July 30th, 2009


CEOs Push For Publicly-Funded Elections: We're Tired Of Fundraising Calls... Ok, What's the Catch?

CEOs Push Publicly-Funded Elections, Citing Fewer Fundraising Calls

Champions of publicly-financed federal elections are getting help from an unlikely source: The same big-business executive and institutions that are often chief providers of campaign cash.

A coalition of good-government groups is coming out with a new print ad tomorrow in favor of Rep. John Larson's, (D-Conn.), Fair Elections Now Act. The ad, a copy of which was provided to the Huffington Post, pushes the traditional arguments for publicly funded federal elections. But here's the twist: Appending their names are 34 business executives from organizations that one normally thinks of as trying to buy congressional influence.

"We are on the receiving end of Senators' and Representatives' endless fund-raising calls," the ad reads. "And trust us: we hate getting those calls every bit as much as they hate making them."

The list of signatories includes figures who have previously been major donors (primarily to Democrats) in the past. Gordon Segal, the chairman of the furniture giant, Crate and Barrel, has donated $99,425 to candidates and committees in his lifetime, including the maximum in 2008 to President Barack Obama. Alan Hassenfeld, the chairman of the toy company Hasbro, donated $52,250 to candidates and committees in 2008, including the maximum to Obama as well as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton. And Alan Patricoff, a managing partner at the venture capital firm Greycroft Partners, donated to a host of Democratic candidates in the 2004 election.

Other notable names on the ad include Christie Heffner, former chairman and chief executive of Playboy; Charles Couric, founder of Brita Products; and Walt Freese, CEO of Ben & Jerry's.

In these tough economic times, campaign donations have likely become a bit harder for these folks to fork over. But the driving force behind the ad, organizers say, is a philosophical belief in the benefits of federally-financed elections.

"Elected officials spend so much time dialing for dollars it's as if they're moonlighting a second job," the ad reads. "With the economy, health care, energy, and so many other issues at stake, who has time for that?"

The ad is slated for a full-page run in Thursday's edition of Roll Call. It is co-sponsored by the group's Common Cause and Public Campaign Action Fund.


Lobbying Showdown Over The Future Of Student Loans

Lobbying Showdown Over The Future Of Student Loans

When Sallie Mae, the nation's largest provider of student loans, saw the possibility of its own extinction in a plan advanced by the Obama administration, it did what just about any big corporation would do: It hired the best lobbyists money can buy.

That was standard procedure for Sallie Mae, which for two decades has almost single-handedly stymied attempts to reduce or eliminate federal subsidies to the multibillion-dollar private student loan industry.

This time, however, Sallie Mae has elected not to fight to preserve the current system. Rather, it is trying to leverage its lobbying muscle and years of showering money on lawmakers to push an alternative plan that would position itself not only as a survivor, but a clear winner - with an even larger share of the market.

Even so, despite ramping up its spending on lobbying -- nearly $2 million in the first half of the year according to disclosure reports released this month -- Sallie Mae faces an uphill struggle in Congress. Legislation that would radically reshape the financial aid landscape along the lines proposed by President Obama cleared a key House panel last week. Credit rater Standard & Poor's immediately warned investors that it might downgrade the company's debt to junk level because "we believe the likelihood has increased" that within a year Sallie Mae will no longer be able to originate loans.

Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, said at a committee meeting that the bill would stop "wasteful taxpayer subsidies that are keeping a broken system afloat."
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Tarryl Clark to run against Bachmann in MN-6!

Clark goes public about House race

By Lawrence Schumacher • lschumacher@stcloudtimes.com • July 30, 2009

A local politician on Wednesday officially became the third DFLer hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann next year.

State Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, publicly confirmed she had filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission allowing her to raise money and run for the 6th Congressional District seat.

Clark, 47, took a quick shot at Bachmann, R-Minn., in a video message she posted on her campaign Web site announcing her run.

"We can turn our challenges into opportunities, but we need a representative who can deliver more than just a sound bite," she said. "Rep. Bachmann's biggest accomplishments are creating controversy and generating talk-show ratings."

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Clark won in a walk in 2005 (her Republican opponent did not actually LIVE IN THE REGION SHE WANTED TO REPRESENT and thus was not on the special ballot). (Sorry, that was the state House. I just love that story.) She's risen quickly to a position of power in St. Paul. I don't think the Lake Wobegon County idea will help her any, at least not with the wingnuts that comment at sctimes.

BTW, the comments of that article will fill up with people complaining about the use of the term "anti-abortion", I guarantee you.

