Thursday, June 3, 2010

Global Corporations Now Eclipse the Power of Sovereign States: We are at Their Mercy

We are Soooo screwed


To say that many global corporations get away with murder is not an understatement; it's a likely fact. BP --despite the DOJ's investigation which given the Obama Administration's corporatist record will end up putting some low level figure or two in jail to avoid offending the President's corporate CEO buddies -- as miners get killed because of the intentional negligence of Massey Energy in West Virginia, as men on oil rigs in waters that shouldn't be drilled in get blown to smithereens, and union organizers killed by paramailitary groups with alleged relations to Coca Cola in Colombia and elsewhere, and the list goes on and on.

And then there are the slave wages, toxic pollution, deaths caused by cancer, predatory monopoly of the earth's harvest as Monsanto is doing around the world with its GMO rice.   Then there is the IMF and World Bank forcing third world countries to by from these firms.  Then there is Wal-Mart as our de facto State and Commerce Department power behind the U.S. presence in China, paying slave wages to sell cheap products to Americans who have lost their jobs.  The list goes on and on.

Exxon/Mobil reported the largest profit in the history of the corporate world last year; they make hundreds of billions of dollars.  Few nations have the financial resources of these multinational corporations; the dollars to buy men, women and the power over lives without acccountablity for the death and ruin that they leave in their wake.

Most of the nations of the world, including the U.S. D.C. government and President Obama, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the multi-national corporations who run the world without fear of anything but an occasional outcry and laugably small penalty imposed on them to make it seem like a country's leader is actually punishing them.  But the Masters of the Universe know that the necessary PR stunts are done for political purposes and go about doing what they do best, raping the world for profit.

Ten years ago BuzzFlash was started by me with the vision of progressive socialism, but now i feel the strength of grassroots populism where people create the change and force the corporate puppets in D.C. to flee office if they don't want to be tarred and feathered and dumped into a toxic pool of BP oil sludge.

It's time for a non-violent revolution of civil disobedience against the corporations who run the sovereign governments of the world; it's time for the resources of the planet to return to the people of the planet; it's time for democracy to flourish free of the toxic influence of greed and money concentrated in the hands of so few who care so little about the future of life and the planet.

It is time for an outburst of populism that is a celebration of life and progress against the corporate agents of death and destruction who pull the levers in D.C. and around the world.


Let The Sun Shine In......

Can Beck GET anymore outrageous

by Jeffrey Joseph

Considering the exceedingly hyperbolic rhetoric that comes out of Glenn Beck’s mouth, from claiming a Jewish social justice worker used “exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany” to telling his Christian listeners to leave their churches, he makes it hard for a reasonable person to agree with any of his sentiments. Yet, with all his misguided rhetoric, one plea Beck repeats that actually makes some kind of sense involves demanding that people keep the families out of political fights. Beck would earn more credit for the assertion — if only he were not so obviously hypocritical about it.

Just last week, Beck went on the air and mocked Malia Obama’s level of education in an attempt to criticize President Obama’s response to the BP oil spill. Doing a derogatory impression of Malia, Beck asked his co-host Pat Gray, pretending to be President Obama, “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy, did you plug the hole yet? Daddy?” Beck went on to ask, through his Malia voice, “Why do you hate black people so much?” Beck, who never attained a college degree himself,  reiterated the initial comment with an extra dig at Malia, saying, “‘Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?’ Is that’s their — that’s the level of their education, that they’re coming to — they’re coming to daddy and saying ‘Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?’”

Bringing Obama’s children into the argument so exceeded the boundaries of entertainment that Beck felt the need to apologize for his actions days later. Unfortunately, the apology comes across as disingenuous considering he lies to say, “There is absolutely no excuse or reason to ever, ever, ever, ever even come close to the line of dragging somebody’s family into the debate. I’ve never done it. I’ve never done it until last Friday.”

Not only has Beck dragged families into the debate often, he has specifically introduced the Obama family into the debate for years. Beck went after Obama’s father, saying, “His father abandoned him. Why? So he could go off to a Marxist school in New York. Then his father left the country to go try it out.” At the same time, Beck targeted Obama’s mother, who he believes left Obama “with his grandparents so she c[ould] pursue critical theory, which is Marxist. Both parents leave a boy for Marxism?” In addition, Beck went after Obama’s grandparents, wife, and children for what he perceived to be their political thoughts and inclinations, all despite his rule against involving the families.

Of course Beck willfully invokes the family at his own leisure. Though he claimed to have criticized Malia with the intention of illustrating how Obama used children as a shield, he had done that very thing with Sarah Palin earlier in the week. Journalist Joe McGinniss moved next door to Sarah Palin, incidentally while he worked on an unauthorized biography about her. In response to the move, Palin and Beck manufactured all kinds of outrage, Beck demanding that McGinniss “leave the families alone.” While McGinniss had not yet approached anyone in the Palin family, Beck portrayed him as “a peeping tom” who “is now able to look into Piper’s bedroom,” Piper being Sarah’s nine-year-old daughter. Beck and Palin, who supported Beck’s claims, had no foundation for their insinuations. Rather, they simply used the children as political tools to conveniently vilify the respected author next door.

