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German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Addresses a Joint Session of Congress

Thursday, November 05, 2009



Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Distinguished Members of Congress,

I would like to thank you for the great honor and privilege to address you today, shortly before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I am the second German Chancellor on whom this honor has been bestowed. The first was Konrad Adenauer when he addressed both Houses of Congress in 1957, albeit one after the other.

Our lives could not have been more different. In 1957 I was just a small child of three years. I lived with my parents in Brandenburg, a region that belonged to the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the part of Germany that was not free. My father was a Protestant pastor. My mother, who had studied English and Latin to become a teacher, was not allowed to work in her chosen profession in the GDR.

In 1957 Konrad Adenauer was already 81 years old. He had lived through the German Empire, the First World War, the Weimar Republic and the Second World War. The National Socialists ousted him from his position as mayor of the city of Cologne. After the war, he was among the men and women who helped build up the free, democratic Federal Republic of Germany.

Nothing is more symbolic of the Federal Republic of Germany than its constitution, the Basic Law, or "Grundgesetz". It was adopted exactly 60 years ago. Article 1 of the Grundgesetz proclaims, and I quote, "Human dignity shall be inviolable". This short, simple sentence - "Human dignity shall be inviolable" - was the answer to the catastrophe that was the Second World War, to the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust, to the hate, destruction and annihilation that Germany brought upon Europe and the world.

November 9th is just a few days away. It was on November 9, 1989 that the Berlin Wall fell and it was also on November 9 in 1938 that an indelible mark was branded into Germany's memory and Europe's history. On that day the National Socialists destroyed synagogues, setting them on fire, and murdered countless people. It was the beginning of what led to the break with civilization, the Shoah. I cannot stand before you today without remembering the victims of this day and of the Shoah.

And I cannot stand before you today without mentioning how grateful I am for the presence of one guest, who personally experienced the horror of National Socialism in Germany and whom I recently met personally: Professor Fritz Stern.

He was born in 1926 in what was then the German city of Breslau and today is the Polish city of Wroclaw. He and his family were able to escape the Nazi regime in 1938 and flee to the United States. In his autobiography, published in 2006 under the title "Five Germanys I Have Known", Fritz Stern describes the moment of his arrival in New York's harbor in 1938, a haven of freedom and security.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is wonderful that history willed that we should both - the twelve-year-old boy who was driven out of Germany and me, the Chancellor of reunited Germany who was born in the GDR - be here in this distinguished House. This fills me with great joy and deep gratitude.

Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined, twenty years ago before the Wall fell, that this would happen. It was beyond imagination then to even think about traveling to the United States of America let alone standing here today.

The land of unlimited opportunity - for a long time it was impossible for me to reach. The Wall, barbed wire and the order to shoot those who tried to leave limited my access to the free world. So I had to create my own picture of the United States from films and books, some of which were smuggled in from the West by relatives. What did I see and what did I read? What was I passionate about?

I was passionate about the American dream - the opportunity for everyone to be successful, to make it in life through their own personal effort.

I, like many other teenagers, was passionate about a certain brand of jeans that were not available in the GDR and which my aunt in West Germany regularly sent to me.

I was passionate about the vast American landscape which seemed to breathe the very spirit of freedom and independence. Immediately in 1990 my husband and I traveled for the first time in our lives to America, to California. We will never forget our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. It was simply gorgeous.

I was passionate about all of these things and much more, even though until 1989 America was simply out of reach for me. And then, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. The border that for decades had divided a nation into two worlds was now open.

And that is why for me today is, first of all, the time to say thank you.

I thank the American and Allied pilots who heard and heeded the desperate call of Berlin's mayor Ernst Reuter as he said "People of the world, … look upon this city."

For months, these pilots delivered food by airlift and saved Berlin from starvation. Many of these soldiers risked their lives doing this. Dozens lost their lives. We will remember and honor them forever.

I thank the 16 million Americans who have been stationed in Germany over the past decades. Without their support as soldiers, diplomats and generally as facilitators it never would have been possible to overcome the division of Europe. We are happy to have American soldiers in Germany, today and in the future. They are ambassadors of their country in our country, just as many Americans with German roots today act as ambassadors of my country here.

I think of John F. Kennedy, who won the hearts of despairing Berliners during his 1963 visit after the construction of the Berlin Wall when he called out to them: "Ich bin ein Berliner."

Ronald Reagan far earlier than others saw and recognized the sign of the times when, standing before the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, he demanded: "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate … Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." This appeal is something that will never be forgotten.

I thank George Herbert Walker Bush for placing his trust in Germany and then Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and presenting us Germans with an offer of immeasurable value in May 1989: "Partnership in leadership." What a generous offer, 40 years after the end of World War II. Just last Saturday we saw each other again in Berlin, along with Mikhail Gorbachev. We also owe him a debt of gratitude.

Ladies and gentlemen, to sum it up in one sentence: I know, we Germans know, how much we owe to you, our American friends. We as a nation, and I personally, will never forget that.

All over Europe the common quest for freedom released an incredible power: in the trade union Solidarno in Poland, amongst the reformers surrounding Václav Havel in Czechoslovakia, at the first opening of the Iron Curtain in Hungary and at the demonstrations that took place every Monday in the GDR.

Where there was once only a dark wall, a door suddenly opened and we all walked through it: onto the streets, into the churches, across the borders. Everyone was given the chance to build something new, to make a difference, to venture a new beginning.

I also started anew. I left my job as a physicist at the Academy of Sciences in East Berlin behind me and went into politics. Because I finally had the chance to make a difference. Because I had the impression that now it was possible to change things. It was possible for me to do something.

Ladies and gentlemen, twenty years have passed since we were given this incredible gift of freedom. But there is still nothing that inspires me more, nothing that spurns me on more, nothing that fills me more with positive feelings than the power of freedom.

