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Archive for December 18th, 2010

Late Late Night FDL: Gene Kelly Medley

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:48 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Gene Kelly Medley
Gene Kelly peforming a medley of his songs on The Muppet Show, episode 501, production dates August 19-21, 1980. This episode was the last filmed for the series.

Gene Kelly peforming a medley of his songs on The Muppet Show, episode 501, production dates August 19-21, 1980.  This episode was the last filmed for the series.

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Passing the Bloodstained Buck

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:46 am by HL

Passing the Bloodstained Buck
The mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater has argued in court that the company’s private contractors who killed 17 Iraqis in Baghdad in 2007 should not be held accountable. Why? It’s Washington’s fault, they claim, as Blackwater fighters were acting as employees of the U.S. government at the time. —JCL Al-Jazeera English: The security company formerly known as Blackwater has told a US federal judge that the US government, and not the company itself, should be held accountable for a 2007 shooting by its contractors that killed 17 Iraqis in Nisour Square in Baghdad. Lawyers for the company, now known as Xe Services, argued in court on Thursday that Blackwater contractors were essentially acting as employees of the US government because they were providing security to State Department personnel. The North Carolina-based company and several of its contractors are seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of three people killed in the shooting: Ali Kinani, Abrahem Abed Al Mafraje and Mahde Sahab Naser Shamake. The lawsuit accuses the parties of wrongful death and negligence, and seeks punitive damages. Read more

The mercenary firm formerly known as Blackwater has argued in court that the company’s private contractors who killed 17 Iraqis in Baghdad in 2007 should not be held accountable. Why? It’s Washington’s fault, they claim, as Blackwater fighters were acting as employees of the U.S. government at the time. —JCL

Al-Jazeera English:

The security company formerly known as Blackwater has told a US federal judge that the US government, and not the company itself, should be held accountable for a 2007 shooting by its contractors that killed 17 Iraqis in Nisour Square in Baghdad.

Lawyers for the company, now known as Xe Services, argued in court on Thursday that Blackwater contractors were essentially acting as employees of the US government because they were providing security to State Department personnel.

The North Carolina-based company and several of its contractors are seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of three people killed in the shooting: Ali Kinani, Abrahem Abed Al Mafraje and Mahde Sahab Naser Shamake. The lawsuit accuses the parties of wrongful death and negligence, and seeks punitive damages.

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Politifact Reveals ‘Lie Of The Year’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Politifact Reveals ‘Lie Of The Year’
The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their…

Jeff Danziger: Soldier Campaign Worker

Dr. Paul Zeitz: Call for Global Wikipedia of Global Peace Organization (GPO) Charter: 31 Days Until Global Marches for Justice on 17 January 2011
GLOBAL ACTION ALERT: Call for Global Wikipedia of Global Peace Organization (GPO) Charter: 31 Days Until Global Marches for Justice on 17 January 2011 Daily…

Congress Makes Final Sprint To Finish Bills Before Holidays
WASHINGTON — Rushing to finish by Christmas, congressional Democrats worked Friday to secure Senate ratification of a new arms control treaty and to end the…

Michael Moore: ¡Viva WikiLeaks! SiCKO Was Not Banned in Cuba
Yesterday WikiLeaks did an amazing thing and released a classified State Department cable that dealt, in part, with me and my film, ‘Sicko.’ It…


Right-wing Media Continue To Cheer For Government Shutdown

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:45 am by HL

Right-wing Media Continue To Cheer For Government Shutdown

Right-wing media figures used bills currently under consideration in Congress to continue to cheer for a government shutdown. Conservative media had previously welcomed the possibility of winning a Republican majority in Congress in order to shut down the government, “just like in ’95 and ’96.”

Conservative Media Welcome Government Shutdown

Limbaugh Calls For A Government Shutdown Over Spending Bill. On the December 15 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said:

LIMBAUGH: Ten percent of the spending bill is earmarks. You just — as I’ve said — you just don’t write a 2,000 page bill in a week’s time. This has been long in development. Talk about strategic thinking. Now if — here’s the — here’s the key, folks. If the Senate does not adopt it by Saturday night — this is why the getaway day was Friday. [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV] dumps this yesterday. If the Senate doesn’t adopt this by Saturday night, the government supposedly shuts down due to lack of funding. So people have been asking me in email, how can we stop it? How can we stop it? We call their bluff. We shut it down. We won the election. We shut it down.

