investigation

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

From the L.A. Times--Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton is focus of corruption probe:
The Justice Department investigation centers on a 2006 decision to award oil shale leases in Colorado to a Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary. Months later, the oil giant hired Norton as a legal counsel.

Reporting from Washington - The Justice Department is investigating whether former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton illegally used her position to benefit Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the company that later hired her, according to officials in federal law enforcement and the Interior Department.
Could we finally see the Justice Department coming down on a member of Bush administration?
Maddow: Ken Salazar inherited responsibility for about 500 million acres of the Earth when President Obama appointed him secretary of the interior. Yesterday, as we reported, he announced that he would shut down the Interior Department office known during the Bush administration as the place where department staffers snorted meth off of toaster ovens.

The inspector general reported that in addition to the toaster oven meth-snorting, employees of one middle management office had sex with, did drugs with, and took embarrassingly small bribes from people in the oil and gas industry they were supposed to be regulating.

Now, the secretary of the interior during the time of the toaster oven, meth-snorting, what‘s known as the department‘s orgy era, was a person named Gale Norton. During the orgy era at her department, Gale—at her department—Gale Norton awarded Shell Oil a bunch of extremely lucrative leases to squeeze some oil out of federal lands....
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