The Health Care Reform Coward / Liar

Peter Fleckenstein, who is a (now fired insurance industry lobbyist) Betsy McCaughey wannabee gets smacked down on FactCheck as he has before on Politifact:

FactCheck: Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200

Via Twitter

"...evidence of a reading comprehension problem on the part of the author @fleckman..."
Shoq issues a challenge...

.@Fleckman believe what he says enough 2 debate on live TV? He said "NOPE!"

No, actually... he hasn't.

To clarify... Peter Fleckenstein has never accepted any challenges to debate his H.R. 3200 healthcare reform smears on live radio or television.

He hides safely behind his scare-n-smear blog.

Glenn Beck Finally Admits: "I'm Just A Fear Mongering...Whatever."

Via Gawker

Calling Glenn Beck an easy target's calling a spade out by its raw materials. A duck test of his M.O. is so painfully obvious, even he's openly talking about it, now. Contained herein: Psychiatrists, bullies, the afterlife, and his "attackers!"

Consider this particular segment Glenn Beck's victory lap. Beck, who's kicking ass in the ratings, whether he's gearing up to be canned or not, took out his infamous whiteboard, went over all the things everyone's ever called him, and talked to a psychiatrist friend of his about it. Yes, Glenn Beck has a friend, who is a shrink, who can stand to be around him without suggesting inpatient help. Wonder what his hourly rate is. Notably, the names Beck has been called have probably helped his rise to infamy. He's built a career on being an easy target, so why stop here? But when he gets to the last name on his list, there's a sigh of exasperation, a sound of disturbed relief to get the words out.

In 1972, two shrinks named Shelly Duval and Robert A. Wicklund put forth a self-awareness theory in which they argue that people adhere to their own conceptions of themselves. In other words: buckle in. Beck's a guy who clearly sees himself as a martyr. His high ratings paired with his perceived all-ends criticism, recent loss of ad sales, and possible position in front of Fox's firing squad, is about to get a shitton crazier. Howard Beale, look out.

Sarah Palin: Season One

ScreenHunter_01 Aug. 28 14.22

Via Chris Bodenner

Alaska Dispatch launches a section commemorating the one-year anniversary of Palin's arrival on the national stage. Craig Medred writes the first of five essays:

Now the world knows not only Sarah but Todd and many of the rest of the players in what has become the Palin Family Soap Opera: Bristol, the teenage daughter who has become a national spokeswoman for teen abstinence. Levi Johnston, Bristol's ex-fiance and the daddy of the baby she had because she couldn't abstain. Sherri Johnston, the mother of Levi, and a convicted drug dealer. Meghan Stapleton, the former television talking head who became the bark-at-the-media attack dog for Sarah, who was in turn the attack dog for Republican presidential contender John McCain.

And those are only the main players. Throw in the bit players -- people like Palin's Fox News buddy Greta Van Susteren; Levi's handler, Tank Jones, and flamboyant attorney, Rex Butler; the gaggle of photogenic Palin children; Sarah's plain-spoken father, Chuck Heath; even comedian Kathy Griffin, who dragged Levi along as her date to Nickelodeon's Teen Choice Awards in August -- and the show really gets weird.

Saturday - Tune of the Day

Chingón - La Malagueña (Malagueña Salerosa)

This is the chingonized version of this classic of the mexican folk music, composed by: lyrics: Pedro Galindo and Elpidio Ramírez, music: Elpidio Ramírez, nothing comparable with the original version in mariachi, but anyway this rocker version is excellent!, by the way the correct name of this song is "La Malagueña" ("the woman or girl from Malaga, Spain"), not "Malagueña Salerosa" (graceful woman or girl from Malaga, Spain), enjoy!

Idaho GOP leaders criticize Rex Rammell for his ‘joke’ about hunting Obama

Via ThinkProgress

Despite coming under widespread criticism for hisjoke” about hunting President Obama, Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell wrote a tweet this morning doubling down on his own tasteless humor:


Rammell is facing fire from allies in his own state. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) issued this statement:

Rex Rammell’s comments are in very poor taste and should not have been said. … Remarks like these should not even be made jokingly. We are engaged in a critical national debate over many major issues facing our country today. Remarks like these are not only unhelpful in that debate, but they undermine it. He should apologize for those remarks and for the perception they may have created.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) added, “It is absolutely irresponsible to say such inflammatory things, especially for someone who seeks to be a leader in Idaho.” Even the Idaho Republican Party said it “does not condone Rex Rammell’s comments, whether in jest or not.” Nevertheless, Rammell refuses to apologize.

Race-Based Protests Directed At Obama Go Beyond Health Care Town Halls

Via Sam Stein

Race-based attacks and criticism of President Obama have been on the rise during the dog days of August. And they're not just happening at health care town hall protests.

