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Ferguson Adds Hilarious Sound Effects To Jan Brewer's Awful Opening Debate Statement (VIDEO)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

@CraigyFerg is freakin' hysterical!

Via The Huffington Post

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Hannity: 'I can't find any' racist Tea Party signs

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is Sean Hannity really that stupid? That's a rhetorical question obviously, of course he is.

From crooksandliars.com

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Private Sector Employment has Increased for 6 Straight Months

Thursday, July 15, 2010


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Vice President Biden Responds to Joe Barton's Apology to BP

Friday, June 18, 2010


Vice President Joe Biden calls Congressman Joe Barton’s statements about the BP escrow fund and his apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward as “incredibly insensitive” and “incredibly out of touch” in response to a reporter’s question at a White House Press Briefing.


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The Low Countries' New Low

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

That so many people in the Netherlands and Belgium have voted along ethnic lines in their respective elections is unsettling

By Iliana Bet-El
The Guardian
Photo: Dirk Waem/EPA

The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg were once collectively known as the Low Countries, largely by Britain which eyed them from across the Channel, and often fought them too. Over the centuries this rather disparate grouping of people and interests passed from ruler to empire, from Charlemagne to the Bourbons, through the Spanish and eventually the Dutch, before finally gaining official separation with the creation of Belgium in 1830, and the demise of the union between the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 1890. As a result of this history, there is nothing worse than lumping two or three of these states together in any way – which makes it all the more ironic to mark how alike they seem to have become.

Both the Netherlands and Belgium have been to the polls within days of each other, and both have produced rather similar results: a rise in narrow national, near-nationalist interests, coupled with a strong socialist showing. These are interesting trends....(Remainder.)

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N-VA (Flemish Separatist Party) in the international spotlight

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Via Flandersnews.be

With less than a week to go before the General Election international interest is growing in the platform of the Flemish nationalist party N-VA. The party sees Flemish independence as its ultimate goal and a Belgian confederation as a staging post towards this objective.

On Tuesday the party attracted considerable attention at a specially organised 'international' news conference.

A party spokesman told the daily De Standaard that this was the only way to deal with all the queries it was receiving from international journalists based in Brussels.

At the news conference the party explained its key policies in French, English, German, Spanish and Italian. N-VA leader Bart De Wever also set out his party's view on Flanders, Belgium and Europe.

On Monday alone the party was contacted by the Montreal Daily, the Estonian Public Broadcaster and Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine.

The daily De Morgen writes that international interest is linked to several factors. There's tumbling confidence among foreign investors that has dented the value of Belgian state bonds in recent days. This is making it increasingly expensive for the Belgian State to borrow money on the international markets.

Investors are following the political developments in Belgium with baited breath. Fears about a new period of political instability after the election have triggered concerns about a delay in tackling economic problems including the state debt. International investors and the international press are all worried....(Remainder)

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Now, THIS is the Man I Voted For! Fighting for Health Insurance Reform

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

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Iran and U.S. Wingnuts: a 9/11 Love Story

Monday, March 08, 2010

By John Avlon
The Daily Beast
Photo: Associated Press

Ahmadinejad this weekend called 9/11 a "big lie." In doing so, he was just echoing what a particularly sick brand of American wingnut, the "truther," has been saying for years. John Avlon, author of Wingnuts, on some virulent bedfellows.

It was perhaps inevitable that the world’s most notorious Holocaust denier would out himself as a 9/11 Truther. This weekend, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pronounced the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, a "big lie," "a complicated intelligence scenario and act" and "a pretext for the campaign against terrorism and a prelude for staging an invasion against Afghanistan."

He echoed claims long made by one of the most virulent conspiracy theories to infect recent American politics—the Orwellian named 9/11 Truthers, who believe the attack was an inside job.

It is appropriate that Ahmadinejad used the phrase the "big lie," first coined by Adolph Hitler in Mein Kampf to explain the psychology behind propaganda campaigns of misinformation. "In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility," Hitler wrote, because "It would never come into [most people's] heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."

The Big Lie can be seductive. It masquerades as reason, even scientific inquiry, but it leads down a path confirming your worst suspicions about your worst enemy. Its proponents cast themselves cast themselves as populist truth tellers taking on powerful interests, but many are trying to profit personally or politically by stirring up fear and paranoia.