Folks, I don’t care. But Rush, but Rush, with the media the Democrats won’t get blamed for it. I don’t care. We won’t be held accountable until November of 2012. Don’t — folks, remember what I just said. They know that they’re not going to be held accountable for anything until November 2012, and we won’t be either. Well, if there is a shutdown, it’s going to be short-lived, and the government will get running again. What would you rather do, accept all this? It’s blackmail. [Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/15/10]

Fox’s MacCallum and Bolling Agree That A Government Shutdown Wouldn’t Be “The End Of The World.” On the December 16 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum suggested it wouldn’t be “the end of the world” if “the government stops operating for a little while.” Fox Business anchor Eric Bolling added that Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) had said, “So what if it shuts down for a little while? Let it — let it wait till January 4 and find out if we really need botanical researcher — ethnobotanicals.” From America’s Newsroom:

MACCALLUM: And most of these boil down to favors from —

BOLLING: Bingo.

MACCALLUM:  — special interests and people who end up — guess what — making campaign donations down the line/

BOLLING: Bingo.

MACCALLUM: So that everybody’s trying to keep somebody happy out there. You know, so what if the government stops operating for a little while.

BOLLING: Great.

MACCALLUM: Is that the end of the world?

BOLLING: Bingo. Right idea. In fact, I have Michelle Bachmann on the show tonight, and I think she’s in favor of saying, you know what? I’m not gonna sign this stuff. Look — I spoke to her earlier in the week and she said this is terrible. This is God awful. So what if it shuts down for a little while? Let it — let it wait till January 4 and find out if we really need botanical researcher — ethnobotanicals. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 12/16/10]

Gingrich Defends Government Shutdown In Advising GOP To Absolutely Stop Passage Of Spending Bill. Fox News contributor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich defended a government shutdown on the December 16 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:

JENNA SCOTT (host): So, Speaker Gingrich, you were willing to shut down the government back in 1995. Considering the scenario we’re in right now, would you be willing to do it here?

GINGRICH: Well, let’s start with the premise you can’t have the president or the liberal Democrats blackmailing the Republicans. It’s fairly easy to write a clean continuing resolution to keep the government open till the end of February. Every Republican, I think, would be willing to vote for a clean resolution, but I think Republicans should absolutely stop an abomination that has 8,000 earmarks. The whole election centered around politicians with pork taking your money to decide what to do with your money. And the fact is the liberals lost that. In the House they lost it by the largest margin since 1948. So there’s no reason for a lame duck congress. 12 of the senators have either retired or been defeated, yet they’re still voting. In the House the Democrats have lost control, yet Nancy Pelosi is still in charge.

[…]

SCOTT: But let’s talk a little bit about the risk that goes along with a temporary shutdown of the government. Taking a look back and seeing what happened in 1995, would you say it was worth it? It was worth the risk not only —

GINGRICH: Absolutely.

SCOTT: — to the country? Absolutely? And why is that?

GINGRICH: Absolutely. For two reasons. First of all, as Republicans, no majority in the House had been reelected since 1928. When we stood firm against liberals, and we said we were prepared to really fight, all of our base said, you know, these folks are different. They’re not normal politicians. They just don’t go to Washington to sell out. And we became the first reelected Republican majority since 1928. I’ve always been puzzled why the Washington establishment, which is liberal, has always said it was a mistake.

But there’s a second reason. The shutdown convinced President Clinton that we were serious about balancing the budget. As a result, we controlled spending at 2.9 percent a year — the lowest rate since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s. We got to a balanced budget by cutting taxes to increase economic growth. And the result was we balanced the budget for four straight years and paid off [break in audio] five billion dollars in debt. Now, they had — they had to believe that the Republicans were genuinely serious in order for them to have that kind of negotiation when you had a liberal Democrat in the White House.

