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Archive for February 8th, 2011

Early Morning Swim

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:47 am by HL

Early Morning Swim

So, we’re learning new things about Egypt
Watching a once great nation undergo great change…and also America.

Over at FoxNews.

via Alex Pareene at Salon

Man, I’m going to miss the Guggenheim and the slightly less interesting half of Niagara Falls.

Meanwhile, some folks are going to be thrown overboard in an attempt to right the sinking ship:

Egypt’s Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud issued a travel ban for a handful of former ministers as well as a prominent member of the ruling National Democratic Party.

The bank accounts and assets of those barred from leaving the country have also been frozen, according to reports.

Ex-interior minister Habib El-Adly, former housing minister Ahmed El-Maghrabi and former tourism minister Zoheir Garannah are among those banned from travel.

And if this is accurate, no amount of bailing will ever save the regime.

But I guess we can still blame the Muslim Brotherhood no matter what.


Austin Takes Music Criticism to New Depths

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Austin Takes Music Criticism to New Depths
The city of Austin, Texas, long known for keeping it weird, decided to let the public rename the Solid Waste Services Department. The leading contender is “The Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts.” Durst, the face of millennial rock band Limp Bizkit, probably won’t end up with the honor.

The city of Austin, Texas, long known for keeping it weird, decided to let the public rename the Solid Waste Services Department. The leading contender is “The Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts.” Durst, the face of millennial rock band Limp Bizkit, probably won’t end up with the honor.

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Anti-War Activist Accuses FBI Of ‘Witch Hunt’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Anti-War Activist Accuses FBI Of ‘Witch Hunt’
CHICAGO — Four months after the FBI raided homes of anti-war activists in the Midwest, a Palestinian-American named in the probe is calling it a…

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Paul Helmke: Virginia Tech Student Colin Goddard Returns to Campus, With Powerful Film
In a new documentary, a student wounded in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting demonstrates how easy it is to purchase firearms without a background check or basic identification.

Brian Ross: Death to Parking Meters and Flood Insurance! Judge Vinson Opens Pandora’s Box
Thank you, Judge Vinson, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, for freeing us from the burden of mandatory health, auto, and flood insurance. Thank you,…


Beck Expands His Egypt Theory With Red-Baiting Union Smears

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Beck Expands His Egypt Theory With Red-Baiting Union Smears

Glenn Beck expanded on his theory about Egypt by leveling a series of wild smears at labor unions, alleging that they are “led by communists” and that they are working to “help stomp out the free market and capitalism,” which is “why they’re rushing in to support the democratic revolution in Egypt.” Beck supported this theory with false claims about unions.

Beck Smears Unions, Claiming They Want To “End The Western Way Of Life”

Beck: “Powerful” Unions That Are “Led By Communists” Want To “End The Western Way Of Life As You And I Understand It.” From the February 7 edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck:

BECK: Do you remember the big progressive One Nation rally? One Nation stuck out to me.

It’s [unintelligible] Van Jones autographed one of my books, he wrote, “Glenn, let’s just be one nation.”

Working together — working together with the red star in between. Working together on what? Towards what — is what bothered me, especially when you saw all of these groups together.

What does the Young Communist League have to do with the UAW or the steelworkers? Progressive, socialist, Marxist groups, religious groups, green groups, communist, powerful unions led by communists, SEIU, AFL-CIO. Radical groups like La Raza — what did all of these groups — what were they all working together for?

Well, in one way or another, they want to end the Western way of life as you and I understand it. They may disagree on exactly what the new way of life will be.

For example, Van Jones, he wants a new green utopia. At least that’s what he says. Leave old, gray capitalism to a new green capitalism. And then he says, will it stop there? Oh, no, it won’t be enough.

Another one might want a communist utopia. But they’ll work that out later. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/7/11]

Beck: Unions Are Working To “Help Stomp Out The Free Market And Capitalism,” Which Is “Why They’re Rushing In To Support The Democratic Revolution In Egypt.” From Glenn Beck:

BECK: The people that are in some of these really radical, communist or socialist Marxist Mexican-first groups that are aligned here may want to give the southern half of the United States back to Mexico. Well, does the AFL-CIO really want that?

