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Jon Stewart Roasts Megyn (Santa is white) Kelly On An Open Fire!

December 13, 2013 Posted by | General | , , , , | 2 Comments

President Obama Showed Courage When He Took On The Health Care Industry!

Photo by Extreme Liberal

Photo by Extreme Liberal

Here is a great article from Jon Favreau, someone who knows President Obama quite well, having been his speech writer since 2005 when President Obama first entered the Senate. Go read it all, here are my favorite parts…

The warnings of those advisers turned out to be true. On the day Scott Brown won an upset victory in the special election to fill the Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy, it appeared that the chances for reform had died along with history’s most passionate health-care champion. Obama’s advisers told him that the votes in Congress were no longer there, and that unless he was willing to cut his losses and accept a drastically scaled-back version of his health-care proposal—perhaps a small expansion of coverage for children or a few watered-down consumer protections—the political fallout could cost him reelection. And what the president said next is why so many of us chose to work for him in the first place:

“What are we here for? Did we come here to just put our approval ratings up on a shelf and admire them? Or are we here to try to make a difference—to actually start solving some of the problems we’ve talked about for so long?”

Barely two months after the press wrote countless obituaries for the Affordable Care Act, Democrats in Congress showed genuine political courage by voting it into law.

Now is the time to show that courage again.

[...]

But the president should never apologize for passing the Affordable Care Act, and neither should those of us who have supported this kind of reform for years, even decades. We didn’t fight for this law because it was good politics. We didn’t fight for this law with the hope that it would lead to some ideological victory for big government—otherwise we wouldn’t have proposed a plan that maintained the private insurance market with reforms that Republicans once championed.

We fought for this law because no other advanced democracy on Earth gave insurance companies free rein to profit by discriminating against all but the healthiest and wealthiest citizens. We fought for this law because 14,000 Americans, most of them working and middle class, were losing their health insurance every day—with no other options. We fought for this law because millions of other Americans thought they had decent coverage until their insurance company refused to pay for treatment that someone in their family desperately needed; because people died as a direct result of not being able to afford better health care.

The reason we fought so hard for this law—the reason Obama is willing to stake his entire legacy on making it work—is because so many of us have had a personal experience with the fear and vulnerability that comes with being sick.

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Health Care Reform, Politics, President Barack Obama | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Glenn Greenwald, Perpetually Wrong, But Allowed To Be So!

abc_tw_greenwald_nsaI frequently get asked why I write so much about Glenn Greenwald. I’ve looked at myself in the mirror many times and asked the same question.

I think back to when I first read one of his posts at Salon during the end of the Bush administration. He was railing against Bush at that time and I was certainly sympathetic to that sentiment. But as I read his pieces, I noticed that he exaggerated an awful lot and took leaps with his conclusions and that didn’t sit well with me. I was all for attacking Bush, but because I am a political junky and was pretty informed on things, I noticed the exaggerations and in some cases, blatant lies. I didn’t join in with others in praising his “journalism”.

It was many years later that I learned that Glenn Greenwald hadn’t always railed against President Bush. In fact, he supported Bush and the many horrible things he did in the wake of 9/11 including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as supporting Bush during the time when the Patriot Act was passed. In light of what he is saying now, it should speak volumes about his integrity. Glenn has written about those of us who point this out and his attempt to dismiss his support for Bush is pretty lame. Ben Cohen from The Daily Banter wrote about this, go read it and have a laugh at Greenwald’s expense. Ben gives Glenn way too much credit, in my opinion.

Like Ben, I’m happy that Glenn finally opened up his eyes and realized the error of his ways. A little context though, Glenn wasn’t exactly a young, naive lad when he “had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration”, or “gave the administration the benefit of the doubt” or felt that President Bush was “entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to”. No, Glenn was 36 years old in 2003, when the bombs started falling on innocent people in Iraq, a war that I marched against.

So  Glenn’s dishonesty and tendency to exaggerate and mislead his readers turned me off immediately. But that isn’t the main reason I write about Glenn Greenwald so frequently.

Glenn Greenwald is a bully. I hate bullies!

