Saturday, September 26, 2009
Hannity, Breitbart lead conservative media fundraising for activist videographers sued by ACORN
Breitbart, Beck distributed secretly taped ACORN videos. O'Keefe first posted his secretly recorded video on Breitbart's BigGovernment.com in an effort to engage in -- in the words of Breitbart -- "a multimedia, multiplatform strategy" that included Fox News. Fox News, led by Glenn Beck, went on to facilitate Breitbart's "strategy" of releasing the videos."
On the heels of ACORN filing a lawsuit against conservative activists Hannah Giles, James O'Keefe, and Breitbart.com LLC, Sean Hannity, Andrew Breitbart, HotAir.com's Allahpundit, and NewsBusters have offered to -- in the words of Hannity -- "put out the word" to "help" Giles and O'Keefe raise money for their legal defense. Conservative media figures -- led by Glenn Beck -- helped Breitbart strategically release and aggressively promote the undercover videos that sparked ACORN's lawsuit.
ACORN files lawsuit against O'Keefe, Giles, Breitbart.com
Suit filed after alleged "illegal videotaping" seeks "injunction against further distribution" of a hidden-camera tape. From a September 23 Washington Post "44" blog post:
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) announced Thursday it had filed a lawsuit against James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles and Breitbart.com LLC for what it alleged was "illegal videotaping" of ACORN employees in Baltimore.
Conservative media rush to launch virtual telethon for O'Keefe, Giles
Hannity: "Hannah, if you get in trouble ... we can help you. We'll put out the word." After interviewing Giles and her attorney about the lawsuit, Sean Hannity stated, "Well, listen, Hannah, if you get in trouble and you need the lawyer, I'll tell you what, we can help you. We'll put out the word. I'm sure there's a lot of people that may want to help you with a legal defense fund. And if you get to that point, let us know, and we'll be glad to bring you back on." [Hannity, 9/24/09]
Breitbart on O'Reilly: "We will be advertising Hannah and James' legal defense fund." After Bill O'Reilly asked, "[D]o you have lawyers helping you with it because, you know, this is expensive," Breitbart stated, "We're -- we're working on that right now. And I want everybody to know that we will be advertising Hannah and James' legal defense fund at BigGovernment.com. The amount of -- the responses so far in e-mail form are overwhelming." [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/24/09]
HotAir's Allahpundit: "Dig deep: Hannah Giles defense fund launches." In a September 24 HotAir.com blog post titled, "Dig deep: Hannah Giles defense fund launches," Allahpundit wrote that Giles' father -- conservative activist Doug Giles -- "sent out a blast e-mail about it a little while ago and I'm told the link's posted on his Facebook page, so fire away. Not that she'll need the money: The lawsuit's weak, the jury will be on her side, and apparently Hannity's set to beam this link out to America on tonight's show, which means she'll be swimming in dough come morning." Allahpundit further promised, "I'll post the info for O'Keefe's defense fund once it's available." [HotAir.com, 9/24/09]
NewsBusters: Breitbart "Reveals Defense Fund Initiative." Promoting Breitbart's O'Reilly Factor appearance, NewsBusters quoted Breitbart's promotion of the legal defense fund and included a link to Breitbart's BigGovernment.com. [NewsBusters.com, 9/24/09]
The Finance Committee announced that the public option debate will not take place today. Instead, it is scheduled to occur on Tuesday.
“House leaders Thursday released CBO estimates for liberals’ preferred version of the public option that show $85 billion more in savings than for the version the Blue Dogs prefer,” CongressDaily reports. “Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) a Blue Dog co-chair, said any possible new momentum toward a public option tethered to Medicare rates is, in part, ‘because of the cost issue’ and the updated CBO score.” LinkHere
Insurer Denies Woman’s Claim: She Should Have Known That Her Bleeding Breast Was Not An ‘Emergency’
Today, CBS-5 reports that this San Francisco Department of Public Health employee has had her claim denied because her insurance company, Blue Shield of California, didn’t consider her situation to be an “emergency.” Even though her doctor told her it was likely a tumor, Blue Shield said that Miran-Ramirez should have known it wasn’t: LinkHere
New Orleans newspaper takes Rep. Steve King to task for his ‘heartless’ contempt of Katrina victims.
Greater New Orleans suffered catastrophic destruction not only because of a powerful storm but because the flood protection system built by the federal government failed.
While some lawmakers from other parts of the country showed a lack of concern and understanding after Katrina — even questioning the wisdom of rebuilding our community — it’s hard to understand how a lawmaker from Iowa, a state that’s also vulnerable to flooding, could be unwilling to help.
Even now, officials in Des Moines are complaining about a slow and inadequate response to their flood recovery — including the lament that FEMA is underestimating the amount of money needed to replace public buildings. That’s something that South Louisianians can understand, and in fact, we feel for Iowans
Unfortunately, when it counted, Rep. King didn’t feel for us. LinkHere
The public opts in
How did Acorn become a target?
