Thursday, December 31, 2009

The stupidest idea of the decade...

Robben Ford & The Blue Line - "North Carolina"

Robben Ford & the Blue Line - Running Out On Me

Lady Gaga - LoveGame

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Cant Stop

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California

The Last Word: Hatewatch’s 3rd Annual Smackdown Awards

Southern Poverty Law Center

It’s that time of the year again, and Hatewatch’s intrepid staff is just now climbing out of the protective moonsuits needed to trawl through the year’s worst from the filth-spewing hate-mongers and fellow travelers who populate the radical right in America. Once more, we’ve done our best to go beyond the merely off-putting or revolting — the workaday nastiness that regular readers of Hatewatch already know so well — in search of the truly grotesque lowlights of the last year. While it hasn’t been easy getting here, the Hatewatch 3rd Annual Smackdown Awards Committee (earlier editions are here and here) is pleased to officially unveil its annual year-end countdown of the worst of 2009.

10. Schlockiest Neo-Nazi ‘Art’ Award
It’s not like we didn’t know that former Klan chieftain David Duke is a cad, an egomaniac who rips off his followers and chases their womenfolk whenever he isn’t busy getting plastic surgery in hopes of taking in even more people. We knew all about his neo-Nazi pronouncements on “Jewish supremacist power,” his description of AIDS as “the only disease that turns fruits into vegetables,” and his opinion that “niggers are primitive animals.” But we were grievously undereducated on one key point — it turns out that “Dr.” Duke (the Ph.D. comes from a Ukrainian diploma mill) “has a wonderful photographic and artistic ability.” That is, at least, if you’re into picture postcard-type schlock photos of places like Moscow and Salzburg, Austria (both meccas for white people, apparently), snapped by the big man himself and then retouched “to make a truly beautiful photo-artwork that will captivate and inspire you,” in the words of Duke’s pitch. The cost to collectors for prints signed by the Dukester? Just $99 a pop, or six for $500. Long live bad art for white people!

9. Whiniest Mass Murderer Award
Terry Nichols always was a complainer. Well, yes, he did help Timothy McVeigh build a bomb that left 168 people, including 19 small children, dead in the 1995 attack on the Oklahoma City federal building — but he really wasn’t all that into the bombing, he didn’t actually accompany McVeigh that day, and he only helped out because his old Army pal just wouldn’t quit hassling him. He did also help buy the bomb’s components and rob weapons from a gun dealer to finance it, but, hey, he was just trying to be agreeable and not cause a stir. Now comes Nichols, a man who failed in his Army career, his marriages and just about everything else, to tell a court that the food he’s fed in Supermax, where he’s serving a life sentence on 161 counts of premeditated murder, is constipating him. And he wants it stopped. From now on, he insisted after a cringe-inducing description of his problematic bowel movements, he requires a high-fiber daily diet of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit (oh, and $4.5 million for his suffering, too). But a federal judge — apparently a pawn not only of the evil government but also of the evil refined food industry — disagreed, noting that Nichols faces no immediate danger and, anyway, only objected to white bread after four years of eating it.

8. Most Intrepid Researcher Award
This category had a crowded field of contenders — especially among the host of went one better last January in her latest bestselling hissy fit, Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America, where she reported the results of her research into the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). Most of us knew the CCC as a group that has written that blacks are “a retrograde species of humanity,” run photographic comparisons of pop singer Michael Jackson and a chimpanzee, and whined about “Jewish power brokers” and “perverted sodomites.” Gosh, they even say right in their “Statement of Principles” that they “oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind.” But Intrepid Annie set us straight, revealing that despite its bad rep, the CCC has been defamed and is merely “a conservative group.”

7. Most Laid-Back Nuthouse Award
Time was, Bernard von Nothaus was the “monetary architect” of the radical right, the guy that actually did something about the much-denounced Federal Reserve — extremists commonly believe the reserve is a private corporation that operates to bring profits to a cabal of international bankers — by forming a group called the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve (NORFED). NORFED produced and sold an alternative currency (“Liberty dollars”) used by at least a handful of extremists, and von Nothaus (yes, that’s really his name) never tired to claiming that his silver-backed coin was far more stable that U.S. dollars. But in 2007, federal agents raided the group’s Indiana warehouse, seizing tons of silver and copper coins, and last spring he was indicted for illegally competing with real U.S. currency. By that time, however, von Nothaus was already into a more laid-back venture, becoming the “high priest,” in his mellow words, of the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, where members smoke pot before retiring to a meditation room in “serene bliss.” The church’s website lists no address, however, and at press time no members could be found who actually remembered where it was located.

6. Most Clueless Professor Award
We’ve never agreed much with Carol Swain, a black political science professor at Vanderbilt University and member of the National Council of Humanities who has argued, in essence, that America doesn’t need to reject white nationalists — it needs to start talking to them, and taking their ideas seriously. Hatewatch staff didn’t send Swain any roses, either, when she landed a paid gig as a commentator on CNN’s wretched “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” hosted by a man who regularly issued defamatory falsehoods about Latino immigrants, and who was much admired by Swain. But even so, we were surprised to hear the good professor’s ringing endorsement of a “documentary” by one Craig Bodeker, claiming the concept of racism was not real and is merely used to intimidate whites, as “outstanding” and “meticulously done.” And that surprise turned to amazement when it turned out that Swain’s much-lauded filmmaker had long posted regular comments on YouTube and a number of other websites, repeatedly describing blacks as “monkeys” and black men in particular as “EVIL monkeys [who] are DESTROYING” America, and even suggesting that a black former White House adviser be lynched, “[p]ossibly with the aid of a noose.” Told of all this, Swain continued to heartily recommend the film, with its “poignant” scenes, to “multicultural forums across the country.” Now, that’s tolerance!

5. Most Malignant Moms Award
Law enforcement officials in southeastern California carried out a major sweep of members of the racist Inland Empire Skinheads group last spring, arresting members for conspiracy to commit murder, illegal weapons possession, armed robbery, witness intimidation, and dealing methamphetamine, among other things. They seized swastika banners, framed photographs of Hitler, firearms, brass knuckles and an album of photos showing bloodied gang members after fights. But despite it all, this was a family-oriented group, no matter what certain unkind critics said. They might not be your family values, but who can question the dedication of the two female gang members who, on the day of the sweep — April 20 — induced labor to ensure that their babies would be born on Hitler’s 120th birthday? You go, girls!