If you want to read more about his journalistic brutality, go read this post, or this one, or this one. Or just go to Google and search, there are many examples out there besides the ones I’ve written about.

How Can Greenwald Be So Wrong, So Much Of The Time

Glenn Greenwald loves hyperbole. Decades from now when scholars write about The Age Of Hyperbole that we are currently living in, Glenn Greenwald’s picture will surely be accompanying the journal articles.

A few of my favorites from the last year.

“The objective of this is to enable the NSA to monitor EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION AND EVERY SINGLE FORM OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR!”

“The National Security Agency is currently devoted to the objective of creating a worldwide surveillance net that allows it to monitor what all human beings are doing and how they’re behaving and interacting with one another.”

I know there are a lot of paranoid people in this world who love that kind of talk, it feeds their paranoia and makes them feel like they are not alone. Any thinking, reasonable person who isn’t consumed with hatred or paranoia can read those words and realize they are completely over the top and can not possibly be true.

How many NSA employees do you think it would take to “MONITOR every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”? You see, Glenn doesn’t just think that the NSA is gathering meta data on who is calling who, after getting a warrant from a the FISA court (as dysfunctional as it is) because of intelligence on a suspected terrorist. No, Glenn thinks that there are people monitoring “every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”.

Bob Cesca has been keeping track of Glenn’s NSA “journalism” better than anyone and has coined the term “the 24 hour rule”, which basically says we should wait for the other shoe to drop before believing what ole Glenn Greenwald says.

Last week, Glenn made several statements to Christine Amanpour in an interview. Here are two of his long-winded, never stopping for a breath, answers. (My transcription and emphasis)

Answer 1: Let’s just use our common sense when analyzing the claims of political officials when they say that. Ever since 9/11, British and American officials have screamed terrorism over and over and over every time they get caught doing bad things they shouldn’t do – from lying to the public about invading Iraq to setting up a worldwide torture regime to kidnapping people and taking them around the world to be tortured – they just want to put the population in fear by saying the terrorists will get you if you don’t submit to whatever authority it is that we want to do. And that is all they are doing here, it’s the same tactic they always use. Let’s just use common sense, every terrorist who is capable of tying their own shoes, has long known that the U.S. government and U.K. government  is trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can. That isn’t new, we didn’t reveal anything new to the terrorists they didn’t already know. What we revealed is that the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world. That is what was not previously known and that is why American and British officials are so angry because they wanted to hide what the true purpose of the spying system is from the people at whom it’s directed and that is the only thing that is new in what we reported.

Answer 2: Well first of all a lot of people like to ask why is there so much anti-American sentiment around the world all you have to do is listen to that tape of Mike Rogers to understand it. He basically is going around telling the world that they ought to be grateful that without their knowledge, we are stealing ALL THEIR COMMUNICATIONS data and invading their privacy (Amanpour nods in agreement) None of this has anything to do with terrorism. Is Angela Merkel a terrorist? Are sixty or seventy million Spanish or French citizens terrorists? Are there terrorists at Petrobras? This is clearly about political power and economic espionage, and the claim that this is all about terrorism is seen around the world as what it is, which is pure deceit.”

I’ll get to the latest “24 hour rule” moment in a bit, but first let’s take a look at his penchant for hyperbole.

As with most of Glenn Greenwald’s rants, it isn’t necessarily the broad, populist, quotable punch line that is the problem, but what he says leading up to it. Make no mistake, Glenn is probably a great trial lawyer, although I’m sure a good opposing lawyer would be screaming “I object” an awful lot.

What stood out to me in Glenn’s response to Christine was the tainting of the jury along the way. I laughed out loud when I heard him say “Let’s just use our common sense” as he started. See the above part about how many NSA people it would take to monitor “every single conversation and every single form of human behavior” as you listen to Glenn talk about common sense.

Glenn starts his twisted reasoning by appealing to common, shared perceptions to get people nodding…like Amanpour herself…by, among other things, saying that U.S. and British officials always “scream” terrorism when they get caught doing “bad things”. He lists some of these bad things, starting with “from lying to the public about invading Iraq”…whoa, whoa, whoa…Glenn was supporting that group that was lying at the time and I know he is oh so sorry about that, but he fell for the bullshit none-the-less. There were a lot of us who didn’t. It speaks to his judgement at the tender age of 36.