The result was a bipartisan effort that reformed welfare, cut taxes and balanced the budget with a full employment economy. That ought to be the goals that we set for the next Congress, and have the courage to stand toe to toe and say to the president, you’re not going to be able to intimidate us and blackmail on basic principle. We’re going to do what’s right and rely on the American people to see what’s happening. [Fox News, Happening Now, 12/16/10]

Limbaugh: “The Tax Deal Doesn’t Pass” Or “We Shut It Down. Whichever.” On the December 16 edition of his show, Limbaugh stated:

LIMBAUGH: If I’m a Republican leader in the House, and I hear the president say his presidency will fall on this tax bill not passing, then I make sure it doesn’t pass. I make — because he knows he’s gonna get the blame for it. If the tax rates go up we can put it all on him. He’s as much as saying we can. So let it fail. We can fix this in the first two weeks of next year. It’s simple. The president says his presidency rises and falls on this, fine. This time it falls. The tax deal doesn’t pass and — or we shut it down. Whichever. [Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/16/10]

Asman: “We Have To Shrink The Government, And If That Means Shutting Down The Government Then So Be It.” On the December 16 edition of Fox Business’ America’s Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman railed against a proposed omnibus spending bill, claiming that it “shows a complete disregard for any kind of fiscal responsibility.” He then added: “We have to shrink the government, and if that means shutting down the government then so be it.” From America’s Nightly Scoreboard:

ASMAN: Would shutting the place down really be such a bad idea? Well, they certainly need some kind of wakeup call for all the craziness going on there, because the Beltway bandits are rolling us once again. Nancy Pelosi and her outgoing Congress are sticking it to every single taxpayer out there in this final spending bill. The omnibus spending bill being read right now in the Senate, or just about to be, shows a complete disregard for any kind of fiscal responsibility. That and the pork-filled tax bill are insults to every American who’s been cutting back to get by in these tough times. And every American who cares about our future. Now, today happens to be the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. It is a perfect time to focus back on principles. Founding principles. The principles that led to the last election. Principles that led to our revolution to begin with. We have to shrink the government, and if that means shutting down the government then so be it. They can’t continue to slap us in the face and get away with it. [Fox Business, America’s Nightly Scoreboard, 12/16/10]

O’Reilly On Possible Government Shutdown: “Good. These Pinheads Need Some Time Off.” On the December 16 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly stated:

O’REILLY: If the feds don’t pass a new spending bill, the government might shut down in a few days, and I say good. These pinheads need some time off. The Wall Street Journal says this is the worst Congress in modern history, and the folks seem to agree. New Gallup poll says 13 percent of Americans believe the current Congress is doing a good job, 13 percent. And now our pal Harry Reid, along with Appropriations Chairman Senator Daniel Inouye [D-HI], have dumped a trillion dollar plus spending bill on the Senate floor a few days before Christmas. Of course, the bill is loaded with pork. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 12/16/10]

Right-wing Media Previously “Giddy” Over Possibility Of Government Shutdown

 Right-Wing Media Figures Previously Celebrated A Possible Government Shutdown. As Media Matters has noted, over the past year, conservative media figures pushed for a government shutdown. For instance:

  • In an August 30 Twitter post, Erick Erickson proclaimed: “I’m almost giddy thinking about a government shutdown next year. I cannot wait!”
  • On August 27, Fox News correspondent Dick Morris gave a speech at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s Defending the Dream Conference, saying: “There’s going to be a government shutdown just like in ’95 and ’96, but we’re going to win it this time.”
  • In an April 13 article, The Hill reported that “Asked if he would encourage the Republicans to push for a shutdown, Gingrich said that the GOP needs to be ready to stand on principle. ‘It’s especially important that they keep their word to the American people,’ he told The Hill. ‘[They] can’t be intimidated…you have to believe what you believe in.’ “

Previous Shutdowns Cost At Least $800 million

Time: Government Shutdowns In 1995-96 Reportedly Cost At Least $800 Million. Time reported that the “the shutdown was sparked when an agreement between President Bill Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress (led by then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich) could not be reached by Sept. 30, the expiration date of the previous year’s budget. In the end, the shutdown, which cost the government $800 million in losses for salaries paid to furloughed employees, was settled when Clinton submitted a budget that proposed to eliminate the federal deficit in seven years.” [Time, 3/23/2010]

Congressional Research Service: Previous Shutdowns Delayed Veterans Benefits and Suspended Law Enforcement Activities. In 2004, the Congressional Research Service stated that during the shutdowns, veterans’ health and welfare programs were curtailed, health care and toxic waste clean-up programs were reportedly suspended, and certain law enforcement programs were curtailed. [Congressional Research Service, 9/4/2004]


Coal Interests Fueling Gingrich’s Cash-Burning 527

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:43 am by HL

Coal Interests Fueling Gingrich’s Cash-Burning 527
The recently released IRS filings of Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future makes a few things clear: the coal industry loves him; he’s a fan of private planes; and for a self proclaimed fiscal conservative, he’s getting a measly return on the millions he’s throwing at a Christian telemarketing company that raises cash for the 527 group.