4. Left Meets Right And Then Some Award
Back in 2008, when we first wrote about the Pacifica Forum discussion group on the campus of the University of Oregon, it was a tale of a left-wing organization that began to indulge in open anti-Semitism as it became increasingly critical of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. Even then, the forum started in 1994 by pacifist professor Orval Etter had become a remarkable example of left meeting right, with a growing parade of Holocaust deniers and other anti-Semites featured as speakers. Etter and others in the group angrily defended themselves and attacked the Southern Poverty Law Center, saying that the forum was merely exercising free speech and inviting all points of view to be heard. That became a little harder this December, when a talk called “The National Socialist Movement: An Inside View of America’s Far Right” degenerated into a virtual neo-Nazi rally. When speaker and long-time forum participant Jimmy Marr invited his listeners to join him in the straight-arm Nazi salute, five people did. “Sieg heil!” they shouted. “Sieg heil! SIEG HEIL!” “You’re goddamn right I object to the Jews,” Marr noted. “They’re traitors!” Still, forum enthusiasts didn’t have much to complain about — school officials say they will continue to rent space to such groups without screening them for ideology.

3. Most Disingenuous Debunking Award
FOX News’ Glenn Beck has long been a loathsome character given to lies, half-lies and baseless but vitriolic name-calling. (President Obama is a “racist” with “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture,” and also “may be a full-fledged Marxist”; his 2008 win was a coup carried out “through the guise of an election”; a left-wing “thugocracy” is planning to kill Beck; and so on.) But Beck also engages in a particularly bizarre form of propagandizing — pushing false conspiracy theories by supposedly taking them on to “debunk” them. This was seen most clearly in his airing of a core conspiracy theory of the 1990s militia movement, the idea that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is building a set of concentration camps into which the “New World Order” will soon herd good American patriots. After ranting last spring about being in a country “that is headed for socialism,” Beck said he “wanted to debunk” the theory but was unable to. In all, Beck detailed the conspiracy over the course of three shows before finally concluding – like some chin-stroking intellectual announcing after careful study that, indeed, the world is not flat but spherical — that it was false. Thanks for the deep thinking, Glenn!

2. Least-Missed Old Friend Award
There was a time when we used to speak occasionally to the aforementioned Lou Dobbs, whose long-time CNN show became a forum for bashing immigrants and spreading utter falsehoods about them — you know, warnings about hate group leaders he was about to put on, false conspiracy theories he was promoting, that kind of thing. And there was even a time when Dobbs seemed to listen. But that all ended some years ago, when Dobbs, taking a page from Glenn Beck, began calling us “fascists” and “commies” and that sort of thing on the air. Even after we called him out for his 100% false but oft-repeated claim that there had been an immigrant-fueled surge of leprosy in recent years, the battle for truth on the airwaves seemed to have stalled. But last summer, Dobbs apparently crossed the Rubicon when he called on President Obama to prove that he was born in the United States, seeming to take up with the so-called birthers and their racist conspiracy theory. That prompted our own Richard Cohen to write CNN President Jonathan Klein, saying “respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda.” A flood of other human rights organizations soon joined in and, in November, Dobbs unexpectedly announced he was leaving CNN for parts unknown (both FOX and CNBC denied they were talking). Cost to silence the tendentious Dobbs? A reported $8 million. But it was worth every penny!

1. Worst-Read Sheriff in America Award
Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man who famously forced jail inmates to wear pink underwear, built a dangerously overcrowded and hot “tent city” instead of a real prison, and attracted more than 2,150 lawsuits totaling more than $50 million in claims, calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” The New York Times editorial board, saying Arpaio is a “genuine public menace with a long and well-documented trail of inmate abuses, unjustified arrests, racial profiling, brutal and inept policing and wasteful spending,” calls him “America’s Worst Sheriff.” Regardless, according to an illuminating new blog post from Phoenix New Times’ Stephen Lemons, he is certainly the worst read. In a deposition taken in a racial profiling lawsuit in federal court, Arpaio said he had never read the complaint, didn’t know the 14th Amendment (equal protection under the law), and had never read federal guidelines on the use of race in investigations. He also claimed that he had not “totally” read Joe’s Law, the 2008 book he co-authored. Asked by plaintiff’s counsel if he saw illegal immigration as a “threat,” the slippery sheriff said he didn’t call it a “threat on America per se” — this despite the fact that his book is subtitled “America’s Toughest Sheriff Takes on Illegal Immigration, Drugs and Everything Else That Threatens America.” When the lawyer brought that up, Arpaio offered up this pearl: “Everybody doesn’t believe what you read in the books, right?”

And with that, we wrap up another year in exploring the dark and dank corners of the American radical right. It’s been quite a year — and seriously, folks, the growth of hate and other extreme-right groups has been deeply worrying — but we fully expect 2010 will produce another bumper crops of nuts, fruits and vegetables. We’ll be hard at work, collecting for next year’s edition of the Smackdown Awards. In the meantime, we wish all our readers a happy, productive and sane new year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Politico’s Mike Allen slammed as Cheney ’stenographer’

WASHINGTON -- allen Politicos Mike Allen slammed as Cheney stenographerJournalists are attacking Politico and reporter Mike Allen after an article Wednesday featuring former Vice President Dick Cheney accusing President Obama of insufficiently responding to the failed Christmas terror attempt.

A number of writers and bloggers say Politico failed to perform the fact-checking role expected of reporters, pointing to questionable assertions from Cheney that went unchecked in Allen’s story.

The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan labeled Allen “Cheney’s Chief Spokesman” and quipped that Cheney should “be paying him.”

“There he goes again,” Sullivan said of Allen, “the mouthpiece for Rove and Cheney, believing his ‘access’ as a stenographer makes him a journalist. It doesn't. It makes him a stenographer.”

“Allen gussies up his source’s bile with a few fig leaf sentences and a gesture from a Democratic rebuttal,” Sullivan added...................

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ayatollah Khamenei's Jet Checked, Iran Supreme Leader May Flee To Russia If Necessary

Radio Netherlands

Reports from Iran indicate that the Supreme National Security Council has ordered a complete check-up of the jet which is on standby to fly Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei and his family to Russia should the situation in Iran spiral out of control. The order, to the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guard Corps, was dated on Sunday, 27 December. A fax containing the order was sent to Dutch-based Shahrzad News.

In Iran, tens of thousands of pro-government supporters took to the streets on Tuesday, calling for leaders of the opposition to be punished. They say the opposition is to blame for the protests during the Shiite festival of Ashura in which eight people are reported to have been killed by riot police.

Opposition supporters launched the demonstrations following the death of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri a critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The protests were crushed by the authorities and the opposition is now calling for the government to apologise for the excessive violence used by the police...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Report: Bush Administration Released Two Al Qaeda Leaders Behind NW 253 Terror Plot


Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi........

