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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Will the Army face a psy-ops investigation? Rolling Stone editor Eric Bates and GlobalSecurity.org military analyst John Pike talk about the psy-ops allegations in the new issue of Rolling Stone and if true, whether the law has been broken.

Richard Engel: 'Old fashioned Revolt' In Libya


Jon Stewart Takes On Donald Rumsfeld: “Certainty With Power Is Dangerous"


Julian Assange Ordered by Court to Be Extradited to Sweden - NYTimes.com

Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.Image via WikipediaJulian Assange Ordered by Court to Be Extradited to Sweden - NYTimes.com

LONDON —A British court on Thursday ordered Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, to be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of sexual abuse. His lawyers have seven days to appeal the ruling and immediately indicated that they would so.

Mr. Assange, dressed in the blue suit he has worn to previous hearings, sat impassively as the decision was read. He is currently free on bail and the court continued that, subject to conditions which were being discussed.

Judge Howard Riddle, in his ruling, said that allegations brought by two women qualified as extraditable offenses and that the warrant seeking Mr. Assange’s return to Sweden for questioning was valid.

The verdict marks a turning point in the three-month battle in the British courts and the media against what Mr. Assange, his legal team and his celebrity supporters say is a conspiracy to stop WikiLeaks and its campaign to expose government and corporate secrets.

The case has been fought against the backdrop of the group’s highest-profile operation yet — the release of a quarter of a million confidential American diplomatic cables that became the basis of articles by news organizations worldwide, including The New York Times.

WikiLeaks supporters, many of whom contend that the case against Mr. Assange is retribution for the cables’ release, have mobbed courthouses over the course of six acrimonious hearings, chanting, “We love you, Julian.” Mr. Assange was initially denied bail and briefly jailed after defying a judge’s request to provide an address.

Swedish prosecutors argued that Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, must return to Stockholm to face accusations by two women who say that he sexually abused them last August. Under Sweden’s strict sexual-crimes laws, he is accused of two counts of sexual molestation, one count of unlawful coercion and one count of rape. His accusers, both WikiLeaks volunteers, have said that their sexual encounters with Mr. Assange started out as consensual but turned nonconsensual.

Mr. Assange has said the accusations are “incredible lies,” and he has referred to Sweden as “the Saudi Arabia of feminism.”

Judge Little said on Thursday that if there have been abuses in Sweden, “the right place for these to be examined and remedied is in the Swedish trial system.”

Mr. Assange has also denied accusations by the Swedish authorities that he fled the country in September rather than surrender to the police; he says he left Sweden with permission. And he has denounced the leaks of two Swedish police documents that provided graphic details of the accusations.

Mr. Assange, and his lawyers have signaled their intent to take their fight to Britain’s highest courts, and even to the European Court of Human Rights. In adjourning a hearing earlier this month to make his decision, Judge Riddle said with a note of resignation that whatever he decided would “perhaps inevitably be appealed.”

The long and costly legal battle has left Mr. Assange isolated in the country house of a wealthy friend, and he is electronically monitored as a condition of his bail.

During the legal fight, many of his closest colleagues have defected from WikiLeaks, and a dozen of them formed a rival Web site, OpenLeaks. The United States Justice Department, meanwhile, has subpoenaed his Twitter account as part of an investigation that could lead to espionage charges.

In one of the frequent interviews from his friend’s house, Mr. Assange compared himself to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In a recorded speech played this month at a rally in Melbourne, Australia, his adopted hometown, he went further, comparing the struggles of WikiLeaks to those of African-Americans who fought for equal rights in the 1950s, of protesters who sought an end to the Vietnam War in the ‘60s and of the feminist and environmental movements. “For the Internet generation,” he said, “this is our challenge, and this is our time.”

Mr. Assange is also working on his autobiography, which he has said will be worth $1.7 million in publishing deals. “I don’t want to write this book, but I have to,” he said in a December interview with The Sunday Times of London, explaining that his legal costs had reached more than $300,000. “I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat.”

The book, he said, will detail his “global struggle to force a new relationship between the people and their governments.” He said he hoped the book, due out in April, “will become one of the unifying documents of our generation.”

This month, in another fund-raising effort, he organized what he called a “dinner for free speech,” encouraging online supporters to donate to his defense and dine with friends while watching a video message he had recorded. On a Web site to promote the idea, where he was pictured holding a wine glass aloft, he was quoted as declaring, “There are four things that cannot be concealed for long, the sun, the moon, the truth — and dessert!”

