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SNL Spoofs Fox News: 2009 Elections -The End of an Era

Monday, November 09, 2009

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LIEberman Must Go

By Charles Demos
MyDD

Dolting Joe certainly had himself a memorable Sunday morning, one that none of us should ever forget. On Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, the independent Senator from Connecticut said "If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote."

A matter of conscience? More like a matter of protecting the pockets of Connecticut's insurance citadel.

Then on the recent tragedy in Fort Hood that left 13 dead and injured another 30, Senator Lieberman seems to have all his facts in and drawn his own conclusions. The chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security committee said that the deadly shooting at Texas' Fort Hood military base was an act of "Islamist extremism."

Senator Lieberman said while it was too early to definitively state the motives of Nidal Hasan in very his next breath he notes that the clues pointed to terrorism. The Senator who heads the Senate's Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said initial evidence suggested that the alleged shooter, Army Major Nidal Hasan, was a "self-radicalized, home-grown terrorist."

"There are very, very strong warning signs here that Dr Hasan had become an Islamist extremist and, therefore, that this was a terrorist act," he told Fox News.

"It's clear that he was, one, under personal stress and, two -- if the reports that we're receiving of various statements he made, acts he took are valid -- he had turned to Islamist extremism," he said.

"If that is true, the murder of these 13 people was a terrorist act."

I would think that one would wait until all the evidence is in before making such pronouncements. He intends to launch a congressional investigation into the motives behind "the worst terrorist attack since 9/11."...(Remainder.)

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Paranoia Strikes Deep

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


Last Thursday there was a rally outside the U.S. Capitol to protest pending health care legislation, featuring the kinds of things we’ve grown accustomed to, including large signs showing piles of bodies at Dachau with the caption “National Socialist Healthcare.” It was grotesque — and it was also ominous. For what we may be seeing is America starting to be Californiafied.

The key thing to understand about that rally is that it wasn’t a fringe event. It was sponsored by the House Republican leadership — in fact, it was officially billed as a G.O.P. press conference. Senior lawmakers were in attendance, and apparently had no problem with the tone of the proceedings.

True, Eric Cantor, the second-ranking House Republican, offered some mild criticism after the fact. But the operative word is “mild.” The signs were “inappropriate,” said his spokesman, and the use of Hitler comparisons by such people as Rush Limbaugh, said Mr. Cantor, “conjures up images that frankly are not, I think, very helpful.”

What all this shows is that the G.O.P. has been taken over by the people it used to exploit.

The state of mind visible at recent right-wing demonstrations is nothing new. Back in 1964 the historian Richard Hofstadter published an essay titled, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” which reads as if it were based on today’s headlines: Americans on the far right, he wrote, feel that “America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion.” Sound familiar?…(Remainder)

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GOP Health Care Plan

By Mike Luckovich
Truthdig



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The Night They Drove the Tea Partiers Down

By Frank Rich
The New York Times

For all cable news’s efforts to inflate Election 2009 into a cliffhanger as riveting as Balloon Boy, ratings at MSNBC and CNN were flat Tuesday night. But not at Fox News, where the audience nearly doubled its usual prime-time average. That’s what happens when you have a thrilling story to tell, and what could be more thrilling than a revolution playing out in real time?

As Fox kept insisting, all eyes were glued on Doug Hoffman, the insurgent tea party candidate in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. A “tidal wave” was on its way, said Sean Hannity, and the right would soon “take back the Republican Party.” The race was not “even close,” Bill O’Reilly suggested to the pollster Scott Rasmussen, who didn’t disagree. When returns showed Hoffman trailing, the network’s resident genius, Karl Rove, knowingly reassured viewers that victory was in the bag, even if we’d have to stay up all night waiting for some slacker towns to tally their votes.

Alas, the Dewey-beats-Truman reveries died shortly after midnight, when even Fox had to concede that the Democrat, Bill Owens, had triumphed in what had been Republican country since before Edison introduced the light bulb. For the far right, the thriller in Watertown was over except for the ludicrous morning-after spin that Hoffman’s loss was really a victory. For the Democrats, the excitement was just beginning. New York’s 23rd could be celebrated as a rare bright spot on a night when the party’s gubernatorial candidates lost in Virginia and New Jersey....(Remainder.)