For the truly dedicated, there was a letter to the editor about Bachmann published over the weekend. The comments to the letter will help you understand how she was elected twice.

Bernie Goldberg - "Obama Wants Birther Controversy To Continue"

- Bernie says the "Chicago mafia inside the White House" is keeping the Birther controversy going because they want to make regular Republicans and conservatives look like fringe lunatics.
- Obama and the White House could end this Birther nonsense right now if they would JUST RELEASE HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE. And, oh, by the way, where's Obama's college records? Why won't he release those and what is he trying to hide?
- Lou Dobbs is right.
- Lou Dobbs called Bill O'Reilly a stand-up guy.

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N.C. Terrorism Case Over-Hyped By Feds? But it looks good on teevee!

N.C. Terrorism Case Over-Hyped By Feds?

The feds have been hyping their domestic terrorism cases for several years now, and the arrest of seven North Carolina men this week appears to be no exception.

The headliners in the case, of course, are ordinary folks Daniel Patrick Boyd and his two sons, who prosecutors say led three lives: good family men, likeable neighbors and secret terrorists.

The father's path to terrorism began in 1989, according to the indictment unsealed this week, when Daniel Boyd "travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he received military style training in terrorist training camps for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad."

During 1989 and 1991, they say, "Boyd fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union."

He would have been 19 at the time, all of which a former CIA station chief in Pakistan, Milt Bearden, finds odd.

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Clown Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus May have to find a new Gig...

Dems warn Baucus with gavel threat

In an apparent warning to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), some liberal Democrats have suggested a secret-ballot vote every two years on whether or not to strip committee chairmen of their gavels.

Baucus, who is more conservative than most of the Democratic Conference, has frustrated many of his liberal colleagues by negotiating for weeks with Republicans over healthcare reform without producing a bill or even much detail about the policies he is considering.

“Every two years the caucus could have a secret ballot on whether a chairman should continue, yes or no,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “If the ‘no’s win, [the chairman’s] out.

“I’ve heard it talked about before,” he added.

Harkin did not mention Baucus, but his suggestion would likely resonate with the senior Montana Democrat, who has often clashed with his colleagues over important bills.

Liberals are also upset by reports that Baucus and other members of the Finance panel have tossed aside the proposal to create a robust government-run insurance program.

Harkin and Baucus are on different sides of the question of whether to create a government-run insurance plan.

While Harkin, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, wants a strong public option, Baucus has favored a more modest proposal to set up a co-op program.

Some senators suggest privately that Baucus might be more open to persuasion if his chairmanship is subject to regular votes.

Another senior Democratic senator endorsed Harkin’s suggestion but declined to speak on the record for fear of angering Baucus.

“Put me down as a yes, but if you use my name I’ll send a SWAT team after you,” said the lawmaker when asked about a biennial referendum on chairmen.

Some Democrats have pushed back against criticism of Baucus.

A Senate source argued that critics do not have a realistic view of what it takes to enact an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system.

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Chris Wallace, Don Imus: Lou Dobbs Acting Like "Grassy Knoll Nut"

Chris Wallace, Don Imus: Lou Dobbs Acting Like "Grassy Knoll Nut" (VIDEO)

Lou Dobbs, whose flaxen locks change color and hue depending on how terrified he is that day of the coming Mexican reconquista, is all about the birthers now. And everyone is yelling at him, save his boss, Jon Klein, who's busy pretending that Dobbs is covering the controversy instead of fanning it. Who's yelling at him today? Chris Wallace and Don Imus, for starters!
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(no subject)

Two Gay Iraqis Accuse U.S. Military Of Joining In Executions


The Washington Blade is reporting that two gay Iraqis claim to have photos of U.S. soldiers preparing to execute gay men in Iraq. The men displayed some of their photos at a Washington fundraising event last week.
One of the Iraqis, who goes by the name “Hussam,” showed the audience of about 80 people gruesome images, including shots allegedly of a beheaded man who was gay and another of the victim’s twin brother grieving over the severed head. While asserting that anti-gay violence in Iraq is often committed by Iraqis, Hussam also said U.S. service members were involved in anti-gay hostility. For example, he said service members displayed signs in front of their barracks with the words “Fuck Off Fags.”

But the reaction from the audience turned from anger to shock when Hussam said U.S. service members had detained Iraqi civilians perceived to be gay and executed them. He then showed an image of what appeared to be an American soldier standing in front of a small group of four or five kneeling naked men who were chained together. Hussam claimed the men were gay Iraqis and that he possessed images of their execution, which he did not show the audience.