WikiLeaks, though unable to process and release new material, has continued to post classified United States diplomatic cables from the cache of the more than 250,000 it has obtained. Recent examples have included documents concerning the opulent lifestyle of the family of former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia. The documents were widely disseminated during the revolution that ousted Mr. Ben Ali and started a wave of protests in the Arab world.

In recent weeks, some of Mr. Assange’s supporters, eager to see WikiLeaks operating with its founder’s full attention, have been echoing a question asked by a judge at one of the initial hearings in the case. “If he is so keen to clear his name,” the judge, Justice Duncan Ouseley, asked in December, “what stops a voluntary return to Sweden?”

Mr. Assange told friends in Britain he feared that if he returned to Sweden he would be extradited to the United States and perhaps be detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or executed. But one of his former WikiLeaks colleagues said in an interview that he thought Mr. Assange’s reason was more mundane.

The colleague, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who is one of the OpenLeaks founders, told reporters last week that when Mr. Assange first heard about the sexual abuse allegations in late August, “he was not concerned about the United States.”

“He was very scared of going to prison in Sweden,” Mr. Domscheit-Berg said, “which he thought might happen.” Such charges carry a maximum sentence of four years and no minimum sentence.

Richard Berry contributed reporting from Paris.

American Workers Vs Multi-Billionaires

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Republican House Leader Boehner On Job Losses: ‘So be it’



'I think John Boehner is bad at his job

Is Obama a Muslim? Birthers, bigots, and Boehner's cowardice. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine

John BoehnerImage via WikipediaIs Obama a Muslim? Birthers, bigots, and Boehner's cowardice. - By William Saletan - Slate

Republican leaders tiptoe around the smear campaign against Obama's faith and citizenship.

By William Saletan
Posted Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, at 8:23 AM ET

The party that was supposed to stand up to President Obama can't even stand up to its own fringe.

Six months ago on Meet the Press, NBC's David Gregory asked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell about a survey in which 31 percent of Republicans said President Obama was a Muslim. McConnell demurred: "I think the faith that most Americans are questioning is the president's faith in the government to generate jobs." Gregory persisted: "As a leader of the country, Sir—as one of the most powerful Republicans in the country—do you think you have an obligation to say to [31] percent of Republicans in the country … who believe the president of the United States is a Muslim, 'That's misinformation'?"

The best McConnell would do was this: "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word."

Reviewing the exchange in Slate, my colleague John Dickerson tartly observed: "If McConnell wasn't trying to stir the pot, he also wasn't trying to lower the boil."

Well, that was half a year ago. And McConnell was just one Republican leader. And if he didn't explicitly denounce the Obama-Muslim conspiracy theories, as Gregory had requested, perhaps that was a result of being surprised by the question.

But since then, the leadership's pattern of cowardice in the face of Obamaphobic falsehoods has grown.

On Jan. 6, John Boehner's first day of business as speaker of the House, a heckler in the chamber challenged Obama's citizenship. NBC's Brian Williams asked Boehner: "You've got 12 members co-sponsoring legislation that does about the same thing: It expresses doubt [about Obama's citizenship]. Would you be willing to say: 'This is a distraction. I've looked at it to my satisfaction. Let's move on'?" Boehner replied: "The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That's good enough for me." For me, lest anyone feel that the speaker was imposing his personal beliefs.

Williams persisted: "Would you be willing to say that message to the 12 members in your caucus who seem to either believe otherwise, or are willing to express doubt and have co-sponsored legislation?"

Boehner answered: "Brian, when you come to the Congress of the United States, there are 435 of us. We're nothing more than a slice of America. People come regardless of party labels. They come with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. It's the melting pot of America. It's not up to me to tell them what to think."

Not up to me. Obama's citizenship, like one's religion or favorite color, is a matter of personal belief. Think what you want to.

On Jan. 23, Gregory asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: "There are elements of this country who question the president's citizenship, who think that his birth certificate is inauthentic. Will you call that what it is, which is crazy talk?" Cantor replied, "I don't think it's nice to call anyone crazy." Gregory asked: "Is it a legitimate or an illegitimate issue?" Cantor answered: "I don't think it's an issue that we need to address at all." So Gregory made the case for addressing it: "I feel like there's a lot of Republican leaders who don't want to go as far as to criticize those folks."

Cantor, like Boehner and McConnell, spoke for himself but refused to repudiate the conspiracy theorists. "I think the president's a citizen of the United States," he said. "Why is it that you want me to go and engage in name-calling?"

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Gregory gave Boehner another chance. He showed the speaker a Fox News focus group in which nine of 25 Iowa Republican caucus-goers said Obama was a Muslim. Gregory asked: "As the speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it's your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?"

Boehner replied:

David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That's good enough for me. The president says he's a Christian. I accept him at his word.

