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Archive for December 4th, 2010

Vandals Hit Home of Anti-Abortion Advocate

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:50 am by HL

Vandals Hit Home of Anti-Abortion Advocate
Bricks were hurled through windows into Chicago home of anti-abortion activist Joseph Scheidler early Thursday. A note with the bricks read, “I’ve had an abortion and no laws could ever stop me.”



Late Late Night FDL: Baby Its Cold Outside

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:48 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Baby Its Cold Outside
Miss Piggy and Rudolf NureyevBaby, Its Cold Outside, from The Muppet Show.

Miss Piggy and Rudolf NureyevBaby, Its Cold Outside, from The Muppet Show.

What’s on your mind?


‘Left, Right & Center’: What a Wiki-Week It Was

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:47 am by HL

‘Left, Right & Center’: What a Wiki-Week It Was
What WikiLeaks revealed might have embarrassed some bigwigs around the world, but will the released information really hurt U.S. interests? America’s jobs outlook is still heading downward as the unemployment benefits of thousands expire. Does the deficit matter more than people do?

Left, Right & Center

What WikiLeaks revealed might have embarrassed some bigwigs around the world, but will the released information really hurt U.S. interests? America’s jobs outlook is still heading downward as the unemployment benefits of thousands expire. Does the deficit matter more than people do?

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Carl Pope: Can the Senate Save Itself?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Carl Pope: Can the Senate Save Itself?
A serious conversation has begun about making it possible for the Senate to function as our Constitution envisaged — as a part of a balanced…

Phil Trounstine: In CA, It Wasn’t the Economy, Stupid, It Was Character
By Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts www.calbuzz.com In their last pre-election survey, Oct. 10-17, the Public Policy Institute of California found that six in 10…

Martha Burk: Republican “Principles” Busting Out all Over
I’ve been agonizing for some time over how as a country we’ve catapulted so far beyond George Orwell’s 1984, which taught us that rhetoric could…

Brandon Shaffer: Women in the State Senate
The hot political debate when I was in the Navy was whether or not women sailors should be allowed on combatant vessels. I was stationed…

William Astore: WikiLeaks and Our Boorish, “In your face” Diplomacy
While the mainstream media focuses on whether Julian Assange is a sex criminal in charge of a terrorist organization, I got a rude reminder of…


Historians Dismantle Beck’s Roman History Lesson

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Historians Dismantle Beck’s Roman History Lesson

On both his radio and Fox News programs this week, Glenn Beck sought to show how the U.S. is ” repeating the exact mistakes” that led to the fall of the Roman Republic. But according to Roman history experts consulted by Media Matters, Beck’s history lesson distorted or fabricated key facts.

beck screengrab

Beck Points To Beginning of Roman Empire As Example Of “What’s Happening To Us”

Beck: “We Are Repeating The Exact Mistakes of Ancient Rome.” Beck said on the December 1 edition of his Fox News show, “Tonight, I will show how we are repeating the exact mistakes of ancient Rome and we are on the fast track to writing the next chapter of history titled “The Rise and Fall of American Empire and Man’s Freedom.” [Glenn Beck12/01/10, accessed via Nexis]

Beck: “This Is Where We’re At. The Empire Begins.” Beck said, “The fall of the Roman Republic and into an empire, because I think this is where we’re at. The empire begins. We are not looking at the decline and fall of the American empire, because we’re still a republic, but we’re teetering.” Beck added that “what they’re trying to do right now is to convince you that communism and socialism is better than capitalism. They are doing everything they can to achieve their goal without you knowing it.” [Glenn Beck12/01/10, accessed via Nexis]

Beck: “Obama Is Octavian.” On the December 2 edition of his radio show, Beck said, “Barack Obama is Octavian. The first Roman, real, god. But he was the first citizen. He was the last guy of the Republic before it went into an empire. And he changed everything. He left the illusion of a republic but became a dictator. But he always claimed that he wasn’t. This is what’s happening to us.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 11/2/10]

Beck: Like Rome, We Are Doing “Land Grabs And Food Rations And Free Food.” Beck said:

I showed you, as the Roman Empire begins decline, what do they do? They start land grabs and food rations and free food. And then, they change the republic and they don’t let people know.