Majority Of Tea Party Group's Spending Went To GOP Firm That Created It


The political action committee behind the Tea Party Express (TPE) -- which already has been slammed as inauthentic and corporate-controlled by rival factions in the Tea Party movement -- directed around two thirds of its spending during a recent reporting period back to the Republican consulting firm that created the PAC in the first place.

Our Country Deserves Better (OCDB) spent around $1.33 million from July through November, according to FEC filings examined by TPMmuckraker. Of that sum, a total of $870,489 went to Sacramento-based GOP political consulting firm Russo, Marsh, and Associates, or people associated with it.

OCDB, which built the Tea Party Express, is essentially a Russo, Marsh creation, as we've detailed. The PAC's site was registered in July 2008 by Sal Russo, the firm's founder. That site also lists Russo as the PAC's "chief strategist." Tea Party Express fundraising emails, sent by OCDB and obtained by TPMmuckraker, come from another Russo, Marsh employee, Joe Wierzbicki.

Just for good measure, legendary GOP bamboozler Howard Kaloogian is also on OCDB's board, and has close ties to Russo, Marsh....................

Law Prof: GOP State AGs' Objection To Health Bill Is 'Crazy Talk'


The arguments of a group of Republican state attorneys general who are talking up a constitutional challenge to the "Cornhusker Kickback" provision of the health care bill are "strictly political" and do not have legal merit, a law professor tells TPMmuckraker.

"If a private individual brought the suit, the court might assess a fine for bringing a frivolous suit," says Timothy Jost, a health law specialist at the Washington and Lee University School of Law who favors the reform bill.

The effort being led by South Carolina Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Henry McMaster focuses on a measure in the Senate bill secured by Ben Nelson (D-NE), under which the federal government would fully pay for the expansion of Medicaid in Nebraska, saving the state $100 million in 10 years. Other states would have to share the new costs with the federal government, as they do now.

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint asked McMaster to review the constitutionality of the provision because "it results in special treatment for only one state in the nation." McMaster is now joined by nine other GOP state AGs, including Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and Mike Cox of Michigan, who, like McMaster, are running for governor...........

Republicans Who Opposed The Stimulus Continue To Pan It As A ‘Failure,’ While Also Taking Credit For Its Success


Every Republican in the House and nearly every Republican Senator voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as the stimulus). Although the Congressional Budget Office has credited the stimulus with creating up to 1.6 million jobs, the same GOP politicians who opposed the stimulus have attempted to justify their opposition to the policy by smearing it as a failure. But as ThinkProgress has documented, the same politicians are returning to their districts to take credit for the economic success of the stimulus.

In the past month, several more GOP lawmakers went home to their district to praise and claim credit for successful stimulus programs:

– Earlier this month, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) called the stimulus a “large-scale failure,” but last week hailed a stimulus program in Frankford, Missouri as “critical.” Referring to a $330,000 loan and $313,900 grant authorized by the stimulus, Luetkemeyer said, “Clearly, the 328 residents of Frankford will benefit from this grant and I appreciate the USDA’s willingness to help this community.” In September, Luetkemeyer requested $100 million from the stimulus for a road project in Missouri.

– On his campaign website, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) features his opposition to the “pork-filled” stimulus. However, on his congressional website, McCaul features a story from earlier this month about a largely stimulus-funded project to expand Highway 36 in Texas. In the story, he is thanked for “taking this project to the next phase of reality.” Noting its importance, McCaul says the highway expansion will “cut down on fatal crashes and ensure commerce can continue to move efficiently through Austin County and the rest of this important region.”

– On December 16th, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) sent out a press release hailing $1,044,140 in stimulus money Carroll County school system, while crediting himself for securing the money. “I am pleased that our office was able to assist them in obtaining these funds,” noted Davis in the release. On the same day, Davis blasted a separate release claiming that the stimulus had “failed.”

Of course, Luetkemeyer, McCaul, and Davis voted against the stimulus. Congressional Republican leadership, who helped corral partisan opposition to the Recovery Act, are also shamelessly attacking the stimulus while requesting stimulus money. As ThinkProgress has reported, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) recently hosted a job fair filled with jobs fueled by the stimulus, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been taking credit for stimulus projects in his home state.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

U.S. rights activist crosses into North Korea - reports

SEOUL (Reuters) - A U.S. human rights activist trying to raise global attention about the suffering of the North Korean people has crossed into the reclusive state, other activists and South Korean media said on Saturday.

There has been no comment from North Korea, which usually arrests foreign border crossers on site, or from U.S. officials.

Activists told Reuters that Robert Park, 28, had crossed into North Korea from China on Friday, while South Korea's Yonhap news agency and the Kukmin Ilbo newspaper quoted activists who went with him to the border as saying he had crossed at a sparsely patrolled point near the northeast border city of Hoeryong.

Park was quoted by activists who went with the border as shouting when he went across: "I am an American citizen. I am bringing God's love. God loves you."


"I don't want President Obama to come and pay to get me out. But I want the North Korean people to be free," Park said on Wednesday before departing for China........

Jabba the Rush

Conservatives kneel before the almighty Rush Limbaugh to beg forgiveness. From SuperNews!,

Friday, December 25, 2009

Weed Delivery Guy Saves Christmas

MADISON, WIThe holidays evoke images of carolers and hot cocoa, sleigh rides through the crisp country air, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But for the four residents of a drafty little apartment on Johnson Street, such holiday traditions seemed nothing more than fairy tales. For, through a combination of poverty, circumstance, and plain old bad luck, these young gentlemen nearly saw their holiday dreams shattered like so many fallen ornaments.

Almost, but not quite. For although there would be no Yule log in the fireplace, a crackling blaze of another kind would come to warm the hearts of the hapless roommates. For, these four lucky friends had a guardian angel watching over them, and this is the heartwarming true story of how the weed delivery guy saved Christmas.

"Dude, I was so bummed when I found out my stupid supervisor scheduled me for first shift Christmas Eve," said Patrick Moynihan, 26, a "part-time musician and full-time phone drone." "I was like, 'Come on, I gotta go to Milwaukee to see my old man and watch the game.' He was like, 'Sorry man, life's rough. You should've remembered to ask off.'"............more......

Tom Tomorrow: The year in crazy, part one.

Click on Pict to enlarge

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Biker's Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the pad,
There was nada happenin', now thats pretty bad.
The woodstove was hung up in that stocking routine,
In hopes that the Fat Boy would soon make the scene.