Again, Boehner was answering in terms of his own beliefs. And when Gregory asked him whether the Muslim theory was "nonsense," Boehner softened his affirmation of Obama's version. "I just outlined the facts as I understand them," said Boehner. As to anyone else's beliefs to the contrary, he shrugged, "Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can't—it's not my job to tell them."

How about the members of Boehner's own caucus? Is it his job to tell them when they're spreading falsehoods? Gregory asked the speaker:

You had a new Tea Party freshman who was out just yesterday speaking to conservatives, and he said, "I'm fortunate enough to be an American citizen by birth, and I do have a birth certificate to prove it." That was Raul Labrador … a congressman from Idaho. Is that an appropriate way for your members to speak?

Boehner dismissed the comment as probably a joke. But he repeated, "It really is not our job to tell the American people what to believe."

That's four straight interviews in which the country's three top Republicans—the speaker of the House and the GOP leaders in each chamber—have refused to condemn the spreading of lies about Obama's faith and citizenship. These three men are confident enough in the personhood of fetuses to support banning abortion. They're confident enough in the efficacy and justice of the U.S. health care system to block funding of the Affordable Care Act. They're confident enough in Wall Street, despite the recklessness and bailouts of the last three years, to press for repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. But ask them whether Obama is a Muslim or was born in the United States, and suddenly they're too humble to impose their beliefs on others. They can only describe "the facts as I understand them." They can only speak "for me." They can only "listen to the American people," not "tell them what to think."

These men aren't leaders. They're followers. To lead a party, much less a country, you have to be able to say no. You have to stand up to liars, lunatics, and dupes on your party's fringe. John McCain did it, in his clumsy way (there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim or Arab), when he was the GOP's presidential nominee. Even Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck have done it. They've called the birther conspiracy theories "bogus," "absurd," and "ridiculous."

Why can't Boehner, Cantor, or McConnell speak that bluntly? Why won't they call a lie a lie? If they want to be leaders, it's time to lead.

Is Obama a Muslim? Birthers, bigots, and Boehner's cowardice. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine

Is Obama a Muslim? Birthers, bigots, and Boehner's cowardice. - By William Saletan - Slate

Republican leaders tiptoe around the smear campaign against Obama's faith and citizenship.

By William Saletan
Posted Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, at 8:23 AM ET

The party that was supposed to stand up to President Obama can't even stand up to its own fringe.

Six months ago on Meet the Press, NBC's David Gregory asked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell about a survey in which 31 percent of Republicans said President Obama was a Muslim. McConnell demurred: "I think the faith that most Americans are questioning is the president's faith in the government to generate jobs." Gregory persisted: "As a leader of the country, Sir—as one of the most powerful Republicans in the country—do you think you have an obligation to say to [31] percent of Republicans in the country … who believe the president of the United States is a Muslim, 'That's misinformation'?"

The best McConnell would do was this: "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word."

Reviewing the exchange in Slate, my colleague John Dickerson tartly observed: "If McConnell wasn't trying to stir the pot, he also wasn't trying to lower the boil."

Well, that was half a year ago. And McConnell was just one Republican leader. And if he didn't explicitly denounce the Obama-Muslim conspiracy theories, as Gregory had requested, perhaps that was a result of being surprised by the question.

But since then, the leadership's pattern of cowardice in the face of Obamaphobic falsehoods has grown.

On Jan. 6, John Boehner's first day of business as speaker of the House, a heckler in the chamber challenged Obama's citizenship. NBC's Brian Williams asked Boehner: "You've got 12 members co-sponsoring legislation that does about the same thing: It expresses doubt [about Obama's citizenship]. Would you be willing to say: 'This is a distraction. I've looked at it to my satisfaction. Let's move on'?" Boehner replied: "The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That's good enough for me." For me, lest anyone feel that the speaker was imposing his personal beliefs.

Williams persisted: "Would you be willing to say that message to the 12 members in your caucus who seem to either believe otherwise, or are willing to express doubt and have co-sponsored legislation?"

Boehner answered: "Brian, when you come to the Congress of the United States, there are 435 of us. We're nothing more than a slice of America. People come regardless of party labels. They come with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. It's the melting pot of America. It's not up to me to tell them what to think."

Not up to me. Obama's citizenship, like one's religion or favorite color, is a matter of personal belief. Think what you want to.

On Jan. 23, Gregory asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: "There are elements of this country who question the president's citizenship, who think that his birth certificate is inauthentic. Will you call that what it is, which is crazy talk?" Cantor replied, "I don't think it's nice to call anyone crazy." Gregory asked: "Is it a legitimate or an illegitimate issue?" Cantor answered: "I don't think it's an issue that we need to address at all." So Gregory made the case for addressing it: "I feel like there's a lot of Republican leaders who don't want to go as far as to criticize those folks."