Greenwald then gets bold and says “to setting up a worldwide torture regime”, which is clearly directed at his paranoid, conspiratorial readers. Because it isn’t just a few places where our government and allies take prisoners to be held and questioned, and yes, sometimes tortured too…which of course, I don’t approve of, but to Glenn, it’s labeled a “worldwide torture regime”. Oh, that hyperbole must make him tingle.

A little bit further on in his rant, he uses a pretty slick tactic when he says that “Every terrorist…has long known that the U.S. government and U.K. government  is trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can” and then claims that this is “nothing new”. Except, uh, Glenn…you told the terrorists “how” they are being monitored and that IS new.

Glenn then proceeds to his real thesis that the “spies” aren’t out to get terrorists, they are out to get innocent, little ole YOU! This thesis occurs frequently in his writings and is much more pronounced in his TV appearances, because he can’t go back and edit his words once they’ve flown out of his mouth and he can’t add “updates” to Christine Amanpour’s program like he is known for in his hyperbolic writing. This is what he said, “the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world.” He really believes that the target of all this spying is innocent people. He has strayed from what most people probably think – that in the effort to get terrorists, innocent people are being “monitored” and having their rights trampled on. Glenn sees it as a fiendish plot to go after YOU, run hide, build a bunker, buy some guns…they are coming for you. A little later he claims that it is “because they wanted to hide what the true purpose of the spying system is”, once again, referring to “innocent” people, just like you.

In the final sentence of his interview, Greenwald says “This is clearly about political power and economic espionage…” in reference to the accusations of the NSA spying on Germany and France. Well the “24 hour rule” destroys Glenn’s hyperbolic proclamation. Turns out the intelligence agencies in each of those countries shared that information with the U.S. government and the cooperation was geared towards tracking down terrorists. From of all places, the Guardian…

The German, French and Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden since June, revealing the interception of communications by tens of millions of their citizens each month. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US.

I’m sure all of that is appealing to the paranoid, conspiracists and the narcissists who think the whole damn world revolves around them and don’t have any problem thinking they are so damn important that the U.S. government is paying someone lots of money to monitor them and steal “ALL YOUR COMMUNICATIONS DATA”. Cue the Twilight Zone music!

Part of the problem with the current state of our politics and media is that it is loaded with narcissists, nihilists and conspiracy loons. Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Greenwald all know who their target audience is and Glenn has just sliced off a piece from the left flank of that crowd.

I wish more of the national media would listen more carefully to Glenn Greenwald or wait for the other shoe to drop before running with one of his stories, but I’m sure many of them just don’t want to deal with the other thing Glenn is good at…the bullying.

November 4, 2013 Posted by | Afghanistan War, Media, MSM, National Security, Politics, Professional Left | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

When the Democrats went populist

Guest post by Smartypants

As the civil war in the Republican Party between the establishment and the anti-establishment rages on, there seems to be a knee-jerk need in the punditry class to find a false equivalence with the Democrats. We saw this the other day from the dudebro firebaggers in their longing for the same kind of civil war on the left. Now its surfacing from some in the more traditional media. For example, from the establishment point of view, Chris Cilliza thinks that perhaps Chris Christie can emulate Bill Clinton and rescue the Republicans from their civil war. For the anti-establishment folks, Chrystia Freeland seems to thinks the NY Mayoral candidacy of Bill de Blasio is just like the tea partiers.

What’s frustrating in reading all this nonsense is that it seems that very few people pay any attention to history these days – even the more recent variety. Because if they did, they’d know that the Democrats had their own populist movement not that long ago. And the real question is whether or not we can sustain it on a national level going in to the 2016 presidential election.

