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Archive for April 24th, 2010

Late Late Night FDL: Club Poodle

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:51 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Club Poodle
Featuring new videos by Gutbucket Slim and The Golden Filter.

Early Show: Gutbucket Slim “Beef”
Late Show: The Golden Filter “Thunderbird”

What’s on your mind mind tonight?


‘Colbert Report’: The Lindsey Graham Sex Tape

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:50 am by HL

‘Colbert Report’: The Lindsey Graham Sex Tape
Suddenly, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is under the microscope for maybe, potentially, being gay! What’s a conservative Southern senator to do? Well, as Stephen Colbert points out, hanging around with Sen. Joe Lieberman might help, but releasing a (straight) sex tape would be even better.

Colbert

Suddenly, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is under the microscope for maybe, potentially, being gay! What’s a conservative Southern senator to do? Well, as Stephen Colbert points out, hanging around with Sen. Joe Lieberman might help, but releasing a (straight) sex tape would be even better.

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‘You Shall Not Pass’
It seems the GOP’s “make sure nothing happens in government” approach is still going strong, with Senate Republicans blocking an effort by Democrats to begin debate on widely popular legislation to regulate the nation’s financial system. Bickering over who was pre-empting which negotiations, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell claimed debate should not start on the bill until the two sides reach a true, bipartisan agreement. All this sounds wildly familiar to the health care reform debate, but would the Republicans really be that petty? —JCL The New York Times: Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked an effort by Democrats to start debate on legislation to tighten regulation of the nation’s financial system, and the two sides traded bitter accusations about who was standing in the way of a bipartisan agreement. The majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, asked Republicans to agree to begin debating the measure, which would impose a sweeping regulatory framework on Wall Street and big financial institutions. But the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, objected, saying Democrats were pre-empting negotiations to reach a deal. In response, Mr. Reid said he would call the first procedural vote on Monday in an effort to stop the Republican filibuster. That vote could test Republican resolve to oppose the measure in an election year, amid public dismay over big Wall Street profits and bonuses even as unemployment remains high. Read more

It seems the GOP’s “make sure nothing happens in government” approach is still going strong, with Senate Republicans blocking an effort by Democrats to begin debate on widely popular legislation to regulate the nation’s financial system.

Bickering over who was pre-empting which negotiations, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell claimed debate should not start on the bill until the two sides reach a true, bipartisan agreement. All this sounds wildly familiar to the health care reform debate, but would the Republicans really be that petty? —JCL

The New York Times:

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked an effort by Democrats to start debate on legislation to tighten regulation of the nation’s financial system, and the two sides traded bitter accusations about who was standing in the way of a bipartisan agreement.

The majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, asked Republicans to agree to begin debating the measure, which would impose a sweeping regulatory framework on Wall Street and big financial institutions. But the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, objected, saying Democrats were pre-empting negotiations to reach a deal.

In response, Mr. Reid said he would call the first procedural vote on Monday in an effort to stop the Republican filibuster. That vote could test Republican resolve to oppose the measure in an election year, amid public dismay over big Wall Street profits and bonuses even as unemployment remains high.

Read more

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2010 Census Return Rate Hits 72 Percent, Matches 2000 Census Return Rate

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:49 am by HL

2010 Census Return Rate Hits 72 Percent, Matches 2000 Census Return Rate
WASHINGTON — It’s down to the wire: With a few days left before final mail-in results are tallied, nearly three-fourths of U.S. households have returned…

Miner Dies At Pocahontas Coal Mine Listed By Rep. George Miller
A West Virginia man has died after being pinned against the wall of a coal mine, reports WOWKTV. According to an official with West Virginia…

Oklahoma Abortion Bills Vetoed By Democratic Governor Brad Henry
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry vetoed two abortion bills Friday that he said are an unconstitutional attempt by the Legislature to insert government…

Two Senators And Larry Summers On Bank Size
Bank size is suddenly the issue of the day — with politicians lining up to oppose any meaningful restriction on the size of our largest…

Have Conservatives Gone Mad?
Serious thinkers on the right have finally gotten around to a full and open debate on the epistemic closure problem that’s plaguing the conservative movement….


