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Crooks and Liars Update Crooks and Liars  
RSS 6 |  Crooks and Liars

Open Thread

David Gregory tough question_8d941.jpg

Open thread below

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(Published: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 03:30:05 +0000)

C&L's Late Nite Music Club with Dax Riggs
Title: I Didn't Know Yet What I'd Know When I Was Bleeding
Artist: Dax Riggs

The great Dax Riggs, a minor cult hero for his work in Acid Bath and Deadboy and the Elephant Men. His solo debut, 2007's We Sing of Only Blood or Love came and went, but this piece of dark swamp sludge finds repeated listens on my shuffle whenever it comes up.

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(Published: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000)

FBI Raids Midwest Towns In Operation Believed To Target Michigan Militias

The FBI yesterday raided a home said to be inhabited by members of the Michigan Militia in Washenaw County, near Ann Arbor, MI, and at several other area locations.

ADRIAN, Mich. -- The FBI confirmed to Local 4 that there were several law enforcement activities in the Lenawee/Washtenaw County area late Saturday night.

"The federal warrants are sealed and we can not comment at this time," said Sandra Berchtold, media/applicant coordinator for the FBI in Detroit.

Local 4 crews could see FBI helicopters flying over the area.
Michigan State Police said the raids are not terror related, but would not comment further.

Police said one person driving up from Toledo, Ohio was arrested and then taken in for questioning. Police also said they were looking for at least one person.

Although we don't know if it's related, the raid appears to have been coordinated with similar raids yesterday in Hammond, Indiana and Sandusky, Ohio.

FBI spokesmen said no information would be released until court documents were unsealed Monday.


The FBI conducted raids Saturday night in the Washtenaw and Lenawee county area in an investigation tied to Hutaree, a Christian-oriented militia group based in Lenawee County, has learned.

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(Published: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 01:00:00 +0000)

Rachel Maddow on Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas

Rachel Maddow was the featured speaker at the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock on March 22. From the distinguished speaker series introduction:

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” discusses health care reform, politics and other topics as part of the Clinton School Speaker Series. Other topics discussed included her upbringing in suburban California, her academic studies in Oxford and her transition from radio to becoming America’s first openly gay cable news host. "The Rachel Maddow Show" features her take on the biggest stories of the day – political and otherwise – including lively debate and interviews with guests from all sides of the issues.

The complete 60 min video can now be seen at the link:

Her take on the recent actions of Senator Blanche Lincoln and the audience reaction to her in Little Rock was quite amusing.

Here are some pictures from the event and a few more recent pictures of Rachel Maddow from the show's flickr page.

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(Published: Sun, 28 Mar 2010 22:00:04 +0000)

Open Thread

A lovely re-imagining of the Beck/Palin interview. Open thread below

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(Published: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 03:30:31 +0000)

Democracy Now: Kucinich and Nader Debate the Health Care Bill and Government Reform

Well here's something you don't see every day. Amy Goodman had on Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader to discuss Dennis' decision to vote for the health care bill. I don't disagree with any of Nader's general points, but it is really easy to sit on the outside and be a purist without having to actually deal with the political consequences of your actions.

I've already said on multiple occasions that I'm for single payer. I know Dennis Kucinich was fighting for that as well. I was hoping that maybe this public option they were talking about would serve as a price control on the insurance companies, so I wasn't happy when that got watered down and then eventually eliminated.

Dennis Kucinich made a political decision about something that had more at stake than just this health care bill. It was one that might have made the difference between the Republican claiming victory and believing that they can shut down the Democrat's agenda for the next three years, or making a compromise on this crappy bill.

I think if the Dems are going to keep the private insurance industry in tact which is the way things are going with this legislation, then we need to be telling them if you're going to mandate, regulate. That model works as well in many countries. Howard Dean said he'd gladly exchange single payer for some meaningful regulation.