Cantor, like Boehner and McConnell, spoke for himself but refused to repudiate the conspiracy theorists. "I think the president's a citizen of the United States," he said. "Why is it that you want me to go and engage in name-calling?"

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Gregory gave Boehner another chance. He showed the speaker a Fox News focus group in which nine of 25 Iowa Republican caucus-goers said Obama was a Muslim. Gregory asked: "As the speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it's your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?"

Boehner replied:

David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That's good enough for me. The president says he's a Christian. I accept him at his word.

Again, Boehner was answering in terms of his own beliefs. And when Gregory asked him whether the Muslim theory was "nonsense," Boehner softened his affirmation of Obama's version. "I just outlined the facts as I understand them," said Boehner. As to anyone else's beliefs to the contrary, he shrugged, "Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can't—it's not my job to tell them."

How about the members of Boehner's own caucus? Is it his job to tell them when they're spreading falsehoods? Gregory asked the speaker:

You had a new Tea Party freshman who was out just yesterday speaking to conservatives, and he said, "I'm fortunate enough to be an American citizen by birth, and I do have a birth certificate to prove it." That was Raul Labrador … a congressman from Idaho. Is that an appropriate way for your members to speak?

Boehner dismissed the comment as probably a joke. But he repeated, "It really is not our job to tell the American people what to believe."

That's four straight interviews in which the country's three top Republicans—the speaker of the House and the GOP leaders in each chamber—have refused to condemn the spreading of lies about Obama's faith and citizenship. These three men are confident enough in the personhood of fetuses to support banning abortion. They're confident enough in the efficacy and justice of the U.S. health care system to block funding of the Affordable Care Act. They're confident enough in Wall Street, despite the recklessness and bailouts of the last three years, to press for repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. But ask them whether Obama is a Muslim or was born in the United States, and suddenly they're too humble to impose their beliefs on others. They can only describe "the facts as I understand them." They can only speak "for me." They can only "listen to the American people," not "tell them what to think."

These men aren't leaders. They're followers. To lead a party, much less a country, you have to be able to say no. You have to stand up to liars, lunatics, and dupes on your party's fringe. John McCain did it, in his clumsy way (there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim or Arab), when he was the GOP's presidential nominee. Even Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck have done it. They've called the birther conspiracy theories "bogus," "absurd," and "ridiculous."

Why can't Boehner, Cantor, or McConnell speak that bluntly? Why won't they call a lie a lie? If they want to be leaders, it's time to lead.

Is Obama a Muslim? Birthers, bigots, and Boehner's cowardice. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine

Is Obama a Muslim? Birthers, bigots, and Boehner's cowardice. - By William Saletan - Slate

Republican leaders tiptoe around the smear campaign against Obama's faith and citizenship.

By William Saletan
Posted Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, at 8:23 AM ET

The party that was supposed to stand up to President Obama can't even stand up to its own fringe.

Six months ago on Meet the Press, NBC's David Gregory asked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell about a survey in which 31 percent of Republicans said President Obama was a Muslim. McConnell demurred: "I think the faith that most Americans are questioning is the president's faith in the government to generate jobs." Gregory persisted: "As a leader of the country, Sir—as one of the most powerful Republicans in the country—do you think you have an obligation to say to [31] percent of Republicans in the country … who believe the president of the United States is a Muslim, 'That's misinformation'?"

The best McConnell would do was this: "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word."

Reviewing the exchange in Slate, my colleague John Dickerson tartly observed: "If McConnell wasn't trying to stir the pot, he also wasn't trying to lower the boil."

Well, that was half a year ago. And McConnell was just one Republican leader. And if he didn't explicitly denounce the Obama-Muslim conspiracy theories, as Gregory had requested, perhaps that was a result of being surprised by the question.

But since then, the leadership's pattern of cowardice in the face of Obamaphobic falsehoods has grown.

On Jan. 6, John Boehner's first day of business as speaker of the House, a heckler in the chamber challenged Obama's citizenship. NBC's Brian Williams asked Boehner: "You've got 12 members co-sponsoring legislation that does about the same thing: It expresses doubt [about Obama's citizenship]. Would you be willing to say: 'This is a distraction. I've looked at it to my satisfaction. Let's move on'?" Boehner replied: "The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That's good enough for me." For me, lest anyone feel that the speaker was imposing his personal beliefs.

