1.30.2010

Guest Blogger Jason Leopold: Justice Department Clears Torture Memo Authors John Yoo, Jay Bybee of Misconduct

This is Jason Leopold's latest piece on t r u t h o u t about the torture memo authors John Yoo and Jay Bybee being cleared of misconduct. I know. It's a shocker. This piece was originally posted on Friday 29 January 2010:

Justice Department Clears Torture Memo Authors John Yoo, Jay Bybee of Misconduct

by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report

A long-awaited Department of Justice watchdog report that probed whether John Yoo and his former boss Jay Bybee violated professional standards when they provided the Bush White House with legal advice on torture has cleared both men of misconduct, according to Newsweek, citing unnamed sources who have seen the document.

An earlier version of the report, prepared by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and completed in December 2008, actually concluded that Yoo, a Berkeley law professor, and Bybee, now a federal appeals court judge on the 9th Circuit, violated professional standards when they drafted an August 2002 legal opinion that authorized CIA officers to use brutal methods when interrogating suspected terrorist detainees.

But as I reported last April, those previous conclusions were watered down after OPR received responses on the report's conclusions from Yoo and Bybee, who both worked in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC):

Legal sources familiar with the internal debate about the draft report say OPR is in the process of "watering"- down the criticism of legal opinions by [OLC] lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee in 2002 and 2003 and by [OLC acting head Steven Bradbury], who in 2005 reinstated some of the Yoo-Bybee opinions after they had been withdrawn by Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith when he headed the OLC in 2003 and 2004.

David Margolis, the 34-year career prosecutor at the DOJ charged with reviewing the final version of the report, was responsible for "softening" OPR's earlier finding of professional misconduct and instead determined that Yoo and Bybee "showed poor judgment" when they drafted an August 1, 2002 legal opinion authorizing the CIA to employ methods such as waterboarding against detainees during interrogations, according to Newsweek.

That means neither Yoo nor Bybee will be referred to state bar associations where they could have faced disciplinary action since poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct, according to OPR's post-investigation procedures. For Bybee, such a referral could have also led to an impeachment inquiry before Congress.

Yoo and Bybee, however, are still under scrutiny. Legal advocacy groups have filed complaints against them, and others who worked on the Bush administration's so-called "enhanced interrogation" program, with state bar associations in hopes that their law licenses will be revoked.

When the report is released and if its conclusions match Newsweek's story, particularly the key finding that Yoo and Bybee did not violate professional standards and won't face disciplinary action, the Obama administration will face a swift backlash from those who say the president and his appointees have gone above and beyond to cover-up war crimes committed by the Bush administration.

Newsweek noted that the OPR report is "sharply critical" of the "legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding" and other methods of torture CIA interrogators used against detainees after 9/11 and that only, a critical conclusion that raises questions about the Obama Justice Department's reasons for not holding Yoo and Bybee accountable.

Moreover, the report, which is still under a declassification review "will provide many new details about how waterboarding was adopted and the role that top White House officials played in the process, say two sources who have read the report but asked for anonymity to describe a sensitive document," Newsweek reported.

Two of the most controversial sections of the 2002 memo—including one contending that the president, as commander in chief, can override a federal law banning torture—were not in the original draft of the memo, say the sources. But when Michael Chertoff, then-chief of Justice’s criminal division, refused the CIA’s request for a blanket pledge not to prosecute its officers for torture, Yoo met at the White House with David Addington, Dick Cheney’s chief counsel, and then–White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. After that, Yoo inserted a section about the commander in chief’s wartime powers and another saying that agency officers accused of torturing Qaeda suspects could claim they were acting in “self-defense” to prevent future terror attacks, the sources say. Both legal claims have long since been rejected by Justice officials as overly broad and unsupported by legal precedent.

The OPR probe was launched in mid-2004 after a meeting in which Jack Goldsmith, then head of the OLC, got into a tense debate with White House lawyers, including Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal counsel David Addington.

That back-and-forth over the OLC’s judgments regarding President Bush’s powers rest at the heart of the Bush administration’s defense of its “enhanced interrogation” techniques that have been widely denounced as torture, such as waterboarding which subjects a person to the panicked gag reflex of drowning and which was used on at least three “high-value” detainees.

Bush officials insist that they were acting under the guidance of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which advises Presidents on the scope of their constitutional powers. For the OPR report to conclude that Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury violated their professional duties as lawyers and, in effect, gave Bush pre-cooked legal opinions to do what he already wanted to do would have shattered that line of defense.

Goldsmith ended up withdrawing some of the Yoo-Bybee opinions because he felt they were “legally flawed” and “sloppily written.”

He resigned shortly thereafter and was subsequently replaced on an acting basis by Bradbury, who restored some of the controversial Yoo-Bybee opinions in May 2005, again granting George W. Bush broad powers to inflict painful interrogations on detainees.

Last March, the Justice Department revealed that the OPR report underwent revisions after the initial draft was rejected by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his deputy, Mark Filip, both of who insisted that Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury be given an opportunity to respond to its conclusions.

“Attorney General Mukasey, Deputy Attorney General Filip and OLC provided comments [after the first draft was completed in December], and OPR revised the draft report to the extent it deemed appropriate based on those comments,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Faith Burton in a March 25, 2009 letter to Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Burton also said at the time that the final OPR would likely undergo more revisions based on responses from the former OLC lawyers. Several months later, Durbin and Whitehouse received a letter from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich who disclosed the post investigation process.

Weich’s letter noted that if the appeals filed by Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury resulted in a rejection of OPR’s findings by the "career official" reviewing the document then no such referral would occur.

