Crooks and Liars
Mark Sanford has won the South Carolina special election in a competitive race for what in normal circumstances is a safe Republican seat.
The former governor beat Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert Busch, for the state’s 1st congressional district.
The AP called the race for Sanford, with the Republican leading Colbert Busch 54 percent 46 percent.
Mitt Romney won this district by 18 points last fall, but Sanford’s personal history made the seat competitive.
Democrats poured money into the race while national Republicans abandoned their candidate, giving Colbert Busch a 5-to-1 advantage in outside spending.
Those ads, and Colbert Busch herself, made an issue out of Sanford’s 2009 disappearance to be with his Argentinean mistress, which led to an ethics investigation into his travel.
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The Daily Show's Jon Stewart took his audience through the good, the bad and the crazy that was the NRA's 2013 National Convention over the weekend. After pointing out that it looked a whole lot like a recycled CPAC convention with the same lineup of guests complaining about the same set of grievances, Stewart noted that they did eventually get around to the fearmongering and guns.
After showing some of Wayne LaPierre's "simple message" about how the only one that can stop a "bad guy with a gun" is a "good guy with a gun," Stewart pointed out that the message wasn't quite so simple at the convention this year, since the lot of them didn't seem to know just who the bad guys or good guys are, or what the definition of democracy and tyranny are for that matter.
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MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell went after the NRA's Wayne LaPierre after he attempted to exploit the Boston Marathon bombings with his claim that more of the city's residents would have liked to have had a gun while the manhunt for the suspects was going on.
“How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?” National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre asked an audience Saturday at the gun lobbying group’s annual convention in Houston, Texas. LaPierre argued more guns in the hands of Bostonians would have helped in the city-wide manhunt for the marathon bombing suspects and protect residents.
O’Donnell said that comment was “spoken like a man who knows nothing about Boston.” The Last Word host said guns could not have stopped the tragedy that unfolded following the deadly attack.
“If every man, woman and child at the finish line of the Marathon had a gun, it would have done them absolutely no good when the bombs went off: the three dead would still have been killed, all of the injured and maimed would still have suffered the same injuries and the people who weren’t injured would not have reached for their guns; they would’ve rushed to help the injured just like all the gun-toting police officers did,” said O’Donnell. “No one with a gun would’ve taken a shot at the bombers because no one knew who the bombers were.”
O’Donnell also slammed LaPierre’s concluding remarks on the Boston bombing tragedy. “He uses Boston as a device to get him to his punchline: ‘Good guys with guns stopped terrorists with guns.’ The proverbial NRA good guy with a gun is a citizen with a gun, not a police officer. There is no debate in this country about police officers having guns,” said O’Donnell. “The NRA’s cause, its mission, is about making sure everyone can get any kind of gun and ammunition they want.”
The facts show “it was not Wayne LaPierre’s armed citizenry that stopped the terrorists in Boston,” O’Donnell said. “It was the Watertown police. All six of them. Plus a Transit officer who got shot.”
This Sunday's episode of 60 Minutes was a brilliant case study in the media's ability to manipulate the public mind. The entire hour is worth studying, if only as one of the most illuminating and sophisticated examples of media manipulation in recent memory.
Who, What, When, Where ...
The most important editorial decision may not be how to cover a story, but which stories will be covered at all. But once a story is assigned, however that happens, the journalist's responsibility is to inform readers - or the audience - of its meaning and context.
60 Minutes failed both tests.
The old journalistic maximum said a good journalist had to answer five questions in every story: Who, what, when, where, and why? Of those, "why" is the most important questions of all. Without it, stories are more likely to misinform than inform.
In this case, the misinformation seems deliberate. The intended message seems to be government can't help us. We must militarize or cities and depend on the generosity of billionaires, or we don't stand a chance.
... and Why
Three stories were aired Sunday night: Counterinsurgency Cops, Robin Hood, and Invisible Wounds. The first two pieces advanced the anti-government billionaires' agenda with almost Orwellian efficiency. The third was less driven by that agenda, although it also reflected the biases which big-money interests have built into the institutions of journalism and politics.
Counterinsurgency Cops covered, as the name suggests, the adoption of military counterinsurgency techniques by urban police forces. It's a controversial topic: Do we really want our cities subjected to the same occupation-style military tactics as neighborhoods in Kandahar and Mazal-i-Sharif? One might expect both sides of the argument to be covered in a story like this.
One would be wrong.
The War Comes Home
The Cops episode featured footage of urban police in full military gear, carrying rifles with night scopes and kicking down the door of an American home. Those scenes might have disturbed Americans across the political spectrum, from anti-government right-wingers to civil-liberties-loving liberals, except for the fact thag the footage appeared late in the story.
