Monday, August 30, 2010

Google Invests $86 Million In Low-Income Housing


Glenn Beck: Obama doesn't hate white people ... he just wants to oppress them


The gospel, according to Glenn Beck:

Fox News host Glenn Beck said Sunday that he misspoke last year when he characterized President Obama as a racist ...

"I don't want to retract... I want to amend that I think it is much more of a theological question," Beck said. "He is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology -- which is oppressor and victim. Racist was, first of all, shouldn't have been said. It was poorly said."


Factory Farms Make You Sick. Let Us Count the Ways


Recovery: 1 in 6 Americans in Government Anti-Poverty Programs


Via: USA Today:

Government anti-poverty programs that have grown to meet the needs of recession victims now serve a record one in six Americans and are continuing to expand.

More than 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, the federal-state program aimed principally at the poor, a survey of state data by USA TODAY shows. That's up at least 17% since the recession began in December 2007.

"Virtually every Medicaid director in the country would say that their current enrollment is the highest on record," says Vernon Smith of Health Management Associates, which surveys states for Kaiser Family Foundation.

The program has grown even before the new health care law adds about 16 million people, beginning in 2014. That has strained doctors. "Private physicians are already indicating that they're at their limit," says Dan Hawkins of the National Association of Community Health Centers.

More than 40 million people get food stamps, an increase of nearly 50% during the economic downturn, according to government data through May. The program has grown steadily for three years.

The Simpson Social Security budget quiz


The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party


American Politics is Getting All Koch'ed Up


Oil sands polluting Canada river system


Graph of the Day: Potential US Water Supply Conflicts by 2025


Michigan Oil Spill and World's Dirtiest Oil: why lie?


Breaking: Glenn Beck Still Glenn Beck's Biggest Fan @GlennBeck


The FDA's Egg inspections: Rivers of manure and flies beyond count


The Tea Party: An Interactive "Contract With America" Scam


Meet the GOP/Tea Party Billionaire Puppet Masters


Google Earth animation shows Brazil plans to turn Amazon River into a ‘series of stagnant reservoirs’


Bombs kill seven US soldiers in Afghanistan - God bless their brave souls


Seven US soldiers have been killed in two bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan, the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) says.

Five troops were killed by a roadside bomb in one incident while two others died in a separate bomb attack, Isaf said in a statement.

Witnesses in Kandahar said a US Army vehicle hit a bomb in the early afternoon, the Associated Press said.

Fourteen US soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the last three days.

Meanwhile, the governor of the Lalpor District in Nangarhar Province was killed by a car bomb in the city of Jalalabad on Monday, according to police spokesman Ghafor Khan.

The bomb, which had been planted on the vehicle, exploded while it was driving into a government compound, said Mr Khan.

Governor Syad Mohammad Palawan was reportedly travelling to a meeting of provincial security and political leaders when he was killed.

Increased troop numbers

The US has sent an extra 30,000 troops to Afghanistan since December 2009 in an effort to defeat the Taliban.

US troops now comprise roughly 100,000 of the 120,000 foreign military soldiers in Afghanistan, most in the south and east where the Taliban is most deeply entrenched.

Foreign troops fighting the Taliban operate under US and Nato command and are supporting Kabul's Western-backed government against a Taliban-led insurgency that has gained strength in recent years.

News of the most recent attacks comes a week after a senior US general in Afghanistan said President Barack Obama's July 2011 deadline to begin pulling troops out of the country was encouraging the Taliban.

The White House is expected to review the Afghan war in December.

More than 1,200 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the conflict began in 2001.

New report details loss of Bush-era e-mails - Bush didn't give a shit


Top aides to President George W. Bush seemed unconcerned amid multiple warnings as early as 2002 that the White House risked losing millions of e-mails that federal law required them to preserve, according to an extensive report obtained by The Federal Eye and set for release on Monday.

The report, by the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, follows a settlement reached last December between the Obama administration, CREW and the National Security Archive, a George Washington University research institute. The groups sued the Bush White House in 2007 alleging it violated federal law by not preserving millions of e-mails sent between 2003 and 2005.

The settlement resulted in the restoration of 94 days worth of e-mail and the release of documents detailing when the Bush White House learned of the missing e-mails and how it responded. The restored e-mails are part of the National Archives and Records Administration's historic record of the Bush administration, but presidential historians and others seeking information in the coming decades about the major decisions of Bush's presidency likely will be starved of key details, including messages sent between White House officials and drafts of final policy decisions, CREW said in its report (see it below).

"The net effect of this is we've probably lost some truly valuable records that would have provided insight," into the administration's decisionmaking process on several policy issues, said CREW Chief Counsel Anne L. Weismann, who led the review.

Problems first arose when an e-mail recordkeeping system established during Bill Clinton's presidency failed to archive messages sent by the Bush White House as it started converting e-mail accounts from Lotus Notes to the Microsoft Exchange Program, the report said.

The White House Office of Administration and National Archives warned top Bush officials about the glitch and potential loss of e-mails, but were ordered to continue with the conversion, the report said.

"It wasn't like it was a one-time event and they went out and fixed it," said CREW senior counsel Adam Rappaport.

The Office of Administration later proposed a plan to fully restore the missing e-mails in 2005, but White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers rejected the plan, according to the report. Miers did not return requests for comment.

In the end, the Bush White House spent at least $10 million to develop new electronic records management systems that restored just 48 days worth of e-mail, the report said.

Missing e-mails included messages sent by the office of Vice President">Dick Cheney that were later sought by the Justice Department as part of its investigation into the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity as a covert CIA spy and messages from the months preceding the start of the Iraq war.

Scott Stanzel, a former Bush spokesman, called CREW a liberal group that "likes to sue for sport and for years has tried to create a spooky conspiracy out of standard IT issues."