With our stomachs packed with tacos and beer,
My girl and I crashed on the couch for some cheer.
When out in the yard there arose such a racket,
I ran for the door and pulled on my jacket.

I saw a large bro' on a '56 Pan
Wearin' black leathers, a cap, and boots (cool biker, man).
He hauled up the bars on that bikeful of sacks,
And that Pan hit the roof like it was running on tracks.

I couldn't help gawking, the old guy had class.
But I had to go in -- I was freezing my ass.
Down through the stovepipe he fell with a crash,
And out of the stove he came dragging his stash.

With a smile and some glee he passed out the loot,
A new jacket for her and some parts for my scoot.
He patted her fanny and shook my right hand,
Spun on his heel and up the stovepipe he ran.

From up on the roof came a great deal of thunder,
As that massive V-twin ripped the silence asunder.
With beard in the wind, he roared off in the night,
Shouting, "Have a cool Yule, and to all a good ride!"

Rachel Maddow Smacks Down the John Birch Society

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Media Matters Daily Summary 12-22-09

Media conservatives return to ACORN funding bogeyman to attack health care reform
Media conservatives, including The Weekly Standard and Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, are attacking the Senate health care reform bill by citing a general provision in the legislation to raise the possibility that ACORN would receive funding under the bill. Conservatives similarly attacked the economic recovery act and the financial rescue legislation by invoking the possibility that ACORN would receive funding through general legislative provisions -- at one point claiming that ACORN would receive more than $4 billion in funding. Read More

Krauthammer falsely suggests Senate bill won't reduce deficits after 2019
Echoing a false Republican talking point about the Senate health care reform bill, Charles Krauthammer stated on Fox News that if "you start in 2014 when the benefits kick in and you go out ten years, then the cost is not slightly under $1 trillion. It's $1.8 trillion or $2.5 trillion, which means it will blow an enormous hole in the deficit." However, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the bill will continue to reduce deficits beyond the 10-year budget window that ends in 2019. Read More

Auld Lang Syne: Farewell to another decade of "liberal media bias"
It might seem futile to try to select just two quotes from the previous decade and single them out as bookends to illustrate how the political press so often malfunctioned over the last 10 years. But if pressed, I know which duo I'd nominate in hopes of highlighting the absurdity behind the never-ending right-wing claim about supposed "liberal media bias." Read More

2009: A year of Fox News political activism
With the inauguration of President Obama in 2009, Fox News transformed itself from a conservative media outlet into a partisan, right-wing political organization that openly viewed itself as the "voice of the opposition." Throughout the year, Fox News has declared war on the Obama administration, the Democratic Congress, and progressive organizations by, among other things, campaigning for the firing of various administration officials, partnering with conservative groups and politicians to oppose progressive policies, and even allowing its own contributors to fundraise on-air for conservative political causes. Read More

Gottlieb falsely claims Senate bill eliminates individual market outside of exchange
In a New York Post column, Scott Gottlieb claimed that under the Senate health care bill, "the individual market - the ability to go directly to an insurer and buy a health-care policy - will disappear," and "we'll all get the same package of benefits." In fact, under the Senate bill, individual (nongroup) plans can still be offered outside of the exchanges, and benefit packages can vary, as long as the policies meet the minimum requirements established by the legislation. Read More

Fox & Friends falsely claimed Senate health bill insures undocumented immigrants
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed that one of the things conservatives hate about the Senate health care bill is that it "does provide insurance for illegal aliens. Sorry, Joe Wilson." But the language of the bill explicitly bars undocumented immigrants from purchasing insurance through the exchanges. Read More

Quick Fact: Hemmer baselessly cites "critics" calling health care reform a "budget-buster"
Fox News host Bill Hemmer stated that "critics" of the Senate health care reform bill "say it's a budget-buster that leaves taxpayers in America on the hook for years to come," and subsequently interviewed Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who said that the bill is a reason "we're headed towards a situation where we're not even going to be able to afford to pay the debt we've run up as a nation." But Hemmer at no point noted that the Congressional Budget Office reported that the Senate's health reform bill will reduce federal deficits by $130 billion through 2019. Read More

Conservative media cite industry study on premiums, ignore nonpartisan CBO
Conservative media have cited a study by insurance company WellPoint to claim that under health care reform, younger people would face premium increases of up to 178 percent. However, that study did not take into account subsidies provided by legislation to assist those buying insurance, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated would substantially lower premium costs for many individuals purchasing coverage on their own through the exchanges. Read More

Wash. Times falsely claims Senate health bill institutes "'abortion premium tax' on all Americans"
The Washington Times editorial board falsely claimed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's manager's amendment to the health care reform bill will "charge an 'abortion premium' tax on all Americans that forces everyone to fund abortions." In fact, the provision in question states that individuals who choose to purchase insurance policies that cover abortion through the health insurance exchanges would have a portion of their premiums segregated to pay for coverage of abortions whose federal funding is banned under current law, and explicitly says that there is no requirement that the insurance policies provide such coverage. Read More

News Corp.'s race problem
Glenn Beck's comment that President Obama is a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" justifiably garnered a great deal of attention, but that remark was by no means an isolated incident at News Corp., owner of Fox News. Indeed, Beck's comments are indicative of a corporate culture in which racially charged commentary is frequent, goes all the way to the top, and is too often tolerated. Read More

Quick Fact: Fox News advances anti-ACORN demagoguery to attack health care reform
On Your World, guest host Charles Payne and John McCormack of The Weekly Standard advanced the claim that the Senate health care reform bill "would give cash to ACORN," with Payne stating that "I would assume it's in the low millions" and calling it "so egregious" that taxpayer money would fund ACORN; on-screen text stated as fact that the "Senate health care bill would give cash to ACORN." In fact, neither the original bill nor the manager's amendment mentions ACORN; conservatives have repeatedly cited general funding provisions to raise the possibility of ACORN receiving federal funds in order to attack legislation. Read More

Tea Bagger Calls C-SPAN, Worried His Prayers For Byrd To Die Got Inhofe Instead


Think Progress makes a great catch on C-SPAN this morning: Someone calls in while Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) is answering the lines, practically in tears because Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) missed this morning's procedural vote on health care.

He was apparently concerned that -- after following Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) instructions to pray that someone couldn't make a manager's amendment vote Sunday night -- his prayers for Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to die struck the wrong senator.

"Our small tea bag group here in Waycross, we got our vigil together and took Dr. Coburn's instructions and prayed real hard that Sen. Byrd would either die or couldn't show up at the vote the other night," the caller said.