By then Lesley Stahl had led the audience through a manipulative exercise which began with her telling the audience that foreign counterinsurgency casts soldiers as "warriors and community builders, going village to village driving out insurgents while winning the hearts and minds of the population" with 'mixed results at best." But, Stahl continues, "we met a Green Beret who is finding out -- in his job as a police officer -- that the strategy might actually have a better chance of working, right here at home, in the USA."
The next paragraph in the official CBS script reads as follows:
"Call him and his fellow officers counterinsurgency cops! They're not fighting al Qaeda or the Taliban, but street gangs and drug dealers in one of the most crime ridden cities in New England."
The chirpy exclamation point is CBS's, not ours. And as much as intuition might tell you otherwise, CBS finds nothing controversial about fighting suspected gang members or drug dealers (legally they're only suspects, although the word is never used by Stahl) with the same techniques used to fight those who are presumably enemy combatants in a foreign field of battle.
The Green Beret in question - actually he's a former Green Beret, although this goes curiously unsaid - is a charming and affable state trooper named Mike Cutone. We're told that, in Stahl's words,
"... after returning from Iraq (Cutone) had an "aha moment" when he was talking to a gas station manager in Springfield ... The similarities to the Iraqi town he had lived in and defended were so striking, that he sat down and wrote out an action plan for Springfield ... He proposed his plan, a counterinsurgency program, to Springfield's deputy police chief, John Barbieri."
After being reassured that the plan wouldn't involve "helicopters" and "checkpoints," we're told that Barbieri gave the young former Green Beret the green light to proceed with his 'counterinsurgency" program. Except that Mike Cutone didn't think of it all by himself. The American Civil Liberties Union has been studying the militarization of American police forces for years. So has author Radley Balko, whose book Rise of the Warrior Cop tracks this militarization process from Reagan's war on drugs, through Clinton's COPS programs, and into the present. Among other things, this process has given defense contractors billions in domestic sales they would not otherwise have enjoyed.
To hear 60 Minutes tell the story, the use of countinsurgency tactics by US police forces began with an "aha moment" in Cutone's head. His program was initiated in 2009. But military scholars were writing about the topic as far back as January 2007, in papers with titles like "Using Counter Insurgency Tactics, Techniques and Procedures to Defeat Gangs in U.S. Cities," when Cutone appears to still have been overseas. And the flow hasn't just gone one way; the military's been studying police anti-gang techniques, too.
60 Minutes viewers heard nothing about that. Nor did they learn that the seemingly self-effacing Cutone has a second career as a religiously-based motivational speaker (video here) who has authored a book called The Leadership of Jesus: Ten Fundamentals of Leadership. He describes his program as "spiritual ammunition."
That doesn't necessarily invalidate his counterinsurgency work, but it provides some context for what may well be self-promotion on Cutone's part. It's also an insight into Cutone's personality that the audience deserved to know so that it could form its own judgments.
The Untold Story
Here's a critical exchange between Stahl and her subject, from the CBS transcript. It takes place after Cutone appears to be helping neighborhood kids find jobs:
Lesley Stahl: But let me ask you something. Those functions that you are performing, that sounds to me like a social service job instead of a police job.
Mike Cutone: If the government is not going to do it, or individuals aren't going to do it, why can't the police provide leadership or partner up with the community and say, "Hey, here's a plan. This is what we want to do to help." Because the status quo of traditional policing, it ain't just gonna work. It's not gonna work.
The "why" in this part of the story is, "Why isn't the government going to do it?" One reason is because it's not collecting enough in tax revenue to create those jobs. Another reason is that billions of dollars have been spent convincing the media that our most urgent need is to cut government spending, rather than use it to create those much-needed jobs.
Behind the Curtain
One organization has outspent all others in an attempt to lower taxes for the wealthy and corporations, while also pushing an anti-government agenda that emphasizes cuts to Medicare and Social Security along with downsizing of most other government functions. That organization is the Peterson Foundation, which has funded some worthy ventures but spent a half-billion dollars in one five-year period alone on this government-cutting agenda.
The Foundation is financed by conservative anti-government billionaire Pete Peterson, whose views dominate the Republican Party and are the primary influence for the Democrats' Clinton/Obama wing. Peterson has financed a number of such ventures, and is deeply involved with Fix the Debt. That's an organization of corporate CEOs which is heavily dominated by the defense industry ... the same industry that is benefiting so richly by the militarization of US police forces.
Remember, Counterinsurgency Cops argues that these tactics - tactics which are so beneficial to the CEOs of Fix the Debt - are useful in part because "government is not going to do it."
And who is a Board member of the Peterson Foundation, a relationship which was not disclosed during the broadcast of Counterinsurgency Cops (or on any other 60 Minutes broadcast)?