Media Matters: Fox News’ ever-expanding ethics nightmare

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Media Matters: Fox News’ ever-expanding ethics nightmare

Another week, another handful of ethical scandals that should permanently sink Fox’s claim of being a legitimate news organization.

To recap: Last week, they gave us twin scandals starring Fox News stalwarts Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. “Furious” Fox News execs pulled Sean Hannity from his planned show filming/fundraiser for the Cincinnati Tea Party after numerous news veterans and watchdogs called foul.

O’Reilly spent last week reminding us of his willful ignorance by repeatedly falsely asserting that “no one” on Fox promoted the falsehood that “jail time” was a penalty for not buying insurance under the health care reform bill. He was outrageously wrong.

Though Howard Kurtz reported that Fox plans to “keep a tighter rein on Hannity and others” in the wake of the tea party scandal, we remain skeptical. Fox has a long history of promising change in the wake of damaging ethics scandals, then failing to deliver on those promises.

Indeed, despite cancelling Hannity’s tea party event, Fox News has yet to cancel a planned appearance by Fox Business host John Stossel at a paid event for a nonprofit organization with very close ties to the energy industry. If history is any indicator, Fox will hold its breath and hope that everyone forgets about the Stossel fundraiser.

Of course, this being Fox News, Stossel’s planned fundraiser wasn’t even the cable channel’s biggest ethics scandal this week.

While a great deal of attention has deservedly been given to Rupert Murdoch’s statement that Fox News “shouldn’t be promoting the tea party,” the rest of his comment — “or any other party” — is equally notable. So, how’s Fox’s supposedly frowned-upon promotion of that “other party” — the GOP — going? In a word: lucratively.

As we detailed last week, Fox News hosts and contributors have raised millions of dollars for Republican candidates and causes using PACs, 527s, and 501(c)(4) organizations.

In a follow-up report this week, we detailed the massive scope of Fox’s fundraising for the GOP:

In recent years, at least twenty Fox News personalities have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or causes, or against Democratic candidates or causes, in more than 300 instances and in at least 49 states. Republican parties and officials have routinely touted these personalities’ affiliations with Fox News to sell and promote their events.

In their defense, they did miss Wyoming.

Were Fox an actual news organization that cared about journalistic standards, all of these ethics scandals would be excellent fodder for its weekly media criticism show, Fox News Watch. Unfortunately, as we noted last weekend, they ignored the O’Reilly and Hannity scandals in favor of such pressing stories as media coverage of the new Oprah bio. Forthcoming coverage of the Fox Newsers’ fundraising seems unlikely.

Media Matters reporter and senior editor Joe Strupp pointed out that while Fox News Watch was once a source of legitimate media criticism, the show has increasingly transformed into yet another megaphone for GOP talking points. Strupp quoted former Fox News Watch host Eric Burns (no relation to Media Matters President Eric Burns) saying: “The show was getting to be more and more of a struggle to do fairly. There was a progression of interference to try to make the show more right-wing. I fought very hard against it.”

As Media Matters President Eric Burns pointed out on MSNBC this week, “When you have a famed, well known Republican hitman — Roger Ailes — running a news network, this is what you’re going to get.”

Fox News has a slightly different take, however. As Fox News Watch put it in the promo for its segment on Ailes’ new ratings high, “Fairness plus balance equals success.”

Take note, CNN.

Other stories this week

If dishonesty won’t derail financial reform, maybe denial will

Right-wing story time this week — brought to you by Frank Luntz — centered around the claim that financial reform legislation would encourage perpetual and permanent taxpayer bailouts. The genesis of this particular tall tale is Luntz’s January memo that advised opponents of financial regulatory reform to tie the issue to big bank bailouts. Message received. Driving the clown car was Glenn Beck, who appeared on Fox & Friends to decry the “insane” idea of using $50 billion to save failing firms; Michelle Malkin claimed the bill would “institutionalize and make permanent financial bailouts”; Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino said the bill contained a “slush fund” of “$50 billion to bail you out.” Actually, the $50 billion fund would be paid for by the financial services industry and would cover the costs of the orderly liquidation of failing firms, quite clearly the opposite of a bailout. No worries. The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund tried to argue that the bill was bad because it would bail out firms and because it let the government liquidate them. Rush Limbaugh complained that it was “a bailout bill, or a destroy ’em bill.” Neat trick.