The Pentagon gunman John Patrick Bedell was an extreme example of an unstable soul who bought into these claims. But he is far from alone. Five years after the attack, a Scripps Howard poll found that thirty-six percent of Americans believed the federal government "either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action" because they "wanted to go to war in the Middle East." Sixteen percent thought the World Trade Center might have collapsed because of secret explosives—a claim made by Bedell in his online writings. Not long ago, purple "9/11 was an Inside Job" stickers were ubiquitous on New York City street-corners and in 2008 Truthers rallied around the presidential candidacy of leftist Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney as well as Texas libertarian Ron Paul, winner of this year’s CPAC straw poll....(Remainder.)

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Calling All Rebels

By Chris Hedges
Truthdig


There are no constraints left to halt America’s slide into a totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics are a sham. The media have been debased and defanged by corporate owners. The working class has been impoverished and is now being plunged into profound despair. The legal system has been corrupted to serve corporate interests. Popular institutions, from labor unions to political parties, have been destroyed or emasculated by corporate power. And any form of protest, no matter how tepid, is blocked by an internal security apparatus that is starting to rival that of the East German secret police. The mounting anger and hatred, coursing through the bloodstream of the body politic, make violence and counter-violence inevitable. Brace yourself. The American empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying.

Those singled out as internal enemies will include people of color, immigrants, gays, intellectuals, feminists, Jews, Muslims, union leaders and those defined as “liberals.” They will be condemned as anti-American and blamed for our decline. The economic collapse, which remains mysterious and enigmatic to most Americans, will be pinned by demagogues and hatemongers on these hapless scapegoats. And the random acts of violence, which are already leaping up around the fringes of American society, will justify harsh measures of internal control that will snuff out the final vestiges of our democracy. The corporate forces that destroyed the country will use the information systems they control to mask their culpability. The old game of blaming the weak and the marginal, a staple of despotic regimes, will empower the dark undercurrents of sadism and violence within American society and deflect attention from the corporate vampires that have drained the blood of the country.

“We are going to be poorer,” David Cay Johnston told me. Johnston was the tax reporter of The New York Times for 13 years and has written on how the corporate state rigged the system against us. He is the author of “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With the Bill,” a book about hidden subsidies, rigged markets and corporate socialism. “Health care is going to eat up more and more of our income. We are going to have less and less for other things. We are going to have some huge disasters sooner or later caused by our failure to invest. Dams and bridges will break. Buildings will collapse. There are water mains that are 25 to 50 feet wide. There will be huge infrastructure disasters. Our intellectual resources are in decline. We are failing to educate young people and instill in them rigor. We are going to continue to pour money into the military. I think it is possible, I do not say it is probable, that we will have a revolution, a civil war that will see the end of the United States of America.”...(Remainder.)

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History Channel Smears President Kennedy

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So Long Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Adieu

Friday, January 29, 2010

After a lot of internal back and forth, I have decided that this is the end of the road for this blog.

I was spending hours and hours each day making posts, to an audience of 20.  Hardly seems worth the effort.

So now, because of my health issues, and me being sick to death of politics now, this blog will go away, along with my YouTube channels.  I hope everyone who has read my blog has found it informative.

Cheers!

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Why Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh Ought to Be Dropped Into Haiti as Food

Thursday, January 14, 2010

By Rude One
The Rude Pundit

Seriously, did you think that Pat Robertson wasn't going to be a completely batshit insane fuckbag about Haiti? C'mon: natural disaster, scary black people, hoodoo-voodoo shit? It's the first Jesus boner Robertson's had in over four years, since he blamed New Orleans for being some kind of gay, sinning magnet for Hurricane Katrina. Robertson said that Haiti only overthrew colonial control because the slaves there made a pact with the devil. "True story," he assured us, despite the fact that it's false. (Sure, yeah, fine, Robertson's got relief organizations working in Haiti. Doesn't make him less of an asshole.)

By the way, if you wanna prove your God is so goddamn powerful, let him cause an earthquake somewhere that's not on a fault line, or let him whip up a hurricane in, say, the middle of the desert. Otherwise, shut the fuck up about how big and strong he is. In fact, Pat Robertson, you saggy, sick, senile fuck who needed to be ground up into soylent green about a decade ago or buried alive with Jerry Falwell's corpse, if your God is such a dick that he'd try to prove some bullshit point by flattening a country of poor, beaten down people, then fuck your God. Motherfucker oughta spend some time hanging with his son to learn how to treat the meek. (And as for Robertson's nodding sidekick there, Kristi Watts, others have put it quite nicely.)