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Sucking Sound: The Return of the Perot Voter



Tuesday’s groundswells were less about a GOP renaissance than the return of the Perotistas.

By John Heilemann
New York Magazine
Illustration: Dan Goldman


The results of last week’s off-year elections produced plenty of fodder for interpolation by partisans on both sides—some of it valid, some of it loopy, and all of it predictably self-serving. But amid the competing claims and counterclaims, the single fact that struck me most forcefully was one that virtually no one put their finger on. Nearly twenty years after a peculiar little bat-eared billionaire with a penchant for Tourette’s-like outbursts (“It’s just that simple!” “End of story!” “Here’s the beauty part!”) seized an outsize place on the national stage, the spiritual inheritors of the movement he sparked appear to be very much alive and well. Yes, that’s right, the Perot voter is back with a vengeance.

The signs of the resurgence of the Perotista impulse have been apparent for months, as the ranks of self-identified independent voters have swelled (to as high as 43 percent of the electorate, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC poll), and as those voters have increasingly voiced concerns over everything from Obamacare to the deficit to the federal takeover of G.M. The president’s approval ratings among independents have fallen from over 60 percent in the first half of the year into the mid-forties. And that cohort, which Obama carried in both New Jersey and Virginia last year, sided with GOP gubernatorial candidates Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell last week by 30 points each.

The White House well understands that reclaiming the allegiance of independents is essential to the Democrats’ prospects in 2010—that is, to limiting the number of losses the party is almost certain to suffer, if historical trends hold true. The obvious answer is to emphasize deficit reduction in Obama’s next budget, a goal that OMB director Peter Orszag has consistently indicated is very much in the cards. The equally obvious problem with that approach is the state of the economy: With unemployment headed inexorably into double digits and overall demand still weak, most economists argue that belt-tightening too soon might cripple the recovery, and many contend that what’s needed, indeed, is more stimulus, not less….(Remainder)

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The Forever War of the Mind

By Max Cleland
The New York Times


“EVERY day I was in Vietnam, I thought about home. And, every day I’ve been home, I’ve thought about Vietnam.” So said one of the millions of soldiers who fought there as I did. Change the name of the battlefield and it could have been said by one of the American servicemen coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan today. Wars are not over when the shooting stops. They live on in the lives of those who fight them. That is the curse of the soldier. He never forgets.

While the authorities say they cannot yet tell us why an Army psychiatrist would go on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas, we do know the sorts of stories he had been dealing with as he tried to help those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan readjust to life outside the war zone. A soldier’s mind can be just as dangerous to himself, and to those around him, as wars fought on traditional battlefields.

War is haunting. Death. Pain. Blood. Dismemberment. A buddy dying in your arms. Imagine trying to get over the memory of a bomb splitting a Humvee apart beneath your feet and taking your leg with it. The first time I saw the stilled bodies of American soldiers dead on the battlefield is as stark and brutal a memory as the one of the grenade that ripped off my right arm and both legs.

No, the soldier never forgets. But neither should the rest of us.

Veterans returning today represent the first real influx of combat-wounded soldiers in a generation. They are returning to a nation unprepared for what war does to the soul. Those new veterans will need all of our help. After America’s wars, the used-up fighters are too often left to fend for themselves. Many of the hoboes in the Depression were veterans of World War I. When they came home, they were labeled shell-shocked and discharged from the Army too broken to make it during the economic cataclysm.

So it is again, with too many stories about veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan ending up unemployed and homeless. Figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs show that 131,000 of the nation’s 24 million veterans are homeless each night, and about twice that many will spend part of this year homeless....(Remainder.)

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Republicans vs. the Palinites

By Eugene Robinson
Truthdig

Democrats have some thinking to do after Tuesday’s elections, but Republicans don’t have time to think. They’re too busy trying to survive the party’s internal purge and avoid being shipped off to political Siberia.

Will loyal members inform on others for harboring suspiciously moderate views? Will anyone judged guilty have to wear a sign saying “Republican In Name Only” as penance? Will there be re-education camps? Will deviationists face the enhanced interrogation technique of being forced to listen to the wit and wisdom of Glenn Beck, at ear-splitting volume, for days on end?

