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Al Franken DESTROYS KBR attorney

Sunday, October 18, 2009

By Brainwrap
Daily Kos

Yesterday, I posted the video of Sen. Franken (DFL-MN) absolutely annihilating a KBR rape defender
arbitration lawyer during official testimony after Franken's "No Arbitration for Gang Rape" amendment was passed 68-30.

While the diary received much attention, recs and acclaim, it never quite made it to the Rec List, which is a shame because EVERYONE should see this footage; it's truly devastating stuff, and makes me prouder than ever that Al Franken is in the U.S. Senate.

Just to refresh your memory about the full extent of Jamie Leigh Jones' nightmare, thanks to ohcanada in the comments for posting this description from todays' Guardian:
In legal papers Jones, who was 20 at the time, says she was fed a knockout drug while drinking with KBR firefighters.
"When she awoke the next morning still affected by the drug, she found her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn‚ which would later require reconstructive surgery. Upon walking to the rest room, she passed out again," the papers say.
Jones was treated by a US army doctor who gave forensic evidence to company officials. She says the firm placed her under guard in a shipping container and she was released only after her father asked the US embassy to intervene. When the forensic evidence was handed to investigators two years later, crucial photographs and notes were missing.
Jones says she identified one of the men who attacked her after he confessed, but that Halliburton/KBR prevented her from taking legal action against him or the company by pointing to a clause in her contract requiring disputes to go to arbitration. 
... 
KBR has sought to discredit Jones's account by saying she was seen drinking and flirting with a firefighter before leaving the gathering with him, and that the man claims to have had consensual sex with her. The firm denies that Jones was held prisoner, but not that her injuries indicated serious sexual assault.
I was originally intending on simply reposting the diary as is, with the hope of a second shot at the Rec List (update: and thank you for that!), but another development caught my eye tonight, and seems to provide a perfect contrast to Sen. Franken....(Remainder.)





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The O'Garbage Factor

Fox News isn't just bad. It's un-American.

By Jacob Weisberg
Newsweek

Last week, when White House Communications Director Anita Dunn charged the Fox News Channel with right-wing bias, Fox responded the way it always does. It denied the accusation with a straight face while proceeding to confirm it with its coverage.

Consider Fox's Web story on the episode. It quotes five people. Two of them work for Fox. All of them assert that administration officials are either wrong in substance or politically foolish to criticize the network. No one is cited supporting Dunn's criticisms or saying that it could make sense for Obama to challenge the network's power. It's a textbook example of a biased journalism.

If you were watching Fox News Channel, you saw the familiar roster of platinum pundettes and anchor androids reciting the same soundbites: this was Obama's version of Nixon's enemies list, the rest of the news media is in Obama's corner, Obama should get back to governing, and so on. On The O'Reilly Factor, Alan Colmes, the network's weak, battered house liberal, mumbled semi-agreement while "Doctor" Monica Crowley and Bill O'Reilly lit up the scoreboard with these talking points.

Any news organization that took its responsibilities seriously would take pains to cover presidential criticism fairly. It would regard doing so as itself a test of integrity. At Fox, by contrast, complaints of unfairness prompt only hoots of derision and demands for "evidence" that, when presented, is brushed off and ignored....(Remainder.)

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Rove Compares Obama to Nixon, Accuses WH of Keeping ‘Enemies List’

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story

Axelrod, Emanuel: Fox 'not really news'
 
Former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove has compared President Barack Obama to former President Richard Nixon, saying the Obama administration's feud with Fox News is proof the White House is creating a Nixonian "enemies list" that "demeans" the office of the president.

"This is the White House engaging in its own version of the media enemies list," rove told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. "It's unhealthy for the country and undignified for the president of the United States so to do."

Wallace had invited Rove and longtime Democratic Party operative Terry McAuliffe to discuss the White House's de facto boycott of the news network ever since the Fox network failed to broadcast the president's speech on health care to Congress last month.

"Fox News carried the speech to the American people," Rove said, pointing out it had been the broadcast network, not the news network, that failed to carry the speech. "There are objectionable things said on MSNBC, every network. ... That ought not be the standard that a White House decides to demonize a news channel as an enemy. They called it a White House enemy. That is over-the-top language. We heard that before, from Richard Nixon. ... It's not helpful. It's demeaning to the president."

Last week, White House communications director Anita Dunn said Fox News "often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican party."...(Remainder.)



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First They Came for Rush Limbaugh

By Joan Walsh
Salon

Conservatives are all about taking responsibility for one’s personal actions, or at least they used to be. Rush Limbaugh is facing the consequences of the buffoonish, offensive cartoon persona that’s made him a gazillionaire: The controversy-averse brotherhood of NFL owners harrumphed disapproval of Limbaugh’s role in a bid to buy the St. Louis Rams, and within a few days the group Limbaugh was part of dropped the radio bully from its bid.