"Department policy usually requires referral of OPR's misconduct findings to the subject's state bar disciplinary authority, but if the appeal resulted in a rejection of OPR's misconduct findings, then no referral was made," said Weich’s May 4, 2008 letter to Durbin and Whitehouse. "This process afforded former employees roughly the same opportunity to contest OPR's findings that current employees were afforded through the disciplinary process."

Weich added that the initial draft of the report was also shared with the CIA for a "classification review," and the agency, having reviewed the findings, "requested an opportunity to provide substantive comment on the report."

Durbin and Whitehouse, in a statement last May, said they "will be interested in the scope of the ‘substantive comment' the CIA is providing, and the reasons why an outside agency would have such comment on an internal disciplinary matter."

As Truthout previously reported, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before Congress last year that the OPR report was expected be released by end of November. In interviews over the past month, two senior aides to Democratic lawmakers claimed the report was being held up in lieu of the passage of a health care bill.

But Tracy Schmaler, a DOJ spokeswoman, disputed the allegations.

"That is absolutely untrue," Schmaler said. "One thing has nothing to do with another."

Schmaler said the review "process is ongoing and we hope to have [the report] complete and released soon."

Two DOJ officials familiar with details of the report said a delay in releasing it in the time frame Holder had promised was due, in part, to the fact that Margolis was hospitalized in December for pneumonia.

In his testimony last November, Holder said the report had not been released sooner due to "the amount of time we gave to the lawyers who represented the people who are the subject of the report an opportunity to respond. And then [OPR] had to react to those responses."

(Photo: John Yoo; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t))

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Jason Leopold is the deputy managing editor of t r u t h o u t.org and is a co-founder of The Public Record.

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Liz Cheney Wants You To Be Afraid

If you don't know about this already, Liz little Dick Cheney and her Right-Wing, neo-con, nut job group, "Keep America Safe," have been trying to scare the shit out of people with horribly cliched ads filled with ominous music (and lies of course).

Well, some are now fighting ominous fire with humorous fire. Human Rights First Org:

Human Rights First and our allies are fighting back. Our "Close Guantanamo" campaign aims to set the record straight and encourage further progress in national security policies including Guantanamo but also questions of torture and prisoner abuse that are also under attack.



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Mark Fiore: Aid Quake

The latest from Mark Fiore looks at Haiti disaster relief, warts and all:

See the latest in Haiti disaster relief and who has been saying what. An inside look at the gaffes and political stumbles along the way. Oh, and give some damn money to help people!



see more from Mark at http://www.MarkFiore.com
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Sen. Orrin Hatch is a Lying, Hypocritical Piece of Shit

Oops, did I say that out loud?

Sen. Orrin Hatch, the queen of filibuster abuse, is threatening "war" against Dems if they choose to use "reconciliation" to bypass republican's obstructionism (via Greg Sargent):

GOP Senator Orrin Hatch is now warning that if Dems pass health care reform via reconciliation it will lead to permanent “war” between the two parties — even though he voted for more than a half dozen GOP bills passed through the process known as…reconciliation.
All that is quite ironic considering how often Hatch voted for major legislation using "reconciliation," as Greg shows:

The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, which passed through reconciliation;

The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, which passed through reconciliation;

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which passed through reconciliation;

The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, which passed through reconciliation;

The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, which passed through reconciliation;

The Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000, which passed through reconciliation; and

The Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999, which passed through reconciliation.

Sen. Orrin Hatch declared war on Dems long ago by routinely abusing the 60 vote threshold -- technical a filibuster but without all the hard work of actually filibustering, and now he's threatening Dem who have had enough and are going to use the perfectly legitimate process of reconciliation to bypass his obstructionism?

Go fuck yourself you
lying, hypocritical piece of shit.

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CBS' Blatant Double Standard (UPDATED)

CBS is allowing the hate group, Focus On The Family, air a "Pro-Life" ad during Super Bowl featuring Football player Tim Tebo & his mother, and one that might actually be based upon a lie, yet it it refusing to let a humorous, albeit low production value gay dating site ad, be shown.

I'd say this is stunning, but nothing surprises me anymore at this point when it comes to the double standard in out society.

Andrew Sullivan points out the sheer hypocrisy of it all:

...In the past, issues ads were deemed non-kosher - but if it's a Christianist and virulently anti-gay organization behind the ad, it appears to be ok. But if it's a humorous commercial ad for a gay dating service, CBS says no. Here's the boilerplate [...]

There is one reason this ad was denied. Its gay content was deemed offensive to football fans, while an anti-abortion issues ad wasn't. That's called blatant discrimination and if it doesn't lead to aggressive protests I'll be very surprised.

UPDATE I:

Gladd calls on CBS to "Come Clean" on "Homophobic Double Standard" (via Towel Road):
Without mentioning Mancrunch.com specifically, GLAAD yesterday called on CBS to explain why it chose to "exclude an ad with gay content" from Super Bowl programming.

Tebow Said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios: “CBS has a problem when they do something like this at the same time as they allow an anti-gay group like Focus on the Family to place ads during the Super Bowl. This network should come clean to the public about what’s going on because this seems to be a homophobic double standard.”

read more...


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Mark Fiore: Whose Marriage Is It?

The constitutionality of California's Prop 8 is on trial right now. Here's Mark Fiore, who's new game show, Gay or Straight (which is sure to be a hit), delves into the utter hypocrisy of it all.

See the latest in marriage and court battles! Play the marriage game show and guess what is "gay" and what is "straight." Prizes, thrills and chills! A Mark Fiore political animation.