Those instances pertain to just last week; Beck’s malicious use of the family extends much further back. Years ago, he had embarked on a ratings war with a friend in town, Bruce Kelly. Two days after Kelly’s wife suffered a traumatizing miscarriage, Beck called Bruce’s wife, on the air, to mock how Bruce “apparently can’t do anything right.”

Those are the kinds of classless attacks Beck has stooped to in his career involving families in a bid to increase ratings. He would go so far as to mock a fellow DJ, a friend, for something as tragic as a miscarriage. Yet he still musters faux outrage at the trumped-up violations he believes others make against the sanctity of the family. It makes about as much sense as him telling his audience he is not juxtaposing modern America with Nazi Germany within an hour of doing precisely that. Even if Beck could make a valid point, like how people should avoid targeting the apolitical family around a politician, he so immediately contradicts his own point that hardly anyone would notice.

FOX has quite a few problems to work on, but airing a personality like Beck who so often goes after the family of his political opponents or uses family as a shield against attacks crosses an ethical line. In between contradicting himself, Beck would agree to the reprehensibility of doing so. Hence, viewers should tell FOX it should stick to the facts and to the politicians if it wants to work as a serious news organization — and in the meantime choose to Turn Off FOX.

Please send in tips and success stories to, look out for us on Twitter @turnofffox, and join us at BuzzFlash in the Campaign to Turn Off FOX News. And please forward this article to a friend. You can drive the message home by obtaining a Turn Off FOX Bumper Sticker. Just Click Here.
Originally posted at Turn Off FOX.

Let The Sun Shine In......

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Congress Gets A Kick in the ....Pants

I know where my aim would be!


There's a story about a member of the British House of Commons who was stopped in the halls of Parliament by a constituent, an elderly pensioner. The little old man had a specific concern about his fellow senior citizens that he hoped the politician could solve.

He made his case clearly and intelligently and when he was finished, the Member of Parliament promised to see what might be done. As the MP turned to leave, the old man hauled off and kicked him in the backside as hard as he could.

The astonished politician turned; the old man waggled a finger and cheerily said, "Now don't forget!"

Few American politicians will forget that a lot of incumbent backsides were kicked by frustrated voters in Tuesday's primaries: longtime Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter, a converted Democrat more from expedience than allegiance, lost renomination to Rep. Joe Sestak; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saw his handpicked Senate candidate go down in Kentucky, defeated by Tea Partier Rand Paul; and Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln was forced into a runoff by progressive Democrat Bill Halter.

Yet for all the talk of an anti-incumbent fever sweeping the land, the image of angry voters manning the tumbrels and throwing the rascals out, consider the special congressional election for the late Democratic Congressman John Murtha's seat in southwestern Pennsylvania. Democrat Mark Critz handily defeated Republican Tea Partier Tim Burns and pundits declared it a big loss for the GOP, which had tried to play on anti-Obama and anti-Nancy Pelosi sentiment to defeat Critz.

Maybe the analysts are right, but it sure as hell wasn't a kick in the pants of incumbency. Mark Critz was an aide to Murtha for more than a decade and doubtless learned well at the trough of the master. Murtha, who famously declared, "If I'm corrupt it's because I take care of my district," used his many years as a member of the House Appropriations Committee to shower government munificence on the good people of the Pennsylvania 12th -- more than $2 billion worth, according to the group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

"While nobody can fill his shoes," Critz said of his mentor, "I have the honor of following in his footsteps." Be careful not to slip on all that pork grease, Congressman.

What does it all mean? The fact of the matter is that in Washington, as in Hollywood, nobody knows anything (to quote screenwriter William Goldman) about why things happen, although a great many people earn a decent living to huff and puff as if they do. But this seems clear: beyond the inchoate and diffuse anger of the Tea Party faction there is a real and reasoned discontent in the land and it's not so much against incumbents themselves as it is anti-establishment, protesting the games played and the resulting inertia suffocating what's left of our democracy and our economy. If elected officials would just do what they're supposed to -- or even just create the illusion of forward motion -- hearts would be a little lighter.

Instead, they produce tepid versions of reform -- weak tea when strong doses of antibiotics are called for -- and engage in games of parliamentary gotcha, creating nothing and reducing what was once the loyal opposition to a bunch of sniggering schoolkids.

Take, for example, recent attempts to pass the House version of the America COMPETES Act. It is, as the Associated Press describes, legislation "that would have committed more than $40 billion... to boost funding for the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies involved in basic and applied science, provided loan guarantees to small businesses developing new technologies, and promoted science and math education.