Williams persisted: "Would you be willing to say that message to the 12 members in your caucus who seem to either believe otherwise, or are willing to express doubt and have co-sponsored legislation?"

Boehner answered: "Brian, when you come to the Congress of the United States, there are 435 of us. We're nothing more than a slice of America. People come regardless of party labels. They come with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. It's the melting pot of America. It's not up to me to tell them what to think."

Not up to me. Obama's citizenship, like one's religion or favorite color, is a matter of personal belief. Think what you want to.

On Jan. 23, Gregory asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: "There are elements of this country who question the president's citizenship, who think that his birth certificate is inauthentic. Will you call that what it is, which is crazy talk?" Cantor replied, "I don't think it's nice to call anyone crazy." Gregory asked: "Is it a legitimate or an illegitimate issue?" Cantor answered: "I don't think it's an issue that we need to address at all." So Gregory made the case for addressing it: "I feel like there's a lot of Republican leaders who don't want to go as far as to criticize those folks."

Cantor, like Boehner and McConnell, spoke for himself but refused to repudiate the conspiracy theorists. "I think the president's a citizen of the United States," he said. "Why is it that you want me to go and engage in name-calling?"

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Gregory gave Boehner another chance. He showed the speaker a Fox News focus group in which nine of 25 Iowa Republican caucus-goers said Obama was a Muslim. Gregory asked: "As the speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it's your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?"

Boehner replied:

David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That's good enough for me. The president says he's a Christian. I accept him at his word.

Again, Boehner was answering in terms of his own beliefs. And when Gregory asked him whether the Muslim theory was "nonsense," Boehner softened his affirmation of Obama's version. "I just outlined the facts as I understand them," said Boehner. As to anyone else's beliefs to the contrary, he shrugged, "Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can't—it's not my job to tell them."

How about the members of Boehner's own caucus? Is it his job to tell them when they're spreading falsehoods? Gregory asked the speaker:

You had a new Tea Party freshman who was out just yesterday speaking to conservatives, and he said, "I'm fortunate enough to be an American citizen by birth, and I do have a birth certificate to prove it." That was Raul Labrador … a congressman from Idaho. Is that an appropriate way for your members to speak?

Boehner dismissed the comment as probably a joke. But he repeated, "It really is not our job to tell the American people what to believe."

That's four straight interviews in which the country's three top Republicans—the speaker of the House and the GOP leaders in each chamber—have refused to condemn the spreading of lies about Obama's faith and citizenship. These three men are confident enough in the personhood of fetuses to support banning abortion. They're confident enough in the efficacy and justice of the U.S. health care system to block funding of the Affordable Care Act. They're confident enough in Wall Street, despite the recklessness and bailouts of the last three years, to press for repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. But ask them whether Obama is a Muslim or was born in the United States, and suddenly they're too humble to impose their beliefs on others. They can only describe "the facts as I understand them." They can only speak "for me." They can only "listen to the American people," not "tell them what to think."

These men aren't leaders. They're followers. To lead a party, much less a country, you have to be able to say no. You have to stand up to liars, lunatics, and dupes on your party's fringe. John McCain did it, in his clumsy way (there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim or Arab), when he was the GOP's presidential nominee. Even Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck have done it. They've called the birther conspiracy theories "bogus," "absurd," and "ridiculous."

Why can't Boehner, Cantor, or McConnell speak that bluntly? Why won't they call a lie a lie? If they want to be leaders, it's time to lead.

Is Obama a Muslim? Birthers, bigots, and Boehner's cowardice. - By William Saletan - Slate Magazine

Is Obama a Muslim? Birthers, bigots, and Boehner's cowardice. - By William Saletan - Slate

Republican leaders tiptoe around the smear campaign against Obama's faith and citizenship.

By William Saletan
Posted Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, at 8:23 AM ET

The party that was supposed to stand up to President Obama can't even stand up to its own fringe.

Six months ago on Meet the Press, NBC's David Gregory asked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell about a survey in which 31 percent of Republicans said President Obama was a Muslim. McConnell demurred: "I think the faith that most Americans are questioning is the president's faith in the government to generate jobs." Gregory persisted: "As a leader of the country, Sir—as one of the most powerful Republicans in the country—do you think you have an obligation to say to [31] percent of Republicans in the country … who believe the president of the United States is a Muslim, 'That's misinformation'?"

The best McConnell would do was this: "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word."

Reviewing the exchange in Slate, my colleague John Dickerson tartly observed: "If McConnell wasn't trying to stir the pot, he also wasn't trying to lower the boil."

Well, that was half a year ago. And McConnell was just one Republican leader. And if he didn't explicitly denounce the Obama-Muslim conspiracy theories, as Gregory had requested, perhaps that was a result of being surprised by the question.