"How hard did you pray because I see one of our members was missing this morning. Did it backfire on us? One of our members died? How hard did you pray senator? Did you pray hard enough?" he continued, his voice breaking.

Inhofe was at the Sunday vote, but missed another procedural vote this morning.

Barrasso didn't really respond, but reassured the caller that Republicans didn't need Inhofe there today. For the record, Inhofe is still quite alive and plans to return to the Senate for later votes this week.


Officer who stole $690K in Iraq nabbed by IRS

Army Times

Capt. Michael D. Nguyen was entrusted with hundreds of thousands of dollars in Iraq reconstruction aid. He betrayed that trust.

The 29-year-old West Point graduate stole $690,000 to buy a luxury laundry list of flashy cars, widescreen televisions, BowFlex home gym equipment, guns, electronics and furniture, according to federal authorities.

Nguyen pleaded guilty in federal court Dec. 7 to charges he stole government property and illegally structured transactions during his deployment to Diyala province in 2007 and 2008. He faces up to 20 years in prison, $500,000 in fines and a likely end to his career. What’s more, as part of his plea agreement, Nguyen must pay back all of the money he stole.

The Fort Lewis, Wash., soldier’s sentencing is set for March 1, 2010 in a U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore.

The federal government seized $309,200 in cash that Nguyen had stashed in his attic, the contents of his bank accounts, and dozens of items purchased with his loot. Court papers list a 2009 Hummer H3T sport utility vehicle, a 2008 BMW M3 car, a BowFlex dumbbell set, treadmill and all-in-one exercise machine, a 60-inch flat-screen and four other TVs, leather dining room and living room sets, a refrigerator, two laptops and a Playstation 3.......

Michelle Bachman: Welfare Queen

By Yasha Levine

Michele Bachmann has become well known for her anti-government tea-bagger antics, protesting health care reform and every other government “handout” as socialism. What her followers probably don’t know is that Rep. Bachmann is, to use that anti-government slur, something of a welfare queen. That’s right, the anti-government insurrectionist has taken more than a quarter-million dollars in government handouts thanks to corrupt farming subsidies she has been collecting for at least a decade.

And she’s not the only one who has been padding her bank account with taxpayer money.

Bachmann, of Minnesota, has spent much of this year agitating against health care reform, whipping up the so-called tea-baggers with stories of death panels and rationed health care. She has called for a revolution against what she sees as Barack Obama’s attempted socialist takeover of America, saying presidential policy is “reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom.”

But data compiled from federal records by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog that tracks the recipients of agricultural subsidies in the United States, shows that Bachmann has an inner Marxist that is perfectly at ease with profiting from taxpayer largesse. According to the organization’s records, Bachmann’s family farm received $251,973 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2006. The farm had been managed by Bachmann’s recently deceased father-in-law and took in roughly $20,000 in 2006 and $28,000 in 2005, with the bulk of the subsidies going to dairy and corn.

Both dairy and corn are heavily subsidized—or “socialized”—businesses in America (in 2005 alone, Washington spent $4.8 billion propping up corn prices) and are subject to strict government price controls. These subsidies are at the heart of America’s bizarre planned agricultural economy and as far away from Michele Bachmann’s free-market dream world as Cuba’s free medical system. If American farms such as hers were forced to compete in the global free market, they would collapse.........

Sen. Whitehouse: There Will Be A 'Reckoning' For GOP's 'Desperate, No-Holds-Barred Mission Of Propaganda'


On the Senate floor yesterday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) slammed Republicans for their "desperate, no-holds-barred mission of propaganda, falsehood, obstruction and fear," which he said will result in a "day of judgment" by the American people.

Whitehouse began his monologue by quoting 1950s intellectual Richard Hofstadter, warning that a right-wing minority could create "a political environment in which the rational pursuit of our well-being and safety would become impossible."

"The malignant and vindictive passions that have descended on the Senate are busily creating just such a political climate," said Whitehouse.

Whitehouse attributed these "desperate acts" to the Democrats' "momentum," which is
working toward passing health care reform legislation, and "when we do, the lying time is over. The American public will see what actually comes to pass when we pass this bill as our new law. The American public will see firsthand the difference between what is, and what they were told."

When it turns out there are no death panels, when there is no bureaucrat between you and your doctor, when the ways your health care changes seem like a good deal to you, and a pretty smart idea, when the American public sees the discrepancy between what really is, and what they were told by the Republicans, there will be a reckoning. There will come a day of judgment about who was telling the truth.

He concluded: "There will come a day of judgment, and our Republican friends know that. That Mr. President, is why they are terrified."

Here's the full clip:

Secret neo-Nazi documents published

11 membership lists about to go online

Wikileaks is in the process of making a cache of documents and files from eleven different neo-Nazi organisations readable, and readily available, online.

The membership records and private messages are currently being formatted to make them easy for non-techies to read and will be released on the Wikileaks site shortly.

The organisation got massive publicity last year when it published a BNP membership list handed over by a disgruntled ex-member.

The raw data is already available but needs formatting so: "your grandmother can read them and google can find them... Journalists won't write about it otherwise."

The site is asking for volunteers with enough database skills to be able to expand fields and dumping to text.

The compressed data is about 54MB.

The internal documents include more than just membership lists. There are what seem to be private internal messages, forum posts and email addresses............

Monday, December 21, 2009

World's Highest Glacier Is Set to Melt Into History

The Chacaltaya glacier ski run in Bolivia - once famous for being the highest in the world - is set to disappear completely within the next few months. The melt is one element of a crisis in the country's water supply. (21 December 2009)

Media Matters Daily Summary 12-21-09 falsely claimed CBO said "Senate health bill won't reduce deficits"
A headline posted on falsely claimed, "CBO: Senate Health Bill Won't Reduce Deficits." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that the bill would reduce federal deficits by $132 billion over 2010-2019 and would continue to reduce deficits in subsequent decades. Read More

Buchanan claims climate change is a "hoax" because Antarctic ice is "expanding," but science says otherwise
On MSNBC and in his Creators Syndicate column, Pat Buchanan claimed that climate change is "a fraud, and a scam, and a hoax," and as evidence, suggested that greenhouse gases are not warming the planet because the Antarctic ice sheet has expanded in the past three decades. However, the source Buchanan cited in his column -- a press release from the British Antarctic Survey -- undercuts his claim, saying that the ice increase is "a result of the ozone hole delaying the impact of greenhouse gas increases on the climate of the continent," but that "this will not last." Read More