I’m sure the snub is causing Rusty to relive childhood traumas, and I feel a little sorry for him. It must be awful to be kicked to the curb by guys who used to admire you, and the deep pockets you brought to their bid. And Limbaugh sure got angry that his bid ran into choppy water. “This is not about the NFL, it's not about the St. Louis Rams, it's not about me. This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative."

Limbaugh’s self-pity and paranoia is on red-alert again. The idea that prominent conservatives aren’t part of the American mainstream is ridiculous. But more important: Let’s be clear who’s denying Rush his chance to own an NFL team: the other rich guys who are trying to buy the team, who dropped him from their group at the first sign of trouble. It’s true Indianapolis  Colts owner Jim Irsay speculated that Rush’s team would have a hard time getting the required support of three-quarters of team owners, and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell commented, “Divisive comments are not what the N.F.L. is all about,” but the Limbaugh group didn’t mount much of an effort to buy the team....(Remainder.)

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By David Horsey
Seattle Post-Intelligencer


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Sensitivity Training: GOP Senator Batters Witness Over Domestic Violence Report

By Ryan Grim
The Huffington Post

After the Huffington Post reported that eight states still allow insurance companies to treat domestic violence as a precondition, leaders from three of those declared that they would put an end to the practice.


North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr took a different approach and instead challenged the head of the organization, the National Women's Law Center, that issued the original report at a Senate hearing Thursday.

Burr's reaction was the polar opposite of Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who told the Jackson Free Press after the story broke that he was ashamed that his state was on the list.
"Would I do something about it? Hell, yeah, I'd do something about it, but I'm a regulator, not a legislator. I have to come to terms with that every week," he said, calling on the legislature to take action.

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm, a former violent-crimes prosecutor, told the Huffington Post that he and Gov. John Hoeven (R) are working to change the standing policy in their state. "Quite frankly, I was stunned and I couldn't believe it," he said of North Dakota's inclusion on the list, vowing to change the law when the legislature comes back in session.

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin similarly said that he would encourage the state legislature to clarify the law. The state does ban insurers from using domestic violence as a pre-existing condition within group plans, but is silent when it comes to individual and non-group plans. Following the story, Goodwin said that he would implement new rules and encourage the legislature to rectify the situation so that individual and non-group women were specifically protected, too. He also said that he had not found an example of any insurance company denying a woman coverage and citing domestic violence as the reason...(Remainder.)


Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/16/sensitivity-training-gop_n_323714.html

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Nativism is Dangerous to Our Health

Swine flu doesn't discriminate. Universal healthcare coverage should cover everyone -- including the undocumented

By Joe Conason
Salon

Oct. 16, 2009 | Of all the wingnut mythology surrounding healthcare reform, nothing has stirred greater fury or louder denials than the suggestion that government might somehow provide insurance to America's undocumented workers and their families. "You lie!" screamed Rep. Joe Wilson as the President told Congress that his plan would provide no coverage to them. "No, we don't!" replied the Democrats, who scrambled to make sure that the undocumented are excluded by statute.

Yet as the nation prepares for a possible swine flu pandemic this winter, we are learning that the firm determination of both parties to deny medical care to people without papers is actually quite flaccid. Even the most hysterical immigrant-bashers seem content to allow the government to vaccinate immigrants against the H1N1 virus (unless, that is, they happen to be among the right-wing chorus that suspects vaccination itself to be a nefarious socialist plot). Even they seem to realize that viruses don't discriminate on the basis of citizenship -- although they wrongly tried to blame last spring's first outbreak of swine flu on the Mexicans among us.

Rather timidly, President Obama has suggested that the children of illegal immigrants might have to be considered an exception to the rule, since they will inevitably come in contact with the offspring of legal citizens. He didn't explain how unvaccinated and infected adults would avoid contact with their own children, or how they would avoid passing the virus on to the people they serve in the businesses and industries that employ them by the millions. And of course, the Centers for Disease Control is wisely ignoring such invidious distinctions and is now urging everyone, regardless of status, to get vaccinated as soon as the medication is available....(Remainder.)

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Has Right Wing News Doomed The Republican Party?

By Something The Dog Said
Square State

Is the very set of tools that enabled the Republican Party to gain prominence the very thing that is killing it? If we look at the raise of the Conservative movement in this country one of the key things was the idea the media had an inherent liberal bias to it. This was important for a few reasons; it made it possible for Republicans to shrug off reporting which showed their agenda was not what the public wanted, it played a victim meme which dovetailed nicely with the nefarious Southern Strategy (e.g. conservatives were victims of the liberal press just like white working folks were victims of liberal policies) and perhaps most importantly it allowed the creation and legitimating of the Right Wing Echo chamber.

It is not really an accident that after the Fairness Doctrine was abandoned during the Reagan Administration there was a surge of new far Right voices on the radio. Those with deep pockets in the Conservative movement needed a place to regularly present a different view of things. It was a smart move as it allowed the true believers to have an alternate theory on the events of the day.