A reader sent over a picture of a group of protesters camped outside Rep. Susan Davis's (D-Calif.). "Neighborhood Day" event this past week, brandishing signs calling the president a Black Supremacist and suggesting he's a Nazi disciple.

"Black National Socialism Is Not Utopia," reads one poster.

Another has a picture of Obama's former preacher, Jeremiah Wright, juxtaposed with a picture of Adolph Hitler and one of picture of Obama and Wright together. "Obama's Church: Black Supremacist," it reads.

The protesters, the reader writes, were small in number. But their presence outside the event indicates that four weeks into August, the highly personal and often racially tinged vitriol directed at the president shows no sign of abating.

Earlier this week, Idaho Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Rex Rammell, said he'd buy a license to hunt Obama. Meanwhile, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, (R-Kans.) expressed her wish that the Republican Party would find a "great white hope" to take on the president in the next election.

Asked about Jenkins' comment on Thursday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton gave the freshman congresswoman a pass for the eyebrow-raising remark.

"I saw that report," said Burton. "I also saw that her spokesperson backpedaled and said that that was a poor choice of words. We obviously give Congresswoman Jenkins the benefit of the doubt."

Beck Compares Obama to the Nazis; Ad Boycott List Reaches 46; Viewers at 3M

Via bNet

Glenn Beck’s audience reached nearly 3 million this week, even as the number of sponsors who have axed their ads in his breaks reached 46. And Beck dug himself in deeper yesterday by comparing President Obama to Adolf Hitler (video below).

It seemed for one brief moment on Wednesday that Beck might apologise for calling President Obama a “racist” with a “hatred of white people” — thus ending the advertiser boycott of his Fox News Channel show — but that moment has passed.

The context: This is unusual. I cannot remember the last time I saw such a complete, deliberate, sustained abandoning of a top-rated show by corporate America.

Although the story remains the same, as each day passes it becomes more dramatic. Who will cave first? Fox and Beck? Or advertisers who want 6 million eyeballs?

In the meantime, Beck yesterday addressed the president’s alleged funding of Americorps with “half a trillion dollars.” (It’s actually being funded with less than $1 billion a year.)

Beck claimed Americorps will become Obama’s version of the SS:

… this is what Hitler did with the SS, he had his own people, he had the Brownshirts …

(They’re actually going to be restoring parks and building houses.)

Under the AstroTurf Radar

Via The Progress Report

ENERGY -- THE REAL FACES OF COAL: A new "grassroots" fossil fuel front group, FACES of Coal, is employing a shadowy Republican-staffed company to spread its message. The Federation for American Coal, Energy, and Security --- a pro-mountaintop removal campaign that refuses to reveal its "grassroots" members -- held its initial press conference in Charleston, WV. There, a representative from the West Virginia Coal Association -- one of the few groups to publicly admit being part of FACES -- complained about "outsiders" who don't "appreciate America's reliance on coal." But as the DeSmog Project reported, FACES is willing to rely on "outsiders" to do its actual work. The FACES website, which includes no contact information and uses pictures from iStockPhotos to portray grassroots supporters, is registered to the Adfero Group, a K Street public relations firm. Adfero's online communications arm was spun off as Fireside21.

Rachel Maddow covers that aspect starting at 1:06

Adfero and Fireside21 serve predominantly Republican and corporate clients. Ken Ward, Fireside21 CEO, was a staffer for former Republican congressman Richard Pombo; Jeff Mascott, Fireside21 president and Adfero managing director, built the website. Additionally, Adfero is behind numerous big oil astroturf campaigns, including "Fuel For America," which whitewashed price-gouging by its clients following Hurricane Katrina; the "ChamberGrassroots," "Vote For Business" and "Coalition for a Democratic Workplace" campaigns that fight labor reforms including card-check; and the campaign "Californians Against Higher Taxes," which killed a clean energy reform ballot measure in 2006. Adfero clients include the American Tort Reform Association, the National Pork Producers Council, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Canadians Set the Record Straight on Health Care

Via Yglesias

In Canada, they have a program called Medicare. It works a lot like our program called Medicare except it’s open to people aged 0-64 as well as to senior citizens. It’s also funded at a somewhat lower level on a per capita basis, so relative to the US there are some shortages of advanced medical equipment. On the other hand, nobody ever goes bankrupt because they got sick, or dies because they’re too poor. Here some Canadians try to set the record straight on Medicare:

Obviously, there are a lot of details and ins-and-outs. But it’s basically pretty easy to keep straight. Canadian Medicare is pretty similar to American Medicare, but our Medicare is for old people and there’s is for everyone. So if you like Medicare, you’d also like Medicare. And if you hate Canadian-style socialism, you ought to favor dismantling Medicare.