So, how can they come together? Well, they’re working together to help stomp out the free market and capitalism. They’ll work everything else out later. That’s why Code Pink and the AFL-CIO can stand together in America. And it’s why they’re rushing in to support the democratic revolution in Egypt. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/7/11]

Beck: Labor Unions “Agree” That “The Western Way Of Life Is Over” And Are “Good At Causing Chaos.” From Glenn Beck:

BECK: Now, take this American coalition that is changing America in the cover of darkness. You don’t know it. Most Americans don’t know they’re being manipulated.

And if you understand that, that they’ve all made a deal with another and they’ve all tolerated each other for an end goal, they put their differences aside for the end game — the enemy of my enemy is my friend — then you understand, or begin to, what is happening.

The same thing is happening in Egypt. That’s what these groups have done to some degree or another. Al-Jazeera, Muslim Brotherhood, Al- Qaeda, the April 6th Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt. We have some demands from the socialists of Egypt.

And I want you to listen to some of these demands and see if you have heard any similarities to the community here in America. Listen.

This is the revolutionary socialists in Egypt, “Glory to the martyrs, victory to the revolution. Mubarak’s departure is the first step, not the last step. The country’s wealth belongs to the people and must return to it.”

“Glory to the martyrs. System — down with the system. All power to the people. Victory to the revolution.” Blah, blah, blah. I mean, does any of this sound like a pro-democracy, pro-freedom declaration? Not to me.

But these groups, and so many more, have organized what is called a shadow parliament. Look it up. Do your own research. We’ll be talking about that in detail tomorrow and the next day, and the cobbling of these groups together.

The activists, the labor unions, the radicals — they all came together because they can agree on one thing. The western way of life is over and each of them thinks they have the answer.

Well, they’re good at causing chaos. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/7/11, via Nexis]

Beck Suggests Money From Unionized TSA Workers Will Be “Spent Overseas Organizing Revolutions,” Connects This To Egypt. From Glenn Beck:

BECK: But also, understand one thing. Understand the power, the power that you are giving these unions.

We warned you that this would happen when we talked about Greece last summer. Because Greece – remember, they couldn’t get gas? People couldn’t go on the trains. They were having a hard time at the airport.

At the time, we played you the videotape. I think it was Los Angeles. But here is yet another one. This one is from Houston’s communist party and what they had to say about the labor unions over in Europe.

Quote, “We particularly like to salute the Greek communist party, its labor federation and allies left and people’s forces for their heroic role in the resistance to the reactionary capitalist offensive. They are fighting our fight and merit our support and gratitude.”

Basically, what the unions were doing was making sure that you couldn’t get gas if you were over in Europe. Unionizing the TSA, while potentially disastrous for the country, is going to be great for the unions because the union membership has been going down.

But now, they will have 50,000 potential new members and as much as $30 million a year of your money. You see, you pay the screener. They pay the union. I wonder how much of that money will be spent in America, and how much will be spent overseas organizing revolutions.

Oh, I’m sure it has nothing to do with this particular push. I’m sure over in Egypt, it’s all about workers’ rights. Sure. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/7/11, via Nexis]

Beck: AFL-CIO Head Trumka’s Support Of Egyptian Dissent “Sounds Almost … Chinese.” From Glenn Beck:

BECK: And speaking of unions, AFL-CIO head, Richard Trumka, wrote to the Real Estate Tax Authority in Egypt, the workers president and to the director of the independent Egyptian labor group, the Center for Trade Union Workers Services, and he supported their uprising there.

He said, quote, “Their organizations symbolize the strength and the courage of the Egyptian workers and their families who have been standing up to repression for many, many years. We salute you this brave endeavor, forming the new labor federation and join the international labor movement in the standing with you.”