None other than Lesley Stahl.
In Part Two we address the remaining stories: "Robin Hood" and "Invisible Wounds."
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The FBI arrests a right-wing extremist in Minnesota for a planned domestic-terrorism attack:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced on Monday that it had arrested a Minnesota man for plotting a “localized terror attack.”
A press release from the Minneapolis Division said that “special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in conjunction with the Montevideo Police Department; the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Minnesota State Highway Patrol; the Bloomington Police Department; the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office (South Dakota); the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; and members of CEE-VI (Cooperative Enforcement Effort), executed a search warrant at 1204 Benson Avenue, Lot #8, in Montevideo, Minnesota. Several guns and explosive devices were discovered during the search of the residence” on Friday.
Buford “Bucky” Rogers, 24, was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. An Associated Press report said that he had previously been convicted for felony burglary in 2011 and a misdemeanor charge of dangerous handling of a weapon in 2009.
It appears he came by his nuttiness the natural way -- via his family:
Throughout the interview with FOX 9 News, Jeff Rogers insisted he still doesn't know why his family is considered a threat.
"We are peaceful people, okay? We're not out to blow up the world -- none of this crap," Jeff Rogers said.
Investigators claim to have removed a computer, a military-style Romanian rifle and explosives from his shed -- specifically, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs. Jeff Rogers said that isn't the case, describing the seized items as household chemicals.
"That's a bunch of s---," he said.
Police and Jeff Rogers both point out that Buford Rogers does not live at the home. Rather, he lives across town with his girlfriend and their new baby. Neighbors say they don't see him much, but residents told FOX 9 News the family is very dedicated to their Black Snake Militia, which some consider un-American.
Jeff Rogers is not coy about the family's political leanings, displaying an upside down American Flag and signs suggesting the government wants to implant microchips inside citizens outside his home.
"We are patriots. You guys are patriots," he said. "You see the country is going to s----."
Yet, Buford Rogers' Facebook page suggests a sinister side to his politics. In publicly visible posts from 2011, he wrote, "We already started fighting. I'm sure you'll hear about it in a bad way."
A website for the Minnesota Minutemen Militia, which says it is not anti-government, claims the Black Snake Militia is comprised of 73 members. The leader's profile shows a man who claims to be 29 years old wearing a ski mask and holding an assault rifle. His bio reads, "Im an american patriot willing to lay down my life so we may take our republic back…. [sic]"
Meanwhile, the media -- and Fox News especially -- yawn. Eric Boehlert observes:
You will likely not be surprised that none of Fox News' primetime hosts mentioned the Rogers arrest last night or the looming threat of right-wing extremist violence. That, despite the fact the shows have dedicated countless programming hours in recent weeks to ginning up fear and angst surrounding the terror attack in Boston on Patriot's Day.
Prompted by the arrest of a Muslim suspect, Fox News has spent weeks demonizing Islam by assigning collective blame, as well as targeting Muslims who travel here to study. But yet another far-right, anti-government plot to possibly kill law enforcement officials? At Fox News, that's not a story that draws much concern, especially not from its primetime talkers.
Of course, none of this is particularly a surprise. Yes, there has been a significant upsurge in right-wing-extremist domestic terrorism in the past four years, and it has gone unreported in the mass media, who have instead focused exclusively on "Islamist" domestic terrorists (whose plots and acts are occurring at less than half the rate of RWEs).
Yes, we were recently witness to another domestic-terrorism incident by a right-wing extremist -- the ricin attacks on the Senate and White House -- and yet you would not be aware of it if judging from the media response (though it is true that the picture was muddled by the initial arrest of the wrong man).
And yes, there is at least a substantial possibility that the Newtown shootings will be revealed to be another domestic-terrorism incident by a right-wing extremist if those initial reports from CBS indicating that Adam Lanza was attempting to imitate Anders Breivik prove substantive, and if it emerges that Lanza adopted Breivik's ideology in the process.
Rest assured: If Adam Lanza were of a Muslim background and his "hero" an Al Qaeda terrorist, the media would not rest until they found the answer to that question. As it is, we'll have to wait until the investigation is complete and the results released to know. Which, frankly, is how it should be. But the difference in treatment is noteworthy.
There's a reason for this: Anytime the media report on right-wing extremist terrorism, they are descended upon by the flying monkeys of the wingnutosphere, who complain that calling them right-wing extremists is "an abuse of the term 'right wing'" (trust me on this: it's not). Witness what became of the DHS's section on right-wing extremists after the screaming hissy fit over a remarkably accurate and prescient law-enforcement bulletin.