If they want to keep these industries afloat and force everyone to pay into them, it's time to say we'll regulate them like the utility industries. You want a rate increase, you go before a commission and you're not allowed to gouge your customers while your CEO's and stock holders make excessive profits. It works to make sure everyone is not paying excessive rates for their utility bills right now. There's no reason they can't reign in the insurance industry in a similar manner.

Even if you don't agree with Dennis Kucinich changing his vote, he is leaving the door open for more reform rather than this debate being shut down for who knows how many years. Sadly since the people who care more about defeating any reform at all are always going to have the upper hand since they really don't care how many people die as a result of their actions, here we are. The people who do care end up being stuck compromising.

Full transcript of the interview at Democracy Now. Amy had them on for the full hour after her ten minute headlines segment, so if you want to watch the whole thing, set fifty minutes aside.

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(Published: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 01:00:41 +0000)

Psychiatrist: I Warned Church About Abusive Priest

And these are the people who want to make decisions about everyone else's personal life:

ESSEN, Germany — The German archdiocese led by the future Pope Benedict XVI ignored repeated warnings in the early 1980s by a psychiatrist treating a priest accused of sexually abusing boys that he should not be allowed to work with children, the psychiatrist said.

“I said, ‘For God’s sake, he desperately has to be kept away from working with children,’” the psychiatrist Werner Huth said in an interview Thursday. “I was very unhappy about the entire story.” Dr. Huth said he was concerned enough that he set three conditions for treating the priest, Peter Hullermann: that he stay away from young people and alcohol and be supervised by another priest at all times.

Dr. Huth said he issued the warnings — explicit, both written and oral — before the future pope, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, left Germany for the Vatican in 1982. In 1980, following abuse complaints from parents in Essen that the priest did not deny, Archbishop Ratzinger approved a decision to move the priest to Munich for therapy.

Despite the psychiatrist’s warnings, Father Hullermann was allowed to return to parish work almost immediately after his therapy began, interacting with children as well as adults. He was promptly accused of molesting other boys and was convicted in 1986 of sexual abuse in Bavaria.

Benedict’s then-deputy, Gerhard Gruber, said that he was to blame for that personnel decision, which he called a “serious mistake.”

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(Published: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 23:00:39 +0000)

ABC Poaches Christiane Amanpour to Host 'This Week'. Good News For Public Debate!

This means two things: One, that it's hard to think of even one reason to keep watching CNN; and two, that the bar just got raised on the incoherent mess that is the Sunday talk shows. It'll be nice to have a show that actually addresses foreign policy for once.

And Amanpour is not going to roll over for the powerful the way so many of the talking heads do:

ABC News has poached one of CNN’s biggest stars, Christiane Amanpour.

Ms. Amanpour will anchor ABC’s Sunday morning public affairs program, “This Week,” beginning in August, the network news division announced Thursday.

A longtime foreign correspondent for CNN, Ms. Amanpour will give “This Week” a global spin.

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(Published: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 20:00:18 +0000)

Robert Reich: Freezing Domestic Programs Doesn't Make Much Sense
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Well it looks like Robert Reich isn't too thrilled about the President's latest proposal to freeze spending on domestic programs either. Ron Paul thinks it's not going to go anywhere in the Congress and from what I've read so far he's likely right. As Reich noted, when the economy is headed for the tank the government needs to act and is the purchaser of last resort. Sadly as so many have noted like Paul Krugman, we've gotten nothing but a weak stimulus bill that really didn't do enough to get us back on the road to recovery. I don't know how much worse the economy has got to get before someone in Washington decides to start taking the problem seriously.

When I hear more than talk about reigning in Wall Street and some regulation passed and the repeal of our crappy trade laws, I'll start to believe that our leaders in Washington are actually concerned about us not turning into a Banana Republic some time in the near future. Talk is cheap folks. We need some action.

KING: Before we get into the stimulus project, as promised, CNN's Ed Henry reports tonight that President Obama is set to announce a three-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending. That move would freeze discretionary spending at 447 billion dollars.