Other ugliness will rear its ugly head, as is the wont of ugliness. And while writing about Rush Limbaugh twice in one week is like researching burn victim goatse (Note: don't), the man who sadly did not die a couple of weeks ago used the Haiti earthquake as a way to attack President Barack Obama in many bizarre ways.

- According to Limbaugh, there's some kind of equivalence between the deluded fucktard who sparked his balls aflame on an airplane on Christmas and a major catastrophe that has destroyed a country and probably killed tens of thousands of people: "Now, I want you to remember, it took him three days to respond to the Christmas Day Fruit of Kaboom Bomber, three days. And when he came out after those three days, he was clearly irritated that he had to do it. He didn't want to do it. He comes out here in less than 24 hours to speak about Haiti." It's a little like saying, "How dare those bastards in the ER deal with a code blue heart attack while I'm sitting here with an ass pimple that needs popping."...(Remainder.)

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Keith Olbermann Rips the Pig-Man and Robertson a New Asshole

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Prop 8 is Simply Unconstitutional

By Lisa Bloom
CNN

Editor's note: Lisa Bloom is a CNN legal analyst and is the managing partner of The Bloom Firm, where she practices civil and criminal law.

(CNN) -- A pop star could have a quickie Vegas wedding tomorrow, to a man she meets tonight, if she so chooses. Scott Peterson, convicted of the murder of his pregnant wife and on death row, has an inalienable right to a prison wedding with a female pen pal if the mood strikes him.

Indiana grandmother Linda Wolfe holds the Guinness World Records title for most marriages: 23. One lasted just 36 hours. She's on the lookout for No. 24, and when she finds him, no law can stop her from marrying him.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held unanimously that "the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man."

So basic, so important, so fundamental, in constitutional parlance, that no state can interfere with even the most reckless heterosexual nuptials.

Yet in most states, my friends Wilbert and Carlos, "free men" together 16 years and lovingly raising a son, are shut out of the 1,100 federal and hundreds of state legal benefits that come with marriage. These include the right to visit a spouse in a hospital and make medical decisions; employer sick and bereavement leave; inheritance rights; the right to give unlimited gifts to a spouse without gift tax; disability, pension, and Social Security benefits; the right to bring a wrongful death case; the right to refuse to testify against a spouse; or the right to prevent the deportation of a foreign-born partner by marriage, among others....(Remainder.)

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Rachel Maddow Discuss Prop 8 With Olson and Boies




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Hatian Ambassador Calls Out Pat Robertson



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Beck and Palin -- Stupid in Stereo

By Simon Maloy
Media Matters

I'm watching the Glenn Beck interview of Sarah Palin, and it's really leaving me speechless that two people who are so woefully and determinedly uninformed have such an impact on the national discourse.

Beck just asked Palin if she'd heard about the Federal Reserve's record profits for last year, and then bemoaned that "nobody's having hearings on the Fed, nobody is looking for a windfall profit tax on the Fed, we can't even open the Fed's books." Palin responded by thanking Beck for "bringing this to light," adding: "I don't know anybody else who is."

There's a very simple reason why no one else is talking about taxing the Fed's profits or having hearings or even discussing this -- because people who care to know what they're talking about already know that 100 percent of the Fed's profits go to the Treasury. Every single cent. There is no talk of a windfall profits tax because it's already effectively at 100 percent.

Perhaps if Beck put his crack research staff on the case, or if Palin spent a little less time lying on Facebook, they would know basic facts like these before making (greater) fools of themselves on national television....(Original.)

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Pat Robertson Blames Haiti's "Pact To The Devil" For Catastrophe

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Public Not Buying Conservatives' Fearmongering Over Obama's Handling of Terrorism