But since then, the leadership's pattern of cowardice in the face of Obamaphobic falsehoods has grown.

On Jan. 6, John Boehner's first day of business as speaker of the House, a heckler in the chamber challenged Obama's citizenship. NBC's Brian Williams asked Boehner: "You've got 12 members co-sponsoring legislation that does about the same thing: It expresses doubt [about Obama's citizenship]. Would you be willing to say: 'This is a distraction. I've looked at it to my satisfaction. Let's move on'?" Boehner replied: "The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That's good enough for me." For me, lest anyone feel that the speaker was imposing his personal beliefs.

Williams persisted: "Would you be willing to say that message to the 12 members in your caucus who seem to either believe otherwise, or are willing to express doubt and have co-sponsored legislation?"

Boehner answered: "Brian, when you come to the Congress of the United States, there are 435 of us. We're nothing more than a slice of America. People come regardless of party labels. They come with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. It's the melting pot of America. It's not up to me to tell them what to think."

Not up to me. Obama's citizenship, like one's religion or favorite color, is a matter of personal belief. Think what you want to.

On Jan. 23, Gregory asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: "There are elements of this country who question the president's citizenship, who think that his birth certificate is inauthentic. Will you call that what it is, which is crazy talk?" Cantor replied, "I don't think it's nice to call anyone crazy." Gregory asked: "Is it a legitimate or an illegitimate issue?" Cantor answered: "I don't think it's an issue that we need to address at all." So Gregory made the case for addressing it: "I feel like there's a lot of Republican leaders who don't want to go as far as to criticize those folks."

Cantor, like Boehner and McConnell, spoke for himself but refused to repudiate the conspiracy theorists. "I think the president's a citizen of the United States," he said. "Why is it that you want me to go and engage in name-calling?"

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Gregory gave Boehner another chance. He showed the speaker a Fox News focus group in which nine of 25 Iowa Republican caucus-goers said Obama was a Muslim. Gregory asked: "As the speaker of the House, as a leader, do you not think it's your responsibility to stand up to that kind of ignorance?"

Boehner replied:

David, it's not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people. Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That's good enough for me. The president says he's a Christian. I accept him at his word.

Again, Boehner was answering in terms of his own beliefs. And when Gregory asked him whether the Muslim theory was "nonsense," Boehner softened his affirmation of Obama's version. "I just outlined the facts as I understand them," said Boehner. As to anyone else's beliefs to the contrary, he shrugged, "Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can't—it's not my job to tell them."

How about the members of Boehner's own caucus? Is it his job to tell them when they're spreading falsehoods? Gregory asked the speaker:

You had a new Tea Party freshman who was out just yesterday speaking to conservatives, and he said, "I'm fortunate enough to be an American citizen by birth, and I do have a birth certificate to prove it." That was Raul Labrador … a congressman from Idaho. Is that an appropriate way for your members to speak?

Boehner dismissed the comment as probably a joke. But he repeated, "It really is not our job to tell the American people what to believe."

That's four straight interviews in which the country's three top Republicans—the speaker of the House and the GOP leaders in each chamber—have refused to condemn the spreading of lies about Obama's faith and citizenship. These three men are confident enough in the personhood of fetuses to support banning abortion. They're confident enough in the efficacy and justice of the U.S. health care system to block funding of the Affordable Care Act. They're confident enough in Wall Street, despite the recklessness and bailouts of the last three years, to press for repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. But ask them whether Obama is a Muslim or was born in the United States, and suddenly they're too humble to impose their beliefs on others. They can only describe "the facts as I understand them." They can only speak "for me." They can only "listen to the American people," not "tell them what to think."

These men aren't leaders. They're followers. To lead a party, much less a country, you have to be able to say no. You have to stand up to liars, lunatics, and dupes on your party's fringe. John McCain did it, in his clumsy way (there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim or Arab), when he was the GOP's presidential nominee. Even Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck have done it. They've called the birther conspiracy theories "bogus," "absurd," and "ridiculous."

Why can't Boehner, Cantor, or McConnell speak that bluntly? Why won't they call a lie a lie? If they want to be leaders, it's time to lead.

The Fox host slammed NBC's David Gregory for exposing John Boehner's hypocrisy over the birther movement. David Brock, Founder and Chairman of MediaMatters.org, joins The Last Word with analysis.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Reagan and Reality - NYTimes.com

Reagan and Reality - NYTimes.com

By BOB HERBERT

Early in Eugene Jarecki’s documentary, “Reagan,” you hear the voice of Ronald Reagan saying, “Someday it might be worthwhile to find out how images are created — and even more worthwhile to learn how false images come into being.”