Or worse: When Sarah Palin’s memoir, “Going Rogue,” hits the bookstores later this month, will the ideologically impure be required to read—and commit to memory—every golden word? Her publisher might consider culling the highlights into a pocket edition. That way, any Republican caught without a copy of “Quotations from Chairman Sarah” could be summarily expelled from the party.

The big story from Tuesday’s vote ought to be that independents, who gave Democrats their sweeping victory last November, went with the Republicans this time in New Jersey and Virginia. Indeed, Democrats are trying to figure out what this means. Given President Barack Obama’s continuing personal popularity, has his cool, nonconfrontational, consensus-building style been the right strategy all along? Or, as some on the left believe, did a lack of fight and fervor leave independents cold? Or was it all about the unemployment numbers?

But the Democrats’ soul-searching is far less compelling than the Republicans’ civil war. The “tea party” conservatives—led by Palin, Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Armey and others fed up with the GOP “establishment”—managed to get Democrat Bill Owens elected in a solidly Republican upstate New York congressional district. They accomplished this feat by driving the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, from the race because of her apostasy on abortion and gay rights....(Remainder.)

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Insane Christo-Fascist Fundamentalist Teacher Claims Fingerprinting Is ‘Mark of the Beast’

By David Kravets
Treat Level Blog @ Wired.com

A 22-year veteran kindergarten teacher in the Texas Bible Belt could lose her job for refusing, on religious grounds, to give fingerprints under a state law requiring them.

The evangelical Christian, Pam McLaurin, is fighting a looming suspension, claiming that fingerprinting amounts to the “Mark of the Beast,” and hence is a violation of her First Amendment right to practice her religion. Her case is similar to a lawsuit by a group of Michigan farmers, some of them Amish, challenging rules requiring the tagging of livestock with RFID chips, saying the devices are also the devil’s mark.

The latest case is the first in which a teacher is refusing fingerprinting on religious grounds, the woman’s lawyer said. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether the First Amendment is implicated in fingerprinting, especially at a time when states, local governments and civic organizations are increasingly making them mandatory for anyone wanting to drive a car or coach a youth basketball team.McLaurin’s lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency cites various passages of Revelation, the final book of The Bible:
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand and on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.… Then a third angel followed them saying with a loud voice — if anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.… He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
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The Tea Party's Takeover of the GOP

The anti-health care reform rally in Washington indicates the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement are increasingly one and the same.

By Stephanie Mencimer
Mother Jones
Photo: andrewaliferis (flickr under Creative Commons)


You have to hand it to Michele Bachmann: She has succeeded in turning the GOP into one big Tea Party.

This past weekend, the Minnesota Republican went on Fox News and called on viewers to show up on the Capitol lawn on Thursday at noon for a press conference and a last ditch attempt to kill health care reform. The gathering that resulted was marked by the now-routine extremism of the Tea Party conservatives. "I'm a bitter gun owner who votes," read one sign. Others questioned President Obama’s citizenship, portrayed him as Sambo, or called him a traitor. One said, "Obama takes his orders from the Rothschilds." Old ladies wore red T-shirts decrying "Obamao care." The crowd also took spirited swipes at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At one point someone yelled, "Put down your Botox and show yourself."

But what was most noteworthy was that the entire House Republican leadership was also in attendance—and their rhetoric was just as over-the-top as some of the protesters. House Minority Leader John Boehner declared the health care bill the "greatest threat to freedom I have seen." In essence, Congressional Republicans were merging with a movement that gives open expression to racist and anti-Semitic sentiments….(Remainder.)

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Supreme Court Appears Split on Tackling Rogue Prosecutors

The Supreme Court Wednesday heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by two Iowa men who spent 25 in prison after prosecutors allegedly fabricated evidence against them. Justices seemed divided on the issue of how much immunity prosecutors should enjoy.

By Warren Richey
The Christian Science Monitor


Washington - The US Supreme Court on Wednesday took up the difficult issue of what to do about unscrupulous prosecutors willing to induce false testimony and hide exculpatory evidence to convict innocent defendants.

At issue in Pottawattamie County v. McGhee is whether two men sent to prison for life are entitled to sue the local prosecutors in Iowa who helped arrange false testimony that led to their wrongful convictions.

Both men served 25 years in prison before being released after investigators discovered the false testimony and uncovered exculpatory evidence never disclosed to defense lawyers.