See more from Mark at http://www.MarkFiore.com

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Weekly Presidential Youtube-Radio Address: Deficits, Jobs & Obstructionist Rethugs

In this week's address, President Obama discuss how he plans to rein in budget deficits, the economy and getting American's back to work and obstructionists Republican who sponsor bills only to vote against the in the end (PayGo).

From the White House website:

The President pledges to rein the deficit, citing three specific steps to this end. He praises the Senate for restoring the pay-as-you-go law, discusses his proposal for a freeze in discretionary spending, and calls for a bipartisan Fiscal Commission to hammer out further concrete deficit reduction proposals.



Read the Transcript
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1.29.2010

Prez Hands House Rethugs Their Asses at GOP Retreat (UPDATED)

If you have 90 minutes, you must watch this stunning back and forth between President Obama and House Republicans at the House Republicans' retreat in Baltimore. Let's just say GOP leadership is regretting agreeing to Obama's request for cameras/live coverage.

If you can't watch it now, C-SPAN will be re-airing it again tonight at 8PM (via C-SPAN):

President Obama spoke to House Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore. In his remarks he said he welcomed disagreement and debate, but called for genuine bipartisanship and asked for constructive ideas in confronting the nation's problems. Following his remarks he openly and frankly answered pointed questions from the Republican legislators. Topics ranged from health care, to energy policy, to taxes and the economy.

This was also broadcast, in full, on CNN & MSNBC. FOX showed it too, well most of it anyway, When it became clear the President Obama was dismantling GOP talking points, talking point by talking point, they couldn't take it anymore and cut away.

I'm sure they will do a full and through reporting of the event over the next 24 hrs. LOL.

UPDATE (via DKTV):
Luke Russert: GOP aides concede they should not have let Obama Q&A session be televised


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Guest Blogger Shoq: Team Progressive: Shaky But Still Able To Win

Guest Blogger @Shoq wants us to redirect our criticisms of Obama at the real source of our ire, the conservatives who actually got us into this mess. While I agree with Shoq's basic premise (and James Carville's), it kind of hard to do that when Democrats have squandered the best majorities in Congress we had won for them in over two generations (originally posted on January 27th, 2010 at Shoq Value):



Shoq Value


Preface: I really prefer micro-blogging about short, concise, action-oriented bits of news and information. I am not a journalist, and have never considered myself much of a writer, so forgive me as I stumble through a screed that is far longer and more ambitious than what I first intended, or what I normally offer on this weird and often eclectic blog.

"That said…"

Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn't filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear. Naomi Klein

James Carville & Stan Greenberg's research/strategy firm @DemocracyCorps has finally joined twitter. Their second tweet was a strategy memo, released in advance of the State of the Union. I've never been a big Carville fan (huge understatement), and I have a lot of issues with his centrist-eye view on nearly everything. But this memo is spot-on when it comes to providing a quick-and-dirty analysis of a few things, and does an excellent job of taking the Teaparty-temperature of the nation was a whole.

While the TeaGOP populists may be gullible pawns, there are a shit load of them, and they have their very own blogosphere, financing, and 24 hour news channel. They also have the wind of a million corporations at their backs; commercial interests eager to shed even more regulation and taxes than they already have after decades of a subservient White House and Congress.

Meanwhile, the left blogosphere has become very practiced at snarking the right, and often seems damned competent (and amusing) doing it. But real-world politics and tactics are a lot harder than writing blog posts, and the insights of the political professionals in the field, however blemished they are in spots, should not be undervalued, nor cast aside in favor of the views of so many cynics who value very few opinions but their own.

Before I continue, take a moment to jump down the page and peek at item #5 in the central list from Carville's memo. Obama's new "Spending Freeze" would seem to fall within its scope. All we have heard in the past 48 hours, from the left and the right, is what a disaster this policy is, and almost no one is discussing the thesis that the White House knows that bond markets need reassurance that their concerns about the deficit and spending are being heeded. With the freeze, the logic goes, this was a way to do that without really cutting all that much, while leaving wiggle room for emergency spending when needed, while still giving Obama a kind of proxy line item veto for rightfully striking down some absurdly expensive pork. That would be a huge hat tip toward the all too critical independents we need to hang on to the feeble threads of power that we do have.

It may be a wrong strategy, and it may be right. But the knee jerk evisceration of the Freeze was typical of what has happened with nearly every proposed or enacted policy or strategy for months, and it's tearing the left, the administration, and the country apart. And it's also making the right downright giddy. It's a suicidal progressive acting-out (not a strategy), and it's just not helpful, prudent, or necessary.

And now consider that the spending freeze bullet point is but one of seven other prescriptions in Carville's memo. All are evidence of the fact that we have many hurdles to get over while trying to govern this wobbling and woeful nation. And anyone that thinks only their issue is the only important one should think long and hard about the complexities inherent in just implementing even this very short list of partial solutions. There's a myriad of confounding intricacies lying behind each and every one of them. We're not going to fix them if the administration has to stop every few hours to listen to the screaming demands from the green, pro-choice, anti-war, LGBT, education, labor, and other stakeholder constituencies, all demanding that the administration deliver for them as if there were no opposition from the people with all the money, media, and power. It's just not going to happen. Not without having a REAL super majority (rather than one populated by conservadems), and not without some kind of meaningful process reform in how we do things.

