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Archive for July 28th, 2009

Don’t Tase Me, Bro

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:46 am by HL

Don’t Tase Me, Bro

Many a protester—and the occasional speeding grannie—has faced off against Taser-wielding law enforcement officers. The Man now has a new rapid-fire stun gun that multiplies all of the ethical problems of gaining “voluntary compliance.” Below, a video of Taser employees zapping each other.

(via Engadget)

Link to Taser’s press release.

READ THE WHOLE ITEM

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Youth Radio — Youth Media International: God, Guns, and American Pick-Up Trucks

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Youth Radio — Youth Media International: God, Guns, and American Pick-Up Trucks
Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe. By: Orlando Campbell When I read that a car salesman in…

Michelle Schweiger Schecter: The Spurn Of The Native
Did you catch Liz Cheney on Larry live?/Allowing the birthers’ claims to thrive/Carville, quite exasperated on Mr. King/Telling us this is, indeed, a very “nutty thing”.

Lincoln Mitchell: The Policeman, the President, the Professor, an Apology, and a Round of Beers
If Obama, Gates and Crowley ever get together for that beer, it will be a good photo and probably an interesting discussion, but it will not change how African Americans are treated by police.

Ben Cohen: My Argument with the 9/11 Truth Movement
After publishing a piece on the idiocy of the Birther movement, I’ve been inundated with hundreds of emails decrying my comparison of the Birthers to the 9/11 Truthers.


Eric Boehlert: How Lou Dobbs scared Rush Limbaugh off the birther story

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Eric Boehlert: How Lou Dobbs scared Rush Limbaugh off the birther story

I can think of three (inadvertent) positives that came out of Lou Dobbs’ ill-advised embrace of the birther movement:

1) The CNN host has permanently tarnished his reputation

2) The birther movement is officially kaput (like, stick-a-fork-in-it done)

3) Rush Limbaugh is afraid to talk about birthers.

Talk about a win-win-win.

It’s true that Dobbs irresponsibly mainstreamed radical right-fringe players by championing their half-baked claims that Barack Obama isn’t a natural born citizen and is ineligible to serve as president of the United States. Dobbs, at least indirectly, lent the birther movement some fleeting credence as he dragged its misbegotten detective work into the spotlight. And it’s still vitally important to monitor Dobbs and call out CNN management for its dreadful hypocrisy on the birther issue (i.e. The story is “dead” but it’s OK for Dobbs to keep flogging it on national TV).

But there was some good news last week, and it came from watching Dobbs’ slow motion train wreck unfold on the airwaves. It came from seeing how eagerly — how convincingly — the birther claims were debunked, not only online by progressives, but within the mainstream press as well — the same mainstream press that’s often reluctant to show up high-profile media players such as Dobbs, no matter how badly it has botched the facts. And let’s not forget conservatives, who dismissed and ridiculed the birther claims.

In the case of the birthers, though, Dobbs’ corporate media colleagues were utterly relentless in their fact-checking. I still don’t think Dobbs knows what hit him. And frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a well-deserved media pile-on. It’s hard to see how Dobbs’ career survives the humiliation.

Of course, it’s always dangerous when hateful and cuckoo conspiracy theories are ushered into the mainstream and right-wing critics are given a platform to peddle their hateful whodunits about Obama’s nationality the way Dobbs did. But, in this case, I almost think it was worth running that risk in order to watch the tidal wave of media disapproval that Dobbs’ fearmongering unleashed.

Because in retrospect, the birthers, who had spent months lurking on the sidelines, needed to be called out on national TV; they needed to be ridiculed mercilessly and have their cheerleaders thoroughly mocked. They needed to be turned into the butt of a joke, and thanks to Lou Dobbs, last week they were.

It was a good thing MSNBC viewers got to see right-wing radio host G. Gordon Liddy feebly attempt to make sense of the birther crusade. And let’s face it, if it weren’t for Dobbs’ high-profile, albeit irresponsible, birther cheerleading last week, Chris Matthews never would have booked Liddy for the show, nor would he have been discussing the topic.

Indeed, the rhetorical media beat down that Dobbs suffered seemed to reach every conceivable media forum, with reporters and pundits, anchors and TV hosts all lining up to smack the birther piñata Dobbs had so proudly hung.

Watch again as Jon Stewart pummels the piñata and scoops up the treats:

Watching clips like that convinced me that Dobbs last week inadvertently, yet effectively, buried the birther movement as we know it. Despite its extraordinary resiliency (didn’t the Obama campaign first try to debunk this story exactly 12 months ago?), I think by shining a spotlight on the birther conspiracy, Dobbs, rather than helping get questions answered, and rather than legitimizing the lost souls peddling the birther certificate nonsense, helped drive a stake through its heart. The media backlash that Dobbs set off made sure of that, and it made sure that nobody will ever take the birthers seriously again.

Think about it, without Dobbs suddenly out front leading the stragglers who make the birther parade, do you think NBC would have devoted four minutes of its Nightly News to thoroughly debunk the story? I doubt it. And that’s why I think everyone now owes Dobbs a hearty round of applause. Because let’s face it, he did in one week what nobody else had been able to do during the previous 51: put an end to the birther movement.

And while we’re patting Dobbs on the back, I’m pretty sure Dobbs scared Limbaugh off the birther story — or, more precisely, the pummeling Dobbs received scared Limbaugh off the birther story. And that’s a big deal within the Republican Noise Machine. Birthers had been courting Limbaugh for months and cheered in June when the turbo talker at least made a birther joke on the air: “Barack Obama has one thing in common with God. Do you know what it is? God does not have a birth certificate either.”

As David Weigel at The Washington Independent reported:

On June 16, after Limbaugh joked about the president’s citizenship, WorldNetDaily editor-in-chief Joseph Farah appeared on the Web-based Recharge Radio to thank the host for spreading the “birther” message. “What that did is beyond Rush’s impact,” said Farah. “It also gives other talk show hosts license to talk about this issue … Rush is kind of the standard of talk show hosts. A lot of people emulate what he does. He crossed the Rubicon on that show, and I’m very proud of him for doing it.”

Earlier this month, just as the Dobbs circus was setting up shop, Limbaugh returned to the topic in a far more serious vein, saying: “Barack Obama has yet to have to prove he’s a citizen. All he’d have to do is show a birth certificate.”

That was July 20, around the same time Dobbs waded into the birther pool and just days before the CNN host ignited massive media blowback. But here’s the tell: Have you noticed Limbaugh’s deafening silence about the birthers since July 20th? Have you noticed how the birther movement was in the news virtually every day last week, how the mainstream press was debunking it and calling out the right-wing nonsense, how NBC’s Nightly News referred to Limbaugh in its birther report, yet Limbaugh remained mum? Rather than step forward in his natural role as a birther defender and attacker of all-things Obama, Limbaugh has sat out the birther controversy and watched its members get mowed down in the press.

Limbaugh’s scared to talk about the birthers and won’t defend them because he has seen how Dobbs and the movement got manhandled by the press — including by conservative commentators. In fact, Limbaugh himself took some friendly fire from Philip Klein at the far-right American Spectator who, under the headline, “Shame on Rush,” announced: “To any sane human being, there is no controversy.”

Limbaugh saw how the press was sticking to the birth certificate facts and wasn’t shy about knocking down high-paid radio hosts who tried to traffic in that nonsense.

And guess what? If Limbaugh won’t back the birthers, that means most right-wing AM hosts won’t either. Because that business is built upon a very simple (lemming) rule: Do whatever Rush does. And if Limbaugh won’t line up on the side of the birthers, than means most AM talkers won’t either, which means the birthers are going to be pushed back to the fringes where they belong.

And for that, we have Lou Dobbs to thank.


Apple Jacks, Prada, And Kidney Trafficking: Taking Stock Of The New Jersey Arrests

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Apple Jacks, Prada, And Kidney Trafficking: Taking Stock Of The New Jersey Arrests
At 6am last Thursday, more than 200 FBI and IRS agents fanned out across the state of New Jersey, as part of that corruption and money-laundering probe that ended up netting 44 people, including mayors, rabbis, and a state lawmaker….

Rubio Won’t Say Whether He’ll Sever Ties With McKalip
Are David McKalip’s political allies backing away from him — despite his apology for sending a racist email depicting President Obama as a witch doctor? A spokesman for Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Marco Rubio declined to tell TPMmuckraker whether Rubio…

Top Anti-Reform Group Working Closely With McKalip, Tea Partiers
David McKalip, whose racist email showing President Obama dressed as a witch doctor triggered a barrage of outrage, has worked closely in recent weeks with one of the leading organized efforts to stop health-care reform. After we posted McKalip’s racist…






The Origins of Rushbo

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:39 am by HL

The Origins of Rushbo


10 Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

10 Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets
How to make the best of a traumatic transition: Learn the best bathroom options and soup kitchen schedules, carry a blanket and more.

Racism Is the Prime Cause for Debunked Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy Theory
The "birther" conspiracy has been utterly debunked, yet more GOP establishment figures have embraced the transparently racist cause.

Road Kill: It’s Fresh, It’s Organic, It’s Free
Even some hardcore vegans have found solace in scavenging. Here's why.

100 Years of Imperial Paranoia About the Pashtuns
The doomsday rhetoric in Washington over lightly settled, mountainous Pashtun tribal lands is strikingly similar to that of the British Empire.

Tell Senators: Now’s Not the Time for a Break on Health Care Reform
Making sure senators keep hammering out health care reform is AlterNet's top Take Action Campaign for the week.


If Health Reform Fails, Netanyahu Will Prevail On Settlements

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

If Health Reform Fails, Netanyahu Will Prevail On Settlements
Watching the President holding firm on the occupation convinces me that his health care bill will prevail too. True, the forces arrayed against him on the Middle East are school children compared to the “health industry” but, nonetheless, Team Obama…


Sponsored Topics: Middle EastBenjamin NetanyahuWest BankIsraelEast Jerusalem

Plenty Enough Suck To Go Around
This week at Cafe, Cheryl Wagner joins us for a discussion of her book Plenty Enough Suck To Go Around: A Memoir Of Floods, Fires, Parades, and Plywood. With her unforgettably distinct voice, Cheryl tells the story of how…






Sponsored Topics: Hurricane KatrinaNew OrleansWeather PhenomenaMeteorologyEarth Sciences

High frequency traders – a phoney explanation when nobody seems to know the real explanation
Goldman Sachs made 5.7 billion dollars of trading revenue in the last quarter. That run rate (over 22 billion per annum) is almost as much as the pre-crisis peak.$22 billion per annum is roughly $200 per year per household in…


Sponsored Topics: GoldmanSachsBusinessInvestingStocks and BondsNew York Times


How many Republican congressmen are ‘birthers’?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

How many Republican congressmen are ‘birthers’?
Blogger-activist Mike Stark has been staking out Capitol Hill recently, trying to get Republican congressmen on the record about whether or not they believe President Obama was born in the United States. Only a couple of GOP congressmen were willing to state without reservation that Obama is the legal and constitutional President of the United […]

Blogger-activist Mike Stark has been staking out Capitol Hill recently, trying to get Republican congressmen on the record about whether or not they believe President Obama was born in the United States. Only a couple of GOP congressmen were willing to state without reservation that Obama is the legal and constitutional President of the United States. Many others said they “think there are questions” and would “like to see the documents.” Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) began running away from Stark — literally — to avoid answering the question. Another congressman avoided Stark by hiding in a book store and pretending to look at pens. Watch it:

For more about the “birthers,” read today’s Progress Report on “The Wacko Wing.”

WSJ Editor Attacks The Non-Existent ?Public Option? In Massachusetts
On Saturday, the conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal editorial page used their weekly Fox News show to attack every aspect of the health care reform that President Obama is trying to work through Congress. To criticize the idea of public insurance plan, assistant editorial page editor James Freeman claimed that health reform in […]

On Saturday, the conservative editors of the Wall Street Journal editorial page used their weekly Fox News show to attack every aspect of the health care reform that President Obama is trying to work through Congress. To criticize the idea of public insurance plan, assistant editorial page editor James Freeman claimed that health reform in Massachusetts shows what would happen with a public option:

GIGOT: All right, James, let me ask you about this–the public option. Because the president says, Look, all this is, is going to compete with the private plans, keep them honest. The insurers are making a lot of money right now. We need to keep them honest.

FREEMAN: Right, and I think the beauty of this is we don’t need to guess or estimate or just posit what might happen, because the people of Massachusetts since 2006 have been running the experiment for all of us, and we can go to school on it.

Gigot: Thanks to Mitt Romney, former Republican governor.

Freeman: That’s right.

Gigot: Or no thanks to Mitt Romney.

Freeman: And it’s very clear what happens. Private insurance goes away, more people go on the public plan, costs explode, more costs go onto small business, and people lose their jobs or they get salary freezes.

Watch it:

There’s one problem with Freeman’s analysis: Massachusetts doesn’t have a public plan. As former MA governor Mitt Romney, who implemented the plan, told CNSNews last month, “Our plan did not include a government insurance plan.” “Instead, we relied entirely on private market-based insurance plans to help people get insurance,” said Romney.

Instead of a public plan, Massachusetts uses an employer mandate and subsidies for people under 300 percent of the federal poverty level unable to afford coverage. Massachusetts has successfully expanded coverage to all but 2.6 percent of its population, but unfortunately, the program deferred “until another day any serious effort to control the state’s runaway health costs.” Proponents argue that a public plan would be key to cost control.


Six Ways Obama Can Regain Israeli Trust

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 28th, 2009 4:31 am by HL

Six Ways Obama Can Regain Israeli Trust
Yossi Klein Halevi, TNR

The Dimming of a Dream in California
Lou Cannon, Politics Daily

Details Show Drawbacks of Obamacare
Capretta & Levin, Weekly Standard

Biden’s Russia Blunder

With Act II Unwritten, Palin Can Define Role
Dan Balz, Washington Post