The high court has long recognized that prosecutors presenting a case at trial enjoy absolute immunity from citizen lawsuits seeking compensation for alleged violations of their constitutional rights.

But the court has also recognized that a prosecutor may not enjoy the protections of absolute immunity when serving not as a trial advocate but as an investigator searching for clues and corroboration that a crime has been committed.

During oral argument on Wednesday, the justices split into three camps. In one camp were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, and Sonia Sotomayor, who appeared primarily concerned with ensuring that victims of such prosecutorial misconduct have a potential remedy through a civil lawsuit….(Remainder.)

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Charlie Crist Claims He Didn't Endorse Stimulus Bill

By Aaron Sharockman
PolitiFact


Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, facing a potentially bruising Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, continues to run from any assertion that he is linked to President Barack Obama.

Last week Crist told reporters he didn't know Obama was traveling in Florida. On Wednesday, Crist told a national television audience he didn't endorse the $787 billion federal stimulus bill pushed by Obama and passed by Congress in February.

"I didn't endorse it," Crist told CNN host Wolf Blitzer. "I — you know, I didn't even have a vote on the darned thing. But I understood that it was going to pass and I wanted to be able to utilize it for the benefit of my fellow Floridians."

This, from the same man who skipped a Florida Cabinet meeting to campaign with Obama for the stimulus in Fort Myers in February? Who went on national talk shows and across the state selling the plan?

As the interview continued, Crist got on a roll.

"You know, unfortunately, the president thinks that everything we need to do for every problem that comes along is spend more money and that's just wrong," he said.

"Frankly, enough is enough. And I know that the people understand that. And I understand it. And I understand it because I'm the grandson of a Greek immigrant who came to this country with nothing, really taught me the value of a dollar, because his first job in America, in Altoona, Pa., was shining shoes for a living for $5 a month."

Crist's comments about the stimulus startled conservatives, Democrats, and frankly, us, who all remember things differently….(Remainder.)

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Opponents of House Health Reform Bill Received 15 Percent More in Health Industry Contributions Than Supporters

By Michael Beckel
Capital Eye Blog at OpenSecrets.org

The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed its version of a landmark health insurance reform bill Saturday night, 220-215, and opponents of the measure have received an average of 15 percent more from health industry and health insurance interests over the past 20 years, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis has found.

All but one of the 177-member caucus of the Republican Party opposed the bill, as did 39 members of the Democratic Party. The Center for Responsive Politics found that these members of Congress received an average of $502,650 from health industry and health insurance companies and employees since 1989.

The lone Republican vote in favor of the measure came from Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.), who beat embattled Democrat incumbent William Jefferson in a special election last year. In August of this year, Jefferson was convicted on corruption charges. Cao is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents, representing a district carried by President Barack Obama during the 2008 election.

The Center further found that Cao, along with the 219 members of the Democratic Party that supported this legislation received an average of $437,100 from health industry and health insurance companies and employees since 1989.

On average, opponents received $65,550 -- or 15 percent -- more from these special interests than supporters over the past 20 years.

The CRP analysis looked at all contributions from the political action committees and employees associated with health sector companies, as well as employees and PACs affiliated with finance sector insurance companies that also sell health insurance....(Remainder.)

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Porcine Piece of Shit, Breitbart, Fabricates Smear that SEIU's Stern is “Sending SEIU Goons” to “Beat Up Innocent Americans”

By Media Matters

In November 8 comments posted on his Twitter account, Andrew Breitbart accused Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern of "sending SEIU goons" to "beat up innocent Americans." However, the article to which Breitbart linked offered no evidence to support the claim that Stern was involved in violence at a local SEIU office in Sacramento, and it reported comments from local SEIU leaders that disputed the purported victim's account of the incident.

Breitbart to Stern: "Stop sending SEIU goons 2 beat up innocent Americans." On his Twitter account, Breitbart accused Stern of sending "goons" to inflict violence on California state employee and SEIU critic Ken Hamidi. Breitbart also challenged Stern: "Lets settle it like men, u&me. Im dead serious." [Breitbart's Twitter account, 11/08/09]

Linked article provided no evidence to support Breitbart's claim. Breitbart linked to a November 6 article on the website of KCRA, a local Sacramento television station, reporting that Hamidi "claims that union leaders ordered him to be assaulted" at an SEIU Local 1000 meeting. However, the article also quoted a local SEIU official claiming that it was Hamidi, not local SEIU members, who initiated the violence.