Something has to change, and in my view, it's the people on the left who must start that change ball rolling. They have the power to make Obama's rhetoric a reality, if they stop pretending they have a mandate, and start acting like an oppressed minority fighting for their very survival. Because that's exactly what we are. Democrats and liberals elected Obama to lead us through this thicket of insanity, largely created by Republicans over the past 30 years. He was never my first choice, and he's far from perfect, but our system rewards determination and political craft. He is where he is, and he got there when others failed, and we all helped him get this damned coaching gig. Yet, despite lots of post-election cheer leading and breast beating, the fact is, the coach got saddled with a team of Bad News Bears: a shaky, underfunded, under institutionalized, rag-tag bunch of progressive enthusiasts wearing scrappy uniforms and fielding second-hand equipment held together with duct tape and baling wire.

It's a team that only turns out to vote every 4 years, and almost only when something novel and unique gets them worked up into a highly motivated frenzy–as Obama did. But without that rare impetus, they mostly sit on their asses and grouse about how an increasingly right wing government and corporate sector treats them like customers at Wal-mart; like cattle that gets herded through miles of aisles of Chinese goods, for which their only response is expected to be a melodious "ka-ching" at the cash register.

We're victims of a mindless and ruinous brand of capitalism run amok, and expecting Obama to fix that problem with a wave of his hand is the epitome of historical ignorance and wishful thinking. And it completely misses the fact that's he's up against the Heritage Foundation, Cato, US Chamber, Citizen's United, Fox News, Koch Industries, Richard Scaife, AFP, and THOUSANDS of other conservative think tanks, industry associations, lobbyists, and fake citizen Astroturf front groups that are aggressively selling a simplistic, populist message to the masses, just so that they can use the zealous fraternity to help the concorporatives regain power and screw us all over again. It will just be deeper, longer, and harder than ever before. Remember, George Bush was never the brightest bulb in the room. We may not be so lucky next time.

It's time we wake up and admit that Barack Obama is just the coach of a rickety team fighting impossible odds, and we all have a pretty slim chance of surviving at all. Obama is the only one with any real power to help us win even a few modest scrimmages, if not a whole game. But if all the players on the left second guess every decision, policy, and nuance, relentlessly attacking every crack and crevice they can find in them, making it impossible for Obama to keep his people focused on their tasks without being diverted by every hysterical crisis the right wing throws up, and the left overreacts to, there will be very few people or ideas left on the playing field. And our opponents will fill that vacuum with their legions of willing bodies, armed with their contrived and jingoistic blather, imposing their bulk and screaming fan base to help spread it far and wide, thus running all over our national field, and us. It doesn't matter that they are screwing their own lives and those of their children. They are not the sharpest or best informed people (duh), and they will never, EVER get that part. It's pointless to waste energy trying to make them get it. We have to focus the fight on battles we can win.

If Liberals can admit that what lay ahead is hard, and only patient, strategic, and long term thinking will serve us, and avoid the temptation of taking casual and reckless potshots at this administration because it's an easy scapegoat for what has soiled Democrats for decades, we might start to move forward. We can work as a real team, chipping away at our problems with short, well-timed strikes that give us incremental results, gains the public's trust, silences the noisemakers on the right, and let's us move past all these real–and trumped up–crises of the moment, and get on with the business of building a brighter future for all of us.

I have never been a cheer leader, nor a sycophant, and I am loathe to march in lockstep with any man, woman, or ideology. So I am not suggesting we rubber stamp Obama administration policies. But I am suggesting we calm down and start playing smart, arguing them aggressively, but respectfully, and without this daily discrediting of our own coach–and by implication, our woeful team–making it all too easy for the right wing to convince most independents that we don't have the direction or discipline to earn a spot on the bench, let alone the playing field.

I am not a fortune teller, but I have spent many years watching the machinery of the right wing, and their steady, relentless march toward achieving near total influence over our industry, media, politics, educational system, laws, process and people. If we don't stop them in the next few years, the Citizen's United decision proves they will move to close-up any holes in an already minimal security blanket, and this fragile thing called the American experiment will just die.

You may not like Obama or many of these Democrats. Admittedly, there's not a whole lot to like right now. But we can scratch and claw our way past them, and these pugnacious Republicans if we keep our eye on the long-term prize. That prize is nothing more or less than saving this nation. But if you think this tired and mopey "I voted for change" refrain entitles you to win something, just because you feel your vote already won you something, then you are not going to be part of any solutions. But you will certainly be part of the problem.

Carville's Memo

Our analysis of these surveys suggests a number of things that Democrats can do to move America to a different place:

  1. Pass health care and explain it anew. While the route to passing health care is difficult, passage would signal a break of the gridlock in Washington. Health care reform has become a metaphor for ineffective government and gridlocked Washington politics, while passage provides an opportunity to explain its economic benefits.
  2. Get the spotlight off of Congress. Shift the focus away from Congress, the sausage-making of legislating and the polarization of Washington.
  3. Turn to jobs and focus relentlessly on bringing the economy and small business back. Long-term unemployment and its effects require a Democratic president and Congress who understand this public priority.
  4. Act on reforming Wall Street. Pass Wall Street reforms, including CEO bonuses and bank fees, to reclaim the cost of the bailout. The NPR poll shows Democrats much more in touch with the country here.
  5. Take visible action to cut spending and reduce the deficit.
  6. Get the economic narrative right. As the economy recovers painfully slowly, get the narrative right to move voters from their current protest vote to a place where voters don’t want to put the recovery at risk by voting Republicans into office who want to go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.
  7. Sharply define the Republicans and the real choice in the election.
Read the entire memo.
read more great pieces by Shoq...
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1.28.2010

Did the GOP Play a Role in the O'Keefe-Landrieu Scandal?