"Nearly two years after President Bush left office, their interest in launching partisan attacks through misleading press releases has not waned," Stanzel said. "The Bush Administration has complied with the Presidential Record Act requirements and this matter is closed, yet CREW's tiresome effort to score political points continues."

Though the Bush administration has been a frequent target of CREW's efforts, it was also critical of several government-funded projects constructed in the district of former Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), has called for the resignation of embattled Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), and has accused South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Alvin M. Greene of violating election

The Justice Department declined to comment on CREW's report or the December settlement. The settlement led the Obama administration to establish an automated e-mail recordskeeping system that automatically captures and preserves all e-mails
sent from computers and mobile BlackBerry devices, controls against the unauthorized deletion of e-mails, and automatically generates audits of ongoing archival activities. CREW and the National Security Archive approve of the plan.

Federal law and Obama White House policy prohibits administration officials from using personal e-mail accounts to conduct official business. But earlier this year it sanctioned White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin for using his personal e-mail address to discuss policy issues with colleagues at his former employer, Google. The White House has rebuffed requests from Congressional Republicans to speak with McLaughlin and other officials about the matter.

Even Under New Rules Lenders Will Continue to Make same Risky Bets caused 2008 Meltdown


Issue Date: Daily Dog - August 30, 2010, 

Even Under New Reform Rules, Lenders Will Continue to Be Allowed to Make Risky Bets On Behalf of Clients — Taking the Same Speculative Risks that Spearheaded the 2008 Meltdown
The recently enacted financial regulatory reform includes provisions seeking to prevent federally insured banks from making speculative bets using their own money. But that will not stop banks from making bets that some critics deem risky, even as the rules go into effect over the next few years. That is because many such bets — on the direction of the stock market or the price of coal, for example — are done on behalf of clients. So, the banks say, they will continue to be allowable despite the new restrictions — potentially leading to the same kinds of blowups that contributed to the financial crisis and forced the federal government to spend billions of dollars to bail out financial institutions, the NY Times reports.

Indeed, several trades that were made on behalf of clients went bad for the banks even as the new rules were being debated in Washington this year. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, for example, each lost more than $100 million on transactions handled for customers in the period from April to July. Yet analysts are quick to point out that many of the similar transactions that kick-started the meltdown were handled by the banks, ostensibly to serve clients, the NY Times reports.

"You can use client activity as a cover for basically anything you are doing," said Janet Tavakoli, who runs her own structured finance consulting firm. "It's very problematic that losses like this are showing up. It's a prime example of what the financial reform bill doesn't address," she added, report Times writers Nelson D. Schwartz and Eric Dash.

@whitehouse US wasted billions in rebuilding Iraq


KHAN BANI SAAD, Iraq – A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children's hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets.

As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in American taxpayer funds has been wasted — more than 10 percent of the some $50 billion the U.S. has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.

That amount is likely an underestimate, based on an analysis of more than 300 reports by auditors with the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And it does not take into account security costs, which have run almost 17 percent for some projects.

There are success stories. Hundreds of police stations, border forts and government buildings have been built, Iraqi security forces have improved after years of training, and a deep water port at the southern oil hub of Umm Qasr has been restored.

Even completed projects for the most part fell far short of original goals, according to an Associated Press review of hundreds of audits and investigations and visits to several sites. And the verdict is still out on whether the program reached its goal of generating Iraqi good will toward the United States instead of the insurgents.

Col. Jon Christensen, who took over as commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District this summer, said the federal agency has completed more than 4,800 projects and is rushing to finish 233 more. Some 595 projects have been terminated, mostly for security reasons.

Christensen acknowledged that mistakes have been made. But he said steps have been taken to fix them, and the success of the program will depend ultimately on the Iraqis — who have complained that they were not consulted on projects to start with.

"There's only so much we could do," Christensen said. "A lot of it comes down to them taking ownership of it."

The reconstruction program in Iraq has been troubled since its birth shortly after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The U.S. was forced to scale back many projects even as they spiked in cost, sometimes to more than double or triple initial projections.

As part of the so-called surge strategy, the military in 2007 shifted its focus to protecting Iraqis and winning their trust. American soldiers found themselves hiring contractors to paint schools, refurbish pools and oversee neighborhood water distribution centers. The $3.6 billion Commander's Emergency Response Program provided military units with ready cash for projects, and paid for Sunni fighters who agreed to turn against al-Qaida in Iraq for a monthly salary.

But sometimes civilian and military reconstruction efforts were poorly coordinated and overlapped.

Iraqis can see one of the most egregious examples of waste as they drive north from Baghdad to Khan Bani Saad. A prison rises from the desert, complete with more than two dozen guard towers and surrounded by high concrete walls. But the only signs of life during a recent visit were a guard shack on the entry road and two farmers tending a nearby field.

In March 2004, the Corps of Engineers awarded a $40 million contract to global construction and engineering firm Parsons Corp. to design and build a prison for 3,600 inmates, along with educational and vocational facilities. Work was set to finish in November 2005.

But violence was escalating in the area, home to a volatile mix of Sunni and Shiite extremists. The project started six months late and continued to fall behind schedule, according to a report by the inspector general.

The U.S. government pulled the plug on Parsons in June 2006, citing "continued schedule slips and ... massive cost overruns," but later awarded three more contracts to other companies. Pasadena, Calif.-based Parsons said it did its best under difficult and violent circumstances.

Citing security concerns, the U.S. finally abandoned the project in June 2007 and handed over the unfinished facility to Iraq's Justice Ministry. The ministry refused to "complete, occupy or provide security" for it, according to the report. More than $1.2 million in unused construction material also was abandoned due to fears of violence.

The inspector general recommended another use be found for the partially finished buildings inside the dusty compound. But three years later, piles of bricks and barbed wire lie around, and tumbleweed is growing in the caked sand.

"It will never hold a single Iraqi prisoner," said inspector general Stuart Bowen, who has overseen the reconstruction effort since it started. "Forty million dollars wasted in the desert."