That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. By the end of the week, that will make the hair on the back of your neck. The people’s movement for democracy in Egypt and the role the unions are playing for freedom and workers’ rights.

He says, “Inspire us and will not be forgotten.” He then concludes, democracy. Democracy. Democracy will rise up. Really. Sounds beautiful. Democracy. The people’s movement for democracy — wow, that even sounds better. It’s sounds almost — I don’t know — Chinese, doesn’t it?

I feel confident that the workers in Egypt will absolutely thrive under a new government formed by these guys and supported by all of these guys. That’s going to be fantastic.

Look at the wonderful freedoms enjoyed by the Iranians after their Islamic revolutionary council took over. And unions and workers? Oh, that is great! That’s great. The unions — they’ll think they are dealing with John Adams and Patrick Henry by the time the brotherhood seizes control. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/7/11, via Nexis]

Beck’s False Claim: Congress “Specifically Ruled Out Collective Bargaining Rights” For TSA Screeners

Beck Falsely Claims Congress “Specifically Ruled Out Selective Bargaining Rights For Screeners.” From Glenn Beck:

BECK: When big stories develop, we often warn you, watch the other hand, because that’s when this administration can and does slip in some of their most controversial agenda items unnoticed.

So while Egypt was on fire, what has the other hand been doing? Well, on Friday, in a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided that the TSA staffers will be allowed to vote on union representation.

The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government’s two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent 50,000 transportation security officers.

Now, let’s get this right. The TSA will be union. May I remind you that we all said that could not happen? When Congress created the Homeland Security Department, it specifically ruled out collective bargaining rights for screeners.

When they were becoming federal employees under the TSA, we said, “No, why?” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/7/11]

Reality: Decision On Collective Bargaining Lies With TSA Administrator

Wash. Post: “The Legislation That Established” TSA “States That The Decision On Whether To Allow Collective Bargaining Rests With The TSA Administrator.” From The Washington Post:

Border Patrol agents can do it. So can federal protective officers and U.S. Capitol Police. But Transportation Security Administration officers, who screen passengers at airports across the country, are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining.

The unions representing TSA employees say that one result is the agency has the lowest morale and highest attrition rate of all federal agencies, and that they are eager to see change.

[…]

The legislation that established the agency after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, states that the decision on whether to allow collective bargaining rests with the TSA administrator. [The Washington Post, 4/2/09]

AP: Law That Established TSA “Gave The TSA Administrator The Authority To Decide Whether Collective Bargaining Should Be Allowed.” From an Associated Press article hosted on Glenn Beck’s website TheBlaze.com:

When the agency was created in 2001, it was excluded from regulations that give other federal workers the right to union protections. The law gave the TSA administrator the authority to decide whether collective bargaining should be allowed, and under the administration of President George W. Bush it was always prohibited. [Associated Press, via TheBlaze.com, 2/4/11]

Beck’s False Claim: You Can’t Fire Teachers If They “Aren’t Doing Their Jobs”

Beck: “If People Aren’t Doing Their Jobs, You’ve Got To Be Able To Fire Them. Try That Once The Union Takes Over. Can’t Do It In Schools.” From Glenn Beck:

BECK: When they were becoming federal employees under the TSA, we said, “No, why?” Well, for a couple of reasons. First of all, we should be able to fire people, right? I mean we shouldn’t have — shouldn’t we have the ability to fire people if they’re not doing the job?

And you also wouldn’t want to unionize the nation’s security team, because, man, it’s almost like they have become defense force, isn’t it? Not for you. If people aren’t doing their jobs, you’ve got to be able to fire them.

Try that once the union takes over. Can’t do it in schools. What makes you think you can do it when they screen people? [Glenn Beck, 2/7/11, emphasis added]

Reality: Tenure Does Not Guarantee Teachers A Job

Education Professor: “It Is A Myth That Teacher Tenure Provides A Guarantee Of Lifetime Employment.” From a post by Lehigh University education professor Perry Zirkel on the Washington Post blog The Answer Sheet:

It is a myth that teacher tenure provides a guarantee of lifetime employment. Tenure is no more than a legal commitment (set by the state and negotiated union contracts) to procedural due process, ensuring notice and providing a hearing for generally accepted reasons for termination, such as incompetency, insubordination, and immorality.