On tonight’s Countdown, Keith Olbermann is joined by the Nation’s Chris Hayes to discuss the latest in ACORN “Pimp” James O’Keefe’s arrest for telephone tampering in Senator Mary Landrieu’s office:

Did the GOP have a role in the Landrieu scandal?



Keith is then joined by Editor and Publisher’s Greg Mitchell, to discuss the line between “journalist and political provocateur”:

Stretching the definition of journalism


And finally, Keith gives a quick comment on the apparent defense being bandied about by the attorney for James O’Keefe:

O’Keefe uses frat-boy prank defense


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Colbert: Fox News Puts James O'Keefe Into Context

Stephen Colbert got his two cents in on the arrest of ACORN "Pimp" James O'Keefe as well (through the prism of Fox News course):

Fox News Puts James O'Keefe Into Context


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Jon Stewart on ACORN "Pimp" James O'Keefe: "This guy's getting all his investigative journalism ideas from porn movie plots."

Jon Stewart on ACORN "pimp" James O'Keefe's arrest after he and his 3 co-defendants posed as a phone company employees in an attempt to soy on/embarrass Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana:

"This guy's getting all his investigative journalism ideas from porn movie plots."
This Is Spiteful Tap

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Sen. Judd Gregg Unhinged

Senator Judd Gregg had a hissy fit today on MSNBC after Contessa Brewer & CNBC's Melissa Francis asked for specific examples of the kind of programs he would cut from the budget since he was on bashing Obama and making such a big deal about deficits.

He obviously didn't like being asked to name any specific cuts as the hosts understood it's much easier to say you want to cut spending -- in general -- then to actually name cuts to popular programs (via Crooks & Liars).



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Andrew Breitbart Unhinged

David Shuster interviewed a belligerent Andrew Breitbart on MSNBC earlier today. Breitbart came on to defend his employee and ACORN "pimp" James O’Keefe, and his co-defendants, after their arrest at Senator Mary Landrieu’s office in New Orleans two days ago.

I can safely say that unhinged is an apt word to describe Andrew's performance.



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Supreme Court Ruling on Corp. Donations Taken To Ultimate Conclusion: Murray Hill Inc. is Running for Congress

This is simply brilliant. Murray Hill Incorporated has decided to take the Supreme Court decision to allow unfettered corporate donations into our elections to it's ultimate conclusion: It, the Corporation, it's running for Congress:

Until now, corporations only influenced politics with high-paid lobbyists and backroom deals. But today, thanks to an enlightened supreme court, corporations now have all the rights the founding fathers meant for us. That's why Murray Hill Incorporated is taking democracy's next step-- running for Congress.


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All You Need To Know About MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour." (UPDATED)

Everything that is wrong with whom MSNBC chooses to give airtime too, can be encapsulated in this moment, starring Hardball's Chris Matthews, after the State of the Union.

Via Think Progress:

MATTHEWS: You know, I was trying to think about who he was tonight, and it’s interesting: He is post-racial by all appearances. You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country and passed so much history in just a year or two. I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about.

I was watching, I said, Wait a minute, he’s an African-American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is President of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don’t think terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard — a very subtle fact. It’s so hard to even talk about; maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but I am.



read more....
Between Matthews and MSNBC's regular, nearly hourly racist, xenophobic, homophobic, crazy guest, Uncle Pat Buchanan, it's almost impossible to turn on MSNBC at any given point in the day (except for specific shows that refuse to have the asshole on).

UPDATE:

Just saw that he clarified his statement.
"I was trying to think about who he was tonight. It's interesting: he is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he's gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and passed so much history, in just a year or two. I mean, it's something we don't even think about. I was watching, I said, wait a minute, he's an African-American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is president of the United States and we've completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don't think in terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard. A very subtle fact. It's so hard to talk about. Maybe I shouldn't talk about it, but I am. I thought it was profound that way."
Whatever. No clarification is necessary. Matthews is a putz, and I COMPLETELY disagree with TPM's Josh Marshall.

There was absolutely nothing to admire about Matthew or his comment. People like Chris should keep their mouths shut about racial issue because they're incapable of talking about it without their ignorance shining through.

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1.26.2010

Wow. Just Realized I Haven't Blogged in Two Days....

No desire. Politicians suck.


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1.24.2010

Angry Films: "Coakley Makes Failblogs Look Like Success"

The boys of Angry Films give their take on the MA-Senate debacle (which probably looks & feels a lot like yours):

This past Tuesday the polls opened and closed in Massachusetts with an odd black cloud surrounding the commonwealth. The cloud was brown... it was a Scott Brown cloud, instead of rain though it just brought a truck.



Website: http://angryfilmsproductions.com
Facebook: http://angryfilmsproductions.com/fb
Twitter: http://twitter.com/angryfilms
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Guest Blogger GottaLaff: "Why I cried"

Yeah, what she said...

Today, Guest blogger, GottaLaff vents about what seems to be an endless stream of horrible news for Democrats, our country and the world (originally posted on Sunday, January 24, 2010).

Why I cried

I don't know if it was due to feeling weakened and vulnerable from a week of having the flu, or a legitimate emotional response to what has occurred over the past few weeks, but at 7:30 this morning, I broke down in tears. I sobbed. It was way too early in the day to feel much of anything, let alone an avalanche of despair. But I did.

Or was I mourning? With each L.A. Times page that I turned, my eyes filled with more tears, no matter how hard I tried to talk myself out of them.