Hanged Census Worker Found Naked, Gagged And Bound: AP
The gruesome lynching of this Census worker seems to bear a disturbing similarity to some of the worst hate crimes committed across this country. Regardless of what the motive for the killing may have been, why would a murderer(s) take such pains to so blatantly convey anger, fear, and vitriol towards a Census employee? Perhaps because some on the right have created an impression that Census employees are terrifying.
Earlier this summer, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) waged a high-profile, wildly-dishonest campaign against the Census. The Minnesota congresswoman said she was so worried about the threat of the government asking “very intricate questions” and collecting information that she would illegally refuse to fill out the form. “They will be in charge of going door to door and collecting data from the American public,” she said. “This is very concerning.” She repeatedly used inflammatory and fear-mongering rhetoric against the Census:
– “I think there is a point when you say enough is enough to government intrusion.” [6/25/09]
– “If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps.” [6/25/09]
“You will receive approximately six contacts from them [Census workers], either through phone calls or they will knock on your door. If you still do not give them the information, they said they’ll contact your neighbor to the left of you, to the right of you to get information.” [6/25/09]
Bachmann’s irrational diatribes about scary stalking Census workers quickly spawned a right-wing movement. During an interview with Bachmann, Fox News’ Glenn Beck said, “Ok, so let me talk about the Census because there’s a lot of people that are concerned with it because they don’t want to fill it out, they’re not comfortable with ACORN members coming to find out all this information, they don’t want to give the government all this kind of information.”
Conservative radio host Neal Boortz told a caller, “Most of the rest of the [Census] information is designed to help the government steal from you in order to pass off your property to the moochers. They’re looters.” Boortz urged his listeners to resist the Census workers. “If somebody comes to my — if a burglar came to your house, are you going to show him where the silverware is?” he asked. “Maybe you will if he pulls out a gun.”
The 2000 Census was marked by a spate of violence. In Indiana, a pack of dogs mauled a census taker to death. A California census taker was grabbed and forced into her car after a homeowner ordered her to leave and she lingered, trying to explain the importance of the Census. A Denver census taker was hijacked and stabbed, and in Chicago, a census taker was thrown down a flight of stairs.
This year, a county manager in New Mexico warned that many people take their property rights seriously, and some might shoot at census takers who trespass. LinkHere
The word "fed" was written in felt-tip pen on 51-year-old Bill Sparkman's chest, but authorities have released very few other details in the case, such as whether they think it was an accident, suicide or homicide.
Jerry Weaver of Fairfield, Ohio, told The Associated Press on Friday that he was certain from the gruesome scene that someone killed Sparkman.
"He was murdered," Weaver said. "There's no doubt."
Weaver said he was in the rural Kentucky county for a family reunion and was visiting some family graves at the cemetery on Sept. 12 along with his wife and daughter when they saw the body.
"The only thing he had on was a pair of socks," Weaver said. "And they had duct-taped his hands, his wrists. He had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something."
Two people briefed on the investigation said various details of Weaver's account matched the details of the crime scene, though both people said they were not informed who found the body. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.
"And they even had duct tape around his neck," Weaver said. "And they had like his identification tag on his neck. They had it duct-taped to the side of his neck, on the right side, almost on his right shoulder." LinkHere
“The consequences of a prolonged economic downturn — including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit — could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities,” the report warns.
The report explains that threats so far have been “largely rhetorical,” but points to the April 4 shooting of three police officers in Pittsburgh as a “recent example of potential violence associated with right-wing extremism.”
The document points to both the economic downturn and election of President Barack Obama as potential recruitment tools for militant groups.
“Many right-wing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use,” it reads.
The report also highlights anger directed at illegal immigrants and perceived threats from foreign countries as potential recruiting pitches from the groups.
The department is especially concerned with attempts to “radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.” LinkHere
Friday, September 25, 2009
U.S., France, Britain condemn Iran for second nuclear site
• U.S., France, Britain condemn Iran for second nuclear site
• Ahmadinejad Rejects Obama's Nuke Warning - TIME
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Friday that Iran admitted the existence of the "new pilot fuel enrichment plant," prompting Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to respond at the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Obama said the United States, Britain and France presented "detailed evidence" to the IAEA on Thursday showing that Iran "has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years."
They demanded an immediate investigation into the facility and threatened a stiff response if Iran fails to conform to international obligations regarding nuclear development.
Iran's admission comes ahead of next week's rare meeting between Iran and the five permanent United Nations Security Council members, plus Germany. The October 1 meeting will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, according to Iran's government funded Press LinkHere
Blue Dog Leader Works With Religious Group Opposed To Health Care Reform
That's what Stupak's caucus co-chair Chris Smith (R-NJ) told his audience at a "townhall" panel event last Friday at the Family Research Council Action's Washington DC 2009 Values Voter Summit [see video, below]. Another Republican at the event, Tom Price (R-GA), suggested that lockstep GOP opposition to health care reform affords the Blue Dogs "an opportunity to show some backbone" and "stand up to their leadership to say 'no more will we allow this travesty to go on.'"