This all came into its own during the Clinton Administration. While it was not enough to topple a popular president in a time of economic growth, it was enough to wrest control of the House and Senate as well as pick up many State level seats in 1994. This under the radar stoking of the base provided a cohesion which the Democrats who were having their own internecine fights to be swept out of power.

Using the whipped up scandals and the one real one of the Clinton Presidency, they fanned the flames of their base with lurid tales of drug dealing out of the White House and the supposed murder of Vince Foster. As the Republicans overplayed their cards with impeachment, the next step in the echo chamber was coming to life, Fox News. From its inception it was clear they were pointed towards the farthest right of the right. Any network that has to tell you over and over and over they are "Fair and Balanced" is anything but....(Remainder.)

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Militia Madness: Online Game Based on American Civil War in 2011 After 'Obama's Coup Fails'




By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

It seems like every week I come across some truly weird piece of militia organizing from the freshly revived Patriot movement.
 
Obama Coup Fails_8da47.JPGThis week's is pretty special: An online game at which you can actually earn money by defending America in the year 2011 against the evil forces of the fallen Obama administration. The game is called "2011: Obama Coup Fails". [Only go to the site if you don't mind giving them the hits. Otherwise, you can get the idea here.]

They've created a whole future history, written from the perspective of people in the year 2011. And as you can see, it's militia-movement material from the '90s updated for the Glenn Beck generation. For instance, here's the history:
As far back as the 1950s there were many who would talk of the N.W.O., or New World Order, behind closed doors--and the plan to implement it. Rumors of this clandestine planning were scoffed at by the media and political elite, and the majority of people were in the dark concerning the true nature of the processes and policies unfolding before their eyes. By 2007 the N.W.O was being spoken about freely in the media. By 2009, the President of the United States and world leaders openly discussed how to achieve this New World Order, and how to ensure the permanency of a regime that would represent the successful culmination of the Marxist experiments of the 20th century. Back in 2007, one brave newscaster was the first in what used to be called the 'mainstream media' to ring the alarm bell. That man was Lou Dobbs of CNN. Click to see video. Lou Dobbs was reported missing during the media purges of January and February 2011, when Mark Lloyd and the FCC, on Obama's orders, cracked down on all dissent in broadcasting. Glen Beck, another broadcast media personality who rang the alarm bell before the coup, was found dead of an 'aspirin overdose' in late 2010, after the devastating elections in November.
Other broadcasters and 'new media leaders' Neil Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity, among the hundreds of others who dared to speak against what was going on, were rounded up shortly before the newly elected Congresspeople and Senators were to be seated. This event is now referred to as the Great Media Purge of 2011. President Obama and the Draconian FCC, now filled with his appointed Marxists including Mark Lloyd (Click to watch video), were quick to abolish FOX news, talk radio and all other dissent. The elite media, formerly called the mainstream media, were ecstatic as their audience had been declining week after week beginning in 2008. Unable to face a real media that investigated and reported news, they acted in self-interest in hope of getting government bailout money promised to them by officials in the Obama administration. This was the first step in the nationalization of all media in America, which officially began in 2010, a move that Americans would not welcome and helped spur the Second American Revolution. It all seemed to be coming to a head by late 2009. With over a million (by some estimates) people gathering in Washington D.C. for the anti-tax rally on 9/12, spurred on by Americans from all parties, the media's complicit bend toward dictatorship showed itself for the world to see.



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Terrified GOP Imports a Mouth-Breather to Challenge Alan Grayson

By Lesley Clark and Beth Reinhard
Miami Herald

Republicans eager to unseat a brash Orlando Democrat who said their party's health care plan amounts to hoping people "die quickly" have so far been unsuccessful in finding a candidate.

But now comes a willing Republican -- all the way from South Florida.

Armando Gutierrez Jr., son of one of Miami's best-known political consultants and a member of local civic boards, voted in the city of Coral Gables as recently as April.

But he says he's the right person to take on Rep. Alan Grayson, who likes to call Republicans "knuckle-dragging Neanderthals" and has become one of the party's top targets in 2010.

Gutierrez, a 28-year-old real estate developer and Republican Party fundraiser, said he has already lined up endorsements from three Central Florida Republicans: U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis and state Reps. Chris Dorworth and Bryan Nelson.

At least three Orlando Republicans have declined to run against Grayson, who has millions of dollars of his own to spend on the race and is emerging as a rock star in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Even some Republican strategists say Gutierrez is a long shot.

"The fact that Republicans have to import their candidate from 300 miles away shows how strong Congressman Grayson is," said Eric Jotkoff, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party....(Remainder.)

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Obama Threatens Insurers’ Anti-Trust Exemption


By Peter Baker
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama mounted a frontal assault on the insurance industry on Saturday, accusing it of using “deceptive and dishonest ads” to derail his health care legislation and threatening to strip the industry of its longstanding exemption from federal antitrust laws.