"Congress enacted a first version of the legislation in 2007 with a large majority in the House and a unanimous vote in the Senate. But in this election year, with Republicans out to show their antispending credentials, things are different."

Last week, the legislation was pulled when Republicans stuck onto it an amendment not only cutting certain programs in the bill but cracking down on federal workers watching porn on their office computers -- a move simply intended to embarrass Democrats. How could many of them vote against the cuts without fearing GOP campaign ads declaring, "Congressman XX supports smut?"

The bill's supporters tried again this week, restoring the cuts but reducing the measure's timeframe from five years to three -- and including the anti-pornography provision. “But Democrats made a losing gamble by bringing the bill up under a procedure that prevented Republicans from offering more amendments but requiring a two-thirds majority for passage," AP reported. "The vote was 261 to 148 for passage, short of the two-thirds needed. Every Democrat supported it, but only 15 of 163 voting Republicans backed it."

Here is what's essentially a jobs bill, shot down by gameplaying and fiddling at a time when, as former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich notes, "Unemployment continues to haunt the middle class -- the anxious class of America...

"The real lesson from the economy's first quarter is the recovery is so weak that the anxious class is likely to remain anxious through November."

So perhaps the most telling punchline of this week's primaries was the one used to devastating effect by Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania: "Arlen Specter switched parties to save one job. His own."

Contrary to conventional wisdom, once financial reform is done, if members of Congress think they can save their jobs by sitting out the rest of the session, doing nothing to make waves -- or create jobs -- they will find themselves kicked in the backside, and onto the pavement.

Michael Winship is senior writer for Public Affairs Television.

Let The Sun Shine In......

It Takes More Than Just Waving a Flag to be an American


The Tea Party is actually desecrating the flag rather than honoring it by using it as a tool of hatred. It's no different than the way the Ku Klux Klan used the flag to try to define themselves as the "Real Americans" when their message is that the rest of us are not as real of Americans as they are. They walk around in their costumes waiving their flags and their crosses and wearing their guns and spouting racist rhetoric calling everyone who disagrees with them Communists and Nazis. Their message is meant to inspire violence and is phony and dishonest.

America is a land of many cultures. We are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants from all parts of the world. This is not a nation of just white people. When someone uses the flag to send a message of hate and exclusion they are dishonoring everything America stands for. It takes more than just waiving a flag to be an American. When the flag becomes a lie about your patriotism and you use it as a tool of anger you might as well just set it on fire because your message is not the message that this country was founded upon.

Let The Sun Shine In......

Right Likes To Mix Oil With Their Tea

Capitol Idea:

By Scott Nance

The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatens to damage the environment, the livelihoods of local commercial fishermen and others, as well as affect the region's residents for months, if not years, into the future. But the response from the Right to the disaster so far also threatens for the long-term any credibility that the so-called tea party movement claims in representing such bedrock conservative principles of limited government, controlled federal spending, or strong national security.

If they truly cared about these core notions of what conservatism at least used to be about, the tea party activists would have been already been plenty angry about the relationship between big oil companies like BP and the federal government. And the disaster now unfolding off the coast of Louisiana only would have increased their outrage. That the tea partyers seem so unconcerned — and in the case of Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, outright hostile, who went as far as calling President Obama "un-American" for holding BP's feet to the fire — indicates either a profound ignorance of the situation, or more likely, just further unmasks the truth that conservatives today are motivated by unfettered corporatism, not the supposedly high-minded ideals to which they pay lip service.
Were a supposedly limited role for the federal government and spending restraint truly motivations for conservatives, they would be trying to pass legislation to make sure BP pays to clean up its own mess. Instead, it's the conservatives who are blocking such a bill in the Senate, leaving the American taxpayers to pick up the check.
Make no mistake, BP ain't hurting. As the fourth-largest corporation on the planet, BP reported $5.5 billion in profit — not revenue, but take-home profit — in the last three months.

It doesn't need a bailout, but by obstructing legislation to hold the company accountable for paying for its cleanup, the conservatives are offering BP just that.

In so doing, conservatives are talking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they wail about deficits and debts, but when push comes to shove, it is the right who needlessly adds to the nation's red ink.

BP's bosses aren't even the only Big Oil executives to be reaching into our wallets to take our money. All five of the largest oil companies are reporting huge profits, but they each are taking $20 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies over the next five years.

Are conservatives outraged over this federal corporate welfare, which even George W. Bush has described as an unnecessary for oil production? Nope, quite the opposite: they are complicit in it. When President Obama proposed eliminating these wasteful tax giveaways — which truly represent an unwarranted federal hand in the private sector — it was a top conservative who howled.