Besides leading anti-abortion Democrats in the House, Stupak is a longtime member of the mainly-Republican radical free-market, union-busting theocratic Washington fundamentalist group known as "The Family," which runs the "C Street House" registered as a church where Bart Stupak has enjoyed Christian fellowship and cheap rent for years. Stupak's former "C Street" housemate Senator James DeMint (R-S. Carolina) has vowed to make the fight against health care reform President Barack Obama's "Waterloo".
During Family Research Council Action's over-one hour "townhall" event on health care, featuring a panel of three GOP house representatives that included Smith, Price, and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), an audience member addressed Representative Smith:
The rift mirrors a similar divide on other issues, including immigration and climate change, where many companies have backed legislative action that Republican lawmakers oppose.
But the health-care debate, in particular, casts a spotlight on the split in the longstanding alliance between economic conservatives and the business community. Republican lawmakers are digging in to oppose the overhaul effort as a big-spending government intrusion. Many companies, on the other hand, cite soaring costs to explain why they continue to back the congressional work under way to revamp the health-care system, despite misgivings over a range of provisions.
"We are now at a crisis point," said Joe Olivo, who has struggled to keep up with rising health costs as the president of Perfect Printing Inc., a 40-employee printing company in Moorestown, N.J.
Mr. Olivo is apprehensive about many proposed Democratic fixes, above all the push to create a government-run insurance program. But he said he was also "disappointed that the Republicans don't seem to be at the table at all."
Michael Moore on new film Capitalism
Experts: Pelosi Is Right To Fear Political Violence
Republicans sharply rejected her claim, with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) saying Pelosi is “living in another world.” Others charged that the California Democrat herself stoked emotions by labeling some health reform protesters “un-American.”
But it’s not just Pelosi who is worried. In interviews with POLITICO, five former Secret Service, FBI and CIA officers say that they, too, are concerned that today’s climate of supercharged political vitriol could lead to violence. LinkHere
Police: Census Worker Was Killed By Asphyxiation
BIG CREEK, Ky. — Authorities said a U.S. Census worker died by asphyxiation but were releasing few other details about the mysterious case nearly two weeks after Bill Sparkman's body – with the word "fed" scrawled on the chest – was found hanging from a tree near a family cemetery secluded by Appalachian forest.
The word appeared to have been written with a felt-tip pen, Clay County Coroner Jim Trosper said Friday. He did not elaborate.LinkHere
EXCLUSIVE: FOXNews ALTERED ' Obama Praise ' Story To Exclude ' DEATH THREATS '
" In a story about a group of elementary school kids who sang the praises of President Barack Obama for a Black History Month event, Fox News appears to have removed key information regarding the fallout triggered by intense right-wing media coverage.
The story, titled "Elementary School Students Taught to Sing Praises of President Obama" (live link screenshot), opens with these three paragraphs:
The superintendent of a New Jersey school where students were videotaped being taught to sing the praises of President Obama issued a statement Thursday saying the taping was unauthorized, but failed to address whether the the lesson -- taught durnig Black History Month -- was approved.
A YouTube video shows nearly 20 young children being led in a song overflowing with campaign slogans and praise for "Barack Hussein Obama," repeatedly chanting the president's name and celebrating his accomplishments, including his "great plans" to "make this country's economy No. 1 again."
The video has set off families in Burlington, N.J., who say that politics shouldn't be forced on young students.
The credited author on that URL is "FoxNews.com," although a tag under the text reads, "FOX News' Michael Sorrentino contributed to this report."
But, that's not how it read when we first saw it.
At the very same URL linked above, a prior version told a very different and much longer story. Here's how it began, with emphasis added (cache link screenshot):
Some parents in a New Jersey school district are up in arms after a class of elementary school students was videotaped singing the praises of President Obama, an activity that has been criticized as "indoctrination."
The tension at B. Bernice Young Elementary School escalated to such a degree Thursday that the school was placed temporarily on lockdown after its principal received death threats over a YouTube video that showed nearly 20 children being taught songs lauding the president, though back-to-school night events continuing as planned Thursday night at the school.
Video of the students at the Burlington, N.J., school shows them singing songs seemingly overflowing with campaign slogans and praise for "Barack Hussein Obama," repeatedly chanting the president's name and celebrating his accomplishments, including his "great plans" to "make this country's economy No. 1 again."
Clearly, information about death threats leveled against the school's principal, and the school's "lockdown" response following wide exposure among right-wing media, were removed. LinkHere
"Friend," RNC Chairman Michael Steele wrote, "this is the type of propaganda you would see in Stalin's Russia or Kim Jong Il's North Korea. I never thought the day would come when I'd see it here in America."
Alas, such "propaganda" has not been limited to despots, dictators and the Obama White House. As a savvy source points out, back in 2006 children from Gulf Coast states serenaded First Lady Laura Bush with a song praising the President, Congress, and Federal Emergency Management Agency for their response to -- of all things -- Hurricane Katrina. The lyrics were as follow:
Our country's stood beside us People have sent us aid. Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade. Congress, Bush and FEMA People across our land Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!