In unusually harsh terms, Mr. Obama cast insurance companies as obstacles to change interested only in preserving their own “profits and bonuses” and willing to “bend the truth or break it” to stop his drive to remake the nation’s health care system. The president used his weekly radio and Internet address to challenge industry assertions that legislation will drive up premiums.

“It’s smoke and mirrors,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, ‘Take one of these, and call us in a decade.’ Well, not this time.”

Rather than trying to curb costs and help patients, he said, the industry is busy “figuring out how to avoid covering people.”

“And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exemption from our antitrust laws,” he said, “a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.”...(Remainder.)

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Beck-Led Fox News "Czar" Witch Hunt Moves to Ridiculous Smear of Anita Dunn

By Media Matters

In attacking Anita Dunn, claiming that she "worships" her "hero" Mao Zedong, Glenn Beck has targeted yet another Obama administration official in his Fox News-assisted witch hunt of President Obama's so-called "czars." Beck and Fox News have previously attacked with falsehoods and spurious claims White House officials Kevin Jennings, Cass Sunstein, Harold Koh, and Van Jones.

Beck identifies latest target: White House communications director Anita Dunn

Beck falsely claimed Dunn "worships" Mao Zedong, "her hero." Throughout most of his October 15 Fox News program, Beck falsely claimed that Dunn "worships" and "idolizes" "her hero" Mao Zedong. In fact, in the video that Beck aired as evidence to support his claims, Dunn offered no endorsement of Mao's ideology or atrocities -- rather, she commented that Mao and Mother Teresa were two of her "favorite political philosophers," and based on short quotes from them, she offered the advice that "you don't have to follow other people's choices and paths" or "let external definition define how good you are internally."

Beck ignored numerous conservatives who previously spoke similarly of Mao. In airing footage of Dunn calling Mao and Mother Teresa two of her "favorite political philosophers" and using those comments to falsely link Dunn to the murder of tens of millions of Chinese under Mao's reign, Beck ignored numerous conservatives -- including Barry Goldwater's "alter ego" Stephen C. Shadegg, Cato Institute president Edward H. Crane, and GOP strategist Ralph Reed -- who have approvingly cited the tactics of Mao, Vladimir Lenin, and the Viet Cong, stating that they had used those tactics in their political work, or have otherwise highlighted their philosophies. Moreover, in a 2008 presidential campaign speech, Sen. John McCain stated that "there was a lot of people who said that my political career was not going to succeed. In fact, in the words of Chairman Mao, it's always darkest before it's totally black" [emphasis added]," as The Washington Independent noted....(Remainder.)

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Václav Klaus, from Russia with love



He describes himself as "a European dissident" and the Russian media has welcomed him with open arms. On a state visit this week, the Czech President showed that he is keen to develop economic and personal ties with Moscow — a policy which Hospodářské Noviny remarks is not without its disadvantages.


By Ondřej Soukup and Vladimír Šnídl
Hospodářské Noviny
Photo:  AFP

Václav Klaus' state visit to Russia comes just a few days after he provoked an outcry in Europe by imposing yet another obstacle to his signing of the Lisbon Treaty. In Moscow he told his hosts that he was "seriously concerned by the plan to reinforce European integration."

Klaus is one Czech politician who is not afraid of adopting a strongly pro-Russian stance, unlike Mirek Topolánek's government, which backed a policy of stronger links with the United States until it collapsed in April.

On the occasion of a visit to the United States in September, Klaus declared that Moscow was much less of a threat to the Czech Republic than an over-regulated European Union. In a recent interview with [the neo-conservative American daily] the Washington Times, he averred that "the political system and freedom in Russia is now the highest and the best in the history of Russia in the last two millennia."

Russian media idol

When he was prime minister from 1992 to 1997, Václav Klaus generally adopted a pro-western line. It was only after he left the government that he began to explicitly criticize European integration and the United States. This change of course was later confirmed when he expressed his reservations about NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999.

It was also during this period that the Russian media first took an interest in him. Today, many Russian journalists actively promote Klaus to the extent that he now occupies much more space in the Russian media than all of the other Eastern European leaders. His statements on "the gratuitous Russophobia" of the Western elites are especially popular with pro-Kremlin journalists, and also with the renowned Russian political analyst Mikhaïl Delyagin, who in a recent article on the Lisbon crisis presented an alleged quote from Klaus, which states that accession to the European Union has resulted in considerable financial losses for the Czech Republic....(Remainder.)

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Rev. Al Sharpton Prepares to Sue the Racist Oxy-Moron for Defamation


By Stephen C. Webster
The Raw Story

The Reverend Al Sharpton wants an apology from right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, or he's filing a defamation lawsuit.

