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Archive for February 11th, 2011

1-in-3,000 Social Psychologists Conservative

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:49 am by HL

1-in-3,000 Social Psychologists Conservative
Some of the world’s pre-eminent experts on bias discovered it at their annual conference. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt asked for a show of hands among the 1,000 psychologists for those who were liberal. 80% lifted a hand. He asked for centrists and libertarians. A dozen hands arose. He asked for conservatives. There were three people.

Surprised and Stunned I’m sure

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:48 am by HL

Surprised and Stunned I’m sure
Self-delusional forces meet when CPAC meets Donald Trump in the ultimate self-promotion.

pic via jmillerdp at flickr.com

Did you hear that the self-proclaimed self-made man who was the son of a really really wealthy guy spoke before a bunch of conservatives yesterday?

It’s true.

Hard to believe.

I bet he then left to speak to a convention of bankers about how awesome it is to blackmail your way into being bailed out of pending bankruptcy, repeatedly. They learned it all from him.

Only in America.

Egypt’s Long Road Ahead

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:47 am by HL

Egypt’s Long Road Ahead
Hosni Mubarak’s iron rule crumbles but will not go gently. He still believes himself president of Egypt, although Egypt does not. By Eugene Robinson

Hosni Mubarak’s iron rule crumbles but will not go gently. He still believes himself president of Egypt, although Egypt does not.

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Egyptian Crowds Await Mubarak News
Late on Thursday, thousands of Egyptian protesters converged in the epicenter of their revolt, Cairo’s Tahrir Square, to wait for expected news about President Hosni Mubarak, who may not be their president for long, according to the Associated Press.

Late on Thursday, thousands of Egyptian protesters converged in the epicenter of their revolt, Cairo’s Tahrir Square, to wait for expected news about President Hosni Mubarak, who may not be their president for long, according to the Associated Press.

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CPAC Poll: Results To Elevate One Conservative Ahead For 2012 (PHOTOS)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

CPAC Poll: Results To Elevate One Conservative Ahead For 2012 (PHOTOS)
The Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll has become a widely-anticipated element of the event held each year. Fifteen big conservative names will appear on…

Alex Becker: Conservatives Push Unity and Show Cracks at CPAC
While the GOP is considered a more homogenous coalition than its Democratic counterpart, the ideological cracks shown at the Conservative Political Action Conference are unmistakable.

A Freshmen Revolt: GOP Fights For More Spending Cuts
WASHINGTON — House Republicans announced on Thursday that they would seek to cut $100 billion from President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2011 budget in an…

Breitbart’s? Pigford ?Report: Distortions And Shady Sourcing

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Breitbart’s? Pigford ?Report: Distortions And Shady Sourcing

In December, Andrew Breitbart published a report, “The Pigford Shakedown,” that purported to reveal the “massive fraud” and “widespread corruption” supposedly tainting a settlement intended to compensate to black farmers who had faced discrimination from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Breitbart’s report, which is intended to form the basis for a congressional investigation, is laden with distortions, questionable sourcing, and sloppy errors.

Summary Of Pigford Case

Judge Approved Settlement Agreement And Consent Decree To Settle Black Farmers Discrimination Case. From a report by the Congressional Research Service:

On April 14, 1999, Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved a settlement agreement and consent decree in Pigford v. Glickman, a class action discrimination suit between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and black farmers. The suit claimed that the agency had discriminated against black farmers on the basis of race and failed to investigate or properly respond to complaints from 1983 to 1997. The deadline for submitting a claim as a class member was September 12, 2000. As of November 2010, 15,642 (69%) of the 22,721 eligible class members had final adjudications approved.

Many voiced concern over the structure of the settlement agreement, the large number of applicants who filed late, and reported deficiencies in representation by class counsel. A provision in the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246) permitted any claimant who had submitted a late-filing request under Pigford and who had not previously obtained a determination on the merits of his or her claim to petition in federal court to obtain such a determination. A maximum of $100 million in mandatory spending was made available for payment of these claims, and the multiple claims that were subsequently filed were consolidated into a single case, In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation (commonly referred to as Pigford II).