What Has This Obama fellow Done For Us Anyway?

Via jonnie rae

He stabilized the markets, so 401Ks are starting to slowly come back and we are not about to meltdown anymore. Unemployment numbers are coming down dramatically from when he took over.

GDP went from 6.5 shrinkage to 1 shrinkage since he has been in office.

Tens of thousands of state employees still have jobs, and services are maintained because of his stimulus.

He ended torture. He IS closing Gitmo.

95% of Americans are receiving a tax DECREASE.

He provided unemployment, food stamps and a 65% reduction in Cobra for those who lost their jobs.

He set new emissions standards.

He protected wilderness land set for oil leases.

He got Pakistan to agree to fight the Taliban, which Bush never could. The top leader was taken out this week.

He nominated and got confirmed the first latina Supreme Court Justice in history.

He signed Equal Pay for Equal Work, Children's Health Bill and Credit Card Reform.

He has a first time home owner's credit, a modification of mortgage plan in place. (This needs work, but it is in place)

He has made it easier for students to get college loans. (UMass just gave a 1500 rebate to all students because of the stimulus money.)

He has improved America's image around the world, especially with Muslim countries.

He got the 2 NK journalists out.

He got the non-proliferation treaties going again, and he will chair the next meeting. Already an agreement exists to reduce Russia's and US's arms.

A significant amount of the bailout money is being paid back. This is a good thing.

He has taken on healthcare, the most difficult thing to pass in the US. I am not completely happy with how he is doing it, but he is doing it.*

He ended the abstinence only thing. And the law that said a pharmacist could refuse to give birth control pills to women if they so chose.

He is sticking to the timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq.

He got funding for the useless bomber cut. And those helicopters. He plans to make more weapons' cuts.

He has cut 2 trillion from the budget over the next ten years.

He has taken on energy, the second most difficult thing to pass in the US and it has already passed the House.

He saved the American auto industry. (Cash for clunkers is doing great too, both for the industry and jobs, and for the environment.)

He is building a green economy for the US. First steps in the stimulus, others in the energy bill.

More jobs will be created in transportation when rest of stimulus kicks in in 2010.

He is facing complete disrespect and vilification from the media and the wingnuts, getting more than 30 death threats per day, and still goes on, calmly and with determination and intelligence.

He has no champions in the Senate, only a small group of obstructionists who seem to have been given all the power by Harry Reid. The insurance industry has convinced people that he is Hitler; and this is only the beginning. If Pharma gets into it, what do you think will happen to healthcare? They have way more money than the insurance companies. You want him to fight all the corporate interests which actually OWN this country, including the Senate and Congress, and you want him to do that virtually alone? The left has attacked him almost from day one. The right is throwing the kitchen sink right now.

I think you have to decide whether he has done enough good in his first seven months to still support him.

I think, overwhelmingly, yes.

Obama Secretly Wants and Needs a Republican Congress

Via DougJ

Nooners and Joe Scar think Obama secretly wants and needs a Republican Congress:

I just don’t buy the idea that Obama is likely to lose in 2012, regardless of what approval ratings say, with all due respect to the Tim Pawlenty juggernaut. It’s hard for me to see how after 12+ months of full-bore LaRouche style freakosity, the public is going to want to a put a Republican in the White House. Because I could be wrong, but my guess is the 2012 Republican primary is going to make the townhalls look like meetings of the Bloomsbury group.

Also, I was surprised to learn that, like Ann Landers and Dear Abby, Cokie Roberts and Peggy Noonan are twin sisters.

Michele Bachmann’s Own Constituents Were So Mean To Her!

Via Wonkette

Meh, who wants to watch this whole thing? But it’s worth looking at the beginning to see her booed by town hall attendees for making a joke about Tiger Woods loaning the president $300 trillion. “HEALTHCARE, THIS IS A HEALTHCARE FORUM,” they shout, which is just a deeply unserious thing to yell in a public forum when your congresswoman is trying to get out a joke. Good times start around the 2:15 mark.

Friday - Tune of the Day

Prodigy - Voodoo People

The voodoo, who-do-what-you-don’t-dare-to-people

Grumpus McCain Tosses Out Another Heckler

Via Wonkette

John McCain is not having an easy time at these Town Hall Death Panels. A few days ago he got booed for suggesting that former Constitutional law professor Barack Obama is familiar with the Constitution; and then last night he got hassled by one of those irritating Code Pink broads. So he THREW HER OUT, bodily.

Or: he had some guys stand around awkwardly while the Code Pink lady continued to yell about the war or whatever, and eventually she stopped yelling and left, followed by a man with a gun. JOHN McCAIN IS REPRESSING OUR FREE SPEECHES, ETC, JUST LIKE HITLER.