"In the op-ed published in Saturday's Wall Street Journal Limbaugh writes Sharpton 'played a leading role in the 1991 Crown Heights riot (he called neighborhood Jews ‘diamond merchants’) and 1995 Freddie's Fashion Mart riot,'" CNN reported.

“Not only did Rush Limbaugh try to criminalize the NFL,” Sharpton told a columnist with the Palm Beach Post."But now he is saying I’m a criminal. He can call me a race-baiter and all that stuff like he does. But don’t call me a criminal.”

Sharpton issued the following statement on the matter to CNN: "Mr. Limbaugh's blatant and defamatory statements regarding the Crown Heights Riots falsely give the impression that Rev. Sharpton was present during the violence that occurred when in reality he had been called in by the family after the violence.

Sharpton told news agencies that he was not in Crown Heights until after the violence, calling Limbaugh's statement false....(Remainder.)

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EPA to Deny Permit to Infamous Coal Mine




By Joe Byrne
The Raw Story

One of the largest mountaintop removal projects in the country was warned of an upcoming permit veto Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency. A letter from the EPA's regional administrator William Early to the Army Corps of Engineers outlined the agency's concerns and concluded that there is “a high potential for downstream water quality excursions under current mining and valley fill practices." The veto, if it goes through, represents a big victory for conservation activists in West Virginia, who have rarely seen the EPA step in when it comes to pollution from mountaintop mining.
Spruce No. 1 mine, managed by Mingo Logan Coal Co., is probably the most monitored mine in the U.S., having gone through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers. Located in Logan County, in the heart of the coal-mining Appalachians, the Spruce Mine “as currently configured would bury more than seven miles of streams,” according to the EPA's assessment.

The EPA's decision was based on the extensive deterioration of the watersheds, and especially the stream valleys, associated with the Spruce Mine. According to Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette, “a full third of the streams in the Little Coal watershed are impaired and nearly as much of the Coal is impaired,” due to the mining operations going on there.

“Similar data from nearby streams associated with existing mining operations strongly suggest that construction of the Spruce No. 1 mine has potential to cause or contribute to impairments downstream,” Early states in the letter....(Remainder.)

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Ignore Fox

Obama's right. It's time to stop taking the network's skewed news seriously.

By Jacob Weisberg
Slate

Last week, when White House communications director Anita Dunn charged the Fox News Channel with right-wing bias, Fox responded the way it always does. It denied the accusation with a straight face while proceeding to confirm it with its coverage.

Take a look at Fox's own Web story on the episode. It begins by quoting a Fox News senior vice president named Michael Clemente, who says: "It's astounding the White House cannot distinguish between news and opinion programming. It seems self-serving on their part." Then it quotes David Gergen, the gravelly voice of Washington's conventional wisdom, who says the attack diminishes President Obama and works to Fox's benefit. Then we hear from Tony Blankley, Newt Gingrich's former press secretary and a frequent Fox contributor, who agrees that criticizing Fox makes no sense: "Fox has an audience of not just conservatives. They've got liberals and moderates who watch too." Then a White House correspondent for Politico echoes the claim that the controversy will boost Fox's ratings. Then comes an old quote from Fox anchor Chris Wallace, who calls Obama's team "the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington." Then the story's anonymous author cites a joke Obama made at the White House Correspondents Dinner as evidence "that Fox News has gotten under his skin." Finally, the piece cites a Pew study that suggested that while Fox was equally negative about John McCain and Obama during the last six weeks of the 2008 campaign, CNN was more negative about McCain.

Let's do a quick study of our own. Five people are quoted in this article. Two of them work for Fox. All of them assert that administration officials are either wrong in substance or politically foolish to criticize the network. No one is cited supporting Dunn's criticisms or saying that it could make sense, morally or politically, for Obama to challenge the network's power. It's a textbook example of a biased news story....(Remainder.)

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Obama Must Keep Kevin Jennings and Fight Back Against the Rightwing Bullies

By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive

The rightwing is after another progressive Obama appointee, and it’s past time for Obama to stand his ground.


The appointee in question is Kevin Jennings, who is the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

Jennings, whom I’ve met and greatly admire, was the founder of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.

For years, he and his organization worked to make our schools safe from homophobic bigotry, which can devastate kids.

He knows the schools inside and out.

He has extraordinary experience with administrators.

In short, he’s perfect for the job.

But they don’t like him because he’s an advocate for gay rights.

So the reactionaries on Fox News and at the Washington Times have been waging a campaign against him.

They haven’t been able to find anything on him except that he, as a teacher, once advised a 15-year-old student in a relationship with an older man to use a condom, which in itself wasn’t bad advice....(Remainder.)

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Obama Taps Maj. Gen. Stanley (R) as New DoD Personnel Chief

By William H. McMichael
Army Times


President Barack Obama has nominated retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Clifford Stanley as under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness — the Pentagon’s top personnel official.