Not content to distort the bill to push their talking points, media conservatives also trumped up the completely baseless allegation that the Obama administration colluded with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sue Goldman Sachs over alleged fraud, all to create a villain in the financial reform narrative. Now that would be big — bigger even than, say, allegedly failing to disclose to investors that the creator of a fund you were selling them is betting on its failure. And so it was, without a scintilla of evidence, that CNN contributor Erick Erickson claimed on his blog that the administration was “colluding to destroy Goldman Sachs.” Big Government said Obama was “in need of a villain to serve as a political piñata,” and Fox News aggressively pushed the baseless accusation, which SEC officials and the White House strongly denied.

Right-wing media figures also sweated to the oldies while attacking financial reform this week, dragging out a greatest hits collection of anti-progressive attacks to criticize yet another reform bill. Karl Rove and Fox News claimed health care financial reform meant the government would soon by spying on individual bank accounts with a research office actually charged with analyzing risk across the financial sector. Fox News figures tried to undermine support for the stimulus financial reform by aggressively pushing the canard that affordable housing initiatives caused the housing crisis. Limbaugh whined that “the same people that gave you the DMV” will “be running our health care financial system.” (Sound familiar?)

Dishonesty, distortion, baseless allegations and yesterday’s attacks. Wouldn’t it be easier to just bury their heads in the sand and pretend there is no “real crisis” at all?

Fox News rallies for religious bigotry

In October 2001, evangelical preacher Franklin Graham delivered remarks while dedicating a chapel in North Carolina, during which he touched on the September 11 attacks and the newly spawned war on terrorism: “We’re not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.” Graham’s stance on Islam has not softened over the years, and he told CNN’s Campbell Brown just last December: “[T]rue Islam cannot be practiced in this country. You can’t beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they’ve committed adultery or something like that.”

Smearing the world’s second-largest faith as “very evil and wicked” and condemning that faith for the worst terrorist attack in American history is inflammatory and wildly offensive. So it should come as a surprise that Fox News rallied to Graham’s defense when religious freedom organizations protested Graham’s invitation to the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer ceremonies this year. It should come as a surprise because for most, defending Graham’s religious bigotry would be unthinkable. But, unfortunately, Fox News does not operate under such standards of propriety, and has added yet another chapter to its long and undistinguished record of smearing the Islamic faith.

Fox’s first stab at defending Graham backfired pretty badly, as the Fox & Friends crew invited Graham on to defend himself. He promptly counseled the Muslims that “they don’t have to die in a car bomb, don’t have to die in some holy war to be accepted by God.”

Fox News personalities then turned to the role of apologists, and chief among them was legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr., who for two days running tried desperately to explain away Graham’s “evil and wicked” comments, including this excuse: “After 9-11, a lot of folks were making those statements.” He also offered this gem: “No one is out to make any excuses for the statements that Franklin Graham made. And they were made nine years ago, in the wake of 9-11. In the wake of 3,000 deaths. He doesn’t need excuses.”

Johnson certainly wasn’t alone in the excuse-making department. Sean Hannity offered a full-throated defense of Graham, falsely claiming that he was only talking about “radical Islam” and going so far to accuse Graham’s critics of being “afraid to take on radical Islam.” After Graham was disinvited by the Pentagon from a National Prayer Day event, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin wrote: “Nation suffers … as Mr. Graham is uninvited to speak.” Fox News “Culture Warrior” Margaret Hoover felt that the Pentagon’s decision was “unfortunate.”

So what, if anything, have we learned from all this? We’ve learned that there’s really no smear against Muslims or the Islamic faith that’s too outrageous or offensive to find a home at Fox News.