It's creating a dangerously skewed picture, and a dangerously misinformed public. And when something really awful happens as it inevitably will, the media will all wring their hands and ask, "Why didn't we see this coming?"
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A California mother says that she was forced to pay spousal support to her ex-husband after he raped her daughter for years.
Carol Abar told KCBS that her former husband, Ed Abar, began raping her then-9-year-old daughter soon after she married him in 1991.
But the daughter, who did not wish to be identified, said she did not tell her mother for 16 years because she was terrified of her stepfather.
"He had threatened me that he would kill my mom; he would kill my stepbrothers; he would kill me," she recalled.
When Carol Abar found out, she filed for divorce. Because she made more money than her husband, a judge ordered her to pay alimony of $1,300 a month.
"The judge told me I had no proof. It was my word against him," she explained. “He had been raping her since she was little. Since I got married to him.”
Just last year, Ed Abar finally pleaded guilty to one of four rape charges and was sentenced to over a year in jail. After Carol Abar had paid about $22,000 in support, a judge temporarily halted the payments.
But now that he's out of prison, Carol Abar's ex-husband is asking the court to force her to resume the payments.
"He’s asking not just to resume the existing support of $1,300 a month, but he’s asking for what amounts to approximately $33,000 in past due support and that too is a miscarriage of justice," attorney Brian Uhl, who is representing Carol Abar, said.
Sherry Collins, an attorney for Ed Abar, insisted to KCBS that, her client was "entitled to some relief from the higher income producing spouse, so that the marital standard of living can be maintained."
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last year signed Assembly Bill 1522 to close a loophole that required some victims of domestic abuse to pay spousal support to their attackers. There is no California law that prevents child abusers from receiving spousal support, but a court could take any history of domestic violence into consideration.
Although Ed Abar is a registered sex offender, a plea deal prevents information about his case from being released to the public. He insisted through his lawyer that he was not guilty and that he only agreed to the plea deal to reduce jail time.
For their part, Carol Abar and her daughter still feel like they are being victimized.
"He victimized a little girl all these years and I have to pay him for that behavior," she lamented. "It just doesn’t make sense to me."
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This has to be one of the most pitiful things I've seen in a long time, even by Fox's "standards" -- if they had any. Brit Hume jumped the shark on Bret Baier's show this Monday and tried to conflate their drummed-up Benghazi non-scandal to George W. Bush lying about Saddam Hussein and fearmongering to get us to invade a country that was not a threat to the United States.
HUME: Long experience teaches that highly anticipated Congressional hearings often fail to meet expectations. Witnesses don't quite say in public what they told investigators ahead of time. Congressional interrogators prove inept and unfocused. But if Wednesday's Benghazi hearing lives up to its billing and the truth about what happened that night and the administration's efforts to disguise it, might at last begin to come out.
Yet for this case to become the scandal it surely deserves to be, will require another ingredient – relentless news coverage of the kind the media typically avoid when the subject is someone or some cause they favor. That's why the Gosnell abortion horrors were played down for so long. And that's why the now-discredited Benghazi talking points are treated as just an honest mistake.
Each new advance tidbit from Wednesday's witnesses makes it clear that the State Department, CIA and White House deliberately concocted the Benghazi cover story that was false in nearly every particular. Now, think back to the disputed claim by President George W. Bush that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa. It amounted to sixteen words in his 2003 State of the Union Address and it was arguably true.
But it triggered a media firestorm that did much to advance the notion that Mr. Bush had lied to the U.S. into Iraq. Now, suppose that administration had done what this one has on Benghazi.
It's hard to say what's more disgusting and reprehensible: The revisionist history on Bush lying us into invading Iraq, or the fact that he thinks his audience is stupid enough to believe four people being killed in a country that they knew full well was dangerous and in turmoil is in any way akin to the hundreds of thousands of lives that were destroyed and God knows how much money flushed down the toilet due to the actions of the Bush administration.
Every time I think Fox can't sink to a new low, they outdo themselves once again.
Howie Klein will be leading a chat with Pennsylvania's Daylin Leach over at Blue America.
Come join us to talk with a strong progressive we need to have in Congress. To be clear, the chat will take place on this Blue America post, not in the comments below.
Feel free to ask him questions on gun safety regulations, the GOP obstructionism, the War on Women and all the other issues facing us.
Editor's note: Daylin is not only a great progressive, he's funny! Go ask him some questions!
In a recent speech, the influential economist Jeffrey Sachs made the following statement, one that was both remarkable and yet predictable about the culture of Wall Street:
"I'm going to put if very bluntly. I regard the moral environment as pathological...these people are out to make billions of dollars and nothing should stop them from that. They have no responsibility to pay taxes. They have no responsibility to their clients...to counter-parties in transactions.