Stanley, who retired from the military in 2002 after 33 years of service, most recently served as president of Scholarship America, which the White House described as “the nation’s largest nonprofit, private-sector scholarship organization,” with more than 50,000 volunteers in 42 states and a full-time staff of 160.

During his military career, Stanley served in a wide variety of positions, including tours as commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, as assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower and reserve affairs at Marine Corps headquarters, and as the Corps’ director of public affairs.

As under secretary for personnel and readiness, Stanley would be the senior policy advisor to Defense Secretary Robert Gates for recruiting, career development and retention, pay and benefits issues and the readiness of 1.4 million active-duty troops, 1.3 million national Guard and reserve personnel and 680,000 Defense Department civilians....(Remainder.)

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Health Insurers "Deceptive and Dishonest": Obama

By Patricia Zengerle
Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama lashed out on Saturday against the "deceptive and dishonest" efforts of health insurance companies, who he said are trying to kill healthcare reform, no matter the cost to the country.

Sharpening his attack on insurers, Obama also signaled support for a congressional review of the insurance industry's long-standing exemption from federal anti-trust laws. Some Democrats want the privilege repealed.

The Democratic president's push to revamp the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, his top domestic policy priority, received a big boost this week when the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of a reform measure with the support of Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.

Many experts expect some version of a healthcare bill will pass this year, but there are still major disagreements on details, including whether the measure will include a government-run insurance program, the "public option."

"For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history."

However, he acknowledged the overhaul still must clear significant hurdles before becoming law. "And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost," he said.

For decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us," Obama said....(Remainder.)

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Obama Goes on Offensive Against Fox Noise

By Joe Byrne
The Raw Story

This week, the Obama administration quietly announced their intentions concerning a change in behavior towards Fox News, reports the NYT's David Carr. No longer comfortable ignoring the animosity the news network directs at the president, “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, said in an interview with the Times.


Until a month ago, the conflict between Fox News and Barack Obama only went in one direction. As soon as Obama was in office, promotion and coverage of tax day 'tea parties' was aimed at the new president. More recently, the extreme right-wing statements of Glenn Beck drew attention to the infamous network. The discovery of Van Jones' past activism and the coverage of the investigation contributed to the dislike between both parties.

Fox News Network's general offensive against president Obama has been paying off: according to Carr, ratings are up 20% this year.

Obama has much more to lose than Fox News. On the campaign trail, one of his hallmark traits was the ability to take the higher road and be above partisan squabbling. “I will listen to you,” he declared after emerging as the victor, “especially when we disagree.”...(Remainder.)

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Goldman Can You Spare a Dime

By Frank Rich
The New York Times

AT the dawn of the progressive era early in the last century, muckrakers attacked the first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, for creating capitalism’s most ruthless monster. “The Octopus” was their nickname for Standard Oil, the trust that controlled nearly 90 percent of American oil. But even in that primordial phase of the industrial era, Rockefeller was mindful of his public image and eager to counter it. “His great brainstorm,” writes his biographer, Ron Chernow, “was undoubtedly his decision to dispense shiny souvenir dimes to adults and nickels to children as he moved about.” Who could hate an octopus tossing glittering coins?

It was hard not to think of Rockefeller’s old P.R. playbook while watching Goldman Sachs’s behavior when the Dow hit 10,000 last week. As leader of the Wall Street pack, Goldman declared surging profits, keeping it on track to dispense a record $23 billion in bonuses for 2009. But most Americans know all too well that only the intervention of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money saved Goldman from the dire fate of its less well-connected competitors. The growing ranks of under-and-unemployed Americans, meanwhile, are waiting with increasing desperation for a recovery of their own.

Goldman is this century’s octopus — almost literally so. The most-quoted sentence in financial journalism this year, by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, describes the company as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” That’s why Goldman’s chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, recycled Rockefeller’s stunt last week: The announcement of Goldman’s spectacular third-quarter earnings ($3.19 billion) was paired with the news that the company was donating $200 million to its own foundation, which promotes education. In Goldman dollars, that largess is roughly comparable to the nickels John D. handed out to children a century ago. At least those kids could spend the spare change on candy....(Remainder.)

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Democrats Claim Only 20% of Americans Call Themselves Republicans

By Ian Jannetta
PolitiFact


In a recent round of partisan fighting, Democrats made a claim that piqued our curiosity: that only 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.

The comment grew out of the partisan food fight that followed President Barack Obama's surprise win of the Nobel Peace prize.

Republicans criticized Obama, claiming he had accomplished little in his first nine months to deserve the award. Democrats swung back, attacking Republicans for being divisive and unpatriotic in their attacks on the president.

In a particularly heated statement, Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse compared the Republican response to Obama's win with the responses of terrorist organizations.

"The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the president for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the president of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party," Woodhouse said....(Remainder.)

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Rebranding America



By Bono
The New York Times

A FEW years ago, I accepted a Golden Globe award by barking out an expletive.