This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Ben Dimiero, Jeremy Holden, and Simon Maloy.


GOP Rep. Promises Donors: ‘I Would Turn To You For Advice’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:47 am by HL

GOP Rep. Promises Donors: ‘I Would Turn To You For Advice’
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) canceled a fundraiser after questions were raised about her promise of special access to donors.


Touchy Subject: Steele Slammed For Criticizing GOP’s Southern Strategy
Michael Steele’s charge this week that the GOP’s southern strategy has “alienated” minority voters may not have provoked as many headlines as a trip by young Republicans to a lesbian bondage club. But in the long run it could cause just as much trouble for him.


How the Republican Superboy Spent Earth Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:43 am by HL

How the Republican Superboy Spent Earth Day
Click below to read the rest.


Why ‘I Feel It In My Heart’ Is a Terrible Justification for God’s Existence

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Why ‘I Feel It In My Heart’ Is a Terrible Justification for God’s Existence
As vivid as the experience of our hearts and minds can feel, it’s unreliable and subject to bias.

As vivid as the experience of our hearts and minds can feel, it's unreliable and subject to bias.

Arizona Gov. Signs Sweeping Immigration Crack Down Into Law, Essentially Legalizing Racial Profiling
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed on Friday what is now the most punitive and sweeping anti-immigrant state law in the nation.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed on Friday what is now the most punitive and sweeping anti-immigrant state law in the nation.

Building a Climate Justice Movement
The climate justice movement has taken up two enormous concerns: How to address ecological catastrophe and how to develop a new global economic model.

The climate justice movement has taken up two enormous concerns: How to address ecological catastrophe and how to develop a new global economic model.

Will President Obama Stand up for Real Financial Reform?

“Ultimately there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. We rise or we fall together as one nation. So I urge you to join me,” President Obama to Wall Street Executives at Cooper Union, April 22, 2010. Now, in the wake of the Goldman Sachs lawsuit, is a golden moment for President Obama […]

Wall Street’s Simple Formula for Staying Rich
Through the Federal Reserve, the public is basically giving the mega banks free money and letting them make bundles on the difference with which they lend.

Through the Federal Reserve, the public is basically giving the mega banks free money and letting them make bundles on the difference with which they lend.


What’s Holding Obama The Professor Back?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:40 am by HL

What’s Holding Obama The Professor Back?
Dahlia, many thanks for your generous words–and for your excellent question, which has to have occurred to our president from time to time, especially in recent months. Should he say more–should he say anything at all–about his understanding of…


Supreme CourtUnited StatesBarack ObamaUnited States Supreme CourtHistory

End occupation then start negotiations
US President Barack Obama is about to take a political leap on the Palestine/Israel issue. Many American presidents took similar leaps and each and every one of them fell flat on their faces. The leap is the launch of a…


Barack ObamaMiddle EastIsraelObama administrationUnited States

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GOP newsletter: ?Let?s take Betty Sutton out of the House and put her back in the kitchen.?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:39 am by HL

GOP newsletter: ?Let?s take Betty Sutton out of the House and put her back in the kitchen.?
The Medina County Republican Party in Medina, OH has put out a Spring 2010 edition of its newsletter titled the “Republican Review” that urges supporters to “slow the pace of President Obama’s slippery slide down the slippery slope toward a more socialistic society.” The newsletter names several Democrats that should be defeated and includes a […]

The Medina County Republican Party in Medina, OH has put out a Spring 2010 edition of its newsletter titled the “Republican Review” that urges supporters to “slow the pace of President Obama’s slippery slide down the slippery slope toward a more socialistic society.” The newsletter names several Democrats that should be defeated and includes a sexist swipe at Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH):

This sexist belief that women don’t belong in the workforce is similar to a National Republican Congressional Committee press release that said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) needs to be “put in her place” for expressing certain views on the war in Afghanistan. As Pelosi later responded, “I’m in my place. I’m the speaker of the House — the first woman speaker of the House.” (HT: Jamison Foser)