Quitta From Wasilla Strikes Again

Via: Wonkette

NEWS SHOCKER: Meg Stapleton, holder of the World’s Worst Job as spokeswoman for an increasingly fragile and erratic unemployed publicity hound, had to once again explain at the very last minute how Sarah Palin would not be headlining an event that the event organizers thought she would be headlining. This happens every five days or so, so Meg should probably just have some boilerplate text cooked up to explain these embarrassing incidents.

This time it’s an event promoting an Alaska ballot measure aimed at making it illegal for teens to get an abortion without telling their parents. The Alaska Family Council has been advertising that Palin would give a speech and become the first official signer of the ballot petition tonight at ChangePoint, the Anchorage megachurch.

Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton said Wednesday, in response to inquiries from the Daily News about tonight’s event, that “this is the first we have ever heard of a speech.” She said Palin is out of state and won’t be there.

[...] Alaska Family Council President Jim Minnery said it was news to him when a reporter told him that Stapleton was saying Palin had no knowledge of the speech, which his group has been promoting. He said organizers have been talking to Palin “contacts” for weeks about it.

Sweet suffering Jesus. Either literally HUNDREDS of event organizers over the past year have concocted the same elaborate fantasy that Sarah Palin would be attending their shindigs even though Palin never committed to such things, or Sarah Palin is on a meth binge in her Wasilla basement. These are the only two explanations.

Palin won’t show at fundraiser, denies accepting invitation [Anchorage Daily News]

Thursday - Tune of the Day

The Ramones - California Sun

Well, the girls are frisky in old 'Frisco
A pretty little chick wherever you go

The Lion Roars

Ted Kennedy (D-MA) goes off on Senate Republicans as they once again try to block the first minimum wage increase in 10 years.

What is the PRICE that you want from these working men and women!
WHAT IS IT? ...that drives you Republicans crazy!!
Something!! Something!!
What is about working men and women that you find so offensive?
This is, filibuster by delay.
I've been around here long enough to know it, when I see it, and smell it!!
That's what it looks like and that's what it is, make no mistake about it.

A Message on Ted Kennedy to Conservatives Who Hated Him

Via Rude Pundit

Let's just get this right:

Do you like your state and not the federal government controlling the curriculum of your kids' schools? Thank Ted Kennedy.

Do you like being able to vote starting at age 18? Thank Ted Kennedy.

Do you think low-income people should get help with heating their homes in the winter? Thank the man.

Do you think the federal government should fund cancer research? Yep.

Do you believe that Meals on Wheels is a good thing? Ditto.

Does your daughter (or you, if you're female) like playing soccer or basketball or softball at school? That'd be because of Ted Kennedy.

Do you think that disabled people should be able to go to school? Have access to buildings? Not be discriminated against for housing and loads of other things? Kennedy, big time.

You like your cheap airfares? You know the answer.

You think people on welfare oughta get jobs? So did Kennedy.

You think mental institutions should treat people humanely? Yeah, so did your new friend, Ted Kennedy.

You believe that the Defense Department should provide child care for the kids of soldiers? Kennedy did.

You think a woman shouldn't lose her job if she gets pregnant? You think 100,000 more cops on the street's a good idea? You think poor kids should have health care? You think soldiers in Iraq should have the proper armor? Just tick those things off the list. Some of them would have been accomplished without him; many would not have been.

You agreed with Ted Kennedy far, far more than you want to think you did, dear conservatives. Still, go ahead and dance your mad jigs on his still-warm corpse. Why not? We on the left certainly did when Jerry Falwell, Strom Thurmond, and Jesse Helms kicked. Hell, one asshole blogger even celebrated the death of Ann Coulter's father. But know that you dance in ignorance. Ask Orrin Hatch.

But, of course, you want to address the far more pressing issue of whether or not Ted Kennedy killed Mary Jo Kopechne back at Chappaquiddick all those decades ago, no matter what the investigations said. There's only a couple of things to say about that: The glib response is, "Yeah, and Thomas Jefferson nailed his slaves. What's your point?" More directly, Kennedy asked the people of Massachusetts if they wanted him to quit. They did not. The rest of the nation may have not wanted him as president, but for Massachusetts, Chappaquiddick quickly became a settled issue and distant history. That's all that mattered to keep him in the Senate, just like Louisiana will have to judge whether or not a prostitute-lovin' David Vitter should go back. That's democracy, gang, like it or not.

And Ted Kennedy did more for real, actual democracy than almost anyone else in our entire history as a nation.

More on that tomorrow in a real tribute.

(By the way, perhaps we now know why Barack Obama was trying to get health care reform done quickly.)