To set the stage, we have to go back to what led up to the Reagan/Bush years. For the best description of how that happened, I’d suggest that folks read what Peter Beinart wrote about it a couple of years ago. To summarize, coming out of the left-wing hey-day of the 60’s, Democrats got their butts kicked for 20 years in presidential elections – with the one exception being the Carter years that were a direct result of Nixon’s Watergate. Here’s what the Republicans did:

1972 – 520 electoral votes (49 states)

1980 – 489 electoral votes (44 states)

1984 – 525 electoral votes (49 states)

1988 – 426 electoral votes (40 states)

As you might imagine, Democrats were scared shitless that their future as a national party was over (things looked even worse for them than they currently do for Republicans these days). And so, a group of mostly Southern Democrats got together and formed the Democratic Leadership Council in 1985. Their goal was to shift the Democratic Party more towards “centrist” policies. But perhaps more importantly, they felt the need to attract more big money donors to the Democratic Party in order to compete with Republicans.

The result of these efforts was the election of Clinton/Gore (both founders of the DLC) in 1992. Perhaps since the Democrats were still fairly new to this whole business of big money donors, Clinton/Gore got off to a rocky start that resulted in a whole string of scandals about campaign finance. In case you’re forgotten about all that, just think “Lincoln bedroom.”

To connect this with the current race for VA governor, it was during Clinton’s presidency that he installed Terry McAulliffe (big donor fundraiser extraordinaire) as the head of the Democratic Party. That’s why you see the Clinton’s campaigning so hard in his election – their connection to McAuliffe is deep.

One of the first Democrats to speak out against this capture of the party by the DLC was Paul Wellstone; it was the context for the line that was eventually adopted by Howard Dean: “I represent the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

And then came Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004. Anyone who actually paid attention knows that – other than his anti Iraq war position – Dean was no flaming liberal. But his bottom-up anti-establishment campaign was a direct challenge to what the DLC and the Clinton’s had built – especially in their reliance on big money.

As a full-blown Deaniac at the time, I watched the Clinton machine go after Howard Dean – as ferociously (perhaps moreso) than the Republicans did. And that became even more evident after Dean lost the presidential primary to John Kerry and went on to out-maneuver them to become Chair of the Democratic Party following Kerry’s loss to Bush.

As you probably know, Dean instituted a 50-state strategy, which was an attempt to build up the party to be competitive in all 50 states. Rather than the party elites picking candidates, Dean wanted them to come from the grassroots. And even after his success in the 2006 elections, the Clinton machine brought out the knives against him. You can read about some of that here. But perhaps the crux of it came when James Carville said that Dean should be fired and replaced with…get this…Harold Ford (then DLC Chair).

All of that is what set the stage for a lot of the acrimony that surfaced between the Obama and Clinton campaigns in 2008. From the beginning, Barack Obama made it clear that he was not a member of the DLC and instead built his campaign on a new and improved version of Howard Dean’s bottom-up grassroots model. While Clinton continued to rely on big money donors, Obama showed that the presidency could be won by harnessing the power of millions of small donors – shattering the whole DLC model.

Via that primary and a win in November 2008, President Obama offered a way out of establishment big money politics. That is why I’ll be watching what happens in 2016. Can we find a way to preserve what Obama has done after he’s gone? Has Hillary Clinton learned anything from her defeat and her time with the President in the White House? Or will her candidacy take us back to the top-down big money model of the (now-defunct) DLC? And finally, if Clinton demonstrates that she hasn’t changed, is there someone who can pick up the mantle from Obama and continue his legacy?

If people really paid attention to our not-too-distant past, those are the questions we’d be asking.

November 4, 2013 Posted by | Democratic Party, Election, Politics, Republican Party, Tea Party, The Repugnant Party | , , | 1 Comment

Glenn Greenwald Is Either Really Dumb Or A Blatant Liar – Pick One Or Both! (Update)

glenn-greenwaldUpdated below!

I’m thankful that I don’t fall for Glenn Greenwald’s anti-American propaganda and have the patience to wait for the truth to come out. His latest bout of jumping up and down and screaming “look at me, look at me” as he spews his anti-American lies is one of his most egregious yet.

It turns out that whole appeal to European populist outrage over the NSA collecting “60 million calls in one month” in Spain and 70 million in France without their knowledge, was, well, not the case at all. The information was given to the NSA as part of a joint intelligence operation. The Los Angeles Times has the story…

WASHINGTON — Leaked U.S. documents appearing to show that the National Security Agency collected data on tens of millions of European phone records, an issue that has sparked outrage among U.S. allies, actually represented data handed over to the NSA by European intelligence services as part of joint operations, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The claim refutes reports in leading French and Spanish newspapers suggesting that the NSA had vacuumed up French and Spanish telephone records without the knowledge of those governments. U.S. officials now say that the NSA didn’t collect the data — the intelligence services of those countries did.