By Tom Allison
Media Matters


The conservative media have followed the script on attacking President Obama's anti-terror policies since the attempted Christmas Day bombing -- from Politico basically providing stenography for Dick Cheney's claim that Obama's policies make us "less safe" to media claiming that the president isn't taking the terrorist threat seriously. This week, Human Events editor Jed Babbin wrote that with the first anniversary of Obama's inauguration at hand, it was time to ask whether his policies have made the country safer. Babbin declared: "By every objective measure -- what we know about Islamic terrorism, its intentions and capabilities -- the answer is no. We are far less safe now than we were then."
All this is a weak attempt to reinforce the stereotype that, despite the Bush administration's failures at stopping domestic terrorism, Republicans are "good" at national security.
But the American people aren't buying it. In the past week, three separate polls have shown that more Americans approve of Obama's handling of terrorism than disapprove.
First came the January 11 CNN poll that found that 65 percent of those polled had a great deal or moderate amount of confidence in the Obama administration to protect America from terrorism and that 57 percent approved of his response to the Christmas Day terror attempt.
Also on January 11, CBS released a poll showing that 52 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama's handling of terrorism; and 71 percent had a "great deal" or a "fair amount" of confidence in the government's ability to protect them from a terrorist attack. The funny thing about that number is that it's an increase from 66 percent in July 2007 under the Bush administration....(Remainder.)

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So Rush Limbaugh Must Believe That Sarah Palin Is a Dangerously Unstable Idiot

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

By Rude One
The Rude Pundit

Mostly, the Rude Pundit doesn't give a frantic ratfuck about the supposed "revelations" in the book Game Change because it won't change anything. It seems like Primary Colors, except it's pretending to be truth rather than fiction. It'll make a fine HBO movie, and more people will read the index than the full book.

But conservatives nutzoids are leaping around like dolphins whose Sea World tank is a meth dumping pond about the unsourced, paraphrased (or outright created) comments of Bill Clinton (wow, did you know he wanted Hillary to be president really, really badly and might have said some mean things? It's true). And, of course, Harry Reid's comments are like a velvet-lined pussy to right-wing commentators, who have jumped on Reid to fuck away madly.

Rush Limbaugh gleefully danced like a gelatinous circus bear on his show yesterday over the Reid and Clinton parts of Game Change. Man, he couldn't get enough of it, even laying out a buddy movie with Robert Byrd and Harry Reid, involving shoeshining: "The shoe shiners are dark-skinned Negroes, just to highlight the stars' tolerance here. In the background you'd have a light-skinned Negro serving a young Bill Clinton coffee." There's more, but who the fuck cares because it's just not funny. By the way, Limbaugh wasn't using "Negro" in quotation marks. He was just using it.

The point here is that Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, in Game Change, also describe some pretty devastating scenes with Sarah Palin. Like that she was prone to wild mood swings and didn't know jackshit about anything: "She couldn’t explain why North and South Korea were separate nations and she did not know what the Federal Reserve did. She also said she believed Saddam Hussein attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001." And, of course, she kept calling the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate "Senator O'Biden." But that's just charming, you betcha....(Remainder.)

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Health Care Reform: Easier Than It Looks

Monday, January 11, 2010

By E.J. Dionne
Truthdig

Reaching agreement on a health care bill is harder in theory than it will be in practice.

Between now and the day the measure goes to President Barack Obama’s desk, there will be many crisis points, much posturing and dire warnings of impending failure. There are real differences between the bills passed by the House and the Senate. The last few votes are always the most difficult to get.

But more than negotiators can afford to acknowledge openly, there is broad agreement on the kinds of concessions the Senate can make to the House and still preserve the 60 votes needed for passage. Indeed, some of those concessions will be eagerly sought by progressive Democratic senators.

Over the last week, I’ve been talking with key figures in the House, Senate and White House, and the outlines of a deal are becoming reasonably clear. The public option is, alas, dead. But the idea of setting up a national insurance exchange—alongside state exchanges—where the uninsured can purchase coverage is very much alive. The House is demanding this as the price for giving up on the public plan, and a national exchange would provide for much more consumer-friendly regulation of health insurance policies.

Almost everyone in both houses wants to find ways of making insurance more affordable. Steps in this direction would include more generous subsidies for the purchase of insurance than those in the Senate bill, and expanding on its Medicaid provisions. The bill’s overall price tag will grow from the Senate’s $871 billion over a decade, probably to somewhere in the range of $930 billion to $950 billion....(Remainder.)

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Learning From Europe

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

As health care reform nears the finish line, there is much wailing and rending of garments among conservatives. And I’m not just talking about the tea partiers. Even calmer conservatives have been issuing dire warnings that Obamacare will turn America into a European-style social democracy. And everyone knows that Europe has lost all its economic dynamism.