Top Bush Terrorism Adviser Admits CIA Docs Didn’t Prove Torture Worked

Via Greg Sargent

Okay, this should settle it, but of course it won’t: We now have a former homeland security official under George W. Bush who has contradicted the claim by conservatives that the CIA docs released yesterday proved torture worked, as Dick Cheney said they would.

Frances Fragos Townsend, a homeland security adviser and close confidante of Bush on terrorism, made the admission late last night on CNN, where she’s a contributor. Here’s her quote (from Nexis):

It’s very difficult to draw a cause and effect, because it’s not clear when techniques were applied vs. when that information was received. It’s implicit. It seems, when you read the report, that we got the — the — the most critical information after techniques had been applied. But the report doesn’t say that.

Cheney defenders have grabbed onto the idea that the docs imply torture worked with the urgency of a drowning person clinging to driftwood. But let’s be clear: Cheney said repeatedly that the CIA docs would settle the question. And even a top terror adviser in his administration is now admitting that this isn’t the case.

Townsend, by the way, is hardly a defector from the Bush cause. In other contexts she remains an ardent defender of the administration. When Tom Ridge recently claimed that Bush officials had gamed the terror alerts for political reasons, Townsend aggressively pushed back on the charges. So perhaps her word on the CIA docs counts for something among Cheney defenders?

Crazy Ass Randall Terry Thrown Out of Jim Moran/Howard Dean Event

Via Jane Hamsher

Last night Jim Moran managed to draw the rolling freak show down on himself in Reston with a town hall targeted by out-of-district teabaggers. Reston has a voting population that is about 75-80% Democratic, so as Moran noted when Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, started agitating from the crowd, these weren't people who lived there.

Moran finally had to have Terry thrown out. Terry was stirring up the highly emotional and not quite bright teabagger set by ranting that abortion would be covered in this health care bill (thank you Kendrick Meek and Marcy Kaptur, it won't). I live tweeted the event while Ben Tribbett of NotLarrySabato got Terry being ejected on video, which was satisfying for all.

At one point, I heard that a guy in an Obama t-shirt had been punched in the face by a guy in a Cato t-shirt. We had a meetup afterwards at Clyde's for anyone who wanted to attend, and the guy in the Obama shirt turned out to be my friend Jeremy Koulish. He'd been punched in the eye after the guy in the Cato garb tried to rip a sign out of Jeremy's hands and Jeremy wouldn't let go.

You have to go to one of these events to realize how truly antagonistic and pig ignorant the death panel freaks are. While there are plenty of good reasons to object to the health care bills that both the House and the Senate are likely to pass, they don't appear to know any. Moran eventually took questions from the audience, and three--count 'em, three--people came up and asked if the insurance was going to be so good, why wouldn't he pledge to take it himself. Each time Moran said that he would. They appeared to all be hard of hearing, however, because they kept accusing him of not answering the question and asking it again, as if the word "yes" didn't have any meaning on their planet.

At one point someone did ask him about the clause in the PhRMA deal that wouldn't allow the government to negotiate for drug prices. Moran blamed it on the White House and said he wouldn't have cut that deal himself (nice shot at Rahm). He turned to Howard Dean and asked him if he'd like to add anything, but Howard wasn't going near that one.

And then we went to Clyde's and had pie.

Note: Same Randall Terry that was arrested at Notre Dame Law School back in May for violating a campus no-trespass order Notre Dame had issued him.

Top 10 Reasons Not to Advertise With Glenn Beck

Via BuzzFeed
After Glenn Beck called President Obama a racist, 36 companies have pulled their advertisements from his program. UPS has even gone as far as to pull advertising on all Fox networks. Looking over these highlights, you have to wonder why they didn't get out sooner.
  • 1. He presumes and insinuates that Obama is a racist

    This is the clip that started the whole controversy. Beck on “Fox and Friends” saying that Obama has a “deep seeded hatred for white people.”

  • 2. He's got time and a camera

    Beck does his best to thoroughly creep out US Weekly correspondent Dina Sansing by offering to take a few candid nude photos of her to spread around the office.

  • 3. He thinks screaming like a toddler is ok

    Glenn Beck chooses to use his big boy words when the discourse gets a little too intellectual. He then (naturally) defends his decision to Bill O'Reilly.

  • 4. He wants America to get attacked by terrorists

    Beck and his guest, Michael Scheuer, think that we need another good, old-fashioned terrorist attacks to get us off our lazy, peaceful asses.

  • 5. He is not trained in CPR

    When guest David Buckner faints, Beck really isn't sure how to handle the situation, but thinks that Buckner should probably just keep talking about banks or whatever anyways.

  • 6. He secretly suspects all Muslims are terrorists

    When Minnesota elected the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, Glenn Beck had him on to make sure he wasn't one of those sneaky Al-Qaeda in disguise.