Another problem was coordination with the Iraqis, who have complained they weren't consulted and often ended up paying to complete unfinished facilities they didn't want in the first place.

"Initially when we came in ... we didn't collaborate as much as we should have with the correct people and figure out what their needs were," Christensen said. He stressed that Iraqis are now closely involved in all projects.

One clinic was handed over to local authorities without a staircase, said Shaymaa Mohammed Amin, the head of the Diyala provincial reconstruction and development committee.

"We were almost forced to take them," she said during an interview at the heavily fortified local government building in the provincial capital of Baqouba. "Generally speaking, they were below our expectations. Huge funds were wasted and they would not have been wasted if plans had been clear from the beginning."

As an example, she cited a date honey factory that was started despite a more pressing need for schools and vital infrastructure. She said some schools were left without paint or chalkboards, and needed renovations.

"We ended up paying twice," she said.

In some cases, Iraqi ministries have refused to take on the responsibility for U.S.-funded programs, forcing the Americans to leave abandoned buildings littering the landscape.

"The area of waste I'm most concerned about in the entire program is the waste that might occur after completed projects are handed over to the Iraqis," Bowen said.

The U.S. military pinned great hopes on a $5.7 million convention center inside the tightly secured Baghdad International Airport compound, as part of a commercial hub aimed at attracting foreign investors. A few events were held at the sprawling complex, including a three-day energy conference that drew oil executives from as far away as Russia and Japan in 2008, which the U.S. military claimed generated $1 million in revenues.

But the contracts awarded for the halls did not include requirements to connect them to the main power supply. The convention center, still requiring significant work, was transferred to the Iraqi government "as is" on Jan. 20, according to an audit by the inspector general's office.

The buildings have since fallen into disrepair, and dozens of boxes of fluorescent lightbulbs and other equipment disappeared from the site. Light poles outside have toppled over and the glass facade is missing from large sections of the abandoned buildings.

Waste also came from trying to run projects while literally under fire.

The Americans committed to rebuilding the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah after it was destroyed in major offensives in 2004. The U.S. awarded an initial contract for a new waste water treatment system to FluorAMEC of Greenville, S.C. — just three months after four American private security contractors were savagely attacked. The charred and mutilated remains of two of them were strung from a bridge in the city.

An audit concluded that it was unrealistic for the U.S. "to believe FluorAMEC could even begin construction, let alone complete the project, while fierce fighting occurred daily." The report also pointed out repeated redesigns of the project, and financial and contracting problems.

The Fallujah waste water treatment system is nearly complete — four years past the deadline, at a cost of more than three times the original $32.5 million estimate. It has been scaled back to serve just a third of the population, and Iraqi officials said it still lacks connections to houses and a pipe to join neighborhood tanks up with the treatment plant.

Desperate residents, meanwhile, have begun dumping their sewage in the tanks, causing foul odors and running the risk of seepage, according to the head of Fallujah's municipal council, Sheik Hameed Ahmed Hashim.

"It isn't appropriate for the Americans to give the city these services without completing these minor details," Hashim said. "We were able to wipe out part of the memories of the Fallujah battles through this and other projects. ... If they leave the project as it is, I think their reputation will be damaged."

By contrast, the Basra children's hospital — one of the largest projects undertaken by the U.S. in Iraq — looks like a shining success story, with gardeners tending manicured lawns in preparation for its opening. But that opening has been repeatedly delayed, most recently for a lack of electricity.

The construction of a "state of the art" pediatric specialist hospital with a cancer unit was projected to be completed by December 2005 for about $50 million. By last year, the cost had soared above $165 million, including more than $100 million in U.S. funds, and the equipment was dated, according to an auditors' report.

Investigators blamed the delays on unrealistic timeframes, poor soil conditions, multiple partners and funding sources and security problems at the site, including the murder of 24 workers. Bechtel, the project contractor, was removed because of monthslong delays blamed on poor subcontractor performance and limited oversight, the special inspector general's office said. A Bechtel spokeswoman, Michelle Allen, said the company had recommended in 2006 that work on the hospital be put on hold because of the "intolerable security situation."

In an acknowledgment that they weren't getting exactly what they hoped for, Iraqi officials insisted the label "state of the art" be removed from a memorandum of understanding giving them the facility. It was described as a "modern pediatric hospital."

Hospital director Kadhim Fahad said construction has been completed and the electricity issue resolved.

"The opening will take place soon, God willing," he said.

Residents are pleased with the outcome. One, Ghassan Kadhim, said: "It is the duty of the Americans to do such projects because they were the ones who inflicted harm on people."


Associated Press Writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

@glennbeck So who's still advertising on Beck? August 30 edition

Media Matters for America

So who's still advertising on Beck? August 30 edition

At least 100 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his August 30 sponsors, in the order they appeared:

  • Tax Masters
  • Rosland Capital
  • Merit Financial
  • Goldline
  • Lifestyle Lift
  • Newsmax
  • 1-800-Pack-Rat
  • Lear Capital
  • League of American Voters (
  • ZeroWater
  • Arriva Medical
  • Rosland Capital
  • Foundation for a Better Life
  • Pulaski & Middleman, LLC
  • Foundation for a Better Life
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • Johnson Law Group
  • Goldline
  • News Corp. (The Wall Street Journal)

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck show

Fox News Channel

FOX News Channel
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

You can help support our work: donate to Media Matters for America.

Lou Dobbs brings his immigration lies to Fox

Media Matters for America

Lou Dobbs brings his immigration lies to Fox

Fox News' America Live repeatedly hosts Lou Dobbs to mislead on immigration issues, despite his history of making false and absurd claims on the issue, such grossly overestimating the number of new leprosy cases in the U.S. and blaming that distorted figure on immigrants.