A person who has experienced such a positive surprise in life believes that much is possible. Or, to put it in the words of Bill Clinton in Berlin in 1994: "Nothing will stop us. All things are possible."

Yes, all things are possible. Like the fact that a woman like me can stand before you today. That a man like Arnold Vaatz, who spent time in prison because he was a dissident during the GDR regime in Dresden, can be here today as a Member of the German Bundestag and of my delegation.

All things are possible, also in the 21st century, in the age of globalization. We back home in Germany know just as well as you do in America that many people are afraid of globalization. We do not just brush these concerns aside. We recognize the difficulties. And yet it is our duty to convince people that globalization is an immense global opportunity, for each and every continent, because it forces us to act together with others. The alternative to globalization would be shutting ourselves off from others, but this is not a viable alternative. It would lead only to isolation and therefore misery. Thinking in terms of alliances and partnerships on the other hand, is what will take us into a good future.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is true that America and Europe have had their share of disagreements. One may feel the other is sometimes too hesitant and fearful, or from the opposite perspective, too headstrong and pushy. And nevertheless, I am deeply convinced that there is no better partner for Europe than America and no better partner for America than Europe.

Because what brings Europeans and Americans together and keeps them together is not just a shared history. What brings and keeps Europeans and Americans together are not just shared interests and the common global challenges that all regions of the world face. That alone would not be sufficient to explain the very special partnership between Europe and America and make it last. It is more than that. That which brings Europeans and Americans closer together and keeps them close is a common basis of shared values. It is a common idea of the individual and his inviolable dignity. It is a common understanding of freedom in responsibility. This is what we stand for in the unique transatlantic partnership and in the community of shared values that is NATO. This is what fills "Partnership in Leadership" with life, ladies and gentlemen.

This basis of values was what ended the Cold War, and it is this basis of values that will enable us to stand the tests of our times- and these tests we must stand.

Germany is united, Europe is united. That is what we have achieved. Now, today, our political generation must prove that it is able to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and that in a sense it is able to tear down today's walls.

What does that mean? First it means building peace and security, second, achieving prosperity and justice, and third, protecting our planet. Here, too, America and Europe are called upon in a very special way.

Even after the end of the Cold War we are thus faced with the task of tearing down the walls between different concepts of life, in other words the walls in people's minds that make it difficult time and again to understand one another in this world of ours. This is why the ability to show tolerance is so important. While, for us, our way of life is the best possible way, others do not necessarily feel that way. There are different ways to create peaceful coexistence. Tolerance means showing respect for other people's history, traditions, religion and cultural identity.

But let there be no misunderstanding: Tolerance does not mean "anything goes". There must be zero tolerance towards all those who show no respect for the inalienable rights of the individual and who violate human rights. Zero tolerance must also be shown if, for example, weapons of mass destruction fall into the hands of Iran and possibly threaten our security!

Iran must be aware of this. Iran knows our offer, but Iran also knows where we draw the line: A nuclear bomb in the hands of an Iranian President who denies the Holocaust, threatens Israel and denies Israel the right to exist, is not acceptable!

For me, Israel's security will never be open to negotiation. Not only Israel is threatened but the entire free world. Whoever threatens Israel also threatens us! This is why the free world meets this threat headon, if necessary with tough economic sanctions. Ladies and gentlemen, Germany will therefore provide staunch support to the peace process with the aim of realizing a twostate solution, a Jewish State of Israel and a Palestinian state.

We also stand up to the threat of international terrorism. We are aware that no country, no matter how strong, can do this alone. We all need partners. We are only strong if we are part of a community of partners.

Since we shared the view of the then President George W. Bush, after 9/11, that we had to do everything we could to prevent Afghanistan from ever again harboring a threat to security, Germany has since 2002 been present on the ground with the third-largest troop contingent. We want to make the concept of networked security successful. This means that civilian and military engagement are inextricably linked.

The international community's commitment in Afghanistan is undoubtedly a tough one. It places great demands on all of us, and it must be taken into the next phase as soon as the new Afghan government is in office. Our objective must be to develop a strategy to transfer responsibility, which we want to do early next year at a joint UN conference. We will be successful if, as we have done up to now, we continue travel this road together in the Alliance, every step of the way. Germany is ready to shoulder that responsibility.

There is no doubt that NATO is and will continue to be the crucial corner-stone of our collective defense. Its Security Concept is being constantly developed and adapted to new challenges. Its foundation and clear compass for peace and freedom will, however, remain unchanged.

It is my firm belief that we Europeans can contribute even more in the future. For we Europeans are currently working towards giving our European Union a new contractual basis. The final signature has just been added. This will make the EU stronger and more capable of action, and thus make it a strong and reliable partner for the United States.

On this basis we can build stable partnerships with others, first and foremost with Russia, China and India. This is because our world is freer and more networked than ever. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the revolution in information and communication technology, the rise of China, India and other countries to become dynamic economies - all this has made the 21st century world a different place from the world we knew in the 20th century. That's a good thing, because freedom is the very essence of our economy and society. Without freedom the human mind is prevented from unleashing its creative force.

But what is also clear is that this freedom does not stand alone. It is freedom in responsibility and freedom to exercise responsibility. For that reason the world needs order. The near-collapse of the international financial markets showed what happens when there is no such order.

If there is one lesson the world has learned from last year's financial crisis, it is that there is no alternative to a global framework for a globalized economy. Without universally-binding rules for transparency and supervision there can be no greater freedom but rather we risk the abuse of freedom and thus instability. In a way this is a second wall that has to fall: A wall standing in the way of a truly global economic order, a wall of regional and exclusively national thinking.

The key to cooperation between the major industrialized countries and emerging economies lies in the G20.Here again cooperation between America and Europe is a crucial corner-stone. It is a cooperation that is not exclusive but rather inclusive.