They are tough greedy aggressive and feel absolutely out of control...and they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent. And they have a docile President, a docile White House, and a docile regulatory system that can't find its voice. Its terrified of these banks. If you look at the campaign contributions the financial markets are the #1 campaign contributors in the US now.
We have a corrupt politics to the core...and both parties are up to their necks in this. The corruption is as far as I can see everywhere. But what it's led to is this sense of impunity that is really stunning...and it very unhealthy. I have waited four, five years now to see one figure on Wall St. speak in a moral language and I've not seen it once.
And if they won't, I've waited for a judge, a president, for somebody and it hasn't happened, and by the way, it’s not gonna happen any time soon."
It was predictable because in fact, any neutral observer who knows anything about the way the big banks on Wall Street work has been saying it for years. But it was remarkable because Sachs is a tried and true member of the American establishment, a widely acclaimed Ivy League professor and New York Times best-selling author, and not exactly a raving populist in his economic or political views. But even the elites are now acknowledging the utter moral bankruptcy of our financial kingpins.
I have been thinking about the pathological moral environment of Wall Street a lot in recent days because of the piece I wrote on Friday about the connection between the kinds of trading Enron was doing in energy markets that got them in so much trouble, and what JP Morgan Chase is currently doing in energy markets. You know, the executives who destroyed Enron were about as despicable people as you can imagine- manipulating energy markets in California to drive up prices and create shortages to the point of complete crisis; stealing money from pension, school, church, and charity funds; cashing out early and leaving the rest of the company’s employees with nothing (and touting the company’s stock to those employees while simultaneously selling off).
They destroyed their company (along with the country’s leading accounting firm, Arthur Andersen). They got investigated, indicted and convicted of very serious crimes. But the execs at Enron were pikers compared to the big guns on Wall Street, who are doing everything the Enron guys did in terms of market manipulation, but are involved in all kinds of other financial shenanigans as well. They are being investigated or excoriated by at least different government entities, but their stock price has stayed high, their top execs mostly haven’t lost their jobs, and no one has been convicted or even indicted.
The most amazing thing in my mind is the difference in terms of political influence. It’s not like the Enron team were exactly slouchers in this regard. The CEO was one of President Bush’s best personal friends and was one of his top fundraisers. Enron had 54 people in the Bush administration who had been executives, consultants, or lobbyists for the company, including a cabinet secretary and the head of the main agency that regulated Enron, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. When Enron needed help with a business matter in India in the first months of the Bush administration, Vice President Cheney himself hopped on the phone with people in India and got it done for them.
Yet with all this incredible political muscle, once things began to unravel at Enron, once the company began sinking under the weight of all its corruption, the Bush administration cut them loose: phone calls stopped being returned, and DOJ was unleashed. The subpoenas and depositions started coming too fast to count, and the indictments started piling up shortly thereafter.
Not so much with the Too Big To Fail or Jail banks. HSBC basically admits to laundering money for the worst drug lords and narco-terrorists on the planet for years, and no indictments are issued and no one goes to jail. Bankers admit to probably a million separate counts of perjury in the robo-signing scandal, and get to settle the case for a relatively modest amount of money and no indictments, and then so blatantly and immediately violate the terms of the settlement that New York’s AG has to go to court to try and stop them- but again, no indictments coming. JP Morgan Chase misleads and hides information from regulators, no indictments.
There was a survey done last year that said that 26% of senior executives in the financial industry have firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing at their company, 24% said they thought people in the financial industry had to engage in unethical and/or illegal activity to succeed, and 30% said their own compensation structure created pressure to do unethical or illegal things. Those numbers probably understate the problem, because most people tend to rationalize away such issues, and wouldn’t want to admit such things even to themselves, let alone in a survey. When you combine an industry culture where a lack of ethics is practically regarded as the standard way of doing business with an unwillingness by government officials to hold that industry accountable to the law, and then add into the mix that the industry in question has the power to wreck the entire economy, you have the deadliest possible problem. You have Enron-style corruption times ten, with no one prosecuting the crimes being committed.
If this deadly dynamic isn’t solved- if the biggest banks aren’t broken up, if the Department of Justice doesn’t start prosecuting crime in the financial sector- our country will in the not too distant future see a financial crisis far worse than in 2008. We need to solve this problem. NOW. Help start the movement.
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Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint on Monday said that he opposed a bipartisan plan for comprehensive immigration reform because "unlawful immigrants" could live "another 50 years" and take advantage of government benefits that they earned by paying taxes.
At a press conference on Monday, the Heritage Foundation released a report that claimed the immigration reform bill offered by the "Gang of Eight" senators would cost Americans $6.3 trillion.