They just change it. They leave all the Senate in and everything, but it’s all a scam so people can feel good. That is where we left it. Now, that is what we are doing here. And they are saying to us that state capitalism is where we are headed.

Well, I just showed you that is not state capitalism; it’s national socialism. Soon, it will be global socialism. And they can’t say “national socialism” now because everybody will freak out. They know what is. That’s Mussolini and that’s Hitler. [Glenn Beck12/01/10, accessed via Nexis]

Beck Ignores Years Of Slaughter To Claim Octavian Rose To Emperor “Without Violence”

Beck: Roman Citizens Became “Subjects Of An Emperor And It All Happened Without Violence, Without Votes Or Without Fanfare.” From the December 1 edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck:

BECK: The people of Rome had gone from being citizens of a republic to subjects of an emperor and it all happened without violence, without votes or without fanfare. Didn’t really even know and they were actually happy about it. Because they were bought off. Now, where are we seeing this today? [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 12/1/10, via LexisNexis]

Classics Professor Brennan: Transition Period From Republic To Empire “Was One Of The Bloodiest And Most Deeply Traumatizing In Rome’s History.” T. Corey Brennan, a classics professor at Rutgers University and current visiting faculty member at the American Academy in Rome, told Media Matters, “The triumviral period (from 15 March 44 BC down to Octavian’s victory over Marc Antony at the battle of Actium in 31 BC) was one of the bloodiest and most deeply traumatizing in Rome’s history.” Roman history professor Ray Laurence, of the University of Kent, similarly stated by email: “This is way off. From 44 BC to 31 BC, entailed the most violent series of civil wars Rome had seen.”

  • Classics Professor Peachin: “Augustus [Octavian] Began His Career As A Mass Murderer.” New York University classics professor and Roman history expert Michael Peachin wrote to Media Matters:

Again, since this distorts so utterly so much, and in itself means absolutely nothing whatsoever, it is very hard to comment on. But just for example: “without violence” is absolutely incredible nonsense. Augustus began his career as a mass murderer – just think of Cicero, murdered, his hands cut off and tongue cut out, and these nailed up on the speaker’s platform in the Forum. He was only one of thousands proscribed: i.e., their names published in lists hung up daily, announcing that these people were sought, and that anyone who brought the person, or the person’s head, would receive a reward. And then, a series of horrific civil wars.

  • Historian Goldsworthy: “Octavian/Augustus Was The Last Man Standing At The End Of This Period Of Conflict.” Adrian Goldsworthy, historian and author of several books about the Roman Empire, stated in an email:

From 44-30 BC there was almost constant civil war.  When Antony, Octavian and Lepidus occupied Rome in 43 BC they introduced the proscriptions – effectively death lists to give legal justification to the murder of their enemies.  Octavian/Augustus was the last man standing at the end of this period of conflict.  People were grateful for a return to some form of peace.  This made them a lot readier to accept the stability of the new regime.  So he was fairly popular – having said that, nobody chose him – he just won the civil wars and then was a skilful enough politician to win the peace.

Beck Misleadingly Claims Roman Republic Was Characterized By “Freedom”

Beck: “It Was A Republic At First. There Was Freedom. Things Went Well.” From the December 1 edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck:

BECK: It was a republic at first. There was freedom. Things went well. That’s why they expanded. And, then, when freedom started to fall apart, that’s when they became an empire. They went from freedom to feeding people to lions for sport.

Now, how do you go from a decent people that are expanding to taking people and feeding them to lions? I mean, logically, if we progress, if we are all so progressive, shouldn’t it go the other way, you start feeding people to lions and then you don’t? [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 12/1/10, via LexisNexis]

Peachin: Aside From The “Elite,” Most Had Limited Freedom. According to Peachin, the “senatorial/equestrian elite” of the Roman Republic had “very nearly unlimited freedom,” but “most everyone else” had “freedom only in a mildly to severely circumscribed fashion.” As evidence, he pointed to Rome’s “vast” slave population. By email, he told Media Matters:

The interpretation of Roman history here can hardly be discussed, since it is so preposterously nonsensical. But: Yes, Rome was a form of republic between (supposedly) 509 BC and the mid to late first century BC. Freedom: for whom, what kind, how much? For the senatorial/equestrian elite, yes: very nearly unlimited freedom (in various ways). For most everyone else: freedom only in a mildly to severely circumscribed fashion, or not at all (the slave population was, e.g., vast – and as the Roman lawyers put it, a slave was an “instrumentum vocale” – i.e., a “talking tool”). Things went well? What things? How well? This means nothing. I can’t really comment on nothing.