The G20 has shown that it can take action. We need to resist the pressure of those who almost led the nations of this world into the abyss. That means no more and no less than that international economic policy must become more sustainable. This crisis was also an expression of too much short-term thinking. Millions of people all over the world might lose their jobs or even suffer poverty and starvation because of this. To achieve prosperity and justice we must do all we can to prevent such a crisis in the future.

That also means not giving in to the temptation of protectionism. This is why the WTO Doha negotiations are so important. The success of the Doha Round would send a valuable message of the openness of the world economy, particularly in the current crisis.

Equally, the Transatlantic Economic Council can also fulfill an important task. We can use it to prevent competing subsidies and give incentives to reduce trade barriers between Europe and America. I appeal to you: Let us jointly work towards a world economic order which is in the interests of both America and Europe!

Ladies and gentlemen,

the fact that global challenges can only be met by comprehensive international cooperation is also shown by a third great challenge of the 21st century, by a wall, so to speak, separating the present from the future. That wall prevents us from seeing the needs of future generations, it prevents us from taking the measures urgently needed to protect the very basis of our life and climate.

We can already see where this wasteful attitude towards our future leads: In the Arctic icebergs are melting, in Africa people are becoming refugees due to environmental damage, and global sea levels are rising. I am pleased that you in your work together with President Obama attach such significance to protecting our climate. For we all know: We have no time to lose! We need an agreement at the climate conference in Copenhagen in December. We have to agree on one objective - global warming must not exceed two degrees Celsius.

To achieve this we need the readiness of all nations to assume internationally binding obligations. We cannot afford failure with regard to achieving the climate protection objectives scientists tell us are crucial. That would not only be irresponsible from an ecological point of view, but would also be technologically short-sighted, for the development of new technologies in the energy sector offers major opportunities for growth and jobs in the future.

No doubt about it - in December the world will look to us, to Europe and America. It is true that there can be no agreement without China and India accepting obligations, but I am convinced that if we in Europe and America show that we are ready to accept binding obligations, we will also be able to persuade China and India to join in. And then, in Copenhagen, we will be able to tear down the wall between the present and the future - in the interests of our children and grandchildren and of sustainable development worldwide.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am convinced that, just as we found the strength in the 20th century to tear down a wall made of barbed wire and concrete, today we have the strength to overcome the walls of the 21st century, walls in our minds, walls of short-sighted self-interest, walls between the present and the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, my confidence is inspired by a very special sound - that of the Freedom Bell in the Schöneberg Town Hall in Berlin. Since 1950 a copy of the original American Liberty Bell has hung there. A gift from American citizens, it is a symbol of the promise of freedom, a promise that has been fulfilled. On October 3, 1990 the Freedom Bell rang to mark the reunification of Germany, the greatest moment of joy for the German people. On September 13, 2001, two days after 9/11, it tolled again, to mark America's darkest hour.

The Freedom Bell in Berlin is, like the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, a symbol which reminds us that freedom does not come about of itself. It must be struggled for and then defended anew every day of our lives. In this endeavor Germany and Europe will also in future remain strong and dependable partners for America. That I promise you.

Thank you very much.

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At University of Phoenix, Allegations of Enrollment Abuses Persist

Recruiters at the nation's largest for-profit school are being accused of phony claims, lies, and deception.

By Sharona Coutts
Mother Jones


This story first appeared on the ProPublica website.

After federal regulators accused the University of Phoenix of systematic enrollment abuses in 2004, the school's parent company paid out nearly $10 million to resolve the allegations.

Phoenix allegedly had broken the law by tying recruiters' pay to enrollment numbers, U.S. Department of Education investigators found, creating pressure to sign up unqualified students.

In the years since, Phoenix cemented its stature as the nation's largest for-profit school and the single biggest recipient of federal student aid. But some of the school's recruiters have continued to use high-pressure, deceptive tactics, according to a dozen current and former students and two former recruiters who spoke to ProPublica and Marketplace as part of a joint investigation.

The students said Phoenix counselors misled them about whether credits would transfer to other schools, pretended to befriend them and lied about financial aid. The recruiters said they were told to rope students in with phony claims that classes were filling fast, or by suggesting that federal grants would cover costs, even if that was uncertain.

Last week, Phoenix's parent company, the Apollo Group, announced that it had put aside $80 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that makes allegations similar to those in the 2004 investigation.

In making the announcement, Phoenix said its "compensation programs and practices were in compliance with the applicable legal requirements." And the university's president, Bill Pepicello, said in an earlier interview that if any recruiters had acted dishonestly, it was not with the company's approval.

Phoenix is not the only for-profit university to get into trouble in recent years. Over the past decade, federal and state agencies have found that other schools improperly paid recruiters based on how many people they signed up, falsified enrollment tests and fabricated financial aid documents.

But with the bad economy, the industry has boomed. Enrollments have leapt 20 percent in the last two years, as people look to gain skills or fill gaps in their resumes. Now the Obama administration plans to expand federal student aid programs to a record $130 billion, further benefiting the schools. Phoenix stands out. With 420,000 students, the school drew $3.2 billion in federal aid last year.

The federal government disburses aid directly to schools, which then use the money to cover tuition and other fees and return the balance to students....(Remainder.)

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The Change in Carbon Emissions

By Lamosca
Good.is



Click image to biggify.