The event took place at that year's White House Easter Egg Roll and included roughly 100 children from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. President Bush, it seems, wasn't in attendance during the song itself. But he was there earlier, when the First Lady read the book, Will You Be My Friend: A Bunny and Bird Story by Nancy Tafuri, to the children. LinkHere
GOP Blocking More Obama Nominees -- To Defend Humana Letter Scaring Seniors
Republicans wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Thursday demanding she lift what they called a "gag order."
Their threat is retaliation after a federal agency told Humana Inc. and other private companies that contract with Medicare to stop sending elderly customers information about the overhaul's potential effects on their benefits.
Humana sent seniors a mailing saying the bill could slash their benefits. Democrats deny the charge, but Congress' top, nonpartisan budget official says it could be true. LinkHere
Landlord Goes Back To Work To Let Unemployed Tenants Stay Rent-Free
Peirce refused to evict them. He didn't throw the families into the street, though he has every right to.
"I sat with them and prayed for better times," Peirce said. "These are stand-up guys. Family men. Proud. They paid me before, when they were working. You don't show your faith, your Christianity, in words. You do it in deeds." LinkHere
A most appropriate tune
Media Ignores Huge News In Acorn Defunding Act
In a postscript to his blog post on Tuesday, Glenn Greenwald wrote: "Along those lines, if we had a real media, what [Grim's] article reports about the bill to de-fund ACORN would be huge news." He's absolutely right! This is actually an extraordinary story, that ably illuminates the dysfunction at the root of our government and the scintillating stupidity of a culture more interested in preserving seats than actually serving constituents.
First, let's go back and look at what happened:
The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.
In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops.
To his credit, Representative Alan Grayson, a rookie Democrat from Florida, out-thought and out-maneuvered all of his colleagues and quickly went to work with the Project of Government Oversight (POGO) to compile a list of contractors that "might be caught in the ACORN net."
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman both popped up quickly, with 20 fraud cases between them, and the longer list is a Who's Who of weapons manufacturers and defense contractors.
Did you know that Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman had 20 fraud cases between them? And that your Congress didn't care? It's true! Furthermore, let's allow POGO to put all of this into perspective:
Bear in mind that, since 1994, ACORN has reportedly received a total of $53 million in federal funds, or an average of roughly $3.5 million per year. In contrast, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman respectively received over $35 billion and $18 billion in federal contracts last year. (Their totals since 2000 are $266 billion for Lockheed and $125 billion for Northrop.)
Congress should clamp down on contractor fraud and waste, but it needs to keep a sense of proportion. If ACORN broke the law it, should be punished; however, Congress also needs to crack down just as rigorously on the contractors who take an even larger share of taxpayers' money and have committed far more, or far more egregious, acts of misconduct.
And consider this! A taxpayer-funded contractor for Blackwater USA got drunk and murdered an Iraqi in the Green Zone back in October 2007. That's a month after Blackwater employees went on a killing spree in Nisour Square in Baghdad. The taxpayer-funded contractors who guard the State Department facilities in Kabul spend their time taking photos of each other "peeing on one another, simulating anal sex, doing 'butt shots,' and 'eating potato chips out of ass cracks.'" Halliburton, another government contractor, bilked the Pentagon to the tune of $100 million dollars, and basically covered it up through lies and accounting tricks. LinkHere
To the Dems Who Voted to 'Defund ACORN': Where is the Defund Blackwater Act?
Republican Congressional leaders are continuing their witch-hunt against ACORN, the grassroots community group dedicated to helping poor and working class people. This campaign now unfortunately has gained bipartisan legislative support in the form of the Defund ACORN Act of 2009 which has now passed the House and Senate. As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post has pointed out, the legislation "could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex:"
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Rockefeller: The ‘insurance industry is not running this markup, but it is running certain people in this markup.
ROCKEFELLER: This is a very very important amendment, and it’s a very very bad amendment. If there’s anything which is clear, it’s that the insurance industry is not running this markup, but it is running certain people in this markup. [...]
CORNYN: With all due respect, senator, I don’t know what amendment you’re referring to —
ROCKEFELLER: I’m referring to yours.
CORNYN: — you’re certainly not referring to my amendment —
ROCKEFELLER: I am. LinkHere
Sen. Roberts: We Need To Give Health Insurance Lobbyists ‘At Least 72 Hours’ To Read The Bill
Bunning requested that the Committee put-off a vote on the health care bill until the final legislative language of the bill is made available on the Committee’s website for at least 72 hours. The amendment failed, with all of the Democrats except Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) voting against it. But had the amendment passed, it could potentially have halted the health care debate for weeks.