Goldsworthy: “The Majority Of People Were Probably No Less Free Under The Empire.” Goldsworthy told Media Matters: “It is also worth saying that the Liberty of the Roman Republic was mainly the freedom of the aristocracy to monopolize power, dominate public life, and enjoy the largest share of the profits of empire.  The majority of people were probably no less free under the empire — at least during the first and second centuries AD. In fact many of them were better protected by law which was harder to bend – at least if the emperor was a reasonably good one.”

The Practice Of Feeding Slaves And Prisoners To Animals Existed Before The Establishment Of The Empire. According to Brennan, bestiarii (Roman gladiators who fought animals) “certainly existed by the latter days of the Republic. [The famous Roman senator] Cicero takes the practice for granted as early as 56 BC, i.e., some decades before the establishment of the Empire.”

  • Ephraim Chambers: “Cicero Mentions A Lion Which Alone Dispatch’d 200 Bestiarii.” A pre-Empire reference to bestiarii can be found in Ephraim Chambers’ 17th-century Cyclopedia.[Cyclopedia, accessed 12/3/10]
  • Goldsworthy: “It Was Already Established Under The Republic.” Goldsworthy told Media Matters:

The origins of throwing people to the wild beasts was to punish in a way that was especially demeaning. It was already established under the Republic – just like gladiatorial shows and beast fights (trained or semi-trained animal fighters taking on animals). Roman citizens would not be subject to such punishments, unless they were considered to have violated their standing as citizens by extreme behaviour, such as deserting and fighting for an enemy army. Punishments like this and crucifixion were normally reserved for slaves and foreigners. The scale of such punishments increased under the Empire, but did not start then.

Beck Incorrectly Claims That First Emperor Of Rome “Refused To Be Called Caesar”

Beck: “He Refused To Be Called Caesar. Remember, He Was The Adopted Son Of Caesar.” From the December 1 edition of Glenn Beck:

BECK: Octavian’s control over the armed forces made resistance futile. You couldn’t resist. In keeping with his policy of maintaining the appearance of traditional republican government, republican as in “the republic,” it was all still there.

 He went a step further. He refused to be called Caesar. Remember, he was the adopted son of Caesar. No, he didn’t want to be a dictator. No. Instead, he disguised himself, he was an autocratic ruler, he took the title of Princeps, which is “first citizen.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 12/1/10, via Nexis]

In Fact, Octavian Embraced The Name Caesar. According to Brennan:

Octavian, in fact, took the name Caesar immediately upon word of his adoption, and kept it throughout. He had very right to do so. Caesar was a family name and devolved automatically upon the son (or adopted son). It was not at this point a title. Octavian did shun the office of dictator to distinguish himself from Caesar. Princeps means “leading citizen” not “first citizen.” Several leading figures received that designation in the Republic, but it was an informal one, never a title. Nor did Octavian ever use it a a title.

  • Goldsworthy: Octavian “always called himself Caesar.” Goldsowrthy told Media Matters:

Octavian is called Octavian only by modern scholars to avoid confusion. Born Caius Octavius, following his adoption in Julius Caesar’s will (a fact not known until after the latter’s murder), he became Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus. He did not use the name Octavianus, but always called himself Caesar. This was vital for his rise. Once Julius Caesar was deified Octavian/Augustus referred to himself as ‘son of the divine Julius’. Mark Antony dubbed him a “boy, who owes everything to a name.”