Joining us now to talk about that and to debate the stimulus and whether it is actually working, Robert Reich -- he was secretary of labor in the Clinton administration and now professor of public policy, University of California Berkeley. His most recent book is "Super Capitalism." And Representative Ron Paul of Texas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Joint Economic Committee. He's the author of "End of the Fed."

What do you make -- we'll start with you Robert -- of the freezing of domestic programs for three years?

REICH: I don't think it makes much sense, Larry. I'll tell you why. The government, under the circumstances we now face, is the purchaser of last resort. Consumers are not buying. They're still scared for good reason. Businesses are not investing very much. They don't want to invest if they're not consumers out there.

So government has to spend. This is something that a lot of people have difficulty understanding, because you don't want bigger deficits in the long term. But in the short-term government has to spend more to get the economy moving, to get jobs, so people can actually work and generate a larger economy and therefore get the outside budget, the long-term budget down.

Having a freeze right now on discretionary spending, and effectively saying to the world, to Wall Street, to the country, we're not doing any more deficit spending, makes absolutely no sense.

KING: All right. Congressman Paul, your thoughts?

PAUL: Well, I don't think Mr. Reich has too much to worry about. Nothing is going to be frozen in Washington, DC. As a matter of fact, even what Obama is saying is not going into effect for a year, and the Congress won't let it happen.

I think Mr. Reich's sentiments are well represented in Washington. -- because I actually want to see more money spent, not less. It's just that who has the discretion to spend it? That's the issue. When the government spends it, they mal-invest, they misdirect it. They can't correct capital directly.

We don't have our problem because there's not enough consumption or spending. We have too much. We borrowed. We're in debt. So that is not going to solve the problem. What we should have done is maybe suspend the income tax for three years. It would have cost us less than bailing out the big banks and the special interests. They've been more money -- then the people could make a decision on whether they should liquidate their debt and how they would invest. This would be a wiser choice.

REICH: Larry, let me agree --

KING: Address the stimulus. Do that quickly, Robert.

REICH: I just want to agree with the congressman on one point. That is bailing out the big banks instead of helping main street was a version of trickle down economics, and it doesn't work.

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(Published: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 03:15:56 +0000)

On Stimulus, Nothing Fails Like Success for Obama


As President Obama prepares for his State of the Union address, two stories Monday regarding his stimulus package highlighted his political conundrum. USA Today's quarterly survey of 50 economists produced a median estimate that the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) prevented unemployment from reaching 10.8%, saving 1.2 million jobs as a result. But even as the economists praised the stimulus for restarting GDP growth, a CNN poll found that "nearly three out of four Americans think that at least half of the money spent in the federal stimulus plan has been wasted." Sadly for the President, perception - even when it's wrong - is reality.

To be sure, with unemployment at 10% and forecast to remain above 9% by the end of 2010, the continuing pain caused by the dismal job market is very real. But the dividends of the stimulus package to date, even with changing White House accounting rules for the 1.5 to 2 million jobs it claims to have saved, are clear and growing.

For the three month period which ended in June, the Economic Policy Institute announced the Obama stimulus measures overall added "up to 3 full percentage points of annualized growth in the quarter." For its part, the Wall Street Journal in September agreed with that assessment:

Many forecasters say stimulus spending is adding two to three percentage points to economic growth in the second and third quarters, when measured at an annual rate. The impact in the second quarter, calculated by analyzing how the extra funds flowing into the economy boost consumption, investment and spending, helped slow the rate of decline and will lay the groundwork for positive growth in the third quarter -- something that seemed almost implausible just a few months ago. Some economists say the 1% contraction in the second quarter would have been far worse, possibly as much as 3.2%, if not for the stimulus.

On Monday, the USA Today panel of economists concurred.

Further, they largely agreed stronger action is still needed:

Unemployment would have hit 10.8% -- higher than December's 10% rate -- without Obama's $787 billion stimulus program, according to the economists' median estimate. The difference would translate into another 1.2 million lost jobs.