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Afghanistan: What the freak are our troops doing out in the middle of NOWHERE!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:40 am by HL

Afghanistan: What the freak are our troops doing out in the middle of NOWHERE!
I just finally got around to renting “Restrepo,” Sebastian Junger’s excellent DVD documentary describing one U.S. Marine platoon’s deadly year-long experience in the high mountain wilds of Afghanistan. This movie won the grand jury prize at Sundance. Here’s a link to its trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DjqR6OucBc. And at one point early on in the movie, our brave Marine […]


XM25 ‘Super Rifle’ — The Pentagon’s Latest Toy That Won’t Do Anything to Avoid Disaster in Afghanistan

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:39 am by HL

XM25 ‘Super Rifle’ — The Pentagon’s Latest Toy That Won’t Do Anything to Avoid Disaster in Afghanistan
Introducing the new super-weapon that will change absolutely nothing about why we’re losing in Afghanistan.

Introducing the new super-weapon that will change absolutely nothing about why we're losing in Afghanistan.

Corporate America’s Plan to Loot Our Pensions Is the Latest Battle in Decades-Long Assault on the Middle Class
While the safety net is being withered by attrition, record corporate profits are deemed off-limits for discussion about closing the budget gap.

While the safety net is being withered by attrition, record corporate profits are deemed off-limits for discussion about closing the budget gap.

The Sexual Politics of Meat: How Sexism and Animal Cruelty Coexist
Our obsession with women’s "parts" (breasts, thighs, butts) is inextricably linked to our culture’s tendency to value animals as nothing but sources of beef, bacon or veal.

Our obsession with women's "parts" (breasts, thighs, butts) is inextricably linked to our culture's tendency to value animals as nothing but sources of beef, bacon or veal.


VIDEO: State Department Trembles As Journalist Asks About Peace Activist Jailed By Israel

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:38 am by HL

VIDEO: State Department Trembles As Journalist Asks About Peace Activist Jailed By Israel
Watch this whole sequence. If you ever wanted to see, not just read about, how the US is intimidated by Israel and the lobby, just watch this….

How to Deal with North Korea
The Economist argues that the “best card in a bad hand”–the one the U.S. holds–is to get China to reign in North Korea. Indeed, American pleading seems to have convinced Beijing to coax North Korea some. However, a much stronger…


?U.S.? Chamber Of Commerce Lobbied To Help GOP Kill Bill To Provide Health Care To 9/11 First Responders

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:37 am by HL

?U.S.? Chamber Of Commerce Lobbied To Help GOP Kill Bill To Provide Health Care To 9/11 First Responders
Last night, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart skewered Republicans for killing deficit neutral legislation to provide health care to the 9/11 first responders and emergency workers who suffered illnesses from working at Ground Zero. He also mocked the celebrity-obsessed media that has completely ignored the story. Republicans, like Sen. John Thune (R-SD), filibustered the bill […]

Last night, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart skewered Republicans for killing deficit neutral legislation to provide health care to the 9/11 first responders and emergency workers who suffered illnesses from working at Ground Zero. He also mocked the celebrity-obsessed media that has completely ignored the story. Republicans, like Sen. John Thune (R-SD), filibustered the bill because they said tax cuts for the richest 2 percent were a higher priority for Congress. While Republicans quietly snuffed out efforts to compensate 9/11 heroes, they were aided by a quiet lobbying campaign by the powerful lobbying front — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber fought to help kill the 9/11 compensation bill because it was funded by ending a special tax loophole exploited by foreign corporations doing business in the United States.

The “U.S.” part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a misnomer. As ThinkProgress reported, the Chamber represents dozens of foreign businesses in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, Bahrain, India, Brazil, and other countries. An investigation of the Chamber turned up recent fundraising documents from the Chamber soliciting foreign contributions to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6), the tax entity the Chamber used to run nasty campaign ads against Democrats earlier this year.