Strange to say, however, what everyone knows isn’t true. Europe has its economic troubles; who doesn’t? But the story you hear all the time — of a stagnant economy in which high taxes and generous social benefits have undermined incentives, stalling growth and innovation — bears little resemblance to the surprisingly positive facts. The real lesson from Europe is actually the opposite of what conservatives claim: Europe is an economic success, and that success shows that social democracy works.

Actually, Europe’s economic success should be obvious even without statistics. For those Americans who have visited Paris: did it look poor and backward? What about Frankfurt or London? You should always bear in mind that when the question is which to believe — official economic statistics or your own lying eyes — the eyes have it.

In any case, the statistics confirm what the eyes see.

It’s true that the U.S. economy has grown faster than that of Europe for the past generation. Since 1980 — when our politics took a sharp turn to the right, while Europe’s didn’t — America’s real G.D.P. has grown, on average, 3 percent per year. Meanwhile, the E.U. 15 — the bloc of 15 countries that were members of the European Union before it was enlarged to include a number of former Communist nations — has grown only 2.2 percent a year. America rules!

Or maybe not. All this really says is that we’ve had faster population growth. Since 1980, per capita real G.D.P. — which is what matters for living standards — has risen at about the same rate in America and in the E.U. 15: 1.95 percent a year here; 1.83 percent there.

What about technology? In the late 1990s you could argue that the revolution in information technology was passing Europe by. But Europe has since caught up in many ways. Broadband, in particular, is just about as widespread in Europe as it is in the United States, and it’s much faster and cheaper....(Remainder.)

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The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage

By Theodore Olsen
Newsweek

Together with my good friend and occasional courtroom adversary David Boies, I am attempting to persuade a federal court to invalidate California's Proposition 8—the voter-approved measure that overturned California's constitutional right to marry a person of the same sex.

My involvement in this case has generated a certain degree of consternation among conservatives. How could a politically active, lifelong Republican, a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, challenge the "traditional" definition of marriage and press for an "activist" interpretation of the Constitution to create another "new" constitutional right?

My answer to this seeming conundrum rests on a lifetime of exposure to persons of different backgrounds, histories, viewpoints, and intrinsic characteristics, and on my rejection of what I see as superficially appealing but ultimately false perceptions about our Constitution and its protection of equality and fundamental rights.

Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one's own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it....(Remainder.)


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Fox's Napolitano Falsely Claims Senate Bill Would Tax All Benefits from Employers

By Media Matters

While guest-hosting Fox News' Glenn Beck, Andrew Napolitano claimed that under "the Senate version of the health care bill," "everyone who receives health care from their employer" would have to "pay an income tax on the value of that health care." In fact, the Senate bill would tax benefits provided by employers only above a certain level; the provision has been referred to as a tax on "Cadillac plans."...(Remainder.)


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Gay Marriage Ban Goes on Trial in California

By Peter Henderson
Reuters

OAKLAND, California (Reuters) - California's ban on gay marriage goes to trial on Monday in a federal case that plaintiffs hope to take all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and overturn bans throughout the nation.

Victory for gay rights groups in the Supreme Court, which might not choose to take the case if it is appealed that far, would make marriage a fundamental constitutional right without exception and overturn laws and state amendments limiting marriage to a man and a woman in 40 states.

A loss in the top court, two ranks above the action that starts on Monday, would derail efforts to win in state courts that have been a hallmark of the gay rights movement thus far.

The case begins in a San Francisco court presided over by District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who clearly enjoyed preliminary sessions, joking with lawyers between barrages of pointed questions.

The United States is divided on gay marriage. It is legal in only five states, although most of those, and the District of Columbia, approved it last year.

The approval of California's Prop 8 in November 2008 was a sweet victory for social conservatives in a state with a liberal, trend-setting reputation and showed off the resounding success conservatives have had at the ballot box on the issue....(Remainder.)

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Gov Schwarzenegger Praises Obama on National Security

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"Psycho Talk" Double Whammy with Beck and Giuliani on Ed Schultz

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Howard Kurtz Facts Checks DeMint & Giilani, Then Asks if TV News Needs to Do More Fact Checking

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Mr. Noun, a Verb, and a Bucket of Bullshit Still in Denial About Bush-Era Terror Attacks

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Right-Wing Apologist and Lunatic, Monica Crowley, Trying to Revive BS Claims that Waterboarding KSM Led to "Actionable Intel"

By Media Matters

On the January 10 edition of The McLaughin Group, Monica Crowley revived the dubious claim that "[w]aterboarding extracted a lot of very critical, actionable intelligence from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed," echoing the oft-repeated conservative claims that 2004 CIA documents prove enhanced interrogation techniques were effective and that the Bush administration's interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) resulted in the thwarting of an attack in Los Angeles. In fact, a 2004 CIA inspector general's (IG) report of the CIA's interrogation program stated that "[t]he effectiveness of particular interrogation techniques in eliciting information that might not otherwise have been obtained cannot be easily measured"; KSM reportedly said he "gave a lot of false information ... in order to make the ill-treatment stop"; and the Bush administration said the L.A. attack was thwarted in February 2002 -- more than a year before KSM was captured....(Remainder.)