But almost two-thirds of the economists said the government should do more to spur job growth. Suggestions included suspending payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, increasing spending on infrastructure, enacting a flat tax on income and extending jobless benefits.

Importantly, as ProPublica documented in its recovery tracking project, only a fraction of the stimulus pot has been spent to date. As of January 25, 2010, only $172 billion of the program budget had spent so far with another $157 billion in process, leaving $251 billion in remaining funding. Meanwhile, by ProPublica's accounting, $93 billion in ARRA tax cuts have been paid out, with another $119 billion still to come.

But judging from CNN's polling, the Obama administration's message regarding the impact of the stimulus isn't getting through to the American people. Bombarded for months by Republican propaganda declaring the recovery package "a failure," CNN's respondents have clearly taken it to heart as part of that network's "Stimulus Project."

Twenty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say nearly all the money in the stimulus has been wasted, with 24 percent feeling that most money has been wasted and an additional 29 percent saying that about half has been wasted. Twenty-one percent say only a little has been wasted and 4 percent think that no stimulus dollars have been wasted.

"One reason why the economic stimulus bill is no longer popular with the American public is the perception that a lot of the money has been wasted. Six in 10 believe that the projects in the stimulus bill were included for purely political reasons," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

As a dumbfounded Joe Klein of Time concluded, "nearly three out of four Americans think the money has been wasted. On second thought, they may be right: it's been wasted on them":

Indeed, the largest single item in the package--$288 billion--is tax relief for 95% of the American public. This money is that magical $60 to $80 per month you've been finding in your paycheck since last spring. Not a life changing amount, but helpful in paying the bills.

The next highest amount was $275 billion in grants and loans to states. This is why your child's teacher wasn't laid off

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(Published: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 02:30:48 +0000)

New Kucinich Program Aims to Create A Million New Jobs


Putting those of us who are middle-aged out to pasture with Social Security is not such a great solution for the people whose retirement accounts were decimated by the market crash - not to mention, of course, the president's plan to allow a bipartisan commission "suggest" Social Security and Medicare cuts in the near future.

But hey, at least Kucinich is at least trying to do something about jobs -- which is more than you can say for most members of Congress:

CLEVELAND -- An Ohio congressman pushed for a new program to add a million new jobs Monday.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich unveiled his plan Monday afternoon at his Lakewood office.

Kucinich proposed offering early retirement with social security benefits and health insurance subsides to people as young as 60 years old. He said that will free up as many as a million new positions in businesses that have already shed jobs.

"In every business, people are cutting to the point of where they're not functioning the way they used to. So, this gives business a chance to get new blood in. At the same, be able to do it in a way that they don't have to have access more money to do it,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich said he’ll introduce his Kucinich job plan bill this week on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

More info here.

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(Published: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 01:30:12 +0000)

Newt Gingrich Claims the Republican Health Care Plan Just Needed More Publicity
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Newt Gingrich seems to think that the Republicans terrible alternative for a health care plan just needed some more publicity but the media didn't want to let the public know it existed. How I wish that were the case. Gingrich is repeating the new meme for the month which is that Democrats need to start over and try to work with Republicans now and they'll actually get some cooperation on the health care bill. Sorry Newt, but anyone who's been following what's going on knows the Republicans have no intention of working with the Democrats to pass anything.

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(Published: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 00:30:30 +0000)

Tim Tebow enters the world of politics by joining forces to air anti-choice ad during the Super Bowl with Focus on the Family.


Seeing Tim Tebow wear eye black that spells Bible verses under his eyes has caused a minor controversy in college sports, although the NCAA obviously is behind this move. I've wondered if they would allow a college football star to write a few words supporting the Muslim faith in the same fashion? How would that play out in America?