Indeed. The image that many, perhaps most, Americans have of the nation’s 40th president is largely manufactured. Reagan has become this larger-than-life figure who all but single-handedly won the cold war, planted the Republican Party’s tax-cut philosophy in the resistant soil of the liberal Democrats and is the touchstone for all things allegedly conservative, no matter how wacky or extreme.

Mr. Jarecki’s documentary does a first-rate job of respectfully separating the real from the mythical, the significant from the nonsense. The truth is that Ronald Reagan, at one time or another, was all over the political map. Early on, he was a liberal Democrat and admirer of Franklin Roosevelt. Reagan’s family received much-needed help from the New Deal during the Depression.

It is well known that Reagan was the head of the Screen Actors Guild. And though he was staunchly anti-Communist, he did not finger anyone when he appeared before the rabid House Un-American Activities Committee. But Mr. Jarecki learned that at the height of the Red Scare, Reagan had been secretly cooperating with the F.B.I. He was registered officially as Informant T-10.

No less than other public figures, Reagan was complicated. He was neither the empty suit that his greatest detractors would have you believe nor the conservative god of his most slavish admirers. He was a tax-cutter who raised taxes in seven of the eight years of his presidency. He was a budget-cutter who nearly tripled the federal budget deficit.

The biggest problem with Reagan, as we look back at his presidency in search of clues that might help us meet the challenges of today, is that he presented himself — and has since been presented by his admirers — as someone committed to the best interests of ordinary, hard-working Americans. Yet his economic policies, Reaganomics, dealt a body blow to that very constituency.

Mark Hertsgaard, the author of “On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency,” says in the film, “You cannot be fair in your historical evaluation of Ronald Reagan if you don’t look at the terrible damage his economic policies did to this country.”

Paul Volcker, who served as chairman of the Federal Reserve during most of the Reagan years, commented in the film about the economist Arthur Laffer’s famous curve, which, incredibly, became a cornerstone of national economic policy. “The Laffer Curve,” said Mr. Volcker, “was presented as an intellectual support for the idea that reducing taxes would produce more revenues, and that was, I think, considered by most people a pretty extreme interpretation of what would happen.”

Toward the end of his comment, the former Fed chairman chuckled as if still amused by the idea that this was ever taken seriously.

What we get with Reagan are a series of disconnects and contradictions that have led us to a situation in which a president widely hailed as a hero of the working class set in motion policies that have been mind-bogglingly beneficial to the wealthy and devastating to working people and the poor.

“It is important that we stop idolizing our public figures, lionizing them,” said Mr. Jarecki, in an interview. He views Reagan as a gifted individual and does not give short shrift in the film to Reagan’s successes in his dealings with the Soviet Union and other elements of what Mr. Jarecki called “the positive side of Ronald Reagan.” The film also has interviews with many Reagan stalwarts, including James Baker and George Shultz.

But when all is said and done, it is the economic revolution that gained steam during the Reagan years and is still squeezing the life out of the middle class and the poor that is Reagan’s most significant legacy. A phony version of that legacy is relentlessly promoted by right-wingers who shamelessly pursue the interests of the very rich while invoking the Reagan brand to give the impression that they are in fact the champions of ordinary people.

Reagan’s son, Ron, says in the film that he believes his father “was vulnerable to the idea that poor people were somehow poor because it was their fault.” A clip is then shown of Ronald Reagan referring to, “The homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice.”

“Reagan,” an HBO documentary, will be shown on Presidents’ Day to U.S. military personnel on the American Forces Network. It will be available soon in theaters and home video release. It is an important corrective to the fantasy of Reagan that has gotten such a purchase on American consciousness.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This is really crazy. Glen Beck is so looney he makes Bill O'Reilly seem almost sane! O'Reilly Bursts Beck's Bubble On His Egypt Theory.


'Egypt is free': Mubarak gives up office - Crowds in Tahrir Square erupted in jubilant cheers on Friday after Vice President Suleiman, appearing briefly on Egypt state TV, announced that President Mubarak has stepped down from presidency. NBC’s Brian Williams, Richard Engel and Ron Allen report.

Mubarak Steps Down, Ceding Power to Military - NYTimes.com

SHARM EL SHEIKH/EGYPT, 18MAY08 - Muhammad Hosn...Image via WikipediaMubarak Steps Down, Ceding Power to Military - NYTimes.com

CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt turned over all power to the military and left the Egyptian capital for his resort home in Sharm el-Sheik, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced on state television on Friday.

The announcement, delivered during evening prayers in Cairo, set off a frenzy of celebration, with protesters shouting “Egypt is free!”