Tenure’s primary purpose is economic job security, tied to the otherwise uncompetitive pay in comparison to other professions; however, tenure is not a lifetime guarantee. [Perry Zirkel, The Answer Sheet, WashingtonPost.com, 7/13/11]

National Education Association: “Tenure Does Not Guarantee Teachers A Job, But Instead Mandates That Due Process Be Followed Before Tenured Teachers Are Dismissed.” From the National Education Association website NEAToday.org:

If you thought tenured teachers couldn’t lose their jobs, you’re not alone — it’s a common misunderstanding, but that doesn’t make it accurate. Tenure does not guarantee teachers a job, but instead mandates that due process be followed before tenured teachers are dismissed.

The reason is simple enough, said Alabama educator Shannon Keith Ginn, who calls tenure a “measure of protection against personal vendettas and personality conflicts.”

After all, qualified, effective educators who are benefiting students and raising student achievement should not be removed from the classroom because of political disagreements with an administrator — or because the sibling of a local, influential figure wants a job. [NEAToday.org, 9/17/10 (emphasis in original)]

NEA: “[C]ontracts Between Unions And School Districts In No Way Forbid The Firing Of Tenured Teachers.” From NEAToday.org:

Much of the public debate over tenure has focused on whether it is possible to fire tenured teachers who are no longer making the grade. The fact is, contracts between unions and school districts in no way forbid the firing of tenured teachers. [NEAToday.org, 9/17/10 (emphasis in original)]


LiveAction Releases Second Planned Parenthood Vid

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:43 am by HL

LiveAction Releases Second Planned Parenthood Vid
LiveAction, the anti-abortion group that targets Planned Parenthood with undercover videos, released a second video Thursday of what it says is a Planned Parenthood employee aiding in child sex trafficking.


Muslim Group: ‘Our Heads Aren’t In The Sand’ On Threat Of Islamic Extremism
The American Muslim community knows that Islamic extremism is a threat — and several panelists at a forum hosted by a Muslim-American group on Capitol Hill today said that a community policing approach in partnership with the intelligence community was the best way to counter radicalization.


Health Care Nullification Bill Moving Through Idaho Legislature
Another battle over attempts by Republican state legislators to nullify the federal health care reform law is bubbling up in deep-red Idaho, where legislation was introduced last week.



Mr. Teabagger on Native-American History

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Mr. Teabagger on Native-American History


Paul Breaks Freshman Mold

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Paul Breaks Freshman Mold
The Hill looks at how freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has “broken with tradition” by pushing ambitious proposals that drive policy in his first year in office, rather than the usual “keep-your-head down approach” favored by fellow freshmen Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

“He has pushed a proposal to cut $500 billion in federal spending over the course of a single year. That has applied pressure to GOP leaders, including Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, to take a similarly hard approach or risk looking timid to Tea Party activists… Defying Republican orthodoxy, Paul has called for steep cuts in defense spending. Picking a fight with the pro-Israel lobby, he is seeking an end to all foreign aid, including aid to the U.S. ally.”

Quote of the Day
“I’m of the belief that had God appeared in front of President Obama in 2009 and said if he could do one thing on the face of the planet, and one thing only, to make the world a better place and give people more hope and opportunity for the future, I would venture that it would have something to do with finding the two-state solution to the Middle East.”

— Former National Security Adviser Jim Jones, quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

Blumenthal Sees Advantage in Being a Rookie
The Wall Street Journal notes that Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) marks a new era in Connecticut in which the state’s U.S. senators will have little to no seniority.