Dobbs pushed falsehood that Obama is "holding border security hostage"

Dobbs pushes Sen. Kyl's claim--which Kyl later walked back--that Obama told Kyl "he would hold border security hostage" to get comprehensive immigration reform. On the August 26 edition of America Live, Dobbs pushed the claim that "Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, remember, saying that it was very straightforward, that the President said he would hold border security hostage to so-called comprehensive immigration reform." Host Megyn Kelly had to correct Dobbs, by noting that Kyl "dialed that back later."

Burton: "The president didn't say that. Senator Kyl knows the president didn't say that." The Washington Post reported on June 21 that Kyl "said that President Obama personally told him the administration will not support stricter border enforcement until Republicans back broad immigration reform." The Post continued:

The White House strongly denied the claim.

At a town hall in Arizona on Friday, Kyl responded to a voter's question about immigration by detailing a one-on-one meeting he had with Obama. According to Kyl, "The president said the problem is if we secure the border, then you all won't have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform."

"In other words, they're holding it hostage," Kyl said at the event, a video of was circulated widely online on Monday, but not from Kyl's office. "They won't secure the border unless and until is it combined with comprehensive immigration reform."

Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said, "The president didn't say that. Senator Kyl knows the president didn't say that."

"But what everybody knows because the President has made it perfectly clear is that what we need to do is everything that we can to bring about comprehensive immigration reform," he added. "And that includes not just securing the border, but doing a lot of other things."

Sen. Kyl had to walk back his own accusation. From a June 25 National Review Online post:

Kyl, of course, had a small spat with the White House last week over comments he made at a town-hall meeting. Kyl, responding to a voter's question, detailed a recent one-on-one conversation he had with the president. "They are holding [border security] hostage" over hopes for comprehensive immigration reform, Kyl said at the forum.

Kyl tells us that the comments were "taken a bit out of context," and that the "they" he was referring to was the Left, "the president's base," and not the administration. "I did not try to start a fight. This meeting happened a month ago and we were talking in the context of his political problems. He was talking about how they think that if we secure the border, you guys [Republicans] won't have the incentive to work on comprehensive immigration reform."

America Live regularly hosts Dobbs to mislead on immigration

Dobbs falsely claims Obama's border efforts are a "foundation" for "unconditional amnesty."  On the August 9 edition of Fox News' America Live, Dobbs called the border security bill "a modest border security piece of legislation," and claimed "it would give [the Obama administration] the foundation to say, we did something about border security...and then move ahead and have their way on the issue of unconditional amnesty." Dobbs later claimed "we are not seeing a commitment to actual detention and apprehension."

In fact, the Obama administration has increased both border security and immigration enforcement. Contrary to Dobb's claims, the Obama administration "has outdone its predecessor on border enforcement spending and on deportations." The administration has increased Border Patrol agents, spending on immigration, employer audits, and illegal immigrant deportations. In addition, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States has declined, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, the "[t]he number of people caught illegally entering the U.S. dropped by more than 23% during the past year, continuing a longer trend, federal data shows."

Dobbs advances myth that DHS memo showed "this administration is trying to have unconditional amnesty." Later in the August 9 edition of America Live, Dobbs said "We've had citizenship and immigration services, national review online did a terrific public service and published a memo showing this administration is looking for ways to create de facto comprehensive immigration reform or unconditional amnesty." Kelly falsely replied "that's confirmed, just read the report."

In fact, the White House has made clear they do not "support amnesty" and do not plan on using "discretionary authority." White House press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed that the administration "doesn't support amnesty" and was not planning on using "discretionary authority" to, in the words of Fox News host Steve Doocy, "allow people who are in the country illegally to stay in the country." Further, the Department of Homeland Security memo to which Dobbs refers specifically recommends against deferred action, which is defined as "an exercise of prosecutorial discretion not to pursue removal from the U.S. of a particular individual for a specific period of time." The memo states that "doing so would likely be controversial, not to mention expensive," so, "Rather than making deferred action widely available to hundreds of thousands and as a non-legislative version of "amnesty", [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] could tailor the use of this discretionary option for particular groups such as individuals who would be eligible for relief under the DREAM Act."

Dobbs falsely accuse Obama administration of "a de facto surrender of national sovereignty." On the August 26 edition of Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly asked Dobbs about a report that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was "dropping deportation cases against illegals who do not have a criminal record." Dobbs replied:

DOBBS: This is a confirmation of what 11 U.S. senators were concerned about two months ago, and about which they inquired of this administration, and the fact is they were lied to. This is a de facto amnesty program. It is a refusal, just as John Morton, the director of ICE said he would, to not enforce immigration laws, but to do so only selectively and in his judgment as to what is appropriate. This is, I'm afraid more than de facto amnesty, this is a de facto surrender of national sovereignty. It should be truly troubling to every American citizen.

Dobbs further baselessly claimed that "Homeland Security under Janet Napolitano is making it an absolute matter of policy to not enforce immigration laws" Mexican President "Felipe Calderon is deciding who enters this country and John Morton is deciding not to enforce laws," and "I disbelieve everything this administration is saying on the issue of illegal immigration on border security, because they had lied and scammed and gamed the American people throughout."

In fact, policy applies to those likely to have visa applications approved, not all non-criminal unauthorized immigrants.  DHS continues to deport those who have not committed crimes, but, in an effort improve the efficiency of the removal system, the agency will dismiss cases against certain individuals who have pending visa applications and are likely to receive those visas under current law.

Dobbs has a long history of immigration misinformation, including falsely claiming immigrants spread leprosy

Dobbs has a long history of spreading immigration misinformation and conspiracy theories. He has routinely discussed the North American Union conspiracy theory, incorrectly claimed that undocumented immigrants drain social services and don't pay taxes, and repeatedly amplified the falsehood that undocumented immigrants are disproportionately violent. He has been an unrepentant purveyor of hateful attacks, fraudulently claiming, for example, that immigrants are spreading leprosy and seek to reconquer the southwestern United States. And in 2009, he legitimized the thoroughly debunked birther conspiracy theory concerning the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate.