As this crusade to rile up European anger against the U.S. has proceeded, I’ve been wondering when our government was going to push back with a little reality. I hope this is just the start of that push back.

Glenn Greenwald and his minions are using the secrecy behind our intelligence operations as cover. They know that in order to dispute the falsehoods and misreading of the Snowden documents, they would have to expose even more secret sources and methods. So Greenwald has been able to spin, lie and create conspiracies and paranoia with little refutation. It’s a nice little game they have going.

I think we can all agree now that Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden don’t really give a shit about America. In fact, they clearly have an agenda which is aimed at harming the U.S. both at home and abroad.

Update: JM Ashby over at BobCesca.com has some more details from the Wall Street Journal story.

Hat Tip to Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs

October 30, 2013 Posted by | National Security, The Truth | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Birth of Crisis Journalism™ – A Rant!

Warning! A profane rant is below, hide the kids.

The media has collectively lost their fucking minds. Since when is it the role of the media to obsess over mistakes and blow them completely out of proportion, while ignoring everything else that is happening in the world? They have totally embraced the hyperventilating loons on the right and adopted their moronic thinking.

So a website contractor, hired to design and build the website for healthcare.gov, screwed up. Great, I got it. Now move on to doing your fucking jobs again.

And by the way, Chuck Todd, your job is to present the truth to your viewers, not just deliver the “message” that one side or the other feeds to you through Mike Allen, just before you go on Morning Joe to set the meme of the fucking day. In case you aren’t aware, the Society of Professional Journalists has a code of ethics and the first item in the list is pasted below. Read it, internalize it…there will be a quiz.

Seek Truth and Report It (heading)
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. (sub-heading)

Journalists should: — Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

Now let’s look at Chuck Todd’s full quote from his now infamous appearance on Morning Joe and see how well it fits with the above.

Chuck Todd (on Morning Joe):

“But more importantly, it would be stuff that Republicans have successfully messaged against it,” Todd told Rendell. “They don’t repeat the other stuff because they haven’t even heard the Democratic message. What I always love is people say, ‘Well, it’s you folks’ fault in the media.’ No, it’s the President of the United States’ fault for not selling it.”

In effect, he’s saying that he just delivers the message, it’s not his job to “test the accuracy of information from all sources”. He admits that Republicans have successfully “messaged against it” but he apparently doesn’t care at all whether that “message” is truthful or not. That is some serious bubble think. I keep telling Chuck to get the hell out of Washington and breathe some fresh air, talk to some real people, empathize with folks who actually are influenced by what happens inside your comfy little bubble.

Prior to the “glitch” story, the media was clinging to the idiotic idea that President Obama should negotiate with Republicans who were holding a gun to the head of our economy, demanding the defunding of a law that took 18 months to pass through the legislative process, was signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in exchange for the Congress doing their jobs. The media acted like complete morons repeating the Republican talking point of “he won’t even sit down with us and talk”, as if that is what you do when one party completely circumvents the legislative process and acts like a 4-year-old kicking and screaming on the floor.

Going back a little further, the media was freaking out about Syria and the “red line”, once again repeating the Republican talking points verbatim, as if Frank Luntz was behind them pulling their fucking puppet strings and lip syncing his focus group tested phrases. President Obama didn’t invent our position on Syria’s chemical weapons. The treaty that we are enforcing was signed by President Nixon in 1972 and can be found here. But the media wanted to pin it all on President Obama because the brain-dead GOP plucked the “red line” phrase out of a speech and proceeded to bastardize the context and history of the international treaty against the use of chemical weapons.

I could go on and on…I’m thinking back to the “momentum” days of Mitt Romney’s bid for King of the Village Idiots (The GOP & their compliant media)!