Anyway, I don't like it myself and I know some Christian sports fans who don't like it either, but now Tebow and his family are teaming up with Focus on the Family to air a very controversial ad on Super Bowl Sunday.

With one move, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has stepped into America's most contentious legal debate.

The Florida Gators football star plans to appear in a Super Bowl commercial funded by a Christian values group that critics say will send an anti-abortion message. The ad, paid for by Focus on the Family, is expected to recount the story of his mother, Pam Tebow's, pregnancy in 1987 with a theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life."

After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim, who went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy while helping the Florida Gators reach two BCS championshipship. Abortion rights groups are up in arms.

"An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year, an event designed to bring Americans together," said Jehmu Greene, president of Women's Media Center, which is protesting the ad with the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and other groups.

The network said it has approved the script for the 30-second ad and has given no indication that the protest would have an impact. A network spokesman, Dana McClintock, said CBS would ensure that any issue-oriented ad was "appropriate for air."

That's why a woman has the right to choose in this country. She gets to make up her own mind one way or the other.

The sports elites are going to try and influence American politics as we move forward, it would appear, and that's a bad thing. Tebow was an incredible college QB, but now he's made himself a vocal spokesman for his religious beliefs and is a pawn for James Dobson. You can expect the NFL to cater to him in all ways because they will see him as a cash cow if he becomes a successful player in the NFL. He'll definitely have a big career for the religious right no matter what, if he so chooses.

Is CBS hurting that badly for ad revenue on the biggest payday they have all year to risk this type of blowback? I love sports because it takes me away from the political world, but that gap is closing fast now, and the Tebows will help divide this country even more as time moves forward. If watching the Super Bowl means I have to wind up supporting an attack on women's rights, the set is going off.

The Washington Post reminds me that they rejected an add by the UCC Church because they supported gay rights.

Thirty-second commercials during the Super Bowl are selling for $2.5 million to $2.8 million. Gary Schneeberger, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, said funds for the Tebow ad were donated by a few "very generous friends" and did not come from the group's general fund.

The protest letter from the Women's Media Center suggested that CBS should have turned down the ad in part because it was conceived by Focus on the Family.

"By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers," the letter said.

All the national networks, including CBS, have policies that rule out the broadcast of certain types of contentious advocacy ads. In 2004, CBS cited such a policy in rejecting an ad by the liberal-leaning United Church of Christ highlighting the UCC's welcoming stance toward gays and others who might feel shunned by more conservative churches.

CBS was criticized for rejecting that ad - and perhaps might have worried about comparable criticism from conservatives if it had rejected an ad featuring such a charismatic and well-known figure as Tebow. CBS noted that it had run some advocacy ads in recent months, including spots taking conflicting sides in the debate of a national health care overhaul.

I cover the Sports Village because I do like sports, but also because it has a big influence in our country as we are witnessing right now.

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(Published: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 23:30:27 +0000)

Speak Of The Devil! ACORN 'Documentary' Maker Charged In Sen. Landrieu Wiretap Try

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Well, looky here! Can't wait to hear how he tries to talk his way out of this one - and of course, his arrest will be prominently featured on every media outlet that cooperated in his ACORN smear:

Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility.

Also arrested were Joseph Basel, Stan Dai and Robert Flanagan, all 24. Flanagan is the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the office confirmed. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

Flanagan is believed to be an employee of the Pelican Institute, a libertarian "faux" think tank where O'Keefe spoke this week. I wonder: how does a U.S. Attorney's son argue this was "poor judgment," as his attorney tried to spin it.

According to the FBI affidavit, Flanagan and Basel entered the federal building at 500 Poydras Street about 11 a.m. Monday, dressed as telephone company employees, wearing jeans, fluorescent green vests, tool belts, and hard hats. When they arrived at Landrieu's 10th floor office, O'Keefe was already in the office and had told a staffer he was waiting for someone to arrive.