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Shit What We Learned From Election Night

By Rude One
The Rude Pundit

Forget what the assholes on TV are saying about the various elections and initiatives from last night. Who gives a shit what Michael Steele is crowing about? (Transcendent? Really?) Here's all ye know and all ye need to know about yesterday:

1. In a nation of fat fucks, don't make fun of the morbidly obese candidate for being a fat fuck.
It didn't help that Democratic New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine was such a smug asshole about Republican Chris Christie's Farley-esque physique. But it also got in the way of a message that Christie was a corrupt Bush acolyte who had suckled at Karl Rove's teat. And even if New Jersey has the 10th lowest obesity rate in the nation, over half the state is overweight or obese, according to CDC numbers. So who, exactly, was Corzine appealing to in the ad that said that Christie "threw his weight around"? Hey, Jonny Fitness, shut the fuck up, pass the gravy, and tell us about your plans on turnpike tolls.

Besides, look at Christie. That lardy fucker ain't surviving a term without a massive coronary.

2. Voters hate it when rich pukes act like rich pukes.
As mentioned above, Corzine was kind of a prick who spent a ton of his own cash on the campaign, cash that he made while at Goldman "Has America By Its" Sachs. Mike Bloomberg may have won the New York City mayoral race, but the voters made that billionaire sweat Benjamins. Expected to win by more than ten points, Bloomberg got just 51% of the vote, spending $100 million of his money, a figure politely known as "fuckloads." New Yorkers came very close to telling Bloomberg to shove his anti-democratic third term and his filthy lucre up his ass.

3. White people should not have funny names.
"Creighton Deeds"? "Dede Scozzafava"? If your name sounds like a character in a Dickens novel, you will not win....(Remainder.)

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Frank Schaeffer: I'm Now a 'Liberal' Because I'm a Conservative

By Frank Schaeffer
The Brad Blog

I grew up in a fundamentalist missionary family that in the 1970s and 80s morphed into my father's activity as one of the founders of the Religious Right. We would hobnob with Republican leaders from Ronald Reagan to Gerald Ford and the Bush family, Jack Kemp and many others. One day it dawned on me that the far right of the Republican Party --- in other words its base --- actually hates America.

The Religious Right reveled in rising crime statistics, "family breakdown" statistics, failing public schools and so forth. As I explain in my book Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), if crime started going down, or public school test results started going up --- without the country "turning back to Jesus" --- then that would prove that somehow "we" were wrong.

We wanted our country to fail because it had "turned away" from what we believed to be true.

Combined with the fact that we began to lose parts of the culture war, when it came to other Americans beginning to recognize gay rights, expanding women's rights, abortion rights and such, the Religious Right and the Republican Party infected gun-toting America with a chip on its shoulder about a mile wide. This led to the myth that "they" (fill in the blank, gays, Jews, blacks, liberals --- whatever) are "taking away our country from 'us'"...

"Conservative" means that you believe it's right to legalize torture, but reject health care for all.

These days to be a conservative means that you hate the United States government elected by the people; believe that if millions of citizens are out of work that it's their own fault and that the rest of the community should not help them by spending tax dollars; think that Sarah-believes-in-casting-out-demons-before-she-ran-for-governorship-Palin speaks for you. To be a conservative means you believe that healthcare reform will lead to "death panels"; that the president of the United States is not a "real American"; that a university education is a dangerous thing; that Americans who live in big cities are less American than those who live in small towns; that brown people, blacks, progressive whites, gays, public school teachers, Hispanics, immigrants, are somehow conspiring to subvert the "real America" with a "gay agenda" or a "Muslim agenda" or at least the browning of "our" white America....(Remainder.)

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Maine, A Battle Lost, But The War Will Be Won

By Something The Dog Said
Square State

So, we worked, we called, we raised money and we still lost in Maine. Is this an argument for the futility of action? Hardly. This was a fight we had a chance to win, but since our opponents will lie, will use the authority of religion to distract from the real message and will put fear of the other into the hearts of everyone they can, this was always going to be an up hill battle. 53% of the vote in a binary set (one winner one loser) is disappointing, but it is not the end of the world.

It is the same percentage of voters, which voted to remove marriage rights from gay citizens in California. This number, the groups fighting against full rights and the groups funding them were the only similarities. No on 1 did a great job in raising money. They were on the ground for a long time working to get the legislation passed and they kept right on going to try to prevent the forces of intolerance from reaffirming bigotry in Maine.

That they lost shows there are sever problems with trying to get full equality done through legislation and popular voting. Winston Churchill famously said "Democracy is the worst form of government, with the exception of every other kind" . He was right of course. There are problems letting the people decide all issues by popular voter. The biggest one being the inability of many of the electorate to actually make data based decisions instead of emotionally based ones.

It is for this reason that democracies have High Courts, and constitutions; so there are some principals, which are the bedrock of a democracy and are not open to popular opinion. These primary concepts are the protection that democracies can provide from the tyranny of the majority.

The history of anti-gay rights popular votes has shown the people of individual states cannot be trusted to live up the overarching ideal of full equality. This was true in the Jim Crow South and it is true today. The fear of the other, this kink in the human psyche, which allows us to dehumanize those who are not like us, has been the affective cause of these kinds of votes....(Remainder.)

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Lawrence O'Donnell, Anthony Weiner Rip Joe Wilson For "Idiotic" Health Care Proposal






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Now You’ve Done It, O’Reilly – You’ve Made the Birthers Mad

By Julie
News Hounds

Okay, so it’s no secret that I’ve got beef with Bill O’Reilly. He gets nutty about stuff – like two nights ago when he told Brit Hume his reporting was non-partisan. He has his vendettas – take the ACORN-bashing mission. He went after abortion doctor Dr. George Tiller, and in my mind contributed to his murder. He says stuff he shouldn’t. He allows his guests to be water-carriers for some extreme right-wing talking points. He did do something semi-right once, though: He pooh-poohed the “birther” movement (those nutbags who believe President Obama was born in Kenya) as “bogus,” “nonsense,” and “dumb stuff.” As reported by the Huffington Post, The O’Reilly Factor investigated the birther thing in July, deemed it “bogus,” and continued to deny its validity. And now, the damndest thing is happening: That nutty-as-a-fruitcake birther lady, Orly Taitz, is organizing a protest against O’Reilly. In New York. On Veterans Day. Outside Fox headquarters in Midtown. This is outside the normal realm of things on Fox, so help me, folks, think this one through.