“In the space of two years, Connecticut will see more than 50 years of combined seniority leave the Senate, with the recent retirement of Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd — which opened the door for Mr. Blumenthal — and the planned departure next year of Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent. Power and influence in the Senate are usually measured in years, if not decades, in office. With just four weeks on the job, Mr. Blumenthal insisted he could overcome that apparent disadvantage.”

“While Mr. Dodd and Mr. Lieberman were known for their national ambitions — both made unsuccessful bids for the White House — Mr. Blumenthal said he has no interest in the presidential horse race.”

Said Blumenthal: “Connecticut comes first. Without talking about Senators Dodd or Lieberman…there is a phenomenon about the United States Senate, which is that sometimes people aspire to higher office and that can diminish their effectiveness on behalf of their home state.”


Hate in Arizona: Two Mothers Mourn Their Murdered Children

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Hate in Arizona: Two Mothers Mourn Their Murdered Children
If Arizona politicians and communities had rallied against the killing of the 9-year-old and her father, then Juan Varela might still be alive today.

West Bank Streets Quiet as Palestinian Authority Suppresses Protests
Security forces have been creating disruptions more frequently of late, in light of Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings, and release of the Palestinian Papers.


Egyptian Democracy’s False New Friends

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:37 am by HL

Egyptian Democracy’s False New Friends
David Brooks and Leon Wieseltier, whom I’ll politely call “historically neo-conservative” commentators, are singing Kumbaya and shouting whatever is Arabic for “Right on!” to Egyptians who are pressing bravely for democracy and Hosni Mubarak’s departure. At least one might think…

Unintentional Revolutionaries
Every century seems to have its revolutions and their progenitors. Often, the gap between the idea and its political effect can be 50 years or more. The first volume of Marx’s Das Capital was published in 1867, but it wasn’t…



Israeli Opposition Leader Endorses Notion That Lack Of Middle East Peace Damages Regional Interests

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 8th, 2011 5:36 am by HL

Israeli Opposition Leader Endorses Notion That Lack Of Middle East Peace Damages Regional Interests

Last year, right-wing darling Gen. David Petraeus caused quite a stir among conservatives for endorsing the (seemingly obvious) idea that America’s relationship with Israel and that relationship’s failure to help bring about a lasting peace with the Palestinians damages U.S. interests in the wider Middle East. “Insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace,” he said in a statement to Congress, is the first among “a number of cross-cutting issues that serve as major drivers of instability, inter-state tensions, and conflict” that “can serve as root causes of instability or as obstacles to security”:

“The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR [area of responsibility]. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. […] Al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.”

Israel hawks and neocons like to dismiss this line of thinking — so-called “linkage” — because, as CAP’s Matt Duss once noted, they think “the U.S.-Israel relationship exists in a sort of hermetically sealed bubble, separated from the U.S.’s other challenges in the region, generating no negative externalities for U.S. interests.”

But his idea isn’t just an American one. Reporting from the annual Herzliya Conference in Israel, Duss writes that in a keynote address, former foreign minister and current opposition leader Tzipi Livni endorsed linkage:

“I do not believe Israel is the source of extremism in region,but the conflict has influenced both existing peace agreements with our neighbors, and impacted our ability to change reality in region. […] We don’t have border conflicts with Egypt and Jordan, but this is a cold peace. It is a cold peace because of the linkage between the conflict and our relationship with these countries. … These governments have had to cope with hostile public opinion because of conflict.”

During Israel’s national election campaign in 2009, Livni, running the be the country’s next prime minister, told an American journalist that she would evacuate Jewish settlers in the West Bank in order to achieve peace and advance a Palestinian state. Yet after challenger and now-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wouldn’t evacuate settlements, Livni was “forced to disassociate herself from the understandings.”

At the same time, Livni seems to understand the impact the settlements have. Referring to the breakdown of direct talks over Netanyahu’s refusal to extend a moratorium on settlement construction in her speech today, Duss adds that Livni said “It’s not a matter of just building a few new houses. We need to choose between that [settlements] and the continuation of negotiations.”