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Christina Romer Calls Out John King for Cropping Clips

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Leader of the Christo-Fascist Zombie Brigade, Robertson, Says God is Saying There's a Cloud of "God's Wrath" Over America

Sunday, January 10, 2010

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The Other Plot to Wreck America

By Frank Rich
The New York Times

THERE may not be a person in America without a strong opinion about what coulda, shoulda been done to prevent the underwear bomber from boarding that Christmas flight to Detroit. In the years since 9/11, we’ve all become counterterrorists. But in the 16 months since that other calamity in downtown New York — the crash precipitated by the 9/15 failure of Lehman Brothers — most of us are still ignorant about what Warren Buffett called the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that wrecked our economy. Fluent as we are in Al Qaeda and body scanners, when it comes to synthetic C.D.O.’s and credit-default swaps, not so much.

What we don’t know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a more devastating scale than any Qaeda attack. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. Without that reckoning, there will be no public clamor for serious reform of a financial system that was as cunningly breached as airline security at the Amsterdam airport. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses.

The window for change is rapidly closing. Health care, Afghanistan and the terrorism panic may have exhausted Washington’s already limited capacity for heavy lifting, especially in an election year. The White House’s chief economic hand, Lawrence Summers, has repeatedly announced that “everybody agrees that the recession is over” — which is technically true from an economist’s perspective and certainly true on Wall Street, where bailed-out banks are reporting record profits and bonuses. The contrary voices of Americans who have lost pay, jobs, homes and savings are either patronized or drowned out entirely by a political system where the banking lobby rules in both parties and the revolving door between finance and government never stops spinning.

It’s against this backdrop that this week’s long-awaited initial public hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are so critical. This is the bipartisan panel that Congress mandated last spring to investigate the still murky story of what happened in the meltdown. Phil Angelides, the former California treasurer who is the inquiry’s chairman, told me in interviews late last year that he has been busy deploying a tough investigative staff and will not allow the proceedings to devolve into a typical blue-ribbon Beltway exercise in toothless bloviation....(Remainder.)

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Bubble and the Banks

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Health care reform is almost (knock on wood) a done deal. Next up: fixing the financial system. I’ll be writing a lot about financial reform in the weeks ahead. Let me begin by asking a basic question: What should reformers try to accomplish?

A lot of the public debate has been about protecting borrowers. Indeed, a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to help stop deceptive lending practices is a very good idea. And better consumer protection might have limited the overall size of the housing bubble.

But consumer protection, while it might have blocked many subprime loans, wouldn’t have prevented the sharply rising rate of delinquency on conventional, plain-vanilla mortgages. And it certainly wouldn’t have prevented the monstrous boom and bust in commercial real estate.

Reform, in other words, probably can’t prevent either bad loans or bubbles. But it can do a great deal to ensure that bubbles don’t collapse the financial system when they burst.

Bear in mind that the implosion of the 1990s stock bubble, while nasty — households took a $5 trillion hit — didn’t provoke a financial crisis. So what was different about the housing bubble that followed?

The short answer is that while the stock bubble created a lot of risk, that risk was fairly widely diffused across the economy. By contrast, the risks created by the housing bubble were strongly concentrated in the financial sector. As a result, the collapse of the housing bubble threatened to bring down the nation’s banks. And banks play a special role in the economy. If they can’t function, the wheels of commerce as a whole grind to a halt.

Why did the bankers take on so much risk? Because it was in their self-interest to do so. By increasing leverage — that is, by making risky investments with borrowed money — banks could increase their short-term profits. And these short-term profits, in turn, were reflected in immense personal bonuses. If the concentration of risk in the banking sector increased the danger of a systemwide financial crisis, well, that wasn’t the bankers’ problem....(Remainder.)