David Limbaugh continues right-wing smear campaign against "known homosexual activist" Jennings
David Limbaugh continued the right-wing assault on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, using anti-gay rhetoric and advancing a number outrageous smears and distortions in order to attack him as a "known homosexual activist" who was appointed to "propagandiz[e] for the normalization of homosexuality." These smears and distortions include the conclusively debunked falsehood that Jennings "failed to report statutory rape," the false suggestion that Jennings praised a gay rights activist because he was a "promoter of pedophilia," and the claim that Jennings - currently a board member of Union Theological Seminary - should be disqualified from public service because he purportedly "harbored a hatred for God" as a teenager. Read More

Glenn Beck: Media Matters' 2009 Misinformer of the Year
Read More

Fox doesn't disclose health care opponent Donatelli's consulting conflict of interest
Continuing its pattern of failure to disclose the conflicts of interest of health care reform opponents who appear on its programs, Fox News hosted Frank Donatelli -- identified only as chairman of the "Republican advocacy organization" GOPAC - who claimed that Democrats "don't really want the American people to see what's in" the Senate health reform bill "because it's so bad." Donatelli also serves as executive vice president of a public affairs consulting firm whose clients include firms in the health insurance, health care provider, and pharmaceutical industries. Read More

Perino's "convoluted" attack on health care bill is all fuzzy math
On Fox & Friends, Dana Perino used an apples-to-oranges comparison to raise doubts about reports that the Senate health care bill would reduce the number of uninsured people by 31 million. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has stated that under current law, 54 million people will be uninsured by the end of 2019 and that under the Senate bill, 23 million people would be uninsured -- a difference of 31 million people.
Read More

Most outrageous comments of 2009
Outrageous comments are nothing new to the conservative media -- one might even call them a defining characteristic. The Most Outrageous Comment of the 2009 came when Fox News host Glenn Beck asserted that Obama is a "racist" who has "exposed himself as a guy" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture," but right-wing media figures made plenty of other unhinged remarks throughout the year: Read More

Report: Bush Admin Raised Terror Alert Based On Con Man's Al Jazeera 'Decoding' Scam


A self-styled Nevada codebreaker convinced the CIA he could decode secret terrorist targeting information sent through Al Jazeera broadcasts, prompting the Bush White House to raise the terror alert level to Orange (high) in December 2003, with Tom Ridge warning of "near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experience on September 11," according to a new report in Playboy.

The report deals another blow to the credibility of the Department of Homeland Security's color-coded terror alert system, and comes after Ridge's claim that the system was used as a political tool when he was DHS secretary.

The man who prompted the December 2003 Orange alert was Dennis Montgomery, who has since been embroiled in various lawsuits, including one for allegedly bouncing $1 million in checks during a Caesars Palace spree. His former lawyer calls him a "habitual liar engaged in fraud."

Working out of a Reno, Nevada, software firm called eTreppid Technologies, Montgomery took in officials in the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology and convinced them that technology he invented -- but could not explain -- was pulling terrorist-produced "bar codes" from Al Jazeera television broadcasts. Using his proprietary technology, those bar codes could be translated into longitudes and latitudes and flight numbers. Terrorist leaders were using that data to direct their compatriots about the next target....................

McCain hits Obama for failing to reach out to Republicans, while Snowe praises Obama for outreach.


Throughout the health care debate, Republicans have grumbled that they have been shut out of the negotiations. “[N]o Republican was invited,” to hash out a deal, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said yesterday. “[Obama's] campaign promise on health care reform, which I believed was that we would sit down and negotiate together, Republicans and Democrats, we didn’t. … Republicans were never brought in to the negotiations,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) complained this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America. But yesterday on Face the Nation, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) explained that negotiating with the White House and Democrats has, in fact, not been a partisan issue:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this. It’s my understanding that, even after Leader Reid announced that he had the sixtieth vote, the sixty votes he needs, you met again with President Obama. What was– what was that about?

SNOWE: Correct. The President, you know, and I have worked together on this issue. And I applaud him for, you know, his knowledge, his grasp of the issue. It’s his major and highest domestic initiative, on this issue, and he wants to get it done this year, and encouraging me to support the legislation.

Watch it:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Media Matters Daily Summary 12-20-09

Quick Fact: Wallace allows McCain to falsely claim no benefits of Senate health care bill "kick in" until "after four years"
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace allowed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to falsely claim that "it is only after four years that the benefits [of the Senate health care bill] kick in." In fact, Senate Democrats have summarized numerous benefits of health care reform that will "be available in the first year after enactment." Read More

Politico's claim that Special Report "offers a straight-ahead reading of the day's headlines" undermined by its history of misinforming
A December 18 Politico article stated that Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier "offers a straight-ahead reading of the day's headlines every night." But Special Report's history of misleading or incomplete information undermines Politico's characterization of a "straight-ahead reading of the day's headlines." Read More

Glenn Beck's official Christmas card

Friday, December 18, 2009

Media Matters Daily Summary 12-18- 09

Glenn Beck and the paranoid style
"The modern right wing ... feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots, having as their most powerful agents not merely outsiders and foreigners as of old but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power." Read More

Fox & Friends outrage over Franken-Lieberman exchange undermined by Lieberman himself
During the December 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade repeatedly attacked Sen. Al Franken -- calling him "uncivil," a "newbie," and "an angry clown" -- for denying Sen. Joe Lieberman extra speaking time on the Senate floor. The Fox & Friends hosts ignored that, in fact, Franken, Lieberman, and Majority Leader Harry Reid all stated on December 17 that Franken was following Reid's orders not to grant any speech extensions. Read More

Moore falsely claims Obama predicted "strong job growth" following unemployment rate reduction
On Fox News' On the Record, discussing an increase in the number of people filing for unemployment in the week ending December 12, Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Stephen Moore falsely claimed that, following the Department of Labor's December 4 report that the unemployment rate had dropped the previous month, "a lot of people, including the president, said, you know, we passed the hump, now we're going to see strong job growth over the next few months, and that just really hasn't happened." In fact, in remarks following the Department of Labor's December 4 report, Obama said that while "the trendline right now is good," "there are going to be some months where the reports are a little better, some months where the reports are worse." Read More

Carlson falsely claimed ACORN videos exposed "illegal activity"
On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson -- discussing the Justice Department's appeal of a federal court decision that lifted a ban on federal funding to ACORN -- falsely claimed that videos of ACORN employees released by conservative activists exposed "illegal activity" by ACORN. In fact, an independent investigation of the videos found that "[t]here is no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers"; moreover, DOJ's appeal does not allege that ACORN employees shown in the videos engaged in any "illegal activity." Read More