Welcome to the new world of Crisis Journalism™

October 22, 2013 Posted by | Media, MSM, Politics, President Barack Obama | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Jon Stewart Shames The GOP AND The Media Over “Shutdown”

I watched this clip a little while ago and then turned to Chuck Todd’s show on MSNBC to see him doing exactly what Jon Stewart shamed the media about, false equivalences. Chuck Todd is the poster child for what is wrong with the media, he has helped to re-brand lying as “messaging”.

October 1, 2013 Posted by | 2014 Elections, Economy, Media, MSM, Politics, Republican Party | , , | 6 Comments

Glenn Greenwald’s “Little Brain” Made Me Think of This! UPDATE!

The following is a clip from one of my all time favorite movies, “Defending Your Life”. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Besides Albert Brooks, who also wrote and directed it, it stars Meryl Streep and Rip Torn. Take a few minutes and watch this clip. I frequently think about this scene when reading the likes of Glenn Greenwald or many of the writers at The Nation. My favorite exchange is…

Bob Diamond: Being from Earth, as you are, and using as little of your brain as you do, your life has pretty much been devoted to dealing with fear.

Daniel Miller: It has?

Bob Diamond: Well everybody on Earth deals with fear — that’s what little brains do.

Bob Diamond: …Fear is like a giant fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything…

Updated!!! I clicked on a link in a Tweet from Albert Brooks and came across the following post at Huffington Post, from Albert himself, which I will not link to.

WHAT DID I JUST READ?

By Barack Obama (Albert Brooks)

Imagine my surprise when I opened the New York Times and read Vladimir Putin’s Op-ed. I didn’t know what I was reading for a few minutes. Sometime’s my Chief of Staff will put The Onion in front of me just to shake things up so it took me a moment to realize this was not a joke.

First off, let me say I had a very nice time at the G20. The food was good, although a bit heavy for my taste, and the weather was pleasant. Certainly you can see the sky sometimes, which you can never do in China.

As I continued to read the Op-ed, I really couldn’t understand whether we were being insulted or praised. Mr. Putin seemed to respect the United States for one paragraph, and then blast us in another. Now understand, I admire Mr. Putin. For his age he seems to be in great physical shape and even though I could kick his ass in basketball I do believe that if a bear were to attack the both of us, he would be the one to shoo it away.

But let’s make one thing perfectly clear: this is written by a man who is the head of Russia. Russia, where the air conditioning in the room conked out even though I was in the Presidential Suite. Russia, where no one smiles and where people actually look disappointed that they are white.

Mr. Putin, we put a man on the moon and you barely got a monkey home safely. We invented the computer and you invented the way to steal it. Your country is filled with our fast food businesses and yet there is not one Russian take out place in the whole United States.

You are known for Siberia, we are known for Big Sur. We make Cadillacs and Lincolns and God knows what you call those little square deathtraps. It’s one thing to put down exceptionalism, but before you do that, you at least have to produce one Broadway show, or make one commercial airliner, or invent one type of salad.

Having said that, your people are wonderful and I know that you care about them deeply, except, of course, for the gay ones. As a matter of fact, you care about them so much that you hate to see them argue, especially with you, so you graciously offer them the solace of prison.

In any case, I enjoyed your editorial and I am very impressed that it was printed in The New York Times. If only there was a newspaper in your country that would print this.

My very best wishes,
Barack Obama.

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , | 3 Comments

Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Civil Rights, General | , , , | 5 Comments

The Corporate “Surveillance State” – No Warrants Needed

Bob Cesca has been doing amazing work lately in keeping track of the massive misinformation campaign orchestrated primarily by The Guardian, a publication that has gone full anti-American with the help of Wikileaks and other anarchists. Cesca wrote a brilliant article that points out many things I’ve been thinking as well. From Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter…

And, yes, the government also collects relatively minor bits of your internet data (with multi-layered oversight, warrants, anonymization, minimization and deletion) in its efforts to track down enemies.

Liberals ought to be far more suspicious of for-profit corporations handling our private data than the government’s handling of considerably less of it. But that doesn’t appear to be the case, and this is where everything gets wacky.

[...]