Dana Beyer, a transgender activist and Chevy Chase, Md., resident who attended the event, said she was “appalled” by the images of the atrocities, but especially by the allegation that U.S. service members were murdering gay Iraqis. “When it comes down to our armed services … who potentially have contributed to atrocities like that, I’m just appalled,” she said. “And I hope that we will pursue this through the government, through the State Department and through the Department of Defense because this just can’t be left standing.”
The men refused to turn over their photos to the Blade, saying their release might incite further attacks in Iraq. Several LGBT and human rights groups are investigating the claim.

Murasaki Shikibu

What year is it again...?

Black workers say drinking fountains, bathrooms segregated at city facility

By Gloria Campisi
Philadelphia Daily News


By GLORIA CAMPISI campisg@phillynews.com 215-854-5935

It may be the ultimate indignity.

Lawrence "Lonnie" Powell, 58, a semiskilled laborer at the city's Northwest Transfer Station, in Roxborough, said that since he began working at the trash-handling plant in 2003 he has had to seek the superintendent's permission to go to the bathroom — then descend five flights of stairs to use it.

Powell, who is black, said that white employees have been permitted to use a bathroom just 25 feet from his work station.

"On several occasions I've actually defecated on myself, trying to get down to the bathroom," said Powell, who operates a machine that packs trash into tractor-trailers to be taken to landfills.

Powell is one of five current and former employees, all in their 50s, who allege, in legal documents and interviews with the Daily News, that the station's white superintendent has discriminated against them because they are black.

The superintendent, John Gill, has not responded substantively to Daily News requests for comment.

Clarena I.W. Tolson, commissioner of the city's Streets Department, which runs the station, declined to discuss the matter and referred questions to the City Solicitor's Office.

An assistant city solicitor has denied the black workers' allegations.

Separate facilities alleged

Among those allegations is that for several years Gill has kept a "supervisor's bathroom," one flight up from Gill's office, that "only the white employees were allowed to use...whether or not they were supervisors," Powell wrote in an affidavit last month.

"Quite often, while I'm up there, I could be sitting in my booth, and I see white guys going into the bathroom," Powell said in an interview. "They walk right by the door and go right in the bathroom there. That's maybe 25 feet away from where I'm at."

But when he has to go to the bathroom, he said, he has to go down to Gill's office to get permission, then descend five more flights.

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And why do these fools always try to excuse their behavior with "It was just a joke"? Find a new excuse; that one doesn't work anymore.

Hey Guyz, Obama is a Criminal, He Cant Be our Presiden!!

Two Georgia Officers Accused Of Running Criminal Check On Obama

Authorities are investigating two Atlanta-area police officers accused of using government computers to run a criminal background check on President Barack Obama.

William Miller, public safety director for DeKalb County, said Wednesday that the officers have been put on leave until an investigation is finished. The officers' names were not released.

Miller says the police department was notified by the U.S. Secret Service that DeKalb County computers were used to run a check on Obama. He did not say what the officers' motive may have been.

Murasaki Shikibu

Segregation & Friends

SEGREGATION & FRIENDS - The recent run of segregationist comments on FOX & Friends suggests a marketing strategy at work on the popular morning TV show.

Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 07/29/2009

Recently, Glenn Beck sat on the comfy couch of FOX's morning show "FOX & Friends" and declared that President Obama is a racist who hates white culture. Of the three hosts who convened this broadcast gem, the one who disagreed with Beck--Brian Kilmeade--had recently declared on air that the white race in America had been weakened through interbreeding with non-whites, a statement for which he apologized after it sparked wide-scale outrage. So on this particular morning, viewers who tuned into FOX & Friends watched a host who espouses white Aryan eugenics mixed it up with a guest inciting white anger at blacks, followed by some tips on summertime grilling.

The fact that brand management rules broadcast media--particularly at FOX--leads me to question whether the segregationist flavor of FOX's morning could possibly be accidental. Is it possible that nobody at FOX had an inkling about Kilmeade's belief in racial purity prior to his blurting it out on air? They had to know. A man who gleefully turns to the camera and bemoans racial mixing is also a guy who spouts off eugenic theories at parties and office meetings. FOX knew about Kilmeade's views and they kept him on air anyway.

The same is true of Beck's foolish idea that President Obama hates white culture. The only way the bookers and marketing folks at FOX & Friends could not know Beck plays to segregationist fears of blacks when talking about the President is if they have all been in a coma for the past year. And yet they booked him anyway, putting him on set for a chat with a guy who thinks that white blood in America has been contaminated by miscegenation.