When Flanagan and Basel entered the office, they told the staffer they were there to fix phone problems. At that time, the staffer, referred to only as Witness 1 in the affadavit, observed O'Keefe positioning his cell phone in his hand to videotape the operation. O'Keefe later admitted to agents that he recorded the event.

After being asked, the staffer gave Basel access to the main phone at the reception desk. The staffer told investigators that Basel manipulated the handset. He also tried to call the main office phone using his cell phone, and said the main line wasn't working. Flanagan did the same.

They then told the staffer they needed to perform repair work on the main phone system and asked where the telephone closet was located. The staffer showed the men to the main General Services Administration office on the 10th floor, and Flanagan and Basel went in. There, a GSA employee asked for the men's credentials, after which they stated they left them in their vehicle.

The U.S. Marshal's Service apprehended all four men shortly thereafter.

Dave N.: Hmmm. Wonder how Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck -- who have relied heavily on O'Keefe's work to smear ACORN -- will respond. One can only imagine the cries of persecution that will be erupting shortly.

One can't help but be impressed by O'Keefe's investigative-journalism technique. If only the rest of us poor schlubs had realized something O'Keefe obviously learned the first time around: You can get away with breaking the law if you can get it up on Fox News first.

I'm sure O'Keefe was banking on that this time around, too. Ooopsie.

Media Matters has a flashback: 31 House Republicans Supported Resolution Honoring Alleged Felon James O'Keefe.


An official close to the investigation said one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator's offices. He spoke on condition of anonymity because that information was not included in official arresting documents.

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(Published: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 22:30:47 +0000)

Alpha Dog of the Week - Harold Ford Jr.

Harold Ford Jr. has the musky sack to not only change his address but also his political views.

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(Published: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 22:00:21 +0000)

U.S. Military is Not the Solution to Haiti

USA Today talks to some Marines in Haiti who believe they are doing the right thing, but I suggest that they're misreading their history lessons - and that's abnormal for Marine officers.

Ado, 63, was among dozens of Haitians who watched the massive hovercraft Friday on a beachhead established by U.S. Marines who arrived off the coast last week. Since arriving, The Marines have moved tons of food and water ashore for aid groups to carry away in trucks to survivors of the Haiti earthquake Jan. 12.

It's not the Marines' first time in Haiti. Troops were here in 2004 to prevent massacres in the wake of the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Haiti is a major part of Marine Corps lore for other reasons.

The Corps governed Haiti from 1915 to 1934 after an invasion force was sent to prevent an anti-American dictator from assuming power. Young, non-commissioned officers governed Haiti with little supervision.

The Marines were reminded of that history as they prepared for the Haiti mission, said Lt. Col. Gary Keim, who commands a logistics battalion.

"We were required to reread it," he said. "We've been here before. We've been successful before."

Okay, slow down there. The Marines were controlling Haiti for two decades to shape its government, and still we have a long history there of dictators leading up to "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Then we have the 1994 and 2004 interventions - which did include just a few Army troops, USA Today - and still there was no stable government in place, no corrective actions, no long-term guidance or aid to fix Haiti's inherent problems. Exactly how have we been "successful" here before? We're applying band-aids to a nation with a compound fracture.

I don't point this out to malign the military's disaster relief operations - certainly Haiti would be much worse off without this American aid. But here's the thing - if we haven't figured out that the DOD is not a uniform cure for every foreign policy problem by now, well, then we really have a problem here. We really need to examine how the State Department, USAID, and other non-defense agencies organize and equip to address issues such as this incident. We really need them to be in charge and to establish strong programs that actually promote long-term support for those governments looking for assistance. The military may be part of the solution, but it doesn't need to lead nation-building efforts. We've let that practice go on too long, and it's not working.

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(Published: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 21:00:13 +0000)

Obama Will Propose Outsourcing for Some NASA Programs


What a great idea. What could possibly go wrong? Because the private sector never, ever cuts corners to save a buck!