"The number over the 50-year lifespan of an amnesty for unlawful immigrants, it's $6.3 trillion to the American taxpayer," DeMint told Fox News host Martha MacCallum prior to the press conference. "And we know over time that this is going to increase more debt, increase taxes. That has a depressing effect on our economy. And we know that unlawful immigrants -- once that they have amnesty -- are going to replace the jobs of many Americans and depress their salaries."
"So there is no way you can look at this and conclude that it's good for the American taxpayer, and that includes immigrants who are here lawfully."
MacCallum noted that most benefits would not be available to immigrants for 13 years under the proposed plan.
"I'll believe that when I see it," the former South Carolina senator quipped. "Even if they follow through, unlawful immigrants are already receiving many benefits. A lot of their children are legal American citizens, whether its public education or Medicaid. But if you just look at a 13-year window when the life expectancy of unlawful immigrants goes another 50 years and once they get on Social Security and Medicare -- I mean, the average cost of an unlawful immigrant is hundreds of thousands of dollars."
DeMint added that he was all for immigration reform as long as "lower-skilled, less-educated" immigrants were excluded from the plan.
"In 1960, the average immigrant had about the same education and skill level of an American citizen. Today, immigrants have -- they're four times less likely to even have a high school diploma. And now with all of our welfare benefits, the arithmetic for immigration is totally different."
An American man named Jeremiah Raber spent about $100,000 of his own money to create something every man needs, a device that can deflect bullets from 9mm and .22 caliber handguns.
“It is a bullet resistant groin protection device,” Raber said. “It is the world’s strongest cup.”
Because we don’t need no damn bulletproof helmet. We need this.
And he named it …. of course … Armored Nutshellz.
I know that you did not want to know that but I just had to tell you. It’s my job.
enlargeJeremiah, without his Bullfrog.
Jeremiah went on teevee in Missouri and “shot 9mm rounds into an athletic cup filled with red dye to prove that men’s groins were susceptible to bullets without additional armor.” Because we would not have known that without all the red dye vividly spattering everywhere. It was like one of those science experiments. Oh Look! Bullets can pierce humans everywhere. I imagine even on their feet.
To prove the product worked, Raber fired several rounds from 9mm and .22 caliber handguns at a Nutshellz protector. Each time, the bullet did little more than dent the groin shield.
I’m still waiting for someone to volunteer to test it live.
Louie Gohmert could do this to prove his mettle. I think this also looks like a job for SuperRick Perry. He doesn’t seem to be using his much anyway.
Double dog dare.
You gotta love this country, where nobody has ever lost a dime protecting what is valuable.
Juanita Jean blogs at the World's Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc.
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Televangelist Pat Robertson on Monday defended an Ecuadorian preacher's homophobic comments and said that LGBT people could change their "orientation," just like God could change murderers and rapists.
The Huffington Post reported earlier this year that evangelical preacher Nelson Zavala had his political rights revoked after he said that homosexuality was "immoral" while he was campaigning for president.
"For somebody to say that a homosexual can change is somehow a hate crime -- it is a hate crime to say that somebody can change their sexual preference, that that's a hate crime?" Robertson opined on Monday. "That's what's going to happen, ladies and gentlemen. Mark that down and fight for freedom because that man's freedom of speech is being taken away."
"And the idea that anybody who has ministered to thousands of people -- as undoubtedly he has and others have in that church in Ecuador -- know very well that the power of God can change people's orientation. A murderer can change, a rapist can change, a thief can change. That's what the gospel is all about. It's not a hate crime."
(h/t: Right Wing Watch)
enlargeLt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, via Arlington VA County Police department.
ARLINGTON, Va. — The chief of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response branch was arrested this weekend and charged with sexual battery.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, of Arlington, Va., was arrested Sunday morning, according to the Arlington police. He’s accused of approaching a woman in a parking lot and grabbing her breasts and buttocks, according to the crime report. He has been removed from his position, an Air Force spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity.
Krusinski heads up the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention and response branch, an Air Force spokeswoman confirmed.
Krusinski has served in Afghanistan, in addition to serving as the deputy expeditionary mission support group commander at Joint Base Balad in Iraq, and commander of 6th Force Support Squadron at MacGill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he lettered in baseball.
The Air Force has recently come under fire for a decision by a lieutenant general to throw out the sexual assault conviction of fighter pilot Lt. Col. James Wilkerson. Wilkerson, 44, the former inspector general for the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base in Italy, was convicted last year of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to a year in jail, forfeiture of pay and dismissal from the Air Force. Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin overturned the sentence and reinstated Wilkerson into the Air Force.