A morning show that positions itself to appeal to whites uncomfortable with the idea racial integration in America? So long as the numbers are solid, the media brand experts would say, why the heck not.

When media marketing and segregation mix, the result is not segments about burning crosses, but something that might be described as: segregated content. Imagine what media content would look like if the broad social efforts to rid American society of persistent racism never happened and the result would be segregated content.

But there is no need to imagine. Just take a look at FOX & Friends homepage and you will see segregated content in action.

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WTF year is it again, seriously.
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    Nine Inch Nails - Leaving Hope

Child who was possibly arrested when 12 years old finally released from Guantanamo after 6.5 years

Judge orders Guantanamo release

The judge had described the case against Mr Jawad as an "outrage"

A US judge has ordered the release of one of the youngest detainees at the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay.

US District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle said Mohammed Jawad would be released by late August. If so, he is expected to return home.
But government lawyers say they have not yet decided whether to pursue a criminal case against him.
Mr Jawad has been accused of injuring two US soldiers and their interpreter by throwing a grenade at their vehicle.
He was 12 when he was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002, his lawyer says, but 17 according to the Pentagon. He has been held at the camp for the past six-and-a-half years.
Earlier, Mr Jawad's lawyer, Jonathan Hafetz, told the BBC he was "cautiously optimistic" his client would be set free.
"They've not produced any evidence so far and enough is enough. It's time for Mr Jawad to go home," he said.

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Source, with other horrifying stories of Guantanamo.

"17 according to the Pentagon" my keister, this is so terrible.

' the bleeding heart show

Word to your Speaker

Pelosi: Health Insurance Companies The Real "Villains"

Forget the Blue Dogs, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday. The real "villains" in the fight for health care reform are insurance companies.

Work on the legislation resumed Thursday morning after more than a week of delays to accommodate conservative Blue Dog Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Blue Dogs won significant concessions and also forced delay of a full House floor vote on the final bill until after Congress returns from its upcoming month-long recess.

But Pelosi on Thursday cast the blown deadline as a positive, arguing that the process is further along than it would have been with no date set. Meanwhile, her blistering attacks against health insurers offered a good preview of what to expect from Democrats trying to rally support for reform back at home.

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Who would deny this?! Oh yeah... Republicans.
' jules

This list lacks Favs, any point it had is invalid

The Hill Reveals 2009's Most Beautiful

Venerable Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill continues an annual summer tradition this year with the release of their always anticipated "The Hill's Most Beautiful List," where fifty Capitol Hill denizens are lauded for being good-looking and willing to pose for a photo. It's probably the one time a year that people outside of Wonkistan read The Hill, but in fairness, I've blogged about this list for years and it's also the one time a year that anyone bothers to read me.

One annoying fact of life is that every year, when this list comes out, it gives wags across the country license to trot out the old "DC is Hollywood for ugly people" cliche as if they were the first person to ever think of it. It seems unfair. Your typical Hill-ite suffers from the enforcement of bland sartorial standards. The halls of power may be awash in sick amounts of money, but nobody takes you seriously if you get too glam, Lindsay Graham notwithstanding.

What makes The Hill's annual listicle is, frankly, The Hill itself. With their oddball fixations, strange beauty metaphors, and bizarre photography decisions, the keepers of this list have always been one of the main attractions. Sadly, this year's list is not nearly as bizarre as last year's was. I like to think that maybe The Hill is working hard to deprive me of material. Sounds arrogant? Maybe. But the alternative -- that our government is getting less beautiful -- is just too difficult to contemplate.

Anyway, please, do enjoy this slideshow of highlights.

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KUA - Onslow facepalms while recumbent

Fake scent tracking dog sends man to prison for life...

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A Florida man who was convicted of murder in part because of the work of an allegedly infallible scent-tracking dog, is free now, because the dog and the dog’s owner has been exposed as a fraud. Unfortunately for Bill Dillon he had to spend 26 years in prison before the error in his case was rectified.

Bill Dillon, was 22 when he was sentenced to life in prison in 1981, for killing a man in Canova Beach on the eastern coast of the state.

During the trial, Dillon was adamant that he had not committed the crime. But a man named John Preston testified in court that he and his scent-tracking German-Shepherd connected Dillon to the killer’s bloody t-shirt. Preston said his dog, “Harrass 2,” even tracked Dillon’s scent repeatedly in later tests.

Dillon expected to remain in prison for the rest of his life – all because of “Harrass 2,” and his handler, Preston, who billed himself around the country as a so-called scent -tracking expert.