Sen. John Cornyn is the Texas conservative who heads up his party's campaign to elect more Republican senators. He pounds Democrats on the one hand for deficit spending, but the moment someone tried to pull his oil buddies' hands out of your back pockets, Cornyn screamed bloody murder.

Where were the tea party folks during all this? Nowhere that I could see. Apparently, it's easier for the tea-party crowd to talk the limited government talk than it is to walk the walk.
Meanwhile, many conservatives and tea partyers are also busy betraying American national security. By shilling for Big Oil, they are helping to prop up a number of regimes and groups known to be unfriendly toward the United States. Specifically, it's known that each $1 increase in the price of oil provides an additional $1.5 billion to Iran annually. In this way, conservatives who side with Big Oil are giving direct aid and comfort to Iranian strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Fortunately, conservatives can turn this around and start helping, not hurting, their fellow Americans. One way that they can do this is by supporting the Senate's new American Power Act. The American Power Act aims to contain greenhouse gas emissions, while simultaneously reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Even if you're one who thinks global climate change is bunk, you should still support the American Power Act. Many serious conservatives for years have recognized that the things they need to do to ensure strong U.S. energy security and national security are the exact same things others want to do to mitigate climate change. This includes such things as government mandates on automakers to manufacture increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles. That means everyone needs to be doing all of the same things in energy policy, even while they may disagree on why they are doing them.

The choice conservative activists face today is as big as the Gulf oil spill itself. They can either live up to what their ideals demand of them, or they can just keep spouting the same empty, angry platitudes in the defense of corporate greed.

The publisher of On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered government and Washington for more than a decade. Capitol Idea is his regular column from Washington. The article was first published as "Right Likes To Mix Oil With Their Tea," on

Let The Sun Shine In......

Inside The Collapse


Let The Sun Shine In......

US govt angry that BP missed deadlines -Salazar

* BP has deepwater know-how for the task:Coast Guard chief
* Coast Guard Admiral Allen says "I trust" BP CEO Hayward (Recasts with Salazar comments)

By Matthew Bigg and Chris Baltimore

VENICE, La/HOUSTON, May 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. government threatened to remove BP (BP.L) from efforts to seal a blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico if it doesn't do enough to stop the leak, though it acknowledged only the company and the oil industry have the know-how to halt the deepwater spill.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Sunday Washington is frustrated and angry that BP Plc missed "deadline after deadline" in its efforts to seal the well more than a month after an oil rig explosion triggered the disaster.

"I am angry and I am frustrated that BP has been unable to stop this oil from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading. We are 33 days into this effort and deadline after deadline has been missed," U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said after visiting BP's U.S. headquarters in Houston.

"If we find they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way appropriately," he told reporters as the administration maintained its hard line.
Salazar's strongly worded comments followed President Barack Obama's on Saturday, when he blamed the spill on "a breakdown of responsibility" at BP. The unfolding disaster has become a top priority on Obama's crowded domestic agenda. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

TAKE A LOOK on the spill [ID:nSPILL]
Breakingviews column [ID:nLDE64C1D1]

The chief of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen, acknowledged on Sunday that the government is forced to rely on BP and the private oil sector to try to plug the gusher. At the same time, BP said the containment method it was attempting on the ocean floor was capturing much less of the leaking oil than three days ago.

Company engineers were readying other short-term solutions, the next one expected to start late on Tuesday. But BP Managing Director Bob Dudley said there was "no certainty" of success at the unprecedented depths at which they were being tried -- one mile (1.6 km) down in the Gulf of Mexico.

More than a month after a rig explosion triggered what Obama has described as an environmental disaster and "BP's mess," oil is still spewing virtually unchecked from BP's ruptured Macondo seabed well.


At a time of mounting U.S. government and public criticism of the company and its executives over the catastrophic spill, Allen said he trusted BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who has made comments downplaying its size and environmental impact.

Sheets of heavy oil have washed ashore in Louisiana's fragile marshlands and lesser "oil debris" has also reached the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama in what is seen as an ecological and economic calamity for the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Given the lack of a solution so far and the doubts over BP, Allen was asked on CNN's "State of the Union" why the U.S. federal government did not completely take over the spill containment operation from the London-based firm.

"What makes this an unprecedented anomalous event is access to the discharge site is controlled by the technology that was used for the drilling, which is owned by the private sector," Allen said. "They have the eyes and ears that are down there. They are necessarily the modality by which this is going to get solved," he added.

Asked too about the apparent growing U.S. lack of confidence in BP CEO Hayward, Allen said: "I trust Tony Hayward. When I talk to him, I get an answer".

BP has deployed a long suction tube down to the larger of two leaks from the well, but a BP spokesman said on Sunday this captured only 1,360 barrels per day of oil over the 24 hours to midnight Saturday. The flow has been declining from the 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons/795,000 litres) per day the company had said the tube was siphoning off three days ago.