Dobbs resigned from CNN under pressure for his anti-immigration views. According to The New York Times: "[T]he president of CNN/U.S., Jonathan Klein, offered a choice to Lou Dobbs ... [he] could vent his opinions on radio and anchor an objective newscast on television, or he could leave CNN." As a result of pressure put on CNN by Media Matters and other Hispanic groups to drop Dobbs, he announced his departure from CNN, citing a desire to "go beyond the role here at CNN, and to engage in constructive problem solving, as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day, and to continue to do so in the most honest, and direct language possible."

Lou Dobbs


Fox News Channel

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New York, NY 10036

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Conservatives Serve Up Constitution Cafeteria-Style


On Saturday, Glenn Beck and tens of thousands of his Tea Party faithful descended on Washington supposedly to "restore honor" to America and defend the Constitution of the United States. Or more, accurately, parts of it. After all, once they get past their enthusiasm for the Second and Tenth Amendments, the same right-wing die-hards would literally white out large swaths of America's contract with itself. And with their pick-and-choose, cafeteria-style Constitution, these most fervent Republicans would undermine the economy, gut the social safety net, and incite racial, religious and ethnic division.

Even as they argue with the actors at Colonial Williamsburg and offer classes on the Constitution, the Tea Bagging crowd belies its boasts like, "I've read the Constitution 20 times in the past two months." In no particular order, here are just some of the Articles and Amendments in conservative America's Constitutional Left Behind series:

Article I, Section 8. Ever since the New Deal, conservatives have bemoaned the Congressional expansion of federal regulatory power enabled by the Commerce Clause. Similarly, taking a dim view of Congress' power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States," the Republican Party and its elected state attorneys general have claimed the new health care reform law is unconstitutional.

As it turns out, Tea Party favorite and Sarah Palin protégé Joe Miller isn't content to rest there. The Alaska Republican Senate candidate doesn't merely want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. Miller believes the programs which lifted millions of elderly Americans out of poverty, like unemployment insurance, are unconstitutional. On Sunday, he protested being labeled an extremist:

"Well, yeah I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme then you'd also think the Founders are extreme."

Sadly for Miller and the conservative constitutional know-nothings, the Supreme Court long ago decided otherwise.

1st Amendment. As evidenced by her confusion between public criticism and government censorship, Sarah Palin is just one of many conservative leaders struggling to comprehend the First Amendment's free speech protections. (The flip-side, as Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said of Bill Maher in 2001, "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say.") And when it comes to freedom of religion, some religions are more equal than others.

Like Beck, Palin insists Muslim Americans "refudiate" their religious freedom when it comes to building an Islamic center in lower Manhattan. That "knife," she repeated:

"Is an insensitive move on the part of those Muslims who want to build that mosque in this location. It feels like a stab in the heart to, collectively, Americans who still have that lingering pain from 9/11."

For his part, on Saturday Glenn Beck told the Tea Bagging multitudes, "America today begins to turn back to God." Twenty four hours later, Beck pleaded, "There's nothing we can do that will solve the problems that we have and keep the peace unless we solve it through God." But for the man who once demanded of Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies," those with a different God (or none at all) need not apply.

14th Amendment. To be sure, the Party of Lincoln has long bristled at the post-Civil War amendments to the Constitution...

After all, while Arizona Congressman Trent Franks declared in February that "Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery," GOP Governors Bob McDonnell and Haley Barbour issued Confederate Heritage Month proclamations that omitted mention of slavery altogether. And judging by this t-shirt on display at the Beck rally Saturday, at least one attendee longs for the days before the passage of the 13th Amendment.

But it's the 14th Amendment in particular (aside from the Supreme Court's novel, one-time use of the Equal Protection Clause to make George W. Bush President of the United States) that drives conservatives crazy. After all, the 14th extended most of the Bill of Rights guarantees to the states. Worse still for the right, the Supreme Court has turned to the 14th Amendment to expand the American circle of liberty to include minority and gay citizens. And if the reasoning of Judge Vaughn Walker's Prop 8 ruling in California withstands Supreme scrutiny, "equal protection of the laws" may also come to include marriage equality.

And now, the Amendment's Section 1 promise that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside" is raising the ire of Republican leaders and their Tea Party hardliners alike. While Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has proposed legislation to curb birthright citizenship and the supposed epidemic of illegal Mexican mothers "dropping" their "anchor babies" north of the border, Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl called for a "review" of the 14th Amendment.

On that point of constitutional excision, Glenn Beck was quite passionate in his 2009 book, Arguing with Idiots. Sadly, to make it, Beck had to both butcher history and equate illegal immigration to slavery:

But even after the importation of new slaves stopped in 1808, the South was so dependent on slavery that it was unwilling to let it go. (Sound a little like businesses relying on illegal immigration today?) Thus, it became necessary to end slavery by expanding [sic] unthinkable amounts of blood and treasure.

Beck went on to offer his own replacement version of the 14th Amendment regarding the rights of "all persons who successfully sneak into the country."

16th Amendment. Despite the facts that over 95% of American households received a tax cut courtesy of President Obama and the Democrats and that total federal, state and local taxation is at its lowest level since 1950, frothing at-the-mouth Tea Baggers and many rabid Republicans want to eliminate the IRS - and the income tax - altogether.

While only 2% of Tea Baggers know their federal taxes had been reduced by President Obama (according to a CBS poll), they are quite familiar with Mike Huckabee's plan to kill the IRS in favor of a national sales tax. To establish his bona fides with Republican primary voters, the Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor turned White House hopeful in 2007 began peddling the "Fair Tax, his national sales tax scheme:

He promises to abolish the IRS, and along with it all current income, corporate, payroll and other taxes--to be replaced with a 23% national sales, or consumption, tax. He's also promised repeal of the 16th amendment--which established the income tax--to ensure Americans don't get double-taxation.

One of the side benefits of the Fair Tax, according to the same man who proposed that "what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards," would be:

"You end the underground economy. Illegals, prostitutes, pimps, gamblers, drug dealers - everybody pays taxes."