With each report on the Supreme Court's decision, with every sentence about the current Prop 8 court battle, with every photo of the devastation of Haiti, with every twist and turn in the health care "debate", with each postmortem of the uncanny Coakley loss to a former centerfold whose policy positions frustrate me no end, with every military death, with each inept, biased piece of news reporting, I found myself succumbing to tears that I tried like crazy to resist.

My sons are facing a world of things I can't even fathom. Where I had hopes, I now have anxiety. Where I thought the world would be safer for them, I see growing dangers that I thought would dissipate over time, not intensify. Health care hurdles, hatred, financial roadblocks, discrimination, wars, political obstruction, you name it.

Who do they turn to for justice? How can fairness be achieved? What happened to judicial objectivity? Who can provide that for them? Certainly not the highest court in the land.

Five people have changed my kids' futures. Five people have made voting seem nearly meaningless. Five people who should be standing up for fairness and democracy have instead slammed a whole lot of doors in my children's faces. And mine. And yours.

And so I cried. I cried because I, along with so many of you, continue to fight, and continue to lose to irrationality. We do what we can, both individually and collectively. Speaking for myself, I donate, I tweet, I post, I Facebook, I try to get a message out, I vote, I scream, I explain, I quip. But it hasn't been enough.

I feel smaller than I've ever felt, more insignificant even though I'm reaching thousands on a daily basis. I fight as hard as I can, and give as much as I can give, but this latest body blow from SCOTUS really hurt.

And so today I finally broke down and cried.

However...

As impotent as I feel, and I suspect many of you are feeling the same way, I have no intention of giving up. None.

I'll continue to donate, tweet, post, Facebook, vote, scream, explain, quip. But just like you, I need to vent sometimes in order to unload the negative and start all over again with the positive.

I hope you understand, I'm not whining. I'm not surrendering. I'm not walking away. I haven't lost my resolve. I'm simply sharing the overwhelming rush of emotion I had this morning, because if I didn't, my head would explode.

And having done that, it's time to start over, breathe, and do everything in my power to make the world better for my kids, myself, and anyone who wants to join me.

Read many more great posts by GottaLaff at The Political Carnival.
I'm paralyzed right now with rage, fear, and a feeling that we're truly defeated no matter what we do. Unlike Laffy, I'm on verge of giving up.

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Stephen Colbert Reviews President Obama's First Year in Office

On Thursday's edition of the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert reviewed President Obama's first year in office and the differing views conservative media critics have with let's say, reality:

The Word - Two-Faced

Either there are two completely different Barack Obamas, or conservative pundits are attacking him no matter what he does.



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Jon Stewart v Keith Olbermann

My opinion won’t surprise anyone… I take Keith’s side. Not because I don’t actually think Jon Stewart has a point – he’s probably right – but because we need some of our own to fight fire with fire, I don’t mind Keith’s over-the-to-ness every now & then. Besides, every adjective he uses is spot on provable.

On Thursday’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart called out Keith Olbermann for ceding “the high ground and wallows in the swamp of baseless name-calling.”

Special Comment - Keith Olbermann's Name-Calling

Keith Olbermann cedes the high ground and wallows in the swamp of baseless name-calling.


On Friday’s Countdown, Keith Olbermann Responded:
Olbermann to Jon Stewart: Call me

Countdown’s Keith Olbermann responds to Jon Stewart picking apart his Special Comment on Sen.-elect Scott Brown, R-Mass., with an invitation: Play the name-calling game, or invite Olbermann on “The Daily Show.”

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1.23.2010

TheUnitedCorporationsOfAmerica.com

UnitedCorporationsOfAmerica.com & UnitedCorporationsOfAmerica.net were already taken, but I was able to register the domains:
  • TheUnitedCorporationsOfAmerica.com
  • TheUnitedCorporationsOfAmerica.net
  • UnitedCorporationsOfAmerica.us.
If anyone can come up with a spectacular use for them at some point, I would consider DONATING them to the cause (I didn't register them to make a profit).

You can contact me through the email link on my profile page by clicking here.

UPDATE: Just grabbed UnitedStatesInc.net too.

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Weekly Presidential Youtube-Radio Address: Supreme Court Edition

Populism is in vogue again in the Oval Office. Unfortunately, it's probably too late for anything other than great soundbites becuase of this Supreme Court decision.

While this ruling would have come down no matter what, President Obama -- listening to Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geitner & Larry Summers -- wasted an entire year coddling Wall Street and the Banking Industry when he should have been instituting strict new banking regulations, adding prominent strings & conditions to banks that needed bailout money, and re-instituting the Glass-Stengel Act 2.0, and whatever other regulations that were rolled back over the past 20 years by both Democratic & Republican administrations and congresses.

Instead, his delay for over a year all but ruined any chance of getting any real banking reform being signed into law, at all.

That's just one very real, very contemporary example of what this Supreme Court decision will cost due to lack of "populism" during the first year of Obama's presidency.

A "populism" that he rode into office and discarded as soon as he surrounded himself with the very people who helped turn this country into the United Corporations of America.

Via The White House Website:

In this week’s address, President Barack Obama addresses the Supreme Court decision to further empower corporations to use their financial clout to directly influence elections and vows that "as long as I'm your President, I'll never stop fighting to make sure that the most powerful voice in Washington belongs to you."