BP engineers are now preparing a "top kill," pumping heavy fluids into the well to try to shut it off, an operation to begin late Tuesday or early Wednesday, Dudley told CNN.

Many scientists believe the Gulf spill has already eclipsed the 11 million gallons (41 million litres) spilled by the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker accidnet in Alaska. They warn the spreading oil could increasingly be caught in a powerful ocean current that could take it to the Florida Keys, Cuba and the U.S. East Coast.


Churchgoers in Louisiana coastal parishes affected by the spill prayed for God's help. "You (God) can clear that oil up, because that oil was down there thousands of years before it came up in the Gulf. So you know what to do with it, dear God," retired oyster fisherman Herbert Guidry prayed in the New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Houma.

Analysts say growing ecological and economic damage from the spill could become a political liability for Obama before November congressional elections.

While also promising to hold Washington accountable for proper oversight of the industry, Obama ramped up pressure on companies linked to the spill: BP, Halliburton (HAL.N) and Transocean Ltd (RIG.N). He believed a "breakdown of responsibility" between them led to the disaster.

BP stocks have taken a beating in the markets in the month since the well blowout and rig explosion that killed 11 workers and touched off the spill. Its share price shed another 4 percent on Friday in London, extending recent sharp losses. (Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Jackie Frank in Washington, Sharon Reich in Louisiana, Hashem Kalantari in Tehran; Writing by Ed Stoddard and Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Jackie Frank)

Let The Sun Shine In......

Friday, May 14, 2010

Right-Wing Machine Attacks Kagan

Jilani, and Alex Seitz-Wald

Immediately after President Obama announced Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, the right-wing attack machine kicked into high gear. In the few short days since the announcement, the far right has tried to smear Kagan -- much as it did to Sonia Sotomayor -- with sexist, personal attacks, and misinformation about her background, professional history, ideology, and judicial philosophy. Hate radio host Rush Limbaugh said that "we don't need to go too deep in analyzing the babe...I guess she can change her mind. She's a woman." Michael Savage called Kagan a "radical leftist red-diaper doper baby" who is "out of touch...with mainstream America." Late last month, before Kagan's nomination, top GOP strategist Curt Levey revealed the right's strategic motives. He urged Republicans to vigorously contest whomever Obama nominated -- regardless of qualification -- in order to delay confirmation and "eat up precious time Democrats need to round out their agenda." "Even if it's a nominee that we can't seriously stop, we can accomplish several things, and so a hard fight is worthwhile," Levey said, adding, "There's broader goals such as just distracting Obama from other items on his agenda." Yet at the same time, others on the right recognize the divisive strategy's key flaw. "I don't think it's good for the Court. ... I don't think it serves the country well," said former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr, who famously led the impeachment of President Clinton. Nevertheless, the right-wing attack campaign continues.

EXPERIENCE HYPOCRISY: Kagan's experience equals, or even exceeds, the backgrounds of some of the Court's most respected justices, past and present. However, Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), Sen. Jim DeMint (SC), and John Cornyn (TX) have questioned Kagan's qualifications because she has never served as a judge. "I'm concerned that she has no judicial experience," DeMint said. Yet back in 2005, all three senators vigorously supported President Bush's Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, who also had never sat on the bench. "Ms. Miers has great experience," McConnell said at the time. "She is well qualified to join the nation's highest court," he added. Before Kagan's nomination, Cornyn said she would be a "highly qualified" candidate to replace Stevens but this week he said he finds her nomination "surprising" because "she lacks judicial experience." When challenged on his double standard, he flip-flopped, saying that Miers, "like Ms. Kagan, has not been a judge. I don't think that should be a disqualifier." Indeed, many other GOP senators feel the same way. "I don't think that's a disqualification," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, noting that "some of the greatest justices in history never sat in a court room." Even Miguel Estrada, who was nominated to a federal appeals court by President Bush but was never confirmed, said Kagan is "highly capable and should be confirmed."

MILITARY ATTACK HYPOCRISY: Although it has been thoroughly debunked, Republicans and conservative media have latched on to the false talking point that as Harvard Law School (HLS) dean, Kagan "banned" the military from recruiting on campus and that because of it, she is "hostile to the military." However, it has been well-documented that Kagan never booted, banned, or barred military recruiters from HLS. The criticism focuses on Kagan's opposition to the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy. Highlighting Kagan's statement from 2004 that "the military's recruitment policy is both unjust and unwise," the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol went on the attack, saying "[i]t is intellectually wrong and morally cowardly to call this the 'military's policy'" because "[i]t is the policy of the U.S. Government, based on legislation passed in 1993 by (a Democratic) Congress, signed into law and implemented by the Clinton administration, legislation and implementation that are currently continued by a Democratic administration and a Democratic Congress." Others at the Weekly Standard quickly echoed Kristol's charge. However, as Media Matters' Jamison Foser noted, "The interesting thing about Kristol & Co. insisting that the military itself has nothing to do with the military's anti-gay policies is that they've been insisting for years that civilian policymakers should defer to the military when it comes to adjusting those policies." Moreover, Kristol has never attacked Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen for criticizing DADT. "We have in place a policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens," Mullen told Congress earlier this year. "For me, personally, it comes down to integrity: Theirs as an individual, ours as an institution."