On February 18, 2010, Attorney General Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack announced a $1.25 billion settlement of these Pigford II claims. However, because only $100 million was made available in the 2008 farm bill, the Pigford II settlement was contingent upon congressional approval of an additional $1.15 billion in funding. After a series of failed attempts to appropriate funds for the settlement agreement, the Senate passed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (H.R. 4783) to provide the $1.15 billion appropriation by unanimous consent on November 19, 2010. The Senate bill was then passed by the House on November 30 and signed by the President on December 8 (P.L. 111-291).  [Congressional Research Service, 12/6/07]

Kalil Had Falsely Claimed To Be Acting On Behalf Of D.C. Bar Counsel. The ethics case against Kalil began after he was suspended for 14 days from his job at USDA. Kalil claimed that the suspension was wrongful because he was protected by the Whistleblower Act. He then filed a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board, which oversees federal civil service laws. While the case was pending before the Merit Systems Protection Board, Kalil came to believe that the judge involved was involved in ethical misconduct and contacted the D.C. Bar’s ethics office, the Bar Counsel. He was told that they needed more information. So then, using an alias, he contacted the Merit Systems Protection Board judge handling his case. From the Maryland Court of Appeals decision:

Kalil believed that Judge Cook and some of the witnesses at his MSPB hearing committed acts that breached the applicable rules governing attorney conduct and that he had an ethical obligation to report such acts.   While his judicial review action was pending, Kalil called the MSPB Washington Regional Office on at least three occasions. On June 21, 2005, a paralegal specialist for the office, Sheila Stanton, answered a call from a person who identified himself as “John Ford” and who asked to speak with “Tom Cook, an MSPB Judge.” The caller, who was in fact Kalil, indicated that the phone call concerned a personal matter. Stanton put the call on hold and contacted Judge Cook who asked her to transfer the call to his voicemail, which she did.   Judge Cook testified that he is reluctant to answer the phone because a large number of cases before him involve pro se litigants who seek to argue their cases ex parte. In addition, Judge Cook does not speak to a litigant after his or her case has been decided.

Soon after, Stanton answered another call, but the caller did not identify himself.   Stanton, however, recognized the caller to be the same person who earlier had identified himself as “John Ford.”   This time, the caller asked Stanton whether Judge Cook was a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia. Judge Cook is a member of the California Bar and is not admitted to the District of Columbia Bar. Stanton informed the caller that she was not sure and that he would have to ask Judge Cook. She then forwarded the call to Judge Cook’s voicemail. The transcript of the voicemail reads as follows:

“Yes, Judge Cook, this is Thomas Cahill.   If you could contact me at [telephone number] I would appreciate it. I have a technical question I have to obtain information from you. This is not related to the case, but I’m calling on behalf of D.C. Bar Counsel. Thank you.”


Kalil’s exception regarding his representation that he was calling “on behalf of Bar Counsel” is without merit. Whether Kalil intended to deceive the recipients of his calls or misrepresent himself does not alter Judge Thompson’s finding and conclusion that, “[r]egardless of Respondent’s intentions, his actions of representing that he was calling on behalf of Bar Counsel were deceitful and untrue.” Judge Thompson’s factual finding regarding the manner in which Kalil represented himself to the MSPB is not clearly erroneous, and the conclusion of law that Kalil violated Rule 8.4(c) is supported by the record. [Maryland Court of Appeals, 12/6/07]

Judge Presiding Over Kalil’s Case: Kalil “Has An Inflated View Of His Role At The U.S. Department Of Agriculture And His Public Responsibilities.” From the Maryland Court of Appeals decision quoting the lower court judge: 

The actions of the Respondent in this matter are largely undisputed. To understand exactly what happened and why it occurred requires some insight into the character and personality of the Respondent. During the hearing on this matter, with the Court’s ability to observe the Respondent testify, it became clear that the Respondent is an intelligent career civil servant who has an inflated view of his role at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his public responsibilities. He is also hampered by his selective interpretations of facts and their application to his situation together with an inability, on occasion, to acknowledge that he is wrong about matters with which he is dealing.   An apt description of the Respondent is as an unappreciated gad fly. At times during his testimony, Respondent was argumentative or non-responsive to the questions asked, not because he was evasive, but because he elected to split hairs during his answer or to try to restate the question to fit what Respondent believed was appropriate. It is the Court’s belief that this personality trait is what led to Respondent’s troubles with his employer, the MSPB, and the Office of Bar Counsel for the District of Columbia.[Maryland Court of Appeals, 12/6/07

Breitbart Claims An Anecdote From The Newsletter Of Dr. Ridgely Muhammad “Backs Up” Kalil’s Theory That Pigford Was Designed To Buy 2000 Election. In The Pigford Report, Breitbart quoted at length a passage from a newsletter posted on the personal website of BFAA Vice President Dr. Ridgely Muhammad. This passage, Breitbart claimed, “backs up the accusations of Thomas Kalil.” Earlier in the report, Breitbart had written that Kalil “maintains that Pigford was designed to buy the rural vote for Al Gore and the Democratic party in the 2000 election.” [BigGovernment.com, “The Pigford Shakedown,” 12/6/10]