Before the vote took place, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) offered a defense of Bunning’s amendment by arguing that the 72-hour provision was critical because it provides time for senators to consult with health insurance lobbyists: LinkHere
Stewart Mocks Media For Calling Obama 'Overexposed'
The "Daily Show" took on Obama's critics this week after the president appeared on all five major Sunday talk shows to discuss his health care plan and the state of the country. Jon Stewart noted that "the press bitterly complained about lack of access to President Bush" and posited that they must have been excited to hear that this would not be an issue with our new commander-in-chief. Cut to clips of every newscaster in America calling Obama overexposed and the like, prompting Stewart to call the media "professional yentas with time to kill" and "thin-skinned superficial jackasses." LinkHere
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Five Easy Pieces|
Is McCain Risking ‘Overexposure’? Senator To Make His 13th Sunday Show Appearance Since January
Americans aren’t sick of hearing from their president. A new poll shows that only 34 percent of the public believes they are hearing “too much” from Obama; 54 percent say they are hearing “about the right amount.”
The person who does seem to be getting an inordinate amount of exposure is defeated presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulos is pumping an “EXCLUSIVE” interview he has scored with the senator this week. But as Steve Benen points out, it’s not really all that exclusive:
For those keeping score at home, this will be McCain’s 13th Sunday morning appearance since President Obama’s inauguration in January. That’s 36 Sundays, for an average of a McCain appearance every 2.7 weeks.
Since the president took office, McCain has been on “Meet the Press” twice (July 12 and March 29), “Face the Nation” three times (August 30, April 26, and February 8), CNN’s “State of the Union” twice (August 2 and February 15), and “Fox News Sunday” three times (July 2, March 8, and January 25). His appearance on “This Week” on Sunday will be his third visit in five months (September 27, August 23, and May 10). LinkHere
AP. Fed written on the chest of hanged census worker.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Census Worker Hanged: Bill Sparkman Found With "Fed" On Body
What is really odd about the story is that his body was found on the 12th and it is only now being reported on the 23rd, 11 days later.
Did the local police delay notifying the FBI? If so, why? Surely the potential murder of a Federal worker would justify immediate notification of Federal Authorities. Was evidence lost as a result of the delay?
The body of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker and occasional teacher, was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky. The Census has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Investigators are still trying to determine whether the death was a killing or a suicide, and if a killing, whether the motive was related to his government job or to anti-government sentiment.
Investigators have said little about the case. The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, said Wednesday the man was found hanging from a tree and the word "fed" was written on the dead man's chest. The official did not say what type of instrument was used to write the word.
FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is helping state police with the case. LinkHere
Sparkman ‘victim of apparent crime’
As long-sought career begins, it comes to an end for Laurel man LinkHere
PAUL KIRK Tapped For Kennedy Senate Seat
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza said on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon that an announcement could come later in the day.
Kirk was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1985 to 1989 and a longtime aide to the late Sen. Kennedy. He currently co-chairs the Commission on Presidential Debates, is the chairman of the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and is a member of the board of directors of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
A family confidant said Wednesday both Edward Kennedy Jr. and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., had endorsed Kirk in separate phone calls.
A top aide to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick confirmed the contacts but added, "No decision has been made yet." A spokeswoman in Patrick Kennedy's congressional office declined to comment. LinkHere
Continued W.Bank settlements not legitimate: Obama
"We continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements (in the West Bank)," he said in a maiden speech to the 192-member body.
The US leader made the remarks a day after holding inconclusive talks in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator, welcomed Obama's comments.
"We are encouraged and highly appreciate President Obama's statements on settlements being illegal and calling to an end of the occupation that started in 1967," he told AFP." LinkHere
Al Franken Reads the 4th Amendment to Justice Department Official
Franken, who opened by acknowledging that unlike most of his colleagues in the Senate, he’s not a lawyer, but according to his research “most Americans aren’t lawyers” either, said he’d also done research on the Patriot Act and in particular, the “roving wiretap” provision that allows the FBI to get a warrant to wiretap a an unnamed target and his or her various and changing cell phones, computers and other communication devices.
Noting that he received a copy of the Constitution when he was sworn in as a Senator, he proceeded to read it to Kris, emphasizing this part: “no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
“That’s pretty explicit language,” noted Franken, asking Kris how the “roving wiretap” provision of the Patriot Act can meet that requirement if it doesn’t require the government to name its target.
Kris looked flustered and mumbled that “this is surreal,” apparently referring to having to respond to Franken’s question. “I would defer to the other branch of government,” he said, referring to the courts, prompting Franken to interject: “I know what that is.” LinkHere
DoJ Official Blows Cover Off PATRIOT Act
Now that the authority is law, how has the Department of Justice used the new power? To go after drug dealers.
Only three of the 763 "sneak-and-peek" requests in fiscal year 2008 involved terrorism cases, according to a July 2009 report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Sixty-five percent were drug cases. LinkHere
Palin Slams Obama In Hong Kong Speech, Two U.S. Delegates Walk Out
In her first trip to the region, the former Alaska governor addressed an annual conference of investors in Hong Kong in what was billed as a wide-ranging talk about governance, economics and U.S. and Asian affairs.