Taitz is protesting O’Reilly because he won’t air her obsessive, off the reservation, conspiracy theories (oh, the betrayal!) that President Obama was born in Kenya and therefore isn’t legally qualified to be President. Her court battles have been thrown out, and, in fact, she’s been sanctioned (fined) $20,000 by the California federal court judge for bringing such frivolous drivel into court. As reported by commentsfromleftfield.com, the judge even implied Taitz was suborning perjury. As for her reasons for the protest, “Taitz told the news blog Conservative Monster that O’Reilly is ‘not a legitimate journalist’ because he had not contacted her about the story he planned to air. Taitz ‘stated that if Fox gave her a 30-minute show for her to display her evidence, Obama would have to resign from office within 48 hours,’ the Web site reported.”

But think about what’s interesting here: Apparently Taitz thinks she has a right to have a platform on Fox in general (where she somehow senses that all her birther-sympathetic homies are hanging out), and O’Reilly in particular. I mean, she isn’t protesting Keith Olbermann, right? In fact, as reported by Salon, on her website Taitz said, “Keep in mind, what OReilly did, is more dangerous, more harmful then what some idiots like Rachel Maddow or Keith Obertmann (sic) did, since people believe O’Reilly to be fair and balanced.” (For those new to News Hounds, when right wingnuts call Fox “fair and balanced” what they really mean is “they speak my language.”)...(Remainder.)

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Glenn Beck’s Appendix Makes A Break For It

By Mark
News Corpse

This morning, during his radio show, Glenn Beck suffered a mutiny staged by the only internal organ he has that exhibits any signs of intelligence. Beck’s appendix took the opportunity to escape while his brain was preoccupied with manufacturing excuses for why his candidate for Congress in New York’s 23rd District, Doug Hoffman, failed to stop Bill Owens from becoming the first Democrat to win the district in over 100 years. The best efforts of Beck, Sean Hannity, and Sarah Palin, fell short of persuading voters that an inexperienced, ill-informed, tea bagger, who didn’t even live in the district, ought to be their representative in Washington.

The strain of having to face his impotence was the perfect opening for his appendix to skip town. Beck was consoled by the fact that his wealth provides him with the best health care that money can buy, a benefit that he is fiercely opposed to for his fellow Americans. In a statement released late today, Beck accused his appendix of being a Mao-loving communist.

In other news, Thomas Frank writes in the Wall Street Journal that the red phone Beck keeps on his desk to receive calls from the White House is just another meaningless prop. The people to whom Beck said he had sent the number told Frank that they were never contacted by Beck and do not know the number. Yet on a daily basis Beck repeatedly holds up the phone and wonders aloud why those he has slandered as commies haven’t called him. Of course there was never any expectation that anyone from the White House would patronize Beck’s dementia by calling, but now we know that it was all a charade and (surprise) a lie. For the record, Beck has still not called me to deny that he idolizes Adolf Hitler as he says in this linked video....(Remainder.)

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Now Is Not the Time

By R.J. Matson
New York Observer


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Isikoff Doubles Down on His Anonymous Leak from Cheney’s Lawyer

By Marcy Wheeler
Emptywheel

Michael Isikoff’s coverage of Dick Cheney’s interview (h/t Leen) seems designed as much to defend his bad reporting on the CIA Leak case as to report the content of the interview itself. It’s not that I expected Isikoff to point out that Cheney refused to say things to Fitzgerald that Cheney’s own lawyer had been willing to say to Isikoff. Whatever the ethical and logical problems with reporting O’Donnell’s leak uncritically, Isikoff granted him anonymity and I fully expected Isikoff to continue to honor that pledge.

What’s pathetic about Isikoff’s coverage, however, is that he doubles down on the content of the leak O’Donnell gave to him!
Perhaps the most intriguing parts of the interview occurred toward the end, when Cheney was asked about President Bush’s decision in June 2003 to declassify portions of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraqi WMD.  The federal investigators wanted to know what he had told Libby about the president’s decision.  (The declassification led to Libby’s selective leaking to New York Times reporter Judy Miller about some portions of the NIE that appeared to bolster the White House position about Iraqi WMD.)
Isikoff here repeats the several details from O’Donnell’s leak that almost certainly were invented in 2006 to fix the obvious, glaring logical inconsistencies in Scooter Libby’s story (but which, regardless of what O’Donnell said to Isikoff anonymously, remain glaring inconsistencies): the claim that the declassification occurred, the claim that it occurred in June, and the claim that the declassification led to the leak to Judy Miller. Note, the FBI didn’t ask Cheney about the date at all! The only one who mentions the day is Michael Isikoff, based on what Cheney’s defense attorney told him. And in fact, some of Cheney’s comments during this interview actually undermine that story (though his comments about the NIE declassification are thoroughly incoherent, which ought to make a reporter think twice about the NIE story itself). In other words, Isikoff’s reporting on this is actually Isikoff glossing Cheney’s interview with comments Cheney’s own defense attorney made anonymously to Isikoff at a time when Cheney had the need to shore up the inconsistencies in that part of the story....(Remainder.)

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The Gullible Dittohead

By Guy Reel
Common Dreams

Did you hear about the guy who was driving his Winnebago, set the cruise control after getting on the freeway, then calmly left the driver's seat to fix himself a cup of coffee? The RV crashed, so he sued Winnebago for not informing him in the owner's manual that he wasn't supposed to do this. He won $1.7 million and a new Winnebago.

Outrageous, isn't it? Argues for tort reform, right?

Not really. You see, it isn't true. Not the story, not the lawsuit, not the award.