But nearly three decades later, in 2007, DNA testing proved that Dillon’s DNA did not match the DNA on the killer’s shirt. The dog was wrong. Just eight months ago, after 26 years behind bars, Bill Dillon walked out of prison a free man.

“Supposedly the dog got my scent three times,” Dillon told CNN, “and I never saw freedom again.” Dillon also said he remembers the dog’s “huge” head from the trial and that he looked like a “bear.”

In 1981, DNA testing wasn’t used in criminal investigations so authorities relied simply on the presumed legendary nose of Preston’s German Shepherd. Preston testified that his dog had tracked Dillon’s scent to a piece of paper he had touched, and had even tracked Dillon to a room he was in at the courthouse.

Preston and his dog had a track-record – he had convinced juries more than a hundred times of his dog’s miraculous talents. In Dillon’s case, Preston even told the court his dog had the ability to track a scent under water; to actually smell below the water. CNN consulted tracking dog experts in Florida about this. They told us “no way, that’s not possible.”

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This whole thing pisses me off and makes me sad at the same time. Jesus Christ, that poor man :(


Bomb in Mallorca kills two police officers

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Basque separatists Eta suspected as patrol car is blown up in second Spanish terror attack in two days.

Spanish authorities have closed ports and airports on Mallorca after two police officers were killed in a bomb attack on the island.

The armed Basque separatist group Eta is suspected to be responsible for the explosion early this afternoon, which reportedly hit a police car on patrol in a street about 400 metres from the town's tourist-packed beaches.

Spanish media reported that an unknown number of people were injured in the blast near the Civil Guard's Palmanova barracks, which is close to several hotels.

It was unclear whether the bomb was attached to the underside of the car or planted in the street.

A regional interior ministry statement said security forces had sealed off the island "to avoid the escape of the terrorists".

Yesterday, a 200kg bomb targeting dozens of Civil Guard members and their families, including children, ripped through their 14-storey barracks building in Burgos, northern Spain.

The attack injured 65 people, including five children, but none of them seriously.

The two attacks coincide with Eta's 50th anniversary and appear to be an attempted show of strength after several months in which it has been hemmed in by police in Spain and France, with several arrests.

Fifty years ago tomorrow, a letter announcing that a group of young radicals had split from the non-violent Basque Nationalist party to form Eta reached the party's leadership.

ETA: AP report with more details
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movies | Impish Fräulein2


Obama's "beer summit" yields symbolic image but little else


Different suds for different buds?

Each man's beer of choice was respectfully made available in glass mugs for their meeting at a table on the White House South Lawn Thursday evening: Bud Light for President Barack Obama, Sam Adams Light for Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, and Blue Moon for Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley.

Vice President Joe Biden joined the group with a glass of Buckler, a nonalcoholic beer.

As Obama likes to say, they could disagree without being disagreeable.

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ETA: Funniest. Tweet. Ever.
you could cut ties with all the lies

Israel: Misuse of Drones Killed Civilians in Gaza

Israel: Misuse of Drones Killed Civilians in Gaza
Israel Should Release Camera Footage of Deadly Attacks

(Jerusalem) - Israeli attacks with guided missiles fired from aerial drones killed civilians during the recent Gaza fighting in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The attacks with one of the most precise weapons in Israel's arsenal killed civilians who were not taking part in hostilities and were far from any fighting.

The 39-page report, "Precisely Wrong: Gaza Civilians Killed by Israeli Drone-Launched Missiles," details six incidents resulting in 29 civilian deaths, among them eight children. Human Rights Watch found that Israeli forces failed to take all feasible precautions to verify that these targets were combatants, as required by the laws of war, or that they failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians. Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups have reported a total of 42 drone attacks that killed civilians, 87 in all, during the fighting in December 2008 and January 2009.

"Drone operators can clearly see their targets on the ground and also divert their missiles after launch," said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. "Given these capabilities, Israel needs to explain why these civilian deaths took place."

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Rape Victims Are still Paying Bills. Sarah Palin would be so proud! Is the Free Market Baby!

Despite Promises, Some Rape Victims Stuck Paying Exam Bills

When a woman is raped, police turn to scientific evidence-semen, blood and tissue samples-to identify her attacker. The evidence is collected through a medical exam of the victim, who is not supposed to pay for this crime-solving process.

But 15 years after Congress passed a law to ensure that rape victims would never see a bill, loopholes and bureaucratic tangles still leave some victims paying for hospital expenses and exams, which can cost up to $1,200.
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