Right-wing media seize on snow at Copenhagen conference to deem climate change a "fraud"
Right-wing media have highlighted recent snowfall during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, often suggesting that the winter storm is evidence that climate change is, in Rush Limbaugh's words, "a fraud." But climate scientists reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone individual storms, bear any relevance to the global warming debate, and several major climate data centers have said that, thus far, 2009 is one of the warmest years on record. Read More

Cato's Michaels falsely claims emails show CRU scientists were "silencing" dissent
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Cato Institute fellow and author Patrick Michaels claimed that recently stolen emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) reveal "a silencing of climate scientists" and "dramatically weakened the case for emissions reductions." Michaels cited emails that show scientists' objections to certain papers being published in journals, however, the scientists do not appear to be in a position "to bias" the scientific literature, because several of the papers they criticized were published or cited, and in one paper's case, editors at the journal conceded that it should not have been published as written. Read More

Hannity report on Russian climate "bombshell" misses the mark
On his Fox News show, host Sean Hannity falsely claimed that a "major Russian climate change organization dropped a bombshell" report claiming that "much of its climate data was tampered with by a leading British research center" and that "any of their data that could help disprove global warming was simply ignored." In fact, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) is not a "climate change organization"; it is an economic and social policy think tank headed by Andrei Illarionov, an economist, climate skeptic, and fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute; moreover, the report was not about "their" data -- it simply purported to analyze how the UK Met Office used data from Russian meteorological stations. Read More

The Friday Rush: The Health Care Grinch
Merry holiday! Rush Limbaugh doesn't want sick people to have access to affordable health insurance. Read More

Shinedown - I Dare You

Shinedown - Devour

Following TP report, Sarah Palin is booted from her scheduled speech at a Canadian hospital fundraiser.


Last week, it was revealed that Sarah Palin had been booked to deliver a $200,000 speech at a hospital fundraiser in Canada. ThinkProgress was the first to report that the event seemed odd given the fact that the hospital — which offers the same advanced directive service that Palin derided as “death panels” — is part of a “socialist” health care system Palin abhors. Now, the Toronto Sun reports that Palin has “been given the boot” and will no longer appear at the fundraiser for St. Peter’s hospital. Jeff Valletine, the vice president of communications for Hamilton Health Sciences, said that he had received a backlash for inviting Palin:

“Individually I’m a bit surprised by the magnitude of the reaction but I’m not too surprised. Sarah Palin is a strong personality who brings out lots of opinions from lots of folks, so that’s to be expected.”

Last month, Canadian comedian Mary Walsh asked her about Canadian health care, to which Palin responded, “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.” According to the Sun, Palin will instead give a speech to a local children’s charity.

After Falsely Accusing Obama Of Politicizing The Military, GOP Filibusters Defense Bill To Kill Health Reform


Over the past few days, Republican senators have seized on a false story manufactured by a former Republican operative at The Weekly Standard. The unfounded rumor alleged that sources in the White House had told Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) to vote for health reform, or else the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska would be closed. Using the story, Republican senators quickly accused the President of politicizing the military:

SEN. KIT BOND (R-MO): “The rumors out there, we haven’t confirmed it, but the rumor keeps coming back that he’s threatened to close a major air base in Nebraska. It is total blackmail. It’s the worst kind of Chicago politics.” [WND, 12/17/09]

SEN. BOB BENNETT (R-UT): “This would be one of the most outrageous demonstrations of presidential power I’ve ever seen.” [The Hill, 12/17/09]

LETTER FROM 20 GOP SENATORS: “We do not want to see the name of a base from our state on a BRAC list and think it has been put there to settle partisan scores.” [The Hill, 12/17/09]

Talking to reporters, Nelson blasted the phony story as “yellow journalism at its worst” that came from “inside-the-Beltway partisans who only want to derail health care reform.” But last night, in the middle of their own campaign to portray Obama as politicizing the military, Republicans performed a stunt of galling hypocrisy.

In order to obstruct health reform, Republican senators moved to politicize the nation’s national security by holding the Defense appropriations bill hostage. The Washington Post reported on this “unusual” tactic:

Senate Republicans failed early Friday in their bid to filibuster a massive Pentagon bill that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an unusual move designed to delay President Obama’s health-care legislation. On a 63 to 33 vote, Democrats cleared a key hurdle that should allow them to approve the must-pass military spending bill Saturday and return to the health-care debate. After years of criticizing Democrats for not supporting the troops, just three Republicans supported the military funding.

Explaining his opposition to military appropriations, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) said bluntly, “I don’t want healthcare.”

In their desperate bid to kill health reform, Republicans are using the military as a political football. Not only are they making up a story about a nonexistent base-closure threat, but they tried to hold up the funding of the military as part of a cynical plot to slow the health reform debate.

After ‘Truth Squad’ Fizzles, Der Spiegel Reporter Tells Inhofe: ‘You’re Ridiculous’


Back in September, godfather of global warming deniers Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) announced that he would be going to the U.N.’s climate change summit in Copenhagen this week to present “another view.” “I think somebody has to be there — a one-man truth squad,” he said. His “truth squad” later expanded to three, with Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) joining in.

But MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted last night that Inhofe’s mission of wreaking havoc on the summit fell flat:

MADDOW: When Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton and all the bigwigs arrived in Denmark, the Inhofe truth squad was nowhere to be found.

We confirmed with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that truth squad, denialist, congressional delegation with Senators Barrasso and Wicker – that has ended up getting canceled.

Inhofe did travel to Copenhagen however — with a single staffer and when he got there, all he could muster was an “impromptu” press conference and spent a grand total of two hours in the Danish capital. But even during the press conference, few reporters showed up and the Oklahoma senator wasn’t very well received by the ones who did:

A reporter asked: “If there’s a hoax, then who’s putting on this hoax, and what’s the motive?”

“It started in the United Nations,” Inhofe said, “and the ones in the United States who really grab ahold of this is the Hollywood elite.”

One reporter asked Inhofe if he was referring to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Another reporter — this one from Der Spiegel — told the senator: “You’re ridiculous.”

Politco notes that when Inhofe arrived at the summit “the halls were half-deserted” and that he “walked quickly, brushing off an aide who suggested that he slow down and take a breath.” “I don’t want to breathe — I want to get something done,” he said.

FBI agents raid home of radio host Barbara Alexander

A swarm of FBI agents descended on the home of businesswoman and radio host Barbra Alexander early Thursday, stirring curiosity and questions among neighbors in the upscale Monterey neighborhood.

Residents in the Alma Mesa area reported seeing up to 10 people wearing jackets emblazoned with the FBI logo entering and leaving the house from about 8:30 a.m. until about 3 p.m.