  • 7. He's not convinced Obama's not the Anti-Christ

    Look, a lot of people are saying that Obama could be the anti-christ. Glenn isn't saying he is, but he's just keeping an open mind about it.

  • 8. He condones spoon worship

    The key to America's success is guidance from your God, or dinette set, or whatever it is you worship.

  • 9. He makes fun of the handicapped

    Not only that, the handicapped woman he is making fun of is President Obama's aunt of all people.

  • 10. He fakes crying

    A lot of people think that his crying is a stunt he pulls to boost his ratings.

Obama: Kennedy The Greatest Senator Of Our Time

Via Lou Kesten

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the nation lost "the greatest United States senator of our time" with the death of Ted Kennedy.

"For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts," Obama said of the Massachusetts senator, who died Tuesday at his home on Cape Cod, Mass., after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.

A senior administration official said Obama was told of Kennedy's death shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday, and spoke with the senator's widow, Victoria, around 2:25 a.m.

The president, vacationing at Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast, thanked Kennedy for "his wise counsel" during Obama's short time serving as a senator from Illinois.

"I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the presidency," Obama added. Kennedy and his niece Caroline shook up the Democratic establishment in January 2008 when they endorsed Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party's nomination for president.

Exactly one year before his death, Kennedy gave a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where Obama accepted the presidential nomination. Kennedy returned to the Capitol in January to see Obama sworn in as the nation's first black president, but suffered a seizure at a celebratory luncheon afterward.

He was away from the Senate for much of this year, leading to speculation about the impact of his absence on Obama's health care proposals. Still, Obama said, "even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as president from his encouragement and wisdom."

"An important chapter in our history has come to an end," Obama said. "Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time."

Wednesday - Tune of the Day

Bryan Adams - Young Lust

Potsdaner Platz, Berlin, Germany, July 21 1990

Cheney Accuses Obama Of Politicizing Justice Department

Via Sam Stein

In a statement Monday evening, former Vice President Dick Cheney accused the Obama White House of politicizing the Justice Department and insisted that a new report on interrogation policies by the CIA proved the efficacy of torture.

Neither statement was correct.

Sending his remarks to the conservative Weekly Standard, Cheney insisted that President Obama had "allow[ed] the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel."

Coming from members of an administration that put well-documented pressure on U.S. Attorneys to launch electorally-motivated investigations into Democrats, charges of politicizing the DOJ are slightly rich. But, more importantly, Cheney's remark ignores a consistent (and for progressives, irritating) theme of the Obama presidency. The White House has repeatedly stressed its preference not to launch an investigation into the use of torture. It would rather look forward, not back.

When evidence of illegality arises, however, the Justice Department is required to look into the matter. Far from succumbing to pressure from the president, Attorney General Eric Holder did just the opposite -- going against Obama's wishes by sanctioning a special prosecutor to conduct a narrow investigation into the use of torture. His hands were tied. Enough evidence was there to demand a probe.

It wasn't the only misfire in Cheney's statement. In addition to accusing Obama of allowing "the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel," the former V.P. also insisted that the 2004 CIA Inspector General report on the use and authorization of torture, which was released on Monday, proved that the enhanced interrogation techniques worked on terrorist suspects.

This is hardly a fair reading of the report. While the IG report does support Cheney's claim that Enhanced Interrogation Techniques [EITs] helped produce evidence that "played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002," it does not state definitively that the "intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks" -- merely that "agency senior managers" believed this to be true.

If anything, the IG report casts doubts on the effectiveness of EITs in general and waterboarding in particular.

"Inasmuch as EITs have been used only since August 2002, and they have not all been used with every high value detainee, there is limited data on which to assess their individual effectiveness," reads the IG Report. "This Review identified concerns about the use of the waterboard, specifically whether the risks of its use were justified by the results, whether it has been unnecessarily used in some instances, and whether the fact that it is being applied in a manner different from its use in SERE training brings into question the continued applicability of the DoJ opinion in its use."

Indeed, as Spencer Ackerman notes at the Washington Independent, the information gathered from 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was largely historical in nature -- including names from his "rolodex." The terrorist plots that these detainees detailed while under interrogation were largely aspirational, not operational.

"This Review did not uncover any evidence that these plots were imminent," read the IG report.

Similar reports followed the waterboarding of two other detainees. Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded "at least 83 times during August 2002." During the next eight months, "he provided information" for additional intelligence reports. But the IG report notes that "it is not possible to say definitively that the waterboard is the reason for Abu Zubaydah's increased production."

With respect to another detainee, Al-Nashiri, the IG report notes that he was subjected to "additional EITs but not the waterboard," after which he was determined to be "compliant."