NSA, and the U.S. government in general, isn’t interested in our Instagram pics of our disgusting dinners or our Wonka memes or our goats-that-scream-like-men videos. But Facebook is. Google is. Corporations are exploiting nearly everything you type and following you wherever your browse. They’re compiling it. They’re distributing it. They’re sharing it. They’re using your data to determine which products you might want to purchase. They’re censoring your breast-feeding pics and perhaps even threatening you with prosecution if you download an episode of Game of Thrones from Bit Torrent.

And people are wailing and chest-thumping over inadvertent government metadata collection with strict rules that prohibit infringements on Fourth Amendment liberty? That’s rich.

You should go read Bob Cesca’s entire article, he points out that most websites have “trackers” built in that gather more information than the NSA on each of us. Bob also points out, “For what it’s worth, Glenn Greenwald’s XKEYSCORE article on The Guardian contained 27 trackers, including PRISM participants Google and Facebook.”

I’ll leave you with my favorite paragraph from Bob’s article…

How shall we explain the disparity between the Great Fear of the government collecting minimal data and the almost unspoken reality that corporations have compiled massive data clouds about every user and every customer? I don’t know for sure. It could be a result of pissy-pants disillusionment over the Obama presidency based on overblown idealism, political ignorance and unrealistic expectations. It could be the consequence of an onslaught of fear-mongering from news outlets posting cavalcades of scare-headlines and misleading articles about NSA surveillance. Or it could be an increasingly evident paradigm shift in which the far-left is blending into fringe libertarian territory. I never thought it likely given libertarianism’s small government, states’ rights posture, but there it is.

August 14, 2013 Posted by | National Security | , , , , | 11 Comments

ALEC Is Not Your Friend – Beware!

If you were wondering where a lot of the terrible laws and attacks on our rights are coming from, meet ALEC. From the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance…

“ALEC” is the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it may be the most powerful organization you (probably) never heard of. There’s a good chance ALEC already has impacted your life. And if it hasn’t yet, give it time.

ALEC describes itself as an organization that “provides a constructive forum for state legislators and private sector leaders to discuss and exchange practical, state-level public policy issues.” Others have called it a means for powerful corporations and interest groups to influence legislation to enrich themselves at the public’s expense.

[...]

Let’s look at specific examples. Insurance companies wanted off the hook from mesothelioma claims, so ALEC came forward with a model bill to protect corporations from asbestos exposure liability. The bill quickly was introduced in Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia, and at the federal level. The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act would require asbestos victims and their families to publicly disclose all manner of personal information before receiving compensation. This information could be used to deny credit or employment and make the victims vulnerable to identity theft. The point, obviously, is to intimidate people from filing claims. No such disclosure is required of companies that exposed employees and customers to asbestos.

In fact, liability protection is a major focus of ALEC bills. As of August 2013, this year at least 71 bills crafted by ALEC have been introduced around the country that make it harder to hold corporations accountable for death or injury. Many have misleading names, such as the “Full and Fair Noneconomic Damages Act,” introduced in two states, that limits the amount a corporation has to pay to compensate people it has injured.

Go read the whole article and beware!

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Health Care Reform, Justice System, Republican Party, Tea Party | , , , , | 2 Comments

President Obama’s Press Conference August 9, 2013

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Media, MSM, Politics, President Barack Obama | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hemp Gets A Bad Rap!

Go check out this very informative article about the history and many uses of hemp. Here is a little piece of the article…

hemp$_GRN_thmFor centuries, industrial hemp (plant species Cannabis sativa) has been a source of fiber and oilseed manufactured worldwide for a variety of industrial and consumer products. Currently, more than 30 countries cultivate industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, sold on the market all around the world. However, in the United States, hemp remains strictly regulated under existing drug enforcement laws with no known commercial domestic production, causing the U.S. to depend solely on imports.

Chris Conrad — a court-qualified expert on Cannabis hemp who has been cited in numerous Appellate Decisions and California Supreme Court rulings — exposes the truth behind the myths and lies of hemp. As an internationally recognized guru on all aspects of hemp and the founder of the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp, Conrad’s provocative research confronts the political dynamics working for and against legal reform through the uncovering of enlightened hemp facts.

Rita Baldini: Hemp was so important to the colonies of Jamestown that in 1619 the first hemp law was created, making it illegal NOT to grow hemp. Why did our country stray so far away from hemp production?