Yet, even though it seems that those who might see such a thing in their inboxes might be a tad skeptical of its truthfulness (psst - some emails contain misleading information!), the story is swallowed whole by a certain class of people who might be said to be, um, gullible when it comes to the right-wing's talking points and their accompanying agenda. That's right: They are not aware that some things that their talk show hosts, politicians and various apologists say AREN'T TRUE!

The Winnebago story is just one example. It's circulated every so often as part of the "Stella" awards, named after the woman who sued McDonald's after burning herself with a McDonald's coffee. These urban legends are meant to justify the urgency for tort reform, because you know, everyone's getting rich by suing each other for no reason and the danged Democrat lawyers are getting all those legal fees!

By the way, the vilified Stella Liebeck, for whom the Stella awards were named, suffered third-degree burns over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, buttocks, and genital and groin areas; her lawyers proved McDonald's had ignored other, sometimes serious complaints of blistering coffee, and it refused to settle with her before she sued....(Remainder.)

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Mr. President, It's Time to Cut the Crap

By P.M. Carpenter
Buzz Flash

It just keeps getting worse.

A climbing death toll. Firefights and terrorist bombings. Indigenous distrust. Limitless corruption. Hundreds of billions of dollars -- gone, nothing to show. Eight neglectful years, staggering to an ever-receding finish line. Even a high-ranking Foreign Service officer who's gone public with his crisis of patriotic faith: "I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan.... [M]y resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."

Why and to what end, indeed.

And now, just to cap the hellishness of our increasingly unwanted presence, we're official and massively under-resourced partners with a brazenly fraudulent president and his phalanx of undaunted criminals and enterprising grafters. It's more Little Big Horn than D-Day.

Having stolen round one of his presidential election, Hamid Karzai's impending theft of round two has, as you know, been cancelled as a waste of time and probably lives. This led David Sanger of the NY Times to portray, with remarkable restraint, President Obama's compounded predicament as "a new complication."

As Sanger put it, administration officials had been asking themselves for weeks: "How do you consider sending tens of thousands of additional American troops ... to prop up an Afghan government regarded as illegitimate by many of its own people?"

A runoff sounded like a capital idea, until even Karzai's political opponent grudgingly resigned himself, Gorelike, to the democratic end of undemocratic means....(Remainder.)

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GOP Senator Tom Coburn Using Secret Hold to Block Bill on Veterans Benefits

By Joe Sudbay
AMERICAblog

We always knew "support the troops" didn't really mean anything to Republicans. It was a slogan, nothing more. And, that's being confirmed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) who is using the anonymous "hold" procedure in the Senate to prevent action on a bill designed to support veterans. Usually, these "holds" are secret, but the veterans have outed Coburn:
Thirteen major military and veterans groups have joined forces to try to force one senator — Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — to release a hold that he has placed on a major veterans benefits bill.

Coburn has been identified by Senate aides as the lawmaker preventing consideration of S 1963, the Veterans’ Caregiver and Omnibus Health Benefits Act of 2009, by using an informal but legal practice of putting a hold on a bill.
Maybe the Democrats should file a cloture motion on S. 1963 to force the GOP caucus to choose between Coburn and the vets....(Original.)

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Jeremy Scahill Takes On Max Boot Over Afghan Fiasco

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Americans are Not on Board with This Gay Marriage Thing

By James Hipps
Gay Agenda

“Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, the conservative Christian group that is leading the charge against same-sex marriage around the country”, stated:
“It (the loss of marriage equality in Maine) interrupts the story line that is being manufactured, that suggests the culture has shifted on gay marriage and the fight is over,” she said. “Maine is one of the most secular states in the nation, it’s socially liberal, they had a three-year head start to build their organization and they outspent us two to one. If they can’t win there, it really does tell you the majority of Americans are not on board with this gay marriage thing.”
“This gay marriage thing” ??? This “thing” as you so commonly refer to it Ms. Gallagher is called equality. This “thing” as you so simply put it is about giving the same recognition to all tax-paying citizens. This “thing” (and others) is what keeps LGBT persons as second-class citizens in a nation that is suppose to be a world leader.

Ms. Gallagher, You, your organization, it’s supporters, and what you stand for are the only “things” that are preventing some from enjoying the same rights and benefits you take for granted. That “thing” is called discrimination and oppression.

I hope you’re pleased with your self Maggie. I hope you’re elated with joy that you’ve lead a majority of voters, with blatant lies and deceit, to maintain oppression on a minority. I hope you’ve become more comfortable within yourself, knowing that you can rest easier because who someone else loves and wants to marry will not stand in the way of your “Christian” agenda of promoting hate, intolerance and bigotry....(Remainder.)

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Congressman Grayson I Think We're Witnessing The Disintegration Of A Major Political Party!

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Enough, No More, Enough: Obama and Gay Apartheid

By David Mixner
DavidMixner.com

Today I write more from my gut than maybe you have ever heard. Quite honestly to all those who have found my words inciting in the past, just move on. You are not going to be happy this morning reading further.

After a very restless night of sleep and some deep thought, I am ready to share with you some thoughts (this might not be my most 'smooth' writing). Forgive me that it has taken a while for me to compose myself so that I can write from my values and principles and not anger. Because my anger will blind me to the truths of yesterday. Let me do my best to share my deep beliefs and not out of anger or fear like the people who insist that we continue to create a system of Gay Apartheid in America. This will be part one of two parts on the election.

First and foremost, Enough!

We have poured over $100,000,000 in the last two years into efforts where Americans feel it is there obligation to vote on our freedom. The entire concept is repugnant and disgusting. That we for the last three decades have been drawn into this game of 'this is politics' and fighting these ballot box horrors so that maybe by in five, ten or twenty years we will have enough victories to force our federal government to protect our freedom is simply not acceptable anymore. Imagine the good we could have done with all that money. Imagine the civil rights movement we could have built if we had the leadership that was willing to think out of the box and put it on the line.