Sanford Getting Closer To Impeachment

Via Wonkette

As any student of politics will tell you, it matters not one whit when an elected official gets caught having sex with a non-spouse person (provided that person is not a hooker or a member of the same sex or both). However, a single incident of sexual indiscretion gives that person’s enemies carte blanche to investigate the crap out of other possible malfeasances, such as abuse of state funds, that may ultimately land that official out of office. In sum: the sex scandals don’t kill you — it’s the money ones.

Which is why Mark Sanford is headed swiftly up a creek with new evidence that he jetted around the world all fancy-like in spite of stringent state rules governing travel.

Sen. David Thomas on Monday alleged four more overseas flights by Gov. Mark Sanford “constitute a prima facie case” of violating state travel laws requiring state employees to choose the cheapest model of air travel.

[...] Thomas first alleged Sanford’s overseas flights appeared to violate state law several weeks ago, with two trips to London and China. Monday he presented four additional flights to Austria, Japan, Germany and Poland, saying Sanford had flown in business class on each, a difference costing taxpayers about $13,900.

Sanford argues that important functionaries such as governors are obligated to fly around in a high-toned manner so that they may arrive at crucial diplomatic meetings bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, instead of greasy and exhausted like normal travelers. Which may be a good point, but it sounds kind of like bullshit coming from a famously frugal governor who decreed that state employees had to use both sides of their Post-It notes.


More Mark Sanford flights violate law, David Thomas says [Greenville Online]

Tuesday - Tune of the Day

Madonna - Erotica

Once you put your hand in the flame
You can never be the same
There's a certain satisfaction
In a little bit of pain
I can see you understand
I can tell that you're the same
If you're afraid, well rise above
I only hurt the ones I love

The Rude Pundit on Monday's Stephanie Miller Show

Via RudePundit

The Rude Pundit and Stephanie Miller discuss penises, foot-fucking, and Underdog:

Politics By Magic 8-Ball

Via John Cole

So I’m reading that new majority link DougJ provided earlier, and needless to say, I am less than impressed with these pearls of wisdom:

Republicans should rally vocally for universal healthcare coverage – and then work hard to remove the tax and regulatory barriers that impinge on the market for private health insurance.

Before anyone starts suggesting universal coverage, the American people want to see waste and inefficiency wrung from the current system.

And on and on. It doesn’t matter what the issue, it is the same old nonsense. This is governing by magic 8-ball:

Is there seriously any issue regarding domestic affairs that they won’t apply the same talking points? How can anyone in their right mind think all we need to do to fix health care is to deregulate the industry like we did with credit cards?

Holder’s Statement Announcing the Torture Probe

Via Washington Independent

Just released by the Department of Justice. He’s calling it a “Preliminary Review” into the interrogation of “certain detainees.” Notice that Holder did not rule out any course of investigative or prosecutorial action, which is exactly civil libertarians hoped:

“The Office of Professional Responsibility has now submitted to me its report regarding the Office of Legal Counsel memoranda related to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. I hope to be able to make as much of that report available as possible after it undergoes a declassification review and other steps. Among other findings, the report recommends that the Department reexamine previous decisions to decline prosecution in several cases related to the interrogation of certain detainees.

“I have reviewed the OPR report in depth. Moreover, I have closely examined the full, still-classified version of the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report, as well as other relevant information available to the Department. As a result of my analysis of all of this material, I have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations. The Department regularly uses preliminary reviews to gather information to determine whether there is sufficient predication to warrant a full investigation of a matter. I want to emphasize that neither the opening of a preliminary review nor, if evidence warrants it, the commencement of a full investigation, means that charges will necessarily follow.

“Assistant United States Attorney John Durham was appointed in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations. During the course of that investigation, Mr. Durham has gained great familiarity with much of the information that is relevant to the matter at hand. Accordingly, I have decided to expand his mandate to encompass this related review. Mr. Durham, who is a career prosecutor with the Department of Justice and who has assembled a strong investigative team of experienced professionals, will recommend to me whether there is sufficient predication for a full investigation into whether the law was violated in connection with the interrogation of certain detainees.

“There are those who will use my decision to open a preliminary review as a means of broadly criticizing the work of our nation’s intelligence community. I could not disagree more with that view. The men and women in our intelligence community perform an incredibly important service to our nation, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do. Further, they need to be protected from legal jeopardy when they act in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance. That is why I have made it clear in the past that the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees. I want to reiterate that point today, and to underscore the fact that this preliminary review will not focus on those individuals.

“I share the President’s conviction that as a nation, we must, to the extent possible, look forward and not backward when it comes to issues such as these. While this Department will follow its obligation to take this preliminary step to examine possible violations of law, we will not allow our important work of keeping the American people safe to be sidetracked.

“I fully realize that my decision to commence this preliminary review will be controversial. As Attorney General, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law. In this case, given all of the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take.”

The 2004 CIA Inspector General’s Report on Torture

Via Washington Independent

Classified for years — and still heavily redacted — here is former CIA Inspector General John Helgerson’s 2004 report into the CIA’s Bush-era interrogations operations. The ACLU sued to obtain the controversial report, which was so charged within the agency that former CIA Director Michael Hayden clashed with Helgerson over the inspector general’s independence and investigative authority.

TWI is publishing the first half of the report now and will update this piece with the full report as soon as is technologically feasible.

Redemption for the "Don't Taze Me, Bro" Guy

Via RudePundit

You remember it, right? University of Florida student Andrew Meyer waited in line to speak at a John Kerry forum in Gainesville in September 2007. When he got up to the microphone, he spoke even though questioning at his mike had been cut off, brandishing a copy of the Greg Palast book, Armed Madhouse (a work that ought to be the historical epitaph of the Bush administration). He tried to articulate a question about whether the 2004 election was stolen and about impeachment. As the crowd tried to shout him down and cops surrounded him, he lost focus and threw in a question about whether Kerry was in the Yale Skull and Bones Society with Bush. Kerry said all along that he was willing to listen and answer the questions. The cops and event organizers didn't care. And the rest was YouTube and taser history. He was arrested for resisting arrest and disturbing the peace.

On September 18, 2007, on his Fox "news" show, Bill O'Reilly said, "It's not pleasant, but that idiot, he wanted this to happen. He wanted the cops to do it. He wanted to disrupt the forum. And to me, I think he should be prosecuted...Well, what about disrupting the peace? You know, this is what -- look, the guy goes in there. He's totally inappropriate in every way, Jeanine [Pirro]. There isn't one appropriate thing the man did. He wants to disrupt the forum. Security has an obligation not to allow the forum to be disrupted."

Sean Hannity offered on September 20, "This guy disrupted the event. He disturbed the peace." On CNN Headline, Glenn Beck mocked his shouts of pain. To be sure, many conservatives were also outraged at the police, including Michael "The New Yorker Says I'm Human Now" Savage.

Meyer, who was being deliberately provocative, later issued an apology and the charges were dropped. What he was asking, though, was not from an extreme leftist point of view (except the Skull and Bones shit, perhaps).

Today, as Beck and the rest can't praise the town hall protesters enough, members of Congress are forced to respond to people shouting that they are supporting Nazi policies or are going to euthanize the elderly, things that have absolutely no grounding in anything we might refer to as "reality." No one has been removed by the law for yelling out of turn and taking focus away from the people at the microphones. The Rude Pundit witnessed this even at the mostly polite town hall he attended; at one point, a man in the crowd was yelling back at Congressman Steven Rothman, and Rothman broke the established protocol of the event to address what he said. It barely needs to be said that conservative pundits are not condemning any of these people as disruptive nutcases. No, these are good Americans who have the right to free speech.

The Rude Pundit doesn't give a fuck about Andrew Meyer, the person. He's kind of a douchebag, even if we agree on a few things. But someone owes Meyer a goddamn public apology. Because if one of these "Tree of Liberty" t-shirt-wearing and NRA hat-sporting idiot motherfuckers was dragged out of the room while screaming about Obama as Hitler and then tazed multiple times to calm him down, you can bet there would be a fucking riot. You can bet that some of those dickless retards stroking their sidearms like substitute cocks would be locked and loaded, thinking it was go time.

By the way, courageous man that he is, O'Reilly also said this that same evening: "I won't go to colleges anymore. I mean, I used to go and give speeches at colleges. I very rarely do that anymore because guys like this, we saw it at Columbia, all right, they are so crazy. And they are there to disrupt the proceedings."

Monday - Tune of the Day

Cake - Never There

First you say you're too busy
I wonder if you even miss me

SURVEY: Fox News Viewers Rank Least Knowledgable

Via ThinkProgress

A new study by the Pew Research Study shows that viewers of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report have the highest knowledge of national and international affairs, while Fox News viewers rank nearly dead last:


Despite significant technology shifts, however, Pew found that “today’s citizens are about as able to name their leaders, and are about as aware of major news events, as was the public nearly 20 years ago.”

The results about Fox News echo findings of previous surveys. In 2003, University of Maryland researchers studied the public’s belief in three false claims — that Iraq possessed WMD, that Iraq was involved in 9/11, and that there was international support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The researchers stated, “The extent of Americans’ misperceptions vary significantly depending on their source of news. Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions.” Fox News viewers were “three times more likely than the next nearest network to hold all three misperceptions.”

Sunday - Tune of the Day

Bryan Ferry - The Right Stuff

Got your pearls on a string
And your skin is so bare
Over your shoulder there´s a world out there
You got the nerve - you gonna win
Boy you´re playing with a dangerous thing