Additionally, more than a dozen training instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, the Air Force’s basic training facility, have been convicted of misconduct with trainees, from fraternization to sexual assault. More cases are still under investigation.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III has emphasized preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment and respect among airmen since he took over the job last year.
“Every time I hear about another case, it breaks my heart,” he said in a video posted on the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention website. “You know what right looks like.”
If his heart is that broken, he needs to get these cases away from the chain of command and investigate every case this guy handled. Because having someone like this in charge might have resulted in his having been a tiny bit, um, biased in his conclusions, yes?
MBA-types say that Tuesday is the most productive workday at the office, so let's break out of that box with some fine, distracting links!
Cognitive Dissidence looks at the GOP re-branding effort.
Channel Surfing sees a return of the ugly american.
Rising Hegemon finds a really ugly american.
Bonus track: Long-time friend of the Round-up Zen Comix has entered a contest.
This is the first video in a four-part series, called "The Secret of the Seven Sisters," that reveals how a secret pact formed a cartel that controls the world's oil.
On August 28, 1928, in the Scottish highlands, began the secret story of oil.
Three men had an appointment at Achnacarry Castle - a Dutchman, an American and an Englishman.
The Dutchman was Henry Deterding, a man nicknamed the Napoleon of Oil, having exploited a find in Sumatra. He joined forces with a rich ship owner and painted Shell salesman and together the two men founded Royal Dutch Shell.
The American was Walter C. Teagle and he represents the Standard Oil Company, founded by John D. Rockefeller at the age of 31 - the future Exxon. Oil wells, transport, refining and distribution of oil - everything is controlled by Standard oil.
The Englishman, Sir John Cadman, was the director of the Anglo-Persian oil Company, soon to become BP. On the initiative of a young Winston Churchill, the British government had taken a stake in BP and the Royal Navy switched its fuel from coal to oil. With fuel-hungry ships, planes and tanks, oil became "the blood of every battle".
The new automobile industry was developing fast, and the Ford T was selling by the million. The world was thirsty for oil, and companies were waging a merciless contest but the competition was making the market unstable.
That August night, the three men decided to stop fighting and to start sharing out the world's oil. Their vision was that production zones, transport costs, sales prices - everything would be agreed and shared. And so began a great cartel, whose purpose was to dominate the world, by controlling its oil.
Four others soon joined them, and they came to be known as the Seven Sisters - the biggest oil companies in the world.
Episode One, 'Desert Storms': This first episode takes us across the Middle East, through time and space.
During the modern history of the Middle East -- since the discovery of oil -- the Seven Sisters sought to control the region's balance of power.
"We waged the Iran-Iraq war and I say we waged it, because one country had to be used to destroy the other. As they already benefit from the oil bonanza, and they’re building up financal reserves, from time to time they have to be bled."
- Xavier Houzel, an oil trader
They supported monarchies in both Iran and Saudi Arabia, opposed the creation of OPEC, profited from the Iran-Iraq war leading to the eventual destruction of Saddam Hussein and Iraq along with him.
Somehow, The Seven Sister always present, almost always came out on top.
Ever since that notorious meeting at Achnacarry Castle in 1928, they have never stopped plotting and scheming.
Check back later for Episode Two.
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On this Saturday's Fox News Watch, the fake outrage that's been going on for months on end on the network over the embassy bombings in Libya continued, with the talking heads on the panel of course doing their best to hype Darrell Issa's upcoming hearings this week. When host Jon Scott asked his guests why the other networks weren't giving this story the same type of media of coverage as Fox, hilarity ensued.
The National Review's Rich Lowry claimed there's some conspiracy with the rest of the media to do the administration's bidding and help stonewall the issue and then later call it old news and say “let's move on.” Regular and Fox token “liberal” Ellen Ratner claimed that the other networks were just “jealous” after quoting someone saying anything that comes from Fox “ought to be taken with a grain of salt.”
Scooter Libby stenographer Judith Miller called the administration refusing to answer all of her network's questions “chutzpah” and Fox's Jim Pinkerton criticized the Washington Post for running a story about protests at a nuclear facility and how dare they write that story while ignoring Fox and their fake Benghazi outrage.
Judith Miller wrapped things up by having the “chutzpah” to actually claim it's “lamentable” that this story has become “politicized.” Well, there's one thing I agree with that was said here, but it's been the Republicans and her network that are responsible for it.
The BBC reports allegations that Syrian rebels have used sarin gas, a nerve agent that causes asphyxiation and is classified as a weapon of mass destruction and banned under international law.
Amid reports that the Syrian military is secretly stockpiling chemical weapons, U.N. human rights investigators allegedly have testimony indicating Syrian rebels have used sarin gas. Interviews with victims and doctors have provided “strong, concrete suspicions” that rebels used the deadly nerve agent, according to a lead investigator, though the U.N. does not have “incontrovertible proof.” There’s no evidence yet that the Syrian military used sarin. The latest Geneva-based investigation is separate from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s currently stalled inquiry into the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria's civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.