Second, call this campaign against us what it is - Gay Apartheid....(Remainder.)

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Déjà Vu

By Kerry Eleveld
Advocate.com

Last November, when Barack Obama swept into office as a one-man embodiment of the nation’s promise of equality, many LGBT Americans awoke the next morning feeling like orphaned children of the Democratic Party. Despite his historic victory, antigay ballot measures passed in California, Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas devastated the community.

One year later, LGBT activists had that sinking feeling again as Tuesday night bled into Wednesday morning and Maine’s same-sex marriage battle ended in a loss for equality advocates.

The reality that Maine voters repealed a state law granting gay marriage rights was partially blunted by news that voters in Kalamazoo, Mich., upheld the city’s antidiscrimination ordinance. Early results also suggested Washington voters might be on their way to greatly expanding the state’s domestic-partnership law, though the final tally was not available at the time of this posting.

But the theme that reverberated throughout the night nationally was “It’s the economy, stupid.” Democrats suffered stinging losses in gubernatorial races in both Virginia and New Jersey, with over half the voters in each state saying they were very worried about the economy.

In fact, the only Democratic win for the night came in a congressional race where right-wing ideologues tossed the pro-gay Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, to make room for an antigay Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman....(Remainder.)

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Wannabe Journalist Chuck Todd, Claims Health Care Reform Must Happen This Year or It's Dead

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Bachmann & Napolitano Vomit Up Yet Another Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory: Pelosi is Going to Make it Difficult for Klan Rally Morons

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Contrary to Reality, Beck Guest Host, Gray, Thinks Election "Bloodbath" for Dems

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Eric Burns Tells The Newshour that Conservate Media Spreads "Conspiracy Theories, Lies, Smear Campaigns"

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Eric Burns Tells The Newshour that Conservate Media Spreads "Conspiracy Theories, Lies, Smear Campaigns"

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Former Journalist Brit Hume Acknowledges that Obama NOT the Issue in NJ Gov Race

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Mark "Steaming Bucket of Syphilitic Diarrhea" Levin & The Retarded Baby Jesus Promote Bachmann's Insane Klan Rally

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The Retarded Baby Jesus & the Screeching Howler Monkey Babble on About Schools Trying to Indoctrinate Children

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The Retarded Baby Jesus Claims ABC's 'V' is Actually About "Obama-mania"

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The Voices in the Retarded Baby Jesus' Head Telling Him that Bachmann's Klan Rally Will Be "Massive"

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The Retarded Baby Jesus Thinks There's Going to be Eleventy-Gajillion People at Bachmann's Klan Rally

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Bookended by Ads for Buying Gold, Napolitano Hosts Hoening to Hype Investing in Gold

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Batshit Bachmann Goes on Beck's Hate Radio Show to Promote Her Anti-Health Care Klan Rally

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Anally Obsessed Limbaugh Says Obama Documentary Will Give You "Anal Poisoning"

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In the Pig-Man's Delusional World Election an anti-Obama Vote...Reality Says No

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Dennis "Talentless Hack" Miller Attacks Pelosi, Calling Her a Lizard

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Batshit Beck's Fill-In, Napolitano, Promotes Michele "Completely Insane" Bachmann's Hate Fest

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President Obama: One Year Ago

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Baron of Bullshit Beck Continues His Delusional Witch Hunt for Socialists, Communists, Marxists & SEIU

By Media Matters

Continuing his pattern, Glenn Beck suggested during the November 3 edition of his radio program that SEIU's Andy Stern  is a communist, socialist, and Marxist because he said in an interview that "workers of the world unite, it's not just a slogan anymore. It's the way we're going to have to do our work." However, when asked in a separate interview why he uses the slogan, Stern replied that it's "good news" that "communism's dead"; further, numerous conservatives, including Newt Gingrich and John McCain, have approvingly cited quotes or tactics from communist and socialist dictators -- yet those conservatives have seemed to escape Beck's witch hunt....(Remainder.)

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Alan Grayson Confident House Bill Will Pass and Will be Reform

By Heather
Crooks and Liars


Keith talks to Rep. Alan Grayson about whether he thinks the Democrats will get a bill through the House this week and whether we'll be able to call what's passed reform. He also asked him what he thought would be in John Boehner and the Republicans' yet to be written health care plan they're supposed to be releasing this week.
Olbermann: You have already outlined on the floor of the House one of or the basic Republican tenets of a health insurance plan. When Mr. Boehner says he's going to have an alternative bill ready, first off they've been saying that all year and there's been nothing yet, so far. But is there actually one in the works and have your heard anything of what's been in it?

Grayson: I think what's in it is more of the same. They're going to try to do whatever they can to placate the insurance companies. The Republican national party is now a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America and that's especially true of the insurance companies. They'll do whatever the insurance companies want.
Sadly the same thing can be said about a few too many of the Democrats with positions on the Senate Finance Committee. If you want to help out one of the good guys out there and donate to Rep. Grayson't Act Blue money bomb, here's the link....(Original.)

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The Hatch Truth: GOP Blocking Health Care to Prevent Permanent Democratic Majority

By Jon Perr
Crooks and Liars

A gaffe, Michael Kinsley famously mused, is what results when a politician inadvertently tells the truth. And so it was Monday when Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch came clean about his party's scorched-earth opposition to health care reform being championed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. Hatch acknowledged, as I've long argued, that the GOP is worried not that Obama's health care initiatives might fail, but that they might succeed.