Okay, even assuming nothing goes wrong, where is the upside for the United States? That we get to applaud a space shuttle with the PayPal logo painted on the side? Gives me that fuzzy, warm feeling just thinking about it:

The White House has decided to begin funding private companies to carry NASA astronauts into space, but the proposal faces major political and budget hurdles, according to people familiar with the matter.

The controversial proposal, expected to be included in the Obama administration's next budget, would open a new chapter in the U.S. space program. The goal is to set up a multiyear, multi-billion-dollar initiative allowing private firms, including some start-ups, to compete to build and operate spacecraft capable of ferrying U.S. astronauts into orbit—and eventually deeper into the solar system.

Congress is likely to challenge the concept's safety and may balk at shifting dollars from existing National Aeronautics and Space Administration programs already hurting for funding to the new initiative. The White House's ultimate commitment to the initiative is murky, according to these people, because the budget isn't expected to outline a clear, long-term funding plan.

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(Published: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 20:00:27 +0000)

Rachel Maddow Asks Jared Bernstein to Explain the Spending Freeze

Rachel Maddow feels the same way I do after listening to this pitch by the administration. Jared Bernstein did not say one thing that swayed me that this is a good idea. Listen to Evan Bayh? You've got to be kidding me. A spending freeze in the middle of an economic downturn is insane. And of course there's no freeze for defense spending or Homeland Security.

TPM has more on the proposal--Obama Administration To Propose Freezing Non-Military Discretionary Spending:

President Obama will propose freezing non-security discretionary government spending for the next three years, a sweeping plan to attempt deficit reduction that will save taxpayers $250 billion over 10 years.

When the administration releases its budget next week, the discretionary spending for government agencies from Health and Human Services to the Department of Treasury will be frozen at its 2010 level in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013.

A senior administration official detailed the move, speaking on a condition of anonymity because Obama will announce his decision during his State of the Union address Wednesday night.

The cuts would target "duplicative," "ineffective" and "inefficient" spending withing government, the official said on a conference call with reporters.

"This is not a blunt, across-the-board freeze," the official said, adding that some agencies will see spending increases while some will see spending cuts as the total remains constant.

Exempted from the freeze would be Pentagon funding, and the budgets for Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

"We do need to reflect the fact that we remain at war," the official said, noting the president was able to win several battles on cutting Pentagon spending.

The official declined to discuss specifics but said the new plan would save taxpayers $250 billion over 10 years. Read on

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(Published: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 19:00:57 +0000)

When the Minutemen 'go tactical' for dollars: Forde intended gang to rip off dealers, and may have struck in CA already
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Logan already gathered most of the relevant early details about the remarkable case of Shawna Forde, arrested yesterday for ordering the murder of a 9-year-old girl and her father in Arizona.

My old friend Scott North, who has been around the block with reporting on the activities of the far right in Snohomish County -- where Forde is from -- reports this morning that Forde may have been involved in another violent home invasion in California already:

On Saturday, Arizona detectives were pursuing tips that members of Forde's group may have staged a home invasion robbery in Shasta Lake, Calif., on Monday.

The victims, friends of Forde's mother, reported being robbed at gunpoint of nearly $12,000 by two men who showed up at the door and presented badges claiming they were U.S. Marshals.

Truck driver Peter Myers, 48, said he recognized one of men who robbed him after he saw news reports about Forde's arrest and photographs of her co-defendants.

He said the man who directed the robbery in his home was Jason Eugene Bush, 34. The ex-convict from Eastern Washington is a Forde associate now accused of being the gunman in the Arivaca killings.

"That is the guy. He pointed a gun right at us," Myers said.


Arizona officials have said Bush is recovering from a gunshot wound received during the home invasion there. Myers said that description fits the tall man who bound him with zip ties and then took cash from the family's lock box.

"He was moving real slow," Meyers said.

Forde's mother, Rena Caudle, said her daughter recently visited the area. After Friday's arrest, Caudle said she made certain that Arizona officials knew about the suspected link to the California robbery.

