Archive for September 23rd, 2009

If the Republicans ever manage to retake Congress, they will absolutely try to impeach President Obama. And it’ll be based upon a supremely ridiculous charge such as, say, the president refusing to nourish our crops with a sports drink instead of water.

Okay, so maybe the Idiocracy example is over-the-top, but if we follow the current trajectory of far-right attacks to their logical yet insane conclusion, it makes sense in a very eerie way. Have you seen the television commercials solemnly defending our right to poison our kids with “juice drinks and soda?” There you go.

I’ve been following the Republican descent into the realms of the bizarre for some time now, and it wasn’t until the “czars” thing broke that I became convinced that if they retook Congress the Republicans might try to impeach the president. The grounds for both the impeachment and the language used to sell it will likely be fabricated by either Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

I mean, 100 Republican members of Congress have signed onto Rep. Jack Kingston’s cartoonish czar bill. 100 House Republicans out of 177 have attached their names to a bill that was essentially invented as a television bit by Glenn Beck without any regard for the fact that “czar” is a nickname invented by the press, and that every president — all of them! — has employed policy and political advisers within their administrations. But it functions as an effective Beck attack because he knows his audience isn’t bright enough to distinguish “czars” from “communists.” By the way, not to be out-crazied by his House colleagues, Senator Ensign introduced an amendment to the Finance Committee health care reform bill called “Transparency in Czars.” This might as well be “Transparency in Hobbits” because it’s just that ludicrous.

Nevertheless, there’s a growing conventional wisdom in the press alleging that both sides of the political spectrum are equally guilty of wackaloon attacks and conspiracy theories.


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ACORN Hidden Camera Scandal Being Probed By Feds, Brooklyn DA

TPM Muckraker

Zachary Roth | September 23, 2009, 4:54PM

ACORN has been contacted by the FBI and the Brooklyn district attorney’s office in connection to the recent scandal in which staffers were caught on video advising two people posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to break the law.

The news was revealed by Arthur Schwartz, ACORN’s general counsel, on a conference call with reporters moments ago. (Full disclosure: Almost a decade ago, I was hired by Schwartz to work on a political campaign.) Schwartz said that the requests for information were not subpoenas, but confirmed that they were part of investigations into possible criminal activity revealed by the videos. He added that ACORN is cooperating with those requests.

In the wake of the videos being released, several Republican lawmakers have called for a Justice Department probe of the group. And President Obama also said he thought ACORN should be investigated, though he didn’t specify by who.


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Carla Bruni – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out

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Spiegel Online International, September 21, 2009

By Matthias Gebauer, John Goetz and Britta Sandberg

US President Barack Obama has spoken out against CIA prisoner abuse and wants to close Guantanamo. But he tolerates the existence of Bagram military prison in Afghanistan, where more than 600 people are being held without charge. The facility makes Guantanamo look like a “nice hotel,” in the words of one military prosecutor.

The day that Raymond Azar was taken by force to Bagram was a quiet day in Kabul. There were no attacks and the sun was shining.

Azar, who is originally from Lebanon, is the manager of a construction company. He was on his way to Camp Eggers, the American military base near the presidential palace, when 10 armed FBI agents suddenly surrounded him.

The men, all wearing bulletproof vests, put him in handcuffs, tied him up and pushed him into an SUV. Two hours later, they unloaded Azar at the Bagram military prison 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Kabul.

Continues >>

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Notorious Builderburgler, Roman Abramovich, puts Jacques Cousteau to shame with a high tech yacht that is not designed to save the planet, but more of a show boat with the purpose to save his own sad arse.


By Charlie Sorrel
September 21, 2009

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has a rather curious new addition built in to his latest oversized yacht. The 557-foot boat Eclipse, the price tag of which has almost doubled since original plans were drawn to almost $1.2 billion, set sail this week with a slew of show-off features, from two helipads, two swimming pools and six-foot movie screens in all guest cabins, to a mini-submarine and missile-proof windows to combat piracy.

It might not seem like somebody with such ostentatious tastes would crave privacy, but along with these expensive toys, Ambramovich has installed an anti-paparazzi “shield”. Lasers sweep the surroundings and when they detect a CCD, they fire a bolt of light right at the camera to obliterate any photograph. According to the Times, these don’t run all the time, so friends and guests should still be able to grab snaps. Instead, they will be activated when guards spot the scourge of professional photography, paparazzi, loitering nearby.

We dig it, although the British courts might not be so pleased. UK photo magazine Amateur Photographer asked a London lawyer about the legalities of destroying photos from afar. Here’s what he said: “intermeddling with goods belonging to someone else, or altering their condition, is a trespass to goods and will entitle the photographer to claim compensation without having to prove loss.”

Any sentence containing the word “intermeddling” is of course wonderful. The lawyer spoils it somewhat by (inevitably) mentioning James Bond and mixing up lasers with laser guns: “I would also be worried that lasers cause collateral damage, both to the camera and/or the claimant’s health.”

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ACORN: The Most Cost-Effective Investment the Government (and Foundations) Have Ever Made

By David Morris, AlterNet. Posted September 23, 2009.

The real purpose of the right’s attacks on ACORN is to destroy a remarkably successful 50-year-old grassroots model for defending the poor and workers.

To understand the current attacks on ACORN, and the organization itself, we need to go back more than 60 years, to the 1930s and the New Deal, when for the first time, the federal government accepted responsibility for directly helping the non-working poor.

These programs were expanded in the 1940s, but in the 1950s, a backlash erupted against the poor, driven by several factors.

The postwar prosperity dramatically reduced the number of poor families, and an increasing number of black women were added to the welfare rolls, injecting race into the debate.

Meanwhile, a Republican White House mostly left welfare matters to the states.

The myth of welfare recipients as lazy, immoral chiselers began to circulate. States adopted punitive laws to reduce welfare rolls. Special units of welfare departments conducted “midnight raids” to see if the recipients were involved in a relationship with a man, something that would result in a cut-off of benefits. The average grant declined.

In desperation, low-income mothers in dozens of big cities organized for survival. They came together to collectively negotiate not only with welfare offices for benefits, but with utilities to eliminate deposits required from low-income households and with the post office to install locks on mailboxes in apartment houses to prevent the theft of welfare checks.

Several veterans of the civil rights movement worked to bring local welfare-rights organizations together into a national organization.


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