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Sen Ron Wyden Demands IP Treaty Details

By David Kravets
Wired.com

That a U.S. senator must ask a federal agency to share information regarding a proposed and “classified” international anti-counterfeiting accord the government has already disclosed is alarming. Especially when the info has been given to Hollywood, the recording industry, software makers and even some digital-rights groups.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) is demanding that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk confirm leaks surrounding the unfinished Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, being negotiated largely between the European Union and United States. Among other things, Wyden wants to know if the deal creates international guidelines that mean consumers lose internet access if they are believed to be digital copyright scofflaws.

He also wants to know whether internet service providers could lose “safe harbor” protection for failing to police their customers’ digital content for copyright infringement violations. Such a move would heap copyright liability onto the ISP, and fundamentally alter U.S. copyright law.

What “legal incentives,” Wyden asked Kirk in a Wednesday letter, would “encourage Online Service Providers (OSPs) to cooperate with copyright owners to deter the unauthorized storage or transmission of copyrighted materials.”...(Remainder.)

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Educate to Innovate: High School Robotics

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President Obama Weekly Address: Health Reforms Benefits in 2010

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Rachel Maddow: Rudy Giuliani, a Noun, a Verb, and No Clue

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Same-Sex Marriage Is an American Value

By Michael A. Jones
Change.com

Same-sex marriage makes anti-gay folks cringe. It sends conservative churches into hysteria. It even makes some Democrats squirm. But the principles behind same-sex marriage -- that relationships are good, and that people deserve to be treated equally -- are as American as apple pie, baseball, and jazz music.

So says one member of the legal team bringing the first federal court case challenging bans on gay marriage. That dude is Ted Olson, and he's a conservative heavyweight. In addition to being a former U.S. Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, he was the man in charge of GWB's legal team during the infamous Bush v. Gore litigation. A federalist through and through, Olson thinks that the anti-gay marriage crowd needs to get with the program. Same-sex marriage doesn't threaten anything. In fact, it embodies the best of American values.

Olson writes for Newsweek that constitutionally speaking, there's no good case to be made for outlawing gay marriage. Blasting gay marriage is just a knee-jerk reaction that might make for good religious tent revival talk, but bad news for the democratic principles that lie at the heart of America's founding documents.

"Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize," Olson writes. What are those values?

That loving relationships form the backbone of America. They are the foundation of families, and the cornerstone of neighborhoods.

For Olson, same-sex marriage isn't a liberal issue. It's a conservative issue -- at least in the sense that it promotes stability and "thinking beyond one's own needs." Those are bedrock soundbytes when it comes to the family values crowd. So why can't they apply them to the issue of gay marriage?...(Remainder.)

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President Obama Continues to Disregard Laws He Finds Objectionable, Unless the Laws Discriminate Against Gays - Then He's Fine With Them

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog

Today's NYT notes that not only does the Obama administration continue to disregard laws that it finds objectionable, but it's doing so in a manner that's even less transparent than what George Bush did, and for which Bush was routinely castigated by, among others, candidate Obama.

At the same time, the Obama administration, and its apologists in Congress (Frank, Baldwin, Polis) and the Democratic Party (Tobias), have the temerity to lecture the gay community on how the President simply couldn't put a temporary stop to the two-a-day discharges of gay service members, couldn't provide federal employees with health benefits for their family members, couldn't permit the foreign partners of gay Americans to enter and stay in the United States, couldn't even argue against DOMA and DADT in a court of law - all because we simply must respect the rule of law, to hell with how 'wrong' we think that law is.

Now we know that this was a lie. From the NYT:
[T]he approach will make it harder to keep track of which statutes the White House believes it can disregard....

[T]he administration will consider itself free to disregard new laws it considers unconstitutional....

Mr. Obama, whose advisers sided with the latter camp, has characterized Mr. Bush’s use of signing statements as an abuse and pledged greater restraint.

Mr. Obama nevertheless challenged dozens of provisions early last year. The last time was in June, when his claim that he could disobey a new law requiring officials to push the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to adopt certain policies angered Congress....

Last year the Obama administration disregarded a statute that forbid State Department officials to attend United Nations meetings led by nations deemed state sponsors of terrorism. Congress has included that restriction in several recent bills.

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Air Safety

Friday, January 08, 2010

By Ed Stein
Ed Stein



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Cheney says Obama Won't Admit the U.S. at War Against Terrorists

Thursday, January 07, 2010

By Bill Adair
PolitiFact


In his latest attack on President Barack Obama, former Vice President Dick Cheney seized on the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner to suggest that Obama is weak on terrorism.

