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Archive for June 19th, 2009

Troy Jollimore on God’s Evolution

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Troy Jollimore on God’s Evolution

bookcover

Can Robert Wright, the acclaimed author of “The Moral Animal,” square the circle in his new book on the persistent and vexing issue of what role religion plays in how human societies seek to comport themselves? Just how crucial to our modern ethical ideas like universal rights and equality among all persons is the notion of a single, all-powerful god?

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Daring to Dream

Most of the great American advances, from the airplane to the Constitution, were born from reinvention, not tinkering. For all the positive, even admirable steps Obama’s America seems poised to take, the aspirations still seem too small, too unimaginative, too confined by old conceptions of how things must work.

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Wayne Besen: Gays to Obama: “We’ve Seen Enough”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Wayne Besen: Gays to Obama: “We’ve Seen Enough”
The Democrats took our money, our votes and our volunteer hours and now they tell us to wait patiently, like good little gays.

Karen Ocamb: Will Gays Divorce the Democrats?
The Democratically-controlled Congress talks a good game to get LGBT votes and money — but they don’t have much to show for LGBT loyalty.

Deane Waldman: The One-Eyed King
In this kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed person is not a happy king: he is frustrated. President Obama and his new Secretary of…

Paul Rieckhoff: Hey Lindsay Lohan! Did You Hear About the Major Victory for Thousands of Stop-Lossed Troops?
This week, we’ve seen John and Kate inch closer to divorce, the President stand trial in the court of public opinion for fly-homicide, and another…

Mark Kennedy Shriver and Julianne Moore: The Disaster Decade: Lessons Unlearned
After ten years of unrelenting and unprecedented disasters — what will be remembered as The Disaster Decade — only seven states meet Save the Children’s four minimum safety standards.


Media trumpet Walpin claims without noting acting U.S. attorney’s allegations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Media trumpet Walpin claims without noting acting U.S. attorney’s allegations

Since President Obama suspended Gerald Walpin from the office of inspector general at the Corporation for National and Community Service, Fox News’ Glenn Beck, Gretchen Carlson, Steve Doocy, and Brian Kilmeade, and radio host Laura Ingraham have repeatedly reported on Walpin’s removal without noting allegations issued by acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California Lawrence Brown in an April 29 letter that Walpin and his staff “did not include” or “disclose” relevant information regarding the case to Brown’s office; that Walpin repeatedly discussed the case in the press after being advised “under no circumstance was he to communicate with the media about a matter under investigation”; and that Walpin’s “actions were hindering our investigation and handling of this matter.”

Media Matters for America reviewed Walpin’s appearances and reports discussing his removal on the following shows:

  • The June 15 edition of Glenn Beck.
  • The June 15 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show.
  • The June 16 edition of Fox & Friends.
  • The June 17 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show.
  • The June 17 edition of Glenn Beck.
  • The June 18 edition of Fox & Friends.

In none of his appearances was Walpin asked to respond to Brown’s letter; indeed, Brown’s letter detailing his concerns with Walpin’s conduct was not addressed at all when discussing the suspension.

From Brown’s letter to Kenneth W. Kaiser, chairman of the Integrity Committee for the Department of Justice’s Counsel of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency:

In our experience, the role of an Inspector General is to conduct an unbiased investigation, and then forward that investigation to my Office for a determination as to whether the facts warrant a criminal prosecution, civil suit or declination. Similarly, I understand that after conducting such an unbiased investigation, the Inspector General is not intended to act as an advocate for suspension or debarment. However, in this case Mr. Walpin viewed his role very differently. He sought to act as the investigator, advocate, judge, jury and town crier.

[…]

This matter was referred to our Office on August 7, 2008. However, even before our Office officially received this matter, we learned about it in April and June 2008 through articles in the Sacramento Bee newspaper, including comments from an IG spokesperson. Moreover, we considered the IG referral somewhat unusual in that it was accompanied by a letter from Mr. Walpin (enclosed) explaining that he viewed the conduct in this case as egregious and warranted our pursuing the matter criminally and civilly.

Within a few weeks thereafter, on August 25th, we met with Mr. Walpin and 2 investigators from his office. We expressed our concerns that the conclusions in their report seemed overstated and did not accurately reflect all of the information gathered in their investigation. We also highlighted numerous questions and further investigation they needed to conduct, including the fact that they had not done an audit to establish how much AmeriCorps money was actually misspent.

Despite our expressed concerns and the need for further analysis, the next we learned of this matter was again through the Sacramento Bee newspaper. First, on September 5, 2008, an IG spokesperson informed the newspaper that the matter had been referred to our Office, but also added that a “referral means that it’s out opinion that there is some truth to the initial allegation…” Second, Mr. Walpin apparently advocated to have St. HOPE, Johnson and Gonzalez immediately placed on a list of parties suspended from receiving federal funds. We learned of that determination through Sacramento Bee articles quoting extensively from a press release issued by Mr. Walpin’s office on September 25, 2008. Not only was it extremely questionable for Mr. Walpin to issue a press release, it contained statements such as: “[i]f we find really egregious stuff and we want to stop the bleeding, we seek immediate suspension…” Moreover, the IG publicly released the findings of his investigation.

[…]

In summary, the IG should be a fact-finding impartial investigative arm of the CNCS agency. Although I recognize that a strong IG is necessary to ensure that allegations of wrongdoing are investigated, I believe that Mr. Walpin overstepped his authority by electing to provide my Office with selective information and withholding other potentially significant information at the expense of determining the truth. I believe that rather than ensuring protection of a respected federal agency, he tarnished its reputation.

Beck further discussed Walpin’s dismissal during the June 16 edition of his Fox News show without discussing Brown’s letter. In addition, Carlson, Doocy, and Kilmeade ignored Brown’s letter while discussing Walpin’s dismissal with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) during the June 18 edition of Fox & Friends.

By contrast, the Associated Press reported in a June 12 article about the firing, “Walpin was criticized by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled the investigation of Johnson and St. HOPE Academy.”

Further, as reported by ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper in a June 12 post on his blog, Political Punch, White House counsel Greg Craig “said that the White House was ‘aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin’s conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that that the president’s decision was carefully considered.’ ” Tapper further reported, “[Craig] noted that Walpin’s termination ‘is fully supported by the Chair of the Corporation (a Democrat) and the Vice-Chair (a Republican).’ ”

From the AP article:

“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” Obama said in the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Joe Biden, who also serves as president of the Senate. “That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general.”

The president didn’t offer any more explanation, but White House Counsel Gregory Craig, in a letter late Thursday to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, cited the U.S. attorney’s criticism of Walpin to an integrity committee for inspectors general.

“We are aware of the circumstances leading to that referral and of Mr. Walpin’s conduct throughout his tenure and can assure you that the president’s decision was carefully considered,” Craig wrote.

[…]

In August 2008, Walpin referred the matter to the local U.S. attorney’s office, which said the watchdog’s conclusions seemed overstated and did not accurately reflect all the information gathered in the investigation.

“We also highlighted numerous questions and further investigation they needed to conduct, including the fact that they had not done an audit to establish how much AmeriCorps money was actually misspent,” Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown said in an April 29 letter to the federal counsel of inspectors general.

Walpin’s office made repeated public comments just before the Sacramento mayoral election, prompting the U.S. attorney’s office to inform the media that it did not intend to file any criminal charges.


Is Ensign Walking Back Extortion Claim?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Is Ensign Walking Back Extortion Claim?
Did John Ensign’s camp try to spin the announcement of his affair by smearing his girlfriend’s husband? And is it now trying to walk that back? Let us explain:…





EXCLUSIVE: Son And Husband Of Ensign’s Girlfriend Work For Company Run By Ensign Backer
Both the husband and son of the woman with whom John Ensign had an affair are now employed by a Las Vegas company whose CEO is a major Ensign supporter. Brandon Hampton, the 19-year-old son of Doug and Cynthia Hampton,…

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Ensign Resign? Keep Dreaming!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Ensign Resign? Keep Dreaming!
“Last year I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage. It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life. If there was ever anything in my life that I could take back, this would be it.” – Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) on June 16, 2009, as quoted by the AP. […]


Taxing Health Care Will Destroy Democrats

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Taxing Health Care Will Destroy Democrats
Taxing health care will turn working class people against Obama and ruin the Democratic Party.

Obama’s New Economic Plan: The Good, the Bad and the Weak
His new regulations have been billed as the most sweeping overhaul of the financial system since the Great Depression. Obama, alas, is no FDR.

While the Economy Crashes and Burns, Bush Loyalists Are Making a Killing
They shredded our economic safety nets, but for them jobs are plentiful and lucrative. You'll be surprised to know who's cashing in and where.

Are Pesticides Causing Parkinson’s Disease?
Scientists are closing in on an inescapable conclusion: Pesticides may be a cause of Parkinson's disease.


Tehran Is Burning: Widening the Debate About Election Results in Iran

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Tehran Is Burning: Widening the Debate About Election Results in Iran
Mohammad of Vancouver (a Canadian-Iranian) has relatives in the streets of Tehran, but he says that Ahmadinejad likely won the election, and the west, with its “warm ears” for Moussavi, is choosing to hear what it wants from the demonstrations….





Capitalism 3.0 — the reviews are in
Well at least a couple of them. I gave a talk with this name at LSE the other day, which was extremely well attended. I am not happy with the title at all, which as I joked, makes me sound…





Why Elections Will Continue to Lean Left Due to the Web
Perhaps like some others, I’ve run short of time this week, trying to keep up (at Editor & Publisher, and via Twitter etc.) with what’s going on in Iran, including the media crackdown. So just a few words for…


Perino laughs at idea of Fox News getting unprecedented access to the Bush administration.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Perino laughs at idea of Fox News getting unprecedented access to the Bush administration.
Appearing on the Washington Times’ America’s Morning News radio show today, former Bush press secretary Dana Perino jumped on the conservative bandwagon and criticized ABC News’ upcoming special “Questions for the President: Prescription for America.” Asked by right-wing host Melanie Morgan what the reaction would be if Fox News had similar access at the […]

Dana Perino in a purple suitAppearing on the Washington Times’ America’s Morning News radio show today, former Bush press secretary Dana Perino jumped on the conservative bandwagon and criticized ABC News’ upcoming special “Questions for the President: Prescription for America.” Asked by right-wing host Melanie Morgan what the reaction would be if Fox News had similar access at the Bush White House, Perino laughed and said that “there are a lot of double standards“:

MORGAN: I just keep wondering, you know, what would be the reaction of these same people in the mainstream media if President Bush had allowed, say, Fox News to turn over their entire broadcast from the Blue Room at the White House.

PERINO: Well, you know…

MORGAN: Hahaha, I think we both know the answer that question.

PERINO: Yeah, look, I think there are a lot of double standards. Both, maybe you know, from the right and the left. And so I try not to use it as an excuse or a grudge.

Listen here:

As ThinkProgress noted earlier today, the Bush administration regularly gave Fox News “unprecedented access” to the White House, allowing the network to produce hagiographic documentaries for both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Who was press secretary when those documentaries aired? Dana Perino.


Lawmakers Balk As Administration Tries to Redefine Central Bank’s Role

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Lawmakers Balk As Administration Tries to Redefine Central Bank’s Role
The Federal Reserve, which has been at the center of the government rescue of the financial system, is now on the hot seat, with a debate on Capitol Hill emerging over its responsibility for the crisis and its proper role in preventing such events in the future.

U.S. Pursues a New Way To Rebuild in Afghanistan
The idea to transform a vacant tract near the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif into a sprawling commercial farm, with miles of strawberry fields and thousands of cashmere goats, began with an entreaty from President George W. Bush to the billionaire chairman of Dole Foods at a 2006 Republican Party…

Senate’s Health-Care Draft Calls for Most to Buy Insurance, Nixes Obama’s ‘Public Option’
A draft proposal in the Senate to overhaul the nation’s health-care system would require most people to buy health insurance, authorize an expansion of Medicaid coverage and create consumer-owned cooperative plans instead of the government coverage that President Obama is seeking.

Price Tag of Health Reform Bill Prompts Sparring and a Delay in Congress
President Obama’s hopes for quick action on comprehensive health-care reform ran headlong this week into the realities of Congress, as lawmakers searching for the money to pay for a broad expansion of coverage discovered that it wasn’t easy to find and descended into partisan — and intraparty –…

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Clerics in Command

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 19th, 2009 4:32 am by HL

Clerics in Command

Understanding the Age of Obama
Victor Davis Hanson, RealClearPolitics

Is Obama’s Financial-Reform Plan Bold Enough?
Justin Fox, Time

The AMA’s Unhealthy Obsession
Joe Conason, New York Observer

Iran: Four Ways the Crisis May Resolve
Tony Karon, Time