One imagines President Obama did the same when he heard about his Nobel, and not out of excitement.

When Mr. Obama takes the stage at Oslo City Hall this December, he won’t be the first sitting president to receive the peace prize, but he might be the most controversial. There’s a sense in some quarters of these not-so-United States that Norway, Europe and the World haven’t a clue about the real President Obama; instead, they fixate on a fantasy version of the president, a projection of what they hope and wish he is, and what they wish America to be.

Well, I happen to be European, and I can project with the best of them. So here’s why I think the virtual Obama is the real Obama, and why I think the man might deserve the hype. It starts with a quotation from a speech he gave at the United Nations last month:

“We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time....(Remainder.)

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Hillary Reborn


At State, as in the Senate, she often talks softly—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t carry a big stick.

By John Heileman
New York Magazine
Illustration: Andy Friedman


Hillary Clinton was on the trot again this week, with an itinerary that took her from Zurich to London to Dublin to Belfast to Moscow and a nonstop schedule of diplomatizing on topics ranging from the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations to the Iranian nuclear crisis. But the headlines Hillary generated back home—and there were plenty of them—had precious little to do with her official duties as secretary of State.



They were about her disclamation of any interest in a future presidential bid. About her insistence that she really (really!) is Barack Obama’s foreign-policy supremo. About the new Gallup numbers showing that Hillary is now more popular than Obama, which represents a truly stunning nineteen-point swing since the start of the year. About Hillary qua Hillary, in other words.

The sudden Clinton clamor in the media strikes the ear as especially cacophonous in light of how quiet she has been for most of her nine months in her new job. And the sound of silence out of State, in turn, has given rise to a clear conventional wisdom about Hillary’s role in Obamaville, which is part of what she was reacting to in her interviews with NBC and ABC this week. The CW, put succinctly, is that Hillary is a virtual nonentity in the administration: that in terms of political status, she ranks in the second tier, and that when it comes to policy sway, she has been out-barked and out-bitten by the pack of alpha dogs that the president has installed around her....(Remainder.)

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Elder Bush Calls Maddow and Olbermann “Sick Puppies,” MSNBC Notices Irony

By Zeke Turner
Mediaite

Yesterday President George H.W. Bush expressed distaste with the lack of civility and “intellectual honesty” running through criticism of President Obama during a radio interview with CBS News. Then again, he also jumped headlong into the White House-Fox News scrum, calling out MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann as “sick puppies.”

Bush also blamed the nasty timbre of recent political discourse on the cable networks at large, saying “I don’t like it. The cables have a lot to do with it.”

Pulitzer Prize– winning jorunalist Ron Suskind appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show last night, saying that Bush 41 was really criticizing the behavior of Fox News, but instead chose to single-out Maddow and Olbermann. “George H. W. Bush understands that he has some responsibility for this … you know, Lee Atwater, George H. W. Bush, Roger Ailes — they were behind and away the start of modern day attack politics which has now spread 24/7.”

Olbermann, who was also a guest on Maddow, agreed that Bush 41 was criticizing the very nastiness that he brought to politics and the Republican party, also calling out Roger Ailes by name. “It’s easy to miss the irony here,” Olbermann said. “He is the man who employed Roger Ailes.” And we all know what he’s been dealing with lately.

Maddow framed her interview with Olbermann, asking if he thought Bush’s comments were “return fire” from the White House’s recent push against Fox News....(Remainder.)


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Constitutional Debate Erupts as Early Elections are Canceled

I'm interested in this for a number of reasons.  First, my other half is from the Czech Republic.  And, second, this election can have consequences for the EU and the geopolitical landscape.



The Czech Republic hashes out exactly what the judiciary can and can't do in its still fledgling democracy.

By Bruce I. Konviser
GlobalPost


PRAGUE, Czech Republic — When the Constitutional Court struck down a constitutional amendment last month, which was to pave the way for early elections, the political establishment was shocked that the court had asserted itself in such a manner.

Others supported the decision, saying the ruling was not only a breakthrough for the court but was also a watershed event for the country's still fledgling democracy.

Early elections seemed inevitable after the government collapsed in the spring following a vote of-no-confidence in parliament. In an effort to hasten the cumbersome process toward early elections, parliament passed a new amendment that the Constitutional Court subsequently nixed, ruling against what it called a retroactive and stop-gap measure.

The ruling has unleashed a constitutional debate about the fundamental duties and authority of the judiciary. As the Czech Republic’s democracy continues to develop, such a debate is both reflective of the country’s journey toward a strong democracy and integral to it.

Many political leaders could barely contain their rage at the ruling. President Vaclav Klaus went so far as to call the court's decision “wrong.” (By definition, of course, the Constitutional Court cannot be wrong. Regardless of what anyone thinks of a particular ruling the constitution means what the court says it means.)...(Remainder.)