"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war," Cheney said. "He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

"He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al-Qaida-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, 'war on terror,' we won't be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."

Cheney's comments echo a frequent criticism by conservatives that President Obama does not use the phrase "war on terror." We rated that True when it was made by talk show host Sean Hannity in November 2009. We noted in our ruling that Obama had said he didn't use the more general phrase "war on terror" because he viewed the conflict as a war against "some terrorist organizations."...(Remainder.)

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That 1937 Feeling

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Here’s what’s coming in economic news: The next employment report could show the economy adding jobs for the first time in two years. The next G.D.P. report is likely to show solid growth in late 2009. There will be lots of bullish commentary — and the calls we’re already hearing for an end to stimulus, for reversing the steps the government and the Federal Reserve took to prop up the economy, will grow even louder.

But if those calls are heeded, we’ll be repeating the great mistake of 1937, when the Fed and the Roosevelt administration decided that the Great Depression was over, that it was time for the economy to throw away its crutches. Spending was cut back, monetary policy was tightened — and the economy promptly plunged back into the depths.

This shouldn’t be happening. Both Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Christina Romer, who heads President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, are scholars of the Great Depression. Ms. Romer has warned explicitly against re-enacting the events of 1937. But those who remember the past sometimes repeat it anyway.

As you read the economic news, it will be important to remember, first of all, that blips — occasional good numbers, signifying nothing — are common even when the economy is, in fact, mired in a prolonged slump. In early 2002, for example, initial reports showed the economy growing at a 5.8 percent annual rate. But the unemployment rate kept rising for another year.

And in early 1996 preliminary reports showed the Japanese economy growing at an annual rate of more than 12 percent, leading to triumphant proclamations that “the economy has finally entered a phase of self-propelled recovery.” In fact, Japan was only halfway through its lost decade.

Such blips are often, in part, statistical illusions. But even more important, they’re usually caused by an “inventory bounce.” When the economy slumps, companies typically find themselves with large stocks of unsold goods. To work off their excess inventories, they slash production; once the excess has been disposed of, they raise production again, which shows up as a burst of growth in G.D.P. Unfortunately, growth caused by an inventory bounce is a one-shot affair unless underlying sources of demand, such as consumer spending and long-term investment, pick up.

Which brings us to the still grim fundamentals of the economic situation....(Remainder.)

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Dan Savage Responds To Brit Hume on Countdown

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Olbermann Slams Brit Hume For Prosthelytizing To Tiger Woods

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Psycho Talk! - Bachmann Wants Tea-Baggers In Charge

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Clusterfox Contributor Goes Off on Anti-Gay Rant

By Jamison Foser
Media Matters

Radio host, Townhall.com columnist, and Fox News Channel contributor Sandy Rios wants to know if Rep. Mark Kirk is gay, or if Kirk's roommate is gay.  Probably whether Kirk has ever even met a gay man, too, though she doesn't quite spell that out in her strange diatribe.

Nor is Rios entirely clear on why she wants to know if Kirk is gay.  On the one hand, she keeps suggesting that as a gay man, Kirk would be vulnerable to blackmail, apparently for fear of being ostracized if he was outted. On the other hand, Rios writes "Homosexuality has now been mainstreamed and de-stigmatized. Any reason not to be open and honest has now been removed," which would seem to undermine the whole "blackmail" fear.

One thing Rios is sure of: Being gay is just like sending sexually-explicit messages to teenagers working as congressional pages:
[P]ress and Republicans alike are rushing to pooh-pooh what, in spite of the weakness of the messenger, has been the topic of discussion in Washington and elsewhere for quite some time. So, where is the reporting? Where are the cameras? The gleaning of records? The follow up on accusations?
...
Republicans did the same thing in the Mark Foley/Congressional page scandal.


Republican leaders knew about Foley but for some inexplicable reason, covered for him. Do they want to repeat the same here?
The rest of Rios' anti-gay screed is just as spurious, like her claim that we need to know if Kirk is gay "Because we are at war" and a gay Kirk might vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, "in spite of the fact that military experts from the top down have argued continually that open homosexuality will harm unit cohesion and have a detrimental effect on morale."...(Remainder.)

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The GOP and the Teabaggers

Friday, January 01, 2010

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