Outside the dishonest "experience" and "ban on the military" talking points, others on the right have resorted to outright personal attacks on Kagan. Fox News' Sean Hannity called Kagan a "radical," others in the conservative media are calling her a socialist. Radio talk show host Michael Savage said she had been part of the "New York City communist front" and the Republican National Committee attacked Kagan for saying the Constitution was "defective" as originally written (She was referring to the fact that the founding document codified slavery before the 13th Amendment). CNN conservative commentator Bay Buchanan said Obama had "dummied down" the Court with Kagan's nomination. Others in the right-wing media have targeted Kagan's physical appearance. "Has anyone seen Mike Myers and your new Supreme [Court nominee] in the same room at the same time?" conservative radio host Neal Boortz tweeted.'s Jason Mattera compared Kagan to a football linebacker and Savage said that he finds Kagan's appearance "personally grotesque." One far-right group has wondered if Kagan is a lesbian, asserting that if she is, she would not be "qualified to sit on the Supreme Court." Even the mainstream media is dabbling in this rumor, finding speculation over Kagan's private life more news-worthy than asking how a nominee's sexual orientation is relevant to his or her qualifications.


ECONOMY -- DESPITE MILITARY OPPOSITION, BROWNBACK CONTINUES PUSH TO EXEMPT AUTO DEALERS FROM NEW CONSUMER PROTECTIONS: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) has offered up an amendment to the Senate financial reform legislation that would protect auto dealers' ability to engage in unscrupulous lending practices. The move, which mirrors an amendment included in the House version of the legislation, prompted an interjection from President Obama, who blasted Brownback's amendment, saying it would allow auto dealer-lenders to "inflate rates, insert hidden fees into the fine print of paperwork, and include expensive add-ons that catch purchasers by surprise." "The fact is, auto dealer-lenders make nearly 80 percent of the automobile loans in our country, and these lenders should be subject to the same standards as any local or community bank that provides loans," said Obama. The President also singled out the harm the amendment could cause military families, who are often targets of these deceptive practices. In February, the Defense Department in February weighed in on the auto dealer-lender exemption, hailing the "intervention of the CFPA in overseeing auto financing and sales" in protecting U.S. servicemembers and "reducing the concerns they have over their financial well-being." Yesterday, Secretary of the Army John McHugh wrote a letter to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) expressing his "strong concerns" about the Brownback amendment. Research by the Cambridge Winter Center for Financial Institutions Policy has found that "auto finance is demonstrably susceptible to unfair and deceptive practices" -- including mark ups and a host of fees -- "and those practices are demonstrably not held in check by private market forces alone." In fact, The New York Times this week detailed one instance of a dealer exploiting a member of the military by demanding more fees after a purchase was already completed, while physically blocking his car to that the soldier could not leave until he agreed to pay.


New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo has begun an investigation "of eight banks to determine whether they provided misleading information to rating agencies in order to inflate the grades of certain mortgage securities." Cuomo's investigation includes megabanks such as Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

A new WSJ/NBC poll finds that only 4 percent of respondents have a very or somewhat positive view of Goldman Sachs; 50 percent have a somewhat or very negative view, worse figures than even those of oil-giant BP.

In a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday, President Obama stressed that the U.S. remains on schedule to begin withdrawing troops by July 2011, but he also said, "We are not suddenly, as of July 2011, finished with Afghanistan." The president promised a "long-term partnership" with the Afghans beyond a military presence.

"The monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan, driven by troop increases and fighting on difficult terrain, has topped Iraq costs for the first time since 2003 and shows no sign of letting up," USA Today reports. "Pentagon spending in February, the most recent month available, was $6.7 billion in Afghanistan compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has signed a bill banning public schools from offering ethnic studies courses. The measure was aimed at the Tucson Unified School District's popular Mexican-American studies department, which critics called "ethnic chauvinism." Schools that don't comply with the law "could have as much as 10% of their state funds withheld each month."

President Obama's approval rating "remained stable" in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll at 50 percent, compared with 48 percent in March. "In the wake of the attempted Times Square terrorist attack, a plurality of respondents approve of his handling of terrorism." The poll also found that 64 percent "strongly or somewhat" support Arizona's new immigration law, with 70 percent of Hispanics opposed.
Transocean Ltd., which owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, is petitioning to limit its liability to under $27 million. The contractor is already facing dozens of lawsuits from aggrieved parties.