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Gay Immigrants

By Erwin de Leon
South Florida Blade

Images from last week’s National Equality March shared and posted on the Internet feature the energized and bright faces of the next generation of activists - the Proposition 8 generation. Not as prominent, if visible at all, are the faces of immigrant members of the LGBT community. As a participant in an Asian Pacific Islander Welcome Event and Summit pointed out, “Many of us are barely out of the closet – getting political is the last thing in our minds.”

I do recall my own experience as an FOB (“fresh off the boat”), trying to survive in New York City while fast-forwarding my emotional, psychological and social development as a young gay man. However, I was luckier than most, as I spoke English and had resources, friends and a decent education which, to some degree, put me on par with most Americans.  I also acquired some chutzpah early on, and was soon on my way.

Most LGBT immigrants are not as lucky. Most arrive in the United States armed with dreams, resolve and not much else. Many barely speak English and do not have the education or social capital required to achieve middle class status. Not only do they have to struggle for economic stability and jump through hoops to secure residency or citizenship, they also have to wrestle with coming out to their families and ethnic communities and figure out how they fit into the LGBT community. Often, these women and men are alienated from their own because they choose to live openly. Others feel insurmountable familial, cultural and religious pressures to remain in the closet and thus lead double lives. All this can last for years, even decades. Understandably, marching in Washington is something of which many LGBT immigrants cannot afford the risks....(Remainder.)

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Why is the New York Times' David Kirkpatrick Enabling the Modern-Day Joe McCarthys?

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog

At some point, the mainstream media needs to distinguish itself from the prostitutes who call themselves journalists, but who are actually nothing more than glorified stenographers, willing to print any lie, any slur, unquestioned, because it's "news."

It's not necessarily news, nor true, simply because a Republican alleges something. Especially when you, as a journalist, know that what they're alleging is untrue, and motivated by animus, or by bigotry. When you know that this is how the modern-day McCarthy's operate. They make a story up out of thin air, lob it with a high-profile punch (53 congressman signed on!), and then the victim of the attack has to have a public "have you stopped beating your wife" moment on national TV. Or in the case of the religious right and FOX News attacks on gay Obama appointee, Kevin Jennings, have you stopped being a party to a crime that never even occurred?

Reporters, like the NYT's David Kirkpatrick, get played by both sides of the aisle. And it's the reporters' job to sniff through the spin, and the bull, and find out if there's a real story underneath. It is not the reporters' job to simply reprint one side's accusations as "news," without questioning the source, or pointing out the obvious errors in the charge itself....(Remainder.)

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No on Question 1

By Editorial Staff
Bangor Daily News

Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?

Mainers have heard a lot in recent weeks about the consequences of allowing same-sex couples to marry, some of it accurate, some of it not. While such debate is healthy, this question boils down to a simple point: Everyone must be treated equally under the state and U.S. Constitution. Denying civil marriage rights to same-sex couples violates that tenet.

Further, extending the right of marriage to a small segment of the population that has been excluded furthers the state’s interest in promoting stable families and communities. The Maine legislation also took important steps, mirroring the state’s Human Rights Law, to respect religious freedom and traditions. No church will be compelled to perform or recognize marriages that run counter to its faith. This strikes the difficult balance of respecting religious freedom while ensuring equality.

Maine was unusual in passing a law to allow same-sex marriage rather than being required to do so by a court order. Since then, Vermont and New Hampshire have followed suit.

Lawmakers, including Gov. John Baldacci — the first governor to sign such legislation into law — moved Maine toward tolerance and fairness. Repealing this law would move the state backward while denying guaranteed rights to a small minority.

The repeal effort has been led by the Roman Catholic Diocese. Bishop Richard Malone called same-sex marriage “a dangerous sociological experiment.” The fact that gay couples have existed for generations — many of them raising children — counters this argument. Worse, however, is the church’s attempt to force its views on all Maine’s residents, whether they are Catholic or not....(Remainder.)

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Bill Donohue is Unnatural

By Timothy Beauchamp
AMERICAblog

Why the Talibangelical right keeps propping up this hysterical paranoid fool is beyond me, but go right ahead! He just keeps making our case, those on the right who believe this shit are the absolute fringe of our society. Sure, some of them are concentrated heavily in certain areas, but they are still the whackos, and deep down, I believe, they know it. They rely on each other to perpetuate their hysterical lies by creating an echo chamber where their unquestioning sheep are fed this nonsense with no chance for debate to cause their listeners to question the legitimacy of their claims.
"The Catholic Church has a homosexual problem, not a pedophilia problem..." -Bill Donohue
Uh, the Catholic Church is experiencing the insidious results of repressing human sexuality in all its consensual adult STRAIGHT and gay diversity. The absolutely unacceptable sickness of pedophilia is the result of that repression, Bill. Of course, to allow someone to make that kind of statement on their network, without challenging it, makes CBN culpable in spreading hateful lies about the LGBT community....(Remainder.)

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