From the KCRA article:
A state employee claims he was assaulted Thursday by four or five union members at a Service Employees International Union Local 1000 meeting.

The man also claims that union leaders ordered him to be assaulted.

"They were ordering them to get me thrown out, saying, 'Throw him out of here, throw him out of here. Beat the hell out of him.'" Ken Hamidi said.

However, union leaders told a different version of what happened.

"He came to a union meeting with another woman who had film equipment. He was asked to leave," Yvonne Walker, President of SEIU Local 1000, said. "When he refused, he became abusive to members of our staff. He actually physically assaulted a couple of our staff people." [KCRA.com, 11/6/09]


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Backlash Grows in Maine Against Bishop Malone and the Catholic Diocese

By Joe Sudbay
AMERICAblog

The marriage campaign in Maine is going to end up costing Bishop Malone much more than $550,000.

This morning, there was a silent protest in front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine. That's the church my parents attend, where I was baptized and confirmed and where we had the funerals for my grandparents. The Facebook crowd was organizing the protest, but when I told my 73 year old mother about it (and she's not the Facebook crowd), she said, "Oh, I wish I knew." It's hard to explain the significance of that. My mother also just read this letter to the editor to me from Saturday's Portland Press Herald:
It is ironic that Maine Bishop Malone is thanking those who helped repeal the law permitting same-sex marriage, saying that "these past few months have served as a teaching opportunity to explain to parishioners and the wider community about how and why the church views and values marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

Newsflash to Bishop Malone: civil rights are not "values." And, as the multitude of successful lawsuits against the church on behalf of exploited children will attest, you long ago surrendered your legitimacy to dictate morality regarding sex.

People of faith and others will continue the work against discrimination and toward a real "wider community," not a shrouded endorsement of prejudice. And we will pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Patricia Brinkman

Portland

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Right Wing Hypocrisy, Wide Spread and Spreading Further

By James Hipps
Gay Agenda

As most of us outside of the “Right Wing” know, there is a great deal of hypocrisy within. Yes…they tout grand lectures of smaller government, but is that what they really want? Perhaps, as long as that smaller government interferes on issues they don’t support.

An excellent example is pointed out on Irregular Times (click link for entire post):
When I speak of the “right wing”, I don’t just mean the Republican Party. I also mean to refer to a coalition of Democrats in Congress that has been fighting health care reform all year long. The coalition changes its tactics with the needs of the moment, but right now, that group is blocking health care reform legislation by demanding that all private insurance companies that participate in a new marketplace for government funded marketplace stop their current coverage for abortion. That provision is found within an amendment that Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak has demanded be considered, threatening to block health care reform legislation completely if it does not come up to a vote.

What the right wing, in the Republican Party and within the Democratic Party, is now arguing for is what it had been arguing against: Government interference in private health insurance plans. They’re demanding that the government ration health care. They’re arguing in favor of increased government power. They’re arguing in favor of more bureaucratic regulations, interfering with the free market delivery of health care.
So, first the right wing was against government interference, when it was associated with health care reform moving forward. Now, the right wing is in favor of government interference, when it is associated with the obstruction of health care reform. It seems that the right wing actually has no consistent opposition to government regulation. The consistent factor in the debate is the right wing’s opposition to health care reform, whatever that takes.
Now some of us, yes I’m included, have stated that it’s only a matter of time, in respect to the majority of right-wingers are older and eventually they’ll die off and progress will prevail.  However, let’s not become too comfortable with that thought....(Remainder.)

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Rep. Diana DeGette's Objection to the Stupak Abortion Amendment

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Can't Get Queer From Here

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Can't Get Queer From Here
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

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Wanda Sykes Should be Obama's New "Ass Kickin' Right-Wing Ass Czar!"

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Contrary to Reality, Frank "The Wig that Ate Manhattan" Luntz Claims IN, NE, & AR Voters "Don't Want" Health Care Reform

By Media Matters

On ABC's This Week, Republican pollster Frank Luntz claimed that voters in Indiana, Nebraska, and Arkansas "do not want" health care reform because of "the cost to the deficit." In fact, recent polling indicates that voters in all three states support or are split on creating the public option -- a key element in health care reform -- and the recently passed House health care reform bill is projected to reduce, not add to, the deficit....(Remainder.)