Ignoring Caesar, Beck Calls Octavian “The Last Guy Of The Republic”

Beck: Octavian Was “The Last Guy Of The Republic Before It Went Into An Empire” On the December 2 edition of his radio show, Beck said:

BECK: This goes to what I said last night on television and what we talked about yesterday on radio: That we are repeating Octavian. Barack Obama is Octavian. The first Roman, real, god. But he was the first citizen. He was the last guy of the Republic before it went into an empire. And he changed everything. He left the illusion of a republic, but became a dictator. But he always claimed that he wasn’t. 

This is what’s happening to us. They are cutting out our system. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program11/2/10]

In Fact, Julius Caesar Was “Perpetual Dictator” Before Octavian Became Emperor. From Jacob Abbott’s History of Julius Caesar:

The supreme power had been hitherto lodged in the hands of two consuls, chosen annually, and the Roman people had been extremely jealous of any distinction for any one, higher than that of an elective annual office, with a return to private life again when the brief period should have expired. They now, however, made Caesar, in the first place, consul for ten years, and then Perpetual Dictator. They conferred upon him the title of the Father of his Country. The name of the month in which he was born was changed to Julius, from his praenomen, and we still retain the name. He was made, also, commander-in-chief of all the armies of the commonwealth, the title to which vast military power was expressed in the Latin language by the word IMPERATOR.

Caesar was highly elated with all these substantial proofs of the greatness and glory to which he had attained, and was also very evidently gratified with smaller, but equally expressive proofs of the general regard. Statues representing his person were placed in the public edifices, and borne in processions like those of the gods. Conspicuous and splendidly ornamented seats were constructed for him in all the places of public assembly, and on these he sat to listen to debates or witness spectacles, as if he were upon a throne. He had, either by his influence or by his direct power, the control of all the appointments to office, and was, in fact, in every thing but the name, a sovereign and an absolute king. [History of Julius Caesar, accessed 12/3/10, emphasis added]


Feds Indict California ‘Bomb Factory’ Suspect On Eight Counts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:44 am by HL

Feds Indict California ‘Bomb Factory’ Suspect On Eight Counts
George Djura Jakubec, a San Diego County resident accused of having a “bomb factory” inside his home, was indicted yesterday on eight counts by federal prosecutors.

Scott Brown Will Support DADT Repeal
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) announced today that he intends to support the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Presented By:


The GOP Really Thinks Most Americans Are Chicken Crap

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:41 am by HL

The GOP Really Thinks Most Americans Are Chicken Crap


Boner in a Bottle: The Plusses and Pitfalls of ED Drugs

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Boner in a Bottle: The Plusses and Pitfalls of ED Drugs
From a biological point, Viagra works best if you really need it. The pharmaceutical companies don’t like to say this — naturally, they want you to think every man needs it.

From a biological point, Viagra works best if you really need it. The pharmaceutical companies don’t like to say this — naturally, they want you to think every man needs it.

Marriage on the Decline: Bad Economy Turns More and More People Off of Matrimony
Marriage has become yet another dividing line between the haves, who still adhere to the conventional sequence of love-marriage-baby, and the have-nots.

Marriage has become yet another dividing line between the haves, who still adhere to the conventional sequence of love-marriage-baby, and the have-nots.

Disney’s Racist Stereotyping and Gender Roles Remain Un-Tangled
Alas, Disney’s stated goal isn’t ending the helpless-princess theme; it’s making sure the movies have big enough audience appeal (read: appeal to boys and men).

Alas, Disney’s stated goal isn’t ending the helpless-princess theme; it’s making sure the movies have big enough audience appeal (read: appeal to boys and men).