The head of the U.S. Naval Academy said yesterday that the school would adapt to a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, "because basic respect among students is crucial to succeeding." Noting that there was a time when minorities and women were not allowed to attend the school, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler told reporters that students already come from many different backgrounds.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 yesterday to ban most city travel to Arizona, and asked the city attorney to review all $58 million in existing contracts with companies in the state to see which could be canceled in protest of Arizona's new immigration law. Councilman Ed Reyes said Arizona's law is "not American."

And finally: "When President Obama was asked if he would play a round of golf" with Rush Limbaugh, his response -- according to "a top Democrat" quoted in a new book about the hate radio host -- was that "Limbaugh can play with himself."

ThinkProgress has a new mobile version of our website. Please check out on your mobile device, and let us know what you think.

Whenever the media insists both sides are guilty of ideological purges, "an angel loses its wings."

Is Faisal Shahzad linked to the Pakistani Taliban or not?

Are people interested in facts?

Washington, DC is oddly complacent about unemployment.

Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) reportedly falls asleep during an intelligence briefing.

Obama on civilian casualties in Afghanistan: "I am accountable."

Senate Democrats' misguided push to give national banks immunity from state law.

Military bloggers come out against DADT.

"In Arizona, they know exactly what's in the legislation. They argued over the details in the legislation. The rest of America doesn't realize that it isn't profiling. In fact, the only way that a policeman can stop someone is if they believe that they're in the process of committing a crime."
-- GOP Pollster Frank Luntz, 5/12/10


"[A] police officer responding to city ordinance violations would also be required to determine the immigration status of an individual they have reasonable suspicion of being in the country illegally. City ordinance violations vary by municipality
but could include things like loud parties, barking dogs, cars on blocks in the yard or too many renters."
-- The Arizona Republic, 4/29/10

Let The Sun Shine In......

Voters Chart a Dangerous Path

What a predictable society we have become. Not only are we guilty of expecting instant gratification of our every wish and quick solutions for problems years in the making, we are delusional about the reasons for our failure. Conservatives deluge call-in programs with partisan talking points as if they were voicing opinions derived in some rational process instead of being fomented in the torrid right-wing spin machine with disciples mobilized to spread the word about everything from health care to Supreme Court nominees.

Persistent rants claiming President Obama is driving the country toward a socialistic, one-world amalgam are made by people who obviously have no idea what socialism is and simply repeat the vituperations of talk-radio hosts. They are misled as well by a cadre of fast-talking self-promoting cable ‘analysts’ who discuss the most profound subjects in a shallow, dismissive manner and who always manage to have the last word.

On Morning Joe recently a guest discussed his documentary about how content-light Supreme Court confirmation proceedings often are. He mentioned, for example, that Judge Roberts had been something less than forthcoming during confirmation giving the impression that he was a moderate of sorts. Once on the bench, however, he went out of his way to deliver a conservative message. Host Joe Scarborough said he disagreed with everything the guest had said about Roberts but then he (Joe) was a conservative and the guest was a filmmaker. The truth is most observers agree that the Roberts who appeared before the Senate was a different creature from the Roberts presiding as Chief Justice.

We knew of course there’d be a fight over the president’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, no matter who it was. The veto machine in the Senate otherwise known as the Republican minority is always hard at work immobilizing that body with secret holds and manipulating issues to force filibuster-proof votes. They have plenty of company in efforts to malign nominee Elena Kagan. Absolutely ludicrous criticisms are leveled at her by a variety of people, many of whom should be relegated to the dustbin of inconsequential talking heads - - people like Bay Buchanan.

Buchanan says the president “dummied down” the Supreme Court by nominating Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, an astonishing pronouncement considering her support of Sarah Palin whom she described as accomplished and “extraordinarily qualified” to be president, and coming on the heels of the eight-year administration of a seriously under-qualified George Bush. Speaking of “dummied down” appointments other than the Supreme Court appointment of Bush in 2000, we have Clarence Thomas who received a minimally-qualified grade from the American Bar Association. But agree or disagree with the Kagan and Sotomayor nominations, saying they aren’t smart is, well, just stupid.

It is hard to imagine that voters stand ready to ‘throw the bums out’ of office and return bums of even greater magnitude in frustration at the nation’s slow rate of progress out of financial distress. Disregarding the previous administration’s failed agenda and believing that tax cuts and unregulated markets will resuscitate a weak economy and ward off creeping socialism represents an impulse to clutch at a huge empty straw. Oddly, political enemies don’t seem to grasp the irony of referring to what they describe as Obama’s failings in terms, as Jon Stewart puts it, of Bush “f**k-ups.” Thus Kagan becomes his Harriet Myers, the BP spill his Katrina and Afghanistan his war. In a desperate attempt to excoriate Obama, opponents run the risk of highlighting the failed policies and offhand governing style of the former president.