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Charlie Rangel & the Orange Boner Wrangle Over Gov't Funding of Abortion


By Heather
Crooks and Liars

One of John Boehner's more childish moments on the House floor tonight, asking Charlie Rangel for assurances on what's going to come out of the Conference Committee in the final bill, and cutting him off before he has a chance to answer him....(Original.)

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Chris Wallace Crawls Right Up into VA Gov-elect McDonnell's Colon: He's On "Short-List" for Veep


By Nicole Belle
Crooks and Liars

[[Double take]] Wha-wha-wha????
It sounds silly to bring up less than a week after your election, but some political junkies here in Washington—some very powerful ones—are already saying that you will be on the short list of vice presidential candidates come 2012 for the Republican Party. Do you harbor any national ambitions, sir?
How did Chris Wallace get inside my nightmares? And what the hell is he smoking?

The famous Fox News "some people say" followed by a statement that nobody who really wants to keep the Republican Party vital would actually want? And who is on the "short list" for President? Palin? Wow. Between the two of them, they'd have..what? three years governance experience between them? Brilliant!

The oppo research on this guy is so rich that I almost hope the Republican Party is this stupid. Bring it on, GOP, bring it on....(Original.)

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Gail Shister Tells Howard Kurtz that Fox's Interview of the Pig-Man is an "Eff You!" to White House

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Olbermann Awards the Oxy-Moron WPITW 'Silver' for His 'Anal Poisoning' Obsession

By David Edwards
The Raw Story

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named Rush Limbaugh one of the world's worst people Thursday evening for saying that an HBO special about President Barack Obama should get "anal poisoning."

In fact, Olbermann noted, Limbaugh has mentioned "anal poisoning" 13 times in the past 2 years. Limbaugh has also referenced "men bending over and grabbing their ankles" 19 times. Olbermann suggests that Limbaugh could have a medical condition that led to his fascination with that region of the body.

"There is actually no disease called anal poisoning," Olbermann quips. "The best anyone could come up with by explanation is that it's a term frequently used in pornography."

Olbermann called it Limbaugh's "favorite disturbing imagery."

Snopes.com notes that Limbaugh was probably disqualified from the draft due to his anal cyst:
It's highly unlikely that Limbaugh only "discovered" he had a high school football knee injury several years after the fact or was unaware that a bad knee was reason for a physical deferment, so the pilonidal cyst is the far more probable explanation.



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On CNN, Kurtz & Shister, Discuss Fox Asshat Kilmeade's "Special Debriefings" of Muslim Officers

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Intense Review Is Expected for NBC Deal

By Brian Stelter
The New York Times

The Center for Digital Democracy, a public interest group, has already called the potential union of Comcast and NBC Universal “the equivalent of Godzilla swallowing Rockefeller Center.”

Clearly, some media reform advocates are girding for a fight.

Comcast’s plan to gain control of NBC Universal, which is expected to be announced in the weeks ahead, barring any unforeseen developments, is likely to be the first major test of the Obama administration’s media regulators. Given its scope, analysts and public interest groups anticipate that the deal will undergo intense government scrutiny.

Comcast and General Electric, which owns 80 percent of NBC Universal, are close to a deal that would give Comcast a stake of about 51 percent in NBC, people close to the deal have said. The programming arms of both companies could be spun out into a separate venture, according to those people.

The venture would create a media behemoth. Comcast is the biggest cable system operator in the United States. NBC Universal owns broadcast networks and a portfolio of popular cable channels.

Bernstein Research has estimated that the combined entity “would be calling the shots for one out of every five viewing hours in the United States.”

Outlets controlled by Comcast, however, would still represent only a small fraction of the channels on most customers’ lineups.

One prominent progressive group with a history of opposing media mergers, Free Press, has flagged the combination as being “bad for the public interest.” The Center for Digital Democracy told Broadcasting & Cable magazine last month that the deal would be “a political test for the Obama team.”

As a candidate, President Obama called for closer inspection of media mergers and said Bush-era media consolidation had diminished the diversity of information available to TV viewers....(Remainder.)

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