Read the Transcript

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Covering "Hope For Haiti" Telethon - Everyone Except Fox "News" That Is

Take a look at this list of networks. They all aired the Hope For Haiti Now Global TV Telethon. Except those compassionate conservatives known as Fox "news" (via Crooks & Liars):

Our crack C&L team has checked around the dial and compiled a list of channels participating:

CBS
ABC
NBC
CW
FOX
TNT
Weather Channel
MSNBC
CNBC
CNN
HBO
Showtime
Major League Baseball Network
Style Network
E! Entertainment Network
ReelzChannel
TNT
Comedy Central
Oxygen
Soap Opera channel
Bravo
National Geographic Channel
Sleuth
G4
CMT
TV1
BET
MTV
MTV2
VH1
GMC
FUSE
Current
PBS
It's even streaming live on IMDb, Hulu and YouTube.

read more...
As @dragonflyb said it best on twitter earlier:
Think about that for a minute.

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1.22.2010

Maddow on Supreme Court Decision Allowing Unlimited Corp. $$$ Into Our Elections: "Goliath Wins!"

On last night’s show, Rachel Maddow reports of the Supreme Court’s stunning decision to overturn law preventing corporations from spend money unlimited money on elections. She is joined by Rep. Barney Frank & Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, to discuss the starling decision and what anyone, including the President, can do about it.

Part 1

Can corporations be curbed?

Congressman Barney Frank talks with Rachel Maddow about The Supreme Court giving new powers to corporations to spend money on elections and his views on the future of health reform.


Part 2

Can Obama wrest control from corporations?

Elizabeth Warren, chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, talks with Rachel Maddow about President Obama's effort to prevent banks from becoming "too big to fail" and further defending against corporate excess with a Consumer Protection Agency.


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Balls Beer for Health Care Reform

LOL.

"It takes Balls to get things done, and passing American health care reform is going to take lots of Balls."


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Not More Computer Gremlin, But Still Light Blogging

No desire to blog.

Can't imagine why (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc...)















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1.21.2010

Olbermann Special Comment: "Freedom of speech has been destroyed"

Freedom of speech has been destroyed. Supreme Court’s ruling to end limits on corporate campaign financing, is the opening of Pandora's box and will be the end of our Democracy as we know it.

From tonight's Countdown:

Full Transcript:
Olbermann: U.S. government for sale
With no limits on campaign financing, corporations will take over the government

SPECIAL COMMENT
By Keith Olbermann

Thurs., Jan. 21, 2010


Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on the Supreme Court's ruling today in the case titled "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission."

On the cold morning of Friday, March 6th, 1857, a very old man who was born just eight months and thirteen days after the Declaration of Independence was adopted; a man who was married to the sister of the man who wrote "The Star Spangled Banner;" a man who was enlightened enough to have freed his own slaves and given pensions to the ones who had become too old to work read aloud, in a reed-thin voice, a very long document.

In it, he ruled on a legal case involving a slave, brought by his owner to live in a free state; yet to remain a slave.

The slave sought his freedom, and sued. And looking back over legal precedent, and the Constitution, and the America in which it was created, this judge ruled that no black man could ever be considered an actual citizen of the United States.

"They had for more than a century before been, regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far unfit, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

The case, of course, was Dred Scott. The old man was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States of America, Roger Brooke Tawney. And the outcome, he believed, would be to remove the burning question of the abolition of slavery from the political arena for once and for all.

The outcome, in fact, was the Civil War. No American ever made a single bigger misjudgment. No American ever carried the responsibility for the deaths and suffering of more Americans. No American ever was more quickly vilified. Within four years Chief Justice Tawney's rulings were being ignored in the South and the North.

Within five, President Lincoln at minimum contemplated arresting him. Within seven, he died, in poverty, while still Chief Justice. Within eight, Congress had voted to not place a bust of him alongside those of the other former Chief Justices.

But good news tonight, Roger B. Tawney is off the hook.

Today, the Supreme Court, of Chief Justice John Roberts, in a decision that might actually have more dire implications than "Dred Scott v Sandford," declared that because of the alchemy of its 19th Century predecessors in deciding that corporations had all the rights of people, any restrictions on how these corporate-beings spend their money on political advertising, are unconstitutional.

In short, the first amendment — free speech for persons — which went into affect in 1791, applies to corporations, which were not recognized as the equivalents of persons until 1886. In short, there are now no checks on the ability of corporations or unions or other giant aggregations of power to decide our elections.

None. They can spend all the money they want. And if they can spend all the money they want — sooner, rather than later — they will implant the legislators of their choice in every office from President to head of the Visiting Nurse Service.

And if senators and congressmen and governors and mayors and councilmen and everyone in between are entirely beholden to the corporations for election and re-election to office soon they will erase whatever checks there might still exist to just slow down the ability of corporations to decide the laws.

It is almost literally true that any political science fiction nightmare you can now dream up, no matter whether you are conservative or liberal, it is now legal. Because the people who can make it legal, can now be entirely bought and sold, no actual citizens required in the campaign-fund-raising process.

And the entirely bought and sold politicians, can change any laws. And any legal defense you can structure now, can be undone by the politicians who will be bought and sold into office this November, or two years from now.

And any legal defense which honest politicians can somehow wedge up against them this November, or two years from now, can be undone by the next even larger set of politicians who will be bought and sold into office in 2014, or 2016, or 2018.

Mentioning Lincoln's supposed ruminations about arresting Roger B. Tawney, he didn't say the original of this, but what the hell:

Right now, you can prostitute all of the politicians some of the time, and prostitute some of the politicians all the time, but you cannot prostitute all the politicians all the time. Thanks to Chief Justice Roberts this will change. Unless this mortal blow is somehow undone, within ten years, every politician in this country will be a prostitute.