As he did in his pivotal effort to block Bill Clinton's health care efforts starting in 1993, conservative strategist Bill Kristol warned his Republican allies then as now that that a victory for President Obama would earn his party the thanks of a grateful public and guarantee Democratic majorities for the foreseeable future. In an interview with CNS Monday, Senator Hatch revealed that was his darkest fear as well:
HATCH: That's their goal. Move people into government that way. Do it in increments. They've actually said it. They've said it out loud.

Q: This is a step-by-step approach --

HATCH: A step-by-step approach to socialized medicine. And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, "All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party."

Q: They'll have reduced the American people to dependency on the federal government.

HATCH: Yeah, you got that right. That's their goal. That's what keeps Democrats in power.
(Remainder.)

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Grand Magi Retarded Baby Jesus & Brigadeführer Baier Totally Ignore Fact the Vaccinating Detainees in Gitmo Helps Military Personnel

By Media Matters

The November 2 editions of Fox News' Special Report and Hannity both reported solely on criticism of reported plans to allow Guantánamo Bay detainees access to H1N1 vaccines, ignoring the benefit to military personnel. Neither report noted that military personnel will be vaccinated before detainees, that vaccinating detainees can help protect military personnel and their families, or that conservatives have repeatedly in the past touted the health care benefits given to detainees in order to defend the controversial detention center....(Remainder.)

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John Dean: Cheney May Have Given False Statements to FBI

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story


There is "a lot of evidence" that Vice President Dick Cheney gave false statements to the FBI during its investigation of the Valerie Plame leak affair, says former White House attorney John Dean.

Dean told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann that Cheney attained "something of a record" by refusing to answer or claiming to not recall the answer to 72 questions posed by the FBI during a May, 2004, interview.

"If you'll recall, former Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman did 150 'I don't recalls' during his three days before the Senate Watergate committee," Dean said. "This is 72 in less than three hours, that's right up there."

The comparison is striking, because Haldeman served 18 months in prison for conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal.

"There's a lot of evidence that [Cheney] gave a number of false statements to federal officials, which is clearly a federal offense under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, and it could well be obstruction of justice," Dean said on MSNBC's Countdown Monday night....(Remainder.)




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Rep Paul Broun, GOP Douchebag, Says Health Care Reform Will "Destroy America"

By Matt Finkelstein
Media Matters


According to far-right Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), Democratic health care reform plans will "destroy America."

It's an impressive feat, but there may not be a Republican member of Congress who has been more openly scornful of President Obama's plans for health care reform than Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA).  

In July, Broun declared that the public insurance option "is gonna kill people." Later in the month, he argued that "ObamaCare" would "give every single one of those illegal aliens health insurance." At a town hall meeting in September, Broun literally walked away from a constituent who couldn't get health coverage after telling him, "If you have a suggestion, send it to me." And, just a few weeks ago, he introduced "alternative" legislation that would eliminate Medicare altogether.

Yesterday, Broun escalated his attacks on the Democratic reform bill, saying that its passage "destroy America as we know it today."
U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans and both physicians, told editors and reporters at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the plan to be debated in the U.S. House this week is too expensive and will drive up health care costs. Broun said the plan backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will "destroy America as we know it today."
(Remainder.)



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Victim in Fatal Car Accident Tragically Not Glenn Beck

By Ron Brynaert
The Raw Story

Even Fox pundit Glenn Beck will probably laugh at this one.

A satiric Onion News Network video reports on "a grisly death that only TV host Glenn Beck could deserve."

An honor student, who the fake news broadcast repeatedly refers to as "not Glenn Beck," was said to have been the victim in a fatal car accident.

"I heard screaming and I thought it was just someone doing an accurate impression of Glenn Beck normally," a purported witness claims.

The alleged victim "loved to dance and hated Glenn Beck," the video claims. A graphic on screen adds, "Family: Victim gone too soon; Glenn Beck should have died 45 years ago."

Beck has laughed off countless mock assaults by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, and his website even links to some of the videos.

His own site describes one such video in a self-mocking manner: "Colbert is at it again - having a laugh at Glenn's expense is something the self-deprecating, pasty white, chubby, girlie man is quite used to at this point in life. Glenn's own staff has been poking fun at his penchant for crying for years and years, so this is not groundbreaking material but overall a funny segment from the mock conservative."...(Remainder.)



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Lyin' John Fund Just Can't Help Himself, Makes Up Tale of Current NJ 'Voter Fraud' Taken from 1993 Incident

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

John Fund went on Glenn Beck's show last night to help Beck with his characterization of the Obama White House as a nest of fist-bumping terrorist radicals, mostly by underscoring its supposed connection to ACORN and the SEIU. (According to Beck, SEIU's Andy Stern is "really controlling our country.")

At the end of the segment, Fund began describing the ways ACORN's nefarious activists are supposedly engaged in voter fraud in the New Jersey election:
Fund: People are going door to door in parts of Camden with Hispanics that don't have very much knowledge of English, and they're saying, "We have a new way for you to vote, la nueva forma de votar; just fill out these papers."
But as Media Matters noticed, he's actually describing something that happened in 1993 in Philadelphia. Indeed, he accurately described it in his Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he tried to claim that fraud was occurring in New Jersey:
There are additional reports from Camden that Hispanic voters have been misled into voting absentee ballots. So-called bearers who are allowed to collect and carry absentee ballots are said to have encouraged voters to fill out applications for absentee ballots. A few days later, the bearers reportedly return with the actual ballots, which they offer "assistance" in filling out.

Authorities in nearby Philadelphia know about such scams. In one infamous case, a key 1993 race that determined which party would control the Pennsylvania state senate was thrown out by a federal judge after massive evidence that hundreds of voters had been pressured into casting improper absentee ballots. Voters were told by "bearers" that it was all part of "la nueva forma de votar" -- the new way to vote. Local politicos tell me Philly operatives associated in the past with Acorn may now be advising their Jersey cousins on how to perform such vote harvesting.
(Remainder.)

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