The ship of state was foundering long before Obama took office but the quicksand of previous inaction and intransigence was waiting to suck the life out of his agenda. Now, little more than a year later, the public seems to have forgotten the reason for our national distress and, in a wave of misplaced anger inflamed by strident demagogues, have taken aim at the president and all incumbents whether or not they deserve blame. If voters choose to embrace the politics of the past and heed the demon call of the right-wing we will be delivered into the mindless world of Rush Limbaugh.and the party he leads.

Please respond to Ann Davidow's commentary by leaving comments below and sharing them with the BuzzFlash community.

FINDING A VOICE by Ann Davidow

Let The Sun Shine In......

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Indecision: Britain 2010

Polls: Conservatives fall short of majority in UK

By PAISLEY DODDS and DANICA KIRKA, Associated Press Writers Paisley Dodds And Danica Kirka, Associated Press Writers Thu May 6, 7:57 pm ET
LONDON – The Conservatives captured the largest number of seats and the ruling Labour Party suffered substantial losses Thursday in Britain's national election, according to television projections based on exit polls.

The projected result did not bode well for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister since 2007, and triggered widespread uncertainty over who will form the next government. The country's top three parties — the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats — immediately began jockeying for position in possible coalition.
Frustrated voters, meanwhile, said they were turned away from polling stations and some stations appeared overwhelmed by late voter turnout — a sign of the intense interest in this election.

An analysis by Britain's main television networks suggested David Cameron's Conservative party will win 305 House of Commons seats, short of the 326 seats needed for a majority.
The projections also showed a substantial drop for Brown's ruling Labor Party, giving it 255 seats — its smallest number since 1987. Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats were seen as winning 61 seats — far less than had been expected. Smaller parties got 29 other seats.

The projection suggests that the Conservatives will gain 95 seats, Labour will lose 94 and the Liberal Democrats will lose one.

If the vote does not give any party a majority, that could produce a destabilizing period of political wrangling and uncertainty. Brown could resign if he feels the results have signaled he has lost his mandate to rule, or he could try to stay on as leader and seek a deal in which smaller parties would support him.

"Let's see how it pans out. Gordon will know whether he should stay on or not," Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson said. "I think Gordon deserves the dignity to look at these things and make up his own mind."

Hard results began to trickle in about an hour after polls closed. The first seat to declare, Houghton and Sunderland South in northern England, was retained by Labour.

Hundreds of British voters across the country claimed they were unable to vote because they were left still standing in long lines when polls closed at 10 p.m. (2100 GMT, 5 p.m. EDT).

Police in London said they were called to a polling station in east London when about 50 angry voters denied the chance to cast their ballot staged a sit-in protest. Voters in Sheffield, Newcastle and elsewhere in London also complained that they had been denied a vote because of lines as polls closed.

Theresa May, a senior Conservative Party lawmaker, said the exit poll result showed Labour's heaviest losses since 1931, and that the incumbent party had lost "the legitimacy to govern."

But Labour's Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, pointed out that the sitting prime minister is traditionally given the first chance to form a government.

"The rules are that if it's a hung Parliament, it's not the party with the largest number of seats that has first go, it's the government," he said. "I have no problem in principle in trying to supply this country with a stable government."

He extended an olive branch to the Liberal Democrats, who have called to end the first-past-the-post system, where the number of districts won — not the popular vote — determines who leads the country.

"There has to be electoral reform as a result of this election," Mandelson said. "First-past the-post is on its last legs."

The results may yet change. Projecting elections based on exit polls is inherently risky — particularly in an exceptionally close election like this one. Polls are based on samples — in this case 18,000 respondents — and always have some margin of error.

Britain's census is nine years out of date and the polling districts haven't caught up to population shifts. Many voters also refuse to respond to exit polls.

Thousands have also already cast postal ballots but those results don't factor into the exit polls. About 12 percent cast postal ballots in 2005.

The election result would be disastrous news for the Liberal Democrats, Britain's longtime third party, who enjoyed a big poll surge after the charismatic Clegg appeared in televised TV debates.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Vince Cable described the outcome of the exit poll as "very strange" and insisted they had been "horribly wrong" in the past.

The Tories are hoping to regain power for the first time since 1997, when they were ousted by Labour under Tony Blair. After three leaders and three successive election defeats, the party selected Cameron, a fresh-faced, bicycle-riding graduate of Eton and Oxford who promised to modernize the party's fusty, right-wing image.

Whoever wins faces the daunting challenge of introducing big budget cuts to slash Britain's huge deficit.

In late trading in New York, the British pound sank to its lowest point in a year to trade at $1.4715.

Let The Sun Shine In......