The Egyptian military issued a communiqué pledging to carry out a variety of constitutional reforms in a statement notable for its commanding tone. The military’s statement alluded to the delegation of power to Mr. Suleiman and it suggested that the military would supervise implementation of the reforms. Mr. Mubarak “has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said in his statement.

David D. Kirkpatrick and Anthony Shadid reported from Cairo, and Alan Cowell from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Liam Stack, Mona El-Naggar and Thanassis Cambanis from Cairo, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg from Marquette, Mich.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Military says Mubarak will meet protesters demands - | Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) -- Military and ruling party officials say President Hosni Mubarak will speak to the nation soon and meet the demands of protesters. Protesters are insisting he step down immediately.

Military officials say the armed forces' supreme council has been meeting all day long and will issue a communique shortly that they say will meet the protesters' demands.

The ruling party chief, Hossan Badrawy, tells The Associated Press he expects Mubarak to address the nation and make a announcement that will satisfy their demands.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CAIRO (AP) - Military and ruling party officials say President Hosni Mubarak will meet protesters' demands.

The Muslim question - A focus group shows Iowa voters generally don't trust Obama because they think he's Muslim. Msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell talks to Rep. Steve King of Iowa about this phenomenon.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Keith Olbermann Heads to Al Gore's Current TV | Fancast News

Cropped headshot of Keith OlbermannImage via WikipediaKeith Olbermann Heads to Al Gore's Current TV | Fancast News

Keith Olbermann is set to join Current TV, the cable channel founded by former Vice President Al Gore.

Olbermann, who’s been out of the public eye since his abrupt departure from MSNBC last month, announced Tuesday that he’s headed to Current, where he’ll host a new talk show starting in late spring. He’ll have the newly created title of “chief news officer” for Current and will also have an “equity stake” in the cable channel, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Current was launched in 2005 by Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt. The channel, available in 60 million homes, is best-known as a repository of viewer-generated content –- video produced mainly by the young people who comprise the channel’s target audience. Hiring Olbermann represents the first time the channel has reached out to sign a nationally known TV personality for a nightly talk show. The move indicates a shift in Current’s programming strategy.

“In Current Media, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt have created the model truth-seeking entity,” Olbermann enthused in a telephone news conference late Tuesday morning. He declined to criticize MSNBC or any of his other former employers, but he did say that “Current is not only the leading independent network, it’s the only one.”

Reports of the former MSNBC host’s next career move began to circulate Monday evening, in advance of Tuesday’s news conference.

A story in the New York Times speculated that Olbermann’s deal with Current had been in the works for a while and may have precipitated his sudden break with MSNBC last month.

Despite Court Rulings, Creationism Still Taught In Many American Classrooms : The Two-Way : NPR

Despite Court Rulings, Creationism Still Taught In Many American Classrooms : The Two-Way : NPR

by EYDER PERALTA

A Neanderthal skull discovered in 1908 at La Chapelle-aux-Saints, France.

A survey of 926 representative high school biology teachers found that only 28 percent of them consistently follow National Research Council guidelines that encourage them to present students with evidence of evolution.


Wikimedia Commons
A Neanderthal skull discovered in 1908 at La Chapelle-aux-Saints, France.
60 percent of teachers skirt the contentious issue by, for example, telling students that they should learn about evolution because it will be on a state test, but they don't need to "believe in it."

The study was published in the journal Science. And the findings, come despite various federal court rulings that have said that teaching creationism violates the Constitution.

One case, pointed out by the study's authors, is Kitzmiller v. Dover:

Local citizens wanted their religious values validated by the science curriculum; prominent academics testified to the scientific consensus on evolution; and creationists lost decisively. Intelligent design was not science, held the court, but rather an effort to advance a religious view via public schools, a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause.

The New York Times reports that the reaction from some in academia was a resigned sigh:

Randy Moore, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, was unsurprised by the study's conclusions. "These kinds of data have been reported regionally, and in some cases nationally, for decades. Creationists are in the classroom, and it's not just the South," he said. "At least 25 percent of high school teachers in Minnesota explicitly teach creationism."

"Students are being cheated out of a rich science education," said Dr. [Eric] Plutzer, [one of the study's authors and] a professor of political science at Penn State University. "We think the 'cautious 60 percent' represent a group of educators who, if they were better trained in science in general and in evolution in particular, would be more confident in their ability to explain controversial topics to their students, to parents, and to school board members."

New stories tarnish Egyptian military's image - Rachel Maddow notes that the image of the Egyptian military is changing as more information comes out about arrests and torture at the hands of soldiers.