Chris Conrad: This nation has strayed from many of the original founding principles. Despite their shortcomings, when America was founded much of the philosophy was based upon the idea that a small family farm or homestead could be self-sufficient and live in freedom and independence. In the years leading to the Civil War, industrial capital was just beginning to take hold. After the Civil War, the logging and petrochemical barons rose to power. Around the turn of the 20th century, banks and corporations began to have a disproportionate level of control over the federal government. At the same time, the racism that was inherent in slavery had moved to the front through anti-Mexican bigotry and Jim Crow laws. It was this combination of corporate greed for control and money and social racism that led to the shift away from protecting family farms toward subsidizing corporate wealth. Prohibition was then seen as a two-edged sword cutting into economic freedom and social freedom at the same time. It bloated into an entrenched bureaucratic mechanism, and as a government has mutated into being essentially corporate-run with less and less personal freedom and privacy allowed. Prohibition is growing like a tumorous cancer that is killing society.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | General | , , | Leave a comment

POTUS: “We don’t have a domestic spying program”

ObamaLenoOn the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, President Obama made a statement that cuts right to the chase on the whole NSA surveillance hype. I call it hype because almost every revelation that we’ve learned about recently has been blown out of proportion, exaggerated or inserted into an existing conspiracy theory. And damn near all of the revelations have been known for years, written in books and published in many outlets. President Obama from The Tonight Show.

“We don’t have a domestic spying program.  What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat.  And that information is useful.  But what I’ve said before I want to make sure I repeat, and that is we should be skeptical about the potential encroachments on privacy.  None of the revelations show that government has actually abused these powers, but they’re pretty significant powers.”

That paragraph pretty much sums up the reality of what is happening. Let’s break it down.

The President makes it very clear, “We don’t have a domestic spying program.” I know that makes heads explode, especially those deeply invested in conspiracy theories and mistrust of everything our federal government does. But it is true, and there is no indication that one exists…in any of the “new’ information that has come to light.

The President went on to spell out exactly what the feds do in their effort to protect us from 9/11 style terrorist attacks, “What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat.” Those mechanism are set in motion by warrants issued by judges. Sure, you can argue that the process is crazy and needs to be changed, but at the moment, it is legal.

I was very vocal in my opposition to the Patriot Act, I wrote my senators and congressperson when that piece of crap law was being rammed through the congress in the fog of a nations grief after 9/11. If we only had a functioning legislative branch today, we could maybe get rid of that law and replace it with something that doesn’t trample on our liberties as much.

And finally, the President points out what I think is the heart of the issue, “…we should be skeptical about the potential encroachments on privacy.  None of the revelations show that government has actually abused these powers, but they’re pretty significant powers.” The issue of encroachments on privacy, especially as it relates to law enforcement and national security, isn’t new. It’s a balancing act that has been going on since our country was founded. And yes, there have been many, many abuses. Just ask any African American about that.

The reason I think that last statement is the heart of the issue is because it’s all about trust. For those who have a profound mistrust of all politicians or leaders, it’s not hard to convince them to be outraged. The awesome Bob Cesca coined the phrase “outrage sandwich”, which is best explained by him…

It gets sillier. The following Greenwald statement could be referred to as an outrage sandwich: two outrageous claims surrounding a throw-away mention of delicious, meaty truth that mitigates the outrageousness of the two claims.

“It’s done with no need to go to court, no need to get approval. There are legal constraints for spying on Americans, you can’t target them without going to the FISA court. But it allows them to listen to whatever e-mails they want, telephone calls, browsing history, Microsoft Word documents.”

Put another way: No need for court oversight! (But there’s court oversight and warrants.) They can listen to whatever they want! In the midst of inciting outrage, these mitigating news blips manage to pop up in nearly every article. But the blips are considerably out-gunned by all of the bloated hyperbole preceding and following each one.

And Glenn Greenwald has been getting away with “outrage sandwiches” for a long time. It’s the red meat he feeds his mushy brained followers.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | National Security, President Barack Obama | , , , , | 1 Comment

Man Reunites with Gorilla In The Wild

July 28, 2013 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

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