Even Assuming The Anecdote Is Accurate, It Does Nothing To Corroborate Kalil’s Theory. The cited portion of the newsletter in full reveals nothing about the motives of the Gore campaign or any Democratic political operatives. It simply recounts a threat Muhammad supposedly delivered to Paul Fiddick, then the Department of Agriculture’s Assistant Secretary for Administration. The passage gives no indication of how Fiddick reacted or if the threat was remotely credible. Here, in full, is the portion Breitbart cites:

[I] asked him [Fiddick] to listen very carefully and deliver a message to Dan Glickman for Al Gore. “Since you can just listen, then pass this on. If Dan Glickman ain’t cleaned up this mess with the Black farmers, that is give them their money, then he can tell Al Gore that he will not be president of these United States. See you next Monday and bring Dan with you.” [MuhammadFarms.com, 3/7/200, emphasis added by Breitbart]

Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Presented By:

LiveAction Releases New Audio Targeting Planned Parenthood
LiveAction, the anti-abortion group currently waging an all-out assault on Planned Parenthood, released a new audio file today. This one was allegedly recorded in a clinic in Washington, D.C. In it, a woman pretending to manage an underage sex ring…

Egypt Hearings Focus On Threat Of Muslim Brotherhood
Opening statements at the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s hearings on the unrest in Egypt indicated that members of the committee plan to focus on why the Obama administration didn’t have a contingency plan in place due to the instability in…

Don’t mess with the Teamsters!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:41 am by HL

Don’t mess with the Teamsters!
On Tuesday, after posting a column which ruminated about the possibility that a group of exploited writers might want to consider using the labor negotiating tactic known as a “strike,” we tuned in to hear one of the episodes of the Mike Malloy radio program which featured Brad Friedman (of the Brad Blog) as the […]

Tea Party to Target Snowe

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Tea Party to Target Snowe
The Tea Party Express has added Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) as the latest moderate Republican it hopes to target with a primary challenge from a more conservative candidate, Roll Call reports.

“Snowe enjoys tremendous popularity across the political spectrum in her home state, but she has irritated Maine’s small and disjointed tea party movement for her willingness to work with Democrats. Pine Tree State conservatives have already dubbed ‘Snowe removal’ a top priority for 2012, when Maine’s senior Senator will seek her fourth term. But they have struggled to rally around a single challenger.”

Quote of the Day
“By the way, Ron Paul cannot get elected, I’m sorry to tell you. I like Ron Paul, I think he’s a good guy, but honestly he just has zero chance of getting elected.”

— Donald Trump (R), in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, taking a shot at possible presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the odds-on-favorite to win the CPAC straw poll for the second year in a row.

Ben Smith notes that Trump got his “loudest applause” for the line.

Egyptian Military Backs Mubarak
The Egyptian military “has thrown its weight behind Hosni Mubarak’s decision not to resign as president and to transfer most of his powers to his vice-president,” The Guardian reports.

In a statement, the military announced it would lift a 30-year-old state of emergency “as soon as current circumstances end”, but gave no specific timeframe.

New York Times: “In a direct appeal to the demonstrators to end protests that have forced the autocratic Mr. Mubarak to make once unthinkable concessions, the military said that people should return to work and resume normal life. The turmoil has cost Egypt dearly in terms of its economy, the prestige of its leaders and its vaunted reputation for stability.”

Romney’s New Slogan
Mitt Romney not only rewrote large sections of his book, No Apology, when it came out in paperback; he changed the subtitle to “Believe in America.”

Mark Halperin notes Romney aides will be handing out “bumper stickers, lapel stickers and signs” with the slogan as he speaks at CPAC this morning.

Eaters Must Become More Political — We Can’t Just Vote With Our Forks

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Eaters Must Become More Political — We Can’t Just Vote With Our Forks
Our voices must begin to compete with the very strong preference elected politicians have for getting reelected – and funding their campaigns.

Zizek: Miracle of Tahrir Square — No Room for Compromise, Mubarak Must Go
Either the entire Mubarak edifice falls, or the uprising is betrayed.

10 Historical ‘Facts’ Only a Right-Winger Could Believe
Facts, including historical ones, are ‘biased’ against the right’s worldview.

Why the Republican Budget Plan is a Hairball

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 11th, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Why the Republican Budget Plan is a Hairball
The federal budget is $3.8 trillion. The Republicans have just come up with their plan to cut the federal budget. They’ve found $32 billion of cuts. Their fiery campaign rhetoric, fierce determination, righteous indignation, and bloviated anger have summoned forth…

Needed in Egypt: A Potluck, Not a Hosted Dinner
Egyptians are still in the streets. There is violence in some parts of the country. The demands for Mubarak to go are still echoing through Tahrir Square. And Vice President Soleiman seems to be scrambling to find the point of…