This may just be the tip of the iceberg with this gang. Already Jim Gilchrist, the Minuteman leader with whom Forde has had a long association, is making the signs of the cross in her general direction and declaring he had nothing to do with her:

Jim Gilchrist, president of the California-based Minuteman Project and a longtime Forde ally, made it clear Saturday that his earlier support of Forde should in no way be construed as approving the actions now attributed to her.

"Am I going to come to her support at this time? Of course not. How can I?" Gilchrist said.

Forde ran her own organization, Gilchrist said.

"Unfortunately, some people in this Minutemen movement have used this movement to carry out sinister agendas," he said.

We'll see. Investigators may not be done making arrests yet.

Indeed, it's starting to look as though Forde may have been organizing basically a low-rent version of The Order: an ideological army turned into criminal moneymaking operation. Only this time, anti-immigrant nativism instead of white supremacy is the ideological driver. And when The Order crumbled in flames, it exposed all kinds of criminal dealings on the far right.

North reported yesterday on Forde's background. He also conducted a long interview (see above) in which she claimed to be an important figure in the Minuteman movement. The problem, of course, is that you can't believe a word any of these people say:

Forde has a long and troubled history in Snohomish County, including juvenile convictions for felonies, prostitution and other street crime. Some of her past was recounted by The Herald in a profile that appeared Feb. 22.

Forde was at the center of a flurry of violence that began Dec. 22 when her ex-husband was shot in his Everett home. A week later, she reported being beaten and raped by strangers at the same house.

On Jan. 15, Forde was found in a north Everett alley with apparent gunshot wounds.

She claimed the violence was all retaliation for her activities targeting criminal groups operating on both sides of the border between Mexico and the U.S.

The cases here remain under investigation by Everett police.

Forde's ex-husband was seriously wounded during the Dec. 22 shooting. Reached Friday, he was distraught hearing that a child died. He declined to comment on his former wife.

Forde's mother, who lives in California, said she was not surprised to hear of her daughter's arrest.

Rena Caudle said Forde visited her before heading to the border this year. She talked of staging home invasions, Caudle said.

"She sat here and said that she was going to start a group where they went down and start taking things away from the Mexican mafia," Caudle said. "She was going to kick in their doors and take away the money and the drugs."

Caudle said she wasn't sure what to make of that at the time, in part because Forde has a history of exaggeration and lying.

Turns out, this time she wasn't.

Now, back in October, I published an investigative piece on the Minutemen -- financed by The Nation Investigative Fund and published in The American Prospect -- which warned precisely of this kind of devolution of the Minuteman movement:

Welcome to the world of the Minutemen, where all-American values provide a nice storefront for a financial black hole that vacuums up hundreds of thousands of donors' dollars. The group fits into a long tradition of right-wing political organizing that runs from the resurrected Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s to the tax-protest movement of the 1980s and the militias of the 1990s. In the end, these efforts are mostly scams: They serve up a heady concoction of jingoistic fervor, bigoted xenophobia, and paranoid conspiracy theories as a means to salve all that ails the patriotic soul--but largely they have the mysterious effect of separating their fellow right-wingers from their money. And as these groups dissolve into scandal and infighting, they leave far more radical splinter groups in their wake.

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(Published: Sun, 14 Jun 2009 16:00:04 +0000)

Mike's Blog Roundup

AllGov: For Halliburton/KBR, war is the gift that keeps on giving

Danger Room: Iran election: Taking to the streets - and tweets.  Update: Katherine Harris applauds Iranian election results - declares process "free and fair"

skippy the bush kangaroo: Crazy person fools crazy people, making them crazier

TalkLeft: Founder of drug abuse prevention program arrested in drug sting

The Project On Government Oversight : Flagrant Foul?

HOLY CRAP: A conversation with WhoIsYourCreator.Com

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(Published: Sun, 14 Jun 2009 15:00:00 +0000)

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