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

Presented By:

The “Green New Deal” meets the “New Austerity” – Making Clean Energy Cheaper
My colleague Michael Gergen, (Partner at Latham & Watkins and Pro-bono Counsel to the Coalition for Green Capital), delivered a great talk a month ago in Milan: The “Green New Deal” meets the “New Austerity” – Making Clean Energy Cheaper…


On Iran, Targeted Non-Proliferation?
Was the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, Majid Shahriari, and the wounding of his colleague Fereydoon Abbasi, a case of “targeted non-proliferation?” Was it a case of taking out the brains behind the program instead of bombing its…



Rep. Jim Jordan: ?I Don?t Know If I?d Be Willing? To Extend Tax Cuts For 95 Percent, Even With Cuts For Rich

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 4th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

Rep. Jim Jordan: ?I Don?t Know If I?d Be Willing? To Extend Tax Cuts For 95 Percent, Even With Cuts For Rich
As Congress considers extending the Bush tax cuts, Republicans have made it explicitly clear that they are prepared to go to the mat to extend the cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Now, White House officials are floating the possibility of including an extension of the so-called “Obama tax cuts” — middle-class cuts included in the […]

As Congress considers extending the Bush tax cuts, Republicans have made it explicitly clear that they are prepared to go to the mat to extend the cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Now, White House officials are floating the possibility of including an extension of the so-called “Obama tax cuts” — middle-class cuts included in the economics stimulus package — as part of any larger tax deal. These cuts, such as The Making Work Pay tax credit, which reduced payroll taxes on 95 percent of working families, will expire in January unless Congress acts.

Asked about this potential deal yesterday by Fox News host Neil Cavuto, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who sits on the Budget Committee, suggested that congressional Republicans would not be willing to extend these middle-class tax cuts — which he called “much less effective” — even if the Bush cuts for rich are also extended:

CAVUTO: I know that extending it for everyone. But even if it included this provision that the White House, I guess, is now pushing?

JORDAN: Oh, the Making Work Pay and the tax credit? I think those are not near as effective, but I’d be willing to look for that if we keep all the Bush tax cuts in place

CAVUTO: So that’s what they just did. I think they offered you a negotiating point. And you would be willing to take it?

JORDAN: I have not seen that. Well, I don’t know if I would be willing to take it. I’d be willing to look at it.

Watch it:

Congressional Republicans have already been holding hostage the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year, threatening to let all Americans’ taxes go up if the cuts for wealthiest two percent are not extended as well. Yesterday, “Republicans were furious” that the House passed an extension of just the Bush cuts for the middle class, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has threatened to filibuster a similar bill in the Senate.

But Jordan’s comments yesterday bring the GOP’s brinkmanship in defense of the rich to a new level. The Making Work Pay credit boosted paychecks for 110 million families and were “designed exclusively as a middle-class benefit.” These cuts only applied to payroll taxes, meaning people had be employed and earning a living to enjoy them. Yet these too will apparently be taken hostage so the rich can get their share.

And Jordan is wrong in suggesting these cuts were “not near as effective” as the Bush tax cuts for the rich. As the Center for American Progress’ Michael Ettlinger noted, the Bush tax cuts simply “didn’t deliver” on their promise to stimulate the economy. “The economy did not add a single new job during three years under the Bush tax cuts.” However, as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Chuck Marr explained about the Obama tax cuts, “Most people may have no idea they received it and no idea that it’s going away. But what you can be certain of is that they’ll have less money and they’ll spend less — and this is a terrible time for the economy to lose $60 billion of spending.”

CBS Poll Finds Only 46 Percent Of Republicans Support GOP’s Stand On Extending Bush Tax Cuts For Rich
A CBS News poll released last night finds that 53 percent of Americans want the Bush-era tax cuts “extended only for households earning less than $250,000 per year,” a position that was advanced by a House vote yesterday. Another 14 percent want to expire all of the Bush tax cuts. Taken together, two-thirds of Americans […]

A CBS News poll released last night finds that 53 percent of Americans want the Bush-era tax cuts “extended only for households earning less than $250,000 per year,” a position that was advanced by a House vote yesterday. Another 14 percent want to expire all of the Bush tax cuts. Taken together, two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) want to end the Bush tax cuts for the rich. One interesting statistic from the survey indicates that the GOP’s push for giving the richest 2 percent an additional tax cut is not even supported by its own base:

Only ten percent of Democrats and one in four independents back the GOP proposal to extend the tax cuts for all. Even among Republicans, support for extending all the cuts is less than half at 46 percent.

Nevertheless, the White House is indicating to the GOP leadership in private negotiations that it is willing to acquiesce on its views and temporarily extend the tax cuts for the rich.