The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said commission member Carla Del Ponte.
"Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated," Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.
"This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities," she added, speaking in Italian.
Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney-general who also served as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, gave no details as to when or where sarin may have been used.
Israeli warplanes have targeted Syria twice in the last three days, and now Israel is deploying two batteries of its Iron Dome rocket defense system to the north of the country. The second airstrike early Sunday, hit a military facility just north of the capital, a Western intelligence expert confirmed. Israel declined to comment. “The sky was red all night,” said one man who lives less than a mile from the facility. “We didn’t sleep a single second. The explosions started after midnight and continued throughout the night.” The facility reportedly held Iranian-supplied missiles, which Israel contends were headed for Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Israel attacked the same site three months ago. President Obama, meanwhile, defended Israel on Sunday.
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Rep. Jason Chaffetz was more than happy to help continue the Republican witch hunt on Benghazi this Sunday, but as Josh Israel over at Think Progress took note of, when pressed by Chris Wallace about his claims that there are witnesses from the State Department who are being threatened by their bosses, he couldn't name any examples.
Asked about a claim by a witness’s lawyer that whistle-blowers had been blocked from testifying (a claim rejected by the Department of State), Chaffetz said that “more than one” witness has indeed been “suppressed” by the Obama administration. [...]
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) quickly debunked his colleague: “There’ve been two attorneys involved here, the only reason they haven’t received information is that they haven’t asked for it yet… there has not been a request for documents from these attorneys to the State Department.”
The only “retaliation,” Lynch noted, was that one of the witnesses wants a reassignment and a promotion and feels he’s being retaliated against because has not yet gotten the promotion.
As they reminded their readers and we have here as well, there are plenty of reasons why anything Victoria Toensing, who is representing some of these potential witnesses, attaches her name to, and who has been peddling conspiracy theories for months now, ought to be looked at with more than just a healthy dose of skepticism.
Full transcript below the fold.
WALLACE: OK. Let's get to this question because this has been one of the charges, that there'd been threats, intimidation, and threats of retaliation. So, let's discuss that.
This week, a lawyer for one of the witnesses said that the State Department has threatened officials who wanted to testify. State responded and said they don't know of anybody who has requested to testify. Let's watch that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA TOENSING, ATTY FOR STATE DEPT EMPLOYEE: I'm not talking generally. I'm talking specifically about Benghazi, that people have been threatened, and not just the State Department. People have been threatened at the CIA. PATRICK VENTRELL, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We repeatedly have this person saying that they had a whistleblower who's been held back from telling their story, and we're not aware of this individual, anyone who's asking to tell their story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman Chaffetz, has the Obama administration blocked potential witnesses from testifying or not.
CHAFFETZ: Absolutely and more than one. We've asked for the non-classified version of how do these people get an attorney that has a degree in classified information and they still haven't given us that. No. There are people out there that want to testify that have been suppressed.
WALLACE: But you hear the State Department just say nobody, neither a lawyer nor a witness, has requested to testify?
CHAFFETZ: Because they're scared to death of what the State Department is doing to them. And that's what -- look, we're the other branch of government. They're supposed to be able to come to Congress and be able to share this type of information. That has not happened, because the administration has suppressed them (ph).
We have a person who was injured eight months ago, who's still in the hospital. They changed his name on the medical records.
This is a story of the State Department doing things that haven't been in any other case.
WALLACE: Are you saying -- and, again, I want to bring in Congressman Lynch. Tell me, a direct threat -- a direct act of intimidation against a potential witness?
CHAFFETZ: Yes, and I think we'll probably --
WALLACE: Tell me why.
LYNCH: Completely false, completely false.
WALLACE: Let me -- before he -- go ahead. Tell me what's been said.
CHAFFETZ: Yes, there are people -- more than one -- that have felt intimidation from the State Department. They can't even go through the process of getting an attorney to be able to represent them with a degree of classified information that they have.
WALLACE: Congressman Lynch, your turn.
LYNCH: The only reason that the attorneys -- and there have been two attorneys involved here -- the only reason they haven't received information is they haven't asked for it yet. They haven't asked for it. There has not been a request for these documents from these attorneys to the State Department. The State Department is more than willing to cooperate, but they haven't asked for this.
The only retaliation I've heard of here is that one of these witnesses wants a reassignment and promotion. He hasn't gotten the promotion that he wanted, and he's saying that that's somehow retaliation. So, you know, hasn't got it yet. It's actually in the process.
That's the -