And in right-wing America, Mike Huckabee has a lot of company. The Tea Party's "Contract from America" similarly calls for "scrapping the internal revenue code." And after domestic terrorist Joseph Stack crashed his plane into an Austin IRS building and killed a federal employee there, Iowa Congressman Steve King declared:

"It's sad the incident in Texas happened, but by the same token, it's an agency that is unnecessary and when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it's going to be a happy day for America."

17th Amendment. As the Washington Post reported in July, many Tea Partiers also have problems with one of the more important advances in the evolution of American democracy:

Some conservative activists also point to the 17th Amendment, but in this case they oppose it. That amendment established direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote rather than appointment by their state legislatures. The thinking in that case is that the amendment removed the powerful Senate from control by the states.

Alas, that fringe view is supported by some not-so-fringe Republican politicians. GOP candidates like Steve Stivers in Ohio and Palin favorite Vaughn Ward in Idaho got in hot water over their support for "Repeal the 17th." And as TPM reported:

There are, of course, plenty of conservative Republicans who favor repealing the 17th Amendment. Tim Bridgewater, the man who got the most votes at the Utah GOP convention that ousted Sen. Bob Bennett, says on his website that he'd support rewriting the constitution to put the power of choosing Senators in the hands of the states. And Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has actually put forward legislation that would repeal the amendment.

Of course, the right-wing's selective reading of the Constitution hardly ends there. Republicans now grant the President unlimited powers as commander-in-chief under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution unless, of course, the President is a Democrat. (While John Yoo considered his justifications of illegal domestic surveillance and presidential power to crush a child's testicles "my gift to the Obama presidency," his Tea Party allies call President Obama a "tyrant" and a "dictator.") For Republicans like Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions and John Cornyn, the President's war powers trump acts of Congress and the Fourth Amendment alike. (As Cornyn put it, "None of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead.") All told, Republicans in Congress have proposed 42 constitutional amendments so far this term. So it's not too much of a stretch to imagine, as The Onion did, conservatives repealing the 22nd Amendment so that the reanimated corpse of Ronald Reagan could seek a third term in the White House.

As for the devoted followers of Glenn Beck, the man who declared the intent of his Saturday rally to "reclaim the civil rights movement," there is a Constitution they can love. Sadly, it belonged to the Confederate States of America:

Language promoting "the general welfare" was omitted, while the right to own slaves was explicitly guaranteed (although foreign slave trade was forbidden).

The president, serving a single six-year term, was given line-item veto power over the budget, and his cabinet awarded nonvoting seats in Congress. To guarantee Southerners their much-desired states' rights, the federal government had no authority to levy protective tariffs, make internal improvements, or overrule state court decisions, while states had the right to sustain their own armies and enter into separate agreements with one another, and were given greater power in amending the constitution.

In the mean time, Glenn Beck's hordes will concentrate on stopping the Constitutional mandate to conduct the Census. After all, Beck insists, it's now just a tool to "try to increase slavery [and] your dependence on the master in Washington."

(This piece also appears at Perrspectives. Image above from Rockford Register Star, March 29, 2010.)

White Sox Honor Frank Thomas from Chicagoist


AP Photos/Nam Y. Huh
More accustomed to hitting in the middle of the lineup, Frank Thomas was up first on Sunday. Before the White Sox' 2-1 loss to the New York Yankees, the team honored the former superstar slugger by retiring his number. In a ceremony that included his family, countless former teammates and coaches, the Big Hurt had his photo and number 35 added to the left field wall honoring the team's greats.

Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf presented Thomas with a painting and framed jersey after a video tribune. Following the gifts, Sox greats Billy Pierce and Carlton Fisk unveiled Thomas' likeness on outfield wall between their own portraits.

An emotional Thomas addressed the crowd while choking back tears, "Eighteen years in this game, but 16 full ones here, it brought back a lot of memories, thinking about the great times — and bad times," he said. "It just caught up to me. I'm a very, very proud man today and this probably was the proudest day of my life."

Thomas retired from baseball following the 2008 season, having hit 521 home runs, 2468 hits, driven in 1704 runs and accumulating a .301 lifetime batting average. Thomas won the American League MVP award in 1993 and '94, while finishing second in 2000 and third in '97.

In addition to adding Thomas's jersey number to the wall of retired numbers, the team also announced on Sunday that a bronze statue of the Big Hurt will be added to the collection along the outfield concourse, to be unveiled next season.

Ron Paul's Shocking Message to the Tea Party - you're being scammed


Sharron Angle says she wouldn’t have sent money to the Gulf Coast after Katrina.


Chuck Grassley is addicted to Twitter.


Most people don’t think Sarah Palin would be a good president.


Mexico Gunmen Assassinate Second Mayor in Two Weeks

source &

Mexican gunmen assassinated the second mayor in less than two weeks in the violent northeast region of the country as a fight against drug traffickers intensifies.

Marco Antonio Leal Garcia, the mayor of Hidalgo in Tamaulipas state, was killed when his truck was ambushed by the gunmen. His daughter was also injured in the attack.

"This cowardly crime and the condemnable violent events that have recently occurred in this part of the country reinforce the commitment to continue fighting criminal groups with all the resources of the state," President Felipe Calderon's office said in an e-mailed statement.

Tamaulipas has become an epicenter in Mexico's fight against drug traffickers as the Gulf drug cartel battles its former allies, the Zetas, over smuggling routes into the U.S.

Last week, 72 murdered migrants were discovered at a ranch in the state and a car bomb was exploded outside the offices of Grupo Televisa SA, the world's largest Spanish-language broadcaster.

The frontrunner in the state's gubernatorial election was killed less than a week before the July 4 balloting.

In neighboring Nuevo Leon state, Santiago city Mayor Edelmiro Cavazos Leal was assassinated earlier this month.