A Monterey police spokesman said the FBI notified the police department in advance of the raid, but said officers were not participating in the federal investigation.

Alexander, who owns mortgage and investment companies in Monterey and hosts the weekly financial radio show "MoneyDots" on KION-AM 1460, said the search and related investigation had no merit and were the result of a complaint from a disgruntled former employee.

She said the ex-employee was a former federal officer who may have ties to the FBI.

A local FBI office did not return a request for information late Thursday....more..

China businesswoman gets death sentence for fraud

BEIJING A Chinese businesswoman was sentenced to death Friday for cheating investors out of $56 million — the latest case in the country's struggle against widespread corruption.

The 28-year-old Wu Ying started out a decade ago with a single beauty salon but eventually built up a holding group, Bense Holdings, that was known around the country, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The report said Wu collected the $56 million from investors over two years and was arrested in 2007.

Video posted online of her sentencing had the petite, ponytailed Wu showing little emotion as she was led into the courtroom..........

Iraqi official: Iranians seized Iraqi oil well

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iranian troops crossed into Iraqi territory and seized an oil well that lies in a disputed area along the two countries' southern border, Iraq's deputy foreign minister said Friday.

The deputy minister, Mohammed Haj Mahmoud, said Iranian troops seized oil well No. 4 Thursday night in the al-Fakkah oil field, located in Maysan province about 200 miles (about 320 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad. The oil field is one of Iraq's largest.

Oil prices rose slightly after news of the incident.

The incursion by armed Iranians provided a dramatic display of the simmering border tensions between two nations, which have nonetheless grown close in recent years after a Shiite-led government rose to power in Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Iraq's national security council held an emergency meeting late Friday to discuss the oil well takeover, and the government accused Iran of violating its sovereignty.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the seizure showed anew the need for clearly defined borders between Iraq and Iran.........

Credit card's newest trick: 79.9% interest

NEW YORKIt's no mistake. This credit card's interest rate is 79.9%.

The bloated APR is how First Premier Bank, a subprime credit card issuer, is skirting new regulations intended to curb abusive practices in the industry. It's a strategy other subprime card issuers could start adopting to get around the new rules.

Typically, the First Premier card comes with a minimum of $256 in fees in the first year for a credit line of $250. Starting in February, however, a new law will cap such fees at 25% of a card's credit line.

In a recent mailing for a preapproved card, First Premier lowers fees to just that limit — $75 in the first year for a credit line of $300. But the new law doesn't set a cap on interest rates. Hence the 79.9% APR, up from the previous 9.9%...........

Palin Cuts Vacation Short Over Blacked-Out Visor Flap


Sarah Palin released a statement yesterday announcing that she and husband Todd have cut their Hawaiian vacation short, after some controversy over a McCain campaign visor Palin wore with former running mate John McCain's name blacked out with a Sharpie.

After TMZ posted pictures of Palin wearing the visor, some speculation arose that this was another indication that Palin and McCain have been on bad terms since the campaign. Palin insisted that the visor was simply an attempt to "be incognito" on her trip.

Now, it seems, the controversy has caused Palin to end her Hawaii vacation early. In a statement, Palin said:

Todd and I have since cut our vacation short because the incognito attempts didn't work and fellow vacationers were bothered for the two days we spent in the sun. So much for trying to go incognito.

O’Reilly to Ingraham: ‘You are a blind ideologue’ and a ‘Kool-Aid drinker.’


Wednesday on Fox News, host Bill O’Reilly praised First Lady Michelle Obama, whom he had met at the White House holiday party the previous evening. “The President and First Lady were very gracious to me,” he said, adding that he was “impressed” with Michelle Obama. “She’s charismatic, articulate, and beautiful,” O’Reilly said of the First Lady. Last night on Fox, when right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham teased O’Reilly for “gushing” over Michelle Obama, O’Reilly called her a “blind ideologue“:

INGRAHAM: I’m gushing over your gushing last night about the Christmas party. I’m still trying to get over that.

O’REILLY: Wait, a minute. I’m going to call you — I’m calling you out on this. [...] I thought she was very nice at the party. [...] You are a blind ideologue who even if somebody’s nice to you, won’t admit it because you’re talking about a Kool-aid drinker. [...] You have an IV attached to your arm on the Kool-aid.

Watch it:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

MoveOn Hits $1 Million Mark In Anti-Lieberman Campaign

Sam Stein

In less than two days time, the progressive action group has raised more than $1 million for its campaign against Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).

The five-million-member group launched a fundraising drive on Tuesday after the Connecticut independent successfully killed key provisions from the Senate's health care reform legislation.

The goal was set, initially, for $400,000. By 1:22 p.m. on Thursday they were past the $1 million mark and climbing. The money will go to an ad campaign against Lieberman and into a fund to oppose his re-election in 2012.

The massive and quick response to the plea reflects just how much progressive frustration there is about the man who, eight years ago, was the Democratic vice presidential nominee.................

Wikipedia Is A Pro-Obama, Tax-Exempt Scam, Senate Candidate Andy Martin Claims

Andy Martin, a U.S. senate candidate, has hit Wikipedia and Wikimedia with a fraud lawsuit, alleging the two foundations are running "a tax-exempt protosocialist scam that seeks to harass Republicans, conservatives and Obama opponents."

Martin, described as an "Internet Powerhouse" in the press release regarding his lawsuit, is seeking an injunction against the two online organizations, which he's labeled as "anti-conservative, anti-Republican and anti-Obama opponent smear operations."

Martin's press release, which notes that he will be attending a conference on Barack Obama's Missing Birth Certificate and College Records, reads: ...... more .....

Happy Hour over: Fundraising firm drops Bachmann


Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who can't seem to hold onto a chief of staff for more than a year at a time, has now lost her fundraising firm as well.

According to a report which first appeared in Roll Call on Wednesday, "The Gula Graham Group, a Republican fundraising and consulting firm, ended their three-year relationship with Bachmann last week."

The Gula Graham Group arranges fundraising events for a select group of Republican members of Congress, like the "Happy Hour" they put on for Bachmann last spring at the Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar with an admission fee of $500 per attendee.

The firms's co-founder, Mike Gula, told Roll Call, "I can confirm that the Gula Graham Group no longer works for Congresswoman Bachmann. We chose to go in a different direction."

Bachmann also lost her chief of staff, Michelle Marston, just last month. “I’m just not talking about it, and frankly I don’t think there’s a story here,” Marston told Politico at the time. A conservative Republican member of the House, however, suggested the real problem was that “when your captain’s crazy, it’s time to find a new ship.”...............