And now let's contemplate what that perfectly symmetrical, money-driven world might look like. Be prepared, first, for laws criminalizing or at least neutering unions. In today's Court Decision, they are the weaker of the non-human sisters unfettered by the Court. So, like in ancient Rome or medieval England, they will necessarily be strangled by the stronger sibling, the corporations, so they pose no further threat to the Corporations' total control of our political system.

Be prepared, then, for the reduction of taxes for the wealth, and for the corporations, and the elimination of the social safety nets for everybody else, because money spent on the poor means less money left for the corporations.

Be prepared, then, for wars sold as the "new products" which Andy Card once described them as, year-after-year, as if they were new Fox Reality Shows, because Military Industrial Complex Corporations are still corporations. Be prepared, then, for the ban on same-sex marriage, on abortion, on evolution, on separation of church and state. The most politically agitated group of citizens left are the evangelicals, throw them some red meat to feed their holier-than-thou rationalizations, and they won't care what else you do to this corporate nation.

Be prepared, then, for racial and religious profiling, because you've got to blame somebody for all the reductions in domestic spending and civil liberties, just to make sure the agitators against the United Corporate States of America are kept unheard.

Be prepared for those poor dumb manipulated bastards, the Tea Partiers, to have a glorious few years as the front men as the corporations that bankroll them slowly unroll their total control of our political system. And then be prepared to watch them be banished, maybe outlawed, when a few of the brighter ones suddenly realize that the corporations have made them the Judas Goats of American Freedom.

And be prepared, then, for the bank reforms that President Obama has just this day vowed to enable, to be rolled back by his successor purchased by the banks, with the money President Bush gave them his successor, presumably President Palin, because if you need a friendly face of fascism, you might as well get one that can wink, and if you need a tool of whichever large industries buy her first, you might as well get somebody who lives up to that word "tool."

Be prepared for the little changes, too. If there are any small towns left to take-over, Wal-Mart can now soften them up with carpet advertising for their Wal-Mart town council candidates, brought to you by Wal-Mart.

Be prepared for the Richard Mellon Scaifes to drop such inefficiencies as vanity newspapers and simply buy and install their own city governments in the Pittsburghs. Be prepared for the personally wealthy men like John Kerry to become the paupers of the Senate, or the ones like Mike Bloomberg not even surviving the primary against Halliburton's choice for Mayor of New York City.

Be prepared for the end of what you're watching now. I don't just mean me, or this program, or this network. I mean all the independent news organizations, and the propagandists like Fox for that matter, because Fox inflames people against the state, and after today's ruling, the corporations will only need a few more years of inflaming people, before the message suddenly shifts to "everything's great."

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh don't even realize it: today, John Roberts just cut their throats too. So, with critics silenced or bought off, and even the town assessor who lives next door to you elected to office with campaign funds 99.9 percent drawn from corporate coffers — what are you going to do about it? The Internet!

The Internet? Ask them about the Internet in China. Kiss net neutrality goodbye. Kiss whatever right to privacy you think you currently have, goodbye. And anyway, what are you going to complain about, if you don't even know it happened? In the new world unveiled this morning by John Roberts, who stops Rupert Murdoch from buying the Associated Press?

This decision, which in mythology would rank somewhere between "The Bottomless Pit" and "The Opening Of Pandora's Box," got next to no coverage in the right-wing media today, almost nothing in the middle, and a lot less than necessary on the left.

The right wing won't even tell their constituents that they are being sold into bondage alongside the rest of us. And why should they? For them, the start of this will be wonderful.

The Republicans, Conservatives, Joe Liebermans, and Tea Partiers are in the front aisle at the political prostitution store. They are specially discounted old favorites for their Corporate Masters. Like the first years of irreversible climate change, for the conservatives the previously cold winter will grow delightfully warm. Only later will it be hot. Then unbearable. Then flames.

And the conservatives will burn with the rest of us. And they'll never know it happened. So, what are you going to do about it? Turn to free speech advocates? These were the free speech advocates! The lawyer for that Humunculous who filed this suit, Dave Bossie, is Floyd Abrams.

Floyd Abrams, who has spent his life defending American freedoms, especially freedom of speech. Apparently this life was spent this way in order to guarantee that when it really counted, he could help the corporations destroy free speech.

His argument, translated from self-satisfied legal jargon, is that as a function of the First Amendment, you must allow for the raping and pillaging of the First Amendment, by people who can buy the First Amendment.

He will go down in the history books as the Quisling of freedom of speech in this country. That is if the corporations who now buy the school boards which decide which history books get printed, approve. If there are still history books. So, what are you going to do about it?

Russ Feingold told me today there might yet be ways to work around this, to restrict corporate governance, and how corporations make and spend their money. I pointed out that any such legislation, even if it somehow sneaked past the last U.S. Senate not funded by a generous gift from the Chubb Group would eventually wind up in front of a Supreme Court, and whether or not John Roberts is still at its head would be irrelevant.

The next nine men and women on the Supreme Court will get there not because of their judgement nor even their politics. They will get there because they were appointed by purchased presidents and confirmed by purchased Senators.

This is what John Roberts did today. This is a Supreme Court-sanctioned murder of what little actual Democracy is left in this Democracy. It is government of the people by the corporations for the corporations. It is the Dark Ages. It is our Dred Scott. I would suggest a revolution but a revolution against the corporations? The corporations that make all the guns and the bullets?

Maybe it won't be this bad. Maybe the corporations legally defined as human beings, but without the pesky occasional human attributes of conscience and compassion maybe when handed the only keys to the electoral machine, they will simply not re-design America in their own corporate image.

But let me leave you with this final question: After today who's going to stop them?
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