Violence related to drug gangs and criminal organizations has intensified this year. Mexico has reported more than 28,000 deaths related to organized crime since Calderon took office in 2006.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jens Erik Gould in Mexico City at; Jonathan Levin in Mexico City at

Progressive Caucus tells deficit panel: “Take Social Security off the table”


WASHINGTON (PAI) - Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus have told the two co-chairs of President Obama's deficit-cutting commission to "take Social Security off the table," caucus co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva says.

In an Aug. 24 telephone press conference about the nation's top retirement program, the Democratic lawmaker from Tucson, Ariz., added that he and his colleagues suggested other ways of stemming the flood of federal red ink in future years.

Their proposals included closing corporate tax loopholes, letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, imposing higher royalties on firms that take valuable resources - such as minerals and oil - from federal lands and cutting defense and homeland security spending, Grijalva reported.

The 12 to 15 Progressive Caucus lawmakers who met with Grijalva and deficit commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles, a former top Democratic White House staffer, and Alan Simpson, a former GOP senator from Wyoming, also made the point that cutting Social Security wouldn't fly politically, either in Congress or the country.

"This was an affirmation of where we stand and of what we won't tolerate" in deficit-cutting plans, Grijalva added. "Because of its size and its impact, it's important to make the point now that Social Security must be off the table," he said - even before the deficit-cutting panel issues any findings and recommendations.

That ban includes any proposals to raise the retirement age, as GOP House Minority Leader John Boehner favors, or to cut benefits, Grijalva added.

Grijalva discussed the caucus meeting with Bowles and Simpson, which occurred just before Congress recessed in early August, as the Economic Policy Institute marshaled arguments to take Social Security off the deficit-cutting list. The commission co-chairs were non-committal, saying everything is being considered including the nation's retirement program, the congressman reported.

It shouldn't be, said EPI's Ross Eisenbrey, along with former Social Security chief actuary Harry Alexander and Nancy Altman, co-chair of a coalition - including the AFL-CIO and many major unions - formed in July to protect Social Security from the deficit-cutters.

That's because Social Security has its own trust funds and does not contribute to the flood of red ink the presidential panel is investigating, the four said. The lawmakers' caucus made that same point to Bowles and Simpson, Grijalva added.

Photo: Progress Ohio 

Religious Right Launches Public Campaign to Defend School Bullying Against LGBT Kids


From the Department of You Can't Make This Crap Up, we get this story from the Denver Post about the Religious Right's new campaign in support of school bullying:
Focus on Family says anti-bullying efforts in schools push gay agenda

As kids head back to school, conservative Christian media ministry Focus on the Family perceives a bully on the playground: national gay-advocacy groups.

School officials allow these outside groups to introduce policies, curriculum and library books under the guise of diversity, safety or bullying-prevention initiatives, said Focus on the Family education expert Candi Cushman.

"We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled," Cushman said.

Public schools increasingly convey that homosexuality is normal and should be accepted, Cushman said, while opposing viewpoints by conservative Christians are portrayed as bigotry.

While the article goes on to say that Focus on the Family officially "supports bullying prevention," the message is pretty clear: The leadership of the Religious Right believes that kids should have the right to threaten, intimidate, physically harm and/or engage in all the other aspects of bullying - as long as that bullying is motivated by a hatred of LGBT individuals. Indeed, these leaders believe that stopping such bullying against LGBT individuals is a form of persecution - in their words, the anti-bullying efforts "belittle" Christians by daring to "portray" violence against LGBT individuals "as bigotry."

The assumptions in this are truly grotesque. First and foremost, we are to assume that it isn't bigotry to want to commit - or, perhaps even to actually commit - such violence against an individual specifically because of their sexual orientation. The further assumption is that to claim it is bigotry is to actually expose oneself as the real bigot - in this case, against Christians. That consequently means we are to assume it is the inalienable right of citizenship to bully people whose sexual orientation we don't like. The Religious Right would have us accept these assumptions without question - as if they are entirely self-evident.

The truth, of course, is that they are anything but.  

David Sirota :: A New Low: Religious Right Launches Public Campaign to Defend School Bullying Against LGBT Kids
Nondiscrimination should mean nondiscrimination. Preventing bullying should mean preventing bullying - whether or not the bullying is motivated by a hatred for LGBT individuals. And bigotry is bigotry - whether it's directed at people because of race, gender or sexual orientation.

Why is this such a serious issue when it comes specifically to the issue of school bullying? Because schools are one of the venues where bigoted persecution against LGBT individuals is most pronounced.

Today, about one in three American kids is involved in bullying. Studies have shown that kids who identify as gay or lesbian are up to three times more likely to get bullied than other kids - and about one in four of those gay/lesbian kids report being physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation.

The good news is that there are lawmakers like Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) who aren't being cowed by the Religious Right and who are taking the issue seriously by calling for some real reforms. "Right now we have laws that prohibit bullying based on pretty much everything, but not on gender identity and gay and lesbian kids," he said at a recent hearing in which he criticized that discrepancy.

But if you listen to the Religious Right, that discrepancy is AOK - and to call for an end to it is "bigotry" and "belittling" of Christians.

What we are left with, then, is a good example that illustrates how extreme these fundamentalist forces are. In effectively arguing that it should be the right of a child to inflict violence on another child because of that child's sexual orientation, the Religious Right is showing that it sees "equality," "nondiscrimination" and even "equal protection under the law" as principles that should protect only those demographics that Religious Right theocrats deems worthy of such freedoms.

Regardless of which particular political party you belong to, that kind of extremism should disgust anyone who purports to oppose bigotry and claims to take basic constitutional ideals seriously.

Chart of the Day: Housing Prices Since WWII


slideshow: A photographic tally of what America is really leaving behind in Iraq.


Ground Zero's Slave Graves


@bp_america Found: BP's Missing Oil


Remember when the media, and then the government, announced that all the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill was gone, and then we all rejoiced because the troubles of those sad weathered Cajun dudes Anderson Cooper kept confronting us with were finally over, and then Pegasus came to my house and asked me if I wanted to make out and made me a batch of hummus that was too refreshing and light yet robust to be believed

Well, some cleanup workers in Pensacola, Florida—which is not anywhere near as wrecked as any of the shores in Louisiana—are determined to ruin everyone's fairy-tale ending by talking about how they picked up 4,000 pounds of oil the other night (h/t @LibrlSandlapper). Nevertheless, their crews are being massively scaled down, which should definitely take care of this sort of thing being reported in the future.

Big cleanup cutbacks have also happened in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Sounds like the crisis there is over! Although Drew Wheelan of the American Birding Association sent me these pictures he's taken there over the last 10 days. What a jerk.

Oil all over the beach:













Oil under the water:




















Oil in the shoals:

Oil beneath "clean" sand:



















Stay tuned for more photos like that: This morning a contractor told me BP has informed cleanup supervisors that a 200-foot-by-2-mile swath of oil is going to make landfall on Grand Isle in the next couple of days.

Sticking a Happy Face on Katrina


Why is Obama Siding With Polluters?

The administration backs the country's biggest sources of planet-warming gases in a major court case. Enviros are livid.


12 Most Toxic Fish (For Humans and the Planet)


US soldiers punished for not attending Christian rock concert


The US army is investigating accusations by soldiers that a commanding officer banished them to their barracks when they refused to attend a Christian rock concert at Fort Eustis, Virginia in May of this year.

Army spokesperson Colonel Thomas Collins told the Associated Press that the allegations against the officer, if true, would be contrary to Army policy. They also represent a clear violation of the separation of church and state and serve as the latest evidence of the impunity with which Christian fundamentalism is supplanting constitutional governance of the American military.

The first report of the concert and punishment of those who did not attend came from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's (MRFF) web site. The group said multiple soldiers contacted them complaining about the incident, including those who suffered punishment for refusing to attend the concert. Mikey Weinstein, president of the MRFF, told the AP that Christian-themed events were "ubiquitous" in the military.

The concert was one of the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts," and featured the band Barlow Girl. According to the band's web site, BarlowGirl is "tender-hearted, beautiful young women [they are three sisters] who aren't afraid to take an aggressive, almost warrior-like stance when it comes to spreading the gospel and serving God."

Major General William E. Chambers, a self-described born again Christian, created the Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concert series at Fort Eustis when he was the commanding general there. MRFF reports that the Department of Defense has spent at least $300,000 on Christian musical acts for the series.

In letters to MRFF, punished soldiers described the extent to which superiors at Fort Eustis pressured them to attend the concert:

"[W]e were informed that instead of being dismissed for the day, the entire company (about 250 soldiers) would march as a whole to the event. Not only that, but to make sure that everyone is present we were prohibited from going back to the barracks (to eliminate the off chance that some might 'hide' in their rooms and not come back down) … A number of soldiers were disappointed and restless. Several of us were of different faith or belief .…

"We were marched back to the company area. To our dismay there was still no sign of us having a choice. We started marching to the theater. At that point two Muslim soldiers fell out of formation on their own….

"Those of us that chose not to attend (about 80, or a little less than half) were marched back to the company area. At that point the NCO issued us a punishment." Soldiers were locked in their barracks, and were denied use of phones, media, and books. Violators were threatened with further punishment.

National Guard Private Anthony Smith was one soldier at Fort Eustis reprimanded for refusing to attend the concert. "My whole issue was I don't need to be preached at," Smith told the AP. "That's not what I signed up for." Smith also contacted the MRFF about the incident.

Smith told that he and 20 other soldiers resolved to complain to the barracks' Equal Opportunity (EO) office, which is charged with ensuring fair treatment to personnel in terms of race, gender, religion, and other characteristics. EO officials discouraged him and his colleagues from filing a complaint, warning that such actions would create a "paper trail" and a "timeline." Gradually, all but Smith and one other soldier dropped their complaints.

Ten days after the concert and punishment, Smith wrote a letter expressing his deep concern to superior officers, but never delivered it. He later provided it to The portion quoted below is notable for its defense of the constitutional principles reviled by Christian fundamentalist officers such as Gen. William Chambers:

"On May 13 the [non-commissioned officers] at Ft Eustis issued us a directive (equivalent to a law which we must obey) that we march towards a religious destination. In my mind that was an unlawful directive. Not only that but it was undermining the fundamental motive of me being in the United States altogether. I felt betrayed that in this instance the intent of the constitution seemed present only on paper but not in practice, that whoever is in charge might be turning to the oppressor the founding fathers were escaping from ... "

The reprisals against Smith and others, as well as the very existence of the Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts are the latest exposures of a broader process of Christian fundamentalist indoctrination of military personnel by the highest ranking officials, promoted and funded through the Pentagon itself. The evangelization of the military is deeply antidemocratic, producing a layer of officers and soldiers who can be trusted to carry out the brutalities of imperialism abroad and violate constitutional rights at home.

Concerning the Pentagon's investigation of the reprisals, one can be fairly sure a whitewash is forthcoming. This is precisely what happened in the Air Force's report on rampant Christian fundamentalist bigotry at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in 2005.

The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and its highest teachers and administrators were implicated in condoning and promoting evangelical Christian views in separate reports by Yale Divinity School and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Instances in the reports included an academy-wide email from the commanding officer in 2003 calling attention to the national day of prayer, the promotion of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ in February 2004 and the football coach's hanging of a "Team Jesus" banner in the locker room.

The resulting investigation did not find a climate of "overt religious discrimination."

Nor did any section of the ruling elite, Republican or Democratic, seriously oppose these brazenly unconstitutional efforts to evangelize the officer corps and soldiery.

The revelations from Fort Eustis reveal that five years later, the push to convert the US military into an avowedly right-wing Christian force, has continued.