In September, the Chamber sent a letter officially opposing the 9/11 first responders bill, called the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.” The Chamber warned that ending the tax loophole would “damage U.S. relationships with major trading partners” and “aggravate already unsettled financial markets.” A lobbying disclosure filed with the Senate confirms the Chamber contacted lawmakers to help kill the bill.

In typical fashion, the Chamber has not revealed which of its foreign members had asked them to kill the 9/11 bill. As the Chamber CEO explained to the Washington Monthly’s James Verini, the entire purpose of the Chamber is to provide “deniability” to corporations that want to affect the outcomes of elections or of public policy. In 2009, the Chamber secretly used a $86 million donation from the health insurance industry to fight health reform. At the time, the Chamber lied and claimed to the public that they were simply acting on behalf of the entire “business community.”

Republicans are continuing to protest any renewed attempts to pass the 9/11 first responders bill because of the tax issue raised by the Chamber. Yesterday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) sent out a statement that mirrored the Chamber’s opposition to ending the foreign corporate tax loophole.

ThinkFast: December 17, 2010
At midnight last night, the House approved the White House tax cut deal, sending the bill to President Obama, who is expected to sign it today. The deal, already approved by Senate, extends the Bush tax cuts and unemployment benefits, and was hailed by both sides as a rare bipartisan achievement and “a prototype” for […]

At midnight last night, the House approved the White House tax cut deal, sending the bill to President Obama, who is expected to sign it today. The deal, already approved by Senate, extends the Bush tax cuts and unemployment benefits, and was hailed by both sides as a rare bipartisan achievement and “a prototype” for future bargains in the new Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) withdrew the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill from Senate consideration yesterday after Republicans mounted a strident campaign against it. “I’m proud of our team for holding together,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gloated afterwards. After pulling the omnibus, Reid immediately filed cloture on DADT repeal and the DREAM Act, suggesting both could receive votes this weekend.

Yesterday, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) said he’ll support a “stand-alone repeal bill”of DADT. His support helps secure the 60 Senate votes needed to block a GOP filibuster and pass a bill.

PolitiFact awarded its “Lie of the Year” yesterday to the GOP refrain that the Affordable Care Act was a “government takeover of health care.” While conceding that the talking point played “an important role in shaping public opinion,” PolitiFact concludes “it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.”

Yesterday, the House GOP transition team recommended “a change to the lower chamber’s rules that would require all members to prove legislation is constitutional” in the 112th Congress. GOP leaders sent out a memo members providing guidance to members on how to deal with the new requirement and “resources they can go to assist.”

Incoming House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) said he is planning to open an investigation into what he calls “the radicalization” of the Muslim community. “When I meet with law enforcement, they are constantly telling me how little cooperation they get from Muslim leaders,” he said. In reailty, many of recent thwarted terror plots were disrupted because of intelligence provided by Muslims.

After meeting with some of the nation’s leading CEOs earlier this week, President Obama will meet with union leaders at the White House today to discuss the economy and job creation. “Twelve union groups are expected to send representatives to the White House including United Steelworkers, American Federation of Teachers and United Auto Workers.”

A new report from the commission investigating the BP oil spill found that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) sand berms stopped only a “minuscule” amount of oil, despite a $220 million pricetag. Jindal repeatedly blasted the Obama administration for not providing more money for the berms, but they “trapped only about 1,000 barrels of oil out of the approximately 5 million barrels spilled.”

And finally: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) is considering pardoning iconic Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid. Many believe New Mexico Territorial Governor Lew Wallace had promised Kid — who is reputed to have killed 21 men in various heists and robberies — a pardon in exchange for his testimony in a murder trial, but later reneged on the deal.

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Spinning the tax deal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2010 5:36 am by HL

Spinning the tax deal
Could the tax deal help President Obama bounce back from a self-described electoral shellacking?

For President Obama, signing tax-cut bill makes for a good day after a bad election
A month ago President Obama was the big loser of 2010, the leader whose party had given up historic losses in the House and who was facing questions about his future. On Friday, with the stroke of his pen on a compromise tax bill, he reminded his adversaries of the essential resilience of the occ…

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Congressional negotiators to devise stopgap funding measure for fiscal 2011
In the wake of Thursday’s collapse of a bill to fund the federal government through fiscal 2011, negotiators turned their attention to devising a stopgap measure.