Two US delegates left early, according to AFP, with one saying "it was awful, we couldn't stand it any longer." He declined to be identified.
"I'm going to call it like I see it and I will share with you candidly a view right from Main Street, Main Street U.S.A.," Palin told a room full of asset managers and other finance professionals, according to a video of part of the speech obtained by The Associated Press. "And how perhaps my view of Main Street ... how that affects you and your business."
Palin spoke out against government intervention in the economy. "We got into this mess because of government interference in the first place," Palin said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "We're not interested in government fixes, we're interested in freedom," she added.
She also praised the conservative economic policies of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, according to another attendee who declined to be named because he didn't want to be seen as speaking on behalf of his company.
Storm leaves businesses well in the red
Sam Stein On Condoleeza Rice's Afghanistan Comments: "Political Opportunism"
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
REPUBLICANS TO THE RESCUE OF ANOTHER INSURANCE COMPANY
Republican leaders in both houses of Congress ripped Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) for urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to put a stop to the insurer's efforts, decrying what they called a "gag order" and reading the First Amendment on the floor of the Senate.
Baucus, meanwhile, seemed mostly oblivious to the Republican attacks. "I never gag. I believe in the First Amendment," he told HuffPost, but added that he didn't know what the Republicans were referring to. "I have to go back and look to see what it is we did."
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus spent most of the day marking up a reform bill that so far has no GOP support - although Maine Republican Olympia Snowe has offered some indications of being on board. Snowe has been speaking warmly of the package and most of her reservations seem to be that it isn't generous enough -- objections the Democratic caucus will be happy to overcome. And in Massachusetts, a state senate vote moved Democrats one step closer to regaining 60 seats in the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, the GOP rode to the rescue of health insurance companies. LinkHere
"Show Me The Note" Movement Is Helping Stall Foreclosures
Modern-day home mortgages have been so sliced and diced by rapacious financiers that some homeowners are successfully delaying -- or even blocking -- foreclosures through the simple tactic of demanding that banks produce the original mortgage note, which amazingly enough is often not so easy for them to do.
As the foreclosure rate continues to set new highs, a little-noticed legal provision that requires bankers, if challenged, to prove they hold the original mortgage documents before getting possession has spawned a minor homeowner rebellion, alternately called "produce the note" or "show me the note". For homeowners trying desperately to keep their homes, the tactic is one way to buy some time -- and maybe even get the upper hand on the lender.
"You wouldn't imagine that the lenders would be that slovenly that they would not be able to produce adequate documentation of the debt," said House Financial Services Committee member Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.). "But apparently a lot of times they really have been unable to."
Since North Carolina has begun to provide legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure, Miller said, roughly one of every three mortgages has been found to have some substantial legal discrepancy.
The fouled-up paperwork or other lack of legal compliance "has resulted in a much higher rate of negotiated [mortgage] modifications" in North Carolina, said Miller. "It gave the homeowner additional defenses and counterclaims that strengthened their hands substantially." LinkHere
Cantor To Uninsured Woman With Tumors: Get "An Existing Government Program Or Find Charity"
CANTOR: First of all I guess I would ask what the situation is in terms of income eligibility and the existing programs that are out there. Because if we look at the uninsured that are out there right now, there is probably 23, 24% of the uninsured that is already eligible for an existing government program [...] Beyond that, I know that there are programs, there are charitable organizations, there are hospitals here who do provide charity care if there’s an instance of indigency and the individual is not eligible for existing programs that there can be some cooperative effort. No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed.
In an interview with ThinkProgress after the event, Churchill explained that her relative, who needs help now, probably won’t qualify for a low-income government program like Medicaid and that there are very long waiting periods for charity programs. Asked about Cantor’s response to her question, Churchill said, “it was helpful in a sense, but of course nowhere near as helpful as having this healthcare reform bill passed so that we could know that she could definitely go and get taken care of.” LinkHere
Today, Cantor called for “scrapping” President Obama’s proposed public option insurance program. LinkHere
Condi Rice Unhinged: "If You Want Another Terrorist Attack In The U.S., Abandon Afghanistan"
Those in Congress who would like to see the U.S. begin to pull out of Afghanistan don't have a supporter in former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In a new interview with Fortune Magazine, Rice offered extremely sharp criticism of the idea of withdrawal and painted the consequences of this course of action with an almost Cheneyesque bluntness.
"The last time we left Afghanistan, and we abandoned Pakistan," she said, "that territory became the very territory on which Al Qaeda trained and attacked us on September 11th. So our national security interests are very much tied up in not letting Afghanistan fail again and become a safe haven for terrorists.
"It's that simple," she declared, "if you want another terrorist attack in the U.S., abandon Afghanistan."
As the Washington Post reported Monday, Obama is rethinking all aspects of the U.S. strategy in the Afghanistan in light of the disputed presidential election, an increase in U.S. casualties and waning public support here in America. LinkHere
Beck claims he ‘hated’ Bush for starting the bailouts.
He [Obama] will say that Bush started us down the path toward socialism, and he’d be right by that. Bush started the crazy spending. He would be right again. Bush started the bailouts. Yes, he did — hated him for it.
While Beck did come to have reservations about Bush’s bailout (because it allowed the Treasury Secretary to “expand this in any direction he feels is necessary”), he actually initially supported it. What he said on Sept. 22, 2008:
But these are anything but normal times. I thought about it an awful lot this weekend, and while it takes everything in me to say this, I think the bailout is the right thing do.
The “REAL STORY” is the $700 billion that you’re hearing about now is not only, I believe, necessary, it is also not nearly enough, and all of the weasels in Washington know it.
In that same segment, Beck called Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson “immortal.” LinkHere
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Bachmann heaps praise on O’Reilly and Beck: That’s where people want to go to find the truth.
May I take a moment to do a little casting?
Michele Bachmann as Nurse Ratchet.
People vote with their feet. And they love Bill O’Reilly; they love Glenn Beck. They love the shows that are on Fox. That’s what matters. Because people want to go where they can find truth. They obviously aren’t finding truth over on some of these other channels.
Bachmann has gone on Fox News to claim health care reform is unconstitutional, that the Census is dangerous because it was used to intern the Japanese, and that Alaskan caribou favor oil drilling because they like the the warmth of the pipeline. Together, the Fox News network and Bachmann create a very “truthy” tag-team. LinkHere
House Liberals To Pelosi: Stick With Us, And Ditch The Blue Dogs
Looks like House liberals are serious about pressuring Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership to stand firm behind a real public option.
The latest: The two top House progressives have just fired off a letter to Pelosi that, in effect, urges her to stick with them and to ditch the Blue Dogs when the public option rubber hits the road. Progressives have reiterated not just their support for a robust public option, but their opposition to the Blue Dog's weakened version of it passed out of Energy and Commerce.
The letter, which was sent over by a source, makes this point by noting that the version of the public option in the House health care proposal negotiated by Blue Dogs — the version that emerged from Henry Waxman’s Energy and Commerce committee — pales beside the ones created by two other key House committees, which have a more robust public option.
The two progressives — Dem Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Raul Grijalva — ask Pelosi for a meeting to discuss these pertinent facts. They write flat out that the version negotiated by Blue Dogs is “unacceptable” to them, because it results in far less savings than the two other versions.
You should read the letter yourself. But suffice it to say that it’s another sign that when it comes to the public option, House liberals are preparing for a showdown with Blue Dogs — and showing no intention to budge. LinkHere
...And they banned the President from speaking to the students?
I think that's Pulaski High School in Wisconsin, not Pulaski County in Kentucky. Sorry.
Darn, I do apologise for my mistake, thanks Stony
Source: WHAS - ABC affiliate in Kentucky
SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) -- A Somerset parent is upset because of a short film shown to his daughter's class at Pulaski County High School.
Bill Cruey told WYMT-TV in Hazard the film "Fitna" blamed the Islam religion for the 9-11 attacks on the United States. The film was shown on Sept. 11.
Cruey said his daughter is receiving counseling and has been pulled from the class after seeing images of beheadings, children being injured and dead bodies interspersed with readings from the Koran.
The film is by Dutch anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders.
Pulaski County Superintendent Tim Eaton says the presentation was meant to commemorate 9-11 and discuss the dangers of extremism... LinkHere
Massachusetts Senate passed bill re: filling Kennedy's seat
The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill empowering Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint someone to fill Senator Kennedy's vacant seat until a special election can be held. The bill will now go back to the Massachusetts House for a procedural vote. It is expected to pass.
No matter what, a special election will be held in January, so the appointee will serve only until then. Senator Kennedy had hoped the appointee would not run in the special election, but would serve only as a "place holder." Of course, that is not enforceable, even if the appointee should promise not to run.
Monday, September 21, 2009
AIG's Payback to Taxpayers in Doubt
Government Watchdog Says Disgraced Insurance Giant AIG May Not Repay All of Its $182B Taxpayer Tab
One year after the biggest corporate bailout in the country's history, a government watchdog office Monday warned that American taxpayers may not recoup the full $182 billion given to embattled insurance giant American International Group.
As of the start of September, the company's outstanding balance of taxpayer aid was $120 billion.
It was a year ago this month year that AIG received the first chunk of a government bailout that has since grown to $182 billion. The federal money, noted the GAO, has since helped stabilize the insurance giant, which this year posted a $1.8 billion second-quarter profit, its first profit since 2007.
However, the GAO said that the company still relies heavily on government help as its source of liquidity and capital. LinkHere
Rabid Blue Dogs
Hey, Dems! Although I left your silly party over a decade ago, my heart is still essentially with your platform and agenda. I would ask all of you to think of me as Dr. Degan, your loving and trusted family veterinarian. After a complete and thorough examination of your beloved pets, it grieves me to offer you this final diagnosis:
Your Blue Dogs must be put to sleep.
Let's stop kidding ourselves and face some serious and uncomfortable facts here, folks: Any chance of serious health care reform is about as dead as the nails the GOP has spent the last nine years hammering into their own coffin. And the biggest irony? It was killed by a coalition of "Conservative Democrats" - or DINOs: Democrats In Name Only - which begs the musical question: With donkeys like these, who the hell needs elephants?
The Democratic party has been plagued by their conservative wing from the time they were formed in 1828. It must be remembered that the Republicans were formed in 1856 as the anti-slavery alternative to the Democrats, many of whom were southern slave owners. For one-hundred years, the "Solid South" was in the committed to the Democratic party. The conservative southerners were known as "Boll Weevil" Democrats. To be sure, for most of the Twentieth Century it was an uneasy alliance which existed between northern progressives and southern racists. For all the social and economic progress of the Roosevelt/Truman years, the half-wits that comprised the southern wing of the Democratic party just could not bring themselves to join the party of Abraham Lincoln, "that nigger-lovin' bastard what freed the slaves!"
Look away, Dixieland.
Then in 1964 and 1965 respectively, two earth-shuddering events occurred that forever destroyed the Democratic hold on Dixie: the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. That did it, Bubbah! The very idea of equality with NEGROS was just to much for these assholes to bear. When President Lyndon Johnson signed those two laws into existence, he told his aids, Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers, "We've lost the south for a generation." It was an understatement. The "solid south" has been solidly Republican ever since. LinkHere
Shepherding a Bill With 564 Amendments
For Mr. Baucus, the challenge will be to stop his fellow Democrats — they outnumber Republicans 13 to 10 — from shifting the bill so hard to the left that they chase away Ms. Snowe, who could provide the crucial 60th vote needed to get the measure through the Senate. LinkHere
With the long-awaited release of the Baucus health plan, which is said to have Obama's approval, the fix is in. Billions of taxpayer dollars will be thrown at the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, much of it diverted from Medicare and Medicaid (despite Obama's protestations that he would not raid Medicare to shore up the private system). We'll simply pour more money into a system that's already shown itself capable of absorbing whatever we put into it without providing anything like commensurate health care.
Look at the bare bones of the plan. Americans will be required to buy health insurance at whatever price the companies choose to charge, many using government subsidies. Businesses will have to contribute or be fined. Drug companies will still be able to charge whatever they like for drugs, and continue to jack up prices at several times the inflation rate. In short, the government will deliver to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries millions more paying customers, with virtually no curbs on their profiteering. The "public option" was first gutted, then all but dropped.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Arab media judge Mitchell tour
But rather than pointing a finger at George Mitchell, editorials for the most part blamed Israel - and Netanyahu in particular.
A Fatah-owned Palestinian paper, Al Quds, said that "as planned" by [Israeli PM] Netanyahu, the two men's talks had ended in deadlock. Israel had remained "adamant in its desire to steal land, expand settlements and judaize Jerusalem".
The newspaper called on Washington and Brussels to understand Israel was seeking to destroy any peace process.
But the daily also expressed its doubt about a Palestinian policy focus of putting pre-conditions on talks - such as a complete halt to illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank. "This gave Israel more time to impose its plans and evade the requirements of just and comprehensive peace."
In a commentary printed by Al Ayyam, another privately owned pro-Fatah newspaper, pessimism about the chances for a breakthrough were also voiced.
It said the Obama administration was "too weak" to sacrifice the US strategic alliance with Israel for the sake of stopping settlement activity as this would effectively mean breaking apart Netanyahu's coalition government.
Meanwhile, the Gaza daily Filastin said the meeting between [Palestinian President Mahmud] Abbas and [Hamas political leader Khaled] Meshaal would achieve more than of any of Mitchell's efforts to bring together Abbas and Netanyahu.
A second commentary condemned Mitchell for not visiting Gaza or talking to Hamas, accusing him of "going to the wrong addresses and knocking on the wrong doors". LinkHere
Obama refutes Russia missile role
The US president has denied that objections from Russia influenced his decision to abandon the previous administration's plans to site a missile defence system in Eastern Europe.
Barack Obama said in an interview aired on American television station CBS on Sunday that it would be a "bonus" if the decision to scrap the plan eased co-operation with Russia.
"The Russians don't make determinations about what our defence posture is. We have made a decision about what will be best to protect the American people as well as our troops in Europe and our allies," Obama said on the show "Face the Nation".
The previous US administration under George Bush, Obama's predecessor, had planned the missile shield in Europe as the first line of defence against any attack from Iran.
Russia had condemned the project as a threat to its security despite years of US assurances to the contrary.
"If the by-product of it is that the Russians feel a little less paranoid and are now willing to work more effectively with us to deal with threats like ballistic missiles from Iran or nuclear development in Iran, you know, then that's a bonus."
Obama on Thursday announced that the US was scrapping plans to place the missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. LinkHere