ThinkFast: April 23, 2010
The oil rig that exploded on Tuesday has now sunk into the Gulf of Mexico, “leaving a one-by-five-mile sheen of what the authorities said was ‘crude oil mix.’” A vice president for BP, which was leasing the rig, said “it certainly has the potential to be a major spill.” The most damage would come if […]

The oil rig that exploded on Tuesday has now sunk into the Gulf of Mexico, “leaving a one-by-five-mile sheen of what the authorities said was ‘crude oil mix.’” A vice president for BP, which was leasing the rig, said “it certainly has the potential to be a major spill.” The most damage would come if the oil spill “were to reach the Louisiana coast, some 50 miles away.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has until tomorrow to decide how to act on the “nation’s toughest legislation against illegal immigration,” which reached her desk Monday. She can “sign, veto or allow it to become law without her signature.” Brewer hasn’t said what she will do, but her primary opponent “has called on her to sign the legislation.” Brewer is expected to sign the bill today.

The Florida GOP is invoking the loyalty oath to forbid any party officials from supporting Charlie Crist’s possible independent bid for Senate. “[T]he Party Loyalty Oath forbids Republican Executive Committee members from supporting any candidate other than the candidate nominated by the voters of the Republican Party through its primary election,” FL GOP general counsel Jason Gonzalez wrote in a memo.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) left the door open to a possible presidential bid in 2012. Saying it’s not “something I desire,” DeMint added, “There are a lot of changes I’d like to make in this country and I think Americans are going to be ready for someone to tell them the truth next election.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) slammed the White House’s policies with respect to Israel, saying that it “has to stop” pressuring the Middle Eastern country on issues related to negotiations with the Palestinians. Responding to Schumer’s words, the New America Foundations’ Steve Clemons writes, “Has Chuck Schumer EVER criticized Israel or its leadership in the way he just unloaded on Obama?”

Federal records show that “[f]inancial services companies increased their spending to influence Congress during the first three months of the year, while also hiring well-connected lobbyists to press their case on new Wall Street regulations.” Goldman Sachs spent $1.2 million in 2010’s first quarter, 72 percent more than last year, while Citigroup spent $1.4 million, a 13.5 percent increase.

Democrats released their “long-awaited campaign finance bill,” which “would force top corporate executives, union officials and top donors to stand by political ads just like politicians must do.” The bill, whose main co-sponsors are Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), will be introduced next week; its backers expect it to be approved by July 4.

“House Republicans have launched a new ‘real-time’ e-mail, Internet and media offensive aimed at fueling public opposition to Democrats’ climate proposals.” The effort is “designed to coincide” with the introduction of a climate bill in the Senate next week and the “upcoming annual summer spike in gas prices.”

Several NATO allies are pressing the U.S. to “withdraw its aging stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons from Europe.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is not opposed to such a move, but “ruled out removing these weapons unless Russia agreed to cuts in its arsenal, which is at least a press conference yesterday with the “pint-size progeny of journalists and congressional aides.”

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Senate moves toward combined bill on derivatives oversight

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 24th, 2010 4:38 am by HL

Senate moves toward combined bill on derivatives oversight
OVERSIGHT Senate aides inched closer Friday to combining separate bills that would establish oversight of the vast market for derivatives, an effort central to the ongoing push to revamp the nation’s financial regulations.


Undercover persuasion by tech industry lobbyists
Why pay for a golf trip, dinner or full-page ad when you can tweet for free?

Call to freeze congressional salaries may be tied to midterms
Is it a smart political move or mere election-year populism when members of Congress offer to cut their own pay?

Deficit commission has a name, a phone number and a few dates
President Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform may not have a Web site or any other obvious point of access for the public, but as its first meeting draws close, some information about the panel assigned to balance the federal budget is finally beginning to trickle out.


Federal Eye: SEC porn investigation nets dozens
Dozens of Securities and Exchange Commission staffers used government computers to access and download explicit images and many of the incidents have occurred since